21-year-old Harry Wilkinson is the founder of Freq, a now internationally known label and event, which he co-runs with friend and business partner Dylan Jenkinson, 22.
Human beings have been enjoying music for centuries, it inspires people to be creative and even base their lives or their careers around doing what they love, whether that be listening to music, promoting it or producing it. This was the case for Harry Wilkinson, as his father Gary has owned nightclubs in Hartlepool for years, so music has always been integrated into his life. In 2018, Harry created a branded event to help his dad promote one of his clubs, he decided to name this event, ‘Freq’.
Harry stopped helping his dad while he was focusing on studying filmmaking at Leeds Beckett University, with 5 universities situated in Leeds, it is filled with young people looking for a good night out. Harry decided to take advantage of this and start Freq back up, but this time in Leeds. With the name ‘Freq’ not being widely known in Leeds at this time, he needed a plan to attract a crowd and get the brand known, he cleverly came up with the idea to plan a street party hosted under the name of Freq.
In September 2019, Harry started promoting the party, every social media knew about ‘Freq Street Party’ and attendees kept up with updates until the location got released on the day. The location was decided to be Dylan’s street and both boys spent hours setting up a gazebo with speakers, decks and stands with the hope that people showed up, low and behold, house and techno lovers flocked in their hundreds to see what this new event could entail. “The event was amazing until the police showed up due to noise complaints from the surrounding houses. A lot of the people who turned up that day as strangers are now people who religiously still attend events and have become my close friends.” says Harry.
From that day a reputation had been made for the name Freq, Harry put a lot of thought into what was the next step, he approached Matthew Bowles, the events manager at Distrikt Bar and asked if he could book a night there to host Freq… Matthew agreed. Harry mentions, “Most places in Leeds don’t allow you to host an event unless you’ve hosted one before, Distrikt was a good choice as worst-case scenario, if it wasn’t as busy as I’d have hoped, it was free and it is an intimate venue where it can look busy even when it’s not”.
On 6th November 2019, Harry hosted his first Freq event at Distrikt, with him playing under his DJ alias of ‘Kinso’ and Dylan also playing with his of ‘Giorgio’, along with other friends who played, the event was a crowd-puller. “Matthew liked the event that much that we decided that night that I would host a Freq night at Distrikt once every month” says Harry “Knowing that Matthew believed in Freq so much so early on meant a lot as he (Matthew) has had his own established event called Limit for the last 4 years prior to Freq’s Distrikt debut. He has been a close friend ever since and has given advice and guidance when we’ve needed it.”
Unfortunately, the monthly Freq nights were short-lived as lockdown began in March 2020 however, this didn’t shunt Harry’s motivation, “I saw lockdown coming and thought I need to find another way of keeping Freq’s followers engaged, as the fanbase was just starting to build up. I decided to start a mix series on Soundcloud, where DJs would send me an hour-long mix and I would publish it under the now known Freq name. It initially started as local DJs from Leeds, then as time went on, I had DJ’s from as far as Argentina messaging me so I could publish their work on Freq’s page. “For the first 11 months of the pandemic, Harry published 31 mixes, keeping Freq’s name out there, as well as simultaneously helping unknown DJ’s by publishing their name and music onto Freq’s growing platform.
After 2 successful years of running Freq, in 2021 Harry asked Dylan if he wanted to officially run Freq with him, Dylan had been at every Freq event previously, so he was no stranger to how everything was run, the two became a creative and organisational dream team, consequently, Freq continued to come on in leaps and bounds. “Me and Harry always knew of each other but became good friends after going to events together and realising we have the same passion for music.”
We both love going to events and have so much experience, which has really helped when we started hosting our own nights out as we understand what works well and what doesn’t. I was so happy when Harry asked me to run Freq with him as I remember going to help him hand out flyers in student accommodations when he managed to get his first night at Distrikt, I was so excited for him.” says Dylan.
The boys do everything themselves, from funding all the events to even creating the posters themselves, Harrys freelance videography he started after university massively helped with knowledge and network of events. “I wanted to create our own distinct style that catches eyes in the street, I came up with a logo and style that we keep consistent, along with the concept of having a cartoon outline of whoever was lined up, I also incorporate the venue in the posters so that each one is personally designed for each specific event. For example, in the posters for Distrikt, the characters on them change according to who’s playing, and the Distrikt DJ booth is always on there.
Freq’s first non-social distanced post-lockdown event at Distrikt was on the 29th July 2021, Harry (Kinso) and Dylan (Giorgio) both played alongside their other selected DJ’s, Kyle Shea-Minta and Mint Warehouse resident, Parker Smith. This was followed by another event at Distrikt on 26th August. Harry boasts, “Both of these nights were amazing, the bar was so full for a Thursday and the atmosphere was astounding, everyone was so happy to be back together and it was so rewarding that so many people came to celebrate with us.”
With Freq’s following growing by the day, the boys decided it was time to start booking headliners, and on the 30th September 2021, Suat headlined for Freq at Distrikt Bar. With 169,000 Instagram followers, Suat is an extremely well-known DJ within the music industry. It was the first major booking for Freq Harry explains “The night was busier than usual, it helped grow connections for us, meet new people and build a following. It was surreal as it was the first time having to be hospitable towards a booked artist, Dylan and I met with Suat beforehand and took him and his girlfriend out for food before the event to build a rapport before the night started.”
