LOUD Bristol Issue Four

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UPCOMING SHOWS

ALTIN OGÜN ut

old Bristol S Beacon, Bristol 25 May 2022

SOICHI TERADA LIVE Strange Brew, Bristol 1 June 2022

WILLIAM BASINSKI St George’s, Bristol 11 June 2022

TIRZAH Out

CHARLOTTE ADIGÉRY ut O & BOLIS PUPUL Sold Rough Trade, Bristol 4 April 2022

BLACKHAINE Strange Brew, Bristol 11 May 2022

Fiddlers, Sold Bristol 21 June 2022

SINEAD O’BRIEN Exchange, Bristol 21 October 2022

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE SWX, Bristol 6 November 2022

VIAGRAOBOYS ut MarbleSFactory, Bristol old 12 May 2022

JESSY LANZA Strange Brew, Bristol 18 May 2022

ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER Marble Factory, Bristol 25 May 2022

MORE SHOWS TO BE ANNOUNCED simplethingsfestival.co.uk


Editor’s Note Welcome all, to the fourth issue of LOUD. The dreary days of a difficult winter are behind us, and true to form, Bristol’s evergreen music scene is serving up another bumper crop of projects and parties for us to sink our teeth into. In these pages, the first of two in-depth feature pieces sees us explore a broad range of local initiatives set up to encourage the next generation of young creatives into the music industry. We’re also dipping our toes into an exciting audio-visual scene bubbling away on the Bristol underground, spanning a vibrant selection of artists and events. Bristol venues are once again taking centre stage in Issue Four, as we celebrate the 30th birthday of one of the city’s most iconic clubs and shine a light on an intriguing comeback season at The Island. Genre-bending powerhouse Grove leads our latest assortment of artist interviews, joined by the likes of DAMEFRISØR, stanlæy and Bingo Fury among others. Elsewhere, we’re catching up with the brains behind class-leading record labels Shall Not Fade, Invicta Audio and Spinny Nights. After the lows of the pandemic, this city’s famously dynamic musical community is finally back in the swing of things. Full of renewed optimism, we’re immensely grateful to be along for the ride.

LOUD

BRISTOL

@loudbrstl issuu.com/loudbristol

Editor

Matt Robson matt@365bristol.com Staff Writers

George Boyle george@365bristol.com Stanley Gray stan@365bristol.com Cover Design

Patch Keyes @patch_d_keyes patchdkeyes.co.uk Sales & Marketing

Brendan Murphy brendan@365bristol.com With thanks to

Matt, LOUD Editor

6 The Kids Are Alright

26 DAMEFRISØR

46 Club Djembe

Find out how Bristol is paving the way for a new creative generation

The evolving Bristol band outline their love of experimentation

Club Djembe residents delve into their passion for partying

10 Synesthesia

28 Shall Not Fade

54 The Island

LOUD gets the lowdown on an exciting new audio-visual scene

Building a community around the label’s new city-centre HQ

The atmospheric city-centre venue is finally back in business

16 Thirty Years of Lakota

32 Stanlæy

56 The Cube

Taking a journey back through three decades of UK club history

Bethany Stenning guides LOUD through her other-worldly sound

Exploring the unique setup of a proudly independent arts venue

22 Grove

34 Invicta Audio

60 Spinny Nights

The in-demand artist reflects on a mounting stack of accolades

Anton Bailey’s label and events brand has hit the ground running

Founders Arthur and Rafi discuss their musical milestones

LOUD Bristol is published by 365 The World Ltd. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without the written permission of 365 The World Ltd. The opinions expressed or advice given in this publication are the views of the individual authors and do not represent the views of 365 The World Ltd. 365 The World Ltd accepts no responsibility for misprints or mistakes and no responsibility can be taken for the contents of these pages.


The Kids are Alright The UK’s cultural sector has been forced to hit the reset button in response to the crippling impact of the coronavirus pandemic. LOUD finds out how the leading lights of the Bristol music scene are helping young people forge a path into the industry post-lockdown Words: Matt Robson Photos: Noods Levels/ Photos: Noods Radio; Photos: Elevate Us/ Photos: Matthew Photos: Whiteley

istorically, the arts have been incredibly difficult to break into for young people taking the first steps in their careers, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds and marginalised communities. It can take a lot of groundwork just to meet the right people and get a foot in the door, and even then, there’s no guarantee of any stability.

H

Of course, if you’ve got access to that DJing equipment, those music

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lessons, the studio time, you’re already on the right track. If you can afford to live in London on a three- or six-month unpaid internship, you’re golden. For millions of young people in the UK, however, the route is less straightforward. It’s important to note here that the creative sector took a major hit during the pandemic. World heritage organisation UNESCO estimates that as many as ten million creative jobs have been lost globally due to the coronavirus crisis, while


“We’re striving to create supported and accessible opportunities that have real longevity” Phoebe Holman, Big Team CIC

researchers at the University of Sheffield recently reported that the UK’s cultural sector suffered a 60% decline in revenue across 2020 and 2021. What was already a notoriously gatekept industry has seen opportunities become even more scarce. On top of that, a government that inexplicably advised creatives to “retrain in cyber” during a global pandemic is unlikely to have filled young people with confidence as they confront the post-lockdown jobs market. So now, as the UK’s cultural sector starts to pick up the pieces after months of uncertainty, where do we find ourselves? Returning events, finally, look stable. Adored music and arts venues across Bristol and beyond are on the road to recovery, and the dancefloor feels like a safe place to be again. Normality, to an extent, is restored, but support and access for the next generation of artists and professionals is more important than ever. The pandemic has presented cultural organisations with a chance to shake things up, to reshape the landscape, and teams across Bristol

are grasping it with both hands. From leading events brands and venues to smaller, grassroots businesses, the city’s arts community has recognised a window to bring new people into music, and cultivate a fairer, open and more diverse scene. Team Love, the promoters responsible for renowned events such as Love Saves The Day, Love International and new festival Forwards, are using their platform to provide practical opportunities for young people. Through their Big Team CIC and in-house industry networking platform, Elevate Us, the organisers offer community outreach work, face-to-face mentoring, accessible industry events and talent development projects with prominent, Bristol-based industry professionals. “The projects have been set up to directly address issues of underrepresentation, and set young people up with vital experience, shadowing and paid roles across our vibrant festival portfolio,” Phoebe Holman, Producer at Big Team, tells me. “There’s also a focus on collaborating with other organisations across the city to

create meaningful pathways for young creatives to follow their passions and thrive in professional environments. “We’re working hard on community engagement, firstly to understand what young people’s needs are and where the gaps are in terms of entering the industry. We’re striving to create supported and accessible opportunities that have real longevity.” Elsewhere, there’s a real push to create space for young people at Bristol Beacon, with the landmark venue recently launching their own artist development programme, Future Proof. Over the course of 18 months, the scheme will support a group of 18–25 year old musicians taking the first steps of their creative journeys. Sophia Allison, who’s overseeing the project, says the team are “looking to craft independent plans” to facilitate the development of each person involved. “One person might be looking to DJ in a venue, someone else might want to be behind the scenes at a festival. We’re trying to connect people with Spring 2022

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“It’s so important for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and underrepresented or marginalised communities, to know that there are sustainable options for them in the arts” Emily Bull, Creative Youth Network

professionals who can offer practical support and guidance. It’s about utilising our network to prepare young people to move forwards.”

experience of how difficult it is to start from scratch gives us a much broader understanding of what it takes to pursue careers in music.”

Bristol’s grassroots music scene is more than pulling its weight to cater for young people across the city, too. Noods Radio’s newly established community interest company, Noods Levels, is working to ensure young people are contributing to the everevolving station’s output through a range of technical and artistic roles.

As well as creating jobs and facilitating creative pursuits, there’s a drive across Bristol’s musical community to make the scene more inclusive and equitable for everyone. Leaders of a range of projects are dedicated to making young people feel welcome in creative spaces, regardless of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, economic background or disability.

Alongside a series of industry events providing education and guidance for young people, Levels will be offering hands-on experience and setting up young people to secure paid positions later down the line. Project Lead Izzy Cross believes that Noods’ development as an independent, DIY station has enabled them to offer practical resources for young people, using their experience to inform and improve their outreach work. “For well over a year, we’ve been asking ourselves ‘what could we have used to make this process easier’, and ‘what would have been really helpful for us in the station’s early days’,” Izzy says. “That real life

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Emily Bull, Head of Creative at Bristol & South Gloucestershire youth arts organisation, Creative Youth Network, is “massively encouraged” by what’s happening locally right now. “It’s brilliant that things are starting to happen again post-pandemic, but the most important thing is that the organisations and the people running them are really up for diversifying and offering opportunities to those that otherwise wouldn’t have access,” she explains. “It’s so important for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and under-represented or marginalised

communities, to know that there are sustainable options for them in the arts as they move into adulthood. Whether it’s for a career, or as an audience member, feeling like you’re welcome in a music venue is massive.” Emily’s sentiments are echoed back at Team Love. “The power of diversity comes from celebrating different perspectives, cultures, heritages and backgrounds. We can’t just be showing that on our stages – it needs to be present in our workforce and in our audiences, too,” Phoebe says. Many of the programmes launched since the start of the pandemic have already led participants into paid roles. Team Love have hired directly from the outreach work they’ve been doing, with one participant joining the marketing team and another as an assistant producer for Big Team, while 20-year-old George Buckthought has secured a job at Black Acre Records as a direct result of the label’s Pathways programme. Having earned a place on the course in 2021, George says their experiences gave them the confidence and know-how to


Bristol Beacon’s Future Proof programme provides a range of performance opportunities for emerging artists, alongside a series of panel discussions with highly-regarded industry professionals. Pictured: Kwazi performing at a Bristol Beacon Showcase (credit: Tom Ham) and Congo Natty speaking at a recent industry event (credit: Dominika Scheibinger)

work towards a career in music management. “The programme gave me so much valuable insight, which not only opened a lot of doors for me, but also set me up with this network and community which I can lean on and learn from going forwards. “I was actually at university while I was on the course, but the hands-on experience has been so much more beneficial to me than studying ever was. I was able to learn what it takes to put an event on, learn about the business side of things, tour management, everything. That practical experience is so important today.” It speaks volumes that this piece doesn’t even come close to covering all the bases with regards to youth projects operating in the city right

now. In the pages of this magazine alone, we’ve heard from Shall Not Fade founder Kieran Williams about his ambition to one day host label management courses from his city-centre HQ, and caught up with Harbourside Music Management boss Ben Price to discuss his new disability empowerment programme. Elsewhere, the Mix Nights course continues to nurture an exciting community of non-male DJs and producers, while its parent organisation Saffron are also funding the musical projects of seven female and gender non-conforming artists as part of their Springboard initiative. In stark contrast to the bleak outlook for the broader cultural sector in the UK, the abundance of projects emerging from the ashes of the coronavirus pandemic is cause for optimism in Bristol. For anyone

looking to develop themselves as artists, industry professionals, performers, events producers or anything in between, the tools and resources are in place for young people to access valuable support and develop their skills. If you’ve got a passion for music, guidance and encouragement from those already embedded in the industry can be the difference between carving out a career doing what you love, or falling by the wayside. Thankfully, in the wake of an unprecedented global crisis, there’s a growing crop of initiatives operating across the city offering just that.

For more information on any of the projects mentioned in this article, or to find contacts for the people involved, get in touch via email on matt@365bristol.com

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Synesthesia Bristol’s latest experimental impulse - designed to consume multiple senses - is elevating performance to the highest realms of experience. LOUD explores the growing community of innovators ushering the city’s notably forward-thinking output into new terrain Words: George Boyle Photos: Nellie Fratelli

t’s a chilly Wednesday at Strange Brew and all eyes are fixed to the screen at the centre of the stage. There’s no chatter and barely a punter at the bar - only total encapsulation at the eclectic and vivid imagery projected alongside sounds ranging from ambient to techno.

I

The event is WetWare – a new night showcasing performances where audio and visuals (AV) are intended as one piece. Bristol has long been

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a hub of cross pollination and experimentation, and this maiden occasion is indicative of a fresh offshoot of these sensibilities that is quietly bubbling under the surface. Courtesy of an assortment of innovators, a new wave of multisensory expression is steadily emerging. From Dali De Saint Paul’s EP/64 project teaming up with various visual artists to Viridian Ensemble’s theatrical use of mundane household objects to dress like guerrilla fighters, the


“I’ve always been into the idea of trying to immerse the audience. Anything that can make it less of a gig and more like an experience” Jason Baker, SCALPING

city is in the throes of an exciting and idiosyncratic milieu of AV performance that is re-defining immersion in the gig space. Spearheading this growing movement is SCALPING. Since forming in 2017, Isaac Jones (drums), James Rushforth (bass), Nick Berthoud (guitar) and Alex Hill (electronics) have been combining the orbits of guitar and electronic music with evocative madcap sci-fi worlds, portraying ‘extreme body horror’ courtesy of visual artist Jason Baker.

asserts, but the output of SCALPING and other Bristol AV innovators differs because the two elements are intended as one piece, increasing the interconnectivity between sound, space, visuals, performance and the audience. “It’s like visuals on steroids when you’re doing it with a band. It’s much more like you can pack in the good stuff as opposed to butter spread over too much toast at a club night,” he adds.

“It’s [visuals] not just something that goes along with the music, it’s something that takes over another one of your senses,” Jason says over Zoom, adding that the intention of this fusion is to pull the audience into the show - to help them get lost in it. “I’ve always been into the idea of trying to immerse the audience. Anything that can make it less of a gig - with all due respect to musicians - and more like an experience.”

