Bido Lito! Magazine | Issue 116 | August 2021




ISSUE 116 / AUGUST 2021





Out there and









In Liverpool





2-year degrees

and 1-year diplomas

“I was apprehensive about venturing back into education

but my time at SAE has been an enjoyable and positive


The staff are extremely supportive and as I come to the end of

my Music Business degree, I am confident that the knowledge

I have gained during this course will help me as I begin my


Rebecca Seddon

BA/BSc (Hons) Music Business

“I have really enjoyed my time at SAE, while I feel like the

course has prepared me for work in the audio industry, the

benefit to my own self confidence can’t be ignored either. SAE

helped me grow into myself and gave me the tools necessary

to be able to approach people within the industry and look for


I’m now lucky enough to be involved with Jacaranda Records

as part of their Immersive Audio team thanks to connections

that SAE facilitated.”

Joe Punter

BA/BSc (Hons) Audio Production

Apply Now

03330 112 315

SAE Liverpool

38 Pall Mall


L3 6AL


EVOL presents

























Tickets £25 Advance On Sale Now via &

Follow @ClubEvol @iwfactory @seetickets @skiddle




















































Becoming a Bido Lito! member is the best way of supporting this magazine. For £7 a

month you will not only contribute to the future of Bido Lito! but get all this:

Every issue delivered

Welcome gift

Premium Bido Lito! Journal

Free admission to

Bido Lito! events

Recommendations + bonus

content every week

Join a like-minded

community of supporters



14 / KOJ

Out there and evolving, Iona Fazer speaks to the rapper

formerly known as Wavy Joe.


The workaholic polymath sits down with Mia O’Hare to

talk about her ascent and breathless progression.


Laura J Martin and Lavinia Blackwall bridge Liverpool to

Clydebank with a psych folk collaboration born out of

locked down communication.



Lily Blakeney-Edwards catches up with the effervescent

rocker to talk femininity, expression and the power in



A new theatre production looks to make us see our city

from different perspectives.


The OMD star speaks to Craig G Pennington about

DIY beginnings, his trajectory from the Wirral and the

importance of place.


The nostalgic indie-pop group tell David Roskin about the

journey to their debut album.



Traversing novelty to deliver quality with Joel Goldberg.


10 / NEWS

Horses on plinths, art in mansions and other goings on

across the Mersey culture sphere.



Balcony Boy Ali Horn introduces us to his debut album.

13 / HOT PINK!

The best new tunes dropping across the city region

courtesy of an array of next generation talent. The

hottest tracks to make our Hot Pink! playlist.


A familiar face with a new project in Dead Nature, the

wonderful Jessica Luise and the unstoppable Derrick



Kelly Lee Owens speaks to David Weir before her

FestEVOL appearance plus more gigs, events and

exhibitions due to take place in our fully-open world.


Y’MAM, Black Country, New Road and more in our live



Starkey the Messenger with powerful prose on the

right to protest.


Jennifer John talks about the importance of LCR Music

Board’s Black Lives Matter Manifesto and how it’s only

the beginning.



This issue of Bido Lito! went off to print in the week we saw the

final lifting of restrictions which have been in place since 23rd

March 2020. It’s a fittingly confusing time to match the out and

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

into reflecting on this time but it’s even more difficult to comprehend how

we are supposed to go about living our lives now.

There are wildly differing schools of thought on this and most of

them are coming from a place of compassion or should be treated with

compassion. We were already divided as a society going into this thing and

long stints of introspection or echo chamber conjecture means a lot of our

thoughts and outlooks are more divergent than ever. However, above the

debates over Covid passports, mask wearing and whether table service is

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

constructive dialogue which arose during lockdown.

One of the most heartening things to come out of our enforced

isolation was the near dissipation of stigma surrounding talking about

mental health. It was accepted that lots of people will be struggling due

to the oppressive circumstances and all the uncertainty which came with

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

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

of uncertainty and mental health isn’t confined to times of global pandemic.

There was a resurgence of community as people were not just thinking

about getting ahead but getting to know those they shared streets,

interests or other situations with. This is something else to hold on to,

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

be gained from nurturing these connections and relationships and it is

the opposite route to the division and culture wars which we are getting

further engulfed in.

We spoke lots in

these pages about the

importance of the creatives

who helped us through

those harder weeks

and months. Without

the albums, podcasts,

TV shows and books,

the previous year and

a bit would have been

tedious to say the least.

Now we’re able to repay

them by supporting

them through buying

gig tickets, subscribing

to Patreons and making

recommendations to those

neighbours we’re now bezzies with. We should make sure we don’t forget

the artists whose livelihoods have taken such a hit and received such little

support. This also goes for the supermarket workers, nurses, delivery

drivers and other key workers who selflessly helped us through and will

continue to work hard without even pan bashing to keep up morale. Show

your appreciation where you can and don’t forget them in the rush to the


Talking of appreciation, I want to place on record my thanks to our

departing editor Elliot who has left Bido Lito! in rude health and whose

fingerprints can be seen on this edition. His legacy will be felt on many

issues to come. !

Sam Turner /

Executive Publisher

“Mental health

isn’t confined to

times of global


New Music + Creative Culture | Liverpool

Issue 116 / August 2021 | @bidolito

Second Floor, The Merchant

40-42 Slater Street, Liverpool L1 4BX

Founding Editor

Craig G Pennington

Founding Editor

Christopher Torpey -

Executive Publisher

Sam Turner -

Associate Editor

Matthew Berks -

Contributing Editor

Elliot Ryder

Live And Partnerships Assistant

El Gray -

Editorial Interns

Jeanna Colhoun

Mia O’Hare

Shannon Garner


Mark McKellier -


Thom Isom -


Nathaniel Cramp

Cover Photography

Anthony Wilde


Elliot Ryder, Sam Turner, Matthew Berks, El Gray,

Cath Holland, Lily Blakeney-Edwards, Richard

Lewis, Alannah Williams, Iona Fazer, Mia O’Hare,

Orla Foster, Julia Johnson, Craig G Pennington,

David Roskin, Sanna King, Shannon Garner, Jeanna

Colhoun, Paul Fitzgerald, Luke Furlonger-Copeland,

Samuel Lasley, Georgi Cheers-Aslanian, Clare

Dodd, Bryony Large, Starkey the Messenger,

Jennifer John.

Photography, Illustration and Layout

Mark McKellier, Anthony Wilde, Robin Clewley,

Rosa Brown, Jenn Wilcock, Jen Hollis, Michelle

Roberts, Khalil Musa, Matchbox Productions,

Kim Hiorthøy, Lucy MacLachlan, Brian Roberts,

Alexander Monkhouse, Sane Seven.


Our magazine is distributed as far as possible

through pedal power, courtesy of our Bido Bikes. If

you would like to find out more, please email sam@


If you are interested in adverting in Bido Lito!,

or finding out about how we can work together,

please email

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

amazing creative community. If you would like to

join the fold visit

The views expressed in Bido Lito! are those of the respective contributors

and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine, its staff or the

publishers. All rights reserved.

We are contributing one per cent of our advertising

revenue to to fund afforestation

projects around the world. This more than offsets

our carbon footprint and ensures there is less CO2

in the atmosphere as a result of our existence.




“We are all craving physical experiences,

and viewing art is always better in person,”

says Lucy Byrne, managing director of

dot-art, on the motive behind a new art

exhibition and submission programme at

Calderstones Park’s refurbished Mansion

House. A partnership between South

Liverpool charity The Reader and social

enterprise dot-art is facilitating the

programme, with a joint venture to provide

a platform for local artists to promote and

sell their work, while also enabling visitors

to engage with visual art in new and

different ways. The programme will follow

a rolling process, with exhibitions lasting

between one and six weeks. Artists from

across the Merseyside region are invited to

apply through the Reader website.

Mansion House


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

new artist membership scheme will empower a new generation of musicians and promising established

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

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

mentor, a personalised development plan, regular workshops and masterclasses from leading music

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

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

2nd August.



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

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

Liverpool’s Breeze Hill Millennium Green. Hosted by Culture Liverpool in partnership

with Imagineer, the event aims to connect people in new, exciting and unexpected ways,

through a host of diverse daytime acts and late-night performance extravaganzas.

Featuring an eclectic programme of collaborations between communities and arts

organisations from across Merseyside, you can expect a wide array of dance, comedy,

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

with limited availability.


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

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

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

European Capital of Culture Homotopia LGBTQ+ programme. Set to take over the World

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

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

drama. With costume and performance contributions from Houses across the UK, the 2021

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

BBC Radio Merseyside personality Ngunan Adamu and actor Nathan Sussex.

House Of Suarez



The eager-eyed among you will have recently spotted a new neighbour

atop The Liverpool Plinth at Liverpool Parish Church. Sculpted

using recycled plastic milk bottles and wire frames, Faith Bebbington’s

installation of Jimmy the horse takes inspiration from the horse she

rode as a child and acknowledges the city’s dependence on horsepower

for its historic waterways. As Liverpool’s answer to Trafalgar

Square’s Fourth Plinth, the dedicated site platforms sculptors in the

north of England and will proudly display Jimmy for 12 months.



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

Sound Summit conference, which returns to the Baltic Triangle this September. Featuring

masterclass seminars, panel discussions, live music workshops and keynote talks, ESS is the first

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

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

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

3rd and 4th September. Limited tickets available.

Sound Summit


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

This is what Piano Man Billy Joel would surely coo upon the news that

Tickle The Ivories – our city centre shopping emporium’s public music

initiative – is to be extended to 30th August. Music ensembles, circus

performers, dancers and artists of any stripe are invited to book a slot at

the annual festival of street performance. The best way to seal your spot

is to email Tickle Music Programmer and then get

warming up those fingers.


The Bread Streets Group have been busy coordinating

a special event to raise money for their local area.

Taking place at the Herculaneum and Grafton Park on

21st August, the community fête will host music, arts

and crafts, games and more as the area looks to come

together after a tough 18 months. The event is an

initiative by residents, for residents and is receiving help

from all corners of the community, including the brilliant

Park Palace Ponies and Granby Toxteth Development

Trust. Go along to show your support.


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

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

sound-seekers, Where Are The Girl Bands’ Alternative Spaces event programme

at Bloom Building aims to challenge the conventional gig space with a series of

events foregrounding safety and the representation of more diverse artist line-ups.

Following a range of artist-led workshops in July, including photography, songwriting

and art development days, 8th August will see an open mic and poetry development

day with more events to follow.





In our new series of concise chats, artists

talk about their album releases. In this issue,

ALI HORN discusses Balcony Boys.

How was the experience recording the album?

It was a way of working that I’ve never done before.

Usually, I go into a studio with a band and share the

experience and create with other people. This time, I

made a record in my spare room on my own, tracking

every instrument myself, apart from some extra keys on

one song and the drums. I also moved house three times

while recording this album. It was weird packing up all

my worldly possessions into boxes, moving, unpacking

and then starting to record again. I was strangely very

focused. I remember one of the first things I did after

moving into a house-share just off Lodge Lane was

record a four-part vocal harmony section. My housemates

must have thought I was a right loon.

Which track is the best intro to Ali Horn?

I would say the title track, Balcony Boys. It’s where

I’ve been wanting to land musically for a while. It’s a

throwback to the early years of garage rock with a whole

load of 90s baggy thrown in and a long and swirly outro.

When did you write these songs?

I wrote everything over a six-month period while

making the album. I purposefully didn’t want to use any

previously written songs. I wanted to capture the feelings

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

Are there overriding influences on the album?

There’s the classic big life and death acid flashback

stuff, the universe in a grain of sand thinking. Lots of

comedown tracks without being too druggy. Overall, I just

think there are lots of love songs to the world in it.

Describe Balcony Boys in eight words.

Hopefully it fits in your record collection nicely.

Balcony Boys is available now via Rooftop Records. Ali

Horn plays FestEVOL on Saturday 14th August.

1 0 - 5


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

1 0 - 5 S U N





Words: Richard Lewis, Matthew Berks,

Jeanna Colhoun and Alannah Williams

Swirls of psychedelia, RnB, pop, electronica and punk provide a frenzied distillation of the best

new sounds being concocted across Merseyside. Hot szn is here. Dig in.


The Garden Birds Of India

Inspired by a book of the same title sourced from a

bric-a-brac and antique shop in Liverpool (certain to

be wonderful Renshaw Street establishment 69A),

SUNZOOM offer up a sliver of sun-baked psychedelia. A

woozy ode to the ornithology featured in the book and

some species invented by the band, The Garden Birds Of

India evokes Super Furry Animals and Odelay-era Beck.

Released through cult label Colorama Records, owned

and operated by psych indie notables The Moons. RL

Cola Museum

Back Around

God only knows we’re in desperate need of an auditory

elixir to uplift our sore souls, and COLA MUSEUM’s Back

Around is just the fix we’ve been craving. Featuring

signature flows from BLUE SAINT and DAYZY, this

track finds a natural home in blending soulful RnB with

overdriven guitars and glittering pulses of synth where

it ascends into a feel-good, almost psychedelic buffet to

see you on your journey of self-discovery. MB

Katy Alex

Sucker For Love

Pop music innovator KATY ALEX breathes new life into

the genre with her edgy take on a classic pop sound.

The Liverpool singer has already made waves with her

previous releases, establishing herself as one of the most

exciting upcoming young pop artists in the city. Taken

from her debut EP, her latest release features a playful,

beat-hopping bassline, complimented by colourful use of

electronic drums and heavy synths. A memorable chorus

with strong vocal hooks which will have you a sucker for

this track again and again… and again. JC

Broken Down Golf Cart

In Centre Fold

BROKEN DOWN GOLF CART have a knack for producing

haunting tracks that captivate from the offset. Operating

under the cocktail-inspired moniker, Canadian Jen

Baranick is providing a quirky slice of goodness to the

indie-rock genre with her lush vocal performances and

exuberant electric guitar slides. With sultry bass drops

and almost-hidden backing screams and cackles, the

track is accompanied by a self-produced horror-inspired

music video that is a cinematic feat of its own accord. AW

James Neal

Paint The Dark

Formerly of indie-rock notables The Stamp, Paint The

Dark sees singer-songwriter JAMES NEAL change gear

to focus on Americana for his new output. An energetic,

country-infused hoedown, the cut doffs its cap (or should

that be Stetson?) to The Band and Gram Parsons with

maybe a smidgen of Gerry Cinnamon’s storytelling

thrown in. RL

Boom Dice x Sola


Pop powerhouse SOLA is back with a collaboration with

the enigmatic Boom Dice. With Raspy and sultry vocals

aplenty, along with a pummelling bassline and electronic

backing, Embers could make Billie Eilish blush. Backed

by insistent percussion, the instrumentation allows Sola’s

vocals to shine through and display the prowess she

possesses as a performer. The track offers a delightful

insight into what’s yet to come from Sola, and we can’t

wait. AW

Louie Miles

Another Blue

Its creator describes the suitably reverie-like Another

Blue as being about “how you can become unknowingly

addicted to your imagination, and the warmth and feeling

it can produce”. A mosaic of medicated sounding guitars

and wispy vocal melodies, the newest offering from the

alt-pop auteur brings 80s synth mystiques The Blue Nile

to mind. RL


Tell Me What The Ancient

Astronaut Theorists Believe

One of the best live bands on the Liverpool circuit at

present, psych punks YAMMERER blast back with the

bracing rush of Tell Me What The Ancient Astronaut

Theorists Believe. Led by frontman Jason Corbett’s sungspoken

narrative of a character called Jon Vertigo, the

scene begins in Panama with a ceiling fan rotating above

his bed, conjuring up images of Apocalypse Now. An

excellent new addition to the quintet’s stockpile of spiky

missives. RL

Loris and the Lion

Eat Me Alice

A subtle yet elusive questioning of gender identity, which

takes the age-old tale of Alice in Wonderland to new

narrative heights. Framed by ethereal vocal tones, the

lyrical depth of Eat Me Alice is unmissable. A gentle and

tasteful musical probing about concepts of not fitting in,

finding yourself lost and attempting to reshape your own

identity, in line with the presets and expectations of our

current society and culture. JC

Photography from left to right: Louie Buckley-King, Sola,

Cola Museum, Katy Alex




Joseph Kojo is never far from a change of

scenery. As the renaissance chameleon

continues to chew and spit out a

resuscitated post-Covid environment,

Iona Fazer gets to grips with the vocal

acrobat as he heads into a new era.

Lounging on the sun-kissed grass of Stanley Park,

I laugh as KOJ recounts an attempt to leave a

Liverpool match while on crutches. He points to

the mountainous Anfield Stadium behind as he

describes the perilous trip downstairs towards the exit.

“All the way to the 96th minute, you just see Suarez score

making it 2-2. My crutches went in the air,” he narrates

with playful gestures.

It’s therefore somewhat bewildering to hear he’s now

a newly converted Everton fan. But much like his music

career, Koj is a rapper who’s constantly evolving. He has

no fear of change – however significant it might appear

to others.

Formerly known as ‘Wavy Joe’ due to knocking

around Wavertree all his life, the Anfield emcee Joseph

Kojo has cultivated a new era of artistry under the

moniker of Koj. As part of networks Wavy Gang and

Grime of the Earth (GOTE), the Greenbank-born rapper

has made notable appearances on Red Bull Music’s

Grime Clash quarter final and, more recently, BBC Three’s

Rap Trip: Underground Scenes Uncovered. Not solely

turning heads in Liverpool, his vocal acrobatics have been

called upon by Manchester’s The Mouse Outfit for his

latest high-profile collaboration on Didgeridoo.

