So our first interview for 2016 and it’s a good one! Many people will know or have been to a Leftfoot event, if not you will most likely have been to either the old Medicine Bar in the Custard Factory or perhaps the Bull’s Head as it was in Moseley, or more recently the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath.
All these have one thing in common, they were promoted at one time or another by local DJ, promoter and music mogul Adam Regan. We catch up with Adam for an honest and exclusive interview on his past, present and future journey into the sound of music:
Adam ‘Leftfoot’ Regan Interview
Hello Adam, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for Grapevine Brum. For those who may not know you, could you please sum up your career in a few sentences, bars you’ve DJ’d at, venues and nights you have run, or promoted. Just a bit of your music background.
“After university in Nottingham, I moved back to Birmingham and became assistant manager then manager of the Medicine Bar (1995-98), DJing around the city, promoting events at the Custard Factory (Summer Madness etc).
Left in 1998 but carried on DJing around city plus a brief spell working on alternative events for Miss Moneypennys (including a few trips to Ibiza, their club in Wolverhampton and Bonds).
Starting working with Dick (Richard Whittingham) at Different Drummer in 1999 & launched Leftfoot in 2000 at the Medicine Bar (which turned into a club from 2000 onwards) Started Leftfoot nights in Paris, Liverpool, London & Croatia, DJed around the world with Different Drummer Soundsystem. Bought the Bull’s Head in 2006 and the Hare & Hounds in 2007. Sold the Bull’s Head in 2015 but still own the H&H.”
How did you first become involved with dance music, what or who was the catalyst?
“I was always interested in music as a kid but I got seriously hooked in my first year at Cadbury 6th Form College (1987). I was really into hip-hop, reggae/dub, soul, funk & jazz and didn’t really buy into the rave scene at the time. A trip to Quadrant Park in Liverpool in 1990 opened my eyes to house music and then Breathless at Snobs totally blew my mind!”
I think we first met in the old Medicine Bar in Digbeth when you were promoting and DJing with DJ Dick. What does your time at the Custard Factory mean to you, and can you give me three memories of that era at the bar which really stand out (good or bad)?
“1995-98 was great but 2000-2004 was the real golden period. BBC Radio’s One Live In Birmingham in 2001 was just the most incredible week to be involved with.
We hosted Gilles Peterson’s live show with Roots Manuva & Cinematic Orchestra and then later in the week John Peel was there doing his show. The Mr Scruff shows in the pool were pretty legendary and the first Lee Scratch Perry show was surreal.”
You have contributed a great deal to Brum’s music scene, how would you describe the city’s present offering for alternative music nights, is there anything you would like to see more, or less of? How would you say Birmingham’s current music scene compares to when you first started out in this industry.
“It’s encouraging to see lots of young club promoters with good taste. Nights like Moodfix, Re-cord, Moulin Groove, Pagoda, Quartz, Shadow City & Cache are all pushing soulful and deep electronic music.
We are saturated with tech-house, Ibiza techno and the more bassy house stuff in Birmingham so it’s refreshing to see some younger heads digging a little deeper. This is Tmrw are consistently pushing the boundaries with their live bookings too. It all feels pretty healthy at the moment.”
The Hare & Hounds has been a great success for local musicians and DJs, and also a top venue for touring artists. Would you ever consider a move back into the city centre, or near by, and do you see any area of Birmingham as having great potential in the future.
“Yes but the venue would have to be right. We’ve looked at loads of places over the last few years but we haven’t found the right spot yet. Ideally we’d find a venue in the city centre with a 500-700 capacity.
Kings Heath & Moseley are going from strength to strength generally with lots of interesting things in the pipeline. There are lots of nice suburbs in Birmingham but they don’t have the musical/creative community that we have in B13/14. Digbeth & Hockley/JQ are buzzing too but I’d consider them to be extensions of the city centre rather than suburbs.”
Please could you name three of your favourite personal DJ performances in your career and explain why.
“Hard to choose just 3 from 20 years but here’s some that stand out…
Big Chill 2001 / Different Drummer Soundsystem warming up for Kruder & Dorfmeister. We started our set in the pouring rain to a hundred people and then the sun came out and there were thousands. Never come off stage with such a big grin on my face!
Leftfoot @ The Batofar (Paris) 2003 / Playing instrumentals from Run Come Save Me with Roots Manuva on the mic. He was meant to be DJing but he was a bit worse for wear so asked if i’d play while he took the mic. The place errupted when he did Witness.
Leftfoot & Shadow City @ Rainbow Warehouse 2015 / Played back to back with Matt Beck after Bonobo had taken the roof off. Dream slot really.”
How do you feel Birmingham’s alternative music scene compares to other UK cities such as Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, London etc.
“In some respects we compare really favourably as we have some great artists, venues and promoters, but all of those cities sell more tickets for certain shows and therefore get a wider choice of touring artists.
I had this conversation with a friend of mine who has some huge artists on his booking agency. It’s a hard thing to accept but Birmingham still has a long way to go before we’re considered as one of the major UK cities for music.”
Are there any DJs or music acts you are yet to book which you would like to, is it ever likely to happen?
“I can’t say who we’re after at the moment but if we get them (after years of chasing) we’ll let you know!”
Can you name your top three music venues/events around the world outside of Brum and what it is you love about them?
“Garden Festival in Croatia has always been very important to me. It finished last summer after 10 amazing years and paved the way for the whole Croatian festival scene. It was run by good friends from Birmingham and Leftfoot hosted and programmed the first ever events there. We’re playing at Dimensions this year (also in Croatia) and the line-up is incredible so really looking forward to that.
I went to Pitchfork Paris last year and was blown away by the event/venue. We were invited over by Red Bull and had an amazing weekend including a tour of the Red Bull Music Academy. Big shout to Bobby Barnes for sorting that one!
Flex Club in Vienna in 2003 was an eye-opener. Monday night party called The Dub Club, killer soundsystem, open-minded crowd and packed to the rafters.”
What does 2016 hold for Adam Regan, any ambitions you would like to fulfill either in personal life or music?
“Really hoping to get to Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival in Sete this summer. It’s always clashed with the Garden Festival or Mostly Jazz but I’m determined to make it this year.
I’d also like to make some more music with Steve Cobby (Fila Brazillia). We produced a few tracks together a couple of years ago and not had the chance to get back up to his studio for a while. And I’ve just bought a house in Kings Heath so i’ll be a fully-fledged B14er again. I also can’t wait for the local derbies next season!”
Thank you Adam, see you soon at the Hare & Hounds.
Interview by Nick Byng for Grapevine Birmingham.