Issue 108 / March 2020




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ISSUE <strong>108</strong> / MARCH <strong>2020</strong><br />





facebook.com/o2academyliverpool<br />

twitter.com/o2academylpool<br />

instagram.com/o2academyliverpool<br />

Fri 28th Feb<br />

The Big Moon<br />

Sat 29th Feb<br />

Bulsara and<br />

His Queenies<br />

Thur 5th Mar<br />

Gabrielle Aplin<br />

Fri 6th Mar<br />

Mountford Hall, Liverpool<br />

Guild of Students<br />

Jake Bugg<br />

Wed 11th Mar<br />

Phil X & The Drills<br />

Thur 12th Mar<br />

Mountford Hall, Liverpool<br />

Guild of Students<br />

The Blindboy<br />

Podcast - Live<br />

Thur 12th Mar<br />

Tragedy<br />

All Metal Tribute to the<br />

Bee Gees & Beyond<br />

+ Attic Theory<br />

Sat 14th Mar<br />

Korpiklaani<br />

+ Burning Witches<br />

Fri 20th Mar<br />

Tope Alabi:<br />

Praise The<br />

Almighty Concert<br />

Fri 27th Mar • 6.30pm<br />

Liverpool Rocks<br />

Semi Final 1<br />

Fri 27th Mar<br />

The Slow<br />

Readers Club<br />

Sat 28th Mar<br />

AC/DC UK<br />

& Dizzy Lizzy<br />

Sat 28th Mar<br />

Becky Hill<br />

Sun 29th Mar<br />

Cigarettes<br />

After Sex<br />

Fri 3rd Apr • 6.30pm<br />

Liverpool Rocks<br />

Semi Final 2<br />

Sat 4th Apr<br />

Mountford Hall, Liverpool<br />

Guild of Students<br />

Circa Waves<br />

+ Red Rum Club<br />

Sat 4th Apr<br />

808 State Live<br />

Sat 11th Apr<br />

ShowHawk Duo<br />

Sat 18th Apr • 6pm<br />

Jason Allan<br />

Tue 21st Apr<br />

Darwin Deez<br />

Tue 21st Apr<br />

The Fratellis<br />

Fri 24th Apr<br />

Larkins<br />

Fri 24th Apr<br />

Feeder<br />

Sat 25th Apr • 6.30pm<br />

Liverpool Rocks<br />

Final<br />

Sun 26th Apr<br />

In Flames<br />

Sat 2nd May<br />

The Southmartins<br />

Tribute To The Beautiful<br />

South & The Housemartins<br />

Sat 9th May<br />

The Undertones<br />

+ Hugh Cornwell Electric<br />

Sat 9th May<br />

Fell Out Boy<br />

& The Black<br />

Charade<br />

+ We Aren’t Paramore<br />

youtube.com/o2academytv<br />

Sat 16th May<br />

Nirvana UK<br />

(Tribute)<br />

Sat 23rd May<br />

The Bon Jovi<br />

Experience<br />

Sat 26th Sep<br />

Jamie Webster<br />

Fri 2nd Oct<br />

ARENA<br />

Sat 3rd Oct<br />

The Smyths<br />

perform<br />

Meat Is Murder<br />

Thur 8th Oct<br />

CAST<br />

perform<br />

All Change<br />

& Greatest Hits<br />

Sat 17th Oct<br />

CASH:<br />

Paying Respect To<br />

The Man in Black.<br />

Thur 22nd Oct<br />

Black<br />

Stone Cherry<br />

Sat 28th Nov<br />

Mountford Hall, Liverpool<br />

Guild of Students<br />

Oh Wonder<br />

Sat 5th Dec<br />

UK Foo Fighters<br />

Wed 9th Dec<br />

Electric Six<br />

Fri 11th Dec<br />

Heaven 17<br />

Sat 12th Dec<br />

Ian Prowse<br />

& Amsterdam<br />

FRI 28TH FEB 7PM<br />

ZUZU<br />

THUR 5TH MAR 7PM<br />


FRI 6TH MAR 7PM<br />

THE SWAY<br />

SAT 7TH MAR 7PM<br />

PINS<br />

THU 12TH MAR 7PM<br />


+ 8 BALL AITKEN<br />

FRI 13TH MAR 7PM<br />


SAT 147TH MAR 7PM<br />

ASLAN<br />

SAT 14TH MAR 7.30PM<br />

THE K’S<br />

MON 16TH MAR 7PM<br />

JOANNE<br />


THUR 19TH MAR 7PM<br />


SAT 21ST MAR 7PM<br />

ALL WE ARE<br />

WED 25TH MAR 7PM<br />

PALACE<br />

WED 25TH MAR 7PM<br />


FRI 27TH MAR 6.30PM<br />


SEMI FINAL 1<br />

SAT 28TH MAR 6.30PM<br />


(THE ENEMY)<br />


SAT 28TH MAR 7PM<br />


SAT 28TH MAR 11PM<br />


– 00’S EMO ANTHEMS<br />

SUN 29TH MAR 7PM<br />



SAT 4TH APR 9PM<br />


- THE LAUNCH<br />

SAT 11TH APR 7PM<br />


TUE 147TH APR 7PM<br />


TUE 14TH APR 7PM<br />


SAT 18TH APR 6PM<br />


FRI 24TH APR 7PM<br />


FRI 24TH APR 7PM<br />




SAT 25TH APR 6.30PM<br />



SAT 25TH APR 7PM<br />

JOESEF<br />

SAT 23RD MAY 7PM<br />


SAT 3RD OCT 7PM<br />




THUR 29TH OCT 7.30PM<br />




90<br />


ticketmaster.co.uk<br />

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

Doors 7pm unless stated<br />

Venue box office opening hours:<br />

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


20 Mar - 14 June <strong>2020</strong><br />

AND SAY<br />





Image: Demelza Kooij, Wolves from Above (2018). Image courtesy of the artist.

What’s On<br />

<strong>March</strong> – May<br />

Monday 9 <strong>March</strong> 7.30pm<br />

Film Screening<br />

Brief Encounter (cert PG)<br />

Tuesday 10 <strong>March</strong> 8pm<br />

Music Room<br />

Parrjazz Presents<br />

Sam Leak Trio<br />

Sunday 15 <strong>March</strong> 8pm<br />

Music Room<br />

An Evening with Romeo<br />

of the Magic Numbers<br />

Saturday 28 <strong>March</strong> 7.30pm<br />

Tomorrow’s Warriors Presents<br />

Jazz Jamaica All Stars –<br />

The Trojan Story<br />

Saturday 18 April 2.30pm & 7.30pm<br />

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra<br />

Wizard of Oz: Film with<br />

Live Orchestra (cert U)<br />

Friday 1 May 7.30pm<br />

Julian Clary –<br />

Born To Mince<br />

Box Office<br />

0151 709 3789<br />

liverpoolphil.com<br />

LiverpoolPhilharmonic<br />

liverpoolphil<br />

liverpool_philharmonic<br />

Image Romeo Stodart

Sarathy Korwar<br />

Sam Leak Trio<br />




29 FEB<br />


10 MAR<br />

Sound City Plus<br />

SOUND CITY+ <strong>2020</strong><br />

BRITISH MUSIC EXPERIENCE 1 - 3 MAY <strong>2020</strong><br />

SOUND CITY <strong>2020</strong><br />

BALTIC TRIANGLE 1 - 3 MAY <strong>2020</strong><br />

Sean Martin<br />

Atari<br />




22 MAR<br />


03 APR<br />

Simple Minds<br />

Creamfields<br />



22 AUG<br />

CREAMFIELDS <strong>2020</strong><br />


27 - 30 AUG


30 04 20<br />



SUNDAY 24 MAY<br />

BIG<br />

Manchester,<br />

UK<br />




ARENA<br />

W /<br />

AARON<br />


37d03d Machine<br />

’s<br />

















CASSIA<br />




PLUS<br />













#NBHDWKND20<br />




presents<br />

05/03 ARTS CLUB THE LOFT<br />



plus special guests<br />

friday 10th july<br />

castlefield bowl<br />

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

an sjm concerts presentation<br />

SAT 20 JUNE<br />


SOLD OUT<br />

E X T R A D A T E A D D E D<br />

SUN 21 JUNE<br />


Sat 18 AprIL<br />

Arts Club (Main room)<br />



ONR.<br />

FRI 06 MAR<br />




FREE contemporary music and technology events - Spring <strong>2020</strong><br />

6-7.15pm Saturday 14 <strong>March</strong><br />

The Riot Ensemble<br />

Leggate Theatre, Victoria Gallery & Museum,<br />

University of Liverpool<br />

Virtuosic and spectral works by<br />

Ferneyhough, Grisey, Hackbarth, Ianotta &<br />

Pe’ery<br />

5-6pm Saturday 21 <strong>March</strong><br />

Audio-Vision<br />

The Hub, Gordon Stephenson Building,<br />

University of Liverpool<br />

Technology, visuals and sound collide in<br />

a programme of international new music<br />

experiments and collaborations<br />

7.30-9pm Wednesday 18 <strong>March</strong><br />

Areas of Influence, with<br />

Ensemble 10/10<br />

The Music Room, Philharmonic Hall<br />

Maxwell Davies, Reich, Collie, Harrison &<br />

Thorne respond to influences ranging from<br />

Purcell to Schoenberg<br />

1-2pm Wednesday 22 April<br />

Jonathan Aasgaard (cello)<br />

Leggate Theatre, Victoria Gallery & Museum,<br />

University of Liverpool<br />

Renowned cellist performs a programme of<br />

classic 20th century American cello works<br />

plus a new work by Head of Composition<br />

Ben Hackbarth<br />

For full details please visit:<br />


© Paul McCartney

Coming Soon...<br />







IDLES<br />

JADE LI<br />













THU 12 MAR<br />



SOLD OUT<br />


ONLY<br />

FRI 13 MAR & SAT 14 MAR<br />




THU 14 MAY<br />


ED BYRNE:<br />


SAT 16 MAY<br />



RAMBLES...<br />

SOLD OUT<br />


ONLY<br />

SAT 23 MAY<br />




ME, MACBETH & I<br />

SAT 30 MAY<br />





New Music + Creative Culture<br />

Liverpool<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> <strong>108</strong> / <strong>March</strong> <strong>2020</strong><br />

bidolito.co.uk<br />

Second Floor<br />

The Merchant<br />

40-42 Slater Street<br />

Liverpool L1 4BX<br />

Founding Editor<br />

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

Publisher<br />

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

Editor<br />

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

Digital Media Manager<br />

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

Design<br />

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

Branding<br />

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

Proofreader<br />

Jordan Ryder<br />

Cover Photography<br />

Rebekah Knox<br />

Words<br />

Christopher Torpey, Elliot Ryder, Gary Lambert, Megan<br />

Walder, Cath Holland, Charlie McKeon, Julia Johnson,<br />

Daniel Ponzini, Vid Simoniti, Brit Williams, Gina<br />

Schwarz, Clare Dodd, Glyn Akroyd, Matt Hogarth, Luke<br />

Charnley, Rhys Buchannan, Conal Cunningham, Gus<br />

Polinski, Lily Blakeney-Edwards, nil00, Joel Hansen.<br />

Photography, Illustration and Layout<br />

Mark McKellier, Rebekah Knox, Gary Lambert, Robin<br />

Clewley, Mike Brits, Glyn Akroyd, Stuart Moulding,<br />

Gareth Jones, Daffyd Owen, Shiwan Gwyn, Hannah<br />

Blackman-Kurz, Paul Owen, Maise Delaney, Kate<br />

Davies, Brian Sayle, John Latham, Kevin Barrett, Lee<br />

Willo, Fin Reed, John Johnson, Tomas Adam, nil00.<br />


Fail we may, sail we must.<br />

As mantras go, you can’t get much more poetically<br />

concise than this from Andrew Weatherall, the great<br />

musical innovator who suddenly passed away in<br />

February. A towering presence over the past three decades of<br />

British music, Weatherall leaves more than life-affirming mixes<br />

and production fingerprints on an era of<br />

music where the boundaries between<br />

bands/gigs and DJs/clubs began to blur.<br />

He also leaves plenty of wit and wisdom<br />

for us to pore over.<br />

“If you’re not on the margins you’re<br />

taking up too much room,” is another<br />

quote attributed to Weatherall in many<br />

of the warm, heartfelt tributes paid since<br />

his death was announced – and in the<br />

shadow of his passing the words feel<br />

strangely apt. Apt for the musicians<br />

of the alternative underground, who<br />

Weatherall championed. Apt for us, the<br />

rebel outsiders whose very character<br />

thrives on being in the margins, trying<br />

things that others won’t dare to do.<br />

Liverpool’s fierce independent streak is one of its defining<br />

characteristics, and is one of the things that makes it such<br />

an exciting place to live and work. Politically, artistically and<br />

culturally it is a step to one side, its identity aligned with a desire<br />

to be different, to not want to fall in line. But the danger with<br />

dancing to your own tune is that you need regular outside input<br />

to know if that tune is any good. There’s something gloriously<br />

freeing about not caring what anyone else thinks of us, and it<br />

allows a great sense of togetherness to grow between those<br />

inside the bubble. It’s a form of tribalism, which is fine when<br />

you’re part of the tribe.<br />

But, while admirable, that attitude is also a little problematic;<br />


“The danger with<br />

dancing to your<br />

own tune is that you<br />

need regular outside<br />

input to know if that<br />

tune is any good”<br />

as a city that strives to be a leading cultural voice, we do<br />

seriously need to consider what face we are presenting to<br />

the world. I feel as thought we’re at a crossroads, and before<br />

plunging down what may seem an obvious route, we shouldn’t<br />

be afraid to ask ourselves what kind of city we want to be: for<br />

artists, for outsiders, for ourselves. Caution and care need to be<br />

deployed to ensure that we don’t get<br />

so focused on our own image that we<br />

fail to spot an incremental slide towards<br />

complacency.<br />

What we decide to do, musically and<br />

creatively, often doesn’t stack up against<br />

raw numbers. Art is so, so much more<br />

than that; music, as the most tradeable<br />

artistic commodity (not for much longer,<br />

Brexit fans!. What we do with Bido Lito!<br />

has always meant so much more to us<br />

than what spreadsheets tell us, because<br />

feelings – and a love for good music –<br />

matter more than bottom lines. Andrew<br />

Weatherall himself described what he<br />

did musically as “a series of beautiful,<br />

totally futile gestures”. There’s often only<br />

a thin veil separating beauty and futility in art, even at the best of<br />

times, but I’d take aiming for beauty over settling for mediocrity<br />

any day of the week.<br />

We were deeply saddened to hear further tragic news in<br />

February, that music writer Mark Barton had passed away. Mark<br />

blogged about and supported independent musicians for years,<br />

and entertained so many people through his writing. He will be<br />

sorely missed, and we hope that his family and friends can take<br />

solace from the fact that he was so well liked and respected. !<br />

Christopher Torpey<br />

Publisher<br />

Distribution<br />

Our magazine is distributed as far as possible through<br />

pedal power, courtesy of our Bido Bikes. If you would<br />

like to find out more, please email chris@bidolito.co.uk.<br />

Advertise<br />

If you are interested in adverting in Bido Lito!, or finding<br />

out about how we can work together, please email<br />

sales@bidolito.co.uk.<br />

Bido Lito! is a living wage employer. All our staff are<br />

paid at least the living wage.<br />

All contributions to Bido Lito! come from our city’s<br />

amazing creative community. If you would like to join<br />

the fold visit bidolito.co.uk/contribute.<br />

We are contributing one per cent of our advertising<br />

revenue to WeForest.org to fund afforestation<br />

projects around the world. This more than offsets our<br />

carbon footprint and ensures there is less CO2 in the<br />

atmosphere as a result of our existence.<br />

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

respective contributors and do not necessarily<br />

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

publishers. All rights reserved.<br />

16 / THE ORIELLES<br />

The trio have broken through the liminal spaces of everyday travel<br />

and escaped atop their own Disco Volador.<br />

20 / LOATHE<br />

“Every style of music creates a different feeling inside you, and<br />

that comes out then in the music you create. You naturally pay<br />

homage to the music that you hear.”<br />

22 / LUNA<br />

Graciously falling through the atmosphere with a dream-like aura,<br />

LUNA returns home with tales from her most searching celestial<br />

journey to date.<br />

24 / THRESHOLD<br />

Chris and Kaya talk all things dugnad, the spirit of collectivism that<br />

has powered their grassroots festival for the past decade.<br />


14 / NEWS<br />

32 / SPOTLIGHT<br />

36 / PREVIEWS<br />


“The great thing about music is that you don’t necessarily need<br />

to know the ins and outs of lyrics to enjoy it.”<br />

28 / PISTACHIO KID<br />

“The songs were never created as a means of drawing attention.<br />

The complete opposite. They were entirely my own.”<br />


“No matter how cheap the city is, if artists can’t make money<br />

from their work then practice becomes unsustainable.”<br />

35 / JULIA MINTZER<br />

Mezzo-soprano and director Julia Mintzer speaks about the<br />

potential of portraying historical roles with contemporary<br />

feminist influences.<br />

38 / REVIEWS<br />



NEWS<br />

PZYK <strong>2020</strong><br />

Snapped Ankles<br />

Making its return on 16th May, PZYK <strong>2020</strong> is<br />

the new, 16-hour long incarnation of Liverpool<br />

International Festival of Psychedelia. Picking up from<br />

the event’s trademark boundary-pushing agenda,<br />

PZYK <strong>2020</strong> aims to take the idea of an immersive<br />

experience that bit further, in its new home of<br />

Invisible Wind Factory (and other connected spaces)<br />

in the North Docks. Grammy-nominated Anatolian<br />

fuzz rockers ALTIN GÜN and punktronic oddballs<br />

SNAPPED ANKLES lead the way on the bill for<br />

this year, in what promises to be a continuous<br />

hedonistic journey through the sounds of future<br />

psychedelia. SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN,<br />


LOS BITCHOS are a flavour of the global community<br />

that will unite under the PZYK banner this year.<br />

liverpoolpsychfest.com<br />

The Station Is Alive With<br />

The Sound Of Music<br />

Calling all Merseyside musicians, bands, artists, bedroom producers and<br />

wannabe Glastonbury headliners – the MERSEYRAIL SOUND STATION<br />

artist development programme is back, and it wants to hear from you!<br />

Over the past two years, the acclaimed programme has worked with some<br />

of the region’s best talent (Yank Scally, Lydiah, Eyesore & The Jinx) over<br />

a series of workshops and sessions, designed to help them improve their<br />

understanding of how they can thrive in the modern music industry. This<br />

year’s programme will run over a longer period, allowing the artists involved<br />

to benefit from more studio, performance and mentoring sessions, led by<br />

experts with years’ worth of experience in the industry. As well as helping<br />

to equip Merseyside’s emerging musicians with the skills to succeed in their<br />

careers, the programme also offers exclusive performance opportunities<br />

throughout the year. To apply, head to merseyrailsoundstation.com now.<br />

Merseyrail Sound Station<br />

McCartney On Film<br />

Linda McCartney<br />

Featuring some images that have never been on public display before, a LINDA<br />

MCCARTNEY RETROSPECTIVE exhibition opens at the Walker Art Gallery on<br />

25th April. This major exhibition of McCartney’s photography includes more<br />

than 200 iconic images, from the music scene of the 1960s, to family life with<br />

Paul McCartney. Born Linda Eastman, she was an award-winning photographer<br />

who captured a generation of rock stars before she married Paul, and her work<br />

has long deserved a full retrospective. Running until 31st August, the exhibition<br />

will reveal what a prolific photographer Linda was, and how her love for the<br />

natural world, and an exceptional eye for capturing the spontaneous, gave her<br />

work an inimitable style.<br />

Our Lady Of Blundellsands<br />

Deer Shed<br />

Premiering this <strong>March</strong> is a new comic drama entitled OUR LADY<br />

