I’ve not written for a while. I read my last post back and I felt that it was very negative and I didn’t even end up sharing it on any social media. That was quite early on in the lockdown. Since then I’ve been a lot more upbeat, and assuming that this doesn’t go on forever (it won’t), there has been a lot of good to take from this. For me, these are some of things I’ve realised I’m grateful for right now…
Time is everything. There is always so much to do and so few hours in the day. It was particularly difficult for me in the six months or so before this, because I was working on doing up a space, building up a business and then all the other stuff I do anyway – putting on events, gigs at weekends etc. That was all amazing, but I’m someone who is constantly getting ideas popping into my head out of nowhere for music, art, stuff to write about, etc. and to have no time to get these ideas down was painful. One thing this has brought is more time – and it’s meant I’ve had time to work on music, start some new paintings, write, draw, start sorting out stuff for our label. And after months of discussing it and not getting anything done, I’ve had time to rebuild and relaunch the DIY Leeds site.
Having not seen a lot of my close mates for time now, I realise how much they mean to me. Not that I didn’t, but it’s not necessarily something you stop and this about all the time. I can’t wait to catch up with everyone again. And without the friends around me who I’ve spent lockdown with, this would have been horrible. Before this I thought I liked spending time alone – and I do – but I wouldn’t want to do it indefinitely. I’ve lived in house shares and spent days in my room tinkering about with music, and that’s always been great, but what I’ve realised is that part of what makes that possible is knowing that there’s always someone on the other side of the door; that any time I could emerge from my pit and grab a beer or a coffee and there’ll be someone downstairs who’ll share an amusing anecdote with me, or tell me about something that they’re working on. Or I’ll just walk downstairs into some absurd scenario and laugh my head off at it. To have this is important.
The kindness of people
The kindness of some of my mates is wonderful. When the lockdown was first announced I was in a bit of a dilemma. I wasn’t sure how easy it would be for me to get to my studio – where at the moment pretty much everything I need to make art and music are. At the time it wasn’t clear how much our movement would be restricted. I’d also ended up in a situation where I was living under the radar – not through my own choice, or what I’d planned too do – and I decided that the best thing to do would be for me to go and live in our studio, Now, on paper this sounds brilliant, but there would have been drawbacks. There’s no shower or washing machine and it’s freezing cold at night. It seemed like the best option at the time though. I have a minus 18 sleeping bag and friends nearby, so I asked my mates if they would let me come round for a shower and use their washing machine if I chipped in for bills. Their immediate response was to say that I should just come and stay with them and then I could go to the studio in the day. I can’t even explain how grateful I am for this.
Beyond, the immediate, just observing the thoughts and actions of a lot of other people has been quite restoring. One thing that stuck with me was a mate telling me that he was worrying about what would happen to the window cleaner after his and other businesses closed for the lockdown. I mean to think of that at a time when you yourself have so many pressing concerns is a really nice thing. And last week my friend took water, a prescription and toilet rolls round to his uni mate who can’t leave his flat as he’s not well due to something non-covid related. People do these things. It’s good to be reminded that the world isn’t all greed and selfishness.
The beautiful weather
It’s been glorious. Just going out and waling in the sunshine has been wonderful. I’m glad we’ve had a nice Spring.
Things in Leeds that aren’t music and the sesh
Obviously, I love music and a good session, but another thing that I’ve always liked about Leeds is the number of green spaces that are so close to the centre. There are loads of lovely places to go for walks and it’s been nice to have time to do that.
Free software for an extended time
At the beginning of the lockdown someone shared a post with me about Adobe offering 3 months free subscription (it’s now 2, but still good, obviously) to people with the Creative Cloud package. I honestly thought this was a scam, but at a time like that I also thought it was worth investigating. It wasn’t a scam. Thank you Adobe.
You can also get Ableton on a 90-day free trial at the moment. Usually it’s just 30 days. Definitely worth getting if you’ve been interested in getting into production and now find you have more time on your hands.
