LOUD Bristol Issue Two

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Editor’s Letter A lot can happen in a few weeks, but we didn’t expect this. Not so long ago, we were adding the finishing touches to this magazine, the second edition of LOUD. It was exciting: we’d switched up our design, interviewed fantastic artists and featured innovative projects. We’d talked with people about their plans for 2020, too; including upcoming tours, releases, and parties. It was a true celebration of things to come, and an applause for successes to date. The magazine was due for release on Monday 23 March. But then things changed – much quicker than we could anticipate. Artists had their upcoming gigs cancelled, venues closed their doors, and projects went on immediate hiatus. And, our advertisers, who help to fund our print run, no longer had events, festivals and entertainment to promote. It meant that some things discussed in the Spring edition had changed, and, inevitably, would continue to change. It was worrying, upsetting, unclear, but, crucially, these things were happening for the right reasons. It was, and still is, essential to stay safe. So it was decided to put the magazine on hold. Then we thought: why let it all go to waste? Yes, some things have changed, but others haven’t. Incredible music, the successes of innovative projects and personal achievements remain, and, in many ways, we need to celebrate them now more than ever. In LOUD Issue 2, for instance, we get to grips with the solution-focused projects which have prompted real change within the city’s electronic music scene. We also meet some of the key figures behind Bristol’s jazz renaissance and delve into brilliant, community-led projects, such as the Bristol Reggae Orchestra. Elsewhere, LOUD welcomes yet another glorious selection of artist interviews. We catch up with Timedance boss Batu as he celebrates the label’s fifth birthday, have a natter with industrial pop performance artist Lynks Afrikka and hang out with Westcountry songwriter Katy J Pearson. And so, without further ado, we’re proud to present Issue 2 - in digital form. After all, LOUD’s aim is simple: to make noise about Bristol music. Stay home and stay safe, Kate and Matt, Editors




18 Editors



Matt Robson matt@365bristol.com Kate Hutchison kate@365bristol.com Cover Design



Will Da Costa @pomona_studio will@pomonadesign.co.uk Sales & Marketing



Brendan Murphy brendan@365bristol.com With thanks to



Bristol BID BARBIE Bristol Here & Now

4 Dancefloor Solutions

26 Trinity Centre

36 Banoffee Pies

10 A New Standard

30 Katy J Pearson

42 Slagheap

14 5 Years of Timedance

32 Ujima Radio

46 Scalping

18 Lynks Afrikka

34 Danny Nedelko

58 Ngaio

We meet the people, projects and parties effecting real change

Finding out what’s keeping Bristol jazz ahead of the curve

Batu takes us through five years of his boundary-pushing label

Getting to grips with the gift [set] that keeps on giving

A brief history of one of Bristol’s most important cultural spaces

The singer-songwriter revels in new-found creative freedom

Seven days on one of our favourite Bristol stations

The Heavy Lungs frontman talks lasting friendships

Label boss Ell Weston reflects on seven successful years

Heidi, Catherine, Sadie and Lydia discuss wonky post-punk

James and Alex reflect on Scalping’s hunger for extremity

The in-demand performer chats about her latest EP, We Fly

LOUD Magazine 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.


Dancefloor Solutions Meet the people, projects and parties effecting change within Bristol’s electronic music community WORDS: KATE HUTCHISON


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othing’s perfect, Bristol’s music scene included. Though it’s home to weird and wonderful sounds, landmark venues and innovative labels, it also suffers from a list of problems. Venues under constant threat of closure, a lack of representation both on and off the stage - even discrimination on the dancefloor; these issues aren’t unique to Bristol, but change starts from within. So, who really are the people effecting change? Which projects are providing us with solutions? There’s a few, and it’s time to take note. Here, we meet some

of the key individuals and initiatives making moves within the city’s electronic music scene. DJing is a privilege: equipment and records are expensive, learning how to mix takes time, and time is money. And as the old saying goes, it’s not what you know; it’s who you know. It’s a cycle that has no doubt contributed to the industry’s current lack of diversity; both on the decks and behind the scenes. In fact, it’s systematic: favouring those with time, money and mates. So if you want to get your foot in the club door, where the hell do you start?

“There’s no excuse for an all-white cismale lineup now” Lizzy Ellis, Mix Nights In September 2016, DJ, visual artist and academic Yewande Adeniran (aka Ifeoluwa) founded Intervention, a free DJ workshop for womxn, non-binary and queer individuals, and people of colour. “Growing up, and constantly being excluded despite my best efforts,” Yewande explains, “I grew accustomed to feeling powerless and an anger that I was never allowed to express. So, I decided I would use this energy for something positive.” A space to “rage, dance and laugh,” Intervention aims to equip attendees with the basic skills and confidence required to DJ. And that it has: in three years, the project has collaborated with venues and initiatives across the UK, including Queer Bristol and the Arnolfini. It’s also supported the likes of Daniela Dyson (aka PMS Casualty) who, last year, collaborated with Young Echo’s experimental hip hop trio, Jabu. Another key initiative inspiring a new wave of DJs in Bristol is Mix Nights. A non-profit project founded by Saffron Records and the nowdefunct Bristol Women in Music, Mix Nights offers a nine-week DJ course for womxn and non-binary people. Under the direction of leading local DJs Em Williams, Danielle and Daisy Moon, attendees learn the basics of mixing with vinyl or CDJs. Serious hype surrounds the course (Boiler Room, Red Bull and Radio 4 have each run stories about it), and with good reason. Since its inception, Mix Nights have trained approximately 130 people; at least 40 of whom now DJ regularly. Some even host their own nights and radio residencies.

“Without this course, I would not be where I am now,” says former Mix Nights participant Jozie Doherty (aka grime selector J Oh Zee). “In the year that I did the Mix Nights course, I played over 50 sets; on the main stage at the 02 Academy for Eskimo Dance, on Rinse FM in England and in France – I also got three radio residencies!” Jozie is one of dozens Mix Nights success stories. So, what’s the key? Like Jozie, fellow Mix Nights graduate Averil Cooper (aka drum and bass DJ Averse) mentions the safe and encouraging environment in which training takes place. “My favourite thing about the course was that I could learn in an environment where I felt comfortable and supported,” says Averil. “There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to DJing - it can be difficult to know which advice to take and which to ignore. Mix Nights is so beneficial because you are taught by experienced people whose advice you can trust.” It’s not only former participants who praise Mix Nights. When I speak with Maya Gamble, the Gender Equality Programme Coordinator at Team Love, she mentions Jozie as a key example of the project’s success, alongside Noods Radio resident Ellie Stokes. “That one project has transformed this Bristol scene,” says Maya. “I genuinely think there are many more female DJs here now.” But what’s happening at the other end of the spectrum? While Intervention and Mix Nights provide

a solution for those just starting out, (though, both initiatives regularly host events, enabling former participants to showcase their skills following training, such as the Mix Nights Open Decks series), who is supporting DJs further into their career? Well, Maya is. At Team Love, part of Maya’s role involves monitoring the bookings for events like Love Saves The Day, ensuring progress with representation. The importance of Maya’s role is indubitable: in 2018, non-male representation on the Loves Saves The Day lineup stood just below 20%. Since things have improved considerably; last year, that figure increased to 28.48%, and in 2020, the festival predicts non-male acts will make up 38% (or more) of the bill. It’s a progression about which Team Love can be proud, but Maya says there is, of course, more work to be done. Not only that, but Maya explains that achieving a 50/50 main stage split remains a challenge. And so, Maya believes nurturing rising talent is crucial: “something that we’re trying to do at Love Saves the Day, in particular, is, we are populating our smaller stages with loads of womxn, because by investing in them now - trying to give them good stepping stones - we can help to grow them into those future headliners.” It’s a solution-focused strategy that we have on good authority; after all, Maya curated 2016’s successful grime-takeover of Glastonbury’s Sonic Stage. The importance of nurturing new talent beyond the realm of the novice

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“It’s so important to have those middle spaces where you don’t need to be either novice or expert” Ngaio, Booty Bass



is something echoed by Ngaio (pictured, left), the founder of Bristol collective and party, Booty Bass. “I think when people are trying to book, they’re only looking for a headliner. And it’s like: what about all the things that come before that? You need to give people that space to practice,” she explains. “I think it’s so important to have those middle spaces where you don’t need to be either novice or expert.” Ngaio, who also learned to DJ with Mix Nights, says she was given this space by Easton pub The Plough, where she held a monthly residency not long after completing the course. Ngaio explains how the slot “massively upped” her game: “for four hours, once a month, practising on proper decks – that was huge. It’s not even just the technical,” she adds. “It’s reading the crowd; it’s knowing what to do when something goes wrong - it’s getting feedback.” Ngaio’s residency at The Plough has since become Booty Bass, a party showcasing and celebrating womxn and non-binary DJs, and bass music. It’s also a space for upcoming DJs, too: iterations of the Booty Bass’ crew have included fellow Mix Nights graduates Vanessa Maria, Bungzo and Adibah.