Throughout the 2010s, Bristol’s experimental impulses manifested in an exciting new underground through the likes of Giant Swan, Avon Terror Corps, and legendary label-and-crew Howling Owl. This exciting and varied zeitgeist inspired SCALPING, especially events hosted by the latter at venues such as Start The Bus, Brunswick Club and Arnolfini – where SCALPING met Jason at a Kayla Painter AV gig – not forgetting the community it fostered, too.

Ocular displays accompanying sound is not a new concept, Jason

These all-embracing nights, typified by unusual line-ups containing

spoken word acts followed by punk bands, techno DJs and short films, redefined how ideas, often with multiple sensory elements, could be fused in the eyes of the band. “It was a new way of seeing how things could be presented together, and even if on the surface they weren’t connected, they were deeper at the roots and came from the same place,” Alex recalls of these formative experiences. “It was exciting and always felt eclectic and fresh. That was the starting point really - seeing people combining ideas that were completely new to us and wanting to make that stuff.” Assuming the role of frontperson, Jason’s visuals add an ‘extra limb’ to the band’s muscular instrumental sound. “It’s not there to complement the band, it’s there to replace the band. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need to be there,” Alex says, adding that SCALPING’s members often can’t be seen on stage: “It’s all about the visuals - people want to look at something and we don’t want them to look at us. Also, because it’s largely instrumental music, it gives Spring 2022

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“I don’t think at this point I can separate the senses” / A careful and audacious BIPED performance in action. Photos: @orionrsl_photography & @bendornanwilson2

people space. There’s a lot to be interpreted, and I think that sends people’s thoughts to another place that maybe it wouldn’t if the visuals weren’t there, maybe even making them scared or uncomfortable.” Another prime mover in this emerging community is BIPED, whose ‘pokey and raw’ electronic music is accompanied by a triumvirate of digital, analogue, and physical sensory elements. “I don’t think at this point that I can really separate the senses. You never have a purely audio experience or a purely visual experience or a purely feeling experience. I can’t leave out a sense when I’m thinking about making something at this point,” they say. BIPED’s performances are careful

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and audacious, playing with the senses through symbols, objects, and the audience, bringing them something they can lean into. “The multi-sensory thing opens performance up in a lot of ways because it stops it being a spectacle and creates an interaction. If you’re altering the environment, the audience is in it, they’re not just viewing or listening to the world I’ve built - that’s exciting,” they say, recalling a performance with striking visuals of animals reaching the end of their lives. Beginning with single cell organisms and moving through the life cycle until their final days, audience members were being asked at what point their empathy was triggered.

“It means something but also as an experience by itself – just a sensory experience – you can engage with it on different levels, which is important because it’s not my choice how people interpret it.” Not solely a way to give full embodiment to an idea, this growing manifestation of multi-sensory performance is also a way to understand the needs of people in the present, BIPED adds: “We’re lacking a sense of full experience, of connectedness between various inputs. We’re seeking that bridging between senses and experience, and for it to be in the live capacity alongside other people is just so important.” Like SCALPING, four-piece HAAL


fuse visuals with their heavy sonic drawing on the dynamic post-rock, electronic and industrial sounds of the late 90s/00s to assume the role of frontperson, curating a distinct live identity typified by intensely immersive experiences. I meet vocalist and guitarist Alfie Hay with visual artist Will Newcombe – who describes his work as ‘analogue data moshing’ - at Watershed on a bright Sunday. Displaying anything from randomised collations of archive photos found in a dump in Arizona to tapped CCTV feeds from across the globe, Will takes “things that loads of other people have done with their neural networks or their media,” and mashes “it into something else, making it do what it shouldn’t.” The concept of HAAL began formulating in Alfie’s mind when he was just 13, he tells me, but it wasn’t until moving to Bristol from Tiverton, Devon, that the idea to form a band where audio and visuals are intended as one piece came to fruition. “I didn’t want to do HAAL for ages because I was a bit worried,” he recalls. “Then we went and saw SCALPING and thought, ‘oh god, we have to carry on now.’ We all came out thinking that was the best thing we’d ever seen.” Bristol’s wider creative community has also spurred them on, Alfie continues: “We’ve ended up playing with electronic artists like BIPED, who’s so cool, but I wouldn’t have pinned us together at first.” The city’s often eclectic line-ups are indicative of a unique overlapping of artists where other places would

perhaps naturally draw genre lines. “Every band in Bristol is so different sounding, which I really like, and everyone seems to be friends with each other. Everyone seems to be in it together,” he adds. This considered, the current cross pollination between audio and visuals comes as no surprise. But HAAL’s venture into the world of multi-sensory performance has laid bare existing pitfalls unique to AV gigs. Their tenure as a band has been marked by several teething issues, with some venues unable to accommodate the visual element of their show. “We’re trying to be pickier with gigs. We don’t want to dilute the vision by not having visuals. If we can’t do them then we probably won’t do it at all,” Alfie says. Fortunately, as AV performance gains traction, multiple Bristol venues have taken a punt on these shows, making whatever accommodations they can. HAAL have been able to perform with visuals at The Louisiana and Dareshack, with other venues such as People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, Lost Horizon – currently in the process of developing VR capabilities – and community space Strange Brew all also hosting AV gigs. In February 2022, the lattermost venue hosted WetWare – billed as the first dedicated AV performance night in Bristol. James Waterworth, who I meet in Elevator Sound, set up the event with an old university friend. “You do get a lot of nights with visuals, but they might just be a secondary thing,” he says. “Something in the background to give you something to

look at. It’s not as much the focus. We thought it would be nice to do some music events where the visuals were at the forefront. “The whole point of AV is that you’re trying to create a combined artwork that’s more than the sum of its parts. Listening to or watching them individually wouldn’t make up to the same experience so that’s what gives it such a good angle. There’s a lot of scope for interesting performances. Not just outside of people going to a club and seeing someone performing visuals. There’s more synergy and marriage between visuals and the music.” Through WetWare, James hopes to build a community where AV artists can connect and collaborate, also providing a space where people who wouldn’t be able to perform elsewhere are able to showcase their work. The messages he has received following the inaugural event make evident that there is certainly no shortage of interest from a varied cohort of creatives, all with unique approaches. From 18mm film footage projected against mirrors to world building within gaming engines - the scope of AV performance feels limitless. It’s an intriguing and unpredictable prospect, a certain indicator that Bristol is amid an exciting movement - for both audiences and artists. “One reason I’m happy to be performing now is because the novelty is there again,” BIPED says, summing up. “People remember why they love it; people want to engage with it. They’re coming and seeking. That openness is an absolute gift for a maker.” Spring 2022

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The warm weather is coming back… and Bristol is reminding you not to cool down in the Harbour! We all love a dip when the weather is hot. But as temperatures get ready to turn up, the Bristol Water Safety Partnership is back to remind us of the importance of not getting into the water at the harbourside. Following a brilliant campaign last year, the Avon Fire & Rescue Service, Bristol City Centre BID, Bristol City Council and Avon and Somerset Police are once again coming together to spread the word about keeping yourself and each other safe. Particular hotspots for dips in the harbour include an easily accessible spot by the Arnolfini as well as one by the Cascade Steps ferry station – but it’s important not to be tempted, whatever the weather. The harbour poses a real risk for would-be swimmers and the dangers of the water are always there, whether it be day or night. Everything from temperature, water quality and lack of ladders, to strong currents and submerged objects…all pose a real risk to your safety. We want to keep you away from danger and keep the number of high-profile incidents and deaths involving people getting into difficulty in the water as low as possible. Last August, more than 45 posters were placed throughout the harbourside and wider city centre to remind us all of the risks – and from 1st April this year, you’ll see updated versions of these posters back in situ. Please take note – whether you’re out for the day or out at night. The Harbourside Safety Awareness campaign is coming back at a time when Bristol City Centre BID’s work on public safety projects continues to go from strength to strength in a bid to keep us safe when we’re out and about in the city. The BID has recently teamed up with Bristol Nights to train 250 bar, club, restaurant and other night-time economy venue owners to deal with any instances of sexual harassment they may witness. This crucial work is ensuring that Bristol is a zero tolerance city to sexual harassment. The team from the BID also spearheaded a city-wide Drink Spiking campaign last year, which too is returning for 2022, and so far has delivered 350 spiking test kits to more than 150 night-time spots. Take care of yourself and each other Bristol – and enjoy the sunshine.

SPONSORED BY:

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Thirty Years of Lakota One of Bristol’s most iconic venues hits the big three-o this year. We could forgive Lakota co-owner Marti Burgess for not knowing quite where to start when we sat down to document three decades at the forefront of British club culture Words: Matt Robson Photos: Mark Simmons/Lakota Archive, Soul Media

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lot has happened in the last thirty years. We’ve had a handful of global crises to navigate, social media has arrived, taken over and promptly ruined our lives, and a long line of musical genres have emerged from the underground and dominated the dancefloor before eventually making way for the next, next big thing.

A

Very few music venues can truly say they’ve been there for it all, with the significant exception of one multi-room complex in Stokes Croft. Lakota has had a front row seat for the explosion of dance music culture in the UK, from the hazy days of the early rave scene right through to the stripped-back, sit-down parties brought about by the pandemic. I’m catching up with co-owner Marti Burgess (pictured, pg.20) on a dreary afternoon on Upper York Street, livened up by the prospect of journeying back through years of era-defining parties, seminal DJ residencies and more than a few close shaves with closure. “I don’t think we can take credit for the impact Lakota has had,” she says, modestly, as we get our interview underway. “We’re just grateful to have been the custodians.” Marti, alongside her brother Bentleigh, went into partnership with local club promoter George Leonard to launch Lakota in the early 1990s.

At that time, the expansive space we know now was split between a smaller venue, The Moon Club, and a huge, disused bottling works.

down from university in London with all my friends to work behind the bar on those first nights. We didn’t even have enough to buy the beer.”

Amid the backdrop of the blossoming rave scene, and anticipating that warehouse parties were set to be the next big thing, the trio bought The Moon Club and its adjoining factory building and opened the full complex for its first parties in 1992.

Despite significant hurdles, those early days saw Lakota host some of its biggest-ever parties. Queues stretching around the block (“both ways!” Marti stresses) were a regular occurrence. The team were startled one night to hear tapping on the window of their top-floor office, only to find that a desperate punter had scaled a drainpipe on the side of the building in a bid to gain entry.

Lakota’s early years were busy, bringing clubbers in from all over the country. Major bookings like Sasha, Carl Cox and Massive Attack’s Daddy G contributed to a solid start for the venue, but barely a year had passed when co-owner Leonard was hospitalised with a serious brain haemorrhage. In his absence, it became apparent that a large chunk of the fee to purchase the club hadn’t been paid, and that Leonard owed the bank a sizeable amount of money. Receivers were called in, and Lakota’s doors were swiftly closed. Months went by before a bidding war broke out for ownership of the venue, between the Burgess family and a pair of veteran club owners. The auction went to closed bids and Marti and Bentleigh secured the deed by a margin of just £600. “We got the bid but we didn’t have the money,” Marti laughs, “so when we reopened it was a nightmare. I came

“We called downstairs and threw him out which was probably not our finest moment,” Marti recalls with a wry smile. “Maybe a bit mean.” Through the following years the venue rode a huge wave of success, as the team launched their own record label, ran a merchandise store on Park Street and continued to build a stellar reputation with their club programming. Marti and the team even found time to take the Lakota brand around the world, hosting parties in New York, Miami and San Francisco and organising the first-ever non-segregated party in post-apartheid South Africa. “It was mad,” she laughs. “There was no reason for it at all. We weren’t taking any time to think, really, just doing it.” Of course, the old adage of ‘what goes up, must come down’ is painfully Spring 2022

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“We’ve always called it Lakota Bristol, always made sure that people understand we are a part of this area. ”We’re not navigating somewhere new, this is where we’re from”

true in clubland, and those heady days during the early- and mid-90s were followed by a drastic downfall around the turn of the century. The owners’ ambition had finally caught up with them, leaving the venue in dire financial straits and facing a struggle to keep pace with the UK’s ever-evolving nightlife scene. “We had done so much and gone so far that in the late 90s we just hit this wall. With clubbing, I think, you have your phase – it’s so much fun just doing what you love, then all of a sudden it becomes this big business, and when that happens it’s fucking horrible,” Marti recalls. Things got so desperate that Lakota was hosting events, and catering for genres, that Marti and co didn’t really like, but knew would get people through the doors. Happy hardcore and jump up jungle nights suddenly came to the fore as the team did everything they could to stay afloat. “We just had to go into survival mode. We had to do a lot of things that probably weren’t perceived as being that ‘cool’, all these sounds that people were turning their nose

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at but actually helped us pay our bills. That’s really the only way we made it through that period – you just have to do what you have to do, you’ve got to move with the times.” Thankfully, the venue was able to weather the storm and stay open for years to come. Amid the ups and downs, Marti and the Lakota team have been mindful of maintaining their links with the local community throughout their thirtyyear tenure, ensuring the venue contributes to a vibrant cultural landscape in St Pauls and Montpelier. Lakota is always involved in Bristol’s Carnival celebrations to some degree, and remains a meeting space for people in the area to use for everything from charitable initiatives to funerals. Marti and Bentleigh grew up around the corner. They both went to nursery down the street. Lakota is, at its core, a community enterprise. “We’ve always called it Lakota Bristol, always made sure that people understand we are a part of this area. We’ve kept in touch with what’s going on locally, supported projects, made the venue available for free when

somebody wants to do something outside the norm in the daytime. We’re not navigating somewhere new, this is where we’re from, so it’s come quite naturally,” Marti says. Today, Lakota is still a certified nightlife heavyweight, rightly renowned in Bristol and across the UK as one of the nation’s most iconic club venues. Just as they did when they started out, the team organise their own programming and in-house promotions. As always, they’re dedicated to celebrating up-and-coming Bristol DJs as well as providing opportunities for non-male and minority artists and attracting some of the biggest names from across the global electronic music spectrum. Marti is quick to stress that thousands of artists and punters that have passed through over the years are key to its success, but there’s no denying the fact that her and Bentleigh’s stewardship has been vital. The pair secured ownership of what’s now the Coroner’s Court space to protect against prospective property


