Bido Lito! Magazine | Issue 116 | August 2021





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ISSUE <strong>116</strong> / AUGUST <strong>2021</strong><br />



FREE!<br />

KOJ<br />

Out there and<br />

ascending<br />

WYNDOW<br />


OWENS<br />

ANDY<br />


LOVE,<br />


In Liverpool<br />



FUTURE<br />


2-year degrees<br />

and 1-year diplomas

“I was apprehensive about venturing back into education<br />

but my time at SAE has been an enjoyable and positive<br />

experience.<br />

The staff are extremely supportive and as I come to the end of<br />

my Music Business degree, I am confident that the knowledge<br />

I have gained during this course will help me as I begin my<br />

career.”<br />

Rebecca Seddon<br />

BA/BSc (Hons) Music Business<br />

“I have really enjoyed my time at SAE, while I feel like the<br />

course has prepared me for work in the audio industry, the<br />

benefit to my own self confidence can’t be ignored either. SAE<br />

helped me grow into myself and gave me the tools necessary<br />

to be able to approach people within the industry and look for<br />

work.<br />

I’m now lucky enough to be involved with Jacaranda Records<br />

as part of their Immersive Audio team thanks to connections<br />

that SAE facilitated.”<br />

Joe Punter<br />

BA/BSc (Hons) Audio Production<br />

Apply Now<br />

sae.edu/gbr/apply-now<br />

03330 112 315<br />

enquiries@sae.edu<br />

sae.edu/gbr<br />

SAE Liverpool<br />

38 Pall Mall<br />

Liverpool<br />

L3 6AL


EVOL presents<br />






PART 1<br />

SATURDAY 7TH AUGUST <strong>2021</strong><br />








PART 2<br />

SATURDAY 14TH AUGUST <strong>2021</strong><br />









Tickets £25 Advance On Sale Now via Seetickets.com & Skiddle.com<br />

Follow @ClubEvol @iwfactory @seetickets @skiddle



06•08<br />


13•08<br />



02•09<br />

BY THE SEA<br />

04•09<br />



17•09<br />


29•09<br />



02•10<br />


09•10<br />


09•10<br />


20•10<br />

SHE DREW<br />

THE GUN<br />

22•10<br />


23•10<br />


30•10<br />

JARV IS...<br />

05•11<br />


10•11<br />


11•11<br />

CHUBBY &<br />

THE GANG<br />

18•11<br />



24•11<br />


26•11<br />


27•04<br />




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14 / KOJ<br />

Out there and evolving, Iona Fazer speaks to the rapper<br />

formerly known as Wavy Joe.<br />

19 / DORCAS SEB<br />

The workaholic polymath sits down with Mia O’Hare to<br />

talk about her ascent and breathless progression.<br />

22 / WYNDOW<br />

Laura J Martin and Lavinia Blackwall bridge Liverpool to<br />

Clydebank with a psych folk collaboration born out of<br />

locked down communication.<br />

24 / NATALIE AND THE<br />


Lily Blakeney-Edwards catches up with the effervescent<br />

rocker to talk femininity, expression and the power in<br />

vulnerability.<br />

26 / LOVE, LIVERPOOL<br />

A new theatre production looks to make us see our city<br />

from different perspectives.<br />

30 / ANDY McCLUSKEY<br />

The OMD star speaks to Craig G Pennington about<br />

DIY beginnings, his trajectory from the Wirral and the<br />

importance of place.<br />

34 / HUSHTONES<br />

The nostalgic indie-pop group tell David Roskin about the<br />

journey to their debut album.<br />

36 / DANCING TO<br />


Traversing novelty to deliver quality with Joel Goldberg.<br />


10 / NEWS<br />

Horses on plinths, art in mansions and other goings on<br />

across the Mersey culture sphere.<br />



Balcony Boy Ali Horn introduces us to his debut album.<br />

13 / HOT PINK!<br />

The best new tunes dropping across the city region<br />

courtesy of an array of next generation talent. The<br />

hottest tracks to make our Hot Pink! playlist.<br />

38 / SPOTLIGHTS<br />

A familiar face with a new project in Dead Nature, the<br />

wonderful Jessica Luise and the unstoppable Derrick<br />

Nenzo.<br />

40 / PREVIEWS<br />

Kelly Lee Owens speaks to David Weir before her<br />

FestEVOL appearance plus more gigs, events and<br />

exhibitions due to take place in our fully-open world.<br />

44 / REVIEWS<br />

Y’MAM, Black Country, New Road and more in our live<br />

reports.<br />


Starkey the Messenger with powerful prose on the<br />

right to protest.<br />

54 / FINAL SAY<br />

Jennifer John talks about the importance of LCR Music<br />

Board’s Black Lives Matter Manifesto and how it’s only<br />

the beginning.<br />


E D I T O R I A L<br />

This issue of <strong>Bido</strong> <strong>Lito</strong>! went off to print in the week we saw the<br />

final lifting of restrictions which have been in place since 23rd<br />

March 2020. It’s a fittingly confusing time to match the out and<br />

out chaos of the previous 15 months. It’s difficult not to be drawn<br />

into reflecting on this time but it’s even more difficult to comprehend how<br />

we are supposed to go about living our lives now.<br />

There are wildly differing schools of thought on this and most of<br />

them are coming from a place of compassion or should be treated with<br />

compassion. We were already divided as a society going into this thing and<br />

long stints of introspection or echo chamber conjecture means a lot of our<br />

thoughts and outlooks are more divergent than ever. However, above the<br />

debates over Covid passports, mask wearing and whether table service is<br />

better than going to the bar, we shouldn’t lose sight of some of the more<br />

constructive dialogue which arose during lockdown.<br />

One of the most heartening things to come out of our enforced<br />

isolation was the near dissipation of stigma surrounding talking about<br />

mental health. It was accepted that lots of people will be struggling due<br />

to the oppressive circumstances and all the uncertainty which came with<br />

them, and we were all encouraged to check in on each other. This shouldn’t<br />

stop now. With our new freedom comes anxiety, for many there’s still lots<br />

of uncertainty and mental health isn’t confined to times of global pandemic.<br />

There was a resurgence of community as people were not just thinking<br />

about getting ahead but getting to know those they shared streets,<br />

interests or other situations with. This is something else to hold on to,<br />

despite perhaps having less time and more on our plates. There’s lots to<br />

be gained from nurturing these connections and relationships and it is<br />

the opposite route to the division and culture wars which we are getting<br />

further engulfed in.<br />

We spoke lots in<br />

these pages about the<br />

importance of the creatives<br />

who helped us through<br />

those harder weeks<br />

and months. Without<br />

the albums, podcasts,<br />

TV shows and books,<br />

the previous year and<br />

a bit would have been<br />

tedious to say the least.<br />

Now we’re able to repay<br />

them by supporting<br />

them through buying<br />

gig tickets, subscribing<br />

to Patreons and making<br />

recommendations to those<br />

neighbours we’re now bezzies with. We should make sure we don’t forget<br />

the artists whose livelihoods have taken such a hit and received such little<br />

support. This also goes for the supermarket workers, nurses, delivery<br />

drivers and other key workers who selflessly helped us through and will<br />

continue to work hard without even pan bashing to keep up morale. Show<br />

your appreciation where you can and don’t forget them in the rush to the<br />

dancefloor.<br />

Talking of appreciation, I want to place on record my thanks to our<br />

departing editor Elliot who has left <strong>Bido</strong> <strong>Lito</strong>! in rude health and whose<br />

fingerprints can be seen on this edition. His legacy will be felt on many<br />

issues to come. !<br />

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

Executive Publisher<br />

“Mental health<br />

isn’t confined to<br />

times of global<br />

pandemic”<br />

New Music + Creative Culture | Liverpool<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> <strong>116</strong> / <strong>August</strong> <strong>2021</strong><br />

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

Second Floor, The Merchant<br />

40-42 Slater Street, Liverpool L1 4BX<br />

Founding Editor<br />

Craig G Pennington<br />

Founding Editor<br />

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

Executive Publisher<br />

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

Associate Editor<br />

Matthew Berks - matthew@bidolito.co.uk<br />

Contributing Editor<br />

Elliot Ryder<br />

Live And Partnerships Assistant<br />

El Gray - el@bidolito.co.uk<br />

Editorial Interns<br />

Jeanna Colhoun<br />

Mia O’Hare<br />

Shannon Garner<br />

Design<br />

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

Branding<br />

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

Proofreader<br />

Nathaniel Cramp<br />

Cover Photography<br />

Anthony Wilde<br />

Words<br />

Elliot Ryder, Sam Turner, Matthew Berks, El Gray,<br />

Cath Holland, Lily Blakeney-Edwards, Richard<br />

Lewis, Alannah Williams, Iona Fazer, Mia O’Hare,<br />

Orla Foster, Julia Johnson, Craig G Pennington,<br />

David Roskin, Sanna King, Shannon Garner, Jeanna<br />

Colhoun, Paul Fitzgerald, Luke Furlonger-Copeland,<br />

Samuel Lasley, Georgi Cheers-Aslanian, Clare<br />

Dodd, Bryony Large, Starkey the Messenger,<br />

Jennifer John.<br />

Photography, Illustration and Layout<br />

Mark McKellier, Anthony Wilde, Robin Clewley,<br />

Rosa Brown, Jenn Wilcock, Jen Hollis, Michelle<br />

Roberts, Khalil Musa, Matchbox Productions,<br />

Kim Hiorthøy, Lucy MacLachlan, Brian Roberts,<br />

Alexander Monkhouse, Sane Seven.<br />

Distribution<br />

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

through pedal power, courtesy of our <strong>Bido</strong> Bikes. If<br />

you would like to find out more, please email sam@<br />

bidolito.co.uk.<br />

Advertise<br />

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

or finding out about how we can work together,<br />

please email sam@bidolito.co.uk.<br />

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

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

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

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

and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine, its staff or the<br />

publishers. All rights reserved.<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<br />

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

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


NEWS<br />


“We are all craving physical experiences,<br />

and viewing art is always better in person,”<br />

says Lucy Byrne, managing director of<br />

dot-art, on the motive behind a new art<br />

exhibition and submission programme at<br />

Calderstones Park’s refurbished Mansion<br />

House. A partnership between South<br />

Liverpool charity The Reader and social<br />

enterprise dot-art is facilitating the<br />

programme, with a joint venture to provide<br />

a platform for local artists to promote and<br />

sell their work, while also enabling visitors<br />

to engage with visual art in new and<br />

different ways. The programme will follow<br />

a rolling process, with exhibitions lasting<br />

between one and six weeks. Artists from<br />

across the Merseyside region are invited to<br />

apply through the Reader website.<br />

Mansion House<br />

thereader.org.uk<br />


“The old music industry is dead”, Future Yard declare. PROPELLER is here to take its place. The venue’s<br />

new artist membership scheme will empower a new generation of musicians and promising established<br />

artists with the skills, knowledge and support necessary to embrace the modern music industry. Propeller<br />

members are provided with access to high quality rehearsal space, a professional and dedicated industry<br />

mentor, a personalised development plan, regular workshops and masterclasses from leading music<br />

minds, and immersion within a vibrant artistic community. Propeller looks to foster and support embryonic<br />

talent to build an audience, develop their work and transform the music scene. Applications are open until<br />

2nd <strong>August</strong>.<br />

propeller.futureyard.org<br />

Propeller<br />


In an effort to build bridges between communities and cultures, a three-day series<br />

of outdoor pop-up events and happenings are set to play out beneath the bridge at<br />

Liverpool’s Breeze Hill Millennium Green. Hosted by Culture Liverpool in partnership<br />

with Imagineer, the event aims to connect people in new, exciting and unexpected ways,<br />

through a host of diverse daytime acts and late-night performance extravaganzas.<br />

Featuring an eclectic programme of collaborations between communities and arts<br />

organisations from across Merseyside, you can expect a wide array of dance, comedy,<br />

theatre, live music and acrobatics. Free to attend for all ages, the event will be ticketed<br />

with limited availability.<br />

cultureliverpool.co.uk/bridge<br />


A formal invitation into a cultural vortex of time and space, the annual House of Suarez<br />

Vogue Ball returns this Autumn. A much-celebrated event in Liverpool’s cultural calendar,<br />

the ball has seen immense success since its debut in 2008, after forming part of the<br />

European Capital of Culture Homotopia LGBTQ+ programme. Set to take over the World<br />

Museum on 23rd October, this year’s exhibition – Night at the Poseum – will take inspiration<br />

from the venue’s own collections, in a showcase that covers all things costume, dance and<br />

drama. With costume and performance contributions from Houses across the UK, the <strong>2021</strong><br />

competition for catwalk supremacy will be judged by a group of local panellists, to include<br />

BBC Radio Merseyside personality Ngunan Adamu and actor Nathan Sussex.<br />

House Of Suarez<br />

liverpoolmuseums.org.uk<br />



The eager-eyed among you will have recently spotted a new neighbour<br />

atop The Liverpool Plinth at Liverpool Parish Church. Sculpted<br />

using recycled plastic milk bottles and wire frames, Faith Bebbington’s<br />

installation of Jimmy the horse takes inspiration from the horse she<br />

rode as a child and acknowledges the city’s dependence on horsepower<br />

for its historic waterways. As Liverpool’s answer to Trafalgar<br />

Square’s Fourth Plinth, the dedicated site platforms sculptors in the<br />

north of England and will proudly display Jimmy for 12 months.<br />

Jimmy<br />


To educate, inspire and connect – the overall aim of Liverpool Audio Network’s annual Electric<br />

Sound Summit conference, which returns to the Baltic Triangle this September. Featuring<br />

masterclass seminars, panel discussions, live music workshops and keynote talks, ESS is the first<br />

and only event of its kind in the region, offering electronic artists an opportunity to grow both<br />

creatively and professionally. As part of the crucial road-to-recovery for both the wider industry<br />

and the electronic music scenes within it, the conference will play out across multiple venues on<br />

3rd and 4th September. Limited tickets available.<br />

electronicsoundsummit.co.uk<br />

Sound Summit<br />


If you’re in the mood for melody, Liverpool One will get you feeling alright.<br />

This is what Piano Man Billy Joel would surely coo upon the news that<br />

Tickle The Ivories – our city centre shopping emporium’s public music<br />

initiative – is to be extended to 30th <strong>August</strong>. Music ensembles, circus<br />

performers, dancers and artists of any stripe are invited to book a slot at<br />

the annual festival of street performance. The best way to seal your spot<br />

is to email Tickle Music Programmer chris@culture.org.uk and then get<br />

warming up those fingers.<br />

liverpool-one.com/events/tickle<br />


The Bread Streets Group have been busy coordinating<br />

a special event to raise money for their local area.<br />

Taking place at the Herculaneum and Grafton Park on<br />

21st <strong>August</strong>, the community fête will host music, arts<br />

and crafts, games and more as the area looks to come<br />

together after a tough 18 months. The event is an<br />

initiative by residents, for residents and is receiving help<br />

from all corners of the community, including the brilliant<br />

Park Palace Ponies and Granby Toxteth Development<br />

Trust. Go along to show your support.<br />


For many in the UK’s live music industry, embracing the new normal is the last thing<br />

that needs to happen. Informed by research around the needs of local gig-goers and<br />

sound-seekers, Where Are The Girl Bands’ Alternative Spaces event programme<br />

at Bloom Building aims to challenge the conventional gig space with a series of<br />

events foregrounding safety and the representation of more diverse artist line-ups.<br />

Following a range of artist-led workshops in July, including photography, songwriting<br />

and art development days, 8th <strong>August</strong> will see an open mic and poetry development<br />

day with more events to follow.<br />

@wherearethegirlbands<br />




In our new series of concise chats, artists<br />

talk about their album releases. In this issue,<br />

ALI HORN discusses Balcony Boys.<br />

How was the experience recording the album?<br />

It was a way of working that I’ve never done before.<br />

Usually, I go into a studio with a band and share the<br />

experience and create with other people. This time, I<br />

made a record in my spare room on my own, tracking<br />

every instrument myself, apart from some extra keys on<br />

one song and the drums. I also moved house three times<br />

while recording this album. It was weird packing up all<br />

my worldly possessions into boxes, moving, unpacking<br />

and then starting to record again. I was strangely very<br />

focused. I remember one of the first things I did after<br />

moving into a house-share just off Lodge Lane was<br />

record a four-part vocal harmony section. My housemates<br />

must have thought I was a right loon.<br />

Which track is the best intro to Ali Horn?<br />

I would say the title track, Balcony Boys. It’s where<br />

I’ve been wanting to land musically for a while. It’s a<br />

throwback to the early years of garage rock with a whole<br />

load of 90s baggy thrown in and a long and swirly outro.<br />

When did you write these songs?<br />

I wrote everything over a six-month period while<br />

making the album. I purposefully didn’t want to use any<br />

previously written songs. I wanted to capture the feelings<br />

of the time as we were/are living in a weird dream.<br />

Are there overriding influences on the album?<br />

There’s the classic big life and death acid flashback<br />

stuff, the universe in a grain of sand thinking. Lots of<br />

comedown tracks without being too druggy. Overall, I just<br />

think there are lots of love songs to the world in it.<br />

Describe Balcony Boys in eight words.<br />

Hopefully it fits in your record collection nicely.<br />

Balcony Boys is available now via Rooftop Records. Ali<br />

Horn plays FestEVOL on Saturday 14th <strong>August</strong>.<br />

1 0 - 5<br />

W E D<br />

1 0 - 9 T H U / F R I / S A T<br />

1 0 - 5 S U N<br />




HOT PINK!<br />

Words: Richard Lewis, Matthew Berks,<br />

Jeanna Colhoun and Alannah Williams<br />

Swirls of psychedelia, RnB, pop, electronica and punk provide a frenzied distillation of the best<br />

