If you’re like me, then you would have probably killed for a treehouse when you were younger. The sense of adventure, the seclusion and their prominence on TV and Film made those little elevated rooms the coolest idea imaginable. Sadly, they are a extremely rare sighting. But the youthful yearning for these playhouses remains. Maybe fresh Leeds promoters Treehouse are trying to rekindle that dream, and apply it to the club space instead of the branches. With the help of their resident DJ Happa, a figure whose youth has been his main characteristic throughout his career, they are taking wonky sounds and making it into party music. We caught up with Olly Mellor and Jonas Haslam, two of four organisers behind the collective, prior to their midweek party at Wire with Randomer to find out more.
Who is behind Treehouse, and how did you meet?
There’s 4 of us: Jonas, Sally, Oscar & Olly. We’ve all know each other since way back when. Oscar and Jonas have known each since nursery. I remember first hearing about Jonas when he slammed his head into a classroom table in year 4 and cracked it open. Pure madness, blood everywhere. Naturally, he came back from hospital a hero. We first met Sally in a pub called The Three Hulats several years later and just hit it off from there.
What can we expect musically from Treehouse?
Anything that pushes the borders of where it’s coming from. We try not to limit ourselves to any one genre. We like anything from really left of centre wonky stuff to straight down the middle 4×4 rhythms.
How long have you been living in Leeds? What do you get up to in the city other than running this event?
We’ve all mainly grown up in Leeds. Half of us came through the wards of St. Jimmy’s. Oscar & Olly are at uni in Manchester and Sheffield, where we’ve held Treehouses as well. When we’re not in the club or the classroom we’re usually making tunes. We’re all musicians and have collaborated in various bands and musical projects over the years. So maybe Treehouse Records will be something to look out for in the near future.
Can you pinpoint the moment you were inspired to start a night?
Jonas & Sally started it all off at a place called The Woods. A 100 capacity function room above a bar in Chapel Allerton where we lived at the time. We just wanted space where we could be creative. Great vibe. 100 of your mates going mad, gun fingers blazing, above a load of families enjoying a quiet sit down meal. Things progressively grew in size for there.
Has the brand emerged out of a necessity to fill a gap in the Leeds scene?
The Leeds music scene is amazing, and definitely what inspired us to get started. But we definitely felt like there were emerging genres and styles that weren’t necessarily being catered to. But primarily we just wanted to collaborate with all the people we knew who were doing interesting things with regards to music and visual art.
What does the name of your night say about what you are trying to do with it?
It was actually a straight up answer from Sally when posed the question “where would you most like to be right now?” And it was spot on. Always thought a treehouse would be a good spot for a party. Just hard to get past the obvious nightmare of health and safety. Maybe we’ll stick to throwing them on the ground…for now.
You say the event is a live audio and visual experience. Why do you think it is important to provide this?
When you attend a club night, you perceive it through all your senses. So it makes sense to cater to as many as possible to enhance the experience. The music is always of paramount importance. But any party should not be restricted to sound alone, any visual aides help provide a fully immersive atmosphere.
You recently did an event with Parish Steps and Permahigh. How do you know these guys? Do you feel like part of a music community in Leeds?
We’ve known both for quite a while now. Some through school and some through just sending tunes etc over Facebook. We’ve more recently felt like part of a music community for sure. It’s great seeing the same faces, and new ones of course, coming down to any regular event. It creates a much more authentic and inclusive atmosphere when you’ve got a community of like-minded people sharing in something together, and everyone enjoys themselves more as a result.
What were your first events like?
Our first was in a function room three storeys up. Only about 100 capacity and just used to mainly be mates & mates of mate – but the energy was mad. We weren’t allowed to use the balcony up there though so whenever you needed to go for a cigarette you had to go through a full restaurant and bar on the lower storeys. Kinda weird. Loved the parties though, so much fun.
Tell us a bit about why you have booked Randomer for the next Treehouse.
His music bangs…hard.
- Treehouse presents Randomer and Happa, 1st February 2017 at Wire – ticket can be found here.