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Issue 98 / April 2019

April 2019 issue of Bido Lito! magazine. Featuring: XAMVOLO, YAMMERER, THE ZUTONS, MC NELSON, ROSE MCGOWAN, CITY OF LIVERPOOL FC, SLEAFORD MODS, SNAPPED ANKLES and much more.

April 2019 issue of Bido Lito! magazine. Featuring: XAMVOLO, YAMMERER, THE ZUTONS, MC NELSON, ROSE MCGOWAN, CITY OF LIVERPOOL FC, SLEAFORD MODS, SNAPPED ANKLES and much more.

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ISSUE <strong>98</strong> / APRIL <strong>2019</strong><br />

NEW MUSIC + CREATIVE CULTURE<br />

LIVERPOOL<br />

XAMVOLO / YAMMERER<br />

MC NELSON / THE ZUTONS


facebook.com/o2academyliverpool<br />

twitter.com/o2academylpool<br />

instagram.com/o2academyliverpool<br />

youtube.com/o2academytv<br />

FRI 5TH APR 6.30PM<br />

PINEGROVE<br />

TUE 7TH MAY 7PM SOLD OUT<br />

LUCY SPRAGGAN<br />

Thur 4th Apr<br />

Holy Moly<br />

and the Crackers<br />

Sat 6th Apr<br />

The Showhawk<br />

Duo<br />

+ Benji & Hibbz<br />

Fri 12th Apr • SOLD OUT<br />

Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild<br />

of Students<br />

DMA’s<br />

Wed 17th Apr • SOLD OUT<br />

Dave<br />

Thur 18th Apr<br />

The Good, The Bad<br />

& The Queen<br />

Sat 20th Apr<br />

Nirvana UK (Tribute)<br />

Sun 21st Apr<br />

M Huncho<br />

Sat 27th Apr • 6.30pm<br />

Liverpool Rocks<br />

Final<br />

Sat 27th Apr<br />

Newton Faulkner<br />

Sat 27th Apr<br />

Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild<br />

of Students<br />

Hollywood<br />

Undead<br />

Sat 27th Apr<br />

Newton Faulkner<br />

Tue 30th Apr<br />

Arctic Monkeys:<br />

Performed by a 10<br />

Piece Brass Band<br />

Fri 3rd May<br />

The Bon Jovi<br />

Experience<br />

Thur 16th May<br />

Little Steven &<br />

The Disciples Of<br />

Soul<br />

Sun 19th May<br />

Ross Edgley -<br />

Worlds Fittest Live<br />

Show<br />

Thur 23rd May<br />

Glenn Hughes<br />

Performs Classic<br />

Deep Purple live<br />

+ Laurence Jones<br />

Fri 24th May<br />

KSI & Randolph -<br />

New Age Tour<br />

Sat 25th May<br />

The Icicle Works<br />

Sat 1st Jun<br />

The Smyths<br />

Mon 3rd Jun • SOLD OUT<br />

Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild<br />

of Students<br />

Anne-Marie<br />

Sun 4th Jun<br />

Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild<br />

of Students<br />

Kaiser Chiefs<br />

Sat 8th Jun<br />

The Mighty Wah!<br />

Presents The Pete<br />

Wylie Show<br />

Fri 21st Jun • SOLD OUT<br />

Alesso<br />

Sat 22nd Jun<br />

Hipsway<br />

Sat 5th Oct<br />

Definitely<br />

Mightbe<br />

(Oasis tribute)<br />

Fri 11th Oct<br />

Fleetwood Bac<br />

Sat 12th Oct<br />

The Marley Revival<br />

+ UB40 Tribute Set<br />

Thur 24th Oct<br />

Jake Clemons<br />

+ Ben McKelvey<br />

Sat 9th Nov<br />

She Drew The Gun<br />

Sat 9th Nov<br />

Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild<br />

of Students<br />

Greta Van Fleet<br />

+ Ida Mae<br />

Sat 9th Nov<br />

Antarctic Monkeys<br />

+ The Alleys + The Patriots<br />

Sat 16th Nov<br />

The Macc Lads<br />

Sat 16th Nov<br />

UK Foo Fighters<br />

(Tribute)<br />

Wed 20th Nov<br />

Fontaines D.C.<br />

Fri 29th Nov<br />

The Doors Alive<br />

Sat 30th Nov<br />

Pearl Jam UK<br />

Thur 5th Dec<br />

Shed Seven<br />

+ The Twang<br />

SAT 6TH APR 6PM<br />

MAVERICK SABRE<br />

+ JORDAN MAX<br />

MON 8TH APR 7PM<br />

YAK<br />

+ BOBBY WEST + MUSH<br />

WED 10TH APR 7PM<br />

INDOOR PETS<br />

FRI 12TH APR 7PM<br />

MONKS<br />

SAT 13TH APR 6PM<br />

ANTEROS<br />

+ REDFACES<br />

FRI 19TH APR 7PM<br />

WHENYOUNG<br />

+ LUCIA + SHARDS<br />

SAT 20TH APR 7PM<br />

A TRIBUTE<br />

TO EDDIE VEDDER<br />

WED 24TH APR 7PM<br />

CABBAGE<br />

FRI 26TH APR 6.30PM<br />

UNDER THE<br />

APPLE TREE<br />

– LIVE ON TOUR WITH<br />

WILDWOOD KIN<br />

+ ELEANOR NELLY<br />

TUE 30TH APR 7PM<br />

THE<br />

COATHANGERS<br />

FRI 3RD APR 7PM<br />

KOJAQUE<br />

SAT 4TH MAY 7PM<br />

BLANCMANGE<br />

FRI 17TH MAY 7PM<br />

J MASCIS<br />

FRI 17TH MAY 7 PM<br />

ALEX LAHEY<br />

SAT 18TH MAY 7PM SOLD OUT<br />

ELECTRIC SIX<br />

SAT 8TH JUN 7PM<br />

JOHN POWER<br />

SAT 8TH JUN 7PM<br />

HANDS OFF<br />

GRETEL<br />

SUN 9TH JUN 7PM<br />

MEGAN MCKENNA<br />

TUE 11TH JUN 7PM<br />

HONEYBLOOD<br />

SAT 5TH OCT 7PM<br />

A BAND CALLED<br />

MALICE<br />

FRI 18TH OCT 7PM<br />

NINE BELOW ZERO<br />

SAT 19TH JUN 7PM<br />

SAINT AGNES<br />

SAT 2ND NOV 7PM<br />

STONE<br />

FOUNDATION<br />

SAT 16TH NOV 7PM<br />

LONDON CALLING<br />

PLAY THE CLASH<br />

FRI 22ND NOV 7.PM<br />

BLOOD RED SHOES<br />

TUE 10TH DEC 7PM<br />

THE PAPER KITES<br />

TICKETS FOR ALL SHOWS ARE AVAILABLE FROM<br />

TICKETMASTER.CO.UK<br />

90<br />

SEEL STREET, LIVERPOOL, L1 4BH<br />

by arrangement with ITB presents<br />

Sat 4th May<br />

The Amy<br />

Winehouse<br />

Experience…<br />

A.K.A Lioness<br />

+ Lauren Hope<br />

Sun 5th May • 11pm<br />

Love 90’s R&B<br />

Bank Holiday<br />

Special<br />

ticketmaster.co.uk<br />

Fri 2nd Aug<br />

The Fillers<br />

(The Killers Official Tribute)<br />

Sat 14th Sep<br />

Ocean Colour<br />

Scheme<br />

(Ocean Colour Scene Tribute)<br />

Sat 28th Sep<br />

Red Rum Club<br />

o2academyliverpool.co.uk<br />

11-13 Hotham Street, Liverpool L3 5UF<br />

Doors 7pm unless stated<br />

Fri 6th Dec<br />

Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild<br />

of Students<br />

Happy Mondays -<br />

Greatest Hits Tour<br />

Fri 6th Dec<br />

SPINN<br />

Sat 14th Dec<br />

Ian Prowse<br />

& Amsterdam<br />

Venue box office opening hours:<br />

Mon - Sat 10.30am - 5.30pm<br />

ticketmaster.co.uk • seetickets.com<br />

gigantic.com • ticketweb.co.uk<br />

FEATURING ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAMER<br />

STEVEN VAN ZANDT<br />

OF THE E STREET BAND, THE SOPRANOS, LILYHAMMER,<br />

AND LITTLE STEVEN’S UNDERGROUND GARAGE!<br />

NEW<br />

ALBUM<br />

SUMMER<br />

OF SORCERY<br />

OUT MAY<br />

THURSDAY 16th MAY <strong>2019</strong><br />

O 2 ACADEMY LIVERPOOL<br />

TICKETMASTER.CO.UK | LITTLESTEVEN.COM


Bank Holiday Sun 5th May<br />

An evening with<br />

Irvine Welsh


What’s On<br />

<strong>April</strong> – June<br />

Wednesday 3 <strong>April</strong> 8pm<br />

Music Room<br />

Band On The Wall Presents<br />

Bill Laurance<br />

Tuesday 9 <strong>April</strong> 7.30pm<br />

King of Ghosts<br />

Wednesday 22 May 7.30pm<br />

Film<br />

The Favourite (cert 15)<br />

Saturday 25 May 8pm<br />

Music Room<br />

Elephant Sessions<br />

Tuesday 30 <strong>April</strong> 8pm<br />

Music Room<br />

Carla Morrison<br />

Friday 10 May 8pm<br />

Thursday 23 May 8pm<br />

Saturday 15 June 8pm<br />

Friday 28 June 8pm<br />

Music Room<br />

Kaleidoscope –<br />

Music Memes<br />

Box Office<br />

0151 709 3789<br />

liverpoolphil.com<br />

LiverpoolPhilharmonic<br />

liverpoolphil<br />

liverpool_philharmonic<br />

Principal Funders<br />

Thanks to the City<br />

of Liverpool for its<br />

financial support<br />

Principal Partners<br />

Media Partner<br />

Image The Favourite


17 / 5 - 22 / 6 <strong>2019</strong><br />

What will Liverpool's<br />

new music and creative<br />

culture look like in<br />

2028, in another 100<br />

editions' time?<br />

Full programme now announced<br />

bidolito.co.uk/bido100


New Music + Creative Culture<br />

Liverpool<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> <strong>98</strong> / <strong>April</strong> <strong>2019</strong><br />

bidolito.co.uk<br />

Second Floor<br />

The Merchant<br />

40-42 Slater Street<br />

Liverpool L1 4BX<br />

Publisher<br />

Craig G Pennington - info@bidolito.co.uk<br />

Editor-in-Chief<br />

Christopher Torpey - chris@bidolito.co.uk<br />

Media Partnerships and Projects Manager<br />

Sam Turner - sam@bidolito.co.uk<br />

Features Editor<br />

Niloo Sharifi - niloo@bidolito.co.uk<br />

Live Editor<br />

Elliot Ryder - elliot@bidolito.co.uk<br />

Digital and Social Media Officer<br />

Lucy Doyle – lucy@bidolito.co.uk<br />

Community Membership Manager<br />

Brit Williams – brit@bidolito.co.uk<br />

Design<br />

Mark McKellier - mark@andmark.co.uk<br />

Branding<br />

Thom Isom - hello@thomisom.com<br />

Proofreader<br />

Nathaniel Cramp<br />

EDITORIAL<br />

There’s an inherent danger in overlooking the intricacies<br />

of society. To apply all-encompassing brackets of<br />

existence to a population is to venture into unstable<br />

waters. Yet it’s a destination we’re careering towards:<br />

red, white and blue sails tearing apart in the headwinds. There<br />

is no hauler and fishing net capable of dragging along the<br />

diversities of the UK. Not one capable of half that, never mind<br />

51.9 per cent. More than half will slip<br />

through the net, happily.<br />

When Theresa May took to<br />

addressing the nation in late March,<br />

she did so in the hope of outlining an<br />

extension to Brexit was the fault of MPs<br />

and MPs alone. “I’m on your side,” she<br />

croaked. It was a remarkable power<br />

move. It was an attempt to disregard<br />

the rest of the chess board and sweep<br />

the queen to an opposing side where it<br />

would declare itself a new colour. Where<br />

it would become one of the people; this<br />

singular, homogenous species, free of<br />

difference, free of contrasting cultures,<br />

free of multi-ethnicity, free of its own individual will. The opposing<br />

side, our side, the people’s, in a world where there can only be two<br />

sides to any difference. Here, May looked beyond the intricacies<br />

and idiosyncrasies of our cities. Those, like in Liverpool, that we<br />

define ourselves upon. The brackets of subculture we joyously slip<br />

between to find the like-minded and those perfectly different.<br />

As you can imagine, it was foolhardy to box up the nation,<br />

and a complete failure for a flagging Theresa May. No nation is<br />

resistant to populism, and Britain bears its scars, from populism<br />

of both left and right-wing strains. However, to opt for such a<br />

brazen switch to anti-establishment tactics was clouded and<br />

callous. Contrary to ever present soundbites, there is not a defined<br />

‘people’. They don’t have a singular will, either. To use such a<br />

FEATURES<br />

“Existence is shared<br />

experience, but it is<br />

uniquely interpreted by<br />

every mind subscribed<br />

to its continuum”<br />

phrase colours the speaker in one defined colour, and more so the<br />

subjects they wish appeal to. Desperate. Desperate for control,<br />

with the centre-right populist playbook under the thumb. The<br />

yawning reaction to this calculated switch was one tiny glimmer<br />

of hope in the otherwise D-rate drama, now given an extended<br />

run beyond its original 1,000-day slog since June 2016.<br />

Applying unnecessary brackets to the politicised population<br />

isn’t the only sphere where intricacies are<br />

often overlooked. This month’s cover star,<br />

XamVolo, will attest to the boredom of<br />

being bracketed and made to carry the<br />

weight of genre tags on young shoulders.<br />

Often outlined as a neo-soul singer,<br />

he enlightens us to the nuances we all<br />

too often look beyond, the limitations<br />

of naming exercises that reduce the<br />

expansive reaches of his craft into one,<br />

singular bitesize form. In contrast, MC<br />

Nelson outlines to Niloo Sharifi the<br />

changing perceptions and societal tags<br />

he’s confronted since moving from<br />

Liverpool to London and now Rotterdam.<br />

Entering into the world of City Of Liverpool FC, as Christopher<br />

Torpey did, uncovers a co-existence between working-class<br />

culture, community and ambition. An intricate make-up not solely<br />

hinged on the 11 purple shirts that take to the pitch each week,<br />

although their various team’s ascent is worthy of your attention.<br />

Existence is shared experience, but it is uniquely interpreted<br />

by every mind subscribed to its continuum. An appreciation for<br />

the intricacies of being and culture is the best roadmap to an<br />

understanding of the population. Just leave the bracketing to the<br />

failing politicians.<br />

Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder<br />

Live Editor<br />

Cover Photography<br />

Robin Clewley<br />

Words<br />

Elliot Ryder, Niloo Sharifi, Brit Williams, Christopher<br />

Torpey, Sophie Shields, Bernie Connor, Sam Turner,<br />

Cath Holland, Richard Lewis, Glyn Akroyd, Paul<br />

Fitzgerald, Jennie Macaulay, Sinéad Nunes, Joe Hale,<br />

John McGovern, Ken Wynne, Mike Stanton, Christopher<br />

Carr, Megan Walder, Ryan Murphy, Esme Davine.<br />

Photography, Illustration and Layout<br />

Mark McKellier, Robin Clewley, Niloo Sharifi, Michael<br />

Driffill, Tabitha Jussa, Hannah Blackman-Kurz, Markus<br />

Spiske, Sasha Kuzmina, Glyn Akroyd, Hannah Starkey,<br />

Darren Aston, Tomas Adam, John Middleton, Amin<br />

Musa, John Latham, Michael Kirkham, Mook Loxley.<br />

Distributed by Middle Distance<br />

Print, distribution and events support across<br />

Merseyside and the North West.<br />

middledistance.org.uk<br />

16 / XAMVOLO<br />

Exploring the structures of nuance with one of the most finelytuned<br />

minds in British music today.<br />

18 / NELSON...ON THE WATERFRONT<br />

“This is the longest I’ve ever been out of the country in my life…<br />

seeing more of the world made me more reflective because it was<br />

a different perspective”<br />

22 / CITY OF LIVERPOOL FC<br />

Football, football, football – is it more important than life and<br />

death? For The Purps, a community spirit that is an antidote to<br />

modern football is at the heart of their manifesto.<br />

24 / INNOVATEHER<br />

Liverpool Girl Geeks’ mission to make coding accessible to<br />

everyone is opening up new pathways to equip women with the<br />

skills to conquer the tech industry.<br />

20 / YAMMERER<br />

Searching for Yammerer. Brit Williams follows the group down<br />

the rabbit hole of fictional managers and fruit machines, in<br />

pursuit of what it truly means to be authentic.<br />

26 / CHARACTERS: ONION DELI<br />

Bernie Connor nominates Kerry Thomas of Onion Deli as an<br />

on-the-quiet hero who deserves more attention in our new<br />

Characters feature.<br />

32 / ROSE MCGOWAN<br />

“I wonder what we could achieve if we didn’t have to fight the<br />

other stuff.”<br />

34 / THE ZUTONS<br />

“When you grow up with a band you can’t really replace that, it<br />

just feels right”<br />

The views expressed in Bido Lito! are those of the<br />

respective contributors and do not necessarily<br />

reflect the opinions of the magazine, its staff or the<br />

publishers. All rights reserved.<br />

REGULARS<br />

10 / NEWS<br />

30 / SPOTLIGHT<br />

33 / PREVIEWS<br />

40 / REVIEWS<br />

52 / ARTISTIC LICENCE<br />

54 / THE FINAL SAY


NEWS<br />

Future Yard<br />

You’ve always known that Birkenhead is the<br />

center of the musical universe right? Well, coming<br />

this August bank holiday weekend (Friday 23rd<br />

and Saturday 24th August) FUTURE YARD<br />

FESTIVAL is the next step on Birkenhead’s<br />

new music journey. The festival will present<br />

innovative and internationally significant work<br />

from exceptional national, international and local<br />

artists, all showcased in a collection of Birkenhead’s<br />

iconic spaces. Pulling from Wirral’s great musical<br />

traditions, as well as Birkenhead’s position as the<br />

Mersey’s shipbuilding powerhouse, this event is the<br />

chance to develop a new, forward-thinking creative<br />

culture for a town which has music in its DNA.<br />

Watch for a full line-up announcement coming on<br />

15th <strong>April</strong> at futureyard.org.<br />

LIMF Myself And I<br />

Bido Lito! has chosen lo-fi perfect pop composer BILL<br />

NICKSON as our pick for LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL<br />

MUSIC FESTIVAL this year. The Wirral singer-songwriter<br />

will perform on the It’s Liverpool stage on the Saturday of<br />

the festival alongside the great and the good. Elsewhere,<br />

LIMF have announced a raft of extra special artists who<br />

will be gracing Sefton Park. Chief among those names<br />

are hip hop legends DE LA SOUL. The Long Island rhyme<br />

purveyors precede SISTER SLEDGE on the Sunday of the<br />

July weekender. Elsewhere, SIGMA helps celebrate local<br />

label institution 3BEAT’s 30th anniversary and Soul II<br />

Soul’s JAZZIE B will get people moving in the True School<br />

Club House. Tickets for LIMF (20th-21st July) are available<br />

through ticketquarter.co.uk.<br />

De La Soul<br />

Friday Night Lights<br />

LightNight<br />

Culture crawls don’t come more comprehensive than LIGHTNIGHT. The expansive programme is always a<br />

vibrant reflection of Liverpool’s broad creative offer. As ever, the festival has announced commissions created<br />

around a theme, which this year is Ritual. Seven one-off events are created especially for the event on 17th<br />

May. As well as our special collaboration with Merseyrail which you can read about overleaf, there is a multiscreen<br />

installation exploring diverse Brazilian ceremonies at Victoria Gallery and Museum, a collaboration<br />

between dance organisation MOVEMA and Indian music institution MILAPFEST and artist RICHIE MOMENT<br />

brings a series of light sculptures which explore modern day rituals. Also on the line-up PROJECTILE VOMIT<br />

create Donna Summer Fever at Constellations, Japanese artist ANTI-COOL brings a video installation to the<br />

Bluecoat and local musician RORY BALLANTYNE presents Ad Finitum: The Invisible Choir And Death Café at<br />

the Anglican Cathedral. Full programme details can be found at lightnightliverpool.co.uk.<br />

Pizza The Spring Action<br />

Spring is officially here and so begins the hunt for the best<br />

outdoor drinking areas in the city. A relatively new addition<br />

to that list has to be the balcony terrace of Parr Street’s<br />

Crazy Pedro’s. As always Pedro’s Post Work Party Playlist<br />

(PPWPP) will be drawing a close to the working day from<br />

5pm each weekday and to celebrate the outdoor drinkingfriendly<br />

temperatures they’ve got a tasty giveaway. In<br />

order to get your hands on one of four pizza and cocktails<br />

deals for free, all you need to do is suggest the best spring<br />

and summer tracks to add to the PPWPPL. From Monday<br />

1st <strong>April</strong> we’ll be inviting recommendations on the Bido<br />

Lito! Facebook page – get involved!<br />

Best Before<br />

A new venue which looks to support those new to<br />

Liverpool’s live music scene has opened in the Baltic<br />

Triangle. BEST BEFORE is a 150-capacity venue<br />

which provides promoters the opportunity to put on<br />

gigs showcasing new talent without the standard<br />

financial risk. With a no flash photography or phones<br />

policy, it’s also venue that wants to throw it back to<br />

a time when being in the moment was an important<br />

feature of the nightlife experience. Expect all-nightlong<br />

sets, local artists topping the bill and an intimate<br />

environment. A welcome addition to the city’s venue<br />

offer, we say.<br />

The Baltic Is Alive With The Sounds Of The City<br />

Gwenno<br />

With the festival on final manoeuvres for its outing on 3rd, 4th and 5th May, an extra<br />

round of additions to the SOUND CITY programme are a welcome reminder of how much<br />

there is to get stuck into. Iconic Pretenders singer CHRISSIE HYNDE is joining the fray<br />

as the keynote speaker at the festival’s Sound City+ conference, which takes place at<br />

the British Music Experience on 3rd May. A host of showcases have been added to the<br />

main festival line-up, with Bella Union, DIY and Gigwise among those hosting stages and<br />

late-night parties across the weekend. And Welsh musician GWENNO is taking part in<br />

a five-day residency which will culminate in a brand new piece of work being performed<br />

at the festival, as part of the Both Sides Now initiative from charity Brighter Sounds. The<br />

project is looking for female musicians from across Merseyside to work with Gwenno on<br />

this material, following on from Stealing Sheep’s memorable Suffragette Tribute at 2018’s<br />

festival. Further details on all this can be found at soundcity.uk.com.<br />

10


DANSETTE<br />

Merseyside punks QUEEN ZEE have<br />

been busy conquering the world, but they<br />

stopped long enough to release their<br />

self-titled debut LP in February, on their<br />

own Sasstone Records label. Here, Zee<br />

herself picks out a few choice records<br />

that were important touchstones for her<br />

when making the album.<br />

M62 Cool For School<br />

As is often the case, the line-up for MANCHESTER<br />

INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL is looking like a who’s<br />

who of creators currently setting the global cultural<br />

agenda. Recently announced additions to the<br />

programme include a series of events curated by<br />

cinema legend DAVID LYNCH and a mass-participatory<br />

event by seminal artist YOKO ONO. Elsewhere on the<br />

programme, grime star SKEPTA will be delivering a<br />

futuristic meditation on the history of rave culture, plus<br />

IDRIS ELBA and KWAME KWEI-ARMAH present Tree,<br />

an exploration of the soul and spirit of contemporary<br />

South Africa. MAXINE PEAKE also portrays the life of<br />

Nico in a new production and JANELLE MONÁE plays<br />

a one-off show at Castlefield Bowl on MIF’s opening<br />

night. All the events taking place between 4th and 21st<br />

July can be found at mif.co.uk.<br />

Birthday Merchants<br />

Streamers and party hats at the ready, THE MERCHANT is celebrating two whole<br />

orbits around our sun. The Parr Street hub has enjoyed a buoyant brace of years,<br />

welcoming disc spinning guests from David Rodigan to Stealing Sheep, taking in<br />

the city’s finest creative organisations as tenants and serving up a fair amount of<br />

pretty mean pizza slices. For their birthday weekend they’ll be doing what they do<br />

best. Friday sees a celebration of all things Frank Ocean with CHANNEL ORANGE,<br />

Saturday is Motown night with the likes of Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross being<br />

celebrated with SUPERSTITION and everyone’s favourite super weird DJ GREG<br />

WILSON rounds things off on Sunday when he celebrates 10 years of his lauded<br />

BBC Essential Mix.<br />

Love Is The Message,<br />

The Message Is Death<br />

OSHUN (Rhian Askins)<br />

David Lynch<br />

Arabian Nights<br />

“I want to make black cinema with the power, beauty, and alienation of black<br />

music. That’s my big goal.” This is the mantra of Mississippi-born filmmaker<br />

and visual artist ARTHUR JAFA, whose groundbreaking work Love Is The<br />

Message, The Message Is Death is coming to Tate Liverpool this spring<br />

(running 29th March to 12th May). Presented in almost total darkness, the film<br />

will feel like an immersive video installation, as depictions of African American<br />

history flick by to the Gospel-like sounds of Kanye West’s Ultralight Beam.<br />

Jafa’s seven-minute montage has been praised for its unflinching appraisal of<br />

modern America that gives a visual vocabulary to black American experience.<br />

