Listening Sessions First Birthday & LIVE + Goosensei & Elkie Interview


The Listening Sessions takes a concept used by hip hop communities for probably decades and combines it with a recent surge in electronic music producers to provide a platform for new up and coming producers to display their sounds, through a huge sound system, to a room full of like-minded people. The concept is simple, 15 artists sign up and in rotation, each play one of their latest productions through the sound system at PST in a ‘Open Mic’ style use of the decks. The aim? Self and group feed back on how it is sounding outside the studio – something few people often manage to achieve until they’re stood in front of a crowd or passing it to a DJ to play out.


I went to the first one and the roof of PST was packed with smiling faces and amazing tunes, now a full year on there are still people only just discovering the Listening Sessions and bringing their music to the table. Countless artists have performed at their monthly meets and now with the success of the mid-week night they’ve brought Listening Sessions LIVE to the table; showcasing music from inside and outside of Birmingham to the great community they’ve built around this idea. I went to their first birthday recently which saw the likes of Trashbat, Jeph1, Duckem, Crises and more representing MindStep music! The vibe inside was electric, they’d got Creative Hertz sound system in to make the building rattle and my experience there was friendly,fun and exciting. I caught up with the curators and innovators behind the original idea Mat and Tommie (Goosensei and Elkie respectively) to ask them why it happened, how it happened and what the future holds:


Right Mat and Tom, thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us about your project the ‘Listening Sessions’, to start with, what were both your main motivations behind the original idea and how did it come about?


No worries! Basically it was an idea we had spoken about for a while, it took us quite a while to actually put the wheels in motion. We were very lucky to be supported from the very start by PST, and we ended up putting the first one on with just over a week’s notice.

We knew there was a good amount of talent in the city that was really under-represented, and it seemed like a great move to get the local producers chatting, sharing tunes and creating a scene from the ground up where before there wasn’t really much of that sort of thing going on.


Yea the initial idea was inspired from a number of friends that are producers and DJs that sensed there was a real lack of events within the city where they could play their productions and even hear music that they enjoyed out in public. So there was a strong desire to create a platform to be able to give these artists an opportunity to be able to do that.


Yeah I remember the first event was a great hit and PST is the perfect location for it. How has the reaction from the local scene been towards the idea?


The reaction has been amazing really! It’s pretty incredible hearing some people’s feedback on the whole thing – from artists to people who just come down to see what’s going on and listen to some locally produced music, everyone seems to feel we are onto something really special with this and it’s becoming an integral part of the local scene.


The support for Listening Sessions has been amazing, both from PST and the local scene. I feel like there is a real sense of community growing and everyone that comes down for the first time always expresses their support. The Listening Sessions family grows with every event as new faces come to showcase their productions. Our ethos is that we welcome any electronic producer to come and showcase at the sessions and its great to hear the range of musical genres that are played out but most importantly I am always amazed with the quality of the tracks that get played, there are some wicked producers out here !!


Yeah something I noticed is a wide range of sounds seem to be showcased at these events and you echo that in the LIVE events you’ve started doing, are there future plans for a regular night at PST under the ‘Listening Sessions LIVE’ alias?


Yes the LIVE events were a natural progression from the monthly showcase events. The idea behind the LIVE events is that artists from the Listening Session community perform as live acts or through DJ sets and play their own productions, or tracks created by other members of the community (also remixes, from their labels, etc.). The LIVE events have been going from strength to strength since the summer and we have just had the label MindStep join us along with Listening Sessions regulars for a special LIVE event at PST that marked our 1st birthday. Creative Hertz brought their full sound system setup and it went off!!!


Yeah the range of different music encompassed by the events is something that I find really impressive. It’s great to see that Birmingham has all bases of electronic music covered – all through the BPM ranges, from softer more chilled vibes right up to harder, more dance floor oriented styles, Birmingham can hold its own right across the board!