Across thirty years of parties, Lakota has provided a vital platform for emerging electronic artists, and seen countless genres and sub-genres pass through its doors

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Top: Lakota’s main room in the early 90s / Marti (right) alongside Leon Alexander Middle: Marti behind the decks / a present-day sell-out crowd at the venue Bottom: Lakota Gardens’ sit-down parties secured vital income in 2020 & 2021 Photos: Mark Simmons / Lakota Archive, Giulia Spadafora / Soul Media

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“The closure was a bit of an urban myth that, admittedly, we haven’t done much to quash. We have no intention of going anywhere”

developers. They developed the smoking area, and bought and tarmacked a neighbouring car park which would eventually become the hugely successful Lakota Gardens. The launch of the Gardens was one of very few good news stories for Bristol music during the pandemic, creating a space for people to get together and party when in-person events were few and far between. Marti says she’s proud of the way the venue team navigated the coronavirus crisis, and that the project created lasting memories. “We weren’t thinking in the 90s that thirty years down the line we’d be watching someone like Russell Howard in the car park,” she laughs. One summer event was attended by three generations of the Burgess family, and became an unexpected highlight of their time at the helm. We’ve been chatting for over an hour, but there’s still an elephant in Lakota’s (refurbished) green room. I ask Marti how she and Bentleigh feel about the venue’s eventual closure, after it

was widely reported in 2020 that a sale had been agreed ahead of future property development on the site. I’m surprised to find out that not only is Lakota “100% not closing”, but wheels are also in motion for the opening of a new basement space inside the complex. “The closure was a bit of an urban myth that, admittedly, we haven’t done much to quash,” Marti explains. “We have no intention of going anywhere. There’s always that threat of development nearby, but I think one of the reasons why we don’t get as much hassle as we maybe could have done is that we’re so involved with the community.” This summer, the venue will be hosting a full weekend of events to span the full range of sounds and styles that have passed through over the years, celebrating its birthday in typically ambitious style. “It’s important for us to make sure that those thirty years of Lakota are properly represented. We won’t be

overdosing on nostalgia, but we’re doing day parties for the older crowd, then opening up the venue for two full night-time lineups. Maybe there won’t be any happy hardcore,” Marti laughs. In many ways, Lakota’s ups and downs encapsulate all the best and worst of Bristol’s musical landscape. A DIY ethos, community spirit and seemingly never-ending battles with property developers are woven into the venue’s - and the city’s - musical identity. Through all of its highs and lows, the venue has played a vital role in the development of Bristol culture. Where it will be in the next ten, twenty, thirty years remains to be seen. The face of Stokes Croft is changing rapidly, and a loud, proud underground club may well be on borrowed time as demand for city centre accommodation continues to reach dizzying new heights. All we can do for now is celebrate Lakota’s enduring heritage, and enjoy a space that has earned its place among the all-time great British venues.

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Grove Grove is distinct in an exciting zeitgeist of evocative, forward-thinking music in Bristol. Here, the vocalist and producer recalls their formative years, two breakout EPs and a mounting stack of personal accolades Words: George Boyle Photo: Khali Ackford

I’ve got a rehearsed answer for this,” Grove laughs in characteristically affable fashion, readying themself for a demonstration. “You’ve got your blender right here,” they say, sliding their half-finished pint of Pilsner across the table. “You chuck in a bit of Dancehall, a bit of jungle, a bit of punk and a bit of pop – whisk that up and pour it in a cup and that’s Grove” (Hip Hop gets an honourable mention).

It’s a head spinning recipe - a bold fusion of flavours combining to create nothing short of monumental. Taking elements of all without fully belonging to one, Grove’s genre defying mix has endowed their output with a special sense of urgency, marking them out as one of the most vital voices in Bristol’s leftfield music community. Combining unflinchingly direct, occasionally tongue in cheek and sometimes sensual lyricism with dark, brooding basslines and coiled, murky grooves you can sink in to, the vocalist and producer is a patchwork

artist. Constantly in dialogue with the world around them, their 2021 EP releases, Queer + Black and SPICE, filter their ever-morphing, cross pollinating sonic sensibilities through visceral experiences woven intuitively into their work as a form of cathartic expression. When we connect in Bedminster on an overcast Monday threatening a storm at any moment, Grove is half an hour late - delayed after a full day of meetings and a calendar mishap. Following a proper hello, we settle into a quiet corner of the Steam Crane on North Street; their spirited energy contrasting my assumption that they’ve had a beige office day. Failing to supress an ear-to-ear grin, Grove modestly reveals a dizzying milestone: “There was this domino effect of events that were totally random but ended up with me supporting Metronomy! It’s pretty fucking mad.” It’s an impossibly cool excuse. Grove is officially a jet-setting international artist, booked to open for the indie-

pop titans at a string of shows in Spain and Portugal in early March - the latest in a long line of richly deserved permeations outside of Bristol. Grove’s ostensibly sudden emergence following their double punch of breakout hits has all the hallmarks of a meteoric rise, but they’re quick to point out that getting to this point has been a gradual process – a decade long period of honing their craft. Growing up in Cheltenham, they were surrounded by a melting pot of music from an early age, listening to everything from reggae, ballads, and 70s rock, to pop, hip hop and grime. Aged 15, they joined a prog metal band, later performing as a singer songwriter before entering the hip hop sphere as a part of a beatbox crew called 5mics. “The first shows that I did had big sweaty mosh pits, and me being a clueless individual thrown into that, I was like ‘what the fuck is going on?’” they laugh. “But I think performing Spring 2022

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“What I usually do to keep myself grounded is ask, ‘what would 14-year-old Beth think of current Beth?’ They’d think that you’re fucking sick and that you deserve everything you’ve got”

regularly since the age of 15 … I guess it’s just a good time to be doing that. It meant that by the time I was 16 I had no stage fright so I could really let go and just channel my energy into the being as opposed to the doing of a performance.” To this day, Grove considers themself a live artist, giving more weight of consideration when creating tracks as to how they will play out on stage rather than sound on record. But perhaps none of these formative shows would have occurred without the likeminded musical luminaries they encountered during this developmental period, namely: Malaki, Griz-O (“aka the southwest Sick-O”), JPDL and Diessa. Born and raised as Beth to dual heritage parents and as a queer Person of Colour, each of these individuals helped lay the foundations for everything great they are doing today, during a period in which they were subject to numerous microaggressions that left them feeling isolated. “I don’t think I’d always felt held in a community. When I first experienced that in Cheltenham I was like, ‘yo, this is the most important thing that we’ve got as humans!’

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“When I found the crew, I felt comfortable in myself around them. I didn’t need to be anything other than myself, which meant I had a solid foundation of who I am as opposed to who I’m performing as.” Grove is a vessel that comes off Beth for expressing vulnerability and sensuality alongside being an artery for catharsis and the expulsion of energy. “I’ve had years of being ashamed of various things that made me feel different. It’s made me reclaim that a little bit and say, ‘actually this is normal and I just wanna make fucking noise about it.’” Powerfully defined by the world around Beth, Grove brings to life visceral experiences in urgent and club ready fashion. “‘Black’ happened because Colston was chucked in the river. To have something like a slave trader torn down … it made me feel something all over my body,” they say. “‘Sticky’ was about the first time I went to an event called Pxssy Palace - a party in London that is purely for queer People of Colour. I remember walking in for the first time to a whole warehouse of queer People of Colour – the most I’d seen in one

place before that was one maybe two including myself – so this place was totally perspective changing. These experiences are woven into it.” Although the irony of unveiling two club ready EPs amid a global pandemic is palpable, Grove’s heady concoctions have proved just as energising and resonant in an earbud as they reliably do on the dancefloor evident in the ever-increasing airtime their music is receiving on national radio. “It’s hard to conceptualise being on [BBC] 6music. It does just mean a broad range of people who I never would have expected to be listening to a tune like skin2skin, are,” they say. With numerous bookings at festivals including End of The Road and Wide Awake and collaborations with SCALPING and more that I can’t reveal here to come in 2022, the thoroughly deserved accolades continue to stack up for Grove. “What I usually do to keep myself grounded is ask, ‘what would 14-year-old Beth think of current Beth?’ They’d think that you’re fucking sick and that you deserve everything you’ve got.”


MUSIC

BEERS

FOOD


DAMEFRISØR Steadily gaining traction, hot prospects DAMEFRISØR have been in a constant state of flux since forming in 2019. LOUD meets the band to discuss a recent lineup change and experimentation with weird drippy noises Words: George Boyle Photo: Dashti Jahfar

or up-and-coming bands, getting played by Steve Lamacq on his BBC6 Music show is somewhat of a rite of passage – confirmation of their status as ‘ones to watch’.

F

The day before I meet three of DAMEFRISØR’s five members in St Paul’s, the new music luminary goes a step further, praising their single ‘Do You Think I’m Special?’ via Twitter: “I really love this. Took three plays for it to sink in, but I’m properly trapped in it now,” he wrote. Present members Kazhi Jahfar (vocals, guitar), Nyle Dowd (drums) and Jamie Brown (guitar) are oblivious (“did he?”), but Lamacq’s excitement makes evident the buzz

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that has been quietly building around them since releasing their two singles to date - the aforementioned ‘Do You Think I’m Special?’ and ‘2-HEH-V’.

and try to create a really full song,” Kazhi says.

Recorded during the pandemic and produced by Will Carkeet of Robbie & Mona, both tracks bring to the fore DAMEFRISØR’s dynamic and dark slant on shoegaze and post-punk. Kazhi’s macabre and agitated vocals combine with driving rhythms, churning guitars and roguish synths escalating into brutalist crescendos that totally engulf the listener – and themselves.

As I proceed towards the door of room seven at Styleee Studios near Lakota, a cacophony of Just Mustard-esque guitar noise does exactly that. When the clamour eventually dissipates and my knocking becomes audible, Kazhi opens the door with an outstretched hand to shake.

“We just get more and more excited in the studio and that’s how it always goes. We tend to give it everything

“You just want to hit people in the face,” Nyle adds.

“I’m not the best guitarist in the world. Well obviously, I’m not even the best in the band,” he says with a smile, holstering his black and red Jazzmaster in front of a column


“We want to really stretch everything out and give each instrument its own space. It creates more dynamics and makes it more interesting for us as well’”

of stacked Marshall amps. Until recently, he was solely a vocalist, but the departure of DAMEFRISØR’s bassist and sixth member has necessitated a re-jig. “There’s still five of us. We’re starting to figure out how to make things work like this, hence me playing the guitar. Since releasing these last two songs it almost feels like we’re a brand-new band, which I don’t think is a bad thing, but there’s still loads to discuss.” When I connect with the band it’s three years to the day since they first rehearsed in Nyle’s garage, a photo memory reveals. Suffice to say, much has changed since their formation in 2019. The lineage of DAMEFRISØR can be broadly distilled into three versions: their eager formative days; the more mature and confident six-piece that released ‘DYTIS’ and ‘2-HEH-V’; and the quintet currently re-finding their feet. Despite these recent changes, the band’s sensibilities remain concrete. Going forward, they’re looking to become more expansive and experimental – to push their sound into new terrain; something the harsh tones I hear upon entry make abundantly clear. “The main thing when we’re writing is ‘how can we create contrast?’ If a

song is sounding too one way, then we’re like, ‘who can do something?’ If someone writes a shoegaze-y song then I might shout over it, or do something people won’t expect,” Kazhi says. A notable influence in this regard is Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, who uses the tremolo arm of his guitar to create a wall of warped sound. “When we first started, that was the band that connected all of us,” Jamie recalls. Given this, their mindedness to create contrast comes as no surprise. “Some of the stuff is horrible. There’s nothing nice about what literally sounds like a swarm of bees and a chainsaw in your ears. Fuck knows what he’s doing, but it’s so sick,” Kazhi says. “That’s what he and that band nailed – the contrast. When you take away the effects, they’re folk songs and pop songs, but he and the rest of the band just brutalise things. At the time people were probably like, ‘why are you doing that?’” Nyle adds. Essentially, they want to avoid the obvious. For most of DAMEFRISØR’s members, this is their first band. Over time, as their musicianship has developed, their desire to experiment has only strengthened; something the blinking red lights emanating from

a pedal board belonging to Garin Curtis (guitar) flickering at Kazhi’s feet makes glaringly obvious. Using trial and error with tunings and pedals is one way in which the band mutate their sound, but they also attribute this ongoing evolution to synth player Sam Nobbs, who expressed a desire to take his simple lines into new territory by making ‘weird drippy noises’ - something the band wholeheartedly endorsed. “Little things like that are just how it grows. Allowing people to do what they want and pushing each other to do more and to be weirder,” Kazhi says. “The main thing that we’ve been discussing about the new stuff is just how to create more space in our music. We want to really stretch everything out and give each instrument its own space. It creates more dynamics and makes it more interesting for us as well.” DAMEFRISØR are certainly a luring prospect, growing in stature by the day. “It feels like we’re going in a good direction,” Kazhi says, summing up. “The most important thing is that we’re having fun. That’s it. If we’re not enjoying and loving the music that we’re making then what’s the point. We’re certainly not earning any money.”

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Shall Not Fade From Bristol to the world and back again: Kieran Williams charts the development of his seminal label and discusses plans to build a community around his new city centre HQ Words: Matt Robson

We’re not trying to be a record shop,” Shall Not Fade founder Kieran Williams (pictured, centre) muses from behind the counter of his, er, record shop. “We’re just stocking what we like. We kind of see the more established stores like the supermarkets, and we’re more of a deli, just selling select stuff.”

