Issue 107 / February 2020




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Wed 29th Jan

The Interrupters

+ The Skints

+ Buster Shuffle

Fri 31st Jan • 6.30pm

Liverpool Rocks

Heat 3

Fri 31st Jan • 11pm

ABBA Winter


Mon 3rd Feb


Tue 4th Feb


Fri 7th Feb


+ God Complex

+ Phoxjaw + False Hope

Wed 12th Feb


Sat 15th Feb • 7.30pm


Album Launch

Sat 22nd Feb

The Fillers

The Killers Official Tribute


Tue 25th Feb

The Murder Capital

Thur 27th Feb

Kiefer Sutherland

Fri 28th Feb

The Big Moon

Sat 29th Feb

Bulsara and

His Queenies

Thur 5th Mar

Gabrielle Aplin

Fri 6th Mar

Mountford Hall,

Liverpool Guild of Students

Jake Bugg

Wed 11th Mar

Phil X

& The Drills

Thur 12th Mar

Mountford Hall,

Liverpool Guild of Students

The Blindboy

Podcast - Live

Thur 12th Mar


All Metal Tribute

to the Bee Gees &


+ Attic Theory

Sat 14th Mar


+ Burning Witches

Fri 20th Mar

Tope Alabi:

Praise The Almighty


Fri 27th Mar • 6.30pm

Liverpool Rocks

Semi Final 1

Fri 27th Mar

The Slow

Readers Club

Sat 28th Mar


& Dizzy Lizzy

Sat 28th Mar

Becky Hill

Sun 29th Mar


After Sex

Fri 3rd Apr • 6.30pm

Liverpool Rocks

Semi Final 2

Sat 4th Apr

Mountford Hall,

Liverpool Guild of Students

Circa Waves

+ Red Rum Club

Sat 4th Apr

808 State Live

Sat 11th Apr

ShowHawk Duo

Sat 18th Apr • 6pm

Jason Allan





Tue 21st Apr

Darwin Deez

Tue 21st Apr

The Fratellis

Fri 24th Apr


Fri 24th Apr


Sat 25th Apr • 6.30pm

Liverpool Rocks


Sun 26th Apr

In Flames

Sat 2nd May

The Southmartins

Tribute To The

Beautiful South &

The Housemartins

Sat 9th May

The Undertones

+ Hugh Cornwell Electric

Sat 9th May

Fell Out Boy

& The Black


+ We Aren’t Paramore

Sat 16th May

Nirvana UK


Sat 23rd May

The Bon Jovi


Fri 2nd Oct


The 25th

Anniversary Tour

Sat 17th Oct

CASH: Paying

Respect To The Man

in Black

Thur 22nd Oct

Black Stone Cherry

Fri 11th Dec

Heaven 17























































































11-13 Hotham Street,

Liverpool L3 5UF

Doors 7pm unless stated

Venue box office opening hours:

Mon - Sat 10.30am - 5.30pm

ticketmaster.co.uk • seetickets.com

gigantic.com • ticketweb.co.uk



13 DEC 2019 – 3 MAY 2020




Supported by

Media Partner

Theaster Gates still from the film Dance of Malaga 2019

© Theaster Gates and courtesy of the artist.

Photo © Chris Strong

With additional support from the Theaster Gates

Exhibition Supporters Group and Tate Members



27 FEB - 14 MAR




THE 1975


26 FEB



29 FEB






22 MAR





27 - 30 AUG




12 SEP


13 SEP






11 NOV

What’s On

February – March

Tuesday 18 February 8pm

Music Room

Gill Landry

Thursday 20 February 8pm

Foil, Arms and Hog: Swines

Friday 21 February 8pm

Music Room

Emily Portman,

Rob Harbron & Emma Reid

with National Youth Folk


Monday 9 March 7.30pm

Film Screening

Brief Encounter (cert PG)

Friday 13 March 8pm

Music Room

Jon Boden

Sunday 15 March 7.30pm


Box Office

0151 709 3789





Image Kodo

New Music + Creative Culture


Issue 107 / February 2020


Second Floor

The Merchant

40-42 Slater Street

Liverpool L1 4BX

Founding Editor

Craig G Pennington - info@bidolito.co.uk


Christopher Torpey - chris@bidolito.co.uk


Elliot Ryder - elliot@bidolito.co.uk

Digital Media Manager

Brit Williams – brit@bidolito.co.uk


Mark McKellier - mark@andmark.co.uk


Thom Isom - hello@thomisom.com


Nathaniel Cramp

Cover Photography

Kate Davies


Elliot Ryder, Rhys Buchannan, Richard Lewis, Anouska

Liat, Megan Walder, Georgine Paige Hull, Christopher

Torpey, David Weir, Craig G Pennington, Ian Salmon,

Deborah Bassett, Ian R. Abraham, Adam Coffey, Nina

Franklin, Brit Williams, J.P. Walsh.

Photography, Illustration and Layout

Mark McKellier, Kate Davies, John Latham, Keith

Ainsworth, Robin Clewley, Aida Muluneh, Hanna-

Katrina Jedrosz, Tomas Adam, Paul McCoy, Michael

Kirkham, Bart Heemskerk, Hannah Blackman-Kurz.


Our magazine is distributed as far as possible through

pedal power, courtesy of our Bido Bikes. If you would

like to find out more, please email chris@bidolito.co.uk.


December’s election result made me question the

innate ability to change circumstance. As 10pm came

that night, I watched on silently, looking at my phone

and television in utter disbelief. Instantly, the pundits

clicked into gear. This was the inevitable, apparently. In some

ways it was, but such a take fundamentally short changes those

who believed in the ability to change

circumstance through action; those who

knocked on doors hour after hour in the

darkest hours of mid-winter. Their belief

is no less weak in currency due to the

overall outcome.

While Liverpool courageously

remains the anomaly in nationwide

democratic exercise, the feeling of being

able to bring about real change shouldn’t

be seen as a once in every five years

opportunity. Nor should it be reserved

to the political playing field, either.

Anywhere and everywhere change can

happen. Find the cracks in their reality

and continuous escape can happen.

These were the exact thoughts

that came to me as I was sat underneath an underpass of the

M53 a few days after the election. Rather than placing myself

in the cold and wet of the motorway that bisects Wirral, this

metaphorical totem of Birkenhead’s Mark Leckey had been

installed in Tate Britain for the Turner Prize-winning artist’s

latest exhibition, O’ Magic Power Of Bleakness. Under Under

In, one of three films shown in the exhibition, depicts a group of

boys sat under this very motorway bridge which Leckey would

frequent in his childhood. All throughout the film, the notion of


“Find the cracks

in their reality and

continuous escape

can happen”

bleakness – the cold concrete reality the boys are surrounded

by – is interspersed with reaches from a supernatural of their

own design. The pining for escape crosses over with the thrill

of existence, as class, place and innate power is energetically

displayed in the boys’ ownership of circumstance. All of the

eventualities – magic, safety, escape – are possible under

Leckey’s conception of the underpass.

The safe space is one of the many cracks

in this reality where we can find the

energy for innate change, the eventual

strength to return to overhaul.

Similar to Leckey’s fascination with

the underpass, this issue’s cover artist,

Pizzagirl, explains how ownership

of personal landscape has provided

transport to new a level of acceptance.

Growing up in North Liverpool, Pizzagirl

resided under the safe confines of the

internet before breaking through its

contours with his antidote to bleakness.

Music itself is the underpass for Dan

Disgrace, who highlights the art form

as an uninterrupted world away from

strained office life. Equally for many in this city, 24 Kitchen

Street, which remains under threat, is the underpass that so

many have congregated under, sharing an energy and escape

that’s brought about change beyond its four walls.

This magical bleakness of ours, it can be anything and

everything we want it to be. !

Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder


Pizzagirl (Kate Davies)


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out about how we can work together, please email


Bido Lito! is a living wage employer. All our staff are

paid at least the living wage.

All contributions to Bido Lito! come from our city’s

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reflect the opinions of the magazine, its staff or the

publishers. All rights reserved.


Liam Brown’s effervescent musical vehicle has found that

acceptance is the best form of sincere expression. In the world of

Pizzagirl, nobody needs to hide.


Loose tie karaoke stardom supressed by dulling office lights, Dan

Disgrace’s dreamy cloud is now ready to take flight.


The Walton singer-songwriter pores over the influences that

shimmer through her captivating blend of art nouveau chic and

charming Scouse pop.


8 / NEWS





Ioan Roberts, one of the owners and operators of the Baltic

Triangle club, speaks up about the frustrations of working

creatively under the shadow of gentrification.


“I’m trying to convince the new generation to be survivors and

fight for their own stories”


“I’m trying to encapsulate what the world appears like to me – for

comfort, essentially”




Safe And Sound City

The Baltic’s biggest party has announced its line-up for

this year’s May event, with festival faves FRIENDLY FIRES

bringing a Technicolor riot to the top of the bill. The trio’s

joyous funk synth sound is a perfect counter to fellow

festival headliners PALE WAVES. 16 stages will be crammed

into the streets and venues of the Baltic Triangle between

1st and 3rd May, with Sound City’s trademark essence

of discovery thoroughly baked into the line-up. Multiinstrumentalist

MARIKA HACKMAN is one to definitely

catch, a daring and honest performer operating at the cutting

edge of confessional indie rock. WORKING MEN’S CLUB,

BC CAMPLIGHT and MARSICANS are just a handful of the

additions to the bill, which features a strong showing from

local acts at the top end of the line-up (STEALING SHEEP,

SPQR, THE MYSTERINES, SPINN). Day and weekend tickets

are on sale from 31st January at ticketquarter.co.uk.

Marika Hackman

Music For The Mind And Soul

Expanding on their traditional festival format, MILAP are bringing back

the popular Music For The Mind And Soul events for an exciting new

programme for their 35th year. The UK’s leading Indian Arts and Culture

company, based at Hope University, are gearing up for their annual Indika

festival with a number of events throughout 2020, with the tried and

tested ‘festival-in-a-day’ format giving people a chance to sample the

breadth of Indian music and culture. Taking place at the Capstone Theatre

on 25th April, the first Music For The Mind And Soul festival day will

begin with an early morning yoga session accompanied by beautiful live

sitar accompaniment, followed by an Indian classical morning raga. Two

headline shows will follow in the afternoon and evening, with workshops

and talks throughout the day. Milap are also teaming up with the Liverpool

International Jazz Festival to bring Indo-jazz innovator Sarathy Korwar to

Liverpool on 29th February (see page 27). milapfest.com


Repping For Storyhouse


Chester’s multi-faceted theatre and arts centre prides itself on its theatre originals, and has another strong

line-up for its rep season starting this February. The Suicide, opening on 8th February, is a classic and

farcical Russian comedy from 1928 by playwright Nikolai Erdman. It was banned by Stalin’s regime for

its anti-Communist spoofing, and this production stays faithful to its uproarious theme. Miss Julie, which

opens on 20th February, is an adaptation of August Strindberg’s psychological thriller. British-Hong Kong

playwright Amy Ng updates the setting to 1940s Hong Kong, dialling up the politically-charged tensions

as the action unfolds over Chinese New Year. Blue Stockings follows four defiant young women’s battle

to win the right to graduate from university in 1896 and opens on 14th February. All productions run until

March, and further details can be found at storyhouse.com.

Viola Beach Continue To Inspire

The British Music Experience will include an enduring tribute

to Viola Beach as part of their collection by placing the band’s

drum kit alongside exhibits from some of the best-known

personalities in British music. The Gretsch Broadkaster kit was

bought by the band’s drummer Jack Dakin, but it was sadly

not delivered until after the tragic accident that took the lives

of Jack, his fellow bandmates Tomas Lowe, Kris Leonard and

River Reeves, and manager Craig Tarry, in February 2016. The

presence of the drum kit will serve as a symbol for young people

to follow their dreams, and a mark of Viola Beach’s amazing

potential and sheer love of their craft.

Bido CC

Pedal enthusiasts rejoice – the BIDO LITO! CYCLE CLUB returns this

spring! Beginning on 26th February, our cycle club will now meet on

the last Wednesday of every month at Ryde café, at Cains Brewery,

for an hour-long cycle around various locations in Liverpool. The

dates are: 26th February, 25th March and 29th April. As always,

the rides will be free, but we urge you to secure a place by signing

up at bidolito.co.uk/bidocc. Two rides will run simultaneously on

each date, with one being more laid-back and shorter, and the

other being a longer, faster-paced ride. Most importantly, both are

all about the group and the social side of enjoying time on the bike

together, complete with a celebratory beer and chinwag afterwards.

Welsh Language Music Day


2019’s Welsh Music Prize winners ADWAITH are the centrepiece of

Merseyside’s Dydd Miwsig Cymru celebrations, a day dedicated to Welsh

language music. The post-punk trio – originally from Camarthen, but now

based in Liverpool while studying at university – scooped the award for

their 2018 album Melyn, a beautiful and personal record dealing with the

frustrations of being a female in the modern world. The three-piece got

the nod over a strong shortlist for the award, including Cate Le Bon, and

join an illustrious group of previous winners (Gruff Rhys, Gwenno, Boy

Azooga). Adwaith will perform a free lunchtime show outside the Cunard

Building on 7th February, as part of a range of free events taking place

across England and Wales to highlight the great cultural importance of the

Welsh language in art.



Electrik’s Adam Coffey picks out a

selection of songs that represent

the soul of the longstanding club,

both in its current guise and as The


Keep Oyé Free

The organisers of AFRICA OYÉ have called upon its many

supporters and patrons to help keep the festival free. Oyé

returns to Sefton Park on 20th and 21st June, and is the

highlight of the summer in Liverpool, bringing an infectious

vibe to the city. The event has been free entry since the

first edition in 1992, and has been facing increasing

infrastructure costs – and decreasing real terms funding

– as its popularity has soared. As well as the two-day

festival, which houses a number of traders and retailers

as well as countless artists, Oyé runs workshops for youth

and school groups throughout the year, promoting the

African cultural diaspora. Anyone can help the cause by

buying festival merch at africaoye.com or even donating a

couple of quid. Those who can spare a bit more may find

Friends Of Oyé packages a more suitable way of making

sure that Oyé stays free.

Blooming Convenience

CONVENIENCE GALLERY, the art project that has recently exhibited in Birkenhead

Market, are joining the family at Birkenhead’s neighbouring BLOOM BUILDING.

Convenience will be moving in alongside The Open Door Centre’s resident mental health

support service, and will join a collaborative partnership that opens up a conversation

around mental health to themes of art and culture. To celebrate the partnership,

Convenience are launching their new programme in Bloom on 31st January, which

also marks the building’s one-year anniversary. The Future Is… is the theme and title of

Convenience’s new project, which sees work from local artists, ruminating on the ideas of

our hopes and fears about the future through painting, video and audio installations.

Sweet Releases

There’s a sense of renewal in the air at the start of the year, and our region’s

musicians have caught it fully as they have flooded us with some great

new music to kickstart 2020. COUGHIN VICARS’ debut offering was the

first to catch our attention, with the kind of breathless punk that leaves you

wanting more. Made up of former members of Salem Rages, the group’s

EP Post Omission Overtures is out now on Casket Records, with a cassette

version to follow soon. RVHEEM continues his impressive ascent with the

glossy RnB of his new single Part Of The Plan, and THE PISTACHIO KID’s

deft acoustic balladry gets an ELP release on Violette Records (Sweet

Remedies). It’s also great to welcome back DELTA MAID after travels and

songwriting success at the heart of American country music in Nashville.