The impact of Intervention, Mix Nights and Booty Bass cannot be understated. While these projects enable more people to access the industry, they, in turn, facilitate better representation on event lineups. And better representation on event

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lineups, says Ngaio, can make for better audience experiences. “What I was really realising whenever I was doing Booty Bass events,” explains Ngaio, “was that when womxn were seeing me DJ, they would come to the front. And because I’m having such a great time, dancing around, dutty winin’ behind the decks, they feel like they can, too. And it doesn’t have to be sexual,” Ngaio adds. “That was always my thing with Booty Bass and the music I play. I was like: I wanna play music that makes people wanna dance, and stuff that you can shake your bum to, and that not be an invitation for someone to come grab it.” It’s an important point to make: while more diverse lineups may encourage party-goers to feel freer on the dancefloor, exactly how to ensure events are safe and welcoming for all is an ongoing challenge. It’s something which Ngaio, alongside the council’s independent advisory group for the night-time economy, Bristol@ Night, have noted. They’re currently in talks to develop a safe space framework, titled ‘Halt Harassment’, to be implemented in venues across the city. The framework will aim to hold harassment to account, giving venues the tools required to handle instances with confidence and consistency. In the meantime, different collectives are working to find solutions for dancefloor safety. Take Repercussion, a new night founded by former Mix Nights participants Hannah Stewart and Jenny Duffy. Inspired by personal experiences of clubs and festivals, Repercussion is a music and performance event. The aim? To “regain the dancefloor from the heteronormative scene,” providing party-goers and performers alike with a welcoming, inclusive and liberating environment. Prior to Repercussion’s first event (which took place at The Exchange on 6

March), Hannah shed light on how they planned to achieve this goal, including the introduction of no phone and photography policy. In doing so, Hannah explained, they hoped to “protect our audience from any potential harm from misleading or inappropriate footage.” Hannah added: “I also believe that the dancefloor is the perfect place to create a sense of community - people using their phones consistently detracts from the moment.” Everyone I spoke with for this article seemed to agree on one thing: there’s more work to be done. Speaking on why Intervention was founded, Yewande explains: “the scene has changed ever so slightly, but the same issues are still there. It’s dominated primarily by white, male, cisgender and straight bodies who by default have access to spaces and opportunities. We’re still being tokenised, paid less and commodified,” Yewande continues. “I doubt it will be finished in my lifetime, but I’ll definitely keep on working towards a more positive future ‘til my last days.” It’s true; there’s a long way to go until lineups become genuinely representative of their audiences, say. Despite this, Mix Nights Project Manager Lizzy Ellis says there are a few things the Bristol music scene can do, right now, to aid improvement: “support womxn all year round, don’t only reach out to us to play at your night on International Women’s Day,” Lizzy advises. “Work with organisations like us [Saffron] to provide initiatives for womxn to progress in the industry, and give a safe and fair platform that is not purely tokenistic. Be prepared to work that little bit harder and dig just a little bit deeper to ensure your lineups and workplaces are diverse do your research! There’s no excuse for an all-white cis-male lineup now.” Too right.

Spring 2020



A New Standard LOUD takes a look at Bristol’s flourishing jazz scene, catching up with artists, venues and promoters to find out what’s keeping the city at the forefront of a modern musical renaissance WORDS: MATT ROBSON


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n days gone by, jazz has been perceived by many as an exclusive art form, the doors of the genre open only to people who have mastered a craft and, essentially, know more about it than you do. Jazz has reached around the world and transcended classical, blues, swing and much more to become a truly all-encompassing form of musical expression. Even the term ‘jazz’ itself is open to endless interpretation, allowing for a wealth of innovation and musical creativity spanning well over a hundred years.

Bristol, of course, is no stranger to ‘classic’ jazz. Bars and venues like The Old Duke and The Bristol Fringe regularly host revered wind, percussive and string musicians, and the Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival has been showcasing some of the world’s most highly regarded artists since its inception in 2013. The festival’s contribution to Bristol music in particular has been massive, bringing genuinely special live experiences to the city’s favourite stages from the likes of Pee Wee Ellis, Dr John and Fred Wesley among others.

“A bit of a myth has prevailed over the years about jazz being rather earnest or exclusive. Bristol’s new generation are blowing that presumption out of the water” Polly Eldridge, Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival Now, though, with sounds and tools more accessible than ever, jazz has taken on intriguing new forms. Musicians influenced by a whole range of other styles, from hip-hop to afrobeat and electronica, are breathing new life into the genre, and in Bristol, a new crop of artists are making strong names for themselves. Whether it’s through the Waldo’s Gift trio’s ethereal improvisation, Ishmael Ensemble’s polished live shows or Run Logan Run’s explosive sound, the jazz scene has emerged as one of the city’s most vibrant. The renaissance of the genre certainly isn’t unique to the Westcountry. London’s jazz revival is well-documented and there are highly-regarded artists coming out of Glasgow and Manchester, but Bristol appears to be cultivating its sound in a way others aren’t. The city “affords artists the time and space to create and experiment,” according to Waldo’s Gift drummer James Vine, an element to life here that isn’t necessarily replicated elsewhere. Not only are a new wave of artists coming through, they’ve got the backing of clubs and promoters that pride themselves on forwardthinking programming. Venues across Bristol, most notably Fiddlers, Leftbank and The Gallimaufry, are providing a platform for exciting local acts. The latter’s role in the contemporary Bristol jazz scene is perhaps the most significant, with various iterations of the genre making up a big chunk of their musical schedule.

“Overall I’d estimate around 90-95% of our programming is Bristol-based artists,” says Galli owner James Koch. “We like to work with artists over a period of time to help them or their night develop, but also have the opportunity to bring new acts into the space in between.” The Gallimaufry’s relationship with Waldo’s Gift, in particular, is a special one. “I know how hard they work on their craft – that and the breadth of their musicianship bodes really well,” Koch explains. James Vine, meanwhile, tells me in no uncertain terms that his band wouldn’t be what it is without the support of the Gloucester Road venue. “James [Koch] has given us this platform to express ourselves, experiment and find out what Waldo’s Gift is about. He’s incredibly passionate about the music, so invested in the nights, and it shows. The venue has nurtured so much of the new talent in this city.”

the Ezra Collective. Crucially, though, Bristol venues are again playing their part by showcasing leading artists on a regular basis. All of the above - as well as Nubiya Garcia, Kamaal Williams and The Comet is Coming - have played in Bristol in the last 12 months, cementing the city as a hub for jazz and further adding to a rich mix of imaginative new sounds. “In a time of so many venues closing down, I feel incredibly lucky to live in a place where you can go out and find interesting live music every day of the week,” says Pete Cunningham, multi-instrumentalist and the driving force behind the revered Ishmael Ensemble. He highlights the Sun-Ra Arkestra as one of many live acts to have influenced his playing, describing 95-year-old Arkestra director Marshall Allen as “a force of nature” after seeing the group perform at Fiddlers.

After more than three years playing weekly sets and developing their sound at The Gallimaufry, Waldo’s Gift have now released a criticallyacclaimed debut EP, played venues and festivals around the UK and Europe, and been tipped by none other than Gilles Peterson as an Emerging Act to Watch in 2020.

The opportunity to experience live sets from some of the most talkedabout jazz artists in modern times is a huge plus for local fans and artists alike, but without the efforts of one peerless crew, Bristol crowds may have missed out altogether. You need to have your finger on the pulse and a penchant for a party to keep up with the UK’s constantly-evolving jazz sound. Enter, Worm Disco Club.

Bristol’s thriving scene is reflective of what’s been happening in London over the last few years. Scores of acclaimed artists and groups have come out of the capital, including the likes of Alfa Mist, Yussef Dayes and

The Worm Disco crew have found a winning formula in Bristol, bringing together accomplished musicians and top-notch venues for a wide range of events with positive energy in abundance. “The remit is simple,”

Spring 2020


“More and more people are starting to recognise that jazz has taken on new meaning” Nathan Kydd, Worm Disco Club says co-founder Nathan Kydd when I ask about his musical policy. “It needs to have a groove.” As a three-man team with a love of upbeat sounds coming from all corners of the globe, Worm Disco Club have hosted some of the most unforgettable gigs and parties Bristol has seen in recent years. Jazz has been a cornerstone of their operation since starting out in 2014, with Joe-Armon Jones, The Heliocentrics and Wolf Muller having headlined for them in Bristol, performing alongside a multitude of local acts at the city’s favourite venues. “We’ve done events in the PRSC HQ on Jamaica Street, The Crofters Rights, at Jam Jar and all these great places,” Nathan tells me, “and Fiddlers really suits where we’re at right now. The room’s got such a great feel, a wooden dancefloor is always a big plus, everyone can see the stage, it’s a little off the beaten track – overall it’s a really unique space.” In March, Worm Disco Club will be launching their new label, Worm Discs, as part of their first-ever collaboration with the Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival. In what is a big step for a festival that has historically showcased jazz in more traditional forms, Nathan and


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co have been given the reigns for two eagerly-anticipated nights at Fiddlers as part of the official 2020 programme.

the genre, and not only that – these young musicians operating in Bristol are more technically accomplished than so many before them.”

“The people who play jazz in more classical formats will never go away, but more and more people are starting to recognise that the genre has taken on new meaning,” Nathan says. “Jazz artists today are making music influenced by so many different sounds and styles, they’ve got a bit more freedom to express themselves, and they’ve got a looser understanding or perception of what jazz has to be.”

“We really like what WDC do, the artists they pick and how much they love putting really fun events together,” adds Festival PR Manager Polly Eldridge. “Sadly a bit of a myth has prevailed over the years about jazz being rather earnest and exclusive. Brilliantly, though, Bristol’s new generation are blowing that presumption out of the water.”

The presence of more young and innovative acts and promoters than ever before at the 2020 Jazz & Blues Festival is perhaps the best indicator that contemporary artists are being taken seriously. There’s an overwhelming sense of positivity coming from the festival team about the prospects of the city’s jazz scene, as Artistic Director Denny Illett explains: “Historically, older generations have been full of negativity about the future of jazz as a viable art form. This new crop of artists has proved them totally wrong. Access to a myriad of new influences has created a new, vibrant and original path for

There are plenty more artists and venues we could have spoken to as part of this article. The likes of Snazzback, Run Logan Run and Stanlaey are rightly receiving plaudits across the city and beyond, while venues like Leftbank, The Canteen and The Jam Jar continue to provide vital live platforms. Small venues are offering their spaces to lesser known but fiercely creative acts who are, in turn, drawing serious crowds with their exciting new interpretations of the genre. Whether it’s the artists themselves, the stages they’re playing on or the events and promoters bringing it all together, Bristol’s jazz scene is truly firing on all cylinders right now.