He’s not wrong. You won’t find a dodgy value range at Shall Not Fade, no off-brand fodder, no wonky fruit and veg. Just the finest cuts of house, techno, breaks and more sourced from quality producers all over the globe. I’m catching up with Kieran on Zoom just a few weeks after the opening of his label’s first bricks-and-mortar store, a welcoming space situated in the heart of St Nick’s. Alongside a diverse selection of vinyl releases, it’s a proud home to Plant Works, an in-house plant store run by his partner, Bailey. “We’ve got lots of records - we’ve probably got 300, 400 at any given

time - but space-wise the plants are kind of everywhere,” he says with a smile. “She’s a gardener and runs her own gardening company, so when we opened we decided it would be cool to bring things together. It’s nice, it kind of makes the shop.” For Kieran, the Shall Not Fade store is the product of years of hard work, the natural next step for a Bristol-based imprint whose influence extends far beyond the Westcountry. Since launching in 2015 with a release from then-emerging, now worldrenowned DJ/producer Mall Grab, the label has gone from strength to strength. Projects from revered artists such as DJ Boring, Ruf Dug and Cinthie make up part of Shall Not Fade’s heavyhitting discography and have, in just a few short years, earned the label a stellar reputation across Bristol, up and down the UK and internationally. Kieran’s approach has always been one of simplicity: developing relationships with artists in the early stage of their careers and building an

extended family with Shall Not Fade at its core. “It very much has been a case of friends of friends over the years,” he says. “I think what’s set us apart from other labels is that we ultimately just release music we’re into. That’s quite apparent on our earlier stuff especially.” Primarily pushing sounds from the house and techno sphere, Shall Not Fade has branched out in recent years to form numerous sub-labels, from Time is Now - focusing on more bass-driven projects from the likes of Nicky Soft Touch and Interplanetary Criminal - to Shall Not Fade Basement Tracks, which takes more of a leftfield approach to club music. Those broad horizons have meant that, generally, Shall Not Fade isn’t regarded as a typically ‘Bristol’ label. An emphasis on diversity of sound and style has led Kieran to carve out his own path entirely. “When I think of Bristol,” he explains, “I think of Livity Sound, Punchdrunk, Idle Hands, Tectonic – the labels I was buying when I was first getting into music. Whereas I think for us, because Spring 2022

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“It’s a good time to be giving something back to Bristol and opening up somewhere that’s more of a meeting point and a creative space than a record store”

we’ve become more of a global thing, it’s less of a Bristol sound. It’s become this family of different sounds under one umbrella.” Having grown up in the city, however, and lived locally his whole life aside from short stints in London and Bangkok, Kieran is keen to ensure Shall Not Fade remains an active part of the Bristol scene. “Really that community aspect was a major motivator for setting up shop here,” he says. “It’s a good time to be giving something back to Bristol and opening up somewhere that’s more of a meeting point and a creative space than a record store.” A handful of renowned DJs and affiliates have spun some records at Shall Not Fade since the store’s opening as part of an in-house mix series, and Kieran is exploring the possibility of hosting his own label management courses in the future. Admirably, he’s spent the best part of six years assuming the roles of accountant, A&R, marketing manager and everything in between, and is aware that he could offer

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valuable advice for people looking to set up their own imprints. “The whole way through the process has been completely independent – we’ve never had handouts, grants, funding. I started Shall Not Fade with a hundred pounds, and for maybe the first three or four years of the label we didn’t make any money, so I know exactly how difficult it is to start something like this,” he says. “It’s been a lot, but I’m glad I’ve done it the way I have because I’ve experienced all those different sides to the industry. I’ve ended up in this position where I can share that knowledge – the thinking [behind the courses] was just about giving the next generation of people in a music a foot in the door.” Kieran is no stranger to the events circuit either, and outlines how much he missed being able to take Shall Not Fade to venues across Bristol and beyond during the pandemic. Accordingly, he’s looking forward to hosting the label’s first-ever festival in September, set to take place at sprawling multi-use venue, Propyard.

A diverse lineup is stacked with in-demand artists and Shall Not Fade signees such as Tim Reaper, Sally C and Denham Audio, backed up by a selection of hotly-tipped local DJs including Motion regular Ellis Roberts and new Club Djembe resident Rema Mukena. Billed as a celebration of UK dance music, the festival is Kieran’s “next big project,” an event which he hopes will cement the label as a major contributor to Bristol’s musical community. “Bristol, for me, has always been such a welcoming, supportive and open place for music and creativity,” he says. “It seems like there are so many opportunities here for so many different people, and with the shop opening, the festival on the way all these things to enjoy and look forward to – it’s nice to feel like we’re a part of that.”

Tickets for Shall Not Fade Festival, taking place at Propyard on Saturday 10 September, are on sale now. Find out more and get yours via Headfirst.


2022 EVENTS

Fri 15th April (Main Club) WIDE EYES:FREE RAVE W/ NAPES, EUPHONIQUE

Sat 21st May WIDE EYES DAY & NIGHT PARTY

Fri 15th April (Coroner’s Court) SAM DIVINE: CLOUD 9 TOUR

Thurs 26th May BLUETOOTH BANGERS

Sat 16th April ON THE HOUSE: HOUSE TECHNO FREE RAVE

Fri 27th May WIDE EYES X INVICTA: HEDEX

Fri 22nd April 360 SHOWCASE: NICKY BLACKMARKET, FATMAN D

Sat 28th May SUMMER HOUSE DAY PARTY

Sat 23rd April AFROBEATS Tue 26th April SHUTDOWN SPECIAL GUEST Fri 29th April WIDE EYES: TNA Sat 30th April TRIBE OF FROG Fri 6th May WIDE EYES: JAPPA BDAY Sat 7th May LAKOTA PRESENTS: HIGGO & SPECIAL GUESTS Sat 14th May STOKES CROFT BLOCK PARTY

Thurs 2nd June JUBILEE AFTERPARTY PART 1 Fri 3rd June JUBILEE AFTERPARTY PART 2 Sat 4th June RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE Fri 10th June LAKOTA 30TH BIRTHDAY PART 1 Sat 11th June LAKOTA 30TH BIRTHDAY PART 2 Sun 12th June LAKOTA 30TH BIRTHDAY PART 3

FOR MORE INFO AND TICKETS VISIT WWW.LAKOTA.CO.UK


stanlæy Multi-faceted artist Bethany Stenning guides LOUD through the unique, other-worldly output of her project stanlæy, and discusses her eagerly-anticipated upcoming album, The Everything In Between Words: George Boyle Photo: Matteo Amadio & Rob Ellis

When you come at creating from your most curious, you end up finding magical things,” Bethany Stenning says when we meet at the Arnolfini Café, summing up her basic philosophy: “It’s good to allow yourself to experiment with new things and not get locked into an echo chamber of yourself.”

Dipped in an ethereal gloss, Bethany’s distinct musical universe is heavily informed by these vividly explorative and inquisitive sensibilities. Ever since writing her first songs aged 16, she’s been capturing imaginations through her

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continually evolving, idiosyncratic and other worldly output, and is now preparing for the release her band stanlæy’s second full length record, The Everything In Between. “I conceived it three years ago and it has been on a big, long journey. It’s very gelatinous; lots of strings, synths and electronics combining to make textures.” It’s Bethany’s quintessential combination, present throughout her varied catalogue. Embodied by agile, contrasting, and ephemeral textures that get under the skin, there are echoes of Bjork’s choral like vocals, Arca’s unearthly sound design, and Joanna Newsom’s

textural richness in her music that linger long after consumption. “I’ve got a really visual mind, it’s quite hard to explain. When I hear or play something, it’s like a feeling of an environment, place, scene, or a motif. Without really meaning to I’m trying to capture that in sound. I like thinking of songs as an environment or a texture that’s separate to the outside world – something you can enter.” It’s an arcane concept to her bandmates Ben Holyoake (electronics, bass, synth), Naomi Hill (violin) and Joe Wilkinson (drums), but one that broadly typifies all


stanlæy releases to date. “stanlæy is just a name I gave to put art out,” Bethany says. “But simultaneously it feels like part of my own identity, which is an interesting thing to happen. It’s me and the world, basically.” As composer, arranger, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and the project’s spearhead, she specialises in bringing seemingly distant things together, constantly walking the line between order and chaos. “I’m balancing the two dichotomies musically and conceptually,” she says. “I love cross pollinating things like strings and harp and combining those sounds with more electronic, processed ones, blending them into this weird Frankenstein or mutation. Just the texture of something really synthesised, or just chopping things up and making it disjointed and fragmented mixed with something like the harp - it’s complimentary, I think.” Still without a specific release date, The Everything In Between - stanlæy’s upcoming album - has been three-years in the making. “I’m very obsessive, but letting things gestate naturally is very important to me. If the lens is there, then you’re already looking out for things that will make it all fall into place.” Sticking to her DIY guns, the new record will - like the rest of her material - be self-released. “I have reached out to labels, but I haven’t found anywhere that fits. I quite like the freedom to let something be what it needs to be.” The pandemic period is also partly responsible for the lengthy production time, Bethany tells me,

during which she enrolled to study a master’s in sound art – a dual life she now balances with making music. Considering her musical education to date, the nature of her output comes as no surprise. Bethany grew up in Bath, learning classical piano and viola at an early age, also joining orchestras and choirs. Eventually, she moved away to study classical viola at Southampton University, with a focus on composition, theory, and performance. “I very quickly realised that I didn’t fit in with that world and a lot of the people who were doing the classical performance side of things. I just didn’t fully resonate with it,” she recalls. As the course developed, Bethany gravitated towards modules focussed on sound production and engineering, where she began writing songs prolifically. However, it wasn’t until her third year and a brief globetrotting period that these formative experiences began to lay the foundations of stanlæy, she tells me: “I went to Paris and bought an acoustic guitar. I taught myself to play and started performing at open mics on my own. I had a fresh slate and was writing songs and collaborating with people out there. That was quite a formative thing.” After leaving the French capital, Bethany moved to Dublin, Ireland, where she fell in with a collective of musicians that left her wanting to form a band after further falling in love with collaboration.

her to form stanlæy upon returning to the UK. So influential was this time, reverberations from it can still be felt on ‘The Everything In Between’, which Bethany says is stanlæy’s most collaborative release yet: “This one has got a lot of collaborators and people that helped me bring the ideas to life. Joe [Wilkinson] had a particular input, too. I really loved working with him on many of them.” In fact, the record is a veritable bazaar of Bristol musicians. Throughout the album, Dave Sanders (sax, Snazzback), Myke Vince (percussion, Snazzback), Alun Elliot-Williams (electric guitar, Waldo’s), Will Scott-Hartley (bass, Snazzback), Tamsin Solanum (flute, Solana), and Elma Houghton (clarinet, Ember and Sentient Sound) all feature. “The more you surround yourself with new ideas and outlooks, the more potential you can see in your sound,” Bethany says, adding that future material and live shows will incorporate multiple sensory elements to blow the boundary between the space the audience is holding and the performance space to “add to the world.” It’s another captivating permeation of her desire to collaborate, one that adds to the intrigue surrounding this already exciting project. “That’s why I love collaboration,” Bethany says on a final note. “I look outwards and allow things in, not just sounds but all art, because it’s going to inform and mutate and let the sound develop.”

This formative period has left an indelible mark on Bethany and led Spring 2022

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Invicta Audio Bristol’s Invicta Audio has become one of the most talkedabout names in British drum & bass, despite spending the bulk of its short lifespan in a crippling global pandemic. Label boss Anton Bailey looks back at his journey so far and ponders the secrets to his early success Words: Matt Robson Photo: Marta Victoria

ery few businesses thrived during the pandemic. Deliveroo? Most certainly. Hand sanitiser manufacturers? Sure. Events promoters? Not so much. In a year-and-a-half without nightlife every corner of the UK music scene suffered, operating under tight restrictions and unable to organise anything beyond the virtual world.

V

In Bristol, though, one promoter in particular spent those barren few months quietly building his brand and growing his audience through a combination of hard graft, serious passion and clever marketing. Invicta Audio is the brainchild of Bristol-based DJ and promoter Anton Bailey (pictured, right), launched initially as a drum & bassfocused events brand in 2019. Having moved to Bristol for university the year before, Anton cut his teeth on the local scene selling tickets as a rep for venues like Blue Mountain and Lakota alongside studying business entrepreneurship at UWE. “I was basically selling so many tickets in this huge student network that I had built up,” Anton recalls, “but I was only getting a pound a ticket or something like that. I was like ‘why am I putting so much money into someone else’s pocket when I could just do it myself?’”

