The MEOKO heart and soul lies in London, where we are based, but with so much going on in the capital it can be easy to forget what our neighbouring cities are up to.
Well it’s time to shine a light on some exciting regional haunts that deserve not to be overlooked. In our new series, we welcome a trusted expert from each city to shine a light on where they work, play, eat, drink and most importantly, live.
In this unique and personal insight into the smaller scenes out there, we urge you to open your eyes to what the rest of the UK has to offer, and take a venture out of the capital.
Starting off our new feature we go to Sheffield with Lo Shea, an integral driving force to his local scene and founding member of ‘Hope Works‘. Responsible for producing and nurturing a string of quality releases on his labels Seaghdha and 100years, Lo Shea can now be seen making dancefloors sweat across the globe, his talent most recently being recognised with a set at the infamous Panorama Bar.
Here, we bring it all back to where it began…
How long have you been living in Sheffield and how did you end up there?
Since 1991.came here to university from Nottingham where i was born.
What is Sheffield famous for historically?
Steel industry, and through Harry Brearley (a sheffield man) , the invention of stainless steel.Sheffield stainless steel is known all over the world.From the production of cutlery to gun barrels, we have historically donned the process.You can still see all kinds of steel products being made here today in big factories like Forgemasters to Little Mesters making knives or small factories making railway carriage springs.
Are there any stereotypes in Sheffield that you think need banishing?
I suppose because of the importance of steel from the 19th century onwards it has been easy to see the place as a one horse town.In reality we have a great creative industry sector and our music scene is fantastic.We have internationally renowned design agencies like TDR who recently did the new Aphex Twin album as well as being responsible for the original WARP records sleeve designs so embedded in electonic music’s history. We also have spawned Cabaret Voltaire,The Human league, Heaven 17, more recently Pulp and of course arguably one of the biggest bands in the world right now…Arctic Monkeys. So we are not all flat cap wearing miserable Yorkshire men working in a steel foundry.Importantly for me is the fact that i find the people here very warm and friendly.Its something that people consistently say who visit here. Sheffielders can be rough and ready, but they are generally friendly and like to party.
Sheffielders do have a REIT strong accent tho.
Tell us about the first place you bought a record in Sheffield
Warp records…when it was on divison street in the town center. Chris Duckenfield (fellow Resident at Hope Works and a true veteran of Acid House/Rave ) worked there…i got my formative record buying experiences reading his distinctive handwriting on the sleeves of old WARP releases.I met lots of people in that shop who i still see today, still loving their music.Oh, those were the days…an actual busy record shop…here…in Sheffield!
Where is your favourite place to pick up records at the moment?
I look everywhere, but lets just say Phonica is always a quality purveyor, as is Piccadilly of Manchester but i also do the obligatory Juno for ease and i also use discogs and direct to labels via their bandcamps.No weekly trips to hardwax yet i’m afraid….
Is there anywhere in particular that played a part in influencing your sound when producing music?
I think my music is a reflection of all the experiences i’ve had here in Sheffield, but it also goes back to my formative Raving back in Nottingham in 1990 where i went to Marcus Garvey Center a lot.Jungle rave style…on a full on Ragga Tip!
I started djing in the old Arches club in Sheffield way back in the day, so from the start i was into the warehouse / reused industrial space / Acid House /Rave aesthetic.I also got into jungle as well as techno and rave from the start.I’ve always liked the grimier side of things and i’ve always liked good bass in dance music.Sheffield has also always had a great sound system culture going on and it’s traditionally big on free parties out in the Peak district.
I think a combination of all this led me into djing the way i did.First eclectically in The Arches then i spent a few years concentrating on Drum n Bass in the mid 90’s where i was resident at a night called NY Sushi (while releasing my first records on formation records of leicester), I also worked for the guy who ran Niche so i saw the whole development of bassline /Niche happen in Sheffield.I was there at the time, its undoubtedly affected me, tho i never directly wrote speed garage…time spent listening to this music and then its move into dub step with early pioneers from Sheffield like Oris J has to have had an effect.
I djed House, hip Hop, Jazz ..all kinds of stuff in clubs and spaces throughout sheffield as well as doing electronic stuff on pirate radio stations, i even started a Blues Boogie + Rock n Roll night that i still run monthly to this day called “The Boom Boom Room” .
One thing though, i’ve always been slightly on the fringes…i’ve never seemed to fit snugly into whatever genre was going on at the time…..i’ve always liked doing things my own way i suppose.Its meant a longer road for me…but one thats developed a particular style and technique based on all this time spent in all these areas of music and what i’ve observed and learnt from these strands of music culture.
And any track/artist that you think sums up the local sound?
No one person does that.There are different people/artists who kind of represent various peoples perspectives on Sheffields “sound”.
Arctic Monkeys,Toddla T,Jarvis Cocker/Pulp,The Black Dog,Cabaret Voltaire,the Human league,Heaven 17, Hoods Underground could all be “The Sheffield Sound” to different pockets of people. I like to keep a really broad view on this though and with a firm ear on contemporary underground music in Sheffield there are many other mini movements going on that represent different clans of taste within this ever changing vibrant creative cauldron.
God knows where i fit into that picture.I think ultimately its virtually impossible to sum it up as its a question of demographics, and then how you define whats popular.
