ISSUE 106 / DEC 2019/JAN 2020
NEW MUSIC + CREATIVE CULTURE
BEIJA FLO / LO FIVE
ASOK / SIMON HUGHES
Sat 23rd Nov
Life At The Arcade
Sat 23rd Nov
Liverpool Guild of Students
Sat 23rd Nov
The Steve Hillage
Sun 24th Nov
Thur 28th Nov • 6.30pm
Liverpool Guild of Students
+ Los Bitchos
+ Phoebe Green
Fri 29th Nov
The Doors Alive
Sat 30th Nov • 6pm
The Wonder Stuff
Eight Legged Groove
Machine’ & ‘HUP’
+ Jim Bob from Carter USM
Sat 30th Nov
Pearl Jam UK
Thur 5th Dec
+ The Twang
Fri 6th Dec
Liverpool Guild of Students
+ Jon Dasilva
Fri 6th Dec
Fri 6th Dec • 7.30pm
Sat 7th Dec
Prince Tribute -
Tue 10th Dec
Liverpool Guild of Students
Wed 11th Dec
D Block Europe
Thur 12th Dec
Liverpool Guild of Students
Daniel Sloss: X
Fri 13th Dec
Liverpool Guild of Students
Fri 13th Dec
Fri 13th Dec
Scouting for Girls
Sat 14th Dec
… The Smiths 35
Sat 14th Dec
Ian Prowse &
+ The Supernaturals
+ Steve Pilgrim
Wed 18th Dec
Thur 19th Dec
All Change Album
Fri 20th Dec
Mother Nature Calls
Fri 20th Dec
at the Academy
Sat 21st Dec
Magic Hour Album
Sat 21st Dec
The Greatest Hits of
Phil Lynott & Thin Lizzy
Tue 31st Dec • 10pm
Twisted Circus NYE
Sat 11th Jan 2020
Elvis Fronted Nirvana
Sat 18th Jan 2020
Liverpool Guild of Students
Wed 29th Jan 2020
+ Buster Shuffle
Sat 1st Feb 2020 • 6.30pm
Rocks Heat 4
Mon 3rd Feb 2020
Tue 4th Feb 2020
Wed 12th Feb 2020
Sat 22nd Feb 2020
The Fillers (The Killers
Official Tribute Band)
Tue 25th Feb 2020
The Murder Capital
Thur 27th Feb 2020
Fri 28th Feb 2020
The Big Moon
Sat 29th Feb 2020
Bulsara and His
Thur 5th Mar 2020
Thur 12th Mar 2020
Liverpool Guild of Students
The Blindboy Podcast
Thur 12th Mar 2020
Tragedy: All Metal
Tribute to the Bee
Gees & Beyond
+ Attic Theory
Sat 28th Mar 2020
AC/DC UK & Dizzy
Sat 28th Mar 2020
Sun 29th Mar 2020
Cigarettes After Sex
Sat 4th Apr 2020
Liverpool Guild of Students
Sat 4th Apr 2020
808 State Live
Tue 21st Apr 2020
Darwin Deez - 10Yearz
Sat 2nd May 2020
(Tribute To The Beautiful
South & The Housemartins)
Sat 9th May 2020
Fell Out Boy
& The Black Charade
+ We Aren’t Paramore
Sat 16th May 2020
Nirvana UK (Tribute)
Sat 23rd May 2020
The Bon Jovi
Fri 11th Dec 2020
FRI 22ND NOV 7PM
BLOOD RED SHOES
+ QUEEN KWONG
+ GEN & THE DEGENERATES
FRI 22ND NOV 7PM
SAT 23RD NOV 10.30PM
BRING IT ALL BACK
- ONE DIRECTION PARTY
FRI 29TH NOV 7PM
SAT 30TH NOV 6.30PM
SAT 30TH NOV 7PM
WED 4TH DEC 7PM
THUR 5TH DEC 7PM
FRI 6TH DEC 7PM
& POLAR STATES
SAT 7TH DEC 7PM
IAN MCNABB &
TUE 10TH DEC 7PM
THE PAPER KITES
+ AXEL FLOVENT
WED 11TH DEC 7PM
THUR 12TH DEC 7PM
+ NO ROME + OSCAR LANG
SAT 14TH DEC 7PM
+ DENIO + GALLIA
+ ALEX TELEKO
WED 18TH DEC 7PM
THUR 26TH DEC 10PM
D.O.D & FRIENDS
FRI 24TH JAN 2020 6.30PM
LIVERPOOL ROCKS HEAT 1
SAT 25TH JAN 2020 6.30PM
LIVERPOOL ROCKS HEAT 2
MON 27TH JAN 2020 7PM
FRI 31ST JAN 2020 6.30PM
LIVERPOOL ROCKS HEAT 3
FRI 7TH FEB 2020 7.30PM SOLD OUT
SAT 8TH FEB 2020 7.PM
THUR 13TH FEB 2020 7PM
FRI 21ST FEB 2020 7PM
SAT 22ND FEB 2020 7PM
SUN 23RD FEB 2020 7PM
THUR 5TH MAR 2020 7PM
SAT 7TH MAR 2020 7PM
THU 12TH MAR 2020 7PM
+ 8 BALL AITKEN
SAT 14TH MAR 2020 7.30PM
MON 16TH MAR 2020 7PM
JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR
WED 25TH MAR 2020 7PM
WED 25TH MAR 2020 7PM
FRI 27TH MAR 2020 6.30PM
LIVERPOOL ROCKS SEMI
SUN 29TH MAR 2020 7PM
(OF ALICE IN CHAINS)
FRI 3RD APR 2020 6.30PM
LIVERPOOL ROCKS SEMI
SAT 18TH APR 2020 6PM
SAT 25TH APR 2020 6.30PM
LIVERPOOL ROCKS FINAL
TICKETS FOR ALL SHOWS ARE AVAILABLE FROM
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Doors 7pm unless stated
Venue box office opening hours:
Mon - Sat 10.30am - 5.30pm
1 NOV 2019 - 23 FEB 2020
BRANDON COVINGTON SAM-SUMANA
FACT / 88 WOOD STREET / L1 4DQ
Anna Bunting-Branch and Aliyah Hussain, Warm Worlds and Otherwise (2018-19) and META (2018) commissioned as part of Worlds Among Us, a
collaboration between FACT, The Mechatronic Library, QUAD and Wysing Arts Centre. Installation view at FACT. Image by Rob Battersby.
Elf Spirit of Christmas Awake, Arise – A Christmas Show For Our Times It’s a Wonderful Life
An Audience With
Plus support Satin Beige Chousmer
Friday 6 December 8pm
Plus special guest Thomas Lang
Saturday 7 December 8pm
Elf (cert PG)
Tuesday 10 December 7.30pm
Tuesday 10 December 8pm
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Clare Teal with
Guy Barker – In the
Wednesday 11 December 7.30pm
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Sing-along with Santa
Saturday 14 December 11.30am & 2.30pm
Sunday 15 December 11.30am & 2.30pm
Awake, Arise –
A Christmas Show
For Our Times
Featuring Lady Maisery, Jimmy Aldridge
and Sid Goldsmith
Monday 16 December 8pm
Baked A La Ska:
Ska of Wonder
Monday 23 December 8pm
It’s a Wonderful Life (cert U)
Tuesday 24 December 11am & 2pm
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Ghostbusters: Film with
Live Orchestra (cert PG)
Saturday 28 December 7.30pm
Sunday 29 December 7.30pm
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Saturday 4 January 7pm
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Spirit of Christmas
Saturday 14 December 7.30pm
Tuesday 17 December 7.30pm
Wednesday 18 December 7.30pm
Friday 20 December 7.30pm
Saturday 21 December 7.30pm
Sunday 22 December 2.30pm
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New Music + Creative Culture
Issue 106 / Dec 2019/Jan 2020
40-42 Slater Street
Liverpool L1 4BX
Craig G Pennington - firstname.lastname@example.org
Christopher Torpey - email@example.com
Elliot Ryder - firstname.lastname@example.org
Digital Media Manager
Brit Williams – email@example.com
Mark McKellier - firstname.lastname@example.org
Thom Isom - email@example.com
Elliot Ryder, Cath Holland, Christopher Torpey, Julia
Johnson, Neil Grant, Simon Hughes, Sam Turner,
Paul Fitzgerald, Bethany Garrett, Laura Brown, Chris
Brown, Damon Fairclough, Rhys Buchanan, Matthew
Hogarth, Anouska Liat, Joel Durksen, Sophie Shields,
Daniel Ponzini, Georgia Turnbull, Rhys Thomas, Jennie
Macaulay, Glyn Akroyd, David Weir, Nina Franklin,
James Zaremba, Matthew Thomas Smith, Imtiaz
Photography, Illustration and Layout
Mark McKellier, Robin Clewley, Keith Ainsworth,
Antony Mo, Lo Five, Mr Marbles, Daniel Patlán, Ryan
Lee Turton, Luke Parry, Lucia Matušíková, Lauren Avery,
Lucy Roberts, Jemma Timberlake, Niloo Sharifi, Tomas
Adam, Stuart Moulding, Mook Loxley, Glyn Akroyd,
Brian Sayle, John Johnson, Nicholas Daly.
The end of the decade doesn’t feel too different to when
it began. Protest. Helplessness. Reality.
Of all the changes brought about by David
Cameron and Nick Clegg in five bitter years, raising
tuition fees is probably the least
devastating when you weigh the receipts
up against the body count. But, for me,
it was the first moment in my life where
I’d been directly affected by a democracy
I wasn’t old enough to influence. A
democracy where I’d eventually be
granted four votes on a national scale
before the decade was out. Three of
which I’d be on the losing side. The fourth
is still in the phase of protest. It’ll switch
to helplessness on the evening of 12th
December. The early hours that follow
deliver the reality.
Being told that I would be the first
cohort to pay tripled tuition fees was the
most forcible lesson I’d had of ‘getting
what you’re given’. It was a mantra that
typified much of those first five years of
the decade. Tuition fees were just the first
incision, the entry point before many vital organs of society were
removed. So many more were to get what they were given, not
what they deserved. All with much more severe consequences
than carrying inflated university debt. Many protested. We
looked on helpless. Then we saw the reality. Austerity bred the
chaos that unravelled in the five years that followed. When you
push a community to breaking point it will start to point fingers
within. Then the irreparable damage is done.
“Bravery will always
have a home in
Bido Lito! for the
decade to come”
Bravery is the key. It’s the source of power the assumes
control without reason. For 10 years, Bido Lito! has been a
chronicle of bravery, platforming/celebrating/holding up those
who choose to assert themselves through music and art. Those
who’ve taken control of their situation,
those who’ve completely lost themselves
in it. It takes an unrivalled bravery to
formulate a public facing expression of
protest, of helplessness, of reality, of
This issue, like the 105 that have
run through the decade, is packed full of
bravery. Bravery is Beija Flo’s expression
of physicality and the world that exists
beyond the limitation of form. Bravery
is ASOK following emotive intuition;
equally for Lo Five in the spiritual sense.
As noted by Simon Hughes, bravery
is taking ownership of addiction and
seeing that circumstances can be
reversed. This in particular is something
to take note of when feeling the strains
of the political climate, the world beyond
the socialist bubble of Liverpool.
Bravery is taking back control of language, of image, of
expression. Taking it away from those who’ve weaponised its
use. Bravery will always have a home in Bido Lito! for the decade
to come. This won’t change. But, on 12th December? Let’s hope
it’s a time for real change. !
Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder
Photo by Robin Clewley
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Bido Lito! is a living wage employer. All our staff are
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All contributions to Bido Lito! come from our city’s
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The views expressed in Bido Lito! are those of the
respective contributors and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of the magazine, its staff or the
publishers. All rights reserved.
16 / BEIJA FLO
Beija Flo’s experimental artistry is boldly laid bare in her new
material; Cath Holland learns more about its subtle contours.
20 / ASOK
Breathless breakbeats and warped techno that drip with the
energy of club walls; ASOK on the notion of making music in the
22 / ART AS CONVENIENCE
Since opening at Birkenhead Market in June, Convenience Gallery
has been working to rub away the divide between the everyday
and the artist.
26 / THERE SHE GOES AGAIN
Social history writer and football journalist Simon Hughes looks
back at Liverpool’s progression over the last 10 years.
14 / NEWS
34 / SPOTLIGHT
40 / PREVIEWS
24 / GEOGRAPHY OF THE ABYSS
Electronicist Lo Five navigates us through the terrain of his latest
album, a world conjured from meditation and internal discovery.
30 / A DECADE OF
A selection of Bido Lito! writers pick out some of the most
important cultural moments to have taken place in Liverpool over
the past decade.
37 / BEAK>
Constantly sharpening the edges of their three-sided setup,
these masters of sonic immersion know how to keep it sounding
39 / STUDIO ELECTROPHONIQUE
“The intention for my music was to make it underthought:
straight from my brain to the machine. I wanted to do it in the
42 / REVIEWS
52 / ARTISTIC LICENCE
54 / THE FINAL SAY
The Stomach And The Port
Rashid Johnson, The Crisis, 2019
Liverpool Biennial returns for its 11th year in 2020,
taking place between 11th July and 25th October. The
contemporary art festival will engage with Liverpool, its
history and cultural landscape in even greater depth, guided
by a theme of The Stomach and The Port. Liverpool’s
dynamic as a historic international port city – a point of
global contact and circulation – provides the perfect canvas
on which to consider the analogy of the city as an entity
similar to the body; a fluid organism that is continuously
shaped by and shaping its environment. Public spaces,
historic sites and the city’s leading art venues will ‘host’
the various artworks that will comprise the Biennial, the
UK’s largest festival of contemporary visual art. New
director, Fatos Üstek, and curator, Manuela Moscoso, have
constructed this modern vison for the festival, working with
more than 50 international artists to interpret this theme in
relation to Liverpool. biennial.com
A Feast Of Fests 1
Festival season never ends on Merseyside, and 2020 is already shaping
up to be plentiful in that regard, with announcements coming thick and
fast. SOUND CITY have come out of the blocks with all guns blazing
for the festival in the Baltic Triangle (1st-3rd May), headlined by goth
grunge stars PALE WAVES. THE BLINDERS, THE MYSTERINES and
STEALING SHEEP are among those also joining the fray, with more
expected announcements due early in the new year. Barely a week
later (7th-9th May), FOCUS WALES gets up and running for 2020 in
Wrexham 7th-9th May. The mercurial GRUFF RHYS headlines, with
some brilliantly eclectic acts – such as FLAMINGODS and GEORGIA
RUTH – spread across a line-up that has something for everyone.
And, after a year off, Positive Vibration Festival Of Reggae returns to
the Baltic Triangle, on 12th-13th June. HOLLIE COOK and GENERAL
LEVY AND JOE ARIWA are the big-hitters leading the way, in what is a
welcome return to the gigging calendar.
A Feast Of Fests 2
What, you want more festivals? OK – we can help you there, because our diary 2020 is already filling up with
unmissable dates. LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL is one of the earlier starters, taking place at Hope
University’s Capstone Theatre between 27th February and 1st March. London collective CYKADA bring the fire;
Belgians TIN MEN AND THE TELEPHONE bring the raucous fury; and saxophonist TONY KOFI brings a quartet
whose set will focus on Kofi’s work with Ornette Coleman. The 10th edition of THRESHOLD will also, sadly, be its
last. The grassroots arts and music festival has championed many emerging artists during its tenure, but will be
wrapping things up in the Baltic Triangle on 3rd and 4th April (artist announcements due in January 2020). INDIKA
has made some slight changes to its programme, moving its main festival to November (12th-22nd) across a number
of city centre venues, including St George’s Hall, Leaf and the Philharmonic Music Room. A major Diwali celebration is
also planned as part of the revamped programme, with year round taster events and showcases to keep us keen.
Read The Dots
Big Wows Treasure Hunt
Two local art organisations, The Reader and dot-art, are joining forces to
deliver a new range of activities and workshops for 2020. Based in the
recently refurbished Mansion House in Calderstones Park, The Reader is a
national charity that champions the benefits of shared reading and literature.
In teaming up with independent art gallery dot-art, The Reader will be
incorporating a visual art programme alongside a number of art classes
and community workshops within the Mansion House. dot-art has been
running a successful series of art classes with The Bluecoat for a number
of years, and their involvement with The Reader will open up exciting new
possibilities; nature photography, walking drawing, textile arts and short
story illustration courses will all take a lead from the glorious setting of
If you haven’t yet managed to get your hands on the limited edition
STEALING SHEEP Remix Wows cassette we teamed up to release
earlier this year, you may just be in luck. A number of the special
pink cassettes – featuring versions of the tracks from the Sheep’s
third album Big Wows remixed by their friends – are dotted around
the city (and even further afield) to be picked up for free. We’ve
hidden 50 cassettes in locations specific to Stealing Sheep – places
where they’ve played, worked, recorded music, filmed videos and
created artwork. We’ve even left a number of cassettes at Liverpool
landmarks for anyone to find. If you want one for your collection,
follow the clues on our Twitter account (@BidoLito). Big wows!
Independent Venue Week
Anna Calvi is the ambassador of INDEPENDENT VENUE WEEK 2020, the nationwide
festival that puts the spotlight on the indie music venues that are the lifeblood of the UK
music scene. In Liverpool, a whole host of establishments are taking part between 27th
January and 2nd February, bringing a slew of gigs at an otherwise downbeat time of
year. District, Grand Central Hall, The Zanzibar, Jimmy’s and Parr Street Studio2 all have
activity planned in, with many shows still to be announced at the time of going to press.
The Jacaranda venues – Phase One, EBGBS and Jacaranda Club – throw themselves
into the action once more, with BLACKWATERS’ headline show at EBGBS on 30th
January one of their highlights. Craft Taproom and Handyman have their own weekend
scheduled, featuring SILENT-K and MATT MCMANAMON (The Dead 60s) among others.
And Birkenhead Library gets in on the act, with a joint headline show from SINEAD
O’BRIEN and PUMA BLUE on 2nd February. Keep an eye out for more shows to be
Glitch-pop wizard PODGE gives us
an insight into the various layers and
sounds that inspired the treasure
trove of sonic delights that is his new
EP, Eatmore Fruit.
Am I Not A Woman And A Sister
Am I Not A Woman And A Sister is a brand new visual
installation by Manchester-based artist ELIZABETH KWANT,
co-curated with female survivors of modern day slavery in
partnership with Liverpool charity City Hearts. Situated at
the International Slavery Museum, the piece seeks to better
understand the history of the transatlantic slave trade and its
strong links with the North West region. The film on display
reflects on colonial slavery and the legacy which is still felt on
a social and tangible level here in Liverpool, Manchester and
surrounding mill towns, with further assessment of modern
day slavery and human trafficking that is rife in contemporary
first-world societies. The moving image installation is open
now, showing until 15th February 2020.
