This time next week, two of contemporary house’s finest acts will be on their way to our basement: Adesse Versions and Chaos in the CBD. Pretty Pretty Good are hosting them. This young brand from Sheffield, who already have a ridiculously extensive and big-name roster of artists including Hunee, Denis Sulta, Midland and Pearson Sound, are branching out of their hometown for the first time. We spoke to the guys, Dan and Eden, to find out a bit more about the move.
How did Pretty Pretty Good begin? What have you been up to thus far?
Dan: Well John and I had been mates for a couple of years when we started PPG in early 2015 after a drunken conversation between the two of us on a night out. I’d been helping with a couple of other nights in Sheffield for a while and John was already doing really well as a DJ at the time. Basically there were loads of artists that we wanted to see come to Sheffield so we thought we might as well do it ourselves and start up our own night. At the start the intention was just to throw parties for ourselves and our mates but things took off a bit and they started selling out pretty much straight away, which was great. We’ve been going for just over a year now and have had the pleasure of booking some amazing DJs. Most of our events have taken place at The Harley, but we’ve also done two at Hope Works.
Eden: A close friend of mine from home introduced me to Dan and John a few months ago when I was over in Sheffield. Since then we have all become really good mates and have had some sick nights out together in both cities. I’ve been thinking about starting a night for a while and had been helping them out with their nights too, so a couple of months ago the lads invited me to come on board officially.
The music scene in Sheffield has always been vibrant, considering the amount of bands that have emerged from there, and the Warp label. What’s the Sheffield clubbing scene like at the moment?
Dan: Yeah, definitely! There’s so much history in Sheffield when it comes to clubbing and underground music and I don’t think the current generation are necessarily aware of how much of a pivotal role the city has played. That’s definitely the case with a lot of Sheffield students anyway. I think most people are aware of Niche and Bassline but there’s so much more beyond that. The original Niche building was demolished a few days ago actually which was a really big deal for a lot of people – Niche is the stuff of legend here haha. We had Boiler Room in town a few weeks ago too for ‘DJ Q presents Bassline’ which was a great event. The scene is really blossoming at the moment with new nights springing up all the time and we’re really lucky with how much choice there is to be honest. Obviously that also means that it’s really competitive for promoters but there’s also a really strong sense of community between us, and we’d all rather have it that way than have nothing to do at the weekend!
Eden: As somebody from outside of Sheffield I can certainly vouch for its clubbing scene being brilliant at the minute. It’s got some killer venues and a load of great promoters putting on really good nights every weekend. The Harley is awesome as an intimate space that also attracts the big names, and it’s rammed and bouncing every weekend – we’ve had Midland and Loefah there in the last few weeks and have a lot more coming up. I guess it’s Sheffield’s equivalent of Wire in a sense. Hope Works, The Night Kitchen and Theatre Delicatessen (the old abandoned Woolworth’s in the city centre) are all top draw warehouse venues too so there’s plenty of choice!
Why did you want to branch out to Leeds? What have your previous encounters with the city and its nightlife been like?
Eden: Well since joining PPG I’ve been really keen to do ‘my own’ event here in Leeds, rather then travelling to Sheffield for them all. It took a little while to get the right venue and date but now that it’s all sorted I really can’t wait wait for it. The nightlife in Leeds is really good fun, yeah. There are a brilliant network of venues that rival those of any city in the UK at the moment I think. Each has its own character and vibe too and that lends itself really well to the kind of nights that we do. I’m really looking forward to building a community here and seeing how far we can take things over the next couple of years.
Dan: I’ve been out in Leeds a lot over the past three/four years and I absolutely love it. Wire is a personal favourite venue so it’s absolutely ideal to be starting off there to be honest and except for the odd larger event at some point I reckon we’ll stay there. I’ve been to a fair few other venues too; Beaver Works, Canal Mills, Mint Club etc. There’s still a couple I still really need to check out though and I’m also a fan of city generally and a lot of the bars. A few people in Sheffield have asked what the Leeds night is about and I’ve always pretty keen to avoid it being seen as some kind of big expansion plan haha! That’s definitely not the aim, not at the moment anyway. Eden lives in Leeds and John and I live in Sheffield so we wanna do events in both cities – it’s as simple as that.
You have quite an eclectic roster of artists. Do you have a booking policy? Do you see yourself attaching to a certain ‘sound’, or avoiding categorisation?
