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Something in the Works: an Interview with Hope Works curator/resident Lo Shea

We caught up with Hope Works curator/resident Lo Shea following another huge 12 months at the ever-innovative underground venue, which saw them nominated for Best Small Club by DJ Mag, and kick off No Bounds Festival… With his first release on Dusky’s label just out and a mixtape for the Feel My Bicep blog under his belt, Lo Shea is just hitting his stride.

How do you plan to build on a massive year for Hope Works?
I hope I can build on 2017 by keeping things growing. All I can say is I have lots of big things planned and will try my absolute best to deliver for this city; providing great things for people to see and do in an environment that has passion, hope and creativity at its heart.The winter listings were released last month. Are there any bookings you are particularly proud of?
I’m proud of them all. I think this season in particular shows just how much I’m supporting diversity and inclusive lineups of experimental music, this as well as providing huge shows like the Dusky tour. I’ve also been the first to finally bring The Black Madonna to Sheffield, something a lot of people have been waiting for and another first achieved at Hope Works.You were nominated for ‘Small Club of the Year’ by DJ Mag recently alongside institutions like Sub Club (the longest running underground dance club in the world). How does it feel to have come so far in just over five years?
It’s such a great accolade to be nominated for, especially being alongside major institutions like Sub Club and Corsica Studios. I feel it’s a great indicator that Hope Works has made an impact nationally – and internationally now – in a relatively short space of time. This is something I’m so happy to see. I was also nominated for Best Resident DJ, which was incredible too. I was alongside people like Terry Francis and DJ Harvey – what a crazy and humbling thing! I think Sheffield is definitely being again seen as a major city for great northern clubbing experiences, and now, with No Bounds, this offering is expanded into a city where forward-thinking programming has a firm home. To me, it shows something really positive about the people in the city and our creative community.

Speaking of No Bounds, what were the challenges in branching out from club nights and hosting and curating a festival?
There’s a whole other level of organisation and workload involved in doing a festival. In concept and action it’s much bigger than a club night, which becomes a minuscule task in comparison. It took me a whole year to plan and deliver it from conception; I can honestly say that doing that alongside the bookings for Hope Works and my own work as an artist was a real challenge, but I did it. Last year is definitely going down as a pivotal one for me as so much new ground was broken. Having to plan things on a big scale while changing from ‘creative mode’ to ‘organised business mode’ was a big challenge. It was my firm belief in the idea of No Bounds that made it a reality in the end; I have the passion and desire to support experimental music and also create a new, inclusive and diverse platform for creativity here in Sheffield.

Do you that think No Bounds’ niche is what has driven its success?
I’m hoping its focus and vision, as well as its relation to contemporary culture, has had a part in its success. I wanted it to be a very bold first step forward from the start within the programming of it, to make a statement for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. It didn’t follow the typical thought process for a festival in the UK; it was a mixture of my own design. It started small and boutique, but in spirit I still wanted it to be something that can join the global conversation that’s going on. Unsound [Krakow], Sonar [Barcelona], Atonal [Berlin], CTM [Berlin], Rewire [Netherlands], Mutek [Montreal] – these festivals are standard bearers for music and contemporary art. But I also wanted No Bounds to be something that engages with Sheffield itself, by using various spaces around the city. The reviews in the press were unanimously great too, which was such a vote of confidence for the festival. I’m very thankful for everyone who helped me behind the scenes as well.

Check out future events at Hope Works over on their website

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