Bobby O’Donnell is a real workhorse of the Leeds scene. For many years now he has been a recent at Mint Club, playing not only the sweat box club but also their warehouse and terrace parties on the edge of town. He can do house as deep as you like, but also techno that bangs. In the past he has released music with New York don Fred P, but recently started his own new outlet, E Numbers. As well as this he has played every one of the nine Cocoon in the Parks to date, and plays the tenth this summer, as well as holding down a regular radio show on Leeds station KMAH Radio. Here we speak to him about all this and more. 

How are you, how has your year been so far?

Hello! I’m very well thanks! My year has been great so far, in terms of music. I’ve had some decent bookings and with productions; I feel I’ve arrived at a sweet spot. Thoroughly enjoyed playing all night long with Voigtmann at the Lion and Lamb and been doing some longer sets in other cities which has been so much fun. 

What makes Leeds so special for you? Why do you stay when so many leave?

Leeds is my home, it’s that simple man. A lot of people depart to London, Melbourne and Berlin whereas I think I’m the sort to stick around here and just holiday somewhere instead. I’m a creature of habit and will always be. More recently Leeds has had a much-needed kick up the arse, with new bars and restaurants cropping up everywhere, so it genuinely feels revamped.  
What are some of your favourite DJ memories from Cocoon in the Park over the years?

Fuck me, where do I start?! The first year and seeing all the initial work come to fruition, Sven’s marathon sets, his brother voguing like a loon, the Fuse boys consistently warming things up well, the only year it properly rained and the hardened ravers that stuck it out, Seth Troxler for being an all-round dude. There’s so many to mention you know.

What makes it such a unique and popular event do you think?

It’s a lot of people’s best day of the year and most definitely mine. The production value, sound, DJs, dancers and just the general spectacle is genuinely mind blowing. Mint and Cocoon have always gone the extra mile and that’s why it just keeps getting bigger and better. 

How differently do you play as resident vs a headliner? Are they different roles?

Yeah, they’re very different roles in that, as a resident, I warm up and then as a booking I play peak time. I love doing both and wouldn’t be able to grasp the context of playing peak time had I not had Mint Club. I get to see and DJ alongside every big DJ and so I’ve picked up loads of nuances to keep things energetic. Recently I’m loving getting some bookings and seeing it kick off. 

You’ve played with just about everyone so who is the best person to warm up for or close down after and why?

Well it’s a joy to watch Ricardo start earlier, or more recently Lutz. He played after me at The Mint Club and completely just set the tone further. I kept things really deep but he just had this weirder sound to what he did, he also got Luke to completely switch the lights off. It was a proper heads down affair.

Tell us about your new label E Numbers – what the aim and vibe there? Will you release anyone?

Well I had the name already from the release from One Records and I always wanted to use the name as a label and so it just grew from there. I got in touch with my now good friend Danilo Akyra, who did the design. To his credit he did a brilliant job with the logo and I got lucky being in contact with him. The aim is just to use it as an outlet for my music and others too. For the first releases I had an idea of a split/remix swap where me and someone else make an original and remix each other. I was bowled over when 100hz agreed to it, I’ve respected his music for a long long time now. The second is with Voigtmann too, he’s become a friend recently and again, I was surprised when he agreed too. I’ll then have an EP which is a collaboration with myself and Alex Arnout, who’s a brilliant musician, friend and all-round dude. Then I will open it up to friends and artists I respect, so far, my friend Konnie and an outfit called The Molecule are in and I’ll be contacting more people, who are generally Leeds based. There’s so much decent music being made on my doorstep, it’s a healthy time for Leeds. 

Musically where are you at right now? What is inspiring and influencing you in the studio? Do you just make tunes you want to play in your own sets?

I’m taking inspirations from all over at the moment. My past releases have been deeper and while I love that sound, I’ve grown a bit tired of it. Again, it’s related to getting bookings as opposed to warming up. I rarely play my own tracks but have been a lot more recently, I’ve been playing Substance 01 from the first E-Numbers release for a while now – which will dropping at the end of next month. Excited for people to hear tougher elements to my production.

Tell us about your KMAH Radio show – is it a snapshot of what you sound like in the club?

Only sometimes really. I’m trying to keep things interesting and go back to back with a lot of people I respect. I’ve done a show full of unreleased tracks too, which I’ll be doing again. 

What else have you got coming up/are you working on?

Promoting the label and getting all the timings right is a key thing I’m very focused on. For music, more E-Numbers work and a remix for Dokta on 2020 vision. If I can find some time between work and general life I’ll do a full EP for 2020 too.  Got some exciting gigs planned too, it’s been nice to get booked as a headliner in comparison to warm up stuff.
Bobby O’Donnell performs at 10 years of Cocoon in the Park –