For various reasons, house music and food have never really gone together. The sweaty confines of a subterranean nightspot are not conducive to enjoying a slap up meal – eating has always been something you do before, or after, the club. In Leeds however, that is all about to change. Back to Basics and 2020 Vision founder Ralph Lawson is teaming up with Tom van Zeller, one of Yorkshire’s most critically acclaimed chefs, to curate beat, a bespoke evening of top-notch food and music. To find out more, MEOKO caught up with the pair to see just what inspired such an idea.
Hi guys, thanks for talking to us. So how did the idea for beat first come about? Was it conceived fairly recently or has it been something you’ve wanted to put together for some time?
Ralph and I were introduced about a year ago through a mutual friend. I ended up providing the catering for Jane Lawson’s birthday. The event was such a resounding success that we all thought why not do this again on a commercial basis?
Our concept is the product of a lot of research, thought and late night discussions! Let’s not kid ourselves, we’re not breaking new ground here but what we are doing is offering our guests a unique, bespoke event using our combined talents.
Tom, tell us about your relationship with house music and Leeds. Were you a Basics attendee at all in the past?
I love my house music and have listened to it almost exclusively everyday since the early 90s. As I’ve said before, if I wasn’t a chef I would love to have had a career as an international DJ. Indeed, there is generally a lot of respect between chefs & DJs, which is down to similarities between our creative approach and hedonistic lifestyles.
I’ve spent many a happy evening in front of huge speakers around the world including those at Basics. Amazing to think that as a brand, Basics is still going strong 21 years after it was founded. A real testament to their quality, dedication and vision
This might seem like an odd question but will there be any kind of relationship between the food served and the music played? Tom, how does one cater for clubbers?
The relationship between the food and the music at beat is an extension of my relationship with Ralph: a great combination! We certainly didn’t set out to theme the evening and do a Spanish night for example with tapas and Ibiza anthems but equally the cooking restrictions mean I simply cannot produce haute cuisine so I’ve gone for a menu that is modern, light and energising.
Ralph, in terms of the music, I imagine you’ll have to play a lot of it by ear. Do you think it will descend into a full-on rave or are you after something a little more laid back?
Actually I’ve already started thinking and working on it. I want to do something very different from what I’d do at Back to Basics. I themed it as a Loft party as a nod in the direction of the classic Loft parties started by DJ David Mancuso in New York. Mancuso’s parties went on to inspire other great NYC parties such as Paradise Garage. I don’t aim to try to recreate their ideas or styles
musically in a retro way – I want to be able to play different music from what you can hear in a nightclub and I want to create an alternative environment for people to party in.
The emphasis is very much on bespoke locations, which I imagine is the tricky part. Has Leeds proven fruitful in terms of new and interesting places to host an event like beat? Will you be looking to take beat elsewhere?
We have a super cool (secret) venue in Leeds for our first event. Given the popularity, Ralph and I feel confident taking beat to other cities in the UK and indeed overseas. However, our focus remains on making our first nights on the 22nd /23rd of March a huge success. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter feeds for regular updates about the future.
How often will you be throwing events?
Well the launch has proved to be really popular so I’d like to think we’d have enough momentum after March to throw more events in Leeds and beyond as Tom mentions above. I’d think 4 a year in Leeds would be about right, but maybe we’ll be able to gradually increase the number of nights we do. Initially it was only March 23rd but we added the Friday when dinner sold out in 5 days.
You have fellow Basics resident Tristan da Cunha spinning alongside Ralph at the first event. Ralph do you plan to playing every event and will there always be room for another guest DJ?
Beat will always feature myself and Tom, we will build the events around that. You wouldn’t believe who have been in contact already registering their interest in playing. I can’t give names yet, as we are currently in talks, but two DJs who won top awards at last years most important DJ polls got in touch with us immediately. If we manage to throw beat parties with them as guests, that truly will be something special. So yeah, we’re very open to the idea.
Beat opens on the 22nd/23rd March. Tell us all about the inaugural event…
Beat will be hosted in a top floor loft with superb panoramic views over Leeds hosting the best food and music you can get in the city under one roof. Full dinner tickets have nearly sold out so be quick to catch the last remaining ones on RA or Ticket Arena for Friday or come along on either night for the Loft Party.
To celebrate the launch of this exciting new project, MEOKO are giving away a pair of tickets for each loft party taking place on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd of March AND a CD from the 2020 Vision label (which one will be confirmed at a later time).
To be in with a chance of winning one of these pairs, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title ‘beat’ and the answer to this question:
In which Shakespeare play is the famous quotation, ‘If music be the food of love, play on’?