Blood Sport

Three aggro-beat innovators making incredible noises in Sheffield’s industrial spaces.

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Blood Sport

More Critics’ Choice than Smash Hits Poll Winners, Blood Sport are basically every Sheffield musician’s favourite Sheffield band. Using the succinct, self-coined descriptor of "aggro-beat", Blood Sport take the funky, unorthodox melodies of afrobeat and place them in an industrial framework that’s perhaps a little closer to home. Even the grumpiest of musos can’t help but be impressed.

Their debut album, Life In Units, is a stunning cacophony of infectious riffs that are looped, layered and distorted with fascinating results. Lyrics are wailed and messed with until they’re completely indecipherable; the drumming is – let’s be honest – absolutely class. Blood Sport’s surreal videos are worth a watch too, while their powerful live shows are never to be missed.

There’s no doubt that Alex Keegan, Nick Potter and Sam Parkin are working more in the tradition of Cabaret Voltaire and Warp Records than Pulp and Arctic Monkeys. But they’ve been embraced by all corners of Sheffield’s contemporary music scene, from releasing EPs on DIY labels The Audacious Art Experiment (TAAE) and Tye Die Tapes, to touring and making music videos with the slightly more radio-friendly noise-makers in Drenge (you’ll find Blood Sport loitering around Owlerton Greyhound Stadium in the video for what else, but Drenge’s 2013 single Bloodsports).

You might call their music challenging but the bigger challenge, really, is finding the person who doesn’t think Blood Sport are completely brilliant.

How would you describe your work?

We're a three-piece band that makes fun music. It's primarily dance music, i.e. rhythmic and "experimental", and at the moment we use drums, baritone guitar, guitar, effected vocals and a drum machine to make it.

What inspires you?

We formed and coalesced over afrobeat and African guitar music, and from there onwards have slowly assimilated more and more western dance music and electronic music influence into our sound. Actual positive real-life inspiration comes from all the wonderful people who make great music in the north, like Championlover, Nope, Cowtown, The Audacious Art Experiment, etc.

What’s your workspace like?

We usually work best in old factory units – due to Sheffield’s wonderful industrial history, the city is absolutely full of disused spaces, which are reused in wonderful ways (we should all, for example, be very proud to live in a city that has three active DIY venues). Our physical home is just on Matilda Street, a small room that Nick painted a novelty desert scene in, but our spiritual home is The Audacious Art Space, another old industrial unit near Bramall Lane. TAAE is a wonderful creative collective that releases records, puts on gigs and rehearses and collaborates on artistic projects. It’s a lot of fun – join us!

What do you love about Sheffield?

Mostly the above, but also the "green spaces", the atmosphere and the fun things that go on. We moved to the Abbeydale Road area (away from the students) about two years ago, and now I never want to move again.

What would you do to improve the city?

Bring back Castle Market, exile anyone who makes a noise complaint and, if we had the time, expand TAAE into something huge akin to Wharf Chambers in Leeds.

What are you currently working on?

It feels like we're a bit in Blood Sport Mk. 2 mode now, which is fun and exciting. We’ve recently started using a drum machine alongside Sam, and it’s completely transformed the sound. It's looking like this will manifest in a release soon...

We're also about to go on tour with the amazing "dance music/not dance music" Japanese band Nisennenmondai, and we're curating an evening of Tramlines at Millennium Gallery, which will explore the weirder end of dance music in different formats. There'll be sets from us, Nisennenmondai, Algorave, Bat Makumba and noise techno upstarts BHS.

Written by Robert Cooke; July 23, 2014