new sounds being concocted across Merseyside. Hot szn is here. Dig in.<br />

Sunzoom<br />

The Garden Birds Of India<br />

Inspired by a book of the same title sourced from a<br />

bric-a-brac and antique shop in Liverpool (certain to<br />

be wonderful Renshaw Street establishment 69A),<br />

SUNZOOM offer up a sliver of sun-baked psychedelia. A<br />

woozy ode to the ornithology featured in the book and<br />

some species invented by the band, The Garden Birds Of<br />

India evokes Super Furry Animals and Odelay-era Beck.<br />

Released through cult label Colorama Records, owned<br />

and operated by psych indie notables The Moons. RL<br />

Cola Museum<br />

Back Around<br />

God only knows we’re in desperate need of an auditory<br />

elixir to uplift our sore souls, and COLA MUSEUM’s Back<br />

Around is just the fix we’ve been craving. Featuring<br />

signature flows from BLUE SAINT and DAYZY, this<br />

track finds a natural home in blending soulful RnB with<br />

overdriven guitars and glittering pulses of synth where<br />

it ascends into a feel-good, almost psychedelic buffet to<br />

see you on your journey of self-discovery. MB<br />

Katy Alex<br />

Sucker For Love<br />

Pop music innovator KATY ALEX breathes new life into<br />

the genre with her edgy take on a classic pop sound.<br />

The Liverpool singer has already made waves with her<br />

previous releases, establishing herself as one of the most<br />

exciting upcoming young pop artists in the city. Taken<br />

from her debut EP, her latest release features a playful,<br />

beat-hopping bassline, complimented by colourful use of<br />

electronic drums and heavy synths. A memorable chorus<br />

with strong vocal hooks which will have you a sucker for<br />

this track again and again… and again. JC<br />

Broken Down Golf Cart<br />

In Centre Fold<br />

BROKEN DOWN GOLF CART have a knack for producing<br />

haunting tracks that captivate from the offset. Operating<br />

under the cocktail-inspired moniker, Canadian Jen<br />

Baranick is providing a quirky slice of goodness to the<br />

indie-rock genre with her lush vocal performances and<br />

exuberant electric guitar slides. With sultry bass drops<br />

and almost-hidden backing screams and cackles, the<br />

track is accompanied by a self-produced horror-inspired<br />

music video that is a cinematic feat of its own accord. AW<br />

James Neal<br />

Paint The Dark<br />

Formerly of indie-rock notables The Stamp, Paint The<br />

Dark sees singer-songwriter JAMES NEAL change gear<br />

to focus on Americana for his new output. An energetic,<br />

country-infused hoedown, the cut doffs its cap (or should<br />

that be Stetson?) to The Band and Gram Parsons with<br />

maybe a smidgen of Gerry Cinnamon’s storytelling<br />

thrown in. RL<br />

Boom Dice x Sola<br />

Embers<br />

Pop powerhouse SOLA is back with a collaboration with<br />

the enigmatic Boom Dice. With Raspy and sultry vocals<br />

aplenty, along with a pummelling bassline and electronic<br />

backing, Embers could make Billie Eilish blush. Backed<br />

by insistent percussion, the instrumentation allows Sola’s<br />

vocals to shine through and display the prowess she<br />

possesses as a performer. The track offers a delightful<br />

insight into what’s yet to come from Sola, and we can’t<br />

wait. AW<br />

Louie Miles<br />

Another Blue<br />

Its creator describes the suitably reverie-like Another<br />

Blue as being about “how you can become unknowingly<br />

addicted to your imagination, and the warmth and feeling<br />

it can produce”. A mosaic of medicated sounding guitars<br />

and wispy vocal melodies, the newest offering from the<br />

alt-pop auteur brings 80s synth mystiques The Blue Nile<br />

to mind. RL<br />

Yammerer<br />

Tell Me What The Ancient<br />

Astronaut Theorists Believe<br />

One of the best live bands on the Liverpool circuit at<br />

present, psych punks YAMMERER blast back with the<br />

bracing rush of Tell Me What The Ancient Astronaut<br />

Theorists Believe. Led by frontman Jason Corbett’s sungspoken<br />

narrative of a character called Jon Vertigo, the<br />

scene begins in Panama with a ceiling fan rotating above<br />

his bed, conjuring up images of Apocalypse Now. An<br />

excellent new addition to the quintet’s stockpile of spiky<br />

missives. RL<br />

Loris and the Lion<br />

Eat Me Alice<br />

A subtle yet elusive questioning of gender identity, which<br />

takes the age-old tale of Alice in Wonderland to new<br />

narrative heights. Framed by ethereal vocal tones, the<br />

lyrical depth of Eat Me Alice is unmissable. A gentle and<br />

tasteful musical probing about concepts of not fitting in,<br />

finding yourself lost and attempting to reshape your own<br />

identity, in line with the presets and expectations of our<br />

current society and culture. JC<br />

Photography from left to right: Louie Buckley-King, Sola,<br />

Cola Museum, Katy Alex<br />




Joseph Kojo is never far from a change of<br />

scenery. As the renaissance chameleon<br />

continues to chew and spit out a<br />

resuscitated post-Covid environment,<br />

Iona Fazer gets to grips with the vocal<br />

acrobat as he heads into a new era.<br />

Lounging on the sun-kissed grass of Stanley Park,<br />

I laugh as KOJ recounts an attempt to leave a<br />

Liverpool match while on crutches. He points to<br />

the mountainous Anfield Stadium behind as he<br />

describes the perilous trip downstairs towards the exit.<br />

“All the way to the 96th minute, you just see Suarez score<br />

making it 2-2. My crutches went in the air,” he narrates<br />

with playful gestures.<br />

It’s therefore somewhat bewildering to hear he’s now<br />

a newly converted Everton fan. But much like his music<br />

career, Koj is a rapper who’s constantly evolving. He has<br />

no fear of change – however significant it might appear<br />

to others.<br />

Formerly known as ‘Wavy Joe’ due to knocking<br />

around Wavertree all his life, the Anfield emcee Joseph<br />

Kojo has cultivated a new era of artistry under the<br />

moniker of Koj. As part of networks Wavy Gang and<br />

Grime of the Earth (GOTE), the Greenbank-born rapper<br />

has made notable appearances on Red Bull Music’s<br />

Grime Clash quarter final and, more recently, BBC Three’s<br />

Rap Trip: Underground Scenes Uncovered. Not solely<br />

turning heads in Liverpool, his vocal acrobatics have been<br />

called upon by Manchester’s The Mouse Outfit for his<br />

latest high-profile collaboration on Didgeridoo.<br />

Koj’s current work is a manifestation of the life<br />

and sound of Liverpool. With the idiolect of a young<br />

Black man, he twists language to create extraordinary<br />

connotations, referring to money as “bread” or<br />

“GWOP”. His sound is one full of poise and intensity.<br />

It’s like listening to a clock ticking over silence, pensive,<br />

considered, then a white flash of energy erupts from the<br />

scene. Beats run alongside lyrics that are laid down like<br />

commandments. Lows and highs, thick and thin – Koj<br />

raps with acrobatic verve and flexibility.<br />

The first time I met Koj was in 2016 at a photoshoot<br />

for GOTE’s new T-shirt collection. At that point he was<br />

about to head off to New Zealand to become a kids’<br />

football coach. Though the coaching sadly fell through,<br />

the trip became heavily influenced by older rapper Resk,<br />

who introduced him to the concept of OzMOB.<br />

Now some years on, OzMOB names the umbrella<br />

of individuals uniting alongside Koj with the artistic<br />

mission to create a new type of sound, expressive of the<br />

collaboration with the producers. There’s conviction in<br />

Koj’s voice as he speaks of OzMOB being about “trusting<br />

in oneself – working on the flow and the repeat of energy<br />

that bounces between us. This is working more than<br />

anything I’ve tried before.”<br />

Koj begins to reflect on his experiences of the past<br />

year while I pick at some blades of grass beneath my feet.<br />

“I am in the business of looking after myself right now. I’m<br />

ready for all the experiences again,” he says, “but not only<br />

has it been a while, it’s been different, hasn’t it? We’ve<br />

been alone or in small groups. I can’t complain about it. I<br />


think it’s been testing, but it’s been good to have time to<br />

work on what I want to have going on.”<br />

Back in 2020, Koj was interviewed by The Rap Game<br />

UK contestants, FOS and Ransom as part of BBC Three’s<br />

Rap Trip, which uncovered the UK’s underground scene<br />

focusing on Liverpool rap, drill and trap. Introduced by<br />

GOTE’s Gully Man Dred as one of the “freshest new guys<br />

coming through”, the short documentary captures a<br />

telling moment from Koj.<br />

“I’m only 22 but I feel like I’ve lived at least 35 years,”<br />

he says as he meanders around L8. “I lost my mum<br />

when I was six and I’ve been living through some shit,<br />

you know what I mean? So, I am a real product of my<br />

environment, I’m really out here.”<br />

Koj’s experiences from a young age, and as Wavy<br />

Joe, are something he’s had to deal with on top of the<br />

struggles that so many young Black males in Liverpool<br />

are plagued with: the perpetual fear of legal jeopardy.<br />

More evident in his earlier lyrics under the alias Wavy Joe,<br />

he describes life experiences dominated by police chases<br />

and dodging prison.<br />

Koj used to collaborate with other rappers, such as<br />

Wavy Gang member Rico Don, who in contrast is more<br />

guttural and off-centre. On Set Back, one of their songs<br />

released earlier this year, Koj reminds us of his journey:<br />

“I grew up in darkness, I’m living in light. I’m tryna get it<br />

regardless, I put in so much work, but the risk and return<br />



got me back where I started.”<br />

On his new track, Busy, Koj uses his bars to reminisce<br />

about him and his girlfriend at the time. Being chased<br />

by the police and having to “change up script”, he recalls<br />

being arrested along with his friend and then clarifies:<br />

“But still I’m out here with packs and a whip. I don’t<br />

wanna’ do it but it’s gotta’ get done”. The track features<br />

samples that act like warning signs, an eerie feeling<br />

of impending doom over the pace of a ticking clock;<br />

reflecting the fact that Koj has recognised that it’s time<br />

to change.<br />

Now working a job alongside colleagues who he<br />

describes as being supportive of his music, Koj is often<br />

accompanied by his girlfriend, Kate Hillion, who is also<br />

the talent behind the cover art for all his single releases<br />

following Blue Notes. “Kate is smashing the artwork,<br />

coming with newer concepts and variety... I think it’s just<br />

the tip of the iceberg at the moment,” he commends.<br />

Koj’s past year has been one of physical ascent.<br />

After the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, he found<br />

himself feeling angry and cut deep. Looking for a way to<br />

turn the energy into positive outcomes, he sought advice<br />

from a friend who suggested doing a marathon to raise<br />

money for charity.<br />

It was an idea which began as creating a beacon<br />

for everyone who wanted to contribute in some way<br />

but didn’t know how. His involvement helped establish<br />

anEQUALrace, an organisation with the aim of using<br />

sport to promote equality. This created a running club<br />

which included the members of OzMOB. “It was so<br />

inspirational to have those people there every week,”<br />

Koj says, “it gave me a new outlook on things, I thought<br />

everything moving forwards we do it with a level head.”<br />

For Koj, collaboration has been the key to success<br />

in his solo work. “Honesty is what I find the most<br />

important thing. If we’re gonna’ talk about doing this<br />

thing I’ve got to know if it’s secretly rubbish, otherwise<br />

what’s the point?”<br />

Key players in OzMOB have been instrumental in his<br />

development. Beige, a budding London rapper/producer,<br />

started off running event nights called Soundsystem4 in<br />

Handyman’s Brewery on Smithdown Road with Tomas<br />

Brown, who’s also spearheading OzMOB and sits next<br />

to Koj on the grass. “I do my thing,” he starts, “but<br />

there behind the scenes is where we’re pushing it to<br />

the right ear, to people who might be able to push it to<br />

somewhere else.”<br />

Released just a year ago and produced by Jakebob,<br />

debut single Blue Notes marked something of a new<br />

era in his life. “A tune like Blue Notes came out of my<br />

experiences over the last few years,” he notes. “I had<br />

to put it into words for stress relief and that was like<br />

a transition into the now.” The track was followed up<br />

quickly with features on Capital Xtra via Rob Bruce’s<br />

First Play in the UK, 1Xtra’s playlist via BBC Introducing<br />

Merseyside and Mixtape Madness’ Suburban Spotlight.<br />

It’s clear that Koj has started settling down and is<br />

considering the meaning of his life. It’s relatable in the<br />

sense that we all try out things that are negative when<br />

we are young and learn that not everyone who surrounds<br />

us are good role models. “I was OT with a fidgety dude”,<br />

as he says in Didgeridoo. Hearing it first from Koj, “OT”<br />

is short for “out there” and has since frequented my<br />

vocabulary, such is his influence and quotability.<br />

Since I first met him in 2016, I have known Koj to<br />

have the power to impact people – easy to spot in a<br />

crowd and with a personality that shines brighter than<br />

most. Since then, Koj has always been smiling; he was<br />

never dismissive and forever courteous, but yet I found<br />

him hard to read. Now it feels as though the struggles<br />

were all underneath that, the pain was and is evident,<br />

but for the first time it really feels like the healing<br />

process has begun.<br />

Lockdown has meant replacing the audience with<br />

friends and family, and Koj has flourished as a part of<br />

OzMOB. The sun is shining bright over our faces and he<br />

tips his hat over his eyes. “In the first place I was always<br />

performing for myself,” he says with a philosophical air.<br />

“But I think a bit too much. I’ve managed to put a spin on<br />

it where I can kind of make it more palatable.”<br />

You could describe Koj’s approach to music as a<br />

chance encounter as, like many of us, he found himself<br />

with free time to spend in lockdown. But crossing paths<br />

with influential characters means it’s been far from<br />

sluggish. Now, with restrictions easing, it seems there’s<br />

more potential for the outlining future prospects. “I’m<br />

looking to do more, my fire is lit for that,” he responds as<br />

he details plans for merchandise and music videos which<br />

are starting to get in motion.<br />

The encouragement he gets is from OzMOB telling<br />

him that there are no restrictions, believing that there<br />

is more than one tunnel to travel down and keeping it<br />

broad spread. “I didn’t know I could rap on beats like this,<br />

I didn’t even know that those types of beats existed,”<br />

Koj admits matter-of-factly. Sitting directly in line with<br />

a tree behind him in the distance, I see the spindled<br />

arms of twigs growing as if from either side of his head<br />

as he talks of branching out into a new sound; his own<br />

expansion into this unknown area of music like those<br />

newly forming arms of a tree.<br />

“My new sound moving forwards is more a product<br />

of what’s going on now. People will be able to tell the<br />

difference,” he says with a conviction characteristic of<br />

his music and everything that bears the OzMOB imprint.<br />

“The knowing of self-worth, the belief of what we are<br />

doing,” he exhorts. There’s so much assurance in his<br />

voice, I imagine travelling with him through a desert of<br />

music and him being unscathed by the wasteland, certain<br />

that the oasis ahead is real. !<br />

Words: Iona Fazer / @ionafazer97<br />

Photography: Anthony Wilde / @evolving_necessary<br />

Gwop is available now.<br />

“My new sound<br />

moving forwards<br />

is more a product<br />

of what’s going<br />

on now”<br />



the everyday stories that<br />

make our city extraordinary<br />

Created by Chloë Moss<br />

With original material by<br />

Amina Atiq, Luke Barnes,<br />

Roy, Aron Julius,<br />

Rhiannon Jones,<br />

Mandy Redvers-Rowe,<br />

and the people of Liverpool<br />

THU SAT 531 AUG Jul TO to<br />

SAT Sat 14 AUG Aug <strong>2021</strong><br />

Book online at:<br />

everymanplayhouse.com<br />

Directed by Nathan Powell<br />

Video & Projection Design by Tracey Gibbs<br />

Costume & Props Design by Kirsty Barlow<br />

Lighting Design by Jack Coleman<br />

Sound Design by Xenia Bayer<br />

Cast: Helen Carter, Chloë Clarke, Aron Julius,<br />

Nathan McMullen and Jennifer Varda<br />

Williamson Square, Liverpool, L1 1EL

DORCAS<br />

The creative all-rounder and self-confessed<br />

workaholic refracts the sociopolitical zeitgeist<br />

through spoken word, gospel and rap.<br />

SEB<br />



After just half an hour of speaking on the<br />

phone, it feels as if I have heard DORCAS<br />

SEB’s whole life story. At just 24, the<br />

multidisciplinary artist has made a name<br />

for herself through poetry and theatre productions and<br />

releasing a debut album for good measure. A selfconfessed<br />

workaholic with a story to tell, the story we<br />

bear witness to today is a story of how one young Black<br />

female creative announced herself onto Liverpool’s<br />

creative scene to address societal issues through a<br />

kaleidoscope of artistic output.<br />

“I guess I just sometimes react to what’s going on in<br />

the world,” she announces casually, before admitting it<br />

runs deeper. “I think that these are political conversations<br />

that I have in general; I think it’s in me already. By the<br />

time I go to write, it’s already there bubbling within me<br />

waiting to get pushed out.”<br />

Such politically charged soliloquies eventually<br />

escaped and reformed into a debut album, Vice Versa,<br />

released in 2018, which explores streams of political<br />

consciousness. Her original plan was to release a few<br />

feel-good songs, but as soon as she began writing, she<br />

knew she needed to expand the concept into an album<br />

which speaks to the bellwether moments that hallmarked<br />

2020. “I couldn’t help but highlight some of the division<br />

going on; political tension, what that means and what it<br />

means to be a Black woman in the world.”<br />

Over lockdown, the Congo-born artist released<br />

Deep Calleth Unto Deep, an eight-track investigation<br />

into racial injustice through a package of gospel, song,<br />

poetry and thought – the title taking its name from Psalm<br />

42. Here was Dorcas responding to the external living<br />

environment: the global Black Lives Matter protests were<br />

at their apogee while she was working on the spoken<br />

word album, to which she found it difficult to react. “I<br />

didn’t want to be in a space which was going to tempt<br />

me to be really angry. I felt angry and I feel like I have the<br />

right to be angry, but I just didn’t want that anger to go<br />

to the place of hatred.” Poetry and protest are so often<br />

entangled, but she decided to turn to the former to help<br />

her come to terms with the emotions inside her.<br />

But if Dorcas’ poetry and songwriting has enabled<br />

her to react to the here and now, acting has allowed her<br />

to explore and amplify the voices of those she is yet to<br />

encounter in the physical realm. One of her most recent<br />

acting projects includes the BBC commission, Buttercup.<br />

Co-produced with local theatre company 20 Stories High,<br />

the solo performance weaves spoken word, poems and<br />

memories to share the story of a young woman finally<br />

making her story heard after being subjected to sexual<br />

abuse as a child in Kinshasa. Although Dorcas was<br />

enthusiastic about the project, in the beginning she<br />

held reservations about taking it on. But after<br />

meeting with the theatre company and<br />

seeing the extent of their research, she<br />

just couldn’t say no to giving the<br />

story a platform.<br />

If so much of Dorcas’<br />

output has been shaped<br />

by her individual<br />

experiences, an<br />

equally large part of<br />

her consciousness<br />

has been influenced<br />

by an upbringing<br />

surrounded by five<br />

other siblings active<br />

in the creative world.<br />

“I remember my<br />

siblings always going<br />

to these sort of projects<br />

and me being like, ‘What<br />

the hell, why am I staying<br />

at home?’” she laughs, before<br />

sharing a juxtaposing memory<br />

of sitting at home with her sister<br />

braiding her hair while writing poetry.<br />

“It was about the First World War and<br />

how sad it was for this one guy to come<br />

home to nothing. See? Even at 10 I was<br />

political!”<br />

At that time, Dorcas’ brother and sisters were<br />

attending the Liverpool Young Writers Project, run by<br />

literary festival Writing on the Wall, and invited her along.<br />

Despite being too young to attend, she was nevertheless<br />

welcomed with open arms. But it wasn’t just the<br />

opportunity to share her creative vocation with others<br />

that made her time so memorable. “I think, mainly, the<br />

reason I actually wanted to be there was because one, I<br />

got to write and socialise and meet new people but two,<br />

they always gave us biscuits!”<br />

As the writing cohort grew up together, they<br />

developed a collective passion for music, with Dorcas<br />

opting to explore rap and spoken word as well as singing.<br />

“I kind of got worried about the music industry and how<br />

that was going to affect me because nobody I saw on TV<br />

looked like me. The people on TV were quite sensual and<br />

I didn’t want that pressure on myself.” Although finding<br />

impressive success in music – supporting Akala, Lady<br />

Leshurr, Sway and Lowkey – the constraints the industry<br />

brought forced a return to dancing, something she had<br />

always wanted to pursue before she started writing.<br />

After taking a short break from music, dance and<br />

writing altogether, Dorcas joined the youth theatre aged<br />

15, a decision that gave her licence to probe a range of<br />

creative exploits. “What I liked about 20 Stories High was<br />

that they allowed me to be musical without it being like a<br />

musical. They allowed me to just sing, rap, or do poetry,<br />

which is everything that I do already. So, I was like, ‘Oh,<br />

this is cool’.” At 17, she dabbled in acting for the first time<br />

in her sister’s show and was fully committed to it after<br />

feeling empowered sharing other people’s stories.<br />

The result is an artist confident in her arsenal of<br />

creative communication which both shapes, and is<br />

shaped by, her external environment. “It’s just like I<br />

can’t run away. I feel like I can’t<br />

get away from any of them,<br />

they just always follow me.<br />

If I’m not doing one thing,<br />

I’m doing the other, and<br />

if I’m not doing that<br />

then I’m doing the<br />

other.”<br />

Like so<br />

many creatives<br />

managing<br />

several<br />

projects<br />

at once,<br />

lockdown<br />

came as<br />

a blow<br />

to Dorcas. But it also brought something of a revelation<br />

about her working habits. “I was a self-proclaimed<br />

workaholic, but I didn’t realise that until lockdown came.”<br />

In the end, she realised she needed to take advantage<br />

of spare time. “I was trying to understand who I am<br />

when I’m not working because the lines are so blurred<br />

within the creative industries because you love your job.<br />

There were times when I hadn’t visited my mum in ages<br />

because I was working, but I didn’t see it as a problem. I<br />

was like, I will see my mum at Christmas or at church on<br />

Sunday. I learned the beauty of saying no in lockdown, so<br />

I grew in that way.”<br />

During lockdown, Dorcas balanced her time between<br />

working a customer service role and writing Buttercup.<br />

“Sometimes I had my work stuff in front of me and<br />

then my laptop so every time I didn’t get a call, I would<br />

quickly write on it. I sometimes think, ‘How did I actually<br />

do that?’ It was stressful.” But by understanding how<br />

to say no to projects, Dorcas was able to reflect on how<br />

much she was just saying yes for the sake of it. “When<br />

I get approached with a project, what I tend to do now<br />

is ask myself, ‘Is it too much for me right now? Does<br />

it fit my values? How important is it to me<br />

and is somebody else pushing this<br />

message already? Is there<br />

something we can<br />

try to be actively<br />

speaking<br />

about so<br />

that<br />


one subject doesn’t get saturated?’”<br />

One thing Dorcas feels passionate speaking about<br />

is the value and opportunities community projects bring<br />

to young and disadvantaged children. “I feel like I have<br />

a responsibility because I grew up in spaces where I<br />

was mentored in writing from 10 years of age, and I<br />

had the opportunity to perform and make music. Those<br />

opportunities have helped me have the voice I have and be<br />

the creative person I am today.”<br />

Alongside her album, Vice Versa, Dorcas launched<br />

the #MicWorthy community project, which helped young<br />

people from Liverpool come together to discuss problems<br />

within society and to create and perform pieces from<br />

the discussions. “When I look at the opportunities that<br />

are in Liverpool, there aren’t as many compared to other<br />

cities. [But] I’m starting to see the growth in the number<br />

of opportunities for young people to develop their skills.<br />

Especially at the time when I made [#MicWorthy], I<br />

worked really hard so that they could develop the skills to<br />

perform and have their work documented because I had<br />

that growing up. I feel like we should step in since what<br />

happened with the funding for youth services and act<br />

where the government can’t be bothered.”<br />

As our conversation nears to an end, I can’t help but<br />

feel inspired by Dorcas’ passion for her work and the sheer<br />

amount of creativity she holds. Her joyous personality<br />

is rubbing off on me as we joke about the<br />

future and her plans to help develop<br />

artists and discover more stories<br />

based in Africa. “I’m intrigued<br />

about things like age because I<br />

change my mind all the time,<br />

but I definitely do see myself<br />

doing that, not in the near<br />

future but in the future. We<br />

can do a reunion when I’m<br />

40!” she laughs. Let’s see<br />

if she has the time to fit it<br />

all in. !<br />

Words: Mia O’Hare /<br />

@mia_ohare<br />

Photography:<br />

Robin Clewley /<br />

robinclewley.co.uk<br />

Buttercup is<br />

available to<br />

download on<br />

BBC iPlayer.<br />

@DorcasSeb<br />

“I couldn’t help but<br />

highlight some of the<br />

divisions: political<br />

tension, what that<br />

means and what it<br />

means to be a Black<br />

woman in the world”<br />



WYNDOW<br />

Between Liverpool and Clydebank, a charged electrical current of collaboration is powering<br />