The LIVE events have been a natural extension of the normal Listening Sessions nights – taking the talented artists who regularly attend the usual events and allowing them to perform in a more conventional club night format – each producer showcasing their own music (often alongside the music of other Listening Sessions regulars) in a DJ or live set that’s more in line with the usual club night paradigm, which has a two-fold benefit: it provides the artists with a chance to perform a longer set and allow their music to be heard in it’s intended context, whilst also giving the listener a more accessible way of hearing the music as opposed to the slightly more disjointed format of the usual Listening Sessions nights. We think both formats still definitely have their place, but the LIVE event provide more of the usual “night out” experience a lot of punters expect – and gives us all an excuse for a good old locally sourced knees up!

We’ve been really lucky to have enough success with these events to be able to invite down some more established artists, too, who have all been hugely supportive of what we are doing, really got into the sentiment of the event and played some of their own work in progress material, and (I think most importantly) stuck around and actually paid attention to the Listening Sessions artist’s sets, and noted tunes that they have personally been feeling and would play out this is crucial in getting the local guys the recognition outside of the city that they deserve!


It’s great to see you’re both driven in such a similar way as to how you wanted to portray music, this has clearly been integral to your success because every one I’ve been, especially the birthday last Friday, has always been the best of vibes with a good like-minded crowd there to have fun and enjoy new music. What’s the future hold for the night and both yourselves musically? Anything forthcoming?


It’s wicked to hear that, and we are happy you enjoyed Friday as much as we did! I think the strong vibe comes from the amazing community atmosphere we seem to have developed – it’s great to see people really understanding and appreciating our ethos and supporting the brand and each other – I think there’s a lot of friendships that have formed in the 12 months we have been doing this, and aside from the amazing music, that’s one of the best things to see!

Next up for Listening Sessions will be the January Thursday session, which should be good hearing what everyone’s made with their new Christmas presents haha! We have something wicked in the pipeline for the next LIVE event, but it’s still in really early stages so we can’t say too much right now – but rest assured it’s going to be huge and as soon as we have all the details locked down we will be sure to let you know! We are also working on our website at the minute, so we will be updating that with more regular content and also a store which we will be selling our super-stylish T-shirts through, alongside other merchandise and possibly some other exclusive goodies, so keep an eye on that!

Personally, I’ve been working on some more 170 stuff, a few liquid/jungle style bits and pieces alongside a new collaboration with M : Pathy along a more Autonomic tip, and also a few 130-140 pieces (which for some reason always take me so much longer than drum and bass tempo stuff)!


I think something Listening Sessions definitely owes a lot to is the genuine interest and support given for the music at these events. As Tom mentioned earlier about the way more established artists come to perform at the events and express their support for the ethos of Listening Sessions and their enjoyment at the events is incredible and is a sign that our interest in giving artists an opportunity to express themselves freely is working. Being a DJ & producer myself I can say from personal experience its an amazing experience to play a track I’ve created to an audience that are open to hearing new sounds and there is a strong connection between the audience and the performer formed this way.


It certainly is a unique concept I personally haven’t encountered anywhere else, at least not on this scale. Between bed room production session and live event, it’s quite something. Thanks for speaking to us guys and we look forward to the future events and lots of new stuff from the Listening Sessions!


We have also started being invited to host room 2s at local events within the city where we bring a roster of Listening Sessions artists takeover for the room the evening.


Nice one for taking the time to talk to us man, it’s great to hear your support. Would just like to say a quick thank you to everyone who’s supported us, the people who come down just to hear what’s going on, PST for providing us with our home and all the support they have given us, B Harvey Photography for taking all of our wicked photographs and videos, the out-of-town artists who have come down to play, Kiz from Live Arts Radio and last but obviously not least all the artists who have been down and showcased their sounds!


On a personal level I have been working on a couple of tracks with Krytikal (Listening Sessions family) and we a collaboration “Reach Out – Krytikal & Goosensei” forthcoming on a wicked compilation from Dubs Alive Records that will be out soon



Compiled by Michael Thomas


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s