5 Artists to Watch in 2020 with

Worm Disco Club

Firm Bristol favourites Worm Disco Club know a thing or two when it comes to top bookings. With the launch of their new label, Worm Discs, on the horizon, co-founder Nathan Kydd picks out five acts to keep an eye on in 2020

Waldo’s Gift

The Waldo’s Gift guys are heading for big, big things. An absolutely electric three piece out of Bristol, they combine elements of groove, jazz, math and classical to formulate their own unique sound.

Run Logan Run

Expect immensely powerful sax and drums from Andrew Hayes and Matt Brown, better known as the Run Logan Run duo. These guys are an absolute mustsee, delivering raw power and delicate soul in equal measure.


corto.alto are a great eight-piece outfit out of Glasgow, headed by the astoundingly talented trombonist and songwriter, Liam Shortall. Liam’s experimental songwriting draws on all kinds of influences, from jazz, neo-soul and hip-hop to dub and classical.

Awale Jant Band

Fronted by Senegalese singer Biram Seck, Awale Jant are a seven-piece afrobeat-y soul jazz outfit based in London. Keep your eyes peeled for a wonderful new album on the way at the end of March.

Chelsea Carmichael

If you appreciate what Shabaka Hutchings and Nubya Garcia bring to the sax, then you’ve got to catch Chelsea Carmichael at your first opportunity. A seriously talented musician who’s already played alongside a whole host of esteemed acts.

Spring 2020



Batu Feature 5 Years of Timedance (Title/intro) Dreamt up and developed in Bristol, Timedance has been a staple of the city’s electronic music scene since it was established in early 2015. Now, in celebration of its fifth birthday, label boss and revered DJ Batu is taking his brainchild on the road for an inter-continental series of anniversary parties


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“Bristol, for me, is a real music lovers’ city rather than a music industry city. There’s a really important distinction there” If I remember rightly, Rob [Pinch] put me in touch with my first distributor,” Omar McCutcheon, more widely known as Batu, recalls as we chat over a coffee in Old Market. “I had people like Pinch, Pev, the Rewind Forward crew and loads of other people who I could learn from when I was starting it up.”

It takes a few seconds of consideration to journey back to the circumstances surrounding the birth of Timedance, such is the huge progress the label has made in the five years since. Over the course of the next hour, it becomes strikingly apparent that Bristol and Timedance are inextricably linked; that the label wouldn’t be quite what it is had it been based somewhere else, and that the city’s musical identity is woven into the Timedance output. A Bristol resident for a large portion of his 20s, McCutcheon’s musical journey sounds as though it was destined for the city long before he arrived here. He credits his dad and uncle as two of his biggest early influences, both part of the dub scene in Nottingham in the 19 80s before getting into early jungle and dubstep later on. McCutcheon explains that a love of cutting-edge electronic music was “all laid out” for him from the get-go, with his uncle, in particular, opening his eyes to dubstep. Around 13 years old at the time, being exposed to a

totally new sound in his formative years had a lasting impact on his view of how music could, or should, be made. “I feel quite strongly about making sure what I do feels contemporary and of a moment in time,” he gradually tells me, clearly choosing his words carefully. “I think the scope of electronic music always needs to be at the forefront of culture and art.”

that I couldn’t seem to get the music I wanted to make into the hands of the right people.” McCutcheon’s ‘Cardinal’, the distorted, almost sinister sounding first release on Timedance, was a testament to that desire to go down a new route. It wasn’t long before the label started building a serious reputation at the forefront of Bristol’s notoriously forward-thinking musical community.

“Whether it’s a case of using modern tools and software and manipulating sound,” he continues, “or if it’s just rhythmically trying to avoid making big references to stuff that happened 20 years ago, I want to make sure that my music sounds brand-new.”

Semi-regular parties carried the torch in Bristol over the next few years, taking over The Island for a string of events that offered something different to the familiar house and techno scene of the time, much more in line with McCutcheon’s own taste. “Five years ago,” he says, “I don’t think the kind of music that Timedance is associated with was very well represented in Bristol clubs, and The Island just worked. It had a few characteristics that have become really core to a Timedance night; things like good sound, bass especially, dark rooms and a very no-frills feel.”

In that regard, things started to fall into place for McCutcheon when he started to integrate himself into the Bristol scene after moving to Bath for university, meeting fellow producers – and now close friends – Bruce and Ploy on his music tech course around the same time. Able to look around at his contemporaries for motivation, McCutcheon started Timedance in early 2015. He laughs when I ask what the inspiration was for getting it going, admitting that there wasn’t really a big dream behind it, that it was born out of necessity more than anything else. “I just wanted to put some tunes out,” he recalls. “Around that time I was struggling to find a home for my music – I’d had a couple of releases already but was slightly frustrated

“There were some real standout moments” from a series that featured the likes of Lena Willikens, DJ Nobu and Ben UFO, but he goes on to explain that the big-name headliners only tell half the story. “A lot of the fondness, looking back, comes from seeing the same people there, the afterparties we’d have, a lot of connections being made and friendships forming as a result of the parties.”

Spring 2020



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The relationship with The Island eventually came to an end with a closing series at the end of 2018, a three-part curtain call put together to, in a sense, prevent Timedance from overstaying its welcome. Ever the innovator, McCutcheon says he was conscious of maintaining a sense of exploration, and that the party series had simply run its course at The Island after three successful years. “By the end there were a lot of nights at The Island that occupied a similar place musically,” he says. “It’s nice sometimes for things to move on before they get old.” All of this brings us to 2020, more than a year since the last Timedance party and five years since the birth of the imprint itself. After half a decade of hard work fine-tuning the label’s identity, McCutcheon has kicked off a 5 Years series, taking Timedance to venues across the UK and around the world. After an opening party in Leeds, the Bristol leg saw Timedance take over the Trinity Centre for a proper hometown affair in February. Giant Swan, Metrist, Anina and Batu himself played to a sea of familiar faces, with headliner Shackleton

putting his own trademark spin on proceedings. “Bristol has played a huge role in the development and shaping of Timedance,” McCutcheon tells me. “From people helping me set up the label, to the artists releasing on it, it’s been a really great hub. Even if what you’re doing is a worldwide thing, the atmosphere you come back to here is always so supportive and easygoing. The confidence and selfassurance that gives you to continue to try new things is invaluable.” McCutcheon’s personal taste is far less Bristol-centric these days, his outlook widened by the array of sounds and styles he’s been exposed to through touring over the course of the last few years. Travelling and playing at least once a year in Asia - and at some of the biggest and best clubs in the world - has been eye-opening, but he’s mindful to remain appreciative of the musical environment that Timedance emerged from. “Bristol’s still small and definitely punching above its weight musically.

You can get to know everyone here, whereas if you’re somewhere like Berlin or London, you probably have to shout a bit louder to be noticed. Bristol, for me, is a real music lovers’ city rather than a music industry city, and there’s a really important distinction there.” 2020, alongside the 5 Years celebrations, presents an opportunity to further establish Timedance among an international audience. There’s a fifth birthday compilation on the way, as well as a fresh batch of singles to be announced in the near future. Aside from a couple of dream projects, though, there aren’t many big ambitions for the future of the label. McCutcheon’s only worry, for now, is ensuring that Timedance continues to be open-minded and is able to facilitate more musical development. “I don’t want to force anything,” he says, “but the most important thing for me is to remain at the cutting edge of music you’d want to hear in clubs. That needs to be the foundation for whatever I go on to do.”

Spring 2020


Lynks Afrikka

The gift [set] that keeps on giving: the mind behind Lynks Afrikka, Elliot Brett, spills the shower gel on the project’s early days, Spinny Nights and life post-university



ight now, it seems everyone wants to catch a whiff of Lynks Afrikka. Just days after I speak with Elliot Brett, the producer and performance artist behind the project, Lynks Afrikka track ‘I Don’t Know What I Want’ features on Elton John’s radio show, Rocket Hour. Lynks was also placed centre stage in The Guardian’s ‘50 New Artists for 2020’ list, and more recently, has been announced to perform at the upcoming Icelandic music festival, Airwaves.


It’s not surprising, of course. Lynks Afrikka is an enthralling and intricate project – without a hint of pretension. Drawing on the legacy of 90s Club Kid culture, Lynks compounds queer industrial pop with theatrical, extravagant performance and (genuinely) funny lyricism to stupefy the DIY scene. Take ‘Str8 Acting’: a frisky club banger armed with a witty analysis of queer culture’s often reductive presentation. Flipping the diminishing and sexualized stereotypes associated with queer culture, the track reviews straight culture. A hot, straight club? ‘It’s a lot like a pub, but with slightly less chairs.’

