Bido Lito! Magazine | Issue 118 | December 2021-January 2022

Bido Lito! Magazine | New music & Creative Culture | Liverpool | Merseyside House of Suarez Vogue Ball, Michael Aldag, Yaw Owusu, Gen and the Degenerates, Liverpool sobriety, Statues Redressed, Astles, Mo Stewart, Jeff Young, Olive Writes, News, Strawberry Guy, Police Car Collective, Nikki & the Waves, Tonia, Alright (okay), P3lz, Tilly Louise, Andrew Neal, Sebastian Gainsborough, Lonelady, 24 Kitchen Street, Mykki Blanco, Jarv Is..., Girls Don't Sync.

Bido Lito! Magazine | New music & Creative Culture | Liverpool | Merseyside

House of Suarez Vogue Ball, Michael Aldag, Yaw Owusu, Gen and the Degenerates, Liverpool sobriety, Statues Redressed, Astles, Mo Stewart, Jeff Young, Olive Writes, News, Strawberry Guy, Police Car Collective, Nikki & the Waves, Tonia, Alright (okay), P3lz, Tilly Louise, Andrew Neal, Sebastian Gainsborough, Lonelady, 24 Kitchen Street, Mykki Blanco, Jarv Is..., Girls Don't Sync.


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ISSUE <strong>118</strong><br />

DECEMBER <strong>2021</strong>-JANUARY <strong>2022</strong><br />



FREE!<br />

VOGUE<br />

BALL<br />

Self-love and inclusivity<br />

with House of Suarez<br />


ALDAG<br />





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In Liverpool<br />

<strong>January</strong><br />

Start For<br />

Audio<br />

2-year degrees<br />

and 1-year diplomas<br />

Book a campus tour at sae.edu/gbr<br />

SAE Liverpool<br />

38 Pall Mall<br />

Liverpool<br />

L3 6AL<br />

03330 112 315<br />

enquiries@sae.edu<br />


26TH DEC<br />




BACK TO…<br />

Having A Laugh<br />

At The Playhouse<br />

WED 2 FEB TO THU 3 FEB <strong>2022</strong><br />

Nina Conti:<br />

The Dating Show<br />

WED 9 FEB <strong>2022</strong><br />

Flo & Joan:<br />

Sweet Release<br />

THU 10 FEB <strong>2022</strong><br />

Reginald D Hunter:<br />

Bombe Shuffleur<br />

WED 20 APR <strong>2022</strong><br />

John Shuttleworth’s<br />

Back Again!<br />

SAT 23 APR <strong>2022</strong><br />

Lou Sanders:<br />

One Word: Wow<br />

WED 4 MAY <strong>2022</strong><br />

Count Arthur Strong:<br />

And This Is Me!<br />

Visit everymanplayhouse.com to see the full line-up of<br />

what’s on at the Everyman & Playhouse theatres<br />



EVOL presents by arrangement with Primary Talent<br />

SATURDAY 2ND APRIL <strong>2022</strong><br />


130 Bold Street, L1 4JA<br />

7:30pm doors / 18+ show.<br />

Tickets £10 advance plus booking fee from Seetickets & Skiddle.<br />

Follow @clubevol @waltdisco<br />

EVOL presents<br />

WEDNESDAY 27 APRIL <strong>2022</strong><br />


11-13 HOTHAM STREET, L3 5UF<br />


7PM DOORS 14+ SHOW<br />





17 / VOGUE BALL<br />

A staple of Liverpool’s cultural calendar, Olive speaks<br />

to the house mother as it continues its no-holds-barred<br />

explosion of fierce inclusivity, expression and positivity.<br />

23 / MICHAEL ALDAG<br />

Orla Foster peels back the pixelated layers of the<br />

accidental TikTok star as he continues his tongue-incheek<br />

takes on modern life.<br />

26 / YAW OWUSU<br />

The cultural powerhouse and champion of the underdog<br />

sits down with Sam Turner to talk about finding focus<br />

and looking to the future.<br />


Alcohol and drugs are ingrained into Liverpool’s nightlife<br />

economy, but are we reaching breaking point? El Gray<br />

speaks with some of the city’s creatives on their search<br />

for sobriety.<br />

34 / ASTLES<br />

After being forced to move back home during lockdown,<br />

the Southport native returns to Liverpool with a treasure<br />

trove of new material – and a new-found confidence.<br />


Gary Lambert catches up with the troupe who, once<br />

outsiders to Liverpool’s music scene, have quickly made<br />

themselves at home.<br />


We reflect on the visual arts project which forced<br />

a rethink of Liverpool’s bronze neighbours over the<br />

summer.<br />


63 / MO STEWART<br />

Reflecting on the precarious fortunes of music and sport,<br />

the DJ and sports journalist considers the double-edged<br />

sword of nostalgia.<br />

65 / JEFF YOUNG<br />

Exploring the city’s wont to transcend reality, Jeff Young<br />

relays the visit of a mysterious white stag to Bootle.<br />

67 / OLIVE<br />

Olive catches up with cultural protean, Kolade Ladipo, to<br />

explore the intersectionality of queer and Black identity.<br />

69 / FINAL SAY<br />

Following the launch of their recent survey to improve gig<br />

accessibility, Eve Machin from Where Are The Girl Bands?<br />

makes the case for developing the scene further.<br />


10 / NEWS<br />

A museums update, a Zanzibar reopening, an Echo & The<br />

Bunnymen reissue and more in our latest round-up of the<br />

city’s affairs.<br />

14 / LONG PLAYER<br />


Strawberry Guy takes a brief hiatus from the flora and<br />

fauna to discuss his debut album in our Long Player Short<br />

Interview.<br />

15 / HOT PINK!<br />

Warm your winter with our hand-picked selection of<br />

Merseyside’s newest and pinkest releases, including<br />

Police Car Collective, Nikki & The Waves, Tonia and more.<br />

42 / SPOTLIGHTS<br />

Enter the worlds of Alright (okay), P3LZ, Tilly Louise, and<br />

Andrew Neal as they continue to season Liverpool’s sonic<br />

cuisine.<br />

45 / PREVIEWS<br />

Sebastian Gainsborough heads to Future Yard, LoneLady<br />

pays a visit to 24 Kitchen Street, and we survey the city’s<br />

upcoming theatre and exhibition offerings.<br />

50 / REVIEWS<br />

Dispatches from Jarv Is..., Mykki Blanco, Girls Don’t Sync<br />

and more from our autumn events calendar.<br />


Viewing a bus journey as a microcosm, Angie Woolfall’s<br />

fly-on-the-wall poem is a celebration of community,<br />

solidarity and hope.<br />


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

Rosa Kusabbi, Ben Youdan and Dan Chan were all tasked with<br />

celebrating Liverpool’s diverse queer identity across its public<br />

spaces through a series of artworks. Featuring an illustration of<br />

flamboyant cosmopolitans, empowering ransom note typography<br />

and flora in righteous bloom, all three pieces were commissioned by<br />

LGBTQIA arts and culture festival, Homotopia, in response to a spate of<br />

violent homophobic and transphobic attacks over the summer.<br />

Within a week of going on display as part of the festival’s outdoor<br />

Queer the City exhibition, Kusabbi’s Hate Has No Place In Liverpool on<br />

School Lane was ripped from its wall, while Youdan’s Queer With No Fear<br />

at FACT was discovered scrunched up in a ball inside the Bombed Out<br />

Church premises. While both of these pieces were an attempt to send a<br />

unified response to the rise in LGBTQ+ hate crime, their titles alone speak<br />

to the extent to which it has already infiltrated our streets.<br />

The recent vandalism of LGBTQ+ artwork doesn’t just qualify as<br />

hate crime – it represents an attack against queer visibility, against art as<br />

activism, and an attempt to erase queer identity from our public spaces<br />

altogether. After a summer in which hundreds of people protested to affirm<br />

the rights of LGBTQ+ people to simply exist, homophobia has struck under<br />

the cover of darkness to remind us once more that this city has a problem,<br />

and this problem is more entrenched than many of us are prepared to<br />

admit. Because while Liverpool has much to be proud of, it continues to be<br />

plagued by a debilitating case of myopia. The belief in the city’s infallible<br />

exceptionalism is not only grossly tone deaf – it’s something that should<br />

make all of us very uncomfortable indeed.<br />

Homophobia doesn’t always manifest through demonstrations of<br />

physical violence or with beautiful artworks being torn down from walls.<br />

The tentacles of this often<br />

invisible force stretch<br />

out to corrupt our micro<br />

interactions, our urban<br />

planning, and our justice<br />

system. Its diseased tenets<br />

are passed down into our<br />

children’s playgrounds<br />

where they are legitimised,<br />

before rising up again<br />

in the bowels of social<br />

media echo chambers<br />

where algorithms serve up<br />

hate and division in feeds<br />

funded by big business.<br />

It thrives in indifference<br />

and spreads through<br />

inaction. Now more than<br />

ever, the share of responsibility falls on each and every one of us to ensure<br />

this city is one where its queer communities can be both visible and safe,<br />

both celebrated and believed in. In our local leaders’ discussions around<br />

regeneration and urban renewal, plans for how the city should look and<br />

operate must take into account the lived experiences of those for whom it<br />

has let down for too long.<br />

The beautiful thing about cities is that different people experience them<br />

in different ways. But for many in this city, their daily experience is one that<br />

negates, challenges, and disputes their existence. We must acknowledge<br />

that, despite continuing to be rightly admired for its historic solidarity,<br />

community spirit and visceral identity, Liverpool has a long, long way to go<br />

before it can truly be a welcoming home for our queer friends. !<br />

Matthew Berks / @hewniverse_<br />

Associate Editor<br />

“The belief in the<br />

city’s infallible<br />

exceptionalism<br />

is something<br />

that should make<br />

all of us very<br />

uncomfortable”<br />

New Music + Creative Culture | Liverpool<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> <strong>118</strong> / <strong>December</strong> <strong>2021</strong>-<strong>January</strong> <strong>2022</strong><br />

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

Second Floor, The Merchant<br />

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

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Associate Editor<br />

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Cover Photography<br />

Daniel De La Bastide / @danieldelabastide<br />

Words<br />

Sam Turner, Matthew Berks, El Gray, Lily Blakeney-<br />

Edwards, Olive, Paul Fitzgerald, David Roskin,<br />

Sarah Taylor, Iona Fazer, Orla Foster, Jack Ryder,<br />

Emma Varley, Alannah Williams, Nina Newbold,<br />

Alastair Dunn, Sam Lasley, Alice Williams, Alfie<br />

Verity, Tilly Foulkes, Jennie Macaulay, Mo Stewart,<br />

Jeff Young, Angie Woolfall, Eve Machin.<br />

Photography, Illustration and Layout<br />

Mark McKellier, Daniel De La Bastide, Emma<br />

Lavelle, Anthony Wilde, Robin Clewley, Eve, Keith<br />

Ainsworth, Lucy McLachlan, David Edwards,<br />

Ollie Dignan, Adele Robinson, John Johnson, Chloé<br />

Stephenson.<br />

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NEWS<br />

MUSEUMS <strong>2022</strong><br />

Whether you’re a Japanophile, a time traveller, a historian<br />

or a contemporary art buff, there’s something for you<br />

in National Museums Liverpool’s spring-summer <strong>2022</strong><br />

programme.<br />

Tickets are now on sale for the much-anticipated exhibition Doctor Who: Worlds Of<br />

Wonder which opens in May. Visitors to the World Museum will be treated to the<br />

monsters, costumes and props used in the cult series in a world premiere exhibition.<br />

Over the water at Lady Lever Art Gallery from April, Kunichika: Japanese Prints will<br />

feature one of the most important printmakers of the 19th century. A cornerstone of<br />

Japanese culture, the woodblock prints of Toyohara Kunichika are recognised around<br />

the world and this exhibition of more than 50 pieces will be a fantastic follow-on to the<br />

popular Edo Pop showcase at the same gallery four years ago.<br />

Also opening in April, but over at the Walker Art Gallery, the work of local artists will<br />

be on display in the exhibition Refractive Pool: Contemporary Painting in Liverpool.<br />

The exhibition is organised by the Refractive Pool project, which started in 2019 and<br />

has explored contemporary painting in the city through events, a book and website<br />

to highlight a diverse range of artists and styles. The exhibition at the Walker is being<br />

curated by Liverpool-based artists Josie Jenkins and Brendan Lyons who have selected<br />

the work of 20 artists for the show.<br />

Sixty-eight works borrowed from the National Portrait Gallery will be on display as<br />

part of The Tudors: Passion, Power and Politics, also at the Walker. The exhibition will<br />

tell the story of the five Tudor monarchs and the dynasty’s reign over 16th-century<br />

England, from 1485 to 1603. The World Museum has also invited comedian Daliso<br />

Chaponda to interrogate and re-interpret the collections of the venue’s World Cultures<br />

Gallery for a timely intervention. Artist Leo Asemota, along with Liverpool’s African<br />

diaspora communities, will also be looking at the museum’s Benin collection to rethink<br />

the presence of the looted royal artworks and other objects.<br />

Daliso Chaponda (Steve Ullathorne)<br />

liverpoolmuseums.org.uk<br />

Safe Spaces Trail<br />

Yard Act<br />


A city centre trail made up of artwork, writing and podcast episodes is<br />

highlighting the spaces around Liverpool where young people feel safe.<br />

Community interest company Comics Youth have worked with 11 to 25-year-old<br />

creatives to commission work which will signpost areas ranging from cafes to<br />

museums where they prefer to find comfort. The Safe Spaces Trail consists of 15<br />

places that can be found on a map available to download from the Comics Youth<br />

website, or picked up in physical form from stockists including Lovelocks Coffee<br />

Shop, World Museum and Liverpool One Information Centre.<br />

comicsyouth.co.uk<br />


Liverpool music institution The Zanzibar has reopened its doors to the relief of artists<br />

and music lovers across the city. The sad news of its closure last year left many reeling,<br />

with a flurry of musicians citing the venue as the space that gave them their first<br />

step on the ladder to musical success. Now under new ownership but maintaining<br />

a dedication to providing the same opportunities to emerging musicians as well as<br />

hosting more established artists from near and far, the Seel Street venue is a welcome<br />

re-addition to the city centre’s gig circuit. Leeds indie upstarts YARD ACT are slated to<br />

play the venue in May following the drop of their debut album in <strong>January</strong>, with many<br />

more gigs populating the venue’s live calendar.<br />

facebook.com/zanzibarclubliverpool<br />



Artist development programme LIMF<br />

Academy has unveiled the musicians<br />

who have been chosen to benefit<br />

from a suite of resources and activity<br />

for the <strong>2021</strong>-22 season.<br />

The artists who have been deemed ‘most ready’ to<br />

take on additional support and go on to the next level<br />

of their careers are AMBER JAY, LAZYGIRL and NI<br />

MAXINE. The trio of singer-songwriters will get time in<br />

the studio, money towards their projects and tailored<br />

support to advance in the music industry. A cohort of<br />

seven other artists who will undertake a programme of<br />

workshops and talks, as well as gain live opportunities<br />

throughout the programme, consists of DAYZY,<br />


AND CURSES, ALEXANDER and VAUNCE. The eclectic<br />

bunch of musicians represent the best of Liverpool’s<br />

next generation of musicians according to a panel of<br />

music industry experts who sifted through hundreds of<br />

applications after a call-out from the Academy earlier<br />

this year. Previous alumni from the academy include <strong>Bido</strong><br />

<strong>Lito</strong>! cover artists Tee and Pizzagirl, as well as Michael<br />

Aldag and Astles, who you’ll find in this edition of the<br />

pink pages.<br />

Amber Jay<br />


There’s good news for theatre-goers<br />

as one of the city’s key venues is to be<br />

given a new lease of life. Hanover Street’s<br />

Epstein Theatre closed its doors in March<br />

2020 due to the pandemic but is coming<br />

back under new management. Bill Elms,<br />

Chantelle Nolan and Jane Joseph are the<br />

new leaseholders taking the reins from<br />

the end of this year. The trio have many<br />

years combined experience in both music<br />

and theatre and a rich history with the<br />

theatre formerly known as the Neptune.<br />

The venue will retain a familiar<br />

programme featuring a variety of shows<br />

from musicals and comedy to dance and<br />

plays. The vintage venue can seat 380<br />

and is over 108 years old, giving every<br />

audience a bit of Liverpool history while<br />

watching a performance. The venue is<br />

due to open in <strong>December</strong> and is now<br />

booking for Beauty and the Beast as this<br />

year’s pantomime.<br />

Ian McCulloch and Will Seargent<br />


Echo & The Bunnymen have re-released their first four albums – Crocodiles, Heaven Up Here, Porcupine and Ocean Rain – on 180g<br />

black vinyl, as well as on limited edition coloured vinyl available exclusively from Dig Vinyl. The reissues come as the celestial postpunkers<br />

announce they will play a full UK and Irish tour in the spring of <strong>2022</strong> in celebration of their impressive 40-year career, which<br />

has seen them earn 20 top 20 singles and nine top 20 albums all while helping to define the sound of a generation. The band play a<br />

homecoming gig at Liverpool Philharmonic on 14th February.<br />


NEWS<br />


North Yorkshire’s Deer Shed Festival have announced a stellar lineup<br />

for their <strong>2022</strong> edition with a bevvy of top-quality artists including<br />

two of Liverpool’s finest. The indomitable NADINE SHAH returns to<br />

Topcliffe after a fabulous set at the family-friendly fest in 2018. She<br />

is joined on the top line of the bill by the Queen of Denmark himself,<br />

JOHN GRANT, and psych poppers DJANGO DJANGO. Merseyside is<br />

represented by both BEIJA FLO. There are more <strong>Bido</strong> <strong>Lito</strong>! favourites<br />

on the programme in the shape of DRY CLEANING, SNAPPED<br />

ANKLES and KATY J PEARSON for what is a strong contender of<br />

line-up of the summer. The festival have also announced Bristol<br />

gig-going royalty and podcaster Big Jeff as artist-in-residence for the<br />

12th iteration of the event, and the theme of Pocket Planet – with<br />

programming and activities from all over the world.<br />

deershedfestival.com<br />

Nadine Shah (Fraser Taylor)<br />


An immersive, thought-provoking major exhibition is set to transform<br />

Tate Liverpool in the summer <strong>2022</strong> to ask questions about land<br />

ownership and our relationship with the landscapes of Britain.<br />

Radical Landscapes open in May and will feature over 150 works<br />

from artists such as Jeremy Deller, Ruth Ewan and Tacita Dean.<br />

Ewan’s Back To The Fields 2015-22 is set to be a highlight, an<br />

immersive installation made up of living plant installations, farming<br />

tools and fruits of the land. Drawing on themes of trespass and<br />

contested boundaries, the exhibition will explore our rights and<br />

responses in accessing and exploring the countryside<br />

tate.org.uk/visit/tate-liverpool<br />

Radical Landscapes<br />


Merseyside’s romance with 60s psych folk rockers LOVE is well<br />

documented. <strong>Magazine</strong>s have plucked their names from clubs they<br />

frequented and countless Scouse indie bands have name-checked<br />

seminal album Forever Changes as their eureka record. Even if the<br />

band’s sun-kissed Californian homeland shares little in common with<br />

Liverpool’s overcast environs, the cosmic connection is strong. It is<br />

most exciting, then to welcome original member Johnny Echols to the<br />

region for a three-night residency at Future Yard. Echols’ band LOVE<br />

REVISITED is to play each of his and Arthur Lee’s copper-bottomed<br />

classic long-players Love, Da Capo and Forever Changes in full<br />

on respective June evenings (23rd-25th). There’s also a Saturday<br />

afternoon Q&A with the guitarist. Expect tales of The Doors, The<br />

Byrds and other Laurel Canyon luminaries. Argyle Street has never<br />

been so groovy.<br />


As part of a long-term strategy to address food insecurity and create<br />

a city “where everyone can eat good food”, communities across<br />

Liverpool are being invited to join the Good Food Plan. The plan,<br />

drawn up by the Food Insecurity Task Force – a coalition including<br />

Liverpool City Council and Feeding Liverpool – aims to end chronic<br />

food insecurity, acute hunger, and the need for foodbanks, while<br />

working to improve access to nutritious food in schools. The coalition<br />

has found that 32 per cent of adults in Liverpool – home to three of<br />

England’s 10 most economically deprived ‘food deserts’ – are food<br />

insecure, while 14 per cent of households experience fuel poverty, a<br />

number significantly higher than England’s average.<br />

feedingliverpool.org<br />

Tickets on sale now. futureyard.org<br />



After a Covid-enforced break for the Christmas that never was, The<br />

<strong>Bido</strong> <strong>Lito</strong>! Christmas Quiz is back on 13th <strong>December</strong>. Taking place<br />

at Future Yard in association with Liquidation, the event will raise<br />

money for the Whitechapel Centre and MIND charities. Expect the<br />

usual frivolities around the serious business of music trivia and some<br />

top-notch prizes on offer for the teams who come out victorious.<br />

Teams who wish to flex their quiz muscles and put themselves in line<br />

to get their names etched on the famous trophy and into the quiztory<br />

books are invited to enter with tickets on sale now from the <strong>Bido</strong><br />

<strong>Lito</strong>! and Future Yard websites. Spaces are limited so act fast.<br />


The fifth edition of the annual <strong>Bido</strong> <strong>Lito</strong>! Journal lands in <strong>December</strong>.<br />

Looking at 12 extraordinary months in the life of Liverpool’s new<br />

music and creative culture, the premium coffee table magazine<br />

distills features, opinion, images and more. <strong>Bido</strong> <strong>Lito</strong>! Members get<br />

the journal as part of their subscriptions, while the book is available<br />

to buy from the <strong>Bido</strong> Bandcamp page for £15. But hurry, it’s only<br />

available while limited stocks last.<br />

bidolito.bandcamp.com<br />

bidolito.co.uk/whats-on<br />


Baltic Triangle-based charity Liverpool Cares are on the look-out for new volunteers to join their network<br />

of young people helping to reduce loneliness. The organisation run a programme of social clubs taking<br />

place across the city every month, as well as their Love Your Neighbour initiative. Connecting older<br />

and younger neighbours to combat isolation and anonymity, the charity does fantastic work to ensure<br />

relationships flourish in an age of so much disconnection. In March this year volunteer Robyn, 24 was<br />

matched with George, 81, due to their mutual passion for music. Robyn says: “We chatted about how<br />

George met his wife, about the Liverpool music scene in the 60s and how George used to take his<br />

Siamese kitten to Bold Street then into the Jacaranda basement! The cat loved it, apparently.” Find out<br />

more on the charity’s website.<br />

liverpoolcares.org.uk/get-involved<br />


Responding to the resurgence of interest in analogue mediums,<br />

dot-art have established a new darkroom in Liverpool City Centre.<br />

The space contains everything required to transform black and<br />

white film into sharp negatives and monochrome photographs. The<br />

darkroom will play host to a series of workshops, offering learning<br />

opportunities for everyone; from complete beginners to more<br />

advanced artists, to explore the potential of analogue photography<br />

with the guidance of professional photographers Clare Bailey and<br />

Rachel Brewster-Wright. Dot-art, the Queens Avenue-based gallery<br />

and artist network, will also launch a darkroom membership for those<br />

with significant darkroom experience, offering unlimited access and<br />

expert guidance.<br />

dot-art.co.uk/darkroom<br />

Clare Bailey<br />

Rachel Brewster-Wright<br />

NEWS<br />




Raw, introspective and laced<br />

with maturity. The release of<br />

debut album Sun Outside My<br />

Window marks a significant<br />

moment for Strawberry Guy,<br />

who takes a brief hiatus from<br />

the flora and fauna for a Long<br />

Player Short Interview.<br />

The album’s eponymous track, Sun Outside My<br />

Window, was the first single released. What were your<br />

initial ideas when you were writing it?<br />

Well, one day I was feeling pretty low, and sat down<br />

at my keyboard and started playing the chords to the<br />

song (which I had had for a while but hadn’t written<br />

anything to them), and I remember the sun coming out<br />

and beaming outside my window. It really lifted my<br />

mood! So, the song is about that moment really and how<br />

mother nature can really change our mood and lift us up<br />

when we need it sometimes. It’s simple, but was a very<br />

memorable moment for me, one that inspired the general<br />

vibe of the album.<br />

Could you tell us more about the beautiful impressionist<br />

artwork for the single, and how this style feeds into<br />

your output?<br />

My mum really enjoyed Monet and I<br />

remember seeing Monet prints and<br />

impressionist prints around the house<br />

growing up, so I was naturally drawn to<br />

this style of art growing up really. I’m also<br />

really inspired by 1800s Romantic period<br />

composers like Debussy and Ravel, from<br />

around the same time impressionist art<br />

was beginning. I feel that my music<br />

ties in very naturally with this style of<br />

artwork.<br />

You headed to sunny Wales for the<br />

music video – what is it about the<br />

natural landscape that lends itself to<br />

new ideas that you otherwise might<br />

not find in suburbia?<br />

This was very near to where my<br />

parents live and places I used to<br />

visit when I was a child. I think the<br />

direction my music is going in with<br />

this new album is to have more ‘natural’ sounds, moving<br />

away from synths. The city isn’t quite calm enough to tie<br />

in to my music, I feel. I’ve never particularly been directly<br />

inspired by the city.<br />

Conceptually, how does this album differ from your<br />

previous work?<br />

It sounds more mature than others, really. I feel like I<br />

matured and learned a lot about myself from writing this<br />

album. So, the album addresses some of those things. I<br />

feel like through writing it I grew a lot. Sonically, I feel like<br />

it’s dryer and more raw than my earlier work. Especially<br />

the last track on the album, A White Lie. I did the vocals<br />

and piano all in one take at about 2am.<br />

It’s no secret that your fans love creating their own<br />

music videos using your work – do you have any standout<br />

favourites, and why?<br />

I saw one that had F Song tied to movie clips of<br />

Atonement on Instagram once. Atonement is one of my<br />

favourite books, so it was really wonderful to see clips<br />

of the film accompanied by my music! Maybe one day<br />

I’ll have one of my songs in an actual film, or compose<br />

for one even, that would be a dream. I feel like my music<br />

incorporates a lot of emotion that can work well with<br />

painting a picture or telling a story for films, which I guess<br />

is why fans have put these videos together.<br />

Sun Outside My Window is available now via Melodic.<br />

28 Oct 21 - 20 Feb 22<br />





Image: Yarli Allison, In 1875 We Met At the Docks of Liverpool 於 梨 花 埠 遇 上 (<strong>2021</strong>). Image by Rob Battersby.<br />


