Manchester’s LEVELZ roll into town this weekend for their Irish debut. No hype needed here – you know the score, huge stage swagger and pulling sounds from the bassier end of the spectrum to match. They just dropped an intense 15 minute blast for Radio 1Xtra and are hitting up The Wiley Fox on Saturday with an army of Irish support. Beardy had this exchange with some of the crew.
LEVELZ is a collaborative / collective effort. Is this the results of the group being mates or is it a reflection of a collaborative manchester music scene in general?
Skittles: We were approached separately by Slugworth from Willy Wonka and given an everlasting gobstopper each to join.
Metrodome: Being mates is defo the glue of our creative process. We were all doing solo stuff, in groups, mates or known each other’s faces before LEVELZ was a thing.
Chimpo: Yeh we’re all mates. Most of were residents or regular guests at Rich Reason’s night Hit & Run. As a promoter he realised it would be easier to exploit us if he got us all in one place.
T-man: it’s a reflection of the Manchester music scene in general a lot of people working together all ages and all backgrounds.
Truthos Mufasa: Reckon we just do the damn ting well man. Man are just born wild out here doing our own ting you see me?
Levelz gigs seem to bridge the gap between the artist on the stage and the crowd. Is this a self-conscious approach to involve the crowd or do you see LEVELZ as an extension of the crowd itself? Or do some of you just like crowd surfing on couches??
Skittles: I prefer a dingy anyday much more stable! That lilo is the hardest! Deffo Chimpo: Everyones just trying to get felt up.
Truthos: personally, i like to just sit on peeps. If peeps can hold me up then they’re a friend indeed.
T-man: just like crowd surfing it’s good to get in with the crowd as well they’re almost always safe
Metrodome: A shit crowd drains me, can’t do a sick set without a sick crowd.
Rich Reason: Definitely have never had a VIP area at any of my or our nights, and never would. Nightclubs are a place for unity and diversity, not divisions.
The Manchester music scene is in rude health, and highly self-sufficient, that doesn’t look towards London for recognition. Is this a product of the city’s long standing tradition of doing things itself, or a recent product of people moving away from focusing on the UK’s capital musical output?
Skittles: What’s London? I thought Manchester was the capital.
Truthos: Dunno about traditions, we proper just like to jam with the peeps we know and respect. So what ever influences you all got collectively, jump out in your production. Man ain’t trying to copy or be different. Man are just being beings init laaaa.
Rich Reason: I think it’s still harder to be recognised outside the m25 – there’s a wealth of talent in manchester in and out of our crew, just let opportunities and thus maybe less experience of making the most of opportunities that do come your way as a result. I definitely think there are lessons for london to learn from how manchester does things, and vice-versa.
Manchester has a tradition of embracing musical movements and trends, and adopting them as their own for example northern soul, acid house and rave. Is LEVELZ’s cross genre approach an extension of this? Or is it more a result of the collaborative/collective approach of having so many producers & mcs?
Skittles: No we don’t. We invented everything fuck off.
Metrodome: The reason why i think the LEVELZ sound is so diverse is due to manchester being a musically diverse city.
Rich Reason: The scene here is simultaneously compact yet broad.
Metrodome: The members in LEVELZ all like different shit as well! You’ve got metal heads, hip hop heads, junglists. Grime heads, funk and soul diggers and dancehall-y ragga peeps too. It’s pretty sick how many musical influences exist in us…
Truthos: As man said before man have influences and they just jump out. Not really trying to be anything different or trying to follow trends. We just do the do.
That whole elastic artist agency thing was a bit messy wasn’t it? You guys came out very strong on it, with some stunts and hi-jinx to highlight how badly artists were treated. LEVELZ are pretty well known at this stage, but is it hard to survive as an artist and make ends meet at your, eh…level?
Chimpo: Nah we’re all flossing. We wipe our arses with Banksy originals and bathe in Cristal.
Skittles: Nah we’re chillin. Mans got top stuff an that.
Truthos: Yeah mate, from when you look in your cupboard and all you’ve got is a spider to eat you know it’s a hard graft out here. Don’t get it twisted though, man’s gonna eat big soon. Might even share a plate if you’re lucky.
Rich Reason: Financially doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to do such a large collaborative project, but we get by and have a lot of fun whilst doing it – life’s about memories not monopoly.
I can’t think of any other questions bar what’s the best place for a rice and 3 in Manchester? I’d like to know for myself. Heading over soon and need to hit that shit up.
Truthos: Mate, what is a rice and 3? I’m dining on spiders out here.
Skittkes: Bun that go Tzatzikis in Fallow. That’s where I am right now!
Chimpo: Yadgars and Marhaba in Northern Quarter are both pretty strong
T-man: Go Buzzrocks and get a jerk chicken rice instead. Leng.
Rich Reason: The best place for jerk has to be kool runnings in Longsight or Fallowfield, sorry t-man. For curry has to be Al Madina in Rusholme.
You can find out about tickets for Saturday’s ruckus on Facebook. Get there early. It’s gonna be busy. Photo by Jody Hartley.