An eye for talent: Airspace is encouraging the next generation - Features - Mixmag

An eye for talent: Airspace is encouraging the next generation

Airspace is a Leeds-based collective with a forward-thinking ethos

  • Becky Buckle
  • 3 March 2022

Functions is our new interview series profiling parties from across the world. This week we meet: Airspace.

Heralding in a new generation of talent, Airspace prides itself on encouraging up-and-comers to experiment and let loose. Founded whilst studying at Leeds University, Elliot Peters-McCarten and Sacha Pannell joined forces after discovering they both had an equal enthusiasm for electronic.

You can find Airspace setting up shop at venues such as Hifi and Wire where the pair regularly throw cutting-edge nights that never sink below 130 BPM. Hosting artists such as Bakey, Ragga Twins and Disrupta to delight crowds all over Leeds with a mix of UK garage, breaks, drum 'n' bass and jungle — Airspace has got a knack for keeping crowds on their toes.

Read this next: Special moments with music: Pleasure club inspires dancers to let loose

Bubbling with new talent and fresh faces, Airspace is a collective that is orientated around providing a platform for artists to showcase themselves to new audiences. Now, just over a year old, Airspace has already secured its place in the Leeds party circuit - with more to come, including a new imprint focused on productions from the next generation of electronic devotees.

Watch this (Air)space.

How and when did Airspace start?

We both attend university in Leeds and just got the idea of throwing our own parties. We jointly had a real passion for electronic music and realised very quickly that we make an incredible team — Sacha's business and marketing degree is an absolute goldmine of knowledge for us. We're super grateful to have found each other.

What was the inspiration behind the name Airspace?

We wanted our party to be unique. It’s way too easy to model yourself on brands that inspire you, so [we] wanted something original.

Who else is behind Airspace?

We own Airspace and direct it creatively, but it's grown to the extent that we've had to get some of our friends involved. We enjoy lots of support from the local scene and have launched a community group called "Airspace Hub" which allows creatives to interact, share and offers opportunities for up and coming DJs and producers to play sets at our events.

What music is commonly heard at an Airspace ran event?

Our sound is heavily influenced by the early jungle movement, but you'll also hear a range of garage, breaks, drum ‘n’ bass at our parties and we try to celebrate all these sounds and acknowledge the rich cultural history from which they arose. Tracks that you can expect to hear played at our events include, Breaka’s ‘Mass Gathering’, Bakey’s ‘Take it Futher’, Tim Reaper’s ‘Pull Up’ remix and Shimon’s Night Flight remix.

How often do you host nights and where can we expect to find one in Leeds?

We tend to steer clear of hosting weekly events in the same venue, we want quality, not quantity. We want each Airspace experience to feel unique, so we give ourselves time to curate fresh line-ups and to book exciting new venues. In the future, we plan to host Airspace parties in unique and unusual locations, well-established clubs, and culturally significant spaces.

What is unique about Airspace?

We are all about promoting talent, regardless of whether the artist is an undiscovered producer playing their first DJ set or a highly regarded and well-established name. Under this ethos, we hope to give exposure to new artists, whilst at the same time introducing our audience to music they may never have listened to before.

Read this next: Community spirit: How DIY culture is transforming Leeds' music scene

Who has performed at Airspace and what do you look for when booking a DJ?

Some of our favourite bookings have been the younger, next-generation DJs and producers who have been absolutely taking off. If you haven’t already heard of Bakey and Toby Ross I would really encourage you to go and check them out. Bakey is a Leeds-based producer who has carved out a completely unique sound in a short time, and we absolutely love his style and were so proud to have him at our debut event in 2021. Toby Ross, on the other hand, is one of the most talented artists we have come across. He is a jungle revivalist and is pushing a completely modern, clean-cut and heavy-hitting sound in the jungle and drum ‘n’ bass scene. He has become a good friend of ours. Another underground, up and coming artist who we must highlight is Papa Nugs, he started growing a local following and has had some incredible releases in the last year.

How would you describe the music scene in Leeds?

I think there’s a real balance between old school promoters and club nights, alongside emerging student talent. There are a variety of different clubs which offer underground music, with our favourites being Wire, Hifi and Beaver Works. For us, we have loved spending time at Pirate Studios and meeting lots of new DJs and producers.

Can you tell me more about Airspace's mixes?

We are launching a brand-new mix series in the next few months that focus on the visual experience as opposed to just an auditory one. We are hoping to book some incredible artists from the garage, breaks and drum ‘n’ bass scene. This will be launching on YouTube soon so watch out for that.

What has been your most memorable moment with Airspace?

Our first event. To know that our planning and hard work was behind the smooth running of that night was so rewarding. During this time, we were hyper-aware of the spiking epidemic in UK clubs, we wanted to ensure everyone was safe, particularly those in a more vulnerable state or those identifying as women. We released a statement promising drinks covers, vigilant security and spike tests kits — Elliot's girlfriend was even on the door offering the drinks covers to anyone who wanted one to make sure those who were anxious regarding the situation could feel reassured.

Read this next: The Secret DJ: If you're serious about being a DJ, nothing will stop you

What's next for Airspace?

Once we complete our degrees this year we will invest all our time and energy into Airspace. Behind the scenes, we are already preparing for the launch of the Airspace record label and enjoy wide support from an array of talented producers who are currently working with us via submissions and demos as we continue to refine our sound. Other than the label, we plan to expand Airspace beyond Leeds into other cities, with a long-term aim of throwing parties all across the country. A dream of ours would be to run our own festival.

Follow Airspace on Instagram.

Becky Buckle is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter

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