OF BLUNDELLSANDS, which has been written especially for<br />

the Everyman by JONATHAN HARVEY, award-winning creator<br />

of Gimme Gimme Gimme and Beautiful Thing. The production takes<br />

place in our beloved Liverpool and follows the honesty and lies<br />

surrounding this one very peculiar family. The story’s protagonist,<br />

Sylvie, is frozen in time in her Blundellsands house, while inhabiting<br />

a fantasy world that never was. Garnet, her older sister, may seem<br />

wiser but has always fanned the flames of Sylvie’s fantasies. Who<br />

knows where they would be without each other. It’s a birthday party<br />

with a hidden agenda – and we hear it’s not going to be pretty.<br />

The 11th instalment of North Yorkshire’s DEER SHED FESTIVAL hits Topcliffe’s<br />

Baldersby Park this July and, quite frankly, this final line-up announcement has<br />

knocked it out of the park. JAMES join STEREOLAB to headline the main stage,<br />

along with performances by BAXTER DURY, CATE LE BON and the fantastic<br />

spoken word lyricist KATE TEMPEST. SHOPPING join the bill, which also boasts<br />

appearances by Mercury-nominated soul raconteur GHOSTPOET and disco nerds<br />

INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS OF POP. Deer Shed prides itself on being a familyfriendly<br />

festival, with plenty of activities and events taking place aside from the<br />

music to keep the kids and adults happy. Anyone up for a game of swing ball?<br />

They’ve got it! Last year’s festival sold out with record numbers in attendance, so<br />

you better be quick to secure your ticket to this summer’s highlight.<br />

The Future Is Birkenhead<br />

Self Esteem<br />

A new pop-up music venue is coming to Birkenhead in the summer, from the<br />

team behind Future Yard festival. A run of shows, titled Near Future, will form<br />

the initial programme of a new live music space on Argyle Street in Birkenhead,<br />

eventually growing into a full music hub with studio and office space, plus support<br />

for musicians. Special guests ORCHESTRAL MANOUEVRES IN THE DARK will<br />

play a one-off, two-man show in the venue on 9th May (sold-out), the first time<br />

they will have played in Wirral since August 1979. The Near Future run opens on<br />

25th April with EVIAN CHRIST headlining an opening event that also features DJ<br />

and tastemaker TOM RAVENSCROFT and a DJ set from FOREST SWORDS. A<br />

closing party finishes the run on 20th June, helmed by WARMDUSCHER and SELF<br />

ESTEEM, while SHE DREW THE GUN host their own Memories Of The Near Future<br />

all-day event on 24th May, featuring SINK YA TEETH, DREAM NAILS and plenty<br />

more. Full line-up details can be found at futureyard.org.<br />



Liverpool Band Vans’ Doug Wood<br />

picks out a selection of songs that<br />

have been a source of inspiration to<br />

him on long journeys on the road.<br />

Watch Us Wrexham The Mic<br />

The latest wave of acts have been announced for this<br />

year’s FOCUS WALES festival, and it looks like being a<br />

bumper year for the showcase festival’s 10th anniversary<br />

special. With over 300 live performances, the festival<br />

showcases the very best new talent emerging from the<br />

across the country, alongside established names and a<br />

selection of exciting international acts. BATTLES and THE<br />



<strong>2020</strong> line-up, which will welcome over 15,000 people to<br />

Wrexham. In addition to filling out a wide variety of spaces<br />

and music venues, and hosting a full schedule of interactive<br />

industry sessions, arts events, and film screenings, Focus<br />

Wales continues to be the leading festival for emerging<br />

talent. focuswales.co.uk<br />

Continuing Education<br />

Richard Hawley<br />

Elrow’s Triangulo De Las<br />

Rowmudas<br />

An Elrow show is not your standard club show, that much<br />

is for sure. The Ibiza staple is famed for its wildness, with<br />

outlandish stage sets, DJ booths in spaceships, dancers on<br />

stilts… you name it, they’ve tried it, all in a bid to be known<br />

as the most colourful party around. The Elrow show make a<br />

return to Liverpool on 12th April in partnership with Circus.<br />

The setting of Bramley-Moore Dock will give them enough<br />

room to make the show as epic and immersive as they want,<br />

and with a great line-up booked – GREEN VELVET, RICHY<br />


and a special guest TBA – this one looks set to reach the<br />

dizzying heights of previous Elrow shows in Liverpool.<br />

Further details and tickets at circusclub.co.uk.<br />

Traveling Wilburys<br />

Dirty World<br />

Wilbury Records<br />

I could have chosen any track<br />

from the Traveling Wiburys’<br />

country-bumpkin collection<br />

of essential Dad Rockers,<br />

but I’ve gone for this Bob Dylan-written love song to a<br />

car. It has an unmistakable George Harrison vibe across<br />

the production and really sounds like it could have come<br />

straight from George’s Cloud 9 album. The ending is my<br />

favourite; it features all five artists in a really lovingly<br />

crafted call-and-response outro.<br />

Kurt Vile<br />

Loading Zones<br />

Matador<br />

Jumping from loading zone<br />

to loading zone to avoid the<br />

watchful eyes of the parking<br />

attendants is a game our drivers and crew know all too<br />

well. Sometimes you have to come up with some clever<br />

tricks to ensure a smooth load in! Kurt Vile boasts about<br />

his ‘free’ parking prowess on the streets of Philadelphia in<br />

this blisteringly cocky stomp around the neighbourhood in<br />

search of the right spot. We hear ya, Kurt.<br />

Short courses covering a diverse range of subjects are available from this <strong>March</strong>, as part of the<br />

University of Liverpool’s CONTINUING EDUCATION programme. Set up in order to provide short<br />

courses, lectures and workshops that provide accessible learning for everyone, regardless of their<br />

age, qualifications or experience, the scheme caters for a wide range of subjects through a flexible<br />

timetable of daytime and evening courses. This includes creative writing, music, local history and<br />

language classes. The popular CE Saturday courses also make a return, with <strong>March</strong> offering events<br />

on Art During The Cold War, Jane Austen: A Life In Letters, The Reformation In Ireland and a whole<br />

host of literary and local interest courses. Head to liverpool.ac.uk/continuing-education for a full<br />

rundown of events.<br />

Father John Misty<br />

Total<br />

Entertainment<br />

Forever<br />

Bella Union<br />

Spring at Bluecoat<br />

The Bluecoat arts centre is leaping into spring with a joint show launching<br />

in <strong>March</strong>, presented by two fascinating artists. FRAN DISLEY brings her<br />

exhibition Pattern Buffer to the city centre gallery, using multi-sensory<br />

installations to repurpose the gallery space as a restorative environment.<br />

The Liverpool-based artist, formerly a director at The Royal Standard, has<br />

developed an events programme to run alongside work that comprises<br />

an alternative mindfulness guide and the grid of the Holodeck (a device<br />

from Star Trek The Next Generation). Running concurrently, between 13th<br />

<strong>March</strong> and 21st June, JONATHAN BALDOCK’s FaceCrime exhibition uses<br />

ceramics to investigate historical methods of communication that may tell<br />

us something about the way we communicate today.<br />

When we’re racing to get out of the smog and noise<br />

of London or Paris in the early hours of the post-show<br />

morning, this track from one of Josh Tillman’s darker<br />

and more divisive albums often gets thrown on. His<br />

trademark cynicism and booming orchestral crescendos are<br />

perfectly fitting for a twilight escape from the neon bedlam<br />

of the city.<br />

Talking Heads<br />

This Must Be The<br />

Place<br />

Rhino<br />

Sweet Release(s)<br />

Music, music, music – we’re served up a constant diet of it<br />

here at Bido HQ, courtesy of an army of talented musicians<br />

who are responsible for some great noise coming out of the<br />

city. ESME BRIDIE’s latest, Say The Words, due out on 20th<br />

<strong>March</strong>, is a deft torch song that has flecks of Karen Elson and<br />

Fionn Regan about it. Bridie supports Chloe Foy at Studio2<br />

on 10th <strong>March</strong>. ENNIO THE LITTLE BROTHER is priming for<br />

an album (due in April courtesy on Mai 68 Records) with the<br />

release of single Dungarees, which is the kind of downbeat<br />

dream hop that you can listen to for hours. To round off, and<br />

slightly out of our usual remit, is Galway artist EOIN DOLAN,<br />

whose tune Superior Fiction was a surprise find, and a great<br />

introduction to his world of BC Camplight-style songwriting.<br />

Keep ‘em coming!<br />

Esme Bridie<br />

A general theme of all our<br />

songs is the yearning for<br />

home. The perks and lifestyle of the music industry don’t<br />

often stretch to the crew or drivers on a production, so<br />

the dream of home is often the most constant topic of<br />

conversation. Released one year before I was born, this<br />

song is a personal favourite and takes me home in so many<br />

ways; to particular moments in time with people and in<br />

places I love. David Byrne can make you laugh and cry in<br />

the same measure. A true modern genius.<br />

liverpoolbandvans.co.uk<br />

Keep your eye out for more stories from the road as we<br />

document more of the busy touring lives of Liverpool Band<br />

Vans’ drivers and the artists they’re touring with.<br />



THE<br />


Spinning across a Northern Orion’s Belt<br />

of Liverpool, Manchester and Halifax,<br />

The Orielles have broken through the<br />

liminal spaces of everyday travel and<br />

escaped atop their own Disco Volador.<br />

Trace the etymology of the word disco, following its<br />

origins through discotheque – a library of records – you<br />

come to disqué, a derivative of the Latin word discus<br />

– further derived from the flat, spherical fish that lends<br />

its name to the disk-shaped object that propels through the<br />

air when thrown for sport. Alternatively, simply translate disco<br />

from Spanish to English and you arrive at disk a lot quicker than<br />

pulling up ancient Latin roots. But the journey isn’t a pointless<br />

one. The enduring shape of CDs and vinyl is more than mere<br />

coincidence.<br />

Follow the literal timeline of the word disco back to its<br />

Latin, Olympian roots and you arrive at a word defined by<br />

soaring movement and joyous levitation, all held in a seemingly<br />

effortless trajectory generated by human propulsion. Despite<br />

millennium separating their inception, discus still perfectly<br />

encapsulates the essence of disco music.<br />

This ancient combination of energy and movement has<br />

travelled through the ferevous 1970s and been plucked from the<br />

sky by THE ORIELLES. The band have harnessed the dynamism<br />

of the genre for their own brand of warped disco, manifesting<br />

in the creation of their second studio album, Disco Volador.<br />

Translated in to English as flying disk, the record is a luscious<br />

blend of avant-garde groove and psych concocted in the north<br />

of England.<br />

“Disco Volador could be a frisbee, a UFO, an alien nightclub<br />

or how you feel when you fly,” says vocalist and bassist Esme<br />

Dee Hand Halford in the record’s notes, adding “it is an album of<br />

escape; if I went to space, I might not come back.”<br />

The desired resistance to gravity isn’t entirely conceptual<br />

and abstract. The Orielles’ music and further members – Henry<br />

Carlyle Wade (guitar), Sidonie Dee Hand Halford (drums/vocals)<br />

and formerly Alex Stephens (keys) – have been in a state of flux<br />

for much of their years as a band since forming around eight<br />

years ago. Their journey together was launched from Halifax in<br />

West Yorkshire, and has since drifted over to Leeds and then<br />

down through Manchester before crash-landing in Liverpool’s<br />

music scene, where it has resided for the last four years.<br />

In recent months The Orielles’ airborne vehicle has<br />

wiggled loose of Liverpool and settled in Manchester.<br />

However, the band’s first album, Silver Dollar Moment,<br />

and their most recent effort, were crafted while still<br />

tied to their adopted home on Merseyside. The city<br />

bore witness to their transition from garage rock trio<br />

to technicolour purveyors of indie-psychedelia, more<br />

recently spiced with samba sensibilities. Their continual<br />

state of pinballing between West Yorkshire and Liverpool<br />

only adding to the magnetic urgency of their music.<br />

With a musical existence defined by travel, it’s only<br />

fitting that a trip to Manchester is necessary on the<br />

day we meet to talk about the journey towards Disco<br />

Volador. Adequately fed and watered with kale pizza and<br />

beer, both Henry and Sid begin to reel in the album from<br />

its celestial reaches.<br />

“It all felt really fresh,” Henry starts, when asked if<br />

there’d been any overlap from their debut when looking<br />

towards the second. “The first set of demos for Disco Volador<br />

were in late 2018, so it was pretty quick after the release of<br />

Silver Dollar Moment.”<br />

The Orielles’ first album was released in early 2018 to much<br />

adoration. In their eyes, however, the album wasn’t the defining,<br />

coming-of-age expression many listeners marked it out to be.<br />

“We realised<br />

guitar music can<br />

be just as<br />

danceable as<br />

electronic music”<br />



“This record seemed<br />

to explode from<br />

constantly travelling<br />

and waiting around”<br />

“After it came out, we knew what we wanted to do and where<br />

we wanted to take things musically,” Henry continues. “That<br />

was the most exciting point. The turn-around was pretty quick<br />

in focussing on the second album”, a record which he describes<br />

as “bursting” out of their writing sessions – “we didn’t want to<br />

lose the momentum.”<br />

The sense of Disco Volador being a greater exploration<br />

of the band’s talents is echoed by Sid. “A lot of the songs on<br />

Silver Dollar Moment were written from the moment we started<br />

taking the band seriously”, she agrees. “That’s why, in my view,<br />

the record isn’t quite as fully formed. It’s more of a collection of<br />

what we’d been playing live for a long time,” she says. “The new<br />

record is the only time so far that we’ve written for a purpose,”<br />

Henry reinforces.<br />

Clicking into gear as a four-piece, adding Alex Stephens<br />

to the established formation of sisters Esme and Sid with<br />

childhood friend Henry, the band were presented with a fresh<br />

canvas to colour with the support of Heavenly Records. The<br />

resulting effort is a 10-track cinematic experience that’s more<br />

homebound-daydream than full blown space odyssey. While<br />

retaining the interlocked dynamism of drums and bass, the<br />

songs do feel more considered, as the pairing suggest, with<br />

Henry’s once angular riffs more layered, nestling in the warm<br />

layer of keys draped across much of the record. Much like the<br />

first album, however, the lyricism retains its DaDa-inflected<br />

observations swirling through Esme’s stream of consciousness.<br />

Leaning back towards the band’s beginnings, Disco Volador<br />

does represent something of a quantum leap. A statement that<br />

carries even more weight given they’re barely into their 20s and<br />

already onto album number two.<br />

Just over three years ago, The Orielles were more closely<br />

aligned to garage rock, but played with the careful hands of<br />

sincere indie. Casting back to this era and the band’s live shows<br />

were watermarked by Henry’s wild head movements when<br />

running through fuzzier numbers such as Jobin. Now there’s<br />

suaveness to The Orielles’ demeanour that’s more sure-headed<br />

than chin-strokey. Although I do ask if Henry is ever coerced<br />

into redeploying his whirlwind on-stage behaviour. “No man,”<br />

he responds, eyes widening as if to recall things he should never<br />

have seen. “Our old tour manager said, ‘you’re not going to do<br />

that forever, are you?’ I think I had to make an effort to stop at<br />

that moment on, really.”<br />

Coincidentally, the chat remains on head movements. As<br />

it turns out, the departure from self-induced whiplash was a<br />

watershed moment in their progression from rough-edged<br />

garage trio to acid-dipped disco starlets. “The visual metaphor<br />

of how we’ve changed as band is in how our necks move when<br />

we’re practicing,” Henry begins, with Sid nodding assent with a<br />

wry smile. “When we were practicing, back in the day, our heads<br />

used to go like this…” Henry proceeds to replicate dialled down<br />

Smells Like Teen Spirit headbang. “Now when we’re practicing<br />

and writing new songs, our heads move like this…” – the guitarist<br />

coolly elongating his neck back and forth as far as possible<br />

with the elegance of a peacock’s strut. In this we see the band’s<br />

internal metronome for rhythm, held together by the sister<br />

pairing on drums and bass. “A lot of the rhythmic, danceable<br />

style comes from Es and Sid”, Henry agrees, “just from how<br />

locked in together they are. We make music that makes us want<br />

to move. Music that keeps us locked in with one another. Have<br />

you seen how built my neck muscles are now because of it?” he<br />

adds, jovially.<br />

Following the steps towards Disco Volador’s dynamic sonic<br />

textures, it’s difficult to ignore the importance of The Orielles’<br />

2017 single Sugar Tastes Like Salt. Where Disco Volador places<br />

its palm on the first reaches of the cosmos, Sugar… was the<br />

launch pad for everything that’s followed – an eight minute<br />

kerosene drenched exploration in E-minor, with a scrap book of<br />

interchangeable endings the band has added to over the years.<br />

“If we had an idea for a song in E-minor, the phrase became<br />

‘just stick it on the end of Sugar…’” the pair recall. Just as the<br />

etymology of disco takes us back to the flying discus, Disco<br />

Volador’s infectious grooves lean all the way back to their first<br />

single release on Heavenly Records. A track that widens the<br />

eyes and mind with its wild energy – no doubt a sensation felt<br />

more keenly by listeners accustomed to their proceeding back<br />

catalogue, It is arguably the band’s first pill moment.<br />

“Sugar… really represents the change in our musical taste.<br />

It was a point in time where we’d started to branch out and<br />

listen to a lot more,” Sid explains, when asked what initiated<br />

the moment of cerebral lift off. “ESG were a big inspiration for<br />

me personally,” she continues. “When we were writing Sugar…,<br />

it was the time when we realised guitar music can be just as<br />

danceable as electronic music. I think that’s what pushed us to<br />

go on to write music [that] people could hopefully dance to, on<br />

record or in a live setting.” Equally, for Henry, hearing the 1982<br />

disco dancefloor-filler Moving Up (by Toba) was transformational<br />

for him as a musician. “The rhythmic guitar that I heared on that<br />

track really inspired me to change up the way I was playing,” he<br />

informs. “There was definitely more of an urge to play something<br />

that made people dance.” On Disco Volador, Rapid I, Memoirs<br />

Of Miso and the New York grooves of A Material Mistake are all<br />

reflective of this ingrained focus on kinetic orchestration.<br />

“It was never an effort to make our music danceable,” Henry<br />

rounds off. The transition from post punk edge to baggy acid<br />

grooves might seem a hard route to sketch out alone, but it’s<br />

one that was aided by the late Andrew Weatherall, who even<br />

weighed in on The Orielles’ world with a signature wonky remix<br />

of Sugar Tastes Like Salt. Pull back the external instrumentation<br />

of both post-punk and acid house and you find they both lean on<br />

raw expression rather than narrative drama. For The Orielles, the<br />

raw expression is located in a pattern of suppression and release<br />

from the band’s travels in their formative years.<br />

“When we were practicing for the first album tour with<br />

Alex, I used to do Halifax to Liverpool on a Sunday, with rail<br />

replacements in parts,” Henry starts, when asked if the band’s<br />

separation across the north fed into the band’s indulgence in<br />

a sort of in-the-moment hedonism. “For so much of our early<br />

phase we were always travelling to one another across three<br />

locations. I guess that pent up energy is captured in the record.”<br />

Experiencing the long periods of separation, when granted<br />

time to practice, the three/four piece had little time for balladry<br />

and slow burners. Freed from their liminal spaces of travel<br />

across the Northern Orion’s Belt of Liverpool, Manchester and<br />

Halifax, The Orielles’ music burned like oxidised fire as soon as<br />

the amps were switched on. But it was all too quickly snuffed,<br />

often in full flow, when required to part ways. But it’s these<br />

very constraints on time that forces their work through liminal<br />

space and into a realm free from gravity, where it would remain,<br />

spinning like a discus, until they were able to break back through<br />

once again. This, the very escape Esme points towards.<br />

“All of this record just seemed to explode from constantly<br />

travelling and waiting around, whether that’s waiting in the<br />

van on tour or waiting for practices and meeting up. I always<br />

saw music as an escape from shitty life in a small town. I felt<br />

like that’s what really spurred us on to keep travelling”, Henry<br />

concludes. “We had to take the jump,” Sid confers. Veering high<br />

up overhead with little desire to come down, Disco Volador<br />

might be their furthest leap yet. !<br />

Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder<br />

Photography: Rebekah Knox / @photosbyknox<br />

theorielles.co.uk<br />

Disco Volador is available from 28th February on Heavenly<br />

Records.<br />




LOATHE<br />

Gary Lambert speaks to the five-piece metalcore band who’ve caught the attention of Deftones<br />

with their genre-defiant second album. Things are about to get a whole lot bigger for Loathe.<br />