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And god, it’s working: Bristol, despite its love for straight-faced experimentalism, loves a bit of Lynks. Along with a troupe of choreographed backing performers, the Shower Gels, Lynks has played in our city countless times, headlining venues like The Crofters Rights and The Fleece. I guess it’s because the gigs are so fun and entertaining (and weird), but more on that later. It’s something which has led audiences to miss the point, almost. Elliot says the “number one comment” he gets after gigs is: “it was so fun, but the music’s actually good!” Lynks Afrikka is primarily a musical project, after all.

the character. Nowadays, Lynks is just “a heightened version” of himself. Elliot references an Oscar Wilde quote, which, he says, “sums it up” well: give a man a mask, and he will tell you the truth. If anything, then, Lynks is Brett in his purest form: “I think it’s stopped being a character at all,” he later adds. Before Lynks Afrikka, Elliot released music under his own name. His single ‘I Care’ enjoyed a sold-out launch at The Crofters Rights. It was a triumph – until Elliot’s laptop, which stored much of his music, was stolen from the venue. Did this incident force Elliot to conceive Lynks? “You reconsider what kind of music you want to make when you lose it all,” Elliot chuckles. “Who knows? I probably would have arrived at the same point. It might have just taken me a bit longer.”

Has Elliot encountered any other misconceptions of the project? Previously, I mention, it appears some have tried to weave deeper meaning into Lynks Afrikka’s music. “But most of the time, you say it’s more about having fun, right?” I ask. “Yeah, you’ve hit the nail on the head,” Elliot laughs. “I am just trying to create something really fun.” Though, he notes how in creating something fun, “it’s natural to find some deeper meaning because comedy comes from stuff you care about.” So, despite what tracks like ‘On Trend’ – a half-serious nod to common social anxieties - might suggest, making grand, political statements was never Elliot’s aim. Instead, they’re a natural side effect, accidental even. “It’s really nice that people read so much into it,” Elliot adds. “We like to intellectualize music a lot, I think. That isn’t really my normal way of doing it, but I can see why people like looking at music through that lens.” It makes sense, given what I recall to be an early Lynks Afrikka’s gig: an effortlessly fun performance, in the basement of a Hotwells student house. It was a show for uni mates, during February 2018. “Was it the one in the basement when I was wearing bin bags? That was the first-ever one!” Elliot says, exuding excitement. “I look back on it, and I find it really crazy that I had the balls to do it, actually.” A 20-minute set of five songs, one of which was a Kate Bush cover, the performance showcased a different Lynks Afrikka to the one we know today. Back then, Elliot had been inspired heavily by drag, which curated a “manufactured” version of

Bristol, and in particular, local promoter Spinny Nights, has made a significant impact on the evolution of Lynks Afrikka. Spinny Nights, Elliot thinks, is part of what pushed him to cease making “more traditional music” and experiment. Speaking of Bristol’s influence, Elliot enthuses: “I fell in with the Spinny Nights crowd; this brilliant group of creative, driven musicians; people dedicated to making a super exciting, accepting creative space. That scene really encouraged ingenuity and risktaking.”

Lynks Afrikka’s first performance, February 2018 PHOTOS: GUY WOODS @PRETTYGUYFORAWHITEFLY

Founded in early 2018, Spinny Nights began as an irregular set of student-led gigs, often platforming musicians from the University of Bristol. Since then, it’s evolved into a local DIY promoter, label and management. Recalling Spinny Nights’ earlier days, Elliot remembers going to shows, where occasionally, he’d see performers “do something weird and,” he pauses, chuckling. “Yeah! I’ll be honest! Objectively a bit shit!” But, he resolves, “there’d still be this atmosphere of acceptance. Everyone would give them rapturous applause.” It was a space in which performers - Lynks included - “were able to fail.” “I think it’s really important to make creative spaces where people don’t feel afraid to fail. Because if you’ve

Spring 2020



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“I think all these things have an expiration date, and I just hope that mine isn’t soon”

got a space where people are afraid to fail, then they won’t do anything out of the box.” Take Lynks’ first gig, incidentally also one of the first Spinny Nights events: “that had some real moments of crapness in it,” Elliot recalls, “but that was fine. And maybe in some other scenes, if I’d done that gig, I would have just got a bunch of raised eyebrows.” It’s those kinds of raised eyebrows which, today, Lynks Afrikka tries to eliminate in the gig space; a refutation of hyper-cool, stiflingly-serious events. Elliot puts it well: “by no fault of anyone there, you can sometimes go to gigs in the DIY art scene, and it can feel like everyone knows each other, everyone’s very cool, and everyone’s holding their cards quite close to their chest.” And then comes Lynks. “You get on stage, and you act so ridiculously stupid that everyone’s now got a common comparison,” Elliot laughs. “The bar of stupidness is just raised so high!” In short, who gives a toss if you fumble your words, or spill a bit of your drink? Lynks doesn’t. After all, Lynks and the Gels are on stage, mashing together music, theatre and

comedy, while Lynks is “covered in sweat, wearing a bike helmet with pigtails coming out of it.” Elliot wants people to let loose, to dance, to “properly wiggle.” Does Elliot worry that, with the act’s increasing popularity, Lynks Afrikka gigs will become the very sort of environment he’s trying to avoid? “I don’t think so,” Elliot says. “I really hope not! Anyone that’s not up for acting like an idiot probably won’t like Lynks Afrikka very much. And I’m fine with that,” he laughs. “I hope no one would come to a Lynks Afrikka gig to stand at the back and not smile.” In two short years, Lynks Afrikka has developed rapidly. Lest we forget: the project began in a crumbly basement as a bit of a laugh. Has this quick ascent caused Elliot any challenges? “I always try to be really positive about it,” he sighs. “I think when there were no stakes to it, I maybe came up with some of the more creative stuff.” Indeed, there are stakes to it. Lynks’ climb has come at a tricky time: Elliot’s recently graduated. And while peers hoist themselves up the career ladder, Elliot is trying to navigate the

world within which Lynks Afrikka sits - alone. “It’s trying to get a business mind on, which takes all the fun out of it,” Elliot explains. “How do I take this up a step? How do I get a label interested in me? How do I try and find a manager? It’s still just me just doing it on my own - in a room. It’s quite a lot.” The timing of it all, Elliot says, “puts an immense amount of pressure” on the project. “On the bright side,” he resolves, “I’m doing something that I really fucking love.” He does - and that was clear to see earlier this year, at Lynks’ headline performance at The Fleece: “I’ve never had a lighting person before – this is AMAZING!” Lynks announced, after bursting onstage. When we speak, Lynks’ latest single is ‘I Don’t Know What I Want,’ released on New Year’s Day. So, would it be stupid to ask Elliot what he actually might want out of 2020? Apparently not. “I just want to be able to keep doing it, to be honest,” Elliot responds in earnest. “I think all these things have an expiration date, and I just hope that mine isn’t soon.”

Spring 2020





collective of interdisciplinary creatives, Viridian Ensemble offer an intriguing blend of free improvisation and experimental film. To date, they’ve performed at St George’s and more recently, as part of Young Echo’s two-day residency at London’s Café OTO. To learn more about the group’s formation, inspirations and approach to performance, LOUD meets Viridian percussionist Esme Betamax and Laura Philips, the ensemble’s visual and waterphone artist, to find out more.

In part, Viridian is a mode of female empowerment and collaboration. They explore different narratives within the women’s liberation movement, and during live performances, work to create a collective voice, thus shunning individualism. Combining image, voice, cello and double bass, the group challenge the image of a sole, female lead. Instead, their live performance is more fluid and synergistic. “Even though I’m down as the percussionist, I’m not the only one who does percussion,” says Esme. “Caitlin can be very percussive on the double bass.”

Though the collective has taken part in some impressive events, Viridian hasn’t been around for long. Founded by Laura in 2017, alongside vocalist Dali de Saint Paul, cellist Liz Muir and double bassist Caitlin Alais Callahan (the group’s current iteration also includes flautist Tina Hitchens), Viridian aims to challenge and reimagine tropes of femininity through improvised sound and image, both digital and analogue. The group’s formation, Laura tells me, was prompted by an act of misogyny experienced by a founding member.

“So, because of all the layers, quite often people come up afterwards and say: I don’t know what I was hearing. There was a bit – and I don’t know who was making that sound! And I love that. We’re speaking with one voice. It’s not like we’re taking it in turns to do solos, say.”

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Viridian Ensemble is inspired by the vanguards of feminist free improvisation, such as the Feminist Improvising Group (FIG); an avant-garde ensemble formed in 1970s London to challenge the

male-dominated improvisation community. However, Laura says Viridian’s performances are less transgressive than that of FIG. Instead, the ensemble explores narratives of femininity with more subtlety. “[FIG] would sometimes have performances with a lot of nakedness and goading the audience,” Laura explains, “as well as quite out-there free improv. But for us…” Esme laughs: “I’m yet to get naked - is that what you’re saying?” Take Laura’s eerie use of 16mm expanded film and digital projection as an example of this subtly: in conventional Hollywood cinema, she explains, women are depicted as objects of desire and sexuality. “We’re the antithesis of that,” she says. “You might get a part of a body, but you might not necessarily know which gender that body is.” Laura also mentions her subtle use of colour: it references the role of the colourist, one of the first professions in the film industry open to women. In other ways, FIG and Viridian are rather similar. Both are comprised of individuals from different backgrounds, with divergent

