Sounds of the Underground: The Sheffield Scene
From its thriving 80s synth-pop scene to becoming the home of Warp Records and Gatecrasher during the 90s, not to mention the niche and bassline revolution of the noughties, Sheffield has a strong heritage of underground electronic music. Local DJ, MC and promoter Alex Deadman takes you through the scene as it stands today.
Often overlooked when compared to other large UK cities, Sheffield has a thriving underground music scene supported by dedicated DJs, producers, MCs, record labels, sound systems and events. If you’re a fan of bass-driven music, it will not disappoint.
The Tuesday Club is a great starting point for newcomers to the city. Hosted at Sheffield University on a Tuesday (duh), they are the dons when it comes to booking the biggest names in underground UK music, with October headliners including Bondax, Dusky and Cyril Hahn. It is also the home of Andy H, a multi-genre specialist and certified Sheffield ledge.
Our homegrown niche genre has a continuing legacy in Sheff. Despite the official club closing down several years ago, bassline is still hugely popular and is currently undergoing something of a renaissance. Artists like Deadbeat UK, Dr. Cryptic, Thorpey, Little Mesters and the PAR Records crew play regularly around both the city and the country with a slew of releases under their belts. Some of the original niche artists can also often be found at Tank Nightclub, although this is now officially a house club.
Is it a record label, an event or some sort of twisted bassline-crazy cult? Answer: possibly all three. Off Me Nut Records is a global phenomenon with over 100 releases on the label and a huge global audience. Regulars at Boomtown, Bestival, Glasto and many more festivals, their Sheffield events present heavy rave vibes with spectacular production and diverse artists. Their next event is on 29th Oct at The Night Kitchen (TNK).
Another label to look out for is R8 Records. With its unique brand of dubstep-inspired music, R8 has recently returned after a five year hiatus with producer Rogue State alongside his brother and Liquid Steel DJ Autograff at the helm. Watch out for future releases on their bandcamp – r8recordsuk.bandcamp.com.
The grime scene is also thriving in Sheffield. There was a time (late noughties) when most of the grime artists switched to bassline, but the rhythms have slowed down again now and the artists continue to notch up the YouTube views, releasing vids on acclaimed channels such as SBTV, JDZmedia and Sheffield channel Fidz Cam. Recent breakthrough artist Coco is making waves with help from Toddla T (check out his latest track ‘Ova Here’ with Protoje). K Dot, AK, Shinobi, Tez Kidd, Skinz, Kannan, Remz, Forca and Deep Green are also crucial artists to check out for a taste of Steel City urban sounds.
For grime events, a good port of call would be The Plug where you’ll find a Club Sloth takeover on 22nd Oct, ft. Charlie Sloth and Lady Leshurr. Gett Off is another important promotion. Their latest event featured Boy Better Know stars Jammer and Frisco with legendary selectors Slimzee and Logan Sama on the decks.
Roots is a roaming promotion that can be found in The Night Kitchen, Yellow Arch Studios or Hope Works (home of underground house and techno). The night is all about jungle, dubwise and dnb, with a healthy dose of dub, reggae and dubstep too. It is powered by DEM Audio which is an amalgamation of three massive Sheffield soundsystems – 20Hz, Sinai and Dedication – and their next event on 8th Oct features Mickey Finn, N-Type and J:Kenzo headlining.
Whilst we’re talking promotions, Dusk ‘til Dawn, headed up by DJ/producer WheresNorth?, is a multi-genre, bass heavy, rave celebration that also roams various underground clubs. Their next event is on 12th Nov with the ASBO disco. On a more UKG/dancehall tip is Liquid Steel, headed by Reuben G and Skatz, who also run bashment night Clarks in London and Sheffield, and have a beautiful purple, custom-built soundsystem.
Reggae and dancehall is well repped in Sheffield. Dubcentral run sporadic events at Yellow Arch with out-of-town soundsystems like Jah Tubbys, while the long-running Riddimtion crew have regular events at The Cremorne on London Road. Bashment/dancehall lovers should check out Sadacca and Glam Radio run by upfront selector Bizzy Movements.
Glam Radio is run out of CADS (Creative Arts Development Space), which is also home to The Night Kitchen and UK Mondo. UK Mondo is a new radio station that features a wealth of artists from across the underground spectrum and promotes occasional parties. Tune in online at ukmondo.com.
What makes Sheffield great is not always the huge parties or most prolific artists. Quirky events like Homebrew Acid Society take place in the Polish bar, Bar Ambasada PL, based on London Road. Free parties pop up everywhere over summer and experimental electronica is cooked up all over the place. Techno heads should check out STI (Sheffield Techno Institute), who celebrate their 6th birthday on 6th Oct and Planet Zogg, now in their 16th year, who specialise in psytrance, breaks and everything in-between.
Always save the best ‘til last, right? DnB nights are aplenty including Displace, who will be celebrating their 5th birthday on 14th Oct with Friction, Break and Commodo. We also have a massive jungle scene up ‘ere, and events from Stagger, Concrete Jungle and acclaimed record label Greenbay Wax (headed up by DJ/producer Kid Lib) are there to represent.
My crew, Junglist Alliance, was formed around the year 2000 as a DJ, MC and promoter collective. Over the years we’ve played jungle music to revelers across the globe. Our next big venture is a collaboration with Jungle Jam, a Leeds-based event who are making their first foray into Sheffield with a huge line-up.
On October 21st Jungle Jam are bringing Goldie (MBE) to perform an exclusive two-hour jungle set at the O2 Academy alongside the Ragga Twins on vocal duties. Also in attendance are Kenny Ken, Benny Page, Top Cat, Navigator, Remarc and the full Roots crew. Grab your tickets online from junglejamuk.com or in stores Alt Seen Eye and Balance based in the city centre. This will be one of the biggest nights of the new season, and I’m sure I’ll be seeing a few of you there!