Steel A March
A new initiative aimed at 16-25 year olds looking to exhibit and develop art
works is set to host its first event this coming January. ANTISTEEL will be a
pop-up project that moves around the city and seeks to platform a wide mix of
creatives, offering access to those who do not have formal training or in higher
education. The first pop-up show will take place at MAKE North Docks on 9th
January, with an open call for submissions to be part of the group show running
until 12th December. Works can cover everything from music, art, fashion
and performance, with applications to be sent to email@example.com for
In case you were wondering: yes, we get lots of music sent our way each month
and, yes, we listen to it all. If you’d like a taster of some of those morsels we’re
lucky enough to hear, try some of these on for size. THE FLOORMEN take a step
into Sketches Of Brunswick East territory with a brand new EP that’s full of woozy
ditties and meanderings. The Easy Peelers “Don’t Panic, We’re In Cannich” is a
collection of songs written and recorded by the quartet in a caravan in Scotland,
complete with the patter of rainfall on the window. Multi-instrumentalist and
former Wave Machine VIDAR NORHEIM makes a welcome return with a new EP
of squelchy synths and immersive pop on X-Ray Eyes (check out The Pink Echo,
too, for a Bido nod!). And, fresh from his track 4F3D63 Hex being included on
the new Future Bubblers 3.0 release, WILROY has interpreted Dutch producer
Stephen Emmer’s 2017 album as Home Ground (The Wilroy Remixes). A touch
of progressive hip hop is added to the soulful originals, which feature Chaka Khan
and Leon Ware. Keep the music coming!
Elizabeth Kwant, 2019
Why can’t we do this IRL?
In November 2018, Shirrako, a YouTuber, shared a
video of his modified Red Dead Redemption 2 avatar
killing a suffragette, creating huge controversy due to
its violence against a female character. This incident,
which sparked the comment “why can’t we do this
IRL?”, is the subject of artist Megan Browdmeadow’s
piece within the you feel me_ exhibition at FACT,
which centres on restorative justice. On 7th
December, the second part of this immersive VR
experience launches, which centres on a virtual trial
of the accused video game character. Delving into the
ethical questions behind gaming, this piece engaged
with FACT’s Dungeons And Dragons gaming
community to discuss the social, ethical and moral
implications of such behaviour in a virtual space.
Bido Lito! and Liquidation’s joint Christmas Christmas Christmas
trivia extravaganza returns on 10th December, with Constellations
once again hosting proceedings. The event looks to cap off a great
year in Liverpool music with fans, friends and colleagues pitting their
wits and arcane bits of music knowledge against one another for a
selection of fantastic prizes in Punk Rock Bingo (not Bongo). Once
again, all proceeds from the night will go to chosen charities The
Whitechapel Centre and MIND, and there will be festive live music
from some special guests. Head to ticketquarter.co.uk to get your
tickets before we’re all booked up – and email firstname.lastname@example.org to
reserve your table.
I originally found this song
when Madlib sampled it on
Freddie Gibbs’ Crime Pays.
This song and Crime Pays
were constantly being played
when I was hanging out with all my friends during this past
summer. The electric piano chords and soft vocals really
bring the whole relaxed vibe together and getting to hear
Freddie Gibbs rap about “Choppin’ up this change with
cocaine in my microwave” over the top of it totally switches
up the whole mood of the song.
Valley In The
This lovely song from
Portuguese jazz musician
BRUNO PERNADAS was
one of those songs that I had on repeat this summer.
I love the contrast of male and female vocals and the
chord progressions keep me on my feet, never being too
predictable. The descending middle eight is one of my
favourites of all time, with the simple guitar and the rich
vocal harmonies bringing it to the next level.
Mac’s Record Label
The newest MAC DEMARCO
album came to be my new
favourite of his over this
last summer. It’s really
helped me appreciate super
minimal arrangement and
instrumentation. Nobody in particular made me realise that
one tiny element can bring so much feeling to a song. The
warbling synth in this song changes it from a chill guitar
tune to a warm, slimy, relaxing load of goop.
& Kazumi Totaka
Professor E. Gadd
I straight up named one of the
songs on Eatmore Fruit after this. Me and my friends found
this by accident while going through the Luigi’s Mansion
soundtrack and it’s stuck ever since. This song shows you
the true power of a really good groove. I tried to capture
that feeling in my track Prof. E Gadd, but it came out pretty
different in the end.
Podge’s new EP, Eatmore Fruit, is out now.
Physicality and form have been at the forefront of Beija
Flo’s experimental artistry, boldly laid bare in her fervent
songwriting and zealous live showcases. Cath Holland
learns more about the subtle contours of her being.
30 minutes into interviewing BEIJA FLO, I know more intimacies
about her than women I’ve known all my adult life. We’re in a
slightly different scenario than a naturally developing friendship
gradually built; every word and pause is recorded, as we talk in
a Liverpool city centre bar in late afternoon. But my point still stands: Beija
likes to share.
I first heard of Beija via a review of one of her shows. The writer wrote
at length about the singer, poet and artist’s medical history, namely her
diagnosis of MRKH syndrome – more of that later. In the accompanying
photographs she looked witchy, wild and sexy, in fishnets and leotard with
everywhere hair and much drama. Seeing her perform myself, I witnessed
a minimalist yet theatrical performance – she and a laptop, but on a stage
decorated like a burlesque club in Berlin. Most of all, she was a woman
comfortable in her own skin. Weeks later, a nervous daytime show at
Birkenhead Library away from her usual crowd showed the vulnerability of
a fledgling artist.
I’ve since learnt a lot more about Beija Flo the artist: she’s a life model,
standing and reclining naked in front of complete strangers for a living. On
one hand we have Beija the bold siren, with a microphone and great one
line put-downs. And on the other, a young woman still trying to find her
Beija’s MRKH syndrome means she has no womb or sexual organs.
She talks frankly about that and her poor health at her gigs and in
interviews, via social media, wherever she can. I sure as hell didn’t know
what it was the first time, so I Googled madly for information on the
subject. It’d be rude not to.
“I’m an enigma to the NHS,” she tells me of it, and her seven-year
experience with the cyclical vomiting syndrome which leads to constant
nausea and daily bouts of being sick. “The amount of time I’ve been in
[hospital], it’s like, ‘Do you mind just talking to a team of junior doctors,
because you know way more than we do’.”
So yes, we think we know all about Beija Flo. How wrong we can be?
We’re to learn a heck of a lot more, revealed in a forthcoming exhibition
at Output Gallery incorporating her different creative strands. Somewhat
tellingly, the collection of drawings, poems – she cites eccentric oddballs
like Viv Stanshall and Ivor Cutler as influences – and photographic selfportraits,
is called Nudes, along with the recent single of the same name.
This is the sharing of her most secret self and experiences yet, an insight
into an 18-month period some time ago when she suffered a series of
scarring events. “I gave trust to the wrong people and received scars in
return,” says the press release.
“Over this period I was with a very abusive partner emotionally and
slightly physically,” she explains quickly. “Sort of had a lot of sex when I
didn’t really want to.”
Er, having sex you don’t want is much more than ‘slight’ abuse. It’s the
real deal. Abuse is abuse.
“Yes. No, not slightly, really.” She smiles, sadly…
In the song Nudes, with its bleak narrative and static electronic musical
bed, she sings of the relationship: “I’ve been the fool…” But any blame
needs to be firmly on the abuser’s shoulders.
“Yes. Yeh… I was with someone who wasn’t very good for me. And left
me feeling very small and very angry. But also very un-listened to and very
Abusive relationships have emotional and physical effects and this
exhibition is about your relationship with your body. I’m guessing this
experience had an effect on your body, and how you viewed it?
“After that, sex really wasn’t fun anymore for a while, quite a while.
And it affected me with later partners. Maybe half a year after being with
him, I met this really wonderful girl and I know that I was very challenging
to be in a relationship with. It was more to do with what I’d been left with.
[I] didn’t want to be hurt or revisit emotions.”
The issue of body confidence is part of the exhibition as well, I take it?
“The exhibition is an insight into the journey I’ve been on with my own
body; the good bits and the bad bits. I still have days where I’m, like, ‘I hate
this’. Sometimes if I eat a really big meal I get a bit bloated and I hate that
because my biggest, biggest nightmare is, and I know it’s silly, but, erm, I
get very insecure someone might think that I’m pregnant. Because I can
never ever be pregnant.”
And that upsets you?
“It’s a really, really big concern. My weight has always been up and
down I have some days where I put on a bit of weight and I feel really
good about where all of that weight is.”
As long as it’s evenly distributed?
“Yeh! It’s not like I’ve ever stood naked in front of anyone and they’ve
gone, ‘Oh, no, you’ve had too much ice cream, put your T-shirt back on’.
No one’s ever said that and I think I almost have a few little tricks I use on
myself to make myself feel good about my body.”
The photos in the exhibition were taken during her ‘lost weekend’
that lasted four or five months after the bad relationship ended. She won’t
reveal when this took place “because people can’t figure out how old Beija
is. All I can tell you it happened in a window on Bold Street”.
And which window is that? I ask.
“Can’t tell you.”
But she can tell me it was warm, so when
indoors she was naked much of the time,
purposely isolating herself.
“I remember having a lot of fun but also
feeling very lonely. But almost being grateful for
the loneliness, ’cos it meant I really discovered
my body. I took lots of walks and did lots of
drawing and wrote lots and spent a lot of time
“That man I was with, the horrible one, was
quite abusive. Abusive,” she corrects herself. “I
lost a lot of myself in that experience and I’m
still gaining that back. Or maybe I will never
quite get her back.”
The eventual need to be with people led her
to go on a series of dates, but again with men
who took advantage of her vulnerable state.
“I don’t fully remember all of it. It was a
very dark period of time where I look back and I
think, ‘Who was that woman in my body?’ I did not like her.”
She thinks it happened because she feels more ‘normal’ when she’s
in a relationship with “someone not totally emotionally understanding or
won’t just hear ‘I don’t have a vagina’ and… [will] let you explain how you
can have a normal… a great sex life.
“That’s when I feel the most confident in my body and my issues
because, even though I’m very confident about my MRKH syndrome, and
know that if any future partner would have an issue with the syndrome
that they’re in the wrong, not me.
“I’m intrigued by sex and how people do it,” she continues. “I’ve
always, always been interested in what other people are doing in sex and
I remember being in the earlier stage in my life when sex was a lot more
blurry and I didn’t really know what it was. When I first started discovering
my body I was ahead of the other girls, really. I was with the boys in terms
of experimenting with masturbation.”
It’s not that teenage girls don’t masturbate, I don’t think. It’s more that
it’s taboo. They don’t talk about it.
She nods. “I remember asking boys how it felt and how do you do it
and I was very intrigued. It wasn’t in a sense of let me see it or anything, I
was very interested in how other people saw their bodies.”
Beija and I meet again a couple of weeks later, in the same place on
the same sofa, but this time I ask her to bring some of the photos from
“I have always aimed
to never lose the
confidence and the
innocence and the
freedom of being a child”
her Nude months. A fan of the late American photographer
Francesca Woodman, who specialised in experimental photos
of herself and other women, Beija’s images are true to her
inspiration. There are lots, all of Beija at this mysterious place
on Bold Street. Taken at different times of the day and night, in
some she’s naked, others wearing underwear. Her mood varies,
too: she’s in distress in one picture, the next peaceful and happy.
Some are natural and stark, others posed and a little contrived.
In one she’s in a bath dyed red with food dye and bath bombs.
A few show her body only, no face. She knew from the get-go,
she says, which images out of the incredible 500 taken were to
be used for the exhibition. From different times of the day, when
newly woken or late at night, and in earlier images she has no
body hair. In ones taken later, armpit and pubic hair is growing
back as her confidence and sense of self makes a return.
She flicks through them and recalls each one with surprising
clarity. It’s not like looking at photos on your phone of a night out
with friends, holiday snaps or shots photographers take of her
at gigs. So what did she think of her body laid out in such a way
when she saw them for the first time? A camera taking a still of
you like this and alone, no audience to pander to or entertain,
how did she feel? It’s difficult to get an answer out of Beija on
this one – I ask her three times. “They’re sad in places and hard to
look at,” she concedes eventually. “I captured how I was feeling.
It was more, ‘This is what we’ve got’. It wasn’t a negative or a
She points out one of her laying down with a peaceful
expression on her face, her upper body at ease and content.
There are visible love bites on her neck. “This one is after quite a
nice one night stand. I quite liked him and never heard from him
You look very girlish there: pink skin, slightly flushed.
“Yeh, it’s partly the lighting. After you’ve had a nice time with
somebody you feel… it looks a little bit like I’m glowing.”
In a remarkably beautiful photograph, Beija somehow
resembles a pre-Raphaelite painting, her hair cascading around her
shoulders in waves. She’s often booked for life modelling precisely
due to that look. Hylas And The Nymphs, the 1896 oil painting by
John William Waterhouse, springs to mind, removed temporarily
and controversially from public view from Manchester Art Gallery
last year, leading to accusations of censorship. The irony being,
if you wish to take the subversive view, it features females
surrounding and luring a young man into the water for their own
pleasures. The nymphs are calling the shots.
Beija’s hair changes in the images as we go through them, in
itself reflecting her state of mind, she reckons. In some she’s cut it,
obviously and dramatically.
“I don’t really get my hair cut often. It’s almost as if I have to cut
something off myself, [so] I’ll cut off my hair. It’s quite cleansing.”
On the plus side, it grows back.
“It grows back newer and stronger, which I like.”
Beija points out exhibition photos she calls “the sunburnt
drunk ones”. “It was on a really hot day,” she says of them,
“and I’d been out with lots of my male friends and I sat there
frustrated, [thinking] ‘Why aren’t I allowed to take my top off and
sit here? Why is it I was allowed to do that when I was six, but
not now I’m a woman. How come boys are allowed to become
men and lots of rules don’t change, especially with how they
present their body?’”
It’s the women should exist in private space only and men
alone own the public arena scenario, as old as time itself. “Being a
woman is challenging.”
Beija goes on to share stories, of being told by men and boys
when she’s not wearing a bra and the male inability to pass a
woman in a crowded space without placing his hands on her
hips, shoulders or back.
“There are people out there who don’t understand personal
space,” she laughs at the ridiculousness of the last example.
Going back to the subject of the
exhibition, I can’t help but wonder if
revisiting such a strange period in her
life is an entirely positive experience?
Most people don’t enjoy dredging up
“It’s been emotional. It’s like,” she
pauses to take a breath. “Do you ever
feel sorry for your younger self?”
All the bloody time, my dear.
“If only you knew then what you
know now? I felt so horrible for that
period of time and I look back and I’m
so proud of myself for getting to where
I am now. Although I’ve still bloody
miles to go, the universe loves playing
games with me. I get lots of shit
thrown in my garden.”
Do you think woman relate to you,
because of the openness around your vulnerabilities? Women
are restricted by our biology and physical weakness compared
to men. Your limits may be different from most women but the
common bonds remain.
“[With] the openness and honesty of it,” she speculates. “I
don’t think I particularly dress up or glamourise my struggles. I
think a lot of women don’t realise that we all have something to
say. We’ve all had bad experiences and some people think, ‘Oh,
I’m a woman and that’s just the way unfortunately society is’, and
I’m like, ‘Sod that for a bunch of bananas’.
“Some women at first hate me ‘cos they think I’m being really
cocky: ‘Look at this girl, she knows she’s really thin’ and whatever.
Then they watch the show and find out all of these things and I
haven’t had the easiest time. A large amount of the time the way
women dress is for other women. I feel for women that dress for
other women and are so self-conscious that they maybe don’t
wear something they like and feel comfortable in.”
Being part of a group is a human need, though. Everyone
feels that, even outsiders.
“What I mean is, a lot of women feel really under pressure to
act a certain way and look a certain way. When people see what
I do and the confidence and the fact I feel sexy onstage… still
people ask me why I wear leotards, where I get the confidence
running around in the nip. Essentially I have always aimed to
never lose the confidence and the innocence and the freedom of
“Being told that
there was so much
my body can’t do, I
asked myself, ‘What
can my body do?’”
being a four-year-old running around in your knickers around a
paddling pool in the middle of the town park.”
This exhibition explores the relationship between you and
your body, yet you must ultimately feel let down by yours?
“You know, men can shout all they want at me. I don’t have a
vagina. You can’t have sex with me even if you tried. It’d hurt you
a lot more than it would hurt me because it’s essentially shoving
your dick into a brick wall. That’s not going to feel good. I feel in
particular with that side of things, me being told that there was
so much my body can’t do, I’m like, ‘OK, what can my body do?’
You can look but you can’t touch because of my situation.”
Incels – men who think they are entitled to sex and resent
women when they can’t get it – get
very angry. You as a woman can be
hurt in other ways by them.
“Yes,” she nods. “Yes. Been there.”
So you’re aware of your
“Yes, I am. When I’m not at a venue
and travelling to or from I’ve had men
think I’m a prostitute just because
I’m in knee-high boots and a leotard.
That’s a very strange position to be
in but, also, unless we go for it in the
places that are safe then it will never
get to the point where we want it be.”
When planning the photo
session to go with this article, the
first thing she asked herself and the
photographer, Robin Clewley, was,
‘What am I allowed to do?’ Speaking
shortly after the session, she confesses to being “a bit nervous”
on the run up to the day.
But I want to know, how different did it feel, being
photographed by someone else?
“It was obviously different to posing for myself.”
Many photos for the Nudes exhibition were taken by
candlelight, a contrast with the professional lighting draped
across the shoot.
“Because I’m a life model subject so often, I trust people
to get me to position my body in a way that works from their
angle. The paintings and drawings I see of myself are always so
beautiful. That’s how I felt after this shoot.
“Robin made me look like a Renaissance painting. Everyone
should feel like a Renaissance painting.” !
Words: Cath Holland / @cathholland01
Photography: Robin Clewley / robinclewley.co.uk
Inside The Walls: Nudes, Anxieties And Other Content runs at
Output Gallery from 17th January to 2nd February 2020. The
single Nudes is out now via Eggy Records.
Breathless breakbeats and warped techno that drip with the energy of club walls; ASOK sets new
parameters for making music in the moment.
“It all changed for me in 2013.” Stuart Robinson,
producer and DJ, AKA ASOK, isn’t recalling his
breakthrough moment in music here. By this point,
he’d been DJing for over 15 years. And by the moment
he’s about to recollect, he’d been touring the world as Cosmic
Boogie, a project set up with Merseyside’s premier loop digger
Greg Wilson. At the height of its success his lightbulb moment in
music was about to flash before his eyes.
“I was playing at a party in Montenegro on a beach, a private
party,” he begins, essentially
alluding to the first steps towards
this conversation we’re now having
today in his home studio, one
centred on his jagged breakbeat,
“You’ve got to
connect with the
music the way you’d
want others to”
warped techno and jungle-infused
productions. “There was probably
around 2,000 people there. About
1,500 were probably the most
beautiful women I’ve seen in my
life.” In the world of the jet-setting
DJ, the picture he’s painting doesn’t
seem like the crux for change, but he
continues. “There was DJ Robinson,
sweating behind the decks in 40
degree heat. People doing lines of
coke from the decks. It was wild. It
was going off.”
