Going from strength to strength in 2014, Bobby O’Donnell has had a heavy schedule for the better part of this year. In January he was featured on Fred P’s Selected: Compiled for Soul People Music, his label Strobewax which is co-run by fellow Mint resident Annie Errez, has recently released their third EP & with a few more solo releases planned for the start of 2015 it doesn’t look like things will be slowing down any time soon.
How long have you been living in Leeds for & was there any specific reason behind moving from Blackpool?
There were many reasons really but mainly due to being at the same place for too long. I’d lived there since I was four years old and wanted a change. Also, my mate Foz had started a night called ‘The Dirty Disco’, I was coming over to Leeds to play there and just decided to leave Blackpool and move to Leeds. I since found a large amount of Blackpuddlians/Sandgronians that were there too. I don’t want to go down the easy route and say Blackpool is a dump, as it’s not. There are some really bad parts but also some great parts too. More recently my friend Chinny has put on a day/night event called ‘Alfresco’ – He has booked a lot of acts from Andrew Weatherall, Mr Scruff, Shit Robot and coming soon E.S.G. will play Blackpool Cricket Club. He and Danny Gomez are also working on a project called ‘Blackpool Through The Eyes Of Others’ to rectify its tarnished name. It’s amazing to see people trying to rid Blackpool of it’s bad image.
Have you noticed any shift in momentum, positive or negative, for the underground electronic scene in Leeds since moving?
Yeah, Leeds is constantly changing, as is music I guess. There has been changes in Leeds but all in all, if you at the right night, at the right time, then it will work. I guess one thing is that Leeds has too much on offer, or there are ‘too many’ nights here. It’s a shame more people aren’t fully into it, as I’ve seen some nights with amazing bookings come and go. I mean there are many busy nights that deserve to be but if Leeds were more like Berlin, for example, then more nights would sustain; & more record shops!
I did noticed that there were a few well-known venues & nights shutting down in 2013/14 whilst simultaneously Butter Side Up, Mint Club & Louche are stronger than ever. Is there much opposition from the government conservatives or is it down to the culture & demographic?
I think a lot of places shut down because times are tough financially. Not everywhere can keep abreast while there’s a lot of competition, I can only assume that as I don’t own a club. The Mint Club has always been diverse with the nights they have on and it’s now busy most nights of the week and every weekend. In terms of club nights and cultural demographic, Butter Side Up are a great example of how it should be done. They have grown naturally from mates playing records, to a really buzzing night. They book whoever they want, all the residents are their friends who are great DJ’s and serious record collectors.
Tell us a little bit about how you started your Strobewax label, who you run with fellow Mint resident Annie Errez.
Well we have both been residents for System since 2007 and have DJ’d many times with each other (mostly System events). It was just the right thing to do at that time, mainly because we were both making music and started to release it. I think getting your own releases is a big confidence boost to starting your own thing too, as it’s a case of, “well if they think it’s good, then I might just start my own label” A bonus of doing your own label is that we don’t send half as many demos out. We are lucky to know people who design and other people who run labels, so acquiring the often ‘holy grail’ bits of information wasn’t too tricky.
Was there a conscious decision to branch out & release other artists production?
To be quite blunt it’s tough for us, as we pay for 100% of Strobewax, no P&D deal etc, so we want to put out as many of our tunes as possible. That said, we will release other peoples music and we put out a V/A recently (Waxology 01) which had Drummond, Josh T and Anaxander on it, so we aren’t adverse to the idea at all. Ideally, if the label works out really well, then we would certainly put out more people. We definitely want to.
Tell us a bit more about the artists you just mention, how did you start working with them?
Well I’ve known Josh for years through Louche/Mint Club and generally by living in Leeds; actually Foz, who I mentioned earlier, booked him in like 2006 or something like that. Drummond is one of my best mates & we have some projects on the go at the moment and finally I met Anaxander purely through music and sending each other tracks. He’s a really good guy and has the right attitude, they all are. I think that’s more important than anything, that you all get on socially. Even if it is a bit idealistic.
Early this year your track ‘The Shards of Our Childhood’ feature on Fred P’s ‘Selected: Compiled’ compilation, what was the idea behind the track & how did this release happen?
Well I didn’t really have an idea. I turned the 808 on was messing around with a melody, that sounded a bit like a fairground. So I made a tune that, to me, has some loose audio references growing up. It got released purely by me sending it to Fred P and he said he wanted to use it. It wasn’t long after I knew Fred wanted it, then it was out, really quick to be honest. He certainly let’s the music do the talking.
Could you explain the concept behind this mix for us?
Well I wanted to do a mix that was a bit weirder than the previous one really, that’s it. I just pressed record and mixed it.
Did you include any upcoming or unreleased material that you can tell us about?
I didn’t mate, just some old and new records that I have.
What do you have planned for the remainder of 2014, for both yourself & the label?
I have another remix out at some point on Sean Dixon’s Final Chapter, which is a great label and an EP on another really good label, but don’t wanna say and jinx it. The gigs have started to come in a bit more, which is exactly what I wanted. Both Annie & myself are playing at Chalet 15th November and Gibraltar on the 20th December. I can’t wait to go over there just before Christmas! That and a few UK gigs too, Nottingham 13/12 and Mint Club first Saturday of every month, then we’re ending the year playing at Below, which I cannot contain my excitement about! As for Strobewax, I think we will release more next year, as we don’t want to go too crazy with releases. It’s nice to just have a steady flow I think.
Are you able to narrow down your favourite piece of work from Steve Coogan?
I suppose the best answer and most successful character is Alan Partridge, however that would be too easy an answer. I am borderline obsessed with everything Steve Coogan puts his name to and own everything he has released. Even from his Coogan’s Run characters (Gareth Cheeseman being a favourite) to Saxondale, via Duncan Thickett, or Tony Ferrino, you can tell his gift of nuance towards his characters is unparalleled and have been thoroughly scrutinised. The devil is very much in the detail. There are many layers to his comedy, even when parodying himself in ‘The Trip’ he won’t be giving himself away fully, and instead hints at his public persona Vs his actual persona. Actually on his ‘Live and Lewd’ tour their are some brilliant extras in-between the stand up comedy bits, where he plays an exaggerated version of himself, a good 15-20 years before it got trendy. It’s a treat for the geek that’s for sure. In answer to your question, probably Steve Coogan – Live ‘n’ Lewd or Alan Partridge.
What records haven’t left your bag recently?
Vakula – Leleka 2 (Leleka) (will never leave my bag)
DJ Qu – Raw 7 (Strength US)
Bill Youngman – Track 4 (Taanasfl)
Various – Adventures In Techno Soul 3 (Ferox)
Various – Waxology 01 (Strobewax)