Stay In The Loop! / 訂閱我們

Click here to subscribe to our mailing list for info project and event announcements!

Search our Blog / 搜尋
The Archive
Twitter Updates

Twitter Updates

    follow us on Twitter

    Entries in Interviews (4)


    Introducing: Imran Ali

    Photo by Cubic Garden / Ian Forrester

    In the latest of our 'Introducing' series, we check in with one of our favourite creative thinkers: Imran Ali. Imran has an amazing story which started at Freeserve back in the day. He is currently doing some really intersting things with CARBON:Imagineering and hosting cool events like LSx and TEDxLeeds. We sat down and talked to Imran about careers, creativity, events and cities.

    Imran graduated from Leeds Met in 1997 in Computing and Software Engineering. By his own admission that "sounds kind of dorky" but his graduation happened at the perfect time: the beginning of the 'multimedia' age. During the early stages of his career Imran was involved in some of the most exciting media companies around as he explains...

    "The first jobs I had were as a hybrid interactive designer/developer creating websites and CDROM (remember those!) at Leeds' now defunct Creative Convergence agency. After moving up into being a producer, our entire team resigned on the same day to join Freeserve at the dawn of the dotcom era in 1999…great timing huh ;) 

    Freeserve, became Wanadoo and Wanadoo became Orange. I ended up as a deputy director for Orange's disruptive innovations team, travelling between MIT, Silicon Valley, London, Leeds and Paris scouting for bleeding edge people and projects that'd scare the poop outta our executives!"

    We have got to know Imran well over the past year. He is one of those people who seems to have an involvement in lots of the cool stuff going on in and around the city. It is probably best for Imran to explain himself what he is up to at the moment: 

    "After working alongside so many startups, our team wanted to go it alone with some of our own ventures. We had great relationships with investors and media, so decided to setup an emerging technologies think-tank, CARBON:imagineering."

    "Most of our work is involves helping clients ask questions about the future and prepare themselves for technological, political and cultural shifts - from creating conceptual products and services, to architecting visions and scenarios that help clients to explore and experience future developments. In parallel to this, I've been a board advisor to various startups and conferences, as well as founding the LSx festival and joining Manchester's FutureEverything festival team as conference programme director"

    We have attended some of the LSx events including TEDxLeeds and Open Coffee. Our very own Shang Ting is a keynote speaker at the Girl Geek Dinner tonight (blog post to follow after event) and Imran is hoping to take the festival to new levels in 2011:

    "LSx is a group of people interested in nurturing Leeds' technology scene to put it on the map nationally and globally. LSx isn't about gadgets and code, but the culture of technology - what does digital tech do to music, politics, fashion, publishing, films and education that's interesting?

    LSx has largely been a shorthand for all the events, meetups and conferences we host throughout the year to bring together creatives, entrepreneurs, technologists, publishers and media people. LSx runs year-round events such as OpenCoffee, Girl Geek Dinners, WePublish and TED, but we also run an annual festival every Spring that includes the city's first unconference - BarCamp Leeds, as well as guest speakers from Google, Twitter, Creative Commons and other major technology brands like Carsonified.

    Our mission is to bring the planet's best tech thinkers to Leeds to share their insights. This year, we're moving up a gear with a our inaugural Conference of Emerging Tech; a large outdoor zombie game (!); the launch of an open government project and a super-secret film project."

    We often talk with Imran about Leeds as a city. We approach from the fashion / music / art angles and Imran from what may be refered to as the 'tech' angle but the bottom line is, both of these are creative angles. Instead of looking at the city as 'lacking' in certain areas, we often talk about a 'blank canvass' and of the potential to do something special here. Imran expands further:

    "Leeds has always been a vibrant creative and tech hub - from being part of the Industrial Revolution's Silicon Valley, to the dotcom era and now the Web 2.0 era. Leeds keeps inventing. A university that spins out the most ventures of any in the UK; entrepreneurs that created Freeserve, Sportal and Ananova and now home to cultural hackers tinkering with social software, mobility, and 'maker' culture.

    However, Leeds is terrible at sharing those extraordinary parts of its heritage - we want to change that with LSx. To showcase the city's past, but also provide a path to the future by bringing powerful ideas to the city.

