Issue 97 / March 2019

bidolito

March 2019 issue of Bido Lito! magazine. Featuring: YANK SCALLY, MUNKEY JUNKEY, CLARA CICELY, BBC RADIO 6 MUSIC FESTIVAL, SLEAFORD MODS, KEVIN LE GRAND, OUR GIRL and much more.

ISSUE 97 / MARCH 2019

NEW MUSIC + CREATIVE CULTURE

LIVERPOOL

YANK SCALLY / BBC 6 MUSIC FESTIVAL

MUNKEY JUNKEY / SLEAFORD MODS


Wed 20th Feb

White Denim (USA)

+ BC Camplight

Sat 23rd Feb

The Spitfires

+ Nick Corbin

Sat 2nd Mar

Sleaford Mods

+ LIINES

Thur 7th Mar • SOLD OUT

Fredo

Thur 7th Mar

Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild

of Students

Trixie Mattel (USA)

Sat 9th Mar

The Clone Roses

vs Kazabian

+ Sapho

Mon 11th Mar • SOLD OUT

Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild

of Students

Greta Van Fleet

(USA)

Wed 13th Mar

The Wailers

Thur 14th Mar

Wille and the

Bandits

+ The Cubical + Rainbreakers

Fri 15th Mar

Joanne Shaw

Taylor

Sat 16th Mar

Damien Dempsey

Fri 22nd Mar

Liverpool Rocks:

Semi Final

Sat 23rd Mar

AC/DC UK

& Dizzy Lizzy

Sat 23rd Mar • SOLD OUT

Gerry Cinnamon

Wed 27th Mar

Hayseed Dixie

Sat 30th Mar

Liverpool Rocks:

Semi Final

Sat 30th Mar

Keywest

Sun 31st Mar • 6.30pm

Mo Amer

& Guz Khan

Thur 4th Apr

Holy Moly

and the Crackers

Sat 6th Apr

The Showhawk

Duo

+ Benji & Hibbz

Fri 12th Apr • SOLD OUT

Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild

of Students

DMA’s

Sat 20th Apr

Nirvana UK (Tribute)

Sat 27th Apr • 6.30pm

Liverpool Rocks

Final

Sat 27th Apr

Newton Faulkner

Sat 27th Apr

Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild

of Students

Hollywood

Undead

Fri 3rd May

The Bon Jovi

Experience

Sat 4th May

The Amy

Winehouse

Experience…

A.K.A Lioness

+ Lauren Hope

Thur 16th May

Little Steven &

The Disciples Of

Soul

Sun 19th May

Ross Edgley -

Worlds Fittest

Live Show

Thur 23rd May

Glenn Hughes

Performs Classic

Deep Purple live

+ Laurence Jones

facebook.com/o2academyliverpool

twitter.com/o2academylpool

instagram.com/o2academyliverpool

youtube.com/o2academytv

Sat 25th May

The Icicle Works

Sat 1st Jun

The Smyths

Mon 3rd Jun • SOLD OUT

Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild

of Students

Anne-Marie

Sun 4th Jun

Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild

of Students

Kaiser Chiefs

Fri 21st Jun • SOLD OUT

Alesso

Sat 22nd Jun

Hipsway

Fri 2nd Aug

The Fillers

(The Killers Official Tribute

Band)

Sat 28th Sep

Red Rum Club

Sat 5th Oct

Definitely Mightbe

(Oasis tribute)

Sat 16th Nov

The Macc Lads

Sat 16th Nov

UK Foo Fighters

(Tribute Band)

- Banging On The Ceiling Tour

Wed 20th Nov

Fontaines D.C.

Fri 29th Nov

The Doors Alive

Fri 6th Dec

Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild

of Students

Happy Mondays -

Greatest Hits Tour

Fri 6th Dec

SPINN

Sat 14th Dec

Ian Prowse

& Amsterdam

TUE 19TH FEB 7PM SOLD OUT

FRANK CARTER &

THE RATTLESNAKES

WED 20TH FEB 7PM

STONE BROKEN

+ THOSE DAMN CROWS

+ HOLLOWSTAR

FRI 22ND FEB 7PM SOLD OUT

SPINN

FRI 22ND FEB 6PM

SAT 23RD FEB 6PM

SAT 2ND MAR 6PM

LIVERPOOL ROCKS

– QUARTER FINAL

MON 4TH MAR 7PM

CROOKED

COLOURS

THUR 7TH MAR 7PM

AS IT IS

FRI 15TH MAR 6.30PM SOLD OUT

THE SLOW

READERS CLUB

SAT 16TH MAR 7PM

ADY SULEIMAN

FRI 29TH MAR 7PM

SPQR

FRI 5TH APR 6.30PM

PINEGROVE

SAT 6TH APR 6PM

MAVERICK SABRE

MON 8TH APR 7PM

YAK

WED 10TH APR 7PM

INDOOR PETS

FRI 12TH APR 7PM

MONKS

SAT 13TH APR 6PM

ANTEROS

SAT 20TH APR 7PM

A TRIBUTE

TO EDDIE VEDDER

FRI 26TH MAR 6.30PM

UNDER THE

APPLE TREE

– LIVE ON TOUR WITH

WILDWOOD KIN

+ ELEANOR NELLY

SAT 4TH MAY 7PM

BLANCMANGE

TUE 7TH MAY 7PM SOLD OUT

LUCY SPRAGGAN

FRI 17TH MAY 7PM

J MASCIS

SAT 18TH MAY 7PM

ELECTRIC SIX

TUE 11TH JUN 7PM

HONEYBLOOD

SAT 5TH OCT 7PM

A BAND CALLED

MALICE

FRI 18TH OCT 7PM

NINE BELOW ZERO

SAT 2ND NOV 7PM

STONE

FOUNDATION

SAT 16TH NOV 7PM

LONDON CALLING

PLAY THE CLASH

FRI 22ND NOV 7.PM

BLOOD RED SHOES

TICKETS FOR ALL SHOWS ARE AVAILABLE FROM

TICKETMASTER.CO.UK

90

SEEL STREET, LIVERPOOL, L1 4BH

A ST P A TRICK’ S CEL E B R ATIO N

plus special

guest

IAN PROWSE

ticketmaster.co.uk

o2academyliverpool.co.uk

11-13 Hotham Street, Liverpool L3 5UF

Doors 7pm unless stated

Venue box office opening hours:

Mon - Sat 10.30am - 5.30pm

ticketmaster.co.uk • seetickets.com

gigantic.com • ticketweb.co.uk

Saturday 16 March 2019

O2 Academy2, Liverpool

gigsandtours.com ticketmaster.co.uk

An SJM Concerts presentation by arrangement with DMF Music Ltd


18TH - 22ND APRIL BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND

FEAT

ANTI SOCIAL JAZZ CLUB - BERNIE CONNOR - CHANNEL ORANGE

GREG WILSON - JOSEPH KAYE & ELLIOT FERGUSON

MELODIC DISTRACTION - NIGHTCRAWLER PIZZA

PARKLIFE GARDEN PARTY - SUPERSTITION

40 SLATER STREET, LIVERPOOL. L1 4BX

THEMERCHANTLIVERPOOL.CO.UK


What’s On

April –

September

Tuesday 9 April 7.30pm

King of Ghosts

Wednesday 10 April 8pm

Paddy Crazy Horse Tour

Tommy Tiernan

Friday 12 April 6.30pm

Glyndebourne Film Screening

Handel’s Saul (cert. 12A)

Friday 14 June 8pm

Music Room

Sharon Shannon & Band

With Special Guest Seckou Keita

Thursday 26 September 7.30pm

Friday 27 September 7.30pm

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

And In The End:

A Celebration of 50 Years of

Abbey Road and Let It Be

Saturday 18 May 8pm

Tales From The Last Days Of August &

The Butterfly Effect

Jon Ronson

Age Restriction: 16+

Box Office

0151 709 3789

liverpoolphil.com

LiverpoolPhilharmonic

liverpoolphil

liverpool_philharmonic

Principal Funders

Thanks to the City

of Liverpool for its

financial support

Principal Partners

Media Partner

Image Jon Ronson


C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY

CMY

K


ido100!

In June 2019, Bido Lito! will publish the 100th edition

of our magazine and ask the question:

What will Liverpool’s

new music and creative

culture look like in

2028, in another 100

editions’ time?

Through a series of projects, bido100! will explore our

fast-paced and unpredictable, tech-laced future and

look to learn what we can do differently today

to help shape a better creative tomorrow.


New Music + Creative Culture

Liverpool

Issue 97 / March 2019

bidolito.co.uk

Second Floor

The Merchant

40-42 Slater Street

Liverpool L1 4BX

Publisher

Craig G Pennington - info@bidolito.co.uk

Editor-in-Chief

Christopher Torpey - chris@bidolito.co.uk

Media Partnerships and Projects Manager

Sam Turner - sam@bidolito.co.uk

Features Editor

Niloo Sharifi - niloo@bidolito.co.uk

Live Editor

Elliot Ryder - elliot@bidolito.co.uk

Digital and Social Media Officer

Alannah Rose - alannah@bidolito.co.uk

Lucy Doyle – lucy@bidolito.co.uk

Community Membership Manager

Brit Williams – brit@bidolito.co.uk

Design

Mark McKellier - mark@andmark.co.uk

Branding

Thom Isom - hello@thomisom.com

Proofreader

Nathaniel Cramp

Interns

Eddy Turner

Ciara Nevinson

EDITORIAL

I

was standing outside Evian Christ’s CONTAINER event a

while back, chatting to an unnamed musician I had just met,

when I was confronted with the ghost of my own adolescence

in his words: “I hate the Liverpool music scene, there’s nothing

cool happening here, except, like, this, obviously.” Despite being a

native Scouser, he was more interested in the international world

of rappers and producers which Evian Christ belongs to than the

local gig circuit. He wished to move to London, to find his niche

tastes reflected by the people and events available to him there.

Another attendee, who had moved here from London just a few

months ago, elegantly managed to insult his new city at the same

time as praising the night’s event: “I feel like people here don’t even

understand how cool this event actually is. And it’s free!? Like, if

this was in London, there’d be celebrities here.” This infantilising

interaction is a salient example of how wild the north-south divide

truly is – we’re seen as cultural philistines, as if we don’t have

access to the same internet as the rest of the Western world. Even

if something ‘cool’ happens here, we are surely not savvy enough

to know it, like Stormi Jenner at her first birthday party.

I’m not entirely unsympathetic to these perspectives; as a

historically eccentric, gender nonconforming person and the

daughter of first-generation Iranian immigrants, I’ve definitely

felt the pain of enforced conformity in this city. Certainly, it is

not a city overflowing with people who share my experiences

and subsequent world views. Alienation breeds resentment; it

is comforting to transform the pain of rejection into a sense of

superiority, saying ‘fuck you’ to the social standards that have

weakened you. The internet becomes a second home, a portal

to perspectives which are soothingly unfamiliar. You begin to

fantasise about moving someplace else – London, Berlin, New York

– where you’ll meet ‘like-minded’ people. Finally, at long last, you’ll

be properly and correctly appreciated.

In this month’s issue, we meet two such creatives who

followed the Yellow Brick Road to London, but are now back home.

Avant-garde designer Clara Cicely tells her own tale of moving

FEATURES

to the Big Smoke in search of something she didn’t know she

already had. Her extravagant clothes appear in Bido Lito!’s first

fashion spread, shot in a symbolic location, Liverpool Lime Street.

Caitlin Whittle gets the scoop on Kevin Le Grand, the fearlessly

strange performance artist slowly but surely taking over the queer

performance scene nationally after moving back and forth like a

boomerang from London to Liverpool since she finished school. In

recent years, Liverpool’s weirdos are beginning to establish their

own cultural presence, actively making Liverpool the place to be for

cutting-edge creatives instead of looking for that place somewhere

else.

Liverpool may not be the most diverse place, but in many ways

it provides an ideal environment for creative outliers to thrive. It’s

relatively cheap, and the scene is small enough for connections

to form organically without being claustrophobic. This is clear in

the case of Yank Scally, this month’s cover artist; his debut album

is a massive cross-genre collaboration that spans local artists

to international producers. His experimental electronic creations

are certainly different from what you might hear at most ‘singersongwriter

holds guitar’ music nights in the city, but as the bustling

enthusiasm of Evian Christ’s crowd proved, there is a silent

contingent of people hungry for something else. Munkey Junkey,

another electronic producer on Merseyside, is another creative

outlier on the scene who is beginning to meddle with a decadesold

paradigm of what music in Liverpool looks and sounds like.

This city considers itself a bastion of political independence,

not beholden to the whims of the rest of this country. Emerging

from this landscape are a breed of artists who are just as irreverent

in their attitude towards how things are usually done. We don’t

need to compete with London, because what we have would be

lost in the process of emulation: a great capacity for sincerity, and

no regard for what’s ‘cool’ to anyone else.

Niloo Sharifi

Features Editor

Cover Photography

Adam Thompson and lil witch (illustration)

Niloo Sharifi

Words

Niloo Sharifi, Christopher Torpey, Elliot Ryder, Caitlin

Whittle, Clara Cicely, James Booton, Jonny Winship, Jah

Jussa, Sam Turner, Brit Williams, Paul Fitzgerald, Jennie

Macaulay, Ian Abraham, Julia Johnson, Glyn Akroyd,

Megan Walder, Eddy Turner, Lisa Haglington, Umut

Tugay Temel, Phoebe Train, Maria Andreou, Alison

McGovern.

Photography, Illustration and Layout

Mark McKellier, Adam Thompson, lil witch, Niloo

Sharifi, Hannah Blackman-Kurz, Lewis Dohren, Robin

Clewley, Caitlin Whittle, Zuzu, Hollie Fernando, Darren

Aston, Glyn Akroyd, Tomas Adam, John Middleton, Rob

Battersby, Gareth Jones, Matteo Paganelli.

Distributed by Middle Distance

Print, distribution and events support across

Merseyside and the North West.

middledistance.org.uk

The views expressed in Bido Lito! are those of the

respective contributors and do not necessarily

reflect the opinions of the magazine, its staff or the

publishers. All rights reserved.

12 / YANK SCALLY

Before the Toxteth audiomancer’s finger drops on the delete

button and wipes the slate clean, you’d better get on board. 2019

is the year of the Bulletproof Wizard.

16 / BBC 6 MUSIC FESTIVAL

In March, Liverpool’s musicians and venues take centre stage as

the city plays host to three days of live music and conversation,

reflecting the spirit of BBC Radio 6 Music.

18 / MUNKEY JUNKEY

“Sometimes it feels like you’re on a tiny little life raft out in the

ocean, but once people sing your songs back to you, you’ve won.”

22 / BLOOM

After seven years of steady growth, mental health charity The

Open Door Centre is ready to embark on its latest chapter in the

Bloom Building.

REGULARS

10 / NEWS

30 / SPOTLIGHT

33 / PREVIEWS

20 / LONDON SUCKS

“Don’t let people tell you where you need to be, go where makes

you happy.”

24 / KEVIN LE GRAND

Caitlin Whittle gets cosy with Kevin Le Grand, a queer

performance artist whose work explores the grey area between

fun and despair.

26 / THE CHILLIN’ ROOMS

How is a coffee shop in Kensington is at the vanguard of a

movement towards cannabis acceptance in the UK.

32 / SLEAFORD MODS

“It feels like people are being eaten alive. We’re being consumed.”

34 / OUR GIRL

“We learnt how to make your guitar sound amazing with a load

of distortion, reverb and a screwdriver.”

40 / REVIEWS

52 / ARTISTIC LICENCE

54 / FINAL SAY


NEWS

Oyé All Stars

The dynamic, irresistible sound of the Soweto township is

coming to Africa Oyé this year, as it’s been revealed that

seven-piece force of nature BCUC will be headlining the

27th edition of the festival. BCUC gave a taste of what to

expect at their incendiary live show at District in October

2018, and their blend of hip hop, indigenous funk and rock

energy has to be seen to be fully comprehended. It has all

the hallmarks of a legendary Oyé headline set. Algerian

musician SOFIANE SAIDI will also be performing in Sefton

Park, bringing his new project with electro-Maghreb

wizards MAZALDA to bring a fresh take on the classic

80s-inspired sounds of Algerian Rai. All this and much

more is coming your way – for free – on the weekend of

22nd and 23rd June. Your attendance is highly expected.

BCUC

The Female Gaze:

Women Depicting Women

A new exhibition launches at Queen Avenue gallery DOT-ART on

International Women’s Day, Friday 8th March. A trio of locally based

artists, Liz Jeary, Mia Cathcart and Rebecca Atherton, will explore

identity and male gaze through diverse art forms in a two-month

long show. With the guerrilla girls’ famous campaign proclaiming that

less than five per cent of artists exhibited in the MOMA were female

while, according to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 51 per

cent of visual artists are female, representation is a vital issue in the

art world. March is also the last chance artists have the opportunity

to apply to Liverpool, 2028 – an opportunity to be displayed at the

gallery as part of the bido100! programme of activity. Go to dot-art.

co.uk for more details.

Liz Jeary

Huw&A At Sound City+

Huw Stephens

Get yourself lanyard-ready as Sound City+ has announced the first names

to be appearing at the conference this year. Following last year’s sold-out

event at the Cunard Building, industry figureheads HUW STEPHENS, DAVE

ROWNTREE and DR JENNIFER OTTER BICKERDIKE will be dispensing

pearls of wisdom for music biz networkers. Sound City+ have also revealed

that sessions at this year’s event will include Touring The Asian Music Circuit,

Women In A&R: How The Game Has Changed and Brexit: The Realities For

The Music Business. The conference takes place on Friday 3rd May and is

followed by the two-day festival in the Baltic Triangle.

Curry On Up The Charts

Critically lauded beer and Indian eatery BUNDOBUST

has finally made its way to the western end of the M62.

The award-winning purveyors of small plates from the

subcontinent are opening a Bold Street premises this April to

add to the thoroughfare’s dangerously good food and drink

offer. The recipes on the Bundobust menu derive from the

owners’ Gujarati, heritage while the ales stocked are craft beers

from all over the world. Ahead of opening its doors next month,

Bundobust will be pitching up in the kitchen of The Merchant

on Slater Street so Liverpudlians can sample their wares over

the weekend of 6th-8th March.

Sound Women

The people down at Sound on Duke Street are good old eggs.

As well as setting up a regular night for underage giggers,

they’ve helped the Sound Women collective to build a really

supportive network around their regular events. What started

as a community of like-minded women trying to help each other

has blossomed into a series of workshops, classes and “femalefronted

entertainment”. In March you can attend a finance clinic,

a social media for business workshop, craft classes and more.

It’s rounded off by the customary Sound Women gig (23rd

March), featuring indie-electronica fusers FOXTRAP, who’ve just

dropped their self-titled debut album.

COMPETITION: Hole In Liverpool One

Liverpool’s crazy golf community will rejoice this month with the

opening of JUNKYARD GOLF in Liverpool ONE. The course is renowned

for its treacherous fairways, sticky bunkers and extensive cocktails

offer. Split into three nine-hole courses, wannabe Woosnams and Lexi

Thompsons are challenged to overcome car parts, circus side-shows

and jungle flora to complete in par. To celebrate the opening Bido Lito!

is giving away four golf, cocktails and snacks packages. All you have to

do to win is answer the following question: Which Fleetwood Mac song

lends its name to gaining a four under par? Is it a) Tusk b) Albatross

or c) Birdie. Send your answers to competition@bidolito.co.uk by

Monday 18th March. Winners will be notified by email.

Junkyard Golf

10


MEMBERS’

MIXTAPE

In this new monthly section, we

ask one of our members to compile

a selection of music from their

recent listening playlists. Andy

Johnston takes up the reins to tell

us what tunes have been keeping his

headphones busy lately.

Sledge Allegiance To LIMF

Liverpool International Music Festival has well and

truly established itself as a recognisable shape on

the city’s musical skyline. Transforming Sefton Park

for one weekend each July the festival brings a host

of well-known names to South Liverpool for a multistage

celebration of new music, heritage music and

everything in between. This year, LIMF planners have

announced that DISCO CLASSICAL FEATURING

SISTER SLEDGE WITH KATHY SLEDGE is the first

name on the proverbial team sheet. Disco hits past

decades will be reimagined for a 35-piece orchestra,

following on from the success of Haçienda Classiçal

at last year’s festival. Keep your eyes peeled for

more announcements incoming for the 20-21st July

weekender.

LIMF

Cow-Abunga Clwyd

Bido Lito! will once again be proudly presenting

two brilliant new Liverpool-based artists

at international showcase festival FOCUS

WALES. This year, Wrexham will be treated

to the soulful sonics of KYAMI and the grunge

grandiosity of COW. Kyami’s new track Super

Special premieres on bidolito.co.uk from 1st

March to give you a taste of the New Yorker’s

salient blend of indie RnB. Cow have been

troubling the rafters of Merseyside venues for

the past year with their blend of emotionally

wrought alt-rock. Elsewhere on the FOCUS bill is

Welsh national treasure CATE LE BON, Heavenly

Recordings’ BOY AZOOGA and indie-popsters

KERO KERO BONITO.

Rustin Man

Vanishing Heart

Domino

A beautiful piece of music

from the former Talk Talk man

Paul Webb that sounds like

it could have been recorded

when Talk Talk were still a thing. A mix of folk and psych

that just takes me away every time I hear it. The whole

album, Drift Code, makes you all warm and fuzzy.