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“I do step back sometimes, look at what we’ve got in front of us, and just think ‘this is mad’”

And with that, Invicta was born. Anton jokes that his parents took some persuading to lend him the money for his first event, which he went on to lose. It was another six months before he dipped his toe back in, making a cool hundred pounds on a freshers party. Another half a year passed, and just when he was getting ball rolling on a third event, the pandemic started to take hold. “Things kept getting postponed, cancelled, pushed back,” he remembers. Knowing that keeping Invicta relevant would be tricky without being able to host events, he wasted no time in launching an inhouse record label. “I was like ‘right, if I want this brand to be alive when we come out, we need to do something different.” Invicta’s first-ever releases were made available exclusively on Hypeddit, a platform set up to require fan interaction and follows on social media in return for free-to-download tracks. Essentially, you can have this new piece of music if you follow us on Instagram first. Anton explains his strategy was vital in growing Invicta’s online presence while they were shut out of clubs. “Everyone was bored at home, looking for something to do musically, and those free downloads were the major element to our success during

lockdown. We were just pushing out so much free music, and it was of a high enough quality that people were surprised not to be paying for it. “I think that’s why we were able to get so much traction - people were like ‘why are these guys giving away these tracks for free’,” he laughs. An 18-track Launch LP featuring a selection of up-and-coming producers was followed by a stream of compilations and EPs, including Invicta’s first paid release in October 2020. By the end of its first year the imprint had released 15 different projects and cultivated a glowing reputation up and down the UK. As is often the case in Bristol, Invicta Audio has been a lesson learned on the job for Anton. He admits he had “zero clue” how to run a label when he decided to make the leap, spending the first few weeks Googling and posting on Facebook to find out how to navigate a raft of tasks and stumbling blocks. Relationships with music professionals across Bristol proved instrumental in securing help and advice in Invicta’s early stages. Working at Lakota allowed Anton to observe first-hand the trial-anderror process of running major events, while owners of established brands like Born on Road have been

consistently available to offer their expertise on the business side of things. “I had been asking Eoin [Fenton, then Lakota’s Head of Marketing] to do events before Invicta had even released a track, and he always just said ‘no, you’re not ready yet’. Then when he eventually ended up giving me that opportunity it went really well, then he gave me another one and we sold it out again – I was actually learning how things are done properly. “That process made me realise there was much more work to be done at that point, which was a massively important lesson. That’s just one example of some really good insight - I took all of that in, and I’ve been able to implement that into my own business.” Putting that savvy business sense into practice, Anton has been able to engage with audiences online throughout the pandemic, backing up a string of well-received musical projects with effective social media promotion. “One thing we tried to do during lockdowns was keep in mind that there was a good year-and-a-half of people who had turned 18 during the pandemic and never been to a rave before. We really hammered out Spring 2022

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Despite only launching Invicta in 2019, Anton has organised sell-out shows in Cardiff, Nottingham and Leeds as well as Bristol. Photos: Soul Media

event videos on our social media, so that when we came out of lockdown, people were looking for Invicta.”

all the hallmarks of a progressive, open-minded imprint without trying to force the issue.

The method sounds simple, but it worked wonders. At the time of writing, Invicta has surpassed 19,000 Instagram followers, and they’ve sold out shows in Cardiff, Nottingham and Leeds as part of a hugely successful UK tour. Not bad for a brand yet to reach its 3rd birthday.

“I won’t put anyone on just to tick a box – we just do it in a way where we’re not weird about it. [Invicta residents] Anais and T-Lex are there because they’re better than all the males in our group,” Anton laughs. “Brands rightly get called out for just booking males, or overlooking minority artists, but in our case diversity just comes naturally.

Anton’s passion for the project and drive to succeed are palpable throughout our interview. It becomes clear over the course of an hour that his authenticity has been a huge driver for Invicta’s increasingly positive reception. From promoting up-and-coming artists on the label (anyone can still submit music for release, regardless of experience or stature) to highlighting non-male and minority artists on event lineups, Invicta has

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“A lot of events will book a female artist then shout about it, and it’s kind of like ‘ok… well done’. I just want equal opportunities, and people to get into the positions they’re in because they fully deserve to be there. Even though people see and respect what we’re doing, we’re just being ourselves.” For a label that has, in just two Covid-plagued years, dropped

more than thirty releases, sold out parties across the country and been nominated for awards by the likes of DJ Mag and UKF among others, the sky truly is the limit. “If you said back when we did that first release in May that in 18 months you’re gonna be on a UK tour, have over 19k on Instagram and everything else, I’d have been over the moon,” Anton says. “I do step back sometimes, look at what we’ve got in front of us, and just think ‘this is mad’, but in reality, it’s like ‘where do we go from here?’” Invicta Audio’s approach to music, events, and even marketing, is innovative and refreshing. The label is expertly towing the line between music and business, and Anton, working tirelessly to bring it all together and position Invicta at the forefront of UK drum & bass, is reaping the rewards. Long may it continue.


Lakota AD


Better Days Partying with a Purpose: DJs Anil & Manami catch up with LOUD to discuss the importance of authenticity, being independent and the next steps for their increasingly popular club series Words: Matt Robson Photo: Tiffany Sefuke

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hat makes a great party? Is it the soundsystem? The DJs? The energy of the crowd on the dancefloor? For Bristol-based DJs Anil and Manami, it’s all of the above and much more. Those nights where everything seems to just fall into place are often the ones you remember most fondly, and that’s exactly what the duo are striving for with their music project, Better Days.

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Still in its relative infancy having launched in 2019, Better Days is back on the scene in Bristol after 18 months of successive lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions. The nights promise stellar selections, high energy and welcoming spaces, combining exciting emerging artists with established DJs at some of the city’s best-loved venues. “We just try and host the best parties we possibly can,” Anil says, “making sure they’re accessible for everyone, making sure the lineups are diverse, we want to put on nights on our terms.” “From the get-go we wanted to maintain a level of authenticity as well,” Manami adds. “Better Days comes from this deep and really genuine passion for putting on parties and hosting great artists, ranging from up-and-coming artists that excite us to our favourite established acts.” The Better Days musical policy is one of open-mindedness, with a loose focus on the house/techno sphere. Past headliners include Darwin, Sassy J and, most recently, Call Super, but Anil is keen to stress that he and Manami are open to anything that catches their attention. “We just love music,” he says, “and we want

that to translate into the nights – it’s not about one particular genre or style.” Forced to put Better Days on hold during the pandemic, the pair had to abandon plans for their third event when lockdown restrictions were introduced in March 2020. Off the back of a strong launch in 2019, however, the pair say they were able to use that imposed hiatus to consider their approach and come back with a fresh perspective when nightlife returned. “The pandemic definitely gave us time to think about why we’re doing this and where we actually want to take things. Before we were kind of just throwing parties whereas now we’ve had that time to reflect and really focus on the quality,” Anil explains. Having previously played at festivals such as Love Saves The Day and We Out Here in the summer, Better Days returned to the club setting in October 2021 with a party at Strange Brew, a major highlight for Anil and Manami. “That one was our best yet, we love Strange Brew,” Manami says. “It makes it tough to look at other venues when you’re like ‘this club is just so good!’ Everything you go to is great because the quality is always really high. We’re lucky that Leigh [Dennis, Strange Brew co-founder] and the rest of the lovely SB gang have kind of taken us under their wing since they opened up.” Both active members of the Bristol music scene – Manami as an increasingly in-demand DJ and Anil as a Bookings Assistant with Team Love – the Better Days founders

enjoy good relationships with venues, DJs and fellow promoters across the city and beyond. A focus on being independent as well as nurturing community is a key component of their parties. “Being independent and having agency in what we wanna do is a huge part of our DNA with the project. We’re lucky enough to be on the same wavelength when it comes to music. There is no magic formula, we just put on what we rate and wanna see” Anil says. “In addition to that, I think that sense of togetherness – as well as the sound is really what makes the nights tick. “We’re usually friends with the artists we book, which keeps things organic, and we’re always bouncing ideas around with people because we’re always looking to improve the nights, to learn and grow more.” The community vibe and emphasis on positivity feed into the Better Days ethos of ‘partying with a purpose’, which hinges on a conscious effort to maintain a level of diversity both behind the decks and on the dancefloor, and ensure attendees always feel safe and have an amazing experience. Both Manami and Anil have taken steps to maintain an equitable balance at their parties, and hope that they’re creating an environment that reflects their own outlook on nightlife. “Any way we can use this kind of entity in a positive way to do the right thing, that’s what we’re trying to do,” Anil explains. “We’re always trying to figure out how to make Better Days more accessible to more and more people who wouldn’t usually have the privilege Spring 2022

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Better Days’ most recent party saw internationally-renowned DJ and producer Call Super take over Strange Brew’s atmospheric back room in March. Photos: Marco Bardusco-Brazier

to do so,” Manami adds, “and just create a space where as many people can enjoy the shared dance floor experience in a comfortable and empowering way. It comes back to that point about authenticity – everyone’s just there to have a dance and have a great time. Everybody has that right and we want everyone to feel they can exercise that to the full in a safe environment.” As we approach the first ‘real’ summer season since 2019, what should be Better Days’ third birthday feels more like its first. There’s a move to London on the horizon for Manami as she enters an exciting new stage of her blossoming DJ career, and

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Anil is set for another busy few months with Team Love, but there’s no danger of the parties falling by the wayside. “It’s only really gonna grow and evolve. London is a great next step for us I think, and there are a lot of smaller independent venues popping up at the moment across both cities,” Manami says. “We’re definitely still in the early days of what Better Days is, expect more from us!”

Read more about Bristol’s evergreen party scene in the first three issues of LOUD, available online via Issuu

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BRISTOL

Catch Manami and Anil flying the Better Days flag this summer at Love International Festival and We Out Here Festival, and follow updates on Instagram at @betterdaysbristol

@loudbrstl www.issuu.com/ loudbristol


Staff Picks Spring Dreaming As we write, the early Spring sunshine is beaming into LOUD HQ. It’s got us right in the mood for a knees-up, and so we got to thinking: what are we most looking forward to in the coming weeks? Have a glance at our picks for three of the biggest, baddest live shows on the way in Bristol this season, and be sure to get those tickets booked (if they haven’t been snapped up already!)

Grandmas House @ Exchange | Matt, Editor Grandmas House were one of very few bands to have a productive pandemic, writing, recording and eventually releasing their self-titled debut EP in 2021. Once restritions were lifted, the trio set about taking their new-and-improved material on the road during their first-ever UK headline tour. Having also just performed in the US of A for the very first time at this year’s SXSW festival, the Grandmas are returning to the Westcountry in May for their latest hometown gig at one of our very favourite Bristol venues. EP/64 @ Arnolfini | George, Staff Writer Ephemeral Project 64 is nearing the end of its lifespan, with the 64th installment and grand finale of Dali de Saint Paul’s explosive improvised project set to take place over two days at the end of May. On this mega last ride, all previous collaborators have been invited back for a heady bonanza of free-form fun likely to blow the doors off The Arnolfini. Don’t make the mistake of not catching one of EP/64’s searing sets before it’s too late – this will be your last chance!

Canapé @ Strange Brew | Stan, Staff Writer Canapé Records are presenting a night of experimental post-rock at Strange Brew in April, topped by Common Palette, who recently released elevenminute double-track ‘Obstacle (Arabian Nights) / Co-op Member’ on the label. The group have developed their techno-enthused sound over time, swaying between post-rock and industrial punk in sprawling, ambitious songs. A HAAL support slot promises heavy, hypnotic, 90s-inspired compositions, incorporating elements of electronica and industrial rock. Spring 2022

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Bingo Fury

Bingo Fury’s atmospheric and occasionally erratic sound transports the listener into a world of seedy jazz bars and dark cobbled streets. Founding member Jack Ogborne delves into the band’s broad influences and distinctly avant-garde motifs Words: Stan Gray Photo: Ashley Bourne

had no idea that the King William Alehouse on King Street had an upstairs until Jack Ogborne of Bingo Fury suggested that we meet there for our interview. The large room is completely empty when we meet, full of pool tables illuminated with dusty rays of sunlight.

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Jack is only one fifth of the band, but takes on the central role in the seedy cabaret that is Bingo Fury. Jack and co – in their previous incarnation as Norman - were in the midst of a UK tour with fellow Bristol band, LICE, and rapidly gaining momentum when the pandemic hit. It was, however, when the world halted that Bingo Fury was

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conceived. “It gave us time to plan and write because the old band stopped, and we were blessed to have a gap where we could get a whole new idea back together,” Jack tells me. “By the time we could start playing shows again we were ready to go with something new.” Despite struggling as much as anyone during lockdown, it gave the band an opportunity to fashion something innovative and original. “I really wanted it to be something larger than life… I wanted to do something that was cinematic,” he says. Indeed, the concept of Bingo Fury as a multifarious creation incorporating visual art, video and music is already

coherent despite the project’s relative infancy. Singles ‘Big Rain’ and ‘Happy Snake’ demonstrate this with their frantic and surreal accompanying videos, perfectly intertwining with the “anxiety driven” tracks. The band have created an idiosyncratic narrative through their output, with Bingo as the central protagonist. “At this point everyone who likes Bingo Fury probably knows me personally, but the idea is that, if it gets any bigger, people who don’t know me personally are able to tailor this character into something larger than life - something that’s more than just me being Jack Ogborne up on stage because that’s not quite as exciting,” Jack explains.


“I really wanted it to be something larger than life… I wanted to do something that was cinematic”

This progressive concept is one that has been explored elsewhere in the artistic sphere, but Bingo have taken the idea and built upon it. “So much of songwriting and bands is about fiction that you build up,” Jack acknowledges. “So many of the bands that we love were probably just normal blokes like when you think of Bauhaus or something with the makeup - they’re meant to be onstage and detached.” This character construction through a project echoes the work of icons like David Bowie as well as contemporary artists such as Alex Cameron. Jack looks elsewhere for inspiration, too, explaining there are “certain people - not necessarily musicians – that I base Bingo Fury off. Films and stuff as well.” Indeed, the frontman’s music taste is broad, but not necessarily intrinsically linked to the band’s output. “I like Robert Wyatt but then I also like a lot of the 1975s songs and so you take in lots of things that you like and then I always feel like it’s not much of a conscious decision

when you’re writing a song. I don’t feel like I have that much control over the Bingo Fury songs, it’s just quite natural. I can’t force them.” Lyrically, Bingo Fury have often been compared to the work of the Beat Poets of the 1950s, which certainly attests to Jack’s diverse range of influences. Jack Kerouac, who described his poetry as “wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better,” springs to mind, with Jack Ogborne’s unpredictable and often surreal lyricism carving out a similar path.

extravagant pink dress borrowed from RuPaul’s Drag Race. Both singles released by Bingo were produced by John Parish, known for his extensive work with PJ Harvey and production credits with acts such as Dry Cleaning, Aldous Harding and This Is The Kit. “It was a real privilege,” Jack says. “He’s really good at recognising people’s idiosyncrasies and catering towards that, he only works on stuff when he thinks there’s something interesting in there.”