HOT PINK!<br />

Words: Sam Turner, Matthew Berks, El Gray,<br />

David Roskin, Lily Blakeney-Edwards<br />

Hot Pink! is the ever-evolving <strong>Bido</strong> <strong>Lito</strong>! playlist which showcases some of the most exciting<br />

sounds coming from all corners of the Mersey music network. To submit your track for<br />

contention, visit bidolito.co.uk/uploader. To hear the mix go to bit.ly/bidohotpink. Recently,<br />

we’ve been vibing to electro-rock anthems, RnB bangers and melodic industrial noise. Dive in.<br />

Tonia<br />

Flux<br />

Flux perfectly demonstrates the assets that made TONIA<br />

a LIMF Academy Most Ready Artist in the last cohort.<br />

Soulful yet vulnerable vocals ask whether his walls still<br />

speak the singer’s name and if his dad still thinks she’s<br />

insane (in the track’s few family-friendly lines). A lilting<br />

RnB beat gives way to a distorted keyboard solo before<br />

Tonia signs off with the ambiguous admission that lately<br />

she’s been thinking. ST<br />

Katy Alex<br />

Maliblues<br />

Exposing the vapid loneliness of extravagant wealth,<br />

KATY ALEX’s Maliblues takes us to the dark side of LA to<br />

prove diamonds aren’t always a girl’s best friend. Peeling<br />

back the champagne-soaked layers of a fanciful Cali<br />

lifestyle, its modern Gatsby-esque critique of materialism<br />

is driven through with nostalgic synth and crisp<br />

harmonies in a money-can’t-buy-love affirmation. MB<br />

Police Car Collective<br />

Famous<br />

With the unstoppable rise of ‘internet kids with money’<br />

and much of our burning world grinding to a desperate<br />

halt following the recent six-hour hibernation of<br />

Zuckerberg’s monster, POLICE CAR COLLECTIVE’s<br />

Famous just hits different. Waxing lyrical about Instagram<br />

clout, dopamine, pining for viral stardom and spending<br />

money online to watch girls undress, the duo’s punching,<br />

electro-rock anthem gobbles up all the unregulated<br />

excesses of the modern internet age and spits them out<br />

in all their seductive, disgusting glory. MB<br />

Nikki & The Waves<br />

in a cloud<br />

Released on cassette as part of a two-song collection,<br />

NIKKI & THE WAVES’ in a cloud is laced with a nostalgia<br />

that is both tangible and formless. The track weaves<br />

confessional lyricism, whining guitars and reassuringly<br />

subtle brass to create a dreamy pop landscape which<br />

reflects on the hallucinogenic quality of the past year.<br />

Sung with an eye-rolling reluctance, this is music for<br />

lonely, rain-soaked train journeys and car rides. EG<br />

Crawlers<br />

Come Over (Again)<br />

Liverpool natives CRAWLERS have been taking over<br />

the internet this year. Their latest self-titled EP is no<br />

exception, racking up the streams at an incredible pace.<br />

Come Over (Again) isn’t the Crawlers we expected, but<br />

they excel in an almost classic rock ballad. Full of angst,<br />

longing and pain, it’s testament to the range and talent<br />

that lies within. DR<br />

Shockchords<br />

Shifting Sands<br />

This latest drop from noisenik label Spine Records<br />

and the debut single from experimental duo,<br />

SHOCKCHORDS, is an absolute belter. A relentless but<br />

pleasant percussive melody underpins a muttered croon<br />

vocal with swirling atmospherics that put the listener on<br />

edge before the fragments of a chorus bring the track to<br />

a climactic revery. It’s a cover of The West Coast Pop Art<br />

Experimental Band, but it’s still unlike anything else you’ll<br />

hear. Unreal. ST<br />

Natalie And The Monarchy<br />

Angeline<br />

The latest release from NATALIE AND THE MONARCHY<br />

evokes the atmosphere of a late-night cabaret. Angeline’s<br />

pacing mirrors the roller coaster of new-found love and<br />

the obsession that can follow. What begins as a lulling,<br />

bass-driven serenade soon reaches its panting climax,<br />

with jaunty piano melodies and the artist’s crescendoing<br />

vocals twisting the track into a frantic ballad of tormented<br />

affection. LBE<br />

Photography from left to right: Nikki & The Waves, Katy<br />

Alex, Police Car Collective, Crawlers<br />

HOT PINK!<br />


Expires<br />

wirralspendindependent.com<br />


N I G H T<br />

A T T H E<br />

POSEUM<br />




The House of Suarez Vogue Ball is a no-holds-barred<br />

explosion of fierce inclusivity, positivity and celebration.<br />

Founded by Darren Suarez, the event is a vital fixture<br />

in Liverpool’s cultural calendar. Olive experiences<br />

the event in all its self-love glory and speaks to the<br />

house mother who each year makes it a reality.<br />

“At this Vogue Ball baby, you belong!”<br />

His lips are painted in pink glitter.<br />

His sequin hot pants curve around fishnetted<br />

stockings. His feet never settle for<br />

a second.<br />

On the runway this evening we see pose, we see<br />

grace, we see sex, we see sea creatures and we see ‘clitpride’.<br />

It is a chaos of bondage tape and glitter. It is a rare,<br />

pure freedom of expression and artistic explosion. It is<br />

the House of Suarez Vogue Ball, honey. Get into it.<br />

Let’s rewind to the 1980s. We’re in the states,<br />

New York City to be specific and it’s a bloodbath for the<br />

LGBTQ+ community. While the majority of the white<br />

hetero world preoccupies itself with boring things<br />

like the stock market, brown suits and homophobia,<br />

queer Black and latino bodies were building something<br />

beautiful at the sidelines. Ballroom. A space for queer<br />

expression where predominantly trans women and gay<br />

men of colour could walk a runway head to toe in “looks”<br />

designed to be “served” or “revealed” at the ball.<br />

“Ballroom came from segregation. It comes from<br />

a dark place of isolation,” Darren Suarez, founder of<br />

House of Suarez and Liverpool’s balls, explains to me.<br />

“It’s brutal in its story and its history.” It’s important to<br />

honour this before we run away with our “yas kweens”<br />

and “slay huns”. Darren adds: “It’s such a beautiful twist<br />

how something so creative and beautiful came from [that<br />

struggle].”<br />

Ballroom offered a place for the LGBTQ+ community<br />

to not only create, share and perform art for one another,<br />

but it gave them a place of safety, family and security. In<br />

most cases, it gave them a literal roof over their heads<br />

where they lived with fellow dancers and walkers of the<br />

ball. These groups operated as families, with a “mother”<br />

taking care of all the waifs and strays taken under her<br />

wings. These families are known as “houses” and at the<br />

ball we see these houses compete in different categories<br />

to celebrate dance, fashion, music and love.<br />

As a House of Suarez dancer, Jack Dyche explains:<br />

“A house is so much more than a company, it is your<br />

chosen family.” Jack joined the family back in 2016 and<br />

tells me, “I have found that I turn to my house to educate<br />

and support me with things that my family and friends<br />

outside of the [LGBTQ+] community can’t relate to.”<br />

At the balls, house music, disco, drag and of course<br />

vogue blossomed. Some of these art styles had already<br />

been floating about (vogue itself began roughly back in<br />

the 1960s) but they all bloomed at the ball. Voguing in<br />

particular rocketed, a dance style created with elements<br />

of hip hop, isolations and of course, posing.<br />

Fast-forward to today, and the second floor of World<br />

Museum Liverpool is all a pink glow. People adorned in<br />

leather, feathers, sequins and silk decorate the space.<br />

Flutes sparkle in elegant hands and fans flutter over<br />

faces. The ball is about to begin.<br />

“I’ve called it Night At The Poseum,” Darren tells me<br />

in a café a few weeks prior, “and instead of it being just<br />

one theme, each house will be given a different exhibition<br />

to work with which will vary the runway and also bring<br />

the museum to life.”<br />

Across the course of the night, we see someone<br />

hatch from an egg, four women embody lesbian sex<br />

on stage, fierce dance battles and a lip sync that could<br />

probably save a life (and I am not being dramatic in<br />

saying this). We gorge ourselves on death drops and<br />

bare skin, all screaming “I love myself!” because our host<br />

Rikki Beadle-Blair tells us to, and because we mean it.<br />

The environment Darren and his house create is<br />

pouring with so much love and inclusivity, from the<br />

second I step a white-heeled boot onto their floor, I feel<br />

seen. “Our runway is a platform for people to feel like<br />

they can be whatever they want to be,” Darren tells me,<br />

his grounding energy rolling off him. “One of the things<br />

I do believe in is increasing visibility. There are just not<br />

enough safe spaces for [people to express themselves<br />

and feel seen]. We can see it in Liverpool at the moment<br />

“Vogue is a<br />

way of life as<br />

opposed to a<br />

style of dance.<br />

It’s an attitude”<br />



with the amount of attacks happening. House of Suarez need to make sure we<br />

keep working on how we support people.”<br />

In addition to their aim to create a safe and inclusive space, House of Suarez<br />

have created “an ecosystem” of voguers within the city. The ball nurtures new<br />

artists to explore new styles, expand their creativity and gives opportunities for fresh<br />

collaborations. “The balls are my ultimate favourite time of the year,” Jack says, after his<br />

bold and unapologetic performance at the Poseum leaves flames in his wake. “Once<br />

the theme has been chosen and promoted then the ideas and creativity start flowing.<br />

You have your different categories: Fantasy, Sex Siren, Solo, Lip Sync and Choreography.<br />

We work hard as a house to make sure the theme runs cohesively through all categories.<br />

With collaborations from costume (Gordon Webber) to make-up and sound, we aim to<br />

appeal to all senses.”<br />

The night is glazed with empowerment, with all walks of life welcomed on the runway.<br />

“We are working with DaDa [Disability and Deaf Arts organisation] and QTPOC [Queer<br />

Trans People of Colour organisation]. We’ve also got Elements of Vogue which is an under<br />

16s platform [who compete in a separate ball],” Darren outlines.<br />

“My house is open to absolutely everyone,” Darren, or “Mama D” as he’s known to his<br />

daughters, smiles. “I’m the mother of the house, or the father depending on your generation.<br />

Whatever people want to call me.”<br />

Darren is not only a house mother, but a commercial dancer and choreographer. In addition<br />

to running the ball (which takes place three times a year after Darren brought the event to<br />

Liverpool in 2008), he works alongside and trains dancers for festivals and other arts events<br />

throughout the year.<br />

“I learned to vogue in the 90s in Ibiza when it first came over from the States. The club kids<br />

were over there, partying, and then that style came over to the UK,” Darren tells me. He speaks<br />

eloquently, scooping up handfuls of stories from his well of knowledge as we chat. “Vogue is a way<br />

of life as opposed to a style of dance. It’s an attitude, it’s a platform of presentation. Vogue helped<br />

me through escapism when I was younger, running away from home and going through a hard time.<br />

Coming onto the gay scene changed my life and my headspace. I needed that infrastructure. Voguing<br />

really helped me to communicate with the world who I was as an adult. It gave me a family, however<br />

dysfunctional,” his explanation is punctuated with a laugh.<br />

The crowd inside the museum is wild with people snapping fingers, shimmying to the music and<br />

shining with inner beauty. The room tastes like empowerment. A stunning celebration of queer love,<br />

bodies and art which nourishes not only my soul but the soul of those surrounding me. At a time when<br />

queer expression is threatened in Liverpool, nights like this instil hope for a community spreading only<br />

love.<br />

The Night At The Poseum reminds me that the LGBTQ+ family will continue to be what it has<br />

always been. Resilient. Powerful. Beautiful. It is a community that deserves so much more than the<br />

hostility it has had to face for years and is still facing today on our city streets.<br />

The spirit of queer expression will never be contained, crushed or cracked. When in the face of<br />

hate, queer expression will always push back. It is armed with beauty and free love. LGBTQ+ liberation<br />

is simply a freedom of the mind, body and soul, and queerphobia will never suffocate these voices. It’s a<br />

light too vibrant to destroy.<br />

My eyes well with tears and my heart expands to those around me as Rikki strides down the runway,<br />

he of the sequin hot pants curved around fishnets, proudly dressed as the queen he is and tells us: “You are<br />

not too anything at this ball, baby. At this vogue ball you belong here!”<br />

This here is such a beautiful place to belong to, I think I’ll stay for a while longer.<br />

What a time to hold no fear. To boldly be here. What a time to be proud and queer. !<br />

Words: Olive / @olive.writing<br />

Photography: Daniel De La Bastide / @danieldelabastide<br />

“A house is so much<br />

more than a company, it<br />

is your chosen family”<br />


DOMINO <strong>2021</strong><br />

















ALDAG<br />

Underneath the slick veneer of viral<br />

TikTokdom, Michael Aldag offers new<br />

ways of understanding our bizarre<br />

world. Orla Foster logs off and tunes<br />

into the multifaceted artist to discuss<br />

modern romance, social media and<br />

switching off in our always-on world.<br />



I’m meeting MICHAEL ALDAG outside so we can<br />

talk about the internet. It’s one of those perfect New<br />

Brighton mornings: flinty sunlight, Cornettos in each<br />

hand and a breeze sharp enough to make your eyes<br />

stream. Considering so much of the TikTok star’s music is<br />

tied up with the pains of online communication, the fresh<br />

air will probably do us both good. “I spend most of my life<br />

looking at a phone screen,” he admits.<br />

At least New Brighton is distracting. He’s heavily<br />

nostalgic about the place, having spent many solitary<br />

evenings here over lockdown, staring out across the water<br />

lost in thought. When it comes to his hometown of West<br />

Kirby, though, he’s less misty-eyed. “I never did much there.<br />

Sometimes me and my mates would go the park where<br />

pensioners played bowls, and hide in the bushes throwing<br />

grapes,” he reflects. “Once we got chased by this old man,<br />

which was one of the biggest rushes of my whole life.”<br />

Juvenile deviancy aside, Michael’s backstory has a<br />

wholesome ring to it. He kicked off his singing career as<br />

a shepherd in the school nativity, joined the Liverpool<br />

Philharmonic Youth Choir at 14, then picked up an acoustic<br />

guitar to play open mic nights. The early songs were more<br />

earnest than his recent material, penned with a degree of<br />

maturity he now finds absurd. “I was a very small, ginger<br />

boy, and it was quite hard to get taken seriously. So,<br />

writing songs felt like a superpower. I could play an open<br />

mic and people would start listening. They’d say, ‘Ah, you<br />

sound like you’ve lived so many lives!’”<br />

At 16, he discovered Logic Pro and started producing<br />

his own music, replacing stripped-back compositions with<br />

big synths and tight hooks. His writing developed a wry<br />

edge, satirising peers in songs like the Lorde-inflected<br />

Arrogance, and Trust Funds (picture Common People if<br />

the guy took the path of least resistance and just lapped<br />

24<br />

up the freebies). Being accepted onto the Levi’s Music<br />

Project and LIMF Academy allowed him to experiment<br />

even further.<br />

Musically, his influences are stadium-leaning. He loves<br />

Bastille and The 1975, but above all The Killers, whose<br />

biblical live shows convinced him to give music a shot. “It’s<br />

the level of emotion. There’s always a point in the song<br />

where it’s really heart-wrenching and climactic, which I<br />

love. When I saw them live, I realised I wanted to have<br />

that effect.” He’s equally devoted to the confessional lyrics<br />

of Phoebe Bridgers, and rap artists like Headie One. It all<br />

boils down into honest, quirky and idiosyncratic songs that<br />

nevertheless activate whichever muscle makes people<br />

want to wave lighters in the air and clamber onto each<br />

other’s shoulders.<br />

But, when lockdown happened, TikTok became his<br />

stage instead. He started creating droll clips about people<br />

his age enduring Freshers’ Week in breakout rooms, or<br />

uploading pictures of gift-wrapped cars they couldn’t drive.<br />

It’s the same posturing he dissects in his lyrics. As Entitled<br />

puts it: “My crisis is bigger than yours is / When I cry I look<br />

gorgeous, and you should too”. This plain-speaking critique<br />

of the online rituals of his generation struck a chord, and<br />

his following swiftly rocketed.<br />

Blowing up on TikTok, however, meant building a<br />

purely virtual fanbase, only encountering followers months<br />

later when fully-formed crowds materialised at his first<br />

live shows: “It was weird to see all these people that had<br />

just been a number on a screen actually there singing the<br />

songs. I kept taking out my in-ear to listen because it was<br />

the biggest buzz ever.” Most of us didn’t emerge from<br />

lockdown to a roomful of people screaming our name, but<br />

TikTok’s deceptively intimate, parasocial format made fans<br />

feel they knew him personally.<br />

This, one might suspect, is helped in large part by<br />

his distinctive appearance. We pass a barber shop, and<br />

he flinches. He’s protective of the red curls that make<br />

him immediately recognisable, and no, he would not<br />

like to risk a portrait in the barber’s chair. We agree the<br />

trauma of bad haircuts runs deep. I had a friend with hair<br />

like his as a teenager, and he spent his life fending off<br />

girls who wanted to touch it and straighten it at house<br />

parties. Michael nods as if to say he’s been there before.<br />

“Pensioners, mostly. I was in Morrisons and a lady came<br />

up and grabbed it. And at a festival this lad recognised me<br />

in the crowd and kept leaning over to ruffle it. I was like,<br />

‘Alright, cheers, but stop now!’”<br />

Besides women in supermarkets, plenty of people seem<br />

to want a piece of Michael Aldag. Talking to those around<br />

him, I hear about producers phoning from LA, clothing<br />

brands cramming his wardrobe, young girls swooning on<br />

the front row of sold-out shows. In September, TikTok even<br />

swept him and various other creators off to London Fashion<br />

Week, inspiring bitter broadsheet column inches about<br />

teenagers bagsying the best seats.<br />

At 19, he’s still in the thick of everything, so the songs<br />

are often “super raw” and charged with emotion. Tonsillitis<br />

and Divorce are particularly lacerating, because writing<br />

them got him through a major break-up, not to mention<br />

lockdown. He battled through endless drafts before<br />

getting to the heart of what he really wanted to say. “I was<br />

at rock bottom, but I found some kind of solace in writing,”<br />

he says. “And once I’d written them, I was like, ‘Cool, I can<br />

move on from this whole situation’.”<br />

Tonsillitis opens by invoicing an ex for lunch, petrol<br />

and six months of bellyaching, before describing his<br />

granddad’s funeral going by without so much as a call<br />

from the other person. This is a recurring theme in the

songs: people are permanently online yet fail to connect.<br />

Does he think everyone is so used to passively watching<br />

life unfold from a screen that they forget to reach out when<br />

it matters? “Yeah, you can have so many interactions with<br />

people that are just surface level,” he muses. “It’s complex<br />

because it’s easy to message a lot of people, and mistake<br />

that for something more meaningful than it is.”<br />

Divorce is even more brutal. Rather than projecting<br />

a picture-perfect relationship, the lyrics hold up a girl’s<br />

mother as a damning blueprint of their future together,<br />

with flash-forwards to her sourly heaping on criticism<br />

and boring him senseless with Botox chat while he’s<br />

left “crying in our bedroom because we’re selling the<br />

apartment”. It’s a song in which absolutely nobody is living<br />

their best life. What a relief. “I tend to be a bit meaner in<br />

lyrics than I probably am in real life,” he continues. “But<br />

I just want my music to be honest, you know? If I was<br />

too scared, I’d write generic songs that wouldn’t upset<br />

anybody, but also wouldn’t move anybody, in any way.”<br />

Meanwhile, recent single Ghosted takes a more playful<br />

tack. It’s about two people second-guessing each other<br />

online: they pore over each other’s stories and shower<br />

each other with likes, until communications suddenly and<br />

inexplicably cease. The video is a riot of colour one minute,<br />

a washed-out swell of grey tracksuits the next: a comment<br />

on the ways people use social media to portray life at its<br />

most bouncy and hyper-saturated, no matter what else is<br />

going on. Considering the girl in question hates his songs<br />

and recoils from his star-sign, getting ghosted should<br />

come as a relief, but instead he’s left obsessively refreshing<br />

her Snapchat score.<br />

“If your Snapchat score is high, it means you’re very<br />

active, you’ve sent a lot of texts. I’ve known people with<br />

really high scores who just ping things to everyone. It’s<br />

like they’re running a network of drama.” A pause. “I’m<br />

complicit in this. I’m by no means playing God and saying<br />

everyone’s doing all these things wrong. If you have a high<br />

Snapchat score, maybe you just talk to your friends a lot,<br />

and I’m bitter that I don’t.”<br />

Except now he’s in the position where people are<br />

pinging things at him from every platform. With so many<br />

eyes awaiting your next move, you’re inevitably going to<br />

amplify some features and minimise others, a quandary<br />

he’s all too aware of: “You present a caricature of yourself<br />

to protect who you actually are. That’s what Ghosted is<br />

about; you’re trying to build this thing online that you have<br />

to keep up. At the risk of sounding like I’m doing GCSE<br />

English, it’s a façade. I’m definitely guilty of that.”<br />

For artists who enjoy – and ultimately depend on –<br />

building fanbases online, knowing when to disconnect and<br />

when to engage is a difficult but necessary balance. “Social<br />

media is a useful tool to harness, especially for music. But<br />

your stability and happiness are also on the line, so it’s<br />

very intricate and weird.” Still, a bit of online mythmaking<br />

is better than letting chats shrivel up and die, a frustration<br />

highlighted in the imaginary dialogues of Conversation,<br />

and TikToks with titles such as ‘when someone replies to<br />

your text with yeah aha’. It’s all too easy to commiserate.<br />

On MSN, it was so awful when people torpedoed the<br />

conversation with ‘true’ or ‘fair enough’.<br />

He shrugs. “Yeah, at that point it’s like pitching jelly<br />

up a hill. The conversation’s dead. You just have to start<br />

valuing your time, so if somebody hits you with an ‘ahaha’<br />

then just be like, ‘Alright, that’s the end of that’.” Surely<br />

a drop of self-doubt is required to write as scathingly as<br />

Michael Aldag does about being ignored or tearing your<br />

hair out over half-arsed DMs. But, at the same time, he<br />

doesn’t seem hesitant at all. Between our conversations,<br />

he bounces in front of the camera as though he was born<br />

to do it; the New Brighton waves lash over his trainers as<br />

he leans in to catch the best light. Later, in the café, I watch<br />

him gnaw obligingly on a piece of toast from every angle,<br />

the shutter going full pelt.<br />

He’s soft-spoken, but eager to engage, tugging a<br />

chain between his teeth as he carefully weighs up each<br />

response. He recognises things are taking off but seems<br />

self-deprecating and occasionally embarrassed by the<br />

hype. He reels off his immediate plans, which include<br />

photoshoots with LFC, a forthcoming single and two gigs<br />

before the month is out but admits to feeling stressed by<br />

the realisation he can never switch off.<br />

So, let’s fast-forward around a week. Like any musical<br />

tale worth its salt, this one finishes up on stage: he’s been<br />

booked for Live at Leeds festival, and dutifully brings his<br />

A-game. At intimate venues like the students’ union bar<br />

we’re stood in, it’s hard to predict if a soaring crescendo or<br />

big chorus is going to land – but Michael’s got the measure<br />

of the place. He dominates the stage, raising the microphone<br />

high above his head and belting out every line from the<br />

heart. Hangovers melt away. The pop Gods are appeased.<br />

And then the sad songs arrive, with a disclaimer. “If<br />

you don’t want to be miserable, you can just go on your<br />

phone,” he tells the crowd with a grin. Finally, there’s your<br />

permission from Michael Aldag to go ahead and ignore him<br />

while he’s spilling his guts. But honestly? You’ll be much<br />

better off if you just stick your phone on flight mode and<br />

hear the guy out. The doomscrolling can wait. !<br />

Words: Orla Foster<br />

Photography: Anthony Wilde / @evolving_necessary<br />

Love of my Life is available on 3 rd <strong>December</strong> via 3beat.<br />

“Social media is a<br />

useful tool to harness.<br />

But your stability and<br />

happiness are also on<br />

the line, so it’s very<br />

intricate and weird”<br />





Yaw Owusu continues to change the Liverpool music landscape with LIMF, but the festival and<br />

its Academy are only a small part of a 17-year career platforming talent and championing the<br />

underdog. Sam Turner sits down with the creative playmaker as he looks to the next chapter.<br />

