Issue 109 / September 2020

September 2020 issue of Bido Lito! magazine. Featuring: TEE, JAMIE WEBSTER, ALL WE ARE, DECAY, MOLLY GREEN, FRAN DISLEY, FUTURE YARD, WHERE ARE THE GIRL BANDS and much more.

September 2020 issue of Bido Lito! magazine. Featuring: TEE, JAMIE WEBSTER, ALL WE ARE, DECAY, MOLLY GREEN, FRAN DISLEY, FUTURE YARD, WHERE ARE THE GIRL BANDS and much more.


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ISSUE <strong>109</strong> / SEPTEMBER <strong>2020</strong><br />





12 Aug - 13 Dec <strong>2020</strong><br />

AND SAY<br />





Image: Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, The Substitute (2019). Installation view at FACT, Liverpool. Photo by Rob Battersby.


16 SEP <strong>2020</strong> – 9 MAY 2021<br />



FREE FOR<br />


Supported by the Don McCullin Exhibition<br />

Supporters Group and Tate Members<br />

Media partner<br />

Don McCullin Liverpool 8 in the early 1960’s 1963 © Don McCullin

© Paul McCartney


MICR<br />

T<br />

URS<br />




ALI HORN<br />


DAYZY<br />

29th August / 31st August / 5th <strong>September</strong> / 12th <strong>September</strong><br />

bidolito.co.uk/micro-tours<br />

made possible by Culture Liverpool’s Without Walls fund

New Music + Creative Culture<br />

Liverpool<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> <strong>109</strong> / <strong>September</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 />

Founding Editor<br />

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

Executive Publisher<br />

Sam Turner - sam@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 />

Tamiym Cader<br />

Words<br />

Christopher Torpey, Sam Turner, Elliot Ryder, Nik<br />

Glover, Will Whitby, Julia Johnson, Tara Dalton,<br />

Anouska Liat, Jessica Phillips, Cath Holland, Stuart<br />

O’Hara, Stephen Lewin, Sufiah Abbasi, Eve Machin.<br />

Photography, Illustration and Layout<br />

Mark McKellier, Tamiym Cader, Stuart Moulding,<br />

Michael Kirkham, Esmée Finlay, Rebecca Hawley, Liam<br />

Jones, Zoë Moungabio, David Cusack, John Johnson,<br />

John O’Loughlin, Xenia Onta, Daniel Frost, Martha<br />

Harris, Ella Fradgely.<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 sam@bidolito.co.uk.<br />

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

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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 />


I<br />

don’t know about you, but there are several elements of<br />

the Covid recess that are really starting to grate: the social<br />

distance that has developed; our clunky new vocabulary of<br />

‘lockdown’, ‘new normal’ and ‘Zoom’; Matt Hancock.<br />

The upheaval we’ve had has been necessary, of course<br />

(apart from Matt Hancock). We owe a lot to the selfless<br />

among us who’ve been working hard to limit the effects of the<br />

pandemic. And while I could get used to the new table service<br />

regime and click-and-collect supermarketing, I do still long for<br />

the before times, the sharing of moments, the communality of<br />

groups, the witnessing of a performance together. There’s only<br />

so much music you can listen to on your own, after all.<br />

That cycle that we had grown so accustomed to is now<br />

massively different, changed by our basic knowledge of<br />

epidemiology and infection. Live performances and even<br />

medium-sized gatherings look to be verboten for the foreseeable<br />

future, which causes a massive worry for the precariouslybalanced<br />

music ecosystem – which barely gets by anyway.<br />

We’ve already seen fractures develop in the foundations of this<br />

culture; a quasi-religion of going out, ‘doing a festival’ and Red<br />

Stripe cans at gigs, which is second in the unofficial national<br />

faith stakes to football. In the closure of venues and space, it<br />

is the small fry who prop this pyramid up who have suffered<br />

the most, without the capital to tide them through these tough<br />

times.<br />

There are actually lots of similarities between music and<br />

football. Like in football, if you only protect those at the top then<br />

you remove the very soul of the game. Football in the UK isn’t<br />

just the Premier League. Sure, it’s the home of the best players<br />

and the biggest crowds, but it’s not accessible for everyone,<br />

and as much joy is derived from the fans and players of Prescot<br />


12 / PLAYING IN<br />

The first findings from research in partnership with University of<br />

Liverpool assessing the impact of lockdown and social distancing<br />

on Liverpool City Region’s musicians.<br />

14 / ALL WE ARE<br />

“It’s a summer record. It’s about the good times and we need to<br />

focus on the good things when they aren’t going so well at the<br />

moment”<br />


Can culture-led regeneration be the way to narrowing the divide<br />

across the river Mersey? Enter Future Yard.<br />

18 / MOLLY GREEN<br />

Tara Dalton looks for the threads that hold together the jazzy,<br />

soulful undertones of the abundantly creative singer-songwriter.<br />


Cables and Wallasey Wanderers as from Liverpool and Everton.<br />

Value isn’t just measured in profit, or turnover, or jobs sustained.<br />

It’s something more primal that is felt, enjoyed, shared.<br />

I’ve long thought that the health of The Zanzibar was<br />

indicative of the general health of Liverpool music, even if it’s not<br />

been the cultural hotspot that it was 15 years ago. The building<br />

occupies a prime spot on Seel Street, but its presence is far<br />

greater, giving music a place at the heart of a bustling, noisy city.<br />

Sound, on Duke Street, was perhaps on its way to becoming<br />

The Zanzi’s spiritual successor, a special place for a small group<br />

of artists who saw it as their playground. What does it say that<br />

The Zanzi, Sound, and even Parr Street Studios, can’t afford to<br />

hack it in our new-look city centre? Admittedly, the cracks in<br />

this venue-gig-artist-crowd ecosystem existed pre-pandemic,<br />

and have been accentuated because of the lockdown. But that<br />

doesn’t mean we should accept our lot and let them slide away,<br />

does it? When I think of what I want to enjoy in a world free of<br />

Coronavirus anxiety, I think of places where I can listen to music<br />

with others, and feel part of something bigger. Is that too much<br />

to ask?<br />

It might be a small thing, but having Bido Lito! back in print<br />

is a step towards that ideal. Through these pages, we can start<br />

to share an appreciation of music again, as a community rather<br />

than as isolated individuals. And as the gears of pink industry get<br />

moving once more, it’s an apt time for the new people leading<br />

this drive to take up the baton and run with it. Here’s to the new<br />

team leading Bido into a bright new era, as I watch on from the<br />

Mersey’s west bank. This ain’t farewell – it’s see you soon. !<br />

Christopher Torpey<br />

Founding Editor<br />

21 / TEE<br />

With the long overdue arrival of his debut EP, TEE is finally ready<br />

to take his rightful place front and centre.<br />

26 / DECAY<br />

Stuart Moulding / @OohShootStu<br />

“I’ve done everything in my power to be emotionally transparent”<br />


“Even as an artist I recognise that galleries can be quite<br />

uncomfortable places”<br />

30 / JAMIE WEBSTER<br />

With a debut album centred on the everyday symphony of<br />

working-class Liverpool. Cath Holland profiles the personality<br />

breaking through in his original songwriting.<br />



With the way we travel changed for the foreseeable, Stuart<br />

O’Hara looks local and makes the case for finding our two feet on<br />

two wheels in the age of the new normal.<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 />

8 / NEWS<br />

11 / HOT PINK<br />

34 / SPOTLIGHT<br />

36 / PREVIEWS<br />

38 / REVIEWS<br />



NEWS<br />

LAAF Film Programme<br />

In 2019, four filmmakers responded to four Yemeni poets<br />

from four different Yemeni communities in the UK; Liverpool,<br />

Cardiff, Birmingham and Sheffield. What resulted is a<br />

series of new poem-films, created in direct response to new<br />

works by the poets and commissioned by Liverpool Arab<br />

Arts Festival, forming the heart of Yemen And Conflict,<br />

a new partnership bringing together the festival and the<br />

Universities of Liverpool and Leeds. How can Yemeni<br />

literature and poetry be preserved during the conflict, and<br />

how can it be used to further the understanding of those<br />

outside of the country? The poem-films are available to<br />

watch at arabartsfestival.com/yemen-in-conflict.<br />

Two Coloured House by Noor Palette<br />

Writers Workshops<br />

Aspiring scribes take note! BYLINES is a free Arts Awards-accredited course<br />

facilitated by the editorial team at Bido Lito!. Starting from mid-<strong>September</strong>,<br />

the course offers future writers from a wide range of backgrounds the<br />

opportunity to develop their craft. Over a period of 10 weeks participants<br />

will learn key journalistic skills, the best ways of documenting culture,<br />

and tools to equip a career in the industry. We encourage applications<br />

from artists from underrepresented backgrounds, and are committed<br />

to prioritising spaces for participants who identify as BAME, LGBTQI+,<br />

working-class, disabled and female. Applications are open now to<br />

participants between the ages of 16 and 25, closing on 13th <strong>September</strong>.<br />

bidolito.co.uk/workshops.<br />

Vinyl-ly It’s Happened To Me<br />

As with just about everything else on the planet, Record Store Day – the<br />

annual event celebrating the humble vinyl emporium – was inevitably hit by<br />

the pandemic. Organisers decided to pivot from the usual April date to three<br />

separate ‘Drop Dates’ on 29th August, 26th <strong>September</strong> and 24th October. In our<br />

neck of the woods, Probe, Jacaranda Records, 81 Renshaw and Defend Vinyl,<br />

as well as Southport’s Quicksilver Music, Chester’s Up North and Kaleidoscope<br />

Records of St Helens, will all be stocking limited edition releases for the occasion.<br />

The three dates will be followed by a RSD Black Friday in November when more<br />

rare wax will be up for grabs. recordstoreday.co.uk<br />

Film Fund<br />

A funding pot of £250,000 is open for applications from film and TV<br />

makers until the end of <strong>September</strong>. The Film and TV Development<br />

Fund from Liverpool City Region is offering awards between £2,500<br />

and £25,000 for established and start-up production companies to<br />

develop scripted or factual programming. The pot was repurposed<br />

from an existing production fund to support regionally-based<br />

producers, writers and other creative talent during a time which has<br />

been tremendously challenging for screen professionals. Priority<br />

has been promised to diverse, high-quality productions which will<br />

spend budget locally, and decisions will get a 10-day turnaround.<br />

Go to liverpoolfilmoffice.tv for more information.<br />

Theatres Update<br />

Everyman Theatre<br />

While at the time of writing the return of public performances to<br />

our theatres’ stages is still unknown, Liverpool’s thesp roster are<br />

ensuring their community is not going completely unused. As well<br />

as the charming Love, Liverpool podcast story series, the Everyman<br />

and Playhouse’s youth company YEP have recently concluded a<br />

radio series entitled The Visit, available from their website. Around<br />

the corner, Unity Theatre is opening its doors for artist support,<br />

community engagement, and business hire. From the beginning of<br />

<strong>September</strong> the Hope Place hub is also inviting artists to apply to use<br />

their spaces for free rehearsal and development. Meanwhile Liverpool<br />

Empire have been busily rescheduling shows for what is shaping up to<br />

be a massive 2021.<br />


Direct Input<br />

Ever wondered how a band suddenly shot from nowhere to<br />

everywhere? Future Yard’s new webinar series, DIRECT INPUT,<br />

might be able to help. By speaking to the people – managers,<br />

agents, record labels – behind some of music’s recent success<br />

stories, this series of fortnightly live events aims to lift the lid on<br />

some of the techniques, and bring you the inside track on the<br />

different kinds of careers and strategies that work across the<br />

music spectrum. Each live webinar is free, and you can sign up at<br />

futureyard.org. Following on from the opening conversation with<br />

Girl Band’s guitarist Alan Duggan, who also manages the band,<br />

the Direct Input series catches up with Leeds-based musician<br />

Katie Harkin on Monday 31st August, uncovering her path from<br />

indie duo Sky Larkin to solo project Harkin, via session work,<br />

backing vocals for Dua Lipa, and touring as a live member of<br />

Sleater-Kinney and Wild Beasts.<br />

Katie Harkin<br />

Liverpool Lighthouse<br />

Hillsborough And Me<br />

Anfield music base Liverpool Lighthouse are<br />

calling out to the creativity of their community.<br />

As they are putting the finishing touches on an<br />

album commemorating the final memorial of the<br />

Hillsborough disaster, they are asking for a fitting<br />

name for the charity LP. Money raised from sales<br />

will go to the Hillsborough Family Support Group<br />

and has been made possible by contributions from<br />

more than 60 volunteer singers. The mixture of<br />

professional and non-professional vocalists have<br />

been working with the Love and Joy Gospel choir<br />

over Zoom, and, at the end of a round of auditions,<br />

have formed a newly established choir around the<br />

project. Go to the Hillsborough and Me section of<br />

liverpoollighthouse.com for more details.<br />

Art Studios Network<br />

As with many facets of the culture sector, arts<br />

studios have come under increased pressure<br />

over recent months. Independently-run spaces<br />

which provide vital space for freelance and<br />

self-employed creatives to produce their work<br />

are the lifeblood of the city’s visual art scene,<br />

and are now looking to work together to<br />

achieve strength in unity. A newly established<br />

network which connects 35 studios, home to<br />

over 500 artists, has been set up to carry out<br />

research into how coronavirus has impacted<br />

their work and how best to recover for longterm<br />

sustainability. The project is being led by<br />

Art In Liverpool with help from Arts Council<br />

England. artinliverpool.com<br />

Homotopia News<br />

Homotopia returns in the Autumn with a programme to be announced<br />

imminently. The UK’s longest running LGBTQIA arts and culture festival hasn’t<br />

stopped working since lockdown; a digital performance with EAT ME + Preach!<br />

was followed by a series of new commissions, Queer Art Always, capturing life<br />

in lockdown and the power of art to connect and unite. The forthcoming line-up<br />

promises to look a little different but will bring the usual eclectic mix of queer art<br />

and culture. In a year where everything has changed, the festival will bring new<br />

voices into the spotlight and tell us why the journey is just as important as the<br />

destination. homotopia.net<br />

Timeless Melody<br />

The success of Melodic Distraction’s Breakfast Club broadcast<br />

has given the Baltic based radio station cause to extend the<br />

programming into the Autumn. Wake Up With! has become the<br />

best way to rise for lots of music heads with the MDR team mixing<br />

pitch-perfect beats with friendly chat. The following 10am-12pm<br />

slot brings in the likes of NuTribe’s Sticky Dub, Go Off Sis Podcast,<br />

Dig Vinyl and others for great tunes, competitions and even phonein<br />

action. The station are also happy to announce they are returning<br />

to their Jamaica Street base having been coordinating home<br />

broadcasts from across the region since March.<br />

Educating Beta<br />

The learned folk at the University of Liverpool<br />

have made their Continuing Education courses<br />

more accessible than ever with a varied array of<br />

subjects to indulge your passion, up your skills<br />

or delve into a whole new discipline. Their online<br />

short courses, seminars and workshops arrive<br />

with the forthcoming academic year and include<br />

Creative Writing, Ancient and Modern History, the<br />

world’s most-used and influential languages and<br />

much more besides. For many, now is the perfect<br />

time to get that Computer Coding qualification or<br />

Neurofinance certificate. Surf over to<br />

liverpool.ac.uk/continuing-education for more info.<br />

Pride Foundation Grants<br />

A city based LGBT+ heritage tour, a campaign to increase<br />

gender neutral toilet facilities, a ‘Big Irish Gay-lí’ and a multigender<br />

inclusive hockey squad are among the recipients of<br />

the LCR Pride Foundation’s inaugural Community Fund. The<br />

£20,000 pot, supported by Barclays, was launched in June<br />

with three separate funds for Inclusive Physical Activity and<br />

Sport, Film and an Open fund. Trans Youth - Trans Truth<br />

from youth collective GYRO, I See Gay People from Light<br />

Factory and Betty & Jean by Tmesis Theatre make up the<br />

trio of successful film projects. The full list of 16 successful<br />

recipients represent an eclectic array of ideas and initiatives<br />

from what LCR Pride Foundation Chair Lewis Collins<br />

described as an “extremely high” standard of applications.<br />

Pride Foundation<br />


(Michael Kirkham / @MrKirks)<br />


Elliot Ryder considers the lessons learnt from lockdown and the need to take this summer’s protests forward.<br />

It feels surreal to be writing in these pages again. If you’d<br />

have said in March that we’d be able to return to print in<br />

August, I’d have been sceptical. Back then, it was painfully<br />

clear early-on that printing Bido Lito! would have to stop.<br />

What was more worrying were our fears of when, or if, there’d<br />

be an accepting climate for it to return. Even as I write this, the<br />

cultural landscape remains in a state of rubble. But those early<br />

stages were telling.<br />

Like many in Liverpool, my life is unhealthily shaped by<br />

the footballing calendar. By the first weekend of March, I’d<br />

unscientifically assured myself that I’d see Liverpool play three<br />

more times at Anfield before there was any real worry of a<br />

lockdown and curtailment of the football season – similar to the<br />

prelude of the UK’s fate that was<br />

playing out in Northern Italy. The<br />

suggestion of seeing Liverpool<br />

play at home three more times<br />

was partly in line with the ‘two<br />

weeks behind’ narrative that was<br />

prevalent at the time, and partly<br />

because three more times was<br />

the required number to finally<br />

wrap up the Premier League. But<br />

in the space of seven days the<br />

situation changed at an alarming<br />

rate. By the time I’d glumly trudged<br />

from Anfield towards the train<br />

after watching Liverpool lose to<br />

Atletico Madrid, the focus of my<br />

disappointments was to massively<br />

change.<br />

By 13th March, the government had been doing their utmost<br />

to foster a state of ease. Boris Johnson was still shaking hands<br />

with Covid-19 patients. Herd immunity was still bandied around<br />

on radio talk shows as though a sterile fiscal policy. Yet, from the<br />

morning of the 13th March all forthcoming football was to be<br />

cancelled for an initial six week period.<br />

Perhaps ironically, it took the removal of football from my life<br />

for my head to click into gear regarding the severity of what was<br />

taking place nationally. The initial humour and intrigue of a fan<br />

dressed in a DIY hazmat suit, stood a few rows behind me on<br />

The Kop for the Atletico game, paled into a harrowing reality that<br />

was sat on the crest of coming weeks.<br />

The severity of the moment set in. The night after I was<br />

struggling to see how Bido Lito! could continue as the cultural<br />

sector pulled down the shutters and gig after gig was cancelled.<br />

As the penny dropped internally, so did a guillotine cutting off<br />

the magazine from potential advertisers for the foreseeable. I’d<br />

have taken a glass-half-full outlook in that moment. But in the<br />

initial doom it resembled something more empty and shattered.<br />

“As ever, we’re<br />

looking forwards”<br />

The psychological impact of the virus would flare up in similar<br />

instances in the coming six months. As a magazine that is<br />

always looking ahead, it felt like the future was already written.<br />

I wasn’t certain of the significance of my profession in such a<br />

moment.<br />

How much of a city can you see through a 13-inch screen<br />

or never-ending scroll function? That’s what I wrote in early<br />

May, eight weeks after the digital plunge we’d taken – issue <strong>109</strong><br />

lost somewhere on the horizon. As it turns out, you can still see<br />

quite a lot of a city, its creativity and communities. They do not<br />

cease to exist when removed from their natural habitat. As I’ve<br />

noted previously, in our lockdown zine released in July, the early<br />

stages of lockdown were punctuated by adaptation, generosity<br />

and accessibility. Music may have<br />

been on hold for the most part, but<br />

everything that we produced on<br />

a weekly basis aimed to shine a<br />

light on the creativity that took on<br />

the health crisis locally. So much of<br />

this was arranged and organised<br />

via laptop screens and chatboxes,<br />

collaborative playlists and via<br />

community radio stations.<br />

The online world was always<br />

created as a great equaliser. A<br />

realm in cyberspace that borrowed<br />

from the ideals of 1960s acid tests<br />

to sketch out the potential of a<br />

different reality, one free from the<br />

over-bearing corruption and control<br />

of the established order. Ultimately,<br />

the internet was designed to offer an alternative. Yet, rather than<br />

be a home to counter culture, the resulting weeks of lockdown<br />

saw the internet become home to culture en masse. Family<br />

occasions, escape, work, society in general rested on the online<br />

world for an essential line of communication and communality.<br />

It may have been far from the utopian vision that the latestage<br />

hippies had hoped for the internet as a place to make the<br />

acid test become reality – with large corporations and callous<br />

algorithms governing much of what we can see – but there were<br />

strong indications that life can continue bound to micro and<br />

macro webs of community in the online sphere. In Liverpool, so<br />

much of what is good about the city raised its head above the<br />

parapet, with community groups and individuals leading the<br />

way where central government would not. Culturally, too, the<br />

landscape had never been so accessible and democratic. With<br />

online variants the main offering from artists and institutions,<br />

so many have never seen so much. But even with this static<br />

omniscience we attempted to acquire from our homes, there was<br />

still so much as a city we didn’t see or challenge until the days<br />

following the 25th May.<br />

As Jennifer John wrote in Bido Lito! following the killing of<br />

George Floyd, Black Lives Matter was a long time coming. Not<br />

in a sense of momentum, but in the glaring systemic inequalities<br />

that had been consistently overlooked. It took the modern day<br />

lynching of a man on the streets of Minneapolis for people to<br />

look closer at was happening on streets of their own.<br />

That initial doom and fear I’d harboured in the days leading<br />

into lockdown, the feeling of a future already being written;<br />

all that weighed insignificant when taking part in the protests<br />

that took place outside of St George’s Hall in the weeks that<br />

followed. Prior to the resurgence of Black Lives Matter, I’d felt I<br />

had a good handle on Liverpool’s role as an exporter of systemic<br />

racism, something still felt in street names and the necessity<br />

of an International Slavery Museum. But this is only the macro<br />

picture and far from comprehensive or contemporary. The legacy<br />

of chattel slavery is more subtle, more institutionalised. Its very<br />

nature will argue its non-existence. Look closer at Liverpool in<br />

general and it’s important to consider whether it stands as a<br />

destination for black artists, both musical and visual. Just how<br />

many stages are there across the city that aren’t predominantly<br />

filled by indie, psychedelia and rock ‘n’ roll? Why is it that The<br />

La’s one album is widely regarded as the defining sound of the<br />

city’s streets rather than The Real Thing’s 4 From 8? It is simply<br />

because one paints an alluring picture of white working-class<br />

existence, and the other displays a contrasting reality felt in<br />

Liverpool’s minority black communities?<br />

It’s important not to be lulled into the belief that Liverpool is<br />

a utopia of socialism, anti-racism and equality. This city leads the<br />

way in so many social movements, but we’re not yet at an end<br />

goal. In believing so, systemic issues will continue to proliferate<br />

quietly under the radar. More work needs to be done both<br />

institutionally and personally to confront systemic racism and the<br />

health crisis that is far from over.<br />

Bido Lito! returning to print is a joyous occasion personally<br />

and signifies a win in a <strong>2020</strong> characterised by upheaval (oh, and<br />