Her comeback single Better Love is a return to her best work, and a full

album is due in the spring.

Africa Oyé

Unity Theatre @ 40

From its base at Hope Place, the UNITY THEATRE has

been an instrumental part of Liverpool’s creative framework

for the past 40 years. This year, the theatre and venue is

celebrating all the things that makes it unique in a special

programme under the banner #40yearsofnew. The Unity

prides itself on its accessibility, for interested minds looking

to find new experiences, and for innovative artists looking

to get their first break in theatre or comedy. This year they

will be celebrating all this with some groundbreaking new

shows, and by extending their community membership

scheme to local creatives. Expect a full-on extravaganza

later in the year for their 40th birthday party, and shows

Wake Up Maggie and The Strange Tale Of Charlie Chaplin

And Stan Laurel to get the spring programme moving in

February. unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk

Refractive Pool

The contemporary painting symposium REFRACTIVE POOL –

led by Liverpool-based artists Josie Jenkins and Brendan Lyons

– is offering the chance for artists to discuss the practise and

themes of painting. Currently in a research phase, this event on

7th February at Hope University’s Shaw Street Creative Campus

is the first in a series of workshops, exhibitions and critical

writing. Aspects of Liverpool’s contemporary painting scene will

be the focus, based around presentations from Liverpool-based

artists. There will also be a panel discussion focusing on the

experience of painters working in the city. It is free to enter, but

bookings are encouraged online at refractivepool.wordpress.


Delta Maid

She’s Electric



Between being a customer,

manager of The Krazyhouse

and then Electrik, I’ve been

around the venue for quite

a few years in one way or

another. It’s great to look back and remember this song

being played to a packed-out dancefloor filled with

18-year-olds singing along 15 years ago (and, of course,

many years before that), and now there’s a whole new

bunch of students enjoying it at Shit Indie Disco. The song

also influenced the old indie night in the venue a couple of

decades ago, which in turn influenced its name now.

Mr Brightside

The Killers

Lizard King

I’ve given up trying to think

of cool songs for this so I’m

not going to bother! Cool has

its place, but a great song is

a great song, no matter how

much it may be over-played. A couple of customers will

request an album track of some sort that won’t get much

of a reaction, and then this comes on and you’d be hard

pushed to find a louder reaction to anything else on a

Saturday night.

Don’t Stop




Since Medication moved to

the venue, the thing I’ve been

most pleased with is that it’s

turned back into a night that can cater for everyone rather

than just being a house music night. A couple of weeks

ago this song ended the night on the party floor, and it was

a really nice moment when I was able to take a little step

back and see how it had all come together so far.




Whenever this track comes

on I’m always getting the door

staff asking why all these kids

are singing along to a ballad at

1am. I never know what to tell them. But it’s a great cover

and there aren’t many places you could get away with

playing a song like this at that time of night.




Wandering on from neon-lit synths and pop culture

shapeshifting, Liam Brown’s effervescent musical vehicle

has found that acceptance is the best form of sincere

expression. In the world of Pizzagirl, nobody needs to hide.

“I want everyone to

be able to look at

Pizzagirl and say,

‘That could be me’”

Liam Brown unpacks two outfits from his bag as the

finishing touches are applied to today’s makeshift

studio. The wall covering is evenly spaced and the

first roll of film is tightly wound into the camera. All is

in place, but PIZZAGIRL is still yet to arrive. Setting aside his

coffee, Brown removes a heavy leather trench coat, freeing

the shoulders and torso. Here the first iridescent flickers of his

alter ego begin to shine through. He smoothly swivels with an

outfit in each hand: “Shall we start with the Yeezy workwear

number – big PlayStation One vibes – or the aggressive V neck

and blazer?”

The metallic grey work suit is chosen and emerald green

makeup is smudged into each eyelid. He bounces towards

the navy blue backdrop and turns to face the camera. As the

midday sun spills in through the Victorian windows it catches

the right of Brown’s face, tilting his head on an angle like a

barber’s gentle nudge, although you suspect this face doesn’t

rely on the natural elements to initiate a pose. It’s as though he’s

directing the camera himself. His eyes cut into the lens staring

back while his cheekbones roll between waves of natural light.

The film starts to snap and the veil on this Pizzagirl performance

is gracefully pulled back.

Just like the blue backdrop he’s cavorting in front of, the

setting was equally as makeshift for Brown when announcing

his debut album to the world. First Timer, a seemingly innocent

collection of songs crafted within his bedroom studio, features

artwork just as telling as the album name itself. On the cover,

Brown is lying atop a scrunched bedsheet in a white tank top

and hooped earrings, his eyeliner matching the colour of small

dumbbell placed beside. “That was just there to keep it weighed

down,” he attests. A happy accident if anything, but one that’s a

central part of the subconscious makeup of the record. The pose

is completed by both hands reaching for his head. It’s unsure if

he’s signalling anguish or ecstasy. Possibly both. “First Timer has


a billion meanings which you can probably latch onto,” he starts,

when asked if the title signals a consistent undercurrent to the

record. But the one that shines through most pertinently is his

questioning of masculinity – a feeling that subconsciously wired

itself into the aesthetic of the album.

Cosmetically, at first, the First Timer joyously floats like a

sun drenched Lilo bumping the contours of the poolside. Album

opener Ball’s Gonna Keep On Rollin’ is a slick shopping mall

ballad. You can envisage Pizzagirl proclaiming the lyrics from atop

St John’s food court water feature in its 80s heyday. Following

from the Ariel Pink inspired Daytrip comes the operatic absurdity

of Body Biology, complete with pompous vocal hooks and rolling

falsettos. The jovial Dennis is essential Pizzagirl, with its charming

luminosity and tongue in cheek rhyme scheme. But from there the

Lilo deflates. Shades of early 2000s pop punk creep in and the

eternal vibrancy of 1980s pop culture fades from the music. Ugly,

Cut And Paste and Thispartysux display an aching introspection

that seeps through the colours of Pizzagirl. The latter’s lyrics,

“Now I’m crying all my makeup off tonight / because you didn’t

even notice me”, signals a closer presence of Brown hidden

behind the pin-up of Pizzagirl. A small scratch of the surface and

you see the album is fundamentally his. Less so a continuum of

the retro pop culture reflection that has defined his output to date.

“I had a problem with being known as an artist that makes

one sound. Or becomes known for a certain thing, or shtick, due

to the character,” he says, when asked if he saw the album as his

most personal account of songwriting. “It really scared me when

I could see that creeping in over the course of the first releases.

Even now when people get in touch, they’re always like ‘I love the

80s sound’, which sometimes could feel a little bit limiting.”

Dropping his former Lumen moniker, a name that, he says,

lent itself to music that was a bit too serious, paved the way to

Pizzagirl – an artistic persona that melded George Michael star

power with the neon dusk of 1980s Los Angeles. “The first EP

“I love the freedom

of realising school

was juvenile. I still

feel juvenile, but

I’ve got nobody to

answer to now”



[An Extended Play] was just me making my own version of the

music I was listening to at the time,” he admits. “When I started

Pizzagirl, I made this conscious decision to try and be this retro,

vapourwave style of character, with sort of tacky imagery.” The

new assortment of light-hearted synths and gated ambience

drew in a strong following. Seabirds, taken from the EP, has now

reached close to three million plays on Spotify. But the pop culture

collage of the 1980s was only ever the entry point, he asserts.

Not the defining artistic statement that much of his online fanbase

and journalistic assessment came to expect. “It got boring and

started to wear off. It became too sickly. Sickly sweet. It left a bit

of a bitter taste for me, so I didn’t feel like I had to serve a fan of

the EP. With First Timer, I was making a conscious, exciting effort

to do something different.”

It starts to unravel that First Timer was the product of new

headspace for Brown. In his view, the EPs that preceeded the

album were “much more water tight”, whereas he was happy for

the First Timer to be a little bit more “rough around the edges”. He

points towards a separation between the online, on stage persona

of Pizzagirl and the 21-year-old writing the songs in the freedom

of his bedroom. It’s through this the record is granted its more

relaxed approach. Not the hyper-real character that’s taken centre

stage until now. “I don’t feel like when I’m making music I’m in

Pizzagirl mode. I’m very much Liam when I’m doing it. When I’m

on social media or onstage, I’m very much this fluid persona. It’s

definitely the version of me that I’d like to be all of the time.

“Although, I’m not turning a switch in my head and that I’m

a sad person most of the time,” he quickly asserts, so as not to

suggest Pizzagirl is his emotive compass and solace. “But I think

the pressure of people looking at you and taking an interest

definitely makes you want to be fun. When I did the first EP I

was really conscious of it being straight and narrow. Playing

under the guise of Pizzagirl gave me the chance to be a little bit

of a contortionist and try different things. If I was Liam Brown

people would probably expect me to be a folk singer.”

Pizzagirl is in full flow as Brown changes into a yellow

Lacoste sweater complete with “aggressive V neck.” With check

jacket added and umbrella in hand, Pizzagirl has morphed into

a 1970s late-night talk show host, which he precedes to imitate

in an American accent as he reclines in a Swedish armchair. He’s

every ounce a performer and forthcoming personality, although

this approachability and exuberance hasn’t always been so

apparent. It’s something that’s stewed in a world of suppression,

now springing forth in the freedom of his open musical life.

Liam Brown grew up in north Liverpool, along the boundary

of Aintree and Old Roan. He still lives there today with his mum,

happy in the comfort of his bedroom recording studio where

the Pizzagirl elixir is brewed on a daily basis. Although it hasn’t

always been such a free territory, he tells me. It’s telling in the

extent this landscape shaped his character-based artistry.

“School in north Liverpool, or school in general,” he begins,

“they can be quite oppressive places. I wasn’t too shy, but I

existed to a certain threshold. After school, I was also a little bit

hidden. iPad demos, GarageBand; it was a world that I never

showed to anyone.” I tell him it’s a feeling I resonate with, a sort

internal questioning, like taking a piercing out before crossing

into the territory of judgemental eyes. “Creativity is muted. You

spend so much of your time not wanting to get bullied, so much

that I could never have been Pizzagirl in school.”

Brown’s assessment is condemnatory, but one that will

undoubtedly ring true for many males tentatively following

interests beyond football and the dominant teenage lad culture.

“Once I left, I felt quite free to do whatever I want,” he adds,

alluding to the moment Pizzagirl emerged from a secretive

passion to public-facing expression of self, rich with all its camp

traits, loud outfits and dashes of makeup. “I didn’t need to worry

about facing people in school the next day. Most of the time

I’m making a fool out of myself online and on Instagram, but I

don’t have to face up to those who would call it out anymore.”

Here he points towards the hard-edged male personas so

prevalent within his educational upbringing. “I love the freedom

of realising school was juvenile. I still feel juvenile, but I’ve got

nobody to answer to now.”

As Brown suggests, the restrained personalities of the

contemporary era have often found solace on the internet. Here,

Brown’s new social geography was explored and built. In the

life of teenage boy, it’s a world removed from the feudal-esque

system topped by those who can kick a football dead hard and


those, at the bottom, who get hit dead hard with said football

– or other choice projectiles. It is here where Pizzagirl was able

to take its form. Maybe it was the only place it could have taken

form; the only space where Brown could freely shift into the

shape of his own depiction of masculinity.

While Brown argues that Pizzagirl is an outlet to challenge

the mundane, the foundations of its character remain an integral

signifier of its artistic statement. We return to the album cover,

one of the more obvious statements on the record and one

less masked by the bubble-gum Pizzagirl bouquet. “For me,

it’s masculine to claim yourself in a way that is not necessarily

generic. If you’re comfortable with yourself, then that’s the most

masculine way you can be. I wasn’t afraid to put that album

cover out and take the backlash of people saying it’s camp. The

entire project lives and dies by being camp. Pizzagirl is like camp

men in the Titanic boiler room, feeding camp into the fire. It’s not

something I want to avoid.”

For Brown, the album cover is at odds with the societal

expectation for males growing up in Liverpool. Yet, even through

this free expression, binary limitations still arise. Brown’s depiction

of Pizzagirl on Instagram has led to regular questionings of his

sexuality, with occasional fans’ messages curious to reveal if he,

too, is homosexual. “I’ve always replied and said that I’m a big

ally. I love the LGBTQ+ community,” he starts. “But I find it really

sad that you have to have this sexuality attached to your artistic

character. I feel like Pizzagirl is this fluid person who is doing what

they want, simply because they want to do it.”

Brown’s frustration is born out of the limitless world in

which he envisages Pizzagirl. Societal impressions of gay or

straight do not necessitate a full eclipse of one or the other, but

the non-binary fluidity is ultimately shaded by the two dominant

conceptions of sexuality.

Listening back through the record, the autobiographical

prints of Brown are found in the freedom the music wishes

to convey. Brown’s music sidesteps overt sentimentality and

parades through a liberated world of his own design. One

where he initially was hidden in safety. One from where he has

emerged brandishing his own riposte to masculine suppression.

Acceptance has proved his most powerful form of communication.

“I want everyone to be able to look at Pizzagirl and say, ‘That

could be me’,” he assures, as we edge towards the end of our

conversation. “Whether online or playing to a live audience, I want

to show the reserved personalities that if I’m able to do this, they

can be who they want too.” !

Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder

Photography: Kate Davies / @K.dvi


First Timer is available now via Heist Or Hit.

“If you’re comfortable

with yourself, then

that’s the most

masculine way

you can be”





Loose tie karaoke stardom supressed by dulling office lights,

Dan Disgrace’s dreamy cloud is now ready to take flight.

Sometimes the most enlightening moments in an interview come after the Dictaphone

has been switched off. Having met up with Daniel West in a busy Bold Street café on an

overcast Saturday morning, we’re just about to part ways – coffees drained, and a full

English consumed before our farewell dialogue reveals a little neat anecdote about his

first gig as DAN DISGRACE. “Basically, I was a bit of a mess. I’d just been dumped, I’d come straight

from work and turned up with my shirt and tie on, so I borrowed a pair of sunglasses from my

friend, played the gig in my office clothes and that was it.” This was the birth of Dan Disgrace – an

immediate leap from the tedium of the office through to an outlet of expression and release.

It’s one of the most-written-about clichés in the musical book – escaping from the daily grind.

But whether it’s working in bars or offices, music has always been a way of ‘sticking it to the man’.

It’s strange, though, just how immediate that transition was with Dan Disgrace; within a matter of

hours he had developed his ramshackle persona and run with it. While

there isn’t a palpable sense of aggression present in his character, the

music itself is a direct artillery attack on shitty jobs and bosses.