Wyndow’s remote musical postcards. Orla Foster enters the chat with the pair who find ethereal<br />

coexistence in the virtual cosmos.<br />

are your thoughts on castration,<br />

people? Are you for or against?”<br />

asks Laura J Martin, one-half of<br />

“What<br />

WYNDOW, briskly as a plaintive<br />

howl floats up from behind the door. Her dog, Eno, has<br />

been banished from the room she’s speaking from and<br />

he’s taking it badly. “He’s chewing everything up. He’s<br />

becoming a teenager and I think he needs to calm down,”<br />

she says with mild despair.<br />

While Laura does her best to tune out the whimpers,<br />

the other half, Lavinia Blackwall (formerly of folk-rock<br />

outfit Trembling Bells), joins us fresh from the Scottish<br />

22<br />

countryside where she’s just bought a hut. We’re meeting<br />

over Zoom to talk about their brand-new project, a<br />

psychedelic pop adventure which sprung from the<br />

shadows of lockdown. Given the band’s timeline, grappling<br />

with domestic distractions has become par for the course.<br />

Unlike most bands, Laura and Lavinia have barely<br />

clapped eyes on each other since forming. Their<br />

collaboration has taken place entirely online, with<br />

various snippets of audio flitting back and forth between<br />

Liverpool and Clydebank for months on end. It’s an<br />

approach they describe as “musical postcards”.<br />

“Some people could see the difficulty of recording<br />

separately as a negative thing, but I put a different spin<br />

on it,” Laura assures. “Having access to different rooms<br />

and environments can add up to a different character, or<br />

texture, which you don’t get when you’re defined by just<br />

one space. It would have been lovely to be in the same<br />

room with Vinnie but having those limitations can make<br />

you more creative in some ways.”<br />

Lavinia nods on-screen. “And I also think that,<br />

because you’re not in the same room, you’re very free.<br />

You think, well, this other person’s not here, I’m just<br />

going to try something out because I know they won’t<br />

be offended. You know? It’s not that I’d be setting out to

offend anyone, but you just feel much less constricted,<br />

or watched. So, you’re trying out lots of ideas, which is<br />

liberating.”<br />

It all started with Robert Wyatt. After meeting at<br />

Moseley Folk Festival in 2017, a shared love of his music<br />

led to them covering his Free Will and Testament together.<br />

And then, like all the best friendships, things escalated<br />

to trading mixtapes over wine, uncovering more mutual<br />

influences and highlighting the artists they wanted to<br />

draw on next, like Judee Sill and Virginia Astley.<br />

While both are seasoned singer-songwriters<br />

with plenty of releases behind them, the music they<br />

have been working on for Wyndow takes a different<br />

approach. It’s a tableau of restless, interlocking rhythms,<br />

tightly orchestrated harmonies, haunting refrains, and<br />

the lingering sensation of trying to stay afloat as time<br />

marches ruthlessly by.<br />

“One of the key sounds we kept coming back to<br />

was the two voices singing in unison,” Laura says. “I’ve<br />

always loved The Roches and was struck by those tight<br />

harmonies, so I wanted to explore that.”<br />

Not that either artist began the project knowing<br />

what to expect. This wasn’t the kind of collaboration<br />

where they could bounce ideas off each other in realtime.<br />

Instead of holing up in a studio, they worked from<br />

home: each experimenting with a section, adding layer<br />

upon layer until one of them was happy with it before<br />

sending it over to the other to build on.<br />

By January, they had a first single, Take My Picture,<br />

with its delicate, ethereal vocals and a spectral piano<br />

melody burrowing its way into your head. Next came<br />

Two Strong Legs, which, in the words of their Bandcamp,<br />

is “a tune for whacked out worriers lifting weights in<br />

the worry gym”. Finally, their latest release, Pulling On<br />

A String, is just as stirring with its slight undertone of<br />

dread set against mellifluous, almost fragile, harmonies.<br />

When Laura and Lavinia discuss what went into<br />

the songs, their dialogue is as careful and reciprocal as<br />

the recording process itself. If one comes out with an<br />

observation, she gently runs it by the other, giving her<br />

the chance to add her own spin. And if one tries to say<br />

something self-deprecating, she can count on being<br />

told off. It comes across as a really supportive working<br />

relationship, playing to both of their strengths. Laura<br />

agrees: “I’ve really enjoyed being able to work with<br />

another female, and one of the things I love about Vinnie<br />

is that she’s so decisive. I struggle to come to decisions,<br />

and she’s a no-mess kind of lady.”<br />

You can tell that both are pretty intuitive about each<br />

other’s tastes and creative approaches, but let’s not skim<br />

over the amount of trust it must have taken to work<br />

like this. With both musicians already established in<br />

their solo careers, did it ever feel like a gamble to hand<br />

over creative control to another person, even if only<br />

temporarily? “There is an element of chance in sending<br />

off something like a sketch, and then getting an angle<br />

on it from Lavinia that I hadn’t even imagined being<br />

possible,” Laura says. “But it meant we had the chance<br />

to live with an idea and then craft a response, rather than<br />

worrying about how people were going to play it live.”<br />

Although they worked together to arrange the<br />

songs, the songwriting was often a more solitary<br />

process. Lavinia, for example, describes a song she found<br />

herself writing in Italy, based on the memory of a man<br />

who once lived in her dad’s basement. The lyrics became<br />

a kind of ghost story inspired by the eerie image of him<br />

out in the fields nearby. As well as this, she says, some<br />

of the ideas came from “thinking about time passing,<br />

and about mortality, and the way things come and go”.<br />

Laura, meanwhile, focused on internal discourses and<br />

minimalism.<br />

“I didn’t realise this at the time, but looking back<br />

at the lyrics, there seems to be a theme of how<br />

introspective thoughts change when they’re externalised<br />

and put against the outside world,” she says. “The initial<br />

spark came from listening to Japanese environmental<br />

music and Philip Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi. I’m not sure that<br />

it’s particularly obvious in the sound of the record now,<br />

but it informed the feel of the early demos which were<br />

sent back and forth and developed in their own ways.”<br />

With so many influences lurking beneath the surface<br />

of their work, did they mostly agree on the direction they<br />

wanted their sound to take? Who called the shots? “I’m<br />

quite disorganised, and Laura’s very organised,” Lavinia<br />

begins. “Oh, don’t write that!” Laura interjects. “I’m rock<br />

‘n’ roll, Vinnie. Don’t say I’m organised.” Lavinia counters:<br />

“It’s actually more rock ‘n’ roll to be organised, because<br />

it means you get shit done. That’s what’s brilliant about<br />

you, Laura, you’ve got this analytical and very precise<br />

way of looking at things. That’s the benefit of having<br />

your capabilities and input: the precision. Total stickler for<br />

detail, in a really good way.”<br />

“But then when someone gives me options,” Laura<br />

replies, “I run with them, and I can’t put that full stop<br />

on things.” She goes on to recount a radio session they<br />

once did together, where she would have agonised over<br />

the final mix until dawn had it not been for Lavinia firmly<br />

drawing a line under it. “Vinnie, you stop my twitches.”<br />

By now, Zoom has rendered my voice tiny and faint,<br />

Lavinia’s battery life has nosedived and Laura doesn’t<br />

know how long she has until Eno’s incisors sever a<br />

cable. As Lavinia mentions heading off to work on her<br />

vegetable garden – plans she immediately dismisses as<br />

“cliché and annoying” – Laura becomes captivated by<br />

the tranquil bucolic existence being conjured up here.<br />

We wrap up the call dreaming about huts in far-flung<br />

locations, with Laura quizzing Lavinia on the brass tacks<br />

of remote living.<br />

As normality returns with all its promises of inperson<br />

collaboration, Wyndow have no plans to call time<br />

on the project. They’ve found a cadence that really works<br />

for them, a back-and-forth of ideas that goes against the<br />

grain of more traditional songwriting. There are plans for<br />

a full-length album, a tour and, of course, some future<br />

cameos on each other’s solo work.<br />

But if the hut thing works out and both musicians<br />

wind up in splendid woodland seclusion, disturbed<br />

only by the occasional breeze rippling through the<br />

bluebells, at least you know their music won’t take<br />

a hit. Just pray for a strong internet connection<br />

so that those fragments of songs can keep on<br />

zipping through the ether. Wyndow have made<br />

long distance work. !<br />

Words: Orla Foster<br />

Illustration: Rosa Brown / @rosa.illo<br />

Wyndow is slated for release this<br />

autumn.<br />


“There seems to<br />

be a theme of how<br />

introspective thoughts<br />

change when they’re<br />

externalised and<br />

put against the<br />

outside world”<br />





Embracing myriad personas and alter egos, Natalie and<br />

The Monarchy find a voice in the vulnerabilities of power.<br />

“I<br />

grew up in the theatre, so I always wanted<br />

to incorporate it into my work,” Natalie Papa<br />

of NATALIE AND THE MONARCHY reveals.<br />

We’re sitting outside Café Tabac a few days<br />

after the country’s grand re-opening. Naturally, Bold<br />

Street is bustling with faces. But even among the array of<br />

people, her flair for the dramatics is obvious, decorating<br />

herself with pins, jewellery trinkets and a discernible<br />

punk style. “My dad’s a playwright and was obsessed<br />

with directing horror-filled, dark plays. So, I grew up in<br />

that experimental, scar-you-for-life kind of world. If the<br />

play ever required a child, there I was!” As we chat, she<br />

remains effortlessly captivating, and yet, what could be<br />

an otherwise intimidating feature of the young artist is<br />

dulled by the welcoming gleam in her eyes that seems<br />

to suggest that wherever<br />

she’s going, there’s an open<br />

invite for you. “I’m obsessed<br />

with dark cabaret as well,”<br />

she continues. “All my<br />

friends call it clown music,<br />

but it’s just what makes me<br />

happy.”<br />

Despite her decadent<br />

origins, the artist felt<br />

constrained by her New<br />

Jersey surroundings before<br />

coming to Liverpool in<br />

2018 to start her musical<br />

career. “Who I am as an<br />

artist didn’t really exist<br />

before I moved here,” she<br />

confesses. “I was 18 and<br />

desperate to get out of<br />

the US because of Trump.<br />

Gigging in the US under<br />

the drinking age is very<br />

difficult, so it’s almost<br />

impossible for younger artists to start out. It was so<br />

weird being able to play at bars and clubs here, and then<br />

go back home where we would have to secretly drink in<br />

my parents’ basement.” There’s an obvious humour in<br />

the disconnect between her identity as an artist and the<br />

image of youth this confession conjures. “I had a friend<br />

in Berlin who basically told me coming to the UK was the<br />

best way to make a name for yourself,” she continues.<br />

And what of the name’s regal origins? “Natalie and The<br />

Monarchy sounds like this really political name, I know.<br />

But it’s really because all my bandmates are British, and<br />

I like the word monarchy – it gives off a very powerful<br />

vibe!” she announces giddily.<br />

With her journey for independence and musical<br />

exploration underway as soon as she reached UK soil, the<br />

artist’s image quickly emerged as one tethered to gothic<br />

decadence. Through a blend of Riot Grrrl influences and<br />

her own celestial vocals, the persona of Natalie and The<br />

Monarchy is one that ties brooding punk soundscapes<br />

with celebrations of sexuality, power and the nature<br />

of femininity that carry across the full breadth of the<br />

artist’s catalogue. “I’m involved in sex work full-time, and<br />

that identity really ties into my music,” she spills. “I was<br />

always really interested in that world, but as I got more<br />

into it, I found so many people who cared about me, and<br />

“So often in the media,<br />

when you see a persona<br />

rooted in femininity<br />

and sensuality, it’s<br />

either a figure that<br />

is untouchable and<br />

dominant, or someone<br />

who’s very vulnerable.<br />

It’s never both”<br />

who could help me realise my goals. Now, I realise that<br />

it goes both ways: I can use sex work as a way to help<br />

people with their problems as well. I never thought I<br />

would have another career outside of music, but they’re<br />

both passions of mine, so why not combine them?” She<br />

pauses before weighing it up. “Although, sex work is<br />

such an emotionally exhausting job. You need to have<br />

time away from it otherwise it just consumes you.”<br />

The topic of overindulgence soon served as<br />

inspiration for the artist’s recent single, Envy The Villain,<br />

a riotous punk ballad that cuts to the core of forming<br />

alter egos and the reality-inducing feelings they can<br />

conjure, with the artist’s own confession-like lyricism<br />

quickly climaxing into an explosion of biting vulnerability.<br />

“I wanted to be this character that I was in my work<br />

full-time because it’s a<br />

type of fantasy. So, trying<br />

to separate myself from<br />

this persona I created in<br />

my sessions and how I am<br />

in real life caused some<br />

massive friction. It really<br />

made me hate myself<br />

for a time,” she admits.<br />

“That’s where the track’s<br />

inspiration really comes<br />

from; it’s about having a<br />

glorified idea of sex work<br />

and how that can backfire<br />

massively.” Alongside the<br />

track came a music video<br />

rooted in twisted campery,<br />

designed to build on the<br />

all-encompassing duality<br />

previously established.<br />

Throughout, she plays the<br />

role of a villain and a victim,<br />

flashing between images<br />

of her as a demon and those of a vulnerable individual. “I<br />

wanted the music video to really have an impact, so it’s<br />

set up almost as a Faustian exchange. It’s pretty corny,”<br />

she grins.<br />

However, alongside the mind-altering visuals and<br />

unabashed punk displays, comes an emotional call<br />

for conversation. As we delve into her candidness<br />

surrounding vulnerability and power, it becomes<br />

clear that the vocalist hopes to encourage a wider<br />

conversation around the shortfalls in the depictions of<br />

sex work in both public and private spaces. “So often in<br />

the media, when you see a persona rooted in femininity<br />

and sensuality, it’s either a figure that is untouchable and<br />

dominant, or someone who’s very vulnerable. It’s never<br />

both,” she explains. “That’s what I’m really exploring,<br />

those two sides and how they work in tandem.” It’s a<br />

mantra that doesn’t need to force itself into the artist’s<br />

persona, but instead seeps throughout it, working handin-hand<br />

with her domineering musical style. “I wanted<br />

the track to be as sincere as possible,” she admits, before<br />

pausing slightly. “A lot of friends I have are involved in<br />

sex work, and they experience very similar things. No<br />

media was really speaking about this issue, no one<br />

was expressing it, and it’s such a common feeling! So,<br />

I wanted to be the one to capture it, so others could<br />


use my work to help figure their own problems. That,<br />

and to let people know it’s OK to have those two sides of<br />

yourself and embrace both.”<br />

Despite her insight into sex work and the ability to<br />

speak for its unheard masses, the artist’s personal drive<br />

remains at the core of her ability to create. “When I put<br />

something out, I always forget that other people can<br />

relate to my music,” she admits. “I’m very new to both of<br />

these industries, and so I want to use music to capture<br />

my own beginning period,” she tells me. “But in terms<br />

of the future, I think I’ll try and focus on my identity as a<br />

dominatrix more. That mindset of authority really works<br />

with my music in general. I think that, regardless of where<br />

my music takes me, it’ll always remain a big part of it.”<br />

It’s a statement that hangs with certainty, that no<br />

matter her future plans, her two passions will continue to<br />

grow with her, forever intertwining, while helping others<br />

in the process. But, true to fashion, her closing statement<br />

is one of high dramatics. “I will be filming a bunch of<br />

music videos,” she concludes. “The first thing I want to do<br />

is hire a fire-breather!” !<br />

Words: Lily Blakeney-Edwards / @lilyhbee<br />

Photography: Jenn Wilcock / @lens_of_a_wool<br />

Envy the Villain is available now.<br />


After months of fractured connection, a podcast-turned-theatre-production asks:<br />