Clips from hip hop videos and YouTube footage of protests are interspersed<br />

with a recurring sun motif, which represents Jafa’s belief that these issues<br />

should be viewed on a cosmological scale.<br />

Each year, the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF) attracts<br />

tens of thousands of people from Liverpool and beyond for<br />

a thrilling showcase of the richness of Arab culture, with a<br />

packed programme of visual art, music, dance, film, theatre,<br />

literature and special events taking place in venues across<br />

the city. This year the festival will take place between 5th and<br />

14th July, with the ever-popular Family Day – where people of<br />

all ages can indulge in traditional Arab dance, music, cuisine<br />

and wider culture – serving as the finale in Sefton Park’s<br />

Palm House. Bahraini poet QASSIM HADDAD’s powerful<br />

The Chronicles of Majnun Layla (Sunday 7th July at the Unity<br />

Theatre) is one of the festival’s flagship events, alongside the<br />

appearance of visual artist and performer YARA BOUSTANY,<br />

who performs two of her pieces at the Unity on 11th July.<br />

Further announcements are due, so keep your eyes on<br />

arabartsfestival.com for additions.<br />

Oyé Additions<br />

Afro-futurist hip hop duo OSHUN are the latest act to be added<br />

to this year’s AFRICA OYÉ line-up (22nd and 23rd June). The USbased<br />

artists fuse digital and acoustic sounds with heavy drums<br />

and bass to create a unique sound with rich harmonic textures.<br />

Joining OSHUN in a (everything crossed) sunny Sefton Park is<br />

Haitian artist MOONLIGHT BENJAMIN. After a childhood raised<br />

by a priest Benjamin followed her own path to create a sound<br />

which encompasses 70s blues, a powerful voice and intoxicating<br />

rhythms. Also announced by the busy festival team are this year’s<br />

Oyé Introduces artists with local SATIN BEIGE and TABITHA<br />

JADE getting the honour of playing the main stage at the event.<br />

Arthur Jafa<br />

Chrome Hoof<br />

Chrome Hoof<br />

Tritone<br />

Chrome Hoof were always<br />

more than a band; they<br />

are a mythology, a show, a<br />

performance. I wanted to<br />

capture that element of Queen Zee with this record. It’s a<br />

show, it’s meant to take you out of your boring life and let<br />

you lose yourself for an hour. Inject some colour into the<br />

grey British mundanity.<br />

Pansy Division<br />

Undressed<br />

Lookout! Records<br />

I love how rude this record is.<br />

What’s the point of punk if it<br />

doesn’t make you throw up<br />

in your mouth a bit? Pansy<br />

Division were singing songs about sucking guys’ dicks, in<br />

a hardcore scene where guys were getting stabbed for<br />

being gay, and women were mostly excluded. Punk has<br />

such a bizarre and twisted relationship with the LGBTQ+<br />

community; to me they’re one and their similarities much<br />

outweigh their differences. But to a lot, they don’t see it like<br />

that. I’d say this is the queercore album to dig into. A scene<br />

that has given me a lot of strength in my own journey.<br />

Smashing<br />

Pumpkins<br />

Gish<br />

Hut<br />

This was one of my first<br />

records. Billy Corgan was<br />

really trying to make off-kilter pop. I think all the bands in<br />

that scene were in some way; Nirvana definitely were. I<br />

loved Corgan’s voice, it was so weird. I think there’s a lot of<br />

what Corgan was trying to create in my vision as well.<br />

Parliament<br />

Mothership<br />

Connection<br />

Casablanca<br />

You all know I love a costume.<br />

This record slaps. The vision<br />

and the execution of that<br />

vision is unparalleled. It’s an absolute classic. I’ve drawn<br />

so much from Parliament as an influence and I continue<br />

to. Why wear your jeans when you can dress like the love<br />

child of Judas Priest and The Clangers? I hate all the crap<br />

indie bands who live for the ‘I own one pair of jeans and<br />

don’t have a comb’ look. It lacks ambition, imagination and<br />

talent. Push the boundaries you collective of clichés.<br />

@queenzeeuk<br />

Queen Zee is out now via Sasstone Records.<br />

NEWS 11


MEMBERSHIP<br />

THE ALL-NEW BIDO LITO!<br />

COMMUNITY MEMBERSHIP<br />

Bido Lito! has always been about supporting and championing<br />

Liverpool’s new music and creative culture. Through our team of community<br />

writers, photographers, illustrators and creative minds we’ve charted our<br />

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

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

committed to expanding upon.<br />

A new global movement towards community journalism has emerged<br />

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

continuing development. As traditional media organisations face existential<br />

threats to their business models and their moral authority, community<br />

journalism harnesses the energy and passion of local people, creating a<br />

powerful, independent media voice free from advertorials and clickbait.<br />

Bido Lito! Community Members will still receive the latest edition of the<br />

magazine in the post before anyone else, along with exclusive download<br />

and playlist content from Liverpool’s most exciting new artists. And,<br />

members are still invited to come along to our monthly Bido Lito! Social for<br />

free.<br />

“Community journalism<br />

harnesses the energy<br />

and passion of local<br />

people, creating a<br />

powerful, independent<br />

media voice free from<br />

advertorials and clickbait”<br />

But - and most importantly - Bido Lito! Community Members will be<br />

at the heart of shaping the content of the magazine itself; whether it be<br />

recommending features, providing insight into live events, curating playlists<br />

or suggesting artists for our Bido Lito! Socials, our members will be at the<br />

centre of everything we do.<br />

We still believe strongly in the editorial integrity of the magazine, so Bido<br />

Lito! Editors will have the final say on commissions; but the voice of Bido<br />

Lito! going forward will be shaped by our community members.<br />

If you are passionate about supporting and championing Liverpool’s new<br />

music and creative culture, join the community media revolution. Become a<br />

Bido Lito! Community Member today.<br />

SIGN UP AT BIDOLITO.CO.UK/MEMBERSHIP NOW TO<br />

TAKE PART IN THE FIRST BIDO LITO! MEMBERS FORUM


ido100!<br />

Today, our city’s creative community faces a unique set of<br />

challenges and as a magazine we’ve never shied away from this<br />

fact. To mark the publication of our 100th issue we will be taking<br />

the opportunity to look forwards rather than backwards, asking<br />

the following question: what will be the key issues and challenges,<br />

opportunities and changes we’ll be grappling with in 2028?<br />

Through a series of projects, bido100! will explore our fast-paced<br />

and unpredictable tech-laced future and look to learn what we can<br />

do differently today to help shape a better, creative tomorrow.<br />

Ritual 2.0<br />

On LightNight (17th May), RITUAL 2.0 marks the launch of<br />

bido100! and invites participants to consider a creative future<br />

based on Artificial Intelligence. Are we at the vanguard of a new<br />

chapter of ritualistic expression, a cross pollination between<br />

human and AI creativity? Is this Ritual 2.0? A large-scale, public<br />

realm light and sound installation developed by artist SAM<br />

WIEHL with an accompanying soundtrack mix by FOREST<br />

SWORDS, set within the subterranean tunnels of Moorfields<br />

Station, will explore these pertinent creative questions. The<br />

installation is one of LightNight <strong>2019</strong>’s commissions and will take<br />

the form of a walk-through, immersive experience, encouraging<br />

the public to question AI’s ideal boundaries and parameters as<br />

we plough head-on into a new technical age..<br />

AI Audio Lab<br />

Following on from Ritual 2.0, AI AUDIO LAB will be installation which places the Liverpool public within this<br />

world of automated creativity. We live in an age of unparalleled technological advancement, where robots<br />

are being taught to drive our cars, teach our children and administer our healthcare. And it seems that artistic<br />

creativity is no longer a uniquely human condition either. We invite you to step into a virtual recording studio<br />

and shape the creation of an Artificial Intelligence-composed piece of music, in a genre of your choice. The<br />

process will be facilitated by a team of ‘technicians’ who will assist in the creation of brand new compositions<br />

which will be publicly broadcast across Bido Lito!’s digital media channels. The project is intended to<br />

encourage participants to critically engage with the idea of a music future based on AI rather than human<br />

creativity, questioning the boundaries and parameters.<br />

Pow Wow!<br />

Held within the iconic surroundings of The Bluecoat on 6th and 7th June, POW<br />

WOW! will be a unique discursive event where we will debate the key challenges<br />

and opportunities we will be contending with in 2028. The event will feature the first<br />

of what is set to be an annual Roger Eagle Memorial Lecture and will be conducted<br />

by the inimitable BILL DRUMMOND. An opportunity to shine a focus on one of our<br />

city’s most enduring musical forces, this annual lecture will invite an artist to explore<br />

a topic they see as pressing today, but also in keeping with the spirit of Roger Eagle.<br />

The evening will also host the Pow Wow! Discussion, featuring representatives from<br />

the worlds of art, politics and journalism casting their minds forward to what the world<br />

has in store for our creative future. And, the inaugural Bido Lito! Community Members’<br />

Forum will see our members come together to shape the agenda the magazine will<br />

pursue, as part of our continuing drive towards community-focused journalism.<br />

Commissions<br />

For bido100! we will be undertaking three projects which<br />

commission new work in response to the central ideas of<br />

the programme. We will be commissioning a film short to<br />

coincide with the project in partnership with FACT. As well<br />

as archiving the action across the project, this commission<br />

provides a local filmmaker with the opportunity to creatively<br />

explore the bido100! themes. Submissions are now open<br />

via bidolito.co.uk/bido100/film-commission. Visual artists<br />

have also been responding to a similar call-out, successful<br />

submissions will be displayed at dot-art gallery from 17th<br />

May. As well as these, read about MC Nelson’s music<br />

commission with Metal on pages 22-23.<br />

Inside Pages<br />

Following the launch of this magazine back in the heady days of 2010, we<br />

teamed up with a collective of our new-found friends and musical allies to<br />

present INSIDE PAGES Festival. The concept for the festival was simple: create<br />

a full-blown celebration of the artists and music community our magazine<br />

was established to champion. To mark our 100th issue we will be hosting an<br />

event in the same spirit and under the same name. This time at Constellations<br />

on 22nd June, Inside Pages will be a festival which brings the pages of Bido<br />

Lito! to life and closes bido100! with a volatile mix of artists of both local and<br />

international significance. Our recent cover artists XAMVOLO, YANK SCALLY<br />

and EYESORE & THE JINX will all perform live, alongside many more familiar<br />

and unfamiliar names. MC NELSON will also present the first ever performance<br />

of a new piece of work he has been developing as part of his residency with<br />

Metal in Rotterdam (see page 22 for more details).<br />

Tickets for all bido100! events are<br />

available at ticketquater.co.uk.<br />

Expect further programme<br />

announcements over the coming<br />

months at bidolito.co.uk/bido100.<br />

NEWS<br />

13


Storyhouse<br />

Women<br />

A weekend for everyone,<br />

celebrating women and girls<br />

26 – 28 <strong>April</strong> <strong>2019</strong><br />

Rose McGowan: headline speaker<br />

global topics: careers / trans stories / feminism / Islamophobia /<br />

overcoming addiction / rape culture / domestic violence<br />

panel discussions / debates / workshops / performances<br />

join the conversation – book now storyhouse.com<br />

weekend pass £20 / day pass £15<br />

Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester


XAMVOLO<br />

Exploring the structures of nuance with one of the<br />

most finely-tuned minds in British music today.<br />

16


Blue skies are reflecting from the blacked-out mirror façade jutting across Mann Island. It’s<br />

a strangely warm day, especially for this time of year. Beside the undisturbed reflections<br />

of this faux summer sky peer in neoclassical columns, baroque domes and concrete<br />

foundations, held in place by aspiration and the nurturing hands of redevelopers. It’s an<br />

active scene. The perfect setting for the Royal Institute of British Architects’ northern exhibition<br />

space, today’s destination. The perfect place to meet architecture graduate turned musical virtuoso<br />

XAMVOLO, real name Sam Folorunsho. You’d think, anyway.<br />

“I don’t want to be an architect,” Sam declares earnestly, in his confident yet polite manner. “I’ve<br />

met some great people through my studies, but I don’t intend to use that side of my education.”<br />

He tells me this from our office on the fringes of a building site on Wolstenholme Square, where<br />

we’ve rescheduled to meet, away from the complete and distinguished structures on Liverpool’s<br />

waterfront. This says a lot about Sam; signature creations are at the forefront of his wildly active<br />

mind. And if his studies taught him anything, he only has interest in the<br />

intricate spaces where he can fulfil the potential of his own design. Not<br />

those that reflect established marks of grandeur.<br />

If an interest in architecture has faded since arriving in Liverpool<br />

from London, one feature of Sam’s character has remained since first<br />

appearing in these pages four years ago: the desire, if not purpose, to<br />

produce music cut from his own individualistic nature. “I understand that<br />

there is structure in life, but I don’t really agree with the paint-by-numbers<br />

processes we allow to rule over decision making,” he coolly asserts,<br />

responding to a suggestion that he’s taken an alternative path towards<br />

success. The self-taught 24-year-old has forgone any classical training,<br />

acquiring his talents via a solo venture through the musical frontier.<br />

Before coming to Liverpool, he was quietly active from the controls<br />

of his bedroom studio in London. A rush of EPs and singles followed<br />

his relocation up north, assimilating influences from soul, hip hop, metal<br />

and pop-punk. Now he’s taking calls from high-end producers and<br />

collaborators queuing up to borrow his versatility.<br />

He’s an artist, on the face of things, that’s adept at producing luscious,<br />

high-end productions topped off with an enviable vocal range. Sonically,<br />

it’s music that matches the size and feel of D’Angelo. It’s music that’s<br />

not to be expected to emerge from Liverpool in a climate dominated<br />

by bands; it arrives from an attention to the subtlest nuances of style,<br />

those that mark his musical interpretations of life as a patchwork<br />

blanket of cultures and experience. “When people want to do things,<br />

they generally find a way to get it done. I liked a certain kind of music,<br />

and it was very rare to hear. So, in the beginning, making music was<br />

a vehicle to adhere to my own tastes. That’s what really pushed me<br />

on.”<br />

Sam’s voice is understated when in conversation, perhaps<br />

more so today. Our interview is a little delayed as he’s under<br />

the weather this afternoon. There’s little respite offered by the<br />

premature summer conditions. His usual cool isn’t deterred,<br />

though. He doesn’t even think to remove his coat throughout<br />

the interview, despite today’s rare climate. “I woke up quite late<br />

due to being ill, but I didn’t go to sleep until 4am.” As always, a<br />

determined streak shines through. “I was up all night working<br />

on some tracks. Being my own producer means I can work on<br />

my music whenever, you know, to finish off an idea, to whittle<br />

away at my own pace while the creative spark is still there.”<br />

Sam constantly at the controls of his music, whether<br />

that be through observation or creation. It’s this meticulous<br />

streak that brought about his debut album, released in<br />

January; a 15-track concept album for his first full swing.<br />

It’s a bold move, but a clean hit. All The Sweetness On<br />

The Surface is an amalgamation of everything Sam<br />

has been alluding to in terms of his capabilities since<br />

announcing himself as XamVolo five years ago. Swathes<br />

of confidence spread across a diverse landscape, with<br />

microscopic idiosyncrasies treated with the importance of a macro feature. It’s evidently been a<br />

painstaking process. Yet, you see no signs of fatigue beyond the unregulated bedtime. “From a<br />

creative standpoint, the album really pushed me,” he admits. “But for a good 12 months or so, I was<br />

putting in 13, 14 hours a day in the studio; just me, on my own, with no windows.” Most would be<br />

flushed out by the claustrophobia and constant blanket of unnatural light. “For me that was really<br />

good. It allowed me to learn new things and get things done at a speed I was comfortable with. I<br />

was able to devote my complete attention.”<br />

Signing to a major sub-label, Decca, was just another piece in the<br />

puzzle; the vehicle for manifesting the present world of his musical<br />

imagination. “An album is not about telling yourself, ‘Right, I’m going to<br />

write 30 songs this month’. It’s about letting the creative process dictate<br />

the quantity of the finished product. I’m not about creating McMusic. The<br />

studio for me isn’t a factory line way of thinking.”<br />

While the creative energy was in abundance through the early<br />

stages of the project, its overall delivery wasn’t seamless. The record<br />

was finished by late 2017. A year of waiting followed, with an output<br />

locked in gears easily able to stretch ahead of the static, complete body<br />

of work.The year offered the room to enhance the visualisation of the<br />

concept embedded within the music, drawing on the themes interwoven<br />

into the writing process. “I finally got the opportunity to build the extra<br />

mediums into the music, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.<br />

Everything down to the visual campaign, the overall concept.” He pulls<br />

out his phone and guides me through a palette of colour schemes for<br />

the record, logos and graphic illustrations of a hive – all of which he’d<br />

designed himself. It’s just another signal of Sam’s willingness to carve his own way with his own<br />

capabilities, including a graphic design A-Level.<br />

As a conceptual artwork, All The Sweetness On The Surface wanders through a world<br />

hollowed by decadence. It’s a theme that’s explored through all 15 tracks, with added visual cues.<br />

“The album taps into the outward vision of perfection,” Sam informs me. It’s a feeling that clearly<br />

engages such a meticulous, prolific artist content on blazing their own trail. “It draws on the<br />

subconscious battles with bitterness. All of this translates through to the artwork. You’ve got the<br />

cosmetic gold, but closer up the deficiencies really shine through – the cracked gold paint, chipped<br />

nails, broken glasses.” The running narrative of the record is founded upon a hive, depicted in the<br />

earlier noted graphic designs. It’s the ruling metaphor of a perceived gold standard, the source of<br />

an unattainable brand of honey which humankind strives for, unwittingly. “The album was split<br />

into two halves: the first looks at the acquisition of the honey and its perceived benefit. The second<br />

focuses on the psychedelic comedown, as a result of a life dedicated to its discovery.” However, the<br />

record isn’t an entirely fictional experience, as the elaborate concept would allude to. While Sam<br />

himself isn’t the lead character, the questions put forward over the 15 tracks roll the narrator into<br />

the heart of the narrative. The inquisition brings about its own confession.<br />

“Every song I write is honest. My songs are real, it’s just that I’m not always at the heart of the<br />

“You can’t pay<br />

for intricacies, so<br />

you’ve got to create<br />

them yourself”<br />

“The sound I create<br />

isn’t a genre, it’s<br />

a reflection of my<br />

musical experiences.<br />

It’s no different to me”<br />

narrative. I can take what I see and experience and translate [it] into music, so it becomes an honest<br />

interpretation. I’m not an overly emotive person, so I don’t like to lead with feelings. I set my own<br />

mechanical boundaries and bring the music to life. It draws in all of my failures, my experiences, as<br />

though making music is like a scientific trial and error that continually evolves. I appreciate locating<br />

the problem more so than the definitive answer.” This is a mark of the ever-evolving student.<br />

There’s a definite appreciation for process in Sam’s work, even if his album arrived via an<br />

off-piste musical education. From a young age, he was surrounded by gospel music played by his<br />

parents. Music was an ever-present, but not a set path; he appreciates the intricacies of his route,<br />

the potential to gather experiences from aspects of life that don’t glaringly inform one another, yet<br />

always leave their mark. “If you’re in a band you make your name by playing lots of shows in the<br />

early stages of your career. My own beginnings were sat in a bedroom. I only went to my first show<br />

when I was 19. Before then I was making and recording from my bedroom, living in London. It<br />

became my own stage. When I came to Liverpool I existed in a vacuum; I<br />

had the liberty to exist in a bubble and put myself out there online.”<br />

The feeling that music was to be his main outlet soon set in after<br />

starting university. From here came a balancing act; architecture on one<br />

hand, and learning to produce in his free time on the other. Though, he<br />

admits, the latter overlapped into his paid study. “I see music as problem<br />

solving, and the process of finding answers. For me, the internet was<br />

somewhere I took a lot of my cues.” Like many burgeoning producers, the<br />

open source space of the internet liberated his potential. Here there was<br />

no set syllabus, tests, course work. “Of course, there is a lot of trial and<br />

error. I’ve made the most of as many lectures on YouTube as I could, more<br />

so than the ones I was actually paying for at Uni.” Working away on two<br />

fronts, graduating and continuing his music is the clearest example of this<br />

artist’s endeavour.<br />

A passing listen to All The Sweetness On The Surface would suggest<br />

it’s a genre-spanning LP, designed to cater to as many tastes as possible.<br />

It draws in influences of rock, blues and neo-soul, but not simply as<br />

a popularity exercise. Sam is vehemently opposed to this idea, citing the thin web that ties the<br />

album’s parading feathers together, irrespective of the clashing colours. “For me, my music caters<br />

to a single taste,” he attests. “I don’t really see it as being split on genres. The sound I create isn’t<br />

a genre, it’s a reflection of my musical experiences. You know, I started producing trying to make a<br />

grime track and now I’m here. It’s no different to me. When I was younger the first CD I was bought<br />

was 50 Cent, and the first one I bought with my own money was Paramore. I had a whole pop-punk<br />

phase following that. I’ve got an appreciation for metal, dubstep and EDM, the technical elements<br />

of each.” It’s the congealed paints on the canvas that bear the reflection<br />

of his art, not the individual elements that each contribute. Originality<br />

is a mere repacking of shared understanding. Sam doesn’t find himself<br />

bogged down in discussion of the latter.<br />

“I’m really drawn to nuance. It’s a standard human reaction to try<br />

to put everything in boxes or within certain barriers. It sort of follows<br />

a simple equation: X+X = Y. That’s not my life experience. I lived long<br />

enough to develop and portray a certain nuance in myself. You know,<br />

you look at me straight up you’ll say first, ‘He’s a rapper, and if he’s not<br />

a rapper he must be a singer, a soul singer, a neo-soul singer’.” The<br />

preconceptions noted aren’t only limiting musically, but a signal of too<br />

casual a reaction to understanding how Sam perceives himself as an<br />

artist; which identities society deems him entitled to. “Now I like both<br />

of these genres, but it’s not my entire thing. It’s just easier to underline<br />

my music as neo-soul; it just makes it easier for people to understand<br />

without having to look for any of the nuance I try to reflect.”<br />

“You listen to someone like Janelle Monáe: The ArchAndroid has all<br />

kind of genres. You’ve got country in the mix, a Spaghetti Western vibe,<br />

Fela Kuti samples. That’s one version of a nuanced portrayal. That’s the world that I exist in. I’m not<br />

out here trying to play a part in someone’s 8-bit narrative. There’s a lot more to explore, and the<br />

gradient is there. You can’t pay for intricacies, so you’ve got to create them yourself.”<br />

For someone who has relinquished an interest in architecture, XamVolo is an artist uniquely<br />

driven by the potential of space. Modification, workability and an ear for fine details shine through<br />

in his music. He’s calculated and meticulous; two attributes necessary if a self-taught dream is to<br />

materialise into a reality. In a city of defined structures, he’s used every tool to hand to carve out a<br />

space that bears his own design. All The Sweetness On The Surface is as intricate as it is subtle. It’s<br />

finely measured, to the highest expanse. !<br />

Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder<br />

Photography: Robin Clewley / robinclewley.co.uk (at Vessel Studios)<br />

xamvolo.com<br />

All The Sweetness On The Surface is out now via Decca. XamVolo plays at Inside Pages, part of our<br />

bido100! programme, at Constellations on 22nd June. Tickets available now at ticketquarter.co.uk.<br />