It’s the dream scenario for many bands. You start the year with people tipping you as a must<br />

watch. You follow that up with a critically-acclaimed album, touted as the defining record<br />

within the contemporary stable of your genre. Throw in a raucous hometown album launch<br />

show in front of hundreds of people as well as a similarly wellreceived<br />

nationwide tour, and you’d think it’s time to sit back and<br />

let it all sink in, right? Not for LOATHE.<br />

The Liverpool metalcore band have, instead, decided that<br />

the best thing to do is to thank all of their original fans who have<br />

backed them from day one, playing an intimate gig in Liverpool<br />

at Kazimier Stockroom, one week later, for free. All this, and<br />

convincing MTXS and God Complex – bands who have headlined<br />

far bigger rooms in Liverpool – to be their support acts, as well as<br />

getting one of Liverpool’s up-and-coming metal scene starlets,<br />

False Hope, to open the event.<br />

Sitting down with the band before the show, the forthcoming<br />

gig and the reasons behind it are an obvious place to start. “Before<br />

we were Loathe, we were a band called Our Imbalance. We<br />

recorded an EP, played a few shows with it, but the last show of<br />

that project and the first show of Loathe was in Maguire’s Pizza<br />

Bar. We thought it would be nice to come back to Liverpool and<br />

do a show that was like those old days,” guitarist and vocalist Erik<br />

Bickerstaff explains.<br />

Their biggest hometown show the week before, at O2 Academy, hadn’t been without a hitch.<br />

The fire doors of the venue couldn’t be unlocked leaving hundreds of people waiting in the street until<br />

“Every style of music<br />

creates a different feeling<br />

inside you, and that<br />

comes out then in the<br />

music you create. You<br />

naturally pay homage to<br />

the music that you hear”<br />

an electrician turned up to correct it. “We wanted to do something to say thank you to the people who<br />

waited for us,” says lead vocalist Kadeem France, “those who had to run for the last train home. We<br />

thought that doing this little, free gig at the last minute would just be something cool for them.”<br />

As I wait around the venue, there are fans arriving as early as<br />

4pm just to have a look in the window of the venue door, laughing<br />

in disbelief that they are going to see Loathe somewhere so<br />

intimate. There’s a real back-to-basics feel to the show; a complete<br />

contrast in approach for a band said to be in the slipstream of<br />

behemoths Deftones. “To be honest, this is mad. I know it’s free<br />

entry, but the tickets sold-out in less than 20 minutes without any<br />

announcement that they were going to be on sale,” replies Erik.<br />

“It’s crazy to think that happens to your band. We’ve wanted to be<br />

able to do something like this for so long, and now we’ve got the<br />

chance to do it.”<br />

This show was the culmination of just over a week’s worth of<br />

non-stop gigging to support their second album, I Let It In And It<br />

Took Everything, a wide-ranging exploration of metal, distortion<br />

and doom-laden shoegaze. “We’ve had the most amazing week<br />

this band has ever had. We released the album on 7th February<br />

and since then we’ve been playing all over the UK. They’ve<br />

probably been the best shows we have ever played. Last night, a<br />

sold-out show in London, was the best show we have ever played. Genuinely,” says Kadeem. “We<br />

had people getting up on stage for the last song, and literally the entire room was singing along.<br />

Erik didn’t even sing the chorus: he started to, stepped away from the mic, and just let them get on<br />


with it. Sold-out 400 people in London, yeh, it’s definitely a highlight… It’s really cool to see at every<br />

gig, knowing that you’re not the support band any more, that these people are here to see you,” he<br />

adds.<br />

Over the last few weeks, watching Loathe from the outside, as they built up to the launch of the<br />

album, I got a feeling that things were about to get a lot bigger for the band. Kerrang!, for example,<br />

listed Loathe as one of their Hottest Bands of <strong>2020</strong> alongside the likes of Polly and Yungblud,<br />

covered their recent tour of Japan, and gave a massively positive review of the album. However, in<br />

the days of social media there was one piece of unplanned publicity which truly hit home for the<br />

band. “It’s surprising the reaction we’ve got from the critics over the album,” Kadeem starts. “When<br />

we released Two Way Mirror in the build up to the album release, Chino [Moreno, lead vocalist of<br />

Deftones] shared it, which was surreal and started to send things a bit crazy. It doesn’t actually feel<br />

real to this day. Him sharing it was massive.<br />

“Having the reaction we have had feels like a blessing. Especially considering how long it has<br />

been since we released some music. To still have that dedicated fanbase just gets you buzzing. It’s<br />

been nearly three years since our last album, so it’s nice to know that people are still interested in<br />

you, and still willing to listen to your work. It feels like we’ve been in a deep sleep, and we woke up<br />

from that deep sleep in Liverpool, headlining our biggest, sold-out show with our album released<br />

that day.”<br />

Erik continues: “When we recorded the album, it felt at times like we were in this neverending<br />

loop of having to record, mix, and edit all these different bits of stuff; to finally get to the<br />

end is great. It took the four of us 451 days to record the album, from the beginning to the point<br />

of submitting the album to the label. That’s why we named a song 451 Days. We are so certain of<br />

who we are now. I’m not saying that we weren’t ready for The Cold Sun, our first album, but I feel<br />

like with this album it’s like a coming of age record.”<br />

I Let It In And It Took Everything is an alluring listen, even if heavy music isn’t to your usual<br />

taste. The album is made from many different textures and sounds. For me, Two Way Mirror is the<br />

most Scouse psychedelia song I’ve heard in years. There is no doubt in my mind that, musically,<br />

Loathe wouldn’t be out of place at an event like PZYK <strong>2020</strong>, while also being on the bill at<br />

Download. “Our music is made up of so many styles,” Kadeem agrees, adding, “that all comes from<br />

listening to different music and taking it in. Every style of music creates a different feeling inside<br />

you, and that comes out then in the music you create. You naturally pay homage to the music that<br />

you hear. If it means that our heavy music is inspired by, say, some indie music from the 90s then<br />

that’s what it is.”<br />

Harry Rule, lead singer of God Complex, concurs. “Part of the reason why Loathe are getting<br />

so recognised is their ability to expand genres, doing anything that sounds good and sticking<br />

it together on the album.” This feeling is shared by Grant Watling, promoter of Halfway Home<br />

Promotions and unashamed Loathe fanboy: “They just seem to have thought of everything in their<br />

music. The moment they started playing tonight and last Friday, I stopped being the promoter of<br />

the night and was just a crowd surfing kid.”<br />

As the gig finishes, I step back into the Stockroom to capture some images of the band. The<br />

residual heat in the room is like a bonfire. While the lads from Loathe are looking forward to getting<br />

back to ordinary things, like their dogs and their own beds, I cannot escape the feeling that, for<br />

Loathe, ordinary no longer exists. !<br />

Words and Photography: Gary Lambert / @glamgigpics<br />

loatheasone.co.uk<br />

I Let It In And It Took Everything is available now via SharpTone Records.<br />




Graciously falling through the atmosphere with a dream-like aura, LUNA<br />

returns home with tales from her most searching celestial journey to date.<br />

Everything about of LUNA is subtly mesmeric. From the<br />

elemental depictions of her form in her photographs,<br />

to her very own productions, the combination is<br />

striking. So when Kate Hazeldine steps into the Baltic<br />

Roastery to talk about her upcoming EP, Hello Earth, I’m half<br />

expecting the glittery, spectral aura of LUNA to follow closely<br />

behind and pull up a seat.<br />

The dream-like production of her pop-tinged tracks paint<br />

an image of someone in constant motion. While Kate’s feet hit<br />

the floor, LUNA walks on air. They are individuals with the same<br />

origin story; one Kate credits to her “being a bit of a lone wolf”<br />

in her home of Cheshire. Surrounded by abundant nature and<br />

an almost ever-present Kate Bush soundtrack “blaring out of the<br />

speakers in [her] house”, LUNA was born.<br />

Mining songs from person experience of relationships, LUNA<br />

incorporates indie dream-pop with electronic sampling and an<br />

impeccable voice. Combining heartache<br />

and healing, Kate becomes LUNA. Kate<br />

describes her musical counterpart as one<br />

laced with “confidence and sass. Way more<br />

so than I am in real life.” The girl who sits in<br />

front of me, cradling her cup and talking so<br />

eloquently about her upcoming vision and<br />

goals, doesn’t seem like someone who’d<br />

need to lean on an alter-ego. Yet, LUNA is<br />

what has brought us to this room and has<br />

allowed Kate to have the voice she does.<br />

A nod of understanding is shared between<br />

us. Kate explains: “LUNA helps me to see<br />

things in a different way. A stronger way,”<br />

she quickly corrects. “It’s cathartic to get<br />

emotions out through writing,” she continues. “If people like the<br />

eventual product of the way I’m feeling, then that’s even better.”<br />

As we continue, it seems as though LUNA is a lifeline for Kate;<br />

a healthy coping mechanism for the chaos of the world. Kate<br />

laughs, “I’ve got this thing to turn to, essentially. I don’t just go<br />

out and get smashed all the time.”<br />

On 5am, a piano ballad released in 2018, Kate opens the<br />

song with the assertion “I don’t recognise myself anymore”.<br />

Hearing this, the earlier chat about LUNA offering a lifeline<br />

swings towards a broad assumption. However, in person, Kate<br />

reaffirms her control of her artistic counterpart. As we talk, it’s<br />

revealed that Kate is far from lost. She clarifies the lyrics for<br />

me, explaining that “5am was written in the middle of a very<br />

destructive relationship, which I didn’t see at the time. The song<br />

observes the feeling of losing yourself in a relationship, because<br />

you’ve become so all consumed by a feeling – one you know isn’t<br />

good, but you’re no longer in control of.” Despite the track having<br />

been a part of LUNA’s catalogue for a while, it is one of her<br />

“LUNA helps me<br />

to see things in<br />

a different way.<br />

A stronger way”<br />

favourites and deserves its place on her upcoming EP.<br />

Alongside more established songs, the EP features new<br />

tracks such as Wind. As Kate informs, it observes the same<br />

turbulent relationship recalled in 5am. The elemental song<br />

is a masterpiece of a metaphor. “The still verses reflect the<br />

good parts of a relationship and the raucous chorus are where<br />

everything whips up around you,” she explains. The carefully<br />

curated wall of sound is testament also to LUNA’s ability as<br />

a producer, something she attributes to participation in the<br />

ReBalance production programme.<br />

At the annual stage where festival line-ups are released<br />

and ridiculed, and the PRS Foundation’s ambition for 50:50<br />

representation of women feels uncomfortably unattainable, Kate’s<br />

experience of being elevated by a women’s only production<br />

programme is refreshing to hear. Co-run by PRS and Festival<br />

Republic, ReBalance is a scheme that has allowed Kate to gain a<br />

greater understanding of production and<br />

offered the chance to record and mix with<br />

a mixing engineer. But her production<br />

journey didn’t start there, as she goes<br />

on to explain. “Since I left university I’ve<br />

taught myself production on Logic. For<br />

the past three years I’ve been honing<br />

in my production skills.” While her own<br />

command of production is as strong as<br />

it has ever been, Kate opens up about<br />

her keen appetite to collaborate. “It’s just<br />

been me in my bedroom for so long and<br />

I feel ready now to actually socialise with<br />

other people doing the same thing – not<br />

be such a hermit.” It’s understandable for<br />

someone as self-sufficient as Kate to protect their creation, but<br />

collaboration may just be the next step for LUNA to project herself<br />

in a way previously unimaginable.<br />

While Kate has been limited in her collaborative efforts<br />

with other producers, her creative vision has been executed<br />

beautifully alongside photographer Robin Clewley. “I love<br />

working with Robin,” she spurts out, once we begin to touch<br />

on the visual strand of LUNA. He’s the man behind the camera<br />

for her new video for Night Drive, which they only wrapped up<br />

filming two days before we speak. It’s clear the creative energy<br />

is still flowing, and the excitement of the upcoming releases is<br />

palpable.<br />

It’s not just the music videos that inspire this level of<br />

excitement; the same energy is emitted from the press shots<br />

intertwined with the upcoming EP release. “[Me and Robin],<br />

we were just on the same page,” explains Kate. “We went to<br />

a disused slate quarry in North Wales. There we composed a<br />

different scene for each track on the EP.” These scenes are all<br />

inspired by the songs they represent. “For Lay Like Stars, we<br />

wanted to create an image laying down, exactly what it says on<br />

the tin, really simple. But we put fairy lights in front of the lens to<br />

make it look like little stars.” Robin’s work highlights the ethereal,<br />

Stevie Nicks-esque aura of LUNA. My favourite image from the<br />

collection sees Kate surrounded by an alien light and captures<br />

the movement of the wind through fabric draped over her arms.<br />

Landscape and artist complement one another beautifully.<br />

Taking cues from an obsession with Kate Bush and Björk,<br />

the otherworldly backdrop is a homely space for LUNA. Her EP<br />

title, Hello Earth, is similarly wired into this aesthetic. Though,<br />

Kate explains, she was “struggling on a title for so long”, but<br />

the artistic compass of Kate Bush once again showed the path.<br />

“I was listening to Kate Bush and she’s got a track called Hello<br />

Earth which is one of my favourites. I was cautious it would be a<br />

little bit cheesy, but it just makes sense.” And it does. The EP is<br />

Kate’s first love letter to LUNA, introducing the character to the<br />

real world surrounding.<br />

Through the EP, we are being welcomed into LUNA’s<br />

universe, but it is not solely the recordings that we can gain<br />

access to this world. Her upcoming performance at St Bride’s<br />

Church on 13th <strong>March</strong> is one that Kate cannot hide her<br />

excitement for. “I’m planning the lights, the décor, the acts. I’ve<br />

got some really exciting support acts that I’m not announcing<br />

just yet. There’s a lot of thought and time that has gone into it<br />

and I want it to feel like when you’re stepping into St Bride’s,<br />

you’re stepping into LUNA’s world.” The location, a beautiful<br />

neoclassical building in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter, already<br />

projects a complimentary atmosphere without LUNA having to<br />

step over the threshold. It’s not your typical venue, nor is it going<br />

to be your typical gig. The support artists on the night will all be<br />

female, with Kate making her decision very clear. “I’ve not got<br />

anything against men, but there’s still such an imbalance despite<br />

it being <strong>2020</strong>. I just want to try and collaborate with as many<br />

women as I can.”<br />

The EP and performances are followed by a coveted slot<br />

at The Great Escape. From there, Kate is ready to “crack on and<br />

keep making music”. We end our conversation in a place of<br />

positivity, as Kate closes with the mantra “self-belief, self-love.<br />

I feel ready now, I’ve overcome a lot of personal anxiety and<br />

setbacks; I’m in a good place now to tackle this head on.” !<br />

Words: Megan Walder / @M_l_Wald<br />

Photography: Robin Clewley / robinclewley.co.uk<br />

sheislunamusic.bandcamp.com<br />

Hello Earth is available from 13th <strong>March</strong>. LUNA plays St<br />

Bride’s Church on Saturday 14th <strong>March</strong> with full support to be<br />

announced.<br />





Grassroots and the dugnad spirt: Chris and Kaya Herstad Carney talk about the can-do spirit at the heart of<br />

the Threshold family, which culminated with their festival’s final outing in April.<br />

There’s a quote inscribed on a cor-ten wall at the end of Old Hall Street, which you<br />

probably glance at when you’re driving along the Dock Road and sweep up to Leeds<br />

Street. The sculpture sits at the point where the city’s old dock wall would have run,<br />

looking out to the sea and the New World beyond, as well as presiding over the starting<br />

point of one of the busy ship canals that was key to Liverpool’s maritime trading status. The<br />

quote, attributed to a writer for the Liverpool Daily Post, Michael O’Mahoney, reads “Liverpool –<br />

threshold to the ends of the Earth”.<br />

While its symbolism is fairly easy to decipher, the link with this quote and the naming of the<br />

grassroots music and arts festival, THRESHOLD, is slightly less tangible. O’Mahoney’s quote is<br />

one of a few things that Chris Herstad Carney, festival producer, mentions when I ask him about<br />

the festival’s origins. He and artistic director Kaya Herstad Carney also mention the lowest hearing<br />

threshold for human hearing as a possible source of inspiration for the name; but I prefer to settle<br />

on the first answer they give, that their event represents a threshold for artists making their way in<br />

the industry, the first rung on the ladder. It fits.<br />

For the past 10 years, this husband and wife team have been at the heart of a wide group of<br />

volunteers, promoters, artists and fellow music obsessives who have brought together Threshold<br />

Festival Of Music And Arts. The Threshold Family have worked together tirelessly to put on events<br />

that have embraced a spirit of togetherness that is best summed up by the Norwegian word,<br />

dugnad. Mucking in, helping out, getting things done, it is a term that is rooted in a very civic act of<br />

unpaid, voluntary, orchestrated community work.<br />

“It’s the work, it’s not the pride,” explains Kaya, smiling as my eyes light up at a term that seems<br />

a perfect fit for Threshold’s ethos, but one that now seems thoroughly baked in. “It’s like, you have<br />

sports teams doing up their clubhouse and stuff like that. That’s dugnad. That’s how Norway was<br />

built.”<br />

“Threshold is a little bit dugnad,” agrees Chris. “It’s basically everyone working together to get<br />

the job done. We have had so many friends, every year, just coming down and going, ‘I’ve got a<br />

few hours free, what do you need doing?’ Then just coming and mucking in. You’re more likely to<br />

see it at the festival as, like, the drummer walking in with his kick drum rather than standing there<br />

watching the technicians setting it up. Because they care. They give a shit about what we do.”<br />

The strength of the team is a huge part of what has kept Threshold going for the past decade,<br />

and helped them all get over the hurdles that have presented themselves. As an entry-level,<br />

grassroots event, Threshold has always relied on the local gig-going public on turning out and<br />

taking a chance on some new talent, often artists who are performing for the first time. As such,<br />

ticket sales don’t cover the full running costs, so they’re reliant on other forms of support.<br />

“The Arts Council have been great with us,” says Chris. “We’ve not always been successful, but<br />

we’ve always had a good relationship with them. They recognise what we do. But they are almost<br />

unique in recognising that.” In 2017, Threshold didn’t secure any funding, so the festival looked<br />

like it wouldn’t be able to go ahead. But thanks to the generosity of the local community, and the<br />

sterling work of a key member of the Threshold Family, Kate Stewart, a successful crowdfunder<br />

campaign was set up, which secured them the funds to make sure the festival could happen as<br />

planned.<br />

Laura J Martin (Mike Brits)<br />

Paddy Steer (Glyn Akroyd)<br />

“I was panicking, but it was Kate who said, ‘You guys have got the clout, the energy, the fun, the<br />

love [to pull this off],’ and she put this plan together,” Chris says about the campaign. “We smashed<br />

the target. It was an amazing show of love.”<br />

“We really needed that,” continues Kaya, of what felt like a vindicating moment for them. “The<br />

passion that has been given to us, for doing something great, the time and effort, and the ideas, is<br />

just priceless,” continues Chris. “It’s unbelievable.”<br />

“It’s a bit mushy, but I do feel it’s like, ‘Hate divides and love multiplies’,” Kaya adds.<br />

“Volunteering and sharing projects has a ripple effect. It inspires you to go and do other things. By<br />

inspiring someone to do what they wanted to do, but didn’t dare to do, they will definitely inspire<br />

you. It becomes this kind of positive monster.”<br />

There’s an element of dugnad to this reaction of Threshold’s audience, which even stretches to<br />

the artists performing, many of whom will take the chance to do something a little bit more risky at<br />

Threshold then they would for a normal show. It’s a chance to be creative, as they know the crowds<br />

aren’t going to be vast – but they know they have the backing of Chris, Kaya and the team.<br />