how well do we really know Liverpool?<br />

A<br />

lot can change in a year. New buildings rise<br />

up as favourite businesses close. The river still<br />

flows, but the bustle of summer events which<br />

would usually fill the Waterfront is absent.<br />

As we reconnect with Liverpool, how we move through<br />

it may not be quite the same as it has been before. No<br />

better time, then, to question what else it could be – or<br />

more accurately, what it already is to some.<br />

Love, Liverpool originated as an Everyman Theatre<br />

podcast series created and released over lockdown. Each<br />

episode is a collection of poems, stories and memories<br />

of Liverpool, which all seemed so far away during<br />

those first difficult months of the pandemic. Featuring<br />

contributions from local writers including Amina Atiq and<br />

Roy, and famous names such as David Morrissey and<br />

Frank Cottrell-Boyce, the series provides glimpses into<br />

the many lives played out across the city’s streets. Now<br />

the podcast has been adapted for the stage. The hours<br />

of recorded material – and subsequent public response<br />

submissions which the Everyman published alongside<br />

each episode on their website – have been condensed<br />

into a single show, directed by Nathan Powell and written<br />

by Chloë Moss.<br />

In doing so, specific challenges arise. How do you<br />

26<br />

turn such a long and episodic project into a narrative<br />

which works in the theatre? “We’ve tried to unify it a<br />

little bit,” explains Moss. “Obviously we didn’t want to<br />

crowbar in a narrative which felt like it was shoved in. But<br />

we looked at it as a sort of big celebratory piece about<br />

Liverpool. There’s a rough framework of a day in the life;<br />

it kind of covers a 24-hour period. Different voices come<br />

in and out that don’t necessarily all fit together – but there<br />

are crossovers, little moments of connection.”<br />

Precisely what stories have made it into the show<br />

is still being kept under wraps when we speak, but<br />

director Nathan Powell backs up Moss’ implication that<br />

Love, Liverpool is not so concerned with the specificity of<br />

place so much as what it means to the people who move<br />

through it. “It was just about telling the story of Liverpool<br />

through these little snapshots that feel really particular<br />

and detailed and small – and then that told a much bigger<br />

story. It feels lovely to have these small little moments.”<br />

After all, this was one of the things that makes the<br />

podcast series such a delight to listen to. You may not<br />

be personally familiar with the streets of Norris Green,<br />

but you can connect to Kay Nicholson’s description<br />

of intimate familiarity and association with a place. In<br />

this way, it makes you recognise the everyday magic in<br />

ordinary places. Perhaps this was a necessary skill to<br />

develop in lockdown, when many of us found ourselves<br />

suddenly moving through a smaller world. Being confined<br />

to a locality meant becoming familiar with its details in<br />

a different way, a world where the small little moments<br />

became more significant.<br />

How individual memories become part of a bigger<br />

story is covered particularly well in actor Aron Julius’<br />

contribution to the project. Detailing his relationship to<br />

Livermore Court – an apartment building just off Lodge<br />

Lane – his narrative is, in one way, one of personal<br />

memories about a building. But Julius also manages to<br />

capture how this one place, and his experiences within it,<br />

intertwines with the much bigger story of what Toxteth is.<br />

It’s also one of the stories which most convincingly<br />

addresses the notion that there’s more than one side to<br />

Liverpool. That for all that many of us love this city and<br />

will stand up for it against all detractors, its reality is far<br />

from perfect. As he explains: “I love where I’m from. But<br />

the reality of where I’m from is that it can be all good,<br />

then it can be all bad. There are two sides to that coin.”<br />

Julius is now in the cast of the stage production, and<br />

it was the opportunity to take this approach to telling<br />

the city’s story which inspired his involvement. “What

affirmed that I wanted to be a part of the project was<br />

that it’s not just a rose-tinted look at Liverpool. Actually,<br />

it’s asking how we really shine the spotlight on what<br />

Liverpool is.”<br />

It’s another challenge of the adaptation process:<br />

what does the production need to say about Liverpool<br />

now? “If you come to it with the view of, ‘I’m definitely<br />

going to hear about The Beatles, there’s going to be<br />

loads of football’, or all those things that are synonymous<br />

with Liverpool – it’s not that,” promises Moss. But Love,<br />

Liverpool ran the risk of falling into sentiment in other<br />

ways. After all, the project was born at a time when we<br />

almost needed that. In those months of 2020 when the<br />

world was almost entirely inaccessible, we pined for<br />

Liverpool. To fall into nostalgia for the good times – and<br />

only the good times – was understandable.<br />

Of course, the stage production of Love, Liverpool<br />

needs to maintain some of what audiences enjoyed about<br />

the podcast series. The focus is still on the voices, and<br />

although they’re giving away little about the staging,<br />

Powell reveals that less is more: “It’s a really bare stage,<br />

a beautiful thing, because we’ve got five really amazing<br />

performers. So, the job becomes quite simple: five people<br />

telling us a story.” Meanwhile, projections from designer<br />

Tracy Gibbs featuring contributions from members of the<br />

public will offer visual cues to the city.<br />

At the same time, Love, Liverpool must also consider<br />

the question of how those of us who exist within this city<br />

are relating to it in this present moment. Romanticism no<br />

longer serves the same purpose now that we’re back in a<br />

living place, with all the complexities that brings. Instead,<br />

it becomes a dangerous safety blanket, a prop to a<br />

particular strain of Scouse Exceptionalism which believes<br />

that problems such as racism and homophobia aren’t<br />

native to Liverpool. Sadly, recent events have reminded<br />

us what a farce this idealism is.<br />

Treading the line between honesty and celebration<br />

is something that the team seem to have been very<br />

conscious of throughout the development process. “The<br />

hope is to offer, firstly, some pride,” explains Powell. “You<br />

want people to walk away feeling proud of the city, but<br />

also to really think about what normal is going to become<br />

as the city starts to open back up. What does that look<br />

like? And how is that going to shift from getting to hear<br />

and see different people’s perspectives?”<br />

This is something the collective experience of the<br />

theatre production can offer that the podcast format<br />

rarely can. To listen to a story through headphones is<br />

“It’s not just a<br />

rose-tinted look at<br />

Liverpool. Actually,<br />

it’s asking how we<br />

really shine the<br />

spotlight on what<br />

Liverpool is”<br />



to imbue it purely with your own opinions. To attend<br />

a production, meanwhile, offers a different context for<br />

considering what is being said by and to whom. Powell<br />

sees it as “an opportunity for you to take it in and then<br />

process it, rather than needing to manage it next to your<br />

opinions, thoughts or political beliefs”. It’s a powerful<br />

context in which to be honest, and Julius thinks it’s a<br />

stronger production for not shying away from this. “If<br />

you give [audiences] both sides of the coin, there’s a<br />

deeper connection to what you’re trying to do. The<br />

challenge is how do we get that across on stage... but<br />

there’s an opportunity to say this is all of Liverpool – the<br />

good and the bad.” Though whether audiences think<br />

they’ve hit the right note is down to them. “We don’t get<br />

to decide that,” says Powell. “But take it all in, and let’s<br />

come out of this and be a bit kinder and gentler with<br />

each other.”<br />

Although beginning in May 2020, Moss is very<br />

clear that the stage production of Love, Liverpool is “not<br />

about the pandemic, which people will hopefully be a bit<br />

relieved by!” Indeed, the very occasion of the production<br />

is a sign of things having moved on from this phase of<br />

origin. For most of the team, stage preparations for Love,<br />

Liverpool mark the return to theatre in over a year. When<br />

we speak, it’s a matter of days until rehearsals begin,<br />

and when asked what about Love, Liverpool they’re<br />

28<br />

most looking forward to, Julius, Moss and Powell all<br />

agree on the return to collaboration. “It’s the exploration<br />

of the rehearsal,” says Julius. “Being in the room of<br />

people and being able to really unpack it and find new<br />

things. Using the text to create something special for an<br />

audience to consume.”<br />

Indeed, it’s this space for evolution which is the<br />

very purpose of this production. While the podcast<br />

opened an inaccessible world, now we are each once<br />

again creating our own stories of place. We will perhaps<br />

arrive at the Playhouse via the sites we’ll re-visit in its<br />

seats: from the train, down Hope Street, or past Thomas<br />

Rigby’s. We no longer need to take another’s word for<br />

what these places are to us, but we can still learn so<br />

much about them. “It’s the things you know, but from<br />

different perspectives,” explains Powell. “Amina [Atiq]’s<br />

perspective of Hope Street is going to be completely<br />

different to mine. I think it’s really useful and interesting<br />

to say that there’s a shared belonging in all of these<br />

spaces.”<br />

And if there’s anything we’re ready for right now,<br />

surely it is this shared belonging. Isn’t that what we’ve all<br />

been looking forward to over the last 18 months? Maybe<br />

that’s why one of the recurring themes of the podcast<br />

series was pubs and bars – hubs where we gather and<br />

share experiences. Writer Chloë Moss examined what a<br />

pub can be in her tale of The Volly in Waterloo, a venue<br />

often used to mark life’s big events and savouring its<br />

smaller joys. A place “[not] just for laughter and babies<br />

being born, it’s also for drunk men with sorrows”. A place<br />

where neither joy nor solace are found in the bottom of a<br />

glass, but in being with a community of others.<br />

Of course, the theatre can be such a place, too. Just<br />

like it is for the team onstage and behind the scenes,<br />

Love, Liverpool might be a return to a theatre seat in<br />

over a year for most of the audience, too. For some it will<br />

forever become the answer to the question: ‘What did<br />

you see first when the world reopened?’ It’s a collective<br />

experience, but one to which we will each have our own<br />

response. We will connect with different stories and<br />

share feelings we relate to, all while having different<br />

experiences of life. And it’s this diversity of enjoyment<br />

which Moss believes makes it work: “It’s all the more<br />

universal because there’s not any particular group that’s<br />

going to have that exact same experience. And that’s<br />

great, isn’t it?” !<br />

Words: Julia Johnson / @messylines_<br />

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

Love, Liverpool is at the Playhouse from 5th until 14th<br />




Ahead of a forthcoming sitespecific<br />

audio walking tour,<br />

Orchestral Manoeuvres in<br />

the Dark’s Andy McCluskey<br />

talks Wirral, Eric’s and DIY<br />

beginnings.<br />

ANDY<br />

Something is stirring on the Leisure Peninsula.<br />

The Wirral has long been a hotbed of creative<br />

talent with a roll call of pop culture legends<br />

which include Malcolm Lowry, Elvis Costello<br />

and Eric Idle all hailing from over the water. But few<br />

have stayed to make their name plying their artistic<br />

trade within the CH postcode. With more and more<br />

organisations establishing themselves to nurture local<br />

talent, that may be changing. What won’t change is how<br />

the region has moulded creative outliers for generations.<br />

With a new sound installation exploring the Wirral’s<br />

artistic legacy and more artists speaking up about their<br />

Wirralian roots, the oblong of dreams is finally being<br />

celebrated. Quickly claimed by Liverpool but born-andbread<br />


THE DARK embody the area’s idiosyncratic worldview.<br />

Frontman Andy McCluskey recently contributed to the<br />

Leftbank Soundtrack, a walking audio tour of Birkenhead<br />

with new pieces of music responding to the environment<br />

and landmarks. The 80s icon spoke to Craig Pennington<br />

about the importance of local spaces generating the<br />

worldwide sounds of tomorrow as well as OMD’s DIY<br />

origins on the other side of the water.<br />

It was clearly vital for artists from the Wirral to make<br />

the trip to Liverpool for the opportunities there in the<br />

days of punk and post-punk, but just how important<br />

was Eric’s in OMD’s story?<br />

[Eric’s] was a big step up for us to go from youth clubs<br />

on the Wirral to actually playing a named venue on<br />

the rock circuit. I mean, The Clash played there, the<br />

Sex Pistols played there. You know, I saw the first ever<br />

UK Devo gig there. Pere Ubu, XTC, The Cure, it was a<br />

name place. So, it was like, ‘Can I really play in a place<br />

30<br />

that’s actually in the gig guide in [weekly music mag]<br />

Sounds?’ I can remember making a call from a phone box<br />

to the Sounds gig guide guide going, ‘Hi, I’m in a band.<br />

We’re playing Eric’s in Liverpool, can you put us in your<br />

gig guide?’ He went, ‘Yes, Eric’s? Yes, OK, yes, yes, we<br />

do them, yes. What date is it? Right, OK. What are you<br />

called?’ ‘Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’. He just went,<br />

‘Fuck off, you’ll never get anywhere with a name like that’.<br />

But yes, we felt very much like outsiders in Eric’s because<br />

we looked different, we played different music, because it<br />

was all guitar bands. I liked the Bunnymen because they<br />

had a drum machine to begin with. There was something<br />

a bit different about them.<br />

Everybody in Eric’s was an alternative. It really was a case<br />

of, like, they built it and all the strange people came. It was<br />

an escape for all the outcasts and the people who didn’t<br />

fit gender-wise, or sex-wise, or artistic-wise, or lookswise.<br />

I mean, as I say, Paul and I just looked like hippies.<br />

Everybody else looked so cool. I mean Jayne Casey looked<br />

amazing. I’ve never seen such a beautiful girl. Shaved<br />

head and jet-black lipstick. Tears painted on. Everybody<br />

was in love with Jayne Casey. And Holly Johnson and Paul<br />

Rutherford. Everybody was just cool looking, except for<br />

us. And there was Roger Eagle, who was, like, 10 feet tall<br />

and smoked like a chimney. Terrifying.<br />

I never met Roger, but you get the impression of what<br />

a shaping force he must have been.<br />

You know, he’d been a promoter in Manchester and<br />

Liverpool. I mean, I didn’t know all of this. All I knew<br />

was that he was running this club. This was the club<br />

we went to. If you see those flyers from Eric’s, ‘77, ‘78,<br />

‘79, ’80, every month there were three or four bands<br />

who are world famous now. We went there three, four<br />

times a month. You had to keep up. There was always<br />

something on that was really amazing. To get to play<br />

there was amazing. But of course, there was about 15<br />

of our family and friends in the crowd, and about 15 of<br />

the locals who were all the same people you always saw<br />

all the time. Like the [Echo & the Bunnymen frontman]<br />

Ian McCullochs and everybody. Everybody just leaning<br />

against the pillar, trying to feign no interest whatsoever.<br />

I’m always interested in how musicians used to make<br />

music compared to now, with the world of technology<br />

that’s available. Are the core of ideas still the same,<br />

it’s just that it’s much, much easier to make it happen<br />

now?<br />

It cuts both ways. The technology now is unbelievable.<br />

Back then, we were trying to be the future with<br />

equipment salvaged out of a skip. We did six gigs before<br />

we owned a synthesizer. We had to borrow one off<br />

friends. We could only be a band because our mate Paul<br />

Collister, who lived in West Kirby, had aspirations to<br />

work in sound and had built a home studio in his garage.<br />

He had a four-track and a two-track and a little desk.<br />

And we put together our backing tracks on this fourtrack<br />

table TEAC called Winston after Winston Smith<br />

from Orwell’s 1984. And so the band was me and Paul,<br />

with Winston playing everything else.<br />

What kind of records do you think you would have<br />

made if you’d been making those for the first time<br />

now? Do you think it would have changed what you<br />

were?<br />

One of the reasons we had a distinctive sound was<br />

because of the shit gear we had. I mean, I remember<br />

reading an article by Brian Eno that said: ‘If all you’ve<br />

got is a pile of junk, you’re probably the only people<br />

who’ve got that specific pile of junk. That’s your sound’.


And we went, ‘Phew, OK. Thanks, Brian’. The organ<br />

was the electric piano and the cheap synth that we<br />

finally bought off my mother’s catalogue for £7.76 a<br />

week for 36 weeks taken out of our dole money. That<br />

was it. And that was our sound. It was a very simple,<br />

primitive sound that was on the first album. It was<br />

garage synthpunk. We had a pile of crap, and we built<br />

our own studio where the hotel now is on Stanley<br />

Street, looking out over the back of where Probe and<br />

the White Star pub is on Rainford Gardens. We rented<br />

the back half of one empty flat on one of five empty<br />

floors above Curly Music. Built our own studio and<br />

recorded the album in three weeks and that was it,<br />

handed it to the record company. It went gold. Just like<br />

that. So easy…<br />

That quote from Eno is absolutely right, that<br />

necessity shapes the parameters that you’ve got to<br />

work within. But is a world of infinite possibilities<br />

and not having those boundaries a good thing<br />

creatively?<br />

No, because the more possibilities you have, the more<br />

difficult it becomes. Paul and I have this phrase, ‘the<br />

tyranny of choice’. I think Electricity is 11 tracks, and<br />

five of them are kicks in air and white noise. With<br />

more and more technology you end up with the<br />

big stodgy thing that’s got far too many tracks in it.<br />

And it’s usually so many tracks because you haven’t<br />

actually got one little diamond gold nugget in there.<br />

It’s actually lots of averageness. One of our sayings is,<br />

‘You don’t need a million quid of varnish if you don’t<br />

start with a turd and try and polish it’. Electricity is<br />

just words, driving bass, end. No backwards cymbals,<br />

no splashes, no dynamics. That’s it, that’s all you get.<br />

‘Is it good enough?’ Yes. That’ll do then’.<br />

That’s not even a conversation about the production<br />

values, that’s just asking yourself is that idea, is that<br />

lick, is that hook, is that melody as strong as it can be.<br />

That’s what we didn’t realise when we first started out,<br />

because we were experimental, in the sense that we<br />

didn’t have anything we could play a melody on, to begin<br />

with, other than my bass. We were just making ambient<br />

noise. So gradually, and totally unconsciously, we<br />

refined our desire to be different into a melodic version<br />

of a desire to be different. We had no idea. Electricity is<br />

basically a punk version of Radioactivity by Kraftwerk.<br />

I admitted it to Kraftwerk years later and they all went,<br />

‘Yes, we know’. We hadn’t realised we’d unconsciously<br />

taken all that glam rock from when we were 12 watching<br />

Top Of The Pops – Slade, T. Rex – added it to the German<br />

electric of Neu! and Kraftwerk and a bit of punk, and<br />

somehow accidentally we<br />

distilled this into these little<br />

three-and-a-half minute, like,<br />

catchy tunes. We had no idea<br />

what we were doing.<br />

You mentioned before that<br />

if it wasn’t for Eric’s then<br />

OMD wouldn’t have been a<br />

thing because you formed<br />

effectively to play that show.<br />

Reflecting on the shaping<br />

influence that Eric’s had on<br />

the band and your career,<br />

how important are places like that, that give people<br />

license to experiment, test themselves, challenge<br />

themselves?<br />

I think it’s very simple. Without people opening doors<br />

for you and giving you encouragement and saying,<br />

“It’s very simple. Without<br />

people opening doors<br />

for you and giving you<br />

encouragement, it<br />

doesn’t happen”<br />

‘Yes, come and do it, do your thing’, it doesn’t happen.<br />

You’ve got to have a place to play, you’ve got to have<br />

people who will let you play, you’ve got to have people<br />

who will give you the PA and people who will lend<br />

you some equipment. We did six gigs without even<br />

owning a synth. You have to borrow a bit. It’s just you<br />

need other people. One of the reasons why I said yes<br />

to being a mentor at Future Yard was because without<br />

Eric’s my band wouldn’t exist. Without Birkenhead Art<br />

College in Whetstone Lane owning the Roland SH-<br />

1000, we wouldn’t have had a synthesizer to borrow<br />

when Dalek I Love You wouldn’t lend us theirs. These<br />

places had a vision of being creative and would let<br />

two loonies borrow their very expensive synthesizer<br />

for the night, and trust that they were going to return<br />

it so that we could go and play our weird songs –<br />

that even our best friends<br />

thought were shit – in a club<br />

that, you know, the night<br />

before, Blondie had played<br />

at, or something. I think<br />

that, particularly because<br />

we are from Wirral, nothing<br />

grows in a vacuum, nothing<br />

blossoms. I think that you<br />

have to provide the place,<br />

you have to provide the<br />

encouragement. I’m hoping<br />

the Future Yard project will<br />

be something that offers an<br />

opportunity for creative kids on Wirral – like we were<br />

41 years ago – to dream and try their dream out in<br />

reality. !<br />

Craig G Pennington<br />



Birkenhead. A small shipbuilding town on<br />

the banks of the River Mersey, nestled on a<br />

peninsula of land called the Wirral, tucked<br />

between Liverpool and North Wales. The<br />

conurbation populated the world’s oceans with great liners.<br />

It also populated the world’s radio waves and stages with<br />

some of the most fabulous and gloriously eccentric music<br />

you’ve heard: Bill Ryder-Jones, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the<br />

Dark, Half Man Half Biscuit, Elvis Costello, Forest Swords,<br />

Queen Zee, Hooton Tennis Club.<br />

The Leftbank Soundtrack takes listeners on a personal<br />

audio adventure, a voyage of sonic discovery through the back<br />

alleys and boulevards of Birkenhead to uncover tales of past<br />

glories and future stories. The tour is interpreted through the<br />

musical minds of the borough’s greatest noisemakers.<br />

The animated music walk, using newly commissioned<br />

compositions from Birkenhead’s musical talent, threads together<br />

stories of music, movements, history and change. It takes you<br />

through Birkenhead, the old music venues and sounds, cultural<br />

heritage and hopes for the future.<br />

“It’s a fascinating and interesting concept for Birkenhead and,<br />

as a Wirral boy born and bred, I am delighted to be a part of the<br />

Leftbank project,” said soundtrack contributor ANDY MCCLUSKEY,<br />

who has composed a piece which responds to Birkenhead’s iconic<br />

ventilation tower. “It’s a really exciting challenge to create a musical<br />

piece for it. I stood next to the tower doors in early July and recorded the<br />

sound of the wind whistling through them. These recordings became my<br />

inspiration and bed track for the music. For those who are curious, the<br />

tower whistles in the key of A.”<br />

Andy is joined by a roll call of high-profile artists who have produced<br />

music with the sights and sounds of Birkenhead as their muse. Those<br />

donning headphones to take in the tour with the Leftbank Soundtrack<br />

augmenting their experience will hear pieces by LOUISA ROACH (She Drew<br />

The Gun), FOREST SWORDS, NIGEL BLACKWELL (Half Man Half Biscuit),<br />

BILL RYDER-JONES and ANDREW PM HUNT (Dialect, formerly Outfit).<br />

A QR Code will take the sonic explorer to a piece of commissioned music,<br />

telling the story of the spot they are standing in. There are seven stops on<br />

the excursion, with Hamilton Square, the Ventilation Tower, Ferry Terminal,<br />

Birkenhead Priory and Cammell Laird, Futureyard and Argyle Street, St<br />

Werburgh’s Square and Birkenhead Central all providing a plethora of history<br />

and inspiration. Listen, walk, think and reflect. !<br />

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




liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ai<br />

#aimorethanhuman<br />

Exhibition curated and organised by Barbican International<br />

Enterprises. The City of London Corporation is the founder<br />

and principal funder of the Barbican Centre. Co-produced<br />

by Forum Groningen, Netherlands.