The Reds making it 19 – eventually). But, as ever, we’re looking<br />

forwards; the tangible aspect of the magazine isn’t what defines<br />

it. More so, it’s the open source nature of the ideas contained<br />

within that make this worthwhile and, I hope, a community<br />

asset. And thankfully these pages cannot yet be guarded by an<br />

algorithm, meaning each idea can be as democratically served as<br />

the next.<br />

In many ways, through being cut off from the city our<br />

eyes were opened wider than before. It is my hope that this is<br />

reflected in this and our upcoming issues. Special thanks to all<br />

those who have supported Bido Lito! over the course of the last<br />

six months. Without you, this magazine wouldn’t be in your<br />

hands right now. !<br />


HOT PINK!<br />

Our HOT PINK! playlist is the place to find the newest, brightest and hottest music from across Merseyside.<br />

Featuring the newest drops from local artists, the mix is updated regularly with a multitude of bangers from<br />

an array of genres, guaranteed to pique your interest and please your ear drums. It’s the perfect digest to<br />

keep you briefed on the best sounds currently coming out of Merseyside.<br />

Ragz Nordset<br />

Don’t You Forget (Drumwarp & Guevarism Psychedub)<br />

Mellowtone<br />

The Nordic singer-songwriter continues a triumphant return with some delectable mixes of her<br />

single out on Mellowtone Records. This bassy reimagining, from a duo melded from the Super<br />

Weird Substance and Keep It Cryptic stables, explodes the tune wide open to find trippy Eastern<br />

scales which suck the listener into its dubby vortex. ST<br />

Feral Wheel<br />

The Dolphin Way<br />

The second slice of FERAL WHEEL is a loungey throwback to Echo & the Bunnymen and arrives<br />

with its own Python-esque animated video. More expansive than their previous track Death To The<br />

Humans, The Dolphin Way builds upon the sonic landscape of that track and calls back to classic<br />

Scouse New Wave. NG<br />

Bye Louis<br />

Between The Hedges (Steve Amadeo Remix)<br />

Emotion Wave<br />

Here we have the first fruits of BYE LOUIS’ egalitarian experiment of throwing the stems of his<br />

Same Boy record out into the ether and inviting reworkings. Producer STEVE AMADEO’s addition<br />

of sumptuous strings gives the song pronounced emotional heft while retaining the intimacy<br />

of the original. Gone is the lo-fi feel of the original and in its place a more expansive, dramatic<br />

atmosphere. ST<br />

Niki Kand<br />

It Ain’t Cool<br />

NIKI KAND seemingly arrived fully formed. We last spoke to her at the back end of 2018, when the<br />

Iranian-born singer waxed lyrical about her development as an artist and feeling comfortable in<br />

her own creative skin. It Ain’t Cool feels about as natural as is possible – yearning, dusty soul that<br />

recollects the wonder of Mary J Blige. As is the way at the moment, the next time we’ll be able to<br />

see her live isn’t until February 2021, when she’s set to join All We Are at Arts Club. Should be a<br />

good one, that. NG<br />

Dan Croll<br />

Hit Your Limit<br />

Communion Records<br />

Adopted Scouser DAN CROLL returns with a summery LP packed with pop hammers. The title<br />

track continues to pay Croll’s career-long respects to King of American Pastoral Paul Simon in the<br />

vocal style, but with additional synthy groove vehicle which sets the tone for another well-crafted<br />

collection of tunes. “Everyone succumbs / Everyone’s got their point / Everybody bends and breaks”<br />

Croll coos on Hit Your Limit. I think we all shared this sentiment at some point during the isolation<br />

marathon just endured. ST<br />

Campfire Social<br />

Awake In The Wake Of A Wave<br />

Mai 68<br />

Deacon Blue aren’t everyone’s idea of a good time but as the concept of the guilty pleasure has<br />

all but been assigned to the history bin with CD giveaways and alcopops, maybe time’s ripe for<br />

a reappraisal of the Glaswegian soft rockers. CAMPFIRE SOCIAL seem to be setting out such a<br />

campaign with this single. The satisfying build from sustained keys and skeletal guitar to beatdriven<br />

boogie and anthemic chorus is fitting for arms-round-shoulders set closer glory once we’re<br />

seeing live music again. Then the Deacon Blue debate can begin. ST<br />

Georgie Weston<br />

Around My Room<br />

Lush harmonies aplenty, forlorn vocals, and a driving beat make for a fabulous sophomore single<br />

from GEORGIE WESTON. The addition of sax is always welcome in these parts, and it’s used with<br />

tempered expertise towards the end of this pop nugget. ST<br />

Words: Nik Glover and Sam Turner<br />

Follow Hot Pink! on Spotify: bit.ly/bidohotpink<br />

(Photography from left to right: Ian Skelly, Niki Kand, Dan Croll, Ragz Nordset)<br />

Ian Skelly<br />

Wake The World<br />

Silver Song Records<br />

A highlight from The Coral drummer’s new album Drifters Skyline, this is noisier than much of<br />

the record and steps further from the template you’d perhaps expect from a member of one of<br />

the country’s most distinctive acts, with a fuzzy rock ‘n’ roll strut punctuated by Skelly’s languid<br />

vocal. The rest of the record walks a satisfyingly hazy path between countryfied rock and softer<br />

Americana. A discreet gem. NG<br />




Lockdown and social distancing delivered a huge blow to Liverpool’s cultural sector, with<br />

its music scene one of the most adversely affected. In response, Bido Lito!, in partnership<br />

with University of Liverpool, has carried out research looking into the impacts on<br />

musicians across the city region, with initial findings painting a devastating picture.<br />

Back in February, if you’d have prophesised that by the end of the<br />

summer the city’s musicscape would be on its knees, few would have<br />

believed you. Enter Coronavirus.<br />

When Boris Johnson addressed the nation on the evening of<br />

23rd March, the country was commanded to grind to a halt in fear of the global<br />

Covid-19 pandemic. Venues across the country shut their doors not knowing<br />

when they could reopen. All gigs in the following months were cancelled. Festivals<br />

were called off. Release schedules damaged, stacks of gig opportunities for<br />

emerging artists no longer going ahead. The best part of a year of live music and<br />

artist progression completely wiped out.<br />

It’s an adjective that has been thrown around the<br />

past few months to the point of extreme tedium, but the<br />

impact that Covid-19 and lockdown has had on the music<br />

industry in Liverpool and internationally is unprecedented.<br />

The loss of live music in Liverpool in the months<br />

that followed have had a devastating effect on the city’s<br />

musical communities. The Zanzibar and Duke Street’s<br />

Sound have now permanently shut their doors after the<br />

ramifications of lockdown took their toll. These stages<br />

were essential for emerging artists to hone their craft,<br />

get key experiences and develop fanbases in the process.<br />

The former was a building of cherished memories shared<br />

by multiple generations, with the latter a key part of the<br />

contemporary DIY scene. Without them, Liverpool is<br />

weaker.<br />

While the devastation of the last few months have<br />

rightly generated an emotive reaction, this emotion needs<br />

to be channelled into cohesive conversations for change.<br />

Bido Lito!, in partnership with the University of Liverpool, constructed a survey<br />

exploring the impact of lockdown on musicians within the Liverpool City Region<br />

boroughs of Sefton, Halton, St Helens, Knowsley, Liverpool and Wirral. It collected<br />

data on a range of themes, including the immediate economic implications,<br />

quantifying creative loss, how supported musicians have felt during lockdown,<br />

adaptations to new limitations and attitudes towards moving forward and social<br />

distancing.<br />

The proposed outcomes of this information will allow us to present a datasupported<br />

reality to policy-makers outlining how lockdown has devastated local<br />

musicians. This will help influence key decision-making processes as musical<br />

organisations and the local combined authority aim to roadmap a strategy that will<br />

get the region’s music economy and communities back up and running safely. The<br />

data further allows the voices of many to be taken into account in the process, and<br />

to make the case for what support LCR’s musicians actually need moving forward<br />

to offset the losses of the last six months.<br />

The survey was open from July 27th to August 7th. In total 175 respondents<br />

took part. We saw replies from all types of musicians from all genres and projects<br />

of all sizes, from bedroom producers to bands, community choirs and larger scale<br />

groups and ensembles including musicians from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic<br />

Orchestra.<br />

“At one point in<br />

lockdown I was<br />

made homeless as<br />

income stopped”<br />

We aim to cover the survey results and what they mean thoroughly in the<br />

coming issues of Bido Lito!. This first piece will focus mainly on the loss of live<br />

music within the city.<br />

Firstly, 87 per cent of the musicians who took part in the survey had scheduled<br />

performances cancelled due to lockdown and the temporary closure of music<br />

venues. The combined total number of gigs unable to go ahead between March<br />

and July was 2,991. As venue doors shut and the lights turned off for lockdown,<br />

the city’s promoters were eager to reschedule, but wary whether this could be<br />

achieved. Out of the performances cancelled, 2,584 (86 per cent) have been<br />

completely cancelled and not rescheduled, with only 442 shows getting rebooked<br />

for potential future dates – which may yet be subject to<br />

social distancing measures. More shows are expected<br />

to be rescheduled in the coming months, as performers,<br />

promoters and venues get used to the new conditions.<br />

But it will still be a fraction of what we would have been<br />

likely to see had the pandemic not intervened.<br />

While it is possible that some of the same shows<br />

would have been included in different individual<br />

responses, it is also likely that the number of lost shows<br />

is greatly higher than the identified 2,500 when we<br />

consider the sample size of the musicians asked and the<br />

greater amount of musicians within the LCR that might<br />

not have taken part in the survey.<br />

The numbers are overwhelming and hard to take<br />

in; at the time of publication, lockdown has closed<br />

Liverpool’s music venues for six months. Some of these<br />

lost performances were headline shows where emerging<br />

acts finally reached that milestone of topping the bill<br />

themselves. Others were the acts’ biggest shows to date, and some respondents lost<br />

out on entire world tours, with upwards of £1m in performance fees taken away.<br />

One individual said it has been “Totally catastrophic, financially, emotionally,<br />

socially and creatively. Everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve has just crashed<br />

to the floor”. Although most were understanding, given the global pandemic<br />

situation, this sense of a doomed future was echoed throughout the responses.<br />

Performance is a key aspect of being a musician and to some it is a<br />

fundamental part of their identity as an artist. For developing a fanbase, live<br />

performance is the best vehicle of promotion, with support slots being a key<br />

platform for putting an artist’s music in front of an already eager and attentive<br />

room of potential fans.<br />

Even when excluding high profile artists’ international tour postponements<br />

from the calculations, the financial impact of lockdown on the city region’s<br />

musicians is seismic. The estimated total loss in performance revenue for the<br />

regional performers asked was a massive £1,747,527. On average, each musician<br />

will have lost £2,397 of live fee income so far due to lockdown.<br />

With the venues closed, many musicians’ incomes were devastated with one<br />

respondent saying they had “90 per cent reduction in earnings gone overnight”.<br />

Another added: “At one point in lockdown I was made homeless as income<br />

stopped.”<br />


Creative organisations nationwide, and more locally the LCR<br />

Combined Authority, provided funding to support affected musicians.<br />

Funds were used to allow musicians to support themselves and to<br />

buy new gear to be used at home to help generate new income.<br />

Other services like Help Musicians provided important mental health<br />

support for struggling individuals and their Coronavirus hardship fund<br />

helped out 19 of the artists surveyed. Organisations like PRS and the<br />

Musicians’ Union were also praised for the direction, advice, funding<br />

and support they gave during this time.<br />

However, only 23 per cent of respondents actually sought funding.<br />

And althought the majority of those who did were successful, 45 per<br />

cent received less than £500 and half of them received less that £100.<br />

The funding received has been a drop in the ocean compared to the<br />

amount of money lost to cancelled performances.<br />

A further concern is that 44 per cent of those surveyed were<br />

unaware of the range of specific support available to assist musicians<br />

as they continued to struggle, uninformed about the potential help on<br />

offer.<br />

Funding pots continue to be created to help support musicians as<br />

lockdown continues for the performance industry. The National Lottery<br />

is the latest to open funds to help support artists. Details on how to<br />

apply for this funding can be found on the Arts Council website.<br />

Aims to get the live music sector back onto its feet and running<br />

to a pre-Coronavirus level have moved at a snail’s pace. As we saw at<br />

the start of August, moving into stage four of the reopening strategy<br />

was postponed as the infection-rate nationwide remained too high.<br />

However, the government has since announced that socially distanced<br />

events can take place from 15th August. Yet it must be noted that<br />

the Music Venue Trust remain sceptical of making live performances<br />

financially viable under social distancing. More clarity from central<br />

government is clearly needed.<br />

The nauseating figures noted so far were regarding the six months<br />

of lockdown. Looking ahead to the rest of <strong>2020</strong> the scene is pretty<br />

bleak. The survey ended on 7th August, and from then an expected<br />

143 shows were still scheduled for August, few of which actually took<br />

place. The financial loss of just these shows alone was an estimated<br />

£56,443.<br />

Looking at the remainder of <strong>2020</strong>, only half (49 per cent) of the<br />

surveyed musicians have any shows booked, and though these could<br />

potentially generate nearly half a million pounds (£496,622), even with<br />

the easing of certain restrictions most of these are unlikely to go ahead.<br />

If venues remain shut until the end of <strong>2020</strong>, Liverpool’s musicians<br />

will have lost out on over £2.2 million in performance revenues.<br />

Furthermore, this estimated figure does not include the loss to the 38<br />

per cent of respondents who had gigs cancelled but are yet to have any<br />

new performances booked in.<br />

The return of live music raises as many questions as it actually<br />

solves. Yes, live music can return in front of an audience within a venue,<br />

albeit with stringent safeguarding measures in place, curtailing the<br />

very essence and enjoyment that live music offers.<br />

Interestingly the split in confidence between the artists towards<br />

the viability of performing with social distancing was quite even in the<br />

results, with those confident or unconfident both at around 37 per cent,<br />

with 24 per cent left undecided.<br />

“I feel if we are innovative, patient and willing to do things<br />

differently to what we’re used to, then it could possibly work out,” said<br />

one respondent. Contrastingly one unhopeful reply said “my job is to<br />

bring people together, to make them dance and create an atmosphere.<br />

This is now entirely discouraged.”<br />

Audience rules for limiting transmission of Covid-19 are almost<br />

draconian. No singing along, no dancing with other people, as little<br />

contact with others as possible within a set one-to-two metre distance.<br />

The prospect of going to a show and being unable to sing along and<br />

dance is otherworldly. It eliminates the collective voice and humbling<br />

moments that are only available when hundreds of people sing along<br />

to their favourite act on stage. Replacing it with subdued applause inbetween<br />

songs just isn’t the same.<br />

Worse still for venues, socially distanced shows put immense<br />

stress on the organisation, the logistics, staff and finances of the<br />

building. Live events are a financially precarious business at the best of<br />

times, and it just isn’t possible for both venue and artist to benefit from<br />

a 10-20 per cent capacity of a usually sold-out room.<br />

The first analysis from this study proves that the impact of<br />

Covid-19 on not just Liverpool’s but the nation’s musicians is massive.<br />

But without proper intervention on a national level the state of play<br />

will only get worse and more venues will be forced to close, more jobs<br />

will be lost and more musicians will simply not have the capacity to<br />

continue. This cannot happen. Damningly for the Tories, 55 per cent of<br />

those asked didn’t feel supported at all by the national government. Put<br />

simply, more has to be done to support the music industry.<br />

The next issue’s analysis of the survey will investigate how<br />

musicians have coped and adapted during lockdown while moving<br />

operations online to try to stand out and break through the cacophony<br />

of online gigs and promotion. For now, we long for the first encoure,<br />

sing-along chorus and the joyous escapism that fans and musicians get<br />

from live music. !<br />

Words: Will Whitby / @WillyWhitby<br />

Lead researchers and data analysis: Richard Anderson and Mathew<br />

Flynn (University of Liverpool)<br />

Illustrations: Esmée Finlay / @efinlayillustration<br />

The next stage of this research will take place in October via a Zoom<br />

consultation event led by Bido Lito!, University of Liverpool and other<br />

musician support organisations. The event will consider the wider<br />

impacts across the sector with venues, promoters, educators and other<br />

industry professionals encouraged to take part. Registration of interest<br />

is available on the Bido Lito! website under the feature.<br />



The trio return to dish out sunburst rays of joy in the face of an ever uncertain climate. Sophie Shields sits<br />

down for a socially distanced chat with the band following the release of their third album, Providence.<br />

We’re pretty familiar with ALL WE ARE at Bido Lito!. Since emerging almost a decade<br />

ago, the band have woven themselves deep into the fibres of Liverpool’s music<br />

scene through two albums and countless spirit-raising shows. As we reconvene for<br />

what will be the magazine’s fifth interview with the band, in what’s been a year of<br />

unpredictability, All We Are remain as essential and joyous as ever.<br />

We’re returning to talk today in an old converted primary school turned artists’ dream space. It’s<br />

the home of drummer and vocalist Richard O’Flynn. It’s also where we first caught up with the trio<br />

of Rich, Guro Gikling (bass) and Luís Santos (guitar) back in 2012. Back then the trio had only just<br />

stumbled into formation and lit the touch paper for their eight-year career that’s followed. But today<br />

is all about album number three.<br />

Looking on from EP Heart Of Mine, the bridge between 2017’s Sunny Hills and new LP<br />

Providence – at first listen you get the sense that album number three is a bit of a step away from<br />

their first two offerings. It has a similar vibe, the same twangy guitar hooks, funky basslines and<br />

groovy beats; but it leads with a much more euphoric sense of positivity and warmth in the themes<br />

and narrative. Where debut All We Are had ice running through its funky veins, and Sunny Hills<br />

channelled a more insistent aggression, Providence is the perfect combination of catchy tunes with<br />

a summery outlook on life. An apt time to be releasing it into the world after the last few months<br />

and a fine example of how the power of music can offer a bit of respite for musicians and listeners<br />

alike.<br />

Sitting comfortably on tiny chairs (we are in what was a primary school after all) in the<br />

sunny back garden of Rich’s home/music studio/groove factory, it’s difficult to not take a second<br />

to acknowledge we’re able do this again. To physically sit together, albeit at a distance, and talk<br />

about music without a computer screen and a dodgy internet connection between us. A sense of<br />

normality may not have completely resumed but it’s a step in the right direction.<br />

You can’t come to Rich’s creative heaven of a home and not want to know more about it, and<br />

how it feeds into the make-up of the band. “We got this place when the band started nine years<br />

ago, about May 2011,” Cork native Rich tells me. “We were talking about starting a band and then<br />

my girlfriend broke up with me and I was looking for a place. Luís came with me to see the nursery<br />

and it was totally fucked,” he adds. “There was weird shit everywhere. I think some artist from<br />

Newcastle lived here. I didn’t really have any vision and was like, ‘Yeh, I can’t live here,’ but Luís<br />

[convinced me of its potential] and so we just moved in and started the band.”<br />

The space has played an important role in the workings of All We Are, an unofficial fourth<br />

member and the birthplace of Providence. “We wanted to have the familiarity and the space to<br />

spend as much time as we wanted on the album. It’s always been quite key.”<br />

The trio of All We Are hail from all corners of the world: Rich, as mentioned comes from Ireland,<br />

Guro from Norway and Luís from Brazil. Coming together in Liverpool and adopting it as a place<br />

to start their musical endeavour feels like a bit of a calling for them. Like a lot of bands in Liverpool<br />

they met in the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. There’s something about the city, it draws<br />

people in from all walks of life, with an abundance of talent. But, looking back at the first steps that<br />

bring us here today, what was it about Liverpool for these guys?<br />

“I just wanted to come to Liverpool, I had heard about LIPA and wanted to come,” Guro<br />

explains. “I was also a huge fan of The Beatles growing up. I always found like I had a bit of a<br />

connection to Liverpool.”<br />

These sentiments are shared by Rich who describes coming to Liverpool as a bit of a<br />

pilgrimage. “It definitely felt like coming to Liverpool was quite monumental. As a young Irish fella,<br />

it was like ‘Oh My God, this is where it all happened’. It has such an amazing musical history it felt<br />

amazing to be coming here.<br />

“When I used to visit I came into Liverpool through Bootle. I got a black cab and had a pocket<br />

full of pounds that my dad gave me,” Rich laughs. “It’s really stereotypical but I was like, ‘Fucking<br />

hell, this is amazing!’”<br />

In the midst of all the reminiscing of everyone’s travels to Liverpool, a wasp lands on Luís’ lip<br />

which leads to an impromptu conversation about the unscripted scene in Raiders Of The Lost Ark<br />

when a fly lands on Dr Belloq’s lip and crawls into his mouth. The jovial swerve in conversation is a<br />

reminder of the comfort and ease the band share with one another. They project a welcoming sense<br />

of friendship and familiarity into their presence, owing much to their friendship for over 13 years.<br />

“We figured out that lockdown is the longest that we’ve been apart from each other and not<br />

playing music in about 14 years,” Guro explains, highlighting how close-knit their relationship is. It’s<br />

a friendship that seems to have only strengthened over the years.<br />

“I often think about how different it is now to when we first started hanging out or even if it is<br />

different at all,” Rich muses, as Guro responds: “I think the importance of things has changed. What<br />

seemed like the most important thing back then might not be now.” A valid point for a band who,<br />

early in their career, signed with Domino Records imprint Double Six, for the goals only to keep on<br />

coming. “I guess when we started, we wanted to get signed and then we did,” Rich explains. “Then<br />

we wanted to put out an album, which we did. We wanted to play Glastonbury and go to Australia<br />

and we did those. Things change but, ultimately, we just want to put out music. Putting out records<br />

and being signed to Domino is pretty much like… we couldn’t ask for anything more than that.<br />

“We’ve always had a connection. That’s integral to All We Are and it’s inspired by our<br />

different musical backgrounds. It makes the band special,” Rich continues. Having such different<br />

geographical backgrounds alongside a range of musical influences sheds light on their varied<br />

musical stylings. Described in the past as everything from “The Bee Gees on Diazepam” (Spotify)<br />

to specialising in “creeping psychedelia” (Bido Lito! 2015) and producing “languid funk” by Lauren<br />

Laverne, it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what they are, but that’s not a bad thing.<br />

Rich notes his musical influences come from listening almost exclusively to 80s music. “Prince<br />

is a massive influence for me, as well as Tears For Fears, Madonna and Japan. I also listen to a lot of<br />

hip hop from the 90s.” It’s a far cry from Luís who states Radiohead, Broken Social Scene and music<br />

from his home country as his influences. “The last few years I’ve been listening to a lot of Brazilian<br />

music to reconnect with my roots, alongside loads of boogie, funk and soul. I’m not going to say<br />

it’s a guilty pleasure because I’m not guilty but also, Steely Dan. My housemate is really into Steely<br />


ALL<br />

W E<br />

ARE<br />

Dan. We have Steely Dan Sundays where we get together and play Steely Dan songs. It’s a very<br />

exclusive club,” Luís laughs.<br />

“It’s hard to know what you’re inspired by as well,” Guro adds. “It just comes out of you and you<br />

don’t know what has influenced you so much. When you’re a kid and listen to music you might pick<br />

up stuff not even knowing you’re doing it. Thinking now, when I play basslines, they are very all<br />

over the place and when I think about it it’s quite like Paul McCartney, but I would never think that.”<br />