Spring 2020




“We’re all creative in more ways than just being musicians, but being in a band with highly trained musicians makes me up my game. It’s exciting.” Esme Betamax experiences of music-making and varying levels of musicianship. Like FIG’s founder, Maggie Nicols, Viridian view these differences as a strength, due to the polyphonic and serendipitous musical effects they can create. Whilst Caitlin, Liz and Tina are classically-trained musicians, Laura, Esme and Dali are self-taught. “Me, Esme and Dali are very punk,” says Laura. Esme, for example, is also part of Bristol punk band The Perverts. “We’re all creative in more ways than just being musicians,” adds Esme, “but being in a band with highly trained musicians makes me up my game. It’s exciting.” A project that exists primarily in the live space (though, Viridian have released an EP, Trotula, on Bandcamp) the group are looking forward to their upcoming performance at the contemporary music festival, Bristol New Music. But what can we expect from a Viridian gig? “People have often said that it’s quite disconcerting and disquieting, watching our performances – they’re often phantasmagorical, or there’s elements of horror,” explains Laura. Enveloping and multifaceted, Viridian’s performances are certainly idiosyncratic, in that they combine the two niches of experimental film and music. And whilst the pair acknowledge the project is indeed leftfield, they say at its core, a Viridian performance is an immersive event. “You can let it wash over you, and you don’t have to get all the references,” says Laura. “It’s more how you would approach poetry. You can just absorb it, and go with it.” I ask how they might


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explain the project to a newcomer, and Esme happily obliges: “I always talk about the classically-trained musicians, and then I say: and there’s the three of us, who, like, fuck their shit up!” I’m sold – who wouldn’t be? Viridian Ensemble form part of a wider improvisation community in Bristol. Vocalist Dali, for instance, is a prolific collaborator and runs monthly electro-acoustic improv night, The Sound Cupboard, at The Crofters Rights. But another critical space for the community, and Viridian, was the now-defunct Brunswick Club, which closed last year. A community arts venue, the Brunswick provided Viridian with a place to rehearse, gig and meet other creatives. It’s also where Trotula was recorded. Both Laura and Esme speak longingly of the community and collaboration fostered by the Brunswick. If anything, it’s clear that Viridian truly embody the community which first united them; throughout our interview, Laura and Esme mention the discussion, learning and collaboration that takes place within the ensemble. “Women are set up to compete,” Esme says of current political and media depictions of feminism. “They must be competing for a job, or a man, or for something. And we’re putting a challenge out there, saying: no, we all support each other and we all work together. We lift each other up. That comes through in the way we are with each other, and through our music as well.” Laura agrees: “it’s an act of solidarity.”



good news story about a grassroots music venue in Bristol can feel like a rarity, but late last year, we got one. In December, The Louisiana announced that they had been awarded a Project Grant by Arts Council England (ACE). A welcome departure from the grim but familiar trend of venues under threat, the grant is a ringfenced subsidy aimed at supporting grassroots music venues which are ‘vital to England’s music ecology’. The Louisiana is one of the first in a wave of UK venues (and the only one in Bristol) to receive support from ACE’s recently-launched Supporting Grassroots Live Music Fund. Laure Noverraz, a key member of The Louisiana team (their artist booker), and a part-time freelance lighting engineer, discusses what this grant means for the venue.

Congratulations on the grant, Lor! Are there any big changes in store for The Louisiana? It’s amazing news! We’ve always had reliable gear but this means we can level up with more versatile equipment. Touring bands now have better quality gear and bigger demands, so it’s a great relief to know that we can now provide anything they need. We’ll be setting up a new PA and some new lights. Since 2017, we’ve been working on expanding The Louisiana so that we’re not only being labelled as a ‘Music Venue’. We’re working on increasing the bar trade, opening a pop-up restaurant, and creating recording facilities for our friends. Thanks to the brand new PA system, a little studio/production room is definitely in the back of our minds now. Does this grant help to emphasise The Louisiana’s cultural significance as a Bristol landmark? It’s a great recognition! In 33 years of running The Louisiana, the Schillace Family has never received any funds or financial help, so it’s fantastic news for us. We want everybody in Bristol


The Louisiana to feel welcome at ours. How does the backing of groups like the Music Venue Trust help in securing vital funding like this? The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has been really helpful in supporting us to craft the application form. There’s a lot of lingo we had to learn for that, and thanks to MVT and a friend of ours (who’s the queen of admin), we managed to submit an application which paid off! Would you like to see local bodies like Bristol City Council do more to support grassroots music venues rather than relying on national bodies? Yes, absolutely. It’s extremely important for cities to recognise their music venues as a place of culture and exchange for everyone. But there’s always a long way to go. The support could range from big dreams like financial and law supports, to smaller steps like regular check-ins, and asking how the Council can help. There aren’t many grassroots venues left in Bristol, and yet they’re described as ‘roots’. Cut the roots and nothing will grow.

Spring 2020



Trinity Centre In an unexpected but welcome change from our all-toocommon ‘*insert venue name here* is Under Threat’ pieces, we delve into the history and cultural significance of one of Bristol’s best-loved live venues


he plan for this article, before I sat down with anyone from Trinity Centre, was to write a detailed piece on nearby property developments putting the venue under threat of potential closure. The neighbouring Trinity Road Police Station has been bought, with flats due to be built in its place, potentially leaving the Trinity Centre open to noise complaints. Naturally, we assumed the worst and prepared to put together yet another call to arms to protect a key Bristol venue. Curiously, though, the conversations between the Trinity Centre team, Bristol City Council and prospective


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developers have, so far at least, been largely positive. Venue Manager Jamell Ackford tells me that, since planning started in early 2018, all parties have been cooperating. The signs, for now, are good. “They’ve been doing sound checks on top of the police station, as well as inside the venue. They’re doing what they need to do, which is great,” he says. Nothing to see here, then. Suddenly, my prepared notes and questions about development time frames, venue protection and how to get behind the Trinity Centre are useless. There’s no point asking a venue manager how the public can save the venue if the venue doesn’t need

“Every venue has its place, but the Trinity Centre’s identity is more than just a music venue. It’s a space that is, essentially, part of a wider Bristol story. That character is hard to replicate” saving from anything. Instead, with the pressure off, I spend the next hour with Jamell and Edson Burton, Trinity’s Heritage & Engagement Coordinator, discussing the history of one of the city’s most unique events spaces. The story of the Trinity Centre is one of character, heritage and deep cultural significance. Since becoming a deconsecrated church in the late 70s, the venue has become a vital hub for music in Bristol as well as a space for the local community. From the get-go, when the building was taken over in 1977, the Trinity Centre was about skills development for young people in the area. But, under the management of promoter Roy de Freitas and the African-Caribbean Community Association, it became much more than that. Edson describes Trinity as an incubator, a facilitator of emergent youth movements, from its early days during the birth of punk and reggae to present day interpretations of jazz and afrobeat. “In the 70s and 80s you’ve got these movements taking off that haven’t got a base in the city centre. Then, you get all the punk-reggae mashups like ska and two-tone, classic Bristol bands like Black Roots and Talisman, and acts like Maxi Priest and Benjamin Zephaniah.” All of the above found a home at the Trinity Centre during a crucial part of their respective

infancies, when other venues simply wouldn’t give them the time of day. After a brief closure and re-opening in 1992, the Trinity Centre was right in amongst the emergence of dance music in Bristol. The 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order act then forced the free party scene indoors, and Trinity was, again, an indispensable hub as electronic music started to splinter into the huge spectrum of genres we know today. Keeping the pace with Bristol’s ever-changing musical landscape is something that the Trinity Centre team still strive to do. The Young Echo collective launched their first album at the venue in 2018, the inaugural Afrofest was a resounding success last summer, and Jamell explains that they’re totally committed to representing the very best the city has to offer. “We’ve got such a wide range of artists here,” he says, “and Trinity is still such an important nurturing space for emergent sounds.” The Trinity Centre’s charm is soaked into its almost-200-yearold structure, its bespoke wooden dancefloor and striking stained-glass windows. It does, of course, make it easier to attract artists when you’re running one of Bristol’s most distinctive venues. “Trinity has that sense of freedom, that extra energy

Performers at Trinity Centre over the years, including Eek-A-Mouse, Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav, poet Benjamin Zephaniah and the Bristol Reggae Orchestra

Spring 2020


and a huge character, which I think suits some forms of music and some genres really well,” Edson tells me.

create here’, you might think. Or ‘how is this band going to make the most of the space?’

“Benjamin Zephaniah here is quite an iconic experience, for example. You’ve got an established performer who grew up in these venues, returning and playing to a packed house and a real mix of people. If you think about roots music as spiritual music, it doesn’t get much more suitable than a church.”

It’s a rare feeling to be interested, or even bothered, about where your money’s going when you buy a ticket. But, when you buy a Trinity ticket, you know you’re supporting something more than just the music. “You’re buying into the moral ethos of a social enterprise,” as Edson puts it. “Every venue has its place,” he continues, “but the Trinity Centre’s identity is more than just a music venue. It’s a space that is, essentially, part of a wider Bristol story. That character is hard to replicate.”

As we get into more detail about Trinity’s appeal, I’m struck by the way Edson and Jamell are able to articulate what it really means to them personally, to the local community and to Bristol as a whole. The space, and the atmosphere within it when everything falls into place, make for truly one-of-a-kind live experiences. “Because of the eclectic nature of people who come here, the pricing and where it’s situated, there’s a good vibe here. When people feel safe they also tend to have a good time, and a band get to enjoy that and feel that energy. There’s an alchemy between artist and audience, and that alchemy, I feel here, is really quite unique.” When you buy a ticket for a Trinity gig, or a party, your connection with the venue starts the second your payment’s gone through. ‘I wonder what this person will be able to


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A drumming session has been in full flow upstairs throughout our interview, there are volunteers working on the garden outside, and the office has been a buzz of activity since my arrival. From the moment you walk through the door, you get the sense that Trinity is a proper nerve centre, of music, arts, history and community. Jamell believes that constant activity rubs off on artists when they come to play, further adding to the venue’s atmosphere. “When an artist comes here we might have a conference upstairs, or drumming going on. They’ll meet the team who have been here all day, see the gardeners outside doing their thing, or young people working in the studio, and think ‘wow, ok, what do you guys do?’”