FEATURE<br />

17


YAMMERER<br />

Searching for Yammerer. Brit Williams follows the group down the rabbit hole of fictional managers and fruit<br />

machines, in pursuit of what it truly means to be authentic.<br />

My initial impression of the post-punk outfit<br />

YAMMERER was presented through the<br />

kaleidoscopic eye of the garrulous J George JC, the<br />

band’s frontman and, in my representation of him,<br />

quite the storyteller. Initially, I was scheduled to speak with only<br />

JC, who cunningly attempted to manoeuvre me into concocting<br />

a wacky concept for the interview. In his vision, the interview<br />

would take place at John Lennon Airport, where I would be<br />

introduced to a 4’4” Japanese man named Hiro purporting to be<br />

the band’s manager; the peerlessly inventive saga would then<br />

take in massage chairs, a casino, a missed flight, a Deal Or No<br />

Deal fruit machine, a ladybird neck pillow and the ramblings of<br />

the collective’s fictional manager, through whom they would<br />

converse. Although obliged to leave J George JC’s creative efforts<br />

to his lyricism, I manage to sneak in some questions to the rest of<br />

the group while they aversely have their photos taken.<br />

“We want to be mixed in with the crowd and walk along the<br />

crossing so it’s not focused on the band. A bit like Where’s Wally,<br />

but it’s all of us.” As I shiver in the wind outside the Albert Dock,<br />

attempting to get the perfect non-band photo proves difficult<br />

as people scurry from their day jobs and eagerly head home for<br />

dinner. We head towards the Liver Birds while our photographer<br />

Michael suggests it may be a more suitable backdrop given we’ve<br />

run out of daylight. Guitarist GC witters “No big landmarks, none<br />

of us are actually from Liverpool”. JC walks toward the water<br />

with his oversized umbrella held firmly in his right hand as he<br />

takes his shoes off and rolls up his trousers, stepping into the icy<br />

marina unfazed. “Stay there JC,” I say. “Turn around and spin the<br />

umbrella above on your head. Nobody smile, this isn’t supposed<br />

to be fun.” I’m poking fun at the idea of serious musicians needing<br />

serious photos. I step back and think about J George JC’s story of<br />

Hiro. As intriguing as the concept was, I couldn’t help but wonder<br />

why a band with little press, no Facebook page or SoundCloud<br />

would prefer to mask themselves behind an elaborate story.<br />

As we continue to take photos, I dig a little deeper and<br />

find out what experiences led them to form as a ‘band’ in the<br />

first place. Weaving psychedelic tendencies together with<br />

characteristic repetitive percussion, the early development of<br />

Yammerer’s sound came from a year of jamming without a singer<br />

or a name. In fact, they found their missing piece in JC through an<br />

ad they posted on Gumtree, which stated they were looking for a<br />

“Can/The Fall-type singer”.<br />

“We had about 10 responses. It’s like people didn’t even<br />

listen to the kind of music we’d asked for. Mostly wannabe popstarlets,<br />

it was ridiculous and I was getting sick of it,” exclaims<br />

guitarist GC. “Then literally one<br />

email came through and it was<br />

JC going, ‘I can do that’. So, I<br />

simply replied ‘Oh, can ya now?’<br />

and, before I knew it, I had an<br />

a cappella-type spoken word<br />

recording through, wondering<br />

then who this madman was.” JC,<br />

who was in a transitional period,<br />

felt that timing was everything<br />

in the initial formation of the<br />

band. “I was a bit at my wits’<br />

end and going through a lot<br />

of change. I wanted to make a<br />

band because my old one, Spliff<br />

Priest, had just dissipated so I<br />

didn’t know what to do. I rang<br />

round everyone I knew to see<br />

if there were any bands going and there just wasn’t. I looked on<br />

Gumtree, saw the ad and thought: wow, I can definitely do that<br />

because it was what I had been doing anyway.”<br />

From there, the rest of the band had made the conscious<br />

decision to take him on. “By the end of the first weekend, a few<br />

practices in we kind of convinced ourselves that if we’re not using<br />

this guy, then what the hell were we waiting for?”<br />

“You can either have<br />

everything be perfect<br />

in every set or you<br />

can reach higher and<br />

possibly fail… then we<br />

can hopefully have some<br />

kind of transcendence”<br />

Some years later, Yammerer’s artistic efforts demonstrate<br />

that they are still winding through life as a quasi-band,<br />

discovering their own distinctive parameters. They’ve certainly<br />

honed in on a sound that makes them uniquely Yammerer, using<br />

a sort of improv-punk aesthetic on stage to keep the entirety of<br />

the performance interesting. “Especially for the first few gigs we<br />

made sure to throw in some random stuff that JC would have to<br />

make up on the spot,” GC adds. “We would jump into songs that<br />

weren’t invented until we just started playing them right there on<br />

stage and see what happened.”<br />

It’s true, there is an<br />

unpredictable element to a live<br />

Yammerer show. Fronted by<br />

a distinctively rambunctious<br />

singer who is known to thrash<br />

around with the audience,<br />

the core personnel behind<br />

him compliment JC’s onstage<br />

intensity. I noticed a shift,<br />

however, last November when<br />

I saw their show in Chester,<br />

commenting on how I had seen<br />

what seemed to be a softer<br />

side of the group, sans crowd<br />

flogging. I later found out it was<br />

because JC had a concussion<br />

and felt it was important to take<br />

it easy that night. Concussion or<br />

not, it worked and allowed the band to flourish on stage in a more<br />

genteel way. They all agree that, although JC was playing it safe,<br />

they pushed themselves to try something new. “The way I always<br />

said it is, we want to have peaks and troughs because that way<br />

you know that you’re actually trying to play on the edge of what<br />

your abilities are,” affirms GC. “We always knew there was room<br />

to harness the energy. You can either go straightforward and<br />

18


have everything be perfect in every set, or you can reach higher<br />

and possibly fail. So, we try that with each gig. But then we can<br />

hopefully have some kind of transcendence. Although we’re not<br />

the ones to say how well that’s working.”<br />

The band’s mutual agreement that social media stifles<br />

creativity is perhaps why they have remained off the internet<br />

for so long. Although with the release of their first EP looming,<br />

naturally they have been prodded to start one by their label<br />

Restless Bear Records. Despite the subtle pressure, Yammerer<br />

seem unphased by the need for social profiles, something they<br />

believe increasingly smothers the music scene with pointless<br />

content. As guitarist SD comments, “We just feel it will be a bit<br />

shit to put something up that won’t be doing us any favours.” I<br />

chime in and ask, ‘But what about journalists or fans, how can<br />

they find out more from you? Is this not limiting your growth?’<br />

JC, quick to respond, observes how “bands have been around<br />

throughout history. Social media is such a relatively new thing<br />

and people have just jumped on it”. He continues: “After time<br />

people started to realise that maybe sitting in front of the TV all<br />

day really wasn’t that fucking good for you. I don’t need to have<br />

an extra thing that I don’t really want to be dealing with.”<br />

With that, the EP Poisonous Reptilian Colleagues And<br />

Co. showcases a manifestation of Yammerer’s world, one<br />

that is blooming with ideas of escapism and has evidently<br />

benefited from their two-day recording session at Elevator<br />

Studios. On first listen, Yammerer drive more energy out<br />

of their short, yet powerful four track EP than most bands<br />

are able to gain from an entire album. GC mentions the<br />

band’s approach to the recording process by highlighting<br />

the importance of keeping the sound raw. “The final track<br />

that we’ve called Seasons 13-30 was very under developed<br />

on purpose,” he explains. “We come from different playing<br />

backgrounds in how we listen to and absorb music,” JC adds,<br />

picking up the thread. “We hope to delve deeper into that as<br />

things move along – we kind of pushed the boat out in our<br />

studio to mess around with things we haven’t unleashed on<br />

anyone yet.”<br />

Using this method as the backbone for Yammerer<br />

has enabled the band to develop an intuitive approach<br />

which complements JC’s unconventional attitude towards<br />

the musical process. “A lot of our songs are first-takes,<br />

literally making them up on the spot and then we keep that<br />

blueprint for a lot of them,” he adds. “That’s what we took to<br />

Seasons…, we wanted to bring that element of surprise to the<br />

record. The other ones are well played by us and, with this<br />

track, we felt we could show a little bit more of what we think<br />

is a valuable energy that we bring.” Escapism is particularly<br />

evident on the song Airport, with its dominant and catchy<br />

riff, chiming well with JC’s monotonous delivery, a clear mirror<br />

image of the energy found in their live shows.<br />

There is, undoubtedly, an odd sense of discipline required to<br />

go against the grain in popular music. To denounce social media<br />

as a platform for people to hear them is bold, but Yammerer<br />

seem confident things will unfold as they are meant to. While JC<br />

himself is still developing as a lyricist, the band continue to jam<br />

together the same way they always have, without any rules. As<br />

reflected so clearly with the distraction of Hiro and the airport,<br />

this entire notion of escapism fuels the power behind Yammerer,<br />

fitting so well with their creative vision to care less about<br />

portraying a bleak image of an average band to everyone. “Some<br />

stuff you want to have a meaning, and for me, I want to make<br />

people question the lens and how they see the world,” concludes<br />

JC. “It’s like The Death Of The Author. Whatever you say isn’t<br />

relevant because people will hear what they want anyway.” !<br />

Words: Brit Williams / @therealbritjean<br />

Photography: Michael Driffill / @Michael.Driffy<br />

PRCACO is released on 22nd <strong>April</strong> via Restless Bear Records.<br />

Yammerer play the Bido Lito! Social in association with Dig Vinyl<br />

on 25th <strong>April</strong> at the Kazimier Stockroom.<br />

FEATURE<br />

19


“The mission now<br />

for InnovateHer is<br />

about getting girls<br />

ready for the tech<br />

industry and getting<br />

the tech industry<br />

ready for the girls”<br />

Through their mission to make coding accessible to everyone, the team behind Liverpool Girl Geeks are<br />

opening up new pathways to equip women with the skills to work in and conquer the tech industry.<br />

As a female who has recently entered into the digital<br />

and tech world in Liverpool, I can’t help but notice<br />

how male-dominated the field is and how difficult<br />

it can be to work your way upwards in the industry.<br />

However, it’s not just myself who has noticed that this is a<br />

problem for the city’s digital and creative culture: tech education<br />

specialists INNOVATEHER have recognised this imbalance in the<br />

industry and have been working across Liverpool and the North<br />

West to help make the digital sector much more accessible for<br />

girls and women.<br />

To help combat the lack of education and awareness for<br />

girls in tech, Chelsea Slater and Jo Morfee have spent the last<br />

few years developing the InnovateHer brand. Their mission<br />

is to prepare girls for a career in the digital sectors and help<br />

existing businesses develop their workplace cultures to be more<br />

accommodating for women. Digital and tech-based industries are<br />

generally male-led, but by providing educational programmes for<br />

girls aged between 12 and 16, meet ups for women interested<br />

in tech and advice for tech companies on how to be more gender<br />

inclusive, they have been able to start bridging the gender and<br />

skills gap in the city. The beginning of <strong>2019</strong> has been very<br />

significant for the team after merging the two strands of their<br />

business – Liverpool Girl Geeks and InnovateHer – to start<br />

encouraging more girls and women across the North West to<br />

enter into the digital sector. I went to speak to Chelsea and Jo<br />

about their journey and what they are doing to help keep all us<br />

girl geeks going strong.<br />

“I’ve been working in tech for about six to seven years,”<br />

Chelsea explains as she recalls how the idea for Liverpool Girl<br />

Geeks came about. “I went to university and got a tech job in<br />

Liverpool when I left. I had various jobs and realised there was a<br />

massive gender imbalance in the industry. I love technology and<br />

how creative it is and I was disappointed to not see many people<br />

like me in that role. I’ve always been quite an entrepreneur, so I<br />

was like, ‘Right, I’m going to inspire more women to get into tech’.<br />

So I started Liverpool Girl Geeks back in 2013.”<br />

“It [Liverpool Girl Geeks] wasn’t really meant to be anything<br />

other than an event and a blog about inspiring women in tech,<br />

but it kind of rolled into what it is today,” Chelsea continues.<br />

“Joanne came to a bloggers meet up and said, ‘I’m really<br />

passionate about what you’re doing, can I write for you?’ She<br />

ended up being our chief blogger and I asked her to join the<br />

business as my partner, that’s how it all began.”<br />

The snowballing nature of the business is obviously down<br />

to the passion Chelsea and Jo both share for helping women get<br />

into tech, which is allied to hands-on experience in the industry<br />

and a knowledge of the barriers that need to be overcome.<br />

“I’ve worked in digital and tech roles for over 10 years after<br />

I graduated from John Moores University in Law and Business,”<br />

Jo recalls. “I had to approach a lot of male clients and they would<br />

always speak to me in jargon, like I never got it. That point stood<br />

out in my career and I was like, ‘I need to know a bit more about<br />

this because I need to be able to talk to these people and have<br />

them not treat me like I’m dumb’. I made it my mission to learn<br />

HTML and CSS and got a job at the University of Liverpool. I<br />

became quite proficient in it, but there were still only two women<br />

on the team who were doing technical jobs; similarly to Chelsea I<br />

just thought, ‘Why is this?’”<br />

Questioning the gender imbalance in the digital and tech<br />

sectors in Liverpool was obviously a catalyst for something much<br />

bigger. Liverpool Girl Geeks soon outgrew its primary role as a<br />

blog and in hosting meet up events, developing into the full-time<br />

social enterprise company it is today. “It was just a community<br />

thing, a Twitter account and a shit website. I remember putting<br />

that together and was well proud of it, but now, looking back, it’s<br />

not,” Chelsea laughs with refreshing honesty as she recounts the<br />

early days of the business. “Then it merged into training girls and<br />

women up because they were coming to our events inspired and<br />

wanted to learn the skills. There wasn’t anything offering to teach<br />

them coding in Liverpool, so we thought we’d do it.”<br />

From here Girl Geeks expanded its outlook, providing coding<br />

and UX courses to young people between 12 and 16. The<br />

expansion brought about other opportunities, which Chelsea<br />

and Jo rolled together under the new banner of InnovateHer.<br />

This recent merging of Girl Geeks and the new brand feels like<br />

a very big step in the right direction for women and girls in the<br />

tech industry in <strong>2019</strong>. “Liverpool Girl Geeks has grown up, we<br />

like to say, into InnovateHer,” Chelsea says. “The mission now for<br />

InnovateHer is about getting girls ready for the tech industry and<br />

getting the tech industry ready for the girls.”<br />

Their new programme now consists of two elements: an<br />

eight-week programme that teaches digital skills in after school<br />

sessions led by industry mentors, and the company membership.<br />

“The company membership allows us to work really closely with<br />

companies on their diversity, recruitment and working policies,” Jo<br />

explains. “There’s no point in telling these girls to go and get a job<br />

in tech if the spaces aren’t inclusive for them.”<br />

“We’re still running the coding courses for adults this year,<br />

too, because it works really well with our company membership,”<br />

Jo explains when I ask what they are doing to help adult women<br />

in the industry. “We run a day-long Introduction To Coding course<br />

and we’ve also just partnered with North Coders to provide a<br />

financial aid package for women who want to come on our course<br />

for the 12 weeks but can’t afford it. They don’t pay anything to<br />

go on the boot camp until they get into employment afterwards –<br />

97 per cent of them get jobs within 15 days, so it’s a really good<br />

journey to go on. Working with 12-16 year olds is a long-term<br />

strategy, so it’s also good to keep progress going with the adults.”<br />

“We have our monthly meet ups, too, which are aimed at<br />

adult women and men,” Chelsea explains. “We make sure we<br />

have diverse panels and we have a lot of men coming to them<br />

now. We want men to get on board with the mission because<br />

they are the ones who normally own the company or are in a<br />

senior position. There is no way we can tackle the issue without<br />

including men, but we have to think carefully about how we do<br />

that so we can still put forward our message and still have a<br />

predominantly female community.”<br />

I went along to their March meet up to see what goes on<br />

and it really did feel like a community of people, regardless of<br />

gender, all there to talk openly about tech. Sharing knowledge is<br />

key, and is something Chelsea and Jo have put at the forefront of<br />

their message. It’s all about empowerment and supporting girls<br />

on their path to a digital career which is still unfortunately not<br />

encouraged in a lot of schools.<br />

“There are only 42 per cent of schools offering computer<br />

science at GCSE in Liverpool. Only eight per cent of pupils take<br />

it, and of that eight per cent the amount of girls is very low,” Jo<br />

explains. “Computer science isn’t the answer to everything, but<br />

it is a good path, which is why we focus on that on the 12-16<br />

programme.”<br />

These shocking statistics really show how underrepresented<br />

tech and digital subjects are in schools and highlight just how<br />

important InnovateHer’s work is. I ask if they have any success<br />

stories that have come out of their programmes and they laugh,<br />

not knowing where to start. Jo tells me how there was a 17-yearold<br />

girl called Jess who applied for one of their web development<br />

programmes with the intent of creating a blog about fashion,<br />

and now wants to work in cyber security. “She wants to work for<br />

MI5, is now studying computer science and enters national cyber<br />

competitions with another girl she met through our network. The<br />

experience just normalised it for her, that it was OK to be a geek!”<br />

“It changes mentors’ lives, too,” Chelsea comments. “A lot of<br />

our mentors say they get a lot out of our programme, it’s just so<br />

empowering and rewarding. A girl, Sophie, came to us wanting<br />

to be a mentor because she struggled with bullies in high school.<br />

The memories of that were quite strong, but because of the fear<br />

she wanted to face it by going back into school. She has excelled<br />

in it: she is so much more confident and has come out wanting to<br />

make more changes.”<br />

InnovateHer has also managed to work with companies<br />

in Liverpool to increase their recruitment of women, and they<br />

are beginning to expand their mission to other cities including<br />

Warrington, Wigan and Manchester, with London on the horizon.<br />

“We just want to make as much of an impact as we can. Our<br />

mission is to make sure there is no talk of gender, and over the<br />

next few years we are going to work on getting our current<br />

programmes to the highest quality possible.”<br />

The ultimate goal for this equality approach is for gender to<br />

not be an issue, for us not to be having this conversation in a few<br />

years’ time because the industry will be gender balanced and<br />

women and girls will have the same opportunity as everyone<br />

else. “We don’t want a business eventually,” Jo laughs. “But<br />

we can’t solve the issue on our own; it’s too big of a job for one<br />

grassroots organisation, it’s a societal problem. I can’t see there<br />

ever not being a need, but hopefully I’m wrong.”<br />

“We can’t be what we are trying to be without people,”<br />

continues Jo, “so the more people that get involved in any<br />

capacity and help spread our message is how we work. Without<br />

that then we would be nothing.” !<br />

Words: Sophie Shields<br />

Photography: Markus Spiske via Unsplash<br />

innovateher.co.uk<br />

20


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-TRAB-EVENT


NELSON...<br />

AT THE<br />

WATERFRONT<br />

This could be Rotterdam or anywhere, Liverpool or home… Niloo Sharifi spent a week in<br />

the company of the Liverpool rapper during his residency in The Netherlands.<br />

A<br />

lot has changed this year for MC NELSON, and it’s<br />

not even summer yet. He started it by quitting his<br />

full-time job in London and moving to Rotterdam for<br />

a residency with Liverpool arts organisation Metal<br />

and art charity CBK Rotterdam. The three-month project, titled<br />

Residency… At the Waterfront, was set up for two artists from<br />

four European port cities: Liverpool, Marseille, Naples and<br />

Rotterdam. The residency is based on the ideas of Gyz La Rivière<br />

in his book titled New Neapolis, a meditation on these four cities<br />

and their similarities. When we first arrived in Rotterdam, we find<br />

him sitting at the table of a bar with Nelson.<br />

“I have visited all of these cities and they all have the same<br />

type of energy, the same sort of spirit,” he tells us. These ports<br />

all have similar histories, shaped by the decline of their main<br />

industry as business shifted away from the docks. Left to their<br />

own devices, these once thriving cities have all undergone<br />

periods of neglect in the recent decades. The individuals who<br />

live in these cities also share a certain independence of spirit<br />

which endures and fuels a constant effort to re-establish the life<br />

and energy that was once abundant here. Gyz wanted to invite<br />

artists from each of the cities to live and work in Rotterdam, with<br />

enough resources and connections to focus their artistic practice,<br />

because he believes in the strength of these cities and their<br />

creative culture.<br />

When Nelson’s application for the residency was successful,<br />

he couldn’t say no. “I went to my job and was like, ‘Yo, I’ve got<br />

this dope opportunity, is there any chance I could take a little bit<br />

of a time off and maybe come back afterwards?’” They made it<br />

clear this wasn’t possible. “I was just like, ‘Peace out’. It came at<br />

the perfect time, when I wanted to do something new and just<br />

dedicate all my time and energy to making tunes and rapping.<br />

I’ve always been in full-time education or working. I’ve never<br />

been able to just, fully prostrate myself to rap music.” During<br />

this time, he’s performed in cities across Europe and finished his<br />

first cohesive project, Anglosfear. Once the residency ends, he<br />

is returning to live in Liverpool after years away and his work<br />

with Metal will continue once he gets home – in conjunction with<br />

Metal, Bido Lito! have commissioned MC Nelson to produce an<br />

original piece to be debuted at the bido100! Inside Pages festival.<br />

Staying with Nelson, and meeting the people who set up<br />

this project, is enlightening. These independent programmes<br />

investing in the growth of artists and turning disused spaces into<br />

creative hubs are exactly the kind of thing we believe Liverpool<br />

needs more of. Metal is one such organisation; operating out of<br />

Edge Hill railway station, they set up cinemas and art spaces in<br />

neglected buildings and forgotten parts of the city. Parts of our<br />

stay in Rotterdam feel like a great model for what Liverpool’s<br />

future could look like. The places we see and the people we meet<br />

inspire our belief in how Liverpool could be transformed with a<br />

little imagination.<br />

The building itself is a bungalow named Paviljoen …aan het<br />

Water (Pavilion… On The Waterfront), an abandoned cantina<br />

which had long been out of use. Kamiel Verschuren, who owns<br />

and maintains the building, has restored over 100 disused<br />

buildings across the south of the city, where artists live for a small<br />

membership fee. The structure stands a little apart from anything<br />

else on a broad-set street in South Rotterdam. The charming<br />

wooden seating area in front of it is populated with flower pots,<br />

with a red LED light display above the house showing an art text<br />

written by Kamiel. What had previously fallen into disrepair is now<br />

a functional creative base with good acoustics for recording, welllit<br />

and spacious with large windows overlooking the waterfront.<br />

The current residents have filled the living room with dozens<br />

of instruments and recording equipment, and having no close<br />

neighbours means the music can go on all night. As I find on my<br />

borrowed mattress at 4am, the only resident nearby has no moral<br />

high ground when it comes to noise complaints; several roosters<br />

announce the sunrise every morning, their call reverberating<br />

through the walls.<br />

While we’re staying here, we get chatting to Nelson’s<br />

temporary housemate and fellow resident, Mak, who brought<br />

most of the instruments. “It’s allowed me space and time to focus<br />

on creative projects in a fantastic environment, in a different city,<br />

being inspired by different things, and feed the flavour and vibes<br />

of that into the art.” Nelson has similarly used the rare opportunity<br />

to create at an unprecedented level. “There was a period of time<br />

where I was, like, living inside of this mixtape that I’m making, and<br />

there wasn’t really much else going on in the world,” he tells us. “It<br />

was dominating all my thoughts and everything, and just general<br />

maintenance of yourself and life, all the other things, just fell by the<br />

wayside.” This is his first extended release, and it feels momentous<br />

for the artist: “It feels so good to finally get it out my system. This<br />

is me planting a flag in the ground to say, ‘This is what I am trying<br />

to do’. Obviously, it’s not a perfect project, but I feel like this is a<br />

good summation of my general philosophy, beyond trying to do<br />

like, rappity-rap-rap or just rapping fast, or whatever.”<br />

The project’s philosophy is a meditation on national and<br />

cultural identity. “It’s not a linear story, but all the lyrics reinforce<br />

each other to tell a story, and reflect on England and Englishness,<br />

identity and immigration.” The ability to consider England from<br />

a distance was useful for gathering his thoughts on a topic that<br />

had consumed his life as well as his work. “This is the longest I’ve<br />

ever been out of the country in my life. Even though so much of<br />

Anglosfear is about bouncing about England and being English,<br />

a lot of the project did change being out of England, and seeing<br />

more of the world made me more reflective because it was a<br />

different perspective on shit.”<br />

Different contexts change the way identity is received and<br />

experienced. “You get to be a different person that you’re not at<br />

home – just the way you’re treated. In Liverpool, because we’re<br />

all Scouse, I was a black guy. When I moved to London, then I’m<br />

a Scouser, and then out here, I sound like an Englishman.” He<br />

22


“This is the longest<br />

I’ve ever been out of<br />

the country in my life…<br />

seeing more of the<br />

world made me more<br />

reflective because it was<br />

a different perspective”<br />

imagines what he is feeling is something like the experiences he<br />

has read about in historical accounts of black ex-pats: “A lot of old<br />

black writers from America, when they all used to fall in love with<br />

Paris and move over there – because they just get to experience a<br />

different perspective and a different life, you’re not just shackled.<br />

I dunno, stuff that happens at home is just way more painful.”<br />

Distance from the culture he is writing about allowed him a kind<br />

of breathing space to work, and these questions of identity are<br />

lucidly explored in Anglosfear. He takes us through from darker<br />

tracks like England to the more utopian Immigration, making<br />

the project a space for exploring a full spectrum of emotion and<br />

analysis, all executed with Nelson’s characteristically crisp flow<br />

and wordplay. Besides completing the project, Nelson has used<br />

the residency as a base to perform across Europe. “I’ve done loads<br />

of gigs this year, but I’ve not done one in the UK, which is mad,”<br />

he laughs.<br />

The country he will be returning to at the beginning of <strong>April</strong><br />

is one in political turmoil and uncertainty. There is a justified<br />

worry that resources are about to become very scarce, with<br />

consequences for the poorest. In these circumstances, funding<br />

for the arts is often axed, considered a luxury. The south of<br />

Rotterdam is a historically underfunded, densely multicultural<br />

area which has been shut out of institutional representation and<br />

allowed to decline. The work of people like Kamiel considers how<br />

art might extend beyond the representational and enact real<br />

change. They used a €100,000 grant to set up a ferry connecting<br />

the south of Rotterdam to the north, a free service which allows<br />

for connections to be made over the water; a channel for people<br />

and exchange information on a frequent journey which also<br />

connects them to the rest of the city.<br />

The Paviljoen is a subsidised bar and eatery in the summer,<br />

allowing local residents to participate in public life at a low cost.<br />

Kamiel’s work with disused spaces is part of a movement to<br />

redefine empty spaces in terms of potential for new ways of<br />

living. He explains the underlying concept to us: “If you want<br />

your art to be leading society, then you have to find tools that<br />

allow you to be leading and not following the art world. It’s<br />

about being in control of how things are happening and why<br />

things are happening.” He uses a network of DIY experts to turn<br />

squats into liveable workspaces and maintain them, creating a<br />

self-sufficient network of artists living without high rent costs.<br />

In the absence of infrastructural support for the arts, they<br />

have turned infrastructure into an artistic project. They set the<br />

projects running first, proved that they work, and then linked<br />

their infrastructure with official governments. “It’s art but it’s also<br />

real, there are people living in it,” Kamiel says, smiling. These<br />

endeavours tamper with accepted ideas of what it means to be<br />

an artist, bringing it down from a theoretical realm to earth.<br />

The Scouse artists on this residency are on a similar wave;<br />

Nelson has designed Black History workshops for schools; he<br />

hopes to fully embody his role as a researcher and teacher, which<br />

underlies his musical practise as an MC. Mak talks to us at length<br />

about how combining art and education can “change the face<br />

of the human planet”. Aside from music his lifelong passion is in<br />

education; after teaching at LIPA for several years he continues<br />

to offer workshops, which use the arts to teach. Like Kamiel,<br />

for Mak it comes down to critical thinking: “An artistic way of<br />

being is something that can be applied to anything, and should<br />

be applied to everything.” He sees musicality as a metaphor for<br />

the fundamental principle of harmony. “By teaching kids how to<br />

think instead of how to tick boxes, you unlock a different way<br />

of thinking which is based in seeing the similarities in things<br />

as opposed to the difference in things.” He expounds upon<br />

ancient classical education systems: the trivium; the quadrivium;<br />

multidimensional thinking which transcends the constraints of<br />

time and space. “It’s about finding harmonious processes for<br />

different things to sit together, and we could do with a bit more<br />

harmony in the world.”<br />

The approach taken by organisations like Metal, CBK<br />

Rotterdam and individuals like Mak and MC Nelson is ultimately<br />

an optimistic one. They look at empty spaces and evidence of<br />

societal failure and see opportunities for growing, building and<br />

learning. Nelson will be returning to Liverpool with a wealth<br />

of empowering experiences: “It’s honestly mad. And you think<br />

about all the spaces in Liverpool that are disused, that nothing<br />

is happening in, that could be a boss centre – like that cinema<br />

on the bottom of Park Road – things like that, all these spaces<br />

that could be transformed into something, but they’re just left as<br />

eyesores that nothing happens with.” Liverpool is full of untapped<br />

potential; if government is failing, art organisations can play a<br />

role in imagining new forms of infrastructure which enable new<br />

modes of existence. While governmental and European funding<br />

dwindles, we must search for self-sustaining enterprises which<br />

create the sort of freedom and productivity afforded by the<br />

Rotterdam residency.<br />

“There’s a nice energy in Liverpool at the minute,” Nelson<br />

observes. “It feels fertile. There are loads of great acts, and if<br />

we all just come together a little bit more, there’s enough talent<br />

for an incredible scene.” Without a certain degree of funding<br />

and investment in the arts, possibilities might be limited. But as<br />

we witnessed in Rotterdam, artists working in the city have the<br />

power to push for changes and be instrumental in enacting them,<br />

expanding a city’s understanding of what is possible and creating<br />

futures we want to live in. !<br />

Words and Photography: Niloo Sharifi<br />

@mcnels0n<br />

MC Nelson performs a special music commission at Inside Pages<br />

on 22nd June, as part of bido100!. Tickets available now at<br />

ticketquarter.co.uk.<br />

FEATURE<br />

23


24


CITY OF<br />

LIVERPOOL FC<br />

Football, football, football – is it more important than life and death? For The Purps, a community spirit that is<br />

an antidote to the riches of modern football is at the heart of their manifesto.<br />

