Niall O’Callaghan chats to Alex Cooper, Resident Leadmill DJ and all-round music man, ahead of his Tramlines set.

How did you start DJing?
It actually came out of a night out at Viper Rooms, strangely enough. A few years ago, they had an indie & mod night every Wednesday and I got talking to the Mod4It DJ, Darren Gray. One week he asked if I fancied giving it a go for half an hour, and it just took off from there.

How long have you been a regular at The Leadmill for?
I’ve been at Leadmill for just over five years now playing soul & motown, three years playing indie. I had a couple of contacts at Leadmill already and I think they got fed up of me pestering them after a while and caved into giving me a slot.

It’s such an overwhelming privilege to play at such an iconic venue alongside a fantastic team of DJs, managers, promoters, engineers, bar staff, and door staff. And Nev. From its history to the sense of family amongst the regulars, Leadmill really feels like a special place and it’s hard not to crack a smile when you get the place proper bouncing.

What is the song that gets requested the most?
At a guess, I’d probably have to say ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ by The Courteeners.

What is the funniest customer encounter that you’ve had in your time at Leadmill?
“Don’t suppose you’ve got any deodorant do you? I stink.”
“No, sorry love.”
“Oh. Well in that case, can I have ‘C’est La Vie’ by B*Witched?”

What do you think Tramlines means to the city and the people of Sheffield?
Tramlines has become such an integral part of the fabric of Sheffield. The whole city goes into party mode for the weekend, and there’s a real buzz in the air. It’s also a great platform for local bands to get their music heard by a wider audience.

How long have you been attending Tramlines?
As a Sheffield native, I’ve been to every Tramlines so far. My first year was actually as a promoter, where I booked bands such as The Sherlocks and Kartica for a tiny venue off West Street back in 2013. Since then I’ve DJ’d at club nights for Leadmill, and last year I was fortunate enough to be invited to DJ at the main stage on Ponderosa before The Libertines.

Who has played the best set at Tramlines that you have seen?
It’s impossible to pick one stand out moment. From Reverend & The Makers on Dev Green to Basement Jaxx on Ponderosa, getting sweaty in Leadmill to The Enemy and Milburn, Primal Scream making getting soaked worthwhile, mariachi bands and busker’s buses. Got a lot of class memories over the years.

What do you think of the decision to move the main festival out of the city and into Hillsborough Park?
Personally, I’m someone who likes to venue hop, and try to cram in as much of the festival and the Fringe as possible, so the move will make that slightly more difficult. Having said that, I see the move to Hillsborough Park as a largely positive one. Tramlines have been able to attract a much higher calibre of artists, and in greater quantities, than they ever have done before. If you don’t innovate and strive to make yourself better each year, people will lose interest if you stand in the same place for too long.

When can we see you across the weekend?
You’ll be able to catch me DJing Friday night at The Washington alongside The Orielles, which I’m really looking forward to, or down the front bouncing to Milburn and Rev.

Quick Fire Q&A

Arctic Monkeys or Pulp?
This is tough, but Pulp just edges it for me.

Beer or Cider?
Beer

Vinyl or Streaming?
I love vinyl, but streaming for the convenience.

Festival or Venue?
Venue

Last Album You Bought?
Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino

What’s in your rider?
Red Stripe (‘DJ Juice’)

Images: The Leadmill

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