Dan, who is sat in the corner of the café tucking into his breakfast,

explains how this concept has leaked into his forthcoming EP

Nightmare Music. “There’s a song on the release called Commission

and all I’m doing is totally ripping into my old boss. I remember at one

point I actually felt really ill going to work every day – I was coming

home from work and picking up a bottle of wine or two a night

because of the stress. In the end, my ex-girlfriend was like, ‘Fucking

hell’.” With longish black hair dangling into his face, Dan continues to

recall his former circumstances. “I wasn’t eating properly and getting

up every day putting a shirt and tie on and just thinking how awful

it all was. Then I reached a point where I was just like, ‘That’s it, I’m

done; I don’t have to do this any more’.”

With a modest handful of dreampop singles to his name already,

Dan’s quick to agree that the creative process came as a release,

nullifying the aforementioned frustrations. “That’s a big reason for why I make music – it’s a byproduct

of just wanting to get away from normality. It’s like my own little place where I can just

go and create.” Having a relatively DIY setup affords Dan the luxury of freedom when it comes

to writing and recording. He explains: “I’m grateful that I can make pretty much whatever type of

music I want; I’m not the best musician in the world but I can get there or thereabouts. I feel like

it’s fun that I can explore all of these different themes, I don’t have to rely on a band or anyone to

mix my music for me – a song can lose a certain theme or atmosphere quite easily if you do that

wrongly, it can be quite easily skewed. I think songwriting and recording are two very separate

things, but they’re both as equally as important.”

Despite coming from quite a lo-fi setup, the singles have already made it onto national radio.

This doesn’t seem to faze Dan at all though. “Huw Stephens randomly played one of my tracks on

Radio 1 last year and I got a 6 Music play from Tom Robinson, which is amazing. It’s been weird to

be honest. I’m not too arsed either way. I get my kicks from just doing it.” It’s refreshing to see such

a genuine low threshold of expectation.

“It sounds ridiculous but I already feel successful because I’ve got it to a point where I’m in

control of what I want to do,” Dan continues. “It might come across as unambitious, but I’m getting

“I wanted to be in

a position where

I’m making my own

music and in control

of it. Anything after

that is a bonus”

my kicks. This is always what I wanted to do: I wanted to be in a position where I’m making my own

music and in control of it. Anything after that is a bonus, really – I’m not fame-hungry or anything.”

It’s easy to see why the songs have garnered such attention, though. There’s a hint of dreamy

outsider pop that brings to mind names like Ariel Pink and John Maus in the music, although Dan

says his influences are a little closer to home. “I think, for me, it’s more of my my peers that I get a

kick out of. I’m friends with Bill Nickson and Alex Stephens [Strawberry Guy]. These people who’re

doing it all themselves are a real inspiration. I’ve also just moved out of a flat that was a really

healthy environment, people were always around and we were always creating music. So it’s more

friends than contemporary artists I’d say.” The bottom line is that the music has to be made to a

high standard. He picks up: “I just like music that’s convincing in one way or another. I do like the

weirdos – to me, that’s more of a pure expression of music. I’m down for anything that has a bit of


The forthcoming EP will be released through the celebrated and

forward-thinking Liverpool label Eggy Records – something of a

support network for artists like Dan. It’s been invaluable, he says, to

be part of that wider community. “There’s a real range of all different

types of music reflected through the label, but, despite that, it very

much feels like a family.” He mulls on this before continuing: “Everyone

that’s on the label would all feel like outsiders if it wasn’t for those

guys. I love it because we invite other people to play the shows and

it’s a support net rather than a label. It generates lots of ideas and it’s

been a good platform for all of us.”

The regular shows that Eggy Records hold have also been

something of a launch-pad for Dan Disgrace – and there’s a big

headline show lined up at The Zanzibar to celebrate the debut EP this

February. Dan is obviously excited for this one to roll around. “The

best sound I’ve ever had has been there, so it’s going to be great. My

set-up is so minimal at the moment, I think the sound techs are always

quite relieved.” Despite this, it’s something of a 2020 goal to start challenging the sound technicians

again by pulling a band together. He says: “I did have [a band] for a bit, but then a few things

happened and it took a long time to get it nice and tight – so that’s something to be working on.”

If one thing is for certain, it’s that these are hectic times for the 27-year-old, and getting a solid

body of work out there is a massive personal milestone. Dan rounds up: “This is a really big thing for

me. Up until this moment I’ve just been releasing singles, so it’s all built up to this point. I’ve made

something I can be proud of and I want it to be the first big thing that I release. I’ve had my sights

set on a larger body of work for a while. Now it feels like I’ve finally reached this time where I’ve got

something that I can take forward with me.” !

Words: Rhys Buchanan / @Rhys_Buchanan

Photography: John Latham / @mrjohnlatham


Nightmare Music is available via Eggy Recordings from March. Dan Disgrace plays The Zanzibar on

20th February








In December, the Baltic Triangle-based club space went public on its ongoing battle with residential

developers moving into the area. With Liverpool City Council proposing the club reduces its operation to

accommodate the development, the successful venue’s future has been forcibly drawn into the spotlight.

One of the venue owners, Ioan Roberts, speaks up about the frustrations of working creatively under the

shadow of gentrification.

It seems like any other day in the offices of 24 KITCHEN

STREET. Placed one floor above the music venue and

club-orientated space, out of sight of the substantial mirror

ball that oversees the cobbled dancefloor, the usual hive of

activity is underway.

While January is often a slowly awakening month for event

goers, there’s no New Year hibernation for promoters and club

owners. The headspace is already well into spring and summer

and, at times, as far as autumn and winter. New shows are

being negotiated, booked, announced and their social media

and print promotion coordinated. It’s the kind of environment

you’d expect from a popular music venue now into its seventh

year in existence. But even with thoughts looking ahead to

warmer months, there’s no escaping the early stages of the year;

breath mists in the air inside the former warehouse space as

Ioan Roberts, the venue’s co-owner and manager, sits down to

discuss the ongoing campaign to keep the venue open.

Today’s visibly fluid operation only tells one half of the

story. In December, the venue went public regarding its

three-year battle with developers building residential flats on

a neighbouring car park on Blundell Street. If you’ve visited

the venue or Baltic Triangle recently, you’ll have been able to

document the development’s rapid growth. It’s not hard to

notice. The nakedly clad block of flats invasively looks down on

the neighbouring Kitchen Street.

The new development will fundamentally change how 24

Kitchen Street operates. Consequently, the venue’s continued

existence is now threatened the point of near closure if adequate

support isn’t granted by Liverpool City Council. This is the view

of Roberts who’s been at the heart of its operation since opening

in 2013.

The news about Kitchen Street’s battle went public for the

second time on 3rd December.

Initially the venue had been

vocal about the proposed

planning permission for the

neighbouring development back

in 2016. Yet, even with continuing

disagreements regarding

acceptable noise levels during

events, planning was still granted

and building work began. Away

from public view, three further

years of acoustic surveys have

been undertaken both by the venue

and the developer. “The developer

conducted a noise report at the

end of 2018, October/November.

They called us for a meeting and

Environmental Health from the

council attended it,” Roberts informs us when asked about the

ongoing arguments around noise pollution. “They basically

outlined that they’d done extensive measurements over a range

of events with us. And demonstrated through their recording,

measurements and work that we were seven decibels too loud

for the level of sound proofing they’d proposed.” The venue has

contested these findings through their own assessments.

“Seven decibels doesn’t sound like much, but it is in terms of

a reduction,” Roberts underlines, adding that this assessment put

forward by the developers is now close to being accepted by the

City Council. Roberts continues: “They were saying that they’d

specced their development out adequately, but they anticipated

we do the rest. They didn’t give us any financial incentive to do

the rest, they just said we had to reduce [our levels].” However,

even before an agreement had been reached to reduce their

noise output by seven decibels, windows had already been

installed around much of the building while talks were still taking

place. “During the time we’ve been arguing about levels with the

developers and the council, the developers have just continued

to build, assuming we’d reduce. They’ve treated the planning

process with disregard, and that’s what we’re trying to argue.”

Writing in Bido Lito! shortly before the venue went public

in December, Liverpool City Region Music Board Member Matt

Flynn observed: “Effectively, the Kitchen Street debate concerns

the very technical evaluation of acceptable existing noise

levels. Each party’s respective acoustic experts have proposed

using noise readings from different days, times and locations

to establish the baseline decibel level that is audible in existing

domestic properties that surround the venue. This means the

Environmental Health department have had to mediate between

Kitchen Street and developers Brickland and contractors ISG to

establish the specification of the glazing and soundproofing the

developers need to install in each of their 200 new flats.

“Discharging the condition means the council is satisfied

the developers have designed and constructed their property

to agreed specifications, including required levels of sound


According to Roberts, the debate had been muddied

somewhat by inconsistent readings taken on behalf of the

“Thinking differently,

finding new spaces,

that’s complete

bollocks. You need

stability to be able to

plan into the future”

developer and council. During the venue’s participation in

the Baltic Weekender festival this summer, an outdoor stage,

covered by Temporary Event Notice, caused noise complaints

from nearby residential houses. When following up the

complaint on an operational night for the club, no irregular noise

levels were detected within the houses due to events returning

back inside the club – underscoring the street party complaints

as an irregular occurrence and not in line with the venue’s

consistent programming. To further follow up the complaint,

the council took a short, one-off, 15-minute reading in the club,

which, Roberts says, didn’t flag up any illegally excess decibel

level. “The council then said that they’d been through the

cumulative information of both sides and said their survey stated

that five out of the six events we held were over the threshold,”

Roberts says. “Following that we were told we had to reduce

noise levels as we’d be too loud for the windows the council had

given permission to install.” This decision by the council then

initiated the public response from Kitchen Street.

“As has happened with venues up and down the country,

noise complaints get venues shut down,” states the public

appeal released by Kitchen Street back in December. The

assessment put forward by Kitchen Street underscores the

inhospitable climate venues are up against, but more tellingly,

UK-wide councils’ openness to build for profit developments

that bring the barrage of planning disagreements. The noise

complaints inevitably follow. “The attitude is, if you’re a creative

business you can just get moved away, [the council] don’t value

us,” Roberts adds, a sentiment echoed in statistics that reveal

the UK has lost 35 per cent of its music venues throughout the

last decade (although business rates have just been reduced

by 50% for grassroots venues). “The developers on Blundell

Street believe installing more robust soundproofing threatens

their bottom line and therefore is

not profitable.” Roberts adds that

the council’s recommendation

was to therefore cover the

louder, bass-driven events with

Temporary Events Notices (TENs)

– a maximum of 12 can be applied

for throughout the year. “That’s 80

per cent of our events,” Roberts

outlines. “Why should we start

reducing what we do, which is

legal, to save the developers

money when they should be the

ones spending the money?”

Roberts’ argument of

obligation comes into greater

light since the council signed up

to the Agent of Change principle

in September 2019. The AoC principle, part of the National

Planning Policy Framework, states that: “Planning policies and

decisions should ensure that new development can be integrated

effectively with existing businesses and community facilities.

Existing businesses and facilities should not have unreasonable

restrictions placed on them as a result of development permitted

after they were established.”

A face value reading of the principle’s definition would

underscore the Blundell Street development as the Agent of

Change, 24 Kitchen Street as the existing business that “should

not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them as a result

of development permitted after they were established”. But the

decision to grant the development permission to install windows

that would require a reduction in 24 Kitchen Street’s operation

suggests the council’s commitment to AoC is hollow. “This whole

time they’ve been aware what blocks of flats can do to creative

businesses,” Roberts says. “It’s in the area of planning policy

where care must be taken to ensure there isn’t a predominance

of one and two bedroom flats in what’s seen as a creative


Another workaround for the venue would be agreeing

to a deed of easement, essentially an agreement where new

tenants in the development acknowledge the presence of the

venue and its regular operation upon moving in. However, in

moving the goal posts away from AoC – thus justifying the

development and the uncomfortable proximity it’s been built

to a music venue regularly operating four nights per week –

does not set the encompassing precedent the council appear

to be endorsing with their vocal backing of AoC. A deed of

easement is a potential solution, but it is only effective via a

case-by-case basis. Adhering to AoC properly would build a

framework that sees all new developments held to the same

level of scrutiny. The apparent weakness in AoC, however, is that

it is not statutory law, and viewed more as planning guidance.

Speaking in November, Paul Farrell, head of Environmental

Health at Liverpool City Council, regarded AoC as “not perfect,

but a step in the direction”. However, the apparent progression

is contended by Roberts. “This isn’t new,” he says. “They can’t

pretend they didn’t know [the effect the development would

have on us] when building started in 2016. The council just

don’t value creative businesses. They think we can just move to

another area. We have the Music Board, who’ve supported us,

but what’s the point in having it if the Council don’t listen to it?”

The Liverpool City Region Music Board, formed in January

2019, outlines that one of its priorities is “safeguarding and

protecting music venues”. During the debates between

developers and Kitchen Street, the Music Board has supported

the venue’s stance, however, it remains to be seen whether

its conservatively coordinated vocal pressure holds any sway

of the council. Roberts believes the council’s adoption of the

Music Board’s is merely posturing and serves only to present

the illusion that they, firstly, celebrate music-based culture in the

city beyond Mathew Street and, secondly, is seen to be actively

engaging in the protection of music venues – notably after

high-profile closures in the last decade such as The Kazimier.

While the Music Board may not hold the power over the council’s

decision making, its existence and worth hinges on its ability

to ensure the Kitchen Street situation remains on the council

agenda and is lobbied and campaigned for in the public domain.

Apathy surrounding the public facing campaign to save the

venue will ultimately lead to its demise.

Some lateral arguments would suggest creative businesses

remain progressive by contorting and adapting to new

landscapes and environments – always looking to remain one

step ahead of encroaching developments that outline an area

as ‘desirable’ (read: cool, creative, probably some paid for

graffiti). Roberts colourfully calls this out. “Thinking differently,

finding new spaces, that’s complete bollocks. You can do five

warehouse parties and you’re shut down. I push against that.

Like an enterprise, you need stability. You need to be able to plan

into the future.” Roberts is passionate about the need to build

from the ground up and enhance a public reputation. “To build a

strong cultural programme, you need to have a base, the booking

agents of artists need to know who you are. The industry needs

to know who you are. You can’t book in a revered artist for a

warehouse show that you don’t have a licence for. You’ve got to

have a proper venue that people know about.”

The cultural programme Roberts mentions is one of

Liverpool City Council’s most consistent marketing tools for

tourism. Yet, the venue deems its stance on new developments

in creative areas as incongruous with its much-touted UNESCO

City Of Music badge. The venue says it’s “ironic that the council

is failing to protect grassroots and independent music in the


In allowing the development to continue installing windows

under an assumption the seven decibel reduction will be met,

24 Kitchen Street will be unable to operate in the capacity that

has seen it forge a reputation as one the leading electronic music

focused venues in the city. One capable of competing with the

programming of fellow leading venues in the North, such as

Soup Kitchen in Manchester and Wire in Leeds.

The debate is now in the hands of the council. It remains

in the power of the Music Board to ensure Kitchen Street

doesn’t fall of the agenda or is quietly swept aside. Without a

reassessment of the development’s sound proofing procedures,

which currently stands to all but end the venue’s late night

programming, the venue will be stripped of its draw and cease

to exist as a destination for the world’s best DJs, producers and

bands. “I don’t want to operate with constant battles over noise

complaints,” Roberts replies, knowing the proximity of the flats

and level of soundproofing installed is likely to draw complaints,

adding “the work to fix the building would cost around

£200,000, but they’re arguing it’s not profitable to do this.