The Hallmark Security Football League Premier Division<br />

(the North West Counties Premier to me and you)<br />

is not one of English football’s more salubrious<br />

operations. The ninth tier of the footballing pyramid<br />

is as far removed from the glitz of the Premier League as you<br />

can imagine, but it’s not the comfortable trappings of elite level<br />

football that attracts 400-odd hardy souls to a HSFLPD fixture<br />

on a bright, breezy March afternoon. It’s something that reaches<br />

far beyond football.<br />

CITY OF LIVEPOOL FC are the somewhat unlikely attraction<br />

on this particular occasion, as they take on Hanley Town in what<br />

looks like a formality on paper. CoL FC – more affectionately<br />

known as the Purps for the colour of their kit – currently sit top<br />

of the division, almost 50 points ahead of their opponents. The<br />

real spice in this match lies in the title race they’re locked in with<br />

city neighbours and closest rivals, Bootle FC. The Purps are two<br />

points ahead with a game in hand, as the two teams battle it out<br />

for the one guaranteed promotion place, which is a huge goal in<br />

the bottleneck that is the non-league system. This rivalry is made<br />

all the more intense by the fact that the two Liverpool clubs<br />

share a ground, making for a healthily feisty landlord-and-lodger<br />

relationship. New Bucks Park sits on a nondescript industrial<br />

estate in Aintree, on the other side of the railway lines to the<br />

racecourse: it is Bootle’s home, and they’ve been playing host<br />

to City of Liverpool since the Purps formed in 2015 (Bootle FC,<br />

by contrast, first formed in 1879, but this current iteration was<br />

founded in 1953). The upstarts have been on fast-forward since<br />

then, streaking past their hosts and assuming seniority. All very<br />

interesting, you may be thinking, but why should we care about<br />

the fortunes of two local football teams? Can we not just leave<br />

them to it, on their godforsaken industrial estate in Sefton?<br />

“It’s unquestionably about community. And politics as well.”<br />

Paul Manning is more aware than most of how important teams<br />

such as City of Liverpool are to people’s relationship with the<br />

city. Manning is the club’s secretary and a founder member,<br />

and he speaks to me on the phone prior to the match versus<br />

Hanley. “I’ve seen football change, massively. Hillsborough was –<br />

correctly – a turning point for professional football in this country,<br />

and fair enough. But it then got exploited because of the free<br />

market economy.”<br />

Manning is also a volunteer, juggling his own job with the<br />

administerial tasks of making sure matches take place and bills<br />

get paid. He does so because he believes that a football club<br />

should be about something more than just silverware and brand<br />

marketability, and that, if run successfully, they can be vital to the<br />

health of local communities. “Previously, owners of first division<br />

football clubs were the local butcher, businessmen who’d worked<br />

themselves up,” he continues. “The television money that came<br />

in at the start of the Premier League kind of changed them.” The<br />

Premier League era, buffeted by the winds of Rupert Murdoch’s<br />

BSkyB, ushered in a new wave of rampant capitalism that saw<br />

FCs become PLCs, and slowly saw the decoupling of clubs –<br />

often with a hundred years of history behind them – from the<br />

values of their supporter bases.<br />

A former member of the Spirit Of Shankly supporters’ group,<br />

Manning was part of the group who founded City of Liverpool,<br />

partly in protest at the running of Liverpool FC, the club he’s<br />

supported his whole life, under the auspices of their previous<br />

American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. The same<br />

reasons that caused them to start a new club afresh are the very<br />

things that still attract new fans to the club today.<br />

“Disillusionment was the first thing,” he says, which is a<br />

refrain often heard in Against Modern Football movements,<br />

which eschew the uber-consumerist trappings of contemporary<br />

British football. “It was a political thing almost,” continues<br />

Manning, “but not in a party-political sense. It was just about<br />

our brand of community politics and wanting to help people.<br />

We wanted to help the homeless, we wanted to help the<br />

hungry we continue to do so. Professional football is necessarily<br />

individualistic and we’re not individualistic – we’re socialists.”<br />

There’s a temptation to use this as a stick to beat the<br />

corporate beasts that profit from the national institutions that<br />

are pillars of the national game; but, given that the majority of<br />

owners of Premier League clubs are<br />

overseas investors, we can’t really<br />

expect them to be out canvassing<br />

on the doorstep every week. It’s<br />

also bad for business to get into<br />

politics when your primary role is<br />

to make money. “That’s exactly<br />

right,” Manning says in response<br />

to the idea that the people holding<br />

football’s purse strings are scared<br />

of talking about the things that the<br />

Purps are. “It’s not that they’re not<br />

talking about it, they don’t think<br />

about it. The business is to make<br />

money and the individuals are there<br />

to make as much money as they individually can make out of this<br />

enterprise.”<br />

“The manager now, and most of the players, understand<br />

that the club sits in a community. In the first couple of years, the<br />

players were on at us, ‘Give us a prize, give us a bonus!’ And we<br />

just said, ‘No. There are people starving on the streets. You’ve<br />

got a job and you’ve got your football money coming in, but you<br />

want us to give you more money so you can get pissed while<br />

there’s people sleeping in sleeping bags?’ Not happening.”<br />

The crowd at New Bucks Park are in boisterous mood as<br />

kick-off approaches, with occasional shouts of “PEEEEEEERRRR-<br />

PUUUULLLLLL!” coming from The Shed, the seated area behind<br />

one of the goals where the Purple ultras gather. There are no<br />

flares (yet), but the atmosphere is definitely upbeat, expectant<br />

even. The team have been on a great run of form, but Bootle are<br />

hot on their heels. At the derby clash versus their neighbours<br />

earlier in the season, a purple wheelie bin was temporarily hoisted<br />

inside the ground, to the delight of the Purps and annoyance of<br />

the landlords. Today, the assembled crowd witnesses something<br />

altogether more picturesque, in the form of a steepling opening<br />

goal by Purps’ centre midfielder Karl Clair, hit from inside his own<br />

half. A replay of the goal makes the rounds of the football Twitter<br />

accounts in the days following, as much for the Hanley keeper’s<br />

flailing save attempt as for Clair’s sweet strike.<br />

By the time he and the rest of the team make it into the bar<br />

after a tense 3-2 victory, Clair has even had a song minted for<br />

him by the Purps’ vocal brigade of singers. A knot of die-hards<br />

belt it out, as well as many of their standard numbers, in a joyous,<br />

occasionally raucous, post-match atmosphere inside the club<br />

house. This is the heart of City of Liverpool FC’s community,<br />

where the pilgrims gather every Saturday to roar their charges on.<br />

The core of their fanbase is made up of slightly jaded Liverpool<br />

and Everton fans, their numbers being swelled in recent weeks by<br />

curious visitors who want to see what the bandwagon looks like.<br />

Prior to forming the club, Manning did his market research to<br />

find out what people wanted from a club of this stature. He also<br />

maintains a focus group of about 30 regular fans who he polls<br />

throughout the season, tweaking the offer accordingly. “A lot of<br />

the joy and fun has gone out of football, in our opinion,” he tells<br />

me, referencing the fan experience that left a bad taste in the<br />

mouths of many LFC fans after what happened under Hicks And<br />

Gillett. “We did just want to make people happy at the match<br />

again, make it so that people could have a laugh and have a drink<br />

with their mates.”<br />

For fans who rarely get to see their ‘first’ club play on a<br />

Saturday afternoon anymore, the Purps offer more than just a<br />

viable alternative to alleviate weekend boredom. They offer an<br />

identity, something to believe in, something to be part of. Sure,<br />

you can be a Liverpool fan and feel part of the wider “family”<br />

that the club’s marketeers like to harp on about, but there you are<br />

one of millions and can just be another face in the crowd. At the<br />

level that City of Liverpool are currently at, you can be a noise,<br />

have your voice heard, be recognised by the players or treasure<br />

your own intensely personal connection with a club. A club that<br />

actively seeks to improve the lives of the community it serves.<br />

“There was a definite political activism feeding into the<br />

community aspect of the club, and the football was really just<br />

“We don’t need<br />

American hedge funds<br />

or Russian oligarchs to<br />

have a successful and<br />

enjoyable football club<br />

in our community”<br />

a representation of it because a<br />

lot of people can’t be arsed with<br />

politics,” Manning continues. “But<br />

if you do want to be part of the<br />

club – a shareholder, part of the<br />

community, and have an influence<br />

in the club and the direction that we<br />

take – then you are going to have<br />

to match the aims and ambitions of<br />

the club overall. And that’s about<br />

socialism, to be brutally honest. Or,<br />

we might call it commune-ism – not<br />

communism, but commune-ism,<br />

community-ism.”<br />

Back in 2005, a group of<br />

Manchester United fans broke away and formed the club<br />

FC United of Manchester, largely in protest at another set of<br />

Americans – the Glazer family – who had taken over their club.<br />

With their reputation from stripping sporting franchises of<br />

their assets and squeezing money out of it, these fans didn’t<br />

like what they saw, so they started from scratch. Almost 15<br />

years later, FC United sit in the National League North, English<br />

football’s sixth tier, and have a 4,000-capacity stadium all of<br />

their own.<br />

The similarities between FC United and City of Liverpool<br />

are evident, but there’s a big difference in their identities:<br />

where FC United were seen as an alternative to fans of one<br />

club in particular, City Of Liverpool wanted a much broader<br />

remit. Manning admits that, at the outset, the Purps’ founding<br />

committee received some relational support from FC United;<br />

but, other than admiring the model employed, there was a<br />

faultline in it that they as founders weren’t comfortable with.<br />

“As brilliant as FC United had been to get to that point,<br />

they’d basically cut the city in half. They’d replicated all the old<br />

rivalries of their parent club, Man United. And Man City fans in<br />

the city or in the area were excluded. We made a decision off<br />

the back of that, saying that this [CoL FC] has got to be for the<br />

whole city.”<br />

With relative success on the horizon – fingers crossed –<br />

Manning and his committee have to look to the future, and one of<br />

the things they’ve taken from the FC United playbook is the goal<br />

of having their own stadium. “We’re coming to the point very<br />

shortly where there is no more revenue. We need that revenue<br />

[from match-day sales] and we need food outlets and we need<br />

to treat supporters in a better way in a match-based scenario.<br />

We need stadium sponsorship rights, we need pitch-side<br />

advertiser opportunities. That’s the glass ceiling. Not the football,<br />

but the ground.”<br />

“The market of the Liverpool City Region is there for us, the<br />

desire is there for us. This club can be anything it wants to be,<br />

there’s no question in my mind.”<br />

Although the grey area of having a ‘second club’ is one that<br />

I occasionally feel uncomfortable with – as a staunchly stubborn<br />

Tranmere season ticket holder – I can definitely see the appeal<br />

of getting swept up in the who romance around a football club<br />

built on foundations and solid and noble as these. Paul Manning<br />

agrees. “It means a lot of different things to different people,<br />

but in a football sense I think it just means happiness and the<br />

enjoyment of seeing a local, successful team on the pitch in<br />

a successful club, giving us all pride, proving that we are the<br />

community.”<br />

“We don’t need American hedge funds or Russian oligarchs,<br />

or whatever you want to mention, in order to have a successful<br />

and enjoyable football club in our community.” !<br />

Words: Christopher Torpey / @CATorp<br />

Photography: Tabitha Jussa / FotoOcto<br />

colfc.co.uk<br />

Join us at Smithdown Social Club on 12t <strong>April</strong> for our event<br />

Purple Sole: City Of Liverpool And The Social Fabric Of<br />

Merseyside Football. Tickets at sevenstore.com/trim-trab.<br />

FEATURE<br />

25


CHARACTERS<br />

Merseyside is brimming with authentic and genuine people who all of us could learn from, but we don’t<br />

always get the chance to show the gratitude we have towards them. This new series will be a regular<br />

celebration of extraordinary people, nominated by you, the other people. Is there someone in your life who<br />

you think everyone should know about?<br />

ONION DELI<br />

Tears are not enough<br />

Nominated by<br />

Bernie Connor<br />

I<br />

don’t feel good doing things like this and I really don’t like<br />

using this platform as a confessional. But something is on<br />

my mind, and this is one of the best places to get it out there.<br />

And, anyway, all the people involved will read it here.<br />

A couple of years ago, with one thing and another, I went<br />

through a massive personal upheaval. I found myself in a space<br />

I would never have anticipated in a million years. It was dark,<br />

long and unforgiving. If it had lasted for a couple of weeks, it<br />

would have been 13 and a half days too<br />

long. My only experience of feeling this<br />

way – detached, unhappy, freaked out<br />

– was in the days following my giving<br />

up drinking and taking drugs, 13 years<br />

ago. On the unpleasant scale, it was a<br />

rocking 9.9; darkness and unhappiness<br />

were everywhere I seemed to look.<br />

Hand on my heart, I genuinely couldn’t<br />

see how the situation would ever get<br />

any better.<br />

When the shit hits the fan in your<br />

life, it’s good to know who your friends<br />

are. Despite all evidence to the contrary,<br />

I’m not a very outgoing person. In my<br />

earlier years I used devices and props<br />

– people, drink, drugs – to do all my outgoing for me. It was so<br />

much easier. When I was a kid, I was horribly shy and always<br />

pushed to the back. I countered this by inventing a whole new<br />

character, one that was mouthy, opinionated, desperately trying<br />

to be funny. It masked a whole raft of difficulty and anxiety in my<br />

life. If I could just send it over there and not think about it for a bit,<br />

that would be just fine. I was far too young to deal with difficult<br />

things. That, in itself, was a truly difficult thing. Something that I<br />

feel may have come back to haunt me. Over a long period of time,<br />

“I found salvation<br />

in a really unusual<br />

place. I didn’t<br />

see it coming,<br />

and I wasn’t<br />

looking for it”<br />

the character I invented became me. I had to live with it. With<br />

the benefit of hindsight – in which I could be wrong – I never<br />

felt comfortable with it. But, to be fair, I never allowed myself<br />

any reflective moments in which I could review my situation.<br />

Everything was done for the minute, and if it wasn’t, fuck it.<br />

So, the shit did hit the fan. All the atoms and particles of<br />

life felt like they were all moving in different directions. I felt like<br />

there was nowhere to go. It was the first crisis in my life that<br />

I’d experienced without the safety<br />

net of drink and drugs to soften the<br />

fall. I didn’t know what to do. Based<br />

on that, I became (more) grouchy,<br />

more insecure, more unpleasant to<br />

be around. I couldn’t stay at home for<br />

any length of time, the four walls were<br />

killing me. With nowhere to go and<br />

nothing to do, I found a convenient<br />

table in a local café, a place where I<br />

felt safe and comfortable, and parked<br />

meself. And I didn’t move. Indeed, I<br />

haven’t moved. As it all unfolded, I<br />

found salvation in a really unusual<br />

place. I didn’t see it coming, and I<br />

wasn’t looking for it.<br />

For this, I have to say a million thank yous to Kerry Thomas<br />

and the staff at Onion Deli. Onion is a sanctuary from the waiting<br />

world. It has been my office, social meeting point and sounding<br />

box for many years. At one time, I was a member of their staff.<br />

Had they not been there, the difficult situation I found myself in<br />

may have festered, grown and got lots worse. They have put up<br />

with my horrid, challenging moods for longer than they would<br />

care to admit. Every day they have had an open door policy to<br />

me, inviting me in and trying to lessen my load. At moments of<br />

extreme unhappiness and loneliness, I’ve felt that Miss Kerry<br />

Thomas has been my only friend. She’s like Superwoman, no<br />

matter what. She has never, ever said, ‘Aahhh, fuck off, Bernard’<br />

– not even once. When I know for certain there have been times<br />

when she’s wanted to. This commitment to my everyday wellbeing<br />

cannot be underestimated. Kerry has helped me through a<br />

horrid, unbearable chapter of my life and I can never, ever forget<br />

that. And, more importantly, like the Lone Ranger, she asks for<br />

nothing in return.<br />

To step out and hold out a helping hand to somebody she<br />

didn’t even know very well was a colossal gesture. Often, she has<br />

immersed herself in my own personal misery, when I’ve known<br />

before we started that she has shit going on in other areas she<br />

could be dealing with. The sort of kindness that you wish you<br />

could find in everybody you know. Some people are genuinely<br />

incapable; some people are genuinely unwilling to do anything<br />

to help. I can’t forget this. Ever. What Kerry has done puts her in<br />

the top bracket of people I’ve ever met. I have no idea how you<br />

go about repaying that enormous debt of gratitude. Even as I’m<br />

writing, I’m not sure how she’ll feel about this. But I hope she<br />

sees it as my saying an enormous thank you for all the help she<br />

gave me at a time in my life that I needed it so much. She’ll stay in<br />

my heart forever; everybody needs a friend like that.<br />

Thanks, Kegs. I really mean this from the very pit of my soul.<br />

You really are Superstar-Woman, and I’d never be here to write<br />

this if it wasn’t for you. The best therapy available in the city.<br />

Some of that magic can rub off on you. Just be there. !<br />

Words: Bernie Connor<br />

Illustration: Hannah Blackman-Kurz / @HBkurz<br />

Onion Deli on Aigburth Road is open 8.30am to 4pm (closed on<br />

Wednesdays).<br />

26


#STILLHEREFORANOTHERYEAR<br />

NEW SUMMER<br />

GARDEN MENU<br />

5TH BIRTHDAY<br />

LIVE MUSIC<br />

LOCAL DJS


ido lito social invites you to<br />

confirmed guests<br />

dj’s<br />

Melodic Distraction<br />

Grooveyard<br />

Linster Sangster<br />

Nightdubbing<br />

Dig Vinyl DJ’s<br />

in the garden - free<br />

bands<br />

Yammerer<br />

Samurai Kip<br />

Good Problems<br />

Live music<br />

in the Stockroom<br />

£5 adv/£6 OTD<br />

THURSDAY 25 APRIL<br />

date . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .<br />

7PM TO LATE<br />

time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .<br />

KAZ GARDENS & KAZ STOCKROOM<br />

place . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


SPOTLIGHT<br />

COW<br />

Kyle Lee juggles his time between a couple of North Wales-via-Liverpool bands,<br />

but finds the most catharsis in this grungy countrified outfit.<br />

If you had to describe your style in a sentence, what would you<br />

say?<br />

Pissed off, noisy alt.rock country verging on a nervous<br />

breakdown.<br />

Have you always wanted to create music?<br />

I haven’t necessarily always wanted to create music, but from<br />

the age of about nine I felt a strong pull towards music, and<br />

in particular the guitar. I was lucky enough to have a very<br />

supportive mum who bought me my first guitars and an older<br />

brother with taste in guitar bands, which, over time, shaped my<br />

influences and record collection.<br />

I joined my first band when I was 14/15 and, after figuring out<br />

exactly what it is we wanted to do, I began to write my first<br />

songs. To share an idea of a song with like-minded musicians and<br />

see it take shape or follow a completely different path than you<br />

originally imagined is highly addictive and probably my favourite<br />

aspect of being in bands.<br />

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially<br />

inspired you?<br />

Back when I was eight, Oasis were the reason for myself and a<br />

whole generation of musicians picking up a guitar and beginning<br />

the long, tortuous and joyous journey of becoming a musician.<br />

Although their live gigs were regular features in my house –<br />

taped on VHS from a mate who had Sky – I wouldn’t say this<br />

has influenced the sound of any band I have been in. Oasis<br />

were merely proof to me that some normal lads who had grown<br />

up with nothing can start a band, they can make something<br />

of themselves and they can do this with backing of the whole<br />

country.<br />

Nirvana, and In Utero especially, spoke to me on a very personal<br />

level. Kurt’s guitar solos to me were something you couldn’t really<br />

learn, and it opened up a whole new<br />

world in guitar-playing for me and<br />

forced me to focus on how to make<br />

a guitar howl and cry with feedback<br />

and distortion. It was OK to play<br />

something different every time just as<br />

long as I was feeling it and it proved<br />

to be a very efficient way of letting<br />

off steam and getting all that teenage<br />

angst out of my system.<br />

Do you have a favourite song or<br />

piece of music to perform? What<br />

does it say about you?<br />

I’m lucky to be in more than one band, so I think it would be<br />

hard to choose one particular song and unfair on the others. For<br />

COW it’s usually Happy Birthday, our set closer. This song can<br />

last between eight and 15 minutes depending on my mood (a<br />

promoter’s worst nightmare). The final two thirds of the song<br />

consist of me taking out whatever issues I may have on that<br />

particular day on my guitar. I prefer to play noisy, discordant<br />

and unplanned guitar solos. I’d say that says a lot about me as a<br />

person and not necessarily positive things.<br />

What do you think is the overriding influence on your<br />

songwriting?<br />

It would depend from song-to-song, but I suppose my emotions<br />

do get the better of me and this is displayed in my songwriting.<br />

There’s a lot of heartache in my songs, so they are a bit of an<br />

emotional vent. I find it really hard to write songs when I’m happy<br />

and will sometimes have to pull on bad memories to finish song<br />

lyrics. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a piece of art and thought,<br />