As for the developments, it remains to be seen how nearby flats will affect the Trinity Centre long-term. Housing developments are, as we know all too well in Bristol, potentially fatal for venues, but the team are optimistic. Current plans suggest that a percentage of the new builds will be affordable homes, and Jamell is keen to stress that Trinity are wholeheartedly in favour of that. But, given that the venue is so historically significant both musically and for the community, the appropriate steps need to be taken to preserve it. “It’s in everyone’s benefit to make sure that, after losing so many community spaces in recent years, the ones that remain survive and are run well,” Edson says. The volatile nature of Bristol’s venue landscape is all too familiar, and it’s clear that the Trinity team are mindful of being prepared for the worst despite the situation they find themselves in. For now, the Trinity Centre doesn’t need saving, but you should make use of it, support it and enjoy it as though it does. Book that gig ticket. Look into their arts programme. Volunteer your time. It is, undoubtedly, one of the most important cultural spaces in Bristol.

This interview was carried out in February 2020. For more news and updates regarding developments affecting the Trinity Centre, head to trinitybristol.org.uk.

5 Love Inn Party Starters with

Ellie Stokes

As the Stokes Croft club’s Booking Coordinator, Ellie Stokes knows how to read the room at The Love Inn better than most. Here she picks out five tracks guaranteed to get things going

Nicola Cruz ‘Ripple’

The Afro-Latin inspired Ripple has a real, raw energy courtesy of percussive 606 drums. Would be right at home in some pre-historic dance!

A juicy, slinky, 80s-informed jam. It’s full of all the fresh vocal samples, guitar and cosmic flare you’d ‘My Dog Has Fleas’ expect from such a hedonistic NYC gang. A good one to push the vibes from the warm up. Kim Ann Foxman

3AM Spares

‘Resist the Beat’

Few tracks have got that peak 3am hands-inthe-air magic, but this is certainly one of them. Proper 90s Belgium style.

Credit 00 ‘Cruisin’

Definitely one for the warm up. Infectious downtempo cosmic grooves from the German artist and Rat Life label boss.

Armando ‘Don’t Take It’ (Thomos Edit)

Classic noughties acid house from the one and only Armando. Played many a time at The Love Inn and it always, always goes off!

Spring 2020


Katy J Pearson Things haven’t always looked so rosy for Westcountry songwriter Katy J Pearson, but with a new-found creative control, she’s thriving


aty J Pearson’s music will wash your worries away. A delicious melange of country, pop, indie and folk, it’s sound that feels effortless like silk on the eardrum. Alluring in its warm, mature optimism; Katy’s small but impressive discovery boasts earnest lyricism, velvety vocals and irresistible pop hooks - tinged with a soft country edge. If the Spring ever needed a soundtrack, it’d better call Katy.

But things haven’t always looked so rosy for the West Country songwriter. It’s no secret, of course: the Heavenly website talks openly of her past dealings - “writing songs for men in suits.” They’re referring to Katy’s former music project, Ardyn: a sparkly indie-pop duo formed with her brother Rob. The pair were signed just after Katy finished college. “So, Ardyn turned out not to be the experience you had hoped for, then?” I hedge. “Oh, yeah. I wouldn’t sugar-coat it,” Katy responds candidly, adding: “it wasn’t negative - there were a lot of positives to it. I learned so much. So, although it was quite a bad experience at points, it definitely gave me the experience I needed to pick


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That in mind, it’s not surprising to learn Katy’s signed to Heavenly Records, or that she will support New Jersey’s Pinegrove on their upcoming UK tour. As well as that, Katy’s just a few months away from the release of her debut album. Indeed, as her manager swanks via text: “it’s all go in KJP world.”

myself back up and go: let’s do this again.” Katy exhibits extraordinary resilience, and later, acknowledges it could’ve been “quite easy” to have thrown in the towel. So, what really happened with Ardyn? After all, Katy and Rob celebrated getting dropped from their label like Nicole Kidman divorcing Tom Cruise; with utter joy – (and unlike Kidman, with a curry.) Later on, when I ask Katy whether she’d had any ‘fuck this’ moments with Ardyn, she recalls an infamous co-writing session. Katy recounts being censored by a co-writer, who, under the direction of her management, had been told to “shut down” Katy if she tried to write “anything leftfield.” “You know, it’s just crazy that you get put in a room as a 19-year old girl, and someone says: you and this man are going to write a song together, and it’s going to be a success,” Katy says, explaining the co-writing process (I, for one, wasn’t familiar). Sometimes, and rather uncomfortably, Katy says, co-writers would also prey on her personal life: an attempt to use negative experience as lyrical inspiration. The result? Tracks about things rather artificial and impersonal - like “nature” and “the trees.” “We just wrote so much shit,” Katy laughs. “When I’m with my friends, I sometimes show them little snippets of the songs I wrote and I’m like: I can’t believe I wrote these! Just because they weren’t me.” Throughout the interview, Katy is utterly infectious; she’s chatty, candid and giggly. It’s an optimism that infects not only her sound but her outlook on Ardyn. It’s an experience for which, Katy stresses, she is extremely grateful. Katy would even recommend co-writing to young musicians but advises setting boundaries. “It was weird, and it was crazy, but I think getting thrown in at the deep end was the best thing, really. I would never want to take it for granted,” Katy adds, “because I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to do it in the first place - it’s something that people dream of.”

“I’m not leaving. I love Bristol so much. If I hadn’t moved here, I don’t think any of this would have worked out” After Ardyn, Katy used the contacts and experience she’d gained to start from scratch. She soon got to work, creating new music in her and Rob’s studio at The Island. A firm middle finger to songs about leaves, Katy is now much more “self-conscious” when it comes to writing; prioritising her opinion rather than that of others. Armed with a new-found creative control and her Heavenly Records’ “family”, Katy’s authenticity has taken centre stage, allowing her to create tracks like ‘Hey You.’ A wholehearted ode to a friend struggling with depression, ‘Hey You’ was written, Katy says, with a Nylon string purchased on a family holiday to Totnes. The song, released in January, arrived complete with a stunning, self-directed video, filmed in the mythical North Wales tourist village, Portmeirion. “People have said so much more about the videos I’m making now than my old stuff because they’re properly me,” Katy says. Filmed during Storm Brendan (“you know that bit where it’s zoomed in on our faces? All of our lips look really blue. We were so cold!”), the video features Bristol band Grandma’s House, alongside Rob, with whom Katy continues to collaborate religiously. It’s also mentioned that Rob is “starting to mix and produce,” and Katy says that she “keeps encouraging” her brother to pursue a music project of his own: “I just think he’s so talented,” she enthuses. Katy moved to Bristol from Stroud in October 2017: “I’m not leaving. I love Bristol so much. If I hadn’t

moved here,” she adds. “I don’t think any of this would have worked out.” After all, it’s here that Katy met her first band, alongside her producer Ali Chant. Chant was responsible for sending Katy’s tracks over to Heavenly, despite Katy feeling like the label “probably wouldn’t like them,” thinking they’d be “too middle of the road.” It all brings us here: just months before the release of Katy’s debut album. “I’m releasing it just before End of the Road,” Katy says, exuding excitement. “I just know I’m going to go on the biggest bender of my life-” we break into laughter. “You won’t see me for a week!” This is more than any old album release, though. For Katy, it’s total catharsis - a new beginning. Some songs on the album, Katy explains, were written while she was in Ardyn. And though her former label didn’t like them, she still had to fight to win them back. “I’m so excited to release this piece of work because I’m excited to move on and see what I write next,” she says, grinning. “I’ve been holding onto these songs for such a long time. There’s just so much more to come.” Agreed: it really is “all go in KJP world.” But what is Katy most excited about? A festival? The release? No, it’s much simpler than that: “I think it’s just starting a new chapter, really. I think I feel so calm and so ready for everything. I’ve had to work hard, but it feels like everything’s going at the right pace - and there’s been no drama. So,” she chuckles, “I’m very happy.”

Spring 2020


Ujima Radio


We catch up with Ujima Radio Director, Presenter and Producer Sandra Green to talk the station’s beginnings, its diverse broadcast schedule and the importance of helping young people


ristol’s radio waves are about as varied as any nowadays, the regular slew of major and commercial stations joined by much-loved local platforms like BcFM, Noods and Ujima Radio. Most, if not all, Bristolians should be familiar with the latter: a vital channel for news, views, music and much more broadcasting twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Ujima operates much like any other radio station. Breakfast shows go out daily, as well as news, travel and weather updates, chart shows, a drive-time show for the way home from work and specialised musical programming in the evenings. On the face of it, you could be forgiven for


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assuming it was no different from its competitors, but you’d be wrong. Now a major part of Bristol’s radio output, Ujima was established in 2009 as a service for the city’s African-Caribbean community. An essential platform for a large section of the local population, Ujima is dedicated to getting relevant information to the right people, providing updates on issues that affect African-Caribbean communities locally, across the UK and around the world. The station’s musical schedule is diverse and engaging, combining contemporary sounds with journeys through a wide range of genres, from reggae to hip-hop and dub, dancehall, afrobeat, soul, soca, jazz

and much more. It’s a volunteer-run organisation, with an extensive roster of presenters and a handful of paid staff supported by a team of supremely dedicated people behind the scenes. A community-based project itself, Ujima proudly supports young people looking to get experience in radio, offering skills development and training in editing, interviewing, presenting, newsgathering, researching, fact-checking, using computer programmes, scheduling and more. Experience in a variety of roles is, of course, vital for young people seeking a career in the media, and Ujima is committed to providing opportunities to people in the area as part of its mission statement.