Collaboration is essential to multiform projects such as Bingo Fury. The band have been working closely with “absolutely devastating director” Max McLachlan, with the creator most recently lending his hand on videos for singles ‘Big Rain’ and ‘Happy Snake’.

Ogborne has made a habit of working with his musical heroes, having played live with Elias Bender Rønnenfelt (of Iceage) and Aldous Harding in the past. “Hearing a voice like that coming out of a monitor rather than on a record feels like something’s gone wrong in the universe,” the frontman declares.

Both are striking and manic in equal measure, complete with other-worldly characters; not least the Ashes to Ashes-esque figure in ‘Happy Snake’, wearing an

Jack was only eighteen when he played with Aldous Harding. He sees this experience as not just shaping his own musical development, but also an important part of the Spring 2022

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“There’s a community energy [at The Louisiana], it’s a family run business with a great space and a great sound”

construction of Bingo Fury. “She does a particularly good job of that thing I was trying to describe earlier of being this out of reach, ethereal person and then watching her be unsure about what she’s singing. You never see that side of a musician like that,” he explains. Having played the local circuit in various bands from a young age, Jack has a deeply intimate relationship with Bristol’s cobweb of independent venues. He speaks lovingly about his love of Crofters Rights and The Old England, as well as the “promise” of newcomer, Strange Brew. The Louisiana is perhaps the space closest to his heart, however, and the historic venue has become an important part of his life. “There’s a community energy, it’s a family run business with a great space and a great sound”, he says. “I started spending a lot more time in the studio in the basement of The Louisiana

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with Will Carkeet [of Robbie & Mona] working on their stuff and there’d be gigs upstairs and I’d go most days and just work on recordings. “Mig [Venue Manager at The Louisiana] is super facilitating for that kind of thing and keen to nurture local Bristol talent. They’ll be putting on really big shows but also put on any local kid from Bedminster who wants a show, they’ll still do it even if they’re only going to sell like 20 tickets or whatever because it’s about giving people the experience,” he says. When discussing the future of Bingo Fury, evolution appears to be the focus, with Jack (half) joking that his intention is to avoid being categorised as ‘post-punk’. “So far I’d say that people haven’t really given us that label, but our next track is the last one that you could probably call post-punk - after that there’s no way you could,” he remarks. With fresh music in tow, the band are

preparing for a year of new releases. “We’re recording an EP in March and releasing that in Autumn with a couple of singles before it and that’s going to be the project for this year,” Jack explains. “I can imagine it being more commercially well received; there’s a lot more melodic elements to it, there’s definitely still discordant moments but it’s more well placed and considered. It’s more like there are the jarring bits but they’re there to highlight the prettier parts of the songs.” It will be intriguing to see where this radical project – and the character of Bingo Fury - goes next, but whatever happens, you can be sure the sound will remain unpredictable and innovative. In the words of its frontman, we have seen “the intro period of Bingo,” and now we must prepare ourselves for “bigger things.”


Where local information matters


Club Djembe Between lively radio shows, vibrant label output and infectiously energetic events, Club Djembe have positioned themselves firmly at the forefront of Bristol nightlife. Here, residents Jake, Josie, Ryan and Xav discuss their passion for partying and their ever-evolving roster Photo: Khali Ackford

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Firstly, take us back in time - when did you launch Club Djembe, and what were you looking to bring to Bristol nightlife?

Are you still on the lookout for new residents?

house and all that hype stuff. There’s such a different community and crowd that it comes with, so we’ve discussed doing some one-offs, because why not?

feels like yesterday! Me and Ryan felt Bristol was lacking something special. We wanted to showcase a different side to dance and house music, and shine some light on genres which were represented in places like London, but not so much here.

Josie: We’re at a stage now where

Jake: Drum & bass mixed into UK

we would love to welcome more residents! We are always hoping to collaborate with up-and-coming artists especially, so if you think that may be you, or know a passionate emerging DJ who fits our vibe then give us a shout!

Funky with a Young Thug acapella over the top, who’s up for it?

Where did the name come from?

What makes Club Djembe parties unique?

Jake: I’m really positive, there are

Jake: We launched in 2017 but it

Ryan: We were proper inspired

by the 80s cocktail bar aesthetic, so imagine Club Tropicana, that’s where the Club part came from. We were also playing a lot of UK Funky, Tribal House and music influenced by the African Diaspora and percussion, so we thought Djembe represented this sound. It had a bit more a ring to it than Club Drum! How have your parties grown and developed over the years? Josie: I think we evolved a lot

in the first year, when we started seeing this as more than a bit of fun on a Thursday. Our parties haven’t really changed in terms of the vibe, the energy has always been great. Everybody knows they’re in for a good time when they come to our events. Our ethos is to book quality artists and create inclusive, fun environments, ensuring our lineups are diverse and balanced. We want to be setting the standard for representation for the music we are playing, that’s something everyone has really focused on within the team. And who’s involved now how many residents do you have? Josie: You have myself (Joselitaa),

the super talented Rema, the lovely

Jakobin, and of course the Bristol GOATS DJ Polo and DJ Stolen.

Josie: We’re not and never will be

focused on or driven by filing out a room and getting ‘profit’ from a night. Obviously, in a dream world we would always have our events packed out and get a great turnover, and that is a consideration - but the main aim is always to have fun and throw a good party, where people can feel welcome and listen to a range of beautiful booty shaking music! I think our approach makes a difference because it allows us to let go of expectations and be more creative. As a group, we also love to party and will always get lost in the sauce - I think that brings a human element to it too. And what’s the Club Djembe musical policy? Josie: Because of the origin of

You’ve hosted events at some of Bristol’s best-loved small clubs what are your thoughts on the city’s venue landscape right now? some great small venues such as The Love Inn and Crofters, alongside institutions like Lakota and Motion. There’s been some amazing new venues like Lost Horizon and Strange Brew pop up too, and Bristol City Councils ‘Agent of Change’ policy has really helped. What was the motivation to start the record label in 2019? Xav: We started the label because

we want to be able to share the sound of our events to the world. We work with some really great DJ’s who also produce music, and we want other people to hear it. We want to create a friends and family feel to the label, events and platform as a whole. Our first EP was a compilation with Fiyahdred (fka Bamz), Dean Lyon, KG, Say3 and myself (DJ Polo) with Lobby, we’ve been lucky enough to have them play live with us, too.

our beginning and the roster, we’ve stayed close to Afrobeat, Afrohouse, UK Funky, Funky and House sounds.

And what sort of sound are you looking to push through the label?

We’re super inspired and want to support artists who are from the African/Caribbean diaspora, and love watching how they evolve and blend the genres. Shoutout to FiyahDred who LITERALLY made a funky track from bottles in lockdown! Obsessed.

the sound of our parties and our radio shows, but there’s also stuff which isn’t dancefloor focused, like Say3’s incredible Bush Boy EP!

Personally, I am a massive lover of drum & bass and 160BPM - ghetto

aim with the label is to try and reach people globally, and that’s something

Xav: We want the label to represent

What’s been the response to the Club Djembe releases so far? Ryan: It’s been really good, our

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Club Djembe have found a home at The Love Inn over the years, hosting a wide range of established DJs alongside their accomplished residents. Photos: Xavier Redkwa & Soul Media UK

we are managing to achieve. For me, seeing some of my musical idols downloading and playing our music actually makes me well chuffed! How important are your radio shows in terms of experimenting with new sounds and keeping things fresh? Xav: I think they are super

important, it gives a lot of people a chance to develop, practice and build a brand name, without the risk of putting on a club night yourself, or the anxiety of playing live to hundreds of people.

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have somebody driving back on the M4 listening to us enjoy ourselves on our SWU residency on a Friday night.

family compilation in the autumn, also fire.

For one show we literally turned SWU into a boujee nightclub! I wore a shirt and was offering bubbly on arrival.

a little more than that!

Josie: You can actually find that on

YouTube, search Club Djembe SWU takeover. But you have to wear a dress or a shirt to watch it! What have you got in the pipeline this year? Jake: Xav you should take this one...

Jake: Bristol’s spoilt for choice

Xav: I’ve got my next EP coming

with radio, and the stations have incredible communities surrounding them. I really love the fact we could

out in the summer, it’s been a really great project to work on, and another Club Djembe friends and

LOUD Bristol

Jake: Come on you can give them

Xav: Basically, me and Ramzee

have done a remix of Funky Party, which I released last year. I’ve also got to work with some LEGENDARY emcees from the UK Funky era… And where can we expect to find Club Djembe in the coming months? Josie: We just had a huge event

with Peverelist and the residents at The Love Inn, and we’ve got another party coming up on 2 July. We’re also playing at Rave on Avon, and no_one too... keep your eyes out for those!



Dead Space Chamber Music Dead Space Chamber Music formed in 2015, taking conceptual and musical inspiration from medieval & renaissance era art. Here they talk re-imagining ancient songs, beauty in breadth, and their latest album, The Black Hours Words: George Boyle Photo: Ailura Photography & Katie Murt

hen Dead Space Chamber Music decided to call their latest album ‘The Black Hours’, they had no idea how prescient it would prove to be. Released in December 2021, the four-piece’s second record owes its name to a 15th century ‘book of hours’; an intimate illustrated devotional book taking worshipers through the day, and night, in prayer, bringing them comfort during difficult or dark periods.

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“Having The Black Hours as a reference pre-dated the pandemic,” vocalist and psaltery player Ellen Southern says. “But then it became all about that because it happened to everybody, and it happened to us; it became this big metaphor. [The idea] became a thing that got us through that night. It made a lot of sense to us.” This allusion to a relic from the late medieval/early renaissance period is not isolated within their catalogue – artefacts from bygone times are ingrained within their music. “We take inspiration from medieval/early renaissance music. It’s almost like a

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giant blueprint that we can interpret,” Ellen says. Since 2015, the band, also comprised of Tom Bush (guitar, electronic FX), Liz Muir (cello) and Katie Murt (drums), have been carving a niche reimagining outmoded music in immediate, intense, and ritualistic fashion. You might expect fringe music from half a millennia ago to be forgotten - its relevance today diminished. But when it meets Dead Space Chamber Music’s gothic, ambient, and experimental sensibilities, this notion is turned on its head. “All of these songs have stories that are hundreds of years old, and it’s really fascinating and a privilege to work with that, but we’re really careful to say that we’re not trying to be historically accurate, we’re trying to do something a bit different – something visceral,” Ellen adds. I meet her alongside bandmate Tom on a grey Thursday in a cloistered corner of The Gryphon. Beset on its road facing border with large arched windows, black baroque style

lanterns and a skeleton clinging to an outside ledge, the triangular shaped Victorian era building has been a free house since 1873 – undoubtedly steeped in its own rich history nearly 150 years later. It’s a fitting venue, a space where people converge to share human moments, the sort of visceral occasions that the band inhabit in their music through timeless vessels that they connect to on a ritualistic level. “I like to think: ‘this made someone want to dance or cry hundreds of years ago. And it can still do that without sounding like we’re trying to be historical or something like that,’” Ellen says. “That’s what I’m into as opposed to writing about my life. Everything I’ve felt has been felt before and I’d rather speak through that. I can get emotive about things, but I don’t feel alone. I find that really freeing and I can be honest in my delivery.” The presence of this connection can be felt throughout ‘The Black Hours’, a seven-track record drawing on a wide pool of sources. ‘Bryd


One Brere’ takes its lyrics from the oldest known love song in the English language, whilst ‘Mari Lwyd/ Morfa’r Frenhines’ references an old Welsh Christmas folk character - the lineage of the record is beyond doubt.

“If we know these are the limitations, then it frees up the mind for decision making. Taking something like these tunes, there’s a limited amount of information there but then you can use that as a springboard or a starting point.”

More than just conceptual inspiration, these reference points inform the band musically in an instinctive manner. “With early music, there isn’t much info there. The melody always seems to be unchanged, only the exact arrangement might be slightly different. But the instrumentation isn’t specified, so you can do your own thing with it,” Tom says.

Broadly pieced together through abstract, freeform and semi composed improvisations with varying structures, ‘The Black Hours’ is a finely balanced record fusing moody guitar lines with manipulated field recordings captured at ancient sites, cello, percussion, and Ellen’s soaring ethereal vocals – a combination that chills the skin.

It’s a strategy that has helped the band avoid ever suffering writer’s block, he adds: “By limiting your options, you free up your creativity. One of the more famous examples is Miles Davis when he started doing the modal jazz stuff. The idea was if things got too busy, you could strip things back a bit and work within a relatively small framework.

Punctuated by clever mixing and mastering by Tom Berry, the consideration of dynamics on the album also imbues it with a depth that lingers long after consumption, rewarding multiple listens. “He understood that we want to be immersive; we want to be physical; we want to be tactile; we want it to grab you,” Ellen says.

“Not in a jumping out of a speaker way, in literally the breadth of dynamics. It’s not all just compressed and ratcheted up, there are moments where you’re like, ‘did I hear that?’ You have to lean in and really look.” It’s this quality that instils within their music a timeless quality to match the enduring nature of the medieval/ renaissance era blueprints that form the backbone of their output. “I love the idea that you’re simultaneously presented with something that impacts you, but there’s also stuff that you can find, a richness there,” Ellen says in summary. “I get really excited by stuff like that.”

Tickets for two Dead Space Chamber Music live shows, at Black City Records on Sat 30 April and The Louisiana on Sat 18 June, are on sale now via Headfirst.