The success of booking a headliner encouraged Harry and Dylan to take Freq to a whole other level, hosting their first ticketed event, in collaboration with another event brand named ‘Stripes’ (Greg and Luke), in a whole new venue AND with a headliner. “I met stripes at a Freq event in 2020” explains Harry, they saw the event advertised and wanted to meet us and see what it’s about, we kept in touch ever since and are really good friends now. We did the collab as they were also an up-and-coming event. We all worked together to create a poster that is a combination of Freq and stripes’ signature style and design that the brands are known for.”
Months of preparation went into the event as the chosen venue, which was Eiger Studios was a completely empty space. The boys planned, paid for and their own sound system, projector, and decorations to get the exact atmosphere they wanted to create. Harry says “This is the exact reason we liked this venue, as there was freedom to do what we wanted with it and make it more of a big deal than ‘oh it’s just Freq again’” This event cost the boys over £2000 overall as the chosen headliner was Romanian artist Mihai Pol, who had to be flown in and accommodated for, as well as paying to hire and furnish a whole new venue.
“None of this mattered to us as the night was shared on Romanian pages such as ‘Rominimal’ which has 45,000 followers, as a result of this we gained even more international attention. Booking Mihai was expensive but he is a big artist which was a big step up for the brand. We chose him as we want all our events to be special, we don’t want the same music every time, Mihai specialises in minimal techno which was a different twist to what Freq fans usually hear when they come to one of our events. The room was filled and 160 tickets got sold, and the atmosphere was amazing, money could never match up to the feeling we had that night.”
Freq hosted a residents and friends’ night at Distrikt on the 16th December, an intimate final event of the year, where Mitch Lowes aka. MitchL, friends of Dylan and Harry, made his Freq debut. “I had never played in a club environment before, but the Freq boys asking me to play has boosted my confidence. I have always been very committed and have gone to every Freq event before I even ever thought I could play there, the growth of the event in the last 18 months or less is amazing. I love how much it remains loyal to being niche and underground. I think Harry and Dylan always book DJs that appeal to the target audience that he wants to achieve and is successful within that every time.”
The next big step for Freq was hosting an event at Wire club on 9th April 2022, with French-born, Berlin-based Ethel being the headliner. “Wire was a really special event for Dylan and I” says Harry, “We became close as one day, Dylan randomly messaged me asking if I wanted to go to an event at Wire and to this day it is one of the best nights out I’ve ever been on, Dylan and I have been best friends ever since. So, hosting Freq there was so sentimental to us, definitely a big goal checked off of our list.” The boys were also featured in mixmag prior to the event, which was another goal of theirs completed.
More planning went into this event, with Dylan overlooking the financial aspect of things, “I split the budget up as there is always so many things to consider, venue fee, equipment, Ethels fee, agent fees, hotel, flights, transport, there was so much to consider going out of the bank, while trying to decide how much to price tickets, I had everything all put into a spread sheet so we could at least break even.” 160 tickets were sold with a profit of £421.
In December 2021, Events Manger at Mint Warehouse, Mikey McMahon visited the end of year Freq at Distrikt, later texting Harry with an offer to play at Mint’s loft. Harry’s set blew everyone away, including the bouncers, who said they’d never seen that room as busy as when Harry was hosting it. Seeing how easily Harry can fill a room up and the atmosphere he can create, Mikey asked Freq to host the boiler room at Mint Warehouse on April bank holiday weekend, so they did. In another collaboration with Stripes, Harry and Dylan had the boiler room bouncing with people until the early hours.
Lauren Paylor, who regularly attends Freq events has said “I’ve attended around 7 Freq events, I think that the venues that the boys pick are always well suited and decorated to the vibe of the music and the crowd he knows will come. My favourite venue that Freq have played at has to be mint warehouse, it was bank holiday weekend and the whole boiler room was just filled with people there to support Freq, and people who genuinely enjoy the music.”
Event Promotor/Social Media Manager for Mint Warehouse, Iona Taylor has spoken about Freq’s success, “Working in the events and music industry myself, I know how hard it is to come up with a concept and make it as popular as Freq currently is in the Leeds nightlife scene. Since meeting Harry and Dylan and attending the Freq events within the last year, I have seen it grow massively, from performing at Mint Warehouse doing a solo set, to hosting the whole boiler room at Mint as well as hosting an extremely successful event at Wire, the progress is outstanding. The major growth and success of Freq within the last year alone shows what’s to come over the next few years.”
All techno and house lovers would relish at any of the events that Freq host, the boys individually as Kinso and Giorgio, and collectively as Freq are going from strength to strength, both have had the unbelievable offer to play at Mint Fest in September, as well as having a day and night event lined up for Freq at Distrikt on 2nd of July, with well-known names such as LVCA and Mint Fest, Newsam Park and Mint Warehouse resident, Annie Errez. At only 21 and 22 years, these boys are the ones to watch in the music industry.