Koj’s current work is a manifestation of the life

and sound of Liverpool. With the idiolect of a young

Black man, he twists language to create extraordinary

connotations, referring to money as “bread” or

“GWOP”. His sound is one full of poise and intensity.

It’s like listening to a clock ticking over silence, pensive,

considered, then a white flash of energy erupts from the

scene. Beats run alongside lyrics that are laid down like

commandments. Lows and highs, thick and thin – Koj

raps with acrobatic verve and flexibility.

The first time I met Koj was in 2016 at a photoshoot

for GOTE’s new T-shirt collection. At that point he was

about to head off to New Zealand to become a kids’

football coach. Though the coaching sadly fell through,

the trip became heavily influenced by older rapper Resk,

who introduced him to the concept of OzMOB.

Now some years on, OzMOB names the umbrella

of individuals uniting alongside Koj with the artistic

mission to create a new type of sound, expressive of the

collaboration with the producers. There’s conviction in

Koj’s voice as he speaks of OzMOB being about “trusting

in oneself – working on the flow and the repeat of energy

that bounces between us. This is working more than

anything I’ve tried before.”

Koj begins to reflect on his experiences of the past

year while I pick at some blades of grass beneath my feet.

“I am in the business of looking after myself right now. I’m

ready for all the experiences again,” he says, “but not only

has it been a while, it’s been different, hasn’t it? We’ve

been alone or in small groups. I can’t complain about it. I


think it’s been testing, but it’s been good to have time to

work on what I want to have going on.”

Back in 2020, Koj was interviewed by The Rap Game

UK contestants, FOS and Ransom as part of BBC Three’s

Rap Trip, which uncovered the UK’s underground scene

focusing on Liverpool rap, drill and trap. Introduced by

GOTE’s Gully Man Dred as one of the “freshest new guys

coming through”, the short documentary captures a

telling moment from Koj.

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

he says as he meanders around L8. “I lost my mum

when I was six and I’ve been living through some shit,

you know what I mean? So, I am a real product of my

environment, I’m really out here.”

Koj’s experiences from a young age, and as Wavy

Joe, are something he’s had to deal with on top of the

struggles that so many young Black males in Liverpool

are plagued with: the perpetual fear of legal jeopardy.

More evident in his earlier lyrics under the alias Wavy Joe,

he describes life experiences dominated by police chases

and dodging prison.

Koj used to collaborate with other rappers, such as

Wavy Gang member Rico Don, who in contrast is more

guttural and off-centre. On Set Back, one of their songs

released earlier this year, Koj reminds us of his journey:

“I grew up in darkness, I’m living in light. I’m tryna get it

regardless, I put in so much work, but the risk and return



got me back where I started.”

On his new track, Busy, Koj uses his bars to reminisce

about him and his girlfriend at the time. Being chased

by the police and having to “change up script”, he recalls

being arrested along with his friend and then clarifies:

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

wanna’ do it but it’s gotta’ get done”. The track features

samples that act like warning signs, an eerie feeling

of impending doom over the pace of a ticking clock;

reflecting the fact that Koj has recognised that it’s time

to change.

Now working a job alongside colleagues who he

describes as being supportive of his music, Koj is often

accompanied by his girlfriend, Kate Hillion, who is also

the talent behind the cover art for all his single releases

following Blue Notes. “Kate is smashing the artwork,

coming with newer concepts and variety... I think it’s just

the tip of the iceberg at the moment,” he commends.

Koj’s past year has been one of physical ascent.

After the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, he found

himself feeling angry and cut deep. Looking for a way to

turn the energy into positive outcomes, he sought advice

from a friend who suggested doing a marathon to raise

money for charity.

It was an idea which began as creating a beacon

for everyone who wanted to contribute in some way

but didn’t know how. His involvement helped establish

anEQUALrace, an organisation with the aim of using

sport to promote equality. This created a running club

which included the members of OzMOB. “It was so

inspirational to have those people there every week,”

Koj says, “it gave me a new outlook on things, I thought

everything moving forwards we do it with a level head.”

For Koj, collaboration has been the key to success

in his solo work. “Honesty is what I find the most

important thing. If we’re gonna’ talk about doing this

thing I’ve got to know if it’s secretly rubbish, otherwise

what’s the point?”

Key players in OzMOB have been instrumental in his

development. Beige, a budding London rapper/producer,

started off running event nights called Soundsystem4 in

Handyman’s Brewery on Smithdown Road with Tomas

Brown, who’s also spearheading OzMOB and sits next

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

there behind the scenes is where we’re pushing it to

the right ear, to people who might be able to push it to

somewhere else.”

Released just a year ago and produced by Jakebob,

debut single Blue Notes marked something of a new

era in his life. “A tune like Blue Notes came out of my

experiences over the last few years,” he notes. “I had

to put it into words for stress relief and that was like

a transition into the now.” The track was followed up

quickly with features on Capital Xtra via Rob Bruce’s

First Play in the UK, 1Xtra’s playlist via BBC Introducing

Merseyside and Mixtape Madness’ Suburban Spotlight.

It’s clear that Koj has started settling down and is

considering the meaning of his life. It’s relatable in the

sense that we all try out things that are negative when

we are young and learn that not everyone who surrounds

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

as he says in Didgeridoo. Hearing it first from Koj, “OT”

is short for “out there” and has since frequented my

vocabulary, such is his influence and quotability.

Since I first met him in 2016, I have known Koj to

have the power to impact people – easy to spot in a

crowd and with a personality that shines brighter than

most. Since then, Koj has always been smiling; he was

never dismissive and forever courteous, but yet I found

him hard to read. Now it feels as though the struggles

were all underneath that, the pain was and is evident,

but for the first time it really feels like the healing

process has begun.

Lockdown has meant replacing the audience with

friends and family, and Koj has flourished as a part of

OzMOB. The sun is shining bright over our faces and he

tips his hat over his eyes. “In the first place I was always

performing for myself,” he says with a philosophical air.

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

it where I can kind of make it more palatable.”

You could describe Koj’s approach to music as a

chance encounter as, like many of us, he found himself

with free time to spend in lockdown. But crossing paths

with influential characters means it’s been far from

sluggish. Now, with restrictions easing, it seems there’s

more potential for the outlining future prospects. “I’m

looking to do more, my fire is lit for that,” he responds as

he details plans for merchandise and music videos which

are starting to get in motion.

The encouragement he gets is from OzMOB telling

him that there are no restrictions, believing that there

is more than one tunnel to travel down and keeping it

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

I didn’t even know that those types of beats existed,”

Koj admits matter-of-factly. Sitting directly in line with

a tree behind him in the distance, I see the spindled

arms of twigs growing as if from either side of his head

as he talks of branching out into a new sound; his own

expansion into this unknown area of music like those

newly forming arms of a tree.

“My new sound moving forwards is more a product

of what’s going on now. People will be able to tell the

difference,” he says with a conviction characteristic of

his music and everything that bears the OzMOB imprint.

“The knowing of self-worth, the belief of what we are

doing,” he exhorts. There’s so much assurance in his

voice, I imagine travelling with him through a desert of

music and him being unscathed by the wasteland, certain

that the oasis ahead is real. !

Words: Iona Fazer / @ionafazer97

Photography: Anthony Wilde / @evolving_necessary

Gwop is available now.

“My new sound

moving forwards

is more a product

of what’s going

on now”



the everyday stories that

make our city extraordinary

Created by Chloë Moss

With original material by

Amina Atiq, Luke Barnes,

Roy, Aron Julius,

Rhiannon Jones,

Mandy Redvers-Rowe,

and the people of Liverpool

THU SAT 531 AUG Jul TO to

SAT Sat 14 AUG Aug 2021

Book online at:

Directed by Nathan Powell

Video & Projection Design by Tracey Gibbs

Costume & Props Design by Kirsty Barlow

Lighting Design by Jack Coleman

Sound Design by Xenia Bayer

Cast: Helen Carter, Chloë Clarke, Aron Julius,

Nathan McMullen and Jennifer Varda

Williamson Square, Liverpool, L1 1EL


The creative all-rounder and self-confessed

workaholic refracts the sociopolitical zeitgeist

through spoken word, gospel and rap.




After just half an hour of speaking on the

phone, it feels as if I have heard DORCAS

SEB’s whole life story. At just 24, the

multidisciplinary artist has made a name

for herself through poetry and theatre productions and

releasing a debut album for good measure. A selfconfessed

workaholic with a story to tell, the story we

bear witness to today is a story of how one young Black

female creative announced herself onto Liverpool’s

creative scene to address societal issues through a

kaleidoscope of artistic output.

“I guess I just sometimes react to what’s going on in

the world,” she announces casually, before admitting it

runs deeper. “I think that these are political conversations

that I have in general; I think it’s in me already. By the

time I go to write, it’s already there bubbling within me

waiting to get pushed out.”

Such politically charged soliloquies eventually

escaped and reformed into a debut album, Vice Versa,

released in 2018, which explores streams of political

consciousness. Her original plan was to release a few

feel-good songs, but as soon as she began writing, she

knew she needed to expand the concept into an album

which speaks to the bellwether moments that hallmarked

2020. “I couldn’t help but highlight some of the division

going on; political tension, what that means and what it

means to be a Black woman in the world.”

Over lockdown, the Congo-born artist released

Deep Calleth Unto Deep, an eight-track investigation

into racial injustice through a package of gospel, song,

poetry and thought – the title taking its name from Psalm

42. Here was Dorcas responding to the external living

environment: the global Black Lives Matter protests were

at their apogee while she was working on the spoken

word album, to which she found it difficult to react. “I

didn’t want to be in a space which was going to tempt

me to be really angry. I felt angry and I feel like I have the

right to be angry, but I just didn’t want that anger to go

to the place of hatred.” Poetry and protest are so often

entangled, but she decided to turn to the former to help

her come to terms with the emotions inside her.

But if Dorcas’ poetry and songwriting has enabled

her to react to the here and now, acting has allowed her

to explore and amplify the voices of those she is yet to

encounter in the physical realm. One of her most recent

acting projects includes the BBC commission, Buttercup.

Co-produced with local theatre company 20 Stories High,

the solo performance weaves spoken word, poems and

memories to share the story of a young woman finally

making her story heard after being subjected to sexual

abuse as a child in Kinshasa. Although Dorcas was

enthusiastic about the project, in the beginning she

held reservations about taking it on. But after

meeting with the theatre company and

seeing the extent of their research, she

just couldn’t say no to giving the

story a platform.

If so much of Dorcas’

output has been shaped

by her individual

experiences, an

equally large part of

her consciousness

has been influenced

by an upbringing

surrounded by five

other siblings active

in the creative world.

“I remember my

siblings always going

to these sort of projects

and me being like, ‘What

the hell, why am I staying

at home?’” she laughs, before

sharing a juxtaposing memory

of sitting at home with her sister

braiding her hair while writing poetry.

“It was about the First World War and

how sad it was for this one guy to come

home to nothing. See? Even at 10 I was


At that time, Dorcas’ brother and sisters were

attending the Liverpool Young Writers Project, run by

literary festival Writing on the Wall, and invited her along.

Despite being too young to attend, she was nevertheless

welcomed with open arms. But it wasn’t just the

opportunity to share her creative vocation with others

that made her time so memorable. “I think, mainly, the

reason I actually wanted to be there was because one, I

got to write and socialise and meet new people but two,

they always gave us biscuits!”

As the writing cohort grew up together, they

developed a collective passion for music, with Dorcas

opting to explore rap and spoken word as well as singing.

“I kind of got worried about the music industry and how

that was going to affect me because nobody I saw on TV

looked like me. The people on TV were quite sensual and

I didn’t want that pressure on myself.” Although finding

impressive success in music – supporting Akala, Lady

Leshurr, Sway and Lowkey – the constraints the industry

brought forced a return to dancing, something she had

always wanted to pursue before she started writing.

After taking a short break from music, dance and

writing altogether, Dorcas joined the youth theatre aged

15, a decision that gave her licence to probe a range of

creative exploits. “What I liked about 20 Stories High was

that they allowed me to be musical without it being like a

musical. They allowed me to just sing, rap, or do poetry,

which is everything that I do already. So, I was like, ‘Oh,

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

in her sister’s show and was fully committed to it after

feeling empowered sharing other people’s stories.

The result is an artist confident in her arsenal of

creative communication which both shapes, and is

shaped by, her external environment. “It’s just like I

can’t run away. I feel like I can’t

get away from any of them,

they just always follow me.

If I’m not doing one thing,

I’m doing the other, and

if I’m not doing that

then I’m doing the


Like so

many creatives




at once,


came as

a blow

to Dorcas. But it also brought something of a revelation

about her working habits. “I was a self-proclaimed

workaholic, but I didn’t realise that until lockdown came.”

In the end, she realised she needed to take advantage

of spare time. “I was trying to understand who I am

when I’m not working because the lines are so blurred

within the creative industries because you love your job.

There were times when I hadn’t visited my mum in ages

because I was working, but I didn’t see it as a problem. I

was like, I will see my mum at Christmas or at church on

Sunday. I learned the beauty of saying no in lockdown, so

I grew in that way.”

During lockdown, Dorcas balanced her time between

working a customer service role and writing Buttercup.

“Sometimes I had my work stuff in front of me and

then my laptop so every time I didn’t get a call, I would

quickly write on it. I sometimes think, ‘How did I actually

do that?’ It was stressful.” But by understanding how

to say no to projects, Dorcas was able to reflect on how

much she was just saying yes for the sake of it. “When

I get approached with a project, what I tend to do now

is ask myself, ‘Is it too much for me right now? Does

it fit my values? How important is it to me

and is somebody else pushing this

message already? Is there

something we can

try to be actively


about so



one subject doesn’t get saturated?’”

One thing Dorcas feels passionate speaking about

is the value and opportunities community projects bring

to young and disadvantaged children. “I feel like I have

a responsibility because I grew up in spaces where I

was mentored in writing from 10 years of age, and I

had the opportunity to perform and make music. Those

opportunities have helped me have the voice I have and be

the creative person I am today.”

Alongside her album, Vice Versa, Dorcas launched

the #MicWorthy community project, which helped young

people from Liverpool come together to discuss problems

within society and to create and perform pieces from

the discussions. “When I look at the opportunities that

are in Liverpool, there aren’t as many compared to other

cities. [But] I’m starting to see the growth in the number

of opportunities for young people to develop their skills.

Especially at the time when I made [#MicWorthy], I

worked really hard so that they could develop the skills to

perform and have their work documented because I had

that growing up. I feel like we should step in since what

happened with the funding for youth services and act

where the government can’t be bothered.”

As our conversation nears to an end, I can’t help but

feel inspired by Dorcas’ passion for her work and the sheer

amount of creativity she holds. Her joyous personality

is rubbing off on me as we joke about the

future and her plans to help develop

artists and discover more stories

based in Africa. “I’m intrigued

about things like age because I

change my mind all the time,

but I definitely do see myself

doing that, not in the near

future but in the future. We

can do a reunion when I’m

40!” she laughs. Let’s see

if she has the time to fit it

all in. !

Words: Mia O’Hare /



Robin Clewley /

Buttercup is

available to

download on

BBC iPlayer.


“I couldn’t help but

highlight some of the

divisions: political

tension, what that

means and what it

means to be a Black

woman in the world”




Between Liverpool and Clydebank, a charged electrical current of collaboration is powering

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

coexistence in the virtual cosmos.

are your thoughts on castration,

people? Are you for or against?”

asks Laura J Martin, one-half of


WYNDOW, briskly as a plaintive

howl floats up from behind the door. Her dog, Eno, has

been banished from the room she’s speaking from and

he’s taking it badly. “He’s chewing everything up. He’s

becoming a teenager and I think he needs to calm down,”

she says with mild despair.

While Laura does her best to tune out the whimpers,

the other half, Lavinia Blackwall (formerly of folk-rock

outfit Trembling Bells), joins us fresh from the Scottish


countryside where she’s just bought a hut. We’re meeting

over Zoom to talk about their brand-new project, a

psychedelic pop adventure which sprung from the

shadows of lockdown. Given the band’s timeline, grappling

with domestic distractions has become par for the course.

Unlike most bands, Laura and Lavinia have barely

clapped eyes on each other since forming. Their

collaboration has taken place entirely online, with

various snippets of audio flitting back and forth between

Liverpool and Clydebank for months on end. It’s an

approach they describe as “musical postcards”.

“Some people could see the difficulty of recording

separately as a negative thing, but I put a different spin

on it,” Laura assures. “Having access to different rooms

and environments can add up to a different character, or

texture, which you don’t get when you’re defined by just

one space. It would have been lovely to be in the same

room with Vinnie but having those limitations can make

you more creative in some ways.”

Lavinia nods on-screen. “And I also think that,

because you’re not in the same room, you’re very free.

You think, well, this other person’s not here, I’m just

going to try something out because I know they won’t

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

offend anyone, but you just feel much less constricted,

or watched. So, you’re trying out lots of ideas, which is


It all started with Robert Wyatt. After meeting at

Moseley Folk Festival in 2017, a shared love of his music

led to them covering his Free Will and Testament together.

And then, like all the best friendships, things escalated

to trading mixtapes over wine, uncovering more mutual

influences and highlighting the artists they wanted to

draw on next, like Judee Sill and Virginia Astley.