Foxwarren

To Be

ANTI-

Violette Sospeso

More news of good people doing good things has reached us, and this is an initiative that warrants

greater recognition. Inspired by the caffé sospeso tradition born in the working-class cafés of Naples,

the people at La Violette Societá have included the option to purchase a “suspended ticket” for any

of their upcoming shows. A suspended item is the advance purchase of something for someone who

needs it, no matter why. For their bi-monthly live shows, La Violette Societá offer the option of buying

a suspended ticket, which will be made available to any person who, for whatever reason, would really

appreciate the opportunity in joining them at that particular event, but cannot afford to do so. The next

event that this applies to comes at Studio2 (Parr Street) on 26th March, featuring spoken word artist

KIRSTY TAYLOR, and music from THE HOLOGRAMS, LEMONDAE FIX and THE LOSING TOUCH.

In Harmony @ 10

The Florrie

God Save The Florrie

If the latest episode of the Bido Lito! Arts + Culture Podcast

hasn’t already made it into your ears yet, you must remedy this

now. Liverpool 8’s grand dame, The Florrie, takes centre stage on

our third show, as we take a closer look at the team behind the

restoration of a building that positively throbs with community

spirit. Its ethos, history and wide-ranging activities are discussed

in another fascinating feature, all for free. Download our latest

show wherever you get your podcasts, or head to bidolito.co.uk/

podcast for an archive of all previous episodes. We’re also now

on Spotify, so there is officially no way of escaping us – you have

been warned…

I first discovered Andy Shauf

a few years ago at End Of

The Road festival and this is

another great piece of work

by him – this time alongside D.A. Kissick, Avery Kissick and

Dallas Bryson as Foxwarren. Dreamy pop to be listened to

by a campfire (or in the car on your way to work driving to

Birkenhead).

Sharon Van Etten

I Told You

Everything

Jagjaguwar

More synthy than her past

works, the whole Remind Me

Tomorrow album is sublime, but this is my pick of all the

tracks. A gloomy piano-led track that brings Van Etten’s

voice to the forefront – a thin slice of heaven.

Strand Of Oaks

Weird Ways

Dead Oceans

Launched in February 2009, IN HARMONY Liverpool uses orchestral

music making to improve the life chances of children from school in

North Liverpool by increasing confidence and wellbeing, enhanced

by opportunities to travel and learn new musical skills. Now in its

10th year, the scheme has helped improve the lives of thousands

of pupils, and is getting the decade-long celebration it deserves.

Over the weekend of 9th and 10th March, a series of events will

take place to help raise funds and awareness of the initiative, as well

as featuring performances from the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth

Orchestra. The culmination of the celebrations comes on Monday

11th March, where 250 young musicians who’ve taken part in the

programme will perform their favourite pieces from In Harmony’s

past 10 years alongside the venerable Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

Orchestra.

In Harmony

You’re never quite sure what

you’ll get from Timothy

Showalter or Strand Of Oaks

– full-on rock, psych or folky

acoustic guitars, but I love this new track of theirs. This is

very much going down the Americana route with a bit of

The War On Drugs mixed in – ace.

Head to bidolito.co.uk for an extended version of the

Members’ Mixtape, including a playlist compiled by Andy.

For more information on our Community Membership, head

to bidolito.co.uk/membership.

NEWS 11


YANK SCALLY

Before the Toxteth audiomancer’s finger drops on the delete button and wipes the slate clean, you’d better

get on board – 2019 is the year of the Bulletproof Wizard.

YANK SCALLY enters his bedroom studio, leading in

Bill Nickson and Astles, who are visiting for the first

time. “Yeh, I probably should have cleaned up,” he

tells them as they perch among the clutter, “but I feel

like it’s more authentic.” It is mid-afternoon, but you can’t tell in

the darkened room. The windows are covered by sheets pinned

to the frames, and the only other light source is the computer

screen. His hosting strategy is unique. They sit around smoking

for some time, while Yank Scally prank calls an American

record store on speakerphone, demanding that they check their

stockroom for Under The Boardwalk by Bruce Willis. Snickering

as they hang up, he is suddenly contrite: “Nah, nah, I’m getting

side-tracked. D’you wanna make some tunes?”

No one can believe the time when the guitars are put away;

suddenly, the day is gone. “Time doesn’t exist in this room, does

it?” asks Dan. Bill agrees: “The Yank Scally experience. It gives

me more context for the music.” Over the last year this dim,

smoky room has been the site of a secret creative explosion.

Yank Scally has been crafting his most concentrated work to

date. A whole host of collaborators have passed through the

labyrinthine hallways of the building he lives in to record with

him. His first full-length project, There’s Not Enough Hours

In The Day, features 10 other artists across its 14 tracks.

These range from local rappers, singers and instrumentalists,

to international producers. In this project, Yank Scally brings

together artists from very different worlds, intermingling them

naturally with his extravagant synth creations.

There’s Not Enough Hours In The Day is a collective

achievement, which also tells a story of the creative community

in this city. “’Cos I’m kind of a hermit and I don’t really like

drinking, I tend to just invite people round here,” he explains. “I’ve

had like all kinds of people here, from people who’ve never done

anything before to fully-fledged artists.” Seasoned rappers Bang

On!, MC Nelson and Remy Jude all squinted to write their album

verses under the dim light emanating from his screens. Martha

Goddard of the Hushtones, WOR Music, Josephine Yeoman

and George Styers lent him their voices and musical ideas. He

even secretly recorded me reading my poetry to him one night

and mixed it into Red Sky At Night, the six-minute ambient

interlude at the centre of the album. This is one of two tracks

featuring international producers; he describes &&, the Algerian

producer who finished it off, and Dad’s Computer who features

on Morning, as his “internet friends”. The album art was drawn

by friend lil witch, and vectorised by another, Gemma. His wizard

robes were sewn by a friend’s mum.

The album was recorded, mixed and mastered in this

bedroom, in a studio also obtained through a collectivist effort.

“I’ve got one monitor and one speaker that was given to me

by a friend who went to India, I’ve got keyboards that people

have lent me. The computer was my grandad’s. Like, none of

it is mine.” He has no soundproofing, and as the occupants

of his neighbouring bedrooms came to learn, he doesn’t use

headphones. He mastered his own album on this set-up, trusting

his own ears above all others, with no regard to how things are

usually done.

This uncompromising nature caught Bido Lito!’s attention

last year, when out of a sea of wordy, bombastic press releases

came a SoundCloud link with a single line: “hello. im from

toxteth”. “I don’t really have a lot to say anyway, so the only

thing I’ve got to show is music,” he tells me. Back then, Yank

Scally’s SoundCloud held hundreds of songs. There were disco

beats; pop songs; harsh noise; artist studies with titles like Burial

Copy; a donk version of Dido’s White Flag. Some of the songs

had hundreds of plays, but most had less than a hundred. We

were amazed to only just be hearing about someone so prolific,

and so audibly talented. “I had no idea about press kits or any of

that stuff,” he explains. As part of the Merseyrail Sound Station

artist development programme, he got to present his ‘press kit’

to a panel of industry experts, and to his shock they were just as

intrigued. “I didn’t realise, by accident, it meant more that I’d put

less.”

When it comes to the words he uses, Yank Scally is a

minimalist. “I can’t explain it. There’s just a set amount of lyrics

that I’ll ever use. I don’t like the way some words sound.” He

mentions musicians who take the same approach: “Say, like,

James Blake, Arthur Russell, Daft Punk. If you deconstruct

their lyrics, each word is quite purposeful and they use so few.”

Although he studies a vast range of genres, he is most attracted

to musical outliers, like Moondog, the eccentric New York drifter.

“I like musicians who have, like, a stylised way of doing things.

With dance music, the drop’s always about turning it up. You get

that ‘oooh’ off the drop, and that only lasts for a certain amount

of time, so I’m trying to figure out how to constantly drop it

over and over again.” He describes the wonder he felt as a teen

watching Justice on stage with their huge light-up cross, and

hearing Daft Punk release experimental albums after their hit

debut. A decade on, he is creating his own stylised electronic

music which defies genre and his own fantastical persona. “My

friend Mike called me an audiomancer, which then led me on to

wizard-type thinking.” (Mike, who has wandered into the room,

interjects: “I have no idea how you do it, la, I just see fucking

green squares.”) After shooting his music video for Up All Night

in costume, he insisted on keeping it on while he walked around

town, gleeful at the turning heads. “I’ve become my own hero.

For a long time now, I haven’t really been listening to a lot of

other people’s music,” he confesses. “I’ve only been making my

own.”

The penultimate song on There’s Not Enough Hours In The

Day, Sunday, begins with an auto-tuned prank call to another

American record store. The employee quickly loses his patience:

“Is this the healing crystals guy? Seriously dude, I don’t have

time for this.” As his delighted peals of laughter echo away, the

melancholy, McCartney-esque organ chords swell into a singalong

anthem of hope for all of the beautiful, imperfect ones:

“Spent all day in bed again/but I’ll try again tomorrow.”

Yank Scally’s persona and musical practice bears the marks

of its origins, a young boy hell-bent on having fun against all

the odds. Our school systems don’t encourage experimentation,

or recognise strengths which lie outside of academic diligence.

Even art and music teachers end up enforcing joyless parameters

of achievement by necessity, and access to extracurricular

resources is limited for some. The art industries are overflowing

with those who grew up with tutors and musical instruments.

Electronic music is the great equaliser, because all you really

12


“I’ve become my own

hero. For a long time

now, I haven’t really

been listening to other

people’s music, I’ve only

been making my own”

need to make it is a computer, and maybe some pirating

capabilities. He remembers being 12, googling “how to make

music like daft punk” on his grandad’s computer. “I think I

actually tried one called Cakewalk first and it was disgusting,

then I opened up Fruity Loops. It comes with a demo track, which

is really intuitive. To be honest, for a long time I had no idea what

I was doing, and I would refuse to watch guides because they

were boring. I’d rather just press buttons and see where it goes.”

Music allowed him the creative freedom to experiment outside of

the rigidity of academia.

“I was just messing around with Fruity Loops for ages,

and then after years, people were like, ‘Hey, you’re actually

getting pretty good at this’.” He built a low-budget recording

studio in his room. “Thinking back now, the set-up was wrong,

but somehow I got it to work. The room would be constantly

full of my mates, and it got to the point where I had so many

visitors that I’d just sort of make tunes in the background

while everyone was just chilling.” Yank Scally relishes his

ability to make beats in the most minimal of environments; the

independence is freeing. “A guitarist or something would have

to go to a studio and record. I could just make disco beats on my

computer.”

After dropping out of college, his experimentation

intensified and became more focused. “The way I’ve always

done my musical studies is, you know, like how a painter does

a collection, that’s how I do it. I make an idea first, and do a

series like that. Sometimes three or four, and sometimes actual

hundreds.” He uploaded songs and deleted them when he felt

like it. “I really like the delete function. People don’t use that

enough. Y’know, it’s the internet, the button’s right there. But it’s

not always as easy, as I’ve come to figure out. People actually

grow, like, a connection to a song and you just turn around

and delete it – it’s kind of unfair, because you’re playing God at

that point.” It took a while for him to sense the existence of his

audience from the confines of his room.

Unlike most Liverpool acts, he never cut his teeth on the gig

circuit; his rehearsal room is his studio and online was his stage.

“Up until 2016-2017, there was a large period where I was

isolated and I just sort of forgot about everyone else.” Journalists

and blogs would feature his songs and include him in playlists,

only to find the track gone without a trace, with links leading

nowhere. “My music was kind of separate, like I wasn’t making

music to impress anyone or, anything like that. And I’m still not,

but people exist in the equation now. There was an awkward

stage, where it was like, people can’t actually like my music,

’cos I don’t like it, so I had to change that, d’yknow?” He started

to sing on his own tracks: “I got tired of waiting for the right

environment and timing, and the opportunity to have a singer

in my room.” He stopped studying other people’s music, and

started combining the styles he had mastered to create his own.

They began to have an autobiographical quality to them, like

sonic diary entries. He wrote a song about feeling down, and

one about loving smoking, using heavy guitar riffs mixed with

drum and bass.

As summer approached, something shifted. He began

making uplifting, melancholy synth soundscapes with repetitive,

minimalistic lyrics. His SoundCloud reached what he calls a

“critical mass”, and he deleted everything. Most of the songs

he wrote after this point appear on his new album. Going For A

Drive, the only Yank Scally song on Spotify (currently), was the

first of this group: “It was my first true song. It was a huge step

up, ’cos I was, like, opening the book on my life or whatever.

I wrote it just before the summer. I was feeling like I was just

coming out of a long sadness.” The song captures something

about the savage beauty of the world after surviving a rough

patch and reawakening to it. “Feeling so alive, sleeping all

day… going scatty, smoking biff”, he sings in a cycle. The rest

of the album is just as personal. “There was a girl I met a long

time ago, and we got into a bit of a thing over the phone.” She

reappeared suddenly in the summer after a long silence, “And,

yeh, from that came Delete, Up All Night and Magic Spells.”

These songs take us through the despair of digital separation,

losing sleep on the phone, and being cursed with infatuation.

They are also certified bangers.

At some points, Yank Scally felt like God’s lightning rod. “A

few months ago, I felt like, enlightened. I was making all these

tunes, and they were just coming out of me and that. I feel like

it was just... [he makes a whooshing sound and extends his

arm] Like, I wasn’t really having any part in doing that, and

at some points it was almost scary, like I’m not even joking.

I guess I’ve very little self-esteem, so being able to do that…

I’m not saying I’m pure amazing or anything, but at that point

I knew I was putting out good music daily, hourly. And it was

just weird to have this duality of, like, being so tired and stuff

all the time, and then being this all-powerful producer wizard.”

We hear this contradiction on the refrain of Bulletproof Wizard,

an uplifting bop featuring WOR and Remy Jude which he

describes as his theme tune: “Bulletproof wizard – not enough

hours in the day!”

As an artist, he is free of a certain egotistical angst for

recognition; it’s about doing what he loves. His ambition is

to remain in a constant state of transformation, to never stop

deleting: “As I get closer to solidifying myself as an artist, I feel

trapped and it’s boring. You sort of feel like a cliché, it’s like

when you meet your hero or whatever.” His plans for the next

year are monumental. “I wanna release 12 albums, each with

its own sound. I have a project’s worth of stuff in me every

month, for definite, and if I can keep up the pace I can probably

go faster. I feel like it can’t get old.” He wants to collaborate

with filmmakers, game designers and to buy a factory for

himself and all his friends. “Right now, I’m using the bare

minimum to do the most that I can. And I can’t wait for the day

that I can, like, shop. Synth shopping would be like me getting

a makeover, basically, and you would hear it the next day.” Yank

Scally might not care much for applause, but he is pushing to

have it all. “So, I can really go out there and do something big.” !

Words and Photography: Niloo Sharifi

soundcloud.com/yankscally

There’s Not Enough Hours In The Day is out now. Catch Yank

Scally live at the Bido Lito! Social on 28th March at Shipping

Forecast.

FEATURE

13


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theatkinson.co.uk

01704 533 333

(Booking fees apply)


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Sat 27 April, 7.30pm

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Captain Of

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Wed 3 April, 7.30pm

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Wed 1 May, 7.30pm

The Resonant Rogues

Wed 3 July, 7.30pm

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*Plus booking fee £1 per ticket online/phone


MEMBERSHIP

THE ALL-NEW BIDO LITO!

COMMUNITY MEMBERSHIP

Bido Lito! has always been about supporting and championing

Liverpool’s new music and creative culture. Through our team of community

writers, photographers, illustrators and creative minds we’ve charted our

city’s vibrant, do-it-together creative ethos since 2010. This community

spirit is central to what Bido Lito! has become, and it’s something we’re

committed to expanding upon.

A new global movement towards community journalism has emerged

in recent years, and we see Bido Lito! playing a key role the movement’s

continuing development. As traditional media organisations face existential

threats to their business models and their moral authority, community

journalism harnesses the energy and passion of local people, creating a

powerful, independent media voice free from advertorials and clickbait.

With this in mind, we are making some changes to our Bido Lito!

Community Membership.

Bido Lito! Community Members will still receive the latest edition of the

magazine in the post before anyone else, along with exclusive download

and playlist content from Liverpool’s most exciting new artists. And,

members are still invited to come along to our monthly Bido Lito! Social for

free.

“Community journalism

harnesses the energy

and passion of local

people, creating a

powerful, independent

media voice free from

advertorials and clickbait”

But - and most importantly - Bido Lito! Community Members will be

at the heart of shaping the content of the magazine itself; whether it be

recommending features, providing insight into live events, curating playlists

or suggesting artists for our Bido Lito! Socials, our members will be at the

centre of everything we do.

We still believe strongly in the editorial integrity of the magazine, so Bido

Lito! Editors will have the final say on commissions; but the voice of Bido

Lito! going forward will be shaped by our community members.

If you are passionate about supporting and championing Liverpool’s new

music and creative culture, join the community media revolution. Become a

Bido Lito! Community Member today.

For more information go to bidolito.co.uk/membership


6 MUSIC

FESTIVAL

In March, Liverpool’s musicians and venues take centre stage as the city plays host to three days of live

music and conversation, reflecting the spirit of BBC Radio 6 Music.

The premise of state-funded radio dealing primarily in

content that resists control seems fantastical. You need

only cast a glance through the lens of BBC Radio 6

Music to flare this feeling, irrespective of its contribution

to reality for close to 20 years. The on-air red light of the BBC

is a portal to an in-tune portion of the population. With its 24-

hour glow, 6 Music hasn’t shied from projecting the sounds of

art, angst and protest from the furthest reaches of the UK and

beyond.

Granted, much of this owes to the BBC’s invisible appetite

for pulling the levers of a draconian machine. It offers space for

subculture and creativity alongside its straight-faced agenda

setting. It doesn’t ensure the nation wakes in unison to six

spritely pips proceeding The Today Programme. Instead, an array

of independent voices pulled from the indie-championing masses

found their home in 2002. 6 Music was to be alternative for the

alternatives, hardwired into the circuit boards of the mainstream

studio desk. It’s essentially pirate radio, emitting from a dry dock

outside Broadcasting House.

The station itself has been through modest cosmetic

changes since its creation. It now partially lives up north at

Salford’s MediaCityUK. The northern accents of two women

– Lauren Laverne and Mary Anne Hobbs – are at the controls

of the station’s morning mid-week broadcasts. Voices of the

new music printed press from years past continue to guard the

track selection. A glaring difference, however, is the station’s

popularity. Nine years ago, it attracted just 700,000 listeners

per week, initiating calls for it to be axed. As of May 2018, the

station attracts 2.5 million weekly listeners. It’s a remarkable

turnaround in the face of knitted executive brows and the

unrelenting rise of streaming services. Its improved popularity is

the perfect riposte to BBC’s zero-sum approach to its existence.

Since 2011, it’s likely a portion of its listenership has been

pulled from Radio 1, blurring the

boundaries of what it is to cater

to ‘the alternative tastes’, much of

which is seemingly in line with age

and cycles of popularity.

However, few would argue

that the station’s flagship music

festival fails to pull together an

‘alternative’ line-up that most

promoters can only dream of.

It’s a festival that’s bled from the

blueprints in which the station

was founded upon; an ethos that

puts passion and place ahead of

listening percentages. As of 2014,

the event has rooted itself in cities

across the country that carry an air of the alternative. Places with

fortifications surrounding their own independent culture. Places

such as Glasgow, Manchester and, as of this March, Liverpool.

This year things will be no different; the festival will again

boast a collection of renowned stars, erupting talent and a

programme of fringe events that unlock the city’s scene for those

listening from afar. Notable artists enlisted for the three-day

event include ANNA CALVI, HOT CHIP, the recently reconvened

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE QUEEN and CHARLOTTE

GAINSBOURG. IDLES, JON HOPKINS and VILLAGERS were all

regular fixtures on 2018’s best

albums lists, and all of them

“For a city battling to retain

its cultural and musical

value against a tide of

regeneration, the 6 Music

Festival weekend carries a

high level of importance”

have shown that their sizeable

Liverpool fanbases will turn out

to witness their live turns, too.

Plenty of tongues have been

wagging for the new wave of

alternative stars LITTLE SIMZ,

SLOWTHAI and GAIKA in

recent months, and they fully

deserve their place in the midst

of this talent-packed line-up.

2MANYDJS and EROL ALKAN

are part of an exceptional cast

of DJs who will be charged

with making sure the 6 Music

Festival energy lasts long into the night.

Local artists also make an impression on the upper echelons

of the billing, too, with SHE DREW THE GUN, BILL RYDER-

16


JONES, THE CORAL and STEALING SHEEP all scheduled to appear. These artists will form a blanket

spread to play shows at the Olympia, Mountford Hall and Camp and Furnace between 29th and

31st March, with the festival fringes running through the independent hubs within the city. CRAIG

CHARLES also drops in at late-night hub Invisible Wind Factory on Saturday 30th March. The

festival is an opportunity for the city’s music scene to flash its feathers in the faces of those who don’t

normally frequent Sound Basement, the Shipping Forecast, Phase One or 81 Renshaw. It’s also an

opportunity for radio to show it’s still in touch with people and place, despite the emphatic drive of

boundary-less app-based streaming. It’s a weekend where the BBC Sounds will take you somewhere,

to be part of something. Not simply a heady escape from the commute or the bored four walls in the

free hours of the day to day.