As we come to the end of a near two-hour<br />

chat, YAW OWUSU makes an interesting<br />

and revealing analogy. Before striding away<br />

across the upper levels of Liverpool One<br />

he tells me why he turned away from the A&R and the<br />

‘hype’ side of the music industry. In quite dramatic terms,<br />

Owusu likens a musician missing their chance in the<br />

industry to someone getting shot. “These are people’s<br />

lives… it isn’t a war story,” he says animatedly, starting<br />

to describe an imaginary battlefield. “If we were going<br />

across and he was getting shot, they said ‘Go’ and then<br />

were like, ‘Oh, we thought he could go…’ and then he<br />

died. You killed him, career-wise, he doesn’t make music<br />

anymore.” Owusu is in fact referring to an artist he<br />

worked with, an incredibly talented musician who graced<br />

the front of <strong>Bido</strong> <strong>Lito</strong>! and has admirers across Liverpool’s<br />

music community. He no longer makes music due to their<br />

craft not being appreciated by the powers that be.<br />

It’s a common story, but one that hurts when you<br />

care as much as Owusu does. Stopping to talk only<br />

between the time necessary to see off a Pizza Express<br />

margarita, Owusu outlines the various motivations behind<br />

his many achievements in a 17-year career in the music<br />

industry. It’s a career that has taken him from helping out<br />

his cousin to being the go-to for internationally significant<br />

brands and record labels. “I know what connects all<br />

this now,” he tells me at one point. It was only during<br />

lockdown that he was able to take off his many hats –<br />

manager, curator, producer, consultant – for long enough<br />

to take stock and work out some common themes of his<br />

work, as well as identify what he wants to do and what<br />

he does best.<br />

A central motivation for Owusu from the beginning<br />

has been a yearning to ensure talent gets the help it<br />

needs and the opportunity it deserves. “Artists have a<br />

window, they only have a short period of time,” Owusu<br />

says. “I’d say, when you get to 27, 28, it becomes harder<br />

to justify trying to make it as an artist. So, we’ve all got<br />

to work a way to spot the talent early and get them<br />

to the next stage where it’s on them, and the industry<br />

structure, to do whatever they can do.” Specifically, he is<br />

talking about the proliferation of opportunities for artist<br />

development which have been established in Liverpool<br />

in the wake of his LIMF Academy. But, moreover, it’s<br />

obvious the thought is a driving force behind much more<br />

of what he does.<br />

The Academy started at the same time as Liverpool<br />

International Music Festival in 2013 and is a prime<br />

example of Owusu’s skillset and ambition manifesting<br />

themselves into a successful initiative that benefits young<br />

musicians as well as the city. While the festival and the<br />

Academy are perhaps well-known hallmarks of the selftitled<br />

creative consultant’s output, they are only a small<br />

part of the story.<br />

The desire to help artists and realise talent began<br />

with Owusu helping his cousin, Kof. An artist out of the<br />

first wave of East London’s early noughties grime scene,<br />

Young Kof (his artist name at the time) wanted to make<br />

it on Merseyside after being transplanted to the region<br />

for university at Edge Hill. Owusu was fresh out of a law<br />

degree and unable to take a US basketball scholarship<br />

due to injury. Accepting his aunt’s request, he managed<br />

Kof and quickly found that opportunities for a rapper in<br />

Liverpool were limited. “Our whole thing at the beginning<br />

was to start a company, a music culture entity,” Owusu<br />

says of those early days. “We’d make music and release<br />

music, but we’d drive the culture forward.” However,<br />

while RnB and associated genres were being supported<br />

in the clubs in Liverpool, an infrastructure for original<br />

music was lacking. This helped to inspire the formation of<br />

Urbeatz – a multimedia creative organisation specialising<br />

in a range of services, including artist management,<br />

consultancy, film and design.<br />

Kof was the creative force in the Urbeatz operation<br />

and Owusu provided the organisation, the business<br />

acumen, as well as a keen ear for “what music should<br />

feel like”. Creating the requisite labels, club nights and<br />

radio shows for the music they felt needed to heard led<br />

to more and more opportunities and more and more<br />

influence on listening habits in Liverpool. At a time when<br />

urbeatz.com was banned in schools across Merseyside<br />

(too many pupils were logging on during lessons),<br />

Owusu and Young Kof were taking to the national<br />

airwaves via a regular slot on BBC Radio 1Xtra. At the<br />

same time, schools and arts organisations were hiring<br />

the duo to engage audiences with Black music and its<br />

heritage, and quarterly mixtapes were selling out as fast<br />

as they were dropping. Out of sheer necessity, Urbeatz<br />

was the only game in town which sated a hunger for new<br />

voices in rap and<br />

hip hop – voices<br />

with Liverpool<br />

accents – while<br />

educating<br />

people on the<br />

city’s rich<br />

Black music<br />

legacy.<br />


Having establised Urbeatz at a grassroots level,<br />

Owusu furthered his ambitions by founding the agency<br />

Nothin But The Music (NBTM) which worked with<br />

national and international brands curating events such<br />

as the MOBOs when they came to Liverpool. NBTM also<br />

continued to release music, secure sync opportunities<br />

and build on the solid local foundations in various facets<br />

of the music industry. While at Radio 1Xtra Owusu met<br />

Ray Paul, whose entertainment company The Playmaker<br />

Group partnered with NBTM. Kof stepped back into the<br />

studio to go back to his first love of creating and Owusu<br />

continued his mission of driving the culture forward as<br />

well as indulging another of his loves – storytelling.<br />

Dropping in anecdotes about giving Shaggy his<br />

opinion on new releases and overseeing Wiley’s record<br />

label operation, while carefully charting the trajectory of<br />

a rapidly accelerating career, it’s clear that Owusu is a<br />

gifted raconteur. What is interesting is how the Maghull<br />

man has transposed this skill to large-scale projects and<br />

events to reclaim narratives. “What attracted me about<br />

LIMF is being able to tell a different narrative for the city<br />

of Liverpool, a contemporary one,” Owusu tells me.<br />

It’s difficult to underplay the sea change that<br />

Liverpool International Music Festival represented for<br />

the city. The event, and its academy off-shoot, blew<br />

open the narrow parameters of music representation<br />

on Merseyside. It changed the narrative. On a train back<br />


from London in 2012, Owusu and Kof were debating<br />

whether to put their hat into the ring for what would be<br />

the successor to the ailing Mathew Street Festival. At the<br />

time, Liverpool City Council were putting out to tender<br />

ideas for a new event which would replace the festival of<br />

tribute acts that took over the city centre every August.<br />

“It was the usual suspects, so I thought, ‘I’m not going<br />

there because I’m not part<br />

of that Liverpool’,” was<br />

Owusu’s argument against<br />

answering the call. “They<br />

carve up the city for them<br />

and I try to get people<br />

involved. I still don’t feel<br />

part of that Liverpool.” In<br />

the end, the pair came to<br />

an agreement: “I’d just go<br />

and say whatever I want<br />

knowing that it’ll probably<br />

just piss them off and they<br />

won’t want to go with it.<br />

[I’d] just be honest.”<br />

The plan didn’t work.<br />

A Culture Liverpool<br />

representative (the<br />

council’s creative arm)<br />

rang Owusu the next<br />

day inviting him to be the<br />

curator of the first LIMF. “I<br />

didn’t know what a curator<br />

was,” Owusu admits. The<br />

gauntlet was thrown down<br />

to overcome the politics<br />

that come with realising<br />

the flagship event for a<br />

music city, commissioned<br />

by the local authority. The<br />

curator would need to placate an array of stakeholders<br />

while achieving something altogether more progressive<br />

than Classic Clapton on the Water Street Stage.<br />

“We’ve all got to<br />

work a way to<br />

spot the talent<br />

early and get<br />

them to the next<br />

stage where it’s<br />

on them, and the<br />

industry structure,<br />

to do whatever<br />

they can do”<br />

A sprawling programme of events taking place<br />

over several weeks across venues city-wide showcased<br />

Liverpool legends such as Deaf School and The<br />

Christians, while the world of contemporary pop was<br />

represented by the likes of JLS and Ady Suleiman.<br />

There were also artists such as Martha Wainwright,<br />

Steve Mason and All We Are making appearances.<br />

The inaugural event<br />

managed to live up to its<br />

promise of representing<br />

the city’s past, present<br />

and future. “My focus is<br />

project design but for<br />

brands, organisations<br />

and creatives that are<br />

internationally focused,”<br />

Owusu tells me, and with<br />

LIMF 2013 he had aligned<br />

the city’s contemporary<br />

music ambitions with his<br />

own.<br />

Such brands on<br />

Owusu’s CV have latterly<br />

included Levi’s and PRS<br />

Foundation. As disparate<br />

as the jeans company’s<br />

artist development<br />

programme seem to the<br />

music charity’s Power Up<br />

initiative to fight industry<br />

inequality, Owusu feels<br />

they are linked. He lays<br />

out the challenges in<br />

each project, “Levi’s<br />

coming to Liverpool,<br />

they could get that really<br />

wrong. Power Up want<br />

to do this national programme. There’s loads of things<br />

to think about [such as] intersectionality, regionality,<br />

nations, politics, [it has to be] commercially interesting<br />

to the labels and investors. [They’re] the underdog here,”<br />

Owusu explains. “Kof: underdog, Urbeatz: underdog…”<br />

Which leads us onto his most recent project and another<br />

initiative which marries up his passions and calls on his<br />

accrued experience and talents.<br />

The second edition of On Record festival took place<br />

in October to November. Three weeks of events which<br />

celebrate contemporary Black music in Liverpool as<br />

well as finally giving due prominence to the artists and<br />

projects which came before. The programme is typically<br />

ambitious and thought-provoking. Black music in<br />

Liverpool has a rich, proud heritage but is somehow the<br />

underdog. On Record looks to shine a light on this history<br />

while ensuring the next generation get the kudos they<br />

deserve.<br />

One strand in particular captures Owusu’s raison<br />

d’être. The Liverpool ONE Project: Take Two looks to<br />

a selection of artists operating in Liverpool 10 years<br />

ago making Black music and representing the zenith<br />

of their disciplines. In partnership with the University<br />

of Liverpool, Urbeatz mapped the artists’ projects and<br />

analysed the opportunities they got to make it out of their<br />

local scene. A decade later only three of the 12 artists still<br />

make music.<br />

It’s saddening and all too familiar, again resonating<br />

with Owusu’s war story analogy. The On Record project<br />

will look at whether things have changed in <strong>2021</strong>. The<br />

staggeringly talented Koj, P3lz and Remée are three of 20<br />

artists who’ll hopefully be given more resources to fulfil<br />

their potential and pick up the baton in a very different<br />

Liverpool. Owusu has played no small part in making that<br />

difference. The likes of LIMF Academy and Levi’s Music<br />

Project provide the development, LIMF festival affords the<br />

opportunities and myriad other national and international<br />

brands look on as the talent that should be platformed<br />

is getting the spotlight it deserves and there are fewer<br />

career casualties. !<br />

Words: Sam Turner / @SamTurner1984<br />

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


BOOK NOW: 0161 832 1111<br />

MANchesteracademy.net<br />




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ACADEMY 3<br />












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30<br />

Alcohol as currency: is<br />

Liverpool’s booze-fuelled<br />

music scene reaching<br />

breaking point? El Gray speaks<br />

to some of the city’s creatives<br />

choosing sobriety.


SOBER<br />

There are some things that are more important<br />

than a name. For some people, numbers have<br />

more gravity. Markings of time etched onto<br />

identity. Personal anniversaries: six months,<br />

two years, four years. The minutes matter. I’m talking<br />

to a handful of musicians, photographers and DJs about<br />

their experiences of sobriety within the music and<br />

clubbing scene. Each conversation begins the same, with<br />

a confirmation of dates and times, a reestablishment of<br />

the self through time travel. These conversations are<br />

becoming louder, more prevalent. In September <strong>2021</strong>,<br />

in the incongruous setting of District, a conversation<br />

occurred on the emergence of sobriety in the dance<br />

music scene, as part of the Electronic Sound Summit.<br />

In the absence of vibrating bass and propulsive lights,<br />

District echoed instead with personal testimonies and<br />

contemplations on the reality of substances and sobriety<br />

within the scene. The discussion hints at a creeping trend<br />

towards sobriety both in wider society and within the<br />

world of music and clubbing.<br />

The pandemic accelerated this trend. According to<br />

Alcohol Change UK, around four million people embraced<br />

sobriety during the first lockdown. Although isolation<br />

and boredom led some to drink more, sharpening the<br />

extremes, the result was the same: a re-examination of<br />

our relationship with substances, both individually and<br />

collectively. Ubiquity is the same as invisibility. Within the<br />

music and nightlife scenes, drug and alcohol consumption<br />


G<br />

are so prevalent and ingrained that they appear innate,<br />

unseen and assumed. Sobriety pierces this invisibility,<br />

revealing the reality of the sector’s unhealthy addiction to<br />

substances, and the possibilities for recovery.<br />

Addiction is often framed as a dichotomy, divided<br />

between caricatures of addicts desperately searching<br />

for another fix and those who use substances without<br />

an issue, frivolous and blasé. However, the reality is<br />

more of a spectrum, varying from casual use to an<br />

uncomfortable dependence, a sentiment echoed across<br />

those who are sober within the industry. Josh Miller,<br />

vocalist and bassist for Eyesore & The Jinx, is six months<br />

sober. “I knew I had a funny relationship with the booze,”<br />

he explains. “I wasn’t an alcoholic or anything like that<br />


and that’s not really why I’ve given up. But I also didn’t<br />

have a healthy relationship with alcohol.” Gary Lambert,<br />

a music photographer, is 27 months sober and holds a<br />

similar perspective. “I’ve never been alcohol dependent,<br />

but now I know I have problems with how I used alcohol.”<br />

The stories are different, but the conclusion is the same.<br />

At some point, substance use became abuse, forcing<br />

a reassessment of their relationship with substances<br />

altogether.<br />

Lee Butler, one of Liverpool’s most prominent DJs,<br />

is over five years sober. Butler co-founded Break Free, a<br />

community interest company supporting those struggling<br />

with substance abuse. He reveals the reality of this<br />

spectrum of addiction. “The first thing most people say<br />

to me when they reach out, whether it’s a girl, a mum, a<br />

dad, a young lad, is, ‘I haven’t got an addiction. I’m just<br />

drinking and using every weekend. I don’t use every day. I<br />

don’t use through the week. But the weekend comes and<br />

I’m using through the weekend and it’s starting to affect<br />

me through the week’.”<br />

Substances are associated with release, a<br />

detachment from yourself, stresses and social norms,<br />

allowing for an imagined freedom and shedding of<br />

responsibility. In this way, they are inherently connected<br />

to weekend nightlife. A 2020 ONS report indicated that<br />

the use of powder cocaine was 12 times higher among<br />

those who had visited a nightclub at least four times in<br />

the past month (19.1 per cent) compared with those who<br />

had not visited a nightclub (1.6 per cent). This association<br />

suggests the extent to which the music and nightlife<br />

scene normalises excessive drug use and potentially<br />

obscures addictive behaviour. “[People] don’t know any<br />

different,” Lee Butler explains.<br />

“I didn’t. I was convinced that<br />

was the norm. I needed to<br />

drink and take drugs to go to<br />

work, to go to clubs, to go to<br />

raves.” It creates an illusory<br />

sense that drugs are innate<br />

to music and nightlife, to the<br />

extent that it becomes difficult<br />

to imagine a gig or an event<br />

without them. “In retrospect,”<br />

Miller continues, “since I’ve<br />

stopped drinking, I’ve realised<br />

that it’s not just socialising,<br />

everything [is] kind of more<br />

geared towards alcohol rather than the actual socialising.<br />

For example, going to gigs, it wasn’t so much about going<br />

to watch a band or an artist, it was more to go and have<br />

a few drinks.”<br />

This reliance on substances as a form of escapism is<br />

exacerbated by underlying mental health issues, seeking<br />

the diluting effects of intoxication. Alcohol and drugs<br />

are often confined within the paradigm of “weekend<br />

escapism”, employed as a means to disengage after a<br />

long week, notes Matthew Thomas Smith, member of<br />

Psycho Comedy, co-founder of JARG Poetry and four<br />

years sober. “I’d had suicidal ideation and I’d been on and<br />

off anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication; I’d been<br />

self-medicating with drugs and alcohol,” he continues,<br />

plainly. “I always found myself turning to the bottle.” Gary<br />

Lambert reiterates this seductive escapism. “I would drink<br />

because, after a while, I knew my mind would go numb<br />

[…] Come Friday, 5pm, I knew that I could have as many<br />

drinks as I wanted all weekend, and I wouldn’t have to<br />

think about work until 9am on Monday.”<br />

Mental health issues are more prominent within the<br />

music community; a 2018 report by the Music Industry<br />

Research Association indicated that 50 per cent of<br />

musicians reported symptoms of depression, compared<br />

to less than 25 per cent of the general population,<br />

suggesting a pre-existing vulnerability to addiction<br />

among artists. This vulnerability is heightened, and<br />

the pursuit of sobriety challenged, by an environment<br />

saturated with the constant presence of drugs and<br />

alcohol, and an atmosphere which normalises excessive<br />

consumption. “The whole cultural scene seems to be built<br />

around having a bevvy,” Smith reflects “So I do find it<br />

difficult […] I will go to gigs and events, but I have to set<br />

quite a few boundaries to protect myself.”<br />

This sense of a necessary symbiosis between drugs<br />

and music is intensified by an underlying mythology<br />

and romanticisation. Historically, drugs and alcohol have<br />

been perceived as integral to the image of the reckless<br />

“My addiction really<br />

tried to convince<br />

me I will not be able<br />

to keep my job if I<br />

stopped drinking<br />

and using drugs”<br />

and defiant rock star, the transcendent creative, and<br />

necessary for access into certain ‘networking’ spaces.<br />

There’s an “obsession with nostalgia, the idea that bands<br />

were more rock ‘n’ roll” in the past, Lambert indicates.<br />

Miller agrees that “You’ll always have that bullshit NME<br />

journalist who’s peddling this myth of sex, drugs and rock<br />

‘n’ roll and we go out and we get wrecked, and we do as<br />

much coke as we can because that’s what bands do [...]<br />

that’s still lingering in the communities that we move in –<br />

the mythologising of that kind of lifestyle.”<br />

The pressure to fulfil this mythologised role can<br />

make sobriety seem impossible within the music and<br />

clubbing scene. “My addiction really tried to convince<br />

me I will not be able to keep my job if I stopped drinking<br />

and using drugs,” Butler says, “It really used the link of<br />

music and nightlife to talk to me, to tell me, ‘Well, that’s<br />

it then, if you pack drinking in and snorting, you’re not<br />

going to be able to fucking work anymore’.” He eloquently<br />

externalises what it’s like to be consumed by addiction;<br />

repeating demanding instructions, examples of the<br />

dialogues that once occupied his head, conversations<br />

influenced by the romanticisation of drugs within the<br />

scene.<br />

This glamourisation of overconsumption is possibly<br />

more persuasive in Liverpool, reinforcing the challenge of<br />

sobriety within the city. “Liverpool will always be a city of<br />

excess,” explains Smith, rooted in a defiant determination<br />

to prove ourselves against tired clichés and internalised<br />

stereotypes. “I think a lot of those [stereotypes] have<br />

stuck to us a bit and we have them in our heads<br />

sometimes. I think it makes us want to prove ourselves<br />

even more. But that can be in ways that aren’t necessarily<br />

productive.” Substance use<br />

becomes “almost competitive<br />

as people look to be the one<br />

who can go wildest”, Lambert<br />

notes. Butler remembers<br />

“drinking Saturday, Sunday,<br />

Monday. I’d be sitting up in<br />

mine on a Monday, still getting<br />

coke delivered and then taking<br />

sleeping tablets at night. I’d<br />

wake up Wednesday and I’d<br />

be boasting to my friends<br />

on the phone, ‘Ah, I was on<br />

it Friday, Saturday, Sunday,<br />

Monday’, ‘Oh, you’re fucking<br />

boss, you’. That’s the culture, we boast about it […] That’s<br />

where addiction starts”.<br />

Despite this persuasive mythology, the truth is that<br />

sobriety is more provocative and defiant. “Rock ‘n’ Roll<br />

is supposed to be radical and revolutionary,” Smith says,<br />

“but ale, by its very makeup and its chemistry, dulls<br />

you and dilutes all of that.” Sobriety has provided an<br />

enhanced presence, creativity and control, revealing the<br />

limitations of intoxication. “I’ve been more present over<br />

the last few years. Everything I’m writing just feels a lot<br />

more truthful,” Smith states. However, this presence is<br />

challenging in itself, creating a heightened awareness<br />

and sense of responsibility for audiences’ behaviour. “I<br />

think noticing things in the crowd and people’s behaviour<br />

is still something I’m getting used to, and something I’m<br />

trying to ignore while I’m playing so I can enjoy myself<br />

a little bit more,” Miller admits. He was unaware of how<br />

much he relied on “having some alcohol beforehand to<br />

settle [his] nerves” but acknowledges “one of the perks<br />

of being sober is that I’m a lot more in control of my<br />

actions and emotions”. Lambert indicates the seriousness<br />

sobriety has lent to his craft: “Now, the thought of doing<br />

something that would weaken my chances of getting the<br />

photo I want is such an alien concept to me.”<br />

There is evidence that the romanticisation of drugs<br />

within the scene is fading. “I think people are becoming<br />

a little wiser to the bullshit of that kind of myth,” Miller<br />

says. The younger generation are more health conscious,<br />

aware of “what they’re putting into their body” and<br />

critical of received wisdom and systems. Lambert<br />

highlights the changing attitudes towards sobriety:<br />

“There’s not just more people becoming sober, but there’s<br />

also a lot more understanding and acceptance of people<br />

who are sober.” Sobriety is vulnerable to connotations<br />

of solemnity, there is a gravity and a restraint attached<br />

to it that feels limiting, antonymous to the frivolity and<br />

hedonism of the nightlife scene. However, in reality,<br />

sobriety is more immersive, engaging and unflinching – a<br />

direct interaction with the moment and yourself. There is<br />

nothing revolutionary about escapism.<br />

Addiction and consumption habits are often framed<br />

as individual choices, perceived as either a consequence<br />

of individual restraint or indulgence. However, structural<br />

factors embed substances within the music scene,<br />

ensuring sobriety – or even simply participating less<br />

– remains elusive. Within the grassroots music scene,<br />

alcohol is currency. “It’s absolutely ingrained in the<br />

culture,” Miller explains. “You might only get £50 for a<br />

show but you get your beer as well. It’s kind of unspoken.<br />

That’s what the fee is. The alcohol tops up the fee and<br />

it’s taken as currency in the community.” Although<br />

understandable in the face of tight overheads and<br />

limited funding, this reliance on alcohol can perpetuate<br />

problematic relationships with substances. “You’re<br />

potentially feeding someone’s habit. It’s well intentioned,<br />

but it’s pretty detrimental to everyone’s wider health,”<br />

Miller admits. “There should be an acknowledgement<br />

that not everyone drinks,” Smith says, referencing the<br />

constant presence of alcohol on artist riders. Miller<br />

explains the challenge this poses to sobriety: “It’s almost<br />

like it’s testing you. It’s an extra layer for you to overcome<br />

and an extra hurdle for you to deal with.”<br />

Alcohol’s currency status also operates to maintain a<br />

poor economic model, failing to value artists adequately.<br />

Although he suggests alternative payment options,<br />

such as offering vouchers for studio sessions, Lambert<br />

indicates that there is “no solution until there are other<br />

ways of creating value at the lowest end of the food<br />

chain”. Miller agrees, suggesting that “it’s part of a wider<br />

cultural issue about Britain not really taking artists<br />

seriously. People want something for nothing. Until that<br />

attitude changes, I don’t see how we can implement the<br />

changes needed”.<br />

This economic reliance on alcohol is mirrored across<br />

the music and nightlife sector. According to the Music<br />

Venue Trust, 65 per cent of income for grassroots music<br />

venues comes from their wet sales, stating that “it is not<br />

possible to deliver an economically viable event in this<br />

sector without the financial support provided by alcohol<br />

sales”. Meanwhile, the council’s #DrinkLessEnjoyMore<br />

campaign reveals the tension between prioritising<br />

nightlife as vital for the city’s economy while not<br />

promoting unhealthy substance use. Alcohol’s economic<br />

importance forces venues and nightlife operators to<br />

encourage excessive consumption and reveals the<br />

possible threat posed by increasing sobriety; if trends<br />

towards sobriety continue, music venues may struggle to<br />

operate.<br />

However, Liverpool has always been a pioneer<br />

of experimental and innovative nightlife. Embracing<br />

sobriety offers an opportunity for a more creative use of<br />

music venues, providing a sanctuary from the substance<br />

driven night-time economy – a place of direct and<br />

undiluted experience. The Brink was the UK’s first dry<br />

bar and a social enterprise dedicated to helping those in<br />

treatment while operating as a cultural and community<br />

hub. Although it sadly closed in 2020, Lee Butler has “a<br />

driving ambition to create a proper dry bar in Liverpool”,<br />

reviving the spirit of The Brink and providing a space<br />

for those in recovery and those who simply choose not<br />

to drink. He is also determined to “start a proper sober<br />

night”, building on the success of Freedom to Party:<br />

A Sober Rave held at The Brink in <strong>December</strong> 2019.<br />

The event recognised the difficulty or impossibility of<br />

socialising in the usual social spaces while in recovery,<br />

while rejecting the notion that sobriety must be quiet,<br />

restrictive and dull. As places of community and<br />

connection, music venues are the ideal spaces for sober<br />

events; allowing people to check in rather than check out,<br />

subverting the expectations of weekend escapism and<br />

exploring the freedom of existing without substances.<br />

Conversations about sobriety are often tainted with<br />

the same atmosphere as the word itself, quiet, downbeat,<br />

respectful; swimming in pain and the memory of<br />

addiction, framed only in restraint and onward struggle.<br />

But the reality of sobriety is expansive. It is not a sacrifice,<br />

a burden nor a last resort. It is a choice – an exercise<br />

in self-trust and the belief that you are capable of<br />

experience and sensation, without a substance to create<br />

it for you. !<br />

Words: El Gray / @Just__El<br />

Illustration: Eve / @inkycapz<br />







SUPPORT?<br />






COMING UP IN <strong>2022</strong><br />












A S T L<br />

E S<br />

Forcing the Southport singer-songwriter back to his hometown, lockdown gifted time for reflection.<br />