While both are seasoned singer-songwriters

with plenty of releases behind them, the music they

have been working on for Wyndow takes a different

approach. It’s a tableau of restless, interlocking rhythms,

tightly orchestrated harmonies, haunting refrains, and

the lingering sensation of trying to stay afloat as time

marches ruthlessly by.

“One of the key sounds we kept coming back to

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

always loved The Roches and was struck by those tight

harmonies, so I wanted to explore that.”

Not that either artist began the project knowing

what to expect. This wasn’t the kind of collaboration

where they could bounce ideas off each other in realtime.

Instead of holing up in a studio, they worked from

home: each experimenting with a section, adding layer

upon layer until one of them was happy with it before

sending it over to the other to build on.

By January, they had a first single, Take My Picture,

with its delicate, ethereal vocals and a spectral piano

melody burrowing its way into your head. Next came

Two Strong Legs, which, in the words of their Bandcamp,

is “a tune for whacked out worriers lifting weights in

the worry gym”. Finally, their latest release, Pulling On

A String, is just as stirring with its slight undertone of

dread set against mellifluous, almost fragile, harmonies.

When Laura and Lavinia discuss what went into

the songs, their dialogue is as careful and reciprocal as

the recording process itself. If one comes out with an

observation, she gently runs it by the other, giving her

the chance to add her own spin. And if one tries to say

something self-deprecating, she can count on being

told off. It comes across as a really supportive working

relationship, playing to both of their strengths. Laura

agrees: “I’ve really enjoyed being able to work with

another female, and one of the things I love about Vinnie

is that she’s so decisive. I struggle to come to decisions,

and she’s a no-mess kind of lady.”

You can tell that both are pretty intuitive about each

other’s tastes and creative approaches, but let’s not skim

over the amount of trust it must have taken to work

like this. With both musicians already established in

their solo careers, did it ever feel like a gamble to hand

over creative control to another person, even if only

temporarily? “There is an element of chance in sending

off something like a sketch, and then getting an angle

on it from Lavinia that I hadn’t even imagined being

possible,” Laura says. “But it meant we had the chance

to live with an idea and then craft a response, rather than

worrying about how people were going to play it live.”

Although they worked together to arrange the

songs, the songwriting was often a more solitary

process. Lavinia, for example, describes a song she found

herself writing in Italy, based on the memory of a man

who once lived in her dad’s basement. The lyrics became

a kind of ghost story inspired by the eerie image of him

out in the fields nearby. As well as this, she says, some

of the ideas came from “thinking about time passing,

and about mortality, and the way things come and go”.

Laura, meanwhile, focused on internal discourses and


“I didn’t realise this at the time, but looking back

at the lyrics, there seems to be a theme of how

introspective thoughts change when they’re externalised

and put against the outside world,” she says. “The initial

spark came from listening to Japanese environmental

music and Philip Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi. I’m not sure that

it’s particularly obvious in the sound of the record now,

but it informed the feel of the early demos which were

sent back and forth and developed in their own ways.”

With so many influences lurking beneath the surface

of their work, did they mostly agree on the direction they

wanted their sound to take? Who called the shots? “I’m

quite disorganised, and Laura’s very organised,” Lavinia

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

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

“It’s actually more rock ‘n’ roll to be organised, because

it means you get shit done. That’s what’s brilliant about

you, Laura, you’ve got this analytical and very precise

way of looking at things. That’s the benefit of having

your capabilities and input: the precision. Total stickler for

detail, in a really good way.”

“But then when someone gives me options,” Laura

replies, “I run with them, and I can’t put that full stop

on things.” She goes on to recount a radio session they

once did together, where she would have agonised over

the final mix until dawn had it not been for Lavinia firmly

drawing a line under it. “Vinnie, you stop my twitches.”

By now, Zoom has rendered my voice tiny and faint,

Lavinia’s battery life has nosedived and Laura doesn’t

know how long she has until Eno’s incisors sever a

cable. As Lavinia mentions heading off to work on her

vegetable garden – plans she immediately dismisses as

“cliché and annoying” – Laura becomes captivated by

the tranquil bucolic existence being conjured up here.

We wrap up the call dreaming about huts in far-flung

locations, with Laura quizzing Lavinia on the brass tacks

of remote living.

As normality returns with all its promises of inperson

collaboration, Wyndow have no plans to call time

on the project. They’ve found a cadence that really works

for them, a back-and-forth of ideas that goes against the

grain of more traditional songwriting. There are plans for

a full-length album, a tour and, of course, some future

cameos on each other’s solo work.

But if the hut thing works out and both musicians

wind up in splendid woodland seclusion, disturbed

only by the occasional breeze rippling through the

bluebells, at least you know their music won’t take

a hit. Just pray for a strong internet connection

so that those fragments of songs can keep on

zipping through the ether. Wyndow have made

long distance work. !

Words: Orla Foster

Illustration: Rosa Brown / @rosa.illo

Wyndow is slated for release this



“There seems to

be a theme of how

introspective thoughts

change when they’re

externalised and

put against the

outside world”





Embracing myriad personas and alter egos, Natalie and

The Monarchy find a voice in the vulnerabilities of power.


grew up in the theatre, so I always wanted

to incorporate it into my work,” Natalie Papa


We’re sitting outside Café Tabac a few days

after the country’s grand re-opening. Naturally, Bold

Street is bustling with faces. But even among the array of

people, her flair for the dramatics is obvious, decorating

herself with pins, jewellery trinkets and a discernible

punk style. “My dad’s a playwright and was obsessed

with directing horror-filled, dark plays. So, I grew up in

that experimental, scar-you-for-life kind of world. If the

play ever required a child, there I was!” As we chat, she

remains effortlessly captivating, and yet, what could be

an otherwise intimidating feature of the young artist is

dulled by the welcoming gleam in her eyes that seems

to suggest that wherever

she’s going, there’s an open

invite for you. “I’m obsessed

with dark cabaret as well,”

she continues. “All my

friends call it clown music,

but it’s just what makes me


Despite her decadent

origins, the artist felt

constrained by her New

Jersey surroundings before

coming to Liverpool in

2018 to start her musical

career. “Who I am as an

artist didn’t really exist

before I moved here,” she

confesses. “I was 18 and

desperate to get out of

the US because of Trump.

Gigging in the US under

the drinking age is very

difficult, so it’s almost

impossible for younger artists to start out. It was so

weird being able to play at bars and clubs here, and then

go back home where we would have to secretly drink in

my parents’ basement.” There’s an obvious humour in

the disconnect between her identity as an artist and the

image of youth this confession conjures. “I had a friend

in Berlin who basically told me coming to the UK was the

best way to make a name for yourself,” she continues.

And what of the name’s regal origins? “Natalie and The

Monarchy sounds like this really political name, I know.

But it’s really because all my bandmates are British, and

I like the word monarchy – it gives off a very powerful

vibe!” she announces giddily.

With her journey for independence and musical

exploration underway as soon as she reached UK soil, the

artist’s image quickly emerged as one tethered to gothic

decadence. Through a blend of Riot Grrrl influences and

her own celestial vocals, the persona of Natalie and The

Monarchy is one that ties brooding punk soundscapes

with celebrations of sexuality, power and the nature

of femininity that carry across the full breadth of the

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

that identity really ties into my music,” she spills. “I was

always really interested in that world, but as I got more

into it, I found so many people who cared about me, and

“So often in the media,

when you see a persona

rooted in femininity

and sensuality, it’s

either a figure that

is untouchable and

dominant, or someone

who’s very vulnerable.

It’s never both”

who could help me realise my goals. Now, I realise that

it goes both ways: I can use sex work as a way to help

people with their problems as well. I never thought I

would have another career outside of music, but they’re

both passions of mine, so why not combine them?” She

pauses before weighing it up. “Although, sex work is

such an emotionally exhausting job. You need to have

time away from it otherwise it just consumes you.”

The topic of overindulgence soon served as

inspiration for the artist’s recent single, Envy The Villain,

a riotous punk ballad that cuts to the core of forming

alter egos and the reality-inducing feelings they can

conjure, with the artist’s own confession-like lyricism

quickly climaxing into an explosion of biting vulnerability.

“I wanted to be this character that I was in my work

full-time because it’s a

type of fantasy. So, trying

to separate myself from

this persona I created in

my sessions and how I am

in real life caused some

massive friction. It really

made me hate myself

for a time,” she admits.

“That’s where the track’s

inspiration really comes

from; it’s about having a

glorified idea of sex work

and how that can backfire

massively.” Alongside the

track came a music video

rooted in twisted campery,

designed to build on the

all-encompassing duality

previously established.

Throughout, she plays the

role of a villain and a victim,

flashing between images

of her as a demon and those of a vulnerable individual. “I

wanted the music video to really have an impact, so it’s

set up almost as a Faustian exchange. It’s pretty corny,”

she grins.

However, alongside the mind-altering visuals and

unabashed punk displays, comes an emotional call

for conversation. As we delve into her candidness

surrounding vulnerability and power, it becomes

clear that the vocalist hopes to encourage a wider

conversation around the shortfalls in the depictions of

sex work in both public and private spaces. “So often in

the media, when you see a persona rooted in femininity

and sensuality, it’s either a figure that is untouchable and

dominant, or someone who’s very vulnerable. It’s never

both,” she explains. “That’s what I’m really exploring,

those two sides and how they work in tandem.” It’s a

mantra that doesn’t need to force itself into the artist’s

persona, but instead seeps throughout it, working handin-hand

with her domineering musical style. “I wanted

the track to be as sincere as possible,” she admits, before

pausing slightly. “A lot of friends I have are involved in

sex work, and they experience very similar things. No

media was really speaking about this issue, no one

was expressing it, and it’s such a common feeling! So,

I wanted to be the one to capture it, so others could


use my work to help figure their own problems. That,

and to let people know it’s OK to have those two sides of

yourself and embrace both.”

Despite her insight into sex work and the ability to

speak for its unheard masses, the artist’s personal drive

remains at the core of her ability to create. “When I put

something out, I always forget that other people can

relate to my music,” she admits. “I’m very new to both of

these industries, and so I want to use music to capture

my own beginning period,” she tells me. “But in terms

of the future, I think I’ll try and focus on my identity as a

dominatrix more. That mindset of authority really works

with my music in general. I think that, regardless of where

my music takes me, it’ll always remain a big part of it.”

It’s a statement that hangs with certainty, that no

matter her future plans, her two passions will continue to

grow with her, forever intertwining, while helping others

in the process. But, true to fashion, her closing statement

is one of high dramatics. “I will be filming a bunch of

music videos,” she concludes. “The first thing I want to do

is hire a fire-breather!” !

Words: Lily Blakeney-Edwards / @lilyhbee

Photography: Jenn Wilcock / @lens_of_a_wool

Envy the Villain is available now.


After months of fractured connection, a podcast-turned-theatre-production asks:

how well do we really know Liverpool?


lot can change in a year. New buildings rise

up as favourite businesses close. The river still

flows, but the bustle of summer events which

would usually fill the Waterfront is absent.

As we reconnect with Liverpool, how we move through

it may not be quite the same as it has been before. No

better time, then, to question what else it could be – or

more accurately, what it already is to some.

Love, Liverpool originated as an Everyman Theatre

podcast series created and released over lockdown. Each

episode is a collection of poems, stories and memories

of Liverpool, which all seemed so far away during

those first difficult months of the pandemic. Featuring

contributions from local writers including Amina Atiq and

Roy, and famous names such as David Morrissey and

Frank Cottrell-Boyce, the series provides glimpses into

the many lives played out across the city’s streets. Now

the podcast has been adapted for the stage. The hours

of recorded material – and subsequent public response

submissions which the Everyman published alongside

each episode on their website – have been condensed

into a single show, directed by Nathan Powell and written

by Chloë Moss.

In doing so, specific challenges arise. How do you


turn such a long and episodic project into a narrative

which works in the theatre? “We’ve tried to unify it a

little bit,” explains Moss. “Obviously we didn’t want to

crowbar in a narrative which felt like it was shoved in. But

we looked at it as a sort of big celebratory piece about

Liverpool. There’s a rough framework of a day in the life;

it kind of covers a 24-hour period. Different voices come

in and out that don’t necessarily all fit together – but there

are crossovers, little moments of connection.”

Precisely what stories have made it into the show

is still being kept under wraps when we speak, but

director Nathan Powell backs up Moss’ implication that

Love, Liverpool is not so concerned with the specificity of

place so much as what it means to the people who move

through it. “It was just about telling the story of Liverpool

through these little snapshots that feel really particular

and detailed and small – and then that told a much bigger

story. It feels lovely to have these small little moments.”

After all, this was one of the things that makes the

podcast series such a delight to listen to. You may not

be personally familiar with the streets of Norris Green,

but you can connect to Kay Nicholson’s description

of intimate familiarity and association with a place. In

this way, it makes you recognise the everyday magic in

ordinary places. Perhaps this was a necessary skill to

develop in lockdown, when many of us found ourselves

suddenly moving through a smaller world. Being confined

to a locality meant becoming familiar with its details in

a different way, a world where the small little moments

became more significant.

How individual memories become part of a bigger

story is covered particularly well in actor Aron Julius’

contribution to the project. Detailing his relationship to

Livermore Court – an apartment building just off Lodge

Lane – his narrative is, in one way, one of personal

memories about a building. But Julius also manages to

capture how this one place, and his experiences within it,

intertwines with the much bigger story of what Toxteth is.

It’s also one of the stories which most convincingly

addresses the notion that there’s more than one side to

Liverpool. That for all that many of us love this city and

will stand up for it against all detractors, its reality is far

from perfect. As he explains: “I love where I’m from. But

the reality of where I’m from is that it can be all good,

then it can be all bad. There are two sides to that coin.”

Julius is now in the cast of the stage production, and

it was the opportunity to take this approach to telling

the city’s story which inspired his involvement. “What

affirmed that I wanted to be a part of the project was

that it’s not just a rose-tinted look at Liverpool. Actually,

it’s asking how we really shine the spotlight on what

Liverpool is.”

It’s another challenge of the adaptation process:

what does the production need to say about Liverpool

now? “If you come to it with the view of, ‘I’m definitely

going to hear about The Beatles, there’s going to be

loads of football’, or all those things that are synonymous

with Liverpool – it’s not that,” promises Moss. But Love,

Liverpool ran the risk of falling into sentiment in other

ways. After all, the project was born at a time when we

almost needed that. In those months of 2020 when the

world was almost entirely inaccessible, we pined for

Liverpool. To fall into nostalgia for the good times – and

only the good times – was understandable.

Of course, the stage production of Love, Liverpool

needs to maintain some of what audiences enjoyed about

the podcast series. The focus is still on the voices, and

although they’re giving away little about the staging,

Powell reveals that less is more: “It’s a really bare stage,

a beautiful thing, because we’ve got five really amazing

performers. So, the job becomes quite simple: five people

telling us a story.” Meanwhile, projections from designer

Tracy Gibbs featuring contributions from members of the

public will offer visual cues to the city.

At the same time, Love, Liverpool must also consider

the question of how those of us who exist within this city

are relating to it in this present moment. Romanticism no

longer serves the same purpose now that we’re back in a

living place, with all the complexities that brings. Instead,

it becomes a dangerous safety blanket, a prop to a

particular strain of Scouse Exceptionalism which believes

that problems such as racism and homophobia aren’t

native to Liverpool. Sadly, recent events have reminded

us what a farce this idealism is.

Treading the line between honesty and celebration

is something that the team seem to have been very

conscious of throughout the development process. “The

hope is to offer, firstly, some pride,” explains Powell. “You

want people to walk away feeling proud of the city, but

also to really think about what normal is going to become

as the city starts to open back up. What does that look

like? And how is that going to shift from getting to hear

and see different people’s perspectives?”

This is something the collective experience of the

theatre production can offer that the podcast format

rarely can. To listen to a story through headphones is

“It’s not just a

rose-tinted look at

Liverpool. Actually,

it’s asking how we

really shine the

spotlight on what

Liverpool is”



to imbue it purely with your own opinions. To attend

a production, meanwhile, offers a different context for

considering what is being said by and to whom. Powell

sees it as “an opportunity for you to take it in and then

process it, rather than needing to manage it next to your

opinions, thoughts or political beliefs”. It’s a powerful

context in which to be honest, and Julius thinks it’s a

stronger production for not shying away from this. “If

you give [audiences] both sides of the coin, there’s a

deeper connection to what you’re trying to do. The

challenge is how do we get that across on stage... but

there’s an opportunity to say this is all of Liverpool – the

good and the bad.” Though whether audiences think

they’ve hit the right note is down to them. “We don’t get

to decide that,” says Powell. “But take it all in, and let’s

come out of this and be a bit kinder and gentler with

each other.”

Although beginning in May 2020, Moss is very

clear that the stage production of Love, Liverpool is “not

about the pandemic, which people will hopefully be a bit

relieved by!” Indeed, the very occasion of the production

is a sign of things having moved on from this phase of

origin. For most of the team, stage preparations for Love,

Liverpool mark the return to theatre in over a year. When

we speak, it’s a matter of days until rehearsals begin,

and when asked what about Love, Liverpool they’re


most looking forward to, Julius, Moss and Powell all

agree on the return to collaboration. “It’s the exploration

of the rehearsal,” says Julius. “Being in the room of

people and being able to really unpack it and find new

things. Using the text to create something special for an

audience to consume.”

