Interview: Lo Shea

In the depths of Sheffield’s industrial basin lies Hope Works, an ex-warehouse space renowned for showcasing upcoming DJs and some of the best clubnights in the north. We chat to Lo Shea, resident and curator of the venue, and founder of record label of the same denomination.

Hi Liam, great to catch up ahead of your Tramlines set. What can people expect?

Expect raw house and acid rave delivered on the world’s leading club sound system, the Void Incubus. There are only a handful of these sound systems in existence, so to get one for Hope Works is epic. It will be a massive sound, with some of the world’s best proponents of this sound playing all night. It’s going to be heavy, bumping house music with all the elements of a Sheffield warehouse rave included.

The venue has secured another stellar dance line-up this year. From your experience of running the venue and holding a DJ residency, what would you say is the ethos?

The ethos is clear: be creative and adventurous. First and foremost, I try to make the sonic production the best it can be. That is the base on which I place the wonderfully talented artists so they can perform to the maximum of their ability.

As a city, Sheffield is steeped in electronic music heritage – from the likes of Cabaret Voltaire to Jamie Duggan. What were your influences when getting into DJing?

My influences were very wide-ranging, not just from Sheffield. As someone who grew up in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s original rave era, I was influenced by the whole acid house and bleep sound; I also liked proto jungle tracks from ‘91 onwards. I actually came to Sheffield in late ‘91 from Nottingham, where I was born. I had already heard seminal tracks like ‘Track With No Name’ by Forgemasters and Sweet Exorcist ‘Testone’ – both were released by a fledgling Sheffield label called ‘Warp’ – and of course, the rest is history. I’ve always gravitated towards raw, bass-heavy electronic music, and also music that felt futuristic with emotional content. The music of this era: the warehouse parties, raves, free parties all influenced me and a growing DJ and producer. Sheffield should be proud of this heritage, the city is credited with starting the bleep sound and the Warp label is still recognised at one of the most important labels in electronic music worldwide.

You’ve become known as something of a stalwart of the Sheffield dance scene. Could you tell us a bit about how things have changed over the years?

Many things have changed. Styles of music have come and gone. People’s desire to party hasn’t changed though! In a way, things have come full circle – after the early rave days of acid house, warehouse raves and illegal parties, things were sanitised through new laws and nightclubs took over. I saw the funky house boom; I saw Niche music develop and explode as a phenomenon in the north; I saw electro music start running the show for a while. But that is what happens with live music across all genres. Over the past few years, there’s been a real change and kids want to experience that original freedom of dancing to music in warehouses.

What do you think it is about the city which cultivates such creativity and talent when it comes to dance music?

Sheffield HAD to become good at working with little. You hear it in stories from The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire and Heaven 17 – people had nothing after the Thatcher government ruined a lot of the industry and communities here. Sheffield people have just got on with it. This hardworking determination in the face of being forgotten (as I imagine it felt) seems to have seeped into the consciousness here. When applied to music and art, this leads to great innovation and truly great works of meaning and consequence.

Are the any lesser-known dance acts performing this year that you’d recommend to the Tramlines late-night audience?

Apart from Bodyjack and Luca Lozano (at Hope Works), there are also a massive bunch of great Sheffield DJs playing in the Rave Cave. Other than that, I think just visiting any of the other old warehouses like Yellow Arch and The Night Kitchen is bound to help you to discover some great new artists.

Catch Lo Shea Saturday July 25  at Hope Works Room 1 from 3am, as part of Tramlines festival.

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