Wyrd Question Daze: Steve Hadfield

Chess Music at Wharf Chambers from a recent Leeds Electronic Music Open Mic event (photo by Dave Walker)

I’m Steve Hadfield and I’m based in Leeds. I produce electronic music ranging from gentle ambience to frenetic drill & bass with releases on various labels including Disintegration State, which I co-run. I play live around the north of England – my current set-up is generative chess music where the moves of a live game of chess are converted into midi data which drives various virtual synths on my laptop.

Outside of music, I love getting out rock climbing around Yorkshire and have two wonderful daughters. I sampled our eldest extensively in the first 18 months of her life and used her ever-changing voice as the base for my Silly Baby LP album, which I dubbed to cassettes and packaged up in paintings she’d done. We’re currently adapting to life as a four with our now 8 week old baby and I’m wondering how to honour her equally in my music!

Twitter – – Mastodon – – Instagram – – Bandcamp

Where did you come from and where are you going? 

Born and raised in Lincolnshire, I spent 8 years in London after university before moving up to Leeds for a change of pace and house prices. I dabbled in music production for a few years in London but rediscovered my love for it in a lovely attic space up in Leeds. I don’t have hopes of fame or fortune – what has been special about my musical journey has been the folks I’ve met in ‘the scene’ both locally and online. I guess my main ambition at the moment is to keep developing the chess music as a live project – it’s probably the thing I’ve done which has felt most unique and exciting rather than my putting my own twist on well trodden routes.

What preoccupies your mind these days?

Finding balance around parenting, being a good partner, climbing, music and, of course, work. We achieved that with one kid, and I’m sure we’ll get there with two, but it’s a huge shift again!

Name a favourite taste, touch, sound, sight and smell

Taste: Good coffee, preferably in the form of a flat white
Touch: The rough feel of a small, friction-dependent hand-hold on a Yorkshire gritstone boulder
Sound: Our 3 year old’s voice as she sings along to songs I love is magical. I’ve been to a few gigs recently where her favourites have been played live and it knocks me for six every time!
Sight: Windswept barren landscapes hold a real beauty for me, whether it’s the middle of nowhere in Iceland or the Yorkshire Dales. There’s something about it which takes me completely away from everyday life. Smell: Freshly ground coffee beans, to loop back to taste… I work for a company which processes tea and coffee and on roasting days the air is filled for miles around with this rich coffee aroma. Can’t beat it!

Describe one of your most vivid dreams or nightmares

It’s such a cliche but I know I’m stressed when I have yet another unsettling dream about heading out to some event or other wearing nothing from the waist down again…

Cassettes and packaging for The Silly Baby LP

Have you ever had an uncanny experience?

Honestly, not that I can think of. My inclination is to rationalise anything vaguely odd – like there has to be some physical cause-and-effect explanation. I do remember when I was 10 one of my pals had a ouija board which three of us collectively made ourselves think was very real, asking questions only one of us knew the answer to and convincing ourselves it was sending us the answers from beyond.

How does your sense of place affect the way you express yourself? 

I remember coming up to being 30 and having this sense of dread that I was never going to be as good as I could have been at climbing. I could still improve, but I was going to be battling against my body more with each passing year. It was kinda fine, and then I had that same sense around becoming a dad, not just with climbing but with music as well. In the end it recontextualised those passions in a way which has felt quite healthy – they’re something to share with my kids rather than being just for me. And now I’m working that all out again with our recent arrival – ultimately it’s a battle with my own ego… So I guess it’s less a sense of physical place and more a mental one.

What has particularly touched or inspired you recently?
Not really to do with music, and another instance of seeing life through my parenting lens, but watching our eldest embrace the upheaval of having a baby sister is hugely inspirational. Her resilience and adaptability is humbling.

Tell us a good story, anecdote or joke

Just asked our 3 year old for a joke:

What do you call Mordoofus (Mordu from Disney’s ‘Brave’) when he’s on the toilet?



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