“Fuck, I need to write a song about that”.<br />

“Music is a time<br />

machine that can<br />

take you back to any<br />

period in your life”<br />

If you could support any artist in the<br />

future, who would it be?<br />

Young Jesus would be high on my<br />

list. I like their whole dismantling of<br />

a song structure. They’re also not<br />

shy on 20-minute songs and John<br />

Rossiter (guitar/vocals) can fucking<br />

wail and he does this when you least<br />

expect it.<br />

Why is music important to you?<br />

If I’m having a shit day, I’ve got<br />

some music to help process it. If I’m<br />

in a good mood, I’ve got some music to enhance that feeling.<br />

Don’t want to talk about my feelings? I’ll write a song. Music is<br />

a time machine that can take you back to any period in your life,<br />

whether that be good times or bad times. I can’t think of a single<br />

film that I like where the soundtrack isn’t as important as the<br />

cinematography.<br />

I moved to this city purely to be around music and the bands that<br />

it has produced. I make every effort I can to watch live music on a<br />

weekly basis, which is very easy when you have the likes of Eggy<br />

Records, Sound, Deep Cuts, Capeesh, Harvest Sun and a whole<br />

host of labels, venues and promoters readily promoting the talent<br />

that this city has to offer.<br />

Photography: Sasha Kuzmina<br />

COW perform at Focus Wales on 18th May as one of Bido Lito!’s<br />

selected artists.<br />

30


RACHAEL<br />

JEAN<br />

HARRIS<br />

Crafting highly-charged songs<br />

from the frantic emotions of life’s<br />

ups and downs is a characteristic<br />

of this jazz-inflected songwriter.<br />

“Words are the<br />

linchpins in my<br />

songs, where<br />

everything<br />

flows from”<br />

Have you always wanted to create music?<br />

No. I didn’t think of myself as a particularly creative person in<br />

any artistic sense during my school years. I was very focused on<br />

sport. We didn’t have any big record collections at home… most<br />

of the music I remember hearing was a heady mix of church<br />

hymns, my dad’s Status Quo tapes in the car and The Chart<br />

Show on Saturday mornings! I do remember buying my first tape,<br />

Madonna’s Immaculate Collection, when I was about 12. Maybe<br />

that’s when I started to develop an affection for great songs.<br />

During my teens I got an allowance every month and would head<br />

into town and relinquish about half of it for a carefully chosen<br />

album. Suzanne Vega, Joni Mitchell, Sleater-Kinney, Radiohead,<br />

REM, all sorts really. I got a guitar when I was 17, the result of<br />

an instinctive desire to emulate some of the beauty and rawness<br />

in the music that I’d come across. I got three chords down for<br />

Blowin’ In The Wind and was away. I was pretty rubbish for a<br />

long time but kept plodding on, convinced it was a worthwhile<br />

pursuit.<br />

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially<br />

inspired you?<br />

Too difficult I reckon – but going to gigs when I was in sixth form<br />

and seeing local bands, particularly with women players, was<br />

very encouraging. There was a band called Boba Fett who had a<br />

girl playing bass – it sticks in my memory ‘cos it was a rare thing<br />

to see. A small thing, but a seed, and it helped me imagine myself<br />

doing something similar. Maybe I’d also put Suzanne Vega’s song<br />

Luka in there. So subtle and poetic and powerful.<br />

If you had to describe your music/style in a sentence, what<br />

would you say?<br />

Emotive, real life stories fusing the personal and the political, wrapped<br />

in songwritery sounds with a bit of jazz and 90s indie influence.<br />

Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?<br />

What does it say<br />

about you?<br />

A song that has affected me deeply in the last few years is<br />

the jazz standard Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most<br />

(Fran Landesman/Tommy Wolf). It just has the most perfect<br />

melody and trajectory and is such a pleasure to sing – it’s<br />

also quite difficult to do it well, so it’s challenging. I do enjoy<br />

listening to sophisticated melody/harmony, and one of the<br />

aims in my own work is to write things that are accessible but<br />

not predictable.<br />

What do you think is the overriding influence on your<br />

songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a<br />

mixture of all of these?<br />

Certainly a mixture of things. My own life experience, my<br />

thoughts and interests and feelings, the subjects I come<br />

across that I think are important or unusual – which is<br />

currently the realities of imprisonment and long term<br />

confinement, based on my friendship with a guy called Tamir<br />

who’s on death row in the US. Words are the linchpins in my<br />

songs, where everything flows from, so poetry and novels are<br />

big inspirations, I spend a lot of time researching themes. And<br />

yes, visual arts, the natural world, my subconscious, they all<br />

feature, they all do their work.<br />

Why is music important to you?<br />

It’s my small way of trying to make the world a more beautiful<br />

and interesting place.<br />

rachaeljeanharris.com<br />

Rachael Jean Harris’ latest EP Leaving Light is out now.<br />

GOOD<br />

PROBLEMS<br />

Canadian grunge and British<br />

indie collide in the swirl of noise<br />

created by this Liverpool-based<br />

four-piece.<br />

“Making music<br />

is easier than<br />

making friends…”<br />

If you had to describe your music in a sentence, what would<br />

you say?<br />

Liam: A very welcome, dark but gentle slap in the face.<br />

George: Good music for when you’re angry, sad and slaughtered.<br />

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially<br />

inspired you?<br />

Nat: Gotta be the Gallagher brothers.<br />

Jen: To be honest, I’m wracking my brain here. I have no idea<br />

when it happened, I’ve been singing and writing for ages. I think I<br />

was into poetry first… I think?<br />

George: Seeing Joe Bonamassa blew my mind and to this day still<br />

makes me feel inferior about my musical abilities.<br />

How did you get into music?<br />

Jen: Making music is easier than making friends…<br />

Nat: One fine Sunday afternoon I had a hangover and felt the<br />

need to make the world feel as miserable as I did.<br />

Liam: When I was in school, some lad played the drums in front<br />

of our whole class and all the girls loved it. I was jealous, I knew<br />

there and then that I needed a drumkit.<br />

Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?<br />

What does it say about you?<br />

Liam: A song called Rejektor. It’s a stomper, I like anything that<br />

makes you want to nod your head aggressively.<br />

Jen: I’m the opposite. Cadaver is my absolute fave to perform. It’s<br />

slow and sad and sweet but still perrrty intense.<br />

George: Flamingo has a groove that gets to me each time, it’s<br />

infectious.<br />

What do you think is the overriding influence on your<br />

songwriting?<br />

Nat: A mean riff and gritty lyrics.<br />

Liam: An underlying dark humour, with a groove.<br />

Jen: Relatable catastrophe with a side of hope.<br />

If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?<br />

Jen: I’m gonna keep it local when I say I wanna do another gig<br />

with Hannah’s Little Sister. They’re our buddies too, so it’s always<br />

a sick time when you combine forces.<br />

Nat: Get me up with Trampolene<br />

George: I’d love to support Sleaford Mods, they’re the best.<br />

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what<br />

makes it special?<br />

Liam: We played in the back of a pub in Rhyl once. It was great,<br />

not many of the clientele had any teeth, I loved it.<br />

Jen: My favourite was last year at the Kazimier Garden; it was<br />

cold, packed and sounded great. I love the way music carries<br />

outside, too.<br />

soundcloud.com/goodproblemo<br />

Good Problems play the Bido Lito! Social at the Kazimier<br />

Stockroom on 25th <strong>April</strong>.<br />

SPOTLIGHT 31


PREVIEWS<br />

“How we’re treated behind<br />

the scenes in Hollywood, how<br />

we’re treated on screen, is<br />

how we’re treated in the world.<br />

It is the world’s number one<br />

propaganda machine”<br />

CONVERSATION<br />

ROSE McGOWAN<br />

26/04 – Storyhouse<br />

“I wonder what we could achieve if we didn’t have<br />

to fight the other stuff.” The actor and activist<br />

speaks candidly about the #MeToo movement and<br />

the continuing impact the patriarchy is having on<br />

women’s lives.<br />

Interviewing ROSE MCGOWAN is a prospect that one can’t help but approach with some<br />

trepidation. She is a highly accomplished woman, triumphing as an actor, starring in films<br />

such as Scream and the phenomenally successful TV series Charmed. She’s got a fierce<br />

reputation as a feminist campaigner, #MeToo activist and Harvey Weinstein whistleblower,<br />

talking publicly and leaving out no details whatsoever about an alleged sexual assault two<br />

decades ago by the now shamed producer.<br />

We’re speaking on a weekday morning, during that period of freak sunshine belonging to<br />

another season. She’s in London staying with a friend. It’s a city she visits a lot because she’s trying<br />

to decide where she wants to exist. She hasn’t hit it yet. “I’m a bit of a rolling stone.” You’re on a<br />

journey, I respond. “Yeh, definitely. The reality is I probably need to sit in a rest home and heal from a<br />

lot of trauma for a while, but I can’t afford to. I need to keep plugging away.”<br />

She’s achieved so much despite a difficult childhood being brought up in a cult and living as a<br />

teenage runaway. Her memoir, Brave, was published a year ago, adding author to McGowan’s list<br />

of credits which also include actress, singer, activist, model – plus screen writer and film director. It’s<br />

her 2014 short film Dawn we talk about first.<br />

Dawn may be only 15 minutes long, but it makes for unsettling and apt viewing in these post<br />

#MeToo times, because, even though times have changed, “it still hasn’t changed that much”. It is<br />

set in 1961, slap bang in the middle of the no man’s land between a chastened Elvis Presley’s return<br />

home from the army and the arrival of The Beatles to America’s shores, mixing everything up again.<br />

Those few years were a curious time, the world trying and failing to put teenagers in their box, eerie,<br />

doom-laden pop songs and death ballads capturing imaginations instead.<br />

In the film, strictly brought up teenager Dawn is intoxicated by the charms of a bad boy. She’s a<br />

good girl and does what she’s told, and during her encounters with him the pressure to say nothing,<br />

go along with everything and submit, is huge. She doesn’t feel able to say she feels uncomfortable.<br />

Because of that, bad things happen.<br />

McGowan wrote the script, she says, to hold a mirror up to the female experience past and<br />

present. “It tells the story of what happened to me in Hollywood, and what happens to all of us in<br />

the world, especially girls,” she explains. “We’re sent out to be polite and this is what happens when<br />

your hands are tied behind your back by politeness... it’s the tragic consequence of not letting girls<br />

and women understand that it’s OK to have their own instincts.”<br />

Rose worked in Hollywood from her own teenage years onwards, and in her book the litany of<br />

incidents of abuse and misogyny by men both within the star system and outside it is depressingly<br />

long. Ultimately, she agrees getting her story out there in print was cathartic. “When I was writing<br />

it, it was hard – really, really hard. It stretched my brain.” Brave is an angry book. The reader can feel<br />

the heat of the author’s fury. But it’s also got some very clear, precise recollections.<br />

She recalls a sexual assault in a gay club. A man put his hand up her skirt and digitally<br />

penetrated her before shrugging away her objections with the comment, “I just wanted to see what<br />

it was like”. That very line is also the final one in the film: Dawn’s tormentor using it to justify his<br />

behaviour. I suggest those words sum up what might go on in the minds of men who abuse women.<br />

They want to see what the reaction is and do it simply because they can, to see how far they can<br />

push it. “I think there’s something to your theory,” Rose replies, “we’re talking about abuse of power<br />

and the people that cross that line just to see what it’s like. Some are actually super-predators. With<br />

the lower level ones, it’s still a form of abuse of power,” she says.<br />

It’s the notion of bad behaviour having zero consequences because, until recent times, it didn’t.<br />

“Correct. ‘That’s just the way things are’. I heartily disagree with that.”<br />

In the wider world, #MeToo means women are starting to be believed when previously stories<br />

were dismissed. Reading Brave, it is apparent that, in McGowan’s world, women’s stories were<br />

believed all along. The issue was, no one cared enough to do anything about it.<br />

“My book is not about, as you know reading it, #MeToo. It is not about the last year and a half.<br />

It’s about considerably more, and what I wanted to say in the book was to get across what happens<br />

in Hollywood and a closed, cult-like world. It leaks out into the world and it happens to all of us<br />

in different ways. Like, if you’re in a small town and the star rugby player rapes somebody and<br />

everyone protects the star rugby player, it’s really quite similar.”<br />

You call Harvey Weinstein ‘The Monster’ in both the book and in interviews, because…?<br />

“Because I don’t like his name, it’s ugly,” she says sharply, before elaborating further. “It’s relatable<br />

to everybody, everybody’s got a monster,” before adding, “or multiple ones.”<br />

After watching Dawn, I was talking to female friends about it, how the main character finds it<br />

impossible to extract herself from an uncomfortable situation, and the conversation unexpectedly<br />

spread wider, to the first time a man or boy made us feel uncomfortable. Our ages were scarily<br />

young. “It shrank probably before 10,” agrees Rose. “That’s what I mean with Dawn… kids girls –<br />

and boys too – their discomfort counts… they can have a voice.”<br />

After the incident with Weinstein, the response from a fellow actor – who McGowan has<br />

previously named as Ben Affleck – was, “I told him to stop doing that.” As if Weinstein, this<br />

powerful mogul, was a naughty toddler reprimanded for picking its nose or stealing a 10p sweet.<br />

The response was “chilling”, she replies simply. “It’s corrosive, it’s dangerous and it’s deadly. It’s the<br />

kind of stuff that kills souls. It takes a really long time to heal, it’s not fair.”<br />

The issue of men telling women’s stories, putting words in their mouths – because most<br />

Hollywood scriptwriters and decision makers are men – is an issue also discussed in the book.<br />

Charmed was a female-fronted show, aimed at and loved by a female audience, yet every word the<br />

Halliwell sisters and Rose’s character Paige Matthews uttered was written and signed off by men.<br />

“We’re, generally speaking, historically portrayed by men, written by men, broadcast by men, edited<br />

by men so there’s… not one male gaze – there’s a hundred on the set, behind the scenes. How we’re<br />

treated behind the scenes in Hollywood, how we’re treated on screen, is how we’re treated in the<br />

world. It is the world’s number one propaganda machine. If you have this kind of narrow view about<br />

what women are and what women can be, and what men are and what men can be, it’s damaging.”<br />

#MeToo may have changed things for the better but there’s still room for improvement around<br />

how survivors are treated. In one confrontational television interview Rose was subjected to, it was<br />

suggested that it is difficult for the public to view conventionally beautiful Hollywood stars, sex<br />

symbols, as victims.<br />

“The conventionally beautiful tend to be targets from a very young age. Targeted harder than<br />

others. The person at every party makes the beeline for them, the predator goes for them. And<br />

I’m not saying that the unconventionally beautiful don’t get hurt, too, because that would be an<br />

absurd thing to say, but there’s an element of ‘if you wear a short skirt you deserved it’. That’s really<br />

disgusting,” she says. It was all the more disappointing that the interviewer taking such a stance<br />

in this case was a woman. “It’s discrimination. It’s definitely not just men who think that way, and<br />

by women thinking that way, being that vindictive and nasty towards other women, it sets up an<br />

atmosphere where women get more hurt.”<br />

With women, it’s because we’re trained to follow such thought processes. It’s a difficult thing<br />

to unpick and unlearn. “I think it’s a cultural thing, it’s a societal thing. It’s brainwashing. And it’s an<br />

ugly stain on the human heart.”<br />

Being a woman can be exhausting at times, I put to her. “I wonder what we could achieve if we<br />

didn’t have to fight the other stuff,” she muses.<br />

In Brave, Rose writes about her unease at the sex symbol tag. While I get the resentment at<br />

being judged by one’s looks – we can all identify with that – being a sex symbol must have its perks,<br />

surely. She pauses. “No. There wasn’t actually anything I enjoyed about it. I felt targeted. It was very<br />

much at odds with who I was on the inside. It always led to great discomfort – discomfort in my<br />

own skin, discomfort in my appearance, discomfort across the board. It’s not a real fun way to live.”<br />

You’re comfortable now?<br />

“Yeh, I think my outsides match my insides more. Reclaiming what I want to look like. And<br />

for myself, not have hair length dictated by other people, hair colour by other people, having a<br />

committee about what you’re supposed to look like. It’s not right. We should all be able to choose<br />

how we want to represent ourselves and do it based on how we feel inside and not societal<br />

dictates.”<br />

You feel free. “I do feel free,” she agrees with some relief, then corrects herself. “Freer.” !<br />

Words: Cath Holland / @cathbore<br />

Rose McGowan: Brave takes place at Storyhouse, Chester on Friday 26th <strong>April</strong> as part of<br />

Storyhouse Women festival.<br />

32


Rae Yan Song<br />

EXHIBITION<br />

Survey<br />

The Bluecoat – 13/04-23/06<br />

The Bluecoat is opening its main gallery spaces this <strong>April</strong> to a<br />

range of emerging artists supported by Jerwood Visual Arts,<br />

a leading independent funder dedicated to supporting artists,<br />

curators and producers.<br />

SURVEY will display the work of 15 artists at the early beginnings of<br />

their careers, all of which have been selected to exhibit their work via a<br />

non-institutional process. 35 mid-career artists – including Ryan Gander,<br />

Andy Holden and Rachel Maclean – were given the chance to put forward<br />

the work of burgeoning talents, 15 pieces of which will fill the backdrop<br />

of The Bluecoat for its spring to summer exhibition. Altogether, 50 artists<br />

put forward the works of their contemporaries to be considered for the<br />

display, which features a range of sculptures, paintings, compositions, film,<br />

performances, ceramics and installationa.<br />

The final selection was made by Sarah Williams, head of<br />

programme at Jerwood Visual Arts, with the criteria for the display<br />

aimed at highlighting the most dynamic and creative artists in the<br />

first five years of their practice. Artists with featured works include<br />

Chris Alton, Simeon Barclay, Hazel Brill, Flo Brooks, Emma Cousin, Joe<br />

Fletcher Orr, Tom Goddard, Ashley Holmes, Lindsey Mendick, Nicole<br />

Morris, Milly Peck, Anna Raczynski, Will Sheridan Jr, Rae-Yen Song and<br />

Frank Wasser.<br />

The opening night of Survey will feature a performance by<br />

exhibited artist Ashley Holmes, titled Good To Us. The live performance<br />

has been developed from a written adaptation of Dope, a poem by<br />

African American writer and music critic Amiri Baraka.<br />

MEMBERS<br />

PICK<br />

Record Store Day<br />

81 Renshaw, Probe Records,<br />

Phase One – 13/04<br />

For those who love the smell of vinyl in the morning (as well as<br />

bacon butties), 81 Renshaw is the place to be for this year’s<br />

RECORD STORE DAY. The cafe-venue-vinyl vendor is once<br />

again putting together a programme of activity which begins at<br />

the crack of dawn (well, 7.30am) and celebrates the heritage and future<br />

of music committed to wax.<br />

This year, they’ll have a pop-up Liverpool Music Museum to consider<br />

while clutching that rare 12” and wiping the sleep from your eyes. The<br />

temporary exhibition, put together in partnership with Liverpool John<br />

Moores University, features the first public showing of Yoko Ono’s John<br />

Lennon time capsule as well as a variety of other items themed around<br />

20th century popular culture. In the afternoon, Eggy Records crooner<br />

BEIJA FLO will be performing live in the venue and all the while over<br />

400 special RSD releases will be up for grabs on a first come first served<br />

basis.<br />

To continue the tour, over on Seel Street, Phase One will also be<br />

celebrating with live performances from the fantastic ZUZU along with<br />

up-and-comers MUNKEY JUNKEY and BANG BANG ROMEO. As is<br />

customary the Jacaranda Records crew will also be providing prize<br />

giveaways throughout the day and stocking a wide assortment of special<br />

releases. For the traditionalists, stalwarts Probe Records over on School<br />

Lane will be adorning their racks with the best in limited edition releases.<br />

And providing the best place for the first spin of your new vinyl (or for an<br />

old favourite, Bold Street Coffee are hosting a special open decks event<br />

in the shop. Make a plan, set your alarm, beat the queues and save us a<br />

copy of that Mad Max 2 soundtrack.<br />

EVENT DISCOVERY PARTNER<br />

ticketquarter.co.uk<br />

PREVIEWS 33


PREVIEWS<br />

MEMBERS<br />

PICK<br />

GIG<br />

THE ZUTONS<br />

Eventim Olympia – 05/04 and 06/04<br />

Zuton Fever is back, as the zany Scouse rockers<br />

celebrate 15 years since the release of their debut<br />

album with two sold-out headline shows at the Olympia.<br />

Following a one-off tribute gig dedicated to their friend, former Tramp Attack frontman<br />

Kristian Ealey in September 2016, it looked as though THE ZUTONS might have ceased<br />

trading for good. Thankfully, that gig at Mountford Hall, billed as “probably The Zutons’<br />

last ever show”, wasn’t the end. The group announced on<br />

social media last November, that they are setting out to celebrate<br />

the 15th anniversary of their debut LP Who Killed…… The Zutons?. A<br />

decade and a half later, its combination of angular Captain Beefheart<br />

riffs, skewed psychedelia, off-beat character studies, B-movie theatrics<br />

and Dr John voodoo sound as refreshingly strange as they did on<br />

release.<br />

Backed by a seemingly endless series of gigs, including a<br />

memorable, audience-converting set at Glastonbury 2004 where they<br />

appeared in the mid-afternoon sun decked out in yellow hazmat suits,<br />

the road miles turned the quintet into a formidable live draw. For their<br />

first tour in a decade, the outfit are set to play a score of dates that<br />

will see the album played in full, calling at the magnificent Olympia<br />

in early <strong>April</strong>. To get the lowdown on what we can expect, Richard<br />

Lewis chatted with lead singer Dave McCabe on the phone between<br />

rehearsals at Elevator Studios.<br />

A really obvious question to begin with: what was the inspiration for getting back together?<br />

I’ve just missed playing, really. I’ve got a load of new songs that are Zutons songs. When you grow<br />

up with a band you can’t really replace that, in terms of playing together and singing together, it just<br />

feels right. That’s the inspiration for me. The reason we haven’t done it in so long is ‘cos we all fell out<br />

with each other – when you all hate each other you can only hate each other for so long, before you<br />

start liking each other again! [laughs] It’s nice to just ease back in to it. I’m not doing this for money,<br />

I’m doing this ‘cos I wanna do it. I’ve missed playing; they’re like family this band. I’ve imagined playing<br />

with them. You can’t just sit down and write with everyone when you’re young. You’re scared to<br />

express yourself in case someone doesn’t like it and you fall out with them, so you kinda go home and<br />

write words on your own. It’s still like that now to a certain extent. When people turn up and write<br />

songs together that’s really professional; it’s not like that in most bands, I don’t think it is anyway. It’s<br />

not straightforward.<br />

How will the gig format work, are you going to play the LP front to back in order?<br />

No, we’re gonna do it front to back, but not in order. As a live thing, The Zutons were always better,<br />

if I’m totally honest, than they were on the records. We tried that and it didn’t really work doing it as<br />

a record, you’ve got to build it up and build it down more live. There are a lot of slow-paced songs<br />

in the middle of the record. We’re gonna do it how we did it touring the first record, looking [back]<br />

at all the sets. A lot of the songs are stretched out live: Zuton Fever, Pressure Point, You Will You<br />

Won’t. It makes the difference doesn’t it, instead of playing the album start to finish note by note, it’s<br />

never what we did live anyway. If anything, actually, it’s gonna be more like the record ‘cos we’ve got<br />

someone playing strings and the keyboard parts and percussion, we’ve got more people singing. It’ll<br />

sound warmer, especially on the slower numbers. Not A Lot To Do [underrated Bacharach-esque<br />

track] sounds really good and it’s easy to sing. Some of them haven’t been easy ‘cos it’s 15 years and,<br />

“When you grow up<br />

with a band you can’t<br />

really replace that,<br />

it just feels right”<br />

with smoking weed and drinking, I’m learning how to do the album again, which makes me sound old!<br />

I’m not as young as I used to be.<br />

Are you gonna throw any deep cuts in such as the early non-album singles and B-sides?<br />

Yeh, I think so, I’m not too sure. We still want to do other album stuff and new songs. We’re definitely<br />

gonna do one B-side, I just don’t wanna say which one at the moment.<br />

With Russ currently playing bass on tour for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, who will be filling<br />

his shoes for these dates?<br />

Jay Lewis [The La’s, Cast, John Power cohort of many years]. I’ve know Jay since I was 17, it was<br />

a no brainer, he can sing too. We’re all quite big personalities within the band and it can get a bit<br />

heated, he’s just right. And there’s a guy called Neil Bradley, he’s playing keys and doing singing and<br />

percussion as well.<br />

How is it returning to the role of lead singer, is it fair to say you’re more of a sideman for Silent K<br />

instead of frontman?<br />

I’m not the full-on frontman for them, no. I wrote a lot of it with Chris [Taylor, lead singer], we’ve been<br />

friends for years, so we naturally just had fun. Playing in Silent K’s good, but it’s a different thing, it’s a<br />

lot more aggressive. Especially with an evolving line-up as it has been.<br />

What are your memories of Who Killed…… The Zutons? coming out? You<br />

seemed to be on tour the entire time around then.<br />

All that’s a blur, I don’t remember really having a bad gig with The Zutons<br />

over the years. I can remember them with other things I’ve done, ha! This<br />

just seems right; this is my band, this is what I do, this is my vehicle for my<br />

songwriting, really. Things like the hazmat suits at Glastonbury, they make<br />

you stand out. We were on top form as band, the confidence was high, we<br />

were all getting on well, we were all into touring, we all had energy.<br />

Without Alan Wills [legendary Deltasonic Records founder] I don’t think<br />

we would’ve done anything really, because he put a lot of time and money<br />

in and got us loads of good support slots. So, it was word of mouth when<br />

we did one gig and went back to that town and then played there again<br />

they’d bring their mates and it had a snowball effect. I feel sorry for bands<br />

now, young bands, there’s none of that. I think you’ve got to be really good<br />

looking – not to say that Abi [Harding, saxophone] isn’t good looking – but I<br />

was never the natural frontman, we had to build it up from nothing, really. We were constantly getting<br />

these Coral shouts thrown at us so we had to break out of that. I just don’t think it’d work for a new<br />

band, you’d have to have someone who really believes in you. That’s me giving Willsy from Deltasonic<br />

a shout out.<br />

Revisiting the chorus lyric in Dirty Dancehall: “This is just a night in the City of Culture/But<br />

everyone’s whacked and looks like vultures”. That was written four years before Liverpool was<br />

named European Capital of Culture in 2008. How does it feel singing those lines 11 years later?<br />

I remember at the time everyone going on about it and going up for this thing. Do I think it’s made<br />

a difference? I think it has. If you like glass buildings, it has made a difference. I kinda miss the old<br />

Liverpool, slightly.<br />

With the band fully reactivated, will there be new material included in the shows?<br />

We’ll be playing new stuff on the tour, but we’re gonna do two sets, I think. The first one will just be<br />

first album and the second one will be a mixture and a ‘best of the rest’ thing. I’ve got loads of songs<br />

I’ve had for years and loads of new ones, too. With me doing some new stuff we’ve just got to get it<br />

right, really. Maybe the end of the summer we’re gonna do a single or something like that. There’s<br />

no point in rushing anything out, it’s been this long so we wanna get it right. But we’re definitely<br />

gonna do some new stuff. We’re always gonna be playing songs off the first record, though, we’re<br />

always gonna be playing Valerie too. It’s depressing not to do that. !<br />

Words: Richard Lewis<br />

The Zutons play two shows at the Eventim Olympia, on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th <strong>April</strong>.<br />