“You just thought it…” Rich laughs.<br />

“I did listen to a lot of The Beatles growing up,” Guro clarifies,<br />

laughing, “but I’ve never thought it was my influence. I listen to a lot of<br />

pop music – big bangers with massive hooks is always something I’ve<br />

enjoyed.”<br />

Hearing about their musical influences makes it clear why their<br />

songs have so much variety running through them. You can hear the<br />

80s synth influence from Rich, the funk elements from Luís, and the<br />

pop hooks from Guro. It’s the perfect combination that results in their<br />

toe-tapping tracks. Take recent single Not Your Man as an example:<br />

the bouncing, funky bassline, tropical trumpets and catchy lyrics make<br />

for the perfect summery track to bop away to. With the lyrics “Like a<br />

piña colada, you’re not going to waste me” filling up the chorus, it gets<br />

stuck in your head for the rest of the day. “We had a lot of excitement<br />

from the label about that track,” Rich says after I explained how my<br />

housemate now has a bit of an obsession with aforementioned drink.<br />

“We shot the music video for it in the middle of lockdown, which<br />

was interesting. We had to sign health declaration forms and it was<br />

all properly socially distanced. The director and the stylist were on<br />

Zoom and it was just us in the studio. It was all a bit apocalyptic.”<br />

Watching the video back you would never think it was made under<br />

such constraints and shows how creative and dedicated the band are to their craft. “We never really<br />

discussed postponing the record,” Rich explains, nodding towards some high profile releases that<br />

have been rearranged due to social distancing measures. “It’s a summer record. It’s about the good<br />

times and we need to focus on the good things when they aren’t going so well at the moment,”<br />

Guro adds.<br />

A bit of positivity is something we could all do with at the moment and it’s a theme that<br />

runs throughout their album, alongside everything from friendship, love, lust and loss. “It’s a very<br />

human, honest and emotive record,” Rich muses. “I think the spirit of it is really positive. Making the<br />

record and moving on from the second one was quite healing. To get a different vibe out there and<br />

spreading joy feels incredibly appropriate to put it out.”<br />

The album wears the clothes of a cast of characters, shapeshifting and bouncing in a Hawaiian<br />

necklace. But do any of the tracks carry a personal entity? “I really like How You Get Me,” Luís offers.<br />

“It’s a summer record.<br />

It’s about the good<br />

times and we need<br />

to focus on the good<br />

things when they<br />

aren’t going so well<br />

at the moment”<br />

“We wrote it in Ireland on a writing trip in this cottage by the sea. I wrote it on this guitar that I<br />

found when I went back home in my grandad’s old house. It turned out to be this 60s Brazilian<br />

guitar, so I brought it back because it has this really special sound. There is a lot of sentiment and<br />

feeling to the guitar and it came out in that song.”<br />

“It does kind of sum up the spirit of the album as well,” Rich adds. “The songs are different<br />

thematically and there is a narrative running throughout them, but How You Get Me does sum up<br />

the joyous vibe of the record.”<br />

“For me [it’s] maybe L Is For Lose because it captures all the best<br />

bits from all of us,” Guro adds. “We all shine in that one. All of our<br />

personalities come out in it. It was also written in the same cottage in<br />

Ireland. It must have been something about the air.”<br />

The title Providence also has a rooted connection with the band,<br />

apart from being the first track on the album. “Providence is like, it<br />

is what it is, things will be as they are, an act of God, so in a way it’s<br />

quite a positive thing. Things are the way they are and you just push<br />

on,” Rich explains. “We had to change the album artwork last minute,<br />

too, and it all worked out in the end. Another act of providence in<br />

itself!” On the finalised cover, the trio are scattered around a sunburst<br />

throne of their own making. Each one of them has an air of nobility<br />

about them, a deft assurance. It’s a metaphor that rubberstamps their<br />

entitlement of deity status within not just Liverpool, but modern funk<br />

itself.<br />

As we come towards the end of our chat, the sense of pleasure in<br />

simply being able do that, chat in person at a safe distance, returns to<br />

the fore. Lockdown will have been a contrasting period for many, but<br />

its constraint on the day-to-day regularity of before is not lost on the<br />

band.<br />

“I feel extremely creative now,” replies Luís. “You forget how important practice is and you can<br />

get a little rusty sometimes. It’s good for me to start doing stuff again.”<br />

“I think I needed the break to figure out how much I missed it,” Guro adds. “Now I just really<br />

want to play. We’ve started again and it’s bringing me so much joy.” !<br />

Words: Sophie Shields<br />

Photography: Rebecca Hawley<br />

thisisallweare.co.uk<br />

Providence is available now via Double Six Records. All We Are play Arts Club on 26th February<br />

2021.<br />




The River Mersey draws a physical and psychological line between Liverpool and Wirral, allowing opposing<br />

narratives and identities to take hold. With a publicly accessible bridge over the river’s shortest crossing<br />

a near engineering impossibility, cultural regeneration may just be the road to shortening the divide. Enter,<br />

Future Yard.<br />

Birkenhead, where the dominant waves of Liverpool<br />

broke and rolled back, carries an echo of historical<br />

stasis rather than any discernible glimpse of the<br />

future. On the dockside, ships remain still in a<br />

stripped back Cammell Laird. The town hall and Hamilton<br />

Square remain grand, but even this Grade I listed cluster is<br />

presented as a historical artefact of more favourable times.<br />

Towards the town centre, a frayed array of once optimistic<br />

post-war modernism haunts the contemporary commercial<br />

district. It’s an area that’s neither coming nor going. So, why<br />

look for a creative future in its apathetic resilience? A harsh<br />

question, but perhaps overdue.<br />

Culturally, Birkenhead sits in something of a no-man’s land,<br />

claimed by nobody as their own. Much of the rest of Wirral<br />

doesn’t seem to want it. From New Brighton, Liverpool is<br />

literally more visible. Towns on the western coast such as West<br />

Kirby have their own sense of identity, partly informed by the<br />

‘Leisure Peninsula’ image that doesn’t suit the industrial streets<br />

of Birkenhead. Even Oxton – which is definitely Birkenhead,<br />

geographically – prefers to define itself as a village apart.<br />

And then there’s the river. There’s just about a mile between<br />

the two sides, but the psychological distance it creates is much,<br />

much wider. It’s believed that the Mersey was a historical<br />

border between two ancient kingdoms; on the East bank lay<br />

Northumbria, while the Wirral peninsula lay in Mercian territory.<br />

Maybe it’s the echoes of this historical divide which still pervade<br />

along its shores. Different councils, ‘wools’ and ‘Scousers’, the<br />

river is still seen as a demarcation of difference. Never mind that<br />

the two sides are extremely well connected, with it taking just<br />

three minutes to reach the centre of Birkenhead from Liverpool,<br />

convincing people to make that trip is easier said than done.<br />

Because right now, why should they? A long period of industrial<br />

and commercial decline has left Birkenhead lacking not just<br />

destinations, but a sense of identity or purpose. Right now, and<br />

so close, Liverpool just has more: more venues, more artists,<br />

more willing audiences. More to shout about.<br />

But there are those who see the separation set by the river<br />

and current aimlessness of Birkenhead as opportunities, not<br />

obstacles. After all, this is a town which has always traditionally<br />

been a commercial and community epicentre in its own right –<br />

the town hall and Hamilton Square proudly remind you of this.<br />

Rather than tagging onto the coattails of “over the water”, the<br />

potential exists for Birkenhead to find, or create, its own purpose.<br />

FUTURE YARD began <strong>2020</strong> with the intention of working<br />

towards this purpose. Having tested the waters of what was<br />

possible with 2019’s two-day music festival over some of<br />

Birkenhead’s main landmarks, a series of gigs in a pop-up venue<br />

on Argyle Street was announced. Featuring artists including<br />

Evian Christ, Self Esteem, She Drew The Gun and a special,<br />

two-man performance by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s<br />

Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, the venue was to be<br />

a great statement of a vision for Birkenhead that cut through<br />

the prevalent negative stereotypes of the town. Decorated<br />

with enormous pink letters which read “THE FUTURE IS<br />

BIRKENHEAD”, Future Yard declared its ambitions even before it<br />

opened, when the very structure of the venue was still a work in<br />

progress.<br />

With the spread of Covid-19 putting the brakes on these<br />

plans, some major rethinking has had to take place for the venue<br />

and CIC. The fact that the music programme hadn’t started has<br />

in some ways left Future Yard in a better position than some<br />

venues. The postponement of their pop-up summer schedule<br />

has only hastened their long-term ambition of becoming<br />

established as a permanent space for Birkenhead. And while<br />

the “Near Future” shows originally scheduled for this summer<br />

have mostly been moved to 2021 in one form or other, the team<br />

behind the venue have also been able to schedule new events<br />

for “Near Normal”, a series of socially-distanced in-person<br />

events in their venue on Argyle Street, which will also be live<br />

streamed beyond the 60 people allowed inside. The first limited<br />

capacity event is with She Drew The Gun on 19th <strong>September</strong><br />

– a date which feels tantalisingly close after so many months of<br />

empty schedules. More socially-distanced shows are still to be<br />

announced, coming in clusters of three in <strong>September</strong>, October<br />

and November, appetite-whetters before normal service can be<br />

resumed next year.<br />

It’s a much-needed positive story from the cultural sector,<br />

which has so prominently and heavily struggled under the<br />

lockdown restrictions of Covid-19. Amidst numerous stories<br />

of music venues, theatres and arts organisations being forced<br />

to close – Liverpool already losing integral spaces such as<br />

Sound, Studio 2 and now The Zanzibar – we’re being forced to<br />

consider the reality of what a world without easily accessible<br />

live culture looks like. And for many of us its absence has been<br />

keenly felt; holes left in plans for weeks and months ahead. The<br />

recommencement of live music, in whatever capacity, is cause<br />

for celebration in this climate. But Future Yard co-founder Craig<br />

Pennington’s vision for the venue goes beyond it being, as he<br />

puts it, “a space that opens to the public at half 7 and closes<br />

at 1am”. It’s not just the events that are being missed, but<br />

the culture around them. The opportunities not only for social<br />

interaction, but for artistic growth. Future Yard is about more<br />

than just putting on shows. It’s about building, sustaining and<br />

supporting cultural shifts of the kind that feel more needed now<br />

than ever.<br />

Choosing to open a venue in Birkenhead might be regarded<br />

by some as an unusual choice at the best of times. This is<br />

perhaps best exemplified by the reaction on social media to their<br />

“THE FUTURE IS BIRKENHEAD” mural being unveiled back in<br />

March. For every supportive comment there were three snide<br />

voices: “If Birkenhead’s the future, God help us” and the like. This<br />

reaction actually delighted Pennington, who had “hoped there<br />

would be as much piss-taking and negative reaction as positive”,<br />

adding, “That’s the point!”. The mural is now gone, replaced by<br />

a new design more suitable for the venue’s now-permanent<br />

status as it works towards being the UK’s first carbon neutral<br />

grassroots venue. But the objective of being a starting place for<br />

changing the perceptions of an entire region has been achieved.<br />

“It’s like setting off a flare,” Pennington illustrates. “The response<br />

to that is the conversation.”<br />

There’s a growing recognition that Birkenhead has been<br />

culturally under-served and seeking to correct this imbalance.<br />

There’s a real potential for Birkenhead to be a cultural hub of<br />

its own, to be proudly claimed by Wirral, and Liverpool, as their<br />


“It’s about<br />

changing<br />

the story of<br />

a place”<br />

WON’T DIE<br />

own and a model of optimism for others. To have a relationship<br />

with Liverpool that’s not just in its shadow, but to be a centre<br />

for new, self-sustaining, ambitious activity. The audience<br />

certainly exists; Future Yard found that the majority of last<br />

August’s festivalgoers were from the peninsula. And no words<br />

are minced when Pennington calls it “a tragedy... that there’s<br />

not a venue dedicated to supporting new music on the Wirral”<br />

– an astounding fact when you consider the bands which have<br />

emerged from this part of the world.<br />

For culture-led regeneration to begin laying foundations, a<br />

quality music venue is as good a place to start – a stark contrast<br />

with the gentrification that has swept through many areas, such<br />

as the Baltic, laying claim to its few, integral music venues. It<br />

may sound idealistic to say ‘music can change the world’, but<br />

the Future Yard team not only believe this, they have a clear and<br />

practical plan about how to make this apparent in Birkenhead.<br />

That fact about having no new music venues in Wirral matters,<br />

because opportunities which aren’t visible can’t be understood<br />

as real possibilities. How will the next generation access careers<br />

such as sound engineer or promoter unless they have access<br />

to a space where these roles are modelled? Again, there’s a<br />

danger that we can take Liverpool for granted when it’s actually<br />

local involvement which matters most. “When you’re at a stage<br />

at your life like mid-teens, you’re not spending all your time in<br />

Liverpool,” Pennington reminds. “Working within the live music<br />

industry – if there’s not a venue in the town, that story is not<br />

even presented to young people as something they can do with<br />

their lives.”<br />

Right now, when the majority of the news seems weighted<br />

towards the gloom of closures and losses, Future Yard is<br />

determined to set an example of how venues can actively<br />

support the artists they exist for. “We know what we can’t<br />

do, but we also know what we need to be able to do,” says<br />

Pennington. “We’ve got to find ways of artists navigating this<br />

new reality. Both in terms of building their way back into playing<br />

live shows, but also thinking about how we support artists to be<br />

the best versions of themselves.”<br />

As a start, from August, they’ll be running Direct Input,<br />

a programme of webinars with established industry figures<br />

exploring the stories behind their careers. With live gigs set<br />

to restart in <strong>September</strong> they’ll also be running Sound Check,<br />

a training programme for young wannabe sound and lighting<br />

engineers. “We’ve got a fully structured programme...you come<br />

and shadow on all the shows, and by the end you’ll be able to<br />

proficiently mix a live band.” An exciting and meaningful entry<br />

point into a career which, though central to live music’s success,<br />

is often hidden from the spotlight.<br />

The ’new normal’ has also meant the introduction of other<br />

new ways of working, particularly with the increased importance<br />

of online events. Though they’ll never be a replacement for<br />

the full experience of attending live music events, interest<br />

in streamed performances has undeniably grown amongst<br />

audiences since March. They have been crucial in maintaining<br />

interactions between artist and audience, as well as vital<br />

opportunities to recoup some income. Pennington and his Future<br />

Yard partner Christopher Torpey recognise the potential here<br />

for artists to build audiences by creating an experience which is<br />

deliberately different to the live show – not a pale substitute, but<br />

a product of its own. “If you can make it work in a format which<br />

is considered for the way people are engaging with it,” believes<br />

Pennington, “you can create some element of a cinematic<br />

experience.” “You’ve got to approach it differently,” agrees<br />

Torpey. “I think there’s space for streams, ongoing. It’s never<br />

going replace live music, but it’s going to be an additional tool.<br />

But it might not necessarily stay along the lines of traditional live<br />

performance.”. With Autumn’s preliminary Near Normal shows<br />

operating at low capacity, and some people understandably<br />

reluctant to return to enclosed venue spaces, the option of a<br />

digital ticket to stream the gigs is also available. She Drew The<br />

Gun’s show on 19th <strong>September</strong> will be filmed and mixed live,<br />

relayed to punters at home as a high-quality live broadcast in a<br />

step on from the now tired bedroom gig live stream.<br />

Even if the digital experience still dominates for some time,<br />

the ultimate aim remains to get audiences to connect with this<br />

venue in the heart of Birkenhead. Digital may even offer greater<br />

opportunity, the chance to pique the interest of audiences who<br />

wouldn’t ordinarily think of making the three-minute journey<br />

under the Mersey. “We can build the situation where people are<br />

going to a venue, rather than going to see a particular artist,”<br />

says Pennington. With exciting programmes of gigs, artists<br />

and events to get involved in, we can all add our voices to the<br />

emerging conversation.<br />

“It’s just about storytelling. It’s about putting on great shows<br />

and events, and changing the story of a place.” That idea of the<br />

world-changing power of music can be more than a dream;<br />

Pennington points out at how it was music venue The Picket<br />

and arts group A Foundation who first saw the potential of the<br />

Baltic Triangle. How it was the incubation of culture which began<br />

the process of revival that’s led to it now being one of the most<br />

popular districts of Liverpool. Similar shades of change can be<br />

observed by the community power that’s literally reclaiming the<br />

former Smithdown Road Conservative Club, now the Smithdown<br />

Social. Co-operatively run, the venue is a hub of socially<br />

conscious club events with external promoters Wavertree<br />

Worldwide leading their own culture-centred regeneration in<br />

South Liverpool.<br />

Lockdown may have curtailed Future Yard’s plans this<br />

summer, but it’s also made the existing excitement about the<br />

opening of a new venue feel like a beacon of hope. Future Yard<br />

has always been about the long-haul process of major change.<br />

Pennington’s estimation prior to lockdown was that it would take<br />

10 years and continuous innovation to change popular attitudes<br />

about Birkenhead. But with its programme of quality events to<br />

attend and participate in, and offer of access to training in the<br />

skills which can make a scene sustainable, Future Yard feels like<br />

the right place at the right time. Its opening is a welcome piece of<br />

optimism for both Birkenhead and its cultural scene, brightening<br />

otherwise gloomy conversations around the outlook for both<br />

a long-undervalued town, and a sector which has value to so<br />

many beyond the stark financial calculations holding its fate in<br />

the balance. The need to come together and help music thrive<br />

is more urgent now than it has been for a long while. While<br />

the river may still divide many aspects of Merseyside identity,<br />

there’s no reason why it should also be the boundary of cultural<br />

opportunity. !<br />

Words: Julia Johnson / @Messylines_<br />

Photography: Liam Jones / @liamjonesphotie<br />

futureyard.org<br />

Full listings for Future Yard’s 2021 live programme, and further<br />

limited-capacity Near Normal shows for the Autumn, can be<br />

found at futureyard.org. Artist-focused Direct Input live webinars<br />

take place fortnightly, with conversations with Katie Harkin (31st<br />

August) and Rebecca Lucy Taylor (14th <strong>September</strong>) free to<br />

attend.<br />




MOLLY<br />

GREEN<br />

Tara Dalton looks for the threads that hold together the jazzy, soulful undertones of the abundantly creative<br />

singer-songwriter.<br />

On the outside, MOLLY GREEN is a youthful 22-year-old<br />

dripping in style from head to toe. But on the inside,<br />

she holds an old crooning soul that can grip you from<br />

the moment she opens her mouth.<br />

The native Bristolian singer-songwriter has a past that will<br />

leave you green with envy; performing from a young age and<br />

hitting stages from Colston Hall to Glastonbury. As if that wasn’t<br />

credit to her talent enough, four years ago she decided to move<br />

north to study music at the Liverpool Institute for Performing<br />

Arts. This year, over a Zoom call and a cuppa, we are both totally<br />

dressed to the nines, and I’m eager to dive deep.<br />

Although we’re 100 miles away from each other, it’s crystal<br />

clear to see that Molly’s upbringing was integral to her sound.<br />

In her smooth and jazzy undertones, you can hear the entwined<br />

romance between her grandpa’s love<br />

of sax and her mother’s love of RnB.<br />

While not as obvious from the outside,<br />

even in her acoustic sets, Molly admits<br />

her late father’s love of artists such as<br />

Jack Johnson and Paul Weller crept its<br />

way into her life.<br />

Yet, behind her old soul, Molly is at<br />

most a realist. “I’m actually pretty shit<br />

at genres for a musician,” she giggles<br />

as she attempts to describe her style<br />

to me. To Molly, music shouldn’t just<br />

be another listening process. With a<br />

middle finger to the idea of genres, it<br />

isn’t just sound that’s important, but<br />

where it will take you.<br />

“It’s purely just from how I<br />

appreciate music, I like music to take me somewhere and I<br />

almost forget where I am. When the song finishes, you just want<br />

to be transported there again,” she replies. “I think that’s when<br />

music is at its most powerful, when you forget where you are.<br />

Especially at live gigs as well, I like being totally lost.”<br />

We’ve all felt it. Total enchantment by an artist on stage,<br />

wrapped around their fingertips while the room around them<br />

turns. To Molly, that click into reality after a set has finished is<br />

how she wants every song of hers to end.<br />

With Molly, it’s all her. If music was her personal paint box,<br />

she’s all authentically green as her business and pleasure are<br />

merged together. Her stage name is her own, her girlfriend is<br />

her manager, and her sister is the illustrator of the Naked EP<br />

artwork.<br />

Created and recorded in lockdown, the acoustic EP shows<br />

a stripped-down style to Molly; her usual RnB style straddling<br />

modern neo-soul. As well as original tracks I’m Ready Now and<br />

Dusky Haze, Molly proves she’s ready to capture your heart with<br />

a slowed-down cover of Brockhampton’s SUGAR. In its delicate<br />

13 minutes, you can feel its lockdown influences, as it transports<br />

you to a serene setting of not total isolation, but relaxation.<br />

From the nape of a neck to the curve of a waist, all the<br />

silhouettes featured on the single artworks are a part of Molly.<br />

Each pose is based on a selfie sent to her sister in order to paint<br />

“I like music to take<br />

me somewhere<br />

and I almost forget<br />

where I am”<br />

the full ‘naked’ picture. While it creates a beautiful black and<br />

white storyline, it has, however, left a mark on her photo library.<br />

“I now have a lot of weird pictures on my phone of my ankles<br />

which I should probably delete now,” says Molly. “I’ll be showing<br />

people pictures of my holiday and go one too far and, surprise,<br />

there’s my elbow!”<br />

From single artworks to social media, Molly isn’t just here to<br />

be heard, but to be engrained in your senses. Through her looks,<br />

she aims to capture attention. “You kind of want your fans to<br />

see you as a desirable thing, not sexually, but you want them to<br />

look up to you. There is something to be said for going a little bit<br />

extra, rather than being boring and average,” she explains.<br />

And boring she is not. As well as being musically gifted,<br />

Molly can hear this vintage rhythm in her everyday life. Not only<br />

is she a talented songstress, but a<br />

talented seamstress, creating her<br />

own outfits for both onstage and<br />

offstage use. Having learned the<br />

skill for her Gatsby-themed 21st<br />

birthday, Molly wants Alicia Keys<br />

to be her first client. She channels<br />

her sound into her outfit because<br />

who needs genres, when you have<br />

organza? “I do think if you can pull<br />

something off, you can pull it off,”<br />

she replies. “If you go on thinking<br />

you look ridiculous, people are going<br />

to think it’s ridiculous.”<br />

Fashion is to Molly what<br />

purple is to green; a match made<br />

in heaven. She tells me of her love<br />

for style, and even over our call you can see the twinkle in her<br />

eye as she compliments fabrics and patterns. Her latest peach<br />

piece, created for her supporting set with Abbie Ozard, was<br />

the first item she had made entirely herself, but it’s definitely<br />

not the last. To some of us, the thought of a sewing machine is<br />

too stressful, but in Molly’s eyes, it is another creative escape<br />

outside of music. “Sometimes when you’re so focused on doing<br />

the one thing, it can get a bit monotonous and you can get a bit<br />

bogged down,” she starts. “I can get into a rabbit hole where I<br />

have no motivation to write and I’ll be thinking ‘You know what,<br />

the music’s not doing it for me today, let’s make an outfit’. It<br />

sometimes feels so nice to get that bit of escapism but still be<br />

doing something I love.”<br />

Where some artists try to maintain a persona online, Molly<br />

is here to be herself and no one else. From her socials, her<br />

connection to fans is unrivalled, letting them in to her day-to-day<br />

life to understand who she is as an artist. Her latest video Just A<br />

Girl is a “visual photo album” for fans, showing snippets of the<br />

singer-songwriter having fun and being herself.<br />

It was quite the task during lockdown to create a music video<br />

for the acoustic sets so, as she was already looking back on old<br />

times, she delved into her library. While the track sweetly deals<br />

with parted lovers, the video encapsulates her youth through<br />

snippets of her performances and adventures faced over the<br />

past few years. Collecting these snippets from friends and family,<br />

Molly experienced the same feeling you get when you’re tidying<br />

your room and pick up that one childhood toy from underneath a<br />

cupboard. The faint nostalgia just ignited a spark that she knew<br />

she had to share with friends. With life outside the window<br />

remaining unrecognisable, to make a simple video to get lost in<br />

took on a greater importance.<br />

“I didn’t want it to feel laborious,” she says. “You don’t have<br />

to try and figure out a meaning. Just watch it and enjoy. It is what<br />

it is.”<br />

Being an artist is difficult at the minute, with it being an<br />

unwritten social cue that you have to be creative in lockdown or<br />

else… well, you don’t want to know. The pressure to be creative<br />

can be a motivator for some musicians, giving them free-rein<br />

to experiment. But for musicians like Molly, isolation has only<br />

widened the gap between an artist and their art and therefore,<br />

an artist and their fans.<br />

“I was going to post on Instagram for a monthly recap<br />

in April, so I thought ‘Let’s get a few pictures of me being<br />

productive, like learning how to play the guitar’,” she explains.<br />

“But I remember turning and thinking as I waited there, who’s<br />

that helping? Just because I have been sat at home looking at<br />

everyone else doing this kind of thing, thinking, what the fuck am<br />

I doing?<br />

“I’m not going to lie to the people that support me,” she<br />

continues. “Instead, I’m going to be straight up and say, ‘You<br />

know what, it has been shit and I don’t have any nice pictures of<br />

me because I look like shit so this is what it is’.”<br />

While truthful to fans, Molly giggles as she lets me in on the<br />

white lies woven into her records. “No matter what I do, I always<br />

stand by one thing,” she says, “and that’s to not write a song<br />

about anyone you’re close to.” Molly learnt this lesson after a<br />

writing session with her girlfriend, when a simple brainstorm led<br />

to a romantic tune telling the story of how they got together. For<br />

the outsiders looking in, this seems like the ideal outcome, and<br />

we all do have a sneaky desire to be the character of a ballad.<br />

But the truth isn’t always desirable, as she explains. “Sometimes<br />

you bend the truth a bit or exaggerate a bit because that’s how<br />

you feel when you write the song. If somebody hears it’s about<br />

them, but you threw in that you fell in love right away, just cause<br />

that’s what worked and it made it a bit more romantic, and you<br />

have to say that you threw it in for that reason, it’s always better<br />

to never do that. Ever!”<br />

Lockdown hasn’t hindered her on her path forwards. Even<br />

as she stumbles for a charger to save her laptop, she hasn’t<br />

stumbled once in illustrating the bright future that lies ahead of<br />

her. And we’re on the edge of our seats, waiting. !<br />

Words: Tara Dalton / @tistaradee<br />

Photography: Zoë Moungabio / zoevictoire.com<br />

mollygreenmusic.com<br />

Naked is available now via Modern Sky.<br />




Workshops for Culture<br />

Writers of the Future<br />

Free writers skills workshops<br />

with the Bido Lito! editorial<br />

team start <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong>.<br />

Bido Lito! is committed to providing places on<br />

courses to writers of diverse backgrounds.<br />

Applicants who identify as BAME, LGBTQI+, working class,<br />

disabled, and women are encouraged to apply.<br />

Go to bidolito.co.uk/workshops<br />

Apply Now!

