The UK is home to many cities with a rich music scene, and Leeds is definitely up there with the best of them. Cheap rents have led to an abundance of intimate venues forming within the inner city, while the wealth of dedicated party crews mean you can always find somewhere to dance on any weekend if you look hard enough. Amy Alford is one of the passionate heads that’s come from this thriving scene.
Becoming involved in the city’s music community after university, Alford co-founded Audio Chronicles with Alex Ogilvie in 2014, a small party of mostly local DJs playing eclectic music to an open crowd. The pair also started their own show on KMAH Radio, a station based in Leeds and one of the country’s best platforms for emerging electronic talent.
Musically Alford’s taste is varied, but you can usually bet on hearing a mix of 90s deep house alongside more recent minimal. This is probably easiest to hear through her ongoing KMAH Radio slot, while her recent move to the capital means she can be found playing out increasingly in London too. On 1st December she makes her club debut with Leeds duo PBR Streetgang, so she demonstrated her broad palette in a mix of slow-burning house cuts for us.
It’s very electronic led featuring some of my favourite producers. Some tracks have sentimental value and others I’ve been playing for years. I wanted to collate years of digging and whack in as many different styles as I could. Hopefully you get a feel for my record collection, and an insight of what’s to come next weekend.
Where did you find most of the records featured?
Most of the tunes I already had although some of the early releases took a lot of digging to source. I’m still working on finding all of Thomas Melchior’s… I’m a big store digger but now more of an online (obsessed) shopper now as it’s so accessible. I’m into glitchy and deep stuff from the 90s, which can often be tricky to bag as it’s either hard to find or expensive for original pressings. But recently there’s been an incredible roster of represses from this era: Gemini on Peacefrog, Horseshoe on Cabinet and Titonton Duvanté on Residual. It’s wicked to finally add those records to my collection.
How do you think the electronic music landscape in Leeds is right now?
It’s thriving! I lived in the city for seven years and it’s constantly evolving. From the early days at The Garden Party on Faversham Terrace to Louche at Mint Club, Butter Side Up at Wire and most recently On Rotation at The 212 Café & Bar. It’s a city with an immense offering; there’s something for every taste, and a lot of great DJs and producers playing every weekend. The people really make the music landscape. There’s an ever-developing community of talented and inspiring people. Some of the best parties are intimate events like Brudenell Groove, Nord and Puddles; these are mostly run by innovative student promoters each offering a different perspective. Another great element is the LGBTQ and female-led offering. Love Muscle at Wharf Chambers is a one of a kind party that promotes a free and safe space regardless of sexual preference or gender. The atmosphere is electric, inhibitions go straight out the window as well as some clothing… There’s also Equaliser, who highlight and enhance talent from females, transgender and non-binary DJs. As a female DJ, I’ve always felt I had a place, a voice and records that wanted to be heard in a mostly male-led scene. I’ve played many all-female parties, and let some incredible female DJs. Leeds is extremely welcoming – it’s special to have a community that advocates so much freedom of expression.
How would you describe Audio Chronicles for someone who’s never been before?
When Alex [Ogilvie, Audio Chronicles co-founder] and I met, we both shared a love of music but had different musical backgrounds. Alex was heavily influenced by jazz, while mine was 4x4. Our aim was to create an eclectic party shaped around a ‘non-genre’ policy. We tried to join the dots across jazz, disco, house, and beyond. We mainly booked local talent for each party, meaning there was a different crowd outside of our beloved regulars. It meant we grew naturally. For the past year this went on in The 212 Café Bar, an intimate place with a beautiful system and Urei rotary mixer. The parties we had were lively, energetic, and full of friendly faces. Sadly now I’m based in London these have taken a back burner, but our name lives on through our KMAH show and regular Leeds dates. We’re planning to reveal a proper send-off early next year…
What’s your connection to KMAH Radio?
About three years ago, there was word of a radio station launching in Leeds. I remember chatting to Hamish, one of the founders, about it – it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss. Alex and I were living together at the time, and we had plans to start a party. Launching a radio show with it seemed logical. We were lucky enough to be one of the first bi-monthly shows on the station. It’s a great platform for the Leeds scene, and it gives the city some well-deserved exposure. For us it’s been a great opportunity to promote Audio Chronicles, and to have our music heard outside of Leeds.
What does it mean to be making your EC1 debut as part of this line-up?
It’s massive. Mad even. I consider fabric an institution, I’ve spent a number of nights in awe there. The sound system, the crowd and atmosphere are like no other. It’s a bucket list tick, so I’m eagerly awaiting my debut. The line-up is also important. I’ve known Tom and Bonar (PBR Streetgang) for a couple of years, but prior to that I’d seen them play many times. When they invited me to play, it reminded me of a picture I took of them DJing in Leeds almost 8 years ago: a 19 year old music enthusiast, aspiring to get behind the decks. Now I’ll be alongside them rather than cheering at the front. They’ve been so supportive, and they’re also great fun to be around. As for Man Power, he’s got a wicked sound which he nails so effortlessly. I love his high-energy sets, so I’m looking forward to hearing what quirky cuts he’ll be playing.