34


CLUB<br />

Actress<br />

24 Kitchen Street – 11/04<br />

Actress<br />

SEVENSTORE and 24 Kitchen Street present a brand-new, one night<br />

experience this <strong>April</strong>. ACTRESS will perform an exclusive DJ set alongside<br />

a bespoke, live audio visual test bed produced on the night by visual artist<br />

SAM WIEHL (whose previous work includes visual commissions for Forest<br />

Swords and Liverpool Psych Fest). Support will be provided by Liverpool<br />

producer and DJ ASOK. Actress is an artist capable of music and mind<br />

duality, sharing his cerebral existence between an arresting electronic<br />

output that congeals influences from IDM, techno, hip hop and industrial.<br />

The Wolverhampton-born producer meticulously entrenches himself into<br />

the world of his productions to generate a product both haunted and<br />

breathing, subtly melancholic and spectrally mechanic.<br />

GIG<br />

YAK<br />

Arts Club – 08/04<br />

It’s been a rollercoaster two years for London outfit YAK, since they signed<br />

off their debut album (Alas Salvation) with a raucous sold-out show at<br />

The Scala. Since then, the band have lost a member, endured a failed<br />

recording stint at Kevin Parker from Tame Impala’s studio in Perth, struck<br />

up a friendship with Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce and signed a new deal with<br />

Virgin EMI – all of which left frontman and songwriter Oli Burslem broke<br />

and in increasing desperation. The resulting album, Pursuit Of Momentary<br />

Happiness – which features Pierce on the cinematic closer This House Has<br />

No Living Room – retains the scuzz and restless energy that marked the trio<br />

out from pack first time round, and adds a layer of eccentric bombast that<br />

matches their new ambition.<br />

YAK<br />

THEATRE<br />

Sweeney Todd<br />

Everyman Theatre – 12/04-18/05<br />

The classic Sondheim and Wheeler play SWEENEY TODD gets the<br />

Everyman treatment this year. Through a lens of the social conditions<br />

of the time period, director Nick Bagnall’s reimagining of the production<br />

looks to uncover the rotten core of 19th Century Britain with all its<br />

wealth disparity and degradation. Embodying the discontent is the<br />

ghastly eponymous barber who plots his dastardly vengeance from<br />

his London salon. Alongside an innovative live soundtrack and with a<br />

smattering of the blackest humour, the tale of Sweeney Todd seems<br />

like a timely show for our desperate times.<br />

OPERA<br />

Andrew Poppy – Hoarse Songs<br />

Capstone Theatre – 12/04<br />

Post minimalist composer ANDREW POPPY is bringing his new album,<br />

Hoarse Songs, to the Capstone Theatre with its piano, electronica,<br />

orchestral textures in full multimedia glory. Fusing elements of<br />

recording, live concert and AV, the show promises to be a vibrant<br />

representation of Poppy, an artist who thrives on exploring unusual<br />

themes via innovative means. This work sees the London-based<br />

creative look at contemporary topics of the veiled intimacy of couples,<br />

introspection of place and the fluidity of gender. Tickets for this are<br />

available through TicketQuarter.<br />

PERFORMANCE<br />

Art 360<br />

After Dark @ Tate Liverpool – 12/04<br />

Art 360<br />

Tate opens its doors later for a one-off chance to see its Op Art In Focus exhibition in an immersive setting.<br />

The sensory experience will begin at the door, as visitors will be given headphones which will enable them<br />

to tune in to three separate audio channels. Live music will be performed in the gallery by BREAKWAVE<br />

and ANNEXE THE MOON – and ATM’s studio member PHIL CHANNELL will be working with NANNA<br />

KOEKOEK on a bespoke soundscape with accompany 360-degree visuals. Visitors will be able to use sound<br />

to tailor their trip around the gallery, thus transforming the viewing experience. A range of Mexican street<br />

food, beer from Love Lane Brewery and 3D projection complete the night of ‘total art’.<br />

GIG<br />

The Good, The Bad And The Queen<br />

O2 Academy – 18/04<br />

Rarely have discussions around Britishness been so pertinent and charged with<br />

the nation grappling with its place in the world. It was in to this maelstrom that<br />

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE QUEEN returned late in 2018, 11 years after<br />

their only other album, with Merrie Land. The quartet of Damon Albarn, Paul<br />

Simonon, Tony Allen and Simon Tong filter their own experiences of Britishness<br />

through a quirky, end-of-the-pier whimsy that reads like a farewell to nostalgia.<br />

It packs a lot in – from Afrobeat to dub, via music hall – pulling from each of the<br />

four members’ own experiences. If you don’t get to see the legendary quartet at<br />

the BBC Radio 6 Music festival in March, this is your second chance – and not<br />

one that should be sniffed at.<br />

The Good, The Bad And The Queen<br />

PREVIEWS 35


PREVIEWS<br />

GIG<br />

Tirzah<br />

24 Kitchen Street – 17/04<br />

Tirzah<br />

Essex-born performer TIRZAH has been at the centre<br />

of the vital post-grime and UK garage sound of London<br />

for the better half of a decade, releasing a lauded run<br />

of releases on Greco Roman. But it’s only now that her<br />

work has come to full fruition, delivering what feels like a<br />

landmark debut LP on Domino. Devotion shines a brilliant<br />

new light on Tirzah’s unique experimental pop, exquisitely<br />

soulful voice and potent lyricism. Childhood friend and<br />

long-time and collaborator Mica Levi helped out on writing<br />

and production, bringing out Tirzah’s rawness of emotion<br />

and talent.<br />

GIG<br />

Swimming Tapes<br />

Sound Basement – 06/04<br />

Harvest Sun Promotions aren’t treading water as we enter <strong>April</strong>.<br />

Diving in headfirst into the basement of Sound on Duke Street<br />

is the celestial noise of London’s dreamy five-piece SWIMMING<br />

TAPES. The show will be the perfect spring board for the band’s<br />

debut album, Morningside, which drops in May and is already<br />

garnering anticipation throughout London and beyond. Early cuts<br />

from the record, such as Pyrenees, have made quite the splash<br />

thanks to the band’s penchant for melodic riffs drenched in<br />

vitamin D. Just one cue that Swimming Tapes may just be behind<br />

an indie summer anthem or two this year.<br />

Swimming Tapes<br />

THEATRE<br />

User Not Found<br />

Leaf – 22/04-23/04<br />

GIG<br />

Pinegrove<br />

Arts Club – 05/04<br />

MEMBERS<br />

PICK<br />

It’s the moment of your death. There’s a magic button. Do you delete<br />

your entire online legacy? Or do you keep it? USER NOT FOUND<br />

is about our digital identities after we die. For the show performed<br />

at Leaf, audience members receive a smartphone and a pair of<br />

headphones and are immersed in one man’s story as he’s faced<br />

with keeping or deleting his partner’s online existence. A story of<br />

contemporary grief unfolds through this intimate, funny performance<br />

that gently interrogates our need for connection, which Time Out<br />

described as “a raw and magnetic performance... a gorgeous show<br />

about grief in the era of hyper connectivity”.<br />

Pinegrove are a band in constant motion. Since the release<br />

of their 2016 break-out album Cardinal, the Montclair, New<br />

Jersey group have toured relentlessly, selling out shows<br />

across the world and appearing at a number of high-profile<br />

festivals. Cardinal won widespread acclaim for its wiggly,<br />

open-hearted indie rock stylings, and their 2018 follow-up,<br />

Skylight, carried on in the same vein, albeit after a stuttering<br />

start. Their folk-ish math rock has always had something of<br />

the Wilco about it – but you can make your own mind up by<br />

catching them in the flesh.<br />

GIG<br />

Steam Down<br />

Alexander’s Live – 18/04<br />

Steam Down<br />

Deptford-based community-led vibe collective STEAM DOWN bring their<br />

collectivist grooves to Alexander’s Live this month. Led by multi-instrumentalist,<br />

composer and producer Ahnanse, the group’s unique shows are earning them a<br />

special reputation for fun, interactive shows which channel a multitude of genres<br />

from jazz and Afrobeat to soul and hip hop. Community and collaboration is central<br />

to Steam Down’s infectious output and this show in the intimate confines of<br />

Alexander’s should be very special indeed.<br />

GIG<br />

Terry Riley and Gyan Riley<br />

24 Kitchen Street – 10/04<br />

Kitchen Street continue to diversify their music programme with<br />

a foray into the world of classical music, presenting one of the<br />

key innovators within the minimalist movement, TERRY RILEY,<br />

performed by the composer himself and his son, GYAN RILEY. Riley’s<br />

music is intricate, utilising improvisational structures and melding<br />

elements of minimalism, jazz, ragtime and North Indian raga. The<br />

legendary American composer will be performing an intimate<br />

aural exploration on piano, with his son accompanying on acoustic<br />

guitar, and support coming from Liverpool-based composer and<br />

saxophonist DANIEL THORNE.<br />

Terry Riley and Gyan Riley<br />

36


CLUB<br />

Keep it Cryptic<br />

Secret location – 19/04<br />

The collective behind KEEP IT CRYPTIC have discretely<br />

being building a following and reputation for their<br />

transcendent party nights which blur genre boundaries and<br />

put an emphasis on good people having a great time. Their<br />

fourth party takes place in a location which will be unveiled<br />

on the day of the event. The clandestine crew are bringing<br />

together the likes KŸOGEN, the project of PINS keyboardist<br />

Kyoko Swan, local indie jazzers SAMURAI KIP, former Black<br />

Grape man KERMIT LEVERIDGE and a further roll call of<br />

more than 20 other artists for what appears be an evening<br />

of entertainment which is as expansive as it is secretive.<br />

GIG<br />

Johnny Dowd<br />

81 Renshaw – 18/04<br />

A cult Americana hero, gothic story teller and alt<br />

country stalwart, JOHNNY DOWD is a respected<br />

name in the Venn diagram of worlds he operates.<br />

From Ithaca, New York the singer songwriter has<br />

a long and distinguished career which is brought<br />

right up to date with his newest album Family<br />

Picnic released in March this year. The dark subject<br />

matter and off-kilter sensibilities afford comparisons<br />

to the likes of Cave, Waits and Beefheart which has<br />

always enamoured him to Liverpool’s passionate<br />

Americana community. The veteran comes to<br />

Renshaw Street with RAE CLARK in support.<br />

GIG<br />

Roosevelt Collier<br />

Phase One – 14/04<br />

Brought up in the House Of God Church in Perrine, Florida,<br />

pedal and lap steel guitar ace ROOSEVELT COLLIER has<br />

become a sought-after talent both on record and on stage.<br />

So proficient he’s affectionately known as ‘The Dr’, Collier<br />

is a regular ‘artist at large’, performing alongside musical<br />

luminaries in the fields of rock, blues and pop, including the<br />

Allman Brothers and Los Lobos. His solo debut, Exit 16, is<br />

a potent mix of blues, gospel, rock and, in his words, “dirty<br />

funk swampy grime”. Roosevelt built his sacred steel guitar<br />

prowess alongside his uncles and cousins in The Lee Boys,<br />

known for their spirited, soul-shaking live performances.<br />

CLUB<br />

Kate Miller<br />

North Shore Troubadour – 12/04<br />

Berlin is undoubtedly the capital of techno, and Liverpool is fast<br />

becoming a North West outpost for the scene. North Shore<br />

Troubadour is the latest venue to get in on the action, hosting<br />

one of Berlin’s current hottest talents. KATE MILLER’s explosive,<br />

electro-focused sound has earned her regular slots at the infamous<br />

Berghain, and her own brand Oscillate has been making serious<br />

waves in the city. She has smashed slots at prestigious festivals the<br />

world over, from Gottwood here in the UK to Sugar Mountain in her<br />

native Australia (for Boiler Room), and is rapidly becoming one of<br />

Europe’s rising stars. Escape your planetary mindset as Miller pilots a<br />

journey into the unknown.<br />

Kate Miller<br />

GIG<br />

The Midnight Hour – Ali Shaheed Muhammad<br />

and Adrian Younge<br />

24 Kitchen Street – 26/04<br />

MEMBERS<br />

PICK<br />

Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge<br />

Two of hip hop’s most accomplished producers bring their new live project to town, featuring a<br />

nine-piece brass and string section. ALI SHAHEED MUHAMMAD (founding member of A Tribe<br />

Called Quest) and ADRIAN YOUNGE (Black Dynamite, Jay-Z, Ghostface Killah, etc.) began their work<br />

together in 2013 on the critically acclaimed There Is Only Now by Souls Of Mischief, and Kendrick<br />

Lamar’s untitled unmastered albums. THE MIDNIGHT HOUR is their ode to the cultural sophistication<br />

of the Harlem Renaissance that occurred in New York in the 1920s, pairing two of hip hop’s greatest<br />

producers with a tight rhythm section and a full orchestra.<br />

GIG<br />

Girli<br />

The Zanzibar – 18/04<br />

Brazen London pop star GIRLI is gearing up for the announcement of her debut album<br />

Odd One Out, due on 5th <strong>April</strong> via PMR/Virgin EMI. The highly-anticipated record<br />

was co-written by Girli with various collaborators, such as Fast Friends and MNDR/<br />

Peter Wade (Charli XCX, Brooke Candy), and follows on from 2017’s Hot Mess EP,<br />

the record that launched Girli’s chaotic mix of pop, electronica and punk. The eighttrack<br />

album marks her new mature alt.pop sound, drawing inspiration from real life<br />

experiences and exploring identity and the difficulties of adolescence.<br />

Girli<br />

GIG<br />

Bido Lito! Social: Dig Vinyl’s 5th Birthday<br />

Kazimier Stockroom – 25/04<br />

Yammerer<br />

It’s party time! Bold Street’s vinyl enthusiasts Dig Vinyl are celebrating their fifth birthday in<br />

<strong>April</strong>, and we’re made up to be teaming up with them for the occasion. We’re throwing an<br />

old-school birthday party, with cake and balloons and lots of friends, plus loads of good music.<br />

We’re squeezing ourselves into the Kazimier Garden’s new Stockroom venue, along with<br />

YAMMERER, SAMURAI KIP and GOOD PROBLEMS, which is nailed on to be all kinds of raucous.<br />

And out in the Garden, a host of fine selectors will be on the turntables all night, which you’ll be<br />

able to enjoy for free. GROOVEYARD, LINSTER SANGSTER, NIGHTDUBBING and MELODIC<br />

DISTRACTION are gearing up for the heavy hits party, as well as Dig’s own superstar DJs. As<br />

usual, Bido Lito! Members get free entry – tickets are available now from ticketquarter.co.uk.<br />

PREVIEWS 37


THE JONI MITCHELL<br />

SONGBOOK<br />

CAPSTONE THEATRE<br />

26 APRIL<br />

SOUND CITY<br />

BALTIC TRIANGLE<br />

3-5 MAY ...AND MANY MORE!<br />

FAME! UK REUNION<br />

M&S BANK ARENA LIVERPOOL<br />

5-6 MAY<br />

CREAM CLASSICAL<br />

SEFTON PARK<br />

19 JULY<br />

LIMF<br />

SEFTON PARK<br />

20-21 JULY<br />

SIGMA / ELLA EYRE / YXNG BANE<br />

DISCO CLASSICAL WITH<br />

SISTER SLEDGE ft KATHY SLEDGE<br />

DE LA SOUL / JAZZIE B<br />

REMINISCE<br />

SHERDLEY PARK, ST. HELENS<br />

7 SEPTEMBER<br />

ticketquarter.co.uk<br />

0344 8000 410 JOIN THE CONVERSATION


REVIEWS<br />

Vein (Glyn Akroyd / @GlynAkroyd)<br />

“It’s engaging,<br />

romantic and dosed<br />

in the curious. Just<br />

the sort of brilliance<br />

of programming we’ve<br />

come to expect from<br />

this most unique and<br />

innovative festival”<br />

Liverpool International Jazz<br />

Festival <strong>2019</strong><br />

+ Vein ft. Andy Sheppard<br />

+ Ancient Affinity Orchestra<br />

+ Deep Cabaret<br />

+ After The Flood<br />

Capstone Theatre – 03/03<br />

The Sunday afternoon of LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL JAZZ<br />

FESTIVAL really shows the festival for what it does best: breaking<br />

new ground with music that asks questions and influences<br />

ideas that provoke thought and discussion. This particular triple<br />

bill spans all genres, all influences, and although each occupies<br />

its own definitive space, they share a sense of uniqueness,<br />

innovation and invention.<br />

When we reach dystopia, with the seas poisoned, choking<br />

and churning with the detritus of uncaring humans; when war<br />

and greed have finally ravaged the earth until there’s nothing<br />

left to ravage; when civilisation, such as we call it, has finally<br />

crumbled, we’ll need to rebuild, to regroup and start again,<br />

constructing a new society with no boundaries, no borders. To<br />

find a future out of the ruins. The last remaining humans will<br />

gather together as one, AFTER THE FLOOD. Such is the concept<br />

behind Neil Campbell’s band and album of the same name. Built<br />

around a post-dystopian vision of the music which will need<br />

to carry the new society forward, it imagines music as one. A<br />

seamless, single entity, pan-global confluence, a celebration<br />

of the universal language, and a bedrock for the future. No<br />

boundaries, no borders.<br />

After The Flood is, then, a journey of discovery through<br />

continents and the ages, traditions and structures, bringing<br />

together the varied elements of European folk music, prog,<br />

Afrobeat and the Middle East. Though built around the peerless<br />

fretwork of Campbell, each instrument takes its place as an<br />

integral part of the whole, weaving together, segueing the<br />

styles into a single and really quite glorious celebration. To Asia<br />

is a wonderful piece built around a deftly picked chiming guitar<br />

pattern, twisting and turning in its imagined colour, dancing<br />

almost. Similarly, From Africa brings the heat of that great<br />

continent, beginning with a mbira-sounding intro, before lifting us<br />

through more percussive celebration, both uplifting and soulful.<br />

After The Flood is a fascinating and enjoyable concept, an album<br />

well worth extensive further investigation, and a band of some of<br />

the finest musicians in the city.<br />

In DEEP CABARET, we find multi-layered imaginings drawn<br />

from jazz, from Africa and melodic pop, from journalism and the<br />

landscape around Morecambe, from poetry, drones and Siberian<br />

throat singing; a conversation of bass clarinet and hurdy-gurdy,<br />

cello and guitar. It is a fascinating and compelling confluence<br />

Vein (Glyn Akroyd / @GlynAkroyd)<br />

of ideas – rich, pensive and, yes, deep. Bandleader Steve Lewis<br />

digs into his readings, selecting standout paragraphs and<br />

building a wonderfully leftfield musical backdrop around them<br />

through improvisation and free expression. The Blue, its central<br />

lyric taken from Wassily Kandinsky’s writings, is a compact and<br />

tender piece, with an edgy beauty. The forgotten tale of Sambo,<br />

its narrative hewn from a newspaper cutting from 1822, tells<br />

the tragic story of a former slave, buried without ceremony in<br />

Morecambe following a hunger strike. A slow looping guitar<br />

pattern, it is a haunting Arabian-flavoured death knell bound<br />

together by long droned notes and a skittish shuffling jazz<br />

drum pattern. Deep Cabaret’s music asks questions and makes<br />

suggestions. It’s engaging, romantic and dosed in the curious.<br />

Just the sort of brilliance of programming we’ve come to expect<br />

from this most unique and innovative festival.<br />

The afternoon ends with the shimmering, cosmic wanderings<br />

of ANCIENT INFINITY ORCHESTRA. The Leeds-based collective,<br />

favoured by Gilles Peterson, find their genre-fluid roots held in<br />

the light of Sun Ra or Pharoah Sanders. Theirs is a worldly sound,<br />

heavy on evocation and imagery, peppered throughout with<br />

lustrous, celestial percussion. Psychedelia, jazz and the music of<br />

the world all take their place in these portraits, these sketches<br />

of nature and the universe. Space is given over between the<br />

grooves, broad cinematic freeform strokes of melody, undulating<br />

and twisting from free improv to the more structured moments<br />

with ease. There is an enormous sense of freedom to this band,<br />

and it’s not forced nor over studied. It just feels deeply expressive<br />

and natural. An immersive journey, cinematic and wide at one<br />

minute, hushed and devotional the next.<br />

Closing another deliciously varied and very well supported<br />

Jazz Festival are Swiss trio VEIN, accompanied by British<br />

saxophone legend ANDY SHEPPARD. Vein are comprised<br />

of twins Michael and Florian Arbenz, on piano and drums<br />

respectively, and bassist Thomas Lahns. All are classically<br />

trained, meeting at Basel’s Academy of Music, and their mixture<br />

of European classical music and jazz improvisation has won<br />

many plaudits. They have a long history of collaborative work<br />

with notable soloists such as Greg Osby and Dave Liebman<br />

(saxophone) and Glenn Ferris (trombone). The Arbenz brothers<br />

compose most of their original material but they are also noted<br />

for their re-interpretations of jazz and classical standards, 2017’s<br />

Vein Plays Ravel being the latest example.<br />

Sheppard has long been heralded as a cornerstone of British<br />

jazz and is an equally serial collaborator, having worked over the<br />

last three decades with an enviable list of musicians including Gil<br />

Evans, Carla Bley and Seb Rochford.<br />

A double bass bowed in orchestral fashion is our<br />

introduction. Michael Arbenz counts it in and the band hit a<br />

smooth groove over a crisp, spare drum pattern. The piano<br />

beautifully discordant at times, a counterpoint to Sheppard’s<br />

lyrical, flowing saxophone on Michael’s Under Construction,<br />

from <strong>2019</strong> album Symphonic Bop (a title that neatly captures<br />

their oeuvre). The rubbery bounce of Lahns’ bass getting heads<br />

nodding. It’s an early indication that we are in the presence of<br />

some very fine musicians this evening.<br />

They include several pieces from the Ravel album in tonight’s<br />

performance, the first being the delightful Mouvement De Minuet.<br />

Florian’s gently pattering drums underscore Michael’s delicate<br />

piano. They’re both played with absolute clarity, despite its pace.<br />

Sheppard bides his time, saxophone slung across his body, head<br />

nodding as he listens with intent. Michael’s solo drops quietly<br />

away as Lahns’ bass picks up the rhythm before Sheppard brings<br />

his thoughtful silence to an end with a delightfully light, airy solo.<br />

It meanders and spirals into the night air.<br />

A 2017 Guardian review opined that “they can be too<br />

flawlessly polished for their own jazz good” (before labelling<br />

them “one of Europe’s most exciting ensembles”). And flawless<br />

the playing certainly is tonight – not once at the expense of<br />

expression or a calmly delivered passion.<br />

Florian’s Fast Lane ups the tempo and swings at a merry<br />

pace. It is, frankly, funky as hell, the bass jumping, Michael’s<br />

fingers flying across the keys, Florian’s drumming loose in a tight<br />

groove. It’s a wicked solo drawing sustained applause.<br />

Sheppard’s playing is wonderfully melodic, Lahns’ subtle,<br />

vibrant bass holds it all together. The twins seem as though they<br />

could riff off each other all night.<br />

A cover of Duke Ellington’s Reflections In D really flies, the<br />

soloing hot, cool, exquisite, before Ravel’s Five O’Clock Foxtrot<br />

wraps it up, swinging us joyfully out into the sharp night air, the<br />

only hint of regret being that we wanted more. As a mightily<br />

impressed festival director Neil Campbell says, “Some people<br />

take it to another level.”<br />

Paul Fitzgerald / @NothingvilleM<br />

Glyn Akroyd / @glynakroyd<br />

40


“The photographs are a<br />

beautiful art form. They<br />

not only showcase the<br />

diversity of the subjects,<br />

but the lens draws out<br />

their character, focusing<br />

on the understated<br />

side of each MP”<br />

Cat Smith MP by Tabitha Jussa<br />

Tabitha Jussa / tabithajussa.com<br />

209 Women<br />

Open Eye Gallery – until 14/04<br />

“To represent and be presented for what we are – as women,<br />

by women – is a very special thing. This is what 209 Women is all<br />

about.” Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of Emmeline<br />

Pankhurst, sums up the new 209 WOMEN exhibition at Open<br />

Eye Gallery perfectly.<br />

To mark 100 years since women achieved the right to vote in<br />

the UK, photography exhibition 209 Women has been launched<br />

to commemorate this significant step towards women’s equality.<br />

Not just in politics, but throughout society. Launched in the<br />

Houses of Parliament on 14th December 2018 – 100 years to<br />

the day since the first women voted – the exhibition showcases<br />

photographs, taken solely by people who identify as a woman,<br />

of all 209 female MPs currently in Parliament. This is also the<br />

first time all 209 photographs have been exhibited together, as<br />

it includes the Sinn Féin MPs who abstained from having their<br />

portrait shown in Parliament.<br />

As part of RISE, Culture Liverpool’s season of events<br />

celebrating female artists, thinkers and leaders, the exhibition<br />

provides an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come<br />

towards gender equality. From the passing of the Representation<br />

of the People Act which allowed certain British women to<br />

vote in UK Parliamentary Elections in 1918, to the Parliament<br />

Qualification of Women Act which allowed women to be elected<br />

into UK Parliament in the same year, 1918 was a huge year for<br />

women’s political rights, which is why it is important we still<br />

recognise it today. The exhibition not only highlights how far<br />

women have come in politics, but also in terms of the workplace<br />

and reproductive rights; again, areas which we are still working<br />

towards equality in.<br />

However, the exhibition also illustrates how much more we<br />

need to do. The opening statement to the show claims: “Women<br />

form 51 per cent of the population, but only 32 per cent of our<br />

MPs are women. Why is this?”. This stays fresh in your mind as<br />

you take in the photography. It does make you really focus on the<br />

why. Suddenly, the 209 doesn’t feel like such a large number at all.<br />

The photographs, however, are incredibly powerful. They<br />

represent each woman not necessarily as an MP, but as an<br />

empowering woman who has her own life alongside her position<br />

in politics. Some women’s portraits are of a serious nature,<br />

some in black and white, some in colour, some in back gardens,<br />

on the beach, in parliamentary chambers. Some women are<br />

smiling, while others look more forlorn; there’s one MP stood<br />

with a goat, another is draped in a European flag. There are<br />

also photographs of women in surgical scrubs and a firefighter<br />

uniform, highlighting their other roles within society alongside<br />

their positions in parliament. It is unclear if the subjects chose<br />

their setting themselves, but their situations allow for the<br />

humanisation of women whose lives are so strongly bound into<br />

politics.<br />

The photographs are a beautiful art form. They not only<br />

showcase the diversity of the subjects, but the lens draws out<br />

their character, focusing on the understated side of each MP.<br />

It often becomes too easy project that the 209 are a singular<br />

entity of female MPs. It becomes a restrictive bracket wrapped<br />

around its widely diverse group, with more room to grow. In<br />

addition, each female photographer has also been given the<br />

chance to showcase their work through the exhibition. What’s<br />

more empowering than women supporting other women?<br />

Their names, constituencies and the female identifying<br />

photographer’s name are given alongside the portraits, but their<br />

political party is not addressed. This allows for the exhibition<br />

to focus on the women in the photographs rather than their<br />

politics. It is a refreshing way of bringing everyone together for<br />

an important issue. Political opinions, for once, are put to one<br />

side.<br />

Our achievements within gender equality so far are only<br />

the start of the milestones of what we can and will hit over the<br />

next 100 years. Hopefully, we will not have to wait that long<br />

to see significant changes. Notwithstanding the changes to be<br />

made, in <strong>2019</strong> we can’t ignore that we have come a long way<br />