“If [Environmental Health and the council] don’t intervene

before September, I know from examples around the country

that we’ll eventually lose, and it will cost us a fortune.” So far the

venue has spent upwards of £14,000 in acoustic consultants.

“Operating in the way they’ve suggested, with TENs and

reduced noise output, when we have a band or DJ, we’ll have to

tell them about the limitations. It will restrict the scope of what

they can do. That will put artists off. They will just say, ‘That’s

not good enough’. When it gets to that point, I’d have to question

whether I’d want to be doing this.”

When looking ahead at the warmer months that ultimately

hold the fate of the venue, perhaps Roberts’ closing sentiment

will bluntly show the council the strained health so many of

its prized cultural attractions are enduring. “If the council don’t

change their approach, I’m not sure I’d bother trying to do this

again here in Liverpool. You’d spend three or four years doing

the building work, getting it set up, to then have two years of

running a business properly, developing it, only for the same

thing to happen. What would be the point?” !

Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder

Photography: Robin Clewley / robinclewley.co.uk







The Walton singer-songwriter pores over the influences that shimmer through her captivating blend of

Nouvelle Vague chic and charming Scouse pop.

my boyfriend’s, I nicked it,” the singer grins when

asked about the copy of Yuval Noah Harari’s bestseller

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind lying on the


table. The cosy back room at Tabac, decked out with

its pieces of obsolete audio equipment, is welcome shelter from

a windblown January afternoon in the city centre. We’re here

on Bold Street for a sit-down chat with one of 2020’s brightest

prospects, AIMÉE STEVEN. With a quartet of outstanding

singles out in the world and a deal with burgeoning Liverpool

label Jacaranda Records, the coming year, to employ drastic

understatement, looks somewhat promising for the Walton-born


While her material sounds like the work of an old hand at this

songwriting malarkey, amazingly, Steven came to music relatively

late on. “I never really wanted to be a singer or anything like

that,” she explains, sipping her hot chocolate. “My family played

a lot of opera, I loved that as a kid. I don’t really listen to it now.

And then it was Frank Sinatra; I love the Rat Pack, The Bee Gees.

I don’t think I was ever gonna grow up liking modern music,

because I never heard it really,” she shrugs. “Before I wanted to

sing I wanted to write about music, before I realised I wanted to

actually write it.” After several months

reviewing gigs for venerable citybased

promoters Mellowtone, Aimée

began to create her own songs.

The Last Waltz, the valedictory

performance by Americana pioneers

and former Bob Dylan sidemen The

Band released in 1978, proved to

be a major spark of inspiration. Shot

by Martin Scorsese, his first film in

a parallel career as an outstanding

music documentarian, the show –

featuring a rollcall of Van Morrison,

Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Dylan –

cemented its reputation as one of the

greatest concert films ever captured

on celluloid. “When I watched that I

couldn’t believe who was in it, then I was obsessed. I dig that out

and watch it with a bottle of wine.” West Coast contemporaries

of The Band, Crosby, Stills and Nash, are also highlighted as

influence. “Their harmonies are fantastic. If I could get to anything

like that in my career it would be life goals. You don’t get that

level of them anymore I don’t think and it’s sad,” Steven says of

the absence of harmonies in present day guitar groups. “It takes

hard work, it’s super hard to get voices that mesh together in the

first place, and then to master it is difficult. But it has died off a

bit; I’d love to see it come back properly. It’s such a sweet sound

and I don’t think I’ve heard it recreated.”

Fittingly, among the antique listening equipment in Tabac,

an album by another favourite, Led Zeppelin, rests on the

gramophone (the copy of II has the band’s credit for Whole Lotta

Love scribbled out and amended to bluesman Willie Dixon).

Venturing further back, stone blues originators Robert Johnson

and Muddy Waters are selected. “When I go in my local, Ye

Cracke, I always put Howlin’ Wolf and Psychotic Reaction by the

Count Five on the jukebox,” she notes. In addition to these, Nick

Drake and Fairport Convention are cited, plus guitar genius Stevie

Ray Vaughan and the Small Faces (“They had Itchycoo Park,

maybe I’ll write one about Walton Hall Park!”). “I think all of those

influences come through somewhere, even if they’re not obvious,”

she replies. “Nothing’s 100 per cent original, it’s about honouring

what’s gone before.”

Alongside these inspirations is something that taps directly

“I hope people

want more, cos

they’re gonna get

it either way!”

into the city’s musical lifeblood. “My grandad was a docker and

I think it’s come through to me: going for a pint and listening to

music are my foundations. I think it’s a Liverpool thing as well. I

love going to all the old pubs in town, where all the old people

go and there’s karaoke. I absolutely love it, it’s like stepping into a

different world,” she enthuses. “I’m 24 but I love going to an old

boozer and drinking a pint, that’s me!”

“I was in one pub, and some woman came in selling a leg

of lamb and someone bought it,” Steven states incredulously,

warming to her theme. “I was like, ‘I love this place!’ I’m a pub girl;

I don’t go out to clubs. I watch every Reds game in a pub,” she

notes, demarcating her football allegiance in the city.

With her first batch of songs written, a fantastic bit of

serendipity occurred courtesy of social media. “I got contacted

by Jon Withnall,” Aimée recalls, he of six Grammy Awards, and

engineering credits with Elbow, Rihanna, Gil Scott-Heron and

The Coral, among others. “He’s brilliant, without him I wouldn’t

be where I am. He got in touch with me ’cos he saw a short clip

of me playing on Facebook. He messaged me asking for demos.

At the time I’d only been writing for a few months. I had a few

rough songs I’d written and sent them over and he was like,

‘Cool, do you wanna come and meet

me in my studio and have a chat?’

I got the train to Ormskirk, where

he was based at the time. He liked

the songs, so we made a plan to get

together and record some stuff, and

it just went from there. It’s strange

really ’cos I was apprehensive at the

beginning and now I’m like, ‘Oh my

God, imagine if I’d never done that

and just said no!’”

With Jon on the other side of the

studio glass, My Name, a wonderfully

unhurried slice of guitar pop led by

Steven’s ear balm vocals, provided

a superb introduction last April.

With her foundation guitar chords

recalling Lou Reed’s rhythmic style, the sighing resignation of

All The Way (“What’s the point in giving my all/When you turn

away?”) possessing the languid melodicism reminiscent of The

Velvet Underground’s poppier moments followed soon after. Her

next single, the excellent, enigmatically monikered B.I.E.K, arrived

a few months later. “That track was written about one of my

grandparents. It means a lot to me that song. I hope people will

take that and apply it to people in their lives, ’cos everyone feels

that way about someone.”

Better Off Dead, released in December, was the first fruits of

a deal inked with Jacaranda Records, making Steven labelmates

with alt.rock mavens SPILT and dreampop specialists Shards. A

change in rehearsal rooms saw Aimée and her group move into

the basement performance space of the legendary watering hole

to piece arrangements together. An energised cover of rock’n’roll

standard Shakin’ All Over, recorded for BBC Radio Merseyside

just before Christmas, drew a line under 2019.

Heading into the new decade, Steven and her team already

have the next batch of singles to serve up. Hell Is A Teenage Girl

is due for release on the Friday before International Women’s Day

(8th March); a harmony-laden gem, the cut takes its title from a

piece of dialogue in cult 2009 horror flick Jennifer’s Body. “That

was such a good line, it is hell being a teenage girl. Some of it

was like hell!” she laughs. “Hopefully the video will reflect that. I

love that line, though, I always thought it would make a great title

for a song.”

On the subject of visuals, the French New Wave era is

major source of ideas, both sartorially and on screen. “I was

big into that style: Jane Birkin, Marianne Faithfull in Girl On

A Motorcycle. I’ve always really been into it fashion-wise, as

well as culture-wise; I still am, really. Serge Gainsbourg is an

inspiration for me, that whole aesthetic he created is amazing.

When you listen to his music you realise, ‘Wow, that’s where

that came from’,” Aimée says of the chanteur’s heavily sampled

catalogue. The Nouvelle Vague era is especially evident in the

video for My Name, which features Steven looking as though

she’s stepped out of one of the era’s films, backed with footage

of rapidly motoring around Paris like a sped-up version of

Jean-Luc Godard’s masterpiece, Breathless.

Cranking up the energy level, the tremolo-assisted garage

rock stomper Darling is due to appear on May Day. “Darling

is about liking someone and not knowing if they like you back

and also being just a massive flirt, which I think people can

relate to.” Aimée explains. “It’s not heavy, but it has more of a

kick than some of the other tunes I have. We wanted to make

it feel like vintage garage rock. It seems to get the crowd going


With the next set of singles prepped and ready to be

released into the wild, gigs are set to increase in frequency

as 2020 progresses. Miraculously, given her assured stage

presence and confidence in front of the camera, Steven’s first

ever show was a mere eight months ago at Sound City. “Loads

of my mates showed up, I think they were hoping there’d be

some good blackmail material if it went wrong!” she laughs,

recalling the well-attended afternoon slot.

Treading the boards and opposite the recording console

alongside Aimée are guitarist James, drummer Martin and

recently arrived bassist Robyn. “We’ve just started rehearsing

together and it’s sounding incredible. We’re not a conventional

band, but despite being fronted by myself, in my head we’re

still a band. They play my music which I’m forever grateful for,

’cos they don’t have to do it. They’re all individually amazing. I

wanted to give them that freedom and not be overbearing.”

With Steven supplying the blueprints, the group have

gelled quickly to build on her work. “I want them to chip in

their own parts and enjoy what they’re playing, ’cos it was

what they had written, not me saying ‘Play this, play that’. It’s

getting more like that which is how I wanted it to be. I didn’t

want it to be a dictatorship of me going, ‘No, no, no, I don’t

like that, this is what you’re doing’. I wanted it to be like we

were all involved in what we were doing individually. It seems

to flow much better ’cos people have come up with the parts

themselves. They’re great musicians, so it always fits together,

which is cool.”

With all the pieces in place, all that’s required now is to set

the plan in action. “We’re hoping to play out of town quite a

bit this year,” Aimée says as the interview wraps up. “Last year

was about trying to establish ourselves in the city, we didn’t

oversaturate ourselves. We wanna leave people wanting more.

And I hope people want more, ’cos they’re gonna get it either

way!” Judging by the activity logged so far, potential audiences

will be more than receptive for what comes next. !

Words: Richard Lewis

Photography: Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk


Hell Is A Teenage Girl is available via Jacaranda Records in

March. Darling is available via Jacaranda Records in May.




MIG 15

“The fact that we

then get to play

our music every

night in these

beautiful places

to an audience of

people is just the

icing on the cake”

Electric waves of feel good indiepop

are the hallmarks of the

groovy enigma that is MiG 15.

With only four of their songs on Spotify, MIG 15 are a bit of a

mystery online; it may be a smart move on their part.

This newly formed four-piece have already supported

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark on their 2019 Souvenir tour.

Frontman Adam Bray describes it as being “thrown in at the deep

end”, having only played one warm up gig prior to the tour. With

their Christmas show at Jimmy’s finishing off last year, MiG 15

are set to bring their twisted 80s indie/pop vibe into 2020 and to

the ears of their new following.

Bray has been performing for over a decade, however the

current formation of MiG 15 is only six months old, with guitarist

James Morris (who also plays with Bido Lito! favourite Aimée

Steven) being the newest recruit. Bray describes the experience

of the tour as cementing the knowledge that “practice makes

perfect”. The foursome brought their punk attitude to the stage

at their recent show at Baltic Social, but their set in support of

OMD in Sheffield City Hall was electric – perhaps unsurprisingly

given that the audience numbers increased from 50 to just under

3000. “Playing to a sold-out crowd of that size in that venue still

brings a smile to our faces every time we think about it,” Bray

says, smiling.

What MiG 15 have taken from the Wirral greats is that no

individual is anything without their band members; each openly

have their limitations, but as a unit they aren’t shy about how

they’ve had to work at their craft. Having come together after

leading lives so deeply intertwined with music – from famous

family members to childhood obsessions with Johnny Cash – the

four have undeniably bonded as a group. This bond isn’t just

evident upon meeting them, but shines through in the tightness

of their performances and the humour they exude; this came

in handy in Sheffield, when a potential guitar string disaster

was breezed over by fronting it out with an otherwise oblivious


The band’s fanbase has grown through impressive

performances and word of mouth. Their standout song, Rolling

Thunder, is a fan favourite. Bray explains the beauty of the

track perfectly: “It’s a fast paced, unapologetic, three chord

confession on my views on religion.” The track steps away from

the 1950s-style harmonies that weave through songs like Dials

and Cellophane Girl, as the band incorporate the beauty of the

past with their vision for their future. They walk the tightrope

of old and new, balancing on a line that few have the ability to

master. Not set in their ways as so many can be critiqued to

be, but instead explore the unity between genres, times and

spaces. Their songs explore what so many avoid, from the

aforementioned religion to being obsessively stuck on reliving

memories, nothing feels taboo or off limits, but their sound offers

safety with its nod to what has been.

OMD weren’t the only ones to be captivated by MiG 15,

with the band also securing a six-day tour slot with Love Fame

Tragedy later this year. After wooing an older audience, these

likely lads are set to capture the interest of a younger crowd;

one that they are arguably better suited to. Music is clearly so

powerful in each of their lives and as they explain: “The fact

that we then get to play our music every night in these beautiful

places to an audience of people is just the icing on the cake.”

The quartet are currently recording in Parr Street Studios,

and the hope is that their upcoming releases will only quicken to

their gathering momentum. If all goes well, maybe they’ll follow in

the footsteps of Zuzu and The Mysterines and secure a space on

the next NME 100 list. !

Words: Megan Walder / @m_l_wald

Photography: Innes Marlow / facebook.com/innesmarlowimages


MiG15 will be supporting Love Fame Tragedy on their UK tour

starting on 25th February. New single Bite The Bullet is out now.




Sarah Sands and Jack O’Hanlon

of the nu jazz fusionists open

up about the myriad influences

that make the quintet such an

appealing draw on the Liverpool

jazz circuit.

“Music is our

collective creative

outlet; it’s quite a

vocational thing,

we aren’t together

for the money”

If you had to describe your style in a sentence, what would you


We used to refer to it as “jazz for 20-year olds”, but, ultimately,

we think of it as a variant of jazz-fusion.

How did you get into music?

In terms of writing music, we kind of got into it by accident. We

would do gigs, but we only played covers that we liked and

eventually started integrating songs we wrote. We really learnt

how to play with one another and develop as a band as opposed

to trying to write straight off the bat.

Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?

What does it say about you?

Funk Detective is one of my favourites to play. It’s super tight,

slightly syncopated, punchy horns along with the driving rhythm

section. I love the energy we get from it! It’ll be on our upcoming

EP, hopefully out in the coming few months so watch this space.

Why is music important to you?

Sarah: I think it’s only since coming to Liverpool, being able to get

gigs and meeting such great people, that I’ve felt music take a

central role in my life. There’s nothing else that could replace that

energy you feel after playing a gig or recording a new tune!

