Sound and Vision: Cosmic Slop

Credit: Jody Hartley for Mixmag

Sound and Vision shines a light on individuals and collectives in the music community representing something greater than themselves.

Who better to kickstart Sound and Vision than our recent documentary subjects Cosmic Slop? Known to many as the foremost not-for-profit party in the UK, the Leeds based collective have married fun and fundraising on unprecedented scale. The magic of Slop is multifaceted, but like most great parties it starts with a beautiful sound system, in this case built from hand by founder Tom Smith. Deploy that into Hope Foundry, a Grade II Listed building in Mabgate, then populate the booth with some of the very finest selectors in Europe, and you’re on course for quite the knees up.

Yet, the exceptional story of Slop transcends all this. Hope Foundry is primarily used as the home of Music and Arts Production Leeds, the charity which Slop has been raising money for, for close to ten years. Ahead of a set at the Tate Modern this Saturday, launching Heels & Souls’ new Message in our Music series, we sat down with resident DJs Tom Smith and Mike Greenwell to discuss the Slop ethos, the challenges faced by MAP and the futures they’re fighting for.

For the uninitiated could you give a brief summary of the work MAP does, how Slop feeds into this and how they’ve both developed over the years?

Tom Smith: Running music and arts projects for kids not accessing school, creative projects that build confidence as well as getting a BTEC qualification in art and design or creative media, as well as working on maths and english. And Slop pays the rent.

Mike Greenwell: Slop has been our regular fundraiser for nine years now and has been a really useful vehicle to inspire and attract different creatives to MAP.


Can you tell us a bit about the predicament MAP & Slop are in and how the fundraising has been going so far?

TS: The building we’re in, Hope Foundry, is going to be redeveloped and turned into flats, and MAP is fundraising to stay put and develop the site as a place for young people and creative industries and the people of leeds, continuing with the heritage of the 200 year old site and making it accessible for decades to come.

MG: Since we went a bit more communicative with the outside world as part of our fundraising, we have been getting a lot of goodwill and donations, but in this climate and context we need more. There are so many people working so hard behind the scenes and our amazing staff continue their front line work.

What is the significance in keeping Hope Foundry as the home of both Slop and MAP?

MG: Hope Foundry as a venue for Cosmic Slop is a special place. We’d take our spirit with us wherever we go, but the aesthetic and room treatment make it so optimum for enjoying music.

TS: As development sweeps through areas, as it is in Mabgate where Hope Foundry is, it’s important to keep some of the cultural and community integrity, and make the places accessible to all, especially young people.

The DIY nature of Slop and the love that’s gone into creating such a special dancefloor is an incredible achievement. Do you think people find it refreshing to come to a party that serves to make a positive contribution to society?

That’s a bit sad if they do. I mean for all of us.

Beyond qualifications, what do you think the young people take most out of MAP? By all means ask them!

TS: Getting confidence from coming to a place where they can be themselves and not be judged.

Getting inspiration from seeing that people can create their own value and make money in the creative industries.

The environment that this takes place in is really important – you need role models, people studying art and music and people working and starting out in the creative industries. In the rest of Hope Foundry there’s all kinds of practitioners from screen printers, to film makers to people growing plants using hydroponics and people building audio electronics

MG: As well as our MAP students who take a lot out, we are so lucky to have a team of volunteers and staff, as well as our board, who support MAP’s work and it makes for a special community. So MAP provides us all with a lot of hope, love and a bond.

Are there any other not-for-profit parties with inspiring ethos’ people should be checking out?

MG: a lot of party collectives are inspiring others in Leeds. It’s a city full of talent. Equaliser is one. Brudenell Groove is another. Puddles is another that has fundraised for MAP. Thanks to Heels and Souls for doing this round of fundraising parties.

TS: Yeah, recently the Partisan crew from Manchester have been really inspiring us at MAP.

Have you got any advice for people wanting to get involved in charity or social work?

TS: You’ll probably not get paid much but it’s rewarding, so you’ll sleep well.
Do it for a reason, keep your eye on that, and if ever changes and becomes just a job for the paycheck then go do something else.
I feel privileged to be able to do this type of work, and to be able to get the support of others in doing it.

MG: I think you can have more immediate impact on your local area, than donating to a large charity or campaign for example, as well as being more responsive and feeling rewarded by making a difference (at least feeling so).

Are Leeds council helping to keep MAP alive in the city?

TS: Yes, really supportive…
Without the help of local authorities the issues here are hard to overcome.

You’ve had a pretty all-star cast roll through to play Slop over the years what have been some of your highlights?

MG: Floating Points and Four Tet together, Scruff, Pearson Sound’s bass explorations, Hunee’s dancing, Alex Nut each time, Mafalda each time, Kelvin Brown each time, Jon K back in the day, Joy Orbison’s wigged out last hour when he played, Fatima’s live PA.

TS: The countless hours spent doing the space up with the team at MAP, mainly Nic and Charlie.

What does the future hold for MAP and Slop?

TS: We will find out pretty soon.
MG: It’s ten years for Slop this NYE 2019, we’ll keep on keeping on.

Cosmic Slop play the inaugural edition of Message In Our Music this Saturday, a new collabarative series between Tate Modern and Heels & Souls. It’s free to attend, running 19:00-23:00, with all donations going to to MAP Charity.

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