Where is the place to go to let your hair down?
wow.its all dependent on taste. really. if you mean where do you go to relax i’d say walking in the peak district on the edges of the city is the ultimate one.if you mean to loose yourself and forget reality in a separate dimension of sensory body music pleasure i’d say Hope Works…obviously.
What is the first club in the city you went to? Who did you see/what kind of night was it and who did you go with?
First club was probably something like The Palais (now a Sainsbury’s Local) .I went with my best friend (to this day) jamie who i was in a band with at the time.It was an industrial night run by a guy who became our friend who dj’ed there under the charming name of “Dr Death Tone”.
Where is the best place to go for a comforting meal the day after a heavy night out?
Silversmiths. My friend justin runs it. It didn’t do well at first, then he went on Gordon Ramseys kitchen nightmares and got ripped apart!But….credit to the man, he’s turned that business around into one of THE most successful restaraunts in Sheffield now.
Superb locally sourced food, served with love and a lot of style:)
If we wanted a cultured day out where would you recommend us to go?
I’d wait until the international Documentary festival comes to town (which it does once a year and it’s a serious event in the calender) and go to some upfront/cutting edge documentary screenings then zip across to the winter gardens before checking out Millenium gallery to check out its renowned metalwork collection.
Then go to Magna science and industial heritage centre to witness the magnitude of a steel making facility and learn about what it was like for a steel worker in sheffield (if you’re good you could even get a special tour around Forgemasters steelworks which is currently still in operation).
In the evening grab a meal in Silversmiths or at Electric candleLight, and then go watch a contemporary dance show at the Lyceum or see a classical concert in The Crucible theatre before smashing the doors off in various pubs around the city and ending up in Hope Works dancing to Ben klock till 7am.
And where would you send us to go and pick up some fresh disco garments for a Friday night?
SAKIS on Division Street is always a solid option,Syd n Mallory , KNUF on Ecclesall Road, Balance on Devonshire Street , Cow on West street or A New Shop Sheffield on Division street and if you really want to splash out and get fully dapper Collard Manson on Division street too.
Where do you spend most of your time in Sheffield?
in my studio or walking really quickly between meetings.
Is there anywhere we should avoid in Sheffield?
the inside of one of our prison cells if you can help it.Also avoid sneaking into the vast victorian storm drain system by the railway station after a heavy downpour…you’ll die….100%
Tell us about the place where you met your closest friend in Sheffield
I met my closest friend in Sheffield in Nottingham.I think that kind of kills that one there:)
Where/what is the most picturesque place in town?
To me..its sitting on the grass by the newly restored glasshouse in The Botanical gardens in summer.Its so nice to chill in this spot in summer.it always gets full of people when the suns out.We are so sun starved here that people get a barbeque going as soon as theres a 15 second break in the clouds!
Where/what is the place you go in town that is your guilty pleasure?
my sort of guilty pleasure is lying in bed all day ordering pizza and watching films.I work a lot and don’t like to take time off…so for me, relaxing after a long a gruelling stint of all nighters is my guilty pleasure.
Is there a particular day that is your favourite day in the city?
I love sundays.Love the energy of sundays…so i get that boon every 6 days (when i’m in sheffield). In the yearly calendar i think the International Documentary festival is a big deal for my inquisitive mind and Tramlines Festival in the summer for my party head.
Is there any hidden gems in Sheffield you can tell us about?
Its all about the peak district.Taking the long walk upto the old roman road from Encliffe park through the woods is just wonderful.
Ecclesall woods are beautiful too, but getting onto somewhere like Stanage Edge and breathing in the brisk air and taking in the view is always so inspiring to me.It right sizes me.its like medicine for my soul.
What are the local artists/nights/labels you think we should know about?
There are lots of really talented people here in Sheffield and some great designers, artisans and craftspeople.
On the music side check out Ross Ortons work with bands (He produced most of the new Arctic monkeys album as well as working with rising start Drenge ) Chris Duckenfield,Steve Edwards,Squarehead,The Dj Pipes, Winston Hazel, I Monster, Thtmanmonkz, Pedram, Danimal swainger, OffmeNut Records, Linnemann, Rhombohedral and many of the Soundsystem crews who put on good jams like Dedication Audio and >20Hz as well as parties like Kabal, Bunga Bunga, Ohm Sweet Ohm, STI, Roots, Banana Hill, Gold Teeth, Catch Connection, Ambush,Dusk Till Dawn, Thrillhouse, Lunar and many more doing their thing in the city and clubs like The Night Kitchen, Corporation, Plug, Fez Club, Tank, 02 Academy, Yellow Arch, The Leadmill and the University itself putting on events to satisfy a buoyant market as far as music is concerned here.
Visual artists wise theres a huge list of which the iceberg tip might look like Pete Mckee,Phlegm,Kid Acne, Rocket 01 ,Mute,David Gee, Geo Law, Colour Art, Chard Remains, Richard bartle at Bloc Studios and Matt Jones. Also there are loads of great artists at Yorkshire artspace, persistence works
Labels wise…WARP records was founded here and so we Sheffielders have a strong affinity with it.More recently however The Black Dog’s DUST Science , CPU records, OffmeNut Records , 5andseven, .Shabby Doll, Itchy Pig, R8 , and of course Seaghdha and
and now Hope Works.
Theres so much more…but i need to draw the line somewhere….
Catch Lo Sheas recent R.A mix here
By Eileen Pegg