Indeed, it’s this space for evolution which is the

very purpose of this production. While the podcast

opened an inaccessible world, now we are each once

again creating our own stories of place. We will perhaps

arrive at the Playhouse via the sites we’ll re-visit in its

seats: from the train, down Hope Street, or past Thomas

Rigby’s. We no longer need to take another’s word for

what these places are to us, but we can still learn so

much about them. “It’s the things you know, but from

different perspectives,” explains Powell. “Amina [Atiq]’s

perspective of Hope Street is going to be completely

different to mine. I think it’s really useful and interesting

to say that there’s a shared belonging in all of these


And if there’s anything we’re ready for right now,

surely it is this shared belonging. Isn’t that what we’ve all

been looking forward to over the last 18 months? Maybe

that’s why one of the recurring themes of the podcast

series was pubs and bars – hubs where we gather and

share experiences. Writer Chloë Moss examined what a

pub can be in her tale of The Volly in Waterloo, a venue

often used to mark life’s big events and savouring its

smaller joys. A place “[not] just for laughter and babies

being born, it’s also for drunk men with sorrows”. A place

where neither joy nor solace are found in the bottom of a

glass, but in being with a community of others.

Of course, the theatre can be such a place, too. Just

like it is for the team onstage and behind the scenes,

Love, Liverpool might be a return to a theatre seat in

over a year for most of the audience, too. For some it will

forever become the answer to the question: ‘What did

you see first when the world reopened?’ It’s a collective

experience, but one to which we will each have our own

response. We will connect with different stories and

share feelings we relate to, all while having different

experiences of life. And it’s this diversity of enjoyment

which Moss believes makes it work: “It’s all the more

universal because there’s not any particular group that’s

going to have that exact same experience. And that’s

great, isn’t it?” !

Words: Julia Johnson / @messylines_

Photography: Robin Clewley /

Love, Liverpool is at the Playhouse from 5th until 14th




Ahead of a forthcoming sitespecific

audio walking tour,

Orchestral Manoeuvres in

the Dark’s Andy McCluskey

talks Wirral, Eric’s and DIY



Something is stirring on the Leisure Peninsula.

The Wirral has long been a hotbed of creative

talent with a roll call of pop culture legends

which include Malcolm Lowry, Elvis Costello

and Eric Idle all hailing from over the water. But few

have stayed to make their name plying their artistic

trade within the CH postcode. With more and more

organisations establishing themselves to nurture local

talent, that may be changing. What won’t change is how

the region has moulded creative outliers for generations.

With a new sound installation exploring the Wirral’s

artistic legacy and more artists speaking up about their

Wirralian roots, the oblong of dreams is finally being

celebrated. Quickly claimed by Liverpool but born-andbread


THE DARK embody the area’s idiosyncratic worldview.

Frontman Andy McCluskey recently contributed to the

Leftbank Soundtrack, a walking audio tour of Birkenhead

with new pieces of music responding to the environment

and landmarks. The 80s icon spoke to Craig Pennington

about the importance of local spaces generating the

worldwide sounds of tomorrow as well as OMD’s DIY

origins on the other side of the water.

It was clearly vital for artists from the Wirral to make

the trip to Liverpool for the opportunities there in the

days of punk and post-punk, but just how important

was Eric’s in OMD’s story?

[Eric’s] was a big step up for us to go from youth clubs

on the Wirral to actually playing a named venue on

the rock circuit. I mean, The Clash played there, the

Sex Pistols played there. You know, I saw the first ever

UK Devo gig there. Pere Ubu, XTC, The Cure, it was a

name place. So, it was like, ‘Can I really play in a place


that’s actually in the gig guide in [weekly music mag]

Sounds?’ I can remember making a call from a phone box

to the Sounds gig guide guide going, ‘Hi, I’m in a band.

We’re playing Eric’s in Liverpool, can you put us in your

gig guide?’ He went, ‘Yes, Eric’s? Yes, OK, yes, yes, we

do them, yes. What date is it? Right, OK. What are you

called?’ ‘Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’. He just went,

‘Fuck off, you’ll never get anywhere with a name like that’.

But yes, we felt very much like outsiders in Eric’s because

we looked different, we played different music, because it

was all guitar bands. I liked the Bunnymen because they

had a drum machine to begin with. There was something

a bit different about them.

Everybody in Eric’s was an alternative. It really was a case

of, like, they built it and all the strange people came. It was

an escape for all the outcasts and the people who didn’t

fit gender-wise, or sex-wise, or artistic-wise, or lookswise.

I mean, as I say, Paul and I just looked like hippies.

Everybody else looked so cool. I mean Jayne Casey looked

amazing. I’ve never seen such a beautiful girl. Shaved

head and jet-black lipstick. Tears painted on. Everybody

was in love with Jayne Casey. And Holly Johnson and Paul

Rutherford. Everybody was just cool looking, except for

us. And there was Roger Eagle, who was, like, 10 feet tall

and smoked like a chimney. Terrifying.

I never met Roger, but you get the impression of what

a shaping force he must have been.

You know, he’d been a promoter in Manchester and

Liverpool. I mean, I didn’t know all of this. All I knew

was that he was running this club. This was the club

we went to. If you see those flyers from Eric’s, ‘77, ‘78,

‘79, ’80, every month there were three or four bands

who are world famous now. We went there three, four

times a month. You had to keep up. There was always

something on that was really amazing. To get to play

there was amazing. But of course, there was about 15

of our family and friends in the crowd, and about 15 of

the locals who were all the same people you always saw

all the time. Like the [Echo & the Bunnymen frontman]

Ian McCullochs and everybody. Everybody just leaning

against the pillar, trying to feign no interest whatsoever.

I’m always interested in how musicians used to make

music compared to now, with the world of technology

that’s available. Are the core of ideas still the same,

it’s just that it’s much, much easier to make it happen


It cuts both ways. The technology now is unbelievable.

Back then, we were trying to be the future with

equipment salvaged out of a skip. We did six gigs before

we owned a synthesizer. We had to borrow one off

friends. We could only be a band because our mate Paul

Collister, who lived in West Kirby, had aspirations to

work in sound and had built a home studio in his garage.

He had a four-track and a two-track and a little desk.

And we put together our backing tracks on this fourtrack

table TEAC called Winston after Winston Smith

from Orwell’s 1984. And so the band was me and Paul,

with Winston playing everything else.

What kind of records do you think you would have

made if you’d been making those for the first time

now? Do you think it would have changed what you


One of the reasons we had a distinctive sound was

because of the shit gear we had. I mean, I remember

reading an article by Brian Eno that said: ‘If all you’ve

got is a pile of junk, you’re probably the only people

who’ve got that specific pile of junk. That’s your sound’.


And we went, ‘Phew, OK. Thanks, Brian’. The organ

was the electric piano and the cheap synth that we

finally bought off my mother’s catalogue for £7.76 a

week for 36 weeks taken out of our dole money. That

was it. And that was our sound. It was a very simple,

primitive sound that was on the first album. It was

garage synthpunk. We had a pile of crap, and we built

our own studio where the hotel now is on Stanley

Street, looking out over the back of where Probe and

the White Star pub is on Rainford Gardens. We rented

the back half of one empty flat on one of five empty

floors above Curly Music. Built our own studio and

recorded the album in three weeks and that was it,

handed it to the record company. It went gold. Just like

that. So easy…

That quote from Eno is absolutely right, that

necessity shapes the parameters that you’ve got to

work within. But is a world of infinite possibilities

and not having those boundaries a good thing


No, because the more possibilities you have, the more

difficult it becomes. Paul and I have this phrase, ‘the

tyranny of choice’. I think Electricity is 11 tracks, and

five of them are kicks in air and white noise. With

more and more technology you end up with the

big stodgy thing that’s got far too many tracks in it.

And it’s usually so many tracks because you haven’t

actually got one little diamond gold nugget in there.

It’s actually lots of averageness. One of our sayings is,

‘You don’t need a million quid of varnish if you don’t

start with a turd and try and polish it’. Electricity is

just words, driving bass, end. No backwards cymbals,

no splashes, no dynamics. That’s it, that’s all you get.

‘Is it good enough?’ Yes. That’ll do then’.

That’s not even a conversation about the production

values, that’s just asking yourself is that idea, is that

lick, is that hook, is that melody as strong as it can be.

That’s what we didn’t realise when we first started out,

because we were experimental, in the sense that we

didn’t have anything we could play a melody on, to begin

with, other than my bass. We were just making ambient

noise. So gradually, and totally unconsciously, we

refined our desire to be different into a melodic version

of a desire to be different. We had no idea. Electricity is

basically a punk version of Radioactivity by Kraftwerk.

I admitted it to Kraftwerk years later and they all went,

‘Yes, we know’. We hadn’t realised we’d unconsciously

taken all that glam rock from when we were 12 watching

Top Of The Pops – Slade, T. Rex – added it to the German

electric of Neu! and Kraftwerk and a bit of punk, and

somehow accidentally we

distilled this into these little

three-and-a-half minute, like,

catchy tunes. We had no idea

what we were doing.

You mentioned before that

if it wasn’t for Eric’s then

OMD wouldn’t have been a

thing because you formed

effectively to play that show.

Reflecting on the shaping

influence that Eric’s had on

the band and your career,

how important are places like that, that give people

license to experiment, test themselves, challenge


I think it’s very simple. Without people opening doors

for you and giving you encouragement and saying,

“It’s very simple. Without

people opening doors

for you and giving you

encouragement, it

doesn’t happen”

‘Yes, come and do it, do your thing’, it doesn’t happen.

You’ve got to have a place to play, you’ve got to have

people who will let you play, you’ve got to have people

who will give you the PA and people who will lend

you some equipment. We did six gigs without even

owning a synth. You have to borrow a bit. It’s just you

need other people. One of the reasons why I said yes

to being a mentor at Future Yard was because without

Eric’s my band wouldn’t exist. Without Birkenhead Art

College in Whetstone Lane owning the Roland SH-

1000, we wouldn’t have had a synthesizer to borrow

when Dalek I Love You wouldn’t lend us theirs. These

places had a vision of being creative and would let

two loonies borrow their very expensive synthesizer

for the night, and trust that they were going to return

it so that we could go and play our weird songs –

that even our best friends

thought were shit – in a club

that, you know, the night

before, Blondie had played

at, or something. I think

that, particularly because

we are from Wirral, nothing

grows in a vacuum, nothing

blossoms. I think that you

have to provide the place,

you have to provide the

encouragement. I’m hoping

the Future Yard project will

be something that offers an

opportunity for creative kids on Wirral – like we were

41 years ago – to dream and try their dream out in

reality. !

Craig G Pennington



Birkenhead. A small shipbuilding town on

the banks of the River Mersey, nestled on a

peninsula of land called the Wirral, tucked

between Liverpool and North Wales. The

conurbation populated the world’s oceans with great liners.

It also populated the world’s radio waves and stages with

some of the most fabulous and gloriously eccentric music

you’ve heard: Bill Ryder-Jones, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the

Dark, Half Man Half Biscuit, Elvis Costello, Forest Swords,

Queen Zee, Hooton Tennis Club.

The Leftbank Soundtrack takes listeners on a personal

audio adventure, a voyage of sonic discovery through the back

alleys and boulevards of Birkenhead to uncover tales of past

glories and future stories. The tour is interpreted through the

musical minds of the borough’s greatest noisemakers.

The animated music walk, using newly commissioned

compositions from Birkenhead’s musical talent, threads together

stories of music, movements, history and change. It takes you

through Birkenhead, the old music venues and sounds, cultural

heritage and hopes for the future.

“It’s a fascinating and interesting concept for Birkenhead and,

as a Wirral boy born and bred, I am delighted to be a part of the

Leftbank project,” said soundtrack contributor ANDY MCCLUSKEY,

who has composed a piece which responds to Birkenhead’s iconic

ventilation tower. “It’s a really exciting challenge to create a musical

piece for it. I stood next to the tower doors in early July and recorded the

sound of the wind whistling through them. These recordings became my

inspiration and bed track for the music. For those who are curious, the

tower whistles in the key of A.”

Andy is joined by a roll call of high-profile artists who have produced

music with the sights and sounds of Birkenhead as their muse. Those

donning headphones to take in the tour with the Leftbank Soundtrack

augmenting their experience will hear pieces by LOUISA ROACH (She Drew

The Gun), FOREST SWORDS, NIGEL BLACKWELL (Half Man Half Biscuit),

BILL RYDER-JONES and ANDREW PM HUNT (Dialect, formerly Outfit).

A QR Code will take the sonic explorer to a piece of commissioned music,

telling the story of the spot they are standing in. There are seven stops on

the excursion, with Hamilton Square, the Ventilation Tower, Ferry Terminal,

Birkenhead Priory and Cammell Laird, Futureyard and Argyle Street, St

Werburgh’s Square and Birkenhead Central all providing a plethora of history

and inspiration. Listen, walk, think and reflect. !

Photography: Robin Clewley /





Exhibition curated and organised by Barbican International

Enterprises. The City of London Corporation is the founder

and principal funder of the Barbican Centre. Co-produced

by Forum Groningen, Netherlands.


Resilience, nostalgia and navigating unchartered waters. David Roskin enters the steadfast

world of Hushtones as they pick up the pieces ahead of live music’s return.

Three out of five HUSHTONES arrive at Hope

Street’s Liverpool Arts Bar where they

immediately greet bar staff before ordering

drinks and seeing to the order of the day:

reminiscing about recording acoustic sessions in this

very space. It’s clear that this is a home away from home

for the Scouse indie-pop band, and quite possibly one of

few haunts bravely eschewing the screening of England

v Germany in favour of airing classic indie tunes to

soundtrack our interview.

Kicking off in late 2017, Hushtones combine melodic,

nostalgic indie sounds with soulful vocals and big beats.

Hearing them now, you’d think their polished sound

comes from a perfectly constructed quintet, but a series

of coincidences and chance encounters is what brought

the group together. Martha Goddard and Mick Campbell

met while working in a restaurant on Bold Street. “We

kind of realised that we were both songwriters and

decided to have a jam,” Mick tells me, casually. The two

continue to play regular cover nights, with one confirmed

at Liverpool Arts Bar right before we sit down.

Mick then bumped into Caitlin McPaul on Christmas

Eve in 2017, having known her from their school days,

and brought her into the fold. The three began to perfect

their sound together, doing the rounds with Fleetwood

Mac at open mic nights. At a regular pub, they soon

met Abe Tesfachristos, a keen-eared bar manager who

recognised their potential and continued to book the

three-piece before stepping aboard as their drummer.

“He was such a perfect fit because we had drummed


with other people before, but it just didn’t work,” Martha

reflects. “When it just gels, it’s so good and drummers

are so hard to come by as well. So, we do feel hashtag

blessed,” Martha laughs, and Abe reflects on his selftitled

musical sabbatical for a few years before meeting

the band, only interrupted due to how incredible he

found the then three-piece.

After a period of window shopping for a suitable

guitarist, there came something of a eureka moment for

the group. “We went through a couple of guitarists and

stuff until we found Joe [Dillon],” Mick says. “And that’s

when it started to feel like this is gonna work, now we’ve

got the last jigsaw piece.”

At this point, Mick, Martha and Abe recognise

what a difference completing the quintet made, and

although we’re missing Cailtin and Joe today (due to

work commitments and a Pfizer-induced day of rest), it’s

clear how together they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Teaming up with BBC Introducing’s Dave Monks and

producer Steve Levine, the band began to really find their

rhythm complimented by the much more professional

edge they had once dreamed of.

“Thanks for coming to our TED Talk,” Martha

jokes, but hearing their story provides a fascinating

educational resource. Whether crying out for a change

in circumstances (I’ve Got Time) or sharing their origin

story over a couple of pints in the back of a bar on an

uncharacteristically sunny day, Hushtones thrive in

evocative imagery. Their charm is continually captivating

and entirely true to themselves, it feels effortless.

Hushtones know who they are, who they’re going to be

and what they’re going to do.

But, like most of us in the creative sector, much of

Hushtones’ livelihoods was destroyed by continued

lockdowns. Blighted by the misfortunes of the

hospitality industry, the band were left to sign on and

remained isolated from any studio set-up, let alone a

stage and a crowd.

Mick, in particular, struggled in 2020. “Me and

Martha got into this rhythm: I’d write a little bit of a song

or she’d write a little bit of a song. We were on sort of

separate sleeping patterns throughout each lockdown

and obviously we couldn’t see each other. We spoke

on the phone, but I’ve become really nocturnal. I was

so worried about everything at the beginning of the

pandemic.” He turns to face Martha. “You were sleeping

normally. So what happened is, I’ve written a bit of a

song, and I’d send it over, and I went to bed at about four

or five. She’d wake up, start working on it, get it back to

me by the time I woke up, and we got this dead weird

rhythm down, and we’d be writing songs around the

clock. There was just like, 24 hours a day where we’d be

working, it was bizarre, but we’d compile it into this little

folder. We got about five or six songs and then sent it to

Steve who was like, ‘This would make a great LP!’”

Abe, on the other hand, relished some time away

from manic work in hospitality to focus on music. He

speaks fondly about this creative process. “They were

constantly writing music. I had all this time on my hands

so they would send me tracks and they could just work

on, you know, a new laptop or whatever but I didn’t play

drums for the whole of lockdown! I was literally writing

them on my computer. It didn’t stop just because I didn’t

have access to drums, we still managed to put the songs

together somehow.”

