- BabyStep Magazine
BabyStep Awards 2020: The Nominations
Whilst in many ways this year has felt at times unproductive and mundane, we have been so inspired by the continued efforts of creative people from in and around Leeds throughout the year. In these unfamilar and uncertain times, so many amazing artists, collectives, radio stations, and DJs have used their time to keep on creating to and support each other, and we want to acknowledge the resilience that the creative scene has shown throughout these trying months. As the year draws to a close, we reflect back on some of our favourite aspects of the year in this years BabyStep Awards. Here are the nominations!
DJ OF THE YEAR
Initially brought to our attention through her involvement with Leeds night Spin City, Tañ is a DJ who has really taken this year by the horns, and not wasted a single second. With her signature blend of styles not limited to UKG, Techno, Afrobeats, and electro, she has managed to produce an impressive volume of work this year, with appearances on Rinse FM, Electric Boogaloo, Balami, and, most impressively, Lobster Theremin's mix series. She also recently took part in Culture Deck's Girls On Deck filmed mix series, which is now available to watch!
Leeds producer and DJ Bakey has leapt from success to success this year. He first appeared on our radar at the start of the year when gritty UKG and breakbeat edits began to appear on his SoundCloud, gaining instant traction. A few months down the line, and Bakey has secured releases on 199 and ec2a, as well as appearances on Rinse FM, Balami, and Subtle Radio. Bakey’s debut EP was released on Shall Not Fade in September, and was so successful that it has landed him an orange repress. We absolutely love his dark, driving take on UKG, and are really looking forward to what he has planned in 2021.
Slowcook has been on quite the journey this year. Originally the co-founder of iconic Leeds night Equaliser, she now resides in Bejing where she continues to run the night. Now out in China, it was amazing to see her do a Boiler Room set this November after having done so much for the Leeds scene! Keep an eye out for next weeks Bandcamp Picks, in which we will be having a chat with her.
Dubrunner is fast creating a burgeoning reputation as a mainstay in the Leeds music scene. Responsible for the iconic Stretchy Dance Supply night, where the likes of Sherelle and Adison Groove have headlined, he has formed an integral part of Leeds nightlife in recent years. On the production front, Dubrunner has not slowed down, with recent releases Scuffed Records, SYN12, and Dansu Discs forming a body of work that draws on dancehall, steppas and soundsystem culture. Having supported Iration Steppas at freedom Mills ecently, and with his releases continuing to pop up, he is without doubt one of the busiest artists around, and we can’t wait for the Stretchy parties to continue!
We have very much enjoyed following Leeds mainstay NikNak's achievements over the last year, which has been, at times, a dizzying experience, due to the sheer volume and rate at which she is able to produce her content! Whether it be hosting webinars for Music:Leeds, releasing her debut album 'Bashi', making appearances on a whole variety of UK radio stations, or winning this year's Oram award, this skilled producer and turntablist has not let the 2020 pandemic even slightly stifle her creative output. However, her talents are not limited to that behind the decks, as her forte as a presenter can be witnessed throughout 'The Narrative Podcast', in which, each month, NikNak and a selected guest discuss issues surrounding black female creativity in art, music, and culture.
Alfie, aka Alfredo Romero, has been a pleasure to follow this year. From his continued involvement in Leeds collective Ready Meal Sound, to his own solo productions that have seen him release with Dansu Discs, Equal People records, Gimme A Break, and ec2a, Alfie has been on a roll to say the least. He used his time in lockdown to set up his label Tapas Wax, and is now running his own London based record store Next Door Records!
LABEL OF THE YEAR
Gimme A Break
Gimme A Break is a label that has been providing a steady stream of quality mixes and single digital download releases since early August. Set up with the aim of showcasing up and coming talent in the realm of breakbeat, UKG, and electro, it was in November, however, that they really exploded onto the scene with their debut compilation album ‘We Are Viable’. For a relatively new platform, we were extremely impressed at the level of promotion that they were able to give to this release, and how well it did- it’s currently sitting in Bandcamp’s ‘Best Selling of All Time’ list!
Tight Lines are an Independent Record Label and community interest company representing some of Leeds' finest including Têtes de Pois, Skwid Ink, Jasmine, Ferg's Imaginary Big Band, HEV and Hey Fish. They’ve continued to push the artists on their label, keeping everyone entertained in lockdown, whilst supporting local legends with weekly playlists. They’ve ended the year on a high, presenting us with the debut album from The Mabgate Organ Trio, 'From The Mabgate Basement'.
Initially formed in Leeds, Dansu Discs have absolutely smashed it this year against all odds. With tracks from the likes of Subjoi, Interplanetary Criminal, Chrissy and Lavonz under their belt, in 2020 alone they released 9 amazing records. Their Dansu for Mental Health compilation in particular was a great success, raising money for the Samaritans and The Mental Health Foundation.
Created in 2012 by Scott lewis and Ste Langton, Clue has released music from artists including of YOWL, Crushed Beaks, Team Picture, and many more, and have gone on to draw attention from NME, DIY, The Independent, Q Magazine,BBC Radio 1, and BBC 6Music. Their recent signing of Bored At My Grandma's House, and their participation in the Independent Label Advent Calender to raise money for Crisis UK prove that this pandemic isn't going to slow them down. Head to their Bandcamp for some gorgeous pressings of both Bored at My Grandma's House and Team Picture's recent albums!
SYN!2 is a label that has really come into its own this year. Created initially with the intention of putting on parties, SYN12 has adapted and become a platform that provides both club-ready tracks, and, more recently, music that can be enjoyed from the home environment. Having started out as a club night hosting the likes of Volruptus at Wharf Chambers, the team decided to venture into the label world. This two digital/tape VA releases under their belts, we really love the sound that they are pushing.
Monomyth Records is a not for profit record label and artist collective based in Leeds. Born in 2017 and steered by Bob Brazill along with a fantastic team of creatives, their mission is to gather and develop new music from an eclectic mix of emerging artists and to serve as a launch pad for their work. They are producing and playing more music than ever, working with some incredible artists and bands such as Luka, Artio and The Venus Grrrls. The label refused to let a pandemic impact their tangible passion to nurture creative relationships throughout the growing local music scene, Monomyth we salute you!
COLLECTIVE OF THE YEAR
Prescribe the Vibe
Staying true to providing "all the vibes all the time", Prescribe the Vibe have been consistent and impressive in their stream of radio, tunes, freestyles and mixes this year. We've particularly loved the variety in their SoundCloud releases, spanning across techno, UKG, deep house and jungle.
Leeds-based collective Readymeal Sound have worked non-stop this year, enjoying success after success in the process. Moving from their intimate jazz nights at East Village Bar at the start of the year, the group have had a smooth transition to doing things a little differently given the circumstances. Part of their team sees Leeds and London-based artists Izzi De Rosa, Laika, Pixie Cola, Yusuf Yellow and Jxnior regularly releasing music and content on their platform - with singles IRS and Half Moon reminding their supporters just how talented Readymeal are. Our love for the house band never wavers either, with Ben Nimmo, Alfie Auckett, Tom Royston, John Flemming and Fin Woolfson adding their magic to every performance they do and every track they make.