“There’s something for everyone on Ujima - we’re constantly working on that” “We try to encourage people, who wouldn’t get into big organisations like the BBC, to have media skills,” Sandra Green (pictured, bottom left), Director, Producer and Presenter at Ujima since the station’s early days, tells me. “Whether it’s on radio, social media, researching or whatever else, we try and set people up for a career in media if that’s what they want.” As audience habits change and people’s tastes continue to develop, the Ujima team make every effort to keep ahead of the curve and provide the Bristol public with entertaining radio output. Musicians and notable personalities are regularly invited on the air as guest presenters and DJs, and the station is expected to make its first foray into the world of podcasts later this year. “There’s something for everyone on Ujima, and we’re constantly working on that,” Sandra says. “Having volunteers here and having so many different people with so many different life experiences helps us shape the shows, and there’s always more we can do, and more we can put together.” Those of you familiar with Ujima Radio from journeys to work or rush-hour taxi rides may not give it a second thought, but in spinning the dial to 98FM you’re tuning in to a one-of-a-kind Bristol station, run by a team full of passion for what they’re doing. Ujima remains an integral part of the airwaves, and an irreplaceable platform for thousands of Bristolians.

7 Days on

Ujima Radio Ujima mainstay Sandra Green takes us through seven of her favourite weekly shows on Ujima Radio, from Dancehall with DJ Johnny Bling & DJ Mega, to African cultural affairs and contemporary jazz from established and emerging artists around the world. Monday Late Night Boutique with Benito / 20:00 - 22:00 A selection of weekly features, including ‘Old Skool Album of the Week’, ‘Bristol Nites Out’, Weekly Chart, News Selection, Interviews and Exclusive Releases.

Tuesday Alternative Review / 14:00 - 16:00 Hosted by proper film buffs Coco, Dan, Mike and Gertie, the Alternative Review is Ujima’s weekly bout of critical dissection of the breathtaking world of Celluloid. You really have to hear this one to believe it!

Wednesday Dancehall Generals / 20:00 - 22:00 Box fresh Dancehall and the very best of the genre from DJ Johnny Bling & DJ Mega.

Thursday Rise Up BREAKFAST / 07:00 - 09:00 Produced by Jazz, Rise Up BREAKFAST sees Tommy, Presto, Sula-T and James take listeners through a mix of classic and cutting-edge music, accompanied by exclusive interviews and community news.

Friday Glocal w/Sister Jendayi and Brother Ajani / 12:00 - 14:00 Focuses on African political, cultural and social affairs as you approach the end of the working week.

Saturday Breakfast Show with Sandra Green / 09:00 - 11:00 An engaging breakfast show exploring the roots of black music as well as current and contemporary sounds, featuring classic tracks, artist bios and interviews as well as discussions on film, art and spoken word.

Sunday The Journi with Asher / 14:00 - 16:00 See out the weekend with Asher by exploring the very best in jazz from all corners of the globe.

Spring 2020


Danny Nedelko Heavy Lungs frontman Danny Nedelko talks the band’s latest EP Measure, friendship and ‘forest dogs’


anny moved to Bournemouth (and later, to Bristol) from Kiev, Ukraine, aged fifteen. He’s the inspiration behind IDLES’ pro-immigration anthem, simply titled ‘Danny Nedelko’. When I meet Danny, he checks his phone to find a Facebook memory: it’s been exactly four years since he received his British passport. Danny looks back at his phone smiling. He’d applied for a British passport after losing his Ukrainian one during Russia’s military intervention in 2014. In previous interviews, Danny’s talked openly about his belated introduction to “good” music – it’s something that wasn’t part of his life in Ukraine. While new peers had discovered the likes of Oasis in early adolescence, Danny was playing catch up aged nineteen. “It’s almost like a different form of appreciation - from an outsider’s point of view,” he says. “I guess I have a different love for it, as it wasn’t part of my upbringing.”


It was a process of discovery that was influenced heavily by Danny’s step-dad; a musician in his own right who also used to play in bands. Is he still a big part of Danny’s life? “Yeah, man. He’s wicked. He bought me my first bass – he’s always supported me in this pursuit. And a wicked musician himself.”


Whether or not Danny discovered LCD Soundsystem long after they’d split doesn’t matter – you wouldn’t

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know it now. He’s the frontman of a raw and riotous post-punk band, with fans across the world: Danny mentions Heavy Lungs are off on a Scandinavian tour in April. Ah, so you have a lot of fans over there, then? I ask. “I don’t know! Hopefully! But hey, even if we’re playing to a room of twenty people, it’ll still be great because-” Danny half-jokingly finishes, “Scandinavia – what a place.” If I learned one thing during this interview, it was that Danny loves a bit of playful sarcasm. The upcoming tour is, in part, a celebration of Heavy Lungs’ latest EP, Measure, released in October 2019 via Balley Records. The fivetrack record is much like the Danny I come to know during our interview: sometimes whimsical, but more often, capable of poignant insights. While ‘(A Bit of a) Birthday’ brazenly demands the cash of a birthday card, other tracks grapple with the concepts of self-worth, self-esteem and the interpersonal. The EP, Danny says, was written entirely collaboratively between himself and bandmates George, Ollie and James: “it’s like a fluid machine,” Danny remarks, describing their songwriting process. So, what’s behind Measure? What’s the aim? “I guess It’s a reminder to myself, and hopefully others, to appreciate and to believe in themselves more, realising that they have so much – I don’t want to sound cliché - to give,” Danny explains candidly. “I think if someone listens to it and just feels better about themselves, and it inspires them to do more in whichever area they are interested in, then that’s enough.”

Measure seems to be a rejection of self-doubt. But, self-doubt is something Danny admits to feeling “consistently. All the time, even now.” So, how does he counteract it? “Listen to the EP, Measure,” he says in an infomercial-style voice, before trundling off into a mumble. “No, I’m joking,” he resolves. “How do I counteract it? I don’t know.” In June, it’ll be three years since Heavy Lungs performed their first gig; an intimate affair at The Crofters

“Because I moved changed friendship groups, changed jobs, changed houses – I never had a constant, specific circle” Rights. Last November, the band played a sold-out show aboard Thekla. It’s an impressive trajectory, in which IDLES have no doubt played a part. They’ve been loyal supporters (and close friends) of Heavy Lungs since the beginning. The friendship is no secret, either; last summer, IDLES frontman Joe Talbot brought Danny on stage at The Downs festival for his self-titled song, clutching him throughout. Describing the BRITnominated band as a key source of inspiration, Danny recalls watching IDLES’ recent gig at London’s Alexandra Palace: “watching them, every time, just pushes the rest of the band and me to be better.” And Talbot? “He has such confidence, and gravitas and control about him – and ferociousness and fragility – all at the same time.” In three years, Heavy Lungs have curated a thrilling selection of raucous, post-punk noise; toured with IDLES and METZ, and performed at countless festivals. However, the biggest change the band has undergone appears to be much more personal. In the beginning, Danny was the group’s only common denominator. He’d known Ollie the longest, then George, and met James at work; he united the three in their first band practice, where the group hit it off. Since, Danny says, “great friendships have formed.”

“It’s been great learning about those guys,” Danny says with sincerity. “I love them; they’re amazing friends and incredible musicians. Three years in, I’m still learning great things about them.” He pauses. “Obviously, the dream is to form a band with your best mates – and because I moved - changed friendship groups, changed jobs, changed houses – I never had a constant, specific circle. But funnily enough,” Danny continues, “being in this band has actually made up my group of best friends. So, something that I always wanted came true with this band. I’m really grateful for that; for them and for the timings.” Soon enough, Danny returns to his old tricks, pushing the deep stuff to one side. When I ask if there’s anywhere in Bristol he gains inspiration, Danny mentions a recent walk in Ashton Court with George. “Ah, did you see any deers?” I enquire, probably foolishly. “Ah, yes.” Danny responds. “We did see – forest dogs – as they’re known.” Right. “The new album is gonna be written right in the forest of Ashton Court, next to the forest dogs,” he jokes. I cackle back, and finish, asking: so, can we expect any new music soon? “I kinda hope so. We’re working on stuff,” Danny replies. “I can’t say much at the moment. Forest dogs!”

Spring 2020


Banoffee Pies Records


Label boss Ell Weston has been around the block in Bristol, running parties and releasing a steady string of well-received records for the best part of seven years. Now preparing to move on, we sit down to talk local influences, favourite projects and the future of Banoffee Pies


f you’re familiar with Bristol music, chances are you’ve seen – or heard – Ell Weston (aka DJ Autumn) dropping infectious grooves across eager crowds, surrounded by wide smiles and a flurry of moving feet. The pair have been a staple of the city’s party scene since 2013, having gone from hosting 100-cap parties in their early days to running an internationally renowned label from a Bristol HQ. But, as I catch up with Ell on an overcast afternoon in Stokes Croft, I’m met with the news that he’ll be moving on in a few months’ time.