Jack: Music is our collective creative outlet; it’s quite a vocational

thing, we aren’t together for the money. We wouldn’t be doing

this if we didn’t love it.

What do you think is the overriding influence on your

songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture

of all of these?

The strongest influence is other musicians and gigs that get us

thinking! We are really into bands like the Brecker Brothers, John

Scofield, Chick Corea, so we just focus on trying to come up with

good tunes. If somebody comes up with a cool riff or a melody

then we take that and run with it. We also try to not take it too

seriously and keep it fun.

If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?

Jack: Steely Dan, I’ve become completely obsessed! If anyone

has been to one of our Frederiks gigs there’s always a Steely Dan

tune thrown in. It’d be amazing to be able to support a band of

that calibre; if you know anyone who can get us in touch, send us

a DM!

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what

makes it special?

We’ve had so many good ones! We like intimate, high energy

gigs as opposed to big stages. We played Band On The Wall and

loved how the crowd can be right up in your face. Frederiks is a

close second; everyone just sets up in the corner and plays cool

covers and their own tunes.

Can you recommend an artist, band or album that Bido Lito!

readers might not have heard?

If you haven’t been to see The Grapes latin-jazz band on a

Sunday, or been to Frederiks, The Caledonia, you’re missing out

on the coolest spots in Liverpool for jazz.

Photography: Jacob Barrow



Jazz-infused dream-pop melodies

with hypnotising rhythms,

frontman and vocalist George

Pomford weighs in on MONKS’


“I think songwriting is

a great feeling; when

you write a song

and people sing it

back at your shows,

it’s just the best”

Have you always wanted to create music?

Not really. When I was a kid I was just into playing football and

going out with my friends. It’s only been the last two or three

years where I’ve started to write songs and start a band.

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially

inspired you?

The Pond show at the Invisible Wind Factory in 2017 was a big

moment. I met Nathan, our guitarist, and the idea of Monks came

about. Seeing them live with the loud guitars and synths blew my

mind and opened my songwriting to different elements which I

wasn’t putting into practice before.

If you had to describe your style in a sentence, what would you


I think when people see us they definitely think we’re 70s

inspired, but we all have our own style. In terms of the music,

it crosses many boundaries: psych music, funk and modern

alternative is what most of our songs are based around.

What do you think is the overriding influence on your

songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture

of all of these?

Listening and seeing live shows is the biggest inspiration; taking

bits from the music around me and making it into our own

sound. I tend to write the music first, then put lyrics over the top

depending on the tone or mood of the song. I tend not to write

anything politically driven, I don’t really know enough about it

and it can come off proper cringey.

Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?

We would say our single Why Does Everybody Look The Same?.

When played live, it proper goes off and I think lyrically holds a

good message; one that everyone in the band relates to. As a

song, musically, it shows us off well.

If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?

Probably Nile Rodgers with Chic, he seems like such a sound fella

and he’s a living legend. I’d also love to support someone like Tyler

The Creator; I heard he goes out on his bike and cycles around

before shows. That would be boss to go on float with Tyler!

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what

makes it special?

Sound Basement on Duke Street will always hold a special place

in our hearts. It’s where we did our first shows and learnt how to

properly play live. Boss little boozer to watch the footy in as well,

what a place!

Why is music important to you?

Without it I would be bored out of my mind, I wouldn’t have

anything to do! I think songwriting is a great feeling; when you

write a song and people sing it back at your shows, that is just

the best.

Photography: Dylan Mead / @Dylanmeadphotograph


MONKS support The Night Cafe at Liverpool Olympia on 24th

April. Corduroy is released 21st February.



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With her assemblage of talents, former actress

turned multiple Grammy Award-nominated singsongwriter


her immense passion for all things unifying and

harmonious, not only through her epochal smile, but her glorious

array of ardently composed songs.

After the release of her 2011 debut album Fatou, the Malian

artist was to be the most talked about new African artist on the

planet, sparking the flame for the wildfire of collaborations that

were to follow. Through Diawara’s concern for the progression

of minorities, this led to the involvement of such projects as

the formation of a West African supergroup that recorded a

song pressing for peace in her distressed homeland, as well

as joining the line-up for the UK-based non-profit organisation

Africa Express, resulting in her sharing the stage with Sir Paul


Compiling the complexities of raw human emotion,

Diawara’s most recent album, Fenfo, is sure to be showered with

praise during her imminent UK tour. Ahead of a date in Liverpool

on 6th February, Anouska Liat picked up the phone to the Malian

figurehead for a chat with what felt like an old, trusted friend.


You moved to France when you were 19, saying that you

wanted to explore your freedom and pursue acting. Was it

youthful curiosity, a strong sense of confidence in yourself, or

a combination of both that encouraged you?

It was a personal decision and a necessity for me to leave at that

time. Now, through my own experiences, I’m trying to convince

the new generation to be survivors and fight for their own

stories. Sometimes your parents want to decide for you, society

does too sometimes. It’s good for humans to do what they want;

life is very strange and fast.

You’ve previously stated in an interview that making your

music is easy as it’s in your blood; it’s your ancestry, tradition

and culture. Do you therefore believe that taking inspiration

from your heritage is imperative to your success?

For sure. In Mali, we have a lot of music but we are all based in

the blues. I always combine traditional and modern music – I

don’t just make music for the Malian people, it’s also for my

international audiences. You will always hear some rock ’n’ roll,

on stage especially. The blues naturally comes from the desert,

and I also incorporate folk music.

With music being in your blood, does this mean that you feel

you have that constant creative flow, or is it something you

have to forcibly summon?

I focus my mind on traditional music, the roots. Behind

everything I’m doing, my truth is what’s most important. I want

my audience to hear my sincerity and honesty. The audience

should feel comfortable no matter where they come from or

what language they speak; you have to let them feel like you are

one. When I am myself, this is shown in my traditional music, the

one I have in my blood and ancestry.

You’re back in the UK soon with your tour, the first gig being in

London. How do you find performing to non-native speakers?

Do you think it provides more room for connection with the

music itself?

It’s like bringing my spirit to them, and I focus on the love that we

will be sharing that night; I’m just excited to be in front of them.

I always hope my shows are sold-out because we cannot dance

or jump or scream, we cannot have fun unless we’re all together,

and that is what life is about. Music is a universal language,

and playing in front of a Malian or English audience makes no

difference because it’s all about love, melodies, groove, funk,

blues, rock. We’re gonna just rock it.

Your songs are obviously of great importance, aiding the

notion of encouragement for many movements and beliefs,

with one of your songs denouncing trafficking and modern

slavery. Other songs also have the recurring theme of a need

for equality, is this something you find very easy to talk about?

Yes, I normally have a message behind my songs. I have been

fighting a lot in my life as a child

of this planet, and I would like to

keep fighting for people. That’s

why I broach subjects like female

genital mutilation or arranged

marriage, because I would like to

save the next generation, which

means all our children. That’s why

my subjects are always something

heavy, however I try to find simple

melodies to keep my audience from

getting frustrated when they listen

– I want them to be happy. But I

will always send a little message

just to say ‘OK, there is something

happening there, what could we do

to change this?’.

When talking about the new album artwork, you were said to

look like you were “representing a nation”. How does it feel

to be in such a position of visibility and do you ever sense any


Not really, I appreciate it a lot. I’m like a child inside; many big

artists have always told me ‘don’t lose your child soul’. I like to


“I’m trying to convince

the new generation to

be survivors and fight

for their own stories”


Leaf – 06/02

The Malian musician discusses her family-like connection to music

and her enduring energy to harness the artform for progressive

change and wellbeing.

dance, sing and have fun with people – I’m like a baby! I can’t

see any colours or preconceptions of how to live life. For me, we

are all one and the same and we should enjoy life today. My job

is to make people happy and it’s a kind of healing I enjoy giving

my audience. After my show I want people to feel good and

think, ‘Wow, I feel happy now’.

The fourth track on your latest

album, Kanou Dan Yen, is about

a couple who love each other

but cannot be together due to

their family’s beliefs on ethnicity.

What would you tell those who

may be unfortunate enough

to still find themselves in that


We have this problem in our

country still, but now I realise,

through travelling, it’s a global

issue. When you’re poor you

cannot be married to a rich guy,

and when you’re from a particular

religion you cannot marry a different religion. I took a story

from my friend in Mali who was suffering with something like

this, so through this experience I can reach other people in the

world who are dealing with discrimination. Love must be free,

love is love, and doesn’t have a colour or nationality – nor does

music. Love is unity, and should be normal and accessible to


You call music your family and say that it gives you hope. Do

you therefore think music has a higher purpose than just its

sonic form?

Music is still like my father, my mother and best friend. I spend

more time around the world than I do with my family, so it’s my

spirit and it keeps me surviving. Music is much more than just

something to listen to, it represents who I am, and people can

see more of my soul when I’m singing. I’m kind of a depressed

person; I go down with my brain when I’m not on stage. Music is

my hospital, my medicine.

Fenfo translates as ‘something to say’ in English. Is there

something you’d like to say to the readers of Bido Lito! that

might encourage them moving forward with the new year?

Yes. I’d like to encourage people to talk, to encourage women to

speak out and to express and defend themselves. I don’t have

time to go to the doctors to talk about my own experiences, but

through music I speak to my audience and they listen. It feels like

I’m healing myself. All the subjects on Fenfo I should probably go

to the psychologist and talk about. Instead, I just go to my studio

and make an album to share my feelings and opinions, as I’ve

done for my whole life. !

Words: Anouska Liat

Photography: Aida Muluneh


Fatoumata Diawara plays Leaf on Thursday 6th February. Fenfo

is out now.










Some things are just meant to happen. For South

London’s DRY CLEANING, forming a band was a

matter of fate. Its draw eventually proved inescapable,

even when recruiting a lead vocalist who didn’t sing, or

has ever expressed an interest in fronting a band. And yet, in less

than a year, the four-piece – consisting of Florence Shaw, Lewis

Maynard, Tom Dowse and Nick Buxton – have authoritatively

planted their flag in the ground of a crowded London scene,

setting about turning heads nationwide with a searching blend

of spoken word and reassuring backbone of home-built riffs.

Gearing up for a busy 2020, the band make their way to

Liverpool on their first UK tour. Ahead of the stop here on 21st

February, Elliot Ryder interrupted vocalist Florence Shaw’s

day of personal admin to chat about her quantum leap into the

spotlight, internet introspection and owning on-stage tension.


It’s been quite a mercurial transition for yourself, going from

never playing a show, joining the band, recording two EPs and

now about to start a full UK tour – all in the space of a year.

Are there times where you have to ask yourself how all this

has happened?

Mentally I’m still catching up to it. It’s such a big change that

I’m dealing with it one day at a time. There’s a lot more turmoil

involved than you’d imagine. I’m quite an anxious person, really.

Things like my routine, my plans and how I organise things –

seeing that changing freaks me out. I’m one of those people

where any small difference and I shut down a little bit. It’s

definitely been a big challenge to reorient myself as performer.

So is it a little strange to go from being an artist and lecturer

to having to take phone interviews at 1pm on a Tuesday


When I was drawing, I was always talking about my work. The

main difference is that it’s now much more personal. There’s

something about speaking or singing or fronting a band that is

more personality led. Visual art less so. It’s not so much about

you. You make a drawing or image to detract attention from

yourself, putting it onto a piece of paper or onto a wall. This is

different because it is me. The voice is coming out of my body.

It’s interesting to see the difference in the reaction that people

have. To a certain extent there’s a lot of food for thought in terms

of your actual personality and yourself and how you look as more

of a product. That’s just the nature of performing in any field; it’s

much more about your body. It’s frightening but also inspiring.

Is there personal curation in your lyricism? You’ve previously

harvested comments from YouTube, written an ode to Meghan

Markle and questioned the cleanliness of budget hotel carpets.

Or is it more a conduit for reflecting and interpreting random

fragments of society?

Some songs are very carefully curated where I’ll have a whole

heap of collected words that I’ll comb through really carefully,

and almost colour code things so they align to different themes,

finding phrases that speak to that theme. Sometimes it’s just

how words sound. It’s much less a specific story idea. More

so something that sounds funny or unexpected. It’s a bit of

everything and changes over time.

Do you find similarities in your other artistic practices when

writing lyrics?

Like any kind of drawing, the way I feel about making images

and putting the words together, is kind of the same. Anyone

making something is trying to solidify how they see the world in

an object that they’ve made. Everyone has their own point view,

their own personal TV show of how they see the world. Making

a reflection of it on paper or in words is so reassuring. When

I write the words, I’m trying to encapsulate what the world

appears like to me – for comfort, essentially. To feel less alone. To

feel reassured, if that makes any sense at all.

So is dictating these feelings a form of coping mechanism for

the constant barrage of messages and signals that surround us?

Some people are quite soft and have

one layer less of skin. Some people

find it easier to let things bounce

off them. I’m definitely not one of

those people. I’m quite a raw nerve,

and in any environment I would feel

fairly inundated by thoughts, just

because I’m an over-thinker and

I attach meanings to things that I

probably shouldn’t. The lyricism is

sort of like talking to myself, talking

myself down off a ledge. I’m making

sense of things, obviously not in a

straightforward way. It’s also like

reaching out, testing the waters,

asking if anyone knows what the hell

I’m on about. That’s actually been one of the nice things about

the band – people do relate to the words. It surprises me at first,

because I see it as a random collection of phrases. But when I

put it all together, I start to see something in it. It’s quite intuitive.

I think the social media age provides us with pockets of

absurdity that communities coalesce around, an example

being YouTube comments, something which you’ve fed into

your lyricism. It’s almost like these spaces are a deep pool of

introspection beyond tangible judgement.

When I find things that I want to include in songs, it’s almost


“I’m trying to

encapsulate what the

world appears like

to me - for comfort



Shipping Forecast – 21/02

The South London four-piece leave the door ajar to their homely space

where the walls are coloured by a collage of introspective absurdity.

always because I’m moved by them. Even if that’s just the act

of someone putting something personal on the internet under a

video, it says something about somebody who might not have

a lot of outlets, or maybe there isn’t anyone to talk to at that

moment, so they throw it out into the abyss. I find something

moving about that. I think people can relate to that too, as though

they’ve just told a stranger at a party something very personal.

I feel like YouTube comments are a

little bit like that. It is anonymous, in

that you’re telling people who don’t

know you at all. There’s something

very valuable in that. But at the same

time, they can be so crude and so,

so nasty and vitriolic. And you know,

I’m sometimes moved by those too,

because who are these people and

why do they need to be doing it?

When I see the really nasty comments,

it fills me with empathy, because I just

think, ‘What a tortured soul’.

You recall being slightly hesitant

when being asked to be lead vocalist

of the band. Do you think it’s this shy reluctancy that places

you in the position to be a compelling observer when collating


I think it has. When I joined, I thought, ‘OK, crap, I’m going to

have to try and be a front-person in a band – at some point I’m

going to have to work out how to move, how to be a performer’.