TEE<br />

For the past four years, Tee has established himself in roles behind the<br />

scenes as bassist and producer. With the long overdue arrival of his<br />

debut EP, he is finally ready to take his rightful place front and centre.<br />



“I’m not<br />

allowed to hide<br />

anymore”<br />

Today’s sun is stretching high above the Anglican<br />

Cathedral as it moves through the steps of its summer<br />

ascent. It’s the hottest day of the year so far. Everything<br />

below wears a lick of golden paint. This includes Terell<br />

Farrell, as the hues catch his pristine white T-shirt on the corner<br />

of Duke Street where we meet.<br />

Much like the religious icons that bears down on us<br />

(including the sun), Farrell, better known as TEE, is an artist<br />

quietly defined by faith, by commitment, by purpose. His<br />

character and music have been tentatively shaped by faith as<br />

much as the cityscape that looms on the shoulders of the skyline.<br />

“If I hadn’t gone to church,” he says, as we retreat into the shade,<br />

“I probably wouldn’t be into music as much as I am.”<br />

Rather than perusing the storied collection of houses of<br />

worship across the city, we’ve climbed the humble spire of our<br />

office space to meet today. The window is open as far as it will<br />

allow. Through it sweeps the clunky symphony of city centre<br />

beer gardens. Sadly, a breeze doesn’t follow.<br />

It’s currently above 30 degrees in the mid-afternoon sun.<br />

It’s the type of heat when unforgiving chairs fuse with your back<br />

and spinal cord. Unforgiving like the two leather office chairs we<br />

occupy, seeking to find a quiet spot away from the beating rays<br />

and sun tipsy streets. Tee remains unfazed.<br />

Sitting there, nonchalantly swaying on the axis of the chair,<br />

he’s almost excitedly beckoning the red light of the recorder to<br />

be turned on and our interview to start. Comfortable would be<br />

an understatement. Confident? Humbly. Cool? More than most,<br />

especially in today’s heat. “I’m, like, the coldest person,” he wryly<br />

remarks as we savour the heat streaming down. Judging by how<br />

he’s happily reclining in the chair, you’d be lulled into thinking it’s<br />

a fresh spring day.<br />

Just as faith quietly punctuates his art, Tee, originally<br />

hailing from East London, has quietly been garnering attention<br />

in Liverpool over the course of the last five years. But you’d be<br />

excused if this is the first you’re seeing of him, front and centre.<br />

Until now, you’re more likely to have noticed his handiwork<br />

on the other side of the recording-studio glass, to the side of<br />

the stage. Maybe in prosaic writings and monologues which<br />

occasionally surface on his social media.<br />

His production fingerprints can be seen on recent releases<br />

by Sub Blue, Deliah and Little Grace, with his services highly in<br />

demand by local artists pursuing an emotively charged spectrum<br />

of pop and RnB. As a bassist, you may have seen him backing<br />

local behemoths MiC Lowry and neo-soul polymath XamVolo.<br />

But in the artist’s own words, now is time to move to the front of<br />

the stage. “Producer,” he started in an Instagram posts at the tail<br />

of 2019, “this is a hat I’ve had on for a couple years now. I think<br />

it’s time to hang it up for a little while.”<br />

This has given life to A Dozen Roses // A Love Story, his<br />

debut EP as Tee. Given that the assertion to move away from<br />

producing came in over nine months ago, you wouldn’t be wrong<br />

in thinking there’s been a few obstacles for the transformation.<br />

“Lockdown has been up and down,” he says as we start to talk<br />

about everything that’s shaped the EP, unintentionaly beginning<br />

with the inevitable conversation starter of <strong>2020</strong>. “It’s been good<br />

in that it gave people a bit of a break. I definitely need the rest<br />

and to revaluate,” he starts. “But it’s also been bad as the EP was<br />

supposed to be put out in April with a full installation presented<br />

at LightNight.” The event, like many in the cultural calendar of<br />

<strong>2020</strong>, was postpned.<br />

Delays aside the EP has no issue speaking for itself, whether<br />

now or when it was originally slated for release. In many ways<br />

the themes it covers have grown in perspective over the course<br />

of five searching months. And the digital shift in life is met,<br />

too, as Tee and his band will deliver an immersive live-stream<br />

performance in place of the original show.<br />

A Dozen Roses // A Love Story is Tee in his comfort zone,<br />

dealing with the uncomfortable. Across seven varied tracks,<br />

spoken-word interludes and soundscapes, the EP tackles<br />

fatherhood, vulnerability, mental health and love within its<br />

umbrella concept. It is highly ambitious and cinematic in its<br />

sensory delivery. “In the most basic sense, it’s a twisted love<br />

story between a man and a rose,” he says, with eyes and hands<br />

gesturing as if to say ‘wait, hear me out!’. “It sounds wild but… I<br />

played with the concept of the rose, which never had thorns in<br />

the garden of Eden until Eve ate the apple. A lot of it all stems<br />

from the baggage people carry, and that they will love you, but<br />

can still hurt you.”<br />

The end product is all the more impressive given it’s his<br />

debut body of work. Opener A Dozen Roses authoritatively sets<br />

the pace, but the EP offers plenty of time to reflect On I Hear A<br />

Kid, a song written from the perspective of a man who grew up<br />

without a father, reciting the conversation he’d have when the<br />

two meet again. From the early rush of 808s which fades into a<br />

moonlit croon, to the explosive Real, both tracks have a bi-polar<br />

character as they duck and weave through Tee’s repertoire of<br />


delicate arrangements and raps, delivered so hard they almost<br />

bleed with conviction. But it’s not just elaborate for the sake of it.<br />

“The art that I was wanting to produce and the music that I was<br />

wanting to create has been leading to this point,” he tells me. “I<br />

think for me, more than anything else, it’s all about storytelling.<br />

That’s why there’s spoken word, rap, why the music is so<br />

emotional. Whatever I deem necessary to tell the story.”<br />

The sonic palette is therefore complex in its emotive range.<br />

It’s as you’d expect when going so deep below the skin. No<br />

binary this or that, happy or sad. It stirs the emotion of social<br />

experience to evoke a vast understanding of the human<br />

condition. In relative terms, it reflects much of the chameleonic<br />

Madvillainy, minus the hazy headspaces of MF Doom and Madlib.<br />

There’s no smoke and mirrors in Tee’s observational lyricism.<br />

“I wanted to talk about things that I’ve seen and been a part<br />

of,” he tells me when pressed on whether the EP is a personal<br />

diary entry. “I’ve lived the experiences through other people.<br />

Telling the story the way that I do helps it seem more real,” he<br />

adds. “Not a confession, more observations.” In the role of the<br />

observer Tee paints self-portraits on other’s faces, instantly<br />

building an emotive connection to the subject and their stories<br />

put to music. These songs aren’t solely from him to learn from.<br />

Crown Of Thorns is the song most discernibly owing to faith.<br />

It’s a track that lays its roots in gospel, albeit spliced by Tee’s slick<br />

production and lyrical motifs of self-empowerment and worth.<br />

It’s the entry point to Tee’s innate musicality of natural rhythm<br />

and deft ear for choral arrangement.<br />

“Both of my families are religious,” he starts when looking<br />

back to the first building block in his musical journey. “Me and<br />

all of my cousins grew up in church and we’d go every Saturday,<br />

which meant I’d be playing drums in church every Saturday. I<br />

was very much into it, asking about which churches we’d be<br />

going to. You’d see your friends there, listening to the same<br />

music. When the latest gospel album dropped, you’d all be trying<br />

to learn it. That was the environment I grew up in, the music that<br />

I was surrounded by.”<br />

Religion itself isn’t something Tee wants to draw on<br />

too much as an artist, but he’s open about its influence and<br />

atmosphere surrounding his musical beginnings. “Gospel is such<br />

powerful music,” he replies, “it’s the kind of energy that I want<br />

to bring into my own music. Being able to do a gig, and for the<br />

music to hit the audience in the same way gospel did for me back<br />

then.”<br />

The early introduction to music would suggest a firm rudder<br />

in following life’s path. And yet, music remained a church-bound<br />

vocation through his mid-teenage years. Ideas of becoming<br />

an engineer were more prevalent until blown off course by the<br />

results of his first year’s study of Maths, Physics and Business at<br />

college. Looking back, it may prove to be divine intervention.<br />

“I remember walking through the park on my way home<br />

and crying, wondering what was I going to do,” he recalls of<br />

receiving the results that suggested engineering may not be a<br />

true calling. “I remember speaking on the phone to my dad, and<br />

he said, ‘Well, what is it that you want to do?’ And I hesitantly<br />

replied ‘music.” He says this, elongating the word, almost as<br />

if to relocate the shy subconscious influence that took hold of<br />

him almost a decade ago. “It was the first time that I ever felt as<br />

though I’d been asked what I wanted to do with my life, because<br />

until then I’d just assumed what would be best. Him asking the<br />

question was the turning point in my head.”<br />

Already well-versed on drums through years of church<br />

concerts, studying music at college saw a switch towards bass.<br />

“There were already too many drummers,” Tee remembers,<br />

outlining his transition to the instrument he’s now renowned for.<br />

“My teacher suggested I go with bass, and I just went with it,<br />

which was probably a terrible idea,” he says laughing to himself,<br />

“as I had to learn it all as quick as I could in two years.” Though<br />

the challenge was happily undertaken, and two years later his<br />

abilities secured him a place at LIPA and a move up north.<br />

Surrounded by a wealth of classically trained musicians at<br />

university, Tee himself was more of an instinctive player and<br />

listener. Most of his experience had come from gigs in churches,<br />

hours sat around in a practice studio with his friends in college.<br />

The change in scenery didn’t instil illusions of star power in his<br />

first few years in Liverpool. “It took me a while to find my feet,”<br />

he says honestly. “I’d been writing my own poetry all the way<br />

before university, but I didn’t return to it until mid-way through<br />

my second year. It just took me a while to work out what I was<br />

comfortable with.”<br />

Come the end of university, Tee had started to leave his<br />

own mark, but through the work of others rather than his solo<br />

production. As the sonic range and intricacies of A Dozen Roses<br />

// A Love Story would allude, his abilities at the studio controls<br />

stood out. “If you’d have told me I’d become a producer I’d have<br />

said, ‘No, I don’t have the time nor the patience’,” he laughs with<br />

a jovial disbelief.<br />



It’s rare for an artist capable of mastering a wealth of instruments and sculpting<br />

a dense debut EP to still evade the charms of self-confidence. “To be fair,” he quickly<br />

follows up, “producing was something that I’d done [on my own], but only as a<br />

means of making my own music. I didn’t have the money to pay people to make the<br />

music that I want to make, so I had to learn.”<br />

The self-taught path of producing has proven fruitful. Rather than market his<br />

services out, it was writing sessions and collaborations with fellow artists that led<br />

him towards the studio chair. More natural than a determined choice. In a room full of<br />

voices, it’s his hands that always appeared to draw out the best from the arrangement.<br />

It’s no coincidence when Tee nods back to the years engulfed by the intricate power of<br />

gospel choirs. “[Producing] grew from being in church,” he says when I ask him where<br />

the seemingly innate ability to arrange stems from. “Playing pretty much all of the<br />

instruments in the church band, swapping over with everyone, you get a knowledge of<br />

what a band should sound like. And in a live sense,” he continues, “you get a knowledge of<br />

what a producer should listen out for. Having the ear to do that, I was definitely building it<br />

up subconsciously in church.”<br />

This subconscious framework he’s honed is built on emotion. The feeling of the music<br />

“hitting you”, as he explained earlier, is always the desired effect. That same feeling when the<br />

gospel choir is in full flight and blankets the audience with its wall of sound. Emotion therefore<br />

acts as the compass that guides his music, and those he produces. “I think people come to me<br />

to get their songs produced because we can bring out whatever emotion or feeling you want to<br />

bring out,” he explains. “That’s something I strongly believe in.”<br />

There’s been no mercurial rise with Tee. Every step has been measured along the way. Every<br />

step a lesson of sorts. Rather than take blind control when producing other artists, he’s allowed<br />

their qualities to reflect onto him. The holistic approach of emotive production opens up his own<br />

creative outlet as well as those he’s working with. All the initial shyness about ability is deceiving.<br />

It’s actually a state of study. “As a person I am very observant,” he starts, with the sun jutting in<br />

through the windows at a lower angle, causing a swivel in his chair.<br />

“In 70 per cent of social circles I am quite quiet – human behaviour intrigues me. Being able to<br />

predict or make someone feel a certain way is fascinating. It’s something that I want to be able to do<br />

on stage. I want to be able to silence a crowd, make people lose themselves a bit. I’ve been able to sit<br />

in and watch performers like MiC Lowry and XamVolo and work out what parts of their art I’d like to<br />

build into my own. I don’t want to be the person who draws the attention in a room, but I do when I’m<br />

on stage.”<br />

Understandably there’s currently a limited number of stages where Tee can announce his new front<br />

facing role. But it’s not all lost. In many ways it’ll only enhance the eventual power of the coil when the<br />

live embodiment of the EP springs out. He notes that after the first performances of his own projects at<br />

university he was often greeted with reactions by his peers of “Where did that come from?” The quiet<br />

and humble demeanour of the day-to-day was in stark contrast to the emotive displays some were able to<br />

glimpse. It’ll likely be a different reaction now, four years down the line; assertively planting a flag as if to<br />

say, “I’m here”. And ultimately, it’s what Tee says is most important to his music.<br />

Across the EP and a scattering of live performances, there’s a consistency of monologues and spoken<br />

word. The medium isn’t unfamiliar to him. One of his<br />

first forays into music was part of Spxken, a spoken<br />

word duo set to music. Even now his more contemporary<br />

performances remain punctuated by the starkness of the<br />

spoken word interludes.<br />

In a similar vein to Kae Tempest, when Tee arrives<br />

at these moments, such as on I Hear A Kid, each word<br />

seems to press against the skin. Each rhyme seems to be<br />

wrestled out of the body. You hear the joy in the eventual<br />

release. Every sentence seems to bulge and swell with<br />

magnitude; even the pauses and silences in between the flow<br />

say so much. In his view, the style of delivery isn’t acting, but<br />

enhancing. “I’m very aware that I’m bringing out an emotion,” he<br />

says. “Even if I write a lyric, it’s not necessarily of that moment,<br />

but I’m bringing it from a moment that I’ve experienced.” But this<br />

is not to say words are sterile until forcibly hurled from the body<br />

with performative effect. The written language is what inspires<br />

“Language can be<br />

a really strong tool<br />

for change. It’s a tool<br />

and a release”<br />

the stirring delivery, as though the words are tangible and Braille-like, with a trapped emotion released by the reader and<br />

listener.<br />

“Language can be a really strong tool for change. It’s a tool and a release. If we talk about fatherhood and if we talk<br />

about Black Lives Matter,” he begins, looking to the sky in a more thoughtful manner to his earlier nonchalance as the<br />

conversation moves the role of language in the continuing protests. “Over the past few months, I’ve posted lots of things,<br />

but I struggled to work out what to say. Everything around [Black Lives Matter] was so quick and emotive. I’d feel like I’m<br />

doing myself a disservice because, yes, I’m reposting things and I’m fully here for this, but I don’t fully know what I want<br />

to say. I’m assuming that I’m not the only person who didn’t know what they wanted to say.”<br />

It’s here where Tee sees an ability to unpack the self and world around him through written art forms. He continues in<br />

outlining how his thoughts came to find their flow when changing the medium for using his voice. “For me to be able to put<br />

[the feelings] in a piece of poetry and put that out, hopefully it captured my voice and what I wanted say in the way that I<br />

wanted to say it. It was undeniable,” he affirms. “And I hope that somebody else heard it and thought, ‘That’s what I wanted<br />

to say, too’. Language is important because it gives people a voice. It gives me a voice.”<br />

This desire to connect with other voices is the watermark of Tee’s music. It stems from his observational tendencies, the<br />

idea of placing himself in as many pairs of shoes as possible in order to understand their stories better. There are no solipsistic<br />

tendencies on show. He’s the ear on the other side of the confession box, one that listens out for the diversity of the chorus as<br />

opposed to zeroing in on the soloist. The communality of gospel is always present. “Talking to my audience, in a conversational<br />

way,” he says, “I hope it’s therapeutic for other people as it is for me. It’s the same thing as talking about vulnerability.<br />

“It’s like saying, ‘I go through this as well’, so you can talk to me about it. because I’m telling you I’m going through it. And if<br />

you don’t want to say it first, I will – I’ll take that plunge. Having that conversation is letting people know that it’s going to be OK.<br />

I think that’s necessary in this time. If I have the time, I will 100 per cent talk about issues and what’s happening to me, and the<br />

relations to the songs. Every one of my songs is a conversation, a feeling that I’ve had.”<br />

For Tee, music and lyricism are the purest form of communication, the medium whereby he can best make sense of his own<br />

feelings, and those around him. “The best message I could receive is someone coming away from the end of a gig and saying, ‘What<br />

you said there touched me, I’ve been having similar conversations’. You know what I mean?” he says with a genuine air of sincerity.<br />

“That makes me feel like I’m doing my job. That’s what I want to do. I want to be able to open conversations. As a society we’re better<br />

at it. But there’s not enough conversations about real shit.”<br />

The sun is now lower in the sky but the heat hasn’t departed. But there’s no sense of fatigue in Tee. If there’s any on show, it’s<br />

nervously stemming from having to talk about himself for such an extended period. He clearly sees himself as the messenger rather<br />

than the message, the interpreter for so many others and their vulnerabilities. So much of his journey to now has been about everyone<br />

else, his place in their lives and the whole communities he’s a part of. Until now he’s never been the spotlight focus. I ask him if there<br />

still remains a will to remain behind the scenes. He’s humble as ever, happy in the self-understanding of his once veiled capabilities and<br />

talent. “This, it’s front and centre for life,” he rounds off, as we descend the stairs and back out onto Duke Street where the golden hues<br />

reattach themselves to his white T-shirt. “I’m not allowed to hide anymore. [Being Tee] is me telling myself I can do it.” !<br />

Words: Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder<br />

Photography: Tamiym Cader / @tamiym.photo<br />

soundcloud.com/anartistcalledtee<br />

Real and Crown Of Thorns will be available on 11th <strong>September</strong> and 2nd October. A Dozen Roses // A Love Story will be released 17th<br />

October. The VR immersive experience of the EP in partnership with LightNight takes place 23rd October.<br />





DECAY<br />

The four-piece have been making considerable waves in the UK’s post-hardcore<br />

scene over the course of the last year. Following up on their debut album, released<br />

in July, Anouska Liat taps into the unguarded emotional spectrum of the band.<br />