Now he’s back with an arcade’s worth of new material as well as new-found confidence.<br />

The years have not been kind to Southport, it’s<br />

fair to say. Its cracked, salt-crusted frontage<br />

faces away towards the Irish Sea. Stoic but<br />

defeated, it looks almost ashamed of what’s<br />

happened behind its grand, faded façade. There is a sad<br />

magic about the demise and decay of a seaside town<br />

with such a grand and illustrious history, especially in<br />

the cold, quiet months. It has long been a town free of<br />

investment. The cranes of greed have yet to make it up<br />

the coast, and so Southport is left to make the most of<br />

itself by trading on its past.<br />

The seagulls who foolishly remain here on a breezy<br />

but bright October Monday do battle for the scraps of<br />

what’s left of the summer, strutting and certain, almost as<br />

if they, like this provincial seaside town itself, think they<br />

deserve better.<br />

Funland is open. Funland is always open. Tucked<br />

away in a pub garden behind, a singer, tightly wrapped<br />

against the cold, promises a scattering of elderly daytrippers<br />

a Bruno Mars song, like they know who Bruno<br />

Mars is. It’s all a bit Phoenix Nights meets Coral Island.<br />

But this isn’t the product of somebody else’s sense of<br />

humour or the vivid, romanticised seaside of another’s<br />

imagination. Astles grew up here in Southport having left<br />

34<br />

Liverpool at the age of six. “We were sort of the wools of<br />

the family.” From boy to man to musician and back again,<br />

Astles has always called Southport home.<br />

Nobody else is on this pleasure walk. It’s just me,<br />

those cocky bastard gulls and the ghosted memories<br />

of my youthful adventures. The colourful cast of giant<br />

fibreglass swan-shaped pedalos here gathered look<br />

inward with indifference, tightly chained nose to nose in<br />

protection against the oncoming winter and attacks from<br />

bored, guffawing, balloon-wielding teenagers with little<br />

else to do for fun on dark nights.<br />

We make whatever fun we can, after all, and<br />

growing up in a town such as this offers precious few<br />

opportunities for youth to flourish, the assumption<br />

perhaps predictably being that they’ll grow up and move<br />

away soon enough. And they do. Astles did. And as with<br />

many artists, lockdown brought him home to these sand<br />

dunes, these charity shops and candy floss stalls.<br />

And there he is, silhouetted alone on the bridge<br />

crossing the boatless boating lake, arms raised to the<br />

salty skies for the camera as though in triumph. Like he’s<br />

gone all Rambo on us. Not exactly the sort of pose we’ve<br />

come to expect from what was once, at least, a most<br />

personal and introspective songwriter and performer.<br />

Astles’ early shows saw him spotlighted alone on<br />

the stage, a very singular, almost timid but charming<br />

presence. The Astles we see today seems different, more<br />

confident and settled in his own songwriting skin.<br />

Hunched over coffee in a confused looking building<br />

at the end of the pier, we talk of his songs, the writing<br />

process and the unwitting effect he found in returning<br />

home to Southport and the splendid isolation of<br />

lockdown.<br />

“There was that moment of stop. For me that was<br />

very therapeutic and helpful towards my songwriting. It<br />

felt like it advanced it. I could breathe and I could think<br />

about things that had been bothering me and consult<br />

them in songs. I started writing a lot more about things<br />

I had written about before. My relationships with my<br />

parents and my brother, and with my uncle.”<br />

Astles never knew his uncle Joseph, but that man’s<br />

legacy and influence on him is strong and lasting. Growing<br />

up in an all-boys school in Birkdale where “you were either<br />

into footy or you were a nerd”, he was neither. Or perhaps<br />

both. In terms of finding his musical tribe at school, “There<br />

was the metal heads and the jazz band and that’s it.”<br />

Clearly, Astles ticks neither box, and so he embarked on his<br />

road of musical discovery very much alone.

There was no group of friends with similar interests,<br />

no tribe for him to find, and nobody prepared to let their<br />

guard down and admit the same desire to release their<br />

thoughts through music and song. Nobody to gaze<br />

in awe with at the unaffordable, out of reach guitars<br />

in music shop windows on a<br />

Saturday afternoon.<br />

“It just felt like it was my<br />

thing, really. Even in the family,<br />

nobody was much into music. It<br />

was isolating, but in a nice way,<br />

really. Growing up in Southport,<br />

people don’t really have their own<br />

thing, so to do it that way was<br />

good. You get there at your own<br />

pace, in a way. Like, my favourite<br />

Liverpool songwriters, people<br />

like Mick Head and Bill Ryder-<br />

Jones, if I’d have had someone<br />

telling me about them early, they<br />

wouldn’t have the same effect on me as they did when I<br />

discovered them for myself.”<br />

Inspiration eventually did make its way to him,<br />

courtesy of his uncle Joey’s old record collection. From his<br />

mixtapes and musty, treasured copies of the NME. From<br />

precious gig tickets and reviews he’d written. A treasure<br />

trove of memories.<br />

“That was kind of the only thing I had, from beyond<br />

the grave…there was this one mixtape called ‘Soundtrack<br />

For The 21 Bus Home’ and it’s just amazing. Through that<br />

“You do it to learn<br />

about yourself.<br />

That’s what it is<br />

with songs for me”<br />

I discovered the Bunnymen, Radiohead… he’d put these<br />

mad interludes in, Kerouac reading poetry or a lesson<br />

in how to say ice cream in French. But it still felt like I’d<br />

discovered it myself, because he wasn’t there saying, ‘Get<br />

on this, get on this’. I was looking through all this stuff<br />

one day and found a record with<br />

a banana on the front and Andy<br />

Warhol written on it. I put it on,<br />

and it changed my life. I probably<br />

had terrible music taste until I<br />

was 16.”<br />

Working, too, with someone<br />

he admires so very much in Bill<br />

Ryder-Jones, is an undeniable<br />

thrill, but for Astles and<br />

songwriting, it’s the connection<br />

which is worth just as much.<br />

Where he may have found his<br />

own music “a bit wet or whatever,<br />

not cool” – such is the insecurity<br />

of every writer – Bill begged to differ. “The things I was<br />

insecure about, that was the stuff that Bill really liked.”<br />

“I’ve loved Bill’s music for ages and all of the band<br />

has as well. It’s things like, when I’m doing my vocal and<br />

thinking Bill’s listening, and he says, ‘Sounds amazing, I<br />

love that’. Well, if he says it sounds good, then I believe<br />

that. He’s so good as a producer. It’s people like Bill and<br />

Sophie Ellis, who we recorded with in London. It’s those<br />

people who you actually respect as musicians. When<br />

they’re telling you they like what you’re doing, it helps<br />


your confidence indefinably. It’s sort of worth more than<br />

how many streams you’ve had. It’s them connections.”<br />

So, while early releases and appearances by Astles<br />

were always a strictly solo affair and he still mainly writes<br />

alone, he now lives with his band in true Monkees fashion,<br />

the house a rehearsal space, a recording studio and a<br />

micro-community where Astles finds himself at home.<br />

And that’s the point. Today, Astles feels at home. With his<br />

band, on his own, in his writing and in his music, he’s at<br />

home with himself and confident in what’s to come.<br />

“You do it to learn about yourself. That’s what it is<br />

with songs for me. I don’t really reflect on things, I can’t<br />

really, but then I’ll write a song and then recognise that<br />

that’s how I’m feeling, because that’s how it’s come out<br />

and how the words have put themselves together. That’s<br />

how I use songs. I’m more honest in my songs than I am<br />

in normal life.”<br />

Next year will see more than its fair share of the fruits<br />

of the songwriter’s labours at Ryder-Jones’ Yawn studios<br />

and more besides. A full-band <strong>December</strong> headline show<br />

at Ullet Road Unitarian Church and future releases will<br />

testify to an Astles that is settled, happy and confident.<br />

Much like the seagulls in his hometown, except he<br />

doesn’t go around stealing people’s lunch. !<br />

Words: Paul Fitzgerald / @nothingvillemusic<br />

Photography: Keith Ainsworth / arkimages.co.uk<br />

Astles play at the Ullet Road Unitarian Church on 11 th<br />

<strong>December</strong>.<br />




Once outsiders to Liverpool’s patchwork music scene, Gen and the Degenerates are proud<br />

dyed-in-the-wool heirs to the city’s DNA. Unplugging from their operatic performances, the<br />

genre-eschewing troupe sit down with Gary Lambert ahead of a hometown headliner.<br />


their rehearsal room, the first thing that hits<br />

is the collective energy radiating from the<br />

band. As tight off stage as they are on, the<br />

band each bristle with excitement at being in each other’s<br />

company. Intense eye contact flits between them, and<br />

laughter bursts out at every moment. It isn’t even the first<br />

time the band have seen each other in a long time – far<br />

from it, in fact.<br />

It seems to me that some bands have gone on hold<br />

during the enforced lay-off over the last eighteen months,<br />

while others have used the time to push themselves on by<br />

working on their craft. Gen and the Degenerates definitely<br />

fall under the second category, with a wild performance<br />

at FestEvol earlier this year being an obvious statement of<br />

intent. “It was our first proper show back, on a big stage,<br />

and the chance to thank Revo for all the support he has<br />

given us.” “We’ve put two singles out with another to<br />

come,” Evan continues, “and I don’t think there’s a part of<br />

the country we haven’t been to playing shows.”<br />

“After all that time off, it felt like we made up for<br />

36<br />

it almost immediately,” adds Jay. Evan continues “we<br />

obviously couldn’t do anything about the time off, but<br />

we’ve come back with a record deal and live agency (both<br />

with Marshall) and songs to put out, so we feel like we<br />

used that time well.”<br />

Gen and the Degenerates are a band who exist<br />

to perform in front of audiences; it is their oxygen. We<br />

quickly move on to discussing their show at Burn It Down,<br />

an alternative music festival in Torquay. The alternative<br />

scene is where the Degenerates, but not Gen, spent their<br />

formative years watching and being nurtured as musicians<br />

and performers. “That scene is where our on-stage ethic<br />

comes from,” Sean tells me. “We might not be making the<br />

same type of music, but in terms of energy and ideology of<br />

performance, we are there.”<br />

For Gen, those festival shows are essential to<br />

introducing their sound to new listeners, regardless<br />

of who they primarily turn up to see. “I think there’s<br />

something for most crowds in our set. We’ve got the pop<br />

sensibilities to our tracks which make them listenable,<br />

danceable and fun. Plus, we don’t take ourselves too<br />

seriously, so we get on well with crowds up for a good<br />

time. The main thing for me is that the live shows are fun<br />

and that everybody has a good time. It’s important to<br />

us that our lyrics create a conversation, but it is equally<br />

important that our fans feel included in that conversation.”<br />

Gen and the Degenerates are not a band who sit<br />

comfortably in one particular genre or scene. As is<br />

the usual case for large bands with larger-than-life<br />

members, there is no obvious blueprint to follow, as<br />

everybody’s influences get mixed together. In contrast<br />

to the Degenerates’ teenage love of rock and metal,<br />

Gen’s influences come from further afield. “I’m always<br />

hammering blues scales in my vocal melodies. My<br />

songwriting sensibilities come from pop and country,<br />

genres that allow for more biographical and storytelling<br />

aspects. Even if I stray from my direct experiences, I’ll still<br />

be working within a concept or a metaphor created by my<br />

own experience.”<br />

Having entered the Liverpool music scene from the<br />

outside, I can’t help but wonder what those experiences<br />

may look like. “Is this where you get to call us bad

wools?” Gen snaps. Despite none of them being born in<br />

Liverpool – with most living outside the city – Gen and the<br />

Degenerates consider themselves to be a band grown<br />

in, and representing, the Liverpool music scene. Yet it<br />

wasn’t easy for them. As out-of-town students studying<br />

English Language at the city’s<br />

universities, they didn’t know<br />

how to go about getting<br />

shows. So, they decided<br />

to put on their own shows<br />

instead, with Gen acting as<br />

the promoter and introducer.<br />

“It was actually a great<br />

way to get started,” she<br />

begins. “We aren’t music<br />

scene people who have<br />

been in loads of bands and<br />

know loads of the necessary<br />

people – we didn’t fucking<br />

know anybody. It can be<br />

really difficult to get into it,<br />

especially if you’re not a Scouser. It was also imperative<br />

that we had a house party after the show every month.<br />

That would be my advice to all new bands. Throw a house<br />

party after your gig, invite everybody performing to come<br />

along, stay up until the early hours with people you’ve<br />

only just met.” With their gang mentality, lyrics about<br />

living their lives proudly and their infinite love of partying,<br />

“It’s important to us<br />

that our lyrics create a<br />

conversation, but it is<br />

equally important that<br />

our fans feel included<br />

in that conversation”<br />

Gen and the Degenerates are a prime example of it’s not<br />

where you’re from, it’s where you’re at, and they are, I<br />

promise, not bad wools.<br />

With their biggest Liverpool show to date on the<br />

horizon, the band understand that for things to grow<br />

as they intend, they need to<br />

give people a reason to buy<br />

tickets and turn up. “We are<br />

a live band,” Evan says. “It<br />

doesn’t matter if we’re playing<br />

a support set for Zuzu or in<br />

between proper metal bands<br />

like at Burn It Down – we<br />

are going to play like we<br />

play. We won’t fake it and<br />

try to start circle pits at the<br />

metal shows, and then have<br />

phones in the air moments at<br />

indie shows. We just do our<br />

thing.” Jay hammers the point<br />

home. “From my perspective,<br />

I just want to get up there and have fun. Fortunately, my<br />

favourite way of having fun is doing what we do, getting<br />

up on stage and playing with loads of energy and making<br />

the most of it with my gang and the people watching us”.<br />

According to Gen, “We’re going to have some people<br />

come along too to do extra shit that we can’t afford to do<br />

when we’re on the road.”<br />

Before the madcap fun arrives at Jimmy’s, the band<br />

have a new single ready to unleash to the world. Wild<br />

Thing is a roaring, uplifting explanation as to why Gen<br />

Degenerate is the person she is, and nobody is going to<br />

change that. “We recorded it with Kurran Kurbal (Munkey<br />

Junkey), a lovely human and the sixth Degenerate,” Evan<br />

explains. “We’ve worked with him for ages, and he is the<br />

best at getting the most out of us. He meets the needs<br />

of the label in terms of getting what they want out of the<br />

band, but enables us to do what we want to do.”<br />

As for the song itself, Gen confesses, “I did nick the<br />

name from The Troggs, but in an earnest and wholesome<br />

way, not straight up plagiarism. When I was a baby, Wild<br />

Thing was what my mum used to sing to me as my lullaby,<br />

so I’ve taken inspiration from that to say, ‘This is how I<br />

am, this is how I’ve always been, and there’s nothing I’m<br />

going to do about it’. I have, at times, been a rebellious and<br />

dangerous person,” she concludes. You’ve been warned. !<br />

Words: Gary Lambert / @glamgigpics<br />

Photography: Lucy McLachlan / @lucy_alexandra<br />

Wild Thing is available on the 3 rd <strong>December</strong> via Marshall<br />

Records. Gen and the Degenerates play Jimmy’s on<br />

18 th <strong>December</strong>.<br />

@gensdegenerates<br />




















Liverpool’s public spaces abound with figures<br />

cast in bronze. Indeed, the city itself boasts more<br />

public sculptures than any other in the United<br />

Kingdom outside of Westminster. Journey in<br />

by train and you’re met with immortalised copies of Ken<br />

Dodd and Bessie Braddock. Come in by sea, and your<br />

passage into the city is carefully framed by a tribute to<br />

four of its most exported sons. When Liverpool’s public<br />

spaces are bereft of human activity, its network of statues<br />

serve as reminders that this most Victorian of public<br />

rituals continues to dominate ideas about our public<br />

spaces and how they are used.<br />

And yet, many of us pass our bronze neighbours<br />

without much more than a quick glance. Towering<br />

above our commutes to work and strolls in the park, our<br />

indifference to these pedestalled giants had become<br />

as assured as the thick coat of oxidised green that now<br />

covers their former grandeur.<br />

That was until June 2020, when the statue of slave<br />

trader Edward Colston was torn down and rolled into<br />

the Bristol harbour in the wake of the Black Lives Matter<br />

movement following the murder of George Floyd.<br />

Since then, our statues have become much more<br />

noticeable. Not only that; they’ve become more<br />

perceptible to public considerations about who we<br />

choose to memorialise, who we choose to celebrate, and<br />

who gets to make those types of decisions.<br />

A bellwether of what we were about to witness in<br />

many of our public squares – a defaced Churchill plinth<br />

and the voluntary removal of a statue commemorating<br />

Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell – Edward Colston<br />

cuts deep into the modern statues debate.<br />

In the days following Colston’s removal, Liverpool<br />

was one of the first cities in the UK to confront both its<br />

statues and its relationship to the transatlantic slave trade<br />

from which it built its enormous wealth. Conversations<br />

around (in)famous street names, architecture and the<br />

school curriculum were quickly and powerfully funneled<br />

into wider questions about how our city’s policymakers<br />

plan on directing the energy for change into considered<br />

action.<br />

Over the Summer, many of Liverpool’s statues were<br />

reimagined as part of a project between Sky Arts and<br />

Culture Liverpool, the council’s cultural engagement arm.<br />

Decorating many of the city’s most famous statues with<br />

fabric and other artwork, Statues Redressed challenged,<br />

celebrated and reframed public discourse around the<br />

modern function of statues and the role, if any, that public<br />

memorials should play.<br />

Karen Arthur, one of the artists invited to take part in<br />

Statues Redressed, was tasked with reimagining Derby<br />

Square’s neo-Baroque monument to Queen Victoria. “I<br />

love the idea of reimagining statues and getting people to<br />

think more deeply about the monuments they walk past,”<br />

she tells us. “I was interested in drawing the connection<br />

between her and the abolitionist movement that was<br />

happening at the beginning of her reign.”<br />

A main source of inspiration for Karen’s artwork came<br />

from an unusual relationship Queen Victoria had with a<br />

woman born into slavery. “During my research I learned<br />

about a Black woman named Martha Ricks who was born<br />

into slavery but moved freely to Liberia,” Karen continues.<br />

“She was an accomplished quilter and gifted Queen<br />

Victoria with a satin quilt that she had made herself.”<br />

Featuring Ankara prints in a nod to the direct link<br />

between the continent of Africa and the exchange of<br />

human labour that built Liverpool’s wealth, Karen’s<br />

fabric similarly became a tangible memorial to her Black<br />

ancestors. “As a Black woman it was sometimes difficult<br />

to process and comprehend the pain in our shared<br />

history. Black History is everyone’s history and it’s been<br />

hidden or ignored for centuries.” !<br />

Statues Redressed is available to watch on Sky TV<br />

on demand and on the NOW streaming service.<br />




“The last year<br />

has been a crazy<br />

dichotomy. It was<br />

definitely a struggle<br />

over lockdown but<br />

I’m so happy we<br />

persevered and<br />

made new music”<br />


Love at first sound: Alright (okay) are hard to pin down, and<br />

even harder to ignore.<br />

ALRIGHT (OKAY) have arrived on the music scene at<br />

full throttle with their own unique brand of wobbly guitar<br />

pop. Sitting down in their practice studio, the four friends<br />

– who like to “unintentionally cause a bit of carnage” –<br />

reveal they’ve spent the last three years “jamming and<br />

jiving” in the hopes of bringing that little bit of extra joy to<br />

their fans.<br />

Alex, Jonah, James and Will are all well versed in<br />

the ways of Liverpool. Having all met at university, the<br />

boys have spent the past few years growing and thriving<br />

alongside Liverpool’s vibrant music scene. Forming at the<br />

back end of 2018 after Alex and Will met on a night out,<br />

the band instantly hit it off, with James describing the<br />

relationship between the four as “love at first sound”.<br />

Picking their brains on the unusual name of the band,<br />

Jonah divulges that “Clown Funeral” and “Casual Scythe”<br />

were both plausible contenders. Alex chimes in to clarify:<br />

“I remember seeing a post online somewhere showing<br />

signs homeless people would use when travelling to<br />

different places, usually marking where they had food<br />

or shelter, or what the general area was like. There was<br />

a sign with an X and underneath it read ‘alright (okay)’,<br />

which I quite liked the wording of. I guess it was to tell<br />

people the area wasn’t that bad to be in. Once we looked<br />

at what names we had come up with, that one spoke to<br />

us the most.”<br />

If the name has a clear lineage, then the band’s sound<br />

is much more difficult to pin down. This, of course, isn’t<br />

necessarily a bad thing; their unique ability to flit between<br />

genres sets them apart from the sea of indie bands<br />

currently rising through the ranks. I’m eager to hear their<br />

own take. “Like if Frank Zappa had a chance to meet<br />

System of a Down to discuss the global financial crisis<br />

of 2008,” philosophises Jonah. “Or, if you want a serious<br />

answer, fun and fast-paced post-punk riffs over a wall of<br />

crushing drums.”<br />

Though eager to bring their Zappa-Tankian tonic to<br />

the world, much like the rest of society the boys found<br />

their plans halted with you-know-what. Noting that the<br />

pandemic made them appreciate the little things in life,<br />

Jonah jests with a profound decision that “pubs are the<br />

backbone of society”.<br />

But despite the carnage ensuing around them,<br />

lockdown did help the band find a new direction for<br />

their music. Writing a lot of new tracks acoustically, the<br />

band found re-entering the studio to be a breath of fresh<br />

air. Having performed their first ‘gig’ as an Instagram<br />

livestream, the group found themselves making up for<br />

lost time once they could finally let their debut single,<br />

Coffee, out into the world. “The last year has been a crazy<br />

dichotomy,” James reflects. “From having to practice<br />

acoustic sets at Alex’s house to being able to play in<br />

front of crowds for the first time is unbelievable. It was<br />

definitely a struggle over lockdown, but I’m so happy we<br />

persevered and made new music.”<br />

Coffee bookmarks a defiant page in the growing<br />

anthology of Alright (okay), having originally been penned<br />

when Alex was 17, and recorded in Vulcan Studios, the<br />

post-punk cut offers a high-energy take on break-up<br />

anthems. “It’s about that strange limbo period you can<br />

sometimes find yourself in when you know you’re done,<br />

but they’re still occupying your mind or they’re trying<br />

to stay close with you. The tune was quite a bit slower<br />

to start, but once I brought it to the band it became its<br />

own beast.” Eyes fixed firmly on the next chapter, Jonah<br />

divulges they’re currently adding finishing touches to<br />

their next single, After Paris, with a debut EP on the<br />

horizon.<br />

Despite having only played to a virtual crowd, the<br />

quartet stumbled into selling out a show at Liverpool’s<br />

Jacaranda. Described as “absolute carnage” by Alex (not<br />

least owing to him breaking his guitar string three songs<br />

in), the band navigated their way through a bustling,<br />

sweaty mosh to deliver their lockdown-penned tracks<br />

to a live crowd for the first time. With James noting<br />

that the band had been working their way towards this<br />

moment for their entire career, it was surely a night not<br />

to be missed. “To see all the faces we’ve been unable to<br />

see for 18 months smiling and having a nice time with<br />

one another was truly a special moment.” Jonah cheekily<br />

adds: “Did get a bit sweaty. You’ll have to check our<br />

Instagram to see topless Will and James.”<br />

Discussing the amazing talent they find themselves<br />

surrounded by in the 21 st -century indie scene, the band<br />

tip their hats to DEAD ANIMALS and MONDO TRASHO,<br />

who coincidentally will be supporting the boys at their<br />

headline show at Jimmy’s in February. For now, the band<br />

continue to be humbled by their craft. I ask Jonah what it<br />

is about performing live that he just can’t get anywhere<br />

else: “Tinnitus.” !<br />

Words: Alannah Williams / @swimdeeeplana<br />

Photography: Ollie Dignan / @mm_dignan<br />

Alright (okay) play the <strong>Bido</strong> <strong>Lito</strong>! Social on 27th <strong>January</strong>.<br />