Despite the pandemic forcing a precarious hand onto

the group, Martha offers a concession. “It just goes to

show what you can do when you have music to help two

people moving, rather than having to spend time working

in a job that you’ve been doing to get by, alongside

working around everybody else’s schedules. Most of the

time we work out a way around it, but in an ideal world,

everyone would be working part-time. But, you know,

that was the compromise of lockdown. It’s like, ‘Oh, we

finally got this time, but we can’t do anything with it’.

Again, we found a way to kind of work around it.”

Their resilience in the face of adversity is consistently

inspiring, and their debut record, Greetings From The

Other Side, landing 6th August, is a true testament to this

Covid era. Wild wishes to live on the wild side eventually

– something simply impossible as of late – while I’ve Got

Time looks deeply at how we feel we’ve lost so much of

our lives and focuses on the future; how we can enjoy our

lives again, even if that feels out of reach. Mick describes

his thinking in the depths of the first lockdown: “Well,

you know, we don’t really have much money, but we’ve

got this great thing that we can do.” And they continue

to do it with tracks including their latest single, Sinking,

recorded between national lockdowns with two members

at a time. With an accomplished smile a world away

from fear, they reflect almost fondly on this time as just

another struggle they’ve had to overcome together as a


As we hurtle in earnest towards the so-called

summer firebreak, the band and I lament the cancellation

of further gigs and another year of waiting for Michael

Eavis to open up Worthy Farm. And it’s at this moment

– just when a roar of cheers nearby could only mean

another England goal in a packed Wembley Stadium –

when our attention quickly turns to the disappointing

display of government support for the music and

hospitality industries.

Hushtones are facing continuous delays to their first

gig back. “We were supposed to have our first proper gig

as a band this Saturday,” Mick explains. “And that’s being

moved now. The guy who booked those sent us an email

the other day, saying at the moment this is a gamble.

We don’t know whether this is going to be happening.

But that’s the best you can do at this point.” The anxiety

caused by this is palpable. But it’s old news and, quite

frankly, the sort of thing we have come to expect from a

government that looks to have muddled their priorities

over the last 18 months.

“This is obviously a multi-billion-pound industry,

which is different to football, but that’s all allowed to go

on. You know, music’s being left behind,” Mick shouts

over the cheers of England fans. The recent botched

government campaign urging creatives to explore

alternative employment – embodied by Fatima the

ballet dancer encouraged to retrain in cyber security –

ultimately fell on deaf ears with those who continue

to view the government as one that is out of touch

with those it purports to help. “That’s the thing

about being an artist or a musician. It’s not for

everyone, but it is for a lot of people. That’s your

passion. And not only that, it’s a massive part

of your identity. So, you can’t just suddenly be

like, ‘Do you know what, I’m going to go into

fucking cyber’.” The passion the band have for

their industry and local music scene lends itself

equally to the frustrations they share at feeling

powerless. They’re continually championing

this sector and pushing on, but this never

translates into more than the hopeful

glimmer they present for want of structural

change from above.

“It’s absolutely comical,” Martha notes

in disbelief. “So, if you were to flip it on

the football industry and say, ‘Well, just

stop what you’re doing there and go on

to something else’. As if any of those

people are going to just stop what they

like doing!”

Nevertheless, all remain hopeful

for their record launch party at EBGBs.

As far as coincidences go, Greetings From The Other

Side is truly an apt title to ring in what will, hopefully, be

the first of many reintroductions to a normal live music

environment. I ask the band to imagine it’s definitely

happening, and Mick immediately lights up: “We’re gonna

play as long as we want. It’s like a reward for what we’ve

all been through. And you know what? Let’s have some

fun.” !

Words: David Roskin / @daverosk

Photography: Jen Hollis / @jencreative_

Greetings From The Other Side is available 6th August

via Hubris Records. Hushtones play EBGBs on 20th



“This is obviously a


industry which is

different to football,

but that’s all allowed

to go on. Music’s

being left behind”






The sonosphere of Joel Goldberg’s alter ego thrives in experimentation and straddling the line

between foolhardiness and look-again substance. Ahead of an album live stream, Sanna King

uncovers the figure behind the personalities.

Hey Frenzy, the debut album from DANCING

TO ARCHITECTURE, was born in isolation.

Differentiated only by their barnets, the band

at the time consisted of three members, all

called Jeff, who looked remarkably similar. Picture a

fucked-up version of Hanson and you’d not be far off.

However, the electro-prog-funk ‘trio’ were really just the

brainchildren of Joel Goldberg.

Part of the locally legendary Goldberg clan, he

has been on the Liverpool scene since the mid-90s.

Joel seemed to be a musical gun for hire who was

permanently on call, reachable only by pager, carrier

pigeon, or email. Not only a versatile musician playing

all the instruments, he mixed and produced the tracks,

before getting it mastered at Igloo Studios. He also

made videos for each track, which morphed into a film,

designed all the artwork and a range of merch. No

wonder he needed to clone himself a few times.

Since then, the band have doubled in numbers, and

I don’t mean Joel has just gained more personalities.

To take the vision from his living room to the live stage,

he’s gathered together a motley crew of real friends to

replace his imaginary ones. But in the meantime, they’ll

be coming to your living rooms, when they unleash brand

new footage this month. Recorded at Coastal Studios,

Transmit Groove is a live recording of the album to give

you a little teaser of what you can expect from their gigs

in the not-too-distant future. When I caught up with Joel

back in May, it was still only officially him at the helm, so

I found out more about what had inspired him to create

Dancing To Architecture in the first place.

Hey Frenzy was released on CD and digitally, in

March, a year after the start of lockdown. “I had time

to get those ideas out that had been building up,” says

Goldberg over Zoom. “I had a list of song names in my

phone stockpiled over the years, so I grabbed a riff, fit one

of the titles to it, arranged it, recorded it, did a little video

and put it online.”

He described it as a mix of different sounds with

a dance music sensibility of a hook line that repeats,

without having to stay in the verse-chorus-middle-eight

format. “I’ve always written songs and music and always

tried to be, you know, a serious songwriter. All this, ‘You

didn’t say this, and I didn’t say that’ and all that crap.

And you end up going, ‘This is miserable to listen to and

miserable to play, what am I doing this for?!’ So out of

that, DTA is like the phoenix from the ashes of all the

shite heartbreak songs I’ve written in my lifetime.”

Joel realised that he had something else under his skin.

It seemed natural to add more humour because comedy

had been such a big part of his life, noting childhood

heroes such as The Young Ones, Bill Murray and Chevy

Chase. “Then Vic and Bob came along,” he continues. “I

think they were a nuclear blast in terms of British comedy,

and as individuals now I think they’re still two of the

funniest people on the planet.”

I asked him if he was worried that some of the sillier

lyrics and videos might make it come across as a novelty

album – “I eat grapes like a motherfucker” and “went to

bed ugly and I woke up handsome” being refrains two

songs are built around. “Not really,” he contends. “A

couple of tracks are TV theme tune homages, like Mike

Post scores. Some of the others are just funny titles that

I tried to write good music to. I tried very hard to keep

it light and to try and stay funny, almost disguising the

work I’d put into writing the music.”

The name Dancing to Architecture originates from

a quote often attributed to Frank Zappa: “Writing about

music is like dancing about architecture.” His influence

is also apparent in the content, too. “When I was a kid,

I heard a Zappa album and just laughed my head off,

’cos he was singing, ‘Don’t eat the yellow snow’. Me

and my brother were like, ‘Isn’t this fella funny with his

muzzy and beard’. And then on the next listen, you’re still

laughing but you’re like, ‘Hang on a minute,’ and then in

the end you realise, ‘Jesus Christ, this is amazing!’ Not

comparing myself to Zappa or nothin’. But like everyone

has a certain style on the surface which can catch

people’s eyes, but it needs substance behind it. And I

think I’ve worked hard enough for it to have that and not

be just a novelty style.”

There is a real 80s feel to the

album and the overall stylings

of the artwork are also inspired

by his childhood memories.

“The imprint of whatever time

and cultural movement you just

happen to be born into. I was

always aware of Talking Heads,

The Clash, The Stranglers and The

Police when I was a kid and that

colour of music just stayed with

me,” he reveals. “I’m a massive fan

of Dutch Uncles, too, who have a

sound that incorporates a lot of

that style, with the sequencers

and that naked bass sound

and a lack of clanging guitars


Joel’s dad, Dave, is also a big role model, having

spent the majority of his life in bands. With an upbringing

revolving around music, it was inevitable it would become

a family trade. “One brother’s been a drummer since he

was three, the other two both played guitar, and so they

needed a bass player.” But Joel didn’t always want to be

a musician. Setting his sights on becoming an artist or

architect, he attended art college to follow his dreams, as

well as his cousin who he’d “followed around like a beaut”

since their school days.

Unfortunately, that dream was short-lived when

he was diagnosed with kidney disease at 19 and knew

that he had to return to Liverpool because he’d be in

and out of hospital. “Being back in Liverpool, I thought,

‘Maybe there’s a reason I’m here’. And things just started

getting better and better here, like the Capital of Culture

happened and I met so many brilliant people. The music

community in Liverpool is just so welcoming and rich.

Everyone’s great, there are so many characters, and

everyone helps each other out. I love being in the middle

of it, it’s such an amazing place.”

He talks passionately about Liverpool having a strong

sense of community, which some of his friends from

Manchester have said that they don’t see in their own

city. I get the impression that having this community

around him when he needed it most has made him more

resilient and self-sufficient? “I’ve been through some

dark stuff, and I’ve cultivated a habit of trying to outrun

the darker times,” he replies. “If you feel something bad

coming, you flick a switch and try your best to get back,

get your energy levels up. And I’ve tried to transfer that

into my music.”

Knowing that it isn’t always as simple as just trying

harder, he talks about a friend who might never be the

same after lockdown, and how he and his other fellow

bandmates have felt powerless to help him. However,

that’s the beauty of music: it can take those struggles and

“Dancing to

Architecture is the

phoenix from the

ashes of all the

shite heartbreak

songs I’ve written

in my lifetime”

turn them into something positive, and potentially help

someone else when they hear it. Either by cheering them

up or by making them feel less alone in their sadness.

Even the strongest and most independent of people crave

that connection, and music has the power to do that. And

for that reason, for the moment he’s focusing on more

upbeat music. “It’s a conscious thing to write something

positive. I’ve always loved celebratory type music like

Van Halen and Led Zeppelin. These people are putting on

a big show, they’re going out of their way to make you

feel good. The kind of gig that you want to go to on a hot

summer’s night and have a pure laugh, be buzzin’ and

screaming yer head off at!”

Joel admits he’s enjoyed the

break from gigging over the past

16 months, but as music finally

gets back on track, he can’t wait

to play live again. The dream

team he’s assembled includes

Scott Arthur and Luke Heague

on guitars, Stuart Hardcastle on

percussion and, of course, another

Goldberg in tow – this time

it’s Adam, the aforementioned

‘drummer boy’. “We had the first

rehearsal recently and it was

great. More raw, more space to

it. We all played around with the

arrangements and the energy is

right up there. I’m made up.”

As the conversation continues, I get the sense

Joel’s illness is a bit of an elephant in the room and not

something I want to press him on. Not because of his

unwillingness to open up about it, but because it doesn’t

feel entirely relevant to this project. However, it does

come up in relation to another film he has been working

on with James Slater about his nightly dialysis sessions.

“James got in touch about making a documentary about

me being on dialysis and dealing with illness in the way

I do, through the music and stuff. He’s great at what he

does, and he’s pulled the stops out in terms of getting

a crew on-board and getting backing from some big

hitters like Kodak, so it’s gonna’ look amazing. Whether

or not my bits will be any good is another thing. I think

as I get older the thought of leaving something behind

of myself, something which may help people who are ill,

has grown bigger in my mind. People with kidney failure

don’t live forever, so James choosing to make this is quite

fortuitous. You never know… I might just live forever. You

lucky bastards.”

I ask him if he sees his album in the same way as

he does the film, as a way of leaving a legacy behind?

“Yeah, I’m trying my best to make it the best it can be, so

yeah I’m pretty proud of it in that sense. I hope people

enjoy it and I hope it lasts. I hope my nieces like it and still

listen to it when they’re older. That’s all I want, really!”

It’s likely they will, as Jazz and Toots, aged 10 and eight

respectively, have already started their own band, Sutn

Notn. So we better look out for the next generation of the

Goldberg dynasty coming over the hill and continuing the

musical bloodline. !

Words: Sanna King / @sanna_king

Photography: Michelle Roberts / @_sheshoots_

Transmit Groove will debut 5th August live on Facebook.





“I describe myself

as someone

who’s always

chasing chaos”


A seeker of disorder within the ordinary, Tarek Musa is comfortable and sure of his own path.

Shannon Garner sits down with the factotum to discuss his latest solo project.

Resorting to a phone interview only a few hours

before our long-awaited face-to-face interview due

to self-isolation reasons, it’s evident that Tarek Musa is

extremely punctual in everything he approaches. Incredibly

understanding over the situation, and a few jokes later

about the bizarre world Covid has created, it’s clear that

this was going to be a full interview, despite the distance.

Following the split of Macclesfield quartet Spring King

in 2018, the dynamic former frontman and drummer

emerged seemingly unfazed. Between discussing his roller

coaster of a career and his new project DEAD NATURE,

the producer is nothing short of a ravenous thrill-seeker.

“I describe myself as someone who’s always chasing

chaos,” Musa begins. “I always get myself the most chaotic

projects and I’m always steering away from the classic

kind of songwriting and recording set-ups,” he continues.

“In terms of sound, I’m always trying to write really uptempo

energetic songs, but songs that you want to cry and

dance to at the same time. It’s kind of like sad dancefloor

indie hits.” The sad dancefloor indie vibe evidently shows

in his music: sad through the vulnerable, relatable lyrics yet

danceable through the feel-good tone of the tracks.

Listening to his work, it’s easy to assume Musa relies

on an army of musos when crafting his projects, but this

couldn’t be further from the truth. Musa plays every role –

from songwriting to press releases. He even lends his hand

to producing for other bands and hosting masterclasses to

help upcoming musicians work on their craft.

“I’m very, very fortunate that I can work with loads

of other artists. It’s kind of like an anchor for me,” Musa

says. “I always have my solo project and then, whenever

a band wants to work with me, I’ll work with them before

reverting back to my solo project for the weeks I’ve got off.

It’s a good balance. I’m always trying to keep my musical

hands in every single pie possible.”

During Spring King’s time, the band crafted two

albums and gathered a cult following in Britain’s indierock

heartlands but, during those years, everything was

a whirlwind. “When I was on tour with my last band, we

would do crazy journeys like Dublin to Paris in a day. That

would consist of two ferries in-between the gigs and it

would kind of send you a bit crazy,” he recalls. “I think

by the end of that project my mental health was not the

best because it was such an intense ride. I was constantly

exhausted. That’s why having this balance now where I

can be an artist and release my own music, but also work

with other people when I’m not feeling 100 per cent is

good for me.”

However, the roller coaster of a journey and pressure

did not start with his previous band. There are pressures

from the industry that Musa has felt since the beginning

of his career. “I studied at LIPA in Liverpool and finished in

2011,” he begins. “I studied Sound Technology which is

very physics and mathematics based, but there was one

module where we could write an EP, so I was like, ‘I’m going

to try and write some songs’. At this point, I’d never wrote

songs in my life and one of the songs that I wrote for that

project ended up going worldwide and became the Skins

soundtrack for the third generation,” he reminisces. “Every

major label was emailing me trying to figure out if I had a

band and it was just coursework. With that, I felt like there

was huge pressure from the industry to jump on-board and

kickstart my career, but it didn’t feel natural. I didn’t even

have the money really to do it or the means. A year or so

later is when I started Spring King and now, I’ve got Dead

Nature. I’m always doing music; it’s just always evolving.”

Pressing further on all the pressure received, Musa is

not one to leap at just any opportunity. “I’m one of those

people who kind of pushes back on things that are kind

of forced on me. I always try and create my own path,”

he admits. “Back in 2011, don’t get me wrong it was an

amazing opportunity, but in my head, I couldn’t make it

work. I didn’t have the experience to feel comfortable

jumping into the fast lane. I’m one of those people who

want to learn to walk before I run, and the Skins thing

happened so quickly that I wasn’t mentally prepared,” he

admits. “I really believe artists should go down the most

organic route possible and that’s exactly what I did with

Spring King. I think that way, it aligns with your mental

understanding of the process a lot better, and you won’t be

overwhelmed by any sudden hype.”

After spending the last two years focusing on his new

solo project, Musa reveals that his debut album, Watch

Me Break Apart, has actually been finished since the

beginning of the pandemic. “I actually finished the album

on 28th March 2020, and all the lyrics came about from

the way I feel about the world,” he says. “There’s a track

called Ladlands which is about losing control. I wrote it

from the angle of both politicians who are trying to keep

control of everything, yet still feel like they’re losing control

to the opposing sides,” he continues. “Then there’s Watch

Me Break Apart which is about someone completely

breaking apart from their old self and trying to rebuild

themselves into something new, better and hopefully more

in-line with who they are now. It’s an album of stories I’ve

heard from my friends or experienced myself where people

have needed to rebuild themselves or society having to

rebuild itself. It’s just this amalgamation of everything

falling apart.”

