For this month’s Leeds’ Own I caught up with one of the biggest names in the Leeds club scene to talk music, family and all things Leeds. At the age of 25 the multi-talented (and not bad looking) Tom Zanetti has already achieved so much, I met up with him in his newest restaurant venture to hear his humble story.
Q: Where in Leeds are you from?
A: I have lived in many places in Leeds, Gipton, Belle Isle and Rothwell which is where I went to school. I went to Royds School but got expelled and was sent to Tinshall Learning Centre until I was 16. Although I got expelled I got on with my work and was in top set for everything, I just wasn’t always there and didn’t follow the rules!
Q: What were your aspirations at school?
A: When I was really young I wanted to be a spy like James Bond but as I got older my dream was to own a nightclub. My interest for music began at school which was when I made my first song. At 16 I found out I was going to be a dad which obviously at that age I wasn’t prepared for, I didn’t know what I was going to do or how I would care for a child but as soon as my son was born he stole my heart. From then on I would do any work to make money and after leaving school I did loads of jobs. I worked in a warehouse 6am – 6pm making pallets, was a butcher, a window cleaner, brick layer and a milk man to name a few.
Q: How did you get into the music scene?
A: When I was at school I recorded a CD of me MCing over some baseline, I didn’t think anything of it but my friend made a copy. His friends then made copies and then unaware to me it was being sold at Leeds market, it ended up being the top selling record at the market at the time. After that I was approached by a DJ to perform at his club night called Funkybass which was held at what was Fudge Bar. Doing that night at Fudge gave me a taste for promotion so I took that up with my friend Kristian, we ended up taking Funkybass to loads of clubs all over the north. We then took over the promotion of a club called Casa Loco which we packed out every weekend. It was off the back of this that I realised I could do it for myself which is when Insomnia was created.
Q: What is Insomnia all about?
A: Insomnia began as a club night that I set up with my girlfriend at the time who sadly passed away. It began in a club called Bank in Wakefield which my mate Ryan James was running, the night became popular straight away and got too big to do alone, at this point another friend Kane Towny came on board and we have run Insomnia together ever since. Once word got around Insomnia became really popular so we then took it to other venues, Club Mission in Leeds took it on straight away and it has now been their biggest night of the month for the last 5 years, it also won an award for Leeds Best Night. . I think another thing that people like about Insomnia is the acts that we have had playing for us, we’ve had some of the best people in the business including Faithless and Basement Jaxx. As well as the club nights we set up Insomnifest where we’d do mini festivals on bank holidays, we used to hold one in Hunslet which was always packed and had such a great atmosphere, another festival we run is called Parked Out. This summer we also ran a new festival called Made in Leeds Festival which was the first inner city festival of its kind, we own that and run it with some other partners.
Q: What is Sleepin is Cheatin?
A: Due to the success of Insomnia Kane and I decided to set up a company to run a range of events from, we called the company Sleepin is Cheatin (SIC). We have a mix of nights now that we take all over the country, one of which is called One Religion which has been hosted by places like Bijoux in Manchester. As SIC we shared our music on You Tube and Sound Cloud and got millions of hits so we decided to set up our own record label SIC Records, this enabled us to sell our music. We also have our own clothing range, we have hoodies, t-shirts, vests and beanies which can all be bought on our website www.sleepinischeatin.com .
When you’re not running Sleepin is Cheatin do you have any other side-lines or hobbies?
When I have any time I tend to focus on making music, writing songs and putting them to tracks. At the moment I’ve been working on a song with my mate Jack Walton who was on the X-Factor this year, we are releasing the track on Christmas Eve, doing this sort of music is very different for me as it is a lot more mainstream than I’m used to. I have just got my own TV show on the new channel Made in Leeds (freeview channel 8, Virgin 159 and Sky 117) where a camera crew lived with me for a week, the show is called The SIC life with Tom Zanetti. That was a bit weird having a camera crew with me the whole time but it was good fun. I recently got asked to do some modelling for a brand called Heartbreaker Club which have shops in London, Bristol and online, I had never done modelling before but really enjoyed it and would be happy to pursue it further. For hobbies I like to train, I tend to have a session in the gym in the morning and then do Thai boxing on an evening, my son also does Thai boxing with me.
Q: With such a busy schedule how do fit being a dad in too?
A: My son Deaconn in my number one priority and I make sure we spend as much time together as possible. He lives with me a lot of the time and like I said he comes boxing with me, I also take him to football training and piano lessons. Deaconn’s also done a bit of modelling with me which was great to do. With work I can be getting to bed at 2am some nights then I’m up for the school run first thing in the morning, I’m lucky because I’ve got his Grandma around to help me out.
Q: Your latest venture is the restaurant La Fuego, can you tell me how that came about?
A: I recently decided it was time to invest my money into something, I own my car but that’s about it, I thought it’s about time I stopped blowing money on material things and make an investment for the future. My mum used to run a tapas restaurant in town called Cuban Heels so setting up a new tapas restaurant seemed the perfect thing for us, my partner Matty Evans and I have put the money in but my mum will be running it. Our chef Santos is Spanish and makes the most amazing meatballs, all the produce is from Leeds Market and we have a great location. It has been hard work getting it all together and fitting the place out, at the moment the restaurant has been taking up most of my time but we are excited about opening on the 29th November and are hoping our hard work pays off. For the opening night Jack Walton is coming down to sing and we have a great Frank Sinatra act on. My dream used to be owning a nightclub but now I feel the restaurant may be that dream. I can picture us spending a lot of family time in there relaxing and enjoying great food.
Q: What is it about Leeds that has kept you here?
A: I have grown up in Leeds and it has been good to me, I feel Leeds is a place where I can comfortably express myself. In the Leeds clubland everyone gets along and there’s so much love for people, in other cities it all seems a bit moody. I like to eat out a lot in Leeds at places like Gaucho, San Carlo and mine and Deaconn’s favourite place Teppanjaki on Belgrave Street. If I’m on a rare night out I like to go to bars such as Oracle, Fibre and Distrikt or any down Call Lane. Wherever you go in Leeds you can’t really go wrong.
If you’d like to keep up to date with all of Tom’s goings on join his 25K army of followers on twitter and Instagram @TomZanettiTZ, or to catch him in the flesh book in for Tapas at La Fuego on New York Street.
Thanks for chatting Tom!