But I said to myself, ‘I’ll do that side of things in a bit, but for

now I’ll just get through it and do it the best I can, and if I look

nervous then I’ll just look nervous. I’ll just embrace whatever I

can manage’. I thought that would develop into an all-singing,

all-dancing persona, which I now realise is completely unrealistic,

and not me at all. Now I’ve just leaned into that first version a

bit more. I’m still learning how to be on a stage. The best way

I’ve found is to make yourself feel as at home as possible and

to get out of your head. Just be myself. Just be an observer and

remain quite physically shy.

You’re owning the tension in a way.

Yeh, that’s a good way of putting it.

It’s interesting the way you mention the home environment

on stage. I think there’s a strong sense of home in the

atmosphere of Dry Cleaning, something which you can

draw from the tight repetition of the instrumentals and the

titling of the second EP, which emerged from practices in

your bassist’s mum’s house. How much does comfort and

familiarity sculpt the world of Dry Cleaning?

The whole thing started in Lewis’ family home, and maybe it’s

because we’re all bit older than most bands breaking through,

but we’ve come to a place where we really value home, and

not doing things because of expectation. We’ve outgrown the

social pressure to do certain things, or act a certain way. That

has a lot to do with feeling comfortable in your own skin. It’s

definitely the theme that runs through our band. We look quite

different as a group. We never said we need to adhere to a

particular style, or we all need to dress a certain way. We just

did our own thing and it worked out quite well. It owes a lot to

just being at ease in our own skin and the homeliness of it all. !

Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder

Photography: Hanna-Katrina Jedrosz

Dry Cleaning play The Shipping Forecast on Friday 21st

February with support from Pozi. Sweet Princess and Boundary

Road Snacks And Drinks are out now via It’s OK.




Now into its eighth year, LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL has been well

placed to observe the boom in contemporary jazz in the UK, and has delighted in

pairing various exciting modern day innovators with some of jazz’s leading legends in

its programming. It is testament to the festival’s brave booking that this year’s line-up

offers something mouth-watering for jazz fans of all stripes.

Among the new breed is energetic jazz collective CYKADA, the latest ensemble to emerge from

London’s Total Refreshment Centre melting pot. Engaging with distant poles and analogue worlds,

Cykada’s style fizzes with a host of eastern and western influences, not to mention interweaving

narratives of intriguing beauty and devastation. Featuring members of Ezra Collective and Myriad

Forest (among others), Cykada and their boundary-pushing approach kick off the festival, supported

by Jazz North Introduces act YAATRI, a five-piece crossover quintet from in Leeds.

LIJF’s Saturday finds itself in the presence of SARATHY KORWAR, leader of the UPAJ Collective and

one of the most original voices within the UK jazz scene. Korwar began playing tabla from age of 10,

while growing up in Ahmedabad and Chennai, India. However, due being born in the US, Korwar




Playhouse Theatre – 18/02-22/02






Capstone Theatre – 27/02-03/03

also found himself drawn to American music, including the likes of Ahmad Jamal and John Coltrane.

Korwar’s set will draw from across his three studio albums, including 2019’s More Arriving, a highly

percussive and honest reflection of Korwar’s experience of being an Indian in an increasingly divided


Dutch innovators TIN MEN AND THE TELEPHONE (27th February) and Belgians BLOW 3.0 (29th

February) add a touch of futurism to proceedings, and further fresh takes on jazz in all of its forms.

The festival is closed out in slightly more traditional fashion on Sunday 3rd March by TONY KOFI

QUARTET, with support from locals BLIND MONK THEORY?. The Quartet’s performance will

mainly focus on saxophonist Kofi’s work with the legendary Ornette Coleman. After working with

Coleman four years prior, Londoner Tony Kofi became inspired to create a collective consisting of

world class musicians who were all touched and inspired by Coleman’s work.

Individual event tickets and full festival passes can be found at ticketquarter.co.uk.


In 1968, Night Of The Living Dead started out as a low-budget independent horror movie telling the

story of seven strangers taking refuge from flesh eating ‘ghouls’ in an isolated farmhouse. 50 years

on from the release of George A. Romero’s zombie cult classic, seven actors now recreate the eerily

foreboding air that cloaks the room with that ominous sense of dread.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD – REMIX is the product of Imitating The Dog, masters of digital theatre and

one of the UK’s most innovative theatre companies. Working through 1,076 edits in 95 minutes, the sevenstrong

crew not only perform a shot-for-shot recreation of the film, they also film and stage it themselves

in real time. Armed with cameras, costumes and defaced Barbie dolls, the cast attempt to stick close to the

paranoia-driven theme of the much-loved film, yet allow space for spontaneity and ingenuity to dictate the

balance of humour and apprehensive fear.

Romero’s original was an apocalyptic vision of paranoia, ruminating on the breakdown of community and the

end of the American dream. Pre-dating the zombie horror craze in cinema, Romero’s film favoured unsettling

social commentary over shock and gore. Archive footage and imagery will be mixed in to the Remix, mirroring

the original’s quasi-documentary style; additional newsreel projections will also focus on riots and the

struggle of the civil rights movement that raged in the US at the time, adding layers of historical context that

can be inferred from the film’s foreboding tone.

This modern adaptation is a love song to the film, a remaking and remixing which attempts to understand

the past in order not to have to repeat it. It is in turns humorous, terrifying, thrilling, thought provoking and

joyous; but, above all, in the retelling it becomes a searing parable for our own complex times.






Alfa Mist

Invisible Wind Factory – 29/02

Alfa Mist

Flourishing in the concrete landscape of East London, ALFA MIST

uncovered a love for amalgamating elements of jazz and hip hop, a

talent that marked him out as a singular talent on his moody 2015

debut, Nocturne. A compound artist who enjoys genre hopping as

much as he does sampling and splicing, Mist retains a love for the kind

of urban soundscapes that remind him of his upbringing – mellow and

reflective. Last year’s Structuralism, Mist’s third LP, finds the classically

trained pianist in melancholic form, allowing improvisation – and

the voice of his sister, speaking to him about society’s difficulty in

communicating effectively – to lead the way. It’s only really in the live

arena where the depths of Mist’s talents can be truly felt, charged as

they are with intensely personal emotions.


Eclair Fifi

Meraki – 21/02

Scottish DJ and visual artist Clair Stirling, ECLAIR FIFI, has become one of

the UK’s most colourful DJs, the kind of selector you want at the helm when

a party bursts into life. Having helmed residencies at Paris Social Club and

Hoya:Hoya, she was instrumental in the growth of the LuckyMe parties

in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Through her DJing and visual work, Eclair Fifi

helped LuckyMe present a new vision of club music to techno-devoted

Scottish ravers and forge relationships with like-minded crews globally.

Evolving from Detroit techno to Italo disco to electro, she is a much indemand

curator, hosting stages at The Warehouse Project and Amsterdam

Dance Event in recent years. The intimate confines of Meraki, then, will be

like an old school party, and one that is sure to sell out.

Eclair Fifi


Psycho Comedy

Phase One – 15/02

PSYCHO COMEDY certainly believe that rock ’n’ roll needs saving, and their debut LP

Performance Space Number One is the first part of their mantra that will convince you

that they’re right. If you’re a fan of rock that chugs like The Stooges and shimmers like

the Velvets, then you may well think this Scouse collective have done just that. Powered

by frontman Shaun Powell’s Lou-meets-Mavers swagger, and Matthew Thomas Smith’s

Fall-esque poetic outbursts, there’s a lot to love within the six-piece’s energy and squall.

The collective release their debut effort on independent label Silver Machine Recordings

on Valentine’s Day, and you can win a date with guitarist Jack Thompson by picking up the

record at the Phase One launch show.


Gill Landry

Philharmonic Hall – 18/02

Once a busker on the streets of New Orleans, now a two-time Grammy

award-winning singer-songwriter; it just goes to show that determination

and an undying confidence in your abilities pays off. Multi-instrumentalist

GILL LANDRY has lent his notoriously full-toned vocals to work with Laura

Marling, Karen Elson and The Felice Brothers, and his brand new Skeleton

At The Banquet album comes out like a series of reflections and thoughts on

the collective hallucination that is America. Whether you resonate with his

sweet Southern blues or not, Landry’s capability to capture and analyse the

complexities of human reflection is enough to observe his live craft in action.


Extra Soul Perception

Africa Oyé @ 24 Kitchen Street – 24/02

Extra Soul Perception

A collaboration of funk beats and jazz bops, EXTRA SOUL PERCEPTION is a project exploring new

tangents in soul. Merging eight talents from the UK and East Africa, ESP is led by an open-minded

approach to harmonising different sounds, techniques and traditions. Returning from a writing camp

in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, the artists – comprised of vital figures in the new wave London jazz and

soul scenes and renowned visionary musicians from Kenya and Uganda – are stepping forth to

challenge the preconceptions of a long-established genre. The ESP album will land in April, but for

now the group are armed and ready for their exclusive three-day tour, that has its finale underneath

Kitchen Street’s disco ball.


The Big Moon

O2 Academy – 28/02

“I’m so bored of being capable, I need somewhere to be vulnerable,” sings Juliette

Jackson on It’s Easy Then, the opening track from the London quartet’s second album

Walking Like We Do. This opening is a pretty obvious sign that the group are at a

thematic crossroads, favouring an honest strain of lyricism over the more love songorientated

tone of their debut LP. This is coupled with more of a rounded, lush sound

on the new album that sees the band leaning more towards the pop than the punk,

which isn’t overly surprising for a group so obsessed with the glam of 90s boy bands

and Britpop. And, given the success that Haim and Hinds have had in this area in

recent years, you can fully expect to see and hear a lot more from THE BIG MOON as

the year progresses.

The Big Moon




Aldous Harding (Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk)

“When a solo line

cuts in, the stillness is

quickly weaponised,

as if you’re stepping

out of a fine mist

into a concentrated

jet stream”

Aldous Harding

Harvest Sun @ Arts Club – 04/12/19

As the cinematic house music fades, a lone figure slips

through the stage curtains. Without making a sound, ALDOUS

HARDING approaches the mic and reaches for her classical

acoustic guitar. The main feature is now in session.

Over the past few years the New Zealand singer-songwriter

has developed a significant cult buzz for her fiercely unique

live shows, with 2017’s Party and 2019’s Designer (released

on 4AD) opening her up to a far wider audience. Cryptic and

capricious, her songwriting shifts between neo-folk torch songs

and queasy alt.pop, prone to flashbacks of Gorky’s Zygotic

Mynci-inspired Welsh psychedelia (so, it’s no wonder she’s found

a kindred spirit in bandmate and partner, H. Hawkline). This,

paired with her deeply intense stage presence, makes Harding

impossible to ignore.

The first thing you notice is Harding’s look. Her most recent

music videos have paid homage to surrealist filmmaker Alejandro

Jodorowsky, though tonight she emerges looking like the ghost

of a Victorian sailor. Her mother was a Canadian folk singer and

puppeteer, perhaps explaining the curious manner that she stalks

the stage, heavily reminiscent of Hunky Dory-era Bowie, with

some The Man Who Fell To Earth humanoid awkwardness mixed

in. Between songs she’s painfully slow, deliberate and mindful

of every action. During the first two acoustic tracks, I’m So

Sorry and Living The Classics, her eyes roll back and her cheeks

crumple into a grimace, as her voice curls in on itself. At times she

looks perplexed or hesitant, as if performing at gun-point.

Yet, somehow, Harding’s theatrics never feel contrived.

Her angular, Theresa May Dancing Queen limbs and surgical

precision simply appear a natural, uncoloured extension of the

music. I’ve never witnessed anyone work silence like her, either.

Everything is laid bare to the point that watching her can often

feel highly uncomfortable. Holding your breath, she wordlessly

commands your attention. There’s nowhere to hide. Small talk,

standard conventions, it all slips away.

With Harding the underlying pain and absurdity at the centre

of everything is worn on the outside. What’s on the surface might

look peculiar at first, is soon recognisable as something much

more familiar. In her weird, wounded and confounding way you

see something of yourself. Uniquely exposed, she sings directly to

our collective oddness.

On the rare occasion she does speak, she attempts an

explanation. After the stagnant beauty of What If Birds Aren’t

Singing They’re Screaming, she admits, “I know I’m not known for

my smiley, easy going presence. Everybody’s different,” adding in,

“two things can be real”. A few songs before she says, “I’m quiet

because I am focused. I’m not closed. I am open,” finishing with a

grin. During the song Designer, Harding reels off lines like a fedup

fashionista, adding extra emphasis to “Give up your beauty”,

as if she’s dropping a heavy clue.

Each arrangement is treated with just the same delicacy as

well. Sparse and subtle, notes linger, suspended like dust motes.

Guitarists lean back, sitting out of entire songs. In Zoo Eyes

when a solo line does cut in, the stillness is quickly weaponised,

as if you’re stepping out of a fine mist into a concentrated jet

stream. Hitting the chorus, the song’s thick pad of harmonies

feels like a huge pay-off. Treasure exercises the same restraint.

Harding’s eyes flicker before the hook, bringing her back to us,

as if its serene tide was about to pull her out for good. Band and

audience both quietly attentive, all equally invested; it seems to

drive the music deeper.

During the jumbled shuffle of The Barrel, three friends dance,

peaches bobbing in their hands above the crowd (referring to

lyrics: “Look at all the peaches, how do you celebrate”). Harding’s

previously described the song as “serious, but seriously happy”,

which adds up, being as joyful as it is abstract and open-ended.

New tune Old Peel follows suit. Harding plays a mug with a

drumstick while yelping at the crowd as they ape back. It’s quite

the contrast to the sincere, heartsick march of penultimate track

Imagining My Man. Yet, here’s Harding at her most pure and

paradoxical; still singing, sashaying and clattering at her coffee

cup as the Titanic goes down. !

David Weir / @BetweenSeeds

Aldous Harding (Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk)


Eurosonic Noorderslag

Various venues, Groningen – 15/01-17/01

New year’s resolutions are there to be broken. As noble as

the intentions may be behind detoxing and treadmills, if we’re

being honest, they aren’t much fun. So maybe we’re just getting

it all wrong? Maybe our 2020 resolution should instead constitute

a steadfast commitment to discovering as much new music as

possible. That’s surely something we can get on board with,


As a point of dedicated initiation to this year of audio

adventuring, Groningen’s EUROSONIC NOORDERSLAG festival

– sat plumb on the nose of January – is there to set us off on the

right track. And, as Europe’s leading festival of new music, it

sounds like shit loads more fun than kale smoothies and burpees.

A programme of industry talks and panels, with the added

exercise of cycling between the offering of over 400 live acts, is a

cocktail much more enticing in the dry month of January.

So, boosted by the idea of a resolution we may actually be

able to keep, we set the controls for the heart of the new music

universe and jump on a plane and head for the Netherlands.

After a break-neck sprint through Groningen, we arrive just

in time to catch YIN YIN, who are on a mission to reclaim the

twin-neck guitar from Derek Smalls. This Maastricht four-piece

could easily be Allah-Las’ Balearic-infused brothers, fusing

lackadaisical, dusty soundscapes with Korg-heavy dancefloor

grooves. Think Nippon Guitars receiving the Andrew Weatherall

treatment. They’re almost as cool as their crushed velvet kaftans.

Fans of Goat, take note.