Resilience, nostalgia and navigating unchartered waters. David Roskin enters the steadfast<br />

world of Hushtones as they pick up the pieces ahead of live music’s return.<br />

Three out of five HUSHTONES arrive at Hope<br />

Street’s Liverpool Arts Bar where they<br />

immediately greet bar staff before ordering<br />

drinks and seeing to the order of the day:<br />

reminiscing about recording acoustic sessions in this<br />

very space. It’s clear that this is a home away from home<br />

for the Scouse indie-pop band, and quite possibly one of<br />

few haunts bravely eschewing the screening of England<br />

v Germany in favour of airing classic indie tunes to<br />

soundtrack our interview.<br />

Kicking off in late 2017, Hushtones combine melodic,<br />

nostalgic indie sounds with soulful vocals and big beats.<br />

Hearing them now, you’d think their polished sound<br />

comes from a perfectly constructed quintet, but a series<br />

of coincidences and chance encounters is what brought<br />

the group together. Martha Goddard and Mick Campbell<br />

met while working in a restaurant on Bold Street. “We<br />

kind of realised that we were both songwriters and<br />

decided to have a jam,” Mick tells me, casually. The two<br />

continue to play regular cover nights, with one confirmed<br />

at Liverpool Arts Bar right before we sit down.<br />

Mick then bumped into Caitlin McPaul on Christmas<br />

Eve in 2017, having known her from their school days,<br />

and brought her into the fold. The three began to perfect<br />

their sound together, doing the rounds with Fleetwood<br />

Mac at open mic nights. At a regular pub, they soon<br />

met Abe Tesfachristos, a keen-eared bar manager who<br />

recognised their potential and continued to book the<br />

three-piece before stepping aboard as their drummer.<br />

“He was such a perfect fit because we had drummed<br />

34<br />

with other people before, but it just didn’t work,” Martha<br />

reflects. “When it just gels, it’s so good and drummers<br />

are so hard to come by as well. So, we do feel hashtag<br />

blessed,” Martha laughs, and Abe reflects on his selftitled<br />

musical sabbatical for a few years before meeting<br />

the band, only interrupted due to how incredible he<br />

found the then three-piece.<br />

After a period of window shopping for a suitable<br />

guitarist, there came something of a eureka moment for<br />

the group. “We went through a couple of guitarists and<br />

stuff until we found Joe [Dillon],” Mick says. “And that’s<br />

when it started to feel like this is gonna work, now we’ve<br />

got the last jigsaw piece.”<br />

At this point, Mick, Martha and Abe recognise<br />

what a difference completing the quintet made, and<br />

although we’re missing Cailtin and Joe today (due to<br />

work commitments and a Pfizer-induced day of rest), it’s<br />

clear how together they’re a force to be reckoned with.<br />

Teaming up with BBC Introducing’s Dave Monks and<br />

producer Steve Levine, the band began to really find their<br />

rhythm complimented by the much more professional<br />

edge they had once dreamed of.<br />

“Thanks for coming to our TED Talk,” Martha<br />

jokes, but hearing their story provides a fascinating<br />

educational resource. Whether crying out for a change<br />

in circumstances (I’ve Got Time) or sharing their origin<br />

story over a couple of pints in the back of a bar on an<br />

uncharacteristically sunny day, Hushtones thrive in<br />

evocative imagery. Their charm is continually captivating<br />

and entirely true to themselves, it feels effortless.<br />

Hushtones know who they are, who they’re going to be<br />

and what they’re going to do.<br />

But, like most of us in the creative sector, much of<br />

Hushtones’ livelihoods was destroyed by continued<br />

lockdowns. Blighted by the misfortunes of the<br />

hospitality industry, the band were left to sign on and<br />

remained isolated from any studio set-up, let alone a<br />

stage and a crowd.<br />

Mick, in particular, struggled in 2020. “Me and<br />

Martha got into this rhythm: I’d write a little bit of a song<br />

or she’d write a little bit of a song. We were on sort of<br />

separate sleeping patterns throughout each lockdown<br />

and obviously we couldn’t see each other. We spoke<br />

on the phone, but I’ve become really nocturnal. I was<br />

so worried about everything at the beginning of the<br />

pandemic.” He turns to face Martha. “You were sleeping<br />

normally. So what happened is, I’ve written a bit of a<br />

song, and I’d send it over, and I went to bed at about four<br />

or five. She’d wake up, start working on it, get it back to<br />

me by the time I woke up, and we got this dead weird<br />

rhythm down, and we’d be writing songs around the<br />

clock. There was just like, 24 hours a day where we’d be<br />

working, it was bizarre, but we’d compile it into this little<br />

folder. We got about five or six songs and then sent it to<br />

Steve who was like, ‘This would make a great LP!’”<br />

Abe, on the other hand, relished some time away<br />

from manic work in hospitality to focus on music. He<br />

speaks fondly about this creative process. “They were<br />

constantly writing music. I had all this time on my hands<br />

so they would send me tracks and they could just work

on, you know, a new laptop or whatever but I didn’t play<br />

drums for the whole of lockdown! I was literally writing<br />

them on my computer. It didn’t stop just because I didn’t<br />

have access to drums, we still managed to put the songs<br />

together somehow.”<br />

Despite the pandemic forcing a precarious hand onto<br />

the group, Martha offers a concession. “It just goes to<br />

show what you can do when you have music to help two<br />

people moving, rather than having to spend time working<br />

in a job that you’ve been doing to get by, alongside<br />

working around everybody else’s schedules. Most of the<br />

time we work out a way around it, but in an ideal world,<br />

everyone would be working part-time. But, you know,<br />

that was the compromise of lockdown. It’s like, ‘Oh, we<br />

finally got this time, but we can’t do anything with it’.<br />

Again, we found a way to kind of work around it.”<br />

Their resilience in the face of adversity is consistently<br />

inspiring, and their debut record, Greetings From The<br />

Other Side, landing 6th <strong>August</strong>, is a true testament to this<br />

Covid era. Wild wishes to live on the wild side eventually<br />

– something simply impossible as of late – while I’ve Got<br />

Time looks deeply at how we feel we’ve lost so much of<br />

our lives and focuses on the future; how we can enjoy our<br />

lives again, even if that feels out of reach. Mick describes<br />

his thinking in the depths of the first lockdown: “Well,<br />

you know, we don’t really have much money, but we’ve<br />

got this great thing that we can do.” And they continue<br />

to do it with tracks including their latest single, Sinking,<br />

recorded between national lockdowns with two members<br />

at a time. With an accomplished smile a world away<br />

from fear, they reflect almost fondly on this time as just<br />

another struggle they’ve had to overcome together as a<br />

band.<br />

As we hurtle in earnest towards the so-called<br />

summer firebreak, the band and I lament the cancellation<br />

of further gigs and another year of waiting for Michael<br />

Eavis to open up Worthy Farm. And it’s at this moment<br />

– just when a roar of cheers nearby could only mean<br />

another England goal in a packed Wembley Stadium –<br />

when our attention quickly turns to the disappointing<br />

display of government support for the music and<br />

hospitality industries.<br />

Hushtones are facing continuous delays to their first<br />

gig back. “We were supposed to have our first proper gig<br />

as a band this Saturday,” Mick explains. “And that’s being<br />

moved now. The guy who booked those sent us an email<br />

the other day, saying at the moment this is a gamble.<br />

We don’t know whether this is going to be happening.<br />

But that’s the best you can do at this point.” The anxiety<br />

caused by this is palpable. But it’s old news and, quite<br />

frankly, the sort of thing we have come to expect from a<br />

government that looks to have muddled their priorities<br />

over the last 18 months.<br />

“This is obviously a multi-billion-pound industry,<br />

which is different to football, but that’s all allowed to go<br />

on. You know, music’s being left behind,” Mick shouts<br />

over the cheers of England fans. The recent botched<br />

government campaign urging creatives to explore<br />

alternative employment – embodied by Fatima the<br />

ballet dancer encouraged to retrain in cyber security –<br />

ultimately fell on deaf ears with those who continue<br />

to view the government as one that is out of touch<br />

with those it purports to help. “That’s the thing<br />

about being an artist or a musician. It’s not for<br />

everyone, but it is for a lot of people. That’s your<br />

passion. And not only that, it’s a massive part<br />

of your identity. So, you can’t just suddenly be<br />

like, ‘Do you know what, I’m going to go into<br />

fucking cyber’.” The passion the band have for<br />

their industry and local music scene lends itself<br />

equally to the frustrations they share at feeling<br />

powerless. They’re continually championing<br />

this sector and pushing on, but this never<br />

translates into more than the hopeful<br />

glimmer they present for want of structural<br />

change from above.<br />

“It’s absolutely comical,” Martha notes<br />

in disbelief. “So, if you were to flip it on<br />

the football industry and say, ‘Well, just<br />

stop what you’re doing there and go on<br />

to something else’. As if any of those<br />

people are going to just stop what they<br />

like doing!”<br />

Nevertheless, all remain hopeful<br />

for their record launch party at EBGBs.<br />

As far as coincidences go, Greetings From The Other<br />

Side is truly an apt title to ring in what will, hopefully, be<br />

the first of many reintroductions to a normal live music<br />

environment. I ask the band to imagine it’s definitely<br />

happening, and Mick immediately lights up: “We’re gonna<br />

play as long as we want. It’s like a reward for what we’ve<br />

all been through. And you know what? Let’s have some<br />

fun.” !<br />

Words: David Roskin / @daverosk<br />

Photography: Jen Hollis / @jencreative_<br />

Greetings From The Other Side is available 6th <strong>August</strong><br />

via Hubris Records. Hushtones play EBGBs on 20th<br />

<strong>August</strong>.<br />

@Hushtonesmusic<br />

“This is obviously a<br />

multi-billion-pound<br />

industry which is<br />

different to football,<br />

but that’s all allowed<br />

to go on. Music’s<br />

being left behind”<br />






The sonosphere of Joel Goldberg’s alter ego thrives in experimentation and straddling the line<br />

between foolhardiness and look-again substance. Ahead of an album live stream, Sanna King<br />

uncovers the figure behind the personalities.<br />

Hey Frenzy, the debut album from DANCING<br />

TO ARCHITECTURE, was born in isolation.<br />

Differentiated only by their barnets, the band<br />

at the time consisted of three members, all<br />

called Jeff, who looked remarkably similar. Picture a<br />

fucked-up version of Hanson and you’d not be far off.<br />

However, the electro-prog-funk ‘trio’ were really just the<br />

brainchildren of Joel Goldberg.<br />

Part of the locally legendary Goldberg clan, he<br />

has been on the Liverpool scene since the mid-90s.<br />

Joel seemed to be a musical gun for hire who was<br />

permanently on call, reachable only by pager, carrier<br />

pigeon, or email. Not only a versatile musician playing<br />

all the instruments, he mixed and produced the tracks,<br />

before getting it mastered at Igloo Studios. He also<br />

made videos for each track, which morphed into a film,<br />

designed all the artwork and a range of merch. No<br />

wonder he needed to clone himself a few times.<br />

Since then, the band have doubled in numbers, and<br />

I don’t mean Joel has just gained more personalities.<br />

To take the vision from his living room to the live stage,<br />

he’s gathered together a motley crew of real friends to<br />

replace his imaginary ones. But in the meantime, they’ll<br />

be coming to your living rooms, when they unleash brand<br />

new footage this month. Recorded at Coastal Studios,<br />

Transmit Groove is a live recording of the album to give<br />

you a little teaser of what you can expect from their gigs<br />

in the not-too-distant future. When I caught up with Joel<br />

back in May, it was still only officially him at the helm, so<br />

I found out more about what had inspired him to create<br />

Dancing To Architecture in the first place.<br />

Hey Frenzy was released on CD and digitally, in<br />

March, a year after the start of lockdown. “I had time<br />

to get those ideas out that had been building up,” says<br />

Goldberg over Zoom. “I had a list of song names in my<br />

phone stockpiled over the years, so I grabbed a riff, fit one<br />

of the titles to it, arranged it, recorded it, did a little video<br />

and put it online.”<br />

He described it as a mix of different sounds with<br />

a dance music sensibility of a hook line that repeats,<br />

without having to stay in the verse-chorus-middle-eight<br />

format. “I’ve always written songs and music and always<br />

tried to be, you know, a serious songwriter. All this, ‘You<br />

didn’t say this, and I didn’t say that’ and all that crap.<br />

And you end up going, ‘This is miserable to listen to and<br />

miserable to play, what am I doing this for?!’ So out of<br />

that, DTA is like the phoenix from the ashes of all the<br />

shite heartbreak songs I’ve written in my lifetime.”<br />

Joel realised that he had something else under his skin.<br />

It seemed natural to add more humour because comedy<br />

had been such a big part of his life, noting childhood<br />

heroes such as The Young Ones, Bill Murray and Chevy<br />

Chase. “Then Vic and Bob came along,” he continues. “I<br />

think they were a nuclear blast in terms of British comedy,<br />

and as individuals now I think they’re still two of the<br />

funniest people on the planet.”<br />

I asked him if he was worried that some of the sillier<br />

lyrics and videos might make it come across as a novelty<br />

album – “I eat grapes like a motherfucker” and “went to<br />

bed ugly and I woke up handsome” being refrains two<br />

songs are built around. “Not really,” he contends. “A<br />

couple of tracks are TV theme tune homages, like Mike<br />

Post scores. Some of the others are just funny titles that<br />

I tried to write good music to. I tried very hard to keep<br />

it light and to try and stay funny, almost disguising the<br />

work I’d put into writing the music.”<br />

The name Dancing to Architecture originates from<br />

a quote often attributed to Frank Zappa: “Writing about<br />

music is like dancing about architecture.” His influence<br />

is also apparent in the content, too. “When I was a kid,<br />

I heard a Zappa album and just laughed my head off,<br />

’cos he was singing, ‘Don’t eat the yellow snow’. Me<br />

and my brother were like, ‘Isn’t this fella funny with his<br />

muzzy and beard’. And then on the next listen, you’re still<br />

laughing but you’re like, ‘Hang on a minute,’ and then in<br />

the end you realise, ‘Jesus Christ, this is amazing!’ Not<br />

comparing myself to Zappa or nothin’. But like everyone<br />

has a certain style on the surface which can catch<br />

people’s eyes, but it needs substance behind it. And I<br />

think I’ve worked hard enough for it to have that and not<br />

be just a novelty style.”<br />

There is a real 80s feel to the<br />

album and the overall stylings<br />

of the artwork are also inspired<br />

by his childhood memories.<br />

“The imprint of whatever time<br />

and cultural movement you just<br />

happen to be born into. I was<br />

always aware of Talking Heads,<br />

The Clash, The Stranglers and The<br />

Police when I was a kid and that<br />

colour of music just stayed with<br />

me,” he reveals. “I’m a massive fan<br />

of Dutch Uncles, too, who have a<br />

sound that incorporates a lot of<br />

that style, with the sequencers<br />

and that naked bass sound<br />

and a lack of clanging guitars<br />

everywhere.”<br />

Joel’s dad, Dave, is also a big role model, having<br />

spent the majority of his life in bands. With an upbringing<br />

revolving around music, it was inevitable it would become<br />

a family trade. “One brother’s been a drummer since he<br />

was three, the other two both played guitar, and so they<br />

needed a bass player.” But Joel didn’t always want to be<br />

a musician. Setting his sights on becoming an artist or<br />

architect, he attended art college to follow his dreams, as<br />

well as his cousin who he’d “followed around like a beaut”<br />

since their school days.<br />

Unfortunately, that dream was short-lived when<br />

he was diagnosed with kidney disease at 19 and knew<br />

that he had to return to Liverpool because he’d be in<br />

and out of hospital. “Being back in Liverpool, I thought,<br />

‘Maybe there’s a reason I’m here’. And things just started<br />

getting better and better here, like the Capital of Culture<br />

happened and I met so many brilliant people. The music<br />

community in Liverpool is just so welcoming and rich.<br />

Everyone’s great, there are so many characters, and<br />

everyone helps each other out. I love being in the middle<br />

of it, it’s such an amazing place.”<br />

He talks passionately about Liverpool having a strong<br />

sense of community, which some of his friends from<br />

Manchester have said that they don’t see in their own<br />

city. I get the impression that having this community<br />

around him when he needed it most has made him more<br />

resilient and self-sufficient? “I’ve been through some<br />

dark stuff, and I’ve cultivated a habit of trying to outrun<br />

the darker times,” he replies. “If you feel something bad<br />

coming, you flick a switch and try your best to get back,<br />

get your energy levels up. And I’ve tried to transfer that<br />

into my music.”<br />

Knowing that it isn’t always as simple as just trying<br />

harder, he talks about a friend who might never be the<br />

same after lockdown, and how he and his other fellow<br />

bandmates have felt powerless to help him. However,<br />

that’s the beauty of music: it can take those struggles and<br />

“Dancing to<br />

Architecture is the<br />

phoenix from the<br />

ashes of all the<br />

shite heartbreak<br />

songs I’ve written<br />

in my lifetime”<br />

turn them into something positive, and potentially help<br />

someone else when they hear it. Either by cheering them<br />

up or by making them feel less alone in their sadness.<br />

Even the strongest and most independent of people crave<br />

that connection, and music has the power to do that. And<br />

for that reason, for the moment he’s focusing on more<br />

upbeat music. “It’s a conscious thing to write something<br />

positive. I’ve always loved celebratory type music like<br />

Van Halen and Led Zeppelin. These people are putting on<br />

a big show, they’re going out of their way to make you<br />

feel good. The kind of gig that you want to go to on a hot<br />

summer’s night and have a pure laugh, be buzzin’ and<br />

screaming yer head off at!”<br />

Joel admits he’s enjoyed the<br />

break from gigging over the past<br />

16 months, but as music finally<br />

gets back on track, he can’t wait<br />

to play live again. The dream<br />

team he’s assembled includes<br />

Scott Arthur and Luke Heague<br />

on guitars, Stuart Hardcastle on<br />

percussion and, of course, another<br />

Goldberg in tow – this time<br />

it’s Adam, the aforementioned<br />

‘drummer boy’. “We had the first<br />

rehearsal recently and it was<br />

great. More raw, more space to<br />

it. We all played around with the<br />

arrangements and the energy is<br />

right up there. I’m made up.”<br />

As the conversation continues, I get the sense<br />

Joel’s illness is a bit of an elephant in the room and not<br />

something I want to press him on. Not because of his<br />

unwillingness to open up about it, but because it doesn’t<br />

feel entirely relevant to this project. However, it does<br />

come up in relation to another film he has been working<br />

on with James Slater about his nightly dialysis sessions.<br />

“James got in touch about making a documentary about<br />

me being on dialysis and dealing with illness in the way<br />

I do, through the music and stuff. He’s great at what he<br />

does, and he’s pulled the stops out in terms of getting<br />

a crew on-board and getting backing from some big<br />

hitters like Kodak, so it’s gonna’ look amazing. Whether<br />

or not my bits will be any good is another thing. I think<br />

as I get older the thought of leaving something behind<br />

of myself, something which may help people who are ill,<br />

has grown bigger in my mind. People with kidney failure<br />

don’t live forever, so James choosing to make this is quite<br />

fortuitous. You never know… I might just live forever. You<br />

lucky bastards.”<br />

I ask him if he sees his album in the same way as<br />

he does the film, as a way of leaving a legacy behind?<br />

“Yeah, I’m trying my best to make it the best it can be, so<br />

yeah I’m pretty proud of it in that sense. I hope people<br />

enjoy it and I hope it lasts. I hope my nieces like it and still<br />

listen to it when they’re older. That’s all I want, really!”<br />

It’s likely they will, as Jazz and Toots, aged 10 and eight<br />

respectively, have already started their own band, Sutn<br />

Notn. So we better look out for the next generation of the<br />

Goldberg dynasty coming over the hill and continuing the<br />

musical bloodline. !<br />

Words: Sanna King / @sanna_king<br />

Photography: Michelle Roberts / @_sheshoots_<br />

Transmit Groove will debut 5th <strong>August</strong> live on Facebook.<br />

@dancingtoarchitecture<br />




“I describe myself<br />

as someone<br />

who’s always<br />

chasing chaos”<br />


A seeker of disorder within the ordinary, Tarek Musa is comfortable and sure of his own path.<br />

Shannon Garner sits down with the factotum to discuss his latest solo project.<br />