DJs Live Streaming and radio shows
I’ve seen a few people complaining about the number of livestreams happening, and I do see the funny side of the ‘Jeez, is every fucker doing a live stream now?’ But seriously, thank fuck for this. It’s great to listen to people playing live and to be able to do this yourself. Doing my show on Emergency FM every week has been something I’ve really looked forward to and enjoyed, and it’s been good to see places like 212 keeping up the interest in what would have been the events there by creating these online events.
I’m also glad to be able to look to the future and think about a lot of things that I took for granted before and how much I’m looking forward to being able to do them again. There’s loads of stuff you do that you don’t even realise is anything until you can’t do it.
Catching up with mates
And not even just my close friends, just everyone. There are so many people who become a regular part of your life, and you don’t really even know them that well, but it’s a great thing when you every now and then run into them in a bar or at a party. You just expect this to always be the case. Running into people in the supermarket and realising that you can’t stop and chat for ages and probably won’t see them again for a while really brings home the weirdness of it all.
Sitting in the park with a big group of people
Such a normal thing to do. And brought to mind especially now when the weather has been so lovely. We might not even get to do his again until next year, and when we do it will be glorious.
“I’d really love to go to South America.”
“I’d just love to go to my mates house right now.”
(This was an actual conversation a few days ago)
It’s amazing to see the world, and the ease of being able to roam freely around the globe has been something we’ve just had and not questioned. I can’t wait to be able to go abroad again. My mate Ben made a journey plan for a European record shop road trip. This is happening.
Browsing tunes in record shops
Sure, you can listen to clips when you browse online, but to just go through a load of two quid records made years ago by people you’ve never heard of and find a gem. You can kind of do that on Discogs if you delve really deep into stuff, but it’s not quite the same. And just the experience of actually being there and listening to the records is a lot different.
Browsing vintage shops
This is what actually set me off thinking about all this. I was looking through the photos on my phone for a screenshot of a hilarious message my mate had sent me ages ago and stumbled on various memories, and I found one of me in a vintage shop and I thought ‘Fuck, I can’t just do this. I can’t just go right now and browse mad shit in a vintage shop’. Weird things like that which aren’t even a big part of your life but you enjoy doing them. I’m not one for trailing around shops – I find it very tedious – but if I pass a good vintage or antique shop and I have a bit of time, I’ll always go in and take a look. Also about once or twice a year I go to Hemswell Antiques Centre, which is absolutely wonderful. It’s on an old air base and you can spend the whole day there and find all manner of everything. I am definitely doing that again when I can.
Going for a meal in a restaurant
Again, something that you just do. You don’t expect to not be able to go out for a meal. And there are so many good places to eat in Leeds.
For someone with bleached, sometimes dyed mad colours, straightened hair and a leopard print undercut, home haircuts are a bit of a grim thought. My hairdresser Charlie is absolutely amazing and it’s amazing to look in the mirror and see yourself with ace hair. I am absolutely dying to be able to have good hair again.
Going to my favourite bars
I remember when this all started, I observed with a sort of bitter amusement that we could not, after all, go to the Winchester, have a cold pint, and wait for this all to blow over. I can’t wait to have a cold pint in a bar again. Seeing the Cardigan Arms all shut up, just across the road from where our studio is, is weird and dispiriting. And to not be able to just pop into Outlaws for a pint or a coffee, as I did so often, without even realising what a big part of my life it all was, is strange.
I recently shared an article in the Independent, because it was one of the worst things I’d ever read. Jane Fae was expressing her view that she’d be glad if the pubs remained closed until Christmas. This is somebody who’s missed the point on so many levels. Firstly, has she not thought about all the bar owners who’s livelihoods may be at stake here. And what about all their employees? So many people work in hospitality. And she selfishly spouts her opinion that she hopes bars stay closed because she herself once had a drink problem. Well, sorry love, but it isn’t all about that. Going to your local isn’t just about drinking. It’s about socialising. Not necessarily just with your close friends or family, but the wider circle of people you meet through these places, and who’s company you enjoy. Beyond that, a lot of bars aren’t just venues for people to go and buy beer. They are venues for gigs, exhibitions, art clubs, spoken word nights – positive things that makes peoples’ lives a little better and bring people together.