Nevertheless, while an immense amount of music

contains overt political sentiment, it’s a route Musa doesn’t

want to focus too much on with Dead Nature, choosing

only to sing about it when it connects with him and his

music. “I’m one of those people that never want to be a

political artist in the sense of, I don’t wear politics on my

sleeve,” he admits. “I only sing about it when it connects

with me and my music and I don’t ever try and say it

directly. I don’t want to shove anything down anyone’s

throat. It’s up to the listener to take what they want from it

and interpret it as they want. I do it in such a nuanced way

because we can’t be on a high horse about politics, and I

still get my opinions across. The line is constantly moving,

and I hope it continues that way.”

We’ve been speaking for over an hour now, time

disappearing into Musa’s political sidetracks and industry

anecdotes. Time enough to prise a memorable moment

from inside that busy head. “One of my favourite things was

playing Later… with Jools Holland with my old band,” he tells

me with an audible glint of nostalgia in his eyes as he recites

the tale. “I was the drummer and lead singer at the time

because our drummer had just left and it was easier to find

a bass player at such short notice compared to a drummer.

It was a weird set-up. I actually used to throw up when I

first started doing both at the same time because it was so

intense, and that show was one of the hardest shows I’ve

ever played in my life. I had never sung and played at the

same time until then,” Musa recalls. “Elton John was also

on the show and he was really, really into our performance.

After we played, he came up to me asking for a CD, so I ran

backstage, got a vinyl and gave it to him. Then he just got

off in his helicopter.” Can we expect something of a similar

ascent? “This is just the start of Dead Nature for sure. I feel

like it’s only going to grow from here.” !

Words: Shannon Garner / @shannonmayy_

Photography: Khalil Musa / @khalilmusa

Watch Me Break Apart is available now.



The introspective storyteller finds truth in the present.

JESSICA LUISE is not one to shy away from her

emotions, especially when it comes to songwriting.

The indie-folk singer shares tales of love, loss and hope

through her tracks after emerging onto the North West

music scene in 2019. Stories of teenage romance, angst

and the awkwardness which fill those adolescent years

make her songs the ideal soundtrack to any indie romcom

binge. Yet, for her, music is more than just catchy

lyrics and heavenly melodies – it’s a form of therapy.

“I use writing as a way of getting my thoughts and

feelings out into a physical form,” says Jessica. She

is open about her mental health and reveals that she

often finds it hard to rationalise thoughts due to having

generalised anxiety disorder. “Writing it down helps me

to be raw but also balance out the overthinking.”

From an early age, Jessica knew she wanted

to perform after watching Jools Holland’s Annual

Hootenanny. Those starry-eyed nights spent watching

performers in their natural habitat resulted in Jessica

immersing herself in musical theatre before she finally

decided to become a singer-songwriter at the end of her

educational tenure – a process that arrived naturally from

introspective storytelling. “I used to write little stories

about how I was feeling and then they just became

songs,” she admits.

Influences on her songwriting come from an array of

situations, including previous relationships or something

as simple as passing a random person in the street. Her

latest single, Nice Try – a blend of acoustic and dreampop

tones underneath the raw lyricism – was written as a

form of closure from a personal experience.

Due to the intimate nature of her songs, it can often

leave her feeling vulnerable, especially when performing

live. “I write a lot of music about my situation at the time,”

she continues. “Some songs can change from being my

favourite to actually being quite hard and emotional to

sing live.”

Although lockdown measures have prevented Jessica

from performing live, they haven’t stopped her from

getting her name out there and collaborating with other

musicians. In 2020 she organised Rock the Breadline,

a virtual charity concert bringing together 24 artists to

raise funds following the free school meals debate.

Music plays a huge role in Jessica’s everyday life,

admitting she “can’t go a day without listening to music

or writing a little riff or a little verse”. Her love affair with

music cannot be underestimated and runs deep. “There is

a song out there for every mood. It knows how I feel, and

it knows how to help.”

Jessica’s passion shines through the breezy warmth

in her voice as she sails through the narrative of each of

her songs, set against the traditional blissfulness of indiepop

hits. “The response you get when you have worked

so hard on something, that moment when someone

understands you because your words relate to them

is magic. If you could bottle that up, you would make

millions.” !

Words: Mia O’Hare / @mia_ohare

Photography: Matchbox Productions

Going In Blind is available now.



The rhythmic globetrotter emerges from a spectrum

of emotion.

Derrick Nenzo (Harry Peach)

Describe your music style in one sentence.

One-man boy band with an 808.

How did you get into creating music?

I was in a band when I was like 13. I played guitar and

sang, but we were bad. When I was 16, I got an old

version of Logic from my sister’s hard drive and started

making beats every day for three years until I released my

first song.

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

initially inspired you?

Buzzin by Mann ft. 50 Cent. I heard it when I was like

nine years old and loved the sound of it. It didn’t take long

until I was neck deep in 90s hip-hop before eventually

getting into the more modern stuff throughout my

teenage years. I also got into a bunch of bands as well.

Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to


I haven’t done much performing to be honest. I would

have liked to last year but, unfortunately, we were in a

panoramic, weren’t we? However, there’s an unreleased

song I’m sitting on which I know is going to go off when I

do start performing. In fact, there are a few like that…

What do you think is the overriding influence on your

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

mixture of all of these?

Emotions, really. I look inwards more than anything when

dealing with personal problems. I try not to get swayed

by the media and world events because I think there’s

always something to be angry at if you go looking for it.

My criteria for a good song is it has to evoke emotions in

the listener. It doesn’t matter which emotions just as long

as they feel something.

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

it be?

I like lots of artists across different genres and moods, but

I think if I was to keep it in line with my current sound

then probably Slowthai or Brockhampton.

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in?

Well, the only time I have really performed was in an

Apple Music pop-up DJ booth with Charlie Sloth and, like,

50 students. I did a freestyle and everyone seemed to like

it, so I guess that was cool.

Why is music important to you?

It’s such a challenge and it pisses me off a lot, but the

feeling of one good song out of 50 bad ones is worth it to

me. I always find myself going back to it even when I’m

fed up, so there must be something there.

Can you recommend an artist, band or album that Bido

Lito! readers might not have heard?

Yes, Derrick Nenzo. He raps, I think.

human made is available now via Swell Head Inc.








FestEVOL @ Invisible Wind Factory


The revolution will be

synthesised as the Welsh

techno-pop provocateur

makes her grand return.

In these uncertain times with so much doubt

surrounding the future of live music, any tour or festival

getting the green light feels like a significant victory

for gig-goers. And here at Bido HQ, nothing has given

us more reason to rejoice than FestEvol announcing the

upcoming August all-dayers at the Invisible Wind Factory.

Topping the bill of the first instalment is a boundaryblurring

artist truly hitting her creative stride. Riding high

on the success of her critically acclaimed second album,

Inner Song, KELLY LEE OWENS is also quickly becoming

known as one of the most vocal acts in the fight for a fairer

industry. Following the five-year anniversary of Brexit and

what should’ve been the opening night of Glasto, David

Weir catches up with Owens to discuss her North Walian

roots, soundtracking the Anthropocene and her eagerlyanticipated

headline date.

So, we caught your interview on Newsnight. There’s

been an amazing response to the #LetTheMusicMove

campaign from many acts – any stirrings from the


Yeah, crazy, both of the interviews were very last minute,

but we made it happen. We’re currently still waiting.

But appearing on a platform like the BBC, that’s a huge

step up for everyone in regard to officials taking notice

and making the public aware of what’s actually going

on. There’s been so much happening, everyone’s been in

survival mode. Music’s definitely been in the background,

but it’s been in the forefront of many people’s minds in

terms of helping them cope. We need to show people

this is already affecting an entire industry. When we have

the public’s support, then it’s more pressure again for the

government to have to do something about it.

We’ve also been hearing from Music Declares

Emergency and the #BrokenRecord campaign recently

– is now the time for an industry overhaul?

Totally. As I mentioned yesterday, it’s this toxic

concoction of the pandemic, Brexit, the streaming

services that don’t pay us correctly; the music industry

is broken. The artistry of it has been so downplayed

consistently, where really without artists it wouldn’t

fucking exist. It’s time to rip up the narrative and have

things work for us. We’re obviously trying to support our

crews the best we can, but it’s interesting that the last

people to be spoken about in the whole thing are often

the artists themselves. Maybe artists are just expected

to have another job. I’ve worked since I was 14. I was

working a full-time job alongside writing my first record; I

worked part-time while doing some of my second. I know

what hard work is and this is the hardest thing I’ve ever

done. I’ve had to dedicate my entire life, my savings, all

my energy and sacrifice relationships. This is not a joke.

The way people perceive it is a joke. There are petitions,

but this is what we’re discussing at the moment, how to

actively engage. I think, as an artist, using our platforms

to really speak to our fans directly is one way. Fans

can also put pressure on their representatives and the

government. Behind the scenes we’ve been trying to

pressurise them and we’ve been largely ignored. So,

having these conversations and making it more public is

the next step.

FestEvol’s your first UK gig lined up then?

Yeah. In fact, it’ll actually be the first time Inner Song is

performed live! I mean, the irony of calling an album that

and it’s never been played out. I’ve gigged in Liverpool

before with the Immix Ensemble. That was a very

beautiful night for other reasons. See, I come from North

Wales originally; we’re not that far away. In my late teens

I went to a lot of shows in Liverpool, they were kind

of my formative years in terms of getting involved in a

live music scene and falling in love with that. So, for me

personally, to have my first show in the North West is

really special. We’re all going to be so grateful that we

can be there together in that space now.

Let’s talk about your collaboration with John Cale on

Corner Of My Sky. What did it mean to explore your

Welsh heritage together on this track?

It was such an honour because I wanted to explore the

connection with it, but I didn’t want it to be in a false

sense. People like Gwenno are amazing because she

speaks fluent Welsh. For me to make a whole Welsh

language album wouldn’t be authentic. So, it was more

about bringing other people in. I’d already recorded with

John. To be in a studio with him, he produced me in just

this old-school way and it was total magic. I remember

hitting this high note that I’ve never reached before in my

vocal range. He’s that kind of producer, where he doesn’t

touch anything but he touches everything. I’m actually

still working towards learning Welsh at the moment.

There’s something quite painful for me about going home

and visiting relatives in Glan Conwy, knowing that they

all speak it but not being able to have conversations

properly with them. Something about that loss has felt

quite poignant to me in the last few years, as I’ve grown

older. There’s something about those roots that are

calling me.

There’s a strong movement at the moment to reclaim

Welsh place names, isn’t there? Like the motion calling

for Snowdon to go by Yr Wyddfa?

There certainly is. That was the thing growing up, it was

normal to have the conductor on the train pronounce it

‘LAN-dudno’, which when you think about it is absolutely

diabolical. That would never happen anywhere else. So,

we’re rectifying a lot, which other people on the outside

might not see, but it really does stand for something.

Apparently ‘Wales’ is even an Anglo-Saxon word that

means foreigner. The resonance of words, we know how

“I was asking

as the planet is

dying, what does

the grief of nature

sound like?”

powerful they are and I believe that they carry magic.

Spells and spelling – you’re casting spells as you speak.

‘Cymru’ means more neighbours, kinfolk. It’s about a

bond between certain groups of people, togetherness.

Wales needs foreigners. We’re talking about the

mountain, that’s one thing, but we’re also talking about

the name of the entire country. Michael Sheen did a

lecture and he taught me more about Welsh history than

I’ve known in my entire life. My god, it’s impassioned, I’d

encourage anyone to watch it. I’m lucky to be working

closely with the Welsh government quite a lot in regard

to the arts. I’m currently creating soundscapes for Welsh

NHS staff on their breaks to meditate or just wind down

to. So, when they do go for a break, they are able to break

away from their reality.

You’ve already touched on how the landscape

influences your music. This relationship and contrast

between digital and industrial sounds, and more

natural and organic sounds feels like a key component

on Inner Song.

I’m just always inspired basically by what I call everyday

sounds. Perhaps that makes it sound boring, but it’s not

to me. Melt for example was very direct. I couldn’t go

to the Antarctic; it would’ve been pretty ironic to fly out

there. So, I thought I’d use free samples for the first time

in my whole career. This was a different one. I was asking

as the planet is dying, what does the grief of nature

sound like? As climate breakdown is happening what

are the sounds that come with that? I was interested in

finding those and placing them into modern tracks in

a space that is actually healing for people. But I’m still

bringing it into people’s consciousness, having them

connect to that, rather than dissociating from reality.

The Inner Song Remix Series also dropped earlier this

month – how was it hearing what other artists did with

your songs?

Incredible. I knew I could easily ask my mates, names

that people might naturally expect, but then I thought,

actually, I want to work with people who are more

underground. I want to walk the walk and give any small

platform I have to others and uplift them. I think there

are more women than men on the remix album, there’s

certainly artists of colour, the diversity and inclusivity

aspect was really important. The fundamental part,

though, is they’re all fucking amazing producers and

artists. That was really exciting to me, having this fresh

take. They’re all so different, which I love. I look at people

like Björk and she’s always doing that. Offering her work

to emerging talent. When I remixed her, she’d personally

emailed her label to ask them to get me to do it. That’s

the highest honour, really. Another thing that I’ve wanted

to do is remix more women. There’s been St. Vincent

and Jenny Hval, and one more coming out that I can’t

mention. But that should be landing soon. It’s been a bit

of a boys’ club; we can do better than that. !

Interview: David Weir / @betweenseeds

Photography: Kim Hiorthøy




27-28/08 - Future Yard

Future Yard are hosting a celebration over the bank holiday

weekend, giving us a taste of what’s to come from

the Birkenhead venue over the next few months and

years. Future Now will be a two-day live music event

showcasing a whole range of acts across an array of genres.

Friday 27th will see trio MARIE DAVIDSON & L’ŒIL NU headline

with their latest project seeing them turn from their dancefloor

experimentalism to more classic pop writing. The French-Canadian

band offer a tribute to the genres that inspired their electro-pop,

jazz moments and romantic ballads through a fusion of 70s and

80s sounds and electronica. The first night also welcomes back

Bristol’s techno-come-post-punk four-piece SCALPING, who

played the Future Yard festival in 2019. East London’s avant-punk

queen NUHA RUBY RA also joins the lead heavy line-up.

The final day (Saturday) will host DJ and tastemaker TOM

RAVENSCROFT, who’ll be on hand to provide a sample of his

genre-hopping music taste while paying homage to the region

which his iconic father John Peel called home. YARD ACT have

caught the attention since the release of their Dark Days EP. The

Leeds-based quartet’s coruscating, narrative driven, spoken word

dance-punk is the perfect addition to a line-up that reflects music’s

latest hip trends. Both days will be kicked off by local artists. Rustic

indie slackers STORES open Friday’s event while cosmonauts

SAMURAI KIP will bring their blend of jazz, funk and soul to

Saturday’s proceedings. The full programme of live performances

and DJs will be split across the venue’s indoor live room and

outdoor garden space.

Nuha Ruby Ra

Alicai Harley




29/08 - 24 Kitchen Street

As live music makes its long-awaited comeback, this August will see the

celebration of the sorely missed Liverpool Carnival, set to fill 24 Kitchen

Street with the best of bass, dancehall, old skool, rap and reggae. An

outdoor stage, sound system vibes and a variety of food pop-ups will

cater the all-day affair, supporting a diverse showcase of local and global Caribbeaninfluenced


Organising and presenting the event are Culture Deck, a collaborative media

platform who seek to celebrate and provide scope for emerging artists and creative

talent. Founded in Liverpool, Culture Deck engage with local artists from across the

North West, through both live events as well as projects in artist development and

creative media. Girls on Deck is among one of their newest ventures, a project which

aspires to nurture and celebrate the next generation of local female DJs.

Carnival headliners includes Jamaican reggae and dancehall singer KRANIUM,

this year embarking on his first global tour after establishing his distinct reggae

sound, heard in his collaborations with artists like Bebe Rexha and Wizkid. Joining

the headliner is DAVID ‘RAM JAM’ RODIGAN, famous for his musical showcases,

particularly in the reggae and dancehall genres, who was added to England’s Radio

Academy Hall of Fame in 2006. Jamaican born and South London-raised ALICAI

HARLEY, will take the event to new heights with party anthems from her new debut

EP The Red Room Intro (Yard Gyal Inna Britain), a homage to both her young, female

Black British and Jamaican heritage. Other artists announced for the line-up include


limited tickets remaining.





The Wonder Pot: Helena Hauff

27/08 - 24 Kitchen Street

Helena Hauff

HELENA HAUFF will be kicking off the August Bank Holiday weekend at

24 Kitchen Street with an intimate late-night affair. The German DJ and

producer returns to Liverpool with the intense, futuristic sound which has

won over dancefloors across Europe and beyond. She has released tracks

on notable record labels Werkdiscs, Ninja Tune, PAN and Blackest Ever

Black with hits including Spur and c45p. Hauff will be bringing her sharp

acid sounds, cold rhythmics and minimalist atmospherics to the Baltic

Triangle venue courtesy of club promoter par excellence Wonder Pot.


By The Sea

04/09 - Arts Club Loft

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

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’

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

a slew of new material at their Arts Club Loft date in early September.


Laurent Garnier

28/08 - Invisible Wind Factory

Laurent Garnier

French producer and DJ LAURENT GARNIER will be taking to the North

Dock’s stage for a night of house music. Garnier began DJing in Manchester

during the 1980s and has since created a broad sound of classic house and

Detroit techno. He embraces acid, trance and jazzy tracks with a harder

edge and is best known for his hits The Man With the Red Face and Crispy

Bacon. The Frenchman will play to the Liverpool audience with support from

stalwart of the underground house scene LEWIS BOARDMAN.