For a city battling to retain its cultural and musical value against a tide of regeneration, the 6

Music Festival weekend carries a high level of importance. Liverpool has a resurgent independent

scene that’s pushing its roots through freshly applied layers of apartment block concrete. The same

can be said for 6 Music. While a fanfare of listening figures suggests a state of rude health, streaming

services will continue to circle around radio’s face-lifted anatomy. The festival arrives on a weekend

where there’ll be a searing spotlight on Liverpool and 6 Music. Both will be expected to be at their

best.

Few will be able to feel the pulse of 6 Music better than GIDEON COE. His record bag, littered

with post punk, indie, jazz, soul, reggae, dub, ska and live recordings, makes up the station’s jittery

heartbeat from 9pm to midnight. He’s seen it all. Launch, near death and renaissance. He’s had

stints in the mid-morning schedule, but his best colours have been kept under the cover of darkness,

reflecting from moonlight and streetlamps. It’s programming that best reflects what 6 Music was

created to do; build parallel conveyor belts that draw together the contemporary and nostalgic,

finished with a dose of the weird and wonderful. “Being at 6 Music has opened my ears,” he tells

us, when asked about he how he tailors his programmes, “and once I started on the night-time

programme that was even more the case.” For over a decade, Coe has been using the looser hours to

knit together the musical fibres of wide-spanning genres. “I saw it as an opportunity to mix things up

as much as possible. At the same time, I spend a lot of time working on the flow of the programme;

a lot of moving things about and looking for good segues or links between records. And in that there

are some gear changes. I like doing that. If any records are challenging, then that’s down to the ears

of the listeners.”

While Coe’s only previous experience of Liverpool was in his early days a sports reporter, his

acknowledgement of place within music has allowed him to piece together the scene from afar.

Although, he admits, this does not always provide the clearest picture. Radio can only provide a

flashlight against the permanent floodlit arena of the internet. As such, the defining sounds of a city

can so often punch above the true variety that exists for the ears of outsiders. Liverpool’s seemingly

intractable relationship with arty post-punk and psychedelic pop isn’t the only case of musical

pigeonholing across the country, though. Speaking of his home city, Gideon adds: “Musicians often

write and record about what they know and reflect where they come from. Thus it always was. I

live in the part of West London that gave us Hawkwind and The Deviants, and some of the other

counter-culture types lived round here. And that in turn – via the various squats in the area in the 70s

– provided a good base for many of the punk musicians. But that has little bearing on the music being

made in this part of London now.” The same can be said of Liverpool. Beija Flo, Lee Scott, Eyesore

And The Jinx, SPQR, XamVolo and Brand Stank, to name a few, currently fill a colourful musical

palette spread across the Liverpool scene. It’s far from a two-pronged attack.

Radio is challenged to locate and acknowledge these emerging scenes that have grown from the

internet with no musical signposts related to a former understanding. And often, scenes will not wait

for the acknowledgement of radio. The democratised sphere of the internet offers burgeoning scenes

free range exploration to join the dots of their musical world. Radio is still very much a hierarchical

gatekeeper and approver of sounds. But, as Coe argues, it’s a role that remains unique. Playlist

culture and related artist auto search can only go so far in sketching out the foundations of musical

education. “You can listen to music at random online and try to work out where it comes from but

often it’s hard to tell,” he says. “Music radio for me has always been about the DJ as well as about the

music played. Some of my favourite parts of Janice Long’s Radio 1 programme in the 1980s involved

her talking to Peel’s producer John Walters. Then there was the music she played, which was great.

The human element is important to me as a listener.”

If there is one strand of 6 Music’s programming that defines itself in the face of technological

advancement, it’s the abundance of live recordings to hand. Not only does the BBC possess a rich

archive of material, but its use engages the listener in a completely different way. The portal of radio

veers beyond the boxed-in studio. It becomes a romanticised escape that draws music towards its

tangible entry point. All lashings of colour and atmosphere, like an in expensive audiobook complete

with musical soundtrack. It’s the empirical moment of encompassing experience. “Those recordings

are a vital part of what we do, and over the last 16 years, 6 Music has added a huge amount to that

BBC’s music archive. It’s a huge achievement on our part, probably the most important thing we have

done. To have The Beatles’ BBC recordings and Georgie Fame at Ronnie Scott’s alongside a recent

session from Beak or The Specials gig from early February this year at the 100 Club in London is a

big part of what makes 6 Music distinctive.” While the live recordings cannot drill down into core of

every scene and subculture, they bring radio closer to the importance of place, just as the 6 Music

Festival will attempt to when it arrives in Liverpool. In the eyes of Coe, the task remains the same as

it ever was: to be a distinctive and trustworthy voice. “6 Music needs to do that in a landscape that

is shifting in terms of the music that is being released, which naturally evolves over time, and what

music is being played on other stations. Take a good variety of new and old records from a variety

of places and mix them up with bits and pieces from the music archive. That remains the plan every

night.”

6 Music remains a popular yet peculiar facet of the BBC. Its creation, planned closure and

unprecedented growth doesn’t do much to bolden the lines between its working balance of

alternative freedoms and state funding. If anything, its near demise in 2011 highlights its peculiar

existence on the waves of the highest reaching radio mast in the country. The emergence of the 6

Music Festival, however, was simple logic. It’s a brand that was nowhere near past its sell by date and

in need of a tangible entry point. With that, 6 Music has proven difficult to throw away. An emotive

heirloom resting in the playroom of your childhood, now turned office. It’s the radio equivalent to the

vinyl revival; a proven formula capable of placing nostalgia in the willing hands of youth. It’s going

from strength to strength, against the odds and current of contemporary practice. It’s got the voices

for a particular set of ears. But this cannot always remain the same. Thus, it’s not all misty eyed. The

crackle of tape format does rear its head in the station’s presenting roster. Leaning ever closer to the

contemporary would be a sure-footed step. !

The Good, The Bad And The Queen

Little Simz

Charlotte Gainsbourg

Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder

Illustration: Hannah Blackman-Kurz / @Hbkurz

bbc.co.uk/6music

The BBC Radio 6 Music Festival takes place between 29th and 31st March across multiple venues.

BBB Radio 6 Music Festival – full line-up

The Good, The Bad And The Queen, Anna Calvi, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jon Hopkins, Little Simz,

Gang Of Four, Jungle, IDLES, Hot Chip, Villagers, Erol Alkan, 2manydjs, The Cinematic Orchestra,

Chali 2na & Krafty Kuts, Ex:Re, Marika Hackman, Fontaines D.C., The Coral, Nemone, BC Camplight,

Slowthai, Max Cooper, Julian Cope, Julia Jacklin, The Comet Is Coming, Justin Robertson, Skinny

Pelembe, Clinic, Renegade Brass Band, Bodega, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Breakwave,

Elliot Hutchinson (Dig Vinyl).

IDLES

FEATURE

17


MUNKEY

JUNKEY

James Booton meets worldly electronic producer Munkey Junkey to talk culture-clash,

the ubiquity of depression and being a Merseyrail Sound Station artist.

As the sun fades over the jungle canopy, I find myself

lured subconsciously inside the depths of the forest.

Through the dense vegetation, a dark, hazy figure can

be made out, bounding through a junkyard of split

cables, drum machines and busted speakers. As I push past the

sonic mist into the clearing, I come face to face with the creature

I have been seeking. A hairy wanderer, a headphone wielder, a

MUNKEY JUNKEY.

Now, sat on his couch in his basement studio, admiring the

fine detail that has gone into the room’s messy aesthetic, I feel

right at home. Munkey Junkey (Kurran Karbal) and bandmate/

best friend Zuzu head off to grab a brew while I sit and listen to

his latest tracks. When they return, we settle in, and after a half

hour chat about football, holidays and our preferred methods of

intoxication, we finally slide into musical discussion.

Born in New York, growing

up in the Middle East, moving to

Switzerland, then London, then finally

Birkenhead, Karbal has witnessed

cultural extremes from across the

world. It is clear, not just from his

appearance and accent, but from his

music as well, that this exposure to

such different societies has expanded

his mind and changed his perspective

of the world. The more he talks, the

more I understand why his music

seems so insistent on pushing

boundaries and fighting against

censorship.

“Growing up in the Middle East,

anything that was parental advisory,

so anything I liked, was illegal. A CD would cost 50 dirhams

[around £10] but if you wanted anything that was parental

advisory, they wouldn’t have it on display, you’d have to go up

to the counter, ask for, say, ‘Limp Bizkit’ and pay 100 dirham.

We are about to go on tour with one of the sons of Billie Joe

Armstrong [Green Day] and Dookie changed it for me, but you

just couldn’t get hold of that kind of music out there.”

“I went to visit my sister in Damascus,” he continues, “and

my sister’s landlord asked me not to play my guitar because the

secret police would come and search the house if they heard

it.” Not to say that Karbal didn’t enjoy his time spent in Abu

Dhabi (his best friend, who he ensures I clarify is “a Jersey boy,

not from New York”, moved out there just two weeks after he

did) but it certainly affected his musical growth. Now, with this

new Munkey Junkey project, he seems intent on innovating and

continuously pushing his sound without holding back. In fact,

that is part of the reason behind his name – he explains how his

favourite Hindu god is Hanuman the monkey, known to be joyful

and innovative.

His music reflects this in abundance. On my first listen I

struggled to place his disjointed beats onto my spectrum of

musical perception. The electronic production, the hip hop beats,

“Sometimes it feels

like you’re on a tiny

little life raft out in the

ocean, but once people

sing your songs back

to you, you’ve won”

the emo influences, all didn’t register; it is a new sound, a new

concoction that is fresh and insightful and one that has continued

to grow on me until this very moment.

“I feel like there’s a lot of pressure to produce something

familiar,” I say. “It’s a safer bet financially”. “Especially in

Liverpool,” Zu adds.

“Yeh, totally, I always think of that South Park episode with

nostalgia berries, because everyone loves hearing a song they

know. It’s definitely a slippery slope as a musician to go for

something because its tried and tested. We’re all guilty of it.

At the moment I’m getting really into that Frank Ocean record,

Blonde. The first time I heard some of them songs I was like, ‘This

is too crazy,’ but now I’ve heard them 10 times I’m like, ‘YEH!’

Once you know the journey you kind of enjoy it more.”

Even Karbal struggles to describe his own music to me, but

the idea of a theme park is one that

sticks, with a multitude of thrills and

spills just round each corner. I liken it

to riding on those freaky Harry Potter

staircases; never stagnant, always

pulling you from your seat. However,

there is a flipside to this desire to

push things forwards. The reality

is that if you break from the crowd

you are on your own, often with

self-doubt as your only companion.

Karbal explains how this affects the

creative process, saying that “even

though you like a record more when

you are familiar with it, the tail-end

is that if you’ve heard your own song

500 times you start to hate it”. I can

sense the atmosphere of the room sink as we begin to discuss

the emotional side of making music. I can feel myself picking at

the scab, scraping past the bubbling surface and discovering the

harsh realities that Karbal has already faced so far in his life. The

tones lower, and the faces become more contemplative. It feels

like a good time to dig into Munkey Junkey’s lyrics.

His first ever release, Kill My Ego, tackles issues close to

the heart and features his family past as a motif throughout. He

talks about his family returning to India after his cousin had just

committed suicide, partly, Karbal believes, due to the pressures

burdened on him by Indian culture.

“That cousin was the only cousin I had who played an

instrument and I looked up to him, but he killed himself because

of the pressure. It’s something that gets felt a lot in Indian culture,

there’s a huge pressure to do well financially and maybe not be

so creative. It’s like when people ask, ‘Why are there no Indian

players in the Premier League?’ I know why!”

Being a creative can be painful; the process of making music

is cyclical in nature, and leaves you exposed and vulnerable,

opening up a space for the dark recesses of the mind to take over.

However, as Karbal points out, it can also be the best platform

to heal your subconscious self and feel more connected to the

world. “I think it’s healthy to talk about it. We all feel some fuckin’

crazy emotions, so to feel isolated on top of those can really send

you into a spin. I feel like music can really help that.”

“We live in crazy times, y’know, with everything being so

positive... everyone adapts. There’s kids living in penthouses

that are sad as shit and some people live in tiny villages and are

happier than them. It doesn’t matter where you are in life, how

much money you’ve got, how many people love you, we can all

be our own worst enemy and be fucking depressed.”

I guess Karbal’s own nomadic youth has had a part to

play. When the only consistent element of your life is change,

adaptation becomes second nature. However, it is this ability to

adapt that has also helped him to overcome these emotions.

“Sometimes it feels like you’re on a tiny little life raft out in

the ocean,” he continues, “but, as Drake said, once people sing

your songs back to you, you’ve won.” This is becoming all the

more regular for Karbal now, both with his own music and in

performing with Zuzu. After starting the project around a year

ago, he is now involved in Merseyrail Sound Station, which aims

to support Merseyside’s next generation of artists via studio

workshops and artist-led masterclasses.

“Zu actually applied for me and I’m so stoked that she did!

It’s sick, like all the tutors are all great! I was like, ‘Uh oh... time to

play my music again’ and I wanted to shrink up into a hole, but

they were so nice. The whole thing is just really good, you can

feel isolated being a musician, so to be put in a spot with other

musicians who are going through the same thing is so good. I’m

still riding the confidence boost that I got from it!”

Now, feeling rejuvenated and full of creativity, Munkey Junkey

seems ready to take off, with the Merseyrail Sound Station

journey culminating in a live performance at Liverpool Central

station in March. New single Look Out Below, which he played to

me earlier, is also set for release in the coming months. It holds

a deeper texture than his previous tracks, and gives evidence of

his personal and musical growth over the past year. With this

newfound confidence it feels like this is his time and that the next

six months will be huge for him.

As we tail off into conversation comparing the traits of

Liverpudlians to those from London and I realise I have missed

my train, it seems the right place to end. Karbal has been

all across the world and somehow ended up in Birkenhead.

Merseyside should be happy to have Munkey Junkey. He

has integrated into the music community, been lifted by the

welcoming nature of its members and is now repaying us with

warmth, vibrancy and great music. !

Words: Jams Booton / @BOOT_MUSIC

Photography: Niloo Sharifi and Zuzu

soundcloud.com/munkeyjunkey

Look Out Below is released in March. Munkey Junkey performs

at Liverpool Central station on 29th March as part of Merseyrail

Sound Station Live.

18


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20


Designer Clara Cicely decodes the

mythic pull of the capital, which

draws creatives seeking their

fortune away from our city, and

into its misty folds. She narrates

her own tale of longing, exploration

and disappointment, which will

surely be familiar to many. How

many others have stood on the

platform at Lime Street, waiting for

a train which symbolises a journey

into finality, a place for people just

like them?

I

spent most of my teenage life waiting until I was old/stable

enough to move to the Big Smoke. It became such an

important goal for me as soon as I realised I wanted to work

in fashion. London is known for being one of the world’s

fashion capitals and is recognised globally for its creative talent.

To me it was a place for all the freaks and outcasts to live how

they want, dress how they want and express themselves freely.

People I wanted to dress and people whom I admired had all

lived or worked there at some point. A glimmer of hope at a time

in my life when I hadn’t been exposed to this sense of belonging

yet, that just kind of stuck with me. So, as you can imagine, when

the opportunity arose to move there, I grasped it firmly with both

hands. I put so much expectation and pressure on it to be the

perfect place and convinced myself that once I arrived my life

would begin and everything would go right. But here I am: skint,

miserable and writing this article on why I hate London.

As a creative student, it gets drilled into you that London

is the place to be if you want to make something of yourself.

“But it’s where all the good jobs are!” is something I’ve also

regurgitated to people. What they don’t tell you is that most of

them are unpaid unless you’ve somehow gathered five years

experience in two months and it’s extremely difficult to get

that experience unless you have a lot of money. How can big

companies (especially ones that make millions, who could easily

afford to pay their interns) expect young students or graduates

to be able to work 10-hour shifts, five days a week for nothing

but travel reimbursements – if you’re

lucky – and still be able to pay rent

and feed themselves? The whole

‘exposure is payment’ concept needs

to be killed off. Yes, exposure is great.

Yes, I absolutely would do it for the

experience if I could afford to live at

the same time, but the reality is I can’t,

and neither can most other people.

Going from the north to the south

is more of a culture change than I ever

thought it would be. It is very difficult

to meet people/network and therefore

potentially find work, in a city that is

not very open. It’s kind of an unwritten

rule in London that everyone keeps

themselves to themselves – which

definitely has good points but ultimately makes it a lot harder

when you don’t know anyone and it comes to meeting people.

Everyone is out for themselves and the ‘scene’ is super exclusive

and not welcoming.

One of the biggest realisations I had after relocating was

how much stuff there actually is going on in Liverpool that I’d

been oblivious to, and how accessible it is. In fact, most of the

opportunities I’ve had since then have been in the north. Because

it’s a small city, there’s such a tight creative community and

everyone is always down to help out, recommend each other for

work or collaborate on projects. The city is packed full of artists,

musicians, writers, and hard-working people who wouldn’t

sabotage their peers to get what they want. It is the kind of city

I am incredibly proud to be from, and will be moving back to for

this reason. Although moving to London’s been a huge wake up

call, some good has come out of it, as it’s truly made me realise

what a great city I come from and that what really matters is

being happy in a good environment. It’s near impossible to be

creative when you’re in the wrong environment, your brain just

won’t allow it. Sometimes it’s best to see for yourself – but if it

doesn’t work out that is more than fine too. Don’t let people tell

you where you need to be, go where makes you happy. !

“Don’t let people

tell you where

you need to be,

go where makes

you happy”

@claracicely

FEATURE

21


B L O O M

After seven years of steady growth, mental health charity The Open Door Centre is ready to embark on its

latest chapter. Bido writer and healthcare professional Jonny Winship finds out how the centre’s new Bloom

building will help them bring issues around mental health awareness and support even closer to the heart of

our region’s creative community.

Honest and open discussions around mental health

have been among the most valuable and necessary

progressions made by us as a society this decade.

We now have an expanding volume of information

available to us, helping us to understand the signs, causes and

traditional treatments of mental health conditions, allowing us to

start the journey towards overcoming our issues.

The next challenge facing our healthcare systems,

communities and ourselves will be a move towards wellrounded,

diverse and accessible solutions to mental health

issues. Our approach to mental health rehabilitation and

treatment is something that is long overdue a reform; for all

our positive discussion and acknowledgement of these issues,

our solutions and treatment options are not paralleled and are

far behind where we need them. Mental health is something

that has been considered an underfunded, under provisioned

area of the NHS, resulting in long waiting lists and individuals

struggling to engage with the limited services available. But

there are a group of people here in Merseyside whose work has

shown that a grassroots, tailored and multifaceted approach to

mental health is more than achievable.

The Open Door Centre, one of Wirral’s worst kept

secrets, has been challenging our approach and perception

of mental health for seven and a half years. Birthed from the

determination and imagination of founder Lee Pennington,

the charity has grown with the benevolent support from its

volunteers and the local community. Its ethos is simple: to

provide young people between the ages of 15 and 30 with

support if they’re feeling down, stressed, low or anxious – with

no waiting lists and no fees. Although that alone may appear

novel and groundbreaking, it’s their approach that really offers

a sense of excitement and positivity around tackling mental

health. The Open Door Centre takes the worlds of culture,

community, social action and the arts, and funnels them into

one service, helping people to understand and vocalise what

they are experiencing through both traditional and nontraditional

mediums.

The charity has evolved in recent years, building a network

of support through their live events and fundraising; in

addition to developing their external support branches, they

have also invested in their self-sustaining internal support,

creating a strong team of staff and volunteers. On the back of

developing new partnerships with statutory bodies, The Open

Door Centre looks to enter their new chapter, with the aim of

finding more innovative ways in reaching a greater number

of young adults in Merseyside. Last year they supported 300

with their therapeutic services, this year that is projected to

be over 600. This has in part been exercised with the opening

of their new multi-purpose venue, Bloom. Tucked away in

plain sight, in the shadow of the Cammell Laird shipyard

in Birkenhead, the building offers a colourful and creative

setting in a repurposed manufacturing premises. Boasting a

vibrant and welcoming aura, the building itself is a celebration

of colour and expression, clad in a bold and contemporary

design.

Upon entry, Bloom is more akin to some of the creative

spaces around the Baltic Triangle, than of a treatment or

clinical space. But there is more warmth, the aesthetic is not

just for show, it’s a well-rounded reflection of the energy,

inspiration and expression of everyone involved at the

charity. As I enter the building, on my way to chat to Lee and

the team, I’m welcomed with the pacifying and disarming

feel of the building; the smoky burn of the wood fire in the

corner backdrops the coffee and lounge area, while the

soft hum of music filters in above. There are no white walls,

no receptionists, nor people in lab coats flicking between

22


treatment rooms. The front of the building comprises a

communal area, music venue and cafe, while towards the back,

neat wooden sheds and breakout spaces are the locus for the

charity’s private consultation and

meeting rooms.