@alrightokayband<br />


P3LZ<br />

Eyes set firmly on the stars, the journey has only<br />

just begun for Toxteth’s wise wunderkind.<br />

As I wait for my guest, I’m smug with pride at picking<br />

the perfect location. A multi-use building on Windsor<br />

Street with its arms wide open, Toxteth TV is a space<br />

that magnetises the urban dweller with the charm of its<br />

garden space and informal cafe. Soon after losing myself<br />

in its throwback decadence – boasting an old school<br />

games arcade and a VHS rental store – I find myself<br />

face-to-face with P3LZ. Armed with a soft smile, she<br />

swings her braided hair out of her face – the pieces of<br />

gold aluminium that coil her locks clinking together ever<br />

so quietly.<br />

Do not be fooled. Despite being only 17, the force<br />

in front of me has caught the attention of several<br />

high-profile brands and platforms, from Nike to LFC,<br />

off the back of various freestyle videos that have gone<br />

viral online. I admit to her that I can’t fathom what an<br />

experience that must be. “At first, working with big<br />

brands was daunting because they’re high up and they’re<br />

known,” she explains. “So, getting associated with them<br />

is not a normal thing. It was exciting and as I did it more<br />

often, I got used to it. Then I was able to understand how<br />

they work, learn from them and build connections.”<br />

Since the release of her first official track, Broken<br />

Homes, she has grown and I can’t help but wonder if she<br />

was pleased with the reaction to it. It could have been<br />

better, she tells me. “It was my first track, but I think<br />

things will pick up after I’ve done some more stuff. It was<br />

exciting and I’ve done something new. I think I expected<br />

what I got, but obviously I’m hoping for better in the<br />

future.”<br />

From my experience in the Liverpool urban music<br />

scene, there’s an assumption that it’s standard for a<br />

teenager to be heavily influenced by their surroundings<br />

and create music that revolves around a hedonistic<br />

existence of drinking, partying and experimenting with<br />

various substances. However, P3Lz’s music is mindful,<br />

defined by the ability to focus the lyrics on the current<br />

moment and calmly present her thoughts through<br />

calculated lyricism. In regard to her process of writing, the<br />

technique itself is a natural reflection<br />

of her recent venture into the rap<br />

scene. “I kind of go on YouTube to<br />

get beats. At the start that’s all I did<br />

because I didn’t know where else to<br />

get them.”<br />

But it’s also the opportunities to<br />

grow that have aided her to develop<br />

a relationship with music that sees<br />

it as just one potential career. “I<br />

enjoy music, it’s my passion and<br />

I am serious about it, but I’m still<br />

figuring out if it’s what I want to put<br />

100 per cent into. At the moment I<br />

have other things I want to do. I’m<br />

really into my academics and going<br />

to university. I don’t want to be half-hearted if I was to do<br />

music; I want to be able to put everything in – my whole<br />

time and effort. If you’ve got other options, then you<br />

shouldn’t just cut them out because that would be silly.”<br />

Stunned by her maturity, I feel that P3Lz is wise<br />

beyond her years, and there’s a wholesome energy to<br />

her attitude. After all, she does have her whole life ahead<br />

of her, and it’s one that will no doubt be shaped by an<br />

adolescence spent growing up in Toxteth. Her recent<br />

“I want to give<br />

back as well if I<br />

can, because I<br />

feel like this place<br />

needs something<br />

big to boost it”<br />

appearance in Almost Liverpool 8 – a documentary<br />

vignette of L8 and a celebration of its diverse community<br />

– is an embryonic biography of those experiences, bottled<br />

up and unleashed with sharp-edged spoken word.<br />

“I think growing up in Toxteth has had an impact<br />

on my music because it’s given me the drive and the<br />

motivation to be able to aim and strive for things that<br />

are better than here. Although I love<br />

living here it’s like a really deprived<br />

area so, obviously, I’m not trying to<br />

stay here forever. I want to give back<br />

as well if I can, because I feel like this<br />

place has got really low morale and<br />

it needs something big to boost it<br />

so that people don’t run away from<br />

here and want to live here and buy<br />

houses here.”<br />

Her motivations are pure and it’s<br />

a case of when, not if, she goes on to<br />

take the rest of the country by storm.<br />

I’m in such anticipation of her future<br />

and I wonder what’s on the cards.<br />

“There’s something mad coming at<br />

the start of <strong>2022</strong>. It’s called Remedy and it’s going to be<br />

a sick drill track.” I give her a smile so big that I have to<br />

call it a beam. There’s nothing I can do but take her word<br />

for it. !<br />

Words: Iona Fazer / @ionafazer97<br />

Photography: Anthony Wilde / @evolving_necessary<br />

Remedy is available soon.<br />




The hometown heroine’s<br />

bubblegum pop shimmers in<br />

an affirmation of optimism.<br />

Calypso is a romantic pop ballad with an interesting<br />

title – tell us more!<br />

I wrote Calypso in 2018 as a cutesy little dance song,<br />

based loosely around a Simpsons episode when Marge<br />

and Homer had their prom, and Homer was sad about<br />

Marge going to it and dancing with someone else. I<br />

wanted to make it a little happier and something the<br />

audience could get involved with. Whether that’s singing<br />

or clapping, just to get everyone dancing is the key to<br />

this song really!<br />

Who were your inspirations when you were growing<br />

up?<br />

I had plenty – Paramore, Alanis Morissette, Haim,<br />

Fleetwood Mac. Whatever my cousins were into, really,<br />

they’re the coolest people I know so I just followed suit.<br />

As I’ve gotten older my taste has obviously changed but<br />

those bands have stuck around.<br />

What’s your favourite album in your collection?<br />

At the minute my favourite album in my vinyl collection<br />

has to be Orla Gartland’s Woman On The Internet. I think<br />

Orla’s writing has always been amazing, but this album<br />

is something special – it’s so authentically her.<br />

Who would you like to collaborate with?<br />

I think a collaboration with Will Joseph Cook would be<br />

cool. I feel like our music is very similar and our voices<br />

could blend quite nicely. I’d love to collaborate with<br />

Paramore or Zuzu, too.<br />

What’s a favourite venue you’ve performed in?<br />

Up to now my favourite venue must be the Arts Club.<br />

I also loved playing Future Yard, too. It’s such a special<br />

place to me as I loved the 2019 festival there and, also,<br />

how often do you get to play a boss gig in Birkenhead?<br />

Tilly Louise supports Zuzu at the O2 Academy<br />

on 5th Demember.<br />

Tilly Louise (Adele Robinson)<br />


Andrew Neal (John Johnson)<br />

Country-inflected Merseybeat<br />

meets heel-stomping Americana<br />

in a sway of raw storytelling.<br />

Describe your music to us.<br />

Each song has a different sound and feeling. I write all of<br />

my songs on acoustic guitar, this gives the backbone of<br />

rhythm and melody to the song, allowing me to compose<br />

other instrumentation around the rhythm guitar. I pretty<br />

much use this method of writing for all of my songs so<br />

although they are different in sound and feeling, I think<br />

you can hear my style clearly in each song.<br />

Who were your inspirations when you were growing up?<br />

I had a brilliant mixture of music growing up; from Soul<br />

and Motown to Folk and Country and, of course, good<br />

old Rock and Roll.<br />

Paint The Dark, is a toe-tapping, brisk infusion of<br />

country and blues – is there a specific emotion or<br />

memory that inspired the song?<br />

After experiencing some difficult times and low points<br />

when I was feeling lost, I came through on the other side<br />

in a much better place and state of mind. This gave me<br />

the inspiration to write Paint the Dark. As much as it<br />

sounds like a cliché, I wanted to write a song to articulate<br />

how there is always light at the end of the tunnel.<br />

What’s your favourite album in your collection?<br />

It’s difficult but I would have to say Bob Marley’s Survival.<br />

You probably wouldn’t think I would choose that listening<br />

to my songs but it’s a perfect album from start to finish.<br />

It has everything, from the production in terms of<br />

arrangements and composition, the vocals and meaning<br />

in the lyrics with over all brilliant musicianship.<br />

What’s a favourite venue you’ve performed in?<br />

I did two tours supporting The View in my previous band<br />

The Stamp. We played in a lot of amazing and wellknown<br />

venues. Two stand out gigs were in Amsterdam<br />

and Paris. Paris was made all the more special as Liam<br />

Gallagher came down to watch us play.<br />

Who’ve you seen live recently?<br />

Like all of us, I was missing live music during lockdown.<br />

Although I haven’t been able to get to many live gigs<br />

since things started to open up, I was thrilled to support<br />

The Sonder at EBGBS a couple of months ago. I caught<br />

their performance after I had finished my set and thought<br />

they did a great job - I love the variety of musical talent<br />

coming through on the Liverpool music scene at the<br />

moment.<br />

I Won’t Be Living Here Anymore is available soon.<br />



VESSEL<br />

Music missionaries Manchester<br />

Collective stop by Future Yard as<br />

part of their Heavy Metal tour on<br />

11th <strong>December</strong>. A new commission<br />


aka Vessel, takes pride of place<br />

in the programme. Stuart O’Hara<br />

speaks to the composer about the<br />

story of his new piece, the meaning<br />

of ‘classical’ and collaboration.<br />


Vessel, should have featured in these pages a<br />

long time ago. But maybe it was worth waiting<br />

for his collaboration with contemporary classical<br />

group Manchester Collective. This one’s different; it’s<br />

a commissioned work for orchestral instruments and<br />

electronics, and it’s going on tour in <strong>December</strong>. With<br />

umpteen audiovisual collaborations under his belt<br />

(Immix Ensemble, Pedro Maia, Anouk de Clercq) and<br />

2018’s album Queen of Golden Dogs established as<br />

a recent classic, the promise of new material from Mr<br />

Gainsborough is exciting precisely because the only<br />

certainty is that you won’t be able to guess what<br />

it’ll sound like. Never safe, never predictable, always<br />

cathartic.<br />

His commission for Manchester Collective, Squint,<br />

will speak to audiences. It’s a sequence of sounds that<br />

contains multitudes. Water bubbles past a medieval<br />

French chanson, hammered dulcimers nestle alongside<br />

beeps and beats. As it builds, ever more insistently,<br />

it’s like looking up at the clear night sky out in the<br />

countryside – the longer you look, the more is revealed.<br />

The longer you listen, the more you hear.<br />

Do you find your music takes on a different life when<br />

you go out and perform it live?<br />

I’m curious too. This will be the first time I’ve made music<br />

that I will have no part in performing live. I was talking to<br />

[co-founder and chief executive of Manchester Collective]<br />

Adam Szabo, and I was just assuming that I would be on<br />

stage mucking about as well. He had to gently remind<br />

me that that isn’t traditionally how a commission works,<br />

which was actually quite a shock. Performing live is<br />

such a crucial part of it all, for me. It’s also my space for<br />

what can be an ecstatic communion. I honestly feel quite<br />

uncomfortable about not being able to take part in that,<br />

but who knows? Perhaps it will be surprisingly delicious.<br />

You’ve worked with [Manchester Collective violinist<br />

and co-founder] Rakhi Singh before, on Passion. That’s<br />

kind of classical in its form and instrumentation – three<br />

movements, strings, voice and electronics. Apparently,<br />

it was partly inspired by the novels of Clarice Lispector.<br />

Do you often draw inspiration from non-musical<br />

places?<br />

Yes, I do. I pour ideas into my brain, usually via books, and<br />

turn on the cement mixer. Afterwards I can’t remember<br />

anything of what I’ve read. For this piece, I was<br />

completely obsessed with female Christian mystics of the<br />

Middle Ages, so I’ve done a lot of reading and research<br />

around that.<br />

The main text in Squint, which is spoken word and<br />

runs throughout, is taken from<br />

another collaboration I took part<br />

in. This piece is called One and is a<br />

video work written and conceived<br />

of by the artist and filmmaker<br />

Anouk De Clercq. The singer and<br />

performer Helga Davis speaks<br />

the words. We’ve now made<br />

three pieces together and it’s hard<br />

to overstate how precious this<br />

collaboration is to me. They’re<br />

quite tricky to summarise neatly,<br />

but if anyone would like to find<br />

out more, searching the title with<br />

Anouk’s name will bring up all the<br />

information.<br />

What’s the French song at the centre of Squint?<br />

Je Suis Trop Jeunette. There’s a French band called<br />

Malicorne who did a rendition of it, which I love and<br />

have partly followed here. This tune is apparently pretty<br />

old (some sources date it to 1480, but who knows).<br />

Although this is totally unverified, I’ve concocted the idea<br />

that it shares some DNA with the fin’amor [courtly love]<br />

movement of around the 12th century, and subsequently<br />

also the Beguines, a mystical and semi-heretical Christian<br />

movement who were, at least in part, known for their<br />

eroticised, ambiguously gendered relationship with<br />

God. It’s just a folky love song, really, but if you imagine<br />

that the focus of the singer’s attentions is mystical<br />

transcendence rather than some spotty adolescent, then<br />

it takes on quite a different character, and a useful one for<br />

me in the context of this piece.<br />

Let’s say it is from 1480. Which elements of 21 st -<br />

century music might have a chance of surviving 500<br />

years from now?<br />

I’m going to say 2000s RnB and pop stuff. Some of that<br />

music is so mind-blowing. Talk Talk and Scott Walker.<br />

George Michael and Björk. As soon as you start writing<br />

names so many spring up that humans couldn’t possibly<br />

stop finding relevant and amazing.<br />

What is ‘classical music’ to you, right now?<br />

I’m not sure if I have any unique insights into the nature<br />

“I pour ideas<br />

into my brain,<br />

usually via books,<br />

and turn on the<br />

cement mixer”<br />

of classical music, I don’t know much about it. I’m often<br />

brutally pragmatic when it comes to music, generally. I<br />

don’t listen to a huge amount of it, and when I do, I tend<br />

to become obsessively fixated on whatever it is, primarily<br />

because I want to learn from it. I’ve<br />

listened to Bartók’s string quartets,<br />

or Laughing Stock by Talk Talk<br />

countless times, for example, and<br />

obviously I love that music beyond<br />

words, but it’s also about finding<br />

teachers.<br />

That said, I do think that we are<br />

starting to see more people who<br />

traditionally would have been<br />

excluded or alienated from classical<br />

music start to be platformed more<br />

and, surprise surprise, a lot of that<br />

work is – to me, at least – much<br />

more interesting, much more exciting than dusting off yet<br />

another performance or record of a piece from 200 years<br />

ago which has already had more than enough exposure.<br />

I’m pretty allergic to the overtones of public relations that<br />

this term has acquired, but ‘disruption’ is crucial. Any<br />

form of art which is actively resistant to change, as you<br />

could argue classical music frequently has been, is going<br />

to rot. So, bring on the vultures, I guess.<br />

Heavy Metal is being billed as a ‘loud and intense<br />

programme’. Press release jargon aside, are you<br />

naturally a loud and intense artist?<br />

I love loud music; I think it can be really useful sometimes.<br />

I’m much more interested in quiet music at the moment,<br />

but I’m sure that will change again. I don’t usually think of<br />

myself as anything particular, to be honest. I find it’s quite<br />

an odd idea, really, to take a pleasure in categorising<br />

oneself. I feel like a lot of the time we – artists? Humans?<br />

– look to amplify any possibility that we might be just<br />

a little bit different to everyone else, a little outside of<br />

categories. Which is often a bit delusional, I guess, but<br />

useful, nonetheless.<br />

Words: Stuart Miles O’Hara / @ohasm1<br />

Heavy Metal from Manchester Collective is at Future Yard<br />

on Saturday 11th <strong>December</strong>.<br />

Read this interview in full on bidolito.co.uk<br />



“Music contains all<br />

these multitudes.<br />

It’s always been<br />

a multi-sensory<br />

experience for me”<br />

GIG<br />


15/01/22 – Harvest Sun @ 24 Kitchen Street<br />

Under the pseudonym of LONELADY, Julie Campbell’s creativity pours into an audio-visual<br />

amalgam of art pop, post-punk and electronic grooves. Speaking to the self-described “hybrid<br />

artist” from the heights of her brutalist tower block in the heart of Manchester over Zoom, Julie<br />

discusses what fuelled her innovation following the release of her third record, Former Things.<br />

LONELADY has steadily acquired a coterie of<br />

famous fans including New Order and Brian<br />

Eno; having been invited to support the former<br />

on three shows (an experience she describes<br />

as “mind-boggling”), she unexpectedly received a synth<br />

from the latter. She recalls the anecdote of him walking<br />

into her studio space and complaining about having too<br />

many synths. After jokingly offering to take one, days<br />

later, “a huge package arrived and it was a big heavy<br />

synth wrapped in foam. It’s a Korg Triton so it’s got a very<br />

crisp sound to it. It’s the main piano riff that features on<br />

the song Time Time Time”.<br />

She describes her 2010 debut, Nerve Up as<br />

“economical post-punk.” For her 2015 follow-up,<br />

Hinterland, she added embellishments of funk, but<br />

plucked lyrical inspiration from the industrial Mancunian<br />

spaces of her surroundings. “I’d just go on long walks<br />

around the edge of the city. I’m drawn to leftover unloved<br />

spaces. I also love to walk back to Audenshaw where I’m<br />

from. I think where you’re from has a real kind of pull, like<br />

ley lines.” Former Things is LoneLady’s most personal<br />

record to date, lyrically drawing on Campbell’s childhood.<br />

“Musically it’s a bit softer and sadder, more vulnerable<br />

sounding. I was laying it bare a bit more than previous<br />

albums.”<br />

Julie has remained busy in the six intervening<br />

years since her previous release. For part of this time,<br />

she took up a residency at London’s revered Somerset<br />

House, recording the larger part of Former Things at<br />

an erstwhile rifle range. “I got all this new electronic<br />

hardware. It was a real opportunity to play with my<br />

new toys, test them out, turn the volume up loud. […] I’d<br />

start by programming beats on the sequencer. I just love<br />

building that scaffolding of beats, playing around with<br />

different textures of drum machines and then bringing in<br />

a bassline with an analogue synth.”<br />

Despite the change of scenery from her usual urban<br />

cityscape, Julie explains “the subject matter is inside. It<br />

comes with me”. Her hometown remains resonant in her<br />

lyricism: “I had this strong image in my mind of me sitting<br />

on my bed as a teenager watching VHS tapes and the<br />

flicker from the screen. There was an orange streetlight<br />

outside, and I was dreaming about the future and what I<br />

was going to be when I grew up.” Things took an unusual<br />

turn when Julie completed the album in the rural greenery<br />

of Macclesfield, staying at a friend’s farmhouse to add the<br />

finishing touches.<br />

True to her moniker, Julie rarely works with other<br />

musicians. As a multi-instrumentalist, she laughs “when<br />

I’m not on tour my life resembles lockdown”. When the<br />

world seemed to be on hold, she remained optimistic,<br />

relishing the opportunity to experiment and take the time<br />

to hone her craft. “I certainly am a perfectionist,” she<br />

laughs.<br />

A former fine art student with a keen interest in<br />

psychogeography, Julie eloquently explains the audiovisual<br />

element of her artistic vision. “Music contains<br />

all these multitudes. It’s always been a multi-sensory<br />

experience for me.” The album art for Former Things<br />

was designed by Julie herself, an image inspired by<br />

the medieval painting style she wrote a dissertation<br />

on at art school, each detail intentional in its intricacy.<br />

She describes the image as “a modern-day Joan of Arc<br />

wandering through the industrial streets of my past. All<br />

very romantic”, she laughs. “I designed the banner; had it<br />

hand embroidered. Everything has a meaning. The mesh<br />

fence and rough concrete floor continue the theme from<br />

Hinterland of a post-industrial environment.”<br />

Over the past decade, Julie has continued to create<br />

visual art, namely with her Scrub Transmissions project,<br />

wherein she sporadically installs an MP3 device into the<br />

fabric of a structure. “What’s beautiful about them is that<br />

they’re in very personal locations, and also unglamorous<br />

locations, off the beaten track.” For Julie, it’s a way<br />

of “installing a self into the fabric of the city. There’s<br />

something really haunting about the idea of my voice<br />

looping around in a wall”. However, she’s not opposed<br />

to the idea of expanding the project into other cities or<br />

countries.<br />

She will embark on the second leg of her Former<br />

Things tour in early <strong>2022</strong>, including a headline show<br />

at Liverpool’s 24 Kitchen Street on 15 th <strong>January</strong>. At the<br />

beginning of her career, she performed alone, weaving<br />

guitar melodies over a pounding drum machine.<br />

Gradually, she’s built up a live band of friends, and now<br />

plays with “a lean and mean three-piece”. The idea of<br />

recruiting session musicians anonymously does not<br />

appeal to her because she “would find that quite soul<br />

destroying”. For the current live iteration of LoneLady,<br />

Julie has put her guitar to one side, an experience which<br />

allows her to “inhabit a song emotionally”.<br />

She’s already thinking about album number four but<br />

remains elusive: “I think now it’s just a case of alternating<br />

between playing live and having little chunks of writing<br />

time.” In the decade since she made her debut as<br />

LoneLady, Julie remarks on how much she’s learned from<br />

technical skills to the complexity of instrumentation. She<br />

smiles: “Everything’s a new adventure for me.” !<br />

Words: Sarah Taylor / @tayl0rsarah<br />

Photography: Alex Hurst<br />




31/01-06/02 - Various venues<br />

Arriving to destroy the post-Christmas<br />

blues and define the New Year as one filled<br />

with community, creativity and celebration,<br />

Independent Venue Week returns from<br />

Monday 31st <strong>January</strong>.<br />

present a series of panel discussions on pertinent issues within the city’s music sector,<br />

titled Sustaining Independence and Safe Spaces. Details of the panels are yet to be<br />

announced at the time of writing but are guaranteed to offer a sharp critique and<br />

thoughtful consideration of the hostile environment facing independent venues within<br />

the city, as well as the opportunities for progress.<br />

The Kazimier will also play host to a film screening on Tuesday 1st February,<br />

collaborating with upcoming film makers and producers. The evening will screen<br />

three contemporary and independently curated short films, exploring topics such as<br />

gender acceptance and rave culture unity. The event will also provide an opportunity to<br />

engage with grassroots producers, revealing the inspiration, challenges and realities of<br />

underground cinema.<br />

The IWF Substation will conjure an evening of “chin stroking subculture”, filling<br />

Liverpool’s iconic basement venue with hardcore breaks and unusual dance music.<br />

Expect the experimental and iconoclastic.<br />

The diversity of these events serves to highlight the vital role played by independent<br />

music venues, operating as multi-use spaces for performance, community gathering,<br />

education and release.<br />

This year, 121 venues from 66 different villages, towns and cities have already<br />

signed up to take part, 89 per cent of which are outside of London, proving the diversity<br />

and strength of the grassroots scene. Despite the challenges facing independent venues<br />

locally and nationally, Independent Venue Week is proof that they are valued, respected<br />

and more necessary than ever. EG<br />

The annual event is a celebration of the UK’s independent music venues and<br />

the communities which sustain them. It is a national festival at a local scale,<br />

recognising the vital role that independent venues play in fertilising the wider<br />

music scene through the provision of local support, encouragement and early<br />

career development for artists and those behind the scenes.<br />

A selection of the Merseyside’s finest independent venues will be hosting gigs,<br />

events, discussions and parties in defiance of the challenges they have faced over the<br />

past 18 months and in celebration of the contribution of grassroots music spaces to the<br />

wider sector.<br />

Future Yard excel with a non-stop offering of live music throughout the week. The<br />

week begins with the ascending TERTIA MAY, gracing Birkenhead with her intoxicating<br />

audio concoction of hip hop, jazz, soul and pop. On Tuesday 1st February PENELOPE<br />

ISLES return to the venue after their sold-out socially distanced show last year. The<br />

dreamy pop duo explore the confusions of 20-something life through alt-rock and psych<br />

pop tunes. Throughout the week, DU BLONDE, ONIPA and OPUS KINK will also join the<br />

celebrations.<br />

Meanwhile, the Invisible Wind Factory and Kazimier Stockroom team up to<br />

Onipa<br />





08/12-02/01 - Playhouse<br />

Liverpool Playhouse is eschewing the usual yule trappings for an altogether more empowering affair this<br />

Christmas. From the producers of the international phenomenon that is SIX, Fantastically Great Women Who<br />

Changed The World is set to be an equally innovative and uplifting production which carries an important message for<br />

theatre-goers. The story follows school pupil Jade who meets great historic heroines such as Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks,<br />

Emmeline Pankhurst for a night of pop-infused lessons in humanity’s game-changers. Dramatist Chris Bush, who was<br />

behind the smash hit Richard Hawley-inspired musical Standing At The Sky’s Edge, has collaborated with one-woman<br />

hit factory Miranda Cooper (Girls Aloud, Kylie Minogue) to adapt the famous picture book by suffragette descendant<br />