This came to the fore in 2019, when the BBC Radio 6 Music festival landed in Liverpool, slap<br />

bang over the same period that Threshold was taking place. This was another hurdle to overcome,<br />

the annual problem that threatened to derail plans. But you’d have been hard-pressed to notice if<br />

you were at the festival last year, as the whole event played out as usual, and the fans, artists and<br />

musicians went about their business as they always do: with open minds and generous hearts.<br />

“We say we try and put on the festival we’d love to see,” Kaya says. “If you’re excited about it,<br />

and truly want to tell people this is going on, other people will be excited about it too.”<br />

Threshold X, the tenth edition, takes place in the festival’s playground of the Baltic Triangle on<br />

3rd and 4th April. But this year will be the last time Threshold appears as a festival, and Chris, Kaya<br />

and their volunteer army have vowed that this year will be their swansong.<br />

“It’s not the end of Threshold,” Chris clarifies. “I think we’re going to keep it going, but for less<br />

regular things, like guest stages. We want to maintain the community that’s there. But the annual<br />

events we both think has served its time.”<br />

“Ten years is a good run,” continues Kaya. “It’s about creating something together, and yes, it’s<br />

going to be an anti-climax on 5th April, going, ‘Oh that’s that’.”<br />

Chris Herstad Carney: “I don’t feel any regret. I feel like it’s the right decision.”<br />

Kaya Herstad Carney: “The Baltic isn’t what the Baltic was when we started. If we wanted to<br />

continue, we would have to go to the North Docks, but then we would have to start over again and<br />

it would be a different beast. So, yes, ten years feels like a really good round number.”<br />

So, six weeks before your last festival, how are you feeling? Are you happy, excited, sad? Are<br />

you relieved?<br />

KHC: All of the above.<br />

CHC: We all had to come together as a team, to all feel like that was the moment. We haven’t<br />

always been 100 per cent on the same page about where we’re going. It was when we both<br />

thought ‘Yes, this is it, we’re ready’. It’s been a successful festival, but we’ve had hurdles that<br />


Photo by Stuart Moulding<br />

have prevented it from being more. We don’t want to be the people that say there’s always<br />

something, but every year there’s been a hurdle. So, there are mixed feelings in that way.<br />

KHC: The area’s changed so much, and what we were passionate about was to create that<br />

platform for the people who weren’t the buzz bands or the next big thing. The ones who are<br />

the next big thing, if they were allowed to grow. That’s always been our passion. The people<br />

who want to do collaboration and test performances. A bit more avant garde, a bit more<br />

quirky.<br />

CHC: There’s so often a band that blows up that we couldn’t get 50 people in front of!<br />

KHC: Like Louisa [Roach] coming and giving me a massive hug the other day saying we’d<br />

given her her first solo gig, when it wasn’t even She Drew The Gun then. We’ve always<br />

championed the underdog. It’s definitely a passion, finding the ones who don’t have all the<br />

support.<br />

CHC: We see potential. We’ll put you on, and we take away that pressure of saying you need<br />

to have this many people in front of you otherwise you’re not getting a gig again. The artists<br />

we’re pushing might not have the best profile in the world, but we think they could actually go<br />

somewhere. It could be an Eleanor Nelly, who could end up on Decca, you know.<br />

KHC: There is literally no money in putting on somebody’s first gig, and we can only cover,<br />

like, expenses and festival ticket and food for those artists. But that could literally get them<br />

their next gig, that might be a payer, eventually. But if you don’t get that first chance, you don’t<br />

get the second one.<br />

You guys were one of the first people to the Baltic, and now there are lots of events:<br />

Sound City, Baltic Weekender, Positive Vibration…<br />

CHC: It’s a perfect fit for them, certainly for Pos Vibes. It was always a perfect fit for the<br />

Baltic. We did our first Threshold in the CUC, we just filled the building with music and<br />

art. Then Mike [Deane] put on the Liverpool Music Week closing party there. It was always<br />

supposed to be that great fit for us. We knew that Ropewalks’ days were numbered. The<br />

docks was never the best fit, even though Bramley-Moore was good. This is where it was<br />

always going to be, so it’s almost like it’s fulfilling its destiny. A lot of organisers came to<br />

Threshold and were like, ‘Oh, this works’.<br />

Do you feel a bit pissed off that people have come in since and the area has changed so<br />

much?<br />

KHC: We weren’t the only ones here. Phil Hayes and Jayne Casey had The Picket already,<br />

they’ve been here for much longer.<br />

CHC: The big respect needs to come to both the creative and the board of the Baltic Triangle<br />

CIC and the likes of Jayne Casey and A Foundation, and some people from the council as well.<br />

The people who had that vision, to make it what it was. We were kind of like guinea pigs for it,<br />

but we didn’t start to be that. If we hadn’t put on those first events, if Jayne and Phil weren’t<br />

doing those first things, and A Foundation, then it’d still be a wasteland.<br />

You have mentioned passing the baton on to the community. Would you care to elaborate<br />

on that?<br />

CHC: The intention is for Threshold to remain, as a CIC. We’re going to shift its focus, as a<br />

resource. All the communities we’ve built, of artists, promoters, venues, we’re able to connect,<br />

and continue to connect – but we won’t be producing the festival itself. If we can see the<br />

potential in something, then if someone wants to run with it, it should go on.<br />

We’ve known for at least five or six years that Threshold’s bigger than us. It’s an important<br />

thing for a lot of people, and those people tend to be the creatives. It’s important for them<br />

that it still goes on. Our road with this goes to here, but Threshold should and will carry on. It<br />

almost feels like throwing down the gauntlet!<br />

KHC: There are two ways for that to happen. One is that we are happy to mentor somebody<br />

who wants to start up something, as we have done. If somebody actually wants to continue<br />

with Threshold, we’ll have to create a board. It might just be a production company, or a bit<br />

like an agency. If that pot of money comes in, we’ll put that towards a project that will be going<br />

towards the community.<br />

CHC: The team all have their own careers, they’re all moving in different directions. We<br />

haven’t found those new people yet, or they haven’t found us, but the message is out there.<br />

Hopefully somebody will pick up that gauntlet. !<br />


FAMILY<br />

We asked members of the Threshold Family,<br />

who have produced, promoted and performed at<br />

the festival down the years, for one memory that<br />

sums up the essence of Threshold…<br />

“The secret stage we did for Drop The Dime.”<br />

Sally Nulty<br />

“Well, of course, Mark Monkwaa Ross laying on the floor at the front of the stage holding a<br />

mic in the air as we’d run out of mic stands on that first crazy year at the CUC!”<br />

Ema Quinn<br />

“The cheeky Creaky Bones crowdsurfing caper that resulted in one of our best ever photos.”<br />

James Kirkham and Andrew AB<br />

“Teamwork. No other event seems to bring the Liverpool arts community together quite like<br />

it.”<br />

Simon Hewitt (Silicon Dreams)<br />

“When I couldn’t make it to the Black Mountain Lights set so they came and played for me<br />

in the box office. Most special moment ever.”<br />

Hannah McLachlan<br />

“Threshbees (the knitted bees that were everywhere in 2013).”<br />

Karen MacFarlane<br />

“One of the things that really sums it up is being in the crowd with the guy who just played<br />

on the other stage, with the guy who’s about to play on the other stage, watching the guy<br />

who’s on the stage. That doesn’t really happen at a lot of events.”<br />

Chris Herstad Carney<br />

Words: Christopher Torpey / @CATorp<br />

Photography: Mike Brits, Glyn Akroyd, Stu Moulding, Jack Thompson<br />

thresholdfestival.co.uk<br />

Threshold Festival takes place across multiple venues in the Baltic Triangle on 3rd and 4th<br />

April.<br />

Jazzhands (Jack Thompson)<br />



Adwaith (Gareth Jones)<br />



In February, Welsh Language<br />

Music Day dropped by the BME<br />

– the festival’s only official<br />

UK event outside of Wales –<br />

for an afternoon platforming<br />

contemporary artists currently<br />

making music in their native<br />

dialect. Picking up from the gig,<br />

Cath Holland traces the growing<br />

popularity of Welsh language<br />

music by speaking to those at the<br />

heart of its latest resurgence.<br />


MUSIC DAY to you), but Adwaith (Reaction) are not<br />

celebrating in Wales in front of a familiar home crowd.<br />

They’re in Liverpool instead, inside the iconic Cunard<br />

Building, a somewhat sterile room away from the warmth of the<br />

populated city streets. It is raining<br />

after all, so the original plans to stage<br />

the event on the Pier Head have been<br />

sidelined, moving indoors to the British<br />

Music Experience. Yet, it’s apt for<br />

them to be surrounded by artefacts<br />

belonging to musical icons today<br />

because the time we’re living in is a<br />

truly golden age of all contemporary<br />

Welsh music, with these three young<br />

women at the forefront. Today’s<br />

lunchtime gig by the trio, Hollie Singer<br />

(vocals, guitar), Gwenllian Anthony<br />

(bass, keys) and Heledd Owen<br />

(drums), is not only their debut in<br />

Liverpool but another sign that music<br />

made in the Welsh language is being<br />

embraced more and more outside their<br />

home country.<br />

Adwaith’s Welsh Music Prize-winning debut album Melyn<br />

(Yellow), recorded almost entirely in Welsh, encompasses far<br />

more than the post-punk tag attached to them. Released on the<br />

ambitious Libertino Records, the vinyl edition sold out in under<br />

a fortnight. Adwaith’s journey over the past two years has seen<br />

them tour the UK with Gwenno and the Joy Formidable, deliver<br />

“The great thing<br />

about music is that<br />

you don’t necessarily<br />

need to know the<br />

ins and outs of<br />

lyrics to enjoy it”<br />

Dylan Hughes<br />

a tremendous BBC Radio 6 Music session and perform abroad,<br />

taking in Canada and Italy. Yet, headlining the first leg of a threepart<br />

UK tour last autumn – organised by Welsh distributors PYST,<br />

aiming to introduce Welsh language music to new audiences<br />

and promoters – marked a turning point. Manchester’s YES on<br />

that damp September night, busy<br />

with people from across the north<br />

– Yorkshire and Liverpool as well as<br />

the local Manchester contingent – left<br />

Adwaith stunned.<br />

“I literally could not believe it.<br />

People singing along in Manchester,<br />

in Welsh!” says Gwenllian.<br />

And yet it wasn’t Welsh I myself<br />

replicated that night, but instead an<br />

approximation of lyrics. It’s excellent<br />

to learn Adwaith appreciate creative<br />

interpretation from us non-Welsh<br />

speakers.<br />

“Welsh language music,<br />

in general, is very open to<br />

interpretation,” starts Hollie. “You can<br />

listen and come up with your own<br />

story in your head about what you think the song’s about. I think<br />

that element of wonder, of mysteriousness, to our music and all<br />

Welsh language music is definitely an attraction.”<br />

Welsh music recorded in both Welsh and English is enjoying<br />

a surge of popularity across the world. One of the contemporary<br />

cohort, Alffa, now own two of the top three most streamed<br />

Welsh language songs on Spotify, with listeners as far as the US,<br />


Brazil and mainland Europe. The internet, in reducing gatekeeper<br />

roles, plays its part by feeding new music direct to fans. Free<br />

spirited presenters and producers at BBC 6 Music offer precious<br />

airplay when they can; latterly, the likes of the Guardian have<br />

taken good note of grassroots music journalists and blogs around<br />

the UK and world, and responded accordingly.<br />

Schemes and initiatives and homegrown festivals including<br />

FOCUS Wales – who enable emerging artists play festivals<br />

around the globe – provide opportunities for fresh talent. Hana<br />

Evans, who performs as HANA2K, benefits from BBC scheme<br />

Horizons – she appeared at Manchester’s Off The Record due to<br />

them – and the Forte Project.<br />

“The opportunities we have now, compared to 10 years ago<br />

when you perform in Welsh, are insane,” says the pop-urban<br />

artist, who sang in a Cardiff shopping centre for Welsh Language<br />

Music Day. Her English language song, Daydreaming, was<br />

playlisted on BBC Radio 1 daytime in January, courtesy of the<br />

support and promotion she received from BBC Introducing.<br />

“It’s nice to get the exposure you get with English music,<br />

[because] when you write in Welsh it brings more attention to<br />

it because the English stuff is already out.” Independent Venue<br />

Week <strong>2020</strong> saw Papur Wal – winners of the Best EP gong at<br />

this month’s Y Selar Welsh language awards – return to a busy<br />

room in the North West once more, confessing from the Liverpool<br />

Jacaranda stage “we didn’t expect this many people”.<br />

Independent Venue Week recruited BBC Radio 1’s Huw<br />

Stephens as Welsh ambassador, but he refuses to blow his own<br />

trumpet over Welsh Language Music Day, his co-founding of the<br />

Welsh Music Prize, or championing of Welsh music on national<br />

radio.<br />

“It’s about the creativity of the artists, to be honest. Welsh<br />

language artists are fearless now. They’ve got nothing to lose<br />

and everything to gain. The world’s become a lot more diplomatic<br />

in terms of music, I think, so you can sing in Welsh anywhere.”<br />

Back at the BME, a Welsh Language Music Day playlist<br />

plays the title track from Cotton Wolf’s latest album Ofni (Fear),<br />

released by Cardiff’s Bubblewrap Collective, featuring Hollie<br />

Singer’s vocals coursing through the loudspeakers.<br />

“It’s amazing to hear this, playing in a room in Liverpool,”<br />

Huw says with a big grin, before rushing off excitedly to<br />

introduce Adwaith from atop the stage.<br />

Such playlists smash the old cliché, that Welsh language<br />

music is confined to folk and male voice choirs. Horizons Festival<br />

alumnus and teenage blues-rock duo Alffa (Alpha) – now based<br />

in Liverpool for university – received wider recognition when<br />

songs Gwenwyn (Poison) and Pla (Plague) clocked up three<br />

million Spotify streams. Yet the real story of Alffa’s success is<br />

the people turning up to their shows. Drummer Siôn Land and<br />

bandmate Dion Jones found themselves unexpectedly playing to<br />

a full house at the End Of The Road festival. “Before that, we’d<br />

gig where we were from [in Wales] so we pretty much knew<br />

every person,” says Siôn. “I remember looking at the crowd<br />

thinking, ‘God I’m in probably the furthest away I’ve ever been<br />

gigging, and it was packed’. Insane. The venue was one in, one<br />

out.”<br />

Signed to local indie label Recordiau Côsh Records, Alffa<br />

never expected to break out of the Welsh language music scene<br />

back home. “The fact that we’ve crossed the border to people<br />

who speak different languages to Welsh brings a sense of<br />

confidence, and you’re confident in what you’re doing regardless<br />

if it’s a Welsh or English song.”<br />

Dylan Hughes, formerly of indie band Race Horses, reemerged<br />

with his new dreamy, psych-glazed project Ynys (Island)<br />

last spring. With two singles released on Libertino and a session<br />

for Marc Riley under his belt, he played the second leg of the<br />

PYST pilot tour along with Bitw and SYBS, taking in Glasgow,<br />

Manchester and London. His first appearance as part of the INES<br />

talent programme – which enables promising artists to drive<br />

their international careers forward by performing at European<br />

showcase festivals – is at Liverpool Sound City in May. He credits<br />

1990s bands like Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Super Furry Animals<br />

