Jemima Skala Interviews TreeHouse; a music collective+ based in Leeds.
The Leeds music scene is rich/thriving/vibrant/colourful/all of the above clichés for describing something DIY and outside of the dominant cultural conversation. Leeds is often unfairly overlooked, with people deferring instead to Manchester or Sheffield to lead the way. That’s because most of what happens in Leeds happens in the shadows, the darker corners that no one really wants to peel back. But when you do, it’s another world.
Treehouse is one of those weird and wonderful corners. In the words of its creator Jonas Haslam, it is ‘a family, a gang, a project, a party, a collaboration, a religion, a practice, a war. It’s just a big fucking orgy of creativity between lots of people who’ve known each other for far too long, and lots of people who we’ve known for far too little. Centred around partying, making music and that.’ And as recent recruit Cameron Fraser puts it, Treehouse is ‘a channel of anti-boredom.’
All this might sound a little vague, but that’s because Treehouse has got its finger in so many different pies. Haslam has been running nights for nearly two years now, and they’ve just put out their first release as Treehouse Records: Harrogate lad JABES’ excellent iKea Summers EP, keeping it very much within the family. It’s hard to imagine a starting point for all of this, but Jonas and Cameron paint a very vivid picture through lots of giggling. Jonas says, ‘Treehouse started in a year of aggressive unemployment in which lots of creative people had no place to splurge out their art and ideas. So, we put on a rave in a really posh bar.’ Cameron interjects, ‘with just silly loud bassline and all sorts of naughtiness going on.’
‘With 4K Harry Potter and the Philosophers’ Stonevisuals over an improvised hardware synth set.’
‘Complete with saxophone.’ Cameron muses for a moment, then: ‘I think we might have peaked too soon on that one, ya know. It was fuckin’ really good, that one, actually.’
So what motivated the start of Treehouse? Fraser says, ‘feeling pretty stationary, in terms of like, for me anyway, putting out creative ideas, and it was kind of just something that facilitated that.’ Jonas agrees: ‘Absolutely. Something to do other than drinking. Nah, just looking around and seeing a bunch of people who wanna make cool stuff, and not really having an environment which was catered for what we wanted to express ourselves in. And wanting to cater for not only the creative but also the consumer of the creative stuff. Putting on the best party for our favourite people, created by the most inspired people that we know.’
I ask them about their proudest achievement as the TreeHouse collective. Jonas comes back very quickly, saying, ‘I reckon it’s any time a bunch of people have come together who wouldn’t necessarily have worked on an idea, and have done, and enjoyed it, and have strengthened relationships through that.’ Cameron agrees, ‘seeing a smile on people’s faces.’ ‘Yeah, and just seeing people enjoy themselves. Whether that be the creator or consumer. Consumer’s not the right word: the receiver. The experiencer. Voyager!’
On the flipside, when I ask about their biggest mistake, Cameron quips, ‘I mean, where do ya bloody start!’ Jonas clarifies it as ‘any time we’ve held back to adhere to the status quo. It’s always really silly. And then you look back and it’s like, well, why did we play it safe?’
Where will Treehouse be in five years’ time, then? Cameron muses, ‘it’s hard to say. It’s hard to be analytical now as it’s still kind of discovering what it is, and it’s also hard to look that far in the future when we’re still focused on what we’re doing right now. I just hope we’re still enjoying it, and we’re still doing something fun.’
Follow TreeHouse here–>> https://www.facebook.com/treehouselabel/
Buy Ikea Summers on Bandcamp here –> https://12treehouse.bandcamp.com/album/ikea-summers
Photos courtesy of TreeHouse