The incorporation of mental

health within Bloom is subtle; it’s

rooted within the foundations and

softly woven into everything they

do. What you see and feel is an

expressive celebration of culture,

arts and community. Nevertheless,

there are direct and immediate

resources on hand to help people

quickly and easily address their

mental health concerns. Adele

Iddison, the charity’s coordinator,

describes one of their therapy

programmes and key resources, an

interactive Computerised Cognitive

Behavioural Therapy (CCBT) tool

called Bazaar: A Marketplace For

The Mind. “The programme is bespoke to people between the

ages of 15 and 30,” Adele tells me. “It has all the principles

of CBT as a therapeutic intervention applied to a computer

programme, but the crucial thing is you don’t go through this

on your own – you will be paired up with a mentor. This is

someone of similar age and character, and it’s all about that

relationship, and that interaction with someone that creates a

unique mode of therapy, with a computer-based intervention.”

The eight weekly sessions are delivered by the centre’s

many mentors in their treatment sheds, which offer a relaxed

setting, neither claustrophobic nor foreboding, but casual and

disarming. The mentors are made up of volunteers, these are

often people who have either been through the programme

themselves or have perhaps had personal experience with

mental health issues, among individuals looking for a career

in mental health or opportunities in the sector. “Anyone from

the community, who’d like to get involved with volunteering

can come and get in touch with us,” says Greg Edwards,

the centre’s operations manager. Training is given to people

aspiring to be a mentor, and is made up of group workshops

and one to one training.

“The incorporation of

mental health within

Bloom is subtle;

what you see and

feel is an expressive

celebration of culture,

arts and community”

Mya Higginson, one of the centre’s ambassadors and

mentors, tells me how the mentoring programme can be

beneficial to both the participant of the programme and the

mentor themselves: “It has given

me great structure, and has been

a great opportunity to meet

other people, I believe it made

me more confident. Emotionally,

I’ve gotten just as much out

of mentoring than those

going through the programme

as a member.” This type of

relationship helps breed the

self-sustaining and cooperative

environment that runs through

the charity.

Joel Dipple, Bloom Coffee

coordinator, also remarked on

the nurturing environment. “I’ve

seen it from an outsider’s point

of view. I joined a month ago,

it’s amazing to see the work that

these guys have done, and how rewarding it is for them when

people come in and get involved with the mentor scheme and

develop. It’s a great energy and its amazing to now be part

of that team.” Joel’s role is to oversee the communal café and

venue space, anyone can come and visit without enrolling or

directly involving themselves with any of the services, it can

simply act as a relaxing place to sit and have a coffee.

The cafe area doubles as a live music and events space,

which is a marked escalation of The Open Door Centre’s

healthy involvement, and support for, the region’s music and

arts community. The ODC ran the successful music festival

Astral Coast between 2012 and 2014, bringing a host of

musicians to New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion, including Bill

Ryder-Jones. They have since been involved in the run of

shows at Fresh Goods Studio in Birkenhead, showing that

their commitment to music runs deep. The charity uses

opportunities like these to help inspire discussion around

mental health, creating a culture of tolerance among young

people with regards to them tackling and expressing

themselves. Their new space will allow future live events

to be held on site and, aside from the music, Bloom will

also host mindfulness classes, dance therapy, visual arts

workshops and origami as the centre continues to find ways

of connecting directly with people via music and arts.

There has been an organic growth to the charity; the

hard work the team have put in has been replicated by the

many volunteers and attendees who now involved. A healthy

relationship with the local community, across public, private

and third sectors has also helped the centre to blossom – it

regularly receives referrals from GPs and social services,

helping to define it as a formal and established mental health

service.

Greg explains that due to the sustainability and support

within the charity, it’s free and immediately accessible, which

is something that can inspire mental health services going

forward: “None of this is radical, but it is radical compared to

where it sits against what mental health services are available

at the moment. Hopefully we can make a change to where

there isn’t negativity around inaccessibility and waiting lists.”

The Open Door Centre is not stopping here; boosted

by various funders who are wholeheartedly engaged in

this cause and the development of their new premises, the

charity will look to expand and reach out to more people

looking for an engaging way to tackle and understand their

mental health. Greg declares they will continue to build upon

the elements that define them: “Support for people who are

struggling, training for people who want to get involved and

social action and culture. It’s not just art for art’s sake, it’s art

for a purpose, to bring about change and to engage people

who would otherwise be disengaged from traditional avenues

of support.” !

Words: Jonny Winship / @jmwinship

Photography: Robin Clewley / robinclewley.co.uk

Illustration: Lewy Dohren / lewsidohren.com

theopendoorcentre.org

FEATURE

23


KEVIN LE

GRAND

Caitlin Whittle gets cosy with Kevin Le Grand, a queer performance artist

whose work explores the grey area between fun and despair.

“The true nature

of Kevin’s work is

unfettered exploration,

subverting ideas

of entertainment

and the arts”

Wrapped up in a duvet, after sharing 20 McNuggets,

Big Macs and milkshakes, myself and KEVIN

LE GRAND are ready to begin our interview. I

can’t remember the first time I met Kevin and

I’m fairly certain she can’t remember either. Lack of self-control

on celebratory evenings aside, some of the clearest memories I

have of Kevin are watching her performances. Over the past year

I have found myself, suddenly, extremely interested in live art. It

had always been something I’d neglected or brushed off as “not

for me” or inaccessible, until seeing it first-hand. As a recurring

performer at Eat Me + Preach at District, Kevin’s uncompromising

charisma reaches every audience member. Her drag feels both

referential and classic, and the content of the performances is

always challenging and deeply honest, somehow, even when she’s

being funny. It is entertainment as much as it is art, the exploration

of ideas and experimentation with themes is as exciting to see as

it must be to do. Not to mention she also probably has the most

symmetrical face in Liverpool.

Le Grand is now a firm fixture in queer performance circuits

in Liverpool and London. Her charisma has captured the attention

of the art world. There is an overwhelming sense of contentment

being in the presence of someone who is visibly flourishing in a

field so perfect for them, especially when they did not immediately

end up there. Starting from the beginning, Kevin doesn’t have

much to say about growing up in Maghull. “I was brought up on

the gorgeous streets of Maghull, which now thinks it’s a village

with their own scarecrow festival. It’s a very quiet place just full of

old people and drug dealers.”

Leading up to the point she is at now has been difficult for

Kevin; existing on the outskirts of a small town as a trans person

is both scary and disheartening. We exchanged stories of growing

up LGBTQ in Liverpool and considered the changes we’ve see

around us since then. “When I first moved back to Liverpool last

year, I stayed in my mum’s house for three months. I remember

seeing some teenage boys at the train station in Maghull holding

hands with matching bubble-gum blue and pink hair. Which made

me feel really happy because me and my friends were them at that

age.” Returning to Liverpool from London to find the queer scene

to be both growing and so welcoming has made Kevin feel ready

and willing to call it her home again.

She had a few false starts along the way, as we all do. “In

school I was just a bit of a waster, I didn’t really know what I

wanted to do, so I went to sixth form to do performing arts but

then I quit because I was failing anyway, and I thought the best

thing to do before you fail is to just quit.” After this she continued

onto college to do fashion, which she thrived in, leading to a

place at London College of Fashion. “LCF was interesting, I think

I only went in about four times and just spent the rest of the

time partying. The college didn’t know that, and I ended up on

the website as ‘successful alumni’. It said something like, ‘Kevin

is completing their second year while also modelling for so and

so’. My teachers were seeing me in the fashion magazines but

didn’t know that when I wasn’t in the magazines, I would just be

in some scummy afterparty for, like, seven days.” This chapter of

her education went the same way that high school did, she quit

before she failed.

Modelling didn’t go as planned, either: “The day that I went to

get my modelling contract was also the day that I was supposed

to go for a consultation to get my wrist fixed because I had fallen

out of a window trying to climb in because I’d forgotten my keys

and broken my wrist. So, I chose to miss the consultation and

sign my modelling contract instead and my modelling career

was a flop so now I’ve got a gammy wrist and a failed modelling

career!” Although this anecdote might come across as tragic,

it led to what was clearly the best route for Kevin: becoming a

performance artist.

She started performing at a night called the Yeast London

Cabaret (a name created in homage to the yeast infection, located

in East London). This was run by “big green autistic drag queen”

Oozing Gloop. “I rang him and said, ‘Listen, I’ve quit uni – can I start

performing with you?’ He said yeh, and then I started performing

monthly… I just used to sing songs and talk shite. My performance

hasn’t changed much, to be honest.” Despite her claims, it seems

to me that around this time Kevin had begun to combine all her

passions (performance, modelling, fashion and clubs) into one

specific artistic outlet. Making more friends along the way, Kevin

collaborated with Charles Jeffrey to make a film and create a night

in VFD, previously Vogue Fabrics London, until they were sued

by Vogue magazine. “It was just sort of a big pop-up party. We’d

spend a week making these big cardboard sets, we’d paint them,

and I’d perform within the set. It was hilarious, people would

always take bits of the set home with them. One time we made

a three-headed cardboard monster; my head and the two other

peoples’ that I ran the night with.”

The true nature of Kevin’s work is unfettered exploration,

subverting ideas of entertainment and the arts. From building

cardboard living rooms to decorating venues with reflective heat

sheets and spray-paint, the seeds were being sown for more

experimentation. Shortly after the night at VFD ended, Kevin

moved back to Liverpool. Then back to London. Then back to

Liverpool again. “When I moved back to London, I started to get

more involved with the live art scene rather than cabaret. It’s

different, you can take a lot longer with whatever you’re doing.

There are durational things, like I watched a woman roll around on

eggs for eight hours and cover herself in glitter. I wasn’t really into

it, but never mind – I started making longer work.”

I have watched Kevin crawl out of a handbag, perform an

interpretive dance of her life story and explore the darker side

of The Cheeky Girls. This last performance was particularly

surreal, but behind it lies an insightful observation about the duo’s

infamous pop hit. “I first realised that The Cheeky Song was a sad

song when I listened to the lyrics more closely – ‘I never never ask

where do you go, I never never ask what’s in your mind, touch

my bum, this is life’ – and I realised that the song was written by

their mother, and it’s the passing down of inherited misogyny and

domestic trauma.”

I had to ask what her favourite performance has been so far,

what she is most proud of. “The duvet show! I come out in the

duvet and some music starts playing. I’m wearing a duvet and

pillow as sort of a coat that I’ve made. The music cuts off. It’s all

about when you wake up in the morning and you’ve got that fear,

and you can’t remember what you’ve done, and it lasts about three

days. You lock yourself away in the anxiety of it all, and the shame

you feel within that. So, the performance is paired with a track

which is me screaming at myself: ‘Look what you’ve done now!

You’ve killed him! It’s your fault! What will the neighbours say?!’

Then I whip out a kazoo and start screaming back at myself and

rolling around the floor in this duvet. It all climaxes with me and

the audiences singing Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien together to release

ourselves from the fear.”

Kevin’s work is therapeutic and cathartic to those who can

relate to these chaotic emotions. Kevin often jokes about her

mental health and wellbeing. “I look like Siouxsie Sioux tonight,

don’t I?... No, not Siouxsie Sioux, more like Looptie Loo.” She is

currently writing and developing a musical production for the

stage: “Handbag The Musical is going to be a fully immersive

theatrical piece all about diving into the depths of the handbag. It’s

all about the handbag being a feminine accoutrement, the handbag

feeling like home, the handbag becoming your home when you

have nothing else.” It sounds like an all-singing, all-dancing

existential crisis.

The general feeling in the queer scene in Liverpool at the

moment is that things are coming together, and from that different

styles and sections of people are emerging. Kevin Le Grand’s

performances carry the weight of hardship and struggle, as well

as expressing truly what it is like to celebrate yourself and others

around you. Her analysis and subversion of mundanity includes

the audience’s interaction; everyone in the room can relate and feel

celebrated in solidarity. As the boundaries of the scene expand, we

can expect to see more experimentation and art come forward. It

seems Kevin is a signifier of changes to come and someone I truly

believe will be spoken about for years into the future. It would be

worthwhile to keep your eye open for the many club nights and

performances which Kevin Le Grand will inevitably be involved

with. !

Words and Photography: Caitlin Whittle

@mskevinglegrand

24


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THE

CHILLIN’

ROOMS

How a coffee shop in Kensington is at the vanguard of a

movement towards cannabis acceptance.

It’s Friday night and we’re on our way to a secret location. A

phone call IDs us, the gate is opened and, after paying our

day membership, we’re in and walking straight into the

ultimate speakeasy. A long hall with benches, tables

and chairs either side of a central walkway. The air is

thick with sweet-smelling smoke and down the far end

there’s a stage area. It’s open mic night and the place

is buzzing.

We’re invited to take a seat and a friendly face

brings us a skinning up tray and the chance to get

a soft drink, tea or coffee. Looking around the

venue, there are spaces for around 120 people.

And it’s a full house tonight. Somebody offers

me some organically grown sativa – perfect. Just

what the doctor ordered. This isn’t a night for

indica’s couch lock introversion – this place was

made for an energetic, euphoric and cerebral

high.

People are talking to each other and to

complete strangers. Phones are on the table

but no one is looking at them. The music is a

great mixture of classic and current and the

venue is energised in ways that I haven’t seen at

many open mic nights. But this isn’t Amsterdam,

Arizona or Colorado. This is Kensington, Liverpool

and this is THE CHILLIN’ ROOMS, first set up in

2002, and a Mecca to those in the know.

OK, I have to be up front and say that I’m not

entirely impartial in this. A few years ago, I made

a film about the birth of Amsterdam’s coffeeshops,

and the growth of the ‘green’ cannabis industry (The

Green Avalanche – Official, it’s on YouTube). At the time,

I wondered if the rest of the world could ever follow the

Dutch lead on toleration. And since then, Portugal, Spain,

Canada and the USA have all changed laws, reaping serious

financial and societal benefits. But the UK seems stuck in a

different mindset, as if they prefer widespread criminality, an

overrun judicial system and full prisons.

Nevertheless, there seems to be a change in the air.

Following on from the cannabis clubs in Spain and the medical

co-operatives in the States, a series of cannabis social clubs

have been opening up across the UK – places where you can

go and smoke in a friendly welcoming place, with like-minded

individuals. Members pay their memberships and new joiners

have to be recommended by a friend. It’s a club for smokers and

The Chillin’ Rooms is, and always has been, at the vanguard.

Gary, a former pub landlord, has been running the club for

over 17 years, on and off, depending on the changing whims of

the local constabulary. “It’s all about having a positive impact,” he

tells me. “It’s a social enterprise. We’re creating jobs and paying

above minimum wage. We’re all above board. If people didn’t

come here, they’d be sitting at home or having a quick puff in the

garden, looking inwards and alone. Here, everybody is together.

We’re all looking forward and talking to each other face to face.

There are people who travel from the other side of the country

to come here. And we’re not in this to make loads of money and

drive round in big cars. What we’re doing here is building this

community up and spreading that out into the local area.”

Promoter of the music night is Ste Weevil. “The night is

called the Backbone, ‘cos Gary’s always said that what we’re

doing and the people that are coming – we’re the backbone of

the UK. And we feel that the music community here has become

a backbone of the Liverpool music scene as well. Bringing the

music has brought a lot of people in, and helped to promote the

club. We’ve been doing the Fridays and building it up slowly, and

Barry Sutton has started a night called the Baby

Backbone, which is on Thursdays. Look how

many people are here. There’s no alcohol,

but the drinks are flowing and a creative

business is thriving.”

We know how much talent there

is in this city, and tonight its musical

spotlight is on full beam. Reggie

Lloyd warms the crowd up, before

handing the mic to Scarlet, who

plays a mixture of classics and

original material. Both are excited

to have played. “It’s a saving grace

of a place, and playing is a badge

of pride,” says Reggie. “The set up’s

fantastic.”

Another act is Johnny Taylor

from The Sky, who plays his own

material and a blistering cover of

Johnny B. Goode: “Because of the weed

thing, it adds to the whole atmosphere.

Everyone’s just relaxed and chilling. They

listen a bit more and they’re inclined to take

in what you’re doing, instead of getting pissed

and talking and not being arsed.”

The stand-out act is Resonator Force, who play harmonic

Merseybeat/West Coast indie rock. Jamie (vocals), Luke

(guitar) and John (bass) have been coming to the Backbone

for a couple of months. “We heard about it a while back

but we just assumed it had gone, dead and buried, but

we turned up for an open mic and it’s the best place

in the world,” says Jamie. “There’s the little door – the

secret knock, all that caper, and I get in here and my

face is smiling that much there’s nowhere else for

my cheeks to go. It hurts after a bit. I mean, what

more do you want? No one bothers you. You can

talk to people if you want but if you don’t want

to it’s all good. It’s beautiful. What do you see

around you? Do you see a roomful of criminals?

Technically, yeh, but in reality, no. These people

are the mellowest people around for 10 miles.

How many people 50 yards away from here

are throwing shit at the telly, screaming at the

footy, downing Stella, kicking the cat? All kinds

of stuff that stoners just can’t be arsed doing.”

That question of illegality and criminality is

discussed in full the next day, when we travel to

the 271 Cannabis Club in Moreton, Wirral for a

meeting of the UK Cannabis Social Clubs. The UK

CSC organisation has been running since 2011

and has upwards of 70 clubs registered with it.

It’s professionally run, and lobbies in Parliament for

changes to cannabis drug laws. Delegates have come

from all over to listen to a well-polished presentation

about cannabis legality, the grey area that currently

exists and what can be done to stop big business from

taking over.

Currently, cannabis is a class B substance, meaning

that possession could get you five years at Her Majesty’s

convenience, and supply and production up to 14 years. This

seems illogical and draconian when 33 states in the USA allow

medical use and 10 allow recreational drug use. The reality is that

UK police often turn a blind eye. Depending on who you talk to,

they seemingly won’t prosecute if you grow a number of

plants in your home, and smoking in public usually

warrants little more than a slap on the wrist.

UKCSC policy analyst Stuart Harper

tells me: “If I’d have been asked 10 years

ago if cannabis was going to be legal in

the near future, I would have said no. If

someone asks me now, I can say that

I think in the next three to four years

it will be legal. So, it’s about how

we can take that momentum that

we see before us in politics about

medical cannabis and use that for

social good.”

Chairman of the UKCSC, Greg

de Hoedt, began using cannabis

medicinally to help a serious medical

condition. “I got diagnosed with

Crohn’s disease in 2009 after a

year’s battle trying to find out what

was wrong,” he tells me. “I was getting

really ill and had a really bad flare

up in 2010. The doctors told me they

were going to operate on my intestines

and that I’d probably die within two years.

I had friends in dispensaries in America, so I

26


“There are fantastic

people who are

being lost to society

because of our

backwards attitude

to cannabis, and I

want to change that”

went there and I got access

to an abundance of cannabis

products, from chocolates to

oils to the right flowers for my

condition, just because I was in a

community that knew about it. And I was

thinking, ‘Wow! Why is this not in the UK?

How did I not know about this and the benefits of it?

Why are we so behind?’”

In the UK, currently, the dealer is king. Consumers don’t

really know what they’re smoking, because they aren’t offered a

choice. Visitors coming back from Amsterdam will rave about the

different kinds of weed on offer and the varied effects. You’ve got

your indica strain, which is high in cannabinoids (CBD), often a

deep muscle relaxant. You’ve got your sativas, which are usually

high in THC and provide the user with a clear and euphoric high.

And then you’ve got your skunk and haze varieties –

which are magical crosses between the two.

And research in the USA suggests that

different combinations work for seizures,

glaucoma, stress, depression,

insomnia, as a painkiller… the list

goes on and on.

The UKCSC is currently

lobbying members of

parliament, with Stuart

Harper a regular in the

House of Commons

lobbies. “Most political

people that I speak to,

whether it’s an MP or

an aide, or a member

of a think tank – they

all have the same

point of view, that

the drug laws in the

UK are an aberration;

that they happened

quite by accident at a

specific point in time

where public attitude

was set a certain way.

And the whole world

signed up for a set of

rules that no-one really

wanted then, and they

definitely don’t want now.”

Although no one at any

level of government is talking

about legalising cannabis for

recreational usage, there are definite

moves to legalise some sort of medical

marijuana. Interestingly, the investment

firm owned by Theresa May’s husband,

Philip, the Capital Group, is the major investor in GW

Pharmaceuticals, which mass produces CBD oil in the UK for

export, and Tory drugs minister Victoria Atkins’ husband is also

involved with a legal cannabis farm.

However, nothing is straightforward. “If anything they are

looking at additional legislation to restrict CBD sales, so they’re

going in the opposite direction,” Stuart says. “What they want

is control of the medical cannabis market, which is what they’ve

been sold by the investment groups that are bankrolling the

medical cannabis movement in the UK. They want the Canadian

model, which is going to be pretty much mail order. And if you’ve

got a mail order facility, one

of the things that it blocks out

is small vendors. It’s going to be

big corporate contracts that are

awarded. But in this next two years

there is a window of opportunity for the

social club model.”

Although politicians seem wary of any backlash

that could accompany change, the real groundswell towards

toleration seems to be coming from the UK police, in particular

Police Crime Commissioners Ron Hogg (Durham) and Arfon

Jones (North Wales).

Michael Fisher has been running the Teesside Cannabis

Club, on the high street in Stockton-on-Tees, since 2014. They

employ staff through the local Job Centre, pay tax and National

Insurance, and are a registered company. “Durham police and

PCC Ron Hogg got in touch through the media and we

arranged to go and meet at their headquarters,”

Michael explains. “On the back of that, we

stayed in touch and still speak today. It’s

a business relationship. But you’ve

got to always think that the police

can’t condone an illegal activity,

regardless of how good a

friend I am. It’s so black and

white to them. So, I operate

on a very thin line, in the

grey area.”

