Get To Know: Yard – Open Air Club

Much like its music policy, the appearance of Motion Bristol hasn’t been too settled on one particular style through the years. Having undergone numerous transformations and gradually rubbed away its original skate park design, the venue has chopped and changed its face with the times, and is now best known for pushing the boundaries of electronic music, rather than the durability of sticker encrusted helmets, skateboards and BMX tyres.

Evoking the expansive spirit of the surrounding landscape lined with cranes and hunkered down warehouses, Motion is set to stretch its influence further outdoors this summer with the launch of Yard: Open Air Club. Tying together the surrounding Container Yard, Crane Yard and Lock Yard with the spirit of unadulterated party ambition, Yard is set to be Motion’s most ambitious project to date. The new spaces will incorporate forward thinking club design, art, food and sustainability in the hope of leaving a footprint that matches the shoes of activists working to provide a cleaner environment here in the UK.

Food stalls providing locally sourced produce will instil a grounding touch to the venue’s very first multifaceted outdoor clubbing space, while unique art installations are set to be dreamed up by the artists behind the infamous Studio 89 parties, lauded for their artistic progression and heady glamour.

Dancers and party goers alike will be welcomed to knead in the freshly developed spaces on Saturday 26th August, with the afternoon through to evening party set to feature an equally industrious soundtrack carved out by Jeff Mills, Seth Troxler and Eats Everything. Further sets will be offered up by the likes of Daniel Avery, Joy Orbison, Midland and Octo Octa.

While the new developments are sure to add a new breadth in terms of possibilities, outdoor parties are nothing new for Motion having hosted numerous summer get togethers on the venue’s terrace in recent years. However, it’s the overwhelming success of these parties that has enabled the idea of Yard to take on a tangible form. “Some of our outdoor parties last year made us realise just how much of an appetite locally there was for events like this” Jake Scales of Motion admits, adding: “Our license expanding, important renovations to our outdoor spaces, and Motion’s evolution from a regionally renowned skate park to a globally recognised musical institution all contributed to the development of ‘Yard’.”

Aside from clues in its title, Yard Open Air Club aspires to distance itself from the preconceived clubbing experience, and deliver an atmosphere that sits just as comfortably with the surrounding environment as it does with the hundreds of dance music enthusiasts in attendance – something which Motion saw as key commitment to the opening of Yard. “With the expansion of the club over the last year, we now have double the amount of customers and so the output of waste and energy is doubled, as a result of this our efforts to remain eco-friendly have also doubled” Jack explains. By taking into consideration sustainability and eco-footprint, Motion will be able to set a precedent for clubs and institutions alike across the country with a range of simple yet effective initiatives. Kambe, a Bristol based creative and sustainable events organiser, will play a key role in adding a green tinge to Motion’s operations through Yard with with recycling campaigns and reusable plastic cups.

With the opening of Yard ushering in a new era of events at the venue, we caught up with Motion’s Jack Scales in the hope of finding more about the thought process behind the new development.

Separate from the terrace, Yard will give Motion its very own outdoor clubbing space. How do you think the dynamic of party differs from indoor to out?

Primarily the weather. Partying outdoors provides a completely different sensory experience both sonically and visually. As a result of this, we will be adding other elements such as locally renowned food vendors and incredible art installations, something that wouldn’t be typically found in our club nights.

Yard will be finished with original art curated by Mr Price of Studio 89 – another of Bristol’s cherished institutions. What is it about the aesthetic of Studio 89 events that has led to Price being asked to help sculpt the image of Yard?

Studio 89 has always had a strong focus on art within their parties and for some time now. After a long history of amazing light installations in Studio 89, Ben came to us with a pitch for an installation in the club.  It just so happened that at this time Yard was in its genesis, so it made perfect sense to have him involved with this project. The light installation will be situated in the area between the main 2 stages, it will be an indoor passing space for people to go from one stage to the next. Ben will be installing an audio-visual piece of art that is both immersive for the viewer and records their movement throughout the day while reacting to specifically programmed music. We don’t want to give away much more than this for now but we are very excited for this bespoke installation to be part of the event. This also typifies how Yard is different to other ‘open-air’ events, as it still has an exciting indoor element.

Yard has openly stressed the importance of fusing sustainability with its clubbing exploits, with locally sourced food and eco-friendly initiatives set to become a key element of the Yard experience. Please talk us through why you feel sustainability needed to be at the heart of Yard’s operations.

Motion has always been conscious of operating in an eco-friendly manner. However, with the expansion of the club over the last year, we now have double the amount of customers and so the output of waste and energy is doubled, as a result of this our efforts remain eco-friendly have also doubled. It’s something we’re all passionate about in the club and we really want this to trickle down to our customers, which is why we’re making it a key pillar of the event.

Is there a case that UK clubbing in general needs to incorporate eco-friendlier and sustainable practices moving forward?

Yes, I think we all have a duty to try our best. Festivals further afield are really pioneering these things, for example DGTL went completely meat-free last year. We have massive respect for something like that and will continually work on trying to be as sustainable as we can in hopes it will inspire other to do the same.