The Orielles’ La Vita Olistica

13/08 - Leaf

Indie-funk sweethearts THE ORIELLES make their directorial debut with short film La

Vita Olistica. Taking over Leaf’s tranquil space, the premiere will be hosted by the band

followed by a Q&A with John Robb of The Membranes and Louder Than War. Sisters

and band members Sidonie and Esmé Hand-Halford have created this short film as an

extension of their second album, Disco Volador. Inspired by the transition to life online

during lockdown and the need to do something different to the live streams many other

bands were doing, the film explores themes of time and space.

The Orielles



Crack Cloud

26/08 - District

Vancouver-based art-punk band CRACK CLOUD are bringing their 2020

second album Pain Olympics to District this month. Having garnered top

reviews across the board, the multimedia collective straddle the art-rock

and post-punk genres, while utilising the combined talents of various artists,

filmmakers, musicians and designers to deliver striking visuals. The epic

project comprised over 20 members, with seven going on the road to tour

the piece. Pain Olympics cultivates self-betterment and collectivism with a

strong focus on visual storytelling – just the type of show we longed for in

those endless locked down months.


Young Homotopia: We’re Queer for It

20-22/08 - Unity Theatre and online

Pride is a protest. Creativity speaks truth to power. Young Homotopia are

serving up activism, cabaret, spoken word and theatre this Pride season

which will be available to watch live at Unity Theatre and online. Presented

by Homotopia and in association with GYRO LGBTQIA Youth (YPAS), WE’RE

QUEER FOR IT explores the political and social issues that are most important

to young queer people growing up today. On a pay-what-you-can scheme, the

production’s online recording will be available for three days starting on 20th

August, where audiences will receive a unique password, protected viewing link

and can watch multiple times.



29/08 - EBGBs

Following a successful inaugural outing in 2019 and a pandemic-era virtual edition last year, CRAPFEST makes a fully-fledged return this August Bank Holiday. Held across a host

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

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

doyens SALT THE SNAIL, screamo trio KIN, Belfast feminist punks PROBLEM PATTERNS, heavy rockers ELEVANT with more groups TBA before showtime.


Loud And Local

29/08 - Alexander’s Live Chester

Rufus Court Chester will see the return of the Loud And Local Festival for the fifth time

this August, boasting the best of alternative music in the North West region. Stages in

both the venue garden and hidden courtyard will play host to a wide-ranging line-up

of alternative creatives. From the garden stage, experience indie/psych performances

from local names like YAMMERER, SEAZOO and ANTI HONEY, while a more acoustic/

folk flavour permeates the courtyard, with CAMPFIRE SOCIAL, SAM LYON and SARA

WOLFF. Hosted by Alexander’s Live, the midday to midnight event has seen great

success year on year, as a means of paying a special homage to the alternative talent that

emanates from our very doorstep.

Sara Wolff


Baltic Weekender

13-15/08 - Baltic Triangle

As the August sun seeps through the Baltic Triangle’s industrial streets, the three-day

Baltic Weekender returns boasting its most ambitious line-up yet. Presented by 24

Kitchen Street and Abandon Silence, the multi-genre dance festival will see a sizzling

selection of house, techno, grime, bass and everything in-between. Taking place over

eight stages across the Triangle, the weekend sound banquet will be stocked with

offerings from international headliners including DANIEL AVERY and SPFDJ, as well as

local talent including NUTRIBE and NIKKI CHONG.

Nikki Chong



Y’MAM (Brian Roberts)

Y’MAM: Young Man’s Angry


Everyman Theatre – 17/06

Fist clenched, jaw set and eyes wide, Luke Jerdy

holds us for a moment, teetering on the edge of an

attack. It’s the deadly calm before a storm. He’s built the

tension, describing the thick

black tar rising from his gut, his

arm pulled back ready to swing

and there, he stops, looks up

and addresses us with a manic

glint: “I’ve been triggered.”

Y’MAM is a one-man tour

de force taking us for a ride

through the unadulterated

highs and uncontrollable

depths of male violence,

bravado and challenges of

identity. Written and acted by

Majid Mehdizadeh, with the performance credited to

his stage name, Luke Jerdy, this confessional is at once

deeply personal and painfully universal.

Grainy footage of a group of jeering, laughing

teenage lads beams above the stage. Mehdizadeh

swaggers on in a hooded tracksuit, mirroring the jerky,

fronting movements of one boy preparing to spit lines to

“Rap and spoken word

serve throughout as

an acceptable male art

form for the expression

of vulnerability”

the building beat. He bursts forth, laying out the premise

of his work: “There has to be an intro to the problem, or

the problem wouldn’t exist.”

The problem – toxic masculinity – is something he

wants to dissect so that he can gain control over his

own violence-driven existence. The challenge, however,

is seeing the problem in the first place. And it’s the raw

reality of how slow and unwilling Mehdizadeh’s own

process of waking up to this problem was that makes

this production truly arresting.

We are swept into

Mehdizadeh’s masculine

world of noise, hype and

banter through a combination

of audio, visual and physical

immersion. He regales us with

stories of alcohol, drugs and

fights: found fights, looked-for

fights, defensive fights. He

claims his sense of justice,

self-sufficiency and protective

instinct towards his girlfriend

are central to his identity and

are why people love him. The absurdity is obvious and

grating; but that’s the point. Mehdizadeh wants us to see

and feel the power of his self-deception as self-protection.

Flashing back and forth between snippets of therapy

and vignettes of adolescent incidents, young man’s fury

and self-destruction – as well as very funny moments

of inflated hubris – Mehdizadeh reveals to himself and

his audience the importance of allowing ourselves to be

flawed and multifaceted. In his self-discovery, he builds

a rhyme about his inner, aggression-led ape: “The art of

me is to catch my chimpanzee and give him sympathy.”

This kind of rap and spoken word serve throughout

as an acceptable male art form for the expression of

vulnerability, feelings and revelations. Adam Welsh and

Zee Musiq support with perfectly pitched sound design,

evoking environments and emotions alike, moving this

one-man show through place and mind.

Revelation doesn’t truly hit, however, until

Mehdizadeh confronts his trigger. It’s a playful and

powerful term, with male violence so often being the

trigger for others’ trauma. Yet here violence is the

devastating outcome of Mehdizadeh suppressing his

own trauma. It isn’t until he acknowledges the damage

that other damaged males have passed on to him that he

finally unlocks the possibility of change.

And this possibility is an ideal he offers up to all of

us. Young men may need to hear it the most, but the

damage, the fear, the noise we create to drown out our

own traumas – this performance speaks to anyone who

needs to hear it.

Following a short, widely acclaimed run at the

Everyman, it’s hoped this production will go on tour

next year. Keep an eye out and catch it if you can – it’s

unexpectedly special and will strike a chord no matter

who you are.

Clare Dodd / @Claredodd


Black Country, New Road (Lucy McLachlan)

“We’re lucky to

be in such intimate

confines with this

year’s bona fide

buzz band”

Black Country, New Road (Lucy McLachlan)

Black Country, New Road

Future Yard – 20/06

In a fallow year for live music, the momentum BLACK

COUNTRY, NEW ROAD built with their early singles and

acclaimed live shows has been under threat of grinding to

a halt. The chorus of plaudits risked echoing in an anti-bac

wiped vacuum through no fault of the Cambridgeshire

septet. This afternoon, however, we do not need to dwell

on this scenario. The band have returned to the same soil

on which they played when first riding that initial wave

of hype. Their set at 2019’s Future Yard festival, on the

grounds of Birkenhead Priory, was to an audience largely

unintroduced to their klezmer-infused jazz and spoken

word stylings. At this matinée performance, the sold-out

congregation greets the tracks from this year’s debut

album For the first time with knowing excitement and

there’s a sense that we’re lucky to be in such intimate

confines with this year’s bona fide buzz band.

Clearly not a unit to rest on their laurels,

the band make an announcement ahead of the

performance via drummer Charlie Wayne. There’ll be

new material tonight, so please don’t video, “it could

be disco, we don’t know what it’ll be.” The first track

is not disco but it’s unfamiliar. A recent interview

with the band alluding to their new sound being

akin to Arcade Fire is not actually far off the mark.

There’s an epic folk feel to the track which swaps the

frantic chaos of the album for mandolin and swelling


Athens, France reassures us that the songs

that gave cause for celebration in the darkness of

lockdown 2.0 will get a run-out. The band don’t

really deal with exuberance, but they don’t seem

bored of playing the hits. Clearly proficient musicians

(much has been made of three of their number

being classically trained), it’s perhaps by design that

there are so many directions to go within the song

structures that tracks like Sunglasses and Track X

will always feel fresh to player and consumer alike.

Another newbie with a start-stop signature and

wacky drum solo causes smirks to develop into full-on

LOLs among the band just as things threaten to get too

serious. The track offers something different and hints

at the experimentation Wayne pointed to in his pre-set


Weeks after For the first time garnered five-star

ratings and heralded a new unique talent, the band

performed a streamed gig consisting of zero tracks from

the debut and a cover of MGMT’s Time To Pretend. This

matinée performance was followed by an evening gig

which featured the band producing a rendition of Abba’s

Mamma Mia. Lots of people got bored in lockdown, other

people challenged themselves to explore their boundaries

and have fun under the limitations. The seven people on

stage this afternoon presumably fit the latter category

and that behaviour is going to extend way beyond sating

critics and socially distanced gigs.

Sam Turner / @samturner1984




Augustus John (Gareth Jones)

The Last Bohemian:

Augustus John

Lady Lever Art Gallery - 01/06

On a sunlit day in early June, the Lady Lever Art

Gallery in the sleepy model village of Port Sunlight –

Wirral’s pristine enclave lost in a pre-war time-warp – is

shining in all its Beaux-Arts glory. Equal parts eerily

perfect and stunningly out of place with its surrounds,

the expansive gallery is hushed in quiet surprise. Stuffed

full of John Everett Millais and Singer Sargents, yet safely

tucked away in an unsuspecting place, perhaps it is the

perfect home to host the works of one of the country’s

most surreptitiously infamous artists.

A touring retrospective of his work showcasing

around 40 paintings, etchings and drawings, The Last

Bohemian: Augustus John at the Lady Lever Art Gallery

offers an insight into the life of one of the most searingly

honest portrait painters of the late 19th and early 20th


Shuffling across the chalk white floors, the exhibition

is neatly withdrawn to three small antechambers, and I

find myself at once confronted with the brooding oil of

a cloak-clad youth: the young, boyish John by his friend

William Rothenstein. At 21, this is undoubtedly the image

of an enviably young man strapped with unbound talent,

on the cusp of accomplishment, although the exhibition is

loath to call him a genius. Instead, it chooses to highlight

his vigour for friends, knowledge and art. It is helpfully

chopped up into the seminal parts of his life – his time

at the Slade School, his appointment as art lecturer at

Liverpool University, his marriage to his artist wife, Ida,

and the ménage à trois with his partner, Dorelia.

It presents John as an unflinchingly candid painter – it

hosts the renowned portrait of Lord Leverhulme, who

famously cut out his own face upon seeing its honesty.

But squeezed between exquisitely depicted bodies and

colourful portraits, I sense

a muted undoing of the

artist-as-hero. The exhibition

makes a point of calling

John’s work with the Gypsy

Law Society patronising, and

they’d be right. Adopting

their lifestyle as ‘bohemian’,

it feels like the equivalent of

Oxbridge educated hockey

players cavorting around

Newcastle costumed as

This Country characters.

Although many of his fine

first etchings were made in

Liverpool (the most famous

being Man from Barbados,

1901-2), his sitters found

in the back streets and

brothel houses of Scotland

Road, it leaves me questioning whether this was an

artist feverishly capturing the cosmopolitan hubbub of a

booming port city, or a man trying to impose himself on an

exotic working class culture he’d never truly inhabit.

“An enviably young man

strapped with unbound

talent, on the cusp

of accomplishment,

although the

exhibition is loath to

call him a genius”

In the last room, I find myself standing face to face

with the comically disgusted carrot-flopped portrait

of the poet Dylan Thomas – a portrait I feel I’ve seen a

thousand times over, without ever having seen before.

Such is the surprising reach and magnetism of John’s

work. This is the refreshing curatorial perspective the

Lady Lever has taken; it refrains from tainting us too

much with John’s celebrity and instead attempts to keep

a subtle balance between

revering his precocious

talent and offsetting it

for the eyes of a modern

audience. In a life that

appears pitted with

riotous drama and artistic

integrity, the exhibition

does not shy away from

exposing John’s flaws.

Dylan’s portrait is arresting

and honest, but so is the

placard of information

below it – that John,

nearing 50, abused Dylan’s

young wife Caitlin over

the many times she sat for

him. The uncompromising

integrity towards art and

lifestyle suddenly starts to

feel compromised. So please, go for the art, but stay for

the portrait of the man himself.

Georgi Aslanian


Angel Field Festival

Hope University Campus – 24/06-03/07


+ Memorial

+ Astles

Future Yard – 06/07

Angel Field Festival (Alexander Monkhouse)

After so, so many months of inertia and social stasis, it’s our first time back. Our first gig proper

after the dreadful storm of a virus left us with nothing but innumerable online acoustic performances

from couches across the nations. All wonky angles, dodgy sound and far too many under-nourished

Yucca plants.

No, this is what we used to call ‘live music’. It feels important. A moment of comfort and relief,

like the feeling you get when the London train crosses the chocolate swell of the Mersey on its way to

Lime Street. A homecoming.

Scan QR code to order. The Future Yard stage is bathed in that familiar pink hue we’ve long come

to know and trust as ASTLES arrives, tonight a three-piece with a cello and keyboard player. Here is

an artist who seems only ever to get better with time, he seems more at home with himself, dare we

say more confident? It’s in the voice, the soul he puts in. And it’s reflected in new, soon-to-drop Bill

Ryder-Jones-produced single Like A Child, where Astles shows his worth, he’s a wizard of melodic

melancholia draped in minor chords and tenderness and this is perhaps his best work yet. Love

In November is plaintive and pleading somebody, or maybe nobody, to “come home to warm your

bones”. Finishing with another new song, Whatever That Means, means a lot, it turns out, because it

shows Astles for the ever-growing force he is.

Some things just work. They’re so obviously bound to be together it may be why they exist

in the first place. Life’s natural harmonies, acutely balanced in favour of all. In the moments when

MEMORIAL sing together there can be fewer better examples of this. Perfectly pitched soaring

harmonies sweep through the room, soft and sweet, fondly reminiscent of local adoptees The Lost

Brothers. They confess that this is only their seventh gig, their first tour, as though it’s a bad thing.

Their songs and sheer musicality belie the fact that they’re a relatively new act. Latchkey feels like it

willed itself to be written in 1971, and Elliott Smith-flavoured Moth To A Flame could be as old as the


Scan QR code to order. When CHARTREUSE begin, the first sensation is in the pit of the stomach,

and the joyous realisation that this is the first time we’ve heard a rhythm section play live for the worst

part of two years. And when we say rhythm section, drummer Rory Wagstaff’s pin-sharp, jazz-tinged

rhythms are crisper than a Kettle Chip (the sea salt and balsamic ones – we’re not animals), and his

colleague in rhythm, the delightfully named Perry Lovering’s basslines aren’t a mere underpinning of

the Chartreuse sound. They’re what makes the sense of imagination in it all feel so addictive.

Hailing from Birmingham, but with a distinct Bristolian sound, Chartreuse is a revelatory

convergence of folk, jazz, drum and bass, poetry, soul and lilting – or, more accurately, brooding –

melody. There’s something in the space of their sound, something in the empty moments, something

dark and wonderful. Harriet Wilson and Michael Wagstaff sing together like they have been for years

which, of course, they have. Theirs is another natural balance, at once both delicate and powerful.

They’re here with new material, too. Future releases like Only You, with its urgent, desperate to be

heard feel, as Michael Wagstaff charges up the through the key changes taking us who knows where?

Or Deep Fat, jazzy with dark, half-spoken vocals and the stark crack of snare. Keep Checking Up On Me

is a veritable modern classic in our view. A haunted introspective, looking for answers, its electric piano

more soothing than Mogadon, and Michael Wagstaff’s vocal edged with beautiful burnt soul.

The verses of Woman, I’m Crazy, is stripped back to rimshot sparseness with Harriet Wilson’s

folk-jazz vocals floating way above, before the slam of the choruses, all big chords and crashing

rhythm. It’s angry, but in a good way. Three Days talks of the confusion of love, words we all know,

feelings we’ve all felt, it’s a dreamy swirl of a song, laden with moments. Chartreuse as the first gig

back is good by us and, as we head back underground, we reflect.

Finally, live music has a future, and that future may well be in Birkenhead. And not a Yucca plant

in sight.

Paul Fitzgerald / @NothingvilleM

Deserted public spaces simulating the aftermath of a zombie

apocalypse have unfortunately been no foreign sight in Merseyside since

the pandemic began, and Liverpool Hope University’s Creative Campus

hasn’t been an exception. No students leisurely strolling through the

leafy grounds with notepads in hand, or busy lecturers pacing to give

their next seminar. At least that was until the annual ANGEL FIELD

FESTIVAL rocked up and blew any sense of creative vacancy out of

the water. From musical performances and film screenings to sound

installations and a comedy show, the 10-day arts festival has everything

you could possibly want.

