Leeds Music Scene Thrives On Diversity

A closer look at some of the city's breaking acts...

It’s hard to get away from music in Leeds – the minute you walk out of the railway station you’ll hear buskers across the road, then a quick walk past Kirkgate Market brings you the Corn Exchange, the shared home of Released Records and KMAH Radio who both champion so much of the city's music.

A two-minute walk from the exchange will bring you to the intimate venue, Hope House. Hidden away in a former red-light district, this two-storey building is home to Cosmic Slop, a night that helps fund creative courses for young people at risk of exclusion.

The venue neighbours a new multimillion-pound shopping centre, a looming reminder of the threat gentrification poses to the city’s bustling community of creatives.

Here, producers showcased their beats on Cosmic Slop’s state-of- the-art sound-system and receive feedback from established label heads and peers. There will always be a threat of uncertainty for the creative community in Leeds and beyond, yet, despite the ongoing concerns of gentrification and the impact of the recent pandemic, there is a tangible feeling in the capital of the north that music and more importantly creativity will never fade.

Leeds has a thriving creative hub with a plethora of artists, venues and media platforms from all around the city, that tirelessly work to pursue their love of music, creating it for the city (and the rest of the world) to enjoy.

We’ve curated a list of seven upcoming Leeds-based artists you need to check out, it’s a diverse list of music that jumps from ethereal pop-folk all the way to dancehall.

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Izzi De-Rosa

Izzi De-Rosa is an artist that developed her distinct and alluring sound in the underground Leeds scene, with residencies at venues like East Village.

De-Rosa's music features a signature combination of complex jazz-inspired techniques with endearing melodies. Her commandeering attitude on the track illustrates the singer/songwriter’s empowering qualities, and this is mixed with buoyant lyricism and a mature self-awareness that is instantly appealing to a variety of ears.

The eccentric vocalist has been generating a buzz amongst her growing following, teasing supporters with a number of unreleased projects.

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Long Legged Creatures

Long Legged Creatures are inhabiting an inventive middle ground, toying with both the artificial and analogically pure. The band's potent blend of sounds and iconic take on electronica has shaped their live performances. Releases like demonise and CMAD display just how much of a forward-thinking band they are, drawing influence from a conceptual reservoir of all thing’s electro, whilst boasting stunning visuals.

Make sure to make this Leeds-based band at the top of your list once the live circuit returns.

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Sunflower Thieves

Leeds-based pop-folk band Sunflower Thieves are a soulful sisterhood, who have developed a signature sound through a rigorous touring schedule and a discography of limitless promise.

Recent releases like ‘Hide And Seek’ see the duo seamlessly deliver breathy vocal harmonies and admirably honest lyrics. There is a tangible sincerity to their music that makes them so easily accessible and relatable at the same time.

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Dubrunner, aka Charlie Tilley, is 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, blessing the dancefloor faithful.

On the production front he had been as busy as ever, recently releases his ‘Scorpio Season EP’ on Scuffed Records, a body of work that draws on dancehall, steppas and soundsystem culture. He is without doubt one of the busiest artists around, so be sure to expect plenty more releases, radio features and announcements in the nearby future.

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Dead Naked Hippies

Dead Naked Hippies are self-described art-rock outsiders who have are revered for their iconic live performance. The trio’s front woman Lucy Jowett is an icon-in-waiting, with the ability to unleash blistering vocals to a backdrop of frenzied guitars and booming drums, immersing you into a beautifully shambolic wall-of-sound that you’ll blow you away.

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Blue Kubricks

Leeds based alt-rock duo Blue Kubricks are two brother and write and record all their own music and have been rigorously gigging the Yorkshire circuit for upwards of three years.

Pre-lockdown, the band were on the cusp of embarking on our UK-wide spring tour, but despite such setbacks they have been hard at work. The band are one of very few BAME-led rock bands in Leeds, having done tremendous work to tackle the outdated notions surrounding rock.

Frontman of the band Jim Dubnium said “we feel it is time that the industry celebrates our niche position as a black rock band, something that we are extremely proud of…we need to see a step-up from labels, radio, venues and journalists for black artists. We need more than Blackout Tuesday.”

The band's standout tracks are without doubt ‘Heroin’ and a cover of ‘Take Back The Power’.

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Team Picture

Team Picture caught the Leeds gig-goers attention in 2016 when they emerged with their debut single 'Birthday Blues'. The experimental release was genre-defying, sitting somewhere in between indie and alt-rock, whilst featuring snippets of soundtracks from iconic 80s movies.

Since then, the band has eloquently evolved, setting them apart as one of the most exciting bands in the UK. Their recent LP release 'The Menace Of Mechanical Music’ sees the band take their sound to new heights, a fluent record of epic highs and lows marked with swirling guitar licks and standout vocals.

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Words: Josh Crowe

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