In terms of programming, what can we expect from Yard following on from its launch?

This is just the beginning…

Yard: Open Air Club launches at Motion on Saturday 26th August with Jeff Mills, Seth Troxler, Eats Everything and many more. Tickets for the opening are now on sale.

Originally published to Ticket Arena 09/05/17

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In Conversation: Commodo

It’s widely accepted that perception is a key element of any listening experience, however in the case of dubstep, preconception often stands in the way of any listening experience occurring at all. But while dubstep mutated under the searing heat of the mainstream and the high production strobes that came with it, the roots of the genre dug its heels in deep and refused to be pulled up from the underground.

Leading the charge for wholesome UK bass music was Mala’s Deep Medi, whose fruits included the likes of Kahn, Coki, Jack Sparrow and Skream. Another Deep Medi affiliate who fell in line with the label’s creative ethos but opted to tick ‘other’ when categorising his own productions is Commodo. A musical architect specialising in growling bass lines, crashing percussion and hair-raising piano stabs, Commodo humbly find himself regarded as one of the scene’s leading producers and DJs. Ahead of two appearances at Motion Bristol in the coming weeks (Deep Medi 30th Apr & Sequences Festival 29th July), we caught up with Commodo to talk genre boundaries, the second coming of grime and the importance of Deep Medi.

You’ve been a fixture of the UK’s underground bass scene for the best part of the last decade now, with your early days as a producer spent in Sheffield – a city at the epicentre of the bassline explosion in the mid 2000s. Given these surroundings in your formative days as a producer, what sparked the interest in producing tracks around 140pm?

Certainly a lot of the homegrown niche/bassline and grime stuff. I found it inspiring and fascinating that someone down the road had made a track that everyone had on their phone.

Since breaking through you’ve been reluctant to file your music under the tag of dubstep. Is this due to finding genre boundaries restrictive, or because you feel ‘dubstep’, and all that comes with the term, doesn’t compliment your music in the way you would like it to be perceived?

I think it’s mostly due to the timing of my early releases. I’d started releasing music in 2010 at a time where dubstep was fast becoming a dirty word and the worst aspects of it were being shoehorned into commercial music. I don’t worry about the dubstep label anymore. My only slight concern would be that maybe someone who could enjoy my music might never find it due to their dislike of what their understanding of ‘dubstep’ is.

To what extent do you focus on producing music that traverses genres boundaries?

I don’t focus too hard on it for fear of it sounding contrived. To let it occur honestly and naturally is the best policy in my opinion.

Alongside your signature protruding bass, some of your releases are fused with oriental string samples which create a juxtaposing mental image akin to a pensive Japanese cherry blossom guarded by a vigilant warrior. Do you consciously aim to paint an interpretive narrative through your productions?

Ahaha certainly not to that level of detail. There are a few times where I’ve tried to incorporate a vague theme though, even if it only makes sense to me. A more recent track, unreleased at the moment, was loosely based on different levels of Mario 64.

From listening to your productions it’s quite easy to pinpoint your interest in grime, so I’d like to hear your take on the genre’s mainstream resurgence in recent years.

Sure, some people will be bitter about its newfound popularity, but previously the only way grime artists really got a taste of mainstream attention was by doing lame features and shallow attempts at club/chart hits. At least with this newer wave there is less of a need to water it down – the new fans can accept a level of hardness that would have made the music unmarketable to mainstream audiences of the past. This is definitely beneficial for people like me and everyone at labels like Deep Medi. Hard, bass driven music is familiar to a huge amount of people now and the leap from modern grime and rap productions to the kind of stuff we are making is really not that big.

In terms of what helped grime return to mainstream culture, do you think this was down to development in the genre itself, or changes to its audience and listenership?

I think there was a move away from trying to make the music popular by diluting and instead pushing a sound and image similar to the earlier days of the music. Presenting the music as authentic and honest – which was probably what most original grime fans found so appealing about it in the first place. Obviously the audience has changed massively as well, but for working class, underground music, commercial success was always going to have that effect.

On 30th April you’ll be heading South West to Motion Bristol for a Deep Medi showcase with Mala, Kahn, Jack Sparrow, Goth Trad and many more. Personally, how pivotal a role has Deep Medi played in sustaining underground UK bass music and providing a platform for originality?

Trends come and go and I feel like Deep Medi kept doing its thing when other people might have packed it in or changed directions with what’s popular. I think there’s a lot to be said for weathering the storm while fashions change and the label has come out of the other side stronger and with a reinvigorated fan base in my opinion.

As a DJ are you equally explorative as you are as a producer? If so, are there any genres people would be surprised to find cropping up in your sets?

To tell the truth my DJ sets tend to comprise of my own productions more and more, simply because it allows me to play stuff that no one else has. If I’m playing longer than usual or am playing really early I might find some time for some dusty rap.

To finish on some music: has there been a recent Deep Medi release that you’ve been reluctant not to play out of late?

The Kahn & Neek remix of Sir Spyro’s ‘Topper Top’ has been a regular fixture for a good while now.

Originally published to Ticket Arena 28/04/17