“At first I’ll think, ‘Oh, it wasn’t that bad’, and then<br />

after I’ve written about it, I’m like, ‘Oh, shit’.”<br />

DECAY’S frontman Danny Reposar is<br />

currently recalling the colourful self-assessment<br />

and repeated ritual he puts himself through in order to come to<br />

terms with the more disconcerting areas of life. Although a hardhitting<br />

moment of realisation, it also provides a higher sense of<br />

understanding on how musical appreciation is a platform for so<br />

much more than just audio pleasure. Rather, it’s a pivotal moment<br />

in time to comprehend the complexities you may not initially<br />

acknowledge – something that Danny is more than happy to<br />

revisit during a pleasantly down to earth bus-ride chat over the<br />

phone.<br />

The post-hardcore band’s full-length debut album, Staring<br />

At The Sun, is the pinnacle of these reflective moments. Each<br />

song weaves together stories of self-loathing, loss and love.<br />

Although obvious themes of melancholy protrude throughout, a<br />

parallel theme takes shape. The album<br />

illustrates how with each unfortunate<br />

card dealt throughout life, there comes<br />

a time where things become easier<br />

via a sense of feeling “uncomfortably<br />

comfortable” in your own skin. Be this<br />

an honourable inner strength or a chink<br />

in the mental health support chain, the<br />

album overall presents the bare bones<br />

of human emotion; both reactive and<br />

reflective. This in turn provides a sense<br />

of common ground with their audience,<br />

in hope that speaking their bluntest<br />

truths may be something of a beacon,<br />

as Danny confirms: “I just want people<br />

to connect with it, and I think that’s<br />

what this album was really about – trying to help people.”<br />

This attitude of help-get-a-leg-up is common among the<br />

Liverpudlian community, enhanced further by Decay’s modest<br />

beginnings before rising to become one of the most exciting<br />

movers in the post-hardcore scene. “We all grew up on council<br />

estates or just not in the richest of areas,” Danny notes. “There<br />

are a lot of bands who act bigger than what they are. I know<br />

you have to do that to a certain extent, but we’ve always been<br />

humble and honest from the beginning which is a good portrayal<br />

of our background.”<br />

Growing up with shared streets and stories, the members<br />

of Decay – Nathan Peloe (rhythm guitarist), Toby Hacking<br />

(drummer) and Matthew Pickford (bassist) – are a refreshing<br />

breakaway from your laddish traditions of bottling your emotions<br />

up and turning a blind eye to the more pressing issues ‘at large’.<br />

Instead, they speak about them in an upfront and personal<br />

manner – both through lyricism and achingly expressive riffs<br />

and crashing drum fills. Danny explains this approach. “I always<br />

thought that when comparing our songs to others, I don’t feel<br />

like we’re a real band because we’re so on the nose lyrically – I<br />

just say what I’m thinking instead of just chatting shit about<br />

metaphorical stories.”<br />

Crediting the likes of the emotionally-charged Welsh rock<br />

band Casey for their straight-talking lyrics, it’s explained how this<br />

overarching honesty and openness is what they wish to portray<br />

to listeners – demonstrating their solidarity towards the problems<br />

“I’ve done everything<br />

in my power to<br />

be emotionally<br />

transparent”<br />

of the average fan.<br />

“The type of music we make resonates with listeners, and for<br />

me it struck a chord and helped understand that not everyone<br />

has that perfect generic life that you see on TV,” says Danny.<br />

Digging further into the roots of Decay’s philosophy, Danny notes<br />

how much more unflinching music has become in the past 10<br />

years. “It’s blunt and the storytelling is so honest,” he says, “there<br />

are a lot of artists coming out with their hearts on their sleeves<br />

now.”<br />

Mental health awareness is talked about a lot these days,<br />

progressively getting on with it is a debatable area of discussion.<br />

Where promotion of further aid falls somewhat flat in some<br />

circumstances, other means of self-help present themselves;<br />

a creative umbrella facilitating the healing, understanding and<br />

growth of each individual. For Decay, and many others, this<br />

comes through the form of music. Whether you find yourself on<br />

the creative or the simply appreciative side of the fence, the two<br />

often intersect to make music the<br />

unifier for ways to help deal with<br />

your mental struggles. Similarities<br />

begin to surface that bring to mind<br />

how the making of an album can be<br />

viewed as metaphorically parallel to<br />

the process of improving your mental<br />

well-being.<br />

Keeping your head active and<br />

creative is key for continual positive<br />

growth, however it may not appear<br />

instantaneously, and that’s OK. “I<br />

saw a lot of people getting really<br />

creative during lockdown,” replies<br />

Danny, “and I’m just not that sort of<br />

person – when I force creativity, it<br />

just causes stress.<br />

“I like to keep myself busy by creating things,” he adds,<br />

“whether that be writing, drawing or creating artwork on<br />

Photoshop – I need to keep creatively busy to keep my head on<br />

straight and stay sane!”<br />

Things become easier once the ideas begin to flow, a goal<br />

difficult to reach by those deterred by the intimidation of time and<br />

persistence. Despite fear of the unknown, new experiences are<br />

usually the ones that push us out of our comfort zones and into<br />

a higher state of understanding; a place where we can see what<br />

works for us, and what is in fact hindering our progression. Off<br />

the back of releasing their first EP in the summer of 2019, the<br />

idea of Decay immediately creating an entire full-length album<br />

was quite a shock to the system. “With the album you have to<br />

structure it narratively and find out how it ebbs and flows into<br />

each song, and just overall tell a story with it. It was hard,” Danny<br />

admits. “We’d never really done something like that”.<br />

Creative growth is an ongoing discovery; whether<br />

subconscious or intentional, both are integral to success and<br />

should therefore be embraced. “I’m always writing lyrics,”<br />

Danny recites when discussing his creative process, “especially<br />

definitions of words, which I’ll then write down along with certain<br />

phrases. Writing is like closure, in a way.”<br />

Closure is a word that many refer to, devoting their faith to<br />

the ideal, in hope that, once they peak the mountain, closure is<br />

there waiting to relieve them of their dismays. A journey towards<br />

this desired sense of closure comes in many forms. “I’m quite an<br />

emotional person and I’m not afraid to cry, but I don’t really dwell<br />

on things long enough, so I tend to disregard my life situations,”<br />

Danny continues. “So then I tell stories from my childhood or<br />

current life in order to gain that sense of closure.”<br />

The old mantra of ‘it’s not about the destination, it’s about<br />

the journey’ sometimes may be looked over by those striving for<br />

greatness with their blinkers on. Taking the time to pause and<br />

ground oneself can lead to a better understanding of feelings,<br />

and therefore how to better help others via our experiences. “Feel<br />

Better is an emotionally-driven song that deals with a whole host<br />

of things, from love to loss to love again,” says Danny. “It’s an<br />

honest and naive representation of our story telling that I hope a<br />

lot of people can resonate with and take comfort in.”<br />

While there have been some positive movement towards<br />

shattering the stigmas surrounding mental illnesses, the support<br />

for male mental health in particular is still fighting an uphill battle,<br />

as Danny asserts. “It’s never hard to talk about it, I just don’t want<br />

to feel like I’m burdening others or trying to gain pity.”<br />

Be it pride or shame, it’s no secret; more must be done<br />

to reinforce the valuable awareness recently brought to light.<br />

Thankfully, there are those who are more than aware of the<br />

impact those around them can achieve. “I do feel as if the<br />

emotional openness of a lot of males is rejected, I’m just blessed<br />

to be surrounded by so many people who embrace being<br />

emotionally open because it gives me a good sense of security,”<br />

Danny says. “A lack of openness is a toxic masculinity trait that I<br />

absolutely hate because I’m quite an open person emotionally,”<br />

he continues. “I was always told at a young age to not express<br />

negative emotion and to bottle it up – so, since then, I’ve done<br />

everything in my power to be emotionally transparent.”<br />

As drained by Covid-19 as we all are, it is only fitting to<br />

emphasise the impact such a high-risk global hazard has had on<br />

a fast-rising band like Decay. With their debut album released in<br />

July this year, it’s an obvious assumption that social distancing<br />

will come to hinder touring. “I’m dying to get back to gigs,” Danny<br />

confirms excitedly, “but, obviously, we’re not going to try and get<br />

back out there until it’s safe to do so. I’m happy to let the album<br />

speak for itself – it’s done well so far, so no harm in waiting a little<br />

longer. I think we’re doing a full UK and possible EU tour when<br />

this is all over.<br />

“I’m definitely more excited than nervous, although I do have<br />

to relearn everything,” he adds, with a jovial sense of trepidation.<br />

While some may take music at face value – dance to it,<br />

sing along with it, learn how to play it – it is the moments<br />

in-between that are equally as valuable. Those pauses to<br />

acknowledge the laughter, the tears, the reflection, and then how<br />

gratitude, understanding and growth follow. Danny conveys this<br />

thankfulness towards Decay’s music in just a few simple words.<br />

“It helped me embrace all the negativity in my life and turn that<br />

into positivity.” And that is what life is all about. !<br />

Words: Anouska Liat<br />

Photography: David Cusack / @cusackphotography<br />

decayuk.bandcamp.com<br />

Staring At The Sun is available now via Fox Records.<br />




Visual artist Frances Disley’s latest exhibition, Pattern Buffer, housed at<br />

Bluecoat until November, invites visitors into an atmosphere of tranquillity,<br />

contemplation and relaxation. Before lockdown, and prior to the exhibition’s initial<br />

opening in March, Jessica Phillips delved inside Pattern Buffer with its creator<br />

to talk about the importance of making galleries more welcoming spaces.<br />


A<br />

beige and green room, late afternoon sunlight filtering<br />

in through floor-to-ceiling windows. Exotic – perhaps<br />

extraterrestrial is more apt – bromeliads erupt from a<br />

cream carpeted floor; moss grows lazily on the walls.<br />

Behind me, there’s a trickle of noise as someone lovingly waters<br />

the still-growing greenery. On a television screen a video zooms<br />

into the lulling motions of someone having their hair brushed.<br />

This is FRAN DISLEY’s latest exhibition, Pattern Buffer, at<br />

Liverpool’s Bluecoat Gallery. Both a blend of classic sciencefiction<br />

tropes and a celebration of self-care, the exhibition space<br />

itself is carefully curated to instantly lower an audience’s anxiety.<br />

“Even as an artist I recognise that<br />

galleries can be quite uncomfortable<br />

places that are difficult to linger in,”<br />

Disley tells me. “I tried to realise what<br />

it is about these spaces that makes<br />

people feel anxious, and to puncture<br />

that barrier between the artworks<br />

and the viewer. The ambience was an<br />

integral part of that.”<br />

She’s right. The exhibition, which<br />

spans two floors of The Bluecoat,<br />

doesn’t give off any of the stuffy,<br />

clinical vibes I’d associate with a<br />

traditional gallery. The beige and green<br />

walls have been interspersed with<br />

adhesive tape to create a grid pattern<br />

which opens up the room, and huge<br />

stickers to give the impression of standing inside a painting. The<br />

audience is no longer a separate entity – they become the art.<br />

In this vein, Disley intially set up gaming tables around the<br />

room for visitors to play dominoes or complete a jigsaw, either<br />

solo or in tandem. The tables themselves had been decked out in<br />

felt, pleather, resin, to leave a tactile impression in players’ minds<br />

(though, for health reasons, many of the tactile elements of the<br />

“Even as an artist<br />

I recognise that<br />

galleries can be<br />

quite uncomfortable<br />

places”<br />

note. “There’s a fun and a freedom to the way he talks about art;<br />

rather than it being anchored in heavy theory, he values play and<br />

fun, which I find really liberating. Art is about not listening to the<br />

negative voices in your head.”<br />

Disley’s return to her northern roots after a stint at the Royal<br />

College of Art in London allowed her to rediscover some of this<br />

freedom for herself, and her relief is almost palpable. “Everyone<br />

felt really stuck in London. It was all about controlling output,<br />

and there were loads of negative voices about doing your own<br />

thing. When I moved back to Liverpool in 2010, finding people<br />

at the Royal Standard just playing with stuff and having fun was<br />

really inspirational. There’s a sort<br />

of collective happiness when one<br />

of your fellow artists is doing well,<br />

which was liberating in itself.”<br />

This is all very evident across<br />

Pattern Buffer. The created spaces is<br />

dedicated to lowering anxiety from<br />

the get-go, and allowing Disley to<br />

share this newfound freedom with<br />

her audience members.<br />

We follow a trail of painted<br />

stickers to the second floor, where<br />

nature has taken over the window<br />

boxes and the space above. Between<br />

the quasi-terrariums, the slow curls<br />

of steam keeping them alive, and the<br />

greenery above our heads – all taken<br />

in the Palm House at Sefton Park – I’m not sure where to look<br />

first.<br />

Prior to social distancing measures being introduced, there<br />

were plans for this space to become home to group guided<br />

visualisations, animal yoga sessions and kung fu classes.<br />

Additionally, twice a week, a huge quilt would be taken down<br />

from the wall for people to sit comfortably on, wrapped in fleece<br />


exhibtion have had to be amended). Most notably, it’s all quite<br />

‘green’, from the colour of the walls to the plants growing freely<br />

about the place.<br />

“I looked at studies into spending time with greenery, and<br />

how it can have a restorative cognitive impact,” Disley says. These<br />

studies found that urban green spaces can help lower stress<br />

in people on their lunch breaks, or even how just looking for a<br />

while at a green roof can boost mood. The bromeliads, a type of<br />

epiphyte whose native home is on the side of trees in the jungles<br />

of South America, have been transported to Liverpool to sprout<br />

from volcanoes of cheerfully coloured expanding foam, while the<br />

Spanish moss – or beard lichen, for obvious reasons – survives<br />

solely on the moisture in the air. “I like the idea that they appear<br />

exotic, that they can transport you somewhere else,” she divulges,<br />

“but they’re also representative of the transient nature of the<br />

artwork itself, and its ability to find a home in various hosts.”<br />

Pattern Buffer clearly takes much of its inspiration from<br />

classic sci-fi, plants and all; Disley’s obsession with Star Trek<br />

seeps through into her artwork, and the whole space boasts an<br />

otherworldly feel. She aimed to create her own version of the<br />

Holodeck – a virtual space for hardworking Starfleet officers to<br />

unwind with a leisure activity. “They pick whatever experience<br />

they want, whether that’s skiing in the Alps or something<br />

completely different, and relax that way,” Disley says. “I love the<br />

idea of turning the gallery space into the Holodeck, and running<br />

my own Holo programme.<br />

“Most of all I [wanted] people to spend time together and<br />

have their anxiety lowered. I liked the idea that people can<br />

socialise, play games, do something that’s completely comfortable<br />

while being alien to the gallery space,” she adds. “I’m an artist and<br />

sometimes I still stand in galleries wondering if I’ve spent enough<br />

time looking at a piece. I like the idea that someone could be so<br />

immersed that they take in the art in an incidental way.”<br />

Disley’s affinity with artistic freedom stems from some of her<br />

contemporaries, namely post-minimalist Richard Tuttle, whose<br />

work focuses on bridging the gap between art, philosophy<br />

and life. “You could empty your bin in front of him and he could<br />

compose it in an amazing way,” she says of an artist who’s<br />

clearly left a mark on her, her voice taking on an almost wistful<br />

blankets to imagine themselves as air plants travelling through<br />

familiar countryside. The initial aims of the exhibition were to<br />

encourage socialisation and, despite the pandemic-induced<br />

changes to these tactile, communal aspects, Disley believes such<br />

activities are an integral part of self-care, or rather “group care”.<br />

“I do feel like sometimes self-care can actually be a<br />

distraction from group care,” Disley admits. “It’s obviously<br />

important to offer yourself that kind of care if nobody else is<br />

going to do it for you, but I’d also like to encourage more group<br />

care, and to see more collective positive experiences. Here, you’re<br />

safe in a room with other people, whether you’re starting a jigsaw<br />

for someone else to finish or playing a game of chess together.”<br />

My gaze is drawn to the videos playing on a smattering<br />

of screens around the gallery space. One features hair<br />

stylist Sheetal Maru and her model, who Disley met through<br />

Liverpudlian dance company Movema. “Seeing someone get their<br />

hair done is a big ASMR trigger,” Disley tells me. “I’ve always<br />

loved having my hair played with, and watching other people<br />

have theirs done feels like it’s happening to me. That’s why<br />

there are loads of close-ups of the French braiding, and why the<br />

camera lingers on the brushing. There’s no narrative structure but<br />

hopefully it’s a comforting relaxation aid.”<br />

There’s something distinctly alien about the whole<br />

experience, but if Pattern Buffer achieves anything it’s this<br />

instinctive, almost foetal state of comfort, helped along by the<br />

incubated soothing white noise emanating from somewhere<br />

beneath our feet. It’s something best experienced in all its<br />

multisensory glory, in quiet companionship, or with a stranger<br />

spaced out at safe distance. As I leave the gallery, I’m glad I got<br />

to experience it with the artist herself. !<br />

Words: Jessica Phillips<br />

Photography: Bluecoat Gallery<br />

francesdisley.com<br />

Pattern Buffer runs at Bluecoat Gallery alongside Jonathon<br />

Baldock’s Facecrime until Sunday 1st November. This article was<br />

initially written prior to lockdown in March.<br />





The singer-songwriter has already witnessed his words sung by a chorus of tens of thousands. Yet the<br />

echoes of football terraces are far removed on his debut album, replaced by the everyday symphony of<br />

working-class Liverpool. Cath Holland profiles the personality breaking through in his original songwriting.<br />

Walking through Liverpool’s north docks, it’s<br />

difficult to ignore the conspiracy theories<br />

sprayed on to walls in big, angry red letters.<br />

If we love our family enough and want a free<br />

world, we need to wise up about 5G, or something like that.<br />

A few steps away, in the building round the corner, and I’m<br />

inside another world entirely: JAMIE WEBSTER’s modest but<br />

well-equipped rehearsal space. There’s a nice selection of guitars<br />

hung on the walls. Each has a personal back story, cheerily<br />

relayed to me by the affable Webster. The affectionately-told<br />

précis of each is in tune with the singer-songwriter’s reputation<br />

as a consummate storyteller, a skill evident on his debut album<br />

We Get By.<br />

I’ve read interviews and listened to podcasts in preparation<br />

for our meeting, and they principally focus on the 26-yearold’s<br />

intrinsic relationship with football. With colourful tales<br />

to accompany events around the sport, both funny and sad,<br />

working-class assurances are typically peppered in. And, true<br />

to form, he describes We Get By, chockfull of stories, as “a<br />

document of the joys, escapes and struggles of working-class life<br />

in a nutshell”.<br />

This seems a little too rehearsed. What does being workingclass<br />

mean to him? It’s tough to define. It can mean poverty, but<br />

doesn’t have to. If we go to uni, move to a leafy suburb and have<br />

two cars on the drive, can we still claim ‘working-class’? The<br />

pair of us chew it over, listing criteria in a ‘how long’s a piece of<br />

string?’ scenario. We settle on an awareness of our roots never<br />

leaving us, no matter what.<br />

“Having that mindset where you can respect people who<br />

don’t do as well as you, you understand their struggle. I could sell<br />

three million records but still be working-class in the sense that<br />

I still understand my mate’s been laid off and he’s looking round<br />

for work,” he explains. “I feel that feeling, that fear. Having that<br />

automatic thought, ‘Is there anything I can do, what can we do?’.<br />

Having that sense of togetherness, sense of community.”<br />

Webster’s album views the world through a working-class<br />

lens, for sure, alternately stark, and in a broader romantic sense.<br />

It’s both scathing and affectionate. Witty,<br />

too. On Common People he sings, “So<br />

officer is it your arse I’m supposed to<br />

kiss/I’m sorry lad today I’ll give that one<br />

a miss…” Carrying a strong narrative,<br />

Webster’s songs can be intensely personal.<br />

He lost a couple of friends due to mental<br />

health issues, and The Joker is “about how<br />

many times someone is abandoned by the<br />

system and for how long does someone<br />

have to put on the mask of a smiling clown<br />

before it cracks”.<br />

He may take a well-aimed swipe at<br />

things that get under his skin, like valuing<br />

appearances over people, and the Tories –<br />

of course – and in the striking Weekend In<br />

Paradise he takes to task going out on one bender too many; but,<br />

ultimately, it’s a record of affection, warmth and honesty.<br />

Webster’s ascendance is a story in itself, “an anomaly”:<br />

winning popularity singing songs long loved by The Kop, videos<br />

of football chants going insanely viral before introducing his<br />

audience to his own material, all while working as an electrician.<br />

His story is the epitome of working-class kid done good, if you<br />

like. We get sold the myth of the everydayness of pop stars,<br />

politicians and public figures all the time, but scrape the surface<br />

and the strong whiff of bullshit clarifies the situation pretty damn<br />

quick. Webster literally got his hands dirty, starting work on a<br />

building site the day after he left school. “Didn’t even have my<br />

summer holidays!” he attests.<br />

At work, at the match, in local pubs, he got to know lots of<br />

people. “Some of them have it well, some of them don’t have<br />

it so well,” he says. It’s their stories as well as his, he explains,<br />

informing his songs on We Get By. In a band when in his midteens<br />

(“we weren’t very good”), he kept his hand in by doing<br />

covers in pubs on Friday nights before moving on to playing what<br />

he calls “the Liverpool gigs”.<br />

“I’ve had the strangest route ever into this industry through<br />

the football back door,” he admits.<br />

He performs with a full band now, and in true Liverpool<br />

tradition, has Scouse music royalty firmly around him. With<br />

Lightning Seeds’ Tim Cunningham on bass, Jim Sharrock<br />

(nephew of There She Goes-era The La’s Chris Sharrock) on<br />

“I’ve had the<br />

strangest route ever<br />

into this industry”<br />

drums, Mick Head’s Red Elastic Band member Danny Murphy on<br />

guitar; plus, he’s produced by Rich Turvey (The Coral, Blossoms)<br />

in Parr Street.<br />

Jamie is proud of his Lakewood acoustic hanging on the wall<br />

in his rehearsal space (“I paid it off monthly over three years. It’s<br />

paid for itself”), and his acoustic singer-songwriter roots earn<br />

comparisons with fellow anomaly, Scotland’s Gerry Cinnamon.<br />

Both men found success by “people power”, as Webster puts<br />

it proudly. But he is gutted he won’t get to play legendary King<br />

Tut’s in Glasgow on the forthcoming tour. Like the Liverpool date,<br />

it’s been upgraded to a larger venue. I suggest it’s a nice problem<br />

to have. “Yeh,” Jamie laughs. “It is.”<br />

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Webster’s musical references<br />

are familiar and close to home. Based on his acoustic singersongwriter<br />

origins, 1980s Liverpool scally pop is unashamedly<br />

present, with toe-tapping tunefulness and heart-on-sleeve<br />

sincerity. The Beatles and Oasis pushed through in his teen years.<br />

“My early songs reflect that,” he replies. The La’s are an ever<br />

present source of inspiration to him in the here and now as an<br />

adult. Bob Dylan’s a big one for him as well, on the surface slightly<br />

more random but in the hours before we meet up, he is taken to<br />

nearby Dublin Street for photographs, where those famous Barry<br />

Feinstein pictures of Dylan with a bunch of Liverpool kids in 1966<br />

were taken. Dylan looked like an alien in black and a noisy checked<br />

shirt, Cuban heels and bird’s nest hair against the empty brick<br />

backdrop, and yet totally at home at the same time.<br />

Jamie finds solidarity with the logic of Dylan’s “I’ve got three<br />

chords and the truth” ideology. “His music’s not unbelievably<br />

complicated. Alright, his lyrics are profound, but he says things<br />

how you’d say them in a conversation.”<br />

Writing a song about Liverpool as Webster does in This<br />

Place, about his love and respect for the city, it’s easy to fall facefirst<br />

