Category Archives: Projects

Spotlight on: Are You Listening Leeds?

This time last year, myself and two friends (Kristina Diprose and Joshua Sadler) were busy packing up an art project we’d just completed called Are You Listening Leeds?  It condensed 24 hours of city life into 24 minutes, all contained within a spectacular audio-visual exhibit in a disused shop.

We did this as part of the Leeds City Council initiative called ‘Art in Unusual Spaces’, and we thought that a good way of exploring this would be to turn this around and take a mixture of familiar and unfamiliar spaces, but document them in an unusual way – through sound.

Borrowing a digital hand-held recorder, we trekked around Leeds over the course of six months capturing sounds from places like Kirkgate Market, offices, restaurants, demonstrations, pubs, lectures, children’s choirs, people having dinner…you get the picture!  We also managed to record a scrap metal orchestra rehearsing in a different empty shop unit, which makes for fascinating listening, and spent an awfully long time in search of hooting tawny owls (we finally got one on the last night of recording).

We decided that we would make three separate recordings of each place, before mixing them all down into 24 minutes of multitrack audio.  More or less all of this was done by Josh, which took him absolutely ages but sounded amazing in the end.  I think he maxed out his state-of-the-art Apple Mac to the point where he only had 2MB of space left on his hard drive, but he kept going!

On top of this, we hired a camera from local AV company Lumen Arts, and created a 24-hour timelapse video that we synchronised with the sounds.  The camera was good enough to take about 5,000+ images, about one every five seconds, and once again it fell to Josh to stitch these together and create a long, continuous video out of it.

Our space was in the Leeds Shopping Plaza, next to the old Virgin Megastore.  We used four speakers and a projector to create an immersive soundscape that, I think, made us all pay attention to what our city sounds like a little bit more.

You can find more about it here, on my site, in ‘Projects’. 

Watch the video:

Are You Listening Leeds? from Jed Skinner on Vimeo.

We thanked them at the time, but thanks are still due to:

Katie Harris for lending us the Zoom recorder; Lumen Arts for letting us borrow the camera for three days but only pay for one; Nina Baptiste and the staff of Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills for letting us put a camera up overnight (three nights running); everyone we recorded; Leeds City Council, in particular James Hill and Yvonne Carmichael.

Music section totally revamped

I’ve changed my music section around.

There’s two subcategories that I’ve called ‘music for fun’ and ‘compositions for my degree’.  (This was also fun, too).

So now, I’m hoping things will be both simpler and more informative, as I’ve tried to include a bit of background information about some of the pieces I quite like.

You can now learn out all about why I smashed a piano to pieces and recorded it, discover the academic justification for me recording the vibrations of the Humber Bridge, and read up on all the 20+ samples I made a song from once.


Co-producer credit

Recently, along with my friend Lee McCrae and my former Uni teacher Simon Warner, I was invited to work on a pretty interesting project.

As a lecturer in Popular Music Studies at the University of Leeds, a large part of Simon’s academic work deals with the Beat Generation of the 50s and 60s.  Through this professional interest, he has links to Jim Sampas, producer of the seminal Jack Kerouac poetry-influenced album Kicks Joy Darkness.  Released in 1997, the record features contributions from beats William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, alongside Michael Stipe, Lee Ranaldo, Joe Strummer, plus many others.  It’s an amazing listen.

Several albums on, Jim’s latest project is entitled Paint it Black: An Alt-Country Tribute to the Rolling Stones, released on his Reimagine Music label.  It’s a brilliant tour through the music of one of the world’s most familiar bands, interpreted by a range of artists that, it might be argued, don’t sound particularly that much like the Stones – and in a good way.  Among the artists are The Handsome Family, Everest, Great Lake Swimmers and much more from the alt-country/Americana scene.

Both Lee and myself were asked by Jim to assist with publicity for Paint it Black, and we’ve both received co-producer credits as a result, which I’m extremely grateful to both Jim and Simon for, particularly as I think that it’s completely unwarranted (I really don’t think I did that much!)  What a bunch of amazing guys.

So – that only leaves me to say – buy the album!  It’s available on download, and you can find it on iTunes, HMV and Amazon.

Tambores Lejanos on BBC1!

I’m a member of a Colombian drumming group called Tambores Lejanos (meaning ‘distant drums’ in Spanish).  We play music from Colombia’s Caribbean coast.  The group was set up last September by my friend and ethnomusicologist Ian Middleton, who spent two years living in Colombia.

We have just been featured in the BBC’s A Symphony for Yorkshire project along with other musicians from the region, after several months working with the BBC and composer Benjamin Till.

The programme was transmitted on August 1st (Yorkshire Day) on Radio Leeds, Sheffield, York and Humberside, and also on BBC1 as part of Look North.  You can watch the full version online and in HD on Youtube!

Watch A Symphony for Yorkshire! (We’re about 1’05” in!)