Starting out as a DJ in the mid 1990s, picking up a pair of
Vestax PDX-2000s in exchange for designing a website for
Manchester record purveyors Eastern Bloc, Robinson came up
through raves in Manchester and Liverpool. He cites escaping
to musical scenes thriving beyond post coal mining Newton-le-
Willows as the gateway to dance music. “The best way to go
somewhere new was to get absolutely twatted and go to dance
music clubs,” he colourfully illustrates. Attending his first rave
at 14, his first forays as a DJ came later in the world of drum
and bass, jungle and hardcore. Though, he says, there was little
change in approach whether in front of the decks of behind;
always unadulterated release.
By 2003, he’d moved away from breaks and studiously
delved into learning about dance music and its history. “I just
started reading books and learning a lot. I met Greg Wilson, and
we started the Cosmic Boogie project, playing disco all over the
world for about five or six years.” Robinson was an in-demand
DJ and label owner, doing his thing at headlining shows across
the world with a slick mix of house, funk, boogie and disco. Then
came that day on the beach Montenegro. The turning point, as
2,000 dancers waited for the cues of his next selection.
“I looked up and I just thought, ‘I’m not enjoying this. I’m
playing the same set everywhere I go. I’m painting by numbers.
I’m not learning anything’. I came home that night and ended
Cosmic Boogie. One million plays on SoundCloud, 15,000
Facebook followers – I just wiped it out that night. Finished.”
The very next day ASOK was ushered into life. Initially a
name adopted in his drum and bass days, the moniker served as
internal resurrection. The restrictions of disco were forcibly pulled
from the record bag, erasing a world of beach parties, four-figure
attendances and indulgent hedonism. Robinson was to stop
playing for everyone else. From 2013, the focus became creating
something of his own. “I felt free. And as soon as that freedom
came, I told myself to buy some equipment and make a tune. I
bought a Juno 6 and Roland 707, opened up Ableton for the first
time and realised I had no idea what to do.”
The baby steps into production quickly turned to strides after
perseverance. The incessant reading and research soon developed
into a knack for songcraft, energised by a sweat drenched
empirical understanding of the dancefloor garnered in his youth.
Six years down the line, Robinson now has an enviable
release discography. A slew of EPs and singles on revered labels
Lobster Theremin and Mistress have arrived since that day in
Montengro. Releases that meld acerbic acid house, twitchy jungle
breaks, hissed atmosphere, blissful piano and pounding kicks.
It is music written from the heart. Quite literally. It feels its way
through like a heart rate rapidly powering the necessary bodily
movement the track demands; rising, hurtling and, in moments,
resting in the euphoria – if given the chance.
“For me, producing has been about recreating the feelings
I had on the dancefloor, as a dancer, as a fan. It’s all about
capturing that raw emotion in the moment.” The commitment to
recreating the momentary euphoria is reflected in his producing
style. Rather than piece together his tracks in arrangement view,
everything is mixed live. The visual accompaniment is forgotten
about, essentially. It’s as though Robinson could shut his eyes
and completely let go of the walls that surround him once the
music begins to rumble from his
studio monitors. It becomes personal.
Attached to the now, the moment,
the happening. The mix has to be led
by intuitive feeling, rather than the
precision that can come to rule when
gradually knitting small pockets of
He further underscores the
dancefloor DNA in his production when
asked about the motives to produce
in such a way. “I make a track as
though I’m dancing to it in the club,”
he says with an energetic animation.
“I’ll be playing certain tracks through,
feeling when parts get repetitive, when
aspects need to breathe, when more
urgency is needed. I’m always thinking of the rhythm of a room,
feeling as if I was a dancer and wanting the break to drop out at
that moment – when the body expects it.”
The process is like buying a set of paints, preparing them in
front of an easel and allowing emotive drive to take its course.
There’s no set plan. Rather than follow the paint-by-numbers
DJing of Cosmic Boogie, his own music allows the heart to pluck
random numbers form the sky a fill the space with energetic reds
and yellows, all washed with a bright white flash of energy. It’s all
about catching the spark, making the most of that high you know
can’t last forever. “You can sit there and sift through so many hihat
samples. By the time you get one, that raw feeling you had is
gone and you’re no longer feeling it. You can over engineer it. You
lose the part that made you excited about the track. You’ve got to
connect with the music the way you’d want others to.”
He loads up Ableton and plays a track formed from in a
recent rush of energy. The process seems even more urgent
when he informs me that most of his tracks have been made in
less than an hour. He continues to explain as he presses play. A
breakbeat immediately serrates through the room. This is one
he’s aiming to release on Lobster Theremin. He starts to talk me
through its foundations, but shouting has become necessary,
such is the decibel level. “I get a load of channels up. Hit record,
then start to bring everything in.” The shouted conversation
tapers off as the syncopated drum patters take hold of his
attention. The music has already caught him in just over one bar.
As he later informs, music has to be cautiously rationed to avoid
it stealing the abundance of his days. “I become totally lost,” he
informs me, once the stop button is found. “If I put some dance
music on when trying to work at home, I can’t do it. I’m in it, part
of it, thinking over the incidental notes, any parts I’d change. It
grabs me so much. My brain is triggered by dance music.”
Robinson has severe ADHD. It’s something which he has
lived with all his life, yet remarkably has only been recently
diagnosed. It’s highly evident as we talk; conversation regularly
trails off into new topics. His voice is breathless at times, taking
draws on a cigarette in the moments he pauses. His mercurial
nature embodies the title of his 2016 album, A Mind Forever
Voyaging. “You can see where the name comes from just
watching me. It never stops,” he says with shades of humour.
Above his monitors and computer sits a sign reading
the words ‘Don’t Make Techno’. It’s a mantra subtly rooted in
his ADHD. Something which, in a musical sense, he’s taken
ownership of, using the condition as a vessel to journey through
worlds that require more than a 4/4 stride. It’s a jovial swipe
in reality, knowing he does incorporate the genre into his
productions. However, it speaks more of his unwillingness, or
inability, to remain in one place. To endlessly look beyond the
steady pace; running, sprinting pausing and quickly changing
direction. “When playing, I have to change direction every three
tracks. I get bored,” he attests. “The sign is just a little reminder
to try and make something that’s not continually the same.
Ultimately, I’m always voyaging, always drifting around.” !
Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder
Photography: Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk
Mistress 14 by ASOK is available via Mistress Recordings in
ART AT YOUR
Since opening in Birkenhead Market in June, Convenience Gallery has been working to rub away the divide
between the everyday and the artist. Julia Johnson meets its curators to learn more about their programme
of exhibitions, tutorials and workshops.
Is it perhaps easy, especially in a city perceived to be as creative as Liverpool is, to take the
flourishing of the arts scene for granted. But having a city filled with people driving to create
work is only half the story: the conditions must also exist for these talents to mature. This is
why spaces are crucial; places where artists can develop ideas by putting them into practice,
and where they can find audiences receptive to their talents.
Enter CONVENIENCE GALLERY. Based in Birkenhead Market since June 2019, the project –
led by artists Ryan Gauge and Andrew Shaw – is a space for artists to grow through practice and
exhibition. Affiliated with the socially engaged Small Steps Events, Convenience developed as its
own project from the desire to put art and artists in the spotlight as a main event in their own right.
Acting as facilitators rather than selective curators, Convenience’s format is optimistic and trusting.
They believe in the fundamental talent of individuals and its ability to blossom with the right
As artists, Ryan and Andy know that having confidence in the strength of your own work can
sometimes be a challenge in itself. “One of the barriers is that you just sit in your own head for
hours,” explains Ryan. “The point with Convenience was to be able to get a load of artists to sit and
to say, ‘What do you want to do? No barriers – what would be beneficial?’ And a lot of it was just
people getting to have conversations about their work, because they don’t get to do that.”
From these conversations, several strands of programming and interaction have emerged.
Exhibiting is one, of course: giving artists a space in which visitors can view their work. It’s another
question which maybe isn’t addressed enough in public conversation: where are the spaces for
artists to emerge for an audience? And the location and layout of
Convenience make it a unique venue.
Located on both sides of an aisle in the centre of Birkenhead
Market, their units open out directly into the path. There are no
physical or psychological boundaries that an audience needs to cross
in order to engage with what’s being shown. Ryan and Andy have
understood the importance of tapping into the potential of this setup
to spark curiosity since the first exhibition. “It was a lot of wall-based
work, so it was immediately relatable, even if you were just walking
through,” says Andy.
This has had a significant effect, not just on how people
are accessing the work, but what happens in the subsequent
interactions. Convenience’s approach, once again, is openness:
they’re aware of their place as a point of connection between the arts
scene and the everyday, and want to be as open to all as they can be.
There’s plenty of space to sit and chat in their units, and many visitors
do, including those who are less art conscious than your regular
gallery frequenter. “The big question we get asked is, ‘What’s actually going on?’” says Andy.
“People are excited about the ‘weirdness’ that we’re situated here. We find there’s a lot of people
here getting a watch fixed, who say ‘I do art!’ and they get their phone out and start showing us all
the work that they do.” It is in these moments the gallery reveals itself as not only a proving ground
for young, new artists, but a bridge to those who’ve casually practised away from the four walls
of local and national institutions. It subtly brings the two together thanks to its irregular home in a
once bustling heart of Birkenhead commerce.
Importantly, these passing conversations are increasingly able to continue beyond a brief visit,
by attending the workshops Convenience facilitate. Our conversation returns time and again to the
gallery’s programme, which is growing in collaboration with the artists they work with – indeed, at
their request. Ryan says how, at those early meetings, “there was quite a lot of artists saying ‘I’d
quite like to teach a class about what I’m doing’. It’s a chance to sit down for two hours with people,
it’s more interactive than just viewing art”. “And it becomes a regular social thing,” adds Andy. “We
do a lot of them that are more affordable, because we don’t want people to feel like they’re priced
out of something.”
is to have a space
with no boundary
between the viewer
and the art or artist”
As well as evenings focusing on particular skills, Convenience are also collaborating with LJMU
and Bloom Building to bring the Thinking Out Loud lecture series to Birkenhead. Open to anyone,
the evenings are comprised of an accessible lecture, followed by an artist-led workshop inspired
by the subject. As a way of introducing audiences to new creative concepts and activities, it’s an
interactive and engaging format.
As for the question of ‘why Birkenhead?’, the answer is less about establishing space
specifically for Wirral as it is about broadening opportunity in a way which happens to be
geographical as well as philosophical. Convenience very clearly see themselves as part of the
Merseyside arts scene. They were participants in October’s Studio Shuffle, when studios and
groups – including Dorothy, Antisteel, Arena, Road and The Royal Standard – opened up in the
Baltic Triangle to exhibit what their artists have been working on. Talk is already of one taking place
in Birkenhead. They’ve also hosted an exhibition of work by this year’s LJMU graduates, BURST Our
Bubble. But they’re again keen to point out that this isn’t just overflow from across the water – it’s
an expanding of the conversation. “If you live over here and you’re an artist, you can’t always get
into Liverpool. There’s always been the question of ‘how do you get people to come over?’ Well,
there are people who live here as well! So you’ve gotta be for them, too.”
Until 21st December, Convenience are working with the international LOOK Photo Biennial to
exhibit work by Hong Kong-born artist Dinu Li. The Anatomy Of Place takes over all three of their
units and explores the ideologies and rituals that bind people and places together. Rather than
this being a project forced into its venue, the exhibition was established through a mutual feeling
that the space was right for the work. Andy explains how this came
about. “Dinu was really into the market. It’s a big part of the work,
where he grew up was a big market place. So he liked the space, and
so we started chatting to him about his work. I think we just had a
really good conversation about it. It grew very quickly from one piece
to this collection, spread across all of the units. All the work in this
show has entwined narratives which he’d never been able to show all
together, and he was really excited to be able to do that.”
A major international programme LOOK may be, but this story
centres on the same qualities as have been found in every aspect of
Convenience’s work: relationship with the community and support
for the artist to realise their vision. It’s an ethos that spreads across
collaborations with international artists such as Dinu, or those who
stumble upon the space when looking for a watch repair. Ultimately,
it’s a space that looks to mix institutionally taught art with experience
of the real world, all blended together through exhibitions and wide
array of tutorials and workshops.
Our changing shopping habits, and the need for the purpose of traditionally commercial spaces
to change with them to survive, has seen projects akin to Convenience emerge up around the
country. The example of Convenience shows how such spaces can become symbols of the kind
of society we want to exist. The team describe their ideal as having a space with “no boundary
between the viewer and the art or artist”. After just a few months they’re well on their way to
making this an interactive reality. !
Words: Julia Johnson / @messylines_
Photography: Antony Mo / @antonymo
Convenience Gallery can be found on Brassey Aisle within Birkenhead Market. The Anatomy Of
Place, part of LOOK Photo Biennial, continues at Convenience until 21st December.
Electronic artist Lo Five
navigates us through the
terrain of his latest album
Geography Of The Abyss – a
world conjured from meditative
states and internal discovery.
Illustrated through adjoining
artwork made specifically
for the record, the Wirralbased
on the hurtling potential
to travel even when in the
most static of states.
Geography Of The Abyss travels across the terrain
of the inner self. It’s a continuation of a theme I’ve
explored and tried to make sense of through pretty
much all of my music.
I’m endlessly fascinated with the nature of consciousness
and memory, how one colours and shapes the other. I’ve been
practising meditation on and off for around 15 years now,
and I guess that sort of inner journey of self-inquiry has been
expressed in some form on this album. I see the record as a kind
of a mirror image of my own experiences of meditation.
The album is made up of a series of live jams rather than
piecing it together on a computer; building these repetitive
loops that I could get lost in late at night, just by focusing in on
the music and tuning into feeling, or as close as possible. Taking
this approach, the album and its production is pretty much the
same as meditating; focusing your attention on an object that’s
not your thoughts until your ‘self’ falls away. This happens
naturally with any activity that requires long periods of simple
concentration, like painting or knitting for example. It’s like a
mini holiday from your mind. Therefore, the album has ended
up a more contented and intuitive record, rather than something
cerebral or wholly conceptual.
For me, meditation is about suspending that inner judge
we all have inside of us, the one that forms opinions of
situations, others and ourselves. In theory, it’s the perfect
vessel for severing the ties with contemporary capitalism
and the continual drive towards individuality. But we live in a
F THE ABYSS
world of increasing levels of judgement and opinion. Just look
at Twitter. Capturing attention is the name of the game and
we’re increasingly giving our attention away to causes that
don’t necessarily help our mental well-being. It comes at a
price to ourselves. Binary opinions on social media have been
effectively gamified, offering rewards to extreme views that
stir up negative feelings, rather than rewarding open-minded
attempts at understanding and compassion. This direction
society has taken has real-world consequences which may
appear harmless and trivial on the surface. In reality, they are
quite subtle and insidious, especially when amped up by the
people in charge. Narrow-minded judgement and opinions are
obviously divisive and isolating, so it stands to reason that a
practice that offers the dropping of this act of judgement could
be something that offers some sort of exit strategy from the
current state of affairs.
In my view, there is a strong relationship between the
tangible and the mental. They share a similar geography and
are often bound by the same contours. What are we but the
sum total of our experiences and memories, which are formed
in real-world environments? There is a contrast with the
familiar and the unknown within the album’s artwork [pictured],
as there are nods to local landscapes, as well as places I’ve
never been. I liked the idea of framing the album as a journey
through the familiar/unfamiliar, both of which can be just as
familiar to one another when the context of the self is removed.
Beyond the glitchy silhouettes of places and spaces, and
their abundant energy, the realities of their origin are quite
lame, really. They’re merely screenshots from Google Earth,
edited and manipulated to appear as though visual discoveries
of my own internal Mars Rover. However, the source material
shouldn’t stand in the way of the conceptual journey they
represent. I like firing up Google Earth and picking random faraway
places to wander around. Places I’ll probably never visit.
They all come together to form a virtual exploration that the
As with the recurring theme of the record and my previous
releases, making music is about discovery. That exciting
eye-opening feeling of experiencing something new for the
very first time. That’s absolutely the attraction for me. That’s
where the record tries to position itself. I guess travelling holds
the same attraction, not that I actually do much of that in the
tangible form. Nonetheless, we’re all on a journey, and anything
we make or do is a reflection of that journey. There’s always an
element of escapism to the music and especially this record.
Not just escaping my current environment and situation, but
escaping myself. !
Words and design: Lo Five / @EM0TI0NWAVE
Geography Of The Abyss is out now via Castles In Space.
“There is a strong
the tangible and the
mental. They share a
Following the release of his latest book, There She Goes – Liverpool, A City On Its Own: The Long Decade:
1979-1993, social history writer and football journalist Simon Hughes looks back at Liverpool’s progression
through the last 10 years, and the challenges still to come in the decade before us.
Three years out of 50. It’s a small figure, and one I can’t
stop thinking about, especially when it’s essentially just
one year – when you really think about it.
In 1970, back when Liverpool was still a
Conservative city, its political interests aligned with the rest of
the country until 1972 – when Edward Heath reigned as Prime
Minister, a role he would lose in 1974.
Since then, there has just been one short period when
Liverpool has not been a place in opposition. That was under
Frank Prendergast from 1997 until 1998 when the city rejected
New Labour and stood with the Liberal Democrats for the next
It is said repeatedly now that Liverpool is an undisputed
Labour stronghold but that wasn’t the case until 2010. It feels
like much has changed since the start of the decade, though
– not least in terms of feeling among the younger generation
of Liverpudlians who seem more socially aware than ever and
certainly more politically conscious than they were before.
There are reasons for this change, starting with the 20th
anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster in 2009 when those too
young to remember or even understand what happened 20 years
earlier started to ask questions after Andy Burnham’s public vow
to help seek justice in front of a packed Anfield.
There was a shift that day, a generation who had grown up
with the consequences of the 1980s finally emboldened. In 2011,
there was the lifting of the 30-year rule on government papers
and what many had suspected for decades was as good as
being confirmed as true – that Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative
government in 1981 had at least discussed the possibility of
allowing Liverpool to slide. Considering what happened to the
city throughout the rest of the decade, you can only assume
Geoffrey Howe’s memo about “managed decline” was put into
The Hillsborough Independent Panel’s findings came next,
this amid the austerity of the latest Tory government. It has
surprised many who were growing up in the 1980s the way the
“Scouse not English” mantra of this era has accelerated because
the sentiment didn’t exist with the same appetite when things
were even worse than they are now. But are they better? Are
they just as bad but in a different way?
Liverpool is a more cosmopolitan city than ever. Its economy
has boomed through tourism, which, whether we like it or not,
serves to benefit the drugs barons whose finances are washed
through the hotels and restaurants that so many visitors like
to sleep and eat in. Liverpool looks smarter and, unlike other
Northern cities, it is not made of glass. It feels like it is built to
last. The development of the Baltic Triangle has been spectacular
and I hope that extends into other parts of the city that require
investment at its southern end, albeit without it endangering the
identities of the communities that live there.
