Music interview: Ralph Lawson on Inner City Electronic

Ralph Lawson has been a figurehead in the electronic music industry for nearly 30 years.

Ralph Lawson
Ralph Lawson

From spinning the first ever record at Back to Basics to spearheading the globally renowned imprint 20/20 Vision, Lawson has been a key figure in the inaugural Inner City Electronic that will arrive in Leeds on June 2.

Tell us all about Inner City, why now, and what are your goals for the project?

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I just thought that the time was right! Leeds, in its own right, has a bustling community of music, right the way through all main electronic genres. However, we are also looking further afield, and have drafted in some key acts that are currently pushing the music boundaries. The line-up is not just a set of acts that I enjoy, but, are also carefully crafted together to show the current state of quality we have performing in the UK. Our goals are to show different insights into the industry from the music, the production, how you promote events; and some key history. I think sometimes people don’t look back to how the electronic music started here in Leeds, or where it’s going, so that’s crucial.

Why do you think Leeds is perfect for this style of event?

Again, the city is growing so fast; it’s not that we have to do this event, but, I think, Inner City will bring everyone together even more than before. The music scene here has always been strong, and the clubbing community has been a huge influence in attracting tourism to the city, for me it’s setting huge trends for the current ethos hereabouts. Inner City will offer a different side to that, it is where people can also learn a bit more, and see for themselves just what’s involved, and, with the ‘panels’ they can delve a but deeper into each side of the industry.

Were there any pitfalls you experienced with bringing the city together?

Of course, you have to side step a few landmines. The majority of it was fairly straightforward however, but you always get a few issues with bookings. Leeds is so small and there is of course some loyalty towards certain acts and brands; but that just shows respect. That said we managed to get everybody we wanted involved so we are really happy.

Tell us about the venues…

We have some amazing venues; all within walking distance, and all that compliment each other too. Belgrave and Headrow will house the Panels whilst Distrikt will host Nicholas Lutz. Sheaf Street will host Panels too, with Crazy P performing. And don’t forget we shall also have the Wardbobe for the dub element.

You’ve brought in a lot of local talent too. Who can we look forward too?

The MAP charity is a very hot topic now for the city which is ran at Hope House on Mabgate. Tom, the owner also has a really great sound system; which is worth checking out in its own right! On the party front there is Butterside Up who will move over to Distrikt from Wire for a night. Then of course we will have some of the Basics guys performing, the amazing Doghouse, Headrow House and Sub Sub at Wardrobe too, so things are looking great. There will be a selection of talks as well at this.

Can you give us an insight into the panels and your choices of speakers?

Sure, we will be hosting panels with the legendary Craig Richards who has fronted Fabric over the years. He will talk about his career. We will have a promoter panel too, from some of the prominent people in the city. Down at Sheaf Street we will have some technology panels as well, with the likes of Pioneer taking charge. Diversity in music has been a huge talking point recently.

Why do you think it’s taken this long for the word to come out about equality in music?

Well, let’s just say its just great that people from all walks of life are now pushing the word out – not just music. However, it’s been amplified more because people relate to music and our industry. The fact that people are standing up for equal rights whether its within gender equal events, or on panels, or even running campaigns, it’s just great to see that it’s finally getting the recognition it deserves.

Inner City Electronic takes place at various venues around Leeds including The Church, Belgrave Music Hall, Headrow House and Wire. For tickets visit