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The Island

One of Bristol’s best-kept secrets is back in business. LOUD explores the inspiration for its atmospheric interior and finds out what the venue team have got planned for their first club season in two years Words: Matt Robson

ristol is a city renowned for its music venues. From historic clubs like Lakota and the Trinity Centre to hidden gems such as Fiddlers and The Loco Klub, the city covers all the bases when it comes to nightlife.

Strange Brew has opened in the heart of the city centre, the team behind Glastonbury’s Shangri-La have enjoyed a successful launch of their new venue, Lost Horizon, and the sprawling Propyard complex is set to announce itself with a busy musical programme this summer.

After the crushing impact of the pandemic, it’s been encouraging to see something of a renaissance period for Bristol’s club landscape, with a selection of new venues rising from the ashes of successive lockdowns.

Perhaps most excitingly, though, we’ve got our eyes on one central Bristol venue making a long-awaited comeback after two years in the wilderness. For years The Island has been a real hub for the city’s electronic music scene, hosting an

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array of hometown promoters as well attracting parties from further afield, and its Spring events programme is now well underway. The Island was originally modelled on the gritty, stripped-back clubs of Berlin, opened in 2013 and converted piece by piece from an old police headquarters into a fully-fledged underground venue. The space was “pretty weird, in a good way,” according to Lucie Akerman, who’s been involved in its operation from the beginning. “It


was very lo-fi, very unusual and free in spirit with no identity. Things that happen when venues are at that stage are always exciting because there are still all these possibilities on the table – the future is yet to come.” Perfectly suited to weighty, no-frills club music, The Island’s tight, closequarters surroundings are affectingly atmospheric. Original cell doors, cold concrete flooring and narrow walkways combine in such a way that it could operate just as well as a haunted house attraction as it does a menacing club venue. It’s seen some revered crews pass through over the years, too, from Pretty Pretty Good and Hypercolour to Bristol’s own French Kiss, Goodness and Timedance among many others. Now, Venue Manager Clara McDermott says the team are raring to go after a pandemic-induced hiatus, keen to re-establish The Island at the forefront of Bristol’s club scene. “We’re really conscious of getting the community back together,” she says, “inviting some top promoters and artists to help get that buzz back.” Early signs have been good. After opening at the beginning of March with the return of esteemed party starters Emergency Room, The

Island has showcased a broad spectrum of innovative electronic sounds in recent weeks. April will see another impressive selection of artists descend upon the cells spinning everything from house and techno to electro, jungle, trance and more. “Historically The Island has always been known for techno, because it just works so well in the space,” Clara says, “but this year we’re looking to bring in some new sounds. We feel like jungle, hardcore, bass and UK Garage would be such a good fit here, and there’s a great pool of talent out there in Bristol right now.” Clara explains there were points during the pandemic where The Island’s survival was touch and go, that the venue was clouded in uncertainty for months on end while lockdown restrictions lingered. “We really did think we were gonna close for a second,” she recalls, but adds that lockdown restrictions did give her and the team extra time to implement positive changes ahead of an eventual reopening. Since 2020 The Island has been involved with the Halt Harassment campaign to ensure cases of harassment, assault or spiking are dealt with appropriately, and the venue team have been on training and first aid courses to ensure

they’re properly equipped to ensure the safety of all attendees. There’s also a renewed focus on supporting the Bristol scene and playing a part in its continued development. “We’re really keen to work with local party brands, with an emphasis on creating a platform for people from marginalised communities,” Clara says. “We’d also love to see more female promoters and we’ve already put plans in place to facilitate a broader range of parties.” What’s more, alongside artists and promoters making their debuts at The Island in the coming months, fans can expect to see a handful of familiar faces behind the decks in 2022. Celebrated Bristol label Shall Not Fade are in talks to take over the venue for the first time since 2016, and Timedance founder Batu has been in touch to return with his new festival, En Masse, in September. Few expected many of Bristol’s small venues to survive the pandemic, and fewer still expected to see the city’s nightlife landscape flourish after months of restrictions. Emerging from an incredibly difficult few months and with eyes fixed firmly forwards, the future of The Island’s deep, dark club space looks bright.

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Improv’s Greatest Hits Harrys Furniss and Irvine have positioned themselves as key movers within Bristol’s improvised musical community with their events brand-turned-record label, Improv’s Greatest Hits. Here, the pair discuss new creative frontiers and a drive to bring artists together Words: Stan Gray Photos: Patrick Bate

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arry Furniss and Harry Irvine – half of improvised jazz group Iceman Furniss Quartet – put on local artists including Bad Tracking, Run Logan Run and EP/64 in a string of regular shows under the name Improv’s Greatest Hits. After a temporary cessation in 2019, IGH is now back, reborn as a record label with a monthly night taking place at The Crofters Rights.

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The two Harrys met at an Iceman Furniss gig when Irvine was recommended to attend by a friend of his dad’s. Their meeting came at the perfect time for Irvine, with the Quartet’s previous drummer leaving soon after. Furniss too was excited: “I listened to his Soundcloud, and I thought ‘Oh, where have you been?’” he tells me. As well as becoming close friends, the two have formed a tight bond musically. “We both have a similar idea of the kind of music we would like to be playing, as well as having the same kind of sensitivity to the music,” Irvine explains. “It tends to be comfortable because of that.” The new IGH operates in several ways. Firstly, Furniss says, they intend “to get into the position where we can hear a new band and say, ‘we really love what you do, can we record you?’”

different people and play with loads of different bands”. Irvine shares the sentiment and expounds the beauty of improvised music. “For me, it’s the moments where nothing is quite formed that’s totally unique in music. I find it really expressive, and I feel much like a child when I play,” he professes. Due to the immensely personal nature of this project, it feels simplistic to refer to IGH as merely a label. Throughout our interview, the Harrys lay out almost manifesto-like ideological aims. Furniss refers to the project as “bigger” and “more all-encompassing” than before, with musical and social diversity playing a pivotal role. Continuing, he expresses a desire to be genuinely inclusive and “mix a lot of scenes”. Irvine echoes this: “I really want to play with lots of different musicians, and IGH has already attracted a wide variety of improvisers, some of whom I’ve arranged playing with since.” This notion of inclusivity within the improvisation is key, and is evident in the diversity of their inaugural live line-ups and colossal first compilation that traverses everything from the wild noise punk of EP/64 to the serene psyche-folk of Tara Clerkin Trio. As Furniss neatly sums, “it’s more us to be non-genre anyway”.

Secondly, the duo strive to have a diverse multimedia output and have already released a massive sixtytrack compilation (all proceeds of which are going to charity) and video magazine. IGH also acts as a vehicle for the musicians’ own material, with Iceman Furniss recently releasing their album, HardBoiled, through the label.

Another fundamental aim is to afford opportunities to artists performing improv - a medium often ignored by the wider music community. “It’s largely to do with promotion and saleability. It’s a tough sell in a world where music is a product that is valued on its predictability. It’s instant,” Irvine remarks.

Speaking to them, it’s clear to see how highly they value both the music itself and the art of improvisation. “Without improvisation I don’t know where I’d be musically,” Furniss says. “That approach has afforded me opportunities to meet loads of

Projects like IGH are vital to the very existence of budding improv artists. However, Harry Furniss asserts that they’re not trying to be “purveyors of improvisation as an art form - “we’re just trying to bring different people together.”

Monthly ‘Sound Cupboard’ events, formed by a group of creatives including Furniss, other members of Iceman Furniss and Dali de Saint Paul, are a vital part of the IGH lineage. In its earliest iteration, the night was taking place around the same time de Saint Paul had played live music, before she “quickly ended up being the main one running it.” When the night eventually ran its course and its founders went their own way, Dali kindly handed the reigns to Furniss, encouraging him to usher in the younger generation. Since the two friends took over Sound Cupboard, they have presented a slew of progressive improv acts, from Irvine’s own genre-bending spiritual jazz project Big Fuss to the post-rock strokes of Vostok at the most recent show. This impressive diversity is echoed in the label’s first sixty-track compilation, a feat that they are aiming to repeat regularly – “maybe a bit smaller” Furniss jokes. An equally impressive creation is the hour-long first instalment of their video magazine, featuring the likes of Andrew Neil Hayes and Max Kelan among others. “It’s almost like a hypnosis tape or a podcast,” Furniss expounds. “You put in the background and find little gems here and there and then if you listen to it more than once you catch another bit.” The duo has a unique and unusual vision for these videos. “This is going to sound a bit weird but do you like Sesame Street? They have in person things and then they go to this abstract, weird animation and then into the music section and basically that’s the idea,” Furniss says. Unconventional ideas like these are indicative of the pair’s shared attitude to improvisation. Improv’s Greatest Hits perfectly encapsulates the medium in its radically open attitude towards its surrounding collective.

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The Cube Robbie Warin, part of an extensive team of volunteers that make up The Cube, talks LOUD through the structure and ideology of a fiercely independent Bristol arts venue Words: Stan Gray Photos: Nellie Fratelli

estled in between the bustle of Stokes Croft and the towering suburb of Kingsdown sits one of Bristol’s most fascinating and innovative independent venues. The Cube was founded by a group of creatives in the late 1990s, and is described today as “a microplex, arts venue, adult creche, independent museum, and progressive social wellbeing enterprise.”

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Volunteers are the lifeblood of The Cube, acting as in-house historians, booking agents, engineers, bar staff and everything in between. Truly unique even amongst Bristol’s

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diverse and vibrant venue landscape, and host of everything from film screenings to live performances, community projects and more, it’s difficult to categorise. Robbie Warin, a long-time contributor to the venue, describes the space as one run by the the people of Bristol for the sole purpose of contributing to a flourishing local arts scene. “The Cube is run by the community for people to express themselves creatively, and explore their practice in ways that wouldn’t necessarily be possible if it was set up like other mainstream venues,” he explains.

One would think, given The Cube’s multi-faceted arts offering, the venue would require a definite delineation of roles. When I ask Robbie about his own involvement, however, he sees his own responsibility as the same as anyone else within the core team. “The political organisation of it is anarchist,” he says, “in that it is decentralised to the point where anyone who has a vision or wants to do things in a different way can do it.” As a result of this freedom of expression, there’s a diversity to the programming and community action at The Cube that’s rarely seen elsewhere. The venue provides


“Anyone can use the space and put on events here, people can record here, explore their artistic practice... there are so many different ways to interact with it”

Kingsdown with an internet server as well as showing a consistent stream of films (complementing a handful of major releases with a varied lineup of indie flicks and cult classics) and a broad range of performance art. The Cube has also become a focal point for progressive musicians in Bristol and beyond, showcasing the likes of John Parish, Michael Hurley, Richard Dawson, Giant Swan, Eartheater and Spectres in recent years. Squid played a socially distanced performance in 2021 and, thanks to their friendship with Robbie, recorded their ‘KEXP At Home’ session at the venue. In the pages of this magazine, Jack Ogborne of Bristol band Bingo Fury speaks of his fond memories of a double-header at The Cube in July 2021. “For us that Cube one was really special,” he says. “When you’re sat down, you’re aware of the room and there’s something about that, especially when the room is that lived in - it’s perfect for the vibe. I really enjoy the seated aspect because you’re forced to pay attention and there’s a bit less general chat going on.” Robbie shares the sentiment. “As a space for watching music it’s so good for engaging with the intimacies of

sound - I think that’s really wicked,” he says. “We put on a band called Able Noise who are a duo based in Athens and the Hague and it’s just drums, baritone vocals, guitar and tape loops - it was so good and so mad seeing it here.” It’s not just the musical performances at The Cube that can “knock you for six,” as Robbie puts it. “I once saw a performance piece where a woman was doing a piece of performance art - after about 10 minutes she did a headstand and her dress billowed down. She was naked and slowly but surely pushed a fish out of her vagina! I was just there thinking I had no idea what I was going to see that night, and it completely challenged my conceptualisation of what performance is.” The Cube has its own, “collaborative” attitude to the organisation of events and artist payment. Robbie sees it as “something that is more fluid,” explaining that the team is committed to catering for all corners of Bristol’s musical community. “We can be more tailored to needs because, for some people, the idea of putting a night on for £300 is difficult,” he says. “A lot of people don’t have £300 to spend.”

much like a ‘commons’, as in common land, with resources shared between everyone involved. It’s a space dedicated to serving the local arts scene, in whichever way it can. “Of course, it requires certain things like enough money to keep the lights on and people to man the bar, and relies on creativity and needs love, but most importantly, it gives things. Anyone can use the space and put on events here, people can record here, explore their artistic practice... there are so many different ways to interact with it.” The Cube’s value lies in what it brings to the table for the benefit of its local area. The venue and its volunteers are one, connected by what they can do for one another. It’s a space created and operated by Bristol’s creative community, for Bristol’s creative community. “Volunteers are integral to The Cube,” Robbie muses. “They are everything to The Cube and they are The Cube, more so than anything else. The Cube is not the walls, it’s not the building or the cinema screen, it’s not the seats or anything physical. The Cube is the community that lives and exists within that building.”