Resorting to a phone interview only a few hours<br />

before our long-awaited face-to-face interview due<br />

to self-isolation reasons, it’s evident that Tarek Musa is<br />

extremely punctual in everything he approaches. Incredibly<br />

understanding over the situation, and a few jokes later<br />

about the bizarre world Covid has created, it’s clear that<br />

this was going to be a full interview, despite the distance.<br />

Following the split of Macclesfield quartet Spring King<br />

in 2018, the dynamic former frontman and drummer<br />

emerged seemingly unfazed. Between discussing his roller<br />

coaster of a career and his new project DEAD NATURE,<br />

the producer is nothing short of a ravenous thrill-seeker.<br />

“I describe myself as someone who’s always chasing<br />

chaos,” Musa begins. “I always get myself the most chaotic<br />

projects and I’m always steering away from the classic<br />

kind of songwriting and recording set-ups,” he continues.<br />

“In terms of sound, I’m always trying to write really uptempo<br />

energetic songs, but songs that you want to cry and<br />

dance to at the same time. It’s kind of like sad dancefloor<br />

indie hits.” The sad dancefloor indie vibe evidently shows<br />

in his music: sad through the vulnerable, relatable lyrics yet<br />

danceable through the feel-good tone of the tracks.<br />

Listening to his work, it’s easy to assume Musa relies<br />

on an army of musos when crafting his projects, but this<br />

couldn’t be further from the truth. Musa plays every role –<br />

from songwriting to press releases. He even lends his hand<br />

to producing for other bands and hosting masterclasses to<br />

help upcoming musicians work on their craft.<br />

“I’m very, very fortunate that I can work with loads<br />

of other artists. It’s kind of like an anchor for me,” Musa<br />

says. “I always have my solo project and then, whenever<br />

a band wants to work with me, I’ll work with them before<br />

reverting back to my solo project for the weeks I’ve got off.<br />

It’s a good balance. I’m always trying to keep my musical<br />

hands in every single pie possible.”<br />

During Spring King’s time, the band crafted two<br />

albums and gathered a cult following in Britain’s indierock<br />

heartlands but, during those years, everything was<br />

a whirlwind. “When I was on tour with my last band, we<br />

would do crazy journeys like Dublin to Paris in a day. That<br />

would consist of two ferries in-between the gigs and it<br />

would kind of send you a bit crazy,” he recalls. “I think<br />

by the end of that project my mental health was not the<br />

best because it was such an intense ride. I was constantly<br />

exhausted. That’s why having this balance now where I<br />

can be an artist and release my own music, but also work<br />

with other people when I’m not feeling 100 per cent is<br />

good for me.”<br />

However, the roller coaster of a journey and pressure<br />

did not start with his previous band. There are pressures<br />

from the industry that Musa has felt since the beginning<br />

of his career. “I studied at LIPA in Liverpool and finished in<br />

2011,” he begins. “I studied Sound Technology which is<br />

very physics and mathematics based, but there was one<br />

module where we could write an EP, so I was like, ‘I’m going<br />

to try and write some songs’. At this point, I’d never wrote<br />

songs in my life and one of the songs that I wrote for that<br />

project ended up going worldwide and became the Skins<br />

soundtrack for the third generation,” he reminisces. “Every<br />

major label was emailing me trying to figure out if I had a<br />

band and it was just coursework. With that, I felt like there<br />

was huge pressure from the industry to jump on-board and<br />

kickstart my career, but it didn’t feel natural. I didn’t even<br />

have the money really to do it or the means. A year or so<br />

later is when I started Spring King and now, I’ve got Dead<br />

Nature. I’m always doing music; it’s just always evolving.”<br />

Pressing further on all the pressure received, Musa is<br />

not one to leap at just any opportunity. “I’m one of those<br />

people who kind of pushes back on things that are kind<br />

of forced on me. I always try and create my own path,”<br />

he admits. “Back in 2011, don’t get me wrong it was an<br />

amazing opportunity, but in my head, I couldn’t make it<br />

work. I didn’t have the experience to feel comfortable<br />

jumping into the fast lane. I’m one of those people who<br />

want to learn to walk before I run, and the Skins thing<br />

happened so quickly that I wasn’t mentally prepared,” he<br />

admits. “I really believe artists should go down the most<br />

organic route possible and that’s exactly what I did with<br />

Spring King. I think that way, it aligns with your mental<br />

understanding of the process a lot better, and you won’t be<br />

overwhelmed by any sudden hype.”<br />

After spending the last two years focusing on his new<br />

solo project, Musa reveals that his debut album, Watch<br />

Me Break Apart, has actually been finished since the<br />

beginning of the pandemic. “I actually finished the album<br />

on 28th March 2020, and all the lyrics came about from<br />

the way I feel about the world,” he says. “There’s a track<br />

called Ladlands which is about losing control. I wrote it<br />

from the angle of both politicians who are trying to keep<br />

control of everything, yet still feel like they’re losing control<br />

to the opposing sides,” he continues. “Then there’s Watch<br />

Me Break Apart which is about someone completely<br />

breaking apart from their old self and trying to rebuild<br />

themselves into something new, better and hopefully more<br />

in-line with who they are now. It’s an album of stories I’ve<br />

heard from my friends or experienced myself where people<br />

have needed to rebuild themselves or society having to<br />

rebuild itself. It’s just this amalgamation of everything<br />

falling apart.”<br />

Nevertheless, while an immense amount of music<br />

contains overt political sentiment, it’s a route Musa doesn’t<br />

want to focus too much on with Dead Nature, choosing<br />

only to sing about it when it connects with him and his<br />

music. “I’m one of those people that never want to be a<br />

political artist in the sense of, I don’t wear politics on my<br />

sleeve,” he admits. “I only sing about it when it connects<br />

with me and my music and I don’t ever try and say it<br />

directly. I don’t want to shove anything down anyone’s<br />

throat. It’s up to the listener to take what they want from it<br />

and interpret it as they want. I do it in such a nuanced way<br />

because we can’t be on a high horse about politics, and I<br />

still get my opinions across. The line is constantly moving,<br />

and I hope it continues that way.”<br />

We’ve been speaking for over an hour now, time<br />

disappearing into Musa’s political sidetracks and industry<br />

anecdotes. Time enough to prise a memorable moment<br />

from inside that busy head. “One of my favourite things was<br />

playing Later… with Jools Holland with my old band,” he tells<br />

me with an audible glint of nostalgia in his eyes as he recites<br />

the tale. “I was the drummer and lead singer at the time<br />

because our drummer had just left and it was easier to find<br />

a bass player at such short notice compared to a drummer.<br />

It was a weird set-up. I actually used to throw up when I<br />

first started doing both at the same time because it was so<br />

intense, and that show was one of the hardest shows I’ve<br />

ever played in my life. I had never sung and played at the<br />

same time until then,” Musa recalls. “Elton John was also<br />

on the show and he was really, really into our performance.<br />

After we played, he came up to me asking for a CD, so I ran<br />

backstage, got a vinyl and gave it to him. Then he just got<br />

off in his helicopter.” Can we expect something of a similar<br />

ascent? “This is just the start of Dead Nature for sure. I feel<br />

like it’s only going to grow from here.” !<br />

Words: Shannon Garner / @shannonmayy_<br />

Photography: Khalil Musa / @khalilmusa<br />

Watch Me Break Apart is available now.<br />



The introspective storyteller finds truth in the present.<br />

JESSICA LUISE is not one to shy away from her<br />

emotions, especially when it comes to songwriting.<br />

The indie-folk singer shares tales of love, loss and hope<br />

through her tracks after emerging onto the North West<br />

music scene in 2019. Stories of teenage romance, angst<br />

and the awkwardness which fill those adolescent years<br />

make her songs the ideal soundtrack to any indie romcom<br />

binge. Yet, for her, music is more than just catchy<br />

lyrics and heavenly melodies – it’s a form of therapy.<br />

“I use writing as a way of getting my thoughts and<br />

feelings out into a physical form,” says Jessica. She<br />

is open about her mental health and reveals that she<br />

often finds it hard to rationalise thoughts due to having<br />

generalised anxiety disorder. “Writing it down helps me<br />

to be raw but also balance out the overthinking.”<br />

From an early age, Jessica knew she wanted<br />

to perform after watching Jools Holland’s Annual<br />

Hootenanny. Those starry-eyed nights spent watching<br />

performers in their natural habitat resulted in Jessica<br />

immersing herself in musical theatre before she finally<br />

decided to become a singer-songwriter at the end of her<br />

educational tenure – a process that arrived naturally from<br />

introspective storytelling. “I used to write little stories<br />

about how I was feeling and then they just became<br />

songs,” she admits.<br />

Influences on her songwriting come from an array of<br />

situations, including previous relationships or something<br />

as simple as passing a random person in the street. Her<br />

latest single, Nice Try – a blend of acoustic and dreampop<br />

tones underneath the raw lyricism – was written as a<br />

form of closure from a personal experience.<br />

Due to the intimate nature of her songs, it can often<br />

leave her feeling vulnerable, especially when performing<br />

live. “I write a lot of music about my situation at the time,”<br />

she continues. “Some songs can change from being my<br />

favourite to actually being quite hard and emotional to<br />

sing live.”<br />

Although lockdown measures have prevented Jessica<br />

from performing live, they haven’t stopped her from<br />

getting her name out there and collaborating with other<br />

musicians. In 2020 she organised Rock the Breadline,<br />

a virtual charity concert bringing together 24 artists to<br />

raise funds following the free school meals debate.<br />

Music plays a huge role in Jessica’s everyday life,<br />

admitting she “can’t go a day without listening to music<br />

or writing a little riff or a little verse”. Her love affair with<br />

music cannot be underestimated and runs deep. “There is<br />

a song out there for every mood. It knows how I feel, and<br />

it knows how to help.”<br />

Jessica’s passion shines through the breezy warmth<br />

in her voice as she sails through the narrative of each of<br />

her songs, set against the traditional blissfulness of indiepop<br />

hits. “The response you get when you have worked<br />

so hard on something, that moment when someone<br />

understands you because your words relate to them<br />

is magic. If you could bottle that up, you would make<br />

millions.” !<br />

Words: Mia O’Hare / @mia_ohare<br />

Photography: Matchbox Productions<br />

Going In Blind is available now.<br />

@iamjessicaluise<br />


The rhythmic globetrotter emerges from a spectrum<br />

of emotion.<br />

Derrick Nenzo (Harry Peach)<br />

Describe your music style in one sentence.<br />

One-man boy band with an 808.<br />

How did you get into creating music?<br />

I was in a band when I was like 13. I played guitar and<br />

sang, but we were bad. When I was 16, I got an old<br />

version of Logic from my sister’s hard drive and started<br />

making beats every day for three years until I released my<br />

first song.<br />

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that<br />

initially inspired you?<br />

Buzzin by Mann ft. 50 Cent. I heard it when I was like<br />

nine years old and loved the sound of it. It didn’t take long<br />

until I was neck deep in 90s hip-hop before eventually<br />

getting into the more modern stuff throughout my<br />

teenage years. I also got into a bunch of bands as well.<br />

Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to<br />

perform?<br />

I haven’t done much performing to be honest. I would<br />

have liked to last year but, unfortunately, we were in a<br />

panoramic, weren’t we? However, there’s an unreleased<br />

song I’m sitting on which I know is going to go off when I<br />

do start performing. In fact, there are a few like that…<br />

What do you think is the overriding influence on your<br />

songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs, or a<br />

mixture of all of these?<br />

Emotions, really. I look inwards more than anything when<br />

dealing with personal problems. I try not to get swayed<br />

by the media and world events because I think there’s<br />

always something to be angry at if you go looking for it.<br />

My criteria for a good song is it has to evoke emotions in<br />

the listener. It doesn’t matter which emotions just as long<br />

as they feel something.<br />

If you could support any artist in the future, who would<br />

it be?<br />

I like lots of artists across different genres and moods, but<br />

I think if I was to keep it in line with my current sound<br />

then probably Slowthai or Brockhampton.<br />

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in?<br />

Well, the only time I have really performed was in an<br />

Apple Music pop-up DJ booth with Charlie Sloth and, like,<br />

50 students. I did a freestyle and everyone seemed to like<br />

it, so I guess that was cool.<br />

Why is music important to you?<br />

It’s such a challenge and it pisses me off a lot, but the<br />

feeling of one good song out of 50 bad ones is worth it to<br />

me. I always find myself going back to it even when I’m<br />

fed up, so there must be something there.<br />

Can you recommend an artist, band or album that <strong>Bido</strong><br />

<strong>Lito</strong>! readers might not have heard?<br />

Yes, Derrick Nenzo. He raps, I think.<br />

human made is available now via Swell Head Inc.<br />

@DerrickNenzo<br />




GIG<br />


OWENS<br />

FestEVOL @ Invisible Wind Factory<br />

07/08<br />

The revolution will be<br />

synthesised as the Welsh<br />

techno-pop provocateur<br />

makes her grand return.<br />

In these uncertain times with so much doubt<br />

surrounding the future of live music, any tour or festival<br />

getting the green light feels like a significant victory<br />

for gig-goers. And here at <strong>Bido</strong> HQ, nothing has given<br />

us more reason to rejoice than FestEvol announcing the<br />

upcoming <strong>August</strong> all-dayers at the Invisible Wind Factory.<br />

Topping the bill of the first instalment is a boundaryblurring<br />

artist truly hitting her creative stride. Riding high<br />

on the success of her critically acclaimed second album,<br />

Inner Song, KELLY LEE OWENS is also quickly becoming<br />

known as one of the most vocal acts in the fight for a fairer<br />

industry. Following the five-year anniversary of Brexit and<br />

what should’ve been the opening night of Glasto, David<br />

Weir catches up with Owens to discuss her North Walian<br />

roots, soundtracking the Anthropocene and her eagerlyanticipated<br />

headline date.<br />

So, we caught your interview on Newsnight. There’s<br />

been an amazing response to the #LetTheMusicMove<br />

campaign from many acts – any stirrings from the<br />

government?<br />

Yeah, crazy, both of the interviews were very last minute,<br />

but we made it happen. We’re currently still waiting.<br />

But appearing on a platform like the BBC, that’s a huge<br />

step up for everyone in regard to officials taking notice<br />

and making the public aware of what’s actually going<br />

on. There’s been so much happening, everyone’s been in<br />

survival mode. Music’s definitely been in the background,<br />

but it’s been in the forefront of many people’s minds in<br />

terms of helping them cope. We need to show people<br />

this is already affecting an entire industry. When we have<br />

the public’s support, then it’s more pressure again for the<br />

government to have to do something about it.<br />

We’ve also been hearing from Music Declares<br />

Emergency and the #BrokenRecord campaign recently<br />

– is now the time for an industry overhaul?<br />

Totally. As I mentioned yesterday, it’s this toxic<br />

concoction of the pandemic, Brexit, the streaming<br />

services that don’t pay us correctly; the music industry<br />

is broken. The artistry of it has been so downplayed<br />

consistently, where really without artists it wouldn’t<br />

fucking exist. It’s time to rip up the narrative and have<br />

things work for us. We’re obviously trying to support our<br />

crews the best we can, but it’s interesting that the last<br />

people to be spoken about in the whole thing are often<br />

the artists themselves. Maybe artists are just expected<br />

to have another job. I’ve worked since I was 14. I was<br />

working a full-time job alongside writing my first record; I<br />

worked part-time while doing some of my second. I know<br />

what hard work is and this is the hardest thing I’ve ever<br />

done. I’ve had to dedicate my entire life, my savings, all<br />

my energy and sacrifice relationships. This is not a joke.<br />

The way people perceive it is a joke. There are petitions,<br />

but this is what we’re discussing at the moment, how to<br />

actively engage. I think, as an artist, using our platforms<br />

to really speak to our fans directly is one way. Fans<br />

can also put pressure on their representatives and the<br />

government. Behind the scenes we’ve been trying to<br />

pressurise them and we’ve been largely ignored. So,<br />

having these conversations and making it more public is<br />

the next step.<br />

FestEvol’s your first UK gig lined up then?<br />

Yeah. In fact, it’ll actually be the first time Inner Song is<br />

performed live! I mean, the irony of calling an album that<br />

and it’s never been played out. I’ve gigged in Liverpool<br />

before with the Immix Ensemble. That was a very<br />

beautiful night for other reasons. See, I come from North<br />

Wales originally; we’re not that far away. In my late teens<br />

I went to a lot of shows in Liverpool, they were kind<br />

of my formative years in terms of getting involved in a<br />

live music scene and falling in love with that. So, for me<br />

personally, to have my first show in the North West is<br />

really special. We’re all going to be so grateful that we<br />

can be there together in that space now.<br />

Let’s talk about your collaboration with John Cale on<br />

Corner Of My Sky. What did it mean to explore your<br />

Welsh heritage together on this track?<br />

It was such an honour because I wanted to explore the<br />

connection with it, but I didn’t want it to be in a false<br />

sense. People like Gwenno are amazing because she<br />

speaks fluent Welsh. For me to make a whole Welsh<br />

language album wouldn’t be authentic. So, it was more<br />

about bringing other people in. I’d already recorded with<br />

John. To be in a studio with him, he produced me in just<br />

this old-school way and it was total magic. I remember<br />

hitting this high note that I’ve never reached before in my<br />

vocal range. He’s that kind of producer, where he doesn’t<br />

touch anything but he touches everything. I’m actually<br />

still working towards learning Welsh at the moment.<br />

There’s something quite painful for me about going home<br />

and visiting relatives in Glan Conwy, knowing that they<br />

all speak it but not being able to have conversations<br />

properly with them. Something about that loss has felt<br />

quite poignant to me in the last few years, as I’ve grown<br />

older. There’s something about those roots that are<br />

calling me.<br />

There’s a strong movement at the moment to reclaim<br />

Welsh place names, isn’t there? Like the motion calling<br />

for Snowdon to go by Yr Wyddfa?<br />

There certainly is. That was the thing growing up, it was<br />

normal to have the conductor on the train pronounce it<br />

‘LAN-dudno’, which when you think about it is absolutely<br />

diabolical. That would never happen anywhere else. So,<br />

we’re rectifying a lot, which other people on the outside<br />

might not see, but it really does stand for something.<br />

Apparently ‘Wales’ is even an Anglo-Saxon word that<br />

means foreigner. The resonance of words, we know how<br />

“I was asking<br />

as the planet is<br />

dying, what does<br />

the grief of nature<br />

sound like?”<br />

powerful they are and I believe that they carry magic.<br />

Spells and spelling – you’re casting spells as you speak.<br />

‘Cymru’ means more neighbours, kinfolk. It’s about a<br />

bond between certain groups of people, togetherness.<br />

Wales needs foreigners. We’re talking about the<br />

mountain, that’s one thing, but we’re also talking about<br />

the name of the entire country. Michael Sheen did a<br />

lecture and he taught me more about Welsh history than<br />

I’ve known in my entire life. My god, it’s impassioned, I’d<br />

encourage anyone to watch it. I’m lucky to be working<br />

closely with the Welsh government quite a lot in regard<br />

to the arts. I’m currently creating soundscapes for Welsh<br />

NHS staff on their breaks to meditate or just wind down<br />

to. So, when they do go for a break, they are able to break<br />

away from their reality.<br />

You’ve already touched on how the landscape<br />

influences your music. This relationship and contrast<br />

between digital and industrial sounds, and more<br />

natural and organic sounds feels like a key component<br />

on Inner Song.<br />

I’m just always inspired basically by what I call everyday<br />

sounds. Perhaps that makes it sound boring, but it’s not<br />

to me. Melt for example was very direct. I couldn’t go<br />

to the Antarctic; it would’ve been pretty ironic to fly out<br />

there. So, I thought I’d use free samples for the first time<br />

in my whole career. This was a different one. I was asking<br />

as the planet is dying, what does the grief of nature<br />

sound like? As climate breakdown is happening what<br />

are the sounds that come with that? I was interested in<br />

finding those and placing them into modern tracks in<br />

a space that is actually healing for people. But I’m still<br />

bringing it into people’s consciousness, having them<br />

connect to that, rather than dissociating from reality.<br />

The Inner Song Remix Series also dropped earlier this<br />

month – how was it hearing what other artists did with<br />

your songs?<br />

Incredible. I knew I could easily ask my mates, names<br />

that people might naturally expect, but then I thought,<br />

actually, I want to work with people who are more<br />

underground. I want to walk the walk and give any small<br />

platform I have to others and uplift them. I think there<br />

are more women than men on the remix album, there’s<br />

certainly artists of colour, the diversity and inclusivity<br />

aspect was really important. The fundamental part,<br />

though, is they’re all fucking amazing producers and<br />

artists. That was really exciting to me, having this fresh<br />

take. They’re all so different, which I love. I look at people<br />

like Björk and she’s always doing that. Offering her work<br />

to emerging talent. When I remixed her, she’d personally<br />

emailed her label to ask them to get me to do it. That’s<br />

the highest honour, really. Another thing that I’ve wanted<br />

to do is remix more women. There’s been St. Vincent<br />

and Jenny Hval, and one more coming out that I can’t<br />

mention. But that should be landing soon. It’s been a bit<br />

of a boys’ club; we can do better than that. !<br />

Interview: David Weir / @betweenseeds<br />

Photography: Kim Hiorthøy<br />




27-28/08 - Future Yard<br />

Future Yard are hosting a celebration over the bank holiday<br />

weekend, giving us a taste of what’s to come from<br />

the Birkenhead venue over the next few months and<br />

years. Future Now will be a two-day live music event<br />

showcasing a whole range of acts across an array of genres.<br />

Friday 27th will see trio MARIE DAVIDSON & L’ŒIL NU headline<br />

with their latest project seeing them turn from their dancefloor<br />

experimentalism to more classic pop writing. The French-Canadian<br />

band offer a tribute to the genres that inspired their electro-pop,<br />

jazz moments and romantic ballads through a fusion of 70s and<br />

80s sounds and electronica. The first night also welcomes back<br />

Bristol’s techno-come-post-punk four-piece SCALPING, who<br />

played the Future Yard festival in 2019. East London’s avant-punk<br />

queen NUHA RUBY RA also joins the lead heavy line-up.<br />

The final day (Saturday) will host DJ and tastemaker TOM<br />

RAVENSCROFT, who’ll be on hand to provide a sample of his<br />

genre-hopping music taste while paying homage to the region<br />

which his iconic father John Peel called home. YARD ACT have<br />

caught the attention since the release of their Dark Days EP. The<br />

Leeds-based quartet’s coruscating, narrative driven, spoken word<br />

dance-punk is the perfect addition to a line-up that reflects music’s<br />

latest hip trends. Both days will be kicked off by local artists. Rustic<br />

indie slackers STORES open Friday’s event while cosmonauts<br />

SAMURAI KIP will bring their blend of jazz, funk and soul to<br />

Saturday’s proceedings. The full programme of live performances<br />

and DJs will be split across the venue’s indoor live room and<br />

outdoor garden space.<br />

Nuha Ruby Ra<br />

Alicai Harley<br />




29/08 - 24 Kitchen Street<br />

As live music makes its long-awaited comeback, this <strong>August</strong> will see the<br />

celebration of the sorely missed Liverpool Carnival, set to fill 24 Kitchen<br />

Street with the best of bass, dancehall, old skool, rap and reggae. An<br />

outdoor stage, sound system vibes and a variety of food pop-ups will<br />

cater the all-day affair, supporting a diverse showcase of local and global Caribbeaninfluenced<br />

talent.<br />

Organising and presenting the event are Culture Deck, a collaborative media<br />

platform who seek to celebrate and provide scope for emerging artists and creative<br />

talent. Founded in Liverpool, Culture Deck engage with local artists from across the<br />

North West, through both live events as well as projects in artist development and<br />

creative media. Girls on Deck is among one of their newest ventures, a project which<br />

aspires to nurture and celebrate the next generation of local female DJs.<br />

Carnival headliners includes Jamaican reggae and dancehall singer KRANIUM,<br />

this year embarking on his first global tour after establishing his distinct reggae<br />

sound, heard in his collaborations with artists like Bebe Rexha and Wizkid. Joining<br />

the headliner is DAVID ‘RAM JAM’ RODIGAN, famous for his musical showcases,<br />

particularly in the reggae and dancehall genres, who was added to England’s Radio<br />

Academy Hall of Fame in 2006. Jamaican born and South London-raised ALICAI<br />

HARLEY, will take the event to new heights with party anthems from her new debut<br />

EP The Red Room Intro (Yard Gyal Inna Britain), a homage to both her young, female<br />

Black British and Jamaican heritage. Other artists announced for the line-up include<br />


limited tickets remaining.<br />




GIG<br />

The Wonder Pot: Helena Hauff<br />

27/08 - 24 Kitchen Street<br />

Helena Hauff<br />

HELENA HAUFF will be kicking off the <strong>August</strong> Bank Holiday weekend at<br />