into a vat of cheese and sentimentality. He neatly sidesteps<br />

that trap.<br />

“It’s about not forgetting where I’ve grown up. To try<br />

and make the lyrics like me, rough and ready, but they hold a<br />

meaning, there’s a story behind it. Once you’ve got the full story<br />

out, the lyrics start to make sense a<br />

little bit more. It’s like an argument;<br />

you start off an argument but you<br />

don’t stop it two sentences in and take<br />

questions, do you? You put your point<br />

firmly down.”<br />

We go over Noel Gallagher’s<br />

songwriting, how Oasis lyrics are often<br />

as close to nonsense as you can get. In<br />

truth it’s the melodies which capture<br />

the imagination. What Webster takes<br />

from Gallagher is keeping melodies<br />

fresh.<br />

“When I write songs I’ll get my<br />

phone out, record [hums a tune], then<br />

I’ll listen back, and I’ll be, ‘Is that too<br />

generic, maybe?’ So I’ll listen again and [hums similar tune but<br />

not the same], it’s finding the little differences. Wonderwall is a<br />

cracking song, but if every line was ‘today is gonna be the day<br />

they’re gonna…’, and then another one and another one is like<br />

that, it wouldn’t be the song that it is.”<br />

These days he’s more likely to throw on The La’s than The<br />

Beatles, he tells me. That’s even with The La’s reaching its 30-<br />

year milestone this year, meaning it’s older than he is.<br />

“I think it’s a lot more working-class,” he says after a pause.<br />

“He’s talking about Doledrum… without being snobby. I love The<br />

Beatles, but I’m looking for something more ‘now’ in lyrics.”<br />

The Beatles were incredible in capturing their own time, from<br />

those early fresh Lennon songs to the later, darker, more cynical<br />

psychedelic works. Could it be The La’s sum-up your world now,<br />

maybe?<br />

He nods. “Looking Glass is one of my favourite ever songs. I<br />

think the journey it takes you on – the way it builds – is amazing,<br />

but it leaves open-ended questions. The La’s make you think,<br />

they sort of make me want to explore, make me want to write.<br />

Looking Glass is ‘tell me where I’m going, tell me where I’m<br />

bound’: that’s a question everyone asks themselves because no<br />

one knows that, do they? ‘Turn the pages over, turn the world<br />

around’ that could mean one of a million things, but to me it<br />

means let’s keep going, keep moving, see where it takes us.”<br />

Webster’s life has changed so much, going from the day job<br />

to full-time musician. Stopping working for the family business<br />

a couple of years ago was unavoidable after realising mid-tour<br />

he’d been working the equivalent of two full-time jobs. “When I<br />

should’ve been at my happiest because I’m doing all these great<br />

things, I’m thinking ‘Ah, I’ve got loads of paperwork to do when<br />

I get home’. It was an awful lot of pressure, and my personal<br />

relationship with my mum and dad suffered because of it,” he<br />

explains.<br />

“It’s a good trade, it’s made me what I am,” he says of his<br />

days as an electrician. “It’s done everything for me, I wouldn’t<br />

change a thing. But it was my dream to be able to get up in the<br />

morning and play my guitar and write songs.”<br />

He tells of the support he’s had from his community, family<br />

and friends, the Liverpool fans, BOSS Nights, practical advice and<br />

support from The Anfield Wrap and label Modern Sky, adjusting<br />

to this new stage in his life. When his record label explained<br />

to him about booking agents, press, the different people who<br />

support an artist, Webster’s response was “what, can one fella<br />

not do all that?” Everything was a learning curve, writing songs<br />

to a deadline, recording, playing to a click, even maintaining his<br />

social media.<br />

“It was a whole new world to me.” He gestures around us.<br />

“I sit in this room sometimes 13, 14 hours a day writing songs,<br />

thinking about so many different concepts and complexities.<br />

Even changing lines, sometimes, because people might think I’m<br />

having a go but I’m not. Stuff like that. It’s nerve-wracking.”<br />

He confesses to nervousness when he first introduced his<br />

own songs to the world. He sells venues out now, but has recent<br />

memories performing to audiences unfamiliar with his songs. The<br />

crowd gassing to each other about what they had for tea, waiting<br />

for the headliner to come on.<br />

“When it’s not your crowd and you can hear people talking,<br />

you can hear people coming in and out. I can’t wait for the album<br />

to be out so people can get used to the music and fall in love with<br />

it, hopefully.”<br />

So if he has an awkward crowd, how does he cope with it,<br />

how does he get them on his side?<br />

“Early on it put me off big, every single thing was getting<br />

to me. But you’ve got to win them over, that’s what you do, you<br />

can’t let it get you down or moan about it. There’s 300 people<br />

there, but 100 people clap and cheer. You take that and move<br />

onto your next song. It builds as the gig goes on.”<br />

Recently, he was named on the Liverpool Echo list of most<br />

influential people in the city. Does he feel influential?<br />

He laughs. “I just feel like a normal lad who’s had a lucky<br />

break, really.”<br />

Oh, come on! He admits younger musicians “might try and<br />

emulate how I’ve done things, take a few little tricks off me,” but<br />

jokes “it’s not going to add any inches to my height”.<br />

What about your lyrics’ impact?<br />

“I’m hoping so. I’m not trying to start a massive movement<br />

where I’m marching down to Parliament, but there’s a lot<br />

of things that I know people like me feel, people from my<br />

background not only in Liverpool but up and down the country<br />

and other countries.”<br />

It seems to me, seeing his audience’s response to him and<br />

even looking at comments on social media, it’s a collective sense<br />

of shared experiences, that notion of community, which seem to<br />

me as much a part of Jamie Webster’s success as his links with a<br />

popular football club.<br />

“If you feel on top of the world stood on your own, you’ll feel<br />

ten times better on top of the world with ten mates that feel the<br />

same. That sense of togetherness is an invincibility.”<br />

Granada TV are due to film Webster after my allotted time is<br />

up, but there’s a lot to pull apart in the time remaining. The way<br />

the working-class were manipulated over Brexit and blamed for<br />

so much of society’s ills, fingers pointed for using the bus to get<br />

to work during lockdown, and the first ones to suffer in the bad<br />

times. Eventually, I bid him goodbye and return back to town<br />

the way I came, the 5G graffiti still very loud and very there. But<br />

from this angle I glimpse up ahead rolled up nuggets of chewing<br />

gum lined up neatly on a rubbish bin’s ledge, because ‘Only Meffs<br />

Drop Litter’, further graffiti reads. Positive community spirit? It is<br />

alive, and very well indeed. !<br />

Words: Cath Holland / @cathholland01<br />

Photography: John Johnson / @john.johno<br />

@JamieWebster94<br />

We Get By is available now via Modern Sky.<br />





With the way we travel changed for the foreseeable, Stuart O’Hara looks local and makes<br />

the case for finding our two feet on two wheels in the age of the new normal.<br />

As fine a sport as cycling is, this article isn’t about<br />

Lycra, doping, yellow jerseys or cowbells. It’s about<br />

what might simply be called Riding Your Bike.<br />

Getting from A to B, vernacular cycling, Active<br />

Transport (Liverpool City Region’s term), or just whizzing around<br />

Liverpedlarpool with a bird on your head. There’s a forgotten<br />

Mark Ronson single from 2010 called the Bike Song, featuring<br />

a lad from The View who briefly clambered out of landfill to<br />

sing it, like an indie Stig Of The Dump. That was a good song<br />

about bikes. The chorus goes “I’m gonna ride my bike until I get<br />

home”, which is the most wholesome sentiment going, relatable<br />

to anyone who’s ever gone about on two wheels. On the other<br />

hand, Queen’s Bicycle Race is a bad band’s bad song about<br />

bikes. That of which we cannot speak, we must pass over in<br />

silence.<br />

Getting from A to B on Merseyside has a chequered history,<br />

and been dominated by the car – or, rather, the predicted<br />

dominance of the car. Post-war reconstruction banked on<br />

increased car ownership (pending social mobility that didn’t<br />

always come to pass), justifying the dismantling of the tram<br />

network in 1957 and complementing the closure of railways<br />

which left estates like Norris Green stranded. There were even<br />

plans for the M62 to terminate at the Queensway Tunnel – hence<br />

The Rocket being junction 4 – and a Ballardian city centre with<br />

separate levels for pedestrians and motorists, ne’er the twain<br />

meeting. Even the compromised outcomes of these aborted<br />

visions were dully car-orientated, with one-way systems and<br />

partial street closures which, although they did slow traffic<br />

in residential areas, were implemented with social order (and<br />

control) in mind. In trying to prevent rat-runs, city centreadjacent<br />

neighbourhoods like Everton, Kensington and Toxteth<br />

were neglected as their commercial fortunes faded. Whole<br />

communities were uprooted from condemned terraces in the<br />

north end and those who weren’t housed in piggeries or the<br />

few central new builds were moved to Huyton, Skelmersdale,<br />

Kirkby, Maghull – satellites, suburbs, and new towns(). With a<br />

motorway between them and Liverpool, a car was the only way<br />

of commuting, or just getting the heck out of Dodge.<br />

It’s a bit better these days. Some of those disused railways<br />

have been converted into cycle paths, like the Loop Line, part<br />

of the National Cycle Network, under the auspices of Sustrans.<br />

It runs between Aintree and Hunt’s Cross, a sort of cycling<br />

counterpart to Queens Drive. But it’s wild in parts and, crucially,<br />

unlit, meaning it’s not the commuter’s first choice for half the<br />

year. In great swathes of the city, cyclists must share the road,<br />

facing heavy traffic, poorly maintained surfaces like Kensington<br />

and Picton Road, and brutal (the cycling journalist’s adjective<br />

of choice) inclines into headwinds – though the weather here is<br />

no worse than in cycle-friendly countries such as Denmark and<br />

Holland.<br />

Those streets barred to cars partway along their length,<br />

in Kensington, for example, are now largely passable by bike.<br />

The dock road has segregated cycle lanes, hopefully benefitting<br />

entities like IWF, Ten Streets Market and Wired theatre company,<br />

and surely implemented with Sound City, the Titanic Hotel and<br />

Everton’s dreamed-of Bramley-Moore stadium in mind. But the<br />

result of that 20th-century carousel of semi-fulfilled planning is<br />

continued dependence on cars (and, to a lesser extent, buses)<br />

around a modestly-sized city. Therein lies the insensibility of a<br />

car-dominated Merseyside – it’s not huge. According to Liverpool<br />

City Region’s Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan<br />

(LCWIP), two-thirds of all journeys made here are under 5km.<br />

Half of those are taken by car. In May 2019, it says, 2 per cent of<br />

journeys were by bike. The LCWIP’s goal is to improve the image<br />

of cycling on Merseyside, but the desire to ride was already there<br />

in those cycling casually, those thinking about driving less, those<br />

teaching their kids how to ride a bike; it’s only in the last decade<br />

or so that the infrastructure’s appeared. More could have been<br />

done already, but all that can be done now is to look ahead.<br />

So what’s the plan? In 2014 Liverpool City Council pledged<br />

to triple the number of cyclists by 2017, a goal of 45,000 people<br />

cycling once a week. It isn’t clear if that target was achieved, but<br />

there were visibly more cyclists about in 2019, and there seems<br />

to have been another spurt during lockdown, but it remains to be<br />

seen if that will last. Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has appointed<br />