And it is lovely to have a cold pint in a bar.
Yesterday, me and my housemates were planning a crawl of all our favourite bars, when this is finally possible again. I rarely ever even do pub crawls any more, but this will be great fun. We realised that part of it could involve as nice walk along the canal as well. Again, something you take for granted to be able to do in the summer – have a walk along the canal and stop in various pubs for a pint and a bit of food.
I hope the pubs don’t stay closed until Christmas, and I hope they all survive.
Throwing a big fuck off party
Near the beginning of the lockdown, my mate said that he wished he could teleport back to New Year’s Eve at the Imaginarium, and fucking hell so do I. It’s probably a while off yet, but when it’s again possible, I am going to throw a big fuck off party.
Having a mix with my mates
Obviously, I can still have a mix. But there are always certain specific people who you always bounce off, and now they’re locked down in one place and they’re locked down in another and you can’t just go round and have a mix. And big fuck off sessions where there were about 30 DJs and everyone was complaining about the queue for the decks. I would give anything to be able to be in a room where everyone has to queue for the decks again. I miss those times. Or the weekend where me and my mate ended up mixing back to back for about 48 hours because for some reason nobody else who turned up the whole time was a DJ. From just after midnight on Friday until early hours Monday morning, there was a constant influx of different groups of people round mine, and we played tunes the whole time, just two of us, back to back. On the Monday, my neck hurt.
I would love to be in a crowded nightclub right now. Oversold clubs have always annoyed me, but not being able to go to them at all is much worse. Hearing tunes on a big system, dancing all night, running into all the mad people you run into, everyone in this mad, wonderful melting pot together. I can’t wait for that again.
Going somewhere where I can dress up in mad clothes
I mean, obviously you can wear what you want any time, and I always dress for myself and not for any particular reason, but there are still limits. I can’t really wear a gold leotard to walk down Kirkstall Road to my studio.
Have mates round for dinner
Such a simple thing. And something we all did often. It’s been great staying here, because we’ve all chipped in on a food shop every week and cooked for each other. In July, we’re all moving into another house together and I can’t wait to have a load of friends round and cook a big meal. We often used to do it as part of having meetings about our events and it was a nice way to get together in a non-sash scenario. Although sometimes it would end up becoming a sesh.
Of course. But I don’t just mean this in a shallow way. There’s a lot more to it the sash than a lot of people think. If you’re the guy sat in the corner in a k-hole the whole time maybe not, but for me – and for a lot of people – it’s a very positive experience. it’s never wasted time because you’re often playing tunes the whole time, and you also get into some amazing conversations. And to have this mad, extended bonding experience with people is something I can’t quite put into words. We’ve managed some micro-sessions during the lockdown, but not the full mad experience. Even if you did, it wouldn’t be the same. Part of what’s great about it is when you end up on some mad adventure or in a deep conversation with someone you met that night. A lot of friendships start that way. And the absurdity that comes with some of the random encounters is priceless too. I can’t get into an anecdote here, because there are too many.
So yeah, I’m looking forward to life slowly resuming itself when it does. And whatever positives I’ve taken from this, I’d rather it hadn’t happened, and the obvious aside, there are many things about this that have concerned me or just straight up pissed me off. All the 5g people have driven me insane. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s also the worrying factor of how this could be used to control and track people. The introduction of tracking wristbands does not sit comfortably with me. In fact, I find it a lot more scary than the thought of a global pandemic. The economic implications of it all are worrying too. But it’s happened, and it will pass, and I think I’ve learned a lot from this strange experience.