Thanks to the Dutch cargo bike we’ve commandeered for the

trip (when in Rome and all that), we seemingly manage to be in

two places at once, catching both SIR WAS and Liverpool’s own

EYESORE & THE JINX within the space of an hour.

Sir Was’s In The Midst – in all its Porcelain Raft and Washed

Out looseness – is one of our current favourite cuts, rediscovered

of late (by this correspondent at least) after it passed us by on

its 2017 release. Live, it is a real treat, receiving a high-energy

make-over. In their typically understated, unassuming Swedish

way, Sir Was could quietly cause quite a fuss.

Almost 12 months to the day since gracing the front cover

of these pink pages, Eyesore & The Jinx are one of the hottest

shows tonight at Eurosonic. It feels like an important, crowning

moment in the Eyesore journey. The school canteen that has

been appropriated for their show is busting at the doors and they

perform with their characteristic, seemingly unflappable purpose

and poise. We are, however, hit with the grim realisation that On

An Island – in its lament of the narrow-minded and nauseating

pigheadedness of little England – has an all-together more

sinister undercurrent in 2020 than it did on its release. Performed

here, at a festival celebrating the joy of creative European

collaboration, as Britain simultaneously sails off into the Brexit

abyss, it is afforded a further lacquer of despair.

JUNIOR BROTHER is about as trad-Irish as Richard Dawson

is trad-folk. Here is an artist shaped by a storied songbook,

who simultaneously torches it. Set within an exquisite, ornately

baroque, underground lair, this is as punk, as soulful, as visceral

as it gets.

Punk, soulful, visceral could just as equally form the byline

for KAUKOLAMPI. Spawned from this parish’s favourite Finnish

house/metal combo K-X-P, this side-project is dark techno,

Blanck Mass-brutal, yet wouldn’t seem out of place leathering the

dancefloor in the Cream annex.

Heavily oiled, we are now a hazardous two-wheeled road

user. It seems these wide Dutch handlebars get wobblier by the

schooner. Still, no excuse for the near fatal cross-town seater

that is deployed to get to KO SHIN MOON. These are a French

duo who borrow from across the spectrum like a backpacker’s

sonic scrapbook, creating a synth-laden mix, perfect for fans of

Klaus Johann Grobe. It is worth the near-death experience.

We are by now convinced that Eurosonic is the best music

discovery festival we’ve been to. Groningen is tiny and – aided

by our trusty if heavily bruised bicycle – so easy to jump between

venues. Nowhere is more than a five-minute pedal away and,

with cycle lanes, no hills to traverse and a pedestrianised centre,

it is perfect for venue hopping. How they pack around 30 official

venues (the unofficial fringe is even bigger) into a town centre

the size of Chester is plainly ridiculous. This is music nut heaven.

CHARLOTTE ADIGÉRY has been honing her craft under the

tutelage of Soulwax – releasing on their DeeWee imprint – and

shares her Belgian compatriots’ immaculate sense of tough

dancefloor sensibility and unadulterated pop mega-hooks.

She’s a ready to go, box-fresh, bonafide pop star, who is clearly

equally at home delivering 4am bangin’ club sets as she is at

tastemaker festivals. Despite the fact Huize Maas is bursting at

the seams and bopping along to every bleep, yelp and bass drop,

she screams for more from her audience. “Are you with me? This

is a showcase, but you are allowed to dance! Give me more!”

Charlotte has high standards.

One aspect Eurosonic seem to nail

consistently is presenting artists in spaces

that perfectly suit their oeuvre. This is a

lovingly curated festival. Belfast’s KITT

PHILIPPA benefits from this approach

beautifully as we bear witness to 45

minutes of the most joyous, fragile,

soulful wonderfulness, set within

the intimate chapel that is Lutherse

Kerk. Blending a classical virtuosity,

gorgeously crafted songs and spacious

arrangements; think Anna Calvi sat

at the piano, making all your dreams

come true.

If Lutherse Kerk was a delicate

chapel of joy, in the hands of


octagonal Nieuwe Kerk is a

cathedral of nightmares. But the

kind of nightmares you hope

to have every single night.

Heralded as “the new Scott

Walker” by The Guardian last

month, Forsyth presents a

series of musical stone tablets

that are possibly the most

visceral, angst-laden laments

we have experienced in

years. The minimal baritone

guitar, piano and violin

arrangements, with

their dramatic skyline of

mountainous crescendos,

are just sensational. Alongside this, Keeley Forsyth’s performance

is a physical act; she contorts and shifts as if each passage is an

exorcism, a cleansing and cathartic experience. Something of an

unlikely highlight, but if we were to select a Eurosonic standout,

it would be this.

And, with that, our adventure here is done. We have

completely fallen in love with Eurosonic, with Groningen and with

new acts numerous times over each night. Surely these are the

New Year’s resolutions worth keeping, right? !

Craig G Pennington

“How they pack around

30 official venues into

a town centre the size

of Chester is plainly

ridiculous. This is

music nut heaven”

Yin Yin (Bart Heemskerk)

Eurosonic Noorderslag (Bart Heemskerk)



Fontaines D.C.

EVOL @ O2 Academy – 20/11/19

Fontaines D.C. (Tomas Adam)

There’s nobody that follows music, that has an awareness of current scenes, that doesn’t know about

FONTAINES D.C. by now. Certainly, it seems that Liverpool does.

As you haul your weary body up the stairs of Liverpool Academy, among the throng of Wednesday night giggers,

you pass the entrance to Academy Two – the room where they were originally booked to play. Tonight, that’s empty,

and as you ascend the steepest bloody staircase on Merseyside and enter the heaving, sweaty confines of Academy

One, the excitement is palpable. The bigger brother is packed to the rafters full of young and old, the converted and

the curious as well as the hip. It seems Hotham Street is the only place to be tonight.

It’s been a rush for this Dublin five-piece over the last 12 months. Their debut album Dogrel was nominated for

whateverthemercurymusicprizeiscallednow, while BBC Radio 6 Music named it their album of the year. Most of this

tour has been upgraded and those upgrades have sold-out, too. This is a moment that we are in here, especially

when Fontaines’ Dublin scenester mates are also doing impeccably well, too. If you are reading this and DON’T go

to see The Murder Capital in town on 25th February then shame on you, as they too reinvigorate the live guitar punk

aesthetic. And Girl Band’s new album is immense, etc, etc.

They part stumble, part stroll onto the stage, ignoring the sweat that’s pouring down the walls. The beauty

of our very own Academy is that it can still resemble a ‘tiny’ venue when the band dictates. This seems to be the

way tonight, and the band respond by throwing themselves into the set at full tilt. There’s no banter, or hellos, or

interaction, just a visceral dive into replicating the album live. Get in and get out with a minimum of fuss. Frontman

Grian Chatten is proving to be the frontman that this generation deserves. An amalgamation of Curtis, E. Smith and

Reznor he lurks at the front of the band, shaking his hands and twitching at all times. It isn’t nerves, he is just trying

to fill his time before it’s his turn to fill yours.

Hurricane Laughter is the bass-driven opener and, as virtually every song on the album has an anthemic feel

to it, is an indication of how the set will play out. The beauty of seeing a band at this point in their career is how the

songs have been performed so many times they are relaxed, knowing mistakes are rare and performance is the key.

“There’s no connection available,” screams Grian, arms flailing and silver pendant flying about his torso. Sha Sha Sha

possesses a degree of funk about its build up with guitars and power chords. Television Screens is the midpoint and

the most dramatic song, as Grian’s chopped vocals hint at melody as he’s actually singing to the hundreds of hands

poking through the quiet white light that crawls from the stage. From this point on it’s bedlam.

“I love that violence that you get around here, that ready, steady violence…” Liberty Belle comes hurtling off

the stage and hits the mosh pit with such a bang you feel the shakes at the back of the room. The younger element

are going hyper now and it’s not the bev talking. So when Boys From The Better Land starts the entire room starts

moving. Everyone here is at one with the future sound of Dublin, limbs and vocal chords splayed for all to see. It’s

obvious they finish on album opener Big. The crescendo of confidence raising what’s left of the old abattoir’s roof.

This band are genuinely fantastic and deserve every plaudit chucked their way. We’ve had two amazing

performances in town by them over the last 12 months and there’s nothing to say they won’t be back again soon,


Ian R. Abraham / @scrash

John Head

+ Roy

St George’s Hall – 06/12/19

The drive in to St George’s Hall, from the north end at least, has suddenly

become a thing of genuine wonder.

The sudden absence of that monstrous flyover exposes the end face of the

museum, shows us the direct route to the tunnel, opens up the entire entrance

to town and presents a grandeur that we kind of knew was always there but

had taken for granted.

It could be easy to take JOHN HEAD for granted. It probably has been easy

for very many people to take John Head for granted for a very long time; easy

to view him as a junior partner in his elder brother’s adventure. The George to

Mick’s Lennon and McCartney in Shack’s storied tale. (And to totally misquote

Steve Coogan’s portrayal of Anthony H. Wilson: “If you don’t know who Shack

were then that’s fine but you should probably listen to more music.”)

Let’s assume that everybody here is more than familiar with Shack, with

The Pale Fountains, with all the stories, and not bother repeating them all for

the millionth time.

As I’m leaving the hall later I overhear conversations (I write, that’s what I

do, what we all do, we listen to you speak, all of you, all the time).

“Are you glad you came then?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Well, he was always kind of second fiddle…”

And that’s kind of true. A phenomenal guitarist, we all knew that. A

beautiful voice. A dazzling song here and there, slipped into Shack albums, a

Cornish Town, a Miles Apart, a Butterfly, a Carousel. All gorgeous, all shining in

their own right. All present tonight.

There’s a moment that gives the lie to the sentiment halfway though John’s

set, though. We’ll come to that. First we need to talk support.

And tonight’s support is ROY, the local legend who may possibly not be

operating under his real name to deliver his tales of dark whimsy. We know

what we’re getting with Roy now; streams of consciousness that take place in a

fantasy underworld version of Walton filled with larger than life plots that may

or may not (mostly may not) have their roots in truth.

That’s not what we get. Not until the end where there’s something that

may or may not be a ghost story about betting shops and chippies. What

we get tonight is THE CIRCUS MINDS. The man called Roy accompanied by

somebody on guitar who might not be operating under the name of NICK

ELLIS tonight, but doesn’t half play like him. We’re out of story mode and into

something that might (or might not) be poetry. They’re the meeting point

between Allen Ginsberg, Half Man Half Biscuit and John Fahey that you hadn’t

realised you needed until now.

John Head though. We’re here for John. Only a few months since his

sudden re-emergence at two very quickly sold-out Parr Street Studio2 dates,

the man is now selling out St George’s Hall’s Small Concert Room. A beautiful

setting for a beautiful sound.

There are things I think about the sound. Sinuous, that’s one. Dreamlike,

obviously. Pastoral. Bucolic. Acoustic. Very much acoustic. One guitar, one

bass, a keyboard, drums, two pieces of brass. There’s some jazz in there, too.

Some late-60s folk. There are beautifully fractured rhythms. There’s space.

There’s lots of space. And everything supports the songs, supports the vocals.

And the vocals are beautiful.

The band number six, then four, then three, then one. Whatever they

number, the emphasis is always on the vocals, filling the marbled hall with

ridiculous clarity.

I think of Fred Neil, Tims Hardin and Buckley; once I think of Nick Drake, but

only once and only briefly. Mark Hollis comes to mind because of all that air in

the music, John Martyn for the same reason and the version of Van Morrison

that made Astral Weeks.

None of theses names arise as influence. We’re not talking influence, we’re

talking lineage. There are songs from the fabled, mythical John Head solo

album that might or might not exist in the real world but is certainly present

enough for those assembled to sing along with 1967 and Crocodile. And there

are new songs.

Which is where the moment comes in.

“I’ve got a new idea that I’ve been working on,” he says as he takes a solo

moment mid-set. “It’s a bit rough and ready, but if you’re OK with that?”

The quote may not be exact because the next five minutes wipe the room

out. The next five minutes of just John and vocal might be the most impossible,

most staggeringly beautiful thing you’ve ever heard. And, given that the

mythical solo album has never really made its way to the real world, we have

no idea whether we’ll ever hear it again. A song so perfect that people forget

to raise their phones. There may be no record of this song, it may have existed

only for this moment. But this moment was perfect.

And that’s the kind of night this was: magic and beauty and silence and joy.

A night of genuine wonder.

Ian Salmon / @IanRSalmon

John Head (Paul McCoy / @photomccoy)


Rhiannon Giddens

& Francesco Turrisi

Grand Central Hall – 28/11/19

“It’s a really weird time to be alive right now,” states

RHIANNON GIDDENS, soberly, as she wraps up her set at Grand

Central Hall. The laughter and applause that has flowed so freely

all evening, now levels out to a nervous silence. On the eve of

an election, up against the relentless noise of propaganda and

the blathering of insidious agents, plain speaking of this kind can

catch you off guard.

Giddens’ career has never shied away from the political. Her

work with revivalists Carolina Chocolate Drops paid tribute to

every imaginable facet of African American music. This year’s

outstanding Songs of Our Native Daughters project pushed this

sense of racial politics further in its aim “to tell forgotten stories of

the African diaspora in North America, with its women upfront”,

as Jude Rogers wrote last February. In light of recent scenes,

tonight’s performance feels particularly resonant.

Joined by jazz multi-instrumentalist and partner FRANCESCO

TURRISI and Jason Sypher on upright bass, the trio display a

remarkable scholarly approach and versatility as performers

throughout. It’s impossible to keep up with their instrument

hopping, as Turrisi, ever the showman, works every angle of his

collection of dafs (frame drums). Their repertoire also spans an

exceptionally wide canon of traditional music.

From minstrel balladry to arias, howling vaudeville to the

rattling delivery of a Gaelic tune; Celtic and North American

material (like the austere Wayfaring Stranger) falls in alongside

little-known Middle Eastern, African and Italian folk songs. Yet,

there’s still a distinct through line to the set. Giddens inhabits

these songs, drawing similarities and the humanity from them

with an unrivalled charismatic flair.

Rallying against division and preaching kindness, it feels like

both a multicultural masterclass and an explorative response to

history as it continues to unfold. After the lovelorn Appalachian

mountain ballad Pretty Saro, for their encore they throw their

weight into gospel classic Up Above My Head. Tambourine held

high like a baton passed down from the foremother of rock ’n’ roll,

Sister Rosetta Tharpe herself, in the hands of Rhiannon Giddens,

each strike sounds rebellion.

David Weir / @BetweenSeeds

Fat White Family

+ Working Men’s Club

+ Silent-K

Harvest Sun @ Invisible Wind Factory – 26/11/19

There’s a noticeable mix of ages in the audience tonight. This admittedly comes as something of a surprise before recalling FAT

WHITE FAMILY’s magnetism as a politically charged, notoriously controversial collective active since their post-squatter days in


To start we have SILENT-K. Dressed in bizarre safari-like uniform and featuring a synth player dressed as a beekeeper, the

Liverpool band raise the audience’s spirits with their bright, catchy rock n roll sound. Even The Zutons’ Dave McCabe joins the band

on stage to provide additional vocals, gaining a certain level of interest from the increasing onlookers. The upbeat and sprightly riffs

lead by energetic frontman Chris Taylor succeed in taking the night off to a lively start.