“Before we were

legally registered we

were just a group of

people who were

committing a crime.

Once we created the

company we became

an actual legal entity.

Everything that we

do is legal, apart from

the consumption

of cannabis on the

premises. We don’t

have people vending

or selling cannabis

in our club. The only

people selling cannabis

is the club itself. It sells

the members’ homegrown

cannabis back to the collective.

Everything else in the club is

entirely legal and above board.”

Greg says that he’s had similar

talks with the crime commissioner of

North Wales, Arfon Jones. “He came up to

me in Parliament and asked me if I would help

to set up cannabis social clubs in his area. He said, ‘We

need to change the situation and I think this is the way to do it.’

There’s more than enough people that want to have access to

these kind of facilities.”

Back at The Chillin’ Rooms, Gary is adamant that he could go

into any economically repressed small town or neighbourhood

and provide employment for all who wanted to work in the

cannabis industry. “From 18 to 80, everyone could have a job,

and receive above national minimum wage, just by growing in

their spare room or by working in a cannabis social club. There

are fantastic people who are being lost to society because of our

backwards attitude to cannabis, and I want to change that.”

Indeed, there are plans to use profits from the club to bring

about regeneration to Kensington, beginning with cosmetically

improving the appearance of the road and moving on from there.

Jamie from Resonator Force: “I grew up around here and the fact

that it’s here is just incredible. It’s a haven, basically. Why should

we be skulking round the corner in the shadows? I could get

nicked for a spliff in my pocket, get a fine, get a criminal record,

or a fella could go out and get four cans of special brew, have a

piss on the phone box, throw up in the street, start singing footy

songs and swearing – no one would say nish. Not a fucking word.

They’d walk past him to strip search two kids in hoodies. It’s

ridiculous.”

Gary introduces me to Gabby, who is a DNA scientist. She

and her boyfriend have travelled from the other side of the

country to attend the Backbone music night. She gives me her

insight: “For thousands and thousands of years we’ve been

experimenting with drugs. We are the most cognitive species on

the planet, so what are we going to do but exercise our minds?”

At 11pm, the lights come on and everyone politely leaves.

There are hugs at the door, and ‘see you later’s. As the last

stragglers file out, Gary muses on the night and the club

members who have helped to make it. “When I used to run the

pub, I saw some horrible things. Family arguments that resulted

in glassings. Fights over nothing. And in The Chillin’ Rooms, there

is none of that. It’s peaceful. Everyone is sociable. It’s civilised. I

have never had trouble in here.”

Whatever your preconceptions are about cannabis, there’s

energy, drive and a feel-good vibe there which should be

experienced even if you don’t smoke. It’s a model for how

things could be. A night out with old friends and new, in a safe

environment with great music and quality cannabis. What more

could you ask for?

There is no doubt in my mind that changes in the

cannabis laws are coming, definitely for medical and maybe

for recreational. But we have to decide whether we want big

business or small community businesses running things, and

if it’s choice between Theresa May’s husband or Gary, I’m with

Gary all day. !

Words: Jah Jussa

Illustration: Hannah Blackman-Kurz / @Hbkurz

Further information about the UK Cannabis Social Clubs can be

found at ukcsc.co.uk.

FEATURE

27


5pm til 9pm - SUNDAY TO FRIDAY

£2 Slices

£10 Pizzas

2 cocktails £10

cheap plonk

25 Parr Street, Liverpool L1 4JN.

0151 559 2599


EVERYMAN & PLAYHOUSE PRESENTS

SWEENEY TODD

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

A Musical Thriller

Music and lyrics by

STEPHEN SONDHEIM

Book by

HUGH WHEELER

Lighting Designer MARK JONATHAN

Director NICK BAGNALL

with

KACEY AINSWORTH & LIAM TOBIN

Sound Designer IAN DAVIES

Set and Costume Designer MICHAEL VALE

Assistant Set and Costume Designer KIRSTY BARLOW

Musical Director TAREK MERCHANT

Casting Director SOPHIE PARROTT CDG

From an adaptation by CHRISTOPHER BOND

Originally directed by HAROLD PRINCE

Original orchestrations by JONATHAN TUNICK

Originally produced on Broadway by Richard Barr, Charles Woodward, Robert Fryer, Mary Lea Johnson, Martin Richards | In association with Dean and Judy Manos

Performed by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Limited

at the

0151 709 4776 | everymanplayhouse.com

5–11 Hope Street, Liverpool, L1 9BH

Photograph by Gary Calton

FRI 12 APR TO SAT 18 MAY


SPOTLIGHT

DAVID OGLE

A discussion on space and place with the Liverpool-based artist who has

recently worked on a series of works focused on the Sefton coast.

If you had to describe your art style in a sentence, what would

you say?

Experiments with the properties of materials, processes and

environments; translating visual ideas through different forms of

representation.

How did you get into making visual art?

After graduating from university (in Lancaster) I spent a couple

of years without making any artwork and floated between a few

different jobs. I didn’t feel any particular compulsion to produce

my own work until I saw that there was an artist studio space

being listed for hire near to where

I was living at the time. I think it

was more the idea of having my

own studio than a sudden rush

of inspiration to make art but I

remember how exciting this prospect

was to me at the time.

The studio was a small, windowless

room (about the size of a single-car

garage but with a higher ceiling)

that led out into a sprawling

communal warehouse space. It was

having this space at my disposal

that really became formative in

how my work developed. I wanted

to translate my drawings into

something environmental, something

that existed at a scale that would

challenge the surroundings I was working in.

Naturally, having very little money to produce large-scale

sculptural work, necessity dictated that these be materially

inexpensive and this was what led me to the linear works using

fishing line that were illuminated with ultraviolet light. With

this approach I found that I could produce architectural-scale

interventions into the space using a volume of material that could

be carried around in a pocket and that cost a negligible amount to

money (pennies) to realise.

“I want to reveal

aspects of an

environment that

go unseen and

capture something

that is intrinsic to a

unique location”

Can you pinpoint a moment or a piece of art that initially

inspired you?

I remember visiting the Hayward Gallery’s Dan Flavin

retrospective (around 2006) and this being influential. I was

attracted by the preparatory drawings for the artist’s sculptural

works – pared-back, linear assemblages on graph paper with

coloured pencil lines representing Flavin’s typical neon tubes.

The translation between these works on paper and the glowing

installations in the galleries below was, I’m sure, posthumously

informing of how I approach my own work.

What do you think is the overriding

influence on your artmaking: other

art, emotions, current affairs – or a

mixture of all of these?

Recently, a lot of my work has been

informed by walking, landscape and

the summation of the elements that

amount to our experience of place

(weather, time, topography, etc). I

am wanting to reveal aspects of an

environment that go unseen (such

as how winds invisibly shape and

re-shape a coastline) and capture

something that is intrinsic to and

inseparable from a unique location.

Naturally, the work of other artists is

also influential, though it’s an eclectic

mix I tend to draw from. My recent

outdoor work for example, although formally disparate, was

informed more by 19th Century Romantic painting (particularly

Casper David Friedrich) than it was contemporary artists working

with light or expanded forms of sculpture. There is something

in these dramatised, imagined landscapes (typically depicting

the remnants of human activity overcome by the power and

indifference of nature) that has an enduring resonance for me.

Tell us a little bit about your current exhibition at the Atkinson

in Southport?

I am showing a range of works that I have produced along the

Sefton coast and presenting these alongside a selection of

paintings from the museum’s collection that have documented

this landscape over time. There is a particular emphasis (in the

choice of paintings) on works that depict an environment in a

state of continual flux and dynamism and the effects of this upon

successive populations.

For example, the last piece in the exhibition is by Herbert Royle

entitled Westerly Breeze, Ainsdale Sands (c.1920). I am showing

this painting alongside a triptych of video works that show

clouds of colourful smoke moving through the landscape at three

different sites around Ainsdale (in the woodlands, the edge of

the dunes and out onto the sand itself). The smoke visualises the

movement of winds through the landscape (revealing the forces

that continually shape the locations) and allows audiences to

perceive this process more vividly.

The work resembles postcard-like memories of the landscape

and the Sefton coastline. Does this mean the works you

produce are solely focussed on memory and nostalgia?

Memory in a sense, but not a personal memory and I don’t feel

a sense of nostalgia. It’s more that I’m wanting to document

an event. Within one of the pieces, for example, Ray (2015),

blue smoke slowly emerges from an underground cave that

is suddenly illuminated as the sun breaks through overhead

clouds, casting defined beams of light striking downwards onto a

woodland clearing.

I want to revel in the elements of a place at a particular time,

perhaps, as you say, to evoke the memory of an experience in

a landscape (that would otherwise be lost), but more as a way

of creating something that is defined by its connection to a

particular place or time.

Words: Elliot Ryder

davidogle.co.uk

David Ogle’s exhibition The Last Night is open now at The

Atkinson, running until 23rd March.

30


ANA MAE

We love Ana Mae’s psychified

doo-wop ditties, and we’re pretty

sure you will too.

“Writing music

is like having a

mate you can

tell anything to”

If you had to describe your music in a sentence, what would

you say?

It’s pretty dreamy, with a soulful vintage feel.

How did you get into music?

Since I can remember I’ve always made a lot of noise and

wanted to create. I loved hearing my mum sing songs around the

house when I was a kid. My family loves music, so I do. I was a

weird child and spent a lot of time playing alone and making up

imaginary worlds, games and songs. Growing up I was awkward

and unsure whether I would really ever be able to perform any

songs I’d written. I suppose now I’ve found my sound and it fits

right, so I’m happy to share it.

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially

inspired you?

So, I have two answers for this, which I reckon have left equal

imprints on me. First is about my dad who has been playing

guitar forever; I remember waking up to hear him playing Here

Comes The Sun most mornings when I was little. This made me

want to play the guitar too. The second is about my grandma

and her showing me Nat King Cole when I was about 10 and

describing his voice to me as velvet, his singing made her so

happy. This made me want to sing too.

Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?

What does it say about you?

To be honest I really like performing a song called Honey

Somewhere that I wrote ages and ages ago. It’s been re-worked

and performed with different people in different ways but it still

makes me smile. It’s about fighting off your demons and feeling

sweet and sound in a savoury place, I suppose this is something

I’ll always relate to.

What do you think is the overriding influence on your

songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture

of all of these?

It’s a mixture, I think. When I write songs I pick things out from

the past or the present or consider the future, or just make

things up like fantasy. I love how there aren’t rules or lines to

follow and you can really just go on about whatever you like

if it sounds right. Sometimes a little more meaning is involved

though, of course. Writing stuff is like having a mate you can tell

anything to.

If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?

Probably Björk. She’s the queen of musical magic to me and I love

her so.

Why is music important to you?

Because, even when I feel like shit, if I put my favourite songs or

albums on I feel better. There’s music for every mood. It can be

emotive and empathic and feel what I feel if that’s what I need.

Sometimes it’s good to listen to something overtly heavy to just

take my mind off stuff too. I think I mentioned before it’s like my

mate, always there.

That I Would Do is out now on SoundCloud.

SHARDS

The dreamy quartet of Alex,

Paddy, Dan and Cain are making

huge strides as one of the

leading lights of the Jacaranda

Records roster.

“Music is meant

to invoke emotion

and if you can’t do

that for yourself

then what’s

the point?”

If you had to describe your style in a sentence, what would you

say?

Alex: Sad and horny.

Have you always wanted to make music?

Alex: No, I think I wanted to be an architect when I was a kid. Or

something to do with space. A space architect.

Dan: I used to sit and watch my dad’s Kiss DVDs and it all went

from there.

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially

inspired you?

Alex: I saw Tame Impala a few years ago. I can’t remember what

song it was and it has this mad, five-minute breakdown live and

I just remember closing my eyes and thinking, ‘This is fucking

beautiful…’

Cain: Playing Guitar Hero 2 when I was a kid thinking I was the

fucking shit. I used to play the same song over and over again –

John The Fisherman by Primus.

Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?

What does it say about you?

Paddy: Yeh, I got given this absolutely unbelievable guitar. It’s a

12-string Rickenbacker and we played My Birthday, which was

brand new at the time and it was beyond perfect how it sounded.

A real dream to play.

What do you think is the overriding influence on your

songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture

of all of these?

Alex: Emotions, definitely. To make ethereal, vulnerable music on,

like, a large scale. There’s nothing better than listening to a song

or seeing it live and you can feel it through your whole body. For

us to make that for other people, I think the songwriting process

generally goes through a level of like, do we feel this inside us

and if not then it gets thrown away. It makes it more honest and

genuine I think... music is meant to invoke emotion and if you

can’t do that for yourself then what’s the point?

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what

makes it special?

Alex: We’re playing a venue this month in Manchester that’s like

Bido Lito! – pink all over. The stage, floor, ceiling, everything. That

kind of millennial pink. Suppose everyone uses it nowadays, it’s

all just a big fad.

Why is music important to you?

Siri: OK, I found some results on the web for ‘Why is music

important to you?’.

Google Assistant: Music is important because it helps us in many

ways; also, it’s funny to listen.

Paddy: Music is an art form. We are emotional beings and every

child requires an artistic outlet.

Cain: Ear food.

Alex: I think the Google Assistant gave a more profound answer

than I could give

soundcloud.com/shardsshards

Reflections is out now. Shards play Kendal Calling in July.

SPOTLIGHT 31


PREVIEWS

“It feels like

people are being

eaten alive.

We’re being

consumed”

GIG

SLEAFORD MODS

O2 Academy – 02/03

The duo, whose discography is a sleazy take on

Orwell’s 1984, return with Eton Alive, another LP

of biting social commentary that is so vital that it

should be on the national curriculum.

The prescience of SLEAFORD MODS shouldn’t be overlooked. Since the release of

Austerity Dogs in 2013, the band have remained a litmus test of public outcry. It’s music

that feels and fights with the collective experiences of those under the polished shoe

of coalition cuts. Vocalist Jason Williamson is brutally honest, but perhaps it is he who

is most bruised by his prosaic accounts of fighting the good fight. It’s a familiar cycle of broken

mirror anarchism. A game rigged so those in the reflection perceivably bring on their own fate.

Those at the bottom deserve to be at the bottom, we’re told. If you don’t believe that now, the

season finale of Benefits Street should have rammed the point home.

If not prescient, then, the Mods are very least the rebellious town criers manning the periscope of

the many. Their charged instrumentation and jaw-aching lyricism is the most accurate opinion poll out

there. In this slew of musical upheaval comes Eton Alive, the duo’s fifth full-length record. It’s serious

and loose in equal measure; it finds the jittery pulse of Williamson’s now familiar series of characters,

through which he narrates with a newfound vigour. In comes more joviality, singing and melody, but

the firm point remains, like Andrew Fearn’s musical backbone, still yet to show the weight of five

albums. With two shows in the region pencilled in on the band’s latest tour, Elliot Ryder checked in

with Williamson to better understand what it’s like to be Eton Alive.

Eton Alive generates an apt set of imagery for the current state of affairs. Is perceiving things in a

dark, humorous way a reliable coping mechanism for yourself?

I don’t know, actually. I’ve not had to cope with it like some people have. When the coalition came

into power, and the next Conservative government, the band took off. So, in the last seven years I’ve

been in a good, though not massively good, financial position. Better off than I was, anyway. So I’ve

not had to cope, in that sense. But in a sense of the anger it produces, a good way of battling it is to

take the piss. I like the naivety of it, you know? The whole resistance in the ‘you posh bastaaaards’

taunt. There’s something I really cherish in that. It’s the kind of humour I was brought up with. As

you say it’s quite prevalent. I thought it was an apt title for the ongoing theme of the nation since

the Brexit result. You know, people aren’t shocked anymore. They’re just dumbed down, powerless,

weak. It feels like people are being eaten alive. We’re being consumed.

Sonically, your music hasn’t strayed too far from Divide And Exit – offering subtle changes along

the way. Do you think it’s over-emphasised for artists to take a new direction with each new

release? Is the term progression quite toxic to hear?

It is if the whole body of your work is changed, it doesn’t work. It sounds too forced when people try

to consciously overhaul their sound. Tame Impala are a good example of musical progression, the way

they moved from prog to more punchier, disco-inspired tracks. Ours is a slower progression. I’d like

to think this album is quite different than the last one, with a bit more of the singier stuff weaved in

between. But ours is a strong formula; it doesn’t feel like it needs a dramatic overhaul. Plus, I’m always

suspicious of people who attempt to do it, as normally it’s not done that well.

As someone who can look back on a chronicle of their stream of consciousness, how do you think

the expectation to progress affects the sincerity of your writing?

You try to put these things to the back of your mind. It does bother me though. But I’d like to think it

doesn’t alter how I write. I try to get to the nucleus of the writing subject, and I’ll just keep refining it

and refining it until it’s something I’ve produced without worry over other people’s perception. That

way it’s more an honest account of what you wanted to write down in that moment.

You’ve made some changes in your lifestyle in recent years. Do you think that there’s a further

expectation to hear this on the new record?

Not necessarily, no. You know, sobriety and the changes in my life are not really something that I

promote though my music. Mainly because a lot of people don’t get to the take the time to make the

changes I made. Fortunately, I had a bit of money and I was able to go and see someone to help sort

my head out. You know, have the time to talk and retrain myself, take up exercise. It’s just not something

that I’d ever have been able to do if I was still on minimum wage. So, I think it’s important I don’t chuck

it down people’s throats and start talking like I’m some enlightened person, know what I mean?

Is there ever an element of escape in your social commentary?

There’s definitely escapism in my short stories. They’re all based on memories or experience, so you’re

able to take yourself back to those times. Some of those times when you were a kid, those that you

really cherish, the words help transport you back to that, that environment. On the whole though,

that’s about as far as it goes really. In the songs, there remains an element of fantasy to them, such

as lines built on aggression, beating people up, those sort of things – you know, definitely the kind

of things that I’m not doing day to day. In many ways, you can embrace these false happenings as a

means of relieving frustration.

The current social climate offers little in the way of normality, thus meaning any form of

commentary has a surreal element. Does it unsettle you that your prognosis of the nation on

records leading up to Eton Alive is now something that’s shrugged off as a sign of the times?

It was obvious what was going to happen, wasn’t it? There were lots of people that forecast the fact

it was going to get worse, that people were going to become a lot more insular. It’s something that’s

spoken about a lot on the new album; how these issues have refined themselves in recent years.

These are all just classic traits of capitalism, really. It’s not surprising. You try to reason with it and

inject an element of whimsicalness, like saying, ‘Oh, it can’t be that bad’. Fair enough, in some ways it

isn’t, but predominantly it is, and it’s getting worse.

Are bands like Sleaford Mods a product of socio-political upheaval, or inspired by it?

Both. We’re all involved in modern civilisation, and that’s dictated by those two factors. Everything is

political these days.

Could Sleaford Mods exist if Britain was historically socialist in its sensibilities?

It would, but it would have been different. I was influenced to do Sleaford Mods by the music I was

listening to and my conditions and circumstances. If we lived in a fairer society it may not have had

the same drive. We’re human beings, and the word fair is seemingly not as popular as chaos or

murder, or any of these other negative traits that the human condition is capable of. I think it would

be very unrealistic, at this point in our existence, to think we could achieve any kind of socialist

utopia. As a race, we haven’t even been around for a million years, so we have long way to go

before we reach a climate where Sleaford Mods could exist in a different light to what it does now.

We can imagine there’ll be a headline such as ‘Sleaford Mods’ answer to Brexit’ in one of the big

press titles coinciding with the release of your album. Do you ever feel slightly fetishised as an

articulate voice of the working class?

Perhaps when we came out it was fresh and people weren’t used to hearing what we were saying

at that time. Now people have gotten used to it, you know, coming back with the whole ‘here they

are again’. Perhaps we are of our time. I don’t think we are, though. It seems people just view the

content of what we’re saying as though they’re used to it, as though it’s all just second nature to

them now. People are just waiting around for me to say something, and, me being me, I’ll just say it.

So, it’s probably a mixture.

At Bido Lito! we’re celebrating our 100th issue this coming June. As part of the celebration we’ll

be speculating what the state of Liverpool’s independent music scene will be in in another 100

issues’ time. For context, I’m currently speaking to you a matter of yards away from an enormous

apartment complex that’s resting on top of the former Kazimier venue. Is there any way of

slowing the neoliberal tide of economic anxiety?

I think there’s going to have to be some major upheavals. The elite have got a firm grip on everything.

It would be a case of them being enlightened and perhaps easing off. Only that way will things get a

little better. I can’t really see an uprising because we’re so controlled; all the mechanisms to maintain

that are firmly in place. It’s a move that will have to come from the elitist side of existence. It’s a big

question, though. Who knows what’s going to happen. Everyone adapts. Some fall through the net

and others survive. That’s the case of what it’s going to be. It’ll come down to a case of morality. The

best way to cope with all of this is to be someone that others can turn to, when they need to. !

Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder

sleafordmods.com

Sleaford Mods play O2 Academy on Saturday 2nd March and The Live Rooms, Chester, on

Thursday 4th April. Eton Alive is out now via Extreme Eating.