and Catatonia for helping build the confidence Huw Stephens<br />

speaks of, and the difficulty making a living as any sort of<br />

musician these days, he believes, delivers a sense of creative<br />

freedom. “People maybe feel like, ‘I can do anything, I can get<br />

stuff on Spotify, I’m not worried making it to the next step’. Or,<br />

‘Once we get this support slot NME are quite keen’.”<br />

In a step towards inclusivity, Dylan shared English<br />

translations of Caneuon (Songs) and Mae’n Hawdd (It’s Easy)<br />

upon release, a move influenced in part by Gorky’s, who<br />

provided titles in English.<br />

“If I’m listening to a song or album in another language<br />

it’s quite nice to refer to the song title in a language you<br />

understand. The great thing about music is that you don’t<br />

necessarily, or at all, need to know the ins and outs of the<br />

lyrics to enjoy it. For things like literature or poetry you need to<br />

understand the language to be able to appreciate it or have an<br />

amazing translation.”<br />

In Wales itself, artists are well served by radio BBC Radio<br />

Cymru and Radio Wales, and dedicated television programmes<br />

Curadur and Lŵp on Welsh language channel S4C, supporting<br />

both established artists and those at a more embryonic stage.<br />

“So, if we ever get to play in England, the other side of<br />

the border, we’ve got a bit of practice, we already know what<br />

it is to play a radio session and we’re not kind of shitting<br />

ourselves,” says Carwyn Ellis, who records in both Welsh and<br />

English with his band Colorama, and delivered the wonderful<br />

Bendith album in 2016, a collaboration with folk siblings Plu.<br />

“It’s a big opportunity. The more you get under your belt, the<br />

more you learn your craft.”<br />

Ellis’ solo album Joia! (‘Enjoy’ in Welsh, ‘Groovy’ in Brazilian<br />

Portuguese) was recorded in Rio de Janeiro with Brazilian<br />

musicians, but is sung in Welsh. His most well received album<br />

to date was made on the suggestion of Chrissie Hynde –<br />

Carwyn also plays with The Pretenders, and Edwyn Collins – and<br />

Joia! is international, musically and conceptually. Conceived,<br />

recorded, and released during the aftermath of the Brexit vote,<br />

it is outward-looking and far reaching in nature – an antidote of<br />

sorts.<br />

“[It’s] something different, some sort of medicine or balm for<br />

the soul for my people,” he grins. “Enough people listen to it that<br />

don’t speak Welsh for me to think there’s an abstract musical<br />

essence there that seems to appeal to some people, which is very<br />

nice.”<br />

Carwyn sees the popularity of Welsh language music as<br />

cyclical. Like flares, coming in and out of fashion. He points out<br />

that the current surge is lower key than in the ‘Cool Cymru’<br />

1990s.<br />

“Anything to do with music or films or whatever, most of<br />

these things come and go in circles. I’ve seen it before, seen dips<br />

where it’s receded and it comes back again. The Welsh language,<br />

again it comes and goes. One week it’s being bashed, a month<br />

later there’s no sign of it anywhere. The month after that it’s<br />

being praised to the roof. We live through this constant thing of<br />

it being a bit of a football, our language and identity. It’s kind of<br />

strange.”<br />

Returning to the ever moving and expanding world of<br />

Adwaith, it’s only been a few weeks since the Liverpool show<br />

and, even as I type, announcements around the band come thick<br />

and fast. There are trips to SXSW in Texas and Russia, and a<br />

headline date at Rough Trade East all in the coming weeks. Right<br />

now they’re writing a follow up to Melyn. The possibilities for<br />

them and those in their wake, it seems, are endless, with Welsh<br />

Language very much coming to the fore of their contemporary<br />

music. !<br />

Words: Cath Holland / @cathholland01<br />

HANA2K (Daffyd Owen)<br />

“We live through<br />

this constant thing<br />

of our language and<br />

identity being a bit<br />

of a football. It’s<br />

kind of strange”<br />

Carwyn Ellis<br />

Alffa (Shiwan Gwyn)<br />



THE<br />


KID<br />


Singer-songwriter Charlie McKeon guides us through the<br />

nostalgic fields of his latest album, Sweet Remedies, released<br />

under the pseudonym THE PISTACHIO KID. Comprised of<br />

forgotten recordings unearthed years down the line, McKeon<br />

likens their contemporary existence to releasing the nostalgic<br />

haze wrapped in the frame of old family photographs.<br />

I<br />

never thought Sweet Remedies<br />

would be a record. It definitely<br />

is now, unless I have gone<br />

completely mad.<br />

The recordings come from a<br />

period of isolation in West Yorkshire<br />

in 2012, just shy of Barack Obama’s<br />

re-election. I was living mainly off<br />

raw Crunchy Nut. I had bought a<br />

microphone and a cheap recording<br />

interface. I would go to sleep at six in<br />

the morning and wake up at four in<br />

the afternoon. In between these hours<br />

I would write songs about fruit and<br />

bicycles and ignore texts and missed<br />

calls, until they stopped coming. Back<br />

then I lived a secret musical existence;<br />

I wrote things for no one and played<br />

them to no one.<br />

Years down the line, in what<br />

felt like a different life, Violette<br />

Records came across them on one<br />

of the hundreds of thousands of<br />

SoundClouds that cloud the internet.<br />

At that time, I had over 60 tracks<br />

recorded. They picked out 10 that<br />

they wanted to release – all across<br />

quite a wide spectrum of genres and<br />

styles, and with different qualities<br />

to their recordings. Bicycle Thieves<br />

was recorded on my iPhone, resting<br />

on my lap as I waited for the kettle<br />

to boil; Sweet Remedies came as<br />

a spontaneous mantra against<br />

depression, improvised in an early<br />

morning haze; Soreberry Tree, the long<br />

electronic trip on the second side of<br />

the record, I have literally no memory<br />

of making.<br />

None of them were written with<br />

a destination or goal, or on the same<br />

day or even month. There was no plan. The only thing that links<br />

them together is their innocence. They were all done with one<br />

microphone and in one take, and they were never touched,<br />

redone or edited again. I like the idea of standing by the first take;<br />

even though it wasn’t a deliberate decision, it results now in a<br />

certain honesty. They were never created as a means of drawing<br />

attention. The complete opposite. They were entirely my own.<br />

All contemporary music has the opportunity to be overproduced<br />

or even over-thought. Sweet Remedies isn’t a concept<br />

album, but each track remains in its conceptual form. Its rawness<br />

is reduced by the undertaking of the listener. At that time, getting<br />

a recording set-up was like getting crafts and paints as a kid.<br />

They were toys. In a world were everybody’s trying to sell you<br />

something, I was just sitting on the mat with my crayons.<br />

Nowadays, for me, the songs are like looking back at an old<br />

family photograph. You cannot remember the day, being there,<br />

“The songs were<br />

never created<br />

as a means of<br />

drawing attention.<br />

The complete<br />

opposite. They were<br />

entirely my own”<br />

or all of the faces around you, but<br />

you can see it is you – in your hand<br />

is the evidence. The memories are<br />

caught in a haze of nostalgia.<br />

In fact, I feel like these recordings<br />

were made by a younger twin<br />

brother. Phillipe Agrunto, I<br />

sometimes call him, other times<br />

Cardinal Krutworth, or the Pistachio<br />

Kid. When I think about them, or<br />

listen to them, they feel like his<br />

rather than mine. I feel related to<br />

them, they’re something there’s<br />

evidence of me doing, but I’m<br />

almost sure it was Phillipe, as he<br />

has littler legs than I do.<br />

When I was first asked to<br />

release Sweet Remedies, I was<br />

resistant to putting it out. I felt it<br />

was too personal, the recordings<br />

were like diary entries or private<br />

phone calls. It felt like it was only<br />

destined for me. But Violette looked<br />

into the strange window they<br />

came out of and saw something<br />

they believed in. One day it arrived<br />

at my house on a beautifully put<br />

together vinyl. I unwrapped it and<br />

put it on the player and watched<br />

it spin round. I could hear four in<br />

the morning, I could hear my old<br />

kitchen, I could hear my old self.<br />

Violette somehow saw the<br />

story behind the album without<br />

me ever telling it to them, and<br />

they reflected it in the artwork.<br />

The adventurer pictured on the<br />

record sleeve attempts to locate<br />

the exploration the music embarks<br />

on, and the playful youthfulness<br />

behind it as well. The Bob Dylan<br />

cover at the end of the album was the last song I made during<br />

that period, and they placed it as the final track without that<br />

knowledge. It was recorded just before I left Yorkshire for<br />

good on a Transpenine Express train, coach C seat 43; I had a<br />

Boots meal deal and we had to stop at Stayleybridge because<br />

someone had booted a telly on the track. The end of an era.<br />

The title in truth was just a flippant suggestion I came up<br />

with, a way of explaining the distance between myself now<br />

and myself then. Though I guess it was Freudian in a way<br />

calling it The Pistachio Kid, finally coming out of the shell. !<br />

Words: Charlie McKeon, as told to Elliot Ryder<br />

Illustration: Hannah Blackman-Kurz / @Hbkrz<br />

facebook.com/charliemckeonmusic<br />

Sweet Remedies is available now via Violette Records.<br />




Having attended The Refractive Pool painting symposium at Liverpool Hope University in February, Julia<br />

Johnson reports back on the attitudes toward Liverpool as destination for practising artists, not just a<br />

destination to exhibit established art.<br />

It is in the interests of many parties for Liverpool’s<br />

reputation to endure as a creative and cultural hub. It’s<br />

in the interests of the city’s marketing boards to be able<br />

to point to a legacy from a Decade of Culture, and to<br />

educational institutions looking to attract students with the<br />

lure of a vibrant experience. And, as Donal Moloney – artist<br />

and senior lecturer at Liverpool Hope University – exemplifies<br />

during his introduction to THE REFRACTIVE POOL symposium,<br />

in governmental interest, too. At least, the apparently<br />

associated economic growth is.<br />

But it’s important to ask what this actually looks like for<br />

individual artists. Between Tate Liverpool, the Bluecoat and<br />

various venues of National Museums Liverpool, the visual arts<br />

do have a highly visible presence in Liverpool. But what does<br />

this actually mean for the city’s painters? Does this focus on a<br />

cultural economy consider the sustainability of the environment<br />

for the city’s grassroots and independent artists?<br />

The Refractive Pool project has been masterminded by<br />

artists Josie Jenkins and Brendan Lyons to give the many<br />

talented painters in Liverpool the recognition they deserve.<br />

“We want to shine a light on these artists and to give them a<br />

platform to show their art – and, just as importantly, to allow<br />

the people of Liverpool to discover and enjoy it,” explains Lyons.<br />

“We want to document the artists and their activity as part<br />

of the city’s cultural fabric and heritage which has not always<br />

happened over recent decades, and for them to be given some<br />

sort of recognition and acknowledgement.” Beyond this survey<br />

of the current scene, the project also looks to the future with an<br />

aspiration to “build links between artists, studio groups, local<br />

institutions and the public in a way that will hopefully benefit all”.<br />

The Refractive Pool has chosen to focus specifically on<br />

painting. When scrutinised, it becomes apparent that painting<br />

actually occupies a strange place in the cultural fabric. It’s one of<br />

the first art forms associated with ‘culture’, yet the pathway to<br />

being able to make a career as a painter is a muddy one. While<br />

it’s wrong to say that the city’s major galleries don’t support local<br />

painters, it’s also true that the majority of their programming is<br />

based upon exhibitions of artists who have already ‘made it’.<br />

Which begs the question of how and where, exactly, one does<br />

‘make it’? The answer in part may hinge on being able to be<br />

much more than just a painter, but also an exhibition curator<br />

and publicist. Yet Josie Jenkins contends, to the audience full of<br />

artists that painters whose work is based on “knuckling down<br />

in their studio, shutting off from the world”, that finding this<br />

balance is particularly difficult to achieve. That the assertion is<br />

not contested by either participants or audience speaks volumes.<br />

The symposium is described by more than one attendee<br />

as an “indulgence”: a valued opportunity to spend a whole<br />

day talking about art. A full survey of the scene would take<br />

much longer, but the event certainly acts as a snapshot of<br />

attitudes towards what it means to be living and working as a<br />

painter in Liverpool. And to most of the speakers, that would<br />

seem to be a positive experience. Local artist Gareth Kemp<br />

describes the ecosystem of painting as “vibrant”, adding “there’s<br />

lots of galleries and artist-run spaces”. Just as important is<br />

that it’s affordable – a point agreed upon by other panellists<br />

including chair Donal Moloney, who says Liverpool offered him<br />

opportunities for creativity London never could. “It came to<br />

a point of ‘I can stay in London and I can work five part-time<br />

jobs to pay for a studio that I store paintings in, but never make<br />

paintings’. It was a no-brainer: I moved up north, and I can make<br />

paintings.”<br />

This ability to actually make work pays off both for the<br />

artists and us, the consumers, who are able to enjoy the fruits of<br />

a broad range of attitudes and approaches. This is borne out in<br />

presentations by three local artists – James Quin, Gareth Kemp<br />

and Joana de Oliveira Guerreiro. These three were selected,<br />

according to Josie Jenkins, to “present a variety of perspectives<br />

and artists from different backgrounds, in terms of their journey<br />

to becoming an artist and being at different points in their<br />

careers”. They certainly do that. Their styles are highly divergent,<br />

and their approaches to establishing artistic careers range from<br />

the academic to the self-taught. If it’s sometimes not clear from<br />

the city’s high street retailers that Liverpool painting extends far<br />

beyond representations of the skyline, it is here.<br />

This variation of approach also pays dividends for the<br />

future of the city as a creative hub. Having recent Fine Art<br />

graduate Zahra Parwez as a voice on the afternoon’s panel is<br />

important – she provides a perspective on what makes Liverpool<br />

so attractive that can be missed by those of us who are longer<br />

established here. “This is a place I can be fully creative and have<br />

that support system. I’ve built up a network of people to talk to<br />

about art, I know what’s happening around the city.” Parwez<br />

believes that her painting practice has developed as it has in part<br />

because of the strength of its artistic community – a community<br />

whose development is in no small part due the city’s specific<br />

conditions of being small and affordable.<br />

So, Liverpool is certainly not a city devoid of inspiration. But<br />

what about that question of being able to “make it”, and finding<br />

a way to really succeed? The afternoon’s panel discussion invites<br />



questions from the audience, and the points that they bring into<br />

focus suggest that the city may present as many obstacles as<br />

opportunities. One of the first questions addresses an essential<br />

issue, though often awkward to confront: how to sell work.<br />

Presenting a focus on creativity above commodity, the art world<br />

can seem to airbrush such questions<br />

out of its self-image. No matter how<br />

cheap the city is, though, if artists<br />

can’t make money from their work<br />

then practice becomes unsustainable.<br />

Though positive about their Liverpool<br />

experiences, none of the panellists are<br />

naive to these concerns. Indeed, there<br />

seems to be a tacit admission in some<br />

panellists’ responses that the difficulty<br />

in finding buyers might make Liverpool<br />

more of a stepping stone than an<br />

end in itself. For this, Liverpool’s<br />

small size may actually be a boon.<br />

Joana de Oliveira Gurreiro is candid<br />

that moving to Liverpool offered her<br />

the opportunity to be more than the<br />

“drop in the ocean” of a big city. With establishment comes<br />

opportunities – then connections and opportunities further afield.<br />

So, where could these collectors come from? Social media<br />

can play a part: several panellists describe their relationships<br />

with platforms like Instagram as necessary for reaching<br />

audiences, if sometimes awkward and detached. To those of us<br />

with one foot in the arts scene and following these accounts,<br />

it seems to work – there’s always a great number of events<br />

“No matter how<br />

cheap the city<br />

is, if artists can’t<br />

make money from<br />

their work then<br />

practice becomes<br />

unsustainable”<br />

and exhibitions being promoted. But is it reaching beyond this<br />

bubble? Apparently not: one member of the audience comments<br />

towards the end of the day that from all the discussion about<br />

practice, “I haven’t got a handle on where the public can actually<br />

come and see your work”. Other audience members chip in with<br />

similar observations that excellent<br />

exhibitions don’t get marketed,<br />

or that spaces are too difficult to<br />

discover and access.<br />

One event highlighted as<br />

a success by panellists and<br />

audience members alike is 2018’s<br />

Independents Biennial, in particular<br />

the A Long The Riverrun exhibition<br />

which formed part of the programme<br />

in George Henry Lee’s. The event<br />

certainly seems to have addressed<br />

many key concerns: its city centre<br />

location made it widely accessible,<br />

which in turn led to artists selling<br />

significant amounts of work. That A<br />

Long The Riverrun’s curators John<br />

Elcock and Paul Mellor are in the audience to be able to give<br />

further context is a helpful coincidence – but they readily admit<br />

that “the stars collided” for the opportunity in a way which<br />

unlikely to be repeated. The George Henry Lee’s building is now<br />

under redevelopment, an opportunity too good for commercial<br />

interests to pass up. It’s yet another demonstration that for all<br />

the official political statements that “the region’s cultural offering<br />

will be a major driver for new investment” (as Moloney quotes),<br />

this means little on the ground. To produce an infrastructure,<br />

to make it mean something, is currently left to the artists, and<br />

panellist Anna Ketskemety explains that “It takes an awful lot of<br />

energy to try and do something outside the studio, and... energy<br />

is a big thing,” especially if you’re already making the body of<br />

work. Despite the strong overall feeling that artists need more<br />

support, there seems no obvious answer to where this will come<br />

from.<br />

In the best tradition of these events, The Refractive Pool<br />

symposium raises as many questions as it answers. There are<br />

clearly reasons to feel positive; Liverpool comes across as an<br />

exciting place in which to paint, home to a community that is<br />

cherished and valued. But success is predicated on more than<br />

enthusiastic production – there must also be an audience, and<br />

the access to space and support that creates visibility. The<br />

Refractive Pool has made a thoughtful start to setting an agenda<br />

for sustainability, and organisers Jenkins and Lyons are certainly<br />

pleased with the passionate responses to the event. “We were<br />

especially pleased at how the panel discussion was taken up<br />

by the audience; so many people had so many great questions<br />

and thoughtful points to make,” says Lyons, “which made for<br />

a stimulating debate and gave us valuable material for our<br />

research.” It will be fascinating to follow how they uncover more<br />

about the city’s painting scene, and what ideas emerge to ensure<br />

its future flourishing. !<br />

Words: Julia Johnson / @MessyLines_<br />

Illustration: Paul Edwards / @osmpaulart<br />




“Please don’t<br />

take us too<br />

seriously”<br />


Meet the Liverpool post-punk<br />

four-piece leading a charge<br />

against socio-political norms,<br />

with lashings of cowbell.<br />

Between cavorting around stages across the North West,<br />

gaining a first play on BBC Radio 1, planting a two footer into<br />

footballing obsession and likening love to noisy Northern Rail<br />

Pacer, COURTING have been remarkably busy in an effort to gain<br />

your attention.<br />

Made up of Sean Murphy-O’Neill (vocals, guitar), Sean<br />

Thomas (drums, vocals), Sam Brennan (bass) and Michael<br />

Downes (guitar), Courting’s sound is difficult to define. There<br />

is no clear common structure between both of their singles Not<br />

Yr Man and Football, besides smashing guitar riffs and echoing<br />

reverb, which all adds to a cluster of noise which climaxes as<br />

sonic brilliance. It is for this reason that they really are a one-towatch.<br />