Angel Field is beloved for weaving together artistic talent from

across the globe while commemorating local Liverpudlian culture, and

musician John Lowndes has nailed the brief to a tee with his communitybased

sound installation, About Us – For Us. Using a juxtaposing

combination of field recordings from West Everton, voices of three

community members and phone calls from people in the area during

the pandemic, Lowndes’ participatory piece attempts to capture the

experiences of local residents over the last 15 months. The audience is

invited into a gloomy studio where five solitary speakers stand uniformly

apart; their intimidating glare is enough to draw you to the chairs sitting

sheepishly facing them so that you’re unavoidably eye-to-eye and

preparing to be confronted. An array of overwhelming and aleatory

noises fills every last space of the four walls, from conversational voices

and birds chirping to the startling alarm of sirens. The setting is minimal,

leaving relatively no visual experience which streamlines the auditory

senses, making this soundscape even more impactful.

Keeping with the regional theme, Liverpool-based feminist

performance company, Bite! Theatre grace the festival with their

politically humorous yet emotive presence as with their debut comedy

show, Pucker Up. Witty depictions of gender inequality, internalised

misogyny and oppressive stereotypes are on the menu for spectators

to lap up, and oh, how they do. This two-woman show is continuously

immersive and interactive, encouraging individuals in the audience to

participate and question their own role in upholding the patriarchal

systems we live in. It’s a rare occurrence to find a comedy performance

that successfully has you both laughing at your own deep-rooted

oppression to tearing up about the exact same subject in minutes, and

Bite! Theatre does it with flawless ease.

Continuing to satiate our hunger for female empowerment,

Michelle Yim showcases her powerful acting abilities as she brings

the legendary Chinese warrior, Hua Mulan, to life in solo theatre piece

The Ballad of Mulan. Performing an iconic Chinese legend by oneself

would undoubtedly be a challenging task for any actor, but Michelle

Yim effortlessly brings vigour, animation and passion to this unique

tale through an intensive monologue, reminiscing on some of the more

electrifying parts of Mulan’s story from gruesome battle scenes to

childhood memoirs. Positioned centre-stage and ready for war, Yim

takes the audience alongside her to re-enact one of Mulan’s more

heinous fights: gripping furiously at her spear, the actress begins an

increasingly fast stream of consciousness where she spills out her

monstrous views of corpses, the smells of smoke and perspiration,

and the sounds of whimpering from her fallen soldiers, occasionally

interrupted by a deafening war cry. It’s tense. It’s uncomfortable. It feels

slightly claustrophobic. But it most definitely leaves you feeling more

enlightened by Mulan’s courage, bravery and loyalty than the Disney


Liverpool Hope University has the award-winning theatre company,

Teatro Pomodoro to thank for drawing in one of the biggest audiences

to the Capstone Theatre since the pandemic began. With their sell-out

show, Sirens, Men and Crabs, spectators could be certain they were in

for a treat, and they weren’t wrong. Making the audience cripple with

laughter every 30 seconds, performers Carmen Arquelladas, Miwa

Nagai and Simone Tani execute a lively display that plays on blunt satire,

surrealism and Greek tragedy. Breaking the fourth wall is certainly a

common tactic demonstrated throughout the show, emphasising how

much both actors and audiences have missed those nostalgic, cordial

interactions. For a solid hour-and-a-half, the trio are able to keep a crowd

blissfully amused with their clowning brilliance and performative zeal.

The Creative Campus may have appeared soulless and lonesome

for the first half of 2021, but Angel Field Festival has unapologetically

burst through the doors with colour and vibrancy to ensure that the

second half doesn’t receive the same fate. Showcasing an array of talent

across a multitude of disciplines with pride and commitment, this year’s

rendition of the annual arts festival provides yet another example of how

creativity and culture in the city of Liverpool can revitalise any sombre


Bryony Large / @confessionsofanartjunkie



Domingo Higuan (Brian Roberts)

Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Online - 29/06

Liverpool Philharmonic’s end of June offering serves up an evening of ruthless

neo-classicism from Stravinsky, Ravel and Prokofiev. Despite the conceptual strand

throughout the programme being neo-classicism, by the end of the concert ‘contrast’

becomes the word to summarise the evening. But first, we delve straight into the deep

end with the ominous and quirky brass chirpings of Stravinsky’s Octet. Within the scope

of the evening, the piece marks itself as a more intense and agile take on the neoclassical

tradition. However, the intense interplay of brass motifs beckoning the galactic

presence of John Williams isn’t all that Stravinsky has to offer for the evening. For every

wide and dense climactic section, come thinner and more intimate sections hinting at

the sombre moments to come.

This is largely owing to the impactful premiere of DANI HOWARD’S trombone

concerto, which relentlessly alienates itself from the rest of the neo-classical musings,

but by doing so it becomes the emotional peak of the evening. It achieves this by

offering a three-movement depiction of the last 18 months we’ve all had to endure:

Realisation, Rumination, and Illumination, Dani explains in an interview with conductor

DOMINGO HINDOYAN, included in the on-demand package of the concert. Dani

focuses purely on the psychological impact of isolation, with the reflective pool of

rich sighing string motifs and PETER MOORE’s trombone calling each spectator to a

personal memory from the past troubled year. The three movements outline a deeply

personal journey for Dani, but its consistently vague and dreamy nature allows the

composition to resonate with anyone who hears it. Like a symbolist piece, it makes

the isolation of lockdown its object, a stroke of ambiguity that in turn encapsulates the

emotional journey of every musician and concert goer enduring the tides of isolation.

The ever-increasing intensity throughout each of the movements until the climactic

close of the final movement, brilliantly displays the desire for release we’ve all been

anticipating, and it’s only fitting we hear this piece now just as we might be getting it.

This transitions nicely to the serene woodwind swirls that glide us into Ravel’s

Le Tombeau De Couperin. This is a piece born out of its own darkened time, as each

movement is dedicated to a friend of Ravel who died during the First World War.

Despite being very much a part of the neo-classical tradition, in the context of the

evening, the piece stands as a sibling to Howard’s trombone concerto, as side by

side they are connected through their comparatively subtle approach and meditative

effect. Such dreamy and reflective music could have risked drifting off into the deepest

moments of lockdown isolation, but as Liverpool slowly but surely makes its way back

to normal, the contrast between the resurfaced casual chaos of our everyday lives and

the reflective music at the centre of the evening, starts to make its true impact and

meaning realised. The meditative and calming effect takes us out of our stressful lives

and brings us to a still and personal place that exists only within ourselves, and as the

world continues to open up, the strength of such cathartic and introspective orchestral

works will be further revealed.

To complete the cycle of neo-classicism though, we find ourselves back in the

deep end, with the grandiose finisher that is Prokofiev’s first symphony Classical. Short

and sweet as symphonies go, but by maintaining the animated flourishes of orchestral

interplay consistently throughout, the piece certainly puts a strong bow on the entire

proceedings. We’re left then with the consistent theme of neo-classicism, strongly

imprinted in the intro and outro, but with a core of comparatively pensive but cathartic

orchestrations that effortlessly reflect the audience’s lockdown journey back at them.

Luke Furlonger-Copeland

Domingo Higuan (Brian Roberts)


Max Cooper

Grand Central Hall – 03/07

Our eyes face forward. Two translucent vanilla canvases (one in front and one behind) stretch themselves

wide. MAX COOPER is nested in between them, his head illuminated with laptop light. Darkened figures sit

two by two on the marked fold-out seats around the hall of this former Methodist church. A gentle tide of

ambience laps our solitary shores as cream and blue coloured air pockets bubble and merge across the screens.

As images are traded between them, the projected light draws straight dimensions around Cooper’s desk

enclosing him. The first round of applause: and now he’s hidden.

Cooper has orbited around abstract themes for some time. His PhD in computational biology a blueprint

for his approach to music: methodical and structured – personal experiments conducted onstage with AV


Patterns keep transforming over beats with an ancient sensibility, an Aphex-like detachment which soothes

anticipation, and the screens unveil a stack of images dissolving to reveal the next. Masks unveil masks in a

feedback loop or a microcosmic flow chart: a rabbit hole into Euclidian space and its haunting fractals. The beat

spurs ahead.

Each performance is designed to echo similarities with the others, more like vignettes from a series than

chapters of a story. Now, riding the troughs and peaks, other faces look like they could be expecting a flare or

switch up. As serene visuals float onscreen, pinballing pulses glide across a softer four on the floor beat. As

it picks up there are claps of encouragement, but I’m fading out; what’s intentionally cyclical and repetitive is

turning stale. Maybe I expected too much.

What we get is a palette of sensory textures, a wider array of visual ones than sonic. The music grows

from ambient landscapes to more driving, mechanical, first-person propulsions but both sides employ variations

of formulae as they near their respective ends, not that this audience seems fazed. One member stands up to

enjoy a solitary but spirited pogo (take your opportunities where you find them).

An anthology tied together by ideas of the subliminal rhythms and patterns that occur across biology,

mathematics, art and design; it culminates in one large cycle of movement. It’s an attempt to represent the

simultaneously occurring movements and cycles that happen quicker than can be comprehended: death,

rebirth, ageing and transformation. For fans, this is a great show – enough of them here have snatched a video

for their memories – for the uninitiated though, it could turn tedious.

But then... there are these scattered points of total harmony. Moments when the spectral sound echoing

through the church chamber encircles you, ropes you back into the moment, emanating not from the speakers

anymore but the hall itself; walls and objects harmonise as select frequencies find their place to sing. Was this

planned? We’ll never know as our conductor-conduit vanishes under the last round of applause, leaving to

draw more schematics of his universe.

Samuel Lasley

30th September



Furry Hug

Kazimier Stockroom





3rd December


Mondo Trasho

Torture and the Desert Spiders

Future Yard


BOOK NOW: 0161 832 1111












































































































This month’s creative writing comes from Starkey the

Messenger, whose rallying poem champions the right to

protest amid the creeping retreat of individual liberties.

I’d risk everything for my freedom,

because the people that are

supposed to be protecting me

would risk my freedom to

protect their supremacy.

how many pence do we

spend on defence

for the sake of


how many pens do they

build to cage our

citizens in the name of


but couldn’t

risk a single

penny, couldn’t

write a single cheque

to save our future.

as i grow i’m learning that

in this world i’m equally

inevitable and inessential

but risk has

never been equitable.

freedom, protest and community

growth, progress and unity

have aged with history

like a timeless oak tree, and

the state wish to

rip its roots under

these sinister pretences and

national falsehoods...

but still we

spite our lives to

bite our tongue and

scream deafening silences to

cut our voices short of

calling them terrorists.

our freedom as we know it,

burning under our feet

as we’re rendered breathless by this

asphyxiating paradox of risk, and

still people risk everything to

jump from the

bleak cliffs of their fiction,

six feet deep into the

dark waters underneath,

sixfold over a thousand weeks

they’ve steepened...

so once more i pray

for my freedom to

gods i don’t believe in,

cause how else can i

find faith in a

world so fake?

a riot is a mindset.

because peace is a goal our

society can’t seem to

find yet.

good and evil,

love and war,

joy and sorrow,

peace and violence

will all tug relentlessly at each other


until something gives

in the equilibrium of risk,

but what will we risk,

what will we

sacrifice to

save ourselves,

or when will we

have the guts to

sacrifice ourselves to

save what’s left.

a riot is a mindset.

because peace is a goal

we can’t rely on

anyone else to find but


so i used to be

afraid of revolution,

but now I realise

it only means

risking everything

for a solution.

Words: Gabriel Starkey / @starkeymusic




Liverpool City Region Music Board recently

produced their Black Lives Matter Manifesto,

a document with specific objectives to enact

impactful changes to increase diversity and

inclusion in the city’s music sector. In last

month’s Bido Lito!, artist iamkyami spoke of

her own experiences as a woman of colour and

the expectations and lack of opportunity which

came with that in this city. At a time when racism

has again hit the headlines, LCR Music Board’s

BLM subgroup chair Jennifer John sets out the

importance of the manifesto and the changes which

need to be made.

Everyone had a reaction to what happened in

America last year. We saw lots of positive

reactions, globally, to the horrific murder of

George Floyd. People were marching, calling for

zero tolerance and saying enough is enough. However,

the outrageous behaviour which happened as a result

of England’s defeat at the Euros final is a reminder that

racism hasn’t gone away. It’s still here for everyone to

see and we need to do something about it.

From the point of view of LCR Music Board, there

was never any doubt that we also needed to act for

our music sector. Since May 2020, there have been

many long conversations, which has led to the Black

Lives Matter Manifesto. But, for me, the creation of the

manifesto is just the beginning.

The manifesto sets out a set of intentions. Now the

work of the subgroup – and the partnerships that we

develop – begins and the proof will be in the pudding. It’s

in what we do next where we’ll see the changes. Within

the document there are timelines we are following to

demonstrate our commitment to effecting real change for

our music communities.

We’ve created a subgroup of 12 people that are

prominent Black professionals working within the sector.

We talk about how as a collective we need to be more

visible and show a united front to those who wish to

carve secure, respected and sustainable careers within

the music sector. We want to say to all people with

Black and brown skin that, actually, there is room for you

within this industry by making ourselves visible. This

way you can see yourselves reflected back. When you

look at us, we do represent you. You have a right to be

here and to excel in your chosen path and we are here

to give support, guidance and to reassure you that you

can be, do and have anything that your ambition and

creativity desires. It’s your human right.

One thing that needs to be recognised more is

that Black people exist in all genres of music. We can’t

marginalise ourselves further by the idea that Black

music is only certain genres. This is something which

chimes with the words of iamkyami in this magazine

last month. We exist in all musical forms and let’s talk

about that. We need to be seen to be as expansive

as we actually are; how we present ourselves needs

to reflect our contribution within all genres of music.

Not the commercial music sector only, for example. It

encompasses the worlds of classical, jazz, all the obvious

genres that you would expect and so much more if we’re

going to be truly representative. For me, it’s having a

breadth of understanding that Black contribution is


I know from personal experience how this

marginalised representation manifests itself. People see

my choir and presume, because there are more than two

Black faces, that we’re a gospel choir. We’re not. We can

turn our voices to everything and

have done. From our collaborations

with Damon Albarn in his opera

Monkey: Journey To The West,

when we sang operatic Cantonese

repertoire, through to our

imitations of insect life as a very

rare breed in Flies alongside Phil

Minton’s desire to create a Feral

Choir at the Southbank in London,

to strutting the stage singing

backing vocals for Take That at

Anfield and everything in between.

That is actually who we are, but

the assumption is always that

we are gospel singers. It’s really important that visibility

means visibility across all genres. My choir shouldn’t only

be asked to an event only because it’s a ‘Black event’ and

it shouldn’t be presumed that iamkyami can only play on

an RnB line-up.

In the manifesto, the Board sets out objectives such

as recognising the importance of Black people and Black

music in the city’s heritage. This may take the form of

a statue. For me, that’s a no-brainer. Why, on Mathew

Street, for example, is there no representation and no

“For me, it’s having

a breadth of

understanding that

Black contribution

is everywhere”

Black faces? Why are there still places where there’s

been no acknowledgement of the contributions of Black

people? We have to go to the powers that be and ask,

‘Why not?’. As a board, we should be looking at how we

can make that happen and we will.

The Board was put together with the support of

[Liverpool Metro Mayor] Steve Rotheram and is one of

the first independent boards of its kind in the country.

It’s industry-led rather than only bureaucratically-led.

The members all work professionally within the music

industry, in lots of different roles. It’s a very grassroots

approach, which means we’re proactive and we really

care. It’s not just ticking boxes. I am confident, based

on the conversations that we’ve been having for the

last two years, that there are real intentions to make

these changes and it’s not just lip

service. The next thing we’re going

to look at is gender equality. We’ve

got a whole programme of things

that have to do with creating

parity for people and getting rid of

the idea that there are those that

don’t have and those that have.

But this is just the start.

It’s about trying to create that

level playing field and being the

innovators. Liverpool has a great

reputation for being the first at so

many things and I wish to ensure

that we follow that tradition as

the trailblazers. The ones who have the courage and

conviction to stand up and be counted as the collective

who fought for change and won. !

As told to Sam Turner.

Photography: Sane Seven

Find the LCR Music Board’s Black Lives Matter Manifesto


































Fri 23rd July - elrow at Bramley-Moore Dock - last few tickets

Jamie Jones, Skream, Detlef b2b Latmun

Purple Disco Machine, Tini Gessler, Amyelle

Sat 24th July - elrow at Bramley-Moore Dock - sold out

Jamie Jones, Paul Woolford, Richy Ahmed, Yousef

Tini Gessler, Amyelle

Fri 30th July - COCO Beats at 24 Kitchen Street - sold out

Sosa, Wheats

Sat 31st July - CIRCUS presents Black Box at Exhibition Centre - last few tickets

Marco Carola, Luciano, Yousef, Jaden Thompson

Cici, Lewis Boardman

Sat 14th Aug - CIRCUS at Bramley-Moore Dock - just announced

Carl Cox, Deborah De Luca, Yousef, East End Dubs

Syreeta, James Organ

Sat 21st Aug - CIRCUS at Invisible Wind Factory - resale tickets available

Sasha, James Organ, Lauren Lo Sung, Sian Bennett

Sat 28th Aug CIRCUS at Invisible Wind Factory

Laurent Garnier, Lewis Boardman


More magazines by this user
Similar magazines