32


Interface Soundscapes

FESTIVAL

Open Circuit

Various venues – 04/03-30/03

Held in the venerable Victoria Gallery and Museum on

Brownlow Hill (the building that coined the term ‘Redbrick

University’, trivia fans), OPEN CIRCUIT FESTIVAL is

a celebration of avant-garde music. Curated by the

Interdisciplinary Centre for Composition and Technology (ICCaT),

based in the Department Of Music at the University of Liverpool, the

centre specialises in research that investigates the very fabric of sound.

Their ethos sees staff and PhD students working together to explore

how music composition and sonic artforms relate to new technology,

performance and perception. This manifests itself in a number of

free music performances, panel discussions, artist talks and public

demonstrations.

PIXELS ENSEMBLE bring a world premiere of Mozart’s Piano

Concerto No. 14 (K449) to the Victoria Gallery on 6th March, with Liam

Carey leading the sextet in a kaleidoscopic interpretation of the classic

for piano, electronics and video. A week later (13th March) in the same

building, Canadian pianist and composer DAVID LANG joins forces

with long-time collaborator LEE TSANG to present a programme of

improvisations and original songs, including new compositions.

Saturday 16th March sees a double-header of activity at the

University of Liverpool’s Department Of Music (Bedford Street South),

with the launch of a new art and sound installation. INTERFACE

SOUNDSCAPES is a ceramic surface that allows visitors to connect

and be transported to different locations in the city, through listening

to characteristic soundscapes of Liverpool, and will be in situ until

May 2019. The evening event at the Department Of Music’s George

Stephenson building will feature a concert from the London-based

LIGETI QUARTET, followed by an open forum with the performers.

The performance will be comprised of audiovisual scores and sonic

visualisations in conjunction with composers from the university.

Open Circuit’s closing event sees the return of ENSEMBLE 10/10,

the contemporary music ensemble of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

Orchestra. Led by conductor Clark Rundell, the event features

premieres of four cutting-edge new works, in a collaboration between

the University of Liverpool and Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.

Jazz flautist RICHARD WORTH’s performance will be the centre piece,

performing as guest soloist with Ensemble 10/10 in a new work for

ensemble, flute and electronics. Further event details can be found at

opencircuitfestival.co.uk.

Rudeboy

FESTIVAL

Doc’n Roll Film Festival

FACT and British Music

Experience – 28/03-31/03

With its anti-mobile phone policy, powerful sound system

and comfy seats, the cinema is still a special environment

to experience your cultural fix. Music documentaries are

especially well designed for the movie theatre. Seeing

legends of the various genre canons on the big screen is enough of a

delight, but delving into a well-structured story or witnessing a director

dig into a scene, past, future or present can be compulsive viewing.

This is why Doc’n Roll, the music documentary film festival, is

always a welcome addition to the cultural calendar. The team behind the

event can be relied on to pick films covering a broad and engaging mix

of subjects and this year is no different. Taking place across FACT and

the British Music Experience the festival programme takes in riot grrrls,

reggae, rock and techno.

Gina Birch and Helen Reddington’s Stories From She Punks weaves

the directors’ own experiences as members of THE RAINCOATS and THE

CHEFS respectively into the story of female musicians playing in punk

bands in the 1970s. A special screening of Rudeboy: The Story Of Trojan

Records is preceded by a Positive Vibration DJ set at 3Beat Records and

a Q&A afterwards. Never Stop – A Music That Resists tells the story of

Detroit techno with insights from the forebears of the genre DERRICK

MAY, JUAN ATKINS and CARL CRAIG. And there’s much more to look

forward to for fans of Brazilian metallers SEPULTURA, be-hatted auteur

BADLY DRAWN BOY and those interested in the practice of Kirtan.

There’s plenty on offer for all tastes and more films still to be

announced. Go to docnrollfestival.com for more info.

PREVIEWS 33


PREVIEWS

MEMBERS

PICK

GIG

OUR GIRL

Phase One – 04/03

Brit Williams chats to the lead vocalist of the

refreshingly fuzzy Brighton trio ahead of a muchanticipated

Liverpool headline show.

Melodies reminiscent of an era long gone, colliding the emotion of 90s shoegaze with

dreamy reverberation, OUR GIRL continue to enthuse listeners countrywide, note by

note. After several years of touring and a series of releases through their manager’s

independent record label Cannibal Hymns, the band’s move from Brighton to

London has not only elevated them to the top of the bill at shows, but has secured them a

dreamy album produced by cult hero Bill Ryder-Jones.

It’s hard to ignore the effort and raw talent of a group who openly

talk about how much they cry. Through the streak of emotivism

caught up in the band’s instrumentation, Our Girl have been able to

instill a sense of authenticity into their craft. They are a band who

know no boundaries in expression; within that, we see their humble

honesty to be especially pure.

Tousled between a string of headline shows around the country

sits an intimate Liverpool gig on 4th March. Ahead of the gig, Brit

Williams chats to lead singer Soph Nathan about Stranger Today,

working with Bill, and just how much vulnerability played a key role in

the construction of their first album.

“We learnt how to

make your guitar sound

amazing with a shitload

of distortion, reverb and

a screwdriver”

Hi Soph! Your highly anticipated debut album Stranger Today was

released in August of last year. Looking back at this feat, how do

you feel that you’ve matured as a band since you first met several

years ago in Brighton?

Hello! It’s hard to tell, really. The album seems like a big step for us. Having a record that we’re

proud of, that finally sounds the way we always hoped it would, is a big achievement in our eyes. I

also feel like our confidence has grown a lot in terms of live shows. I didn’t use to be able to eat for

hours before we played because I’d feel so sick. I get nervous still, of course, but now there’s a much

higher ratio of pure excitement in there.

Stranger Today is such a beautifully composed, yet emotionally driven album, notably in a song

like Josephine. Is it important for you to conceptualise this sense of raw feeling in your music?

Ah, thanks very much. We definitely try to mirror the emotion of the lyrics through the music

as much as possible. Writing songs can be really cathartic for me, especially when I’m feeling

something strongly and don’t know what else to do with the feeling. It’s a really good release, and

we always try our best to match whatever the feelings are sonically and with dynamics.

Is it difficult, perhaps straining, to project feelings of melancholia in such a stirring and uplifting

way, as demonstrated on the record?

It is sometimes. I noticed that especially when the album came out, it’s like I suddenly realised that

the songs weren’t just ours anymore. Obviously, it was inevitable and it’s a really exciting prospect!

But it hadn’t quite sunk in that people were actually going to listen to the songs and to my lyrics

up close and personal in their headphones. And the thought of that does make me feel kind of

vulnerable and squeamish sometimes.

How did the opportunity come about to record with Bill Ryder-Jones?

It was our manager Tim’s idea, actually. As soon as we heard what Bill had done we were on board,

and Tim managed to get hold of him and luckily Bill liked us too!

Can you tell us how the experience of recording with Bill has helped to shape you musically?

Was there any advice he gave you that helped you during this process?

Recording was quite an intense process, just because we only had 12 days to do it, and it was so

incredibly important to us to get it right. About halfway through the

recording process I started freaking out about whether we had enough

time and Bill gave me a good pep talk which basically consisted of, “Calm

down, it’s all going to be fine, we’ll have enough time and if we don’t it’s

not the end of the world.” It sounds simple, and I probably could have

told myself that, but in that moment I couldn’t. He taught us other stuff,

too, mainly about guitar sounds, learning how to make your guitar sound

amazing with a shitload of distortion, reverb and a screwdriver.

Now that the album is out and you have a string of shows ahead

including two different dates in Liverpool, what can we look forward

to from Our Girl in the future?

Festivals! And we’re starting to write new songs, so that’s exciting… !

Words: Brit Williams / @therealbritjean

Photography: Charlotte Patmore / charlottepatmore.com

weareourgirl.co.uk

Stranger Today is available now via Cannibal Hymns. Our Girl play Phase One on Monday 4th

March, and Liverpool Sound City 3-5th May.

34


Charles Rennie Mackintosh

EXHIBITION

Charles Rennie

Mackintosh: Making The

Glasgow Style

Walker Art Gallery

15/03-26/08

Rediscover the life and work of an architectural genius,

designer and artist CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH

(1868–1928) alongside the work of his closest friends and

contemporaries in this must-see exhibition. Featuring more

than 250 objects, ranging from furniture and embroidery to stained

glass, metalwork and architectural drawings, the exhibition explores

the movement that became known as The Glasgow Style – the only Art

Nouveau movement in the UK.

The Glasgow Style grew out of the technical studios of the Glasgow

School of Art and a group of brilliant young designers, including the

work of ‘The Four’ – Mackintosh and James Herbert McNair, who

worked together at an architects’ practice, and the sisters Frances and

Margaret Macdonald. A number of Mackintosh’s famous works still

stand in Glasgow today, including the Glasgow Herald building (‘The

Lighthouse’) and the Scotland Street school. Mackintosh also competed

in a design competition for Liverpool Cathedral in 1903, but failed to

gain a place on the shortlist (losing out to Giles Gilbert Scott).

The Four’s close relationship developed into romance for McNair

and Frances, who married in 1899, and for Mackintosh and Margaret,

who married in 1900. The Mackintoshes often worked together

harmoniously on different projects, inspiring and supporting one

another. Work by all four artists features in the exhibition.

The exhibition also showcases panelling, furniture and light

fittings from many of the artistic tearooms designed by Mackintosh

for Glasgow businesswoman Miss Catherine Cranston. This includes a

section from the Chinese Room of the Ingram Street Tearooms, which

has not previously been displayed outside of Scotland.

Emergency Tiara

FESTIVAL

Threshold

Baltic Triangle – 29/03-30/03

Threshold Festival Of Music And Arts returns to the Baltic

Triangle with a full line-up after a more pared-back event in

2018. The festival’s expansive line-up continues to showcase

emerging and grassroots talent mixed in with some heavyhitting

national artists, all of whom will perform in venues across the

Baltic Triangle on 29th and 30th March.

Award-winning producer, singer-songwriter, World Loop Station

Champion and record-breaking beatboxer, SK SHLOMO, headlines the

festival as part of his debut album release tour. The electric blend of

innovative lyrics, live-looping and epic synths that feature on Shlomo’s

debut album Surrender evokes James Blake, Radiohead and Caribou

with a polyrhythmic Arabic twist. “I’m so psyched to be headlining at

Threshold Festival,” said SK. “I love Liverpool, love the people, it’s such a

true home of British music and I can’t wait to show the crowds up there

what I’ve been cooking up with my new album.”

Maverick visual arts collective GANG OF FIVE will bring their

illustrious illustrative flavours to the Baltic, demonstrating grassroots,

collaborative activism through art. New York- based, Japanese surf-pop

princess EMERGENCY TIARA will also be gracing the Threshold stage

once more, having keyed the event into an extensive tour of the UK

and Europe. Liverpool artist DANNY O’CONNOR also returns to the bill

following his graffiti work at last year’s Across The Threshold event.

It wouldn’t be Threshold without a PADDY STEER performance,

and this year the Zelig-like character is again in attendance, bringing

his retina-searing live show to the Baltic. The local contingent includes

SEAFOAM GREEN, KATIE MAC and MERSEY WYLIE, along with dozens

of other acts. There’s tonnes more alongside all this, so if you’ve got the

taste for Threshold, head to thresholdfestival.co.uk to gorge on all the

details.

PREVIEWS 35


PREVIEWS

GIG

Acid Arab

24 Kitchen Street – 23/03

MEMBERS

PICK

Supremely talented Parisian electronic duo Guido Minisky and Hervé

Carvalho are responsible for one of the most exciting music projects to

bring the sounds of East and West together. Under the name of ACID

ARAB, the pair of DJs perform and release intoxicating music that is

a dynamic collision of cultures, resulting in a fizzing soundtrack of the

Parisian banlieues. The full Acid Arab live line-up – featuring Pierrot

Casanova, Nicolas Borne and sensational Algerian keyboard player

Kenzi Bourras – will be on hand to make sure that this dance-friendly

slew of electro, techno and hip hop comes together in the most gutwrenching

form possible. Surrender yourself to the beats.

Acid Arab

EXHIBITION

209 Women

Open Eye – 01/03-14/04

2018 marked 100 years since women finally won the right to vote in

Britain. In acknowledgement of the centenary, Open Eye Gallery will host

209 Women, a photographic project curated by Hilary Wood comprising

of all current sitting female MPs. The show makes its way to Liverpool,

having been debuted in the Houses of Parliament last December, with

all photographs compiled into the exhibit taken by a team of female

photographers. The project aims to champion the visibility of women in

male dominated environments.

Alison McGovern

EXHIBITION

Foreign Trade

The Gallery – 02/03-31/03

With the UK’s departure from the EU looming ever closer, DuoVision prepare an exhibition

that explores the cultural impact and legacy of LGBTQI artists on the UK’s cultural landscape.

FOREIGN TRADE is an exhibition featuring non British-born LBQT artists from a range of

ages and backgrounds, who have chosen the UK as their home. Starting with the arrival of

Australian visionary Leigh Bowery in 1981, the artists – including Spanish photographer

GOZRA LOZANO, Oscar-nominated costume designer MICHAEL WILKINSON and his partner

TIM MARTIN (Australia), and French performance artist THIERRY ALEXANDRE among others

– to reflect on life in Britain before and after the Brexit vote. Each of the artists in the exhibition

were recommended by other artists, replicating, the curators Martin Green and James Lawler

explain, the strength of the community they’re part of, which is under threat by Brexit.

FESTIVAL

Angel Field Festival

The Capstone Theatre – 22/03-30/03

Following on from February’s Jazz Festival, The Capstone Theatre hosts the inaugural

Angel Fields Festival. This combined arts festival is a welcome addition to the city’s

cultural calendar with music, theatre, dance, film and more coming together under one

multi-disciplinary umbrella. Marking a quartet of anniversaries, the programme nods to

50 years since humans first visited the moon, 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall,

30 years since Ceausescu’s Romanian regime ended and 100 years since Bauhaus.

Programme highlights include performances of Gertrude Stein’s White Lines and He

Said It, jazzers the Kerem Quartet presenting 30 years On and classical missionaries

IMMIX Ensemble closing proceedings with special commission Dream Makers.

GIG

Bob Log III

Phase One – 30/03

Bob Log III

MEMBERS

PICK

How BOB LOG isn’t a stadium superstar by now is anyone’s guess. The one-man band

and crown prince of punk blues is a fearsome assault on your senses, channelling hardcore

Mississippi Delta blues, hip hop beats and punk rock into your cerebral cortex through the

lightning rod of his slide guitar. You can’t see what’s going on underneath the trademark

motorcycle crash helmet, but it’s enough of a puzzle to work out how he creates the

crashing sound to worry about that. It’s probably best you don’t try and understand Bob

Log, just let it hit you squarely between the eyes.

CLUB

The Sound Of Music’s 10th Anniversary

Smithdown Social Club – 29/03

The venerable podcast, community and institution that is Bernie Connor’s THE SOUND OF MUSIC celebrates

its 10th anniversary in March, which is worthy of the loudest of fanfares. Coming with the wholesome tagline

“We shall not shy away from pop music”, The Sound Of Music is an elliptical audio journey across the cosmos

of pop, stopping off at various outposts for enlightening (and occasionally surreal) insights from popular music

history. The monthly podcast – one of the longest-running music ’casts in the UK, and definitely the daddy

in Liverpool – has gathered a crew of like-minded sonic explorers around it, and some of those cool cats will

be taking part in the celebration event at TSOM’s new spiritual home of Smithdown Social. New generation

Joseph Kaye and Kyd Dub (Comical Brothers) take their turn on the decks alongside frequent TSOM partners

No Fakin’. The main man Bernie Connor also takes a turn on the decks, alongside Manchester legend John

McCready. Do not shy away.

Bernie Connor

36


THEATRE

Wise Children

GIG

Touts

GIG + FILM

John Otway

MEMBERS

PICK

Storyhouse, Chester – 19/03-23/03

Studio 2 – 28/03

81 Renshaw – 23/03

Emma Rice’s adaptation of Angela Carter’s acclaimed

novel garnered a similarly fervent response from critics

as the source text after its initial run at London’s Old Vic.

Now Chester’s Storyhouse theatre brings the production

up North to wow theatre fans. The innovative production

tells the story of Nora and Dora Chance, twin chorus girls

celebrating their 75th birthday while their actor father

celebrates his 100th on the same day but on the other

side of the Thames. It’s a celebration of showbiz, family,

forgiveness and hope with generous dollops of sex, scandal

and Shakespeare. All bases covered, then.

TOUTS have been causing quite a stir over on the

Island of Ireland. The punk trio from Derry have

quickly built up a reputation that sees them as

one of the most hotly tipped bands around. Going

far beyond Hometown Records’ description as a

singer that can’t sing, a mod that can’t play bass

and a drummer that can’t see (yes, that’s their own

label’s words), the lads have waded in to make their

mark on the resurgent wave of contemporary punk,

with no signs of the noted weaknesses at al. Their

appearance at Studio 2 comes with support from

the equally talented Dubliners INHALER.

Cult hero JOHN OTWAY brings the movie of his life, Rock

& Roll’s Greatest Failure, to 81 Renshaw this month.

The singer songwriter’s story is a familiar one of talent

unfulfilled but told by the man himself in characteristic selfdeprecating

style. A true eccentric who was once believed

to be a punk trailblazer, Otway has made a career from

surreal performances, publicity stunts (one of which got

a lyric of his named by the BBC as the seventh best of all

time) and sustaining an ardent fanbase. To see the movie, a

Q&A and a one of the artist’s legendary live performances

grab an advance ticket.

GIG

Ady Suleiman

Arts Club – 16/03

The debut album of singer-songwriter ADY SULEIMAN’s

may have been a long time coming, but it proved well

worth the wait when it dropped in 2018. Memories is

a rich collection of influences harvested since his

breakthrough in 2013, underpinned by warming neo-soul

vocals and heartfelt lyricism. Jumping off from the success

of the full-length release, his latest studio work, Strange

Roses, is another mark of quality to springboard in a

stretch of live shows in the coming months. One of which

will see Suleiman’s dramatic talents return to the theatre

stylings of Arts Club.

Ady Suleiman

Snapped Ankles

MEMBERS

PICK

CLUB

Snapped Ankles

Kazimier Stock Room – 08/03

While regeneration in the city centre has worked tirelessly to rub away

any semblance of the former Kazimier, there have remained shoots of its

former glories resolutely peering through the layers of concrete falling on

Wolstenhome Square. From the ashes of the former Rat Alley comes a new

indoor micro event space, simply named Stockroom – pulled together from the

venue’s old prop storage space. The opening night at the venue will welcome

London synth lords SNAPPED ANKLES along for a set in the evening. In the

afternoon, the band will also be running a synth log workshop with a limited

number of spaces. Further support at the opening celebration comes from

Melodic Distraction’s LUPINI.

EXHIBITION

Ericka Beckman and Marianna Simnett

FACT – 29/03

Can we learn anything about modern day society from fairy tales? In particular in the way storytelling explores images of the

female body? Artists ERICKA BECKMAN and MARIANNA SIMNETT believe so, and their work forms the body of an exhibition

at FACT that launches a new season focusing on identity, representation and gender. The differing approaches of the two artists

– Beckman is an eminent American filmmaker and Simnett is a London-based performance and installation artist – are at once

alluring and repelling, sensual and troubling. Both artists present strikingly different forms of visual storytelling, but equally

make the female body the main player in the multi-layered fantasy worlds they create. A number of film works by both will be on

display as part of the exhibition, as well as Simnett’s sound and light installation Faint With Light.

Ericka Beckman and Marianna Simnett

GIG

Bido Lito! Social: Yank Scally

Shipping Forecast – 28/03

Yank Scally

This month’s cover artist is relatively new to the live game, but he’s taken to

it as effortlessly as he has everything else. In celebration of the collaborative

effort that was his debut album There’s Not Enough Hours In The Day, YANK

SCALLY is amassing as many of the guest musicians and performers who

feature on the album to perform with him for this special live version of the

LP. Think of it as a brief insight into the weird world of the Bulletproof Wizard,

where musicians and ideas come and go, woven together by Yank Scally’s

expert conducting. As usual, Bido Lito! Members get free entry – to sign up,

head to bidolito.co.uk/membership.

PREVIEWS 37


EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

@MandSBankArena

3 March

5 June

Gladys Knight

3 July

Vitality Netball

World Cup

12-21 July

26 March

Fame UK Reunion:

The original cast live on stage

5-6 May

Russell Howard

5 October

31 October - 3 November

25 May

Danny Baker:

Good Time Charlie’s Back!!!

3 June

Paul Smith: The Following Tour

9 November

The Magic of Motown

22 November

Get your tickets at mandsbankarena.com


REVIEWS

“His voice is just

beautiful. Not so much

that of an angel, but of

one of the fallen ones

who’s seen a fair bit of

trouble along the way”

John Grant (Darren Aston)

John Grant

Philharmonic Hall – 04/02

JOHN GRANT wears his heart on his sleeve. With his solo

albums he settles scores, tells stories of heartbreak and recounts

anecdotes of life which resonate universally. This could all present

him as belligerent and bitter. Yet, pull together his storytelling

skills, copious amounts of humour and breathtaking melodies,

and on paper you have the type of artist that would grab the

attention of anyone. Not least anyone with half an interest in

humanity or music. Live, though, it’s raised to a whole other level.