Offering some self-analysis, “Cowbell-core” is the first word<br />

uttered by Sean Murphy-O’Neill when asked to give his soundbite<br />

on Courting’s distinctive style. This isn’t a surprise – yes, really.<br />

Anyone who has attended their live shows so far knows exactly<br />

where he is coming from. Each time, around halfway through<br />

their set, O’Neill can be seen parading a cowbell above his head<br />

and chanting along to their newly released single Football – a<br />

track that sprints ahead on its bassline, is then forcibly shoulder<br />

charged by jagged guitar and piercing vocals, all the while<br />

offering damning statements on societal issues. All this in less<br />

than two minutes of injury time has generated a deserved buzz.<br />

Ironically, Courting admit that the song is concentrating on<br />

the basic principle of football being an “omnipresent feature in<br />

British society”, while also drawing on complete rejection of a<br />

traditional ‘pop-star’ trajectory of creating music in an attempt to<br />

(in their own words) “solely make their family rich and famous”.<br />

Their opinions on societal dilemmas are refreshing, but are<br />

easily lost in the field of artists which suddenly assimilate to<br />

the same liberal mush. The true colours of Courting’s ideology<br />

lie somewhere between rejection of the banal everyday and a<br />

cordial acceptance of impending doom.<br />

And yet, breaking through the expansive, grey Brutalist<br />

construct in which Courting reside, there are flickers of<br />

Romanticism. You can observe this in their onstage commitment,<br />

with present shades of the same ‘love and loss’ conundrum every<br />

band seamlessly tends to flirt with. With the two single releases<br />

behind them, Courting concede “It’s very difficult to write a song<br />

about love or loss in a way that hasn’t already been done.” The<br />

softer guitar riff towards the end of their debut single Not Yr Man<br />

(ignore the rest of the song for a minute), these few seconds<br />

could easily soundtrack a first dance or a final conversation. Here<br />

is the first breadcrumb that leads to a mellower Courting, one<br />

that can and should be followed. But don’t be fooled for too long;<br />

the four-piece will come crashing back into reality with lyrics<br />

such as “Let me be your Northern Rail I wanna let you down” –<br />

ironically, a line that’s always on time when hurled forward by<br />

O’Neill.<br />

Courting outline Pavement as one of their most telling<br />

inspirations – O’Neill states that “I love a lot of [Pavement’s]<br />

stuff. I always feel as though they can hit an emotional nerve<br />

without sounding dire or depressing.” Perhaps the epitome of<br />

Courting’s songwriting lurks somewhere near to this comment,<br />

simultaneously delivering both crashing riffs and tongue-incheek,<br />

observational lyricism.<br />

As a closing sentiment, O’Neill asks “Please don’t take us<br />

too seriously,” adding: “Life would be a bit boring if we all just<br />

discussed economics. Music tends to make me feel happier<br />

than market conditions do.” While a witty response, there is a<br />

contradiction in this. Label-less, they’ve consistently publicised<br />

their own gigs, traversing the music scene alone. A support slot<br />

alongside Coventry rabble Feet back in October may be their<br />

biggest achievement to date. The trials and tribulations of surfing<br />

the industry wave are just the first hurdles for Courting to clear.<br />

And clear them they have. After creating their own merchandise,<br />

posters, or pin badges, when all is said and done, O’Neill<br />

acknowledges “Life without art would just be a bit shit.”<br />

The messy, hazy image of Courting still refrains from loading<br />

clearly. At this moment, what can be seen is a colour splashed<br />

four-piece, determined to attack the poignancy of existence with<br />

goofy lyrics and crashing guitar riffs. The perfect medicine to<br />

any problem we should encounter – all while smashing a few<br />

cowbells. Long may it continue. !<br />

Words: Daniel Ponzini<br />

Photography: Maisie Delaney<br />

facebook.com/Courtingband<br />

Courting headline Phase One on 28th <strong>March</strong>.<br />


DENIO<br />

Delectable, sun-kissed indie pop<br />

quartet rolling steady with the<br />

Mersey waves.<br />

“Once we started<br />

writing our own<br />

music we just never<br />

really stopped”<br />

Why is music important to you?<br />

Music can have a nostalgic and emotional connection but can also<br />

just be something to dance to and it is at the centre of our social<br />

group. We’re always sharing new tunes and artists with each<br />

other; being able to create our own music makes it even more<br />

important to us.<br />

Have you always wanted to create music?<br />

We started playing music together when we were around 15/16<br />

years old and just started off learning covers and getting the<br />

parts right. Once we started writing our own music we just never<br />

really stopped.<br />

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially<br />

inspired you?<br />

We went to Glastonbury 2013 together. alt-J did a surprise set<br />

at the William’s Green tent and it just blew our heads off. We’ve<br />

been lucky enough to go to Glastonbury every year since and it<br />

always influences and inspires us.<br />

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in?<br />

Highest Point Festival was class. We played to a lively crowd who<br />

had never heard of us and the music seemed to go down well.<br />

Locally, we really enjoyed our gig at the Arts Club recently. The<br />

sound was immense and we had a bit of a light show going on<br />

which spiced things up.<br />

Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?<br />

Your newest material is always the most exciting and fun to<br />

play and most artists probably feel that way. We always think<br />

we’ve written our best song, then something better comes along<br />

the week after and it just goes on like that. We’re particularly<br />

enjoying playing our new songs such as Dreaming, but we’re<br />

excited to play There, I Said It as we’ve just released it.<br />

What do you think is the overriding influence on your songwriting:<br />

other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture of all<br />

of these?<br />

Current affairs and what is happening in our lives tends to be the<br />

theme. We’re in that post-university point in our lives where we<br />

are skint and trying to find the balance between jobs, working<br />

on our music and paying rent each month – so that tends to filter<br />

into the songs in some form. Mike writes the lyrics so that aspect<br />

is all him and his life, but the majority of the band live together so<br />

we go through very similar experiences in our day to day lives.<br />

If you had to describe your style in a sentence, what would you<br />

say?<br />

People have compared us to 80s bands such as Talking Heads<br />

and The Cure. Whether that has anything to do with our music<br />

or because we wear our kecks up high remains to be seen. We<br />

generally love artists with a big sound and try and put ourselves<br />

in that same ball park.<br />

Photography: Kate Davies<br />

denio.bandcamp.com<br />

There, I Said It is out now.<br />

LAZ<br />


Warped glam rock and serrated<br />

psych emerges from the fingertips<br />

of this idiosyncratic songwriter.<br />

“Whether it’s a<br />

funeral march, or a<br />

song about signing<br />

on, music can make<br />

any aspect of life<br />

seem important”<br />

If you had to describe your music in a sentence, what would<br />

you say?<br />

Better than pirate metal.<br />

How did you get into music?<br />

I first wanted to create comic books. I later discovered comic<br />

books didn’t fly through the air, enter some holes in your body<br />

and change your life.<br />

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially<br />

inspired you?<br />

I saw the 1980 Flash Gordon film when I was 11 or 12 and was<br />

awed by the soundtrack. I went silly with the zip-a-dee-doo-dah<br />

of it all. It’s fun, though.<br />

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what<br />

makes it special?<br />

Haven’t performed enough to say, but YouTube has some good<br />

applause simulators.<br />

What do you think is the overriding influence on your<br />

songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture<br />

of all of these?<br />

I think I’d like to manifest the unpredictability of the age and my<br />

personal life through music, but that might too heavily depend on<br />

life being a farce. All I know is this: be authentic, and hope you’re<br />

interesting.<br />

If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?<br />

Monty Python.<br />

Why is music important to you?<br />

I think it’s the best thing around. It’s the most life-affirming<br />

thing and the thing which most closely resembles actual magic.<br />

Whether it’s a funeral march, or a song about signing on, it can<br />

make any aspect of life seem important. I think that’s the point.<br />

Can you recommend an artist, band or album that Bido Lito!<br />

readers might not have heard?<br />

Thelonious Monk’s Misterioso – favourite album.<br />

Photography: Laz Berelow<br />

lazberelow.bandcamp<br />

An Entertainment by Laz Berelow is out now.<br />









FT, VERY<br />


GUESTS<br />









25.04 - 20.06<br />










JULIA MINTZER appears on my Skype screen. Her<br />

hair is still wet from the shower; the café in Cardiff’s<br />

Millennium Centre is in the background. It’s 9am and<br />

Julia has just come back from the gym. It reminds<br />

me that opera singers are athletes as much as they are artists.<br />

Julia is preparing for the titular role in Carmen with the Welsh<br />

National Opera – first in Cardiff, then on a tour that includes<br />

Liverpool. The role is a physically demanding one, including<br />

several fights, plenty of dancing, and, of course, she has to<br />

project her voice over the full 19th-century orchestral score.<br />

“Hey, thank you so much for fitting me into your schedule,”<br />

says Julia in her warm Pennsylvania tones, even though the busy<br />

schedule is clearly hers. We’re here to talk about the upcoming<br />

role, the ability of opera to tackle contemporary political concerns<br />

and her unusual double life as an opera singer and director. First,<br />

I want to know how it feels to be doing her ninth Carmen.<br />

“Oh, this one is quite different,” she says, “in part because<br />

the director, Jo Davies, deliberately stays away from the<br />

conventions. The production is set in a favela in Brazil. The<br />

stereotypical Carmen is wild, fiery, to the point that she’s out of<br />

control – that’s some of the romance of her. In our production,<br />

she lives in the moment, but she’s actively making the choice to<br />

employ her sexual charisma as one of the tools she can use to<br />

survive. Sometimes, what she needs to do to seize agency can<br />

be quite dark, even sociopathic. And the fights are much more<br />

brutal than I’m used to!”<br />

We quickly get into a discussion of the tropes of femininity<br />

that she comes up against as an opera singer and director.<br />

Carmen, of course, is opera’s great ‘femme fatale’. Complete<br />

with a flamenco dress and a rose in her hair, Carmen is – next to<br />

Wagner’s horned-helmet Valkyrie – opera’s most iconic female<br />

lead, but also one that is inescapably associated with being an<br />

object of erotic desire. Would it not be tempting, I suggest to<br />

Julia, to subvert that type and play Carmen as a feminist figure?<br />

“When we remount a canonical work,” Julia reflects, “we<br />

sometimes have an ethical obligation to situate it within the<br />

political current to which it seems most obviously connected.”<br />

But she does not think that the character of Carmen’s best use is<br />

as a feminist icon. “Carmen does not have the luxury of thinking<br />

outside of herself; she is not concerned with changing a culture.<br />

She is trying to navigate the dangerous world she inhabits,<br />

minute to minute. The production can – and does – make<br />

interesting points about how she is forced to operate beneath<br />

the gendered gaze that permeates her world, but she herself<br />

isn’t a force for feminism.”<br />

What Julia appreciates about the WNO production is the<br />

complex psychological characterisation, and the corresponding<br />

close attention to detail that the conductor, Harry Ogg, pays<br />

to the way text is set in the score. “There are also many other<br />

political issues at work in Carmen”, Julia suggests. “There is<br />

Carmen’s racial and cultural otherness, and that she is part of<br />

a group that operates on the edge of the economy. There is<br />

the military setting, the exploitative relationship between the<br />

occupier and the occupied.”<br />

Creating compelling theatre out of 19th-century classics, it<br />

seems, depends not so much on grafting on a political message,<br />

but scouring the libretto and the music for such revealing details<br />

within.<br />

Unusually for her profession, Julia encounters such staging<br />

dilemmas both as a singer and director. Opera singers have<br />

historically been musicians first and foremost, concerned<br />

primarily with their instrument, and so the cross-over into<br />

directing is far rarer in opera than in theatre and film. For Julia,<br />

however, directing was her first passion. “I spent much of my<br />

high-school years in theatre, which included making some<br />

horribly pretentious work out of my teenage angst,” she laughs.<br />

While studying voice at the Juilliard School in New York, she also<br />

studied Anthropology at Columbia University, and kept directing.<br />

In fact, I got to know her work as a director first, initially through<br />

her performance art piece Pizza Parlance at the 2015 Venice<br />

Biennale, then through her surprisingly amusing production of<br />

Heinrich Marschner’s Der Vampyr for Gothic Opera, showing in<br />

London this past autumn.<br />

“Part of the fun with Der Vampyr was that you cannot<br />

actually take it seriously,” she<br />

muses. “You have to embrace<br />

the ridiculousness of this being<br />

a German grand opera about a<br />

nefarious vampire.” Some of Julia’s<br />

production was downright farcical.<br />

When the heroine dismembers her<br />

father (an added directorial twist),<br />

an extraordinary number of organs<br />

spill out – a refreshing sight in<br />

opera, for sure.<br />

While Julia’s work as director<br />

is certainly nonconformist (her<br />

all-female version of La Bohéme<br />

was set in the Occupy Wall Street<br />

movement), she does not see the<br />

operatic canon as something to<br />

be simply toppled. Perhaps it is her experience as a singer that<br />

leads her to understand operas, instead, as complex, openended<br />

texts. “With the works that come to us from another era, a<br />

lot of the interpretation comes from the question of who we trust<br />

to be the reliable narrator. Do we go with what the composer is<br />

telling us, or the librettist, or one of the characters, who may not<br />

necessarily be the protagonist?”<br />

OPERA<br />

“Carmen does not have<br />

the luxury of thinking<br />

outside of herself; she<br />

is not concerned with<br />

changing a culture”<br />



Liverpool Empire – 26/03-28/03<br />

Ahead of starring in the title role in the Welsh National Opera’s latest<br />

production of Carmen – a world-renowned 19th-century French tale<br />

– mezzo-soprano and director Julia Mintzer speaks to Vid Simoniti<br />

about the potential of portraying historical roles with contemporary<br />

feminist influences.<br />

With Der Vampyr, for example, this resulted in a surprising<br />

but compelling interpretation. “With<br />

the three ingenues, I thought –<br />

they’ve got no agency to fight their<br />

way out of their oppressive present,<br />

so their best option is to wait it<br />

out… which might take forever. So<br />

immortality as a vampire becomes<br />

a very appealing option.” 19thcentury<br />

village girls may not have<br />

been able to conceptualize that,<br />

but Julia gets around the problem<br />

precisely with the humorous staging:<br />

the improbable seems more natural<br />

when it is funny.<br />

Indeed, some of those rare<br />

moments of cathartic self-criticism –<br />

which, we might think, all dramatic<br />

arts aim to encourage in their audiences – may be more easily<br />

reached through laughter than tragedy. The other directorial<br />

construct of Der Vampyr was that the vampire anti-hero needed<br />

to obtain consent before biting. “At some points,” remembers<br />

Julia, “the audience giggled uncomfortably at the word ‘consent.’<br />

The idea was to catch the viewer off guard with extremely dark<br />

humour, then let them be shocked to realize what they’d laughed<br />

at – to hold a mirror up to the process of desensitisation<br />

that’s become the norm in so much popular media.”<br />

Julia’s approach in both directing and singing roles<br />

seems, to me, to capture one way out of the predicament<br />

that I have always felt exists with restaging classics, be<br />

they opera or theatre. Classics can be layered, compelling,<br />

beautiful works: that is why they have survived the test<br />

of time. But they are shot through with political distance<br />

that makes them especially hard to watch ‘in public’. In the<br />

auditorium, our elation, tears and laughter become a matter<br />

of public knowledge. We feel duty-bound to challenge the<br />

moral flaws of previous centuries, lest our fellow-watcher<br />

should mistake our silence for complicity; but, on the other<br />

hand, heavy-handed adaptations can soon feel clumsy and<br />

sanctimonious. Letting the politics bubble to the surface<br />

through humour, or through complex characterisation, seems<br />

like a better way forward. !<br />

Words: Vid Simoniti<br />

juliamintzer.com<br />

Carmen by the Welsh National Opera shows at the Liverpool<br />

Empire, Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th <strong>March</strong>.<br />






Various venues – 14/03-22/04<br />

Open Circuit<br />

OPEN CIRCUIT FESTIVAL has announced four events which will again be exploring<br />

the bond between music and technology through artist discussions, panels and live<br />

events. Curated by members of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Composition and<br />

Technology (ICCaT) at the University of Liverpool, and based in their prestigious<br />

Department Of Music, the centre specialises in research investigating the depth of sound. Their<br />

ethos sees staff and PhD students working together to explore how music composition and<br />

sonic artforms relate to new technology, performance, and perception.<br />

The new season will kick off with international group THE RIOT ENSEMBLE on 14th <strong>March</strong>,<br />

testing the boundaries of conventional chamber music with a programme that lives up to their<br />

name. Centred around BRIAN FERNEYHOUGH’s virtuosic Liber Scintillarum (Book of Sparks)<br />

and GERARD GRISEY’s spectral masterpiece Talea, this programme explores the extremes of<br />

contemporary ensemble writing. Four days later (18th <strong>March</strong>), Open Circuit presents Areas Of<br />

Influence with the return of ENSEMBLE 10/10, conducted by CLARK RUNDELL in partnership<br />

with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. The concert will feature works that are in some way linked<br />

to Schoenberg’s seminal piece Pierrot Lunaire. American minimalist STEVE REICH reinvents<br />

Schoenberg’s classic instrumentation in his Pulitzer Prize For Music winning Double Sextet. These<br />

two classics frame a performance of work inspired by Giraud’s Pierrot Lunaire poetic cycle by<br />

Liverpool-based composer EVE HARRISON, and new work by post-graduate composers BRITTANY<br />


On Saturday 21st <strong>March</strong>, the emphasis is turned to experimental audio-visual work. OLI<br />

CARMAN and Manchester-based composer and audio/visual artist MARK PILKINGTON make<br />

use of hand drawn sketches combined with electronic gestures and patterns derived from human<br />

vocal sounds. Wrapping up the programme on Wednesday 22nd April, the university’s Lunchtime<br />

Concert Series team up with Open Circuit to present internationally renowned cellist JONATHAN<br />

AASGAARD in a programme of classic 20th century American cello works by GEORGE CRUMB,<br />


Further event details can be found at opencircuitfestival.co.uk.<br />


AND SAY<br />



FACT – 20/03-14/06<br />

Species extinction and the human destruction of animal habitats has been a<br />

growing concern for the last decade. Studies have shown that animals not only<br />

feel emotion, but have their own personalities and ways of communicating<br />

with each other. How has our intrusion on their habitats affected these<br />

species, and to what degree has human activity destroyed them? In response to a<br />

global crisis, FACT enter <strong>2020</strong> with the launch of their Year Of The Living Planet<br />

programme.<br />

It begins with a brand-new exhibition, AND SAY THE ANIMAL RESPONDED? which<br />

brings together a group of artists working on the cutting edge of technology, art, and film<br />

to collaborate on the pressing environmental and ecological issues in our world. Works by<br />

ARIEL GUZIK (Mexico), AMALIA PICA (Argentina/UK), RAFAEL ORTEGA (Mexico), KUAI<br />


(UK) knit together a necessary story, giving a voice to those who cannot speak.<br />

Visitors will be immersed in the sonic lives of animals, from the soft interactions<br />

between wolves via a drone camera, to the hydrophone recordings of an ocean choir of<br />

whales and dolphins. The collaboration between these artists asks an important question:<br />

what would animals say to us if we listened to them? Elsewhere in the gallery, a living<br />

colony of leafcutter ants can be heard ‘scratching’ music, as well as a live performance<br />

where gestures used by gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees will be performed.<br />

The exhibition will run from Friday 20th <strong>March</strong> until Sunday 14th June.<br />

More information can be found at fact.co.uk<br />

And Say The Animal Responded?<br />


ticketquarter.co.uk<br />


GIG<br />

Caribou<br />

Invisible Wind Factory – 01/04<br />

Somehow it has been 10 years since CARIBOU’s legendary Kazimier<br />

gig. The solo project of Canadian musician Dan Snaith takes to the<br />

road after a five-year hiatus (although very busy with his dancefloor<br />

focused Daphni project), bringing with him his full live band. Blending<br />

electro-pop with nostalgic house, Snaith captures the essence of the<br />

new electronic generation while acknowledging its past. Caribou will<br />

arrive on the back of new album Suddenly which is due to be released<br />

on 28th February. Single Never Come Back premiered as Annie Mac’s<br />

Hottest Record on BBC Radio 1 and shows the steps the Canadian has<br />

taken to develop a more dancefloor-conscious sound.<br />

Caribou<br />


Doc’N Roll Film Festival<br />

FACT and British Music Experience – 26/03-29/03<br />

Music and film, together in unison – surely there is no greater combination? One of our<br />

favourite purveyors of independent cinema, DOC’N ROLL FILM FESTIVAL returns with<br />

five documentaries that shine a light on musical figures and the pioneers who continue<br />

to prove the art form is a universal language of hope and inclusion. The Liverpool leg<br />

of the national festival showcases a range of films from several different genres. We<br />

will witness the births of two major movements in the country’s musical heritage: UK<br />

Drum & Bass in The Rest Is History and synthwave in The Rise Of The Synths. The<br />

more overtly political side of music is captured with the energising film White Riot,<br />

charting the vital London protest movement, Rock Against Racism. There is also a<br />

chance for movie buffs to travel to Zambia for the resurrection of a forgotten rock icon<br />

in W.I.T.C.H. docnrollfestival.com<br />

W.I.T.C.H.<br />

GIG<br />

Shaun Martin’s Three-O<br />

Invisible Wind Factory – 22/03<br />

From his work with Snarky Puppy golden days to his solo releases to<br />

his production work with Erykah Badu and Kirk Franklin, Grammynominated<br />

artist SHAUN MARTIN has brought his signature style,<br />

grace and versatility to all that he has touched. Live, Martin’s virtuosic<br />

skills on the piano – from delicate riffs to dance party rhythms – are an<br />

expression of the comfort and power that a master musician finds in<br />

his art. Joined by Matt Ramsey on bass and Mason Guidry on drums,<br />

Shaun Martin’s Three-O will be a riot of ecstatic jazz fusion. Get your<br />

tickets now from ticketquarter.co.uk.<br />

GIG<br />

Cigarettes After Sex<br />

O2 Academy – 29/03<br />

Stopping off in Liverpool during a massive tour of the UK and Europe, Texas-based<br />

CIGARETTES AFTER SEX will arrive after a whirlwind few months having just<br />

released their second album, Cry, on Partisan Records. Some of you may remember<br />

the band’s initial debut Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby, which became somewhat<br />

of a YouTube sensation in 2012, and has today gained over one hundred million<br />

streams. A lush, cinematic meditation on the complex facts of love, their newest effort<br />

Cry tells a complicated story through the eyes of frontman Greg Gonzalez. His lyrics<br />

take their inspiration from films by Éric Rohmer and the songs of Selena and Shania<br />

Twain, blending filmic artistry with pop amusement.<br />

GIG<br />

Yorkston/Thorne/Khan<br />

Philharmonic Music Room – 14/03<br />

Yorkston/Thorne/Khan<br />

Indian classical music, jazz and the Scottish folk tradition combine in stunning fashion<br />

in the improvisational hands of JAMES YORKSTON, JON THORNE and SUHAIL YUSUF<br />

KHAN. Since meeting by chance bcakstage at a show in 2015, the trio have worked<br />

together on some truly inspiring music that has seen them explore their own diverse<br />

musical heritages. The night will consist of two sets: the first to explore their new LP<br />

Navarasa: Nine Emotions, which takes in Robert Burns and Sufi poetry; and the second<br />

set allows the trio to take a leisurely trip through varied back catalogue of spidery<br />

compositions, ragas and genuine exploration.<br />

GIG<br />

Bido Lito! Social w/ Aimée Steven<br />

26/03 – The Zanzibar<br />

After a little break, a chance to re-charge the batteries, the Bido Lito! Social is back.<br />

And we’re scoring a first for our regular Social by taking the roadshow to the newly<br />

spruced up Zanzibar for the first time. For this show we’re going to be joined by<br />

Scouse guitar star AIMÉE STEVEN, who’ll be bringing some Gallic-flavoured noir pop<br />

to the top of the bill. We’ll also have plenty more groove on the night, courtesy of the<br />

dreamy ELI SMART, whose gravelly new song Deep Inside Your Garden is a stonecold<br />

winner. The same can be said of the wonky guitartronica of BORTH’s new single<br />

