Leeds music collective Chunk are slowly making their mark in the city with their unique approach to bringing the best out of local creative talents.
Chances are you’ll be start seeing ‘Chunk’ across gig posters, websites and social media a lot more of the coming weeks, months and years. There’s a growing influence emanating from the self-styled musical collective that’s gradually beginning to bear fruit.
As with many cities, Leeds has a musical soul that is constantly evolving as more talent filters out of bedrooms and garages. There’s often an issue with the best way to provide a platform for artists to create and share ideas in a conducive environment, but Chunk are solving that from their home on Meanwood Road, the former residence of 309 Studios.
Starting out in 2013 as a group of musicians in the city needing somewhere to hone their talents, they’ve grown into their second home which is no longer restricted to being a rehearsal space, but is now open to the interpretation of those within – performance area, exhibition space, gig venue, club night, you name it.
And this initial growth is just the start. “I believe we’re still in the very early stages of development as ideas and projects are being discussed and developed all the time between members.” As Tom Bradley, one of the Chunk members, told us. “We have a wide variety of people involved, not just in music but in the wider art community of Leeds. We don’t want to be limited by one single genre but by the ethos that more can be achieved collectively than individually.”
Although the musical element is what’s giving Chunk the most visibility, the wider creative current that runs through the collective means it’s not being held back by limitations, but rather maximising its potential in every way their members possibly can find.
“We have graphic artists, poets, photographers and events promoters, it’s from this diversity that Chunk has developed into something else,” Tom points out. “The Voice of Chunk label is a relatively new concept – a banner for the artists to release the music and help promote.”
The label put out IRK’s debut EP last year and they have local live favourites Bearfoot Beware’s debut album which is due for release on Monday 27th April 2015. Some will also know from various venues and nights around the city the likes of Zozo, Esper Scout, Black Gorgon and Super Luxury, who all fly the Chunk flag.
But that just scratches the surface. The idea of a collective is to be able to create and trade ideas fluidly – and over the past two years that has allowed for some intriguing inter-band collaborations like Clentsch featuring Tom from Super Luxury and Steve Myles from Cattle and Khuda, as well as New Woman, the work of Get Machine Destroy’s Adam Taylor and Tom Bradley, who is also a member of Bearfoot Beware.
There’s a sense that Chunk is another part of the Leeds musical puzzle that makes it such a productive place to be for artists. The fact that it isn’t afraid of working with the city’s other venues to help push the work of those involved, makes it such a progressive and impressive project.
Tom talked us through how that’s helped them, “there’s always a Chunk band playing somewhere in the city during the week. Usually at venues like the Brudenell Social Club, Wharf Chambers, The Packhorse or a house party. The Brudenell were kind enough to let us run a fundraising all-dayer in January where we had CHUNK bands play. The money raised has helped pay for some crucial bills and equipment, never mind it also being a mind blowing day of performances.”
That cooperative effort means it’s no wonder momentum is picking up. And it isn’t just exclusive to the musical element. “Other members are beginning work on spoken word sessions, screen printing and we’re currently building a Dark Room for photography.” Bradley continued. “Chunk is also open to others though. We have membership which grants benefits but also people who want to use the space temporarily are free to do so at an affordable price.”
Chunk forms part of the wider community in Leeds that prides itself on DIY values where possible – and here, probably more than anywhere else, that seems to influence the goings on around the city. That ethos seems to have served Chunk as well as it has done anyone in the past few years.
For Bradley, it’s something they can definitely relate to. “I think the desire for community is natural in everyone and in all walks of life. When people work together, usually in the same space or on the same project, it’s easier to achieve collective goals. Chunk is forming a kind of loose support network within our scene but we also want to make sure it’s inclusive. The DIY community in Leeds is already strong and Chunk is just a small part of it.”
That small part will hopefully become a big part in the years to come. Over the next few months, they’ll be launching an as yet untitled spoken word night with Irk’s Jack Gordon and The Lime Project, a School of Music group who aim to “connect with and challenge various sonic and conceptual approaches within the fields of free improvisation and experimental music.” And that follows their recent partnership with female-led electronic collective Slut Drop.
For that kind of eclectic artistry and musicianship to fall under the scope of one group is mightily impressive and indicative of the strong, progressive work already achieved by Chunk. And like Tom, we hope this is just the beginning.
Chunk, 275 Meanwood Road, Leeds, LS7 2JD.
Feature, first and third images are courtesy of Christopher Antony Blackman.