Kate Pankhurst. Audiences can expect razor-sharp pop songs and a narrative that will inspire and move.<br />

The world premiere of the stage production opened in Southampton in November and only visits Norwich before<br />

taking up residency for four-weeks of shows at the Williamson Square venue. SIX visited the same venue two years<br />

ago for a sell-out run and has won awards across the industry, including two Olivier Awards for Best New Musical and<br />

Outstanding Achievement in Music. ST<br />




Words: Jack Ryder, Richard Lewis, Alannah Williams, Sam Turner, Emma<br />

Varley, Matthew Berks, Lily Blakeney-Edwards, Ryan McNee, Nadia Newman,<br />

El Gray, Stephanie Hernandez.<br />


Future Ages Will Wonder<br />

28/10-20/02 - FACT<br />

Larry Achiampong & David Blandy, Dust to Data (<strong>2021</strong>). Image courtesy the artists.jpeg<br />

History is written by those with the power, and while we work to uncover the<br />

stories of those who were not (and are not) in power, countless voices have<br />

been lost to history. FUTURE AGES WILL WONDER presents an “alternative<br />

museum” of artworks that reimagine our past, present and future by combining<br />

traditional mediums with modern science and technology and asking who<br />

will write our own stories? Future Ages Will Wonder marks the launch of<br />

‘Radical Ancestry’, a year-long exploration into ancestral history and how new<br />

technology can reshape the past and reassess our sense of belonging. EV<br />

GIG<br />

Secret Night Gang<br />

09/12 – District<br />

Collectively known as SECRET NIGHT GANG, Callum Connell and Kemani Anderson bring<br />

their take on jazz, soul and funk to Parr Jazz this <strong>December</strong>, with Anderson on vocals,<br />

complimented by Connell’s razor-sharp sax instrumentation. Describing their sound as<br />

limitless, the group also knit gospel, RnB and soul jazz into their sound. Their self-titled<br />

album is the warm and reassuring pick-me-up we all surely need to get us through the<br />

winter months. Connell describes it as “not music to think to, but to dance to”. After<br />

immersing themselves into the Manchester jazz scene, the band accumulated bassist<br />

Stu Whitehead and drummer Myke Wilson (Corinne Bailey Rae, 52 nd Street.) The band<br />

now harbours Juneroy on bass, and guitar from Jack Duckham, as well as guest vocal<br />

appearances from Manchester’s own Mali Hayes and Doreen Edwards. The night promises<br />

a welcome retreat from the cold. JR<br />

Secret Night Gang<br />

GIG<br />

The Wonder Pot: I Hate Models<br />

27/12 – 24 Kitchen Street<br />

I Hate Models<br />

I HATE MODELS has sculpted his sound around techno, industrial<br />

and trance, while never conforming solely to one genre. The French<br />

DJ brings emotive dance music to Kitchen Street this <strong>December</strong>,<br />

an infusion of sounds blended to encapsulate his own feelings,<br />

contrasting light with dark, joy with sorrow. The artist, known to his<br />

mates as Guillaume Labadie, has produced music on labels like Arts<br />

and Perc Trax, the latter of which released his 2019 album L’Âge Des<br />

Metamorphoses. Within a heartbeat, glimmering melodies can crumble<br />

into sheet metal. Expect emotive, nostalgic soundwaves not just made<br />

to dance to, but to be appreciated as a body of art that can stand<br />

strong outside of a club setting (but the disco ball does help). JR<br />

GIG<br />

Bananagun<br />

05/02/22- Future Yard<br />

Aussie groovers BANANAGUN are set to serve up their tropical cocktail of psychedelia,<br />

exotica and Afrobeat to Birkenhead’s Future Yard in February <strong>2022</strong>. And we can’t wait<br />

to take a sip. The Melbourne five-piece join us midway through their UK tour, finally able<br />

to take their incredible debut LP on the road. Released in 2020 when the world was<br />

locked down, The True Story of Bananagun was, for many, a joyful tonic that transported<br />

us to sunnier places we couldn’t access. Its seamless blend of Fela Kuti-esque rhythms,<br />

colourful psych melodies and jazz-soaked sonorities made for a dose of pure escapism.<br />

Self-described as “a party unto ourselves”, their live show is set to be a completely<br />

intoxicating affair. Expect bongos, brass, strings and cowbells aplenty. Combined with<br />

their infectiously joyous stage presence, it’s going to be hard to walk out of this one<br />

without a smile on your face. AW<br />

Bananagun<br />



Collective Matters<br />

Until 12/12 - Open Eye Gallery<br />

Collective Matters explores photography’s role in creating resilience and a closer sense of community after the<br />

isolation engendered by the pandemic. The exhibition runs across three galleries at Open Eye. Gallery One presents<br />

a collaboration between photographer Stephanie Wynne and Wirral Women, considering themes of safety through<br />

3D space as a rejection of the 2D realm we have been forced into over the past year. Gallery Two exhibits work from<br />

recent University of Salford graduates, displaying the future of socially engaged practitioners. The exhibition differs<br />

from others in its embrace of public contributions. It encourages involvement with the work by having roles of paper<br />

and pens for people to express their responses, making every showing different and collaborative. HM<br />

Collective Matters<br />

GIG<br />

Bedouine<br />

04/02 - Leaf<br />

Bedouine<br />

Azniv Korkejian, better known by her stage name BEDOUINE, has garnered impressive<br />

comparisons to eclectic singer-songwriters from Vashti Bunyan to Nick Cave. Her sound,<br />

however, is completely her own. The unique cloud of 60s Laurel Canyon mysticism she<br />

creates is brought down to earth by her sensitive songwriting. Korkejian makes music for<br />

those who enjoy basking in a maudlin mood or need a palliative for unrequited love. Her<br />

new album, Waysides, evokes a rainy day in a sad café, making Leaf on Bold Street the<br />

perfect venue for her to debut her third album in Liverpool. SH<br />

GIG<br />

GIRLI<br />

03/12 - Arts Club<br />

Making waves as the ‘new voice’ of modern pop-punk, GIRLI is set to hit the Arts Club<br />

on the 3rd <strong>December</strong>, as part of her ongoing UK tour. Her debut album Odd One Out<br />

received critical acclaim across the board for its melding of sounds and bombastic<br />

lyricism, cementing the artist as a name to look out for. Now, after recently coming<br />

out as bisexual, signing to an independent label AllPoints and releasing her latest EP<br />

Damsel In Distress, <strong>2021</strong> marks a new era for GRILI – approaching her upcoming live<br />

dates with a newfound self-assurance that is guaranteed to set the stage alight. LBE<br />

Girli<br />

GIG<br />

Loathe<br />

10/12 - Arts Club<br />

Loathe<br />

Ask for an early Christmas present and you shall duly receive it in the form of<br />

an evening with Liverpool’s superlative metalcore group, LOATHE, at the Arts<br />

Club. Treating followers to 2020’s hard-hitting I Let It In And It Took Everything<br />

in its entirety, the five-piece – nominated for best UK breakthrough band at the<br />

Heavy Music Awards – promise an industrial tonic of emotional rage and gritty<br />

cinematics for their sold-out show. MB<br />

GIG<br />

The Districts<br />

28/01 - Arts Club<br />

Hovering on the cusp of adulthood, all aged 17, the members of Pennsylvanian quartet THE DISTRICTS<br />

were launched to viral success in 2012 with a live HotBox YouTube session. Filled with haunting harmonica,<br />

private prayers transposed into song, and Rob Grote’s raw and raspy vocals, the session encapsulated<br />

the band’s approach to raw folk rock which has continued to define their sound. In <strong>January</strong>, The Districts<br />

arrive in Liverpool for a twice re-scheduled show, performing songs from 2020’s You Know I’m Not Going<br />

Anywhere; an album exploring uncertainty in the modern world. The show takes place ahead of the release<br />

of their fifth album Great American Painting, written during two months Grote spent living in a woodland<br />

cabin during the pandemic. Anticipate a night of emotional catharsis and reaching sounds. EG<br />