from where we were in 1918. The exhibition carries this theme<br />

of forward-looking celebration, highlighting how there are only<br />

209 elected female MPs in Parliament – out of the 650 MPs.<br />

There is no doubt this is a cause for celebration, in a century<br />

that began without the right for women to vote. From 1918 to<br />

having a female Prime Minister in <strong>2019</strong>, it’s progress, but 209<br />

out of 650 is still in the minority.<br />

Sophie Shields<br />

REVIEWS 41


REVIEWS<br />

Sleaford Mods<br />

O2 Academy – 02/03<br />

Watching SLEAFORD MODS is always going to be good:<br />

Saturday night, pint in hand, surrounded by the young and<br />

middle aged bouncing along, in the hands of a duo whose lyrics<br />

Sleaford Mods (Michael Kirkham / michaelkirkhamphotography.co.uk)<br />

comment on the lives of many in Brexit Britain.<br />

Jason Williamson belts out Into The Payzone with fervour,<br />

while Andrew Fearn stands nonchalantly behind nodding his<br />

head along in approval, kitted out in shorts, cap and Run-DMC<br />

T-shirt, sipping occasionally from a bottle of lager. With their<br />

division of labour and set up on stage, they could be the 21st<br />

Century, more excitable, more mobile, more politically peeved Pet<br />

Shop Boys with an attitude that aggravates as well as entertains.<br />

And it’s there that any whimsical similarities end. This is a group<br />

the treads its own path and tells the tales of those often ignored.<br />

The gig’s packed out and full of energy and, by the third<br />

song Subtraction, those less possessive of their pints start<br />

jumping about; the ubiquitous mosh pit emerges. The crowd love<br />

it: those at the sides guffaw at the well-observed lyrics, while<br />

others shout them back to the worldly frontman. The setlist is<br />

predominantly comprised of songs from their new album Eton<br />

Alive, along with a selection of older favourites, such as TCR and<br />

Just Like We Do.<br />

Accompanied on stage by just a microphone stand and<br />

laptop, the duo still manage to command the room. If the<br />

baseline throbbing through the floor doesn’t grab your attention,<br />

Williamson’s skill at delivering the lyrics does. His performance<br />

style is impressive, moving from snarky drawl to mania as he<br />

inhabits different characters.<br />

His recall of the lyrics is equally impressive, and his<br />

monologues take the form of theatre, especially as he physically<br />

changes. His posture and facial expressions create an idea of the<br />

imagined characters. When he’s not busy doing that, his various<br />

dance moves are a delight to behold: walking around with an<br />

imagined hat and cane, a cheeky crotch grab and even giving us a<br />

glimpse of the start of a nutty boy walk.<br />

The lyrics are brilliant. They create vivid, pertinent and often<br />

hilarious snapshots of life in contemporary Britain with its foibles<br />

and failures. They resonate with the feelings of many about<br />

where the country is politically and socially at the moment. The<br />

lyrics swing from pointed ire with clear targets in songs like BHS,<br />

where “the able-bodied vultures monitor and pick at us” and in<br />

OBCT where the narrator “passed Oliver Bonas in the Chelsea<br />

tractor”, to funny observations on the mundane: “I got two brown<br />

bins, should I only have one? But what the council don’t know<br />

won’t hurt them” on Policy Cream.<br />

Williamson works himself in to a frenzy. By the end of the<br />

night his T-shirt could be rung out and fill up a few of the pint<br />

glasses flung around the mosh pit. Fearn meanwhile looks as cool<br />

and collected as he did when he came on stage. It’s over far too<br />

soon and after an encore, which includes the dynamic Tied Up In<br />

Nottz and Discourse, Williamson’s off with a nod, but without a<br />

backwards glance, leaving his bandmate to pack up the laptop<br />

with a lack of fanfare. It’s all just part of the night’s work.<br />

Sleaford Mods are here to point out the dire times we’re in, in<br />

an entertaining, needle-sharp way. Live, they take it all up a notch<br />

or two. What’s not to like?<br />

Jennie Macaulay / @jenmagmcmac<br />

Omar Souleyman<br />

24 Kitchen Street – 23/02<br />

Postponing a gig can prove disastrous for attendance levels,<br />

but nobody is deterred by tonight’s show being rearranged for<br />

three weeks after the original date. Kitchen Street is rammed and<br />

bouncing well before OMAR SOULEYMAN takes to the stage.<br />

A party atmosphere grips the crowd from the off as Jacques<br />

Malchance smashes out a pounding dabke beat.<br />

Dabke can be translated as ‘stamping the feet’, a line or circle<br />

dance traditionally performed at weddings. A Levantine hoedown<br />

of sorts, a celebration. “Their weddings sound like more fun than<br />

ours,” says a smiling punter before weaving his way into the<br />

jumping mass of bodies.<br />

On his more recent albums, Souleyman has replaced the<br />

traditional accompanying instruments of oud, mijwiz and tablah<br />

with electronic keyboards and contemporary, crunching basslines<br />

and percussion played at breakneck speed. That’s not to say<br />

he’s thrown the baby out with the bathwater. The vocal stylings<br />

utilising both Arabic and Kurdish are centuries old and much of<br />

the keyboard accompaniments are based on traditional Arabic<br />

patterns; the stuff of the wedding songs for which he originally<br />

became famous in his homeland.<br />

In truth, if there wasn’t a slight pause in proceedings I<br />

wouldn’t have known that Souleyman had begun his set, such is<br />

the (to my uneducated ears, perhaps) indistinguishable transition<br />

from DJ set to live set. Souleyman’s keyboard player takes to<br />

the stage and sets the scene before the man himself appears,<br />

dressed in his trademark keffiyeh and sunglasses.<br />

Souleyman, constantly on the move, pacing the stage, hands<br />

outstretched towards his adoring audience, is a somewhat<br />

puzzling phenomenon. As Gabriel Szatan states in Crack<br />

Magazine, he is “greatly respected by some and not taken entirely<br />

seriously by others”, and there is something in the crowd’s<br />

reaction that supports this. There is a slightly amused/bemused<br />

vibe among some of the revellers; a couple jovially video his<br />

shoes, glimpsed occasionally beneath the swirl of his kaftan,<br />

while at the same time wildly excited admirers are being told to<br />

get down from the stage barricade. The crowd are dancing all<br />

the way to the back of the room, grinning from ear to ear, feet<br />

stamping, hands clapping.<br />

Souleyman’s latest album, To Syria, With Love, tackles the<br />

current political situation in that country through a series of<br />

personal, heartfelt odes expressing his hopes and fears for his<br />

homeland. However, there is little sense of soul searching among<br />

this audience, who seem all too ready to embrace the positive,<br />

vibrant link to their own homeland that Souleyman’s musical<br />

conduit provides.<br />

The intensity of the beats is unwavering, the keys adding<br />

swirling Euro-disco synth effects to the patterns riffing<br />

on traditional themes, the handclaps riding over the mix.<br />

Souleyman’s chanted, staccato delivery entices a series of<br />

call and answer responses from the crowd, and those hands<br />

not holding aloft mobile phones are stretched over the barrier<br />

towards him in adoration.<br />

At the back of the room dancers gather in a circle, hands<br />

linked, swirling around a series of individuals who take turns to<br />

Omar Souleyman (Amin Musa / aminmusa.co.uk)<br />

show off their flashy steps. The evening really does have the<br />

feeling of an extended family celebration.<br />

It’s a unique take on a primordial traditional, and it’s earned<br />

Omar Souleyman international acclaim. Here, through him, we are<br />

surrounded everywhere by smiles and joyous laughter.<br />

Glyn Akroyd / @glynakroyd<br />

42


Winds & Skins<br />

SisBis @ 24 Kitchen Street – 23/02<br />

SisBis stands tall as a night for the people of Liverpool. It’s<br />

for all music lovers, there isn’t a certain group of people that you<br />

will find at the event. It’s also non-profit, with all the money taken<br />

on the door going to help Refugee Women Connect, a charity<br />

that supports refugee and asylum-seeking women, especially<br />

mothers, who have settled in the city of Liverpool. Free donations<br />

of nappies, period products and baby clothes are also welcomed<br />

and any pledges are given to the charity. Now partnering with<br />

Resident Advisor, 50p of the booking fee will also go towards<br />

good causes.<br />

The music is highly variable at SisBis. It keeps you on your<br />

toes. There’s no other way to explain it, perhaps only in the way<br />

the curators explained it themselves: unrestricted cuts, jazzfunk,<br />

celestial grooves and soulful beats from across the globe.<br />

Tonight DONNA LEAKE, the first DJ to play at a SisBis gig, is<br />

back with her crew of DEBORA IPEKEL and ECE DUZGIT, aka<br />

WINDS & SKINS.<br />

GIOVANNA, a member of SisBis, steps up to play through<br />

the start of the night. The songs vary from old-school dancehall<br />

with New Yorker by Johnny Ringo along with the experimental<br />

and out of this world Secondo Coro Delle Lavandaie by Roberto<br />

De Simone. By the end of the set, the crowd is present, ready<br />

for Winds & Skins to hit the stage.<br />

Similar to Giovanna, the girls make sure that the selection<br />

keeps one ski slightly off-piste. The smooth and funky<br />

Lipstick (Shout) by JM Black feels like something from a<br />

GTA soundtrack. Further in, the hypnotic sounds of the tabla<br />

come through with Rapanagatun by Zakir Hussain, only to be<br />

followed by the sounds of the late, great Jim Capaldi with I’m<br />

Gonna Do It.<br />

It feels like the night that Liverpool has been missing:<br />

flamboyant, free and fearless. That goes for both the music and<br />

crowd. Everyone is accepted here. It’s great to see a group of<br />

DJs looking like they’re really enjoying themselves on the decks,<br />

there’s smiles all round. Not too serious or stiff. The lights come<br />

Winds & Skins (Michael Driffill / @Michael.Driffy)<br />

down while the last song plays and the crowd makes for the<br />

exit, reluctantly. There remains a big group of dancers even until<br />

the end. The seal of approval for a good night.<br />

It’s only a matter before this is the event that everyone wants<br />

to go to in the city.<br />

Joe Hale / @Joehale94<br />

Snapped Ankles<br />

Kazimier Stockroom – 08/03<br />

Launching Kazimier’s newest micro-venue are London-based<br />

post-punk outfit SNAPPED ANKLES. Known for their signature<br />

electronica-meets-krautrock noise, echoey vocals and throbbing<br />

basslines, the group are equipped to make a serious mark on<br />

Liverpool’s hotly anticipated new space.<br />

A who’s who of emerging and established DJ talent opens<br />

the show, with Melodic Distraction’s own LUPINI (Nina Franklin)<br />

starting things off alongside UpItUp / cartier4everyone favourite<br />

ISOCORE, and IWFM’s SHEA TWINS. Due to the restricted<br />

nature of the space, the DJ sets aren’t a priority for much of<br />

the audience, with a healthy overspill into the Garden – the<br />

quintessential Kazimier Friday night party scene.<br />

Snapped Ankles were originally billed to play at the Invisible<br />

Wind Factory, but alas, there’s a last-minute venue change.<br />

The almost immediately sold-out status leaves gig goers, firstly,<br />

pondering where on earth Stockroom is and, secondly, how<br />

they’d never heard of it before. Clever PR, or a genuine case of<br />

last-minute logistics? Either way, the band fill the space with a<br />

buzz reminiscent of the much missed Kazimier.<br />

Perhaps it is their formative years playing at warehouse<br />

parties and run-down social clubs that make them so perfect<br />

for this cosy new space, accented by an impressively ‘local’-<br />

esque bar, crowned with a sniper post sound tech booth-cumtreehouse.<br />

The clever architecture of the space promises a larger<br />

room than the cave-like contours actually offer, but it works so<br />

well.<br />

Those fatigued by the psychedelic overkill of recent<br />

years, fear not; songs like Rechargeable, I Want My Minutes<br />

Back, Hanging With The Moon, and a few accents of pure<br />

instrumentation and improv between songs keep the pogoers in<br />

the room hopping throughout. It’s a playful atmosphere unlike<br />

your standard guitar band gig. Aided by the yeti-like stooges in<br />

the crowd (in costume as additional members of the haystackclad<br />

group), the band bring with them a hype crew who mingle<br />

into the audience, introducing would-be friends and dance<br />

partners as they roam around.<br />

A perfect launch with one of the most interesting and<br />

experimental bands currently touring. Stockroom might just be<br />

the intimate (and undoubtedly rowdy) venue that Liverpool has<br />

been missing.<br />

Sinéad Nunes / @sineadawrites<br />

Snapped Ankles (Michael Driffill / @Michael.Driffy)<br />

Snapped Ankles (Michael Driffill / @Michael.Driffy)<br />

REVIEWS 43


REVIEWS<br />

Our Girl (John Middleton / johnmiddletonphoto.co.uk)<br />

Our Girl<br />

+ Jelly Boy<br />

I Love Live Events @ Phase One – 04/03<br />

A sunny morning that gave way to rain, wind and then<br />

hailstones. This should probably have been an indicator of the<br />

set that would unfold from OUR GIRL. Purveyors of indie that<br />

flits between grungy and psych, gentle and gripping, the band<br />

emerge onto the stage in a thick film of red light. That fades, goes<br />

blue and later, nearly dims to complete darkness. Before that<br />

though, we’ve barely shook our hair dry when in a slightly too<br />

sharp, brilliant light, support act JELLY BOY bounces onstage.<br />

They quickly settle into a low, AOR style opener. Essentially<br />

the creation of Benji Compston of Happyness, Jelly Boy perform<br />

here as a four-piece of Benji on lead vocals and guitar, with an<br />

extra guitarist, drummer and a keyboard player doubling on<br />

bass. Most of the set goes along in a similar vein to its opener,<br />

with ploddy, sophisticated pop taking bits of American indie,<br />

but there are some exceptions. Jelly Boy’s second tune has an<br />

uptempo and interesting Green-era REM feel, one that ventures<br />

into Weezer grunge-lite. Their fourth sees Benji take centrestage<br />

at the keyboard, playing two verses before admitting he’s<br />

forgotten the song, remembering it and carrying on where he left<br />

off. The penultimate song of the set features a decent guitar line<br />

and some nice glissandos on the keyboard but belies an absolute<br />

blinder of a closer, which starts with a wail of guitars before<br />

settling into a 90s power-pop kick. It saves the bloody set.<br />

Headliners Our Girl have had something of a strange<br />

gestation, particularly for lead-singer guitarist, Soph, also the<br />

lead guitarist in The Big Moon, whose rapid ascent lead to a<br />

Mercury Prize nomination in 2017. The two bands’ fortunes have<br />

dovetailed quite neatly with Our Girl’s debut, the Bill Ryder-<br />

Jones produced Stranger Today, released last year. And where<br />

The Big Moon deal in Britpop-indie with a tinge of Sleeper, Our<br />

Girl tend towards something more explosive – simpler in some<br />

respects and more complex in others. Opener I Really Like It<br />

is a case-in-point, with its sweet toned lyrics sung in Soph’s<br />

Faithfull-esque drawl, but underscored by a heavy reverb on her<br />

guitar, particularly during a middle 8 that’s just a little bit thrash.<br />

Being Around is another sparkler, benefitting from the light and<br />

shade, only this time with more guitar squeals and vocal yowls.<br />

The band’s rhythm section are totally on board, in garage terms<br />

– with drummer Lauren’s stomp-snap pattern and bassist Josh<br />

fret-walking these songs into life, particularly on the Elastica-ish<br />

Josephine.<br />

After a tiring journey, Lauren tells us that the band “are all<br />

out of chat”. “It’s OK, because we’ve got songs,” says Soph. What<br />

follows are the group’s most intricate arrangements of the night<br />

– album track Sub Rosa (a neat bit of indie balladeering) and<br />

the stripped-back Heat which features Josh switching to guitar<br />

so he and Soph can produce some Buckley-style spectral guitar<br />

lines. They finish up the intimate portion of the set with two more<br />

slow tunes, the latter of which, Careful, is so sweet and soft, it’s<br />

almost folky. Level sees a return to the garage, with In My Head<br />

crawling towards an echoey psych, before dramatically changing<br />

tempo at its close. “This is our last song, no bullshit,” says Lauren,<br />

but closer Boring still manages to draw out the finale, changing<br />

speed and volume before morphing into the kind of syncopated<br />

psych jam that the set has threatened all evening. And true to<br />

their word, afterwards, the band speed off-stage.<br />

John McGovern / @etinsuburbiaego<br />

Psycho Comedy:<br />

A New York Minute<br />

Purple Noise @ Shipping Forecast<br />

23/02<br />

Down in the belly of the Shipping Forecast tonight, there<br />

takes place a performance of art-rock so precise, so intentional,<br />

even Andy Warhol would be proud. This is the space where<br />

the collective ideas of frontman Shaun Powell sit atop a mental<br />

pedestal as he waits to invite us into his wild world. For those<br />

unfamiliar with the artistic mastery of PSYCHO COMEDY, it is a<br />

spectacle worth viewing. Hovering through the local music scene<br />

for some years now, the band have fascinated audiences with<br />

the same strategic concept they began with: melding punk and<br />

poetry in unison, breathing art back into music.<br />

Tonight is an exhibition of Powell’s own craft and the<br />

celebration of a goal he set out to accomplish. The very essence<br />

of Psycho Comedy bleeds New York City; from the band’s Patti<br />

Smith and Velvet Underground influences, it is no surprise why<br />

this group from Liverpool find it so important to make their<br />

mark on the Big Apple. Without this vision, the spirit of Psycho<br />

Comedy would fold.<br />

Twisting the audience through their performance like a<br />

mad puppeteer, Powell holds the crowd’s attention through<br />

one of the band’s first and favourable tracks, I’m Numb. Highly<br />

literate and full of raw power, Psycho Comedy blaze through<br />

the evening, shaking the foundations of the venue with the<br />

infectious Michigan State and the thematically relevant Uncle<br />

Sam. The low, seedy bass playing of Connor Duff paired with the<br />

ever-cool poise of the band’s own poet Matthew Thomas Smith<br />

works wonders through Sleep Walking, as he projects his words<br />

through two microphones out to the crowd.<br />

As an animated Powell claims this to be their best of the<br />

night, drummer Jack Williams begins Performance Space Number<br />

One. It’s a song that oozes cool, proving how mature the band<br />

have become since their inception.<br />

Introducing the last song of the evening, the energy rises<br />

as the garrulous singer stands with a sinister grin and exclaims:<br />

“The thing about now is everybody’s always down, the theatre<br />

came crashing down, I am the silver screen.” A roar from the<br />

crowd brings the anthemic I Am The Silver Screen to life. The<br />

venue is full of family and friends, all witnessing something great,<br />

a band whose sonic vision will no doubt take them to great<br />

Psycho Comedy (John Latham / @MRJOHNLATHAM)<br />

heights. It is this sense of passion in honing their craft that is so<br />

admirable and one that will be remembered among a plethora of<br />

bands in Liverpool’s music city.<br />

Brit Williams / @therealbritjean<br />

44


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KAMASI WASHINGTON<br />

FRIDAY 24TH MAY<br />

MANCHESTER ACADEMY<br />

MARSICANS<br />

SATURDAY 6TH APRIL<br />

ACADEMY 3<br />

LEGENDS OF REGGAE<br />

THURSDAY 2ND MAY<br />

ACADEMY 2<br />

FLAMIN' GROOVIES<br />

TUESDAY 4TH JUNE<br />

CLUB ACADEMY<br />

BLACK FLAG<br />

SUNDAY 13TH OCTOBER<br />

ACADEMY 2<br />

SKINNY LISTER<br />

SATURDAY 6TH APRIL<br />

CLUB ACADEMY<br />

LEE FIELDS AND<br />

THE EXPRESSIONS<br />

FRIDAY 3RD MAY / ACADEMY 3<br />

ROYAL REPUBLIC<br />

SATURDAY 26TH OCTOBER<br />

ACADEMY 2<br />

JOYCE MANNOR<br />

SATURDAY 13TH APRIL<br />

ACADEMY 3<br />

PHILIP H. ANSELMO<br />

& THE ILLEGALS<br />

WED 26TH JUNE / CLUB ACADEMY<br />

NINA NESBITT<br />

SATURDAY 13TH APRIL<br />

ACADEMY 2<br />

THE WILDHEARTS<br />

FRIDAY 3RD MAY<br />

ACADEMY 2<br />

LIVING COLOUR<br />

FRIDAY 26TH JULY<br />

ACADEMY 2<br />

SHE DREW THE GUN<br />

WEDNESDAY 30TH OCTOBER<br />

ACADEMY 2<br />

CHRIS YOUNG<br />

SUNDAY 5TH MAY<br />

MANCHESTER ACADEMY<br />

ANIMALS AS LEADERS<br />

MONDAY 5TH AUGUST<br />

ACADEMY 2<br />

PALACE<br />

THIURSDAY 7TH NOVEMBER<br />

ACADEMY 2<br />

THE TYRANTS<br />

FRIDAY 19TH APRIL<br />

ACADEMY 3<br />

THE FLAMING LIPS<br />

FRIDAY 6TH SEPTEMBER<br />

MANCHESTER ACADEMY<br />

MOTT THE HOOPLE '74<br />

FRIDAY 19TH APRIL<br />

MANCHESTER ACADEMY<br />

ANGEL HAZE<br />

SUNDAY 5TH MAY<br />

ACADEMY 3<br />

HAPPY MONDAYS<br />

THURSDAY 21ST NOVEMBER<br />

MANCHESTER ACADEMY<br />

UNDER THE APPLE TREE<br />

LIVE ON TOUR WITH WILDWOOD KIN<br />

MONDAY 6TH MAY / ACADEMY 3<br />

PLASTIC HOUSE<br />

FRIDAY 20TH SEPTEMBER<br />

ACADEMY 2<br />

DROPKICK MURPHYS<br />

THURSDAY 25TH APRIL<br />

MANCHESTER ACADEMY<br />

KILL II THIS<br />

FRIDAY 27TH SEPTEMBER<br />

ACADEMY 2<br />

THE SOUTHMARTINS<br />

SATURDAY 23RD NOVEMBER<br />

MANCHESTER ACADEMY<br />

JOHN POWER<br />

THURSDAY 25TH APRIL<br />

ACADEMY 3<br />

DEMONS OF RUBY MAE<br />

SATURDAY 11TH MAY<br />

ACADEMY 3<br />

THE SMITHS LTD<br />

SATIURDAY 27TH APRIL<br />

ACADEMY 3<br />

FUZZY SUN<br />

SATURDAY 18TH MAY<br />

CLUB ACADEMY<br />

PALE WAVES<br />

FRIDAY 27TH SEPTEMBER<br />

MANCHESTER ACADEMY<br />

BURY TOMORROW<br />

FRIDAY 20TH DECEMBER<br />

MANCHESTER ACADEMY<br />

facebook.com/manchesteracademy @mancacademy FOR UP TO DATE LISTINGS VISIT MANChesteracademy.net<br />

45


REVIEWS<br />

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes<br />

+ Black Futures<br />

Arts Club – 19/02<br />

“We all come from an explosion in the sky/One day there<br />

was nothing and the next there was life/And all the rivers and the<br />

mountains and the sun and the moon/And then all of a sudden<br />

there’s a cloud of doom,” FRANK CARTER bellows, as THE<br />

RATTLESNAKES plough into their latest single and first song of<br />

the set, Crowbar. The Arts Club crowd explodes in a frenzy of<br />

bodies, making it near impossible not to bang your head.<br />

By Tyrant Lizard King, Frank is in the audience doing a<br />

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes (Tomas Adam)<br />

fucking handstand! Not on the floor, but on top of a feverish<br />

crowd who just can’t seem to get enough of the band’s mix<br />

of hardcore punk and alternative rock. Frank Carter & The<br />

Rattlesnakes have transcended their punk rock roots. They<br />

embrace an arena rock aesthetic, losing none of their razor-sharp<br />

edge.<br />

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself... Before Frank Carter &<br />

