Leeds has had a strong injection to its scene through a brand new multi-purpose music and events space; Canal Mills. Once a mill integral to the heart of the city’s textile industry during the industrial revolution, Canal Mills now embarks upon a wholly different type of revolution; one of ‘art_music_culture’.
With the space already set to host huge parties from the likes of Wax:on, Metropolis and 2020 Vision with DJs such as; Simian Mobile Disco, Julio Bashmore, Tensnake, Maya Jane Coles, Ralph Lawson, Simon Baker, Pearson Sound, Boddika, Skream and Benga, the electronic music edge of the Canal Mills coin is looking very healthy. However, as the ‘art_music_culture’ motto implies, there will be a lot more to come from this incredibly diverse venue. We caught up with Mark Newton, Director at Sound Channel (the company behind Canal Mills), to find out all about the exciting new venue and what they have got in store for the coming months.
Could you talk me through the layout and setup of the space at Canal Mills?
It’s pretty much a blank canvas, we’re going to have a regular fixed set up that we use for music events which consists of a large main room, a foyer bar area where you enter into the club and then a smaller second room but to honest 90% of the venue is completely flexible and we can change the layout quite quickly and easily. We’ve made it so that we can cater for a number of different events, be it music, arts, all sorts really.
What attracted you to this particular building?
We wanted to do something different to what else was going on in the city. We had looked at a number of different places, but this place had its history with it being an old mill and we wanted somewhere that had a bit of history and heritage behind it, somewhere that was really unique and different to anywhere else.
Has it required a lot of work to get it into shape for the opening?
It’s not been a lot of work really. A lot of it has been tidying it up more than anything because it’s not been used as a mill for quite some time. It’s just been getting it to a nice standard finish and a bit more fit to purpose really.
What aspect of the venue are you most excited about?
How it will feel all together when you come into the venue. It’s very raw, very stripped back. We’re putting a lot of effort into how it feels, with installations, lighting and things like that. When you go into it as a music event it’s not going to feel like you’re in a night club, it’s not going to feel like you’re in a warehouse, it’s going to have a very unique feel to it and it’s something that we are trying to carry through into all the other events we’ve got on as well.
What inspired you to take the leap from events to owning and running a venue such as this?
It was something that we all wanted to do. One of the guys who works at Sound Channel already owns a number of venues in Leeds but none of them were exactly what we wanted in order to do this sort of project. It’s something that’s been on the cards for a long time and we came across the building maybe five or six months ago and it just felt like the right space and right time to do it.
How do see owning a venue such as Canal Mills will affect the final product you deliver to your Wax:on and Metropolis regulars?
Massively, as we’ve got complete control over everything now. We have worked with some amazing venues in the past and everything we’ve done with other venues in Leeds in the past has been really good but to have complete control over every aspect we can make it pretty much perfect for our customers.
The diversity of the venue is an aspect which caught my eye, are you able to tell us about some of your plans for the venue beyond the club nights?
At the minute we’re looking to do a lot of creative stuff. We’re going to have some art exhibitions and installations coming up over the next few months. The first one is pencilled in on 13th October but I can’t really say too much more about it until we’ve finalised all the details. We want the space to be open to many different things. We’re still waiting till we’ve got the finished product and seeing how its laid out and how it runs before we work out exactly how and where we’re going to do everything but we’ll be booking in art exhibitions, art installations, film screenings, some productions, product launches – we’re going to go completely across the board and just put in a really nice mix of creative events.
For the most part, the first six events released imply that the venue could be open every weekend. Will there be a conscious effort to host events every weekend or will it become more sporadic over time?
Definitely a sporadic thing. We don’t want to be seen as a Friday, Saturday sort of venue because at the end of it we’re not a music venue, we’re a creative space more than anything else. I think the opening four weeks we’re open three out of the four weekends and we’ve got a complete shut down on one of the weekends. There’s no conscious effort that we feel we have to fill the diary with things. The whole mind set when we came into it is to put stuff on that we think is appealing or interesting, that people will want to come to rather than just filling diary for the sake of it.
Article by Alex Ogilvie
Images courtesy of Canal Mills