Stray outside the centre, indeed, and the struggle is arguably
greater than it has ever been in the boroughs that have long
struggled anyway. Homelessness was not the scourge of the
1980s like it is now. It may be a national issue but the figures
prove it is worse in the cities where the government has no
council control. Foodbank collections in Liverpool are a reflection
of the spectacular generosity that exists here but it is also a
reflection of how genuinely
desperate so many people have
Perhaps change will come.
The Brexit vote in Liverpool
was closer than many people
in Liverpool expected. Yet it is
worth remembering that while
Liverpool suffered because of
the increase in trade with the
European Economic Community
in place of the British Empire,
when Liverpool was at its lowest
in 1993, the European Union
dedicated more money than any
British government in history to
help start some form of recovery.
A fortnight after the murder of
James Bulger – just at the point
where it felt like Liverpool couldn’t
slump any further – funding was allocated to Merseyside, along
with parts of the old East Germany and the poorest regions of
Southern Italy. If parts of Liverpool feel left behind, it is mainly
because of the lack of care from successive governments which
have run along too similar lines rather than necessarily the EU.
In writing There She Goes, I was told coldly by Professor Patrick
Minford, whose economic policies defined Thatcherism and
impacted so gravely on Liverpool, despite the fact he worked
in the city, that the EU repulsed him because it was “a socialist
machine” in so many different ways.
I wonder where Liverpool will be 10 years from now. It is a
city which will always be in the news because of its association
with music and the council will have to challenge the interests
of property developers to ensure classic venues remain open
even if the land they stand on is potentially profitable. It is a city
“Liverpool is a city which
will always be in the news
because of its association
with music, crime and
football. But where will it
be 10 years from now?”
which will always be in the news because of its association with
crime, and the threat of gangsterism largely goes unreported
even though there is a cocaine epidemic which goes a long way
towards explaining knife crime. It is also a city which will always
be in the news because of its football, and changes are necessary
if the grassroots game is to survive.
Supporters of Liverpool FC should be proud of the way
they mobilised themselves and pushed out greedy owners at
the start of this decade, as well as the way they challenge the
New England venture capitalists who are currently in charge. If
Liverpool manage to win the league for the first time in 30 years,
maybe the greatest challenge
for fan culture will arrive. What
tricks will Fenway Sports Group
The ecosystem at Anfield is a
fragile one but when it feels like
everyone is pulling in the same
direction, the club can seem like
it is unstoppable both on and off
the pitch. So long as no decisions
are made that jeopardise the
interests of local supporters, then
Liverpool have a better chance.
Other than winning football
matches, the club’s priority should
be to find a way to get more
young Liverpudlians inside the
An even more significant
period feels like it is ahead for
Everton whose move to Bramley-Moore Dock will potentially
make Liverpool’s waterfront more stunning than it is. In theory, it
will re-energise a part of north Liverpool which has never really
recovered from the period which sets the scene for There She
Goes in the years before 1979. Ultimately, I hope the book makes
younger readers particularly understand better where the city has
been and where it is now coming from. !
Words: Simon Hughes / @Simon_Hughes__
Illustration: Mr Marbles / @mrmarblesart
There She Goes – Liverpool, A City On Its Own: The Long
Decade: 1979-1993 is out now, published by deCoubertin Books.
This extract, taken from There She Goes, looks at how the owner of one of Liverpool’s most recognisable
shops was forged by the city’s 1980s heroin epidemic.
When a Pakistani ship carrying heroin with
a street value of £1million was seized in
Ellesmere Port, customs officers admitted
to reporters they were losing control. It was
April 1983, roughly around the time Brendan Wyatt went
back to a Birkenhead flat following a night out in Liverpool.
He was accompanied by a friend and two girls. What
happened next surprised him. One of the girls reached into
her purse and brought out some foil. “Then the smack... it
was dead casual, as if they were just smoking a spliff,” he
remembered, through the fug. “Don’t worry, it’s just smack –
you don’t get addicted to it…”
Wyatt returned to his side of the Mersey without having
tried ‘this new drug’ but within a few years, it had taken
him – just as it had already gripped Birkenhead by that point,
where nine per cent of 16- to 24 year-olds were users.
Research in the 1980s found that if you lived on the Wirral
estates, particularly in the Noctorum area – which, like those in
Liverpool, were hastily built in the post-war years – you were
16 times more likely than the average person to die.
There was one theory that smack penetrated Birkenhead’s
estates just before Liverpool’s, because Liverpool’s gangsters
wanted to use it as a testing ground as nobody was quite sure
of heroin’s capabilities. It had been around London’s bohemian
community in Soho for almost a century, but researchers
believed its availability only began to spread after 1979 when
revolution in Iran led to a refugee crisis across Europe. In
Liverpool, smugglers marketed it as a non-addictive, smokable
high; but, uncut and 90 per cent pure, it would leave users
like Brendan Wyatt “off your head for hours – rather than
withdrawing quickly”. It would feed off boredom, alienation and
Howard Parker, whose 1985 book, Living With Heroin,
dealt with case studies from the Ford Estate, believed that what
happened in Liverpool and Birkenhead was a part of a cycle
that began in the US in the 1960s, explaining that epidemics
like these have lifespans of 10 to 15 years before the demand
retreats because the next generation “won’t go near it – they’ve
seen the impact”. Smack, therefore, only became ‘dirty’ and the
drug of ‘losers’ when the lower orders in big numbers were
Wyatt was one of them. He had grown up amongst the
terraced streets of Kirkdale, a fiercely strong-willed district
and working class to its core. He had a vivid memory of his
childhood and could envisage being in a classroom in 1979.
“Thatcher was elected in May 1979 and I remember the
morning after clearly: a 12-year-old devastated by politics –
can you imagine?” He had learned about the realities of life
early, after his mother died when he was just four. By the time
Thatcher got in, his father had already been made redundant
from his job on the docks because of containerisation. “You’re
suddenly finding yourself on free school dinners, which was a
label to carry. I’d rather not eat than have the stigma.”
He left school in 1982 and went straight into one of the
dreaded Youth Training Schemes, promoted by the Tories
– earning just £23.50 a week as a painter and a plumber.
There had been just 11 apprenticeships and more than 3,000
applicants. “We were bread to be thrown on the scrap heap,”
he believed. “I went to a secondary modern school and there
was never any discussion whatsoever about university options.
I thought university was what you saw on University Challenge.
The expectation for decades before was you’d follow your dad
into the docks but when that came to a stop, there was nothing
Wyatt’s father died in 1984 and it turned his life upside
down. He started taking heroin because of the dulling effect
of the hit and his naivety to the consequences. “There were
no skeletons walking around or people sleeping in doorways
because the long-term impact wasn’t visible. It was still early
days with heroin. You’d see big, strong, well-dressed lads in pub
corners smoking it. It’s hard to explain how it makes you feel.
It’s not a high like charlie, it sends you the other way quickly.
It separates you from the world’s problems and your own
problems; it numbs any pain. Then comes the rebound where
you feel worse than you did before you took it.”
Wyatt did not really stand a chance. No mother, no
father, entering adulthood living in a city overwhelmed by
unemployment and a drug epidemic. He was exactly the wrong
age at exactly the wrong time – or the right time if you were a
drug dealer. He was not the only target in this market. He and
an entire generation would grow up with an ingrained drug
culture – a black economy that sustained the city more than any
“For a while, the routine is great: you’re chasing the dragon
and riding a wave. You’ve got all the jewellery, you’ve got a car
and a lovely looking girlfriend. Anyone looking at me would
have thought I was smashing it. It takes eight or nine months
for it to unravel. You wake up one day and you’re skint. You
think you’ve got the flu and you haven’t. You need gear to make
yourself feel normal. The jewellery starts getting pawned, the
car goes – you can’t afford the MOT. The girlfriend goes and
then your friends go. I lost all of my friends. Not because of
anything I did but because you alienate yourself. You become
very selfish and all you’re interested in is that next fix. There
are weddings, christenings – there’s funerals to go to. You stop
going. You pull away from society. It gets around then that
you’re on the gear. I’d get people coming up to me saying how
disgusted they were because before, I’d been a good lad. By
1988, it was really noticeable. People started swerving me
completely and rightly so. I’m a mad Liverpool fan and I’ve been
to 35 countries to watch them. But I can’t remember Liverpool
winning the league in 1990. I didn’t give a fuck about anything
else by then. That’s how much it depletes your interest in
anything. The FA Cup final after Hillsborough was my last game
Wyatt returned from Sheffield after the Hillsborough
disaster and headed to the State nightclub to try and find out
information about what had happened.
“Everyone was crying and hugging but I didn’t cry for three
weeks,” he admitted. “The only solution for me was to selfmedicate.
I went right on the rollercoaster. All sorts of drugs
came into play. My only memories from the early 1990s was
the Sunday mornings because it was harder to get gear then.
The drug dealers had their day off – just like the dockers used
to on a Sunday. I was out at nine o’clock trying to score with the
street dealers. I’d look at fellas walking their dogs and I’d think,
‘What I’d do just to be like him.’’’
“Morality flies out of the window – when you’re hooked, you
get whatever you can to feed the addiction,” admitted Wyatt,
who served three prison sentences in foreign countries, two
in Germany, another in Switzerland – each time for shoplifting,
“to feed what I needed”, which also led to him getting nicked
in Liverpool several times. On one occasion, he was eligible for
bail but only if he paid a long-standing £18 parking fine. “When
I told the copper I was skint, he said, ‘You must have someone
who can pay it…’ But I didn’t have a person in the world who
could pay that fine. So, I had to do two days in Walton. The
copper was saying, ‘I’d pay it myself, but I can’t’. That’s how
isolated I’d made myself. I’d outrun all of my favours.”
Wyatt suffered a heart attack and needed chemotherapy
to treat liver damage related to his addiction. 25 years clean,
he told me his story quietly in the back of the shop he now
owns in Liverpool’s city centre where he sells deadstock
Adidas training shoes. The name, Transalpino, refers to the
sleeper he took across France, Switzerland and Italy to the
1984 European Cup final in Rome, just before heroin really
came into his life. He took ‘absolute’ responsibility for all of his
actions as a drug user but wondered whether it would have
been different for him had conditions in Liverpool been better.
Wyatt, known more commonly as ‘Jockey’, estimated that
more than 100 friends had died because of smack – “if you
became an adult in the 1980s and you were from workingclass
Liverpool, I’d imagine you have at least one family
member who is still addicted, in treatment or in recovery”.
“I’m one of Maggie’s children,” he concluded. “Smack
made a lot of fellas my age desensitised and it has impacted
the generations after us. Kids were brought up in crack dens
and because of that, there’s a lot of sociopaths knocking about
today. Nobody has shown them any respect so why should
they show respect back?”
Wow. It hardly feels like 10 years since we started
on this journey – how time flies when you’re in
the middle of great social and political upheaval,
soundtracked by music that’s as angst-ridden as
it is fearless. As is common when times are tough, music acts as
a salve and spark; and we can perhaps look back at the 2010s
with a little more affection knowing that its soundtrack is one
for the ages.
The first issue of Bido Lito! came out in May 2010, shortly
after the general election which saw the beginning of a punitive
decade of Tory rule. Softened as it was by the coalition with
the Lib Dems (think: being punched repeated by a boxing glove
rather than bare knuckle), things maybe didn’t seem quite so
bleak back then. Little did we know what impact austerity would
have on our society, wearing away at the cultural bonds that
unite us all. We arrive, jaded, at the end of the second decade of
the millennium, desperate for a fresh beginning.
We’ll all have our own memories that stand out from the past
10 years, moments that have affected us deeply or have proven
to be turning points in our own lives. For our look back at the
decade just gone, we’ve asked some of our core team of writers
to pick out a selection of key cultural moments that they believe
have had the greatest impact on our collective consciousness.
We could quite easily have filled a book on dozens more
memories – indeed, we’ve filled 106 magazines with them – so
our selection is far from definitive, merely a snapshot. Therefore,
if anything comes to mind, we’d like you to send us your own
cultural moments from the past decade that you feel are worthy
The collection of tribes and scenes that make up our music
community is undoubtedly much changed: healthier and more
diverse in many ways; but lacking greatly in others, not least in
the infrastructure around the music venues that are the lifeblood
of a community of inter-dependent independents. From Static to
the Baltic Triangle, noise has been a constant issue, making us
face up to what kind of place we want our city centre to be. The
coming decade will see that battle continue, and it is up to us to
work out how we create an environment that is equal parts music
city, party city and destination city.
We also need to encourage, or make space for, more
collectives to add their voices to the hubbub, especially those
from the worlds of jazz, grime/trap and hip hop. The underground
dance, electronic and experimental purveyors that have coalesced
around 24 Kitchen Street in the Baltic Triangle, for example,
is surely one of the biggest, warmest successes of culture-led
regeneration in the past decade – although there are fears it’s
now in reverse. And we should look beyond the confines of the
city centre – much like the seeds of growth around Smithdown
Road – if we’re to find further fertile places for our noisy artists to
I’ve enjoyed seeing some of these tribes develop in a musical
context over the years, not least those underground scenes that
gathered around Strange Collective’s and Eggy Records’ DIY
events. Queen Zee provided a momentous moment for queer
visibility when they headlined Pride in 2018, which has also
been buoyed by the work of Sonic Yootha and Preach. Stealing
Sheep gathered their whole scene around them for a brilliant
representation of their varied world when they filmed a video
with Jack Whiteley and Joe Wills in the Kazimier Garden; which
was just as exciting to witness as was XamVolo’s entrance to the
GIT Awards in 2015, when a new sense of possibility descended
the stairs onto the Kazimier stage with him. The re-emergence of
Mick Head has also been particularly warming to see, with long
overdue recognition rightfully coming his way.
It is a great tragedy that some people haven’t been able to
see this all play out, not least Alan Wills and Tony Butler, two
pillars of Liverpool music in the prior decade. The respect that
both men commanded has been carried on by new torch-bearers,
and their impact will still be felt as we embark on a new decade.
We must also remember the memories of the talented young
musicians from the groups Viola Beach and Her’s, who tragically
passed away. The best way we can honour their memories is
to make sure that the great work they started gets completed,
and that their stories are remembered for future generations to
It’s easy to get side-tracked by the flashy, large-scale events
that we’ve become used to and forget about the more basic,
grassroots cultural institutions that we need to encourage. Yet,
we also shouldn’t play down the impact of great communal
moments – giants, parades, fireworks – in bringing the city
together and restoring some much-needed collective pride.
Whether you agree with the fence or not, LIMF is a massive
upgrade on the Mathew Street festival, and is a far more
progressive way of celebrating music for a city with a reputation
on a global scale; and Sound City has re-discovered its heart,
after a brief sojourn down on the docks. Watching together,
dancing together, celebrating; that’s the very essence of culture.
This was our culture – what was yours? !
God Save The Florrie
Community action in Liverpool is a powerful force. The
changes that can be brought about by collaboration, by the
bringing together of people from diverse backgrounds for the
benefit of all, is something this city does well. By necessity
more than desire, more often than not.
A fine example of this is the Florence Institute, or The
Florrie. A beautiful, Grade II late Victorian former boys’ club
at the heart of Liverpool 8, The Florrie was in a perilous
state of decay until a group of impassioned individuals with
community ties to the building formed a trust to restore it to
its former glory, and open it as a wholly inclusive community
centre for all. Eight years and over £6 million later, The Florrie
opened its doors to the community in 2012. Later, with the
arrival of director Anne Lundon, The Florrie moved towards a
programme of culture and creativity as a way of supporting
the community and building cohesion.
Today, The Florrie is both proactive and reactive in
responding to the needs of the community and provides a
wealth of activities, from belly dancing lessons to reading
groups, art sessions to yoga and circus skills. Plus, of course,
the now legendary guitar group run by the Tea Street Band’s
Placing one final exclamation mark at the
end of the 2010s, a selection of Bido Lito!
writers pick out some of the most important
cultural moments to have taken place in
Liverpool over the course of the past decade.
Resurrecting The Everyman
Demolishing a theatre is a dangerous thing. Once it’s gone, what
happens to all the ghosts?
When the elderly Everyman Theatre was knocked down in 2011,
efforts were made to encourage its theatrical spirits to stick around. Its
bricks were saved, its site was preserved, and when the regenerated
Everyman finally opened on 2nd March 2014 – complete with its
startling façade featuring 105 life-size Liverpudlians – it was a relief
to find that the box-fresh new venue somehow felt as if it had always
Not all its ghosts came back. The reinvented Everyman Bistro never
recaptured the magic that had made its previous incarnation into one
of Liverpool’s most energised cultural hubs. But with its youth theatre
space and its writers’ room, and its homely auditorium performing the
trick of pretending it never went away, the Everyman remains a piece
of Hope Street heaven – a resting place for old ghosts and for spectres
yet to come.
Timo Tierney. With happenings and exhibitions from notables
such as Jamie Reid and Jimmy Cauty, The KLF, Michael
Head, The La’s and Greg Wilson’s 14-hour Super Weird
Happening in the mix, The Florrie has firmly established itself
in the cultural beat of the city. By the community, for the
Jemma Timberlake / jemmatimberlake.co.uk
Words: Christopher Torpey / @CATorp
It was 2006 when Laurence Westgaph said to me that FACT should have been
built in Toxteth. Liverpool was in peak city centre regeneration at that point and
there was still an assumption that to have good art it needs to be in the centre, and
in a building.
The night of the Turner Prize in 2015, Granby CLT hired out Liverpool Small
Cinema. No one expected the Four Streets and Assemble to win the coveted arts
prize. The pictures of when they win remind me of Liverpool in Istanbul in 2005. The
underdogs become the obvious choice.
Just a handful of years before, the residents of Granby were still convincing the
council they deserved to keep their homes. After the win, they’re fielding calls from
all over the world.
Before then, community was a thing many arts organisations used to tick boxes.
You’d get a few gems, but we’re talking top down, not bottom up.
Post 2015, you can’t get away with pretending. Liverpool needed a kick up the
arse. It needed art that was by its people if it wanted to be for its people. It needed
reminding its art scene always works when it’s a bit punk; a bit less curated for a
CV. It’s not there yet, but it’s a shift in power. Liverpool’s art scene needed a punk
moment, and this was quite punk.
K Is For Kazimier
A spaceship being hoisted over Wolstenholme Square, sparks flying off its
base, following a symbolic battle between the evil Monotopia developers and
Captain Kronos, astride a giant ostrich. You couldn’t have imagined a better sendoff
for The Kazimier, the venue that was the creative, madcap, maverick focal point
of artistic possibility in Liverpool.