Simon O’Brien (off Brookside) as a Cycling Commissioner,<br />

and their current plan fits into a ‘Connectivity Scheme’ which<br />

aims to make walking and cycling the primary modes of city<br />

centre transport by 2023, through extensive redevelopment of<br />

Lime Street, the Strand, Tithebarn Street, Victoria Street and<br />

Moorfields. Note that these are mostly around the business<br />

district, though Brownlow Hill – probably the most significant<br />

non-student residential area in the centre – is set for wider<br />

pavements and bike racks.<br />

It’s a nice gesture, but with the best will in the world, it<br />

appears that increased cycling is the means to an end – namely,<br />

reduced traffic, lower emissions and a healthier population.<br />

There is an argument for not looking a gift horse in the mouth,<br />

but why not invest in cycling for cycling’s sake? Not as a discrete<br />

activity but just ‘getting on your bike’. As Guardian journalist<br />

Peter Walker has argued, ‘cyclist’ is often an identity in a way<br />

that ‘driver’ is not. Maybe we need to become the new drivers in<br />

that respect.<br />

The blame can’t always be laid squarely at the council’s<br />

door though. There is a ‘Car is King’ culture on- and off-road<br />

which, being kind, is the inevitable product of a society that’s<br />

long been geared toward car use at every level. Being less kind,<br />

it’s just plain entitlement. A case in point – pop-up cycle lanes<br />

piloted around Liverpool during the relative calm of lockdown,<br />

segregated by plastic bollards, have been repeatedly ignored by<br />

drivers parking across them. It brings to mind Casey Neistat’s<br />

viral video from 2011 in which he gets a $50 fine from the NYPD<br />

for not riding in a cycle lane. He then stays unswervingly in his<br />

lane, literally crashing into scaffolding, parked vans, and a police<br />

car. It’s a bit childish but it makes the point painfully.<br />

Cycling has the potential to be a truly popular mode of<br />

transport in every sense of the word. It’s been argued that the<br />

invention of the bicycle expanded the gene pool in the late 19th<br />

Century, letting people reach the next town or village with ease,<br />

no longer limited to starting a family with their neighbours and<br />

most distant cousins. Bikes aren’t exactly cheap (and sexism in<br />

the marketplace needs calling out more), but running one is far<br />

more affordable than a car for a lot of people. You can tinker with<br />

a bike in a way you no longer can with most cars due to reliance<br />


on onboard computers. Those 60s urban planners could (just<br />

about) be forgiven for reading the signs as they did – cars were<br />

small, there was ignorance about fossil fuels, and the post-war<br />

project was utopian, in an individualist way. It wasn’t so long<br />

after, as that project began to sour, that it was plausible for the<br />

Prime Minister to have claimed that anyone over the age of 26<br />

riding a bus was a failure (some people need to sit at the front of<br />

the top deck more). That forecasting created a negative feedback<br />

loop which is still going.<br />

To be clear: this is not a crusade<br />

against all motor vehicles. Buses are<br />

vital, particularly for those with need<br />

of greater mobility and accessibility.<br />

In a city with a strong music scene<br />

and – yeuch, sorry to use this term –<br />

nocturnal economy, there still needs<br />

to be access for motor vehicles to<br />

load bands in and out, for vans to<br />

stock restaurants on Bold Street. But<br />

it should be equally safe for couriers<br />

and Deliveroo riders to navigate.<br />

Influential research conducted<br />

by New York City Department of<br />

Transport found that independent<br />

businesses fared better in districts<br />

with segregated cycle lanes. That<br />

might be a single piece of data but it<br />

opens up a rabbit hole about how cycling can be our means to an<br />

end too – the end being getting politicians to listen in terms they<br />

understand. And bikes are cool. They will never suffer the stigma<br />

other modes of transport have.<br />

On the face of it, competitive cycling’s had a positive<br />

influence on your average rider in the 2010s. Moves to ‘clean up’<br />

doping, a string of British Tour de France winners, and 2014’s<br />

Grand Départ in Yorkshire have almost certainly contributed to<br />

the increase of urban cycling, and not just at rush hour. But the<br />

“It’s not about<br />

picking a far-off<br />

date by which to lay<br />

more red tarmac;<br />

it’s about prioritising<br />

the cyclist from<br />

here on in”<br />

available data isn’t always so useful. Lists of ‘best and worst<br />

cities for cycling’ tend to draw on numbers of cyclists and<br />

Strava, and though that’s often shared with local authorities,<br />

it isn’t always easy to find out who cycles, why, and where to<br />

and from. Though we’ve all heard horror stories illustrated by<br />

footage of road rage and driving that, merely sloppy to the driver,<br />

is potentially lethal to the cyclist, it isn’t easy to track down<br />

quantified data about the cyclist’s experience and how safe they<br />

feel on the road.<br />

There is hard data about cycling<br />

fatalities. Liverpool came bottom<br />

in a Walk And Cycle Merseyside<br />

(WACM) table of metropolitan<br />

boroughs, with 42 deaths per<br />

100,000 of the population (the UK<br />

average is 29/100,000) between<br />

2014 and 2018, and Sefton sits<br />

only a few places higher. Focusing<br />

on fatalities and injuries among<br />

child cyclists, the North West<br />

fares little better, with St. Helens,<br />

Liverpool, Sefton and Wirral in the<br />

bottom 10. But it’s hard to parse<br />

the data (not every local authority<br />

is a metropolitan borough) and put<br />

it in context – higher numbers of<br />

cyclists may imply a greater risk of<br />

injury, but most cycle lanes in Liverpool so far have been painted<br />

on, rather than segregated from other traffic. Cyclists can only<br />

protect themselves so much. Here’s the rub: should building<br />

bike-friendly infrastructure encourage and determine future use,<br />

or reflect and improve the current cycling experience?<br />

Syd Barrett’s Bike occupies the God tier of bike songs. It’s<br />

a very good song but it’s not really about bikes, a bit like many<br />

cycling initiatives at local government level. Similar language<br />

appears over and over in plans for improved conditions for<br />

cyclists. Pretty utopian, drenched in colourful graphics, with a<br />

sense that the only thing stopping better cycling was the lack<br />

of a plan. But cycling’s already simple enough. You strap on<br />

your helmet, check your lights, and you’re off. But the language<br />

of the focus group, the cabinet meeting, or the optimistic<br />

item on North West Tonight doesn’t adequately describe the<br />

cyclist’s experience. It doesn’t describe the near miss with the<br />

cement mixer, the prayer that the dotted line will be enough of<br />

a barrier, the polka-dot jersey waiting at the top of Rice Lane<br />

or Smithdown when there’s a bus up your arse. There’s a gap<br />

between vision and reality, between policy and people, that<br />

could be closed if more cyclists were involved in the process. It’s<br />

not about picking a far-off date by which to lay more red tarmac;<br />

it’s about prioritising the cyclist from here on in. One of the best<br />

things about cycling is the freedom – faster than running, with<br />

the wind in your hair, it’s as close to flying as you’re gonna get.<br />

Every now and then, ‘before and after bikes’ photos of<br />

Amsterdam surface on Twitter’s online trash vortex. The narrow<br />

streets familiar from centuries of Dutch painting and stag dos,<br />

photographed in the 70s, could be present-day Walton, with<br />

cars parked bumper-to-bumper on either side leaving just<br />

enough room for a third to crawl through. It seems astonishing<br />

that such a car-centric European capital could eventually<br />

prioritise the sole, the pedal and half as many wheels. The grass<br />

isn’t greener on the other side of the fence – it took 20 years for<br />

those changes to take place, but they are proof that there’s no<br />

need to accept how things are now. Those holding the purse<br />

strings can’t just clap their hands together and say “job done”,<br />

whistling off to the next planning application for more student<br />

accommodation. Climate change is already happening, cultural<br />

change is necessary, and those making the decisions must be<br />

persuaded to de-incentivise the car. !<br />

Words: Stuart Miles O’Hara / @ohasm1<br />

Illustration: John O’Loughlin / jolworkshop.co.uk<br />




“I’m influenced by<br />

a sense of urgency<br />

to acknowledge<br />

and open up<br />

dialogues about<br />

more challenging<br />

subject matters”<br />


On his debut album Vulgar<br />

Displays Of Affection, the prolific<br />

polymath goes solo and digs deep<br />

into the human condition for a<br />

sonic exploration of the self.<br />

As with many creative personalities, trauma and<br />

internal conflict are touchstones of Liverpool polymath LUKE<br />

MAWDSLEY’s work. Just as his debut solo EP, Obsessive<br />

Compulsive was, in parts, a reflection on the emotional ebb and<br />

flow of that often-misunderstood condition, his first long-player<br />

Vulgar Displays Of Affection is a work derived from therapeutic<br />

creativity and compulsive necessity. Drawing on a journal of<br />

collected intrusive thoughts, Mawdsley has recorded spokenword<br />

performances bolstered by glitchy soundscapes and<br />

chiming guitar, somewhat akin to Tim Hecker, Xiu Xiu or lateperiod<br />

Scott Walker.<br />

Released this summer on Maple Death records, the album<br />

also features the production talents of Doomshakalaka/Bad Meds’<br />

own Paul Rafferty as well as the bass abilities of Waffle Burger,<br />

from Glaswegian garage-troupe Fallope And The Tubes.<br />

Fans of Texan metal may have already spotted an elephant<br />

in this particular room: that there’s a striking similarity between<br />

the title of Mawdsley’s latest release and Arlington thrashers<br />

Pantera’s 1992 opus Vulgar Display Of Power. However,<br />

Mawdsley is keen to dismiss any notion of paying homage to<br />

a band led by a “white supremacist arsehole” and claims to be<br />

much more interested in the “deconstruction of metal as a tool of<br />

masculine dominance”.<br />

Despite his aversion to the white male machismo of Pantera,<br />

Mawdsley admits that his interest in music does have a childhood<br />

root of sorts in another incarnation of masculine Americana.<br />

“I was gifted a country and western tape with, amongst<br />

other gunslinger classics, various versions of Rawhide on it,” says<br />

Mawdsely. “Dressed in makeshift western attire and whipping a<br />

chair with a belt in time with the beat I would listen to this tape<br />

till the prairie wind changed direction.<br />

“This kind of percussive experimentation was encouraged by<br />

my parents, likely due to the fact that I did not show particular<br />

aptitude for much else,” he adds. “I think the physicality and<br />

accessibility of percussion as a child was hugely empowering and<br />

enabled me to manifest the desires my imagination seemed to<br />

demand.”<br />

There are hints of this early infatuation with Western<br />

soundtracks noticeable on Mawdsley’s latest release; with tracks<br />

such as Misery Gland reimagining the sparseness of Morricone’s<br />

compositions, while Little Blanket maps out a prairie landscape in<br />

screeching oscillations.<br />

As we talk, Mawdsley recalls other childhood memories<br />

which he sees as equally pivotal to his immersion in music and<br />

performance. “I was really sick as a baby and vomited a lot. My<br />

parents nicknamed me Puke,” he illustrates. “As is consistent with<br />

all children at that age, the retching and crying was an innate<br />

expression of something troubling I was unable to fathom. My<br />

personal pallette of expression has, arguably, expanded since<br />

then. However, the compulsion to express through sound has<br />

never really felt like a choice I have consciously made.”<br />

Finding a way to process these compulsions and the<br />

unconscious is something which can so often be key to coping<br />

with OCD. Mawdsley’s approach on Vulgar Displays… sees him<br />

process these suggestions and intrusions from the unconscious<br />

into spoken-word monologues. He then manipulates the tone<br />

of the vocals, creating a sort of obtuse, distorted narration. It is<br />

almost as if, by making the timbre of the speech unrecognisable<br />

as his own, he has cathartically separated these unwanted voices<br />

and ideas from himself.<br />

Vulgar Displays… consists of nine such works, each with its<br />

own level of lyrical and sonic profundity. From the bubbling pulse<br />

of Piss & Leather and the distorted drone of The River Takes<br />

It All to Beberian Sound Studio escapee A Grudge Supreme,<br />

every track manages to entrap Mawdsley’s unnerving modulated<br />

confessions perfectly within its noisy grasp.<br />

In addition to processing trauma and addressing mental<br />

health issues, his compositions also tackle a variety of other<br />

topics of importance to the artist. Mawdsley has described some<br />

of the ideas which appear throughout the album as “shame,<br />

disassociation, grief, control and repressed adolescence”. He<br />

tells us: “I have made attempts to establish spaces to explore<br />

and challenge my own perceptions of the human condition. I’m<br />

influenced by a sense of urgency to acknowledge and open up<br />

dialogues about more challenging subject matters.”<br />

There is arguably much need for acknowledgment and<br />

dialogue at the current moment in time. Certainly, mental health<br />

is one area which could stand to be discussed a lot more. In the<br />

quarter of a century since Pantera’s paean to aggression was<br />

released, it could also be argued that not much has changed in<br />

the sense that wider society, as a whole, fails to address these,<br />

often crippling, tropes of the human condition. The real “power”<br />

of Luke Mawdsley’s creation lies in the fact that he has found one<br />

way of doing so. !<br />

Words: Stephen Lewin<br />

Photography: Xenia Onta / @xeniaonta<br />

lukemawdsleymusic.bandcamp.com<br />

Vulgar Displays Of Affection is available now via Maple Death<br />

Records.<br />


TOKKY<br />

HORROR<br />

Rising from the hot ashes of Queen<br />

Zee, the trio of Zee Devine, Ava<br />

Akira and Mollie Rush make their<br />

full throttle introduction as Tokky<br />

Horror. Blink and you might miss.<br />

“When I was a child<br />

I wanted to be Steve<br />

Irwin but there weren’t<br />

many opportunities to<br />

wrestle crocodiles in<br />

Birkenhead, so I decided<br />

to learn drums”<br />

If you had to describe your music in a sentence, what would<br />

you say?<br />

Fast music.<br />

Have you always wanted to create music?<br />

No. When I [Zee] was a child I wanted to be Steve Irwin,<br />

but there weren’t many opportunities to wrestle crocodiles<br />

in Birkenhead, so I decided to learn drums, which, I was<br />

disappointed to learn, has equally few opportunities.<br />

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially<br />

inspired you?<br />

I remember dancing around my parents living room in a lil white<br />

vest and no pants pretending to be Freddie Mercury, so it was<br />

probably just having MTV on constantly as a child that got me<br />

intrigued. My first CD was a single of Queen’s We Will Rock You<br />

covered by 5ive.<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 />

It’s definitely emotion. I’m very emotional and do just write<br />

obsessively to help block out all my shit. I’m also just influenced<br />

by the music itself and a desire to write better and better.<br />

If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?<br />

I’d like to open for artists where you’re getting a mixed bag,<br />

something we don’t properly fit with, like Slipknot, which would<br />

be fun. But then again, all time heroes like Goldie or Underworld<br />

would be major. To be honest, anything where I’m gonna get paid<br />

at this point.<br />

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in?<br />

I got to play at Brixton Academy, that was weird. I was too<br />

anxious to really enjoy it in the moment, but now I can look back<br />

and be like holy shit that was Brixton. Liverpool Olympia is also a<br />

beautiful venue, I really enjoyed playing there.<br />

Why is music important to you?<br />

It’s how I make sense of the world and how I connect to it. I’ve<br />

always struggled with my autism, to really connect to people, and<br />

I find the world overwhelming or confusing most of the time. So,<br />

it’s through music I can have a common ground with people and<br />

make sense of emotions.<br />

Can you recommend an artist, band or album that Bido<br />

Lito! readers might not have heard?<br />

Get onto Donny Soldier, he’s rockin’ it on the main stage.<br />

Photography: Dan Frost / @danfrost.jpg<br />

@tokkyhorror<br />

Girl Racer is available now via Alcopop! Records.<br />


Through saccharine melodies<br />

cooked up in a bedroom studio,<br />

Lazygirl draws you into her haze of<br />

sentimentality.<br />

If you had to describe your style in a sentence, what would you<br />

say?<br />

Upbeat-meets-melancholy bedroom pop – kind of indie, kind of<br />

solemn, but soothing.<br />

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially<br />

inspired you?<br />

I was initially influenced to start producing my own dreamy, lo-fi<br />

stuff when I saw Clairo’s Pretty Girl music video in 2017. Seeing<br />

someone about my age making massive waves in the industry<br />

from her bedroom was so inspiring, and made me start producing<br />

the music that I would listen to myself.<br />

Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform?<br />

I really enjoy performing with my guitar, especially my songs<br />

which are vocals and guitar only. I wrote Papercut (off my first<br />

EP) when I was 16, and I love playing it because I feel like it’s an<br />

homage to my younger self; nurturing her and carrying her on<br />

somehow. The song is about my struggle with OCD which, after<br />

years of treatment, is finally a faded memory. When I’m playing<br />

Papercut now, I can show that vulnerability and really mean the<br />

lyrics, but it’s like therapy – like being able to go back to 16-yearold<br />

me and saying ‘Don’t worry, you survived girl!’<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 />

Definitely a mixture. I write a lot about past and present feelings,<br />

especially mental health, relationships or my sexuality, but my<br />

new EP is based on a lot of stuff that makes me passionate… or<br />

angry. I’ve got a song about rape culture and misogyny and a<br />

couple about the various emotions I’ve felt in lockdown – mostly<br />

missing my other half and annoyance at the Conservative party!<br />

If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?<br />

It would be my dream to support Clairo. Her discography has<br />

been so influential to me as an artist, so I think it would be the<br />

perfect full circle moment.<br />

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in?<br />

The Zanzibar. It’s such a sweet venue and everyone there is so<br />

lovely – it was the first gig I ever performed in Liverpool, with<br />

my Uni band, and the last gig I did before lockdown. I’m so<br />

heartbroken it’s had to close its doors because of Covid. It’s been<br />

such a special venue to me and countless others in the scene.<br />

Why is music important to you?<br />

It’s so universal. Quite often, people can be really closed off<br />

about their feelings, and music is such a unique outlet to express<br />

emotions and ideas. It’s been such a huge part of my life, but<br />

every year I discover so many layers, artists, types of music<br />

and more that I never knew about. Getting older, I’ve learnt to<br />

appreciate the politics in music, too, and how it can be used to<br />

talk about injustices but also to find community and togetherness,<br />

like in queer culture. It’s so vast, you can never scrape the surface<br />

in a lifetime. Every day there’s the potential for something new.<br />

Photography: Martha Harris<br />

soundcloud.com/lazygrl<br />

Lazygirl’s Orange Roses EP is out on 28th August.<br />




Paul McCartney<br />



Walker Art Gallery – Until 01/11<br />

The Walker Art Gallery is welcoming visitors back with a big hitter of an exhibition to<br />

see them through until November. Rescheduled from an original opening date in April,<br />

it’s a much anticipated show displaying the iconic work of a woman who captured the<br />

essence of multiple decades at the close of the 20th Century.<br />

The Linda McCartney Retrospective is open now and can be enjoyed via advance booking on the<br />

Walker’s website. An impressively comprehensive career overview, curated by husband Paul and<br />

daughter Mary, the exhibition covers everything from LINDA MCCARTNEY’s early-career music<br />

photography among the movers and shakers of the 1960s, through intimate family moments at her<br />

home in Kintyre, to her more stylised Sun Prints series. It is rare that a photography exhibition takes<br />

in so much of a career and gives a fully holistic picture of a life at the same time.<br />

The exhibition takes in more than 250 photographs, spanning from the photographer’s early work<br />

when based in New York City, to the 1990s when McCartney was either side of the Atlantic having<br />

conquered the pop world as part of Wings. For local audiences there are familiar scenes around<br />

Liverpool and Wirral in warmingly candid familial moments; for the music historian, rock luminaries<br />

Simon and Garfunkel, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin all make appearances in the exhibition. There are<br />

rare shots of the Fab Four loitering at the iconic crossing before the famous Abbey Road shoot, as<br />

well as in the studio for the recording of their later, seminal works. The show provides a fascinating<br />

window into the life of a passionate activist, artist and family woman.<br />




Various venues – 29-31/08<br />

LIVERPOOL DIGITAL MUSIC FESTIVAL is building on the success of its inaugural event in May<br />

to host a multi-venue streamed festival from across the city. The free event, featuring sets from<br />

ZUZU, The Merchants, Munkey Junkey and Natalie McCool, follows a lockdown edition which<br />

raised over £2000 for the NHS and Music Venue Trust. The M&S Bank Arena have contributed<br />

their space as the headline stage for the August Bank Holiday event while a trio of worthwhile charities<br />

will benefit from viewer donations. L8’s community mental health charity Mary Seacole House, Claire<br />

House Hospice and Merseyside Youth Association are partner charities for the event.<br />

Virtual festival goers in May were treated to sets by the likes of All We Are, Spinn and Zuzu playing from<br />

their own homes, as was the style at the time. Now restrictions have eased artists will set up on stages at<br />

city centre venues Phase One, EBGBS and SAE Institute, as well as the dockside main stage. The students<br />

of SAE will get valuable real world/digital world experience with students of Audio Production to Game Art<br />

Animation taking on a range of roles. Full artist line-up and stage times are still to be announced at time of<br />

writing.<br />

Zuzu<br />



She Drew The Gun<br />

Near Normal @ Future Yard – 19/09<br />

Birko’s newest venue opens in all its weird Wirralian<br />

wonderment this month with a socially-distanced show<br />

from some hometown heroes. While physical tickets<br />

sold out in under a day, SDTG fans thirsty for live action<br />

from a real venue can tune in online with a digital ticket.<br />

The multi-camera broadcast will carry IRL-quality audio<br />

and video mixed live by partners AdLib and Vessel, and<br />

provide a near-immersive experience to virtual ticketholders.<br />

The gig is part of a series of in-situ and streamed<br />

gigs which the venue is rolling out ahead of full capacity<br />

shows scheduled for early 2021.<br />

FILM<br />

<strong>September</strong> Cinema Events<br />

Picturehouse at FACT is back up and running in a<br />

safe manner with a smorgasbord of interesting indies,<br />

mighty mainstreamers and streamed live-streamed fare<br />

to scratch our big screen itch. Amongst the screenings<br />

slated for <strong>September</strong> are NT Live: Fleabag Encore (3rd<br />

Sept), La Haine (11th Sept) and filmed guided tour A<br />

Night At The Louvre: Leonardo Da Vinci (16th Sept).<br />

Also upcoming is a special screening of Karate Kid with<br />

a Remembering Of… featurette preceding the classic,<br />

and the beautiful Gints Zilbalodis animation Away, with<br />

dates TBA. There’s lots more to be announced by the<br />

cinema as they ease their way back to normality. Do<br />

support your local cinema.<br />


Don McCullin<br />

Tate Liverpool – 16/09 – 09/05<br />

A popular exhibition when on display at Tate Britain, the work<br />

of photographer DON MCCULLIN has come up north to the<br />

Albert Dock sister gallery. With an arsenal of iconic images and<br />

a career taking him to historic conflicts all over the world, the<br />

exhibition is an eye-opening show from a legendary lensman.<br />

As well as his poignant images of war-torn Vietnam and Syria,<br />

the Tate exhibition will also feature images from working-class<br />

life in the north of England and London’s East End. The show<br />

promises unforgettable images from a photographer who has<br />

been unflinching in his recording of tragic conflicts and the<br />

realities of life near the poverty line.<br />

Don McCullin<br />


Lime Carnival<br />

Various venues - 29/08-31/08<br />

LIME are bucking the trend and introducing a whole new IRL festival<br />

for the August Bank Holiday. A trio of venues play host to three events<br />

bringing a strong contingent of DJs for our socially distanced pleasure<br />

across three nights. Friday night begins at Baltic bastion Constellations<br />

with Dancehall and Afrobeats aficionado TOM HALL leading the roster of<br />

selectors. On Saturday night the action is transferred to Kazimier Garden<br />

for more wax jockeys turning the tables with the likes of PAPU.RAF and<br />

DOOPS.SAN on the bill. Sunday night leads us up north to Meraki for the<br />

closing party.<br />

CLUB<br />

Humanoid Collective<br />

Table Service @ Meraki – 04/09<br />

North Docks vibe hub Meraki are continuing their social distanced programme<br />

of DJ nights with Table Service welcoming HUMANOID COLLECTIVE for the<br />

first event of <strong>September</strong>. The popular nights have been a smash hit with those<br />

wanting to hear the best beats while staying safely apart. Signal x Humanoid<br />

are coming together on this Saturday night, 4pm-11pm, to bring a rare<br />

selection of selectors to the Ten Streets. As the monikers alludes to, drinks are<br />

served to tables of no more than six people and there are 22 tables to purchase<br />

tickets for via Resident Advisor. Other guidelines are in place and can be read<br />

on the Meraki website.<br />


The Time We Call Our Own<br />

Open Eye Gallery – 02/09-03/10<br />

Dustin Thierry – Opulence.<br />

The nightlives of cities all over the world are currently on life support due to the virus. The full<br />

gamut of hustle, bustle, chips and discarded heels may not be making a return for a while, but<br />

we can experience it to some degree at Open Eye Gallery with their new exhibition. THE TIME<br />

WE CALL OUR OWN explores the nocturnal pulses of cities around the globe with photographic<br />

projects from an assortment of photographers. Style, location and music are central themes to<br />

a show that investigates visibility and counter-cultural scenes which thrives under neon lights.<br />

There’s also a chance to see highlights from the Bido Lito! photo archive with You Out Tonight?, a<br />

special exhibition curated for the Mann Island atrium.<br />


And Say The Animals Responded?<br />

FACT – Until 13/12<br />


Möthmas<br />

Twitch – 30/08<br />

Alongside their online offering of podcasts, live streams, videos, challenges and activities entitled<br />

The Living Planet, FACT’s IRL exhibition AND SAY THE ANIMALS RESPONDED? has reconvened<br />

at the Wood Street space. While lockdown gave us cause to reflect on our relationship with the<br />

natural world, we can deepen our knowledge and seek further exploration through this exhibition of<br />

works from international artists. Whales, dolphins, chimps and a wolf pack all feature in an eclectic<br />

selection of work focussing on humans’ interaction with the animal kingdom. Ariel Guzik (Mexico),<br />

Amalia Pica (Argentina/UK) with Rafael Ortega (Mexico), Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg (UK), Demelza<br />

Kooij (Netherlands/UK) and Kuai Shen (Ecuador) all have work which can be safely consumed with<br />

FACT’s Covid measures in place.<br />

For a healthy dose of multi-threat unbridled creativity, VICE MÖTH return on<br />

August bank holiday weekend for a special show. Bank Holiday Möthday,<br />

streamed via Twitch, will feature live performances from BEIJA FLO, MT HALL,<br />

DOM LEWINGTON and more as well as the usual mix of irreverent sketches from<br />

the likes of MOUNTAINEERS, MELODIEN and LAURA SPARK. The brainchild of<br />

Stealing Sheep’s Emily Lansley and Alex Germains (AKA Germanager), Vice Möth<br />

started out as a musical improvisation project and has spawned life as a multilegged<br />

collaborative project with the Möthmas annual arts show. The event will<br />

be re-streamed as part of Liverpool Digital Music Festival. twitch.tv/vicemoth<br />




Angel Olsen and Hand Habbits (Ashley Connor)<br />


IN THE<br />

STREAM<br />

Well, this doesn’t half feel strange. In a normal<br />

month, these reviews pages would be full of<br />

tales learned from the floors of gig venues and<br />

arenas. Reports of sweaty, cathartic or moving<br />

gatherings – accompanied by photos taken from the upwardstilted<br />

perspective of the pit – have been an integral part of Bido<br />

Lito! for the past 10 years. Though the hundreds of reviews we<br />

have published may not say it explicitly, their words speak of the<br />

thrill of experiencing something together; they are memories,<br />

homages to shared moments, a communion of sorts.<br />

Then in March of this year, things changed. A live gig or<br />

concert of any type hasn’t taken place in Merseyside for almost<br />

five months since the country went into lockdown. And, with all<br />

of the Covid safety precautions still in place, it doesn’t look likely<br />

that we’ll see anything close to normal for the rest of this year.<br />

Our reviews section – half of Bido’s output – will be forced into<br />

hibernation for the first time (beyond exhibition reviews, of which<br />

we are continuing), until it can resume its place in documenting<br />

the stories made in the intense moments of connection that live<br />

performances bring us.<br />

Despite the closure of venues and halting of all performances<br />

in March, the artists soldiered on, determined to still connect<br />

with their fans. As a way of relieving the cabin fever of lockdown,<br />

impromptu ‘gigs’ popped up on live streams all over the place,<br />

hosted by those gamely mastering the new skills of streaming<br />

and bedroom production. The sight of an artist (or occasionally<br />

a duo) crammed in to shot, the dusty acoustic guitar jostling for<br />

space alongside mics, laptops and novel lighting setups became<br />

normalised. As an immediate reaction to the forced isolation<br />

of lockdown, these certainly scratched an itch – see Bido’s<br />

own Friday Night Live! series of streamed shows with ZUZU,<br />


wouldn’t be long until fans and musicians both started to grate at<br />

the limitations. Despite some great efforts, the production values<br />

of bedroom gigs were generally naff, leaving very little room to<br />

do justice to the music. And for those whose only problem was<br />

the buffering of a shaky broadband connection, think about those<br />

artists without the wherewithal to perform from home at all, cutoff<br />

from vital outside engagement as the walls closed in.<br />

If there was any expectation that musicians would sit on<br />

their hands and accept their lot, then that was short-lived.<br />

SAMURAI KIP didn’t let the barrier of being quarantined in four<br />

separate locations stop them from putting together a live version<br />

of Smoke, with neatly collaged video to boot. ALL WE ARE<br />

weren’t content for even those restrictions, setting up in Vessel<br />

Studios for a full live set streamed on YouTube, amps, lights,<br />

natty outfits and everything. In light of their cancelled tour, this<br />

was a chance for the trio to keep contact with their fans ahead<br />

of their imminent album release, and also push a crowdfunding<br />

campaign to help them recover lost earnings from cancelled<br />

live dates. Indeed, the concept of<br />

leveraging financial support from fans<br />

through digital tipping and crowd<br />

funders was finally broached, which<br />

could well be something that stays in<br />

the artist’s arsenal once normal service<br />

is resumed.<br />

Michael Lovett, aka NZCA LINES,<br />

was also not to be deterred from<br />

having a party for the release of his<br />

album A Pure Luxury. Along with<br />

promoters Bird On The Wire, Dice<br />

and Behind The Notes, he set up<br />

a virtual album launch party with<br />

breakout Zoom Rooms for fans to<br />

chat and show off their downloaded<br />

virtual backgrounds. A slick mastery of<br />

video streaming brought the requisite sense of occasion, but the<br />

performance was still a bedroom gig (albeit with programmed<br />

lights and great-sounding audio). Support act CHARLOTTE<br />

ADIGÉRY brought more of a suspension of disbelief with<br />

her green-screened set, beamed in from Belgium as an hors<br />

d’oeuvre. But this show wasn’t necessarily about the show – it<br />

was about the connection with fans, promoting the album,<br />

making it all feel real. Those points of contact that musicians<br />

have with their fans – when they can truly develop the world<br />

they’ve built around themselves – are few and far between.<br />

Performances like this will never be a substitute for concerts,<br />

“Digital shows can<br />

only be a temporary<br />

fix, a stepping stone<br />

towards normality”<br />

but they might be able to open up a different kind of connection<br />

between artist and fan that has been long overlooked.<br />

LAURA MARLING’s live streamed show at Union Chapel<br />

in June saw over 4,000 fans pay £12 for a ticket to see the<br />

Mercury-nominated artist play a show filmed in cinematic luxury.<br />

Despite thousands of fans (plus hundreds more US fans) taking<br />

the option to see Marling performing songs from her brand new<br />

album, Song For Our Daughter, for the first time, the show still<br />

didn’t run a profit. Or, at least, not the kind of profit you would<br />

expect for a full-house Union Chapel show with a live audience<br />

a quarter the size of the dialled in streamers. Naturally, the<br />

streamed set’s lavish production<br />

and multitude of camera angles will<br />

have had something to do with that,<br />

but the scale of economy shows<br />

the level of risk involved in these<br />

performances, even for artists of the<br />

profile of Laura Marling.<br />

But the bug for the cinematic<br />

was catching, especially for those<br />

artists caught mid-album campaign<br />

who had seen touring and promotion<br />

plans pulled from under their feet. I<br />

tuned in to ANGEL OLSEN’s second<br />

Cosmic Stream in July, where the<br />

artist performed live from the<br />

Masonic Temple in Asheville, North<br />

Carolina. The performance was shot<br />

by Olsen’s long-time collaborator Ashley Connor in one glorious,<br />

sumptuous take, that occasionally pushed in close to Olsen as<br />

she sang forlornly to an empty room, circling around her to show<br />

the empty seats gathered in silent congregation. Even Olsen’s<br />

sharp quips fell eerily limp as the absurdness of the situation was<br />

laid bare in the awkward moments between songs. Yet, it all felt<br />

worth it when the camera took you inside the artist’s personal<br />

space, allowing you to feel an energy that you wouldn’t normally<br />

get to experience. When Olsen and support act HAND HABITS<br />

duetted at the pivot of the event, the crackle of emotion that<br />

coursed through my internet connection made me temporarily<br />


Tomorrowland Around The World<br />

forget that I wasn’t there with them, in that room in North<br />

Carolina with other fans, revelling in the crispness of Olsen’s<br />

voice just as much as the bum notes and the mistakes. As the<br />

show ended and the camera retraced its route back through<br />

the entrance to the room, it felt like the ending to an arthouse<br />

film: perfect for the setting and the artist, but a reminder of the<br />

distance that was between us.<br />

Jarvis Cocker’s fascination with the Peak District saw him<br />

bring his new outfit, JARV IS…, to Peak Cavern in 2018. So, what<br />

better place for Jarv and crew to host a live streamed show to<br />

mark the release of new album Beyond The Pale in the middle of<br />

lockdown? Streamed free on YouTube, the Live From The Centre<br />

Of The Earth show was shot by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard,<br />

who also directed the 2014 Nick Cave documentary 20,000<br />

Days On Earth. The Devil’s Arse, as Peak Cavern is affectionately<br />

known, added a delicious sense of oddness to the whole setting,<br />

a 53-minute trip inside the mind of one of British music’s most<br />

mysterious characters. The seven-piece group – featuring<br />

Serafina Steer, Emma Smith, Jason Buckle, Andrew McKinney,<br />

Adam Betts and Naala – came alive in a cave that was lit by<br />

spectacular lighting and visuals playing across the walls. “This is<br />

not a live album – this is an ALIVE album,” Jarvis intoned at the<br />

beginning, as their kitchen disco house music swept through the<br />

space in the kind of cinematic drama that only the British could<br />

dream of, never mind pull off. It was a shame when Jarvis bade<br />

us farewell in his breathy baritone; I’m not sure if it left me more<br />

likely to visit Peak Cavern or buy the record.<br />

The summer shutdown has meant that festivals have taken<br />

a huge hit during the pandemic. Their very model relies on one,<br />

big communal experience, which leaves them more vulnerable<br />

than most in the live industry. Those owned by the large live<br />

industry behemoths are the most likely to be able to tide things<br />

over to next summer, while those festivals with smaller but loyal<br />

audiences had to think creatively if they were to have a future<br />

beyond <strong>2020</strong>. Organisers of Bluedot and Supersonic festivals<br />

were, somewhat predictably, at the head of this pack, re-tooling<br />

some of their programmed content for an online variant.<br />

Bluedot’s A WEEKEND IN OUTER SPACE featured plenty<br />

of their popular science talks, done as online webinars. HENGE<br />

presented some suitably oddball space-themed live streams, and<br />

ORBITAL signed off the live proceedings with a set streamed<br />

from a home studio, where the voices of Greta Thunberg and<br />

Brian Cox were sampled over some of their organic beats.<br />

SOFASONIC was Supersonic’s response, a similar collection of<br />

live streamed Q&As and sets, which served as a chance to bring<br />

their close-knit community together. PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS<br />