Grant performs with a mix of brutal honesty and an

awareness of the theatricality of his performance, as seen from

the first song, the mesmeric Tempest. He’s warm, engaging and

incredibly funny, both in his lyrics and off the cuff. These lyrics,

which are a mix of beautiful sensitivity and laugh out loud filth,

mean you’re never left in any doubt what he thinks; apposite

references mean he easily finds his target and hits it square on.

The Philharmonic Hall as a setting for the gig is an interesting

choice. Its pared back Art Deco curves are at odds with the spiky

electro-rock music and at first it feels like there should be more

movement. It is rather static, aside from the thirsty sneaking

out to the bar, but it soon shows itself to be a wonderful choice:

the audience being seated means that, despite the vast space,

the gig takes on a more intimate feel and the performance is

personal. And anyway, Grant’s got the moves for us, at some

points busting out some swaying that could be termed as

dancing. A great bear of a man in his baseball cap and boots,

with a brash sensitivity and a charming awareness of his

audience, Grant swaps between playing keyboard and taking

centre stage in front on the mic wielding it with rock-star intent.

It’s a mix of theatre and raw honesty with his foul-mouthed

lyrical tirades and tales of love and loss. The light show is

incredible; strobes and lasers match the upbeat electro-synth

driven rock and focus in on Grant for the more mellow and

reflective songs such as Metamorphosis.

His voice is just beautiful. Not so much that of an angel, but

of one of the fallen ones who’s seen a fair bit of trouble along

the way; it’s strong and mesmerising and what strikes you is its

purity and power. It ranges from the staccato of Black Belt to

the soaring vocals of TC And Honeybear. Over the course of the

two-hour gig (this is a man intent on giving us value for money),

it maintains its clarity, resonating and soaring around the hall.

The “badass band” to which Grant refers is just that – tight

knit and talented. There’s a warmth on stage, a feeling this is

a happy band of troupers. He refers to songs he wrote in Eric

Pulido’s house, tonight’s support act. Pulido comes back on stage

to accompany Grant on Sigourney Weaver during the encore.

The majority of the songs come from 2018’s Love Is Magic,

with all but one of the songs on the album making it on to the

set list. Is He Strange and He’s Got His Mother’s Hips are met

John Grant (Darren Aston)

with cheers. The majestic title track is saved for the encore. Older

songs such as Glacier see some of the audience sing along word

for word in elation.

At the end, Grant’s as fresh as when he nonchalantly walked

on stage. He holds the audience in his thrall throughout. At

the end of Outer Space, the fourth track of the encore, when

it’s all finally over, the audience are on their feet with quite

a few rushing to the front wanting to shake hands with the

great, gregarious charmer. He seems thrilled with how warm a

reception he receives. He’s a performer who knows how to play

his audience, how to get to get every emotion from them. We

leave feeling elated. John Grant is wonderful and certainly one of

a kind.

Jennie Macaulay / @jenmagmcmac

40


“The band may be

visually dwarfed by their

vaulted surroundings,

but their sound fills the

immense space with a

pared back clarity”

The Delines (Glyn Akroyd / @glynakroyd)

The Delines (Glyn Akroyd / @glynakroyd)

The Delines

+ Alasdair Roberts

Nothingville Music @ Ullet Road Unitarian

Church – 31/01

My first steps into the spectacular edifice that is Ullet Road

Unitarian Church are accompanied not by the silence I had

expected, but by the strains of the church’s William Hill organ

(built 1869, and a listed instrument in its own right). The sound

from the grand old instrument seems to reverberate in every

finely carved nook and cranny of nave and apse, an impromptu

prologue to the latest concert in the Unitarian Church’s toedipping

into the world of contemporary music. Promoted

by Nothingville Music, who are seemingly making a habit of

presenting quality musicians in unusual settings, tonight’s show

is headlined by THE DELINES. The band are an offshoot of

long-running Americana outfit Richmond Fontaine, now fronted

by singer Amy Boone. It’s change of tack which bassist Freddie

Trujillo has described as an attempt to fuse the country stylings of

Sammi Smith (Help Me Make It Through The Night) with the soul

groove of Booker T & The MG’s. It’s an attempt that has proved

hugely successful if the critical acclaim afforded their first two

albums, 2014’s Colfax and this year’s The Imperial, is anything to

go by. The organ is being played by The Delines’ keyboard player

Cory Gray, who “just couldn’t pass up this opportunity”. It’s his

enthusiasm for the instrument that results in a last-minute re-jig

of the setlist.

The five-year hiatus between albums was an enforced one;

singer Boone recovering from a car crash in 2016, the effects of

which are still with her as she makes her way around backstage

with the aid of a walking stick.

Support comes from ALASDAIR ROBERTS, whose plaintive

vocal style takes us immediately to the Highlands and islands

of his native Scotland. His voice is redolent of peat fires and

whisky, his storytelling sounds ageless, but his first song is the

outward looking Europe. Crisp, agile fingerpicking adorns his folk

melodies. Tales of love and separation are easily transposed from

their Celtic origins to more contemporary settings. The pews are

filling up quickly now; Roberts’ set is warmly received by those

who have wisely decided not to spend too long sequestered in

the annexed bar.

Alongside the above mentioned members, The Delines’

line-up is completed by drummer Sean Oldham and guitarist

and songwriter Willy Vlautin. Between them, this band have

clocked up the miles and cut their teeth playing just about every

genre going. From straight up country to LA punk, you name it.

In Vlautin, they have a songwriter who is able to distil the lives of

the characters from his novels (five published to date, all highly

acclaimed) into the three-minute vignettes of American life

caught up in his songs.

They kick things off with the title track from The Imperial. I

don’t know if Vlautin wrote these songs with Boone’s accident

subconsciously in mind, but when she sings the opening line

“All those scars, what did they do to you”, you’d be forgiven for

thinking this is some form of catharsis for her.

It’s immediately obvious that the soul tag they have earned is

well deserved, there’s a Dusty In Memphis-meets-Brill Building

cool to Boone’s delivery and to the arrangements, underscored

by the rest of the band’s soulful “ooohs” and “aaahs”. There’s

also a distinctive guitar and piano motif pushing the song to its

conclusion. They jump straight back to Colfax for a beautifully

heartfelt I Won’t Slip Up, with swirling organ, lovely melody, an

uplifting melancholy already pervading the air. It’s a wonderful

start and from here they never look back, covering most of the

new album alongside a scattering of older material. The band

may be visually dwarfed by their vaulted surroundings, but their

sound fills the immense space. Not with loudness, but with a

pared back clarity. It uses the superb acoustics to full advantage.

Keyboardist Gray proves to be an equally great horn player.

His trumpet layering, gritty Stax riffs, smoothly orchestrated

West Coast pop, or a hint of Mariachi which adds so much colour

to the overall palette and on the gorgeous slow burn of Where

Are You Sonny? – the kind of joyful chord progressions that build

and build towards a euphoric climax.

The Delines are never afraid to take their time over a song,

to reach out for the music, allowing Boone’s compelling voice

the time and space to work its magic; almost spoken, almost

whispered at times, she projects both vulnerability and defiance

in equal measure. Jazzy, bluesy little guitar and keyboard licks

flicker at the edges of her voice. Trujillo’s bass bubbles groovily

beneath the surface, Oldham’s drums impeccably unfussy, totally

on the money.

The rapport with the audience is tangible. Boone

acknowledges the “first church to let women preach”, as well as

tipping her hat to her own recovery: “It’s so great to be back on

stage with the coolest dudes in the world.” There are some great

asides throughout the night, as she laughingly tries her best

not to swear in church. “This one’s for Paul,” Boone announces,

doffing her cap to the night’s promoter. “He asked us to play

this. Thanks for putting us on in this beautiful place.” They go

on to deliver a poignant The Oil Rigs At Night, which shimmers

evocatively in the pin-drop silence, its protagonist gazing out at

the lights in the Gulf where her man is working as she plots her

escape. Pop, soul, country, gospel – call it anything you want, this

is pure class. Come the end, the congregation are on their feet,

applauding rapturously and calling for more.

The band duly oblige, and Cory Gray disappears into the

organ loft to add an audacious on-the-fly flourish to a sublime I’m

Just A Ghost, truly grasping that opportunity with both hands.

The growling sustain at the end of the song heads off the deep

bass register, both band and audience smilingly holding their

breath wondering how long he can keep this going.

Now it’s the applause that’s sustained. Gray returns and the

band play us out with two more gems, two more nuggets about

lives lived on the wrong side of the American tracks. The band

finish with the redemptive and achingly beautiful Let’s Be Us

Again, the circle complete as Boone sings “I can’t wait to be, like

I used to be”.

We float back out into the cold January night. We’re warmed

from within by a glow known to each visiting preacher of this

chapel felt when they deliver their Sunday sermons.

Glyn Akroyd / @glynakroyd

REVIEWS 41


REVIEWS

Leonardo da Vinci:

A Life In Drawing

Walker Art Gallery – until 06/05

To commemorate 500 years since the death of LEONARDO

DA VINCI, the Royal Collection Trust have released 144 of the

Renaissance master’s pieces to be shown across 12 UK venues,

before being brought together for the largest exhibition of his

work in 65 years, to be held at Buckingham Palace from summer

2019.

It is a rare moment for these works to be allowed to leave

the Royal houses by the RCT. The trust’s overall wish that their

Da Vinci 500 (Gareth Evans)

collection of over a million objects collected over 500 years can

be viewed and enjoyed by the people is hampered somewhat by

the fact that they are confined usually to the Royal palaces and

estates in the south of England. So, to have the Leonardo pieces

travel north, or indeed anywhere, is an event worthy of some

celebration.

Leonardo 500 is a study in study. What we see in these,

the private notations of the master never intended for public

view, is the meeting point of artist, scientist, mathematician and

philosopher that formed the genius of Leonardo. A place where,

in his quest to visualise and enrich his own knowledge, detailed

notation and instruction works alongside the drawings with equal

importance, highlighting his profound world vision of limitless

interpretation and endless possibility.

These are not paintings, but moments of intense inquisition

delicately expressed through chalk, ink and quill. He used

drawing to think, it helped him converse with the world

around him, to see more and to be more by seeking a better

understanding of the elements and how natural processes affect

us. His fascination with botany, architecture, the human form,

engineering and cartography are shown here in this collection of

delicate fragments of genius. There is a deep and rich purity to

these images held, for instance, in his vital need to understand

the mechanism of muscle and bone in a piece such as The

Muscles Of The Upper Spine (from 1510-11). Working at the

medical school at the University of Pavia for an entire winter,

dissecting and drawing human bodies, each muscle, every sinew

and bone became an individual study, forming a quest for deeper

understanding. This was a process Leonardo enjoyed hugely,

until his mentor, anatomy professor Marcantonio della Torre, died

from plague, at which point the artist was forced to move on to

other projects.

The preparatory materials for an ambitious work depicting

the Battle Of Anghiari in 1503, a work which would later be

destroyed as were so many of his pieces, is another search for

detail. His attempts to capture the hellish fury and rage of war

in the flared nostrils and bared teeth of a horse’s head, repeated

on this one piece, with a lion’s head pictured for comparison,

are further example of the urgency of his study, the repeated

attempts to perfectly define the form, scrupulous and absorbing.

There is added context given to the Walker’s Leonardo

500 exhibition by a display of the links between the artist and

gallery. William Roscoe was a renowned collector and donator

of work from the Italian Renaissance – as well as writing the

first biography of Lorenzo de’ Medici – and donated many prints,

drawings and paintings from before and during this period.

Because of this, the work of Leonardo’s many peers and mentors

are represented on permanent display in the Walker.

This is a unique opportunity for art lovers in Liverpool and

beyond (there are a further 12 of the Leonardo 500 pieces,

focusing predominantly on his anatomical work, currently at

Manchester Art Gallery). With the Walker welcoming a collection

of over 250 pieces of work from Charles Rennie Mackintosh and

his contemporaries in The Glasgow Movement in March, and

Tate Liverpool given over to a Keith Haring retrospective in the

summer, Leonardo 500 should be celebrated as much for its

beauty as for the fact that it has been allowed to leave the Royal

Collection if only for as little as three months. While the sheets

that make up Leonardo 500 are on paper, so easily damaged

by exposure, there must surely be a need for more of the Royal

Collection’s million plus items being on permanent display

somewhere outside of the English or Scottish capital cities.

For the people, and for all time.

Paul Fitzgerald / @NothingvilleM

Jah Wobble And The Invaders Of

The Heart

Philharmonic Music Room – 01/02

A packed-out Music Room awaits the arrival of the enigmatic,

genre-mashing JAH WOBBLE, whose 40 years in the music

business have produced one of the most distinctive oeuvres in

the post-punk pantheon. There’s a “we love this guy… but what

the hell are we in for tonight?” kind of vibe in the room tonight.

Wobble walks onstage alone and begins to describe how

the evening will pan out: “I’ll do a song and tell you about it, the

band will come on, they’re pretty good, we’ll do some music, I’ll

make some self-deprecating comments, which is really me being

smug and… OK, I’ll get on with it.” Upon which he sits down

and proceeds to get into a solo bass groove which immediately

has heads nodding. After a while he is joined by drummer Marc

Layton-Bennett who picks up the rhythm, then by guitarist

Martin Chung, and, eventually, keyboard player George King

who begin to lay down some jazzy, proggy flourishes over the

trademark throbbing bass.

“That was the jazz workout to show you how good we are,”

quips Wobble, before they launch into a dub version of Harry

J Allstars’ ska classic The Liquidator, which, under Wobble’s

mimed mixing desk direction, they deconstruct and build back up

again. As the evening develops it becomes obvious that there’s

no planned setlist. Wobble seems to go wherever his heart tells

him, and he has a bountiful orchard from which to pluck. There

are about 10 Invaders Of The Heart albums to start with, not to

mention PiL, the English Roots Band and a list of collaborations

as long as your arm.

The band members are constantly looking at him and at each

other for clues and cues as to where the music could go next. It

takes musicianship of the highest quality to pull this off, but that’s

what we get. The band is absolutely top notch, whether playing

a pared back skank or in full improvisational jazz flow. Chung and

King’s ability to sit on the groove or to embellish it with technically

brilliant but empathetic soloing is masterful.

“I feel like Nietzsche staring into the abyss… the abyss stares

back.” He’s off on another stream of consciousness ramble, which

he directs at both audience and band, who play the straight men,

nodding with amused, heard it all before tolerance. It’s part music,

part musical theatre – I half expect Wobble to doff his trademark

fedora and don a fez before going into a comedy magic number.

His wife, guzheng player Zi Lan Liao, and son (percussion)

have joined them now. The harp-like Chinese instrument is

played in a flurry of circular hand motions, but its delicate swirl

is at times lost in the mix when the band are in full flow. Wobble

acknowledges Augustus Pablo as having turned him on to Eastern

music, saluting him with a version of Java before concluding the

first half with a leftfield version of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain.

The second half of the evening progresses in a mixture of

laughter, musical virtuosity and versions of older material stripped

of any hint of nostalgia by dint of their updated interpretations and

dynamic delivery (not sure how Wobble manages to sound dynamic,

spending much of the time in a seated posture better suited to

holding a TV remote than a top end Yamaha bass, but he does). The

band, now just a four-piece, play spellbinding versions of Visions Of

You and Becoming More Like God. Elsewhere Every Man’s An Island

perfectly suits Wobble’s deadpan spoken word delivery.

PiL’s Public Image, Poptones and Socialist make it to the

table, but not as we know them. The former morphing into

Jah Wobble And The Invaders Of The Heart (Glyn Akroyd / @glynakroyd)

a spacey dub, while Poptones, delicate at first, building to a

hypnotic, extended crescendo.

We get dialogue from 1971 crime thriller Get Carter

preceding a jazz-fusion version of its theme tune. We get a

comedy, contemporary dance routine, we get poetry, we get

discourse on the hierarchy of musical instruments: “The bass is

the King of the Jungle – grrrrrrrr.” What next?

“Oh, we haven’t done any drum and bass.” Wobble turns

to drummer Layton-Bennett – “and don’t you try cheating,

playing half-pace” – before driving the poor guy to the edge of

exhaustion as he pushes the tempo faster and faster. Layton-

Bennett responds superbly, laying into his kit with controlled fury.

The evening passes all too quickly. A musical kaleidoscope

of differing styles, brilliantly delivered, which is somehow held

together under the direction of the MC, the one-off that is Jah

Wobble. An East End geezer making the King of the Jungle dance

to his own tune. The audience are on their feet, the applause is

long and loud.

Glyn Akroyd / @glynakroyd

42


Mark Leckey: We Are Untitled

Output Gallery

Over the last 20 years, Wirral-born artist MARK LECKEY

has made a career out of interpreting cultural movements with

honesty and a subtle depth. While his work is often fun on the

surface, Leckey’s talent lies in capturing the mood of the subject,

offering the audience a chance to analyse as much as revel.

We Are Untitled, the 2001 film being shown in Output, is

a classic example of how Leckey makes this work. The concept

appears simple – footage of a party in a London flat. At the

initial level, this is a document of a time and place. The fashion is

comment-worthy in its own right; beanie hats and red PVC mark

this out as being from another era. Leckey wanted the film to act

as an opportunity to look back on a moment. But 2001 was 18

years ago, and this passage of time has made it a record of what

is, to an increasing number of people, a time out of memory.

We Are Untitled’s success for today must therefore be to act

as more than a piece of retro memorabilia, but as a document

of the feeling of the time. So, while the fashions might be an

initial talking point, it’s really a marker of what Leckey’s truly

interested in. There’s a performativity to the characters and their

actions. The outfits, and indeed the entire party, comes across

as a codified activity. The players are a mix of Leckey’s friends

and hired actors, which creates another tension. Everyone’s

acting casual, but with that slightly awkward air of playing to

an audience. A party may be a collective activity, but the effect

of We Are Untitled is that everyone is playing as individuals.

The only time there’s a sense of anyone truly letting go is in the

strobe flashes – the darkness and indefinability perhaps giving

confidence to self-expression.

Leckey’s next show after Output will be a major exhibition

at Tate Britain. It’s a recognition that, over the last 20 years,

there’s been a real admiration and appetite for his cultureencapsulating

work. Acting both as a nostalgia trip for those of

us old enough to remember 2001, and an honest fragment of

Mark Leckey: We Are Untitled (Gabrielle de la Puente)

time for those who don’t, We Are Untitled is a perfect example

of what this reputation has been built on and why it’s so

deserved.

Julia Johnson / @messylines_

White Lies

I Love Live Events @ Eventim Olympia –

07/02

Longevity in music really is a good thing. While the joy

of discovery will always be a remarkable thrill, there is still

excitement in taking a glance back over the shoulder. Reverence in

memory is the warm glow that is just a lovely and snuggly feeling.

The glow that accompanies thoughts attached to albums or

shows that left an impression on you at some point in your past.

There’s loads. We all possess these moments, these memories,

these times. As life moves forward some of these vignettes fall to

one side and we plough on, usually because something new has

turned up. New is everything. Old is just, well, contrite when it’s

about music. Don’t look back. Forward. Forward. Forward.

Nope. Go back 10 years and indie landfill corporates WHITE

LIES released their debut album and it was magnificent. The

shows were magnificent, even the remixes were good. Then there

was the second album. It, too, was magnificent. The shows were

also magnificent and these young lads from the posh bit of Ealing

buzzed around the world to packed houses and an addicted fan

base. Yet the press was never that convinced. Was it class based?

Was it a timing issue? The band don’t know and don’t care. Six

days after the release of their fifth album the three-piece are back

in Liverpool, one of the cities on this massive European tour that

has been very loyal to WL. They’ve played here on every tour.

Twice the venues have been upgraded and once the venue was

downgraded. Anybody in The Invisible Wind Factory last year

would testify to it being a health hazard, you couldn’t breathe, let

alone dance. A shame, then, that there’s a bit more space here

tonight as WL are on absolutely stunning form. There’s no grand

entrance, just a dimming of the lights and the not very rock ’n’ roll

amble on stage. It seems the band do not decry expectation with

age, just get on with it. As individuals they are wonderful human

beings, no pretence, no attitude, just humbly great musicians with

a real knack of evoking some acceptable 80s licks and burying

them with such huge choruses that you don’t feel the need to visit

the bar every three songs.

There’s a small ruck of bands that define the White Lies

discourse and those acts are currently doing the rounds. Tears For

Fears were down in town the other day, Snow Patrol were visiting

our Mancunian brethren earlier and the Bunnymen will forever live

long in our hearts. The fact that these acts are mentioned in the

same breath is testament to how revered WL are in here tonight.

The crowd are absolutely loving it. There’s singing and shouting

and shape-throwing that isn’t hysterical but, by gosh, it’s intense.

As is the show. The band are tight as you like. Every song is a

lesson in professional synth-driven arena rock. The old songs are

a reminder of good times past. The new ones are greeted with

such fervour that it feels like they’ve been around for six years,

never mind six days. Time To Give especially gets the thumbs up

for its instrumental break that brings to mind a more fluid Mr. X

by Ultravox, another act that WL espouse, no more so than in the

single Tokyo. While radio play was poor, the crowd are bouncing

around to a chorus that Midge Ure may well have written for his

new electronica side project.

The fact is that White Lies are tremendous, yet society

doesn’t seem too sure. No idea why, as all of the constituent

parts are there. All lined up and all polished finely. The back

catalogue is so pop and affecting that some people’s attitude

towards them is a crime. Go and Spotify the fuck out of them,

then wonder why you didn’t bother earlier.