The final support act are the much talked-about WORKING MEN’S CLUB from Todmorden. Eager to make an impression on a

FWF fan-dominated audience, fresh-faced frontman Sydney Minsky-Sargeant does his best Ian Curtis impression as he marches up

and down the front of the stage with a rollie in his mouth. Donning a silk shirt, mullet and sideburns is Rob Graham (formerly of Wet

Nuns) who expertly switches from drum machine to synth to guitar throughout the set.

For a band actively trying to avoid wearing their ‘Manchester band’ tags so overtly, the New Order influences and Fall influences

are still difficult to shake off. But the distinctive 80s synth melodies go down a storm with the crowd. The lasting result is impressive

and causes quite a stir with the audience.

Shuffling from the darkness with a Dickensian demeanour, Fat White Family appear like Fagin’s boys all grown-up as they

stumble onto the stage armed with beers. It’s a strong start as the seven-piece launch into Auto Neutron from their debut

Champagne Holocaust. It feels like a matter of seconds before frontman Lias Saoudi is over the rail and submerged into the crowd,

instantly causing a frenzied atmosphere which is sustained throughout the entire set. Soft-spoken vocals and Brian Jonestown

Massacre-tinged guitar melodies slowly build and unfold into chaotic distortion, resulting in Lias screaming and reeling around on the


Distinctively sleazy guitar riffs lull us into another FWF classic, I Am Mark E Smith, sounding more confident and chaotic than

ever. Touch The Leather goes down a treat, and is transformed into an unlikely singalong anthem, as the onlookers relish in singing

Lias’ own tongue-in-cheek, seedy lines back to him as he wades his way through the crowd. Disco stomper Feet sounds like the

anthem it truly is. With Lias perched shirtless on the rail looking intently out into the crowd, motioning his hands along to the

Algerian-dance influenced sound like a demented composer, he’s looks on knowing his confidence in their performance is completely


The band members depart the stage halfway through the set to allow the cartoonish Saul Adamczewski lead on the vocals for

a strangely moving rendition of Goodbye Goebbels. The addition of Alex White’s saxophone adds a late-night bar feel to the track.

The rest of the band members return to the stage for the sinister When I Leave, which oozes the sophistication and prowess which

pervade their latest album, Serfs Up!.

Rounding off a triumphant set, FWF end on two sure-fire hits Whitest Boy On The Beach and Is It Raining in your Mouth? –

both of which sound explosive tonight. “Five sweaty fingers with a criminal impatience,” yells Lias with demonic fury, recalling the

savagery of Johnny Rotten as the band sweetly harmonise their backing vocals in juxtaposition.

With a surprising lack of tracks from their latest record, the band instead give us the ultimate FWF set, reminding us of their

formidable talent as musicians, and Lias’ ability as a songwriter. Decadent, danceable and at times downright dirty, their sound packs

a punch this evening and the crowd leaves IWF brimming with awe. For a band riddled with controversies and (un)intentionally

pissing people off, it feels like they gave it their everything to inspire a community spirit in Liverpool tonight.

Deborah Bassett

Fat White Family (@mrjohnlatham)

Fat White Family (@mrjohnlatham)





7-8-9 MAY













JACK FOUND | + artists from CANADA, GERMANY, IRELAND and more…


FOCUS2020_BidoLito_advert_249x181mm.indd 1 24/01/2020 11:02

An imitating the dog and Leeds Playhouse co-production

TUE 18 - SAT 22 FEB

Box Office: 0151 709 4776 | everymanplayhouse.com

Age guidance 15+



Mac DeMarco

Harvest Sun @ Mountford Hall – 28/11/19

MAC DEMARCO remains the king on campus. It’s a title he’s

held here for two years since he last bowled over Mountford

Hall with his enduring charm. The wide-eyed hysteria buzzing

around the university grounds only reaffirms this, well before

his inimitable tremolo twang has coursed through the student’s


Since his last appearance on this very stage, Mac’s musical

output has somewhat wandered a new path. Somewhere quieter

and less frantic. Conducting the crowd, hands first to the left,

then the right, bobbing between the droplets of synth on On

The Level, his entrance is at odds with the rocking chair calm of

Here Comes The Cowboy – his most recent release. Even when

here last, in support of This Old Dog, his records were branching

away from the woozy tape-deck haze that had allured his now

adoring fanbase. And yet, while the Canadian songwriter has

retreated to the comfort of his LA home studio in recent years – a

setting that’s undoubtedly enhanced the hushed, more personal

direction – he still wears the on stage clothes of efforts two and

three, II and Salad Days; the chain-smoking oddball with the

most addictive guitar licks in town. It’s evidently the Mac the

crowd wants to see. It’s the one they get, for the most part, albeit

slightly better behaved than his track record would suggest.

Cooking Up Something Good, Chamber Of Reflection and

Freaking Out The Neighbourhood are near inaudible, such is the

chorus of almost 2,000 people beating him to every word.

Tracing the footsteps of his contemporary character on

record, you wonder if the show is weighted how he’d like, now


+ Bill Nickson

+ Abby Meysenburg

St Brides – 14/12/19

Mac DeMarco (@MrKirks)

he’s five albums into his career. More so with a recent, but no

less endearing, swerve in songcraft. Slower jams Still Beating

and Nobody are dutifully played, but their unrushed beauty is

liberally taken as short intermission by most. The swelling energy

and attention is saved for the nicotine rush of Ode To Viceroy.

New funk jam Choo Choo, a groove-laden evolution of his Rock

And Roll Night Club era, just about keeps it all on track in a run of

newer songs.

Tossing the microphone around the stage, filling the spaces

in the setlist with schoolyard jokes, the Mac persona still fits

the 29-year-old performer front and centre. Not so much like a

suited, booted and slicked back Alex Turner being forced to pop

his collar and recall distant memories of South Yorkshire teen

discos. Instead, Mac, visibly, still slots in to his lineage, even if

his more contemporary efforts on stage tonight seem to drift

into the perspiration lining the ceiling. But maybe that’s the

point in these shows: Mac’s sought to move on musically, like all

maturing musicians would. Yet, the joyous community so taken

by his earlier records still remains. Maybe it’s even grown, such

are the numbers he holds in his palm as Still Together reaches

its harmonious climax. His music and personality endure in

their ability to bring masses of people together. To still offer

this out, when musical interests have likely sailed forward,

perhaps signals his need for this community, too. Judging by

the admiration shared on both sides of the stage, it would seem

short-sighted to give it up now. Perhaps the artist puts it best:

“Oh mama, actin’ like my life’s already over / Oh dear, act your

age and try another year”. See you at the Uni reunion in two

years, Mac.

Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder

“Two days after the

the general election,

these artists came

together to display the

restorative, cleansing

power of music”

Paul Fitzgerald

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.

Ahmed Ben Ali


Habibi Funk Records

Reggae straight out of Libya.

If the grey winter weather has

got you a little down in the

dumps, this slice of sunshine is

everything you need to put a spring in your step. Originally

released straight to YouTube, AHMED BEN ALI’s addictive

hooks got picked up by the pre-eminent Habibi Funk

Records. With the express mission of giving Arab funk

and jazz the attention it deserves, flicking through Habibi

Funk’s SoundCloud and back catalogue is an afternoon

very well spent.



Third Place Dance Discs

If you’ve caught any of

Liverpool’s live beats scene in

the last couple of years, from

Wide Open at the Bakery to

the jazz-madness of the Reeds (RIP), RANGA will already

be a familiar face. Often accompanied by homemade

instruments or a roster of local vocalists, Ranga’s

distinctive sound of afro-inspired house beats have a

rough-hewn jam-session feel. From the whip-smart march

of Kong, to the warped smoked-out Banga 2, the whole

EP is an assured statement from the local gem.



Central Processing Unit

Lisa O’Neill (Tomas Adam)

Synths, vocal processing

and sentimental computer

music collide in TRYPHÈME’s

second release for the

Sheffield-based CPU. A talent for nimble, clever production

and a voracious appetite for experimentation run through

the entirety of Aluminia. Even when drawing on a disparate

palette – sounds are pulled in from IDM, 90s electronica,

digi-dub, beatless trance and Eskibeat – the release

maintains its composure, never feeling overwrought or

overworked. Emotional devastation for the twilight hours.

Words: Nina Franklin

Astles (Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk)

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.





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Wednesday 26 February

Wednesday 25 March

Wednesday 29 April

Sign up at bidolito.co.uk/bidocc



This month’s selection of poetry is taken from J.P Walsh’s The Taxi

Driver Sonnets – a collection of 15 poems offering a first-hand account

of life at the wheel of hackney cab in Liverpool.

My old English teacher in secondary school used

to read Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky at the

beginning of every lesson – whatever we were

meant to be studying that day would be cast

aside until his animated recital of the poem was finished. I

think that was the first time a poem really affected me: there

was something lawless and unusual about the words, which

I didn’t understand, but knew I liked, which was of course

helped by the enthusiastic reading.

When it comes to my own writing, I’ve written stuff since

my school days, mostly embarrassing old diary type of stuff that

I wouldn’t let anyone else see, but which is interesting in its own

way to look back on. When I was writing the sonnets, it was the

first time I had paid close attention to things like poetic form,

metre and rhyme, which was undoubtably due to me studying

English at university and being forced to write numerous essays

about these things.

These sonnets and their subject were never actively pursued.

Becoming a Hackney Cab driver was something I kind of fell

into – I was returning to education as a mature student and my

partner was also pregnant, so I needed something with flexible

working hours to fit around both university and new parent life.

I knew it would be its own kind of challenge, especially dealing

with the late-night revellers on a Friday and Saturday night, and I

wasn’t wrong. As anyone who has ever worked in the night-time

economy will know, patience is the greatest asset you can have

when dealing with people who are quite often out of their mind.

My initial idea was that each individual sonnet in the

sequence would act as a different cab journey. I think the length

of the traditional fourteen-lines suits the telling of anecdotes, and

the challenges of finding some freedom within the constraints of

the form forced me to be creative. If I was going to be a syllable

out on a particular line it had to be with good reason, which

wouldn’t necessarily be a problem in a lot of modern poetry that

has a radical free-verse aesthetic. But to me, in what I was trying

to achieve, it definitely would have been. In a way, the closed

nature of the form reflects the taxi vehicle itself – the confinement

of the frame does not necessarily restrict strange things from

happening within it.

Poetry is a great medium through which we can understand

and interpret our local landscape, and for me personally, it’s

something which I will always turn to for insights and alternative

perspectives on the world. There was a great series called

Keep It In The Ground a few years ago, in which a poem a day

was published in The Guardian that dealt with the theme of

climate change. The poems themselves didn’t catch any CO2,

but the series did raise issues pertinent to historical arguments

about poetry’s importance. For Percy Shelley, the poet is the

unacknowledged legislator of the world, while for W.H. Auden,

poetry is ultimately ineffectual, “surviving in the valley of its

making where executives would never want to tamper”. I’m an

optimistic person, so I’m more inclined to side with Shelley. !

Words: J.P Walsh / @WalshPoet

Illustration: Hannah Blackman-Kurz / @Hbkurz


Home, prior to shift. Fated to conjoin

Travel with salubrious citizens.

Muse streetwise for the well-healed resident.

Rank with the knowledge for affluent loin.

The hackney door shows little prejudice,

Passing with coin chauffeur’s primary ask.

Plastic refused swipe erosion of tax.

Posing civic environs credulous.

“I love you daddy” sweet prelude for now:

Tempers unease distracts foresight ahead.

Grafters oil engines we stutter and glow.

Coffee sparks headlight jump releases from debt.

Job warrants patience; cab bent on smooth road,

Driver needs sustenance regardless of load.


Debonair theatre goers peaceful.

Coles Corner sails liquid ooze from speaker.

Twilight cherishes cultural seeker,

Touch genial elegance disarmful.

Apparelled in smiles the languid scholar,

Points at buildings measured magnificent.

Exalted standing no equivalent,

Of artful life brushed human colour.

Fashion and laughter, high gastronomic,

Cosmopolitan waif, stride harmonic,

Animate poet, free economic,

Tempting irony confuse sweet comic.

“Good evening, sir, to the Radisson, please,”

She’s a famous director, glances with ease.


Guilty culprit fire ravenous diesel.

Benign care for extinction rebellion.

Forecast out of synch. Bold science replaced

Religion’s monopolised upheaval.

The imagined end seductive. Peering

Apocalypse heralds gut dire. Bonnet

Rumbles gothic, renders air sardonic.

Road fog disperses demented clearing.

Sun electricity galvanise hope.

“Sure is strange weather we’re having lately”,

Small-talk acquires sinister enlarged scope.

People comprehend fracture innately.

My footprint cemented, pain avowed,

Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds?



I was naïve in unlocking the doors,

Released, they fled – gazelles captured by night,

Light-heeled teens do runner, cackle, take flight.

Young sprites on toes, like dust not touch the floor.

“Eh, mate, drop me at High Green hospital,

Then she’s carrying on”. God, I’m stupid,

An obvious place that’s escape routed,

Maybe the high green smell from their satchel

Had me all diluted. Wistful wry smile:

Ran too, myself, when flushed impetuous.

What’s exactly being put on trial?

Obstinate little scoundrels lack fairness?

Youth lives poised in every unwatched moment,

Truth will never compromise on payment.


Home, shift enacted. Hackneyed. Morning

Pockets the drained night. Germinated notes

Fatten wallet, profitability gloats.

Honest Sunday sings wine to its roaming.

Pent mid cloisters wears dim upon my face.

“Don’t need to be a rocket scientist

To drive a cab”. Ain’t you the evangelist.

Emotion pours in the absence of grace.

Sweeps’ snaffling brush cleanses the streets.

Someday a real rain gonna come! Stragglers

Pass windows praying for sheets,

And everywhere scum rides on.

For now I sleep, aware of the racket,

Poetry pays, keyed alternate chromatic.


Stubble chopped men importuning a ride:

“Take us to a whore house please, pal.” Volumed.

I cash the beast: once flagged, don’t obtrude,

Urge the pursuit, breathe the sunken pride.

Double my money in half the time;

A mediator in an ancient trade.

Bring them to Tearsheet stewing and unmade.

Sober corked slime we convolute crime.

Anaesthetised, innocent seeking, yet

Steely hackster she is, “pay upfront or

Nobody goes upstairs”. Jostle, abet,

Transact with the whore orgasmic and pure.

My family feels the benefit, true,

I can study more, imagine I’ve grew.



Blow 3.0

Tin Men and The


Tony Kofi Quartet


Sarathy Korwar

Martin Archer’s

Anthropology Band



Beyond Albedo

Blind Monk Theory?




Day 2020

27 Feb - 1 Mar 2020

King Creosote

Performing a live accompaniment to the film

From Scotland with Love

Monday 16th March

Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Peggy Seeger

Festival tickets and tickets

to individual events available

For full details and box office please visit:


Monday 18th May

Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

@Ceremonyconcert / facebook.com/ceremonyconcerts

ceremonyconcerts@gmail.com / seetickets.com

goes back to



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