Dan: Haha, yeah you’re right. As I said, we kinda just started off thinking ‘oh I’d love to see this DJ play so let’s book them’ so I think things definitely do appear quite eclectic if you look at our previous guests. Everything that happens from here onwards will be pretty much within the parameters that we’ve established so far though – ultimately we are a house and techno night. We tend to split ourselves across the ‘European’ sounds of Midland, Hunee, Palms Trax etc. but we also wanna support the UK scene and book DJs from great up and coming UK labels, which tends to be more bass driven in terms of sound. Over the Summer we have Call Super, Marquis Hawkes and Denis Sulta coming up, but they’re sandwiched between two label takeover parties (Idle Hands and Wisdom Teeth) and that’s something we want to continue to do. You heard it here first though – none of those shows have been announced yet!
Eden: I guess in terms of our artists we put on people who’s music we enjoy and who we know will get everyone dancing. We aren’t actively avoiding categorisation, we’d just rather be known for how much fun our events are rather than which specific genres we work with. The priority is always going to be creating a good ‘vibe’, whatever that word actually means, and it’s possible to do that and to keep everyone happy without sticking to a very narrow booking policy.
Depending on the artists (going from Hunee one week to Chunky the next, for example) do your resident DJs adapt their sound, or does each of them play a unique role? Does it take record-selecting dexterity?
Dan: I think it’s a combination of both! We have five resident DJs and each of us has our own individual style and taste spread out along the house/techno/bass spectrum. When we lock in a line-up the first task is deciding which residents are gonna compliment the headliners best. So for example John (Yak) is producing and playing a lot of really stripped back bass-driven stuff at the moment so he was the obvious choice to warm up for Loefah, especially since Loefah has been playing a load of his tunes recently. Samir (Smorsli) is much more into the whole lo-fi/house/techno thing so he was the ideal choice to warm up for Palms Trax. Freddie (Alief) plays a lot of world music along with acid and wonky techno, while Gav (Triple Point) fuses that really well with techno on the more weird and harder side, so those two were perfect to play slots before Midland. I’m the worst DJ of the five by a country mile, but the other 4 all play a unique role while also demonstrating really deep record collections that can be tailored to suit pretty much any headliner we are likely to book. We’re starting to do more B2B sets between the five of us too, and they’re a load of fun, so there’s loads of flexibility. Eden is also a great DJ so that adds another string to our bow.
With this variety in mind, I’d be interested to know a bit more about your musical upbringing. What led you to this point?
Dan: Prior to coming to uni I was fully into Hip Hop and didn’t listen to much else outside of that. It was The Tuesday Club in Sheffield (a weekly SU night running every Tuesday night) that gave me my education in electronic music really. Skream, Loefah and Jackmaster is a line-up that jumps out as a memorable one early on. Pretty soon after discovering TTC in my first year I was hooked on the underground music scene and was hunting down other things in the city and dragging my mates along. I’ve also been involved in helping Banana Hill and Nice Like Rice run their nights in Sheffield so by the time we started PPG, I had a bit of an idea what I was doing.
Eden: I’ve been DJing since I was about 16 and have gone through enjoying a whole range of different genres and styles of music since then. Initially it was ‘UKF Dubstep 2011’ (while incredibly painful to listen to now) that got me into electronic music actually haha. I distinctly remember seeing Bare Noize at Guilfest around that time… the memories! My interest with underground music was sparked further when a mate took me to Fabric to see Jack Beats on my 20th birthday. From then onwards it’s been the Leeds underground and spending my weekends at Beaver Works, Canal Mills, Mint Warehouse and Wire that has informed my taste. Right now it’s all about techno for me, but I’m also loving a lot of the stuff that’s being made by smaller 140 labels in the UK. A few months ago I went to Bloc and I absolutely loved Pev and Kowton. Most of the stuff coming out of Bristol is sitting really well with me actually, especially the weird/wonky techno on labels like Timedance.
What’s the best moment you’ve had as a promoter so far?
Eden: I think the best moment I’ve had so far was when I got the tickets for the Adesse Versions and Chaos in the CBD night from the printing shop a few weeks ago haha. It sounds lame but I was holding them in my hand and I just thought ‘I’m so excited that I’m part of this!’ It’s got me really pumped to do the 2nd, 3rd and 4th events in Leeds now!
Dan: That’s a very hard question to answer because running a night is a really REALLY fun thing to do. There was a moment about two and a half hours into Hunee’s set at Hope Works where I genuinely forgot it was my night that I was at because I was having so much fun. Maybe that was just down to the amount of rum I’d drank, but when I had the thought that it was our doing, it felt even better.
The full event page and ticket link for the event is HERE.