Saturday 14th March
Since I got here, virtually every Dubstep night I've ever been to in Leeds has been at Vox Warehouse or the West Indian Centre. The few exceptions have more often than not been smaller scale nights, which often fall on weekdays with one or two decent headliners. This meant that my interest was definitely piqued by something as high-profile (at least for 140) as a Deep Medi session at The Wire. The night promised to be a more intimate edition of the string of events the record label is currently holding around the UK: Boasting Mala, Commodo, Jack Sparrow and Kaiju with Selah taking host duties. For a genre which started in clubs smaller than The Wire, it is sometimes hard to hear it in its original habitat; especially since many of the producers playing at that time have long since moved on to mainly playing larger scale events. It was also a nice touch that in the absence of resident DJ's, each member of the line-up had hour and a half sets, meaning everyone got a nice chance to make their case.
Leeds' own and underrated (in my opinion) Deep Medi veteran Jack Sparrow opened up the night - easily recognizable in his "Don't Mess With West Yorkshire" t-shirt. He started the night off with a nice melodic introduction, refraining from rushing since he had an extra half hour to play with. He played a set which had both had the feel of his solo productions, as well as his output as part of Author: a left-field, jazz infused collaborative project with fellow producer Ruckspin. It was also a little eclectic (in a good way) at certain points, with songs like Joy O's "Hyph Mngo" and Dark Sky's "Double U" garnering some speaker time. But of course there was plenty of more "Dubsteppy" 140 to please everyone: Author's "After Time", Goth-Trad's "Seeker" as well as Jack Sparrow's rumoured-forthcoming remix of Gantz's "Spry Sinister" all got a warm reception, with the set being rounded off nicely with Ipman's "Aight" and Kromestar's remix of Joker's classic track "Tron". Overall Jack Sparrow set the pace for the night with one of the more interesting sets of the night, and things were only going to get better later on.
Kaiju: a producer duo who are some of Deep Medi's most recent signings followed on next; opting for a dub intro which was swiftly followed on with a set which definitely reflected the flavour of Dubstep they've been pushing. There was plenty of unreleased Kaiju material, and when they played some of their released tracks, it tended to be in the form of unreleased versions: "Hunter VIP" and what sounded like a VIP of "Clang" were some of my favourites. They also played what appeared to be their own exclusive remix of the Digital Mystikz remix of "Cay's Crays", which was certainly a nice touch.
Moving on next from some of the label's newest additions, was its creator and head: Mala, who was making his second Leeds appearance in recent months - the other being at SubDub alongside Kahn. He opened his set the same way he did then: With Roots Manuva's "Witness 1(Hope)", which went down just as well, hitting the crowd like a wakeup call. The room (as usual for his sets) was at capacity, with everyone seeming to pre-emptively smoke in order to catch his whole 90 minutes. He did his thing to no one's surprise, with a plethora Deep Medi releases which highlighted the label's diversity within the genre: K Man's track "Propane" kicked off, whilst Mala's classic "Changes" prompted lighters instead. Other tracks deserving mentions include "Eyez VIP", "Lean Forward" and in particular for me: An unreleased track which is (rumoured) to be the result of a Commodo and Kahn & Neek collaboration, with its title being as of yet unknown (as far as I'm aware). Finally Mala finished his set with one of this and last year's biggest dubplates - Quests' "Belly of the Beast" after what I swear felt shorter than an hour and a half, but since Commodo was set to take the night through till close, I didn't mind too much.
Commodo has been known to make the odd track which plays around with BPM's around 130 and he showcased this for his intro, with tracks like Champion's remix of "Sphinx", Commodo's "Straight Reptilian VIP" and "Good Grief". Next up, he took things to the 140 mark with a load of tracks that I wish didn't have to only exist on certain producers' hard drives: For instance there was a track of his (again, name unknown) that until it came on, I had only previously seen footage from his Facebook page of him playing it off his computer. He also played what to me sounded like a new Commodo remix of Bok Bok's "Silo Pass", and on another occasion played what I can only guess was his own bootleg of Kanye's "All of the Lights". It wasn't all unreleased stuff of course, with Commodo finding time to play Mala's "Level Nine", Joker & Jake's "3K Lane" and Benga's "Flame" at various points. His set was my personal favourite and a big part of that was due to the variation of songs in his selection. It is honestly hard to pick what to mention when he's playing everything from Hudson Mohawke's "Chimes" to Faze Miyake's "Firefly". A definite final highlight for me was when he played Gantz' forthcoming and hotly anticipated "Witch Blues" as his outro, which according to Selah had been requested by members of the crowd. It's felt like a perfect note to draw things to a close on, especially since I'd been hoping to get a chance to hear it played out.
Overall, The Wire Deep Medi session was a great night which - apart from the brief formation of a mosh pit at one point - had great atmosphere and (as detailed above) great music. The soundsystem did everybody and every-track justice, and I was sad when it ended. However with the DMZ Leeds / SubDub 17th Birthday Party on the way, the best is surely yet to come. No doubt this won't be Mala's last Leeds appearance for long; the only question is who will be joining him for the next one?
Words by Arthur Seaward