The night that the Kaz closed, New Year’s Eve 2015, was a momentous,
ambitious celebration of all that the venue-cum-club had come to stand for. By the
time the great burning K sign lit up the night sky, the writing had already long been
daubed on the wall: Wolstenholme Square had already been shorn of MelloMello
and Wolstenholme Creative Space – fellow outsider, independent spaces run by
artists, for artists. Prior to their arrival, it was a part of town where people wouldn’t
dare venture; since their departure, the square has succumbed to the endless
sprawl of Liverpool ONE and premium city centre living apartments. Only the
Kazimier Garden and Penelope light installation remain, towered over by flats and
hemmed in by ‘vertical drinking establishments’ and ‘retail opportunities’.
The escape to Planet Kronos ultimately only took the remaining Kazimier team
as far as the Invisible Wind Factory in the North Docks – but the metaphorical
flight of the city’s creative heart outside of the city centre still hasn’t materialised.
The Baltic Triangle and Ten Streets projects aren’t quite the promised lands they
first seemed, and a gaping, K-shaped hole still remains at the heart of Liverpool’s
Diggin’ Your Selections
The vinyl boom hit Liverpool city centre after a lengthy period of
slim pickings for those preferring the physical product in its traditional
format, the omnipresent Probe aside. Dig Vinyl launching on Bold
Street five years ago was a game changer, a second-hand record shop
with knowledgeable staff well-armed with picky good tastes and
attuned to customers’ wants.
As a lifelong collector, Manchester was a common destination
before Dig’s arrival, but the record-buying community here is now able
to indulge in a wider tour of record shops on home turf thanks to the
opening of Dig: Phase One/Jacaranda, 81 Renshaw and Pop Boutique.
There’s a marked difference between a record shop and a space which
simply has records for sale. Dig is securely in the former category – as
is now the case with stores that followed – supporting new releases
from new local artists and signposting rarities, but equally open to tips
from those they sell to.
Robin Clewley / robinclewley.co.uk
Lucy Roberts / lucyannerobertsillustration.co.uk
Small Space For The Big Screen
I’ll let you into a secret about Liverpool Small Cinema, which was open between 2015
and 2017 in Liverpool city centre. If the audience were laughing, or recoiling in horror, the wall
of the projection booth would bulge, reacting to the force of the reaction. I first noticed it at
a screening of John Waters’ Female Trouble, which managed to get the 56-seat crowd to do
The space, on Victoria Street, was willed into existence by Sam Meech, arts project Re-
Dock and a gang of volunteers. The place was built entirely through donations and offcuts and
screened a huge variety of films. From a 24-hour Groundhog Day marathon, to championing
female directors, offering LBGTQ+ screenings and somewhere for local film-makers to screen,
it offered a home to many unable to use spaces like Odeon.
It was completely its own thing and open to all. Now it’s a hotel bar, as the developers
moved in. But, for a couple of years, it was ours and it felt we could do anything in the city.
The repeated destruction of Banu Cennetoğlu’s posters along Great George Street,
which acted as a collection of records about refugee and migrant deaths, was an unsettling
It dented the city’s sense of self-identity as giving welcome to all, where fascists and
anyone who would exclude minorities is quickly sent packing. But it also forced us to
answer to the previously-hypothetical question of how such an attack is responded to. And
the final decision to leave the work in shreds felt, to many, unsatisfactory. This was already
a work which had been criticised for “aestheticising” tragedy. To stop repairing it felt like a
confirmation that The List was more focused on violence than on advocating for the rights
of the most vulnerable.
The List’s fate has left its scars, but its real legacy should be a deep questioning of
culture’s role in visualising and platforming empathy.
No Festival Today
If we’re honest, Liverpool’s music community can be quite a hostile place to outsiders. Outsiders bringing what seemed to be a festival
themed around British colonialism with a line-up consisting solely of Britpop also-rans were duly met with scepticism in 2017. Hope
And Glory Festival came from nowhere and no one seemed to know who was behind the garishly-branded shindig. That would change,
Ticket sales went well. There was clearly an appetite to see Embrace rub shoulders with The Pigeon Detectives on the Amritsar
Massacre stage before the lad from Keane presented a screening of Zulu in the main room at St George’s Hall. However, when the
weekend came, like the empire it looked to celebrate, things started to fall apart.
I happened to walk past the festival site shortly before midday on the opening day. As I peered through the Heras fencing, past the
B&M Bargains plastic flamingo garden ornament, I thought it unusual that the build seemed only three-quarters finished so close to doors.
The bulldog spirit would no doubt prevail though. Later that day social media was rife with discontent. Queues stretching up London
Road, not enough bars or toilets and timings running so far behind schedule bands had to find alternative venues to play. And it got worse.
The words ‘no festival today’ have rightly been etched into Liverpool music folklore. This is how the Hope And Glory communications
team (or most likely, the man in charge) chose to break the news that the event, which had been promoted for over a year and had Ocean
Colour Scene fans sleeplessly anticipating all summer, would not be going into its second day. And the drama did not finish there.
Predictably there was a mixture of horror, mockery and anger on social media. The organiser, outed as Lee O’Hanlon, was digitally
hung, drawn and quartered. O’Hanlon didn’t help his case by responding to many social media missives with flippancy and truculence.
A more expansive (and bizarre) statement was released in the week after the festival, pointing the blame at a Liverpool City Council
employee who briefly became a cult hero and talking at length about where they stored the sandwiches and milk.
Hope And Glory was a trailblazer in glorious festival fuck-ups. Unfortunately, there is no slick Netflix documentary and fly-by-night
events do keep happening, but what it did provide Liverpool with is a cautionary tale and some of the funniest moments of the past
decade. Outsiders are very welcome. Just don’t bring jingoism, please. Or Razorlight.
John Johnson / @John.johno
When the Giants found their way their way back to Liverpool in 2018, it was
a moment of celebration, but one to reflect on.
Liverpool changed in 2008. The year as European Capital of Culture
established the city on the world stage as a destination. A place to be. The
figures say that growth has increased by £1.6 billion year-on-year since the
end of 2008. Perceptions outside the city have certainly changed. Liverpool is a
modern, forward-facing city, not only proud of its contribution to the arts, culture
and sport, but dependent, more than ever before, on that contribution for its
future. Maybe the full legacy will only be known in years to come, when we have
the true bigger picture.
The city mandarins talk of growth, of investment. From street level,
however, that growth looks to be more about the Blade Runner claustrophobia
of Wolstenholme Square, or the sheer whatthefuckery of the Lime Street
development, a prestigious entry point to the city with the grand opulence of
William Brown Street to one side and a grim metal box showcasing a new
branch of Lidl to the other. Maybe this is the legacy for some. Culture comes
from people, though, and that means the grassroots. Art needs space. It needs
support and nourishment. So, while it’s no doubt an achievement for the city
council, in the face of central government cuts, to protect the Biennial, or Sound
City, Africa Oyé and LightNight, there is still a glaring need for the council to
better support grassroots culture. That should be the true legacy.
Haring at Tate
Keith Haring’s presence in Liverpool was palpable all summer and into the
winter of 2019. Emblazoned on buses and T-shirts and collectables, with DJs in
every other venue paying homage.
Tate Liverpool housing the first major UK exhibition of Haring’s work felt
like the North Star in a widening sky of constellations that are reorientating the
city’s pull as a cultural destination. Vibrant, urgent and playful, Haring’s output
has a humanity to it that resonated with the city. What’s more joy-inducing than
Shazam-ing the shit out of the tracks played in a curtained room where his Day
Glo works sit under UV light? What’s more sobering than understanding that his
work was made in the face of a wilfully ignorant Reagan administration during
the AIDS crisis? The exhibition was attractive and important.
It can be all too easy for the face of the city to rely on certain tropes while
its underbelly swells with a cutting edge not necessarily seen by those outside
of Liverpool. Haring didn’t put Liverpool on the map, but his work has helped to
broaden our horizons, and others’ perception of the city as a cultural destination.
My first visit to 24 Kitchen Street saw dust tumbling
from the ceiling, such was the size of the sound system
drafted in to celebrate Less Effect hosting Objekt. Since
then, the music policy of the club has followed a similar
track. Although now it’s likely small-scale debris drifting
down from the ceiling can be attributed to the army of drills
burrowing in the foundations of luxury apartments next
The rise of the Baltic Triangle was one of the most
positive in the slew of recent city centre developments. The
work of Baltic CIC set the foundations for a new chapter
in Liverpool’s electronic music scene, giving rise to 24
Kitchen Street, Constellations, Camp and Furnace, Haus,
Baltic Weekender and microclimate tastemakers Melodic
Distraction Radio. A pared back answer to Detroit and
Berlin’s repurposing of defunct industrial spaces, these
homes to artistic endeavour and escapism are now ever
more surrounded by simply homes, short term rentals and
aspirational studio flats with necessary balcony to take in
your achievements. Such apartments stand ever taller over
Kitchen Street; Constellations is to be swept aside; the
remaining venues in the district do their best to rattle the
double glazing of local professionals.
For a moment Liverpool had a thriving creative district
and night time scene that was its own, free from large scale
residential intrusion. Crane your neck on Jamaica Street now
and it’ll be hard to see how a sound system large enough to
rattle a building to its core will ever be able to feature again.
Robin Clewley / robinclewley.co.uk
If you’d like a soundtrack to these cultural moments, head
to bidolito.co.uk to listen to our Decade Dansette — a selection of
tracks that stood out to us as memorable markers along the way.
be so selfish at
dealing with your
Leaping from synth wave to
the digital age, ALEX TELEKO
drinks in addictive 80s melody
and convulses to the maddening
beats and bleeps of the
A by-product, birthed in the ceaseless surge of an intense
digital labyrinth, 22-year-old ALEX TELEKO coolly steps onto the
scene breathing words radiating a reluctant truth we flinch from.
But it’s not entirely confrontational. His artistry also possesses a
narcissistically relatable demur that we can’t help but concede to.
Based in Liverpool, this modern innovator takes his selfdesigned
concepts and manipulates them in a way that reveals
his lust for digital emotion: “I’ve written music in many styles for
a long time, but recently I’ve been trying to draw human emotion
out of a computer instead.”
A self-proclaimed crooner who produces “midi ballads in
synthesis”, Teleko is not one to sugar-coat the reality we share. A
realist who strives towards challenging the general perception of
contemporary music, while also keeping his feet on the ground,
he tells us that his creative intellect hasn’t always resided in
music. “I much preferred the idea of becoming a train driver
or a firefighter. However, some aspirations are unobtainable,
so creating music seemed like a stable fallback plan.” Big
aspirations steered his path, noting a wish to support the fondlyremembered
Europop of Steps, because, “Why not?”
As far as inspiration goes, he is his own muse. That is not to
say further musical influence is obsolete. “My head has always
been very scatterbrain, so I would absorb anything that had a
strong melody or hook,” he explains. “That could be anything from
police sirens echoing outside to chart-topping singles on the radio,
so I don’t think I could pinpoint one piece of music, purely because
everything with a musical nature acts as a form of inspiration.”
Spurred on by an inwardly pleasing writing style, he goes on
to explain how “songwriting can be so selfish at times, especially
when you’re dealing with your own emotions and experiences,
which I regularly interject into what I create”. It’s this strong sense
of narcissism that some believe makes Teleko so delightfully
appropriate for listeners nowadays: he accommodates them
with a real human voice they can associate with, all the while still
serving hard-hitting, bassy synths.
That being said, Teleko admits to enjoying the more
mischievous side of production: “I like to use my writing as a form
of people watching, too, stalking the odd habits and tendencies of
others, it provides some sense of entertainment.” Not just a theme
in his writing, this also makes an appearance in performance: “I very
much enjoy playing Call Me Digital. I like how, despite its upbeat
exterior, there is a tormented and sick meaning at the centre of the
song. It’s a good juxtaposition to me, to have something abrasive
and visceral mixed with what is a seemingly pleasant surroundings.
It probably says a lot about me subliminally.”
Having performed mainly in Liverpool – with the exception
of the odd anomaly – Moon Duo at the Invisible Wind Factory
and Future Yard Festival have been notable highlights. Ultimately
his favourite would be the former, despite the fact that it was
“bordering on temperatures parallel with the Arctic Circle, but
it’s an amazing space”. It’ll take more than temperature to halt
Teleko’s infatuation with live performance, however, as he has a
number of shows lined up to round off 2019, beginning with the
Merseyrail Sound Station showcase at Liverpool Central on 30th
Which other artists does Teleko think others should be made
aware of? “Die Orangen are one of the great acts coming out on
Malka Tuti, an experimental label based across Europe with its
roots in Tel Aviv. Khidja and Tapan are others on their roster that
are worth checking out.”
It’s safe to say that, with taste this eclectic, there are inspiring
things to come from this young emerging artist. !
Words: Anouska Liat
Photography: Luke Parry
Alex Teleko support Natalie McCool on 14th December at Arts
Club, and appears at the Eggy Records NYE show at Sound.
Arresting lyricism and delicate
instrumentation are gently weaved
together by this Seattle native
quietly causing a stir.
proven to be the
what I am feeling
If you had to describe your style in a sentence, what would you
Lyrically driven indie-folkrockpop.
Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially
When I was 14 I had the opportunity to see one of my favourite
bands at the time (The Head And The Heart) play in an old
theatre in Seattle, where I’m originally from. I had waited in the
queue for three hours and ended up in the front row. It was
the band’s first hometown show in a long time and I remember
witnessing their collective energy, as well as their gratitude
towards the crowd and the city, and immediately wanting nothing
more than to be in a band.
Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?
What does it say about you?
I really enjoy performing unreleased songs. They’re often new
and fresh to myself and the band and bringing them outside the
practice room is a lot of fun.
Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what
makes it special?
A few days before I moved to the UK, I played a farewell/EP
release show with my old band in the violinist’s backyard. We
hung lights and made lanterns, our friends sat on lawn chairs and
blankets, and my mom baked cookies. It was super wholesome.
What do you think is the overriding influence on your
songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture
of all of these?
Definitely emotions and experiences. I tend to wear my heart on
my sleeve, but songwriting/performing has proven to be the most
cathartic communication of what I am feeling and thinking.
Have you always wanted to create music?
I’ve always loved performing, whether it be ‘talent shows’ at my
family gatherings, school plays, or covering songs on YouTube
with my friends. I attended an arts-oriented high school and it
was there that I began to take songwriting more seriously.
If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?
Phoebe Bridgers or Lucy Dacus, probably. Both of them have
been big inspirations to my own music, although I get a pit in my
stomach just imagining what I’d say in the green room.
Why is music important to you?
I think music is a great platform for individuals to communicate
their complex thoughts, feelings and experiences. Often, I’ve
found the words I’ve been looking for to explain myself in
someone else’s lyrics. That makes me feel a whole lot less alone
in the world.
Can you recommend an artist, band or album that Bido Lito!
readers might not have heard?
There’s a whole lot more to the Seattle music scene than grunge
and there are a lot of fantastic artists in that area right now.
Cataldo and OK Sweetheart are a couple of my favourites.
Photography: Lucia Matušíková
Abby Meysenburg plays the Merseyrail Sound Station showcase
at Liverpool Central Station on Saturday 30th November.
Building their sound around the dull
fuzz of an unearthed £50 1960s Tiesco
guitar, MINCEMEAT come out all guns
blazing with pummelling, bone-shaking
coming across a
terrible cheap guitar
with a fantastically
If you had to describe your music in a sentence, what would
Fast/slow garage punk rock clatter with a bit of motorik and some
other oddities thrown in.
Have you always wanted to create music? How did you get
We’ve all played in bands for a while, but MINCEMEAT happened
after coming across a terrible cheap guitar with a fantastically
nasty sound. It became an interesting project to try to write
songs around its sound.
Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?
What does it say about you?
Probably one of the ones we’ve played least. Suck In from the
new EP is a good, screamy glam guy which isn’t too exhausting
to play, so possibly that one. What does that one say about us?
That we get bored easily and we’re out of shape.
Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially
Our first show was supporting Detroit garage gods The Gories.
It was so much fun and really exciting to be playing on the same
stage. Their stripped-down, ‘just smash through it’ approach to
rock ’n’ roll informed the way we created songs. They’ve done
loads of more ‘complex’ music in different outfits since their first
recordings. We asked Danny the guitarist if it was hard to forget
how to play the guitar for The Gories shows and he just acted like
he had no idea what we were on about. It was kind of great that
he didn’t understand how he was channelling all this primitivist
Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what
makes it special?
Drop The Dumbulls Gallery. It’s got a great atmosphere and
the shows are usually carnage. Plus, Jake and the staff are all
If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?
What do you think is the overriding influence on your
songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture
of all of these?
Our lyrics tend to sound like blurred string of undiscernible barks,
but there are actual words. They often materialise from a variety
of different areas. Sometimes the visual arts, literature, cinema,
experiences, mental health, politics and the general flotsam and
jetsam of the human condition.
Photography: Lauren Avery
Mincemeat’s EP Aroma is out now.
Bristol electronic three-piece BEAK> have been a
creative force for a decade now – and they continue
to reach new heights on nothing but their own terms.
Considering the immersive and compelling musical
landscapes they’ve become known for, the concept behind the
band is actually relatively simple: it’s about creating explorative
music free from any bullshit or expectations.
An outlet for the three to experiment and innovate away
from their other musical endeavours, the band is in healthier
shape than ever before (although you can be sure Geoff
Barrow would have a self-deprecating joke to hand about that
Following another ambitious year on the road and in the
studio, they’re hitting the Arts Club as part of their December
UK tour. As Rhys Buchanan picked up the phone to bassist Billy
Fuller to chat about their last 12 months, the ever-present sense
of drive and community behind the band remains palpable.
So, two glorious releases in the last few years, how’s it all
been in your world?
It’s been super productive since we’ve done our third album
[>>>] and the last EP [Life Goes On]. We’ve been going to new
places as well which is always refreshing. This year Mexico has
been really good for us – we never thought anything like that
would ever happen, but we played a festival there and it seemed
to just land, the crowd went crazy for it. So the organisers of the
festival had us back for a show in Mexico City and Guadalajara
a few weeks ago. Both shows sold out and they want us back
again next year. When we first started to do Beak>, I never
expected anything like that to happen. It’s crazy reaching such
heavy heights. We’re just buzzing now and really excited for the
upcoming UK tour.
You’ve been a band for a long time now, do those moments
keep you motivated?
That’s always a massive motivation for us, getting to play all
of these great places and seeing all of the happy faces. The
other motivation is to make tunes that excite us away from the
other bands that we’ve been in, which is the reason why we
got together. It’s still a totally different experience; it’s the most
interesting band that I’ve ever been in and long may it last. We
wouldn’t do it if we weren’t having fun. It’s all about enjoying
ourselves and making good music.
Do you think that element of freedom is a massive part of
Beak> for you guys?
Yeh, sometimes it’s not even very serious. I don’t know if you’ve
seen our live shows, but sometimes we just take the piss out
of each other onstage. A friend of mine said the other day they
heard someone saying we’re like a comedy act with songs inbetween.