    I hear a lot of Leeds creatives complaining about how Leeds isn't Manchester or London. Blah, blah. If you want your city to be cool, then experiment, innovate, create connections, throw your pet projects out into the world and see if they flourish. Your city is your canvas, use it.

    For me, Leeds is a great platform for experimentation and serendipity. Big enough to be diverse and exhilarating, but small enough to be accessible and human-scale. I can meet an undergrad with a great idea for a web app in the morning, then walk across the street and hang with the city's politicians to talk about how we reboot citizenship for a networked culture and in the evening listening to an evening of lightning talks" 

    We are talking with Imran about a number of projects at the moment. One of these is bringing together some of the cities most interesting fashion, music, art and digital creatives. By getting a group of people together who may not usually work together on projects could generate some cool projects according to Imran

    "I don't even know what we'll be working on, but I'm excited by the composition of the group. This kinda diversity brings creative frictions that are inventive and just plain cool. Already, Shang Ting's going to be contributing a keynote speech at the next Girl Geek Dinner that's got the LSx team super-excited.

    I hit it off with Lee from our first conversation - we see the world the same way and that kinda chemistry can only lead to something awesome… like Lee switching allegiance from Leeds to Manchester United"  (Lee: NEVER going to happen!)

    We are really excited to be working with Imran and know we can create some interesting stuff.  From the city's point of view, he is one of our most valuable assets, We often find ourselves saying to people "whatever Imran thinks we should do... just do it!" and we genuinely mean it.

    We also encourage everyone to get involved as much as they can in LSx and it's year-round events. You can do so by signing up for girl Geek tonight here. And generally we encourage everyone to try and get involved in LSx which has events all year round, it really is one of the best things going on in Leeds at the moment!


    Introducing: Marc Leaf

    Today marks the 20th anniversary of the debut of one of Leeds' best ever club Djs: Marc Leaf. Recently I sat down with Marc to discuss his career so far, his thoughts on the future, new projects and for anyone who is friends with Marc on Facebook... THAT status update!

    It all started 20 years ago today for a fresh-faced Dj from Hyde Park in Leeds. He headed to his first ever gig at Rio Campus in Bradford perhaps not realising the journey he was embarking upon. When looking back on musical and artistic careers it is often the case that an artists' childhood plays a big part in shaping their sound, style or passion and Marc is no different:

    "I am from an area in Leeds called Hyde Park. It was a place that has seen its fair share of troubles throughout the years. I was mainly there from the early 80's right through to about 1996.  Musical influence went through into quite a few kids of my age as the house sound was really picking up and the emergence of a now legendary "NightmaresOnWax" came about from the same area. It was a very special time in my life! How I got into dj'ing though was through a friend of mine called Mark Greenwood AKA Dj Task who is still part of my life to this day. He took me to a place called Sundance which led to going to a very illicit place in Chapeltown in Leeds called Sunny's... This was a massive piece of why I am doing what I do today and I want to mention a very special dj who carved a sound inside my soul which wont go away... Dj Mikey. Watching both Task and Mikey made me want to learn how to dj and Task showing me the ropes was similar to OB1 showing Anakin the ways of the Jedi in Star Wars... I Wish"

    I first personally met Marc when he worked at the now defunct Record Box in Leeds, a 'must visit' place for every wannabe Leeds Dj at the time. I remember going along with my friends and being really excited to dig out a rare lost remix of some random house tune (all vinyl of course) This is an art / apprenticeship that no longer exists in the new world of digital music and file sharing and Marc, like many, thinks that may not necessarily be a good thing:

    "The RecordBox was THE best record shop in Leeds for a long time... It was owned by a friend of mine called Adrian Tomasone who was a resident at the legendary Vague which was at the Warehouse in Leeds. My role there though was part-time filler inner and general organised chaos maintainer. A role that I thoroughly enjoyed and when it closed due to the digital era coming along I was pissed off! In general though we sold a lot of stuff that we got 2 or 3 copies of and if you missed it you missed out as it was gone, so the buzz in the shop on delivery days was ace. Alongside that we had a massive 2nd hand side of things full of whatever you wanted and I have some great memories of the times I've spent full days just going through stuff with my fingertips black brite from the dirty record sleeves at the end of it... Pure bliss and I miss it massively as playing vinyl for me is the true art of dj'ing"