24 Kitchen Street with an intimate late-night affair. The German DJ and<br />

producer returns to Liverpool with the intense, futuristic sound which has<br />

won over dancefloors across Europe and beyond. She has released tracks<br />

on notable record labels Werkdiscs, Ninja Tune, PAN and Blackest Ever<br />

Black with hits including Spur and c45p. Hauff will be bringing her sharp<br />

acid sounds, cold rhythmics and minimalist atmospherics to the Baltic<br />

Triangle venue courtesy of club promoter par excellence Wonder Pot.<br />

GIG<br />

By The Sea<br />

04/09 - Arts Club Loft<br />

A highly welcome return for one of Merseyside’s finest crew of guitar wranglers, dream-pop ensemble BY THE SEA resurface for their first shows since 2014. Pursuing other<br />

projects since the appearance of their excellent second album, Endless Days, Crystal Sky, lead singer Liam Power is a long-standing member of fellow Wirralian Bill Ryder-Jones’<br />

band. The quartet is putting the finishing touches to new LP Heaven Knows Magnolia, with a release date pencilled in for later this year. Expect cuts from their first two albums and<br />

a slew of new material at their Arts Club Loft date in early September.<br />

GIG<br />

Laurent Garnier<br />

28/08 - Invisible Wind Factory<br />

Laurent Garnier<br />

French producer and DJ LAURENT GARNIER will be taking to the North<br />

Dock’s stage for a night of house music. Garnier began DJing in Manchester<br />

during the 1980s and has since created a broad sound of classic house and<br />

Detroit techno. He embraces acid, trance and jazzy tracks with a harder<br />

edge and is best known for his hits The Man With the Red Face and Crispy<br />

Bacon. The Frenchman will play to the Liverpool audience with support from<br />

stalwart of the underground house scene LEWIS BOARDMAN.<br />

FILM<br />

The Orielles’ La Vita Olistica<br />

13/08 - Leaf<br />

Indie-funk sweethearts THE ORIELLES make their directorial debut with short film La<br />

Vita Olistica. Taking over Leaf’s tranquil space, the premiere will be hosted by the band<br />

followed by a Q&A with John Robb of The Membranes and Louder Than War. Sisters<br />

and band members Sidonie and Esmé Hand-Halford have created this short film as an<br />

extension of their second album, Disco Volador. Inspired by the transition to life online<br />

during lockdown and the need to do something different to the live streams many other<br />

bands were doing, the film explores themes of time and space.<br />

The Orielles<br />


GIG<br />

Crack Cloud<br />

26/08 - District<br />

Vancouver-based art-punk band CRACK CLOUD are bringing their 2020<br />

second album Pain Olympics to District this month. Having garnered top<br />

reviews across the board, the multimedia collective straddle the art-rock<br />

and post-punk genres, while utilising the combined talents of various artists,<br />

filmmakers, musicians and designers to deliver striking visuals. The epic<br />

project comprised over 20 members, with seven going on the road to tour<br />

the piece. Pain Olympics cultivates self-betterment and collectivism with a<br />

strong focus on visual storytelling – just the type of show we longed for in<br />

those endless locked down months.<br />


Young Homotopia: We’re Queer for It<br />

20-22/08 - Unity Theatre and online<br />

Pride is a protest. Creativity speaks truth to power. Young Homotopia are<br />

serving up activism, cabaret, spoken word and theatre this Pride season<br />

which will be available to watch live at Unity Theatre and online. Presented<br />

by Homotopia and in association with GYRO LGBTQIA Youth (YPAS), WE’RE<br />

QUEER FOR IT explores the political and social issues that are most important<br />

to young queer people growing up today. On a pay-what-you-can scheme, the<br />

production’s online recording will be available for three days starting on 20th<br />

<strong>August</strong>, where audiences will receive a unique password, protected viewing link<br />

and can watch multiple times.<br />


Crapfest<br />

29/08 - EBGBs<br />

Following a successful inaugural outing in 2019 and a pandemic-era virtual edition last year, CRAPFEST makes a fully-fledged return this <strong>August</strong> Bank Holiday. Held across a host<br />

of city centre venues including EBGBs, The Jacaranda and Phase One, the all-dayer showcases the best DIY and underground talent around, while raising funds for charity along<br />

the way. With 16 acts already confirmed, junk-punk Birkenhead duo and event organisers CRAPSONS appear alongside alt-rockers GEN AND THE DEGENERATES, sludge riff<br />

doyens SALT THE SNAIL, screamo trio KIN, Belfast feminist punks PROBLEM PATTERNS, heavy rockers ELEVANT with more groups TBA before showtime.<br />


Loud And Local<br />

29/08 - Alexander’s Live Chester<br />

Rufus Court Chester will see the return of the Loud And Local Festival for the fifth time<br />

this <strong>August</strong>, boasting the best of alternative music in the North West region. Stages in<br />

both the venue garden and hidden courtyard will play host to a wide-ranging line-up<br />

of alternative creatives. From the garden stage, experience indie/psych performances<br />

from local names like YAMMERER, SEAZOO and ANTI HONEY, while a more acoustic/<br />

folk flavour permeates the courtyard, with CAMPFIRE SOCIAL, SAM LYON and SARA<br />

WOLFF. Hosted by Alexander’s Live, the midday to midnight event has seen great<br />

success year on year, as a means of paying a special homage to the alternative talent that<br />

emanates from our very doorstep.<br />

Sara Wolff<br />


Baltic Weekender<br />

13-15/08 - Baltic Triangle<br />

As the <strong>August</strong> sun seeps through the Baltic Triangle’s industrial streets, the three-day<br />

Baltic Weekender returns boasting its most ambitious line-up yet. Presented by 24<br />

Kitchen Street and Abandon Silence, the multi-genre dance festival will see a sizzling<br />

selection of house, techno, grime, bass and everything in-between. Taking place over<br />

eight stages across the Triangle, the weekend sound banquet will be stocked with<br />

offerings from international headliners including DANIEL AVERY and SPFDJ, as well as<br />

local talent including NUTRIBE and NIKKI CHONG.<br />

Nikki Chong<br />



Y’MAM (Brian Roberts)<br />

Y’MAM: Young Man’s Angry<br />

Movements<br />

Everyman Theatre – 17/06<br />

Fist clenched, jaw set and eyes wide, Luke Jerdy<br />

holds us for a moment, teetering on the edge of an<br />

attack. It’s the deadly calm before a storm. He’s built the<br />

tension, describing the thick<br />

black tar rising from his gut, his<br />

arm pulled back ready to swing<br />

and there, he stops, looks up<br />

and addresses us with a manic<br />

glint: “I’ve been triggered.”<br />

Y’MAM is a one-man tour<br />

de force taking us for a ride<br />

through the unadulterated<br />

highs and uncontrollable<br />

depths of male violence,<br />

bravado and challenges of<br />

identity. Written and acted by<br />

Majid Mehdizadeh, with the performance credited to<br />

his stage name, Luke Jerdy, this confessional is at once<br />

deeply personal and painfully universal.<br />

Grainy footage of a group of jeering, laughing<br />

teenage lads beams above the stage. Mehdizadeh<br />

swaggers on in a hooded tracksuit, mirroring the jerky,<br />

fronting movements of one boy preparing to spit lines to<br />

“Rap and spoken word<br />

serve throughout as<br />

an acceptable male art<br />

form for the expression<br />

of vulnerability”<br />

the building beat. He bursts forth, laying out the premise<br />

of his work: “There has to be an intro to the problem, or<br />

the problem wouldn’t exist.”<br />

The problem – toxic masculinity – is something he<br />

wants to dissect so that he can gain control over his<br />

own violence-driven existence. The challenge, however,<br />

is seeing the problem in the first place. And it’s the raw<br />

reality of how slow and unwilling Mehdizadeh’s own<br />

process of waking up to this problem was that makes<br />

this production truly arresting.<br />

We are swept into<br />

Mehdizadeh’s masculine<br />

world of noise, hype and<br />

banter through a combination<br />

of audio, visual and physical<br />

immersion. He regales us with<br />

stories of alcohol, drugs and<br />

fights: found fights, looked-for<br />

fights, defensive fights. He<br />

claims his sense of justice,<br />

self-sufficiency and protective<br />

instinct towards his girlfriend<br />

are central to his identity and<br />

are why people love him. The absurdity is obvious and<br />

grating; but that’s the point. Mehdizadeh wants us to see<br />

and feel the power of his self-deception as self-protection.<br />

Flashing back and forth between snippets of therapy<br />

and vignettes of adolescent incidents, young man’s fury<br />

and self-destruction – as well as very funny moments<br />

of inflated hubris – Mehdizadeh reveals to himself and<br />

his audience the importance of allowing ourselves to be<br />

flawed and multifaceted. In his self-discovery, he builds<br />

a rhyme about his inner, aggression-led ape: “The art of<br />

me is to catch my chimpanzee and give him sympathy.”<br />

This kind of rap and spoken word serve throughout<br />

as an acceptable male art form for the expression of<br />

vulnerability, feelings and revelations. Adam Welsh and<br />

Zee Musiq support with perfectly pitched sound design,<br />

evoking environments and emotions alike, moving this<br />

one-man show through place and mind.<br />

Revelation doesn’t truly hit, however, until<br />

Mehdizadeh confronts his trigger. It’s a playful and<br />

powerful term, with male violence so often being the<br />

trigger for others’ trauma. Yet here violence is the<br />

devastating outcome of Mehdizadeh suppressing his<br />

own trauma. It isn’t until he acknowledges the damage<br />

that other damaged males have passed on to him that he<br />

finally unlocks the possibility of change.<br />

And this possibility is an ideal he offers up to all of<br />

us. Young men may need to hear it the most, but the<br />

damage, the fear, the noise we create to drown out our<br />

own traumas – this performance speaks to anyone who<br />

needs to hear it.<br />

Following a short, widely acclaimed run at the<br />

Everyman, it’s hoped this production will go on tour<br />

next year. Keep an eye out and catch it if you can – it’s<br />

unexpectedly special and will strike a chord no matter<br />

who you are.<br />

Clare Dodd / @Claredodd<br />


Black Country, New Road (Lucy McLachlan)<br />

“We’re lucky to<br />

be in such intimate<br />

confines with this<br />

year’s bona fide<br />

buzz band”<br />

Black Country, New Road (Lucy McLachlan)<br />

Black Country, New Road<br />

Future Yard – 20/06<br />

In a fallow year for live music, the momentum BLACK<br />

COUNTRY, NEW ROAD built with their early singles and<br />

acclaimed live shows has been under threat of grinding to<br />

a halt. The chorus of plaudits risked echoing in an anti-bac<br />

wiped vacuum through no fault of the Cambridgeshire<br />

septet. This afternoon, however, we do not need to dwell<br />

on this scenario. The band have returned to the same soil<br />

on which they played when first riding that initial wave<br />

of hype. Their set at 2019’s Future Yard festival, on the<br />

grounds of Birkenhead Priory, was to an audience largely<br />

unintroduced to their klezmer-infused jazz and spoken<br />

word stylings. At this matinée performance, the sold-out<br />

congregation greets the tracks from this year’s debut<br />

album For the first time with knowing excitement and<br />

there’s a sense that we’re lucky to be in such intimate<br />

confines with this year’s bona fide buzz band.<br />

Clearly not a unit to rest on their laurels,<br />

the band make an announcement ahead of the<br />

performance via drummer Charlie Wayne. There’ll be<br />

new material tonight, so please don’t video, “it could<br />

be disco, we don’t know what it’ll be.” The first track<br />

is not disco but it’s unfamiliar. A recent interview<br />

with the band alluding to their new sound being<br />

akin to Arcade Fire is not actually far off the mark.<br />

There’s an epic folk feel to the track which swaps the<br />

frantic chaos of the album for mandolin and swelling<br />

emotion.<br />

Athens, France reassures us that the songs<br />

that gave cause for celebration in the darkness of<br />

lockdown 2.0 will get a run-out. The band don’t<br />

really deal with exuberance, but they don’t seem<br />

bored of playing the hits. Clearly proficient musicians<br />

(much has been made of three of their number<br />

being classically trained), it’s perhaps by design that<br />

there are so many directions to go within the song<br />

structures that tracks like Sunglasses and Track X<br />

will always feel fresh to player and consumer alike.<br />

Another newbie with a start-stop signature and<br />

wacky drum solo causes smirks to develop into full-on<br />

LOLs among the band just as things threaten to get too<br />

serious. The track offers something different and hints<br />

at the experimentation Wayne pointed to in his pre-set<br />

announcement.<br />

Weeks after For the first time garnered five-star<br />

ratings and heralded a new unique talent, the band<br />

performed a streamed gig consisting of zero tracks from<br />

the debut and a cover of MGMT’s Time To Pretend. This<br />

matinée performance was followed by an evening gig<br />

which featured the band producing a rendition of Abba’s<br />

Mamma Mia. Lots of people got bored in lockdown, other<br />

people challenged themselves to explore their boundaries<br />

and have fun under the limitations. The seven people on<br />

stage this afternoon presumably fit the latter category<br />

and that behaviour is going to extend way beyond sating<br />

critics and socially distanced gigs.<br />

Sam Turner / @samturner1984<br />




<strong>August</strong>us John (Gareth Jones)<br />

The Last Bohemian:<br />

<strong>August</strong>us John<br />

Lady Lever Art Gallery - 01/06<br />

On a sunlit day in early June, the Lady Lever Art<br />

Gallery in the sleepy model village of Port Sunlight –<br />

Wirral’s pristine enclave lost in a pre-war time-warp – is<br />

shining in all its Beaux-Arts glory. Equal parts eerily<br />

perfect and stunningly out of place with its surrounds,<br />

the expansive gallery is hushed in quiet surprise. Stuffed<br />

full of John Everett Millais and Singer Sargents, yet safely<br />

tucked away in an unsuspecting place, perhaps it is the<br />

perfect home to host the works of one of the country’s<br />

most surreptitiously infamous artists.<br />

A touring retrospective of his work showcasing<br />

around 40 paintings, etchings and drawings, The Last<br />

Bohemian: <strong>August</strong>us John at the Lady Lever Art Gallery<br />

offers an insight into the life of one of the most searingly<br />

honest portrait painters of the late 19th and early 20th<br />

centuries.<br />

Shuffling across the chalk white floors, the exhibition<br />

is neatly withdrawn to three small antechambers, and I<br />

find myself at once confronted with the brooding oil of<br />

a cloak-clad youth: the young, boyish John by his friend<br />

William Rothenstein. At 21, this is undoubtedly the image<br />

of an enviably young man strapped with unbound talent,<br />

on the cusp of accomplishment, although the exhibition is<br />

loath to call him a genius. Instead, it chooses to highlight<br />

his vigour for friends, knowledge and art. It is helpfully<br />

chopped up into the seminal parts of his life – his time<br />

at the Slade School, his appointment as art lecturer at<br />

Liverpool University, his marriage to his artist wife, Ida,<br />

and the ménage à trois with his partner, Dorelia.<br />

It presents John as an unflinchingly candid painter – it<br />

hosts the renowned portrait of Lord Leverhulme, who<br />

famously cut out his own face upon seeing its honesty.<br />

But squeezed between exquisitely depicted bodies and<br />

colourful portraits, I sense<br />

a muted undoing of the<br />

artist-as-hero. The exhibition<br />

makes a point of calling<br />

John’s work with the Gypsy<br />

Law Society patronising, and<br />

they’d be right. Adopting<br />

their lifestyle as ‘bohemian’,<br />

it feels like the equivalent of<br />

Oxbridge educated hockey<br />

players cavorting around<br />

Newcastle costumed as<br />

This Country characters.<br />

Although many of his fine<br />

first etchings were made in<br />

Liverpool (the most famous<br />

being Man from Barbados,<br />

1901-2), his sitters found<br />

in the back streets and<br />

brothel houses of Scotland<br />

Road, it leaves me questioning whether this was an<br />

artist feverishly capturing the cosmopolitan hubbub of a<br />

booming port city, or a man trying to impose himself on an<br />

exotic working class culture he’d never truly inhabit.<br />

“An enviably young man<br />

strapped with unbound<br />

talent, on the cusp<br />

of accomplishment,<br />

although the<br />

exhibition is loath to<br />

call him a genius”<br />

In the last room, I find myself standing face to face<br />

with the comically disgusted carrot-flopped portrait<br />

of the poet Dylan Thomas – a portrait I feel I’ve seen a<br />

thousand times over, without ever having seen before.<br />

Such is the surprising reach and magnetism of John’s<br />

work. This is the refreshing curatorial perspective the<br />

Lady Lever has taken; it refrains from tainting us too<br />

much with John’s celebrity and instead attempts to keep<br />

a subtle balance between<br />

revering his precocious<br />

talent and offsetting it<br />

for the eyes of a modern<br />

audience. In a life that<br />

appears pitted with<br />

riotous drama and artistic<br />

integrity, the exhibition<br />

does not shy away from<br />

exposing John’s flaws.<br />

Dylan’s portrait is arresting<br />

and honest, but so is the<br />

placard of information<br />

below it – that John,<br />

nearing 50, abused Dylan’s<br />

young wife Caitlin over<br />

the many times she sat for<br />

him. The uncompromising<br />

integrity towards art and<br />

lifestyle suddenly starts to<br />

feel compromised. So please, go for the art, but stay for<br />

the portrait of the man himself.<br />

Georgi Aslanian<br />


Angel Field Festival<br />

Hope University Campus – 24/06-03/07<br />

Chartreuse<br />

+ Memorial<br />

+ Astles<br />

Future Yard – 06/07<br />

Angel Field Festival (Alexander Monkhouse)<br />

After so, so many months of inertia and social stasis, it’s our first time back. Our first gig proper<br />

after the dreadful storm of a virus left us with nothing but innumerable online acoustic performances<br />

from couches across the nations. All wonky angles, dodgy sound and far too many under-nourished<br />

Yucca plants.<br />

No, this is what we used to call ‘live music’. It feels important. A moment of comfort and relief,<br />

like the feeling you get when the London train crosses the chocolate swell of the Mersey on its way to<br />

Lime Street. A homecoming.<br />

Scan QR code to order. The Future Yard stage is bathed in that familiar pink hue we’ve long come<br />

to know and trust as ASTLES arrives, tonight a three-piece with a cello and keyboard player. Here is<br />

an artist who seems only ever to get better with time, he seems more at home with himself, dare we<br />

say more confident? It’s in the voice, the soul he puts in. And it’s reflected in new, soon-to-drop Bill<br />

Ryder-Jones-produced single Like A Child, where Astles shows his worth, he’s a wizard of melodic<br />

melancholia draped in minor chords and tenderness and this is perhaps his best work yet. Love<br />

In November is plaintive and pleading somebody, or maybe nobody, to “come home to warm your<br />

bones”. Finishing with another new song, Whatever That Means, means a lot, it turns out, because it<br />

shows Astles for the ever-growing force he is.<br />

Some things just work. They’re so obviously bound to be together it may be why they exist<br />

in the first place. Life’s natural harmonies, acutely balanced in favour of all. In the moments when<br />

MEMORIAL sing together there can be fewer better examples of this. Perfectly pitched soaring<br />

harmonies sweep through the room, soft and sweet, fondly reminiscent of local adoptees The Lost<br />

Brothers. They confess that this is only their seventh gig, their first tour, as though it’s a bad thing.<br />

Their songs and sheer musicality belie the fact that they’re a relatively new act. Latchkey feels like it<br />

willed itself to be written in 1971, and Elliott Smith-flavoured Moth To A Flame could be as old as the<br />

Appalachians.<br />

Scan QR code to order. When CHARTREUSE begin, the first sensation is in the pit of the stomach,<br />

and the joyous realisation that this is the first time we’ve heard a rhythm section play live for the worst<br />

part of two years. And when we say rhythm section, drummer Rory Wagstaff’s pin-sharp, jazz-tinged<br />

rhythms are crisper than a Kettle Chip (the sea salt and balsamic ones – we’re not animals), and his<br />

colleague in rhythm, the delightfully named Perry Lovering’s basslines aren’t a mere underpinning of<br />

the Chartreuse sound. They’re what makes the sense of imagination in it all feel so addictive.<br />

Hailing from Birmingham, but with a distinct Bristolian sound, Chartreuse is a revelatory<br />

convergence of folk, jazz, drum and bass, poetry, soul and lilting – or, more accurately, brooding –<br />

melody. There’s something in the space of their sound, something in the empty moments, something<br />

dark and wonderful. Harriet Wilson and Michael Wagstaff sing together like they have been for years<br />

which, of course, they have. Theirs is another natural balance, at once both delicate and powerful.<br />

They’re here with new material, too. Future releases like Only You, with its urgent, desperate to be<br />

heard feel, as Michael Wagstaff charges up the through the key changes taking us who knows where?<br />

Or Deep Fat, jazzy with dark, half-spoken vocals and the stark crack of snare. Keep Checking Up On Me<br />

is a veritable modern classic in our view. A haunted introspective, looking for answers, its electric piano<br />

more soothing than Mogadon, and Michael Wagstaff’s vocal edged with beautiful burnt soul.<br />