Something’s Happening. As usual, Bido Lito! members go free – find out more about<br />

our Membership at bidolito.co.uk. Accept no imitations.<br />

Aimée Steven<br />




Dance Of Malaga (Theaster Gates)<br />

“Dance Of Malaga<br />

is deeply affecting,<br />

oscillating from life<br />

to death and love<br />

to pain through its<br />

blend of imagery”<br />

Theaster Gates: Amalgam<br />

Tate Liverpool – until 03/05<br />

Mankind is capable of doing terrible things. At the turn of the<br />

20th Century, a small, mixed-race community living on a 42-acre<br />

island called Malaga, situated off the coast of Maine in the USA,<br />

was forcibly evicted by the state with less than a fortnight’s<br />

notice. The uprooting of this community was driven by abhorrent<br />

proponents of the eugenics movement (deeming some islanders<br />

to be “intellectually unstable” because of their interraciality), and<br />

the lucrative prospect of a Coney Island-style tourist destination.<br />

To this day, however, the island remains deserted.<br />

A leading light of the art world, THEASTER GATES straddles<br />

many a métier; artist, ceramicist, urban planner, university<br />

lecturer, community organiser and band member to list a few.<br />

At Tate Liverpool, for his first solo exhibition in the UK, the<br />

Chicagoan polymath presents a breadth of sculpture, artefact<br />

and a film inspired by the small island of Malaga: a harrowing<br />

and widely unknown splinter of American history.<br />

Taking up the entire top floor of Tate Liverpool, there’s a lot<br />

to decipher in Amalgam. Gates’ response to the island’s tragic<br />

truth explores the hybridisation of art forms, a metaphorical<br />

depiction of the island as an amalgamation itself, with its<br />

variety of non-native trees, unique microclimate and the mixedheritage<br />

community who lived there. Neat piles of fused artistic<br />

practices are arranged around the space: planed blocks of wood,<br />

compressed earth and rocks are deftly stacked. Bronze masks<br />

sink in tar, and huge cement blocks push out metal rods. Glass<br />

cases of artefacts are presented in a museum like fashion, with<br />

archival intent.<br />

A black slate wedge staggers out of the ground like an<br />

island itself, a reimagined home of Malaga. Next to it a pile of<br />

broken roof tiles, with a spinning neon ‘Malaga’ atop, glows with<br />

implied destruction. Behind, a visible chronology is scrawled on<br />

a blackboard situating Malaga among the wider history of black<br />

and interracial people in the US and UK. From civil rights laws<br />

to the transatlantic slave trade its chalk notations provide an<br />

inextricable connection to Liverpool’s slaving history.<br />

Dance Of Malaga (2019) is an evocative narrative gleaned<br />

from old photographs, footage and music. The 35-minute film<br />

is deeply affecting, oscillating from life to death and love to<br />

pain through its blend of imagery. The lithe and sensual shapes<br />

of choreographer Kyle Abraham in the dark mossy forest of<br />

Malaga is spliced with crassly sensationalised news reports<br />

of mixed-race families living their normal lives. Conceptually it<br />

explores ideological hybridity and poses questions about what<br />

we know about interracial communities. As a chilling interlude of<br />

Douglas Sirk’s 1959 film Imitation of Life gives way to a lulling<br />

a cappella from a member of Gates’ own musical collective, The<br />

Black Monks, it is apparent that racial identity is much more<br />

complicated than the language used to ‘define’ it.<br />

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a propulsive sound<br />

piece which ebbs through each of the final three rooms. The<br />

haunting score is a swelling lament of sounds; lapping waves,<br />

chiming bells, futuristic gospel. A totemic forest of ash trees,<br />

whittled down to squared off spikes, are stood in rows, some<br />

displaying bronze casts of African masks. The raised floor in the<br />

boxy space suffuses us in reverb – an unburdening, electrical<br />

surfeit of emotion and a lasting, empowering testimony to the<br />

community of Malaga and the emancipation of an untold history.<br />

An accompanying quote seemed to resonate profoundly well<br />

with the final room; “Somewhere in the death of a tree is the<br />

truth of its strength.”<br />

Gina Schwarz / @gschwarz<br />

HMLTD<br />

EVOL @ Arts Club – 13/02<br />

A crack of light bursts across the stage revealing a flash<br />

of blue lipstick, a shimmer of plastic crocodile-skin trench coat<br />

and the radiating glow of a white suit paired with bleached hair<br />

(moustache included). In case you were in any doubt, HMLTD are<br />

here to put on a show.<br />

The strutting thud of LOADED kicks in and with it HMLTD’s<br />

debut album tour bursts into being with the twisted inferno style<br />

that brought the band so much hype back in 2017. Back then,<br />

the music press was salivating at their feet, proclaiming them<br />

rock’s latest saviours and hailing their early singles as glam-punk<br />

crowd-crazers.<br />

But then all went quiet. LOADED tells us why: “I sold my soul<br />

to the devil tonight/And I’m still pretty fucking poor/But my gun<br />

is fucking loaded.” After signing to Sony, in a tale as old as time,<br />

HMLTD realised they had lost control. Things went south and<br />

it’s only now, two years later, they’ve managed to release their<br />

HMLTD (Brian Sayle / briansaylephotography.co.uk)<br />

debut, West Of Eden, under indie label, Lucky Number.<br />

Formerly infamous for their theatrical, custom-themed live<br />

sets, tonight there are no alien tentacles hanging from the ceiling,<br />

or semi-naked wolf ladies whipping up the crowd. Away from<br />

their London home, HMLTD are laid bare before a sadly sparse<br />

Liverpool audience.<br />

But as the 64-bit arcade sounds of Music! strike, it’s obvious<br />

this genre-bending band will deliver, be the crowd 80 or 800.<br />

The strong, close-knit band has a big, dramatic and swerving<br />

sound. And frontman, Henry Spychalski, seeks constantly to build<br />

and intensify his relationship with the audience. It’s climactic.<br />

The band’s older, darker tracks drag us deeper. The soulstirring<br />

Satan, Luella & I has us reaching out and begging along<br />

with Henry, “Luella, won’t you marry me now”. And the darkest,<br />

densest, most disturbed of all, Death Drive and Where’s Joanna?<br />

has the raggedy mosh pit slamming at full tilt.<br />

Peppered throughout, though, are songs like Blank Slate,<br />

which is more dreamy 80s electro-pop. Think a little Depeche<br />

Mode, a little Pet Shop Boys. Similarly, new track Mikey’s Song<br />

reaches for emotive soft-focus synth jangle, and falls a tad short.<br />

It’s here, they lose us a little.<br />

From label laments to losing their synth player three days<br />

before going on tour, HMLTD have suffered some hard knocks.<br />

When you contrast tonight with their first-round heights, the<br />

impact is mixed. On the one hand, it’s knocked them off course,<br />

leaving them more genre-confused than genre bending. And the<br />

set waxes and wanes in confidence as a result. On the other, it’s<br />

knocked a grating pretension out of them, leaving a charismatic<br />

and vulnerable personality that’s hard to resist.<br />

At their best, HMLTD still have the promise of something<br />

great and truly different. The cleverest tracks veer and subvert<br />

like set crescendo To The Door. Pivoting from galloping western<br />

to writhing synth ecstasy and back, HMLTD take us on a glorious<br />

ascent to a captivating frenzy. And it leaves us fervent fans<br />

frustrated and gagging for more.<br />

Clare Dodd / @Claredodd<br />


Psycho Comedy<br />

Phase One –15/02<br />

In celebration of their debut album Performance Space<br />

Number One, Liverpool’s own art collective PSYCHO COMEDY<br />

gather with friends and family in a room heightened by genuine<br />

prowess.<br />

Their debut projection may have been five years in the<br />

making, but time feels irrelevant in the presence of artistic<br />

dedication. You can feel the energy in the room. A mere concept<br />

brewed in the mind of Shaun Powell, the Psycho Comedy guise<br />

reflects the inner workings of his psyche. His art collective has<br />

reached a higher level. We are here to witness its elevation.<br />

As the group take to the stage plotted within a sold-out<br />

Phase One, Powell emerges wearing a collar dotted with tiny<br />

lights. The band rattle through their first few tracks including the<br />

self-titled Psycho Comedy, a gritty number that serves as our<br />

first introduction to the group’s resident poet, Matthew Thomas<br />

Smith, another local creative who has been on our radar recently<br />

with his book of poems, Songs, released in November.<br />

Bursting through their alluring single Pick Me Up, the rest of<br />

the band are anchored by the driving, stutter-step drum patterns<br />

of Jack Williams, as guitarist Lydia McGhee guides the band<br />

through Standin’ and I’m Numb.<br />

Need we mention the endless list of influences to which<br />

Psycho Comedy send their praise. The set breathes through the<br />

lungs of New York punk, yet this shouldn’t define them – there<br />

is plenty of originality aside from the comparison to their idols.<br />

Judging by the crowd here this evening, there is endless support<br />

for the raw talent which flows through the veins of our city, the<br />

very same energy that has illuminated so many before them.<br />

Confidence shines through the lyrics in I Am The Silver Screen<br />

and it becomes all the more obvious that it’s Psycho Comedy’s<br />

turn in the spotlight.<br />

Finishing with an encore, the raucous nature of Michigan<br />

State echoes in our eardrums while the band bow in unison to<br />

a crowd quite literally shouting for more. I can rest assured that<br />

tonight was not only the result of creative dedication, but the<br />

beginning of something exciting for a band who have attracted<br />

our attention more than once.<br />

Brit Williams / @therealbritjean<br />

Psycho Comedy (John Latham / @mrjohnlatham)<br />

Fatoumata Diawara<br />

Band On The Wall @ Leaf – 06/02<br />

Having wowed critics with her debut album Fatou in 2011, it<br />

took seven years before FATOUMATA DIAWARA released her<br />

‘difficult’ second, 2018’s Fenfo (Something To Say), to even<br />

greater fanfare and a couple of Grammy nominations, adding<br />

elements of pop and electronica to the more traditional Malian<br />

folk and desert blues. She explained her restrained recording<br />

output and album title in a 2018 interview with OkayAfrica<br />

magazine thusly: “Don’t sing just to sing. Sing to change things,<br />

to make things better. That’s why I can’t have a song every four<br />

months… because I know many people will be listening to my<br />

lyrics.” However, she has not locked herself away during her<br />

search for quality over quantity, she has continued the acting<br />

career that pre-dated her professional involvement in music and<br />

has seemingly never been off the road, performing with her band<br />

all over the world, and collaborating both live and in the studio<br />

with the likes of Damon Albarn, Paul McCartney and Herbie<br />

Hancock.<br />

The room at Leaf is buzzing, standing room only, as a sell-out<br />

crowd are already taking up position before the empty stage. No<br />

support tonight, so not long to wait; the band members appear<br />

and begin a slow, gentle introduction. Sustained cymbal splashes<br />

wash over the crowd as Diawara, in striking sapphire turban,<br />

guitar in hand, makes her way through the crowd. She walks on<br />

stage, smiles that smile, and lays down some bluesy licks over<br />

the rhythm, before the band hit the groove of Don Do.<br />

She addresses the crowd before the second song, Kokoro,<br />

and lays down a template for the evening; a mixture of cultural<br />

celebration and protest – let us rejoice in the music, theatre,<br />

community of Africa, let us rail against its injustices, its crimes<br />

against women and children.<br />

Timbuktu (“where we cannot play music today”), from the<br />

2014 movie of the same name, is introduced as a paean to<br />

children suffering, not just in her homeland but around the world.<br />

Her anguished vocal does justice to the subject, underscored by a<br />

soulful keyboard groove by Arecio that could have come straight<br />

out of Muscle Shoals. The set is embellished throughout with his<br />

masterful jazz/blues/soul-inflected playing. From its soulful roots<br />

the song develops via a blistering guitar solo from Yacouba Kone,<br />

to a rocky finale as drummer Jean Baptiste works the whole of<br />

his kit.<br />

The rhythm section of Baptiste and Sekou Bah (bass) is<br />

funkier than a mosquito’s tweeter, as they drive us at varying<br />

tempos through the night, stop-starting in immaculate fashion,<br />

maintaining a subtle, irresistible groove, and individually<br />

demonstrating their virtuosity; Bah with a Jaco Pastorious style<br />

solo, Baptiste in a teasing vocal-drum challenge with Diawara.<br />

Diawara and Kone fire solos and rhythms off each other, the<br />

coolest guitar-slingers in town, as the band effortlessly segues<br />

between rock, desert blues, highlife and Afrobeat. When Diawara<br />

solos she arches her back, face skywards, eyes closed. She could<br />

be anywhere, but she’s here with us, a symbiotic relationship<br />

growing by the second as the jam-packed Leaf audience moves<br />

as one. At other times she is wholly in the room, making eye<br />

contact with audience members, smiling at them in an intimacy<br />

felt by all.<br />

Throughout the evening she praises her musical heroes,<br />

her muses – among them Fela Kuti, Oumou Sangaré and Nina<br />

Simone, whose version of the spiritual Sinnerman is triumphantly<br />

covered, Fatou unwinding her turban and allowing it to fall free,<br />

covering her face and torso – “I ran to the Lord”, singing veiled,<br />

the band cooking, her vocal more and more intense – “I said Lord<br />

hide me, please”, until she pulls the veil away and, dreads flying,<br />

proceeds to orchestrate the wide-eyed crowd with a dance of<br />

possessed, uplifting intensity – “Sinnerman, you ought to be<br />

prayin’, ought to be prayin’, Sinnerman”.<br />

The deep intensity of the middle section gives way to the<br />

more upbeat bounce of Sowa (the only song from her debut<br />

album) and Bonya, both ripe with the possibility of crowd<br />

interaction, but not the forced, crowd-control freakery of the<br />

insecure; this is a mutual bonding, Diawara and the band<br />

are smiling as widely as the audience, clearly revelling in the<br />

crackling atmosphere. The crowd are singing choruses, clapping<br />

rhythmically along, and, under the conducting arm of Diawara,<br />

crouching lower and lower before leaping for the sky and<br />

continuing a bounce reminiscent of a Maasai Adumu ceremony<br />

(or of pogoing to X-Ray Spex in Eric’s circa ’78 to those of a<br />

certain vintage!).<br />

The small setting has proved a success. Diawara retires to<br />

the side of the stage while the entire crowd chants for more. As<br />

the encore, Anisou, gets into its stride she smiles at someone<br />

in the front row, extends her hand, and pulls him on stage.<br />

Before long about 10 crowd members have been invited to join<br />

them. They dance and worship in a joyful, exuberant finale that<br />

cements the togetherness of the occasion. Diawara, meanwhile,<br />

jumps down from the stage and makes her exit, orchestrating a<br />

series of whirlpool like circle dances that moves her across the<br />

room amidst the whooping crowd. The band plays on. No one<br />

wants this to end.<br />

Early February. Too early, I know, to speak of ‘gigs of the<br />

year’. But the bar has been set. Follow that.<br />

Glyn Akroyd / @glynakroyd<br />

Fatoumata Diawara (Kevin Barrett / @kevbarrett)<br />



Sinead O’Brien<br />

+ Egyptian Blue<br />

Get It Loud In Libraries @ Birkenhead<br />

Library – 02/02<br />

For me, libraries have always been places of<br />

subversion. Just like the time my mum walked into<br />

my room, aged eight, to a tirade of “fucks” emitting<br />

from an audiotape of A Curious Incident of The<br />

Dog In The Night Time. Or aged 11, trying to get<br />

my head around a borrowed copy of Ginsberg’s<br />

Howl, to little avail, leaving my imagination tripped<br />

out on lysergic disorientation from the tiny pocket<br />

copy – its themes of peyote trips, sexual liberation<br />

and 60s counterculture flying wildly over my head.<br />

The awkward exchange when asking for a copy<br />

of Ka-tzetnik 135633’s House Of Dolls, aged 13,<br />

after becoming obsessed with Joy Division, before<br />

retracting my interest after being told I’d have to<br />

order from The British Library. Birkenhead Library is a<br />

building that shaped me: its content and staff opened<br />

entire new worlds for me.<br />

My library card has been lying dust-covered<br />

in a drawer for some time, but now, upon entering<br />

once more, I’m hit floods of nostalgia. This is quickly<br />

broken, however, by EGYPTIAN BLUE. From southern<br />

shores, but with the harsh industrial bleakness of<br />

late-70s northern towns, they cut through the quiet<br />

conversations that hum throughout the room, like a<br />

knife. Angular trench coat post punk reverberates<br />

through the room, deep Gothic baritones colliding<br />

with the clash of Vox Phantoms. The four-piece’s<br />

gaunt faces and sepia fashion juxtapose with the<br />

vibrant colours of the children’s book display that’s<br />

emblazoned behind them on the wall. Young children<br />

with bright blue ear defenders run wildly between<br />

stage and bookcases, while the intense wall of<br />

sound builds, bold and powerful and tight. The band<br />

observes the societal norms of libraries and keeps<br />

conversation to a minimum, instead letting their<br />

sound say everything they need. It’s a short, sharp<br />

shock, and then they’re gone, vanishing without a<br />

trace back amongst the shelving units.<br />

As a storm brews outside the window, grey skies<br />

hang heavy over Wirral; but among the books we<br />

are safe as SINEAD O’BRIEN takes the stage. Smiles<br />

and “thank you”s for coming quickly fade from her<br />

face as she enters a transcendental state, poetry<br />

flowing out of her. Her Irish brogue swoops and soars<br />

between tight riffs and drum rolls. It’s a captivating<br />

performance. Hypnotic, in fact, with the aural<br />

concoction leaving the audience in a trance-like state.<br />

Musically, it’s quite unlike anything that’s currently<br />

happening. Eyes fixed and ears tuning in and out of<br />

focus after each song, O’Brien seems to return to her<br />

personable self, offering for children to come and<br />

dance with warm grins. In a room of a million words,<br />

from Joyce to Welsh, the crowd stands fixed, focusing<br />

merely on hers.<br />

It’s a day which offers up a golden haze of<br />

childhood memories, while also cementing that the<br />

future is bright for music, literature and libraries.<br />

Maybe I should dust off my card.<br />

Sinead O’Brien (Lee Willo / @lee_willo_)<br />

Matt Hogarth<br />

Sorry<br />

Harvest Sun @ EBGBs – 08/02<br />

There’s always a risk that running through most of your debut album before its release will alienate your audience, but SORRY make it<br />

work for them. After a couple of years of hype-inducing live shows and mixtapes, followed by an abrupt disappearance and just as abrupt<br />

return late last year, the London post-punk four-piece – headed by the dual vocal talents of Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen – are finally<br />

dropping debut album 925 at the end of <strong>March</strong>. On a blustery Saturday night in the packed-out basement space of Liverpool club EBGBs,<br />

they let everyone know why we should be counting the days until we can hear it in full.<br />

While they keep audience interaction to a minimum, the crowd is more than happy to make as much noise as the band, starting<br />

immediately with them opener (and lead single from 925), Right Around The Clock. Its interpolation of Tears For Fears Mad World turns<br />

heads, even those loitering at the bar, and provides an unusual singalong to kick off an evening mainly defined by head nodding.<br />

There’s very little question of coming up for air for the first part of the set: despite the mood set by their on-record performance, the live<br />

version of Sorry has a distinctly punk mentality. Things are kept simple, and changeovers between songs are kept brief, all the better to keep<br />

up the show’s momentum.<br />

While things inevitably lag slightly during the unheard cuts from the album, they crescendo during the one-two punch of Starstruck and<br />

Rock ’N’ Roll Star. The former, being the irresistible slice of indie-pop that put their name on the map, gets a very warm reception from the<br />

hardcore fans in the small pit that forms in the crowd, while the latter skewers the figure of the predatory ‘washed up rock ’n’ roll star’ at the<br />

same time that it elevates Sorry to their own level.<br />

The last leg of the set runs through a few fan favourites – including highlights from their run of 2017 singles, such as Showgirl and, as an<br />

explosive set closer, Lies. While many bands in the new wave of British punk music have chosen to eschew more conventional songwriting,<br />

Sorry’s take on pop-rock is one that fits perfectly, in spite of the band’s relative youth. If they’re putting on shows this polished and energetic<br />

without even an album out, we can only imagine what they’ll be doing only a year from now.<br />