    Since his days at Record Box, Marc has focused more and more on the producing side of things. During the recent Leeds in Barcelona project we featured a showcase of some of Marc's best work (You can listen below) and it went down a storm with the Catalan crowd. His track 'Get Up' reached no.1 in the download charts. The formula for success as a producer though is quite simple according to Leaf:

    "I've been producing now since about 2004. It doesn't seem very long really but have a back catologue of about 40-50 tracks of my own and remixes which isnt bad really. I love going to the studio as it brings out a side of me that is like a kid in a candy shop but I have also had days when things are not going well for me privately and my emotions drive my music. "Get Up" was a track that built itself really, because the drums alone made want to get up and go to a club! I still play it as I do a lot of my older stuff as it's a sound that I feel is what I'm about: Good, strong, well produced house music that even my Dad loves so if it's good for him then I'm all over it! My advice to anyone making their own stuff is to always make something they are going to play and support as a load of the stuff people send me is what they think is current but I don't think 80% of them would ever play. Listen to what people are playing and see what you can do to add your own stamp on that sound without being so upfront that you disappear up your own arse... Play and make the music that is in your heart, real goose-pimply stuff... THAT YOUR DAD LIKES"

    One of Marc's new projects is Uber. You can tell when a event has 'it' by the people that recommend it. Uber is growing into other areas too with the launch of it's own record label. The label had a number one in the European download charts and the whole project is going from strength to strength:

    "Uber is an afterhours we run in Leeds from 3.30am till 9am at Mission2. I'd been thinking about it for a good year or so as Leeds didnt have a good afterhours spot after the clubs had shut at 5 or 6am and with Leeds being a city of such musical awareness and it having a long standing foothold in the dance scene, I was adamant that things needed to change. So after a good think about it I approached a couple of friends who are now my partners in it and we've just celebrated our first birthday which was massive! Alongside the night we have a record label thats been just as fantastic for us called 'UberDigital'. We've had a number one in the download charts with 'GetUp' which im particularly proud of. Its mainly all our own releases but we've started to sign other stuff now for release over the coming months and we are now distributed by LabelWorks"

    Marc and I will often speak about our home city of Leeds and it's talent as it is something we are very passionate about. This passion led Leaf to post a now legendary status update on Facebook that seemed to stir the passion of most of Leeds' house music and club scene, the status read: 

    "The Electro/Bassline rubbish thats tearing the heart out of Leeds' clubbing scene is worrying. Too many folk downloading the 'big tune' of the hour that every other "DJ" has for free or ripped from another djs mix cd. Be different and stand out and dont be part of the "lets go back to the old skool" Billy Big Tune crew. If promoters used djs instead of chancers we may be able to make Leeds a proud musical city again" 

    ... The post attracted 152 comments and 118 likes!

    When I ask Marc about his own vision for Leeds and the future, his response, as you would expect, is simple and straight-forward:

    "I love Leeds and no matter what anybody says it's somewhere that I feel strongly about having spent all my life here and having played all over the country there is nowhere that parties like the Leeds lot. They are bonkers and go on for days and days. And while ever they are here so will I, doing what I do and dragging along a band of brothers that is now known as Uber... That is my aim and that is my goal"

    I am really looking forward to working with Marc on upcoming projects and his talent and passion will be a great asset for the city moving forward. Happy 20th anniversary Mr Leaf, here is to 20 more :)


    Hebe Media Talks To: Buddy Ye

    This week as part of Leeds Digital Festival, Marketing Leeds are presenting the fourth event in their ‘The business of’ series: The Business of Digital. This will be a question and answer style event on the impact of digital technology on businesses. One of the panelists will be Buddy Ye, and I spoke with Buddy yesterday about his thoughts on the digital landscape and his trip to Leeds.

    Buddy Ye is the Founder, CEO and Producer of Shune River Media, a Shanghai-based independent production house that is quickly emerging as a bridge between the rapidly growing Chinese media market and the rest of the world.