The verses of Woman, I’m Crazy, is stripped back to rimshot sparseness with Harriet Wilson’s<br />

folk-jazz vocals floating way above, before the slam of the choruses, all big chords and crashing<br />

rhythm. It’s angry, but in a good way. Three Days talks of the confusion of love, words we all know,<br />

feelings we’ve all felt, it’s a dreamy swirl of a song, laden with moments. Chartreuse as the first gig<br />

back is good by us and, as we head back underground, we reflect.<br />

Finally, live music has a future, and that future may well be in Birkenhead. And not a Yucca plant<br />

in sight.<br />

Paul Fitzgerald / @NothingvilleM<br />

Deserted public spaces simulating the aftermath of a zombie<br />

apocalypse have unfortunately been no foreign sight in Merseyside since<br />

the pandemic began, and Liverpool Hope University’s Creative Campus<br />

hasn’t been an exception. No students leisurely strolling through the<br />

leafy grounds with notepads in hand, or busy lecturers pacing to give<br />

their next seminar. At least that was until the annual ANGEL FIELD<br />

FESTIVAL rocked up and blew any sense of creative vacancy out of<br />

the water. From musical performances and film screenings to sound<br />

installations and a comedy show, the 10-day arts festival has everything<br />

you could possibly want.<br />

Angel Field is beloved for weaving together artistic talent from<br />

across the globe while commemorating local Liverpudlian culture, and<br />

musician John Lowndes has nailed the brief to a tee with his communitybased<br />

sound installation, About Us – For Us. Using a juxtaposing<br />

combination of field recordings from West Everton, voices of three<br />

community members and phone calls from people in the area during<br />

the pandemic, Lowndes’ participatory piece attempts to capture the<br />

experiences of local residents over the last 15 months. The audience is<br />

invited into a gloomy studio where five solitary speakers stand uniformly<br />

apart; their intimidating glare is enough to draw you to the chairs sitting<br />

sheepishly facing them so that you’re unavoidably eye-to-eye and<br />

preparing to be confronted. An array of overwhelming and aleatory<br />

noises fills every last space of the four walls, from conversational voices<br />

and birds chirping to the startling alarm of sirens. The setting is minimal,<br />

leaving relatively no visual experience which streamlines the auditory<br />

senses, making this soundscape even more impactful.<br />

Keeping with the regional theme, Liverpool-based feminist<br />

performance company, Bite! Theatre grace the festival with their<br />

politically humorous yet emotive presence as with their debut comedy<br />

show, Pucker Up. Witty depictions of gender inequality, internalised<br />

misogyny and oppressive stereotypes are on the menu for spectators<br />

to lap up, and oh, how they do. This two-woman show is continuously<br />

immersive and interactive, encouraging individuals in the audience to<br />

participate and question their own role in upholding the patriarchal<br />

systems we live in. It’s a rare occurrence to find a comedy performance<br />

that successfully has you both laughing at your own deep-rooted<br />

oppression to tearing up about the exact same subject in minutes, and<br />

Bite! Theatre does it with flawless ease.<br />

Continuing to satiate our hunger for female empowerment,<br />

Michelle Yim showcases her powerful acting abilities as she brings<br />

the legendary Chinese warrior, Hua Mulan, to life in solo theatre piece<br />

The Ballad of Mulan. Performing an iconic Chinese legend by oneself<br />

would undoubtedly be a challenging task for any actor, but Michelle<br />

Yim effortlessly brings vigour, animation and passion to this unique<br />

tale through an intensive monologue, reminiscing on some of the more<br />

electrifying parts of Mulan’s story from gruesome battle scenes to<br />

childhood memoirs. Positioned centre-stage and ready for war, Yim<br />

takes the audience alongside her to re-enact one of Mulan’s more<br />

heinous fights: gripping furiously at her spear, the actress begins an<br />

increasingly fast stream of consciousness where she spills out her<br />

monstrous views of corpses, the smells of smoke and perspiration,<br />

and the sounds of whimpering from her fallen soldiers, occasionally<br />

interrupted by a deafening war cry. It’s tense. It’s uncomfortable. It feels<br />

slightly claustrophobic. But it most definitely leaves you feeling more<br />

enlightened by Mulan’s courage, bravery and loyalty than the Disney<br />

classic.<br />

Liverpool Hope University has the award-winning theatre company,<br />

Teatro Pomodoro to thank for drawing in one of the biggest audiences<br />

to the Capstone Theatre since the pandemic began. With their sell-out<br />

show, Sirens, Men and Crabs, spectators could be certain they were in<br />

for a treat, and they weren’t wrong. Making the audience cripple with<br />

laughter every 30 seconds, performers Carmen Arquelladas, Miwa<br />

Nagai and Simone Tani execute a lively display that plays on blunt satire,<br />

surrealism and Greek tragedy. Breaking the fourth wall is certainly a<br />

common tactic demonstrated throughout the show, emphasising how<br />

much both actors and audiences have missed those nostalgic, cordial<br />

interactions. For a solid hour-and-a-half, the trio are able to keep a crowd<br />

blissfully amused with their clowning brilliance and performative zeal.<br />

The Creative Campus may have appeared soulless and lonesome<br />

for the first half of <strong>2021</strong>, but Angel Field Festival has unapologetically<br />

burst through the doors with colour and vibrancy to ensure that the<br />

second half doesn’t receive the same fate. Showcasing an array of talent<br />

across a multitude of disciplines with pride and commitment, this year’s<br />

rendition of the annual arts festival provides yet another example of how<br />

creativity and culture in the city of Liverpool can revitalise any sombre<br />

setting.<br />

Bryony Large / @confessionsofanartjunkie<br />



Domingo Higuan (Brian Roberts)<br />

Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra<br />

Online - 29/06<br />

Liverpool Philharmonic’s end of June offering serves up an evening of ruthless<br />

neo-classicism from Stravinsky, Ravel and Prokofiev. Despite the conceptual strand<br />

throughout the programme being neo-classicism, by the end of the concert ‘contrast’<br />

becomes the word to summarise the evening. But first, we delve straight into the deep<br />

end with the ominous and quirky brass chirpings of Stravinsky’s Octet. Within the scope<br />

of the evening, the piece marks itself as a more intense and agile take on the neoclassical<br />

tradition. However, the intense interplay of brass motifs beckoning the galactic<br />

presence of John Williams isn’t all that Stravinsky has to offer for the evening. For every<br />

wide and dense climactic section, come thinner and more intimate sections hinting at<br />

the sombre moments to come.<br />

This is largely owing to the impactful premiere of DANI HOWARD’S trombone<br />

concerto, which relentlessly alienates itself from the rest of the neo-classical musings,<br />

but by doing so it becomes the emotional peak of the evening. It achieves this by<br />

offering a three-movement depiction of the last 18 months we’ve all had to endure:<br />

Realisation, Rumination, and Illumination, Dani explains in an interview with conductor<br />

DOMINGO HINDOYAN, included in the on-demand package of the concert. Dani<br />

focuses purely on the psychological impact of isolation, with the reflective pool of<br />

rich sighing string motifs and PETER MOORE’s trombone calling each spectator to a<br />

personal memory from the past troubled year. The three movements outline a deeply<br />

personal journey for Dani, but its consistently vague and dreamy nature allows the<br />

composition to resonate with anyone who hears it. Like a symbolist piece, it makes<br />

the isolation of lockdown its object, a stroke of ambiguity that in turn encapsulates the<br />

emotional journey of every musician and concert goer enduring the tides of isolation.<br />

The ever-increasing intensity throughout each of the movements until the climactic<br />

close of the final movement, brilliantly displays the desire for release we’ve all been<br />

anticipating, and it’s only fitting we hear this piece now just as we might be getting it.<br />

This transitions nicely to the serene woodwind swirls that glide us into Ravel’s<br />

Le Tombeau De Couperin. This is a piece born out of its own darkened time, as each<br />

movement is dedicated to a friend of Ravel who died during the First World War.<br />

Despite being very much a part of the neo-classical tradition, in the context of the<br />

evening, the piece stands as a sibling to Howard’s trombone concerto, as side by<br />

side they are connected through their comparatively subtle approach and meditative<br />

effect. Such dreamy and reflective music could have risked drifting off into the deepest<br />

moments of lockdown isolation, but as Liverpool slowly but surely makes its way back<br />

to normal, the contrast between the resurfaced casual chaos of our everyday lives and<br />

the reflective music at the centre of the evening, starts to make its true impact and<br />

meaning realised. The meditative and calming effect takes us out of our stressful lives<br />

and brings us to a still and personal place that exists only within ourselves, and as the<br />

world continues to open up, the strength of such cathartic and introspective orchestral<br />

works will be further revealed.<br />

To complete the cycle of neo-classicism though, we find ourselves back in the<br />

deep end, with the grandiose finisher that is Prokofiev’s first symphony Classical. Short<br />

and sweet as symphonies go, but by maintaining the animated flourishes of orchestral<br />

interplay consistently throughout, the piece certainly puts a strong bow on the entire<br />

proceedings. We’re left then with the consistent theme of neo-classicism, strongly<br />

imprinted in the intro and outro, but with a core of comparatively pensive but cathartic<br />

orchestrations that effortlessly reflect the audience’s lockdown journey back at them.<br />

Luke Furlonger-Copeland<br />

Domingo Higuan (Brian Roberts)<br />


Max Cooper<br />

Grand Central Hall – 03/07<br />

Our eyes face forward. Two translucent vanilla canvases (one in front and one behind) stretch themselves<br />

wide. MAX COOPER is nested in between them, his head illuminated with laptop light. Darkened figures sit<br />

two by two on the marked fold-out seats around the hall of this former Methodist church. A gentle tide of<br />

ambience laps our solitary shores as cream and blue coloured air pockets bubble and merge across the screens.<br />

As images are traded between them, the projected light draws straight dimensions around Cooper’s desk<br />

enclosing him. The first round of applause: and now he’s hidden.<br />

Cooper has orbited around abstract themes for some time. His PhD in computational biology a blueprint<br />

for his approach to music: methodical and structured – personal experiments conducted onstage with AV<br />

apparatus.<br />

Patterns keep transforming over beats with an ancient sensibility, an Aphex-like detachment which soothes<br />

anticipation, and the screens unveil a stack of images dissolving to reveal the next. Masks unveil masks in a<br />

feedback loop or a microcosmic flow chart: a rabbit hole into Euclidian space and its haunting fractals. The beat<br />

spurs ahead.<br />

Each performance is designed to echo similarities with the others, more like vignettes from a series than<br />

chapters of a story. Now, riding the troughs and peaks, other faces look like they could be expecting a flare or<br />

switch up. As serene visuals float onscreen, pinballing pulses glide across a softer four on the floor beat. As<br />

it picks up there are claps of encouragement, but I’m fading out; what’s intentionally cyclical and repetitive is<br />

turning stale. Maybe I expected too much.<br />

What we get is a palette of sensory textures, a wider array of visual ones than sonic. The music grows<br />

from ambient landscapes to more driving, mechanical, first-person propulsions but both sides employ variations<br />

of formulae as they near their respective ends, not that this audience seems fazed. One member stands up to<br />

enjoy a solitary but spirited pogo (take your opportunities where you find them).<br />

An anthology tied together by ideas of the subliminal rhythms and patterns that occur across biology,<br />

mathematics, art and design; it culminates in one large cycle of movement. It’s an attempt to represent the<br />

simultaneously occurring movements and cycles that happen quicker than can be comprehended: death,<br />

rebirth, ageing and transformation. For fans, this is a great show – enough of them here have snatched a video<br />

for their memories – for the uninitiated though, it could turn tedious.<br />

But then... there are these scattered points of total harmony. Moments when the spectral sound echoing<br />

through the church chamber encircles you, ropes you back into the moment, emanating not from the speakers<br />

anymore but the hall itself; walls and objects harmonise as select frequencies find their place to sing. Was this<br />

planned? We’ll never know as our conductor-conduit vanishes under the last round of applause, leaving to<br />

draw more schematics of his universe.<br />

Samuel Lasley<br />

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This month’s creative writing comes from Starkey the<br />

Messenger, whose rallying poem champions the right to<br />

protest amid the creeping retreat of individual liberties.<br />

I’d risk everything for my freedom,<br />

because the people that are<br />

supposed to be protecting me<br />

would risk my freedom to<br />

protect their supremacy.<br />

how many pence do we<br />

spend on defence<br />

for the sake of<br />

risk<br />

how many pens do they<br />

build to cage our<br />

citizens in the name of<br />

risk<br />

but couldn’t<br />

risk a single<br />

penny, couldn’t<br />

write a single cheque<br />

to save our future.<br />

as i grow i’m learning that<br />

in this world i’m equally<br />

inevitable and inessential<br />

but risk has<br />

never been equitable.<br />

freedom, protest and community<br />

growth, progress and unity<br />

have aged with history<br />

like a timeless oak tree, and<br />

the state wish to<br />

rip its roots under<br />

these sinister pretences and<br />

national falsehoods...<br />

but still we<br />

spite our lives to<br />

bite our tongue and<br />

scream deafening silences to<br />

cut our voices short of<br />

calling them terrorists.<br />

our freedom as we know it,<br />

burning under our feet<br />

as we’re rendered breathless by this<br />

asphyxiating paradox of risk, and<br />

still people risk everything to<br />

jump from the<br />

bleak cliffs of their fiction,<br />

six feet deep into the<br />

dark waters underneath,<br />

sixfold over a thousand weeks<br />

they’ve steepened...<br />

so once more i pray<br />

for my freedom to<br />

gods i don’t believe in,<br />

cause how else can i<br />

find faith in a<br />

world so fake?<br />

a riot is a mindset.<br />

because peace is a goal our<br />

society can’t seem to<br />

find yet.<br />

good and evil,<br />

love and war,<br />

joy and sorrow,<br />

peace and violence<br />

will all tug relentlessly at each other<br />

forever<br />

until something gives<br />

in the equilibrium of risk,<br />

but what will we risk,<br />

what will we<br />

sacrifice to<br />

save ourselves,<br />

or when will we<br />

have the guts to<br />

sacrifice ourselves to<br />

save what’s left.<br />

a riot is a mindset.<br />

because peace is a goal<br />

we can’t rely on<br />

anyone else to find but<br />

us.<br />

so i used to be<br />

afraid of revolution,<br />

but now I realise<br />

it only means<br />

risking everything<br />

for a solution.<br />

Words: Gabriel Starkey / @starkeymusic<br />



SAY<br />

Liverpool City Region Music Board recently<br />

produced their Black Lives Matter Manifesto,<br />

a document with specific objectives to enact<br />

impactful changes to increase diversity and<br />

inclusion in the city’s music sector. In last<br />

month’s <strong>Bido</strong> <strong>Lito</strong>!, artist iamkyami spoke of<br />

her own experiences as a woman of colour and<br />

the expectations and lack of opportunity which<br />

came with that in this city. At a time when racism<br />

has again hit the headlines, LCR Music Board’s<br />

BLM subgroup chair Jennifer John sets out the<br />

importance of the manifesto and the changes which<br />

need to be made.<br />

Everyone had a reaction to what happened in<br />

America last year. We saw lots of positive<br />

reactions, globally, to the horrific murder of<br />

George Floyd. People were marching, calling for<br />

zero tolerance and saying enough is enough. However,<br />

the outrageous behaviour which happened as a result<br />

of England’s defeat at the Euros final is a reminder that<br />

racism hasn’t gone away. It’s still here for everyone to<br />

see and we need to do something about it.<br />

From the point of view of LCR Music Board, there<br />

was never any doubt that we also needed to act for<br />

our music sector. Since May 2020, there have been<br />

many long conversations, which has led to the Black<br />

Lives Matter Manifesto. But, for me, the creation of the<br />

manifesto is just the beginning.<br />

The manifesto sets out a set of intentions. Now the<br />

work of the subgroup – and the partnerships that we<br />

develop – begins and the proof will be in the pudding. It’s<br />

in what we do next where we’ll see the changes. Within<br />

the document there are timelines we are following to<br />

demonstrate our commitment to effecting real change for<br />

our music communities.<br />

We’ve created a subgroup of 12 people that are<br />

prominent Black professionals working within the sector.<br />

We talk about how as a collective we need to be more<br />

visible and show a united front to those who wish to<br />

carve secure, respected and sustainable careers within<br />

the music sector. We want to say to all people with<br />

Black and brown skin that, actually, there is room for you<br />

within this industry by making ourselves visible. This<br />

way you can see yourselves reflected back. When you<br />

look at us, we do represent you. You have a right to be<br />

here and to excel in your chosen path and we are here<br />

to give support, guidance and to reassure you that you<br />

can be, do and have anything that your ambition and<br />

creativity desires. It’s your human right.<br />

One thing that needs to be recognised more is<br />

that Black people exist in all genres of music. We can’t<br />

marginalise ourselves further by the idea that Black<br />

music is only certain genres. This is something which<br />

chimes with the words of iamkyami in this magazine<br />

last month. We exist in all musical forms and let’s talk<br />

about that. We need to be seen to be as expansive<br />

as we actually are; how we present ourselves needs<br />

to reflect our contribution within all genres of music.<br />

Not the commercial music sector only, for example. It<br />

encompasses the worlds of classical, jazz, all the obvious<br />

genres that you would expect and so much more if we’re<br />

going to be truly representative. For me, it’s having a<br />

breadth of understanding that Black contribution is<br />

everywhere.<br />

I know from personal experience how this<br />

marginalised representation manifests itself. People see<br />

my choir and presume, because there are more than two<br />

Black faces, that we’re a gospel choir. We’re not. We can<br />

turn our voices to everything and<br />

have done. From our collaborations<br />

with Damon Albarn in his opera<br />

Monkey: Journey To The West,<br />

when we sang operatic Cantonese<br />

repertoire, through to our<br />

imitations of insect life as a very<br />

rare breed in Flies alongside Phil<br />

Minton’s desire to create a Feral<br />

Choir at the Southbank in London,<br />

to strutting the stage singing<br />

backing vocals for Take That at<br />

Anfield and everything in between.<br />

That is actually who we are, but<br />

the assumption is always that<br />

we are gospel singers. It’s really important that visibility<br />

means visibility across all genres. My choir shouldn’t only<br />

be asked to an event only because it’s a ‘Black event’ and<br />

it shouldn’t be presumed that iamkyami can only play on<br />

an RnB line-up.<br />

In the manifesto, the Board sets out objectives such<br />

as recognising the importance of Black people and Black<br />

music in the city’s heritage. This may take the form of<br />

a statue. For me, that’s a no-brainer. Why, on Mathew<br />

Street, for example, is there no representation and no<br />

“For me, it’s having<br />

a breadth of<br />

understanding that<br />

Black contribution<br />

is everywhere”<br />

Black faces? Why are there still places where there’s<br />

been no acknowledgement of the contributions of Black<br />

people? We have to go to the powers that be and ask,<br />

‘Why not?’. As a board, we should be looking at how we<br />

can make that happen and we will.<br />

The Board was put together with the support of<br />

[Liverpool Metro Mayor] Steve Rotheram and is one of<br />

the first independent boards of its kind in the country.<br />

It’s industry-led rather than only bureaucratically-led.<br />

The members all work professionally within the music<br />

industry, in lots of different roles. It’s a very grassroots<br />

approach, which means we’re proactive and we really<br />

care. It’s not just ticking boxes. I am confident, based<br />

on the conversations that we’ve been having for the<br />

last two years, that there are real intentions to make<br />

these changes and it’s not just lip<br />

service. The next thing we’re going<br />

to look at is gender equality. We’ve<br />

got a whole programme of things<br />

that have to do with creating<br />

parity for people and getting rid of<br />

the idea that there are those that<br />

don’t have and those that have.<br />

But this is just the start.<br />

It’s about trying to create that<br />

level playing field and being the<br />

innovators. Liverpool has a great<br />

reputation for being the first at so<br />

many things and I wish to ensure<br />

that we follow that tradition as<br />

the trailblazers. The ones who have the courage and<br />

conviction to stand up and be counted as the collective<br />

who fought for change and won. !<br />

As told to Sam Turner.<br />

Photography: Sane Seven<br />

Find the LCR Music Board’s Black Lives Matter Manifesto<br />

at lcrmusicboard.co.uk/lcr-music-boards-black-livesmatter-manifesto<br />






























SOLD-OUT<br />


SUMMER <strong>2021</strong><br />

Fri 23rd July - elrow at Bramley-Moore Dock - last few tickets<br />

Jamie Jones, Skream, Detlef b2b Latmun<br />

Purple Disco Machine, Tini Gessler, Amyelle<br />

Sat 24th July - elrow at Bramley-Moore Dock - sold out<br />

Jamie Jones, Paul Woolford, Richy Ahmed, Yousef<br />

Tini Gessler, Amyelle<br />

Fri 30th July - COCO Beats at 24 Kitchen Street - sold out<br />

Sosa, Wheats<br />

Sat 31st July - CIRCUS presents Black Box at Exhibition Centre - last few tickets<br />

Marco Carola, Luciano, Yousef, Jaden Thompson<br />

Cici, Lewis Boardman<br />

Sat 14th Aug - CIRCUS at Bramley-Moore Dock - just announced<br />

Carl Cox, Deborah De Luca, Yousef, East End Dubs<br />

Syreeta, James Organ<br />

Sat 21st Aug - CIRCUS at Invisible Wind Factory - resale tickets available<br />

Sasha, James Organ, Lauren Lo Sung, Sian Bennett<br />

Sat 28th Aug CIRCUS at Invisible Wind Factory<br />

Laurent Garnier, Lewis Boardman<br />


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