The Rattlesnakes even take to the stage, BLACK FUTURES’ blend<br />

of punk rock and industrial noise already has sweat dripping<br />

from the walls. The dystopian/utopian, boiler-suited duo take no<br />

prisoners during their opening set. Everyone is a casualty of their<br />

aural and visual assault on the senses. Anonymous dancers stand<br />

on either side of the stage waving white flags, before jumping<br />

into the crowd and dancing in what little space is available.<br />

It’s a chaotic awakening for someone that wasn’t even<br />

aware of the band’s existence until one hour prior. Together, the<br />

audience and Black Futures are pop anarchy. This live set is their<br />

soundtrack.<br />

Emerging from the gallows, so to speak, comes Frank Carter,<br />

along with Dean Richardson, Tom Barclay, Gareth Grover and<br />

Thomas Mitchener. This is a band that could sell out much bigger<br />

venues across the United Kingdom, but the intensity of playing<br />

in smaller venues, like the Arts Club, is an opportunity to revel in<br />

chaos. What is more punk than that?<br />

Playing songs from albums Blossom, Modern Ruin and the<br />

upcoming End of Suffering, Frank consistently dives into the<br />

crowd; walking and surfing atop a sea of fanatics united by music<br />

– stopping only to share his sincerest thanks. “I have the best<br />

view in the house!” he relays to his sweaty, euphoric audience,<br />

still in the midst of crowd surfing their own brethren to the front<br />

of the stage.<br />

Frank dedicates the next song in the set, Heartbreaker, to his<br />

female audience. “If you have ever wanted to crowd surf, now is<br />

your chance to do it in a safe environment.” Smiles adorn every<br />

face in the venue, including that of the security who can be seen<br />

bracing for another blitz of bodies. “There is no anonymity,” Frank<br />

warns as Deano begins to pound into lead guitar. Many women<br />

take The Rattlesnakes up on this opportunity and surf their way<br />

towards the stage. My wife signals over to me so she can speak<br />

into my ear. “What a fucking gentleman!”<br />

Another highlight is Anxiety – a grunge-infused guitar ballad<br />

that directly relates to Frank’s personal mental health struggles.<br />

Frank suffers from anxiety, but friendships and family have<br />

helped him through darker days. In introducing the song, Frank<br />

implores the crowd to do the same as he has done in the past: if<br />

you find yourself struggling with anxiety, talk to someone.<br />

Frank Carter has come a long way from the frontman he was<br />

in Gallows. At times Frank could be obnoxious, and in his own<br />

words, “a bit of a cunt”, but in Liverpool, Frank comes across with<br />

nothing but sincerity and gratitude. Gratitude towards the fans,<br />

towards the band, towards the road crew, towards the support<br />

provided by Black Futures, and towards the venue staff. And it’s<br />

not long before Frank has ventured back out into the crowd.<br />

Climbing up onto the Arts Club bar, Frank points towards<br />

Deano with a sly grin, signalling him to riff into Crowbar once<br />

again. “I can do what the fuck I want,” Frank laughs before<br />

launching himself into a crowd who greet him with open arms;<br />

surfing him back to the stage. The feeling here is mutual, and by<br />

the time The Rattlesnakes play the last song on their setlist – the<br />

closing track on Blossom, I Hate You – the energy in the room<br />

is so intense it’s perceptible by touch. Respect yourself, respect<br />

others, respect the music and don’t let anyone bring you down.<br />

Ken Wynne @Ken_Wynne<br />

International Teachers Of Pop<br />

+ Los Bitchos<br />

+ Beija Flo<br />

Harvest Sun @ District – 23/02<br />

District in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle is another one of those<br />

repurposed industrial spaces that oozes urban cool and boasts a<br />

brilliant sound system and punchy acoustics. It’s a fitting venue<br />

for Sheffield’s INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP to close out<br />

their successful tour.<br />

Liverpool’s BEIJA FLO opens proceedings with half an hour<br />

of bittersweet, darkly comic musings layered with plenty of<br />

self-deprecating humour and offbeat tales. Flo’s presence on<br />

stage is wildly contradictory, all at once inhabiting a vulnerable<br />

yet defiant persona, holding the audience with a steady gaze and<br />

wry observations. Her music is pop electronica and her touch<br />

is deft with melodies and avant-garde flourishes encircling her<br />

remarkable voice. Think the squeak and pop of Lene Lovich, the<br />

poise of Siouxsie Sioux cloaked in an Essex drawl and you have<br />

some kind of magical chimera. Her Bolan-esque glam makeup is<br />

effortlessly cool and she owns the room.<br />

LOS BITCHOS follow and are a force of nature. Consisting of<br />

bass, two guitars, a keytar and drums they groove and move in<br />

unison as if The Shadows, a Mariachi band and Stealing Sheep<br />

had been gene-spliced to create hypnotic Cumbian rhythms.<br />

Everyone is into this, the band jam, swaying in synch, riffing<br />

off each other, smiling broadly as the audience party. They are<br />

ineffably cool, hitting us with wave after wave of dubby bass<br />

and hypnotic drones. They all hug each other at the end, which is<br />

really nice.<br />

International Teachers Of Pop are a kind of a throwback,<br />

echoing a time when electronic music was all about having fun.<br />

They obviously enjoy performing and this comes across in their<br />

exuberant performance. The Moonlandingz’ founders Adrian<br />

Flanagan and Dean Honer have hit upon a formula that works.<br />

Their sound could be described as radiophonic disco, chock full of<br />

blurry analogue lines and spacey synth pads.<br />

Leonore Wheatley and Katie Mason provide the drive and<br />

vocals, close harmonising to lend a West Coast 60s psychedelic<br />

vibe to the churning electronics of the guys either side of them.<br />

They pull shapes and groove like the cool girls at a disco, pulling<br />

the audience along on their sleigh-ride of electronic pyrotechnics.<br />

Heady renditions of Age Of The Train, The Ballad Of Remedy<br />

Nilsson, She Walks and Praxis Makes Prefect take us through<br />

the Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk, Human League and Ladytron<br />

badlands. There’s fun to be had here. A krautrock version of<br />

Another Brick In The Wall is a highlight, being a truly original<br />

interpretation of a song so ingrained in the psyche that it’s at first<br />

jarring as we attempt to process all the angular lines and Teutonic<br />

posturing.<br />

Blasting through their repertoire, International Teachers Of<br />

Pop barely give the audience a chance to breath between songs.<br />

The stillness of Flanagan and Honer behind their keyboards is<br />

International Teachers Of Pop (Darren Aston)<br />

offset by Wheatley and Mason’s dancing as they beam and twirl<br />

with impish glee.<br />

Things wind down and they exit stage left. Everybody gets<br />

fidgety as the house lights remain dimmed, they then re-emerge<br />

to much cheering and close the gig with After Dark, a tune so<br />

giddy it could have been written on helium.<br />

This is a night of music for music’s sake, for those who<br />

wanted to enjoy the communal spirit of seeing artists enjoying<br />

their craft, to dance, to bounce and to leave with warm ears<br />

ringing.<br />

Mike Stanton / @DepartmentEss<br />

46


DAM<br />

+ DJ Sotusura<br />

MARSM and Liverpool Arab Arts Festival @<br />

Constellations – 27/02<br />

As the great B Dolan once rapped, hip hop is folk music<br />

grown from the struggle. The struggle for, or against, what?<br />

Well, the era we’re currently roller coastering through provides<br />

answers to that question on a daily basis. Social and economic<br />

inequality, sexual inequality, racial inequality, poverty, corruption<br />

and untold amounts of other global issues are caught in many<br />

rappers’ and artists’ perpetual crosshairs. As a movement, hip<br />

hop epitomises the struggle of those underfoot trying to strive for<br />

two things: justice and freedom.<br />

At its inception, its individual components – turntablism,<br />

rapping, breakdancing and graffiti art – served to pull together<br />

the victims of institutional and overt racism in America and<br />

offered a haven for those swept under the proverbial rug of<br />

Robert Moses’ New York. As folk music does, it empowered the<br />

powerless, gave a voice to the voiceless and sparked a fire that<br />

generations of people would gather around. This was late 70s,<br />

early 80s New York. Who knew that this same musical style<br />

would rouse the strength of a people who’re victims of colonial<br />

war and religious/political persecution? This is the value of music,<br />

the meaning of hip hop, and it’s being demonstrated tonight in<br />

our fair city’s Constellations, where we await the Palestinian trio<br />

DAM.<br />

Tonight’s show is a powerful and important statement, which<br />

showcases the diversity and ingenuity that is possible within the<br />

genre. As the doors open and people begin to funnel through to<br />

stage area, it’s unfortunate to see that the room doesn’t become<br />

as full as it deserves to be. No matter, though. The heads in this<br />

room form a small but dedicated nucleus. They’re heads ready to<br />

bop.<br />

The support, DJ SOTUSURA, provides some enchanting<br />

and refreshing cuts which mix Arabic samples with old school<br />

hip hop beats. Following the release of his first solo album, the<br />

crowdfunding success Salah El Alhan, Sotusura delivers a lush<br />

and brim-full set that displays his unique style and approach to<br />

the turntables.<br />

Before long it’s time for the anticipated headliner, DAM.<br />

This Palestinian hip hop trio has garnered legendary status, a<br />

renowned talent present throughout the course of their 20-year<br />

career. As new-ish member, MC and singer Maisa Daw, joins her<br />

partners Mahmoud Jreri and Tamer Naffar on stage, they make an<br />

energised dive into what proves to be an insightful and passionfilled<br />

set.<br />

In equal measures a show of artistry and musicianship and<br />

a celebration of poetry, these are three incredibly gifted writers<br />

and rhymers. Tamer Naffar, sometimes hailed the Godfather of<br />

Palestinian rap, oozes charisma and syllables by the bucketload.<br />

The new single, Emta Njawzak Yamma, is a clear standout and<br />

one of the most memorable performances of the night.<br />

DAM (Glyn Akroyd / @GlynAkroyd)<br />

During the set the poetic strengths of each member has its<br />

own time in the spotlight, with Maisa Daw taking a stand for her<br />

Arab femininity in the moving Jasadik-Hom (Your Body Of Theirs)<br />

and Mahmoud Jreri’s complex rhyming ability showing consistent<br />

strength throughout. #Who_You_R is another highlight; one of<br />

many. This is hip hop as raw and sincere as it’s supposed to be.<br />

As the set closes with a return to the refrains of their new<br />

single, it’s clear that DAM are the best hip hop group you’ve<br />

never heard of (until now). Liverpool, open your ears.<br />

Christopher Carr<br />

Fatherson<br />

+ Vistas<br />

I Love Live Events @ Phase One – 03/04<br />

FATHERSON first came on the scene in 2012, and yet<br />

whenever I mention them to fellow music lovers, I can almost<br />

guarantee that I will get the response: “Who?” Frontman Ross<br />

Leighton acknowledges the band’s small presence within the<br />

music scene, crediting fans for Fatherson’s desire to continue<br />

touring their music. He looks around the sold-out room, inhales<br />

deeply and tells us, “We carry on because of this, because of you<br />

guys”.<br />

The Scottish music scene has a tight bond, and the amount<br />

of Scottish accents in the crowd tonight only supports this claim.<br />

Slowly but surely this band seem to be advancing into the English<br />

scene and beyond. Their recent single Making Waves allows Ross<br />

to bring his vocals to the forefront while being punctuated by a<br />

killer rock guitar and drum combo. Tonight, it is this song that<br />

brings the audience together, hardcore fans and new followers<br />

alike. Everyone is singing. “Somebody called it a longshot” is the<br />

lyric that resonates. This band’s success, no matter how covert,<br />

would have once been a longshot. This song isn’t just about<br />

human love, but the importance of music and the love story it<br />

weaves throughout all of our lives.<br />

As a band that know all about the struggle of Scottish artists,<br />

I credit Fatherson for their choice in VISTAS as support act. Their<br />

upbeat indie-rock guitar and a vocalist that does not shy away<br />

from his Scottish accent but takes hold of its authenticity and<br />

runs with it, is a perfect choice to open tonight. Combine 2014<br />

Circa Waves (whom the band are also supporting this year) with<br />

Sundara Karma’s debut and you have the closest thing to Vistas.<br />

A double clap from frontman Prentice Robertson and we’re<br />

beamed into Retrospect, by far the band’s best song. With his<br />

knees swaying side to side and the crowd following, I overhear<br />

“these are so good man” from my left. If that isn’t a compliment<br />

worth pinning on your fridge, I don’t know what is.<br />

Their new single Eighteen just shows how much this band<br />

have developed; the potential they hold. With a less repetitive<br />

lyric than the aforementioned, the band still harness their positive<br />

and uplifting sound to create music that feels important to both<br />

a past and present you. “Can we go back to eighteen/Do you<br />

remember everything?/I made you cry, I made you sing”. We all<br />

need to remember these times, these life-altering moments of<br />

emotion, good and bad, and use our past to fuel our future.<br />

Tonight showcases what the Scottish indie music scene<br />

has to offer, with its guitars, double claps and irrefutably strong<br />

accents. Has Gerry Cinnamon opened the floodgates for Scottish<br />

music in England? I can only hope.<br />

Megan Walder / @m_l_wald<br />

John Cooper Clarke<br />

Philharmonic Hall – 22/02<br />

John Cooper Clarke (Mook Loxley / mookloxley.tumblr.com)<br />

John Cooper Clarke (Mook Loxley / mookloxley.tumblr.com)<br />

REVIEWS<br />

47


EIGHTY<br />

NE.<br />

RENSHAW<br />

Record Store Day is Saturday 13th <strong>April</strong>!!!<br />

RSD sees the release of hundreds of limited<br />

edition vinyl releases, why not come and celebrate<br />

at 81 Renshaw? All releases are sold on a first-come,<br />

first-served basis and each release is limited to one per customer.<br />

★ Front Bar open from 7.30am<br />

★ Pop Up Record Store in the Venue opens at 8.00am<br />

★ Over 400 RSD titles in stock<br />

★ Bacon butties and Veggie sausage sarnies £1.50 All Day<br />

★ Tea and Coffee 50p All Day<br />

★ 81 Renshaw record vouchers for the first 50 customers*<br />

★ Free bottle of beer in the afternoon for first 100 customers<br />

★ Beija Flo Live Concert at 2pm – free admission<br />

★ Pop-Up Liverpool Music Museum (including the 1st public<br />

showing of The John Lennon Time Capsule – conceived by Yoko Ono)<br />

COMING SOON...<br />

LIVE AT 81 !<br />

Johnny Dowd<br />

Thur 18th <strong>April</strong><br />

7:30pm<br />

£12 Adv.<br />

Black humour, doom and<br />

gloom, alternative country<br />

with big, noisy breaks.<br />

For fans of Beck, Tom Waits,<br />

Nick Cave and Captain Beefheart<br />

81 RENSHAW STREET L1 2SJ • 0151 707 1805 • www.81renshaw.co.uk<br />

E: info@81renshaw.co.uk Fb: /81renshaw Tw: @81renshaw<br />

*Not valid on <strong>2019</strong> RSD stock Johnny Dowd image: Kat Dalton<br />

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ARTISTIC<br />

LICENCE<br />

As part of our continuing series focusing on the region’s wordsmiths,<br />

we present a short story submitted to us by Ryan Murphy. If you’d<br />

like to be featured in this section, please send your submissions and<br />

ideas to niloo@bidolito.co.uk.<br />

Ryan Murphy<br />

Sixes And Sevens<br />

The lion jumped onto the bench and woke me from my dream with a kick. I sat up straight, startled in the morning sun, squinting at<br />

the knifelight. From somewhere close by, I heard something like the sound of the fast unfastening of a long Velcro strap.<br />

I frowned.<br />

“Where am I?”<br />

I rubbed my face.<br />

Bright, late-spring grasses. The lion. A damp park bench. No? No, not a park. A large garden. Is this somebody’s garden? Oh no...<br />

What have I done? My head was aching – my whole body was aching in the cold-blue-daybreak.<br />

“You’re still in Milan,” yawned the lion.<br />

I blinked, “Right... right, I know.” I rubbed my eyes. “What time is it?”<br />

“Time?” the lion snarled, shifting his half-mounted perch. “The time is time to get up and take your life into your own hands.” His<br />

scruffy tail swished and swooshed in lackadaisical rhythms. Dotty flies hung around him in the still air. I frowned once more at the<br />

lifting mist and then took a proper look at my preaching companion.<br />

“My life is in my own hands.”<br />

“Oh! Is it now?” The lion retorted, bringing his face closer to mine and forestalling my naïve confidence with a throat-clearing growl.<br />

The dew on his whiskers glistened, his hot breath condensing into takeaway-coffee-plumes. His mane was golden and gracious,<br />

drifting lighter than air.<br />

I wanted to poke his rubbery nose.<br />

“And I suppose this is what you call being in control, hey? Sitting here, in this stranger’s garden, on this stranger’s bench at five<br />

in the morning, somewhere in Milan,” he twisted his face into a question mark. “Rather looks to me like you’re lost and in a very<br />

vulnerable position.”<br />

I considered this statement for a second. The silence around us imagined empty Italian streets. Was it a Sunday? Where were<br />

Marcus and the others?<br />

“Well?” The lion crept.<br />

“Well,” I offered, but I was unsure of how to continue.<br />

The lion loomed, wide-eyed.<br />

“Well... aren’t we all just lost?” I passed the buck. The lion pressed closer, “I mean, aren’t we all just lost and in as much of a<br />

vulnerable position as the next? As each other?”<br />

A wry smile from the lion, his whiskers twitching. “Go on…”<br />

I thought for a moment, caught a glimpse of my warped reflection in the lion’s glassy eyes. “I mean, we’re all searching around in<br />

the great unknown... and in the end all of the clues we’ve gathered up will flash before our eyes and we’ll be none the wiser...” I was<br />

fidgety as I talked-with-my-hands, “it’s like, we’re always guessing at something… I don’t know.”<br />

The lion sat back, crossed his legs like a hairdresser on a cigarette break and pondered my ramblings. From behind an ivy-mapped<br />

white stone wall came the Velcro sound again, only this time, I realised it was water being thrown from a bucket.<br />

The lion raised a heavy paw, “I’d like to see my life flash before my eyes,” his claws sprung as he snatched nothing-at-all out of the<br />

air, “it’d never slip past me!” With a low roar he jumped up to his feet, striking a predatory pose and ruffling his mane in adamance.<br />

For a short time there was not a sound.<br />

We must have looked like a feature in the National Geographic Society’s magazine.<br />

A fly buzzed by.<br />

The slow sun worked away at the morning mist. I sat there looking at the unlikely lion. A puzzled look had passed over his face and<br />

mine. I never knew what we were thinking.<br />

“Right,” I started, placing my hands on my knees, “I have to leave now. I’m supposed to be somewhere,” and I began to stand up, but<br />

the lion turned and stopped me with the weight of one colossal paw, nailing me to the bench in sleep-paralysis.<br />

“I know you’re trying to set the world on six and seven boy,” the lion cautioned, “believe me, I admire your courage, but listen: don’t<br />

make assumptions. You can’t just skip to the end. You have to endure.” The lion’s eyes burned. With this final warning – and not so<br />

much more as a blink – he backed down and disappeared into the bushes behind the bench like the Cheshire cat of Cheshire cats.<br />

He was right about something, and it was probably overdue.<br />

I gawked at the now wet grass. It was getting on.<br />

I climbed a nearby fence, wandered out onto a street and found a taxi. It cost me 25 euros to get back to my hostel.<br />

That was the last day I ever felt the opposite of independent.<br />

52


5pm til 9pm - SUNDAY TO FRIDAY<br />

£2 Slices<br />

£10 Pizzas<br />

2 cocktails £10<br />

cheap plonk<br />

25 Parr Street, Liverpool L1 4JN.<br />

0151 559 2599


SAY<br />

THE FINAL<br />

Esme Davine confronts the damage to female musicians that comes<br />

about from tokenism, and questions what real diversity looks and<br />

sounds like.<br />

“We don’t want to<br />

be a subculture,<br />

we want equal<br />

exposure and<br />

representation”<br />

<strong>2019</strong>, the year of the Woke Olympics. It feels like every<br />

designer, magazine, event line-up and most other art<br />

and media outlets are in some kind of wacky race to<br />

see who can appear the most diverse without actually<br />

having to deliver these ethics that they so desperately want to<br />

ram down our throats.<br />

What these companies are too egomaniacal to realise is<br />

that their half-assed cherry-picking of minority voices does not<br />

count for diversity. It is tokenism that stems from the incorrect<br />

assumption that every person of colour has had the same<br />

experiences, that every queer person has shamefully cowered in<br />

the closet, that all women endure the same level of misogyny.<br />

These platforms need to evaluate why they are centering the<br />

voices of privileged, white cisgendered men in the first place. By<br />

trying to ‘include’ PoC, queer, disabled, working-class voices acts<br />

as a diversity band-aid is just ignoring the root of the problem.<br />

The problem is not just diversity, it’s that the systems deny<br />

access to the people that are not deemed marketable. These guys<br />

have a business to run and wealth to hoard, and if you’re not a<br />

skinny white cash cow, you’re invisible. This then creates the<br />

dynamic that everybody is at the mercy of the rich white dudes<br />

who run shit, and if you don’t have power then you’re at the<br />

mercy of those who do.<br />

I’d always found a way to smile through gritted teeth at music<br />

industry heads when they clearly just saw Piss Kitti as a novelty<br />

and a commodity with there being a spectrum of genders within<br />

our band. Until February when we were booked for a gig at the<br />

Punk At Picton exhibition at Liverpool library to play a support slot<br />

for The Gentle Scars. The bassist of this band approached us and<br />

expressed his disappointment that we weren’t an “all-girl band”;<br />

he then went on to encourage us to bring back an ex-member for<br />

the Punk And Picton event so we would appear more of a “girl<br />

band” to the man from Liverpool Council, who was funding the<br />

event, as he had agreed to put us on the line-up because they<br />

needed “females” involved to avoid complaints.<br />

Following the realisation we had only been booked as a<br />

diversity token and not for the quality of our music, I attempted<br />

to contact the head organiser of the event explaining why we<br />

were pulling out of the gig. I received no reply so we went ahead<br />

with posting a statement on social media about the incident,<br />

encouraging promoters to book gender-diverse gigs and centre<br />

voices equally, without resorting to blatant tokenism. We awaited<br />

response to no avail, yet the words “Piss Kitti” miraculously<br />

changed to a replacement band on the poster, but the other<br />

support bands saw our statement and event and pulled out of<br />

the show in solidarity. The event was soon cancelled; in more<br />

ways than one. This is a daily occurrence for womxn and queer<br />

bands, more often than not it remains a lose-lose situation; do we<br />

grin and bare it and play the show anyway? Or do we reject the<br />

offer and silence ourselves while clinging onto our principles and<br />

integrity? We shouldn’t have to make this decision and still hinder<br />

the success of our band either way. How is that fair?<br />

If you don’t have money, you have to succumb to the rich<br />

in order to be let in and have your voice heard. To overlook<br />

this structural power imbalance that lazily uses individuals as<br />

diversity tokens is insulting and derogatory at best, and racism<br />

and misogyny at worst.<br />

This inherently tokenistic constitution trickles down to smaller<br />

social constructs in the form of underrepresentation in local music<br />

scenes. It’s hard to exist – let alone thrive – in a community where<br />

you see no relatable material or reflections of yourself. There have<br />

been moments where I wanted to tear down what I saw as my<br />

opposition, and slander the gentlemen’s club that is the smalltime<br />

local music industry, but I’ve since realised that everybody<br />

needs to decode and confront systematic misogyny together.<br />

How can a cocktail of different styles and experiences be<br />

a bad thing? To have a genuine sense of diversity can only<br />

benefit everyone, giving us all room to grow and bring more<br />

opportunities.<br />

However, I feel like we still have a very long way to go. The<br />

amount of times I have heard “next up we have female-fronted<br />

punk band Piss Kitti!” when referring to my band is absolutely<br />

soul-destroying; would you refer to a band as male-fronted? No.<br />

Didn’t think so.<br />

If I had a pound for every time a music reviewer referred to<br />

us as “Riot Grrrl”, I wouldn’t have to work full time on a minimum<br />

wage job just to scrape by. To brand us as Riot Grrrl is, in itself,<br />

unabashed sexism – that or just downright lack of musical<br />

knowledge and/or creativity.<br />

Riot Grrrl was a subcultural movement in the 1<strong>98</strong>0s<br />

consisting of feminism, activism and politics, mainly expressed<br />

through musical mediums. It really illustrates the lack of<br />

opportunity and visibility of womxn musicians if this is the only<br />

thing that springs to mind when you see us perform.<br />

We don’t want to be a subculture, we want equal exposure<br />

and representation. So, we have learnt from experience that<br />

dividing gender and having resentment for more privileged<br />

musicians can be detrimental to us personally and is never going<br />

to make a change on a bigger scale. We are visible. We don’t<br />

need you temporarily offering your space to us for your own gain,<br />

we aren’t victims. We aren’t a novelty. And if one more person<br />

compares us to Bikini Kill I’ll chop your brain up and eat it.<br />

Words: Esme Davine<br />

54


www.liverpoolbandvans.co.uk<br />

info@liverpoolbandvans.co.uk +44 78 544 94764<br />

Cain’s Brewery District ● 9 Mann Street ● Liverpool ● L85AF

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