Luke Charnley<br />

Sorry (Fin Reed / @Finlayreed)<br />


Alex G<br />

I Love Live Events @ Phase One – 07/02<br />

ALEX G is something of a pioneer in his field of complex,<br />

lo-fi grunge. The Philly artist recently released his fourth studio<br />

album House Of Sugar (though four more bedroom efforts<br />

lurk in the crevices of the internet) and it is another jewel in<br />

his catalogue. Experimental and glimmering, yet carrying an<br />

expectedly beautiful ruggedness.<br />

It’s the first night of his UK tour in support of said record as<br />

he rolls in to Phase One. A tough job lies ahead. Even though<br />

this show was quick to sell out, you get a feeling that the packed<br />

room might have misjudged how they wanted to spend their<br />

Friday night. Conversations are loud, beers are being consumed<br />

and there’s a strange rowdiness in the air for a night which<br />

promises to be draped in detail, nuance and colour. After-all,<br />

though, Alex G is a masterful outlier who has played more than<br />

his share of tricky rooms over the years.<br />

He plays favourites new and old this evening, and it’s<br />

refreshing to see the figure on stage and in his element again.<br />

Through the consistent output of his unique emotive bedroom<br />

grunge, Alex G has become a cult figure in the eyes of his<br />

listeners, and with tracks like Bobby and Kicker on display<br />

tonight, it’s easy to see why. Newer songs like Gretel and Walk<br />

Away also sound the part. In these moments, the band muscle<br />

through the weird energy in the room and receive spirited<br />

applause from the crowd.<br />

Despite all this, nothing seems to truly hit home in the<br />

way you’d expect it to. Some of the strange album breaks and<br />

interludes make for a disjointed listen and the set never really<br />

seems to find its flow. Maybe it’s because it’s the first night of<br />

the tour, or perhaps the time and place just don’t click on this<br />

particular occasion. Either way, you come away with a slight<br />

sense of disconnect between those onstage and those in the<br />

audience.<br />

Although tonight’s show lacks that magic spark, you still<br />

leave with a huge amount of respect for Alex G and his band;<br />

it certainly won’t deter us from pulling our headphones on and<br />

delving into his remarkable catalogue. You also can’t deny the<br />

constant brilliance of the man as a songwriter and musician. For a<br />

boundary-pushing artist of his stature to be selling out a UK tour<br />

like this should not be overlooked, and in itself speaks volumes of<br />

his artistic merit. Tonight, unfortunately, there is just something<br />

amiss.<br />

Alex G (Stuart Moulding / @OohShootstu)<br />

Rhys Buchanan / @rhys_buchanan<br />

Inhaler<br />

+ FEET<br />

EVOL @ O2 Academy – 12/02<br />

With long hair and moustaches aplenty, FEET take to the stage like they’ve<br />

walked straight out of the 1960s. Within seconds the five-piece are prancing<br />

and dancing about, barely standing still throughout their half hour set. They’re<br />

eye-catching and impressive, with their tunes living up to their on-stage energy.<br />

With unconventionally blunt song titles such as English Weather, Dog Walking<br />

and Petty Thieving, it’s clear that the band do not operate within your typical<br />

flowery songwriting boundaries. This, nonetheless, is part of Feet’s appeal; quirky<br />

and eccentric songs about the mundane that oscillate from the jangly heights of<br />

Britpop to the head-banging indie-rock à la Shame and Fontaines D.C. Their songs<br />

are certainly more vibrant and energetic than they are on record, which perhaps<br />

undervalues their talent as a tight-knit, energetic live band. Their short set was<br />

everything a support slot should be; compelling the crowd to take note and making it<br />

almost irresistible to not join in on the fun.<br />

If you have already heard of INHALER – tipped by the BBC as one of the<br />

upcoming Sounds of <strong>2020</strong> – it is quite likely that you have heard that lead singer Eli<br />

Hewson is the son of Paul Hewson, i.e. Bono. Whether you see this as a help or a<br />

hindrance for a young band trying to make a name for themselves, it is inevitably a<br />

talking point that catches people’s attention and curiosity. Questions are instantly<br />

posed of the band; are they any good? Do they sound like U2? Are they better or<br />

worse than his dad’s band? For now, with only a handful of songs released, it is<br />

perhaps unfair to make a sweeping assessment on these questions. In response to<br />

the family connection, Hewson (junior) has stated that it has only driven the band to<br />

want to be better, to prove themselves and the reject the naysayers. They certainly<br />

look the part as they brazenly swagger around stage – albeit with a lot less energy<br />

and enthusiasm than their support.<br />

From their first song, new single We Have To Move On, it becomes clear why<br />

the Dublin four-piece have garnered a reputation and fan base that warrants<br />

their Academy booking, despite no album yet to their name. The majority of their<br />

songs are catchy indie-pop, full of big choruses that seem almost designed to be<br />

sung in unison with an adoring crowd. Nevertheless, the Bono-shaped cloud that<br />

hangs over the band comes more and more to the forefront as the gig continues.<br />

The big choruses, the easy-going melodies and even Hewson’s vocal delivery and<br />

mannerisms, distinctly mirror U2 and his dad. Ice Cream Sundae could very well<br />

be With Or Without You, without the lyrical muscle. Similarly, My Honest Face is a<br />

ringer for Beautiful Day – these, just two examples.<br />

Inhaler are clearly a talented band with a knack for writing a great pop song. As<br />

their <strong>2020</strong> tour schedule sees them playing their own gigs and festivals across the<br />

globe, they undoubtedly seem to have the drive to succeed. Their songs, perhaps<br />

unconsciously, seem written with a desire to be sung back to them in arenas and<br />

stadiums in years to come. Nevertheless, with the weight of one of the world’s<br />

biggest rock stars an inescapable shadow over the young band, for now, it is my<br />

hope they are slightly more adventurous.<br />

Conal Cunningham<br />

Inhaler (John Johnson / @John.Jono)<br />



Isobel Campbell<br />

Harvest Sun @ Philharmonic Music Room<br />

It’s both surprising and endearing to witness ISOBEL<br />

CAMPBELL’s unease as she segues from one beautiful track to<br />

another. The Scottish folk singer could be considered an indie<br />

icon, with 25 years’ experience collaborating and fronting some<br />

of the most enduring projects from either side of the pond. Yet<br />

she struggles to raise her head as she talks nervously about<br />

tuning up and anxiously awaits her three-piece backing band to<br />

ready themselves for the next number.<br />

Once a track starts, though, it is clear why Campbell’s music<br />

is so highly regarded. Whether it’s guitarist Andrew Pattie<br />

picking the opening notes of Vultures or violinist Nina Violet’s<br />

strains to ring in Seafaring Song, the solace and appreciation in<br />

the Music Room is palpable. We are treated to a set which spans<br />

the full scope of her career, but it’s the songs from this year’s<br />

releases which feel like a realisation of self-confidence.<br />

Another track from her <strong>2020</strong> output, National Bird Of India, is<br />

exquisitely rendered tonight. The delicate harmonies, hushed<br />

vocals and beatific melody are deservedly the centrepiece of a<br />

recent eponymous EP release, and the packed auditorium tonight<br />

greet it with requisite enthusiasm. From the same EP, the driving<br />

psych of Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down A Dream proves Campbell<br />

has more than one gear, something she has done throughout her<br />

career with the various projects she has lent her talents too.<br />

When Campbell sits down with her cello, it’s a joy to pick up<br />

every nuance of the frayed notes in the Music Room’s perfect<br />

acoustics. The sparse instrumentation of each track, particularly<br />

Mark Lanegan collaboration Saturday’s Gone and newie Rainbow,<br />

is hungrily consumed by the seated devotees in the room.<br />

It’s a comprehensive set, lasting well over an hour, and<br />

a sweet note is ended on with Is It Wicked Not To Care. The<br />

Belle and Sebastian number represents a good three or four<br />

chapters earlier in Campbell’s career, but she pays it the respect<br />

Isobel Campbell (Tomas Adam)<br />

it deserves. And respect is something we aren’t short of here on<br />

Myrtle Street tonight.<br />

Gus Polinski<br />

The Lathums<br />

Arts Club – 12/02<br />

The lights go down, the music fades, but the excited<br />

murmurs of the crowd remain. It seems that nothing can<br />

suppress the buzz as THE LATHUMS take to the stage.<br />

Only forming around two years ago, the Wigan-based group<br />

have sky-rocked to new heights of local indie-rock adoration.<br />

Selling out tours, and perforating the radio waves, the group’s<br />

music mixes the best qualities of predecessors such as The<br />

Smiths and Dire Straits, all while adding a 21st-century twist.<br />

The result is an engaging, electric sound that seems to have<br />

attracted fans from all over. Even in the midst of dreaded storm<br />

Ciara, different ages, accents and faces all make up the audience,<br />

all awaiting the group’s set. But as mixed as the crowd may be,<br />

as the night gets started, the array of people seems to come<br />

together, united in their excitement for a band that have been<br />

tipped for greatness.<br />

The group kick off the night with Villainous Victorian, an ideal<br />

opener to show off their infectious charm. An already ecstatic<br />

crowd is launched into a frenzy from the riotous guitar riffs, as<br />

frontman Alex Moore belts out the quick-witted lyrics to the<br />

manic masses. It’s rare that vocals translate from record to live<br />

performance as well as Moore’s do, but the young singer belts out<br />

the notes with ease, doling out some of his cheeky charm to the<br />

front of the crowd, the impressive backing remaining in groove.<br />

As the set continues, what becomes particularly striking is<br />

how equally matched the dedication between crowd and band is.<br />

Few bands can truly connect people together through their music,<br />

but it seems that The Lathums have no casual attenders in the<br />

crowd tonight; each individual seems as obsessed with the band<br />

as the next. An infectious “Up The Lathums” chant starts after the<br />

track Fight On. Here, the band seem genuinely taken aback by the<br />

audience’s word for word rendition, despite only releasing the song<br />

two weeks earlier. From then on, the chant becomes an echo to<br />

every song of the night, with the band, humble as ever, responding<br />

to the adoration with grateful shouts of “Thank you”.<br />

The group end the night in a blaze of glory with the track<br />

Artificial Screams, reigniting the crowd to come together and<br />

thrash about one last time. Becoming as frantic as the crowd,<br />

the group seems as lost in their music as the audience, and seem<br />

to leave everyone in the room with a genuine gratitude to have<br />

experienced this night of outstanding music in such an intimate<br />

venue. However, as grand as this feeling is, it’s one that won’t be<br />

had for long. It seems that already The Lathums are outgrowing<br />

their niche-indie status, and becoming something much bigger.<br />

A phenomenon? Maybe. Indie icons? One day, if their trajectory<br />

remains the same.<br />

Lily Blakeney-Edwards<br />

The Lathums (John Latham / @mrjohnlatham)<br />

Swan Lake<br />

Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet<br />

@ Storyhouse – 30/01<br />

One of the most iconic ballets graces the stage at<br />

Storyhouse tonight as we welcome the young stars of the Saint<br />

Petersburg Classic Ballet to Chester.<br />

Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, SWAN LAKE – a ballet that was<br />

originally snubbed by audiences when it first premiered in 1877<br />

– continues to entertain with its timeless tale of love and loss. A<br />

doomed princess and her maidens are put under a treacherous<br />

spell by a sorcerer named Rothbart and damned to an eternity<br />

living life in daylight as swans on a lake filled with their own tears.<br />

Under the expert direction of Marina Medvetskaya, founder<br />

of the Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet company and former prima<br />

ballerina, it is no surprise that the performance is flawlessly<br />

choreographed. The set, simple yet elegant, glows behind the<br />

dancers, a small castle sitting atop a striking group of mountains.<br />

In true celebration of the artform, a live orchestra complements<br />

the performance, adding classical purity to this traditional<br />

Russian staging and heralding the eventual dramatic conflicts.<br />

From its opening sequence, we are introduced to our<br />

protagonist. Perhaps the most pivotal sequence of the entire<br />

performance, and one that young ballerinas worldwide dream<br />

of undertaking, is the princess Odette/Odile lead role. The<br />

room falls silent as the elegance of Odette, portrayed by Alina<br />

Volobueva, sweeps across the stage. Not only is her presentation<br />

stunning, with white feathers placed delicately on her crown,<br />

but she carries a world of emotion in her eyes; the true sadness<br />

of what has happened to her can be felt by the audience as her<br />

fate is kept in the hands of her one true love, Prince Siegfried.<br />

Her role as both black and white swan shows a high level of<br />

dedication, true expressiveness. The acting is breath-taking.<br />

The performance throughout is filled with a cast of other<br />

light-hearted characters, such as the irresistibly amusing jester,<br />

astounding us with his charm and perfectly-timed pirouettes.<br />

Most intimidating, however, are the piercing white eyes and stark<br />

make-up of Rothbart, which heightens the deviousness of his<br />

character as he dominates the stage with terror.<br />

As Swan Lake celebrates its 143rd anniversary this month,<br />

the timeless piece still brings delight to new audiences around<br />

the world with its glimmer of magic. The Saint Petersburg<br />

Classic Ballet have brought their own innovative approach to a<br />

much-loved tradition. Simple, yet powerful.<br />

Brit Williams / @therealbritjean<br />





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FOCUS<strong>2020</strong>_BidoLito_advert_249x181mm_v2.indd 1 19/02/<strong>2020</strong> 09:47

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This month’s selection of poetry is taken from visual artist nil00’s<br />

work Gulf, a project which combines music and poetry with glitch<br />

art extracted from Google Earth. Written as a longing love letter to<br />

Iran amid escalating US tensions, the Scouse/Iranian artist riffs<br />

on the heartbreak of homeland separation and the hollow stasis of<br />

reconnection through satellite imagery.<br />

Gulf is a heartbreak poem I wrote, longing for Iran one morning in January, a few days after the military strike that<br />

spawned a wave of callous WWIII jokes.<br />

I had plane tickets for Iran – I was supposed to go on 15th January and stay for two months. I decided to postpone<br />

the trip because things have been so volatile.<br />

The US has been meddling with Iran for decades – all the way back to the CIA’s 1953 coup d’etat, which toppled<br />

democratically elected Prime Minister Mossadegh, and sparked a chain of events that ended with the 1979 revolution. When I<br />

think about the political games they play with our sanity, our lives, it’s anger first, then raw grief. It’s the way the people making<br />

these decisions have simply decided to put compassion aside. It’s a hollow, powerless feeling – a solitude that absorbs you in a<br />

room full of people.<br />

Missing Iran is visceral, too big a feeling to engage – it sinks beneath my consciousness and splits me into different sorts of<br />

frenzy. I wrote this poem and created its adjoining video, of which screenshots are featured, because I needed it – I felt was really<br />

starting to lose Iran.<br />

Iranians have a tradition where we open a book of Hafez’s poetry at random, and interpret the verse that appears as advice<br />

or commentary meant for us. We do this on special occasions. This winter solstice, Hafez told me “the trip you take to Shiraz is<br />

enough – the trip you take in your mind is more important”.<br />

To make the adjoining video for the poem, I visited all the places I wanted to go see in Shiraz this month, only via Google Earth.<br />

The cursor speeding across continents that day was my aching heart, meandering among Shah-Cheragh’s dazzling lights and<br />

Persepolis’ ruins.<br />

Words and imagery: nil00<br />

youtube.com/watch?v=H15HvuiDy5k<br />

Gulf<br />

Wake up scared<br />

Something like loneliness<br />

Crying with longing<br />

Is this the beginning of exile<br />

Will I see you again<br />

It’s been such a long time since I felt you<br />

Will I now cry for you every day<br />

Will I speak your name with lowered eyes<br />

What misplaced pity will I endure<br />

What guilty eyes will flit about, all fleeing<br />

I wake up in my lovers arms craving another darling scent<br />

your dust in the morning<br />

Rain on the way to school in Shiraz<br />

Each time I kiss you goodbye is forever<br />

I know you’ll be changed next time<br />

Won’t feel your streetlights on my face<br />

I’m afraid you won’t be shining when I see you again<br />

The rumble of taxis and the grumbling people<br />

Waking up to silence, longing for the salesman’s insufferable chattering<br />

The air tenses, normality stretches and bends<br />

My annoying darling cousins won’t<br />

tag along<br />

I won’t hear the new songs on car radios<br />

The children will grow tall and serious without me to witness them<br />

They WhatsApp me their homework<br />

I don’t have time to do it<br />

I am crying<br />

I am crying<br />

There are sights I had in mind<br />

Will u still be mine<br />

Will u still be mine<br />




SAY<br />


“Let’s start working<br />

on relaunching news<br />

on a grassroots level<br />

and start to take notice<br />

of democracy in our<br />

neighbourhoods”<br />

In December 2019, Britain’s longest-running community newspaper, Scottie Press, relaunched with editor<br />

Joel Hansen at the helm. With the paper retaining a commitment to its hyperlocal focus on Vauxhall and<br />

North Liverpool, Hansen argues for a greater engagement with community journalism as means of making<br />

change from the ground up.<br />

As we painfully get to grips with the results of<br />

December’s general election, for many of us, the last<br />

two months have left us fearing what’s to come from<br />

the next four-year drag of Tory reign. Alongside the<br />

lingering cynicism for the future, Labour supporters throughout<br />

the country have been left stumped, questioning, ‘How did this<br />

happen’?<br />

There are a myriad of answers out there; people will tell<br />

you it was down to Brexit, or it was the Labour Party fractiously<br />

fighting against itself. They may be right. For me, one thing was<br />

clearer than most; the billionaire-backed biased media turned<br />

it up to 11 to ensure their Eton-educated boy became Prime<br />

Minister.<br />

As the editor of SCOTTIE PRESS newspaper based in North<br />

Liverpool, my career as a journalist is just beginning. I took on<br />

the role three years ago, aged 23, on a mission to save the<br />

publication from going out of print. Even without formal training<br />

as a journalist, my duty to be truthful, accountable and objective<br />

is the most fundamental part of my job. And I didn’t need a<br />

degree to know that either. It’s as simple as choosing to do right<br />

or wrong, having integrity and also a conscience. I know this,<br />

but today’s news climate now seems to have become devoid of<br />

journalistic standards and humane morals.<br />

It was no shock that the usual suspects reeled off the<br />

expected nonsense in the lead up to the election, as the<br />

tabloid media campaign to discredit Jeremy Corbyn became a<br />

vindictive witch-hunt absent of fact. But what did concern me<br />

was the coverage from BBC News, whose series of ‘mistakes’<br />

conveniently seemed to endorse Boris Johnson, leaving serious<br />

questions surrounding the neutrality and credibility of our<br />

national broadcasting service.<br />

So, what now? We are seemingly headed in a downward<br />

spiral in to a post-truth world and areas across the country<br />

are left feeling helpless to further government cuts. Unjust<br />

policies and attacks on the freedom of the press lay on the<br />

horizon. While Labour strongholds such as Liverpool become<br />

marginalised, isolated and ever more powerless under the<br />

serving government, the vital reforms needed for working-class<br />

communities seem farther away than ever.<br />

Although I think it’s important for everyone to engage<br />

in political discussions, it can become easy to get caught up<br />

in discourse that almost becomes a self-perpetuating echo<br />

chamber full of self-assuring opinions and repeated statements.<br />

We can’t change the outcome of the election but we can still<br />

focus on what’s happening on our doorstep at a time when it<br />

feels like we’ve lost control, have no voice and feel detached from<br />

national politics and media.<br />

As a democratic society, it isn’t just what’s happening on<br />

a national stage, it’s in our city, it’s in our community and it’s in<br />

our streets. Ensuring accountability through all elected roles is<br />

democracy – that means local council positions and your ward<br />

councilors.<br />

The number of people I hear who engage themselves in<br />

politics nationally but have no regard for their elected councils<br />

is shocking. I see problems in communities and regularly voice<br />

issues raised by residents in wards across North Liverpool that<br />

could be mitigated through better communication, organisation<br />

and accountability on a local level. Yet a feeling of apathy<br />

towards local politics prevents any change from happening.<br />

When faced with national political divisions, a distrust in<br />

mainstream media and no real prospect of a political revolution<br />

anytime soon, I see it as necessary for the resurgence of<br />

grassroots media. Let’s take back control of the news in our<br />

communities; this can be the first step in shaping media<br />

platforms that people can trust, while also engaging the public in<br />

local politics to create a more equal society from the ground up.<br />

Trying to reduce issues that affect our day-to-day lives can<br />

at least give us a glimpse at reforming systems locally through<br />

knowledge, awareness and engaging content in the places<br />

we live and the institutions that locally govern us. It can teach<br />

us how a local government operates, helping people better<br />

understand policies and bring accountability to all elected<br />

officials.<br />

Independent forms of media aren’t just starting to arise on a<br />

regional level but also on the international stage, with access to<br />

the internet alternative mediums are beginning to draw viewers<br />

away from the mainstream as they offer a more relatable, reliable<br />

and honest source of information. The online world has opened<br />

up platforms that don’t have to conform to ideology forced on<br />

them by big business; they allow people the freedom to talk<br />

about what they want without having to be silenced on matters<br />

that don’t support the agendas of the billionaires financing their<br />

news organisation.<br />

This is a new beginning for media and potentially a new<br />

era for politics, so let’s start working on relaunching news on<br />

a grassroots level and start to take notice of democracy in our<br />

neighbourhoods. This could be the start of a paradigm shift the<br />

creates a better world for us all. !<br />

Words: Joel Hansen<br />

scottiepress.org<br />


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composed by Tom Parkinson

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