It’s mostly about when we get in the room together,
we don’t discuss much, we just fire things around, some things
land and some things don’t. We all come up with stuff, bring
ideas in and other times we do it on the fly in the studio. There’s
not much discussion about it, we’re just trying to push for
something we haven’t done before. We don’t want to repeat
ourselves from here on in.
That seems true of your live schedule, as well: earlier in the
year you played on a bridge in Bristol for Extinction Rebellion
which felt quite spontaneous...
That came about because I had to go into town for some
shopping – I didn’t even know that was happening. I walked past
Bristol Bridge and I was like, ‘Hang on a second what’s going
on here?’ I was there for about an hour chatting to people and
thought it would be cool if they were up for us doing it. We went
to play some tunes there and played a different set to bring some
attention to it all. It worked out really well, we did a couple of
Gary Numan tunes like Cars because everyone was frustrated
with the traffic, then we did a cover of Pigbag which went down
great. I think there’s a good video of that online.
This year you’ve got another Christmas charity event lined up
helping the homeless in Bristol.
Do you feel like it’s important to
be engaged with the community
as a band?
You’ve always got to be active and
look out for other people. We’ve
always believed in that and will
always do it. The ‘Give A Shit
Christmas’ thing is something that
we’ll do every December as long
as we’re together. I don’t know
what it’s like in Liverpool, but the
scale of the homeless problem is
the worst it’s ever been in Bristol.
I don’t want to get too political,
but I put a lot of blame on the Tory
government and austerity for that.
There should always be money available for a human being.
Everybody is someone’s son or daughter out there and people
are dying. It’s disgusting and we’re not up for it. That’s the
reason why we do this event for local charities every year. Last
year we raised £9,000 and, with a bigger venue, this year we’re
hoping to get five times that.
EVOL @ Arts Club – 05/12
“I don’t want to
be responsible for
boring anyone. I think
it’s best to keep it
interesting and keep
the hooks coming”
Constantly sharpening the edges of their three-sided setup, these
masters of sonic immersion know better than most how to keep it
Speaking of that sense of community, to what extent does
having Invada Studios at your disposal help the band’s fluidity?
The fact that it’s there for us is invaluable to be honest. It’s like
a miniature Motown. When you go in, it’s like the label. All the
records are there ready for mailorder;
the releases are everywhere,
filed away. We rehearse in the
same room that we record in.
When it first started we could
pick and choose when we went in.
Now we have to book a lot further
in advance. It’s great when we’re
in because we have it and can do
some serious damage. It’s deluxe,
really. We’re spoilt.
Your songs are quite sprawling
and immersive. How disciplined
do you need to be when it comes
to playing live?
As a live thing, we never do any jamming; there’s never any
heads-down, doing a Hawkwind kind of thing. People are
always surprised by that. Otherwise, if there was anything more
to get out of it then we would do it on track. I’m not putting
anyone down, but I find that when a band’s head goes down
they just starting whacking on the wah-wah and the fuzz pedal
and they’ve had one too many goes on the bong. It just bores
me. I don’t want to be responsible for boring anyone. I think it’s
best to keep it interesting and keep the hooks coming.
They’ve been coming for some time now and it seems it will be
that way long into the future?
Yeh, it’s all a discipline because, ultimately, we go through a lot
of pain to make an album. The first album was the easiest thing
we’d ever done because we didn’t properly know each other back
then. So, we went into the studio, had a cup of tea, set our gear
up and just started playing. The first song on the first album is
us playing for the very first time in the studio. That all came very
quick and easy because it was so natural. Then you go on tour
and find out who you are, then once you’re involved then you’re
working within parameters from there on in. Album four, which
we’re starting work on in the new year, will be another adventure/
headache/brilliant experience. If we’re up, then hopefully we’ll
carry on making good and interesting music. That’s where it lies
really. It’s not that difficult to think about, if we’re happy then the
music will come out the back of it. !
Words: Rhys Buchanan / @Rhys_Buchanan
Photography: Daniel Patlán-Desde
Beak> play Arts Club on Thursday 5th December. Life Goes On is
available now via Invada Records.
STUDIO ELECTROPHONIQUE is the new project of
former High Hazels frontman James Leesley. The
first signing to Violette Records which isn’t a Micheal
Head project, the debut Electrophonique EP Buxton
Palace Hotel sees Leesley and his ‘imaginary band’ create a
microcosm which lies somewhere between kitchen sink drama
and The Velvet Underground. Balancing love and its inevitable
pitfalls with a raw yet delicate sound, the Steel City balladeer’s
first output has already captured the imaginations of the likes of
Richard Hawley and Pete Paphides.
On a cold Friday night, Matthew Hogarth caught him on the
other end of the line shortly after a winter evening kick-a-bout.
Sonically, the songs sound a bit like The Velvet Underground
if they’d recorded in the North of England. Who and what
influenced you to start Studio Electrophonique?
I’ve been listening to music all my life, a lot of different varied
things. The Velvets kind of got me into music properly, but
growing up I listened to Oasis and Coldplay on the radio. They
were on the radio, but obviously you kind of get into the darker
and more obscured side in your own time. I’ve been playing
music for a long time with a band but that kind of ran its course,
quite naturally, and I just had a lot of ideas in my head that
weren’t complicated enough that they’d need a band. In a way
they were almost on a four-track up there, in my head. I felt like
my head only had enough space for the melodies and a bigger
accompaniment in mind. I’ve always wanted a four-track. I’ve
never been a technical wizard by any stretch of the imagination
and always stayed away from the likes of Logic and all that. I’ve
always focused on writing the songs and left the recording to
someone who knew what they were doing.
So what attracted you to recording on four-track?
It was only after I stepped away from being in the band that I
thought I could do with an easy bit of equipment to record on.
A lot of my favourite bands have used both four-tracks and
eight-tracks over the years, and some of them recordings I love.
I thought it must be a good enough place to start. So I just got
myself a knackered old Fostex X-15 just to play around with and
work it out. I’ve never worked with cassette before, and I thought
if I can get ’em down on tape it’ll feel quite nice, push me down a
route that I may not have gone down if I’d gone into the studio.
I recorded the tracks in the spare room in me house which made
it naturally a lot more hushed and quiet, because I couldn’t be
blaring the place down. So I got ’em down without having any
intentions of anyone hearing them; I know that’s a cliché, but I
genuinely just thought I’ve got to clear some space out. It were
just a bit of fun that I’d go upstairs in mine after work and just
get a few songs down. I’ve got a couple of little old Casio organs,
80s ones with only one or two good sounds on ’em. I just used
those and an old Philicorda organ which I picked up for about a
hundred quid, which provided a table for everything. I wanted to
limit myself to just that and record it to tape. Luckily, I got a few
tunes down and it echoed the old 60s recordings and modern
bands demos that I loved. It had a really nice warmth.
Lyrically, Buxton Palace Hotel seems to be a pretty personal
EP. Would you agree with this?
I’ve never been someone to overthink how it’s going to be
received. Through practising, over the years I’ve come upon a
style whereby it’s more the thoughts that people are having
that they would never say. It can be very exposing. It’s all about
putting your thoughts out there. If you look at the approach of
the likes of Morrissey, Stuart Murdoch of Belle And Sebastian
and Lou Reed, the thing they’ve all got is a really sensitive side.
I wanted it to feel like it was just one person listening to it. I
wanted it to feel very real. The fact that I was in a collaborative
band meant that occasionally I would maybe doctor a few lyrics
to make it more acceptable. There’s no reason for a filter, which
makes everything a lot easier.
When you’re on your own, there’s no one to stop it. The speed
I could work at was so much
quicker. It’s the first time I’ve used
characters in my work; a lot of the
stuff is personal but I’ve managed
to put it into characters and the
lyrics could be about anyone.
The atmosphere of some of the
tracks often feels quite isolated,
lyrically blending romance with
darker tones. Would you agree?
Subconsciously, I was always
trying to keep the balance between
the two. I was basically trying to
take you to a place for a moment,
however long that may be. If I’m in
the mood for a band I can create a
little world which I can just access. I wanted to take people away
for a little while.
The intention was to make it underthought. I wanted to get it
straight from my brain to the machine. I wanted to do it in the
now. It is quite warm sounding but when it gets quite bleak, I try
to bring it back. I wanted it to be so intimate it could fall apart at
any point. All my friends who were into stuff were really into it. I
didn’t have any idea if it was any good.
“The intention for my
music was to make it
from my brain to the
machine. I wanted
to do it in the now”
La Violette Società @ Studio2 – 20/12
Hushed, attentive tones crafted in the dead of night - James Leesley’s
new solo endeavour captures an honest, moonlit reflection of solitude.
You’re the first artist to release on
Violette Records who’s not Mick
Head. How does that feel?
I was a bit apprehensive because
they hadn’t released anyone else.
But I sent it to them because I
really liked what they stood for,
and obviously I’m a big fan of Mick
Head. I thought, ‘May as well, and
they might like it’. I don’t think they
planned to put it out to be honest,
but they just went, ‘This is alright
and we haven’t really got anything
else coming out,’ and it was doable.
I think I was quite quick and easy to
work with so it wasn’t a matter of
waiting around. It moved really quickly and I think that helped.
Matty [Lockett, Violette Records] said he just wanted to put out
good records that they like.
With High Hazels you’ve already got a decent fan base, but sell
out-shows are no mean feat in Liverpool and you obviously did
really well across the country and Paris. How does this feel?
We couldn’t buy a gig at times, it was really difficult. But with this
I kind of didn’t even plan to play live. The first gigs I did were with
Richard Hawley. My first gig was in Holmfirth supporting him,
and two gigs in London. Both were over a thousand capacity
each. Luckily, I had a bit of live experience but I had to play
quick and learn fast. If it went wrong I’d look the biggest fool in
the world. I think a lot of [the success] has been [down to] the
venues that have been dressed up nice. I wanted to do stuff
that was a little bit different. Luckily the Violette guys sorted the
Scandinavian Church in Liverpool and I managed to sort out the
Lantern Theatre in Sheffield. It took a good couple of months to
even get in touch with them. In the end, I went to this strange
gig on a Thursday night just to see a human who worked there.
I got chatting about Sheffield Utd and he passed me a number
and I eventually got in. Roy, who runs the live side of things for
Violette, played the show with me and did spoken word and
people loved it. It was more of an experience and people loved it
as a night. I think it was a bit of pot luck to be fair.
Paris was daft. They were so nice. There was a massive spread
and a bath of beer. I felt like this is how it should be. !
Words: Matthew Hogarth
Photography: Ryan Lee Turton
Buxton Palace Hotel is available now on Violette Records.
Studio Electrophonique plays La Violette Società’s Christmas
Special on Friday 20th December, with Toria Garbutt, Daisy Gill
Various venues – 21/12 and 31/12
Circus Christmas Special
Circus and Chibuku have your festive party season covered with two heavyweight shows that will give you every
reason to get off the couch and escape the TV repeats.
YOUSEF presents a special Circus Christmas party at Bramley-Moore Dock on 21st December, with house
music superstar SOLOMUN helming what will be a huge show down on the docks. The Bosnian-born DJ has been
a titan of house and techno music for almost a decade, regularly scooping industry awards while running successful labels
(Diynamic, 2DIY4), clubs (Ego) and multiple Ibiza residencies (Pacha, Ushuaïa). Solomun’s emotional take on European house
music is characterised by ultra funky basslines and euphoric melodies, reflective of his love of hip hop, soul and funk.
Circus have re-tooled the vast warehouse space at Bramley-Moore as an ideal venue for raving and partying, and the
location will add a new dimension to their famed Christmas party blowout. Leeds’ globetrotting deep house technician HOT
SINCE 82 brings an element of energy and dram to proceedings. “King Of Space” DJ STEVE LAWLER also joins the party,
hosted by Circus maestro Yousef and also featuring ENZO SIRAGUSA.
And if that wasn’t enough for you, Chibuku come up trumps with a New Year’s Eve party to cap off the year in fine style.
Chart-topping big beat duo GROOVE ARMADA return to Liverpool for the first time in a decade, with a DJ set at Invisible
Wind Factory that dwarfs that 2009 set at Barfly for a Circus Easter special. The global stars have since played Creamfields
on numerous occasions, but their mix of electronic, house and trip hop is equally suited to more intimate clubs.
Having picked up a Grammy nomination (Superstylin’), soundtracked entire advert breaks, worked with artists as diverse
as Neneh Cherry and Richie Havens, and set up the popular Lovebox festival, the duo have very little still to achieve in the
game. Through decks and FX shows and a series of dancefloor EPs, Groove Armada have marked a return to the DIY spirit of
the warehouse turntables where the project first began. Go on, sign off the year in style.
Tate Liverpool – 13/12/19-03/05/2020
Chicago-based artist THEASTER GATES is one of the world’s most influential living artists,
working across social and urban issues that speak to the same ethos of community
fracturing that has been highlighted by the work around Granby in Liverpool. Having studied
urban planning – alongside a joint masters in religion, ceramics and city design – Gates’ work
shows how art can transform places and improve the lives of the people who live there. He is best
known for his projects in the South Side of Chicago, where he has redeveloped abandoned buildings
for community use.
Gates also worked as a potter for 15 years, which taught him the power of making something from
only bare materials. “I feel like as a potter you also start to learn how to shape the world,” he commented
in a TED talk he gave, titled How To Revive A Neighbourhood: With Imagination, Beauty and Art.
In Amalgam, Gates explores the complex and interweaving issues of race, territory and inequality in
the United States, from the slightly curious starting point of Malaga. Not that Malaga, however. During the
19th Century, this small island off the coast of Maine, USA, was home to an ethnically mixed community.
In 1912, on the orders of the state governor, Malaga’s inhabitants were forcibly removed to the mainland.
They were offered no housing, jobs or support.
The exhibition uses sculpture, installation, film and dance to highlight this history. A new film, Dance
Of Malaga 2019, features the choreography of acclaimed American dancer, Kyle Abraham, while Gates’
musical collective, The Black Monks, provide the score. Their blues and gospel-inspired sound can be
heard throughout the exhibition, continuing into an immersive ‘forest’ installation.
Launching at the same time in Tate’s neighbouring Wolfson Gallery, a new exhibition of work by
VIVIAN SUTER provides an immersive installation of tropical landscapes of Guatemala. A maze of Suter’s
large-scale hanging paintings brings to life the organic elements – such as volcanic and botanical matter –
that the Argentinian artist is surrounded by during her everyday life.
EVENT DISCOVERY PARTNER
Arts Club – 04/12
Returning with her third record in April, for many, ALDOUS
HARDING’s Designer is an understated contender for album of
the year. The New Zeland-born, Cardiff-based singer-songwriter
has crafted a varied selection of wonky folk since arriving with her
eponymous debut in 2014, but Designer sees Harding achieve new
levels of eccentricity and panache. From start to finish the record
is assured in its oddness and comfortably blends the abstract
with her winsome songwriting formula. Rather than force its point
home, the record beckons you into its world, one that remains often
indecipherable but aboundingly charming. Taking centre stage at Arts
Club, Harding will offer a hazy, sun-kissed escape from the winter chill.
Miracle On 34th Street: The Musical
The Playhouse – 07/12/19-04/01/20
Miracle On 34th Street has been spreading festive cheer, in various guises,
since the 1947 feature film that picked up three Oscars. Via a novel,
TV series and the much-celebrated 1994 feature film starring Richard
Attenborough, it has become a Christmas staple. Meredith Wilson’s lyrical
rendering of the story of six-year-old Susan, a Christmas sceptic, and Kris
Kringle, is brought to sparkling life on stage as a musical, which gives
centre stage to the famed seasonal song, It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like
Christmas. The set of Macy’s is brought to the Playhouse stage, with a
story specially tweaked for a Liverpool audience, which will get Christmas
lovers of all ages in the mood for festive magic.
Miracle On 34th Street
Grand Central Hall – 11/01/20
JUDY COLLINS has been an omnipresent force in music for the best part of five decades. In
that time she’s featured on 55 records and inspired millions with her contributions to folk
music and Americana. As well as performing to countless audiences since the 1960s, the
American singer songwriter as drawn in praises from Rufus Wainwright, Shawn Colvin,
Dolly Parton, Joan Baez and Leonard Cohen, who all honoured her legacy by featuring on
the album Born To The Breed: A Tribute To Judy Collins. An artist of such stature deserves
a stage to match, and the opulent backdrop of Grand Central Hall will be the perfect fit
when she arrives in Liverpool for an exhibition of vulnerable songwriting littered with social
activism and determination.
Crazy P Soundsystem
Constellations – 31/12
The final New Year’s Eve party at Constellations takes on epic proportions under the
stewardship of Melodic Distraction. No holds will be barred for this grand celebration of the
Greenland Street venue, which will be winding down operations in 2020. Cosmic disco dons
CRAZY P are charged with piloting this closing party (of sorts) to another dimension, which
will make for the perfect kind of celebration. Shimmering with pop, throbbing with electronica
and slinking with disco, revellers will prepared to blast off into 2020 in the highest of spirits.
The Soundsystem is a club variation on Crazy P’s live setup, and will feature live vocals from
Danielle Moore. Melodic Distraction DJs will be joined by a host of the region’s finest selectors
in getting things primed for this huge signing off party.
Four To The Floor
Invisible Wind Factory – 22/01-25/01/20
Four To The Floor
A history of dance music is rendered in this off-site performance from the Unity Theatre and production company Turntable
Theatre, which is also your invitation to the closing part of the century. Inspired by Earl Young’s 4/4 beat that revolutionised
music for dancing, this immersive theatre show with an electronic heartbeat charts dance music’s progression from the disco
to the underground rave scene, via youth culture, political movements and superstar DJs. The action takes place wherever it
needs to rather than be confined to the stage: the audience is placed at the heart of the narrative, blurring the lines between
theatre and a rave. Real dancefloor stories are told in thrilling fashion, touching on the effects of gentrification, ‘luxury living’
and city growth on rave culture.
The Flying Luttenbachers
Kazimier Stockroom – 20/12
Weasel Walter’s shape-shifting collective THE FLYING LUTTENBACHERS have been in existence,
in various forms, since 1991. Taking in prog, punk jazz and no waves elements (among many
others), the outfit has deconstructed music and reality via a multitude of seminal releases. Anyone
trying to keep up with Walter and his Luttenbachers – or the constant line-up changes – will attest
to the group’s commitment to exploring extremities in music. The current line-up will see a quartet
of guitar, bass, drums and saxophone, under Walter’s tutelage, engage in the kind of explosive
free jazz improvisations that feature on the group’s recently released album Imminent Death.
Liverpool’s own DIY pop experimenter CLAIRE WELLES offers support, alongside Manchester’s
sonic adventurers YOSSARIANS and no wave goth soundscape artists JEZEBEL. Tickets available
now from TicketQuarter.co.uk.