PIGS PIGS’ hosting of an online bingo and some cooking classes<br />

showed both ends of Supersonic’s bizarro spectrum, with<br />

recorded sets from previous years of the spectrum serving as a<br />

reminder of what should have been happening. Neither event<br />

was hardly a replacement for the festival, but the digital activity<br />

did give a chance for fans to show their support and raise some<br />

much-needed cash for the teams behind the events.<br />

Tomorrowland, the Belgian EDM festival that welcomes<br />

400,000 fans to its two bonkers weekends each summer, are<br />

renowned for doing things differently. So, when they announced<br />

that they’d booked KATY PERRY and were taking the festival<br />

online instead, not many eyebrows were raised. The festival is<br />

an OTT carnival with garish set design, which comes across as<br />

something between Disneyland and Middle Earth for fans of<br />

Euro house music. Their plan for TOMORROWLAND AROUND<br />

THE WORLD, their digital experience for <strong>2020</strong>, was to create<br />

a whole digital environment in which to enjoy a still ridiculous<br />

line-up of performances: DAVID GUETTA, FEDDE LE GRAND,<br />

AMELIE LENS and STEVE AOKI among those joining Katy Perry<br />

over two days. At €12.50 a day, it seemed like a punt, even if the<br />

economics didn’t completely tally (until, that is, you sign up and<br />

get bombarded with never-ending ‘exclusive’ drink and merch<br />

offers) – especially when you see what your €12.50 granted you<br />

access to.<br />

Pāpiliōnem was the virtual setting for the digital festival,<br />

realised by Tomorrowland’s tireless visual team, that came<br />

with the tagline ‘The Reflection Of Love – Chapter 1’. Entering<br />

the festival was like the beginning of a computer game – and,<br />

indeed, the whole festival felt like an extended cut-scene from<br />

an elaborate fantasy game, with various stages (one of which<br />

looks exactly like Fort Punta Christo in Croatia, used as the home<br />

for Dimensions and Outlook festivals) perched on mountains<br />

and in clearings on the island of Pāpiliōnem. As the camera<br />

swooped in to each arena, thousands of computer-generated<br />

arms waved as the most out-there light show danced<br />

over their heads. The performers on the stages were<br />

merely part of the vastness, with DJ performances<br />

melded into the environments using green screen<br />

technology. At times, it felt like the computer game<br />

engine controlling your viewing was more keen on<br />

showing you the elaborate structures it had built,<br />

making for a rather exhausting mental experience<br />

for someone sat in a chair at home.<br />

Katy Perry’s headline set was a remarkable<br />

piece of digital wizardy, giving the impression<br />

that Perry and her dancers were performing<br />

on this blatantly digitised virtual stage. As<br />

bizarre as it was, you have to tip your hat<br />

to the Tomorrowland team for creating<br />

an experience true to their ethos which<br />

also gave you an excuse to suspend your<br />

disbelief long enough to have a good time.<br />

Isn’t that what live performance is meant<br />

to do, after all?<br />

The efforts of artists, festivals and<br />

their teams to find a way around the<br />

problems that lockdown has thrown<br />

up have not only shown remarkable<br />

creativity, but a dogged determination<br />

to keep the music playing. However,<br />

this shouldn’t mask the catastrophic<br />

effect that the paralysing of the live<br />

music industry has had on thousands<br />

of people. Countless artists saw<br />

their plans go up the spout, with<br />

long scheduled release plans for<br />

albums and singles suddenly<br />

compromised. Without the ability<br />

to go out and perform in front of<br />

fans, the ability for all but a tiny<br />

handful of musicians to earn<br />

money was immediately shut<br />

off. And the teams behind the<br />

artists, in PR, radio and at<br />

labels, all suffered as a result.<br />

Venues and promoters have<br />

been pushed to the brink,<br />

and production crews are<br />

still facing huge uncertainty<br />

over their careers as the<br />

live industry remains in<br />

shutdown.<br />

There’s a thrill<br />

to watching a live<br />

performance, a knifeedge<br />

uncertainty that<br />

it may all go wrong<br />

which tautens the<br />

senses. The pay-off<br />

when it lands is<br />

massive, a rush that<br />

is hard to replicate.<br />

Streaming live<br />

performances can<br />

get close to that sensation, but not close enough to give you the<br />

full hit. With the situation as it is currently, these digital shows<br />

can only be a temporary fix, a stepping stone towards normality.<br />

Hopefully, by the time we are able to return to the dancefloors<br />

again, we’ll have a full appreciation of what live music means to<br />

us, and be prepared to support it. !<br />

Christopher Torpey / @CATorp<br />

JARV IS… (Jeanette Lee)<br />



Accessible and<br />

flexible learning<br />

with the University<br />

of Liverpool<br />

Enjoy world class teaching with a short course from the<br />

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Visit www.liverpool.ac.uk/continuing-education/<br />

to view the full programme and to enrol

Jonathan Baldock<br />

Facecrime<br />

Frances Disley<br />

Pattern Buffer<br />

Thu 30 Jul – Sun 1 Nov<br />

Free<br />

Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool, L1 3BX<br />

Pre-booking recommended.<br />

Visit thebluecoat.org.uk to book.<br />

@thebluecoat<br />

@the_bluecoat<br />

@thebluecoat<br />

Facecrime is commissioned by Camden Arts Centre with Tramway.<br />

The work was developed through the Freelands Lomax Ceramics Fellowship.<br />

The <strong>2020</strong> installation at Bluecoat is supported by the Henry Moore Foundation.<br />

Pattern Buffer is supported by Art Fund.<br />

Funded by:<br />

Supported by:<br />

Frances Disley, holo programme 222 – restful focus, <strong>2020</strong> Jonathan Baldock, Facecrime, installation view at Bluecoat, March <strong>2020</strong>.<br />



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This month’s selection of creative writing is by Sufiah Abbasi, a short<br />

story that recalls a chance meeting with one of Liverpool’s most<br />

shadowy and celebrated muses.<br />

I Met Lee Mavers In 2012<br />

We were both housekeeping and distracted by the thick grim air. I’d seen him before and the time had not been right.<br />

I have nothing to lose any more.<br />

I approach the car.<br />

“Are you Mr Mavers?” He looks suspicious. I begin fawning. “I just want to say that I have known your music for a long<br />

time and it is a genuine pleasure to meet you.”<br />

He seems relieved and surprised. “Yes, it’s me, do you want to go for a coffee?”<br />

Now, I’m surprised. I hesitate for a micro instant. “OK.”<br />

Then it’s diving into the almost universal vision of the world. Not much is said about the cosmos, but there is God,<br />

purity, insanity and perfection.<br />

“Do you love Liverpool?” I ask.<br />

“I love what it’s going to be,” he says mysteriously. OK, I think, but I’m confused.<br />

“I hate music,” he says. I stay confused. “I know who you are. I can see you.” He looks at me.<br />

“I know who you are too,” I respond quickly and reassuringly. “Oh, why 95 in Doledrums?” I’ve always wondered why<br />

he wrote that into the tune.<br />

“It sounded right,” he says.<br />

“Oh, fuck you,” I shout.<br />

I notice that his hands are small as he easily manages to stretch to the chords on my niece’s jazz bass. He’s playing<br />

music and singing. Sometimes he just recites his lyrics. I ask him about the size of his hands. Our palms meet and his<br />

are only slightly bigger than mine.<br />

I play him Old friends/Bookends. He doesn’t like Simon and Garfunkel particularly. He likes real music, but I don’t<br />

understand at the time and it becomes apparent a few days later. I play it to him to demonstrate the discordance<br />

which spins into pure light and magically transforms into a clear note. He is untroubled by my question as to how this<br />

happens. If God were playing the most beautiful music and taught all the angels to play as well, what would happen if<br />

God stopped playing and took His teaching away?<br />

“They would have to learn it themselves?” I ask. He smiles and I’m right.<br />

All the reflections of the souls that ever lived folding upon themselves. I imagine that it would be the most infinitely<br />

tremendous musical note.<br />

Prophetic, lunatic, poet – all I ever expected him to be.<br />

I told him my dreams and he told me his, with full performance and a raw revisiting of the feeling.<br />

I tell him the Kali dream and describe how Dawn brings one of her friends into my flat. Dawn is supporting this girl<br />

and two others are with her. Dawn is supporting the girl as she is very sick. He butts in, “Heroin addict.”<br />

I stop, look up, “What makes you say that?” I ask.<br />

“It’s like a leprosy round here.” He indicates with his eyes all outside the four walls of my lovely flat. “You need to get<br />

out of here.”<br />

He said that he had felt nauseous following me home through the yellow tipped park. He thinks its toxins – not literal<br />

but mental and emotional – need to be expelled. I tell him that I was crazy nervous as I was driving home.<br />

He says he doesn’t watch films. We both have a connection with Morocco, but he’s stayed with the Berbers.<br />

I play him the Gonjasufi album and during the intro, he puts his head back against the wall.<br />

“Hopi Indians,” he says.<br />

“I didn’t know that.”<br />

He sits up a little when Gonjasufi sings Duet.<br />

“I like this one. It sounds like Walk On The Wild Side,” He says without looking at me.<br />

He can tell as soon as Error Operator’s remix of Philip Selway’s Beyond Reason begins that it is a good one. He<br />

reluctantly admits to liking Massive Attack’s Unfinished Symphony and I guess it’s the over production that he’s not<br />

keen on.<br />

I play him the only tune on the bass I know – House Of The Rising Sun. The bass is massive compared to me. I sit<br />

cross-legged on the floor and play it so shit that he doesn’t recognise it. He takes the bass and plays it on open<br />

strings and is trying to teach me.<br />

“It just clicks,” he says. “When you’re on your own.”<br />

I tell him two jokes: one in the Other Place – almost minutes after we met. I saw it on Old Jews Telling Jokes off the<br />

iPlayer. It’s a blue joke and he laughs with his head back. I clap my hands quietly and quickly in front of my face<br />

because I’ve entertained him.<br />

The second joke is from the same programme but hinges on an image. He laughs and then stands up, “That wasn’t<br />

funny. It was a bit Monty Python.”<br />

I remember the sketch he’s talking about: from The Meaning Of Life where the waiter makes you follow him out of the<br />

restaurant and keeps beckoning the camera and you as he walks and walks through the streets and countryside.<br />

“Oh, you like that film as well,” I say.<br />

He recited his own lyrics with me joining in the end of lines, like I was his hip hop hype guy. Then or at another time,<br />

he cried, remembering the pain of his father’s passing. His father contracted asbestosis when building St John’s<br />

Market. I wanted to dry his tears and was an inch away from his face. He didn’t want me to do this and wanted to<br />

leave the salt on his face. He tilted back his head and looked relieved.<br />

“I believe that tears are a mercy,” I proffer. I’ve already made a show of myself when recounting my dream. The one I<br />

had when I moved into this place. We were in the Other Place sitting outside, me scavving a rolly off him, when I tell<br />

him about the moment I hear him and the group singing a cappella. It’s tune so beautiful that I start to well up while<br />

I’m remembering it. I’ve known him minutes.<br />

“You must think I’m fruit loops.” The whole time he is with me, he never looks weirded-out by my behaviour.<br />

“What do those mean?” he asks, pointing his eyes in the direction of my niece’s two small canvases which have<br />

Arabic calligraphy on them.<br />


“Grace and Mercy.” I look at him and explain flippantly, “They’re just words”<br />

He made me tea.<br />

He met Bill Shankly, who ruffled his strawberry blond hair. He’s a blue-nose, though.<br />

He thanks me for the beans on toast or tea. I say, “I owe you, you owe me”. I suddenly realise that I have absorbed his<br />

words into my consciousness and often say it to people.<br />

I then punched the air with both hands in victory, like Ian Rush after a dink. “I got to say that to YOU,” I squeal.<br />

He turns his face to me and says, “I know YOU can stand on your own two feet.”<br />

I’m delighted.<br />

I play him my party mix – it is a party after all. He plays the bass along with Silicone Soul’s Right On! and seems to perk<br />

up when Carwash comes along.<br />

“You know the bassline I love. The bassline to Hey Joe,” I say. He pulls the guitar and points it up to the sky, just knocks it<br />

out – he’s got to like it too. I start conducting the steps of the notes of that most perfect bassline.<br />

I ask him why he thinks I’m so excited. He says, “Because you’ve found a kindred spirit.”<br />

“Thank you.” I’m surprised and utterly impressed with us both.<br />

Another cup? We’ve run out of milk. Neither of us have slept very well. My back’s against the wall at work and he’s<br />

recently been betrayed. We’ve caught each other at an unusual moment. I ask him to come to the shop with me. Neither<br />

of us go out a lot but we didn’t notice anyone else. As we whisked past the corner of Ivanhoe, I ask him what his name<br />

means. He doesn’t know.<br />

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” I shout. “You don’t know what it means?” I’m genuinely weirded out.<br />

“So, what language is your name from?” he asks.<br />

“It’s Arabic in origin.” I say. “A Semitic language.”<br />

“I thought that was Jewish,” he says.<br />

“Oh no,” I gesticulate wildly, “we’re all Semitic... in that neck of the woods,” I add.<br />

We fly by Phil’s shop and turn the corner.<br />

Now, we’ve picked up the pace and we’re bumping into each other as we swagger up the Lane. We pass the afternoon<br />

drinkers outside the Rhubarb.<br />

“So, what happened there, then?” he asks. “Why the split?” He’s referring to the Jewish/Arab spilt.<br />

“Oh,” I splutter, “it’s that… erm, err… biblical story… erm.” I’m furiously trying to shake the facts in my brain into view. “It’s<br />

the story of Jacob… no.” It’s coming. Bingo. “It was Isaac and Ishmael.”<br />

“What’s that about?” He asks.<br />

“I’ve got no idea.” I look at the ground, disappointed, as if the two of them had made a mistake.<br />

We’re at the cash machine. He doesn’t realise where I’ve taken him because we’ve been engrossed in the talk. I get my<br />

cash out.<br />

“I’ve got £20, I know you’re on your arse. Why didn’t you say?” he says.<br />

I tell him no and make a mental note to discuss this offer with him later. We’ve got the milk and we’re flying back home.<br />

We both tend not to look around. We’re aware of our surroundings. I look up and catch the glance of a young-looking old<br />

vampire. I’ve no fear when I see this guy now, though, I’ve got the Custodian with me.<br />

We’re back in, the kettle’s boiling again.<br />

“So what does my name mean, then?” he asks.<br />

“Oh, it’s going to take a bit longer than that. I’ll have to look in a book or Google it.” I’ve had no internet for over a month<br />

and I have had to entertain myself. This has been like living in a fucking cave and my nerves are shot.<br />

(I cycle over to my sister’s some time later and ask my niece to look it up. Lee – sheltered from the storm. Mavers –<br />

custodian. My sister quietly suggests the Arabic word for this – Khalifa. This word has great potency.)<br />

I remember that he’d offered me money and I pick him up on this.<br />

“You can’t be that generous. I didn’t ask for anything from you,” I tell him firmly.<br />

He doesn’t understand. “There’s no harm in greasing your neighbour’s palm.” He quotes his lyrics.<br />

“That’s right,” I tell him, “but not all the time.”<br />

The kettle’s boiled. He’s tired, I know, but I’m surprised that he hasn’t picked this concept up. I shouldn’t be this frustrated.<br />

I don’t have the right to be because I only learnt it from a book. My voice rises like a soft Dalek.<br />

“Why are you getting angry?” he asks.<br />

I check myself. Yes, I went too far.<br />

“Tell me like I’m a child,” he says quietly.<br />

I sit down at the table with him and demonstrate. “You can’t always have your hand open. It’s got to close sometimes,” I<br />

say and demonstrate by flexing my hand open and closed – not a fist though, more like flapping the hand open and close<br />

like a wing.<br />

He mentions getting shivers as he saw that old building on the corner and tells a story about his friend who he thinks is<br />

lost. He describes to me how she clutches at her rosary beads now. It’s related to a dream he had.<br />

“What are prayers, but dreams,” I suggest. “And some of my dreams seem to be preparation.”<br />

He looks over at me and nods in agreement.<br />

I’ve asked him if I can write about him. He’s generous and comes up with, “Write so that I might know you”.<br />

Words: Sufiah Abbasi / @sufiahbear<br />

Quotes within this story are the account of the writer.<br />




SAY<br />


“After this pause, is<br />

it time to reflect upon<br />

and reassess issues<br />

in the scene, or will<br />

womxn continue facing<br />

the same issues?”<br />

Eve Machin is one half of Where Are The Girlbands?, an online platform dedicated to highlighting the<br />

community of femxle musicians and artists operating in Liverpool. After a tumultuous and sobering few<br />

months for musicians, Eve asks whether the indefinite hiatus on live music will open space for conversation<br />

and eradication of previous microaggressions aimed at womxn in the music industry.<br />

One August afternoon a couple of years ago,<br />

my bandmate Ella and I were sat at our usual<br />

brainstorming spot in Leaf on Bold Street, struggling<br />

to plan our next gigs for the summer. Off the top of our<br />

heads, we couldn’t imagine any line-ups where we would find<br />

ourselves on the bill with a similar style to us; most of the gigs<br />

we’d been to recently had been dominated by similar-sounding,<br />

four-piece jangly pop boy-bands. Not that we don’t love that<br />

classic Liverpool sound; we just felt pretty embarrassed to<br />

admit that we couldn’t name more than two Liverpool acts that<br />

included a woman.<br />

And of course, this issue is everywhere. It was further<br />

brought to attention in the autumn of 2019 after music blogger<br />

Lucy McCourt tweeted a graphic of the <strong>2020</strong> Leeds/Reading<br />

Festival line-up. The poster reveals that, after removing artists<br />

without a femxle member, only 20 of the 96 acts remain. Soon<br />

after, The 1975 frontman Matty Healy declared that the band<br />

would only play at events with a 50/50 line-up, following the<br />

PRS Foundation’s gender pledge initiative, Keychange, which<br />

over 150 festivals subscribe to. This has been met by much<br />

controversy and accusations of tokenism; a gender-balanced<br />

line-up seems to value gender over talent, and at the end of the<br />

day, good music is good music.<br />

Esme Grace Brown’s previous column for Bido Lito!<br />

describes perfectly how booking ‘female-fronted’ or ‘girlbands’<br />

for the sake of it is patronising and diminishes genuine talent.<br />

The issue lies somewhere deeper than just having balanced lineups;<br />

encouragement, empathy, and a bit of respect would help<br />

achieve genuinely fair representation, and so festival bookers and<br />

promoters would have a bigger pool to choose from, naturally<br />

restoring a balance. Really, it’s not about satisfying a statistic, but<br />

rather integration<br />

The meeting between myself and Ella got us thinking about<br />

the reasons for this lack of representation. And so, WHERE<br />

ARE THE GIRLBANDS? was born. It started off as a project in<br />

the form of an Instagram account; we began seeking out local<br />

musicians to feature on the page, and Ella – an artist by trade<br />

– provided a little illustration. We wanted to create an online<br />

community of femxle creatives, almost as a kind of reassurance<br />

that more were out there.<br />

You might be thinking: “I see plenty of women playing<br />

music. There’s nothing wrong with the Liverpool scene; it’s a<br />

very inclusive place.” And you’d be right. In fact, we were met<br />

with immediate backlash, saying that our aims undermine all the<br />

work womxn already do. But our name is purposely ironic; we’re<br />

aiming simply to improve representation and create a space<br />

where womxn can be celebrated, because it’s never easy.<br />

There are all sorts of underlying issues that result in<br />

subconscious microaggressions that affect femxle musicians<br />

daily. We’ve been posting weekly polls on the account to hear<br />

people’s opinions; one week, we addressed whether musicians<br />

had ever felt discriminated against for their gender, and received<br />

countless anecdotes. Being asked if you need help lifting kit;<br />

ignored when talking about sound engineering; being told what<br />

to wear at gigs; being mistaken for another band member’s<br />

girlfriend, despite carrying an amp and guitar. To be honest,<br />

I even think it starts at school; from lads dominating practice<br />

rooms, to parents having their girls play the flute and boys<br />

thrashing the drum kit. Before we jump to conclusions and think<br />

that 50/50 line-ups will solve the problem, we need to look at<br />

why this subconscious behaviour manifests itself in the first<br />

place.<br />

I moved to Cambridge two years ago for university, and<br />

was immediately struck that there wasn’t an obvious music<br />

scene to get involved in, despite the abundance of organ recitals<br />

and choral evensongs. This year, I’ve set up fortnightly gigs at<br />

different venues in the city, making sure they’re free, accessible<br />

and have a jam element at the end so people can meet and play<br />

together in a friendly atmosphere. But even at my own event,<br />

the same subconscious sexism gets to me; the stage is usually<br />

dominated by men, especially during the jams, where I speak<br />

to women in the audience too shy or uncomfortable to get up<br />

and perform. Myself included. At the last gig, I told the guys on<br />

stage to wrap up jamming as the venue was closing. After being<br />

ignored twice, I had to get my male friend to tell them to get off,<br />

to which they immediately responded. It’s frustrating knowing<br />

that although this isn’t overt sexism or harassment, it’s still not a<br />

level playing field.<br />

We’re also not entirely focussed on promoting womxn and<br />

challenging the issues they face in the music scene; in order<br />

to be truly heard you have to engage with men, too, because<br />

otherwise you’re just preaching to the choir. The involvement of<br />

men is just as important as the involvement of womxn because<br />

you want them to be engaged in these kinds of discussions. We<br />

Are The Girl Bands? is inclusive and open to address class, race,<br />

sexuality, disability and more. We’ve also talked to people about<br />

venues and space, age gaps in the music scene, collaborations<br />

with visual artists and cliques. The account has become a<br />

kind of hub for news on gigs, events and opportunities; a<br />

platform where musicians and creatives can go for promotion<br />

or encouragement; a network for promoters to seek out artists,<br />

and, above all, a community – without the artists themselves, the<br />

page wouldn’t exist, of course.<br />

So is it important to have femxle-focused organisations<br />

like ours, or is it patronising? We try to keep the conversation<br />

as inclusive as possible to all genders. Organisations like<br />

Bitch Palace and WeWantWomen do fantastic work to<br />

promote and empower femxle musicians. In a recent interview<br />

with Merseyside punk band Rival Unit, they expressed<br />

their appreciation for the events these promoters put on:<br />

“There’s definitely a different atmosphere. Particularly with<br />

WeWantWomen; they want female artists, most of the crowd<br />

know what they’re coming to see… a lot of the people who do<br />

go to these events are people who want female artists to be<br />

at the forefront… nights like [these] are important for getting<br />

women onto that ladder [when starting out]. It’s a really tough<br />

experience.”<br />

In light of everything that’s gone on over the last few<br />

months, the future of the gig scene is obviously uncertain. With<br />

the closure of legendary venues like The Zanzibar and Sound<br />

– which supported so many local musicians, first-timers in<br />

particular – support for local businesses matters now more than<br />

ever. In a post-Covid-19 world, it’s up to the consumer what the<br />

gig scene will look like to a certain degree. After this pause, is<br />

it time to reflect upon and reassess issues in the scene – or will<br />

womxn continue facing the same issues? Will there be a new<br />

hunger for live music once it can resume – and how can we make<br />

sure that womxn are part of it?<br />

Sometimes I’m a bit sceptical about how we come across; I<br />

feel like a lot of the work I do in both Liverpool and Cambridge<br />

seems to carry a big ‘Feminist Agenda’, but really I just want<br />

womxn’s place on the scene to be normalised and more<br />

integrated – sometimes it feels like it’s either belittled or overexaggerated.<br />

At the same time, it’s clear there is a need for an<br />

accessible space or community outside of what’s presented to<br />

womxn on the scene. !<br />

Words: Eve Machin<br />

Illustration: Ella Fradgely<br />

@wherearethegirlbands<br />



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