Leeds has a flourishing music scene, with many successful artists such as Alt-J, The Pigeon Detectives and Kaiser Chiefs able to call the city their home. However, Leeds is not always about paying an extortionate amount of money to watch famous bands play huge venues such as the First Direct arena or o2 academy. What makes the music scene of Leeds so unique is being able to be a part of the experience of watching a wide variety of small bands play interesting and quirky venues before they “hit the big time”. Whether it is supporting a friend’s band or going out just for fun and stumbling across a gig along the way, Leeds would not be the same without these undiscovered bands in these almost ‘secret’ venues.
It is fairly typical for students at Leeds College of Music to play some of these smaller venues such as Belgrave Music Hall, Crowd of Favours, The New Conservatory, The Wardrobe, etc. Many of which have restaurants and bars located just above the basements where the gigs can be heard booming through restaurant floorboards.
Music magazine, Deluge is a collaboration between a collection of journalists and Leeds College of Music students. It aims to target young adult readers by exposing these musical hidden gems and giving the undiscovered bands the recognition that they deserve so readers know where to go for organic live music.
Due to the vast range of genres Leeds caters to everyone’s musical tastes. Deluge explores these varieties of genres from pop to indie rock as an attempt to entice all those who are interested in music, regardless of the musical style.
It partially differs from conventional music magazines because it is not solely about promoting music students and venues in Leeds. It goes deeper by exploring how a particular genre or style of music can be portrayed visually through the use of photography. It also looks at how the city can play a part in shaping the way an artist is formed.
Inspired by the likes of Kevin Cummins, who is renowned for documenting the Manchester music scene, some of the location shots in the magazine, particularly the images of the band ‘Contrarians’, focuses on parts of Leeds city centre. This is to give readers of the magazine a sense of place and time; this is what is happening in Leeds right now.
Music photography is an important part of our culture and has been for a number of years, with many band photographs recognised almost as iconography. When reflecting on a particular band or artist, you associate them with the images that you know them by. Your perception of musicians can often be influenced and shaped by the photographs you remember of them.
Deluge contains both portraits and live music photographs. The portraits are of Leeds College of Music students and in some respects it represents a bond between the subject and the photographer. The stronger the connection and trust between the two, the better the photographs will be; it is about capturing their personality whilst incorporating their music genre.
The style of the portrait photography is somewhat influenced by the genre of the subject’s music. For example, pop artist; Marcus Songs was photographed from a commercial and fashionable perspective because that’s how the photographer felt it best represented him and his music.
From the work of Ellis Parrinder and James Mooney, it is evident that it is conventional for pop music photography to have a strong fashion influence e.g. wearing a well-coordinated outfit, attention to hair and makeup, etc. The photographer has lightly followed these conventions when shooting the pop music portraits. This enables readers of the magazine to identify what genre the portrait is connoting based on their previous knowledge of what a pop artist looks like.
The idea behind the live music images in the magazine is to make viewers feel as though they were a part of the experience, which is achieved by taking the photographs from the audience’s point of view. The gig photographs took place at; The Wardrobe, a venue located on the outskirts of the centre and holds up to 460 people in its underground live music room, Crowd of Favours, a small and cosy venue with brick wall and basement vibes, in the heart of the city centre. It also features a venue in the midst of the bustling student area in Hyde Park; Brudenell Social Club which is recognised for hosting upcoming bands and it includes the living room of a house party.
The house party event demonstrates the grassroots of live music within the city and aims to involve readers and make them feel as though they are part of a secret; this is what is happening at the weekends in students’ front rooms in the Yorkshire suburbs.
Apart from a few colour adjustments and sharpening, there is very little post production because it is showing the event for how it was. It does not purely focus on technicalities as it is about capturing the feeling and emotion that was visible on the night of the gig; the sharpness and clarity of a photograph is not quite so critical in this instance. What’s far more important is seeing the feelings that were originally there.
Each image is backed up by an article written by journalists, it ranges from interviews to gig reviews. In some instances, the journalists were able to accompany the photographer to the live music event to write a gig review. This reinforces the idea of making the readers feel as though they were a part of the experience because the journalists were able to incorporate that gig energy into their own writing.
The magazine aims to have a sense of ‘freedom’ as the journalists and bands were given creative flexibility. The journalists were able to write from any perspective that they wanted, as long as it centred on the subject of Leeds. The artists and bands were given choices between being photographed either on location or the studio. They were also given their own make up and styling options. Each choice was made with minimal input from the photographer, so that her own visual style could be expressed through the final outcomes. It is about expressing themselves with no restraints.
As a whole, Deluge is about engaging readers who are interested in music and what it is up and coming, it is marking an era of Leeds.