    Buddy studied for his MBA in the UK at the Said Business School in Oxford and explained some of the differences between the different education styles at the time “For my generation the learning environment in the UK was much more open. Students would be encouraged to ask questions and try new things. This was different to China at the time, although things are gradually changing now”

    After returning to China, Buddy set up WangYou, one of China’s first major social media platforms. The site focuses mainly on music and a massive percentage of the user generated content is Karaoke. “Karaoke is very popular with young people all across Asia. We provide the technologies for people to upload, rate and interact on their own user-generated content” Behind the scenes work is taking place on the next steps for WangYou as Buddy explains “We are currently working on the transition from web to mobile based versions of WangYou”

    As we talk further, Buddy and I begin talking about the future more generally and how things may move forward in the coming years “Over the coming 10-12 years there will be a high-speed development of digital technologies and I think over the next 3-5 years content will play a more important role” says Buddy.

    Which leads us on to discussing some of the reasons why he is visiting Leeds: “There is a high demand in China for international content. I am talking about animations, documentaries, films, what I would call professional digital content. I am here in Leeds to speak with digital professionals about some of the opportunities in the Chinese market and how we might work together in the future”

    I look forward to meeting Buddy on Thursday at the Business of Digital event. It seems there are some potentially very interesting relationships and collaborations that could take place. The more international relationships we can build for the already exciting Leeds digital scene the better.

    For more information about Leeds Digital Festival and to register for the event click here.


    Interview: Leeds Fashion Show

    Hebe Media’s Shang Ting and Stacey interviewed Sherelle Davidson and Rhonda Richards from Leeds Fashion Show earlier this week. With the show just 5 days away they reveal to us the reason for holding the event at Leeds Museum; the layout of the show; and, most importantly, how they intend to come back bigger and better than ever.

    Leeds Fashion Show is in its 5th year this year, how did it all begin?

    It was initially put together as a place for someone wanting to get into the industry. After graduating university, you’re not really set-up to go into the industry and it’s quite hard getting the experience so it was an ideal situation to offer.

    Would it be fair to say that Leeds Fashion Show focuses on working primarily with recent graduates?


    How do you feel about the venue? Why did you choose Leeds Museum?

    It is the 5th year and we want to come back bigger and better. We had a few ideas when choosing the venue. We considered Royal Armouries, Leeds football stadium, Alea Casino, we just wanted it somewhere other than the night clubs. We normally have it in the nightclub setting, which opens the audience to a younger age group. And in choosing the museum, even though we have got a bar there, there’s no age limit.

    From the footage last year, it seems like Leeds Fashion Show had a very intimate, gig-like feeling. Is it going to be a similar vibe this year?

    We’d probably say a bit of a mixed vibe. One, because the theme is glamorous so when you're dressed up you want to feel more sophisticated, and two, although the venue is big, the layout of the stage, which you will see on the night, still keeps it very intimate.

    How do you select the music acts?

    We have chosen two acts this year. One is a violinist, which will be something new and different and we’ll have a singer as well. We normally hold auditions because of all the talent out there, but we already had people in mind last year, so we approached them. We normally have dancers but because of the glamorous theme we thought it might not be appropriate.

    The layout of the show?

    We open the show with entertainment and we have two people co-hosting the show. Then it goes on to the actual shops and designers' showcase. That’s the first half followed by a break. The second half will have more entertainment and a competition. What we also have this year is a competition with Lotherton Hall, put on by Philip Treacy. It‘s call Ruffled Feathers and it’s all to do with kids getting involved by making hats. It’s a competition for them to win a prize from Philip Treacy. We thought that it fits quite well with the venue and it helps kids get into the creative industry. Six of the winning hats will be showcased on the catwalk.  We will also have a charity auction and raffle. We've got some wicked prizes this year so we do remind you to bring your wallet with lots of money in it. After all that we sign off and go to the after party at Revolution in Electric Press where we have a photo shoot area, so make sure you go take a picture and that’s something you can take away.

    How do you decide on the winner?

    For the designers, it is done in stages. The designers will send us their mood board, designs, and materials. One of the judges will be Accent, which is sponsoring the award. And one of the other judges is a secret which we will reveal on the night.

    What is the highlight of the show this year?

    This year will be something new to us: the venue, the shape of the catwalk, the theme of the event, and being part of Leeds Loves Shopping. But each year it has to be different. And what we want out of this is success for all of our models, all of our designers and all of our photographers.