The Districts<br />



Jarv Is...(Stuart Moulding)<br />

Jarv Is…<br />

Evol @ Invisible Wind Factory - 05/11<br />

Some artists are almost mythical in their existence.<br />

Having carved out their own legacy through inventive<br />

projects, a keen eye and understanding of the issues<br />

affecting the masses, and a determined work ethic fused<br />

with sheer talent, the status of cultural icon is thrust upon<br />

them. Undoubtedly, Jarvis Cocker is one of these people.<br />

After fronting one of the best pop bands to come out of<br />

Britain, there’s high expectations for everything he does.<br />

His newest project, JARV IS…, exceeds all of them.<br />

The apprehensive synthesizer of Pulp’s She’s A<br />

Lady begins our descent into the fairy tale world of Jarv<br />

Is…. Their music is mostly whispered spoken word over<br />

spooky and hypnotic art dance sounds, so this slots<br />

snugly into their set. Invisible Wind Factory is an apt<br />

choice of venue, too; the disused factory-turned-weirdwonderland<br />

seems like it should exist in a similar, but<br />

seedier, more surreal world.<br />

Dressed like a Wes Anderson character in a brown<br />

velvet suit, Cocker saunters out to a screaming crowd.<br />

He places one foot on a monitor and pauses – before<br />

lowering a sprig of red grapes into his mouth. As the<br />

song accelerates, he scans the room. He launches the<br />

remaining grapes into the crowd and flings himself full<br />

force into song. This defines the rest of the evening we’re<br />

about to experience.<br />

Performing their debut album almost in its entirety,<br />

as well as a couple of solo singles from Cocker’s back<br />

catalogue, there’s not one lull in the excitement and<br />

energy the band provides. Whether he’s holding up an<br />

old mirror to the crowd or<br />

throwing tiny chocolates<br />

at us, Cocker remains<br />

animated, lively and<br />

tireless. His body jerks and<br />

stutters along to the music,<br />

uncurling his long limbs<br />

like a magician revealing<br />

a trick, and moving his<br />

legs like a walker on stilts.<br />

He cuts a celestial figure:<br />

lanky, ethereal, camp.<br />

Sonically, Jarv Is… are<br />

robust. Each musician is<br />

rigorous in their focus,<br />

creating graceful and<br />

often cinematic tracks<br />

that oscillate in tune to<br />

the crowd’s participation.<br />

Cocker describes songs as<br />

a “way of communicating with one another”, and in the<br />

case of Jarv Is…, it’s certainly true – the performance feels<br />

interactive and communal. There’s a consistent back-andforth<br />

between performer and fan – when his 2006 single<br />

“After fronting one of the<br />

best pop bands to come<br />

out of Britain, there’s<br />

high expectations for<br />

everything Cocker does.<br />

His newest project<br />

exceeds all of them”<br />

Running The World inspires an impassioned ‘Maggie’s<br />

in the mud’ chant, the band improvises an instrumental<br />

accompaniment, much to everyone’s amusement.<br />

Between tracks, Cocker is delightful and effortlessly<br />

charismatic. He relays facts he’s scrawled on a piece<br />

of A4, including an old<br />

Liverpool festival line-up<br />

Pulp played with a band<br />

called Eat My Dog. He<br />

answers most heckles<br />

with a coy smile and a dry<br />

response, including when<br />

fans request old Pulp<br />

songs, to which he feigns<br />

confusion: “You’ve got the<br />

wrong group!”<br />

Cocker is an innate<br />

performer, and Jarv Is… is<br />

one of his most interesting<br />

projects to date. It’s unique<br />

and brilliantly weird;<br />

completely unparalleled<br />

by anything else. Musically<br />

compelling and fascinating<br />

to experience first-hand,<br />

Jarv Is… put on a show you’d like to go on forever.<br />

Tilly Foulkes / @tillyfoulkes<br />


Girls Don’t Sync<br />

Melé - Palm Trax<br />

Boiler Room x ENRG @ Invisible Wind<br />

Factory - 07/10<br />

The start of the night feels intimate. GIRLS DON’T<br />

SYNC spread love and authentic connection to their<br />

crowd with friends including Liverpool-based artist<br />

Kolade Ladipo dancing behind the decks with them.<br />

Spinning classic vocal samples including Destiny’s<br />

Child and Lauryn Hill over eclectic beats, they<br />

slip in and out of genres like skipping through a<br />

flip book of music. I stumble into two shufflers<br />

bopping about at the back of the crowd and as<br />

they snap their feet to the rhythm, I too lose<br />

myself in the groove.<br />

The crowd sing as they two-step, flicking<br />

wrists up as MATTY CHIABI, HANNAH LYNCH,<br />

G33 and SOPHIA VIOLET all hop on and off<br />

the decks. The quartet ensure the crowd<br />

around them are hyped from the moment<br />

they set foot in the venue. “There’s no better<br />

feeling than playing out to people who sing<br />

and dance to the music you select,” they<br />

summarise after their set, “but being able<br />

to do that together, as genuine mates,<br />

there’s no feeling like it.”<br />

Determined in their passion for<br />

making our dance spaces more inclusive,<br />

Girls Don’t Sync are coming through<br />

with flames. The Girls will make a noise<br />

when they need to and trust that they<br />

know their worth. And, with their USB<br />

sticks in hand and headphones slipped<br />

over their ears, they’ll make you realise your own too.<br />

At Invisible Wind Factory, MELÉ follows and keeps<br />

me dancing and my energy levels topped up. There is,<br />

however, a noticeable shift in the crowd once he settles<br />

into his set. Feeling uncomfortable surrounded by so<br />

many lads, I find refuge on the dancefloor stretching<br />

out behind him. I appreciate being able to drift around<br />

the decks, the panoramic dancefloor brings a novelty<br />

to clubbing with it. The Boiler Room intimacy is slightly<br />

lacking, though, with the crowd kept at bay by metal<br />

fencing, no video stream and a general separation of<br />

artist and audience. But the crowd is excited and it’s<br />

good to be a part of it.<br />

PALM TRAX brings his expected groove, with a<br />

few samples of Eurodance tunes layered over energetic<br />

Italo. He keeps everyone bopping along until the end<br />

and there’s a good crowd as the lights are flicked on. If<br />

not remarkable, the night is peppered with moments of<br />

something intriguing. A bit like waiting for a sneeze, I<br />

never quite tip into full release of strobe lights and bodies<br />

grooving around me before it’s time to call the taxi home.<br />

However, there’s another story tonight. Watering the<br />

roots of Liverpool’s dance music scene, Girls Don’t Sync<br />

have worked relentlessly to nurture their community. Not<br />

playing as if on a higher level to their crowd, they are one<br />

with them. They are friends to their dancers, supporters<br />

to their siblings in the crowd, and an inspiration to up<br />

and coming DJs in the city. Their own roots are firmly<br />

set in their love for music and celebration, empowering<br />

everyone who two-steps into their energy field.<br />

As a community promoting safety, inclusivity, and<br />

fresh talent, Girls Don’t Sync carry love on their wings<br />

as they’ve flown across the UK in recent months.<br />

Establishing themselves in Liverpool and since venturing<br />

to London and Manchester, they show no signs of<br />

slowing down. “Liverpool will always have the biggest<br />

place in our hearts,” they tell me. “The crowd and energy<br />

[at Boiler Room] was extremely special.”<br />

Olive / @olive.writing<br />

Girls Don’t Sync (Anthony Wilde)<br />

“Girls Don’t Sync have<br />

worked relentlessly<br />

to nurture their<br />

community. Not playing<br />

as if on a higher level<br />

to their crowd, they<br />

are one with them”<br />

Mykki Blanco<br />

Remée – Coucou Chloe<br />

Harvest Sun @ 24 Kitchen Street -<br />

06/11<br />

MYKKI BLANCO wants you to feel at home. You’re<br />

not a mere spectator, but a friend, brought into a room<br />

full of characters with common interests and perhaps<br />

from similar walks of life.<br />

REMÉE and COUCOU CHLOE open the show,<br />

forcing an admittedly sleepy crowd to gather closer<br />

together. Remée gives us experimental RnB. She’s the<br />

personification of a siren, sporting crimson red tresses,<br />

a flawless mug and a pitch perfect vocal that hypnotises<br />

us. We can’t draw our attention away.<br />

It’s a relaxed and welcome appetiser before Chloe,<br />

who brings the party, bouncing around the stage to a<br />

supposedly “shit” demo, a Shygirl collab and a remix of<br />

Lady Gaga’s Stupid Love, which appears on the Dawn<br />

of Chromatica album. It’s almost comical that someone<br />

in the crowd yells, “What’s your name?” She humours<br />

them, replying in her seductive, southern French accent:<br />

“My name is Coucou Chloe, what is your name?” before<br />

dedicating the next song to Jim or Jill or whoever. She<br />

ensures we’re all in good spirits, guaranteeing Blanco’s<br />

team gets the welcome<br />

they deserve.<br />

As Blanco’s band<br />

performs a cinematic intro<br />

piece, the California-born<br />

rapper casually strolls<br />

around the corner and<br />

onto the stage, embodying<br />

an alluring milk maiden,<br />

quite literally embracing<br />

everyone in sight one<br />

by one. The corset must<br />

not hinder movement<br />

too much though, as she<br />

slut-drops and prances<br />

around stage, rapping expressively through all manner<br />

of accents, the theatrics limitless. With the growls, wide<br />

eyes and body language, I’m reminded of a 2012 Minaj,<br />

or Azealia Banks. But the aforementioned were never<br />

quite so unpredictable.<br />

Blanco commands us to form a circle, as she rips a<br />

metal barrier from the side of the stage, rolling around<br />

“It’s almost as though<br />

she’s too vibrant for the<br />

venue – a superstar<br />

forced to perform in<br />

the confines of a box”<br />

on the floor with it, as though trapped in a cage, before<br />

proceeding to hoist herself up onto the bar (to the joy<br />

of the staff, who seem to be as full of adrenaline as the<br />

rest of us). She shoves the<br />

iconic Kitchen Street disco<br />

ball without hesitation and<br />

knocks over a speaker,<br />

which we have to set back<br />

onstage. It’s almost as<br />

though she’s too vibrant<br />

for the venue – a superstar<br />

forced to perform in the<br />

confines of a box – but<br />

she won’t let it stifle her<br />

creativity.<br />

She informs us that, as<br />

this is an intimate venue,<br />

“I’m gonna be looking you<br />

dead in your fuckin’ eyes.” She does exactly that. Every<br />

lyric bores through to the soul, which could be unnerving,<br />

but it feels like we know each other already, the artist<br />

confirming that she’s already falling in love with the city.<br />

“I’ve always wanted a Northern boy,” she announces to<br />

the delight of the crowd, who’d like to think we have a<br />

shot at a post-gig rendezvous. Cont.<br />




Every band member gets their moment in the<br />

limelight, Blanco dipping off stage while her two back-up<br />

singers zap us into a whirlpool of vocal runs, weaving<br />

gospel renditions of Ja Rule’s Always on Time, Ghost<br />

Town DJs’ My Boo and Crystal Waters’ Gypsy Woman<br />

into the set. The live translation of I’m In A Mood from<br />

Blanco’s self-titled 2016 album is magical. The studio<br />

version is distorted through heavy auto-tuning, but she<br />

lets her band take the wheel on the chorus, harmonising<br />

perfectly as they croon, “My life’s on play play fuck shit /<br />

Aka my killa muppet / Gucci girl realness with dem villains<br />

if you feeling lucky”.<br />

There’s a clear musical theatre influence throughout<br />

her set, but during Gypsy Woman, it’s as though we’re<br />

at a rave with a refreshing twist; like a Boiler Room set<br />

but with live vocals, and then we’re back to hip-hop<br />

again, reflecting Blanco’s constant experimentation with<br />

different genres throughout her discography. Having<br />

been making music for 10 years (from the age of 25) the<br />

show is an ode to her past work, showcasing how it all<br />

knits together to create her current sound: a New Age<br />

melting pot of styles.<br />

She opens up about her HIV-positive diagnosis,<br />

and how she assumed going public would be the end<br />

of her career. But it did quite the opposite, bringing new<br />

people and experiences into her life, introducing her to<br />

a warm and supportive community that she wouldn’t<br />

have been acquainted with otherwise. She voices this<br />

before performing Hideaway, a track that depicts the<br />

tale of a person falling in love with someone diagnosed<br />

as positive, and the stigma that comes with it. The song<br />

is infused with gangster rap clichés, a decision that<br />

somehow works.<br />

But there’s a femininity to her rap, an expressiveness<br />

and precision that is seldom found in other artists:<br />

“Getting twisted, they hella lifted, they askin ’bout them<br />

xans / trouble making these baby faces, I’m blunted with<br />

some man / asking me about poetry and I wanna leave<br />

but I can’t”. There are no rules or limits to her wordplay.<br />

The way she intonates and recounts cautionary tales<br />

about boys, high school and drug use is captivating. It<br />

feels as though she’s channelling her Lil’ Kim inspired<br />

alter ego to teleport us to a campfire in Orange County;<br />

we’re huddled around, listening intently to every bar.<br />

The two songs that might cultivate the most<br />

response from the crowd feature Big Freedia and Blood<br />

Orange. The Freedia track infuses New Orleans bounce<br />

music into the mix, while the Blood Orange tune reminds<br />

us of Blanco’s West Coast origins, through a subtle<br />

homage to Lana Del Rey: “Or some EPT / or some you<br />

need me / I’m high by the beach / Lana please save me”.<br />

We’re left feeling warm afterwards, as though Blanco<br />

is on our team, and that everyone here kind of gets it.<br />

We hover around for a bit, hoping she makes another<br />

appearance, which she does. But wearing an orange<br />

crochet bucket hat this time around, and significantly less<br />

sweaty, having pushed her body to its limits for three<br />

hours straight. She invites the Kitchen Street staff to<br />

head over to the Homobloc party with her entourage in<br />

Manchester, all travel expenses paid for, and we have to<br />

stop ourselves from being groupies even though we want<br />

to be. I tell her how magical the set was, and she talks<br />

to each of us with no exasperation, very down to earth,<br />

despite being preternatural onstage.<br />

Having been unsure if Blanco was my cup of tea<br />

upon the first few listens, I leave the gig reeling. I can’t<br />

resist becoming a fan knowing what I do now. It’s the<br />

countless stories behind each tune, the theatricality of<br />

their live renditions, and the life and enthusiasm her<br />

team bring to a room that makes Mykki Blanco a very<br />

special and unique artist. She deserves to win, and for a<br />

predominantly queer fanbase, it’s empowering to see her<br />

doing just that.<br />

Jack Ryder / @holidayfather<br />

Mulatu Astatke<br />

24 Kitchen Street - 27/10<br />

The double-doctor and legend in his own time,<br />

MULATU ASTATKE performs a set of 11 songs that<br />

perfectly showcase the hypnotic musical concoction of<br />

his own invention: Ethio-Jazz.<br />

The band’s trumpet player, in true jazz musician<br />

fashion, arrives only 10 minutes before the gig. With<br />

soundcheck off to a late start, the venue won’t open<br />

for another 45 minutes (Mulatu is something of a<br />

perfectionist) – but through the open door, the sound<br />

of smooth jazz plays along with an empty can of Red<br />

Stripe that’s rolling down the street. There’s a woman at<br />

the front of the queue who is Mulatu’s self-proclaimed<br />

biggest fan; she tells me that his sound “is pure sex…<br />

and it isn’t world music, but it is of the world”. She’s<br />

right, Mulatu has seemingly soaked up music from every<br />

corner of the globe.<br />

At the age of 16, he was sent from his hometown<br />

of Addis Ababa to North Wales, where he attended<br />

Lindisfarne College and subsequently Bangor University,<br />

with the intention of studying aeronautical engineering.<br />

His gift for music, however, created another path for him.<br />

Studying piano, clarinet and harmony at Trinity College<br />

of Music in London, and then at Eric Gilder School<br />

of Music in Twickenham, his musical repertoire was<br />

constantly expanding. Gigging around the clubs of Soho<br />

while playing the congas, vibraphone and piano, his ears<br />

absorbed everything his fellow expatriate jazz musicians<br />

were putting down.<br />

In 1963, Mulatu became the first African student to<br />

enroll at Berklee College of Music in Boston; where the<br />

innovative Gary Burton attended, who invented the fourmallet<br />

technique that Mulatu has more than perfected.<br />

Moving to New York, he became immersed in the Latin<br />

jazz sounds that poured out of the clubs of Spanish<br />

Harlem. Truly a man of the world, he returned to Addis<br />

Ababa in 1969 where he began his ambitious fusions of<br />

everything he’d been exposed to, but most prominently<br />

Ethiopian folklore and American jazz.<br />

With a lengthy and thorough soundcheck<br />

complete, 24 Kitchen Street fills to the brim as quickly<br />

as the bartenders can pour pints. The already steamy<br />

warehouse fills with smoke and the band makes its way<br />

onto the stage. Mulatu tells the expectant crowd that he<br />

wants us to experience his Ethio-Jazz with a song that<br />

was inspired by four centuries of the Ethiopian Orthodox<br />

Church. Using his intricate four-mallet technique, Mulatu<br />

coaxes sound out of the vibraphone and strategically<br />

uses the pedal to create an instantaneous hypnotic<br />

sound.<br />

Following his opener with an up-tempo sambastyle<br />

tune, the upright-bass becomes the heartbeat<br />

of the song while everything else is just flourish, and<br />

Mulatu Astatke (Glyn Akroyd)<br />

the trumpet and tenor sax blasts are enhanced by<br />

synchronised dance moves. In just two songs, the group<br />

already has the audience in the palm of their hand.<br />

Although everyone is packed together tightly, there’s not<br />

a single person who can keep their head from bobbing or<br />

their foot from tapping.<br />

Moving from a Latin feel to a more Ethiopian sound,<br />

Mulatu shifts between the vibraphone and the congas<br />

for the third song. With his percussion stylings at the<br />

forefront, and the tenor sax ripping through the room,<br />

the vibraphone fills out the sound nicely. About halfway<br />

through the song, the band drops into half time, padding<br />

the room with a raunchy atmosphere.<br />

In between each song, Mulatu genuinely thanks the<br />

audience for listening, the mark of a sincere artist. He<br />

also takes the time to introduce the members of his band<br />

soloing in the following song, proving he’s not stingy<br />

over the spotlight. Introducing the fourth, and arguably<br />

most popular, song of the evening, Mulatu gives a<br />

special shout out to Bill Murray; the star lothario from<br />

Jim Jarmusch’s 2005 film, Broken Flowers. He uses the<br />

vibraphone to sketch a rich soundscape for the instantly<br />

recognisable trumpet and sax riff of Yèkèrmo Sèw (A<br />

Man of Experience and Wisdom), one of the songs that<br />

features prominently in the film. The sophisticated and<br />

slightly psychedelic sound earns an immediate response<br />

from the audience, with extra applause each time the<br />

group returns to the coda of the song.<br />

Throughout his set, Mulatu adds a melange of<br />

different instruments from all over the world: a cello,<br />

a krar (Ethiopian six-stringed lyre), a masenqo (single<br />

string-lyre), a flute, a güiro, a woodblock, and others<br />

that couldn’t be seen through the crowded venue but<br />

could absolutely be heard. From a technical standpoint,<br />

what gives Mulatu his singular sound is not only the<br />

“world music” instrumentation, but the combination of<br />

the traditional Ethiopian pentatonic and non-tempered<br />

scales, with the musical vocabulary of American jazz.<br />

Instrumentally, the sound is both familiar and exotic; the<br />

Western trumpet and tenor saxophones play along with<br />

the more traditionally Ethiopian timings, giving them the<br />

musical equivalent of speaking with an accent.<br />

By this point, people are dancing on top of the bar,<br />

cheering along when they recognise one of Mulatu’s<br />

countless riffs that have been sampled throughout<br />

the history of hip hop. Playing through the funky Chik<br />

Chikka, the nostalgic Motherland, and the groovy<br />

Yekatit, the sound pulses through the walls of the room,<br />

managing to reach each audience member individually.<br />

As someone who intended to be an aeronautical<br />

engineer, Mulatu has sure come a long way in the<br />

world of sound; he’s become a multi-instrumentalist,<br />

he invented a genre, and he continues to divulge the<br />

hidden secrets of his home country to the Western world<br />

through his music.<br />

Stephanie Hernandez<br />


Snapped Ankles (Brian Sayle)<br />

Snapped Ankles<br />

Mermaid Chunky<br />

Harvest Sun @ District - 22/10<br />

On the back of their new album Forest Of Your<br />

Problems, arty post-rockers SNAPPED ANKLES hit<br />

District for a night of experimental visual and sonic<br />

offerings. As the minutes draw near to the start of the<br />

show, the little venue gets ever more crowded, only<br />

hinting at the visceral energy and movement to come.<br />

The evening’s emphasis on compositional<br />

experimentation is established immediately as two-piece<br />

MERMAID CHUNKY enter the stage with their flowery<br />

costumes. What starts thinly as a simple vocal melody,<br />

eventually becomes a soaring and dense experience,<br />

layered with steadily added loops throughout the<br />

progression of each piece. The first thin layer guides<br />

the piece, however, which is soon to be adorned with<br />

layers of synths, glossy piano chords, and many vocal<br />

harmonies. This live approach to composition allows for<br />

many colours and emotional drives behind the music;<br />

some moments are dreamy, some are groovy, and<br />

some are downright bizarre. The addition of folkloric<br />

recorder on King of the Herbs, adds a landscape vision<br />

to the music which certainly captures the audience’s<br />

imagination. The consistent dynamic switches throughout<br />

Mermaid Chunky’s set elevate the music to a progressive<br />

and avant-garde plane, which leaves the audience both<br />

astonished and perplexed. Either way, the arresting<br />

visuals and sonic experimentation more than lay the<br />

groundwork for Snapped Ankles to take the stage.<br />

In stark contrast to Mermaid Chunky’s dynamically<br />

shifting and genre-spanning set, Snapped Ankles make<br />

their intentions clear straight off the bat with Rhythm Is<br />

Our Business; immediately earmarking the angular bass<br />

lines and rigidly consistent grooves. In true post-punk<br />

style, these grooves inspire the movement and mosh pits<br />

throughout the mobile crowd, but with the addition of the<br />

carefully considered visuals the band has crafted for itself.<br />

From the projections of urban landscapes and natural<br />

woodlands, to their forest-like ghillie suits, Snapped<br />

Ankles seamlessly blend a primitive and meditative<br />

aesthetic with a whimsical and unrelentingly mobile<br />

setlist. This establishes a nice juxtaposition that presents<br />

the act of seeing a highly animated show as a necessary<br />

and cathartic release of energy, which ought to feel as<br />

natural as the primitive and urban landscapes projected<br />

behind the band.<br />

With the absence of guitars, the use of synths act<br />

as a colouring effect throughout the otherwise raw<br />

instrumentation, creating a dream-like sensation which<br />

serves as the main link between the contrasting audiovisual<br />

experience. This is only added to by the murky<br />

coloured lighting through which we squint to see the<br />

forest-like figures.<br />

What either gives or takes from this mystery (I’m<br />

not so sure), are the occasional breakings of the fourth<br />

wall, as the lead vocalist with his staff-like microphone<br />

stand joins his entranced audience. As myself, and other<br />

audience members gather round him, the artist and<br />

audience connection is both thrilling and playful, that’s<br />

until it looks like he’s handing the microphone around to<br />

spectators to sing, so I do what any self-respecting postpunk<br />

amateur would do; I run away.<br />

The unrelenting rhythmic pull of Snapped Ankles<br />

and the support present a consistent theme throughout<br />

the evening, seamlessly blending intense rhythmic<br />

and timbral experiences with colourful, entrancing and<br />

arresting imagery. Most of these projected images serve<br />

to compliment the liberating release of visceral energy<br />

and movement saved up for a Friday evening, making it<br />

as ordinary as the projected urban landscapes we occupy<br />

in our everyday mundane lives.<br />

Luke Furlonger-Copeland<br />



The Mysterines<br />

Stone<br />

Evol @ O2 Academy Liverpool -<br />

30/10<br />

Lucy McKenzie<br />

Tate Liverpool - Until 13/03<br />

If I were to lift the lid off Tate Liverpool and peer into<br />

its LUCY MCKENZIE retrospective, it would be like diving<br />

head-on into a patchwork quilt of over 20 years’ worth<br />

of her work: a loud, can’t-quite-take-your-eyes-off quilt,<br />

incorporating various squares of juxtaposing material, each<br />

stitched together with powerful commentaries on feminism,<br />

mass media and gender power relations.<br />

Showcasing 80 works of the Glasgow-born, Brusselsbased<br />

multimedia artist, Tate Liverpool takes the crown for<br />

presenting the UK’s first major retrospective of McKenzie’s<br />

work to date. With signature hyperrealistic architectural<br />

paintings, illusionistic trompe-l’œil exercises, fashion<br />

items and even furniture the artist designed herself, the<br />

exhausting curation marks an assertive arrival of the<br />

internationally celebrated artist to the docks of Liverpool.<br />

There’s art in unexpected places here: on ceilings,<br />

mannequins and TV screens, overflowing across several<br />

walls and into glass boxes. Not only does the exhibition<br />

shun the white cube aesthetic, it celebrates its very<br />

antithesis – satisfying the most diverse of artistic appetites.<br />

Walking through the collection, each room is both a<br />

demonstration of McKenzie’s multidisciplinary talent and<br />

a natural showcase of time spent at decorative painting<br />

school – all despite being an established artist at the time.<br />

The illusionistic trompe-l’œil paintings, with their sublime<br />

lifelike detail, warrant special mention. The first of these<br />

works to raise my eyebrow, Quodlibet XIII (Janette Murray)<br />

(2011) also forced a study from various perspectives to<br />

reassure myself I wasn’t in fact viewing something threedimensional.<br />

Alongside a dedicated space to replicate nostalgic<br />

scenes from Nova Popularna – an underground bar and<br />

performance space she managed with Paulina Olowska in<br />

Warsaw – the works of McKenzie’s fashion label, Atelier<br />

E.B, are also present, with some items even for sale. Her<br />

partnership with designer Beca Lipscombe – exploring<br />

fashion research, commercial display and exhibition<br />

Lucy McKenzie<br />

design – has made her interests even more expansive and<br />

demonstrates the more collaborative side of her work. “She<br />

dips into bits of history and looks at the work of different<br />

artists and different architects and designers,” curator<br />

Tamar Hemmes tells me. “It’s a way of using existing<br />

imagery rather than inventing her own and re-evaluating<br />

or re-examining it.” This is exemplified explicitly in the<br />

second room of the exhibition, where an array of work is<br />

presented focusing on media representations of athletes in<br />

the Olympic Games. In the oil painting Curious (1998), we<br />

observe from behind a runner bending over the starting<br />

blocks, highlighting popular media’s obsessive sexualisation<br />

of female athletes.<br />

This feminist undercurrent runs deep throughout the<br />

gallery space, particularly in McKenzie’s later works which<br />

become slightly more autobiographical. Documenting a real<br />

incident, the 2013 painting Quodlibet XXVI (Self Portrait)<br />

incorporates a private letter addressed to a list of curators<br />

and artists who wanted to use pornographic pictures of<br />

McKenzie during the 1990s for an exhibition without her<br />

permission. By publicly sharing the exchange (undoubtedly<br />

something that many would have preferred to keep private),<br />

McKenzie subverts masculine entitlement and retains<br />

ownership of her body.<br />

Upon closing the lid on the Tate, the display doesn’t<br />

make much sense at all. There’s no chronology and there’s<br />

certainly no order, either. But I didn’t feel the need to<br />

question it, and nor did I want to. “The works all sort of<br />

interact in a way where you can see different connections in<br />

different rooms,” Hemmes reassures. For a gallery space to<br />

hold so many contrasting ideologies, materials and artforms,<br />

it’s enchanting to experience the sense that each work has<br />

every right to be there. The more you peel back the lid and<br />

interrogate this exhibition, the more layers that fold out<br />

effortlessly in front of your eyes – whether you spot them at<br />

first or not.<br />

Bryony Large / @confessionsofanartjunkie<br />

THE MYSTERINES need no introduction.<br />

Emerging in 2016, the Merseyside quartet have<br />

accelerated through support slots for the likes of<br />

Royal Blood and collaborations with Paul Weller to<br />

tonight’s long awaited return to Liverpool for their<br />

biggest hometown headliner to date.<br />

STONE were called to the occasion mere hours<br />

before they take to the stage. Enigmatic frontman<br />

Fin Power is a punk poet of sorts, evoking a<br />

Liverpudlian Mike Skinner with his provocative<br />

lyrics and sung-spoken delivery. At times, he<br />

wields his guitar like a machine gun, enthralling<br />

the audience with the tumultuous Leave It Out and<br />

latest single Let’s Dance to the Real Thing. “Stick<br />

this one on your playlist,” he yells.<br />

Anticipation builds as the lights dim and The<br />

Mysterines appear under a scarlet stream of light.<br />

On the eve of Halloween, Lia Metcalfe exudes<br />

witchy vibes, dressed in a 70s-style black velvet<br />

ensemble that would put Stevie Nicks to shame.<br />

Her powerful PJ Harvey-esque vocals cut through<br />

the crowd, sometimes snarling and sometimes<br />

sonorous. Bassist George Favager dons a burgundy<br />

blazer and enhances each song with relentless<br />

rhythm.<br />

They tear into Life’s a Bitch (But I Like It<br />

So Much), an exhilarating number showcasing<br />

Metcalfe’s cutthroat lyricism and abrasive guitar<br />

licks. The Mysterines are known for their heavyhitting<br />

tunes, but this number quite literally turns<br />

the place upside down, with Metcalfe’s vocals<br />

permeating far beyond the walls of the venue. The<br />

sizzling stomper In My Head follows, receiving a<br />

rapturous response from concertgoers, who sing<br />

its anthemic chorus.<br />

The Bad Thing, with its blues rock<br />

embellishments and droning melody, inclines the<br />

audience to nod in time, before it transforms into<br />

tumultuous riffs and a tightly wound drumbeat<br />

courtesy of recent additions, Callum Thompson<br />

(guitar) and Paul Crilly (drums). Old Friends /<br />

Die Hard plays out in a similar vein, sonically<br />

resembling something between The Doors and The<br />

Blinders.<br />

The formidable four-piece play the title track<br />

from their upcoming debut album, Reeling, which<br />

is set for release on 11 th March <strong>2022</strong>. Recent single<br />

Hung Up packs a punch, with its scathing lyricism<br />

and grinding guitars inciting a riotous response.<br />

Meanwhile grungy fan-favourite Hormone<br />

embraces the first mosh-pit of the night. A chorus<br />

of concertgoers can be heard belting out its<br />

memorable refrain: “Youth / Is it my excuse?”<br />

After a brief exit, Metcalfe re-enters the stage<br />

cradling an acoustic guitar for a spellbinding solo<br />

performance of Still Call You Home. Her sultry<br />

vocals supported by gentle guitar strums stir the<br />

room to a standstill.<br />

The band close their set with the double<br />

assault of Death Don’t Have No Mercy and Love’s<br />

Not Enough propelling the crowd into a frenzy,<br />

as a rogue crowd surfer floats overhead. An<br />

electrifying energy pervades the building, the mark<br />

of a glorious return for Merseyside’s most exciting<br />

export.<br />

Sarah Taylor / @tayl0rsarah<br />


My White Best Friend – North<br />

The Everyman - 16/10/21<br />

The anticipation prior to the readings is heightened<br />

by a minimalist set, with only a DJ booth and singular<br />

table and chair, reserved for the actors who will enter<br />

the stage alone. This Everyman iteration of Rachel<br />

De-Lahay’s original concept, MY WHITE BEST FRIEND,<br />

features letters from Liverpool-based writers Levi Tafari,<br />

Kiara Mohamed Amin, Dominique Walker and Brodie<br />

Arthur. The correspondence deals with something the<br />

writer couldn’t openly say, addressed to the person who<br />

needed to hear it most. The letters are sealed, to be<br />

opened live for the first time in front of an audience and<br />

performed by an actor without rehearsals or preparation.<br />

Tonight’s production is the moment of revealing.<br />

The letters, centring around race, encourage the<br />

audience to see each writer as an individual, and not as a<br />

collective group. In a world where Black voices are often<br />

silenced or grouped together, individual experiences<br />

can easily be invalidated or disregarded. My White Best<br />

Friend provides a safe and open platform to speak freely<br />

about Black writers’ unique lived experiences. The choice<br />

of letters as a means of expressing these experiences<br />

means the personal stories are transformed for collective<br />

consumption; despite the intimate setting and distinct<br />

voices, there is a sense of personal yet public disclosure.<br />

The bravery of the cast and writers is astonishing.<br />

Opening and reading the sealed letters for the first<br />

time in front of an audience, the performers’ reactions<br />

vary between laughter, sadness and discomfort. It is a<br />

courageous act to allow someone to share your personal<br />

story. In a way, the actor is almost a mask for the writer.<br />

The writers provide them the creative freedom to express<br />

their story, which allows for a more raw and honest<br />

depiction of the writers’ truth.<br />

The first letter was written by the originator De-<br />

Lahay and read by Liverpool actor Luke Barnes. Barnes<br />

hesitates before reading the letter on which the concept<br />

is based. Few know what to expect. De-Lahay, writing to<br />

her original white best friend, describes the pair’s close<br />

and valued friendship, her memories with the addressee<br />

as a youngster, getting drunk, going out, making<br />

unforgettable memories.<br />

However, it slowly takes a more serious tone. It’s<br />

clear that the letter’s original recipient is an ally but<br />

exemplifies the unlearning we must all do in our daily<br />

lives. It’s not the responsibility of Black people to keep<br />

fighting against racism. Racism surrounds us every day;<br />

on social media, in our social circles, in subtle exchanges,<br />

and to not call it out is to be complicit.<br />

Throughout the letter, Barnes displays compassion<br />

and by the end of it seems to have a deeper<br />

understanding of the writer’s perspective. Examining the<br />

trope that having a Black friend automatically makes you<br />

anti-racist, De-Lahay instead implores you to recognise<br />

your privilege and to not be consumed by white guilt.<br />

Kiara Mohamed Amin’s letter begins<br />

unconventionally. It starts with Ubah Egal reading out<br />

Amin’s detailed instructions for both herself and the<br />

audience. Audience participation is encouraged and<br />

is followed by a series of affirmations paired with the<br />