Ian R. Abraham / @scrash

White Lies (John Middleton / johnmiddletonphoto.co.uk)

REVIEWS 43


REVIEWS

“It feels like the

beginning of an

adventure in to an

unknown world of our

own potential, one we

are equally rubbing

away from any

possible imagination”

Cascade by Yunchul Kim (Rob Battersby)

Broken Symmetries

FACT – Until 03/03

Marrying science and art has its precedents. However,

particle physics coupled with art may not seem like the most

accessible subject matter for the casual gallery-goer. These

seemingly unlikely bedfellows set up camp happily at FACT in its

illuminating BROKEN SYMMETRIES exhibition, a collaboration

between Arts at CERN and FACT. It attempts to blur the solid

lines between the two practices. The partnership works.

The 10 works by international artists are commissions in this

three-year collaboration and take over the galleries and foyer

space. They inform, inspire and entertain, and use a range of

artistic techniques – sculptural elements, documentary film of the

work at CERN (the nuclear research laboratory in Geneva) and

installations. As with all endeavours, some are more successful

than others.

Gallery 1 greets visitors with Juan Cortes’ interactive

Supralunar which “proposes a poetic approach to dark

matter”. Visitors hover round waiting to place their eyes against

a lens which “acts as an amplifier for the sound produced by the

electromechanical gears inside” and watch optical fibres move

round with hypnotic effect.

It makes sense to start with the adjacent exhibit, The View

From Nowhere by artistic duo Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt. The

video takes us through scenes at CERN with accounts from some

of the scientists who explain with humility that not even they

fully understand the complexities of the work they’re doing. The

scientists state that these very complexities can be “explained

with fairly well structured symmetries”. They go on to ponder that

we have plenty of discoveries to look forward to in the next 50

years, before stating that “nature doesn’t care about our wishes”.

It’s a haunting entry point, and it goes some way to underline

the themes of the whole exhibition. It feels like the beginning of

an adventure in to an unknown world of our own potential, one

we are equally rubbing away from any possible imagination. The

artists act as conduits between science and art, guiding visitors

round the subject matter with reverence and humour.

Anything 3D is thrilling, especially when you get to sit down

for a moment and find yourself zoomed across seemingly endless

galaxies. Lea Porsager’s Cosmic Strike is a “superposition of hard

science and loopy mysticism” which meets its aim to invoke a

repetitive, occult and oddly interstellar scene. It’s hypnotic and

highlights just how insignificant we are in the space of seconds.

For the uninitiated, Cascade by Yunchul Kim “explores

matter by capturing the pattern of muons”. A little elaborate if

you will, but nothing about this exhibition holds back in its levels

of abstraction. The piece is comprised of wires and chambers

holding a viscous fluid which is then pumped through transparent

wires and in to different chambers. It’s a contraption from

science-fiction which wouldn’t look out of place on an extraterrestrial

stage. Visitors are drawn to it, contorting themselves to

examine it from various angles. It’s eerily beautiful.

We Aren’t Able To Prove That Just Yet, But We Know It’s

Out There by Yu-Chen Wang traces scientific advances back in

history through a poetic narrative. Photographs are projected

from above on to delicate drawings on a flat screen tracing

the experiments at Liverpool University in the 1960s. It brings

romance and a human element to the scientific focus showing

Liverpool’s place in all this progress.

Walking in to Gallery 2, you are met by two screens at right

angles to each other upon which flash videos. Scalar Oscillation

by Diann Bauer “explores the significance of the extremes of time

and scale operating in much of modern physics”. It’s based on

Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The only trajectory

through to the next exhibit means people have to traipse past

the screens, moving in front of those enjoying the films. It could

be part of the experience or just down to logistics, but it’s quite

off-putting.

The next room along houses Suzanne Treister’s The

Holographic Theory Of Art History. Sitting on the floor on large

cushions in the dark, the visitor’s gaze is held by a screen onto

which 25,000 images from the beginning of art to the present

day appear at the rate of 25 per second (the rate at which the

neutron travels around the Large Hadron Collider). Through

headphones you can listen in to interviews with scientists at

CERN. They give it a good go at explaining the intricacies of the

holographic universe principle while art history counts down the

minutes to the near future

The final exhibit in Gallery 2 is by artist studio

hrm199. Entitled one1one, it questions how we use language

to describe the world. This philosophical question is then

transferred to the year 4250. This is an interesting concept which

is much better on paper than real life: it’s uncomfortable the first

visit and unbearable after that. It is comprised of a circular carpet

surrounded by speakers, lights above and a screen on which

there is an individual sporadically interjecting with spaced out

aphorisms. What they term “sensorial stimuli” is a painful sound

which, at eight and a half minutes, people do well to sit through.

Inside a cube placed in the foyer is Julieta Aranda’s Stealing

One’s Own Corpse. This is the final part of a trilogy that has

taken 10 years to create. In the cube is a screen showing footage

from CERN, among other things, phrases painted on the wall

which glow faintly in the dark such as “there is no way to predict

how any of this will be read over time”, with models of bones on

the floor, all of which encourage us to think about the planet’s

“destruction and what a post-planetary future might look like”.

Cheery stuff for a Saturday afternoon out. These are ideas,

however, which have never been more pressing for us to consider.

The exhibition seems to suggest that scientists, artists and

visitors have the same awe when approaching the subject and

the same predicament – not fully comprehending how far there

is still to go. It deals with a massive and demanding subject with

creativity, flair and a keen eye for how to engage the visitor.

Jennie Macaulay / @jenmagmcmac

44


Bang Bang Romeo

+ Young Monarch

+ LUNA

Vinyl Junkie Live @ Jacaranda Phase One

– 18/02

Imagine going from being accompanied by a three-piece

band to standing solo on a stage, and still absolutely smashing

it. Step Forward LUNA. With a laptop to hand and various other

bits of kit, Luna’s solo electronic set offers something new to

the traditional one-(wo)man performance. No guitar and loop

pedal, but instead a beautiful vocal accompanied by samples and

tracks. With her more classically suited vocals paired with her

broken down electronic beats, Luna is refreshing. Her powerful

self-reflection 5AM sees her declare, “I don’t recognise myself

anymore”. It breaks down further barriers. Lana Del Rey comes to

mind, a striking artist that is hard to place into a box. The music

industry screams for new, for different, and for things that can’t

be placed under a boring old genre.

It feels as though the dial is slowly being turned up on the

vocals when YOUNG MONARCH step on stage. This four-piece

from Jersey possess the ability to interact directly with subjects

of real weight, though still make the show enjoyable. They allow

for self-reflection, but don’t rip you apart. They don’t judge, they

relate. Genetics grabs my heart strings, a song about vocalist

Becca’s relationship with her mother. “No-one makes me mad

like you.” How many can relate here? It’s about love, growing up

and potentially not living up to expectations. With a killer guitar

backing and harmonious vocals, this is the most enjoyable kick

in the teeth for anyone that feels similar. Travelling to the more

relaxed Find Me, the band observe perception and internalising

struggles. As open advocates of mental health awareness and

support, this song offers much needed understanding. Once

again, it’s another fine example of Young Monarch interacting

directly with subjects that aren’t pretty. Somehow, they still

manage to provide a take that’s breathtakingly beautiful.

As Anastasia Walker steps on stage I hear “Yes, star!”

screamed from the crowd. It fits. BANG BANG ROMEO’s lead

singer is undeniably that: a star. With a powerhouse vocal and a

stage presence that debunks the tradition of female vocalists –

standing still in long floating dresses with a fixed mic stand – she

rips apart norms and expectations. I and everyone around me fall

in love. The first song by BBR I ever heard was Shame On You.

Seeing a song you love so much live is always a worry, but worry

I need not. Live, the chorus is something else, the energy that

the band produce not only shows their love of music, but their

justifiable pride in the song. This band have perfected the idea

that sometimes less is more. Their lyrics pack a punch but do not

require a dictionary ready in waiting. They only ask that you sing

as loudly as possible. What’s left of my voice is a glaring example.

Megan Walder / @m_l_wald

Seatbelts

+ Strawberry Guy

+ Roy

+ Sara Wolff

Harvest Sun @ 81 Renshaw – 15/02

SEATBELTS carry their artistry with a defined purpose. You

happily consume the notion that this is exactly what they should

be doing. All the traits are there. The seeming ease, the incessant

observation, the joviality, the pomp. They rest in the reflection

of society which punk wishes to dance, but all too quickly it

breaks the mirror. If left untouched, beaming back at you are

those arty types – the Bowies, the Byrnes – gliding through their

shapes with the shades of understanding you’ve been looking

for. Ones more abstract, but no less profound, or devoid of

feeling. Seatbelts find themselves taking the early footsteps to a

similar position. They’re plugged in and phased out. Perhaps by

accident, perhaps by purpose. Either way, they find their stride by

remaining loose in seemingly discordant times. Times that appear

miles away from here, in Liverpool, where the band is sketching

out a momentary escape with help of a finely tailored line-up.

It’s far from a cold reception, but SARA WOLFF is first to

face a room that is still yet to arrive. She’s composed, her band

knitted tighter than the garments lining her lyrics. It’s a steady

opening. Her music gently floats around the consciousness,

attentively nudging the brain into short spells of introspection.

Your attention is subtly requested rather than forced. Those

already in attendance oblige, happy to take the extra share of

bourgeoning folk talent centre stage. The sense of dreaminess

weighs a little heavier when STRAWBERRY GUY enters the fold.

His brand of fluffy synths and weightless vocals is diffused with

an effortless charm. It’s Febreze in musical form. A sweetness

overlaying raw feeling. It’s all in there, just beyond the first line

of cosmetic appeal. Think Mac DeMarco midi keyboard melodies,

more spaced out, heartfelt, and free of whimsicalness. It’s a short

but sweet set.

Before Seatbelts, the bard of the County Road Kwik Save,

ROY, delivers his second prosaic account of the night. With guile

and humour, he tussles with the hollow absence of ignorance

when surrounded by lives of no shame. His passages are stirring.

His observations are warm and familiar, to start. Places, names,

smashed glasses and abundant cheers. The ridicule is comedic,

but the stories don’t merely just glaze across the slippery cobbles

of Concert Square. You’re brought into contact with the fine

details of existence where normality and the absurd become

bedfellows. He moves from these settled scenes to join the dots

with more chilling happenings. All initial comfort is dispersed

come his closing lines. It’s like the darkest hours of the morning

shading your night before. When you’re left to square up to

normality, searching, aimlessly, for the safety of four new walls.

From pin drop silence to mid-winter fiesta. A mannequin

leg turned reading lamp rides a wave of bodies to reach the low

sitting stage, sort of like an arty Olympic torch passed down to

announce the beginning of the main ceremony. The jump from

attentive listening party to party atmosphere only serves to

enhance Seatbelts’ arrival into the fray. They’re off flying into A

World Drained Of Wonder. It’s a fitting place to start, nailing in

their musical signposts as a band caught in a continuing state of

wonderment – sort of in their own channel, resting in perplexity

by all that’s surrounding.

Working as a front three, there’s no shortage of flexibility to

the performance. Swaps of instruments, lead vocals, harmonies,

you name it, it’s all dished out in equal measure without a dip in

the groove. Not once. It’s got all the rumbles of New York postpunk

with the intelligence of Massachusetts, literary references

and all, dreamily underscored by this evening’s rendition of

Songs For Vonnegut. The freshly released Spanish Songs even

works two new vocalists into the fold for its live outing. The track

typifies the joyous feeling the band radiate around the room.

This has become a full-blown celebration of Seatbelts’ cerebral

oddities and expansive musical talent. Content Crush rubber

stamps it all. A real jumping off point, a measure of quality, for

what Seatbelts have in store for us this year.

Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder

“It’s got all the

rumbles of New

York post-punk with

the intelligence of

Massachusetts,

literary references

and all”

Seatbelts (Tomas Adam)

REVIEWS 45


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Detroit techno

Trojan Records

Sepultura

Female Punks

Mantras

PUBLISHED 2015

“Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.” - Frank Zappa

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SHARING

STORIES FROM

THE CITY

Download the brand-new

Bido Lito! Arts + Culture Podcast

A monthly show unearthing stories

that deserve a second look.

Available from

bidolito.co.uk/podcast

and all major podcasting platforms


ARTISTIC

LICENCE

For the latest instalment of our series focusing on poetry and creative

writing, we bring you a student’s perspective on the nature of home,

compiled by the University of Liverpool’s Eddy Turner.

As a student, it can be quite easy to lose touch with your creative outlets, especially in the hustle and bustle of university

life. Between adjusting to independent living, juggling work and social pressures, the anxieties that surround these

themes can make it a challenge to really get those creative juices flowing in a direction separate to the ‘uni bubble’.

However, Liverpool is a fantastic student city that never fails to impress its annual influx of university dwellers with

history, culture and a damn good night out.

‘Liverpool as a home away from home’ seemed to be the perfect theme to address, to encapsulate the transience of student

life when moving away from home for the first time and adopting some of the unique DNA of your temporary home. For this series,

I reached out to my fellow students at the University of Liverpool and asked them to respond to this phrase through their creative

writing; the pieces below explore a varied insight into some of these students’ experiences.

Lisa Haglington

Untitled

When you’ve traded the familiar for the unfamiliar,

In a city far from home.

White flashes, screaming and vomit

Are the new sights and sounds that surround you.

You’ve exchanged your mum’s Sunday roast for chips

every night,

And cups of tea become cheap tequila shots that you

pretend to like.

The only running you do is for the 699 bus,

And your human interaction is with people you’ve known

for 48 hours.

But then something changes…

The white flashes are your friends capturing memories

with their phones,

And you become the person excitedly screaming at predrinks.

The excessive amounts of vomit remain,

But they become funny stories you’ll never tell your family.

Strangers soon become friends

That talk about existentialism after arguing about the

washing up.

You realise that comfort and grief are interchangeable

As you experience extreme highs and lows within hours of

each other.

And in this city far from home,

The unfamiliar has become the familiar.

Phoebe Train

From Home To Home The Train Takes Me

From home to home the train takes me,

Countryside to city skies, I see,

The way to home from home and back

Running down the railway track.

The air is fresh down by the docks

Helps clear your head, helps to unbox.

Never walk alone, let it be,

Just close your eyes, face the Mersey.

I need to get back to my roots

To find and grow my attributes.

For that, there is but only one place...

...Liverpool will serve as my showcase.

52


Maria Andreou

6:30am

Utter stillness dominates the vast distance of this city I

now call home.

I listen to the song of birds chirping in the distance,

The sound of the water hitting the ships trapped in the

dock,

Tied to a pole, grasped tight by the beauty of this place.

I remember when I set foot for the first time on this earth,

And felt a slight warmth surging through me,

I knew, at that exact moment, that it would not take long

for me to call you home.

Almost three years later, and I cannot fathom the thought

Of leaving you for something else, the rest of my life.

You taught me so much, you opened my mind to

possibilities,

You opened your arms to me, did not hesitate to show me

your heart.

You, after such little time, managed to make me a better

version of myself,

And I cannot think of a possible way to repay you,

Nothing seems to be enough.

You have been immensely kind to me,

Something that my past failed to be,

And I will forever be grateful to you for what you have

unselfishly offered.

You are my home,

My home away from home.

Umut Tugay Temel

The Tears Of Adagio

here instruments grow in the earth

as the sunshine strums them out of the dirt

clairaudience of the melody brew out from the moonlight

as I’m walking down the Bold

I knew I had a right—

eventually to see it in a visible form

—to spill out all

like marbles Symirnian

the warm breeze of the Mediterranean

is formed in eighty one keys

—in monochrome!

and does vibe casually by the

Quarter Georgian

neat and messy at the same time

just like that decent game

—once I’d say mine!

the home I built with stoves as brickets

-not another one in the wall thoughwill

dry the tears of adagio, as takin’ them some licks to

examine

So, the story of turning a ballad warrior

once from that dedicated worrier

happens on a timeline

with a fellow flute for Gaia, cries on

“obla-di, obla-da, et cetera life goes on!”

as simple as it’s interface

—and I bet, quite cool!

as much as it’s nest: ecstatic Liverpool

Eddy Turner

Liverpool As A Home Away From Home

A 55-minute train ride from home,

Stepping off into the open aired station,

Nothing much has changed since I left,

“Is that another student accommodation?”

The push and pull of Liverpool City –

It keeps me on my toes,

University Square and the Baltic Triangle –

Shapes I have come to know every corner of,

The bitter-sweet balancing of the two,

Forever losing marks in ‘time-management’,

Whilst studying here hasn’t made me any more organised


Living here has taught me more than I could imagine.

A 55-minute train ride from home,

A timeless city.

53


SAY

THE FINAL

“We should not

shut people out

simply because we

have decided their

voices and their

contributions are not

worth anything”

As the clock ticks down to the UK’s scheduled divorce date with the

EU, Wirral South MP Alison McGovern considers how much value we

place on all members of society, and questions how we can continue to

grow when shutting people out.

How do we decide certain things are worth more than

others? Who decides that care home staff who look

after our parents and grandparents day and night are

worth £7.36 an hour? How can it be right that the

people we trust to look after our children while we go to work

are paid an average of £7.09 an hour? Our notion of value seems

arbitrary at best and unfair at worst. And it certainly does not

reflect the way so many people in our community enrich our lives.

So many of the people carrying out the jobs that make our

lives possible are EU migrants and it is no coincidence that they

are not valued – in more ways than simply the money they earn.

The government recently proposed that immigrants should earn

£30k before they are able to come to the UK. What does that tell

us about how we see value? Our ageing population needs carers,

our hospitals and schools need nurses and teachers and our open

mic nights need musicians. None of these people would be likely

to hit that threshold. According to CBI data published this month,

the average wage for our region is £22,564. In a sense, it is

absurd to suggest that people are worth the wages they receive.

The sense that we must interrogate our notion of value has

been chiming louder and louder in my ear as I have sat through

the government’s Immigration Bill. I am on the bill’s committee,

which means I am tasked with scrutinising the plans to end free

movement of people from the European Union along with my

other Labour colleagues.

This task has been infuriating and it has barely begun. There

are 3.5 million European citizens in the UK. They are working,

contributing to our economy and our community. They improve

our lives immeasurably every single day. Yet it feels like we have

simply decided not to value what they do. Not only does the

Immigration Bill seek to rescind free movement, it does not make

any clearer what rights EU citizens already living and working

in the UK will have after playing a crucial role in their jobs,

neighbourhoods and amongst their family and friends.

The immigration question has fallen prey to the familiar

human tendency to nostalgically look back when we are facing

major challenges. Our vision for the UK’s place in the world, how

we should run our country and whether we should be outward

or inward-looking are issues, which unsurprisingly to those of us

that live outside of the Westminster bubble, do not seem to be

resolvable by politicians and commentators. No one can agree

on either a pathway forward, or on what our priorities should be.

The answer to these questions cannot be to undo decades of

globalisation in the hope that we can return to how things were.

Or how we think they were.

Indeed, our memory, though a crucial part of what makes us

human, is not always reliable. The musicians and artists featured

in this magazine’s pages will tell you that reminiscence and

collective memory are fundamental to so much of our cultural

imagination. We remember what we want to see and not the

whole picture. Again, this is a question of value. We need to value

the future as much and as easily as we seem able to value our

past.

To confront challenges and grab opportunities, we must

look forward and consider how we want our world to be. And

first we need to understand where we are today. There is no

significant impact of EU immigration on employment prospects

for those born in Britain – when rates of EU immigration are

compared with unemployment rates amongst those born in the

UK, a 10 percentage-point increase in the share of EU immigrants

is associated with a 0.4 percentage-point reduction in the

unemployment rate in the same area. What’s more – there is not

a fixed number of jobs in an economy. When people receive good

wages for good work, demand grows and jobs are created. We

all benefit – it is as simple as that.

Facts and figures are important but they do not tell the

whole story. Our feeling and perception of our place in the world

count equally as much. I know that many of us see our city as a

community that embodies openness and warmth. That’s what I

felt when I went to Chinatown to celebrate Chinese New Year. It’s

what I feel each time I walk into Anfield or when I hear buskers

on Bold Street. I want as many people as possible to know

Liverpool’s true spirit and character. Let’s welcome people to be a

part of it and value what everyone can bring. We should not shut

people out simply because we have decided their voices and their

contributions are not worth anything. Who are we to make that

decision?

Liverpool has always been a city with a creative soul. I

am sure many of Liverpool’s artists will vouch for the fact that

creativity evolves when people welcome others and work

together to make more noise. And just like the most obvious and

well-known examples of this happening in our city – Capital of

Culture and the Giants Spectacular – the sound is louder, more

people hear it and more people want to know what’s going on. !

Photography: Matteo Paganelli (via Unsplash)

54


L I V E

The region’s most exciting new artists

play live at Liverpool Central

Featuring…

Cosmic Shepherd

Eli Smart

Gallia

Jazmine Johnson

Munkey Junkey

Pale Rider

Podge

Rachael Jean Harris

Salt The Snail

StyerS

The Indica Gallery

Wild Fruit Art Collective

Friday 29th March / 3pm-9.30pm

The festival is part of the BBC 6Music Festival Fringe

& celebrates the culmination of Merseyrail Sound Station’s second semester.


DAYTIME PARTY 2PM - 11PM

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