Throughout our interview, Robbie describes the venue as operating Spring 2022

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Spinny Nights After starting out in the club, Spinny Nights have gone on to release music from a raft of in-demand artists, including Grove, Lynks and Robbie & Mona. Here, LOUD sits down with founders Arthur Cross and Rafi Cohen to discuss musical milestones and Bristol’s broad influence on the project Photos: Rowan Allen & Mona

When (and why) did you launch Spinny Nights? Arthur: Spinny Nights began in

2018 as a loose collective of friends who were all in musical projects but were struggling to get on line-ups, so we decided to start putting ourselves on in venues around Bristol. What were your ambitions for the project? What were you trying to create? Arthur: I guess our main aim

was to develop a space where we

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could comfortably create and see our favourite artists perform with the most supportive and energised crowds. Our first release was Lynks’ ‘Str8 Acting’ – they were part of Spinny Nights from the very beginning. We got a taste for it and we followed that up with our first proper releases with Robbie & Mona, Grove, CIX and Nukuluk. I think some of the essence of finding artists we think are underrated, making a space for them to express themselves and just gassing them up and supporting

them as much as we can, is still at the heart of what we do. It has just moved on from the ephemeral quality of nights into more permanent, curated, and long-term releases and management roles with our artists. How has Bristol influenced your music taste and output? Rafi: Within a couple of years of

living here, my sonic palette had massively shifted. ‘Experimental’ music is really brought out of the


“Within a couple of years of living [in Bristol], my sonic palette had massively shifted. ‘Experimental’ music is really brought out of the shadows”

shadows in Bristol. You don’t need to attend many gigs to eventually come across harsh noises and nontraditional song structures, which creates the perfect environment for artists to feel free to express themselves. The current Spinny Nights roster is undoubtedly a product of Bristol, even if not all the artists are based there. How exciting is it to see the growing success of Grove and other Spinny Nights artists? Rafi: It feels pretty ridiculous to

be honest, but we are so proud that we had a small part to play in getting Grove to the level they are at now. It goes without saying that the success of any of our artists is very much due to their own talent – we’re just lucky enough to spot them first. We attended Grove’s show and afterparty at The Crofters Rights in September and were struck by how carefully curated the night was. How much fun is it hosting events like that? Rafi: In general, there’s nothing

more satisfying than watching a stacked line-up of artists that you picked yourself. It’s like making a playlist, but way more rewarding; I never actually listen to half the playlists I make. That said, we can’t take much credit for the bill on the Grove show. We just

handed the reins over to Grove and let them book artists that inspired them. It was their first headline show in Bristol, so it felt important that they were steering the ship on that one.

nights always melt my brain in the best way.

What’s your favourite Bristol venue right now and why?

Arthur:Tlya x An, Quade, t l k,

Arthur: I feel like Strange Brew

Rafi: Too many to mention really!

has filled the void that was left when The Old England got a fancy pizza stall and stopped putting on artists. They have pretty impeccable listings and there is a really tangible community vibe. The Bounce improv nights on Mondays are so sick, Grove also jumps on for a few of those. They really showcase just how many talented musicians there are in Bristol. It blows my mind. Rafi: I can’t recommend going

enough. I think that venue really has those important golden rules of a music venue for the people so tightly intertwined into its being – it makes me happy. Other than your own, what are your favourite nights in Bristol? Rafi: There’s an insanely fun Queer

night called Crotch on Thursdays at Llandoger Trow. Ola and that whole crew have been smashing it and just love seeing such a strong community in the heart of Bristol in usually such a bad bloke part of town. Arthur: Nothing like bass being

so heavy you can see the windows shake. Apart from that, Illegal Data

Which Bristol artists are you listening to right now? BIPED, HAAL…

What’s been your proudest moment as a label so far? Arthur: I think for me personally

just holding the first test pressings for Robbie & Mona and Grove. That was a moment I have always wanted and I still can’t get over having something physical like that. Then being able to ship them off to people around the world and seeing that web grow is a beautiful thing. Record stores and fans in Japan specifically have been so supportive. I’m also just proud seeing artists we have worked with and are working with completely take off and get to experience that feeling for themselves. As you can tell I’m very proud of everything that’s happened you have to be when pouring yourself into something so completely, it’s important to back yourself. Finally, what can we expect from Spinny Nights in 2022? Rafi: More releases, a few new

artists joining the ranks, and hopefully at least one blow-out night. Watch this space… Spring 2022

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Ben Price “It’s about integration”: Ben Price charts the years and experiences leading up to the foundation of his artist management company, and how he plans to use it to help artists with a disability Words: George Boyle

en Price can remember the moment his life changed in a flash at Southampton Guildhall vividly. “I remember going on to the stage and wondering why it was so, so dark. I was walking into stands and banging my shins on drum risers,” he recalls. “I knew something was different, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.”

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In 2014, whilst working as a tour manager, Ben was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare hereditary disorder that affects the eyes - particularly night and peripheral vision. Regardless, he attempted to continue working as if nothing had changed, risking his own health and safety - often leaving venues with black eyes and

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bruised shins over the fear of losing his livelihood if he disclosed his condition. Now, after going public with his story in 2020 and setting up Harbourside Artist Management - his Bristolbased management company - Ben is using his experience to push for greater inclusion and integration in the music industry and to give people with a disability the feeling that they can become part of the mainstream trade. “Disability is part of the narrative, but it doesn’t define you. I want that to be the message,” he says over Zoom. “There seems to be a ceiling with disability arts where it’s viewed as its own thing, and it’s got its own events. I want to break that invisible

gap between the mainstream music industry and popular culture. It’s not just about representation always, It’s about integration for me.” Born and raised in Sheffield, Ben ventured into the world of radio after graduating with a degree in journalism. “I’ve always loved music, so I’d do shows about that and shows about unsigned talent. From there I was scouted to become an A+R manager. At that point I worked with an artist that went on to get signed to Colombia and go quite global.” Seeing his talent, this artist offered Ben a role as their tour manager - a job he remained in for seven years. Early into his stint, he received his diagnosis, which steadily deteriorated as time passed. Ben


“Disability is part of the narrative, but it doesn’t define you. I want that to be the message”

would often leave gigs with shiners on his legs after smashing them on drum risers, suffer black eyes after walking into dark columns and would knock over expensive equipment. “It’s all stuff that makes people think I’m clumsy. I’ve even had people accuse me of drinking. That’s worse in a way, when people accuse you of being unprofessional,” he says. “One of the symptoms of that is that your night vision starts to go. You start to notice a lot of difference in dark situations. And obviously being in dark situations literally every night in dingy back stages, setting things up in the dark before an artist comes out – I really started to notice it.” It was a difficult period for Ben, one where he began to consider that the job he loved might not be tenable. “These were big conversations for me to have. I thought that if I told people that they would say it’s not feasible. Budgets for touring are so tight, you’re literally counting every penny,” he says, recalling the negative impact this had on his mental health. “I was fearing for my livelihood. I was living in London at the time and

paying ridiculous rent, so I had to do a certain amount of shows a month to cover that. I didn’t have bags of reserves; I was still earning to live.” He made the decision not to disclose his condition, instead opting to continue whilst making excuses as to why he wasn’t able to do certain things, but privately acknowledged that he needed to formulate a plan B. This eventually led him to set up Harbourside Artist Management in 2020 – the same year he disclosed his condition. “When I started to think about setting the management company up and what I wanted it to be … if I want to represent artists with a disability then I have to confront my own situation and digest it.” Since then, Ben has written extensively about his experiences for newspapers and websites, openly sharing what he was once afraid to disclose. “It’s been a relief talking about it and processing it and being embraced for it and not discriminated against like you’re worried about,” he says. “It should be a completely normal conversation. Everybody needs to talk more and talk about what

people need for accommodations and what will make their lives more comfortable.” The management company doesn’t cater exclusively to artists with a disability, Ben is keen to point out, reiterating that his mission is to integrate, not just represent. But in 2022 he launched the Disability Empowerment Programme; an initiative designed to provide opportunities for 18–25-year-olds who identify as having a disability. Financed by Youth Music, the initiative sees an artist or band collaborate with a manager to produce a fully funded EP with a marketing campaign and a music video. “It feels like an important thing to do. Someone’s got to stand up and do it,” he says, adding that since launching the programme, a major label has shown interest in it. “The fact that people like that are seeing this is great. I hope that rubs off and they think about how they can be more diverse and inclusive and about how they can encourage more artists with a disability on to their label.”

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Bristol Promoters’ Index SPONSORED BY:

Looking to put on a gig or start a party? Whether it’s an expansive, multi-room complex, a deep, dark basement or a tried and tested live music space, you’re sure to find what you’re after in Bristol. Check out our listings below to get in touch with the perfect venue for your next event Motion / The Marble Factory | 74-78 Avon Street, Bristol BS2 0PX 200-4000 (Multiple Spaces) | info@motion-bristol.com | motion-bristol.com Lakota | 6 Upper York Street, Bristol BS2 8QN 500-1200 (Multiple Spaces) | info@lakotabristol.co.uk | lakota.co.uk Strange Brew | 10-12 Fairfax Street, Broadmead, BS1 3DB 300 | events@strangebrewbristol.com | strangebrewbristol.com Thekla | The Grove, East Mud Dock, Bristol BS1 4RB 500 | office@theklabristol.co.uk | theklabristol.co.uk The Love Inn | 84 Stokes Croft, Bristol BS1 3QY 150 | enquiries@teamlove.org | theloveinn.com Basement 45 | 8 Frogmore Street, Bristol BS1 5NA 300 | mark@basement45.co.uk | basement45.co.uk O2 Academy Bristol | Frogmore Street, Bristol BS1 5NA 1800 | mail@o2academybristol.co.uk | academymusicgroup.com/o2academybristol The Crofters Rights | 117-119 Stokes Croft, Bristol BS1 3RW 300 | music@croftersrights.co.uk | croftersrights.co.uk Cosies! | 34 Portland Square, Bristol BS2 8RG 110 | cosies@live.co.uk | facebook.com/cosiesbristoll The Island | Bridewell Street, Bristol BS1 2QD 250 | venue@theislandbristol.com | theislandbristol.com The Loco Klub | Clock Tower Yard, Bristol BS1 6QH 360 | bookings@locobristol.com | locoklub.com Trinity Centre | Trinity Road, Bristol BS2 0NW 50 - 600 (Multiple Spaces) | info@trinitybristol.org.uk | trinitybristol.org.uk The Fleece | 12 St Thomas Street, Bristol BS1 6JJ 450 | chris@thefleece.co.uk | thefleece.co.uk

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Propyard | Feeder Studios, 39-46 Feeder Road, Bristol, BS2 0SE 500-3000 (Multiple Spaces) | info@propyard.co.uk | propyard.co.uk The Lanes | 22 Nelson Street, Bristol BS1 2LE 500 | info@thelanesbristol.com | thelanesbristol.com Exchange | 72-73 Old Market Street, Bristol BS2 0EJ 250 | iwan@exchangebristol.com | exchangebristol.com The Mother’s Ruin | 7-9 St Nicholas Street, Bristol BS1 1UE 100 | mothersruinbristol@gmail.com | mothersruinbristol.co.uk Full Moon & Attic Bar | 1 North Street, Stokes Croft, Bristol BS1 3PR 240 | info@fullmoonbristol.co.uk | fmbristol.co.uk Fiddlers | Willway Street, Bristol BS3 4BG 500 | info@fiddlers.co.uk | fiddlers.co.uk Lost Horizon | 1-3 Elton St, St Jude’s, Bristol BS2 9EH 330 | info@losthorizonlive.com | losthorizonlive.com Mr Wolf’s | 32 St Nicholas Street, Bristol BS1 1TG 270 | musicbookings@mrwolfs.com | mrwolfs.com Rough Trade Bristol | 3 New Bridewell, Nelson Street, Bristol BS1 2QD 150 | adriand@roughtrade.com | roughtrade.com/gb/events/store/rough-trade-bristol The Louisiana | Wapping Road, Bathurst Terrace, Bristol BS1 6UA 140 | thelouisiana@gmail.com | thelouisiana.net Take Five Cafe | 72 Stokes Croft, Bristol BS1 3QY 100 | take5cafe.co.uk Arnolfini | 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA 200 | programme@arnolfini.org.uk | arnolfini.org.uk The Jam Jar | Unit 4a, Little Anne Street, Bristol BS2 9EB 220 | hq@thejamjarbristol.com | thejamjarbristol.com Dare2Club | 1 Alfred St, Bristol BS2 0RF 250 | daretoclub@gmail.com | daretoclub.co.uk Thunderbolt | 124 Bath Rd, Totterdown, Bristol BS4 3ED 150 | info@thethunderbolt.net | thethunderbolt.net Dareshack | Wine Street, BS1 2BD 140 | hello@dareshack.com | dareshack.com The Cloak & Dagger | 182/184 Cheltenham Road, Bristol,BS6 5RB 70 - 150 (Multiple Spaces) | daggerbookings@outlook.com | thecloakanddagger.co.uk The Crown | 10 All Saints Lane, Bristol, BS1 1JH 70 - 150 (Multiple Spaces) | thecrownbristol@gmail.com | thecrownbristol.com Spring 2022

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Bristol Improv Acts to Watch

with

Improv’s Greatest Hits Harry Irvine - co-founder of Bristolbased label and monthly night, Improv’s Greatest Hits, and member of Iceman Furniss Quartet - gives us a brief guide to the city’s growing community of improvisational musicians…

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Dan Johnson

Dan is my favourite drummer in Bristol and the only drummer I know who regularly plays solo which is also a great treat for me as a drummer. His use of silence and dynamics is astounding.

Tina Hitchens

Tina, similarly to Dan, uses dynamics to great effect. She’s also incredibly multifaceted in her collection of work and I have seen or heard her in a number of settings playing styles from soft, ambient acoustic flute to deep, aggressive electronic techno.

The Dolebury Warren Movement

Purse brothers, Fred and Charlie, are two of my favourite people and players. The two of them play unbelievably intuitively with one another and have a great use of ambience in their improv. I have enjoyed every release of theirs under TDWM.

Howard Purse

Howard isn’t a prolific free jazz musician, but father to Fred and Charlie, he has had a very influential input to all of our music. He set up and led the project, Giantess, which me, Charlie and Fred were all members of, amongst others. His constant drive for new and organic sound inspired me very much in the process.

Harry Furniss

It felt a bit funny to add Harry here as it seems like I’m plugging the label, but as a player and a friend he’s inspired me so much. He’s exceptionally talented, brings a personalised character to everything he’s involved in, and makes great efforts to share and promote this music that we feel so passionate about.