tapping of pulse points or “energy hot spots”, a technique<br />

known as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). The<br />

purpose of EFT is to reduce anxiety and emotional<br />

distress. We go through each energy point on the face<br />

while repeating after Egal, stating the affirmations out<br />

loud. Although initially, there’s apprehension at this<br />

unexpected and unusual approach, by the end the<br />

majority of the audience are participating.<br />

Perhaps others take this moment for reflection.<br />

Amin’s letter not only moves the audience, but Egal too.<br />

We share the grief and sadness that Amin experienced<br />

and Egal often pauses for moments of respite. There is<br />

no judgement from the audience but rather kindness<br />

towards Egal and acceptance and empathy towards<br />

Amin. Although we may not have experienced<br />

Amin’s grief, there are tears shed and compassion felt<br />

throughout the letters. Towards the end of Amin’s letter<br />

there is a return to EFT, necessary after the hard-hitting<br />

letters Egal eloquently expressed, in both English and<br />

Somali. A collective feeling of calmness settles over<br />

the audience. Egal’s delivery and Amin’s letter act as a<br />

reminder that kindness and acceptance can go a long<br />

way.<br />

Throughout the four letters, there is a reoccurring<br />

theme of education. Whether that’s through school<br />

curriculums, calling out friends or educating family<br />

members. Education and a listening ear are presented<br />

as the key to understanding each other on a deeper<br />

level. These letters give Black writers an opportunity<br />

to express themselves in a safe environment and share<br />

things they may not have dared to before. A leap of faith<br />

is required from the writers, and it pays off as the letters<br />

are expressed brilliantly.<br />

My White Best Friend is a breath of fresh air to<br />

Black people and people of colour. Liverpool DJ Hannah<br />

Lynch plays familiar RnB tunes between letters, clearly<br />

recognising this need for a breather, and invites any<br />

people of colour to the stage to congregate in a safe<br />

and accepting space at the end of the performances.<br />

Looking around the room for a final time, there are mixed<br />

emotions, but in the best way possible. People crying,<br />

smiling and chatting. The individual experiences shared<br />

in the letters are unique, but we all share their underlying<br />

pain and happiness, and without a doubt, we’re in awe of<br />

their bravery.<br />

Hannah Merchant<br />



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Mo Stewart<br />

PLAY ON<br />

In Mo Stewart’s exploration of the intertwining fortunes of sport and<br />

music, the sports journalist and DJ investigates the poisoned chalice<br />

of nostalgia, and whether memory lane is the best road to take.<br />

Although this issue covers <strong>December</strong> and<br />

Janaury, I wanted to say something about<br />

Black History Month. October should be a<br />

time for anyone with an audience to shout a<br />

bit louder than normal about Black culture, Black industry<br />

and Black people, for those who are still unaware. It<br />

shouldn’t be a token gesture to avoid bad PR. Believe it<br />

or not, we’re actually here all year round. Black people are<br />

for life, not just October.<br />

If you’re Black and have been asked to contribute to<br />

a project that you believe to be disingenuous or boxticking<br />

– reply on 1 st November. You will know one way<br />

or another.<br />

History of another kind has been on my mind<br />

recently. Despite some improvements, the present still<br />

kind of sucks. Remembering former glories can ease<br />

the pain, but as a society, we’re in danger of becoming<br />

addicted to nostalgia.<br />

Everyone’s at it: 20 th anniversary reissue/movie/<br />

tour of artist’s ‘classic’ album. Limited edition throwback<br />

jerseys. Christmas covers albums. Hiring a popular but<br />

ill-equipped former hero to placate a restless fanbase.<br />

Which brings me on nicely to Exhibit A, our<br />

neighbours over in Manchester. Their biggest football<br />

team (they are still the biggest) have a manager – at the<br />

time of writing – whose main qualification was scoring a<br />

goal 22 years ago. They then spent £75m and two years<br />

chasing “the next Ronaldo”, only to put him on the bench<br />

and sign the real-life Ronaldo.<br />

Anyone who lives in either city or felt the shockwaves<br />

from Manchester United 0 Liverpool 5 will know how well<br />

that’s going. One of the oldest maxims in sports is “you<br />

never go back”, and people have been ignoring it for just<br />

as long. The temptation is obvious. Who wouldn’t want<br />

to relive the best time of their life? Nevertheless, I’m not<br />

digging my skateboard out and drinking snakebite and<br />

black. Time has moved on. The landscape has changed.<br />

Over-indulgence in the past becomes a barrier to<br />

the future. Instead of fixing the problems of the present,<br />

nostalgia acts as a distraction, waving in front of our eyes<br />

like a bad magician.<br />

There are no magicians in our current government,<br />

but there are plenty of clowns. The latest joke came<br />

in chancellor Rishi Sunak’s autumn budget, where, as<br />

part of the levelling up agenda, £2m was announced<br />

for a new waterfront development billed ‘The Pool’ – an<br />

immersive, future-focused<br />

celebration of The Beatles.<br />

Yes, another one. Aside<br />

from some fantastic<br />

lyric-related putdowns on<br />

social media, it’s an utterly<br />

pointless exercise.<br />

Promises of a sleek<br />

waterfront attraction<br />

comes at a time when live<br />

venues are closing across<br />

the city, an iconic, world<br />

class recording studio on<br />

Parr Street has been lost,<br />

and Brexit red tape has<br />

made it harder than ever<br />

for our musicians to share their music with the world.<br />

What about helping to create the next Beatles,<br />

instead of wringing these ones dry?<br />

All this sounds familiar. Oasis, once tipped as the<br />

next Beatles, also have a complicated relationship with<br />

nostalgia. Noel Gallagher will tell you with a straight face<br />

that he’s against it, which is why the band are yet to<br />

reform. This despite thinking that three High Flying Birds<br />

albums warrant a greatest hits collection, and knowing<br />

in his soul that every single audience member at every<br />

single gig is just waiting for Don’t Look Back In Anger.<br />

Liam has no such qualms. He hits them with Rock ’N’ Roll<br />

Star straight out of the gate, although he’s always been a<br />

little more… Shameless.<br />

Nostalgia can have its uses. A friend of mine loves<br />

Oasis, and passed that love onto her son, after years of<br />

car karaoke. They’ve seen Liam in London, the Knebworth<br />

documentary and have tickets of their own for Liam’s<br />

return there next summer.<br />

Oasis might have been the catalyst, but the boy<br />

“Promises of a sleek<br />

waterfront attraction<br />

comes at a time when<br />

live venues are closing<br />

across the city”<br />

has plenty of modern heroes of his own, such as Jamie<br />

Webster and Tom Rogan. He’s starting his own band,<br />

inspired by his peers as much as his heroes – and more<br />

than any museum.<br />

Nostalgia will always be big business. While humans<br />

are still achieving, other<br />

humans years down the<br />

line will remind us of those<br />

achievements, usually<br />

for their own benefit.<br />

Manchester City claims<br />

Madchester as their own<br />

to sell T-shirts and no<br />

one bats an eyelid as<br />

their culture is eroded.<br />

I look forward to the<br />

advert featuring Shaun<br />

Ryder singing about Pep<br />

Guardiola to the tune of<br />

Hallelujah.<br />

I can’t say that I’m<br />

completely immune from the odd indulgence. I will be<br />

watching the new Beatles documentary by Peter Jackson<br />

just as intently as I watched Paul McCartney breaking<br />

down his songwriting process with one of the modern<br />

giants of production, Rick Rubin. I’ve spent hours on<br />

YouTube watching Aaron Rodgers make unbelievable<br />

plays in the aftermath of defeat for my own Green Bay<br />

Packers. It’s great to remember the good old days once in<br />

a while, but we can’t stay there.<br />

It’s all well and good using the past to inspire the<br />

future, but if you can’t secure the present, what kind of<br />

future will it be? !<br />

Mo Stewart is a writer, presenter, pundit, and DJ. He<br />

can be found writing for Liverpool.com, presenting for<br />

The Anfield Wrap and DJing in Motel on Friday nights.<br />

@The_Mighty_Mojo<br />

Illustration: Chloé Stephenson<br />


Jeff Young<br />



Exploring our city to find hidden tensions and overlooked beauty, author<br />

Jeff Young follows the visitation of a mysterious white stag to Bootle and<br />

ruminates on a city’s wont to transcend reality.<br />

But once in a while the odd thing happens,<br />

Once in a while the dream comes true,<br />

And the whole pattern of life is altered,<br />

Once in a while the moon turns blue.<br />

W. H. Auden<br />

In the opening scene of Michael Cimino’s Bambi, a<br />

woman drives along a north Liverpool road, past car<br />

showrooms and junk-sprawl rental sheds. The driver<br />

doesn’t know it yet, but she has passed through a<br />

mysterious rip in reality, into a wilder, stranger Liverpool, an<br />

altered state of wonder and impossible possibility. Through<br />

the windscreen she sees, suddenly, a fantastic beast and<br />

she cannot believe her eyes – a white stag running, past<br />

Skoda and Volkswagen dealers, into a version of Bootle<br />

that no one has ever dreamed of. Liverpool’s reality has<br />

tilted off its axis into a mythic dream-warp and the antlered<br />

beast is a spectral visitant from a wilder region beyond the<br />

city sprawl...<br />

Let’s put to one side for a moment the obvious/<br />

regrettable fact that Michael Cimino didn’t make a<br />

live action film version of Disney’s Bambi and set it in<br />

Bootle. On Twitter, for a few, fleeting moments, one of<br />

Liverpool’s most boring stretches of road is made strange,<br />

re-enchanted. I watch the beast as it runs along the<br />

roadside, heading north towards the container docks in<br />

Seaforth, dragging strangeness in its slipstream. Where<br />

has it come from? Where is it going? What is it thinking?<br />

It comes out of a secret portal like a half-forgotten myth<br />

out of a storyteller’s throat; something strange – at last! –<br />

something unexpected in the humdrum everyday grey. I<br />

watch the footage several times, scraps of myth-memory<br />

assembling in my imagination, out of the pages of Man,<br />

Myth & Magic, of Celtic legends in childhood picture<br />

books, of fantasy novels. White stag, messenger from the<br />

underworld, the beast that appears when a taboo has been<br />

transgressed, when we are in trouble. An omen, a warning.<br />

Once in a while the odd thing happens, an<br />

unexpected event or vision startles us into seeing the<br />

city in a different light, as if the subconscious of the city<br />

has broken through its skin like a dream-fiction escaping,<br />

becoming part of the external reality, messing with the<br />

document. In Naples I watched crystal meth addicts<br />

outside the train station, dancing in slow motion in a<br />

half-asleep choreography. Five minutes later I saw a lion<br />

tethered in a fruit and veg shop when I stopped to buy<br />

some oranges. Ten minutes later I was browsing in a<br />

shop full of puppets in a street full of wedding dresses.<br />

Sometimes the city has its own imagination, it is a<br />

dreamer and the dream. When I was 17 and working<br />

as a filing clerk in the city’s business quarter, I watched<br />

an airship slowly circling the tower block I worked in.<br />

I walked through a plague of ladybirds – a moving<br />

sidewalk of insects in their thousands, crawling like a<br />

beautiful disease over the terraces and aerial walkways<br />

of New Hall Place’s brutalist sandcastle. For three days<br />

the city became a hybrid of architecture and insect, a<br />

melding of the revolting and the beautiful. Instead of just<br />

moving through the city from workplace to sandwich<br />

shop, to train station, the unexpected moment made me<br />

pause, and look, and wonder. The city wasn’t just the<br />

monochrome grind of work, shops, traffic, commute, work<br />

– it was spontaneous and strange. It had become science<br />

fiction, like the J.G. Ballard books I was devouring at the<br />

time, like a Roxy Music B-side.<br />

Sometimes the unexpected moment is a place, rather<br />

than an event. In Liverpool I duck through<br />

the covered alley into the secret garden<br />

of the Bluecoat Chambers, into a different<br />

atmosphere, a decompression chamber, a pause<br />

that slows the city down. It has a different<br />

mood to the surrounding streets, a different<br />

tempo, a different music. It is an altered state<br />

and, in turn, it alters us. I stand in front of<br />

the old Wine Lodge on Moorfields, missing<br />

Richard Wilson’s Turning the Place Over, that<br />

audacious perforation in the ruins – abandoned<br />

architecture transformed into art. And then the<br />

bucket fountain in Beetham Plaza, the sound<br />

of falling water and kinetic clang and spill of<br />

Richard Huws’ glorious mechanical water theatre – again,<br />

a pause, a different urban atmosphere. (And don’t listen<br />

to the property developers when they say they love the<br />

fountain and want the best for it, and that’s why they<br />

want to move it somewhere else because that is utter<br />

spiv-speak.)<br />

So, this white stag running, this glimpse of something<br />

unexpected – it startles me. Spontaneous glimpses of<br />

wonder don’t happen very often in the junk-sprawl of<br />

the North End docklands, in that mediocre subtopia of<br />

multi-storey car parks – an array of parking options – and<br />

iconic Grade A office developments. It’s unlikely we’ll turn<br />

a corner in some visitor economy development and catch<br />

a glimpse of something that makes our hearts leap with<br />

joy – unless you’re the sort of person who gets excited by<br />

a conference centre or yet another office block that Junk-<br />

Sprawl PLC describe as ‘iconic’ when they really mean<br />

imagination failure…<br />

Once in a while the odd thing happens – Batman is<br />

on the roof of the Liver Building and Liverpool is Gotham<br />

City – the ever vigilant Caped Crusader watching over<br />

the city that never sleeps; day after day at sunset,<br />

God switches on his glorious free cinema and the sky<br />

hallucinates a dissolving dream of reds, pinks and<br />

yellows; in the dark of an autumn night I lie on the ground<br />

and watch the space station passing over Otterspool like<br />

a sky-spider unspooling a thread of light across the night;<br />

on the Mersey, seven porpoises head upstream on the<br />

incoming tide, as if the river is rewilding itself; I come out<br />

of the Brewery Tap and suddenly see the artist ATM’s<br />

Northern Dune Tiger Beetle scuttling across the bricks<br />

of a Stanhope Street building; look up there, above the<br />

Cathedral and spot the peregrine falcons, up there on the<br />

edge of things, the Gothic silhouette...<br />

I wander through the North End docks, looking for<br />

tomorrow. Even though the developer’s brochures and<br />

websites tell us these<br />

non-places are the future<br />

of the city it feels like the<br />

“Sometimes the<br />

city has its own<br />

imagination, it is<br />

a dreamer and<br />

the dream”<br />

end. This is not the city,<br />

this stultifying ‘seamless<br />

extension’ of car parking<br />

options, wheelie bin<br />

storage areas and ‘varied<br />

range of leisure and<br />

lifestyle amenities’. There<br />

is no sense of place,<br />

no story, no dream, no<br />

imagination, no heart or<br />

soul – the main reason<br />

being there is hardly a soul to be seen.<br />

Michael Cimino’s Bambi doesn’t end well. The white<br />

stag keeps running north, trailing memories, dreams,<br />

stories and visions in its slipstream in a doomed attempt<br />

to warn us that our soul is being sold. That the story is<br />

being erased. That the odd thing is being repurposed<br />

as a nothing. In a car park on some industrial estate the<br />

white stag – trapped, wild eyed, panicked and desperate<br />

– is cornered by the police. And then it’s shot. It doesn’t<br />

belong here, in the last days, in the dead days of the<br />

non-place. Once in a while the odd thing happens. It<br />

happened. It’s over. Black out. The dream did not come<br />

true. !<br />

Jeff Young is a writer for theatre, radio, sound art<br />

installations and performance. His memoir, Ghost Town: a<br />

Liverpool Shadowplay is out on Little Toller.<br />

@ jeffyoungwriter<br />

Illustration: Chloé Stephenson<br />

COLUMN<br />


presents<br />

<strong>2021</strong><br />

<strong>2021</strong><br />

01.12<br />


02.12<br />


01.12<br />


08.12<br />


06.12<br />

ASH<br />

10.12<br />


10.12<br />


11.12<br />


18.12<br />


<strong>2022</strong><br />

<strong>2022</strong><br />

21.01<br />

05.02<br />

26.02<br />

24.03<br />

26.03<br />

16.04<br />

17.04<br />

22.04<br />

22.04<br />

28.04<br />

21.05<br />












14.01<br />

21.01<br />

28.01<br />

04.02<br />

11.02<br />

12.02<br />

26.02<br />

19.03<br />

31.03<br />

21.05<br />

05.06<br />

22.10<br />


GUNS 2 ROSES<br />






ALABAMA 3<br />





18.06<br />


04.07<br />






Telling stories of wellbeing and safety in light of a spur of homophobic attacks in Liverpool, poet<br />

Olive speaks to multi-disciplinary artist Kolade Ladipo about queer expression, creating queer<br />

roles within the acting world and the intersectionality of queer and Black identity.<br />

Liverpool is my home, but it keeps stepping on<br />

the necks of my queer family and it’s splitting<br />

my heart down the middle. Although we remain<br />

resilient in standing up against these hate crimes,<br />

we need our allies now more than ever to make this city a<br />

space to be queer without fear.<br />

The energy spiralling around me is wrapped up in<br />

artist Kolade Ladipo, who sits before me with a warm<br />

smile and tender self-confidence. We order two herbal<br />

teas and watch the people splashing past us down Bold<br />

Street.<br />

A shape-shifter, Kolade channels all the aspects of<br />

himself through various art forms. Whether capturing<br />

intimacy through his photography, slipping into new<br />

characters as an actor, or dancing on stage in heeled<br />

boots and flames beneath his feet, Kolade is woven with<br />

intention whatever discipline he steps into.<br />

Having survived a homophobic attack in Liverpool<br />

this summer, Kolade shifts around conversations of safety<br />

and self-expression. My heart is heavy with these stories. I<br />

wonder when we will allow artists to just create art and let<br />

them remove this crown of activism they’re often forced to<br />

wear for their own survival.<br />

“I’m comfortable here. It’s my home, too, and I need<br />

to make sure this city is safe for other queer Black people.<br />

Not that it’s my job to, but it’s what I feel I need to do,”<br />

Kolade tells me, sipping on a sweet chamomile tea, his<br />

gold chain bouncing the light back to me.<br />

“Me and my friend (Felix Mufti-Wright) started a<br />

collective called Here And Queer which was created after<br />

my attack this summer,” Kolade explains. “It’s an ongoing<br />

project where we take photos of queer people in either<br />

safe spaces, or the spaces they were attacked in. Taking<br />

photos is such a powerful thing, but it’s not the only thing<br />

we do. We are reaching out to more venues and spaces<br />

and bridging that gap between them and other companies<br />

who can train them on specifically queer and racial safety.<br />

To help people understand what their venue needs to be<br />

doing, especially to ensure the safety of queer and Black<br />

people.”<br />

This discussion of safe spaces comes up a lot,<br />

especially within the LGBTQ+ community. A main issue<br />

which continues to arise is that the majority of queer folk<br />

will automatically wrap themselves in defensiveness (even<br />

subconsciously) when in a space which is not visibly queer.<br />

“As queer people we feel the need to ‘come out’,”<br />

Kolade adds. “We’ve had to spend such a long time hiding<br />

ourselves, so when we try to find our safe space where we<br />

feel like we can be our authentic selves, it tends to be in<br />

only queer spaces. I’m in a place on my journey where I can<br />

express myself anywhere, but there are still times when<br />

I feel on edge. [We need to work on] making sure we<br />

take the right steps so venues are as safe as they can be.<br />

Letting people be safe no matter where they are.”<br />

This intersects with Kolade’s Black identity, too. “I<br />

want to see more Black people within industries, working<br />

in shops. Same for queer people.” Kolade paints the air<br />

with his hands as he releases his frustration: “I want to see<br />

more visibly queer people in industries. Where is visibly<br />

queer [in Liverpool] where I can go to, besides ‘gay town’?<br />

Which isn’t a Black space either.”<br />

At this point, visibility and inclusivity should be a<br />

given within any industry, but it is sadly not always the<br />

case. “Growing up, every time I watched a rom-com it was<br />

always with a straight couple, but when I saw one with<br />

two men, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I get it’.” Still, it seems that<br />

cis, white, heterosexual characters are the default. There is<br />

hope, however, with TV shows such as Pose bursting onto<br />

Netflix’s most popular watch list.<br />

This issue gets<br />

stickier, however,<br />

when straight people<br />

are casting to play<br />

queer roles within the<br />

acting world. “When<br />

it comes to queer<br />

people playing straight<br />

roles that’s a different<br />

thing,” Kolade explains.<br />

“Often, queer people<br />

have gone through life<br />

being assumed they’re<br />

heterosexual. But when<br />

people act trans or queer and they’re heterosexual, it’s<br />

false. You can’t understand or bring your own truth to their<br />

struggle,” Kolade explains. “It’s frustrating because there<br />

are always queer people who are qualified to play the role<br />

instead.”<br />

The issue stems from who controls access to these<br />

creative industries. It can feel impossible when the<br />

gatekeepers to opportunity are locking doors to new talent<br />

who exist outside of the white, cis, hetero world. Kolade<br />

shares with me how this has impacted his experience as<br />

a third year acting student at LIPA. “In the whole of third<br />

year across all of the courses there is maybe maximum<br />

15 Black people,” he tells me. “On my course I am the<br />

only Black person. It’s frustrating because there are areas<br />

literally on the doorsteps of these drama schools that they<br />

hardly tap into, like Toxteth, for example.”<br />

Kolade’s art and voice are a light of hope in places that<br />

feel shrouded in darkness. It occurs to me that his work as<br />

an artist has taken the path of activism when this may not<br />

be his only creative goal. “It’s the unintentional prejudice<br />

of people,” Kolade sighs, “which I then have to explain to<br />

“I need to make sure<br />

this city is safe for other<br />

queer Black people. Not<br />

that it’s my job to, but it’s<br />

what I feel I need to do”<br />

them and then they feel bad about it. But it’s like, ‘I don’t<br />

want to deal with your white guilt’. I go to university to<br />

learn acting. But because I am so active with social rights<br />

people expect me to always talk about it. And I want to,<br />

but I also don’t want to burn out. I shouldn’t have to be the<br />

one to step up all the time.”<br />

And I agree. It would be much easier if people just did<br />

their own work and artists didn’t have to become activists<br />

or teachers all of the time. If only our art could exist for<br />

ourselves and not always have to be a political statement.<br />

If only our music, dance, photography – and yes, even our<br />

columns printed at the back of pink magazines – didn’t<br />

have to be filled with stories of conflict. But here we are.<br />

This work to make our city safer and better is of<br />

course so important, but it hurts that it is needed. “We all<br />

have to be more aware of each other,” Kolade concludes.<br />

“As animals, we are selfish and primal, but as human<br />

beings we can be<br />

compassionate and<br />

caring. At the moment<br />

I feel we can be lacking<br />

that for each other.<br />

Especially in the arts<br />

world.”<br />

This compassion<br />

for each other is where<br />

everything ends and<br />

begins. Removing the<br />

labels we place on one<br />

another and allowing<br />

ourselves to stand<br />

bare and human before each other is the only way. We<br />

need to see each other with love and openness; to allow<br />

expression to blossom and hold space for all people.<br />

Otherwise, we stay stagnant. Otherwise, we are still not<br />

safe. Otherwise, our creative city becomes a cesspit.<br />

There’s so much good blooming in this city. I have felt<br />

the love here with authenticity and a fullness that can only<br />

be conjured from genuine connection and acceptance.<br />

Water these spaces. Step up for the people whose voices<br />

are sore from shouting for their freedom.<br />

Stand with us. Be the light. Be the love.<br />

And maybe one day, we can proudly say that our<br />

waterfront city is a loving home of a flourishing LGBTQ+<br />

family. Until then, we have our hope and our voices. I<br />

think it’s time to use them. !<br />

Olive is a queer poet, spoken word artist and music<br />

journalist currently based in Liverpool. Her work is<br />

inspired by nature, mysticism and human connection.<br />

@olive.writing<br />


Join us to celebrate a new issue of<br />

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Friday 24 th <strong>December</strong> ROB STRINGER<br />


IN<br />

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Rob Stringer singing all your festive favourites!<br />

Saturday 18 th <strong>December</strong><br />




www.maboyles.com<br />

Ma Boyle's Alehouse & Eatery, 7 Tower Gardens, Liverpool L3 1LG<br />

PARRJAZZ_BIDOLITO.indd 1 22/10/<strong>2021</strong> 12:50


SAY<br />

“We’re facing a time of cultural<br />

and social readjustment<br />

after a rupture in our normal<br />

lives, and this gives us the<br />

opportunity to rethink some<br />

of our social conventions”<br />

After a series of events challenging accepted norms around live music gigs, Where Are The Girl<br />

Bands? are looking to continue asking questions and maintain a dialogue with the gig-goers of<br />

Liverpool. As they launch a new survey, Eve Machin talks about developing the city’s live music<br />

offer into a place for everyone.<br />

The case of Sarah Everard drew attention to<br />

women’s safety, especially at night. Downloads<br />

of location tracking apps increased, many<br />

music venues reiterated their safety policies<br />

and there was a flurry of advice, some of it addressing<br />

men and their behaviour on nights out. We at Where<br />

Are The Girl Bands? debated hosting an open discussion<br />

with men who are willing to learn more about the issue.<br />

In fact, we’ve wanted to encourage the involvement of<br />

men in our work and discussions for a long time, as our<br />

audience is inevitably female dominated. It can feel like<br />

we are somewhat preaching to the choir, and this is a<br />

time for men to engage. However, it’s a sensitive subject,<br />

essentially telling men how they ought to behave, and I<br />

don’t think there’s any right way to go about it. Instead,<br />

we turned to the idea of hosting an open discussion with<br />

gig venues open to people of all genders to participate<br />

with the aim of coming to a kind of plan.<br />

We had conversations with the likes of Keychange, a<br />

global network looking to restructure the music industry<br />

in reaching full gender equality, and Girls Against, a nonprofit<br />

organisation campaigning against sexual assault at<br />

gigs. We also looked into encouraging venues to undergo<br />

safety training with the likes of Good Night Out to prevent<br />

harassment and assault in their spaces. It’s still very much<br />

our plan to engage local venues in this discussion and<br />

point them in the direction of organisations doing fantastic<br />

work to ensure safety on the live music scene.<br />

Bloom Building in Birkenhead contacted us offering a<br />

space to host events and provided a perfect opportunity.<br />

We’d test out some of our ideas around challenging<br />

conventional gigs and put some of the project into<br />

practice. We wanted to ask some fundamental questions:<br />

why do gigs follow that same pattern? Why are we stood<br />

up, holding a beer? Why’s it so loud you can’t hear your<br />

mate talking? Should we even talk over music? Is there<br />

any need for the amount of flashing lights they have?<br />

Does it need to be this dark? Do gigs even necessarily<br />

need to be at night? After all, there have always been gigs<br />

that think outside the box – look at the Great Gig In The<br />

Sky, or Max Richter’s eight-hour symphony performed to<br />

a sleeping audience. But these are still huge spectacles<br />

and not entirely normalised concepts.<br />

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good thrash around at a<br />

gig and I like them the way they are, but thinking about it,<br />

a lot of events are pretty inaccessible to a lot of people. A<br />

few discussions with our network led to an understanding<br />

of what people wanted to see more of – and less of – at<br />

gigs. We got an idea of what we could do to make ours<br />

safer and more accessible, kicking off with a launch event<br />

in July. Among the mentioned factors were disabled<br />

access, a lack of zero-tolerance policies and the presence<br />

of female security guards.<br />

While easing back into live music, we wanted the<br />

gig to be tranquil and easygoing. We hosted discussions<br />

around accessibility in gig spaces, encouraging people<br />

to start conversations and feel more at ease. This<br />

was followed by a reiki meditation session led by the<br />

wonderful Lyndsay Price, which really highlighted<br />

that sense of intimacy and created a different level of<br />

engagement with the music that followed. The audience<br />

were seated or reclining on cushions and beanbags, as<br />

Sophie Bernice played a dreamy set of soft folk songs. It<br />

was a lovely evening, with audience members invited to<br />

give feedback afterwards, several remarking how different<br />

it was from anything they’d been to before.<br />

As well as looking at the format and the line-up,<br />

we ensured the venue was fully wheelchair accessible;<br />

gender-neutral toilets were available, as well as quiet<br />

spaces for people to use if they needed. We offered<br />

concession prices on tickets and established a zerotolerance<br />

policy towards harassment. It’s small actions<br />

behind-the-scenes that ensure gigs are fully accessible<br />

to all; equality, diversity and inclusion checks as well as<br />

frameworks to prevent labour exploitation, and venues<br />

should be making checks on their accessibility and safety<br />

policies. If we’ve learned one thing, it’s that communication<br />

with your audience is the most important thing. This makes<br />

events more enjoyable and accessible to all and appealing<br />

to a wider pool of people.<br />

We’re not saying ours is the ultimate solution and the<br />

quintessential model that everyone should follow. But,<br />

for many, it made for a successful transition back into<br />

live music. Equally, being public and transparent about<br />

real policies and genuine steps made avoids an air of<br />

performativity and makes gigs safer and more enjoyable<br />

for all.<br />

Following our launch event, we also hosted a series<br />

of Development Days and workshops open to all. Over<br />

the years, our network has grown from musicians to other<br />


creatives working in the music industry – photographers,<br />

writers, artists, producers and more. In order to provide<br />

for everyone, we have been inviting local artists to lead<br />

workshops in these disciplines, bringing together the local<br />

creative community, encouraging networks and enabling<br />

personal and professional development and collaboration.<br />

Our hope is that venues reconsider how they use their<br />

spaces. A gig space, for example, can be used not<br />

exclusively for shows but to nurture the local community<br />

of creatives that use it and make it what it is.<br />

The events series comes hand in hand with a survey,<br />

which we’d really encourage everyone who’s ever been to<br />

a gig to fill out. This is all about addressing the needs of<br />

the local community and scene, and Ella and I alone aren’t<br />

representative of that, of course. More than anything, we<br />

just want to chat about what works on the scene – it may<br />

be perfect and there’s not a thing you’d change – and<br />

what doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head for you. We’re<br />

also excited to be running a competition as part of the<br />

survey. Submit a gig idea to us – as radical as you like –<br />

and the winner will get their gig idea realised at Bloom<br />

Building.<br />

Epidemics and pandemics are markers for change.<br />

Often, after a catastrophe, recovery is needed which<br />

often requires new discourse, new ideas and new modes<br />

of living. The impact the pandemic has had on culture is<br />

undoubtedly enormous. We’re facing a time of cultural<br />

and social readjustment after a rupture in our normal lives,<br />

and this gives us the opportunity to rethink some of our<br />

social conventions.<br />

Although everything can supposedly legally go back<br />

to normal, and although I am thrilled that this means<br />

financial stability for venues and joy for audiences and<br />

artists alike, the reality of the experience of live music for<br />

some people will be far from that. Gigs and venue spaces<br />

still need to account for financial loss, new audiences,<br />

new technology and adapting to the pandemic itself.<br />

Music, after all, is for everyone – alternatives need to be<br />

made available. !<br />

Visit bit.ly/watgbsurvey to fill out the Live Music Spaces<br />

Survey.<br />

Words: Eve Machin / @wherearethegirlbands<br />

Photography: Lucy McLachlan / @lucy_alexandra<br />




Angie Woolfall is a Liverpool-born writer and member of the Poised Pen Writers Group<br />

whose work has been published in Writing on The Wall’s Write Minds anthology.<br />

Examining a bus journey as a microcosm of Liverpool, Travelling Light is a celebration<br />

of community, solidarity and hope.<br />

Words: Angie Woolfall / @ a_word_slinging_woolf<br />

Travelling light<br />

The collective consciousness rolls by on its wheels<br />

Inhabitants talking or eating their meals<br />

Students, locals and classic bohemia<br />

Gazing from windows<br />

Scrolling through media<br />

Workers and carers<br />

Mothers and lovers<br />

Sharing the journey<br />

Looking out for each other<br />

Giving up seats<br />

Picking up toys<br />

Precious belongings of the girls and the boys<br />

A dog climbs aboard<br />

We smile as a whole<br />

The unspoken contract<br />

With love as its goal<br />

Smile and be smiled at<br />

That’s how we fly<br />

Accept that some won’t<br />

But don’t assume why<br />

Made harsh by life’s sharpness<br />

They have to save face<br />

But given the chance<br />

Most have good grace<br />

The kind and brave pool where solidarity wins<br />

And hate is for losers and fascists get binned<br />

A city built by migrants<br />

We pick people up<br />

No tolerance for arrogance<br />

We’ll fill up your cup<br />

With smiles or with ale<br />

Kindness and change<br />

The weird and the wonderful<br />

The bold and the strange<br />

As we get off the bus<br />

‘Can I squeeze past you there’<br />

A community condensed<br />

A collective of care.<br />








7PM TIL LATE<br />

TICKETS £15<br />


ASTLES<br />

BY THE SEA<br />







DOORS 7PM<br />

TICKETS £10<br />










VLURE<br />





TIDES<br />

PLUS<br />







28TH DECEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />




YOUSEF<br />





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