The Flying Luttenbachers
Daughters (Tomas Adam)
like watching a
good horror film”
+ Jeromes Dream
Harvest Sun @ Arts Club – 01/11
DAUGHTERS triumphantly returned after an eight-year-long
hiatus with one of the most twisted and harrowing albums of
the past decade, You Won’t Get What You Want. The album is
a surprising and rewarding continuation of their earlier work;
Daughters embrace the sounds of no wave and industrial music,
without sacrificing the hectic noise-rock edge they perfected over
their short, yet lasting, discography.
Tonight’s support, JEROMES DREAM, are something of
hardcore legends in their home state of Connecticut. The shortlived
outfit were together for a mere four years in the late 90s,
releasing two albums, both of which were one of the first to be
recorded by seminal producer Kurt Ballou, essentially the Nile
Rodgers of heavy music. They return after nearly two decades
of silence without skipping a beat. During their original stint, the
band refused to use microphones and even play on the stage,
often setting up on the floor. Rejecting convention, the music is
often angular and inharmonious, favouring screeching guitars
and violent screams. Cuts from their new untitled record like
Drone Before Parlor Violence are more melodic, and hark back to
the nostalgic emo and post-hardcore of the late 90s, yet hardly
sound dated in the slightest. Long droning sections in Half-In
A Bantam Canopy see the band embracing post-rock in a way
they previously haven’t. Everything about them serves as a big
middle finger to the mainstream. Frontman and bassist Jeff Smith
screams into a microphone with his back to the audience and
doesn’t say a single word in between songs. The message is loud
and clear, but he could at least turn around and give the kids who
are to see him a wave?
There is an air of anticipation as Daughters take to the
stage. The music dies out and a familiar tune plays over the
loudspeakers; the beautiful post-punk classic Goodbye Horses
by Q Lazzarus. The walk on reference is two-fold: firstly, as a
nod to Daughters’ embrace of the new wave sounds of the 70s
and 80s; secondly, and more notably, the song’s legacy is forever
intertwined with its iconic use in the classic film The Silence Of
The Lambs. In the spine-chilling scene, serial killer Buffalo Bill
gets all dolled up and films himself singing along to the song with
his penis tucked between his legs. All the while his latest victim
tries to escape becoming a part of his “woman suit”. Sleazy,
depraved and sex-obsessed, Daughters take to the stage.
Given the introspective nature of You Won’t Get What You
Want, one might expect the audience to be awestruck and
inward during their performance. We quickly realise this is not
the case as they begin The Reason They Hate Me. Frontman
Alexis S.F. Marshall assumes control with a bloody forehead and
brings all the energy of The Dillinger Escape Plan to Arts Club.
He stage dives, climbs on top of speakers, wraps the mic cable
around his neck. A man after GG Allin’s heart, he puts his fingers
down his throat, spews an ungodly amount of saliva onto his
hand and wipes is all over his face. The band have clearly not lost
their roots on The Lords Song, which is the closest they sound on
their latest record to their earlier days.
There is a healthy mix of old and new, squeezing in blistering
songs like The Virgin and Our Queens (One Is Many, Many Are
One) from 2010’s self-titled album, with the common thread
being the wild and shrieking guitar sounds that only Daughters
can make. Songs like the crooner Less Sex and Satan In The Wait
are where the band steps into new territory. The beautiful synth
lines in the latter sound like they could be right out of a Peter
Gabriel song, giving the audience a well needed breather before
returning to the punishing, throbbing latter half of the song as
Marshall screams “This world is opening up”.
Marshall’s lyrics transport you right into the twisted mind of
a mad man. There’s something deeply unsettling and apocalyptic
about the poetry of the closer, Ocean Song, the story of a man
overcome with paranoia at the banality of everyday life, who
simply begins to run from his home. “The shadow haunts him
for several yards/The ghosts of what he was, desperate to keep
up until gone”. Seeing the song performed live verges on an
exorcism, for Marshall and for the audience. The entire experience
is anxiety-inducing and downright unnerving, like watching a
good horror film. For those who can stomach them, Daughters
have become one of the most compelling bands in recent
Joel Durksen / @joeldurksen
Daughters (Tomas Adam)
She Drew The Gun
EVOL @ O2 Academy – 09/11
I’ve been lucky enough to see SHE DREW THE GUN a
few times over the years. From the Buyers Club loft in 2016 to
Glastonbury’s Park Stage in 2017, The John Peel Stage in 2019,
to a slot on this year’s BBC Radio 6 Music Festival at Liverpool’s
Olympia. Their stages keep getting larger and their audiences
greater. But there is something about a headline hometown gig
in the main room of the O2 that feels bigger than all of these
previous gigs. After all, there’s no place like home. A home crowd
is special. No other city will get to experience this night.
It might feel like She Drew The Gun appeared out of nowhere
and grabbed a headline tour and slots on some of the most
famous stages in the world, but it’s been a long and eventful
road. After winning Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent competition
in 2016, Louisa Roach has been splashed all over the radio,
been to Texas for SXSW and toured around Europe spreading
the message of her revolution. If anyone is going to bring people
together for a cause and a dance it’s these guys.
They’re known for their part gig, part political rallies. Their
music aids their message with a beat, not relentless shouting
like we’re used to seeing on the TV. If you’ve listened before, you
know this is what to expect at these shows. Roach encourages
sisters and brothers of the audience and her revolution to come
together in Sweet Harmony – as one of their songs suggest. It
works. We’re pretty used to coming together here in Liverpool.
This tour is to support She Drew The Gun’s second
album, Revolution Of Mind. It’s an album of the times we
are living in; a critique of the systems we are living in. Roach
comments on everything from
personal relationships, capitalism,
depression, global war, politics,
feminism. The list goes on. But she
doesn’t preach, she raises current,
everyday issues for us to think about
and act upon – politically charged
track Poem reminds us of this.
It’s a wet and windy Saturday
night but that doesn’t stop people
turning up for tonight’s show.
Psychedelic trio MAMATUNG fill the
stage with a range of instruments
to kick off the festivities, with vocals
and tracks reminiscent of Kate Bush
and Haim. It’s fitting for tonight’s allfemale
Chester’s PEANESS fit right into the second support slot with
their sun-soaked indie-pop that once again touches on politics,
Brexit and breakfast. The room is near full to bursting for their set
and it’s nice to see people turning up to support the support. The
contagiously charming trio are a joy to watch.
By the time the lights dim for She Drew The Gun, fists
are already in the air, deep bass rumbles through the floor, a
shredding guitar cuts through the anticipation and they delve
sisters and brothers
of the audience
and her revolution
to come together
in Sweet Harmony”
right into Resister, the first track off Revolution Of Mind. It’s one
of their most recognised songs and a perfect crowd-pleaser
to kick off the evening. Carrying on with Something For The
Pain and Wolf And Bird, each song carries a different theme
and style. From the ethereal chillness of Since You Were Not
Mine to the grungy bass of Paradise,
the setlist tells a story of Roach’s
thoughts and feelings about all
aspects of the world today. Some
tracks like Arm Yourself, which
Roach claims we should do against
the Tory government, inspire fists
of solidarity in the air, while others,
like Pit Pony, just encourage a bit
of a dance. There’s spoken word,
rapping, singing and moments
where the music speaks for itself.
It’s a show that keeps on giving.
Roach ends with a list of thank
yous. She thanks her mum, friends
and the audience for spending a
rainy Saturday night with them with
closer Thank You. It’s an ode to all the great female musicians
who have come before her, from Aretha Franklin to Joni Mitchell,
PJ Harvey and Tracy Chapman. If She Drew The Gun keep
performing like they did tonight, it won’t be long until we can add
Louisa Roach to aforementioned group of influential women. !
She Drew The Gun (Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk)
I Love Live Events @ Sound – 03/11
COURTING’s sound is the future. A very near future, but
a future nonetheless. Whether you like their staggered drum
patterns or harsh vocals, it doesn’t matter. They conspire to drag
you into their own vision of the 21st Century. Following similar
sonic patterns as 2019 breakouts Black Midi, as well as sharing
anthemic choruses with Shame, debut single Not Yr Man is as
punk as it is rock. Tonight they’re sharing a stage with band who
are similar but more mature. FEET, with their leather jacket look
and determined presence on stage, are brutally honest in the
type of music they produce. They’ve chopped between band
members before finally settling on a group they feel most capable
of producing their debut album – something they successfully did
at the beginning of October, just a few weeks before they take
centre stage here in Liverpool.
Courting strike first, hurling blankets of riffs across the
cold concrete walls in the Sound basement. Tonight they are
without a bass player, yet they still manage to create a bespoke
atmosphere of “meandering sonic mess”. This self-prescribed
genre tag is printed on their first batch of merchandise and they
seem to deliver an ironic sensibility to the sentiment; the music
is tight and they are captivating to watch. Courting catch their
best moments when they feel visceral rather than cerebral; the
panting and screaming on unreleased tracks leave breadcrumbs
of multiple genres and it is up to the crowd tonight to follow them
on their march. Luckily, they’re there every step of the way.
Four songs in and lead singer Sean Murphy-O’Neill has
stepped into the crowd, (something he looks to have flirted with
for a while, but finally plucked up the courage to do). He parades
a cowbell and proceeds to hand it out to spectators as they try
to keep the rhythm of the song intact. Coincidentally, it is in the
fleeting manner that Courting attain the most telling moments of
melodic cohesion. Equally, it is these moments that most resonate
through with listeners.
Key to this connection is their stroke of lyrical humour: “I
kinda wanna take the lads on tour and go to Pontins” Murphy-
O’Neill chants. It is in these brief instances where he has the
crowd in the palm of his hand, and the cowbell in the other.
Feet are here tonight in support of their new debut album
What’s Inside Is More Than Just Ham. Despite the comical title,
there is a dramatic sense of seriousness about this band; they
sing with purpose. Each drum beat wraps around the stage and
demands total involvement as they sway on the stand-out Good
Richard’s Crash Landing. Even before they manage to whisper
the first lyric, the crowd are primed to jump the gun and are
hanging on every word.
There is plenty to admire here. Almost romantic red lights
shine across the room, and it’s hard to tell whether they convey a
feeling of love and lust, or resentment and anger. Perhaps both.
Feet are a band that reside in the empowered juxtaposition. It’s
their ability to dance effortlessly between a plethora of emotions
makes their live shows so in demand, so enthralling.
Feet are definitely building momentum. Even for a handful of
people gathered on a freezing Sunday night, it’s easy to see why.
For now, it is their best kept secret.
Daniel Ponzini / @daniel_ponzini
Black Lips (Stuart Moulding / @Oohshootstu)
EVOL @ Arts Club – 13/11
With a status as revered and prolific as Atlantan garage punks BLACK
LIPS, they’re a band you have to see to believe. Rewind eight years and
they were well known (or extremely notorious) at venues around the
world. Gigs would descend into urinating and nudity on stage, just a
small sample of their reputation. In the years that followed, they became
somewhat controversial figures within the punk scene.
It’s 2019 now. Have Black Lips mellowed with age? Has craziness
stirred through the years? With a full supporting cast of Liverpool’s own
punks in tow, the scene is set to see if the notoriety still rings true.
As has been said a thousand times before – even by myself – but no
less true: OHMNS know how to put on a show. They smash out classics
from 2015 EP The Rice Tape. But what’s noticeable, particularly with the
seven-minute version of Keshi Heads dedicated to Craig Charles, is how
Ohmns elongate their riffs and a punk classic transforms into a sludgy jam
that you can’t take your eyes off.
Next on stage are Chester’s YAMMERER. With a lead singer who is
wrapping himself in his microphone lead and has sunglasses on the back
Harvest Sun @ Invisible Wind Factory Substation – 25/10
of his head, Yammerer feel more like a performance art piece rather than
a punk band. You don’t have to know which songs are which, which is
probably a good thing. You can’t take home a coherent sentence from the
microphone. But it matters little. You want to participate in the madness
yourself. The entire set fluctuates between simmering anticipation to full
blown pandemonium. What’s more punk than that?
Black Lips immediately go for the jugular as they hit the stage, with
only an hour until curfew. They start off with Arabia Mountain classic
Family Tree. The crowd, which is hitherto relatively tame, splits into
madness and fear of madness. People begin to spin and bump into each
other, and some are courageous enough to crowd surf. You’re holding
someone up by their boot, but it’s definitely all part of the fun of being in a
crowd that energetic.
They play a varied selection of songs, including tracks from 2015’s
seminal album Let It Bloom and of course, their biggest hit O Katrina! The
songs begin to mellow as they turn towards their album Sing In A World
That’s Falling Apart, their forthcoming country-infused record.
For the more hardcore garage punk fans, this might not be what
they’ve come for, but it’s still captivating to witness a band’s sound
evolving in this way. Line-up changes aside, Black Lips appear to have
finally gelled together for the long term. They’ve matured and found
comfort in the country, but they haven’t completely forgotten to give fans
what they want.
Georgia Turnbull / @GeorgiaRTbull
Snapped Ankles (Mook Loxley / @MookLoxley)
The Wonder Pot @ 24 Kitchen
Street – 16/11
24 Kitchen Street has remained a bastion
in Liverpool’s underground electronic music
scene over the years. It’s become a citadel for
electronic music culture to grow and expand,
break new ground and test its audience. It’s
been six years since its inception, but it didn’t
take long for it to emerge as one of Liverpool’s
leading mixed-use independent music
venues and arts spaces. Hosting regular club
nights, performance art events and various
workshops, it’s now renowned among the
city’s creative community. Notably, Kitchen
Street has allowed the electronic scene to grow
at an unprecedented level, hosting hard-hitting
DJs from Berlin to Detroit. But it hasn’t been a
solo effort. Kitchen Street is the centre point
of collaboration, working with innovative
promoters such as The Wonderpot, Watt Hz??
and Meine Nacht to introduce Liverpool to
some of the most electrifying nights the city
has witnessed in recent memory.
To celebrate their sixth birthday, who
better to take the reins than the Derryborn
OR:LA. Starting her musical journey
in Liverpool and a much-loved frequenter
of Kitchen Street, Or:la has constantly been
progressing since the start of her career.
Originally DJing with Liverpool based nights
such as Meine Nacht, she has moved onto
become a resident at Manchester club monolith
The Warehouse Project, as well as producing
her own tracks for Hotflush, Deep Sea
Frequencies and, more recently, her own label
Walking into Kitchen Street, there is an
immediate sense of warmth and a feeling of
elevated spirits. A gathering of party people
and electronic enthusiasts, creating the sort
of vibe a birthday truly deserves. Immediately,
as Or:la jumps behind the decks, she brings in
her kaleidoscopic mix of genres, which varies
from bass, breaks, techno and everything in
between; ready to sway the people of Kitchen
Street whichever direction she pleases.
Through her guidance, the wide array of
sounds fit snugly under one umbrella held aloft
high above the decks, moving the crowd in a
way that most DJs can’t achieve.
A birthday occasion requires energy, and
there is little shortage with the Kitchen Street
native at the helm.
Matisse: Drawing With Scissors
Lady Lever Art Gallery – until March 2020
Henri Matisse’s famous cut-out images can be found on
postcards, fridge magnets and bookmarks worldwide. They’re as
ubiquitous as they are well-loved, so it’s pleasing to see the Lady
Lever Art Gallery host this touring exhibition from the Southbank
Centre in London.
This exhibition consists of 35 colourful lithographic
reproductions made posthumously for the French art magazine
Verve in 1958, based on the original cut-outs produced in the
later years of Matisse’s life. As the viewer goes through the
Nu bleu II (Blue Nude II), 1952 (lithographic reproduction, 1958). © Succession H. Matisse/ DACS 2019
galleries, they are enticed into worlds of
mermaids and dancing figures.
The cut-outs, which include the
renowned L’Escargot and Nu Bleu (I-IV),
were produced between 1951 to 1953 by
Matisse when he was rendered immobile
as a result of chronic illness. Each work was
completed with the aid of assistants, but
very much under the watchful eye of Matisse,
who was such a perfectionist that one of the
assistants was near to physical exhaustion
by the end of her time with him. His eye for
perfection means that the works are beautiful
and the figures fluid: the vivid pictures jump
out at you across the room. There’s
a sense of movement and vitality
to the figures and the places they
depict, referencing dance and
Matisse’s travels to Tahiti, which he
had visited in 1930.
One of the astounding things
about the originals is their size –
L’Escargot is nearly three metres
by three metres. The only clue
to the scale of the originals is a
small black and white photograph
of Matisse directing an assistant
from his wheelchair, pointing
imperiously with a cane with the
massive parakeet from 1952’s La
Perruche et la Sirène looming large
in the background. You can only imagine the effect
these originals would have had – a charming detail
is that Matisse’s doctor advised that he wear dark
glasses to protect him from the visual assault – as even
the smaller reproductions brighten up the galleries.
It almost goes without saying that the prints are
beautiful, and the trajectory through the exhibition,
whichever direction you come in from, makes sense.
The lighting levels mean the exhibition mercifully lacks
the glare on the glass which hinders viewing other
works in some galleries in the Lady Lever.
Pieces have been metaphorically reframed for
2019. The curation is caught between letting the art
speak for itself and intervening and placing them in
their cultural context and explaining, quite heavyhandedly
at points, how and why the cultural context
Undoubtedly, it’s good to reappraise art in light
of new and welcomed cultural and societal norms
L’Escargot (The Snail) 1952-53 (lithographic reproduction, 1958). © Succession H. Matisse/ DACS 2019)
and use pieces as a vehicle to discuss values and raise issues of
inequality. At points, however, it seems unsure whether this is an
exhibition where emphasis is on the art or whether the pieces are
used as a vehicle to discuss society. This was particularly evident
from the picture of Danseuse Créole where the accompanying
description gives biographical information about the dancer
Katherine Dunham on whom the picture was based. A 1963
quotation from the dancer Josephine Baker, another of Matisse’s
muses, about the horrendous effects of segregation, is painted
across one of the galleries and could potentially have been better
used or linked.
The ‘pay what you think’ scheme for admission means the
works will hopefully be seen by people whose purses don’t
quite stretch to the £10-plus admission fees of the blockbuster
exhibitions – which, let’s be honest, are most people in the
current climate. It’s definitely worth a visit and will lift your spirits
through the dark winter months.
To celebrate our first year in The Baltic, Liverpool,
Dallas Prints is running a charity art auction with
all proceeds going to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital
and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
We have 4 exclusive framed giclee prints up for
grabs - all signed by the artists and limited to an
edition of ONE.
Artwork is provided kindly by world renowned
artists The Singh Twins, Carne Griffiths
(@carnegriff), Jason Hollis (@jsn_hollis) and
Mike Badger (@mikebadgerart)
The prints will feature
Hahnemuhle’s new Natural
Line of fine art papers
which use unique raw
Hemp and Agave. The 4
framed works will also be
on display at The Tusk Bar
until the auction’s closing
date of 30 December 2019.
BOOK NOW: 0161 832 1111
THURSDAY 5TH DECEMBER
THE MUSIC OF KATE BUSH
SAT 21ST MARCH / ACADEMY 3
SATURDAY 7TH DECEMBER
THE MURDER CAPITAL
FRIDAY 14TH FEBRUARY
LOVE FAME TRAGEDY
SATURDAY 29TH FEBRUARY
STIFF LITTLE FINGERS
FRIDAY 27TH MARCH
FRIDAY 21ST FEBRUARY
SATURDAY 7TH MARCH
TUESDAY 31ST MARCH
THURSDAY 12TH DECEMBER
SATURDAY 7TH MARCH
THURSDAY 10TH APRIL
SAT 14TH DECEMBER / CLUB ACADEMY
& BARRINGTON LEVY
FRI 21ST FEBRUARY / MCR ACADEMY
SATURDAY 7TH MARCH
SATURDAY 11TH APRIL
THURSDAY 9TH JANUARY
SUNDAY 23RD FEBRUARY
WEDNESDAY 11TH MARCH
THURSDAY 16TH JANUARY
& DON AIREY
MON 24TH FEBRUARY / ACADEMY 3
THURSSDAY 12TH MARCH
ROY AYERS UBIQUITY
MONDAY 20TH APRIL
JAH WOBBLE & THE
INVADERS OF THE HEART
FRI 17TH JANUARY / CLUB ACADEMY
WED 26TH FEBRUARY / ACADEMY 3
FRIDAY 13TH MARCH
FRIDAY 31ST JANUARY
WEDNESDAY 26TH FEBRUARY
SAT 25TH APRIL / ACADEMY 3
TUESDAY 4TH FEBRUARY
HOUSE OF SUAREZ
& CONTACT: VOGUE BALL
SAT 29TH FEBRUARY / MCR ACADEMY
SATURDAY 14TH MARCH
REVEREND HORTON HEAT
+ THE DELTA BOMBERS
WED 6TH MAY / ACADEMY 2
THURSDAY 6TH FEBRUARY
SATURDAY 14TH MARCH
SATURDAY 8TH FEBRUARY
GENTLEMAN'S DUB CLUB
SATURDAY 29TH FEBRUARY
SATURDAY 21ST MARCH
TUESDAY 2ND JUNE
facebook.com/manchesteracademy @mancacademy FOR UP TO DATE LISTINGS VISIT MANChesteracademy.net
+ Kiko Bun
+ DJ Oxman and MC Magoo
Positive Vibration @ District – 02/11
Despite taking a year out from their annual festival offering,
the Positive Vibration crew have certainly not been resting
on their laurels. A series of high profile shows throughout the
year, including Horseman, King Yellowman and Mad Professor,
have kept the reggae chalice blazing in Liverpool and tonight
is arguably the jewel in the crown as acclaimed dub pioneer
SCIENTIST brings his seminal 1981 album Scientist Rids The
World Of The Evil Curse Of The Vampires to the ever welcoming
environs of District (not for the first time a District first-timer
comments on its inclusive coolness).
District is pretty packed from the off and the crowd are soon
dancing to DJ OXMAN, aided and abetted by MC MAGOO, whose
selection of rarities and classics is pure quality and leads us
skanking into KIKO BUN’s support set. The versatile Bun, a member
of the current South London scene that includes collaborators Loyle
Carner and Tom Misch, seems equally at home delivering a lovers
rock vibrato or a dancehall flow and mixes songs from his relatively
modest recorded output, such as the bouncy Sticky Situation, with
new material from his forthcoming debut album which sounds
very promising indeed. The UPPER CUT BAND take no time at
all to hit their stride, the rhythm section of Bob Pearce (drums)
and Ross Erlam (bass) are immediately locked into the tightest of
irresistible grooves, offbeat cymbal crashes sending the crowd
dipping in unison. Marcin Bobkowski’s choppy guitar riffs and Cyrus
Richards’s swirling keys blend exquisitely with the punchy horn riffs
of Adam Webb (sax) and Jake Jacas (trombone).
Frankly, if the crowd had just come for the Oxman DJ set and to
see Kiko Bun and the Upper Cut Band they would have gone home
handsomely rewarded. But yet, the main event is still to come; it is
approaching Day Of The Dead midnight when Scientist appears
at the mixing desk as quietly as one of the ghouls he is about to
Liverpool Irish Festival @ Philharmonic
Music Room – 23/10
“What do they call me? My name is sweet thing,” sings LISA
O’NEILL with a biting intensity. The County Cavan songwriter
admits she’d been unsure whether it would be appropriate to
cover Nina Simone’s Four Women for tonight’s Liverpool Irish
Festival showcase; none of the song’s narrators are white, and
they’re either subjects of slavery or live in its cruel wake.
However, its themes of oppression, inequality and resilience
will surely have a universal resonance for many listeners tonight.
Her voice peaking, she drives down her heels one final time and
lets out a chilling bawl of “Peaches!”. A battle cry signalling the
strength found in sisterhood, it’s an incredible note to finish the
evening on. Yet, O’Neill is only one of the four performers that
make the Visible Women showcase so memorable this evening.
Bilingual spoken-word artist CIARA NÍ É hosts. Having been
assured that Liverpudlians are famously “a great craic”, her blend
of Irish Gaelic with fierce, proudly feminist poetry immediately
appeals. The rattle of Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life backdrops her spin
on Irvine Welsh’s “choose life” Trainspotting monologue. It’s a
powerful take, pitching provocative humour against hard-hitting
Captivating English songwriter MAZ O’CONNOR is the
first singer to take centre stage. Drawing from her fourth album
Chosen Daughter, which was influenced by the trials and
torments of various female relatives, her timely and evocative
set is steered by her pristine, delicately nuanced voice. Mary’s
lyrics linger long after she takes her leave, whereas the direct
thrust of Loved Me Better hears O’Connor take aim at dominant
patriarchy. Limerick’s LAURA DUFF then follows, her sultry pop
DJ Oxman (Glyn Akroyd / @glyn_akroyd)
Scientist Rids The World Of The Evil Curse Of The Vampires is
an epic and playful comic book title for an album that is generally
regarded as a dub classic, taking previously released (and, in 1981,
contemporary rather than established) material from the likes of
Michael Prophet and The Wailing Souls, adding judicious twists of
echo and reverb but never draining the originals of their integrity.
The sound quality, which has been superb all night, is
somehow taken up a notch. A fuller, brighter sound drawn out by
Scientist’s sleight of hand (promoter Rory Taylor later comments,
“We’ve used that PA thousands of times but I’ve never heard it
sound like that before”).
No self-indulgence here, or 20-minute dub outs – just the
songs delivered in relatively concise form. The performance
takes not much longer than the original album, the unassuming
controller hunkered down behind the decks – situated off-stage to
the right of the dancefloor – are all that separates Scientist from
an audience who are facing away from him towards the stage. As
the performance progresses more and more people are sneaking
a wondering look over their right shoulders to try to get a clue as
to how Scientist is conjuring up this sound. Who knows? He is a
picture of unadulterated concentration, probably the only person in
the building not dancing.
Prophet’s Love And Unity becomes Your Teeth In My Neck;
Wailing Souls’ Fire House Rock morphs into The Mummy’s Shroud,
its memorable horn motif echoing long into night. Bun strides
across the stage, arms aloft as the crowd sing every word of Blood
On His Lips (Wayne Jarrett’s Love In My Heart). The Upper Cut
Band prove equally adept at soloing as they do nailing down a
groove: horns, guitar, and keys all stepping out of the shadows to
be transformed by Scientist’s sound-shifting searchlight.
From the sea of bobbing heads audience members shout
out their praise – “Thank you, thank you, massive tune that was”,
“Sick album, fucking wicked man” – smiling faces and cheers
signalling universal agreement until Scientist, his exorcism
complete, smiles at last and disappears.
It has been a night of understated brilliance, a mixture of
science, alchemy and magic to rid us of our demons.
Glyn Akroyd / @glynakroyd
Lisa O’Neill (Tomas Adam)
inflections bringing more groove to proceedings. Humbled, she
talks about how empowered she feels to be part of this bill.
Still reeling from the last time we caught her, it’s a joy to
see O’Neill make her grand return to Liverpool. A powerhouse,
like Simone, Björk and Karen Dalton rolled into one, she’s a
storyteller and songwriter of remarkable depth. Opener What
A Voice says it all. Backdropped by the Liver bird, tales of
cormorants, wrens and blackbirds circle overhead. “It’s good
to shine a little light on madness, it’s in us all,” she grins before
Violet Gibson; its daring chorus, “I moved in silence, for the love
o’ truth, not violence” feeling particularly apt as we look back
over the showcase.
David Weir / @Betweenseeds
ADD TO PLAYLIST is the monthly
column brought to you by MELODIC
DISTRACTION RADIO, delving into the
fold of the newest releases on the dance
music spectrum. If you’re into 808s,
sample pads, DJ tools and everything in
between, then you’re in good company.
NH Vol. 3
Nervous Horizon have swiftly
established themselves as
one of the most potent labels
in the game. Nominated for
Best Breakthrough Label in the DJ Mag awards this very
year, they’ve become synonymous with experimental yet
club-ready sounds and the new, percussion-driven London
style. Drawing on a global palette of reggaeton, taraxxo,
gqom and dabke, as well as techno and bass, old favourites
DJ Plead and label co-head TSVI join newcomers Tzusing,
Object Blue and hard drum prodigy, Ehua, who plays in
Liverpool on the 6th December.
Studio Barnhus’ latest
release features LA producer
Bella Boo with a debut full-length. Following on from a
smattering of EP releases and guest appearances, the LP
oozes with signature Barnhus pop sensibility. Born out of
a desire to capture the fullness of a creative era following
the news that her studio building would be repossessed,
Bella Boo craftily dives between melodic house, Balearic,
post-dubstep and ambient while even finding the time to
squeeze in a sultry R&B jam. Head to She’s Back for the
The boys’ club of UK bass
’n’ breaks ’n’ techno is in a
healthy place, and a number
of the month’s releases have
been stellar (shout out to Facta, Desert Sound Colony, Yak
and 96 Back). However, in the interest of platforming only
one white man per month, the crown’s gotta go to Jabes.
Quietly perfecting his hyperactive melodies over the last
few years, he’s becoming one of the tightest producers of
the neonate scene. More importantly, you get a fetching
yellow techwear cap if you buy the record.
Words: Nina Franklin and James Zaremba
Melodic Distraction Radio is an independent internet radio
station based in the Baltic Triangle, Liverpool, platforming
artists, DJs and producers from across the North West.
Head to melodicdistraction.com to listen in.
LIVERPOOL - 17/19 BOLD STREET (1st Floor) · L1 4DN
PIZZA, TEQUILA, COCKTAILS
25 Parr St, Liverpool L1 4JN
four to the floor
A history of house
AT THE INVISIBLE WIND FACTORY
BOX OFFICE - UNITYTHEATRELIVERPOOL.CO.UK
0151 709 4988
Beans on Toast
FRIDAY 20th December
Phase One, Liverpool
The Local Honeys
Wednesday 22nd January
Performing a live accompaniment to the film
From Scotland with Love
Monday 16th March
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Monday 18th May
Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
@Ceremonyconcert / facebook.com/ceremonyconcerts
email@example.com / seetickets.com
This month’s selection of poetry is taken from Matthew Thomas Smith’s
debut book, Songs - a collection of tales pulled from the most surreal
colours of the day to day.
When and where did you start writing poetry?
1994. Bootle, Merseyside. (They started out as nursery rhymes/
lullabies but I could not get the hang of the guitar.)
To what extent have local surroundings shaped your poetic
voice and written vernacular?
I do feel rooted in Bootle and Liverpool but through that same
language I also feel like a citizen of the earth.
The atmosphere and visual landscape of the poems featured
in Songs ranges from the desperately real to the sarcastic and
abstract. What is it that draws you to the themes featured
throughout the collection?
All of the poems are part autobiographical. I have lived these
poems. The poems are me and the world around me.
Would regard your poetry as a product of political upheaval, or
an answer to it? Can poetry be a vessel for change?
Both. It can, and I hope these poems can help to show that.
The day I went to the Job Centre
Out of place next to the well-used under
and not 300 yards from the block of flats
where some middle-aged fella threw
perhaps in response to the bedroom tax
or a recent smack drought
part-time vacancy notices still hang
next to the always-open automatic doors
they promise flexible hours and competitive
it seems that nobody wants to be a
or a courier for an ‘ever-expanding’ criminal
I shuffle from one foot to the other in the
conscious of empty desks and out of use
signs on printers
You won’t find anything here son
jibes the well-dressed woman to my left
this is more of a ‘keeping up appearances’
If this collection of poetry is, as your press release states, to be
the last you will ever write, what statement do you wish the
collection to convey?
Nifty Records approached me to release a Poetry Collection. I had
never planned to. Songs feels likes a natural ending – 30 years of
me within one object. I feel I need to move on. I need to see what
else there is. I am not a messenger, as such. Not really. Ultimately,
I would like it if more people started to engage with poetry. That
has always been the aim.
Words: Matthew Thomas Smith / @mtsmith2605
Photography: John Johnson / @John.Johno
Songs is available to pre-order now via Nifty Records and is
officially released on Friday 6 th December at The Royal Standard.
Idea for a British film that would probably
win an Academy Award
A rich fella with a plummy voice
has a cob on because
his mother just won’t die
and he can’t bear his wife
countless infidelities later
his mother dies
and he inherits a fortune
but he still isn’t happy
For the Mountaineers
climb the shale and slate
while it is still able
to take the burden
the daytripper-favouring path
only goes so far
leave the camera in the house
not everything is photo-worthy
use your eyes
don’t take a tent
fold your flag into your pocket
be mindful of the summit
look out for kestrels or a search-party
headed by a bloodhound or a helicopter
and beware of robin redbreasts
BIDO LITO! AND LIQUIDATION PRESENT
THE REAL QUIZ
TUESDAY 10TH DECEMBER - DOORS 7PM, CONSTELLATIONS
ALL PROCEEDS DONATED TO MIND AND THE WHITECHAPEL CENTRE
Writer and artist in residence at Chester Literature Festival,
Imtiaz Dharker, looks to the connective power of words and subtly
poetic voices as an antidote to the ‘bullies of language’
“Words are there
to be used with
pleasure, not to
be squandered; to
remind us what it is
to be human”
These are strident times and it is too easy for subtleties
and nuances to be lost in the noise of devalued words.
When we stop and really listen to each other’s voices,
we make a still space in the world, and that is a space
for poetry, where each word is carefully weighed. I think it is
needed now more than ever. Poetry may whisper or rage, but it
can say things the heart knows before the world has a chance to
When I was asked to be artist in residence at Storyhouse, I
knew I wanted to fill it with words and images that would make
it a living book for the whole community, for all the
people who step through its doors into its
All the time I was writing the poem
Storyhouse, I was thinking about the
weight and power of the words we
say to each other, how we greet a
stranger, how we draw a map of the
heart in the language we use and
how poetry can travel without a
A while ago I wrote a poem
called The Right Word. In it there
are words like ‘terrorist’ but it is
not about terrorism. It is more
to do with how a single image
can be dressed in new words
to make it mean something
quite different, how words
can be used to stir fear
and suspicion. I work with
film, too, and I know I can
take the same shots and
edit them to make totally
contradictory stories. But
that is what is happening
around us all the time: so
many channels, so many
people’s versions of the
truth depending on the
agenda of the person who
I had intended to stop
with the revelation that the
person at the door is a child,
but sometimes a poem takes
on a life of its own and this is
what happened at the end. The
‘I’ in the poem opens the door and
offers unexpected hospitality. The
child takes off his shoes. After all the
terrible loaded words and suspicion, the two
acts of courtesy are a kind of healing.
Perhaps because of its ability to say the
unsayable, more and more people are turning to poetry now, but
it has always been there, under the world’s skin, working away
to say things that needed to be said. It is part of everyday life
and speech, in every language, in Urdu or Farsi or in English. We
speak Shakespeare’s poetry without even realising it, in phrases
that are used every day. It is in the language of ancient songs, of
anonymous women working in the fields, in the words spoken
between lovers, between parents and children, in holy books
and unholy curses from 2,000 years ago to two minutes ago.
I eavesdrop shamelessly on conversations in cafes, stations,
on trains, on the street. I see it as part of my job as a poet to
listen to the words around me, in everyday life, not just what
people say, but how they say it, the spaces between the words,
the hesitations, the accent and odd usage. For me it’s like mining
treasure and some of it finds its way into poems.
There’s eavesdropping at all kinds of levels: listening to
human voices of course, but also listening in on the world,
nature, social shifts, the heart’s secrets. I suppose
there is a furtive element to it. It does mean being
undetected, having an ear to a keyhole, lying
in wait for things people don’t even know
they are hiding or aren’t ready to tell.
So I don’t think of poetry as some
rarefied thing. I see it as being
involved with the world, not afraid
to get its hands dirty, because
it has always been about
making sense of the everyday,
examining the soiled
underside of things, the mess
of life, seeing, understanding
it at an odd angle and
putting words to it all.
In a chaotic world,
where language is brutalised
daily, it is needed more than
ever. With the explosion of
media, there are platforms
for all kinds of poetry and
whole continents of new
listeners. That is something
to celebrate, because it is a
wide and generous space
and can accommodate all
kinds of voices.
Most of all, words
are there to be used
with pleasure, not to be
squandered, but to be
savoured; to remind us
what it is to be human,
with this great gift of
It is the way to
answer back and stand up
to the bullies of language, an
act of subversion, and is far
too powerful to be controlled
or contained. !
Words: Imtiaz Dharker
Illustration: Nick Daly / @nickdalyart
Imtiaz Dharker is artist in residence at Chester Literature
Festival, which takes place across Storyhouse until Saturday
30th November. Imtiaz Dharker’s work will remain in situ at
Storyhouse throughout 2020.
The Right Word
Outside the door,
lurking in the shadows,
is a terrorist.
Is that the wrong description?
Outside that door,
taking shelter in the shadows,
is a freedom fighter.
I haven’t got this right.
Outside, waiting in the shadows,
is a hostile militant.
Are words no more
than waving, wavering flags?
Outside your door,
watchful in the shadows,
is a guerrilla warrior.
God help me.
Outside, defying every shadow,
stands a martyr.
I saw his face.
No words can help me now.
Just outside the door,
lost in shadows,
is a child who looks like mine.
One word for you.
Outside my door,
his hand too steady,
his eyes too hard
is a boy who looks like your son, too.
I open the door.
Come in, I say.
Come in and eat with us.
The child steps in
and carefully, at my door,
takes off his shoes.
Tin Men and The
Tony Kofi Quartet
Blind Monk Theory?
27 Feb - 1 Mar 2020
Festival tickets and tickets
to individual events available
For full details and box office please visit:
SAT 21ST DECEMBER
BRAMLEY MOORE DOCK. LIVERPOOL. 2PM - 11PM
HOT SINCE 82
TICKETS ONLINE: SKIDDLE.COM