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Years after getting Banoffee Pies off the ground and developing it into the all-encompassing imprint it is today, a new start in Berlin beckons. “I feel like if I don’t move now, it’ll just get harder and harder,” he says, explaining the motivation for the move. “We’re gonna jump before everything goes full Brexit.” Leaving Bristol behind won’t be easy, though, and Ell clearly has an affinity for the city that helped him cultivate his genre-spanning label. From early releases that featured a slew of Bristol locals as well Christian Jay, Ruf Dug and Flo Filz, Banoffee Pies have gone on to roll out a collection

of sub-labels, featuring everything from no-nonsense party tracks to contemporary jazz, hip-hop and minimal techno. The plan for Banoffee Pies was, according to Ell, to create a platform with a wide scope. He tells me he’s got a lot of admiration for labels that stick to a particular sound, but always wanted to keep things broad on his own project. “I didn’t really like the idea of having to pass up opportunities to work with people because ‘I only do techno’ or ‘I’m only into house-y stuff’,” he says. “It’s good to be a bit different and put out different kinds of records in one place.” A quick look at the Banoffee Pies discography will show you they’ve done just that, combining club-ready records from the likes of Adam Strömstedt and Interplanetary Criminal with their Beats hip-hop series and albums from Mark Nicholas, Ishmael Ensemble and How Du. Having spent so many years operating out of Bristol and working alongside local artists, Banoffee Pies have naturally formed friendships with other people and crews involved in the city’s music scene. “There’s so much talent and so many nice people here that are doing great things, so we’ve always been really keen to support people,” Ell says, proudly

adding that you’ll find at least one Bristol artist on almost every record Banoffee Pies has released. It’s not just the artists that Ell has been inspired by over the years, either. He speaks passionately while explaining that the city itself has been a huge influence on his label, home to what he describes as a totally unique atmosphere that gives people space to do their own thing. “I think people often try to look for a specific thing that influences you, but the city for me is more of a feeling. Rather than come here and be inspired by this person or that person, it’s the support and the freedom that makes you feel like you can do what you want creatively.” With a move on the horizon, it’s not clear what the distant future holds for Ell and Banoffee Pies itself. Plans for 2020, at least, are more clear-cut, with the next seven records “lined up and ready to go”. Upcoming projects, including a Black Label VA featuring Alec Falconer, an album from Soulstate Jazz and a 12” from New Yorker Tristan Arp, will take Banoffee Pies over the 50-release mark. Ell, an increasingly in-demand DJ in his own right, also has his sights set on a busy summer of parties, not least the second edition of his festival, Headroom, in Wales in late July. Inspired by community-

driven events like Freerotation, Ell describes Headroom as an intimate affair, with just 250 tickets available and an emphasis on openness and inclusivity. “It’s about making people feel safe, comfortable and a part of something, and creating that special atmosphere,” he says. Both the lineup and ticket availability are split, slightly in favour of nonmales to males, to ensure proper representation across the board. “You see so many male-heavy lineups around, and you think ‘if you just spent that little bit of time digging, you’d end up with such a better balance of people and artists.’” Banoffee Pies fans can rest easy in the knowledge that Ell’s relocation won’t hinder the label’s output, and will likely open doors to new collaborations with a new crop of artists. “It’ll be a big switch and we’ll be back in at the deep end,” he admits, but this is nothing new for a label that’s pretty much done it all in the last few years in Bristol. Banoffee Pies remains one of the best-loved imprints to come out of the city in a long time.

Ticket registration for Headroom Festival 2020 (31 Jul - 2 Aug) is open now at www.headroom.dance


Ell ’s Top 5 Banoffee Pies Releases on page 49

Spring 2020


Bristol Promoters: Ones to Watch Despite ever-present challenges facing just about everyone involved in the Bristol music scene, the city is still a proud home to some of the UK’s best parties. Check out our rundown of six promoters to keep an eye on in 2020

Illegal Data What is Illegal Data up to right now? We’re currently super LIT UP n BUSY AF planning our next run of nights and releases for 2020! Honestly so excited about the months ahead and all the amazing people we’re gonna work with! How did Illegal Data get started and what’s been the highlight so far? Myself (NE$$) and Harry (Mun Sing) talked for ages about creating a weird pop music night that would be welcoming, diverse and, most of all, fun. I think pop music appeals to us as the term is so loose, but generally what it represents is accessibility & freedom of expression that’s what we wanted Illegal Data to personify. What makes an Illegal Data party unique? There aren’t really any expectations beyond fun and weirdness at Illegal Data, as the lineups are so diverse and ethereal in concept. You could see some huge producer or DJ perform with a bedroom producer and they’re operating on the same level without boundaries or distinction. What do you look for in a space for a party? I think the vibe of the space is most important for us, along with the venue operating ethically & respectfully towards our crowd, the artists and ourselves. Of course, sound is also a factor, but we know a good network of sound systems too so they can always reinforce us!


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Glances What have you got in the pipeline for Glances in 2020? At the moment we’re just in the process of writing! We’re sitting on a few bits of unreleased material that have been doing the rounds, and we’ll be making our first foray into throwing parties later this year. What can we expect from the new material? Describe it in three words. Deep, trippy, bassy. When is the expected release date? Nothing’s confirmed just yet! Wish we could say more, but it’s all still being finalised. We’re really excited for it all. Minus the new music, what are you most excited for in 2020? Timedance was a big one for us; it was great to have it back in Bristol for a one night only special. Livity Love Inn Thursdays are a bit of a rite of passage at this point, a good excuse to drink a few too many Birra Moretti’s and chat rubbish in the smokers. Which Bristol parties should we be attending in 2020? Obviously we love the Better Days gang, they’ve spent more than enough time on dancefloors so they know exactly what’s up.

Peachin’ What is Peachin’ and how did you start it up? Peachin’ was formed in the summer of 2018. I (Lexxi) had a deep love for the dub scene but equally was craving something new, and recognised that R&B and hip-hop nights rarely existed outside of clubs like SWX and Przym. I set up a meeting with Ella-Sian and Amy (SafeSoul) to explore starting a new night, and we instantly clicked. Ella-Sian had just finished the Mix Nights course and I wanted to start a new night, so the timing worked quite well! And what did you set out to do with Peachin’?

Cause When did Cause get started and why? It was an idea that we floated around for a while. Promoting events can become so money-orientated, and people forget that events of this nature are about music and art rather than margins and profits. We decided to focus on things beyond profits, and support causes that really matter through our events. What sets a Cause party apart in Bristol? With our brand focused on the charity aspect, it leaves us a lot of creative freedom to play around with event styles, genres and such. We’ve had a funk & soul night with live saxophonists as well as an old skool garage/ dubstep night with live MCs, and everything in between. The styles really vary, and it makes for some really special nights.

Peachin’ is centred around feel-good music, creating safe spaces for womxn to have fun in and keeping the vibe light and fresh with a mix of new and old-school music.

And what will the charitable aspect of your parties look like this year?

What can people expect from a Peachin’ party if they haven’t been to one before?

We’re working more closely with the charities we’ve supported thus far to make our events that much more special and personal. It’s all about supporting people who relate to the Causes we aim to raise awareness of.

Like the ultimate mix of R&B 90s bangers, a mix of dancehall, dance anthems, afrobeats, funky, garage all old and new. Honestly, it’s one of those nights where you’re about to go to the toilet then another banger comes on, and you need to carry on dancing. Just a super fun space for everyone. And what’s been the best party so far? It would have to be our Birthday boat party in August. Basically 3 hours of great tunes, on a moving boat down the river in the sun - can’t get much better right? What have you got planned for 2020? We’ve secured our own radio show at SWU.FM every month (super gasmode!). We just got booked for LSTD and we’re also doing an all-day takeover at a Rum festival in Newbury. We’ll be be back at The Plough on July 31st for another summer party, and keep your eyes peeled for our 2020 boat party too!

Can you pick out three of your favourite Bristol venues? Honestly, we’re blessed in Bristol to have some truly excellent venues. If I had to pick 3, it would have to be The Love Inn, Old Crown Courts and Blue Mountain. And what are your thoughts on the Bristol music scene right now? The Bristol scene is buzzing as ever musically and on the production side, but I sense that the promotion/events side are struggling more now than they have in recent years. Bristol is surviving because of the backbone of culture entrenched in the arts - particularly music. We have a lot of respect for Headfirst and their efforts to raise awareness for the issues they really care about, and it’s great to see Blue Mountain may be around for longer than we had thought.

Spring 2020


Rotations What is Rotations up to right now?

What is Shellingz and how did you get started?

At the moment we’re planning our next run of parties and Social events, so expect to see more of us over the next few months. We also have a very special secret guest mix lined up for the next instalment of our mix series…

We started Shellingz at the beginning of summer 2019. I (J Oh Zee) created the brand to provide a platform that allowed 140BPM Artists to showcase their talents and skills. After a successful start with a number of smaller shows, I felt it was time to start making the shows bigger, and alongside KLOC everything just blossomed into what it is now - a brand for the people, by the people.

What have you got in the pipeline for Rotations in 2020? Our Rotations Social events have been attracting a lot of interest - we’re thinking about doing more with that concept. A space for producers/artists to share their music and network with each other is something we’ve realised people are hungry for. When did Rotations get up and running and what’s been the highlight so far? We’re still figuring out our role in the Bristol scene, but a highlight for me would definitely be our launch back in June. We managed to worm our way into a Red Bull article about Bristol D&B which was pretty cool, we’re in the company of some huge names so it was truly humbling to be a part of that. Which venues are you into in Bristol right now? Asylum is where we hold our club events - we really love the vibe down there. There are loads of cosy arches, nooks and crannies to hang out in with a compact dance floor. We love intimate spaces for our parties - it’s a real family vibe! Our Rotations Social events are all held at To The Moon in Old Market, which we adore. Chris and Gemma are really supportive - it’s a great little spot that slips under a lot of people’s radar. Well worth checking out. Who else are you excited about in Bristol at the moment? Sofa Sound are top of their game and ruling the Bristol underground, not to mention offering the best merch in D&B. Redacted, Shotgun Sessions, High Rise, Collective and all the other D&B promoters keeping the scene healthy deserve a big, big shout!



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What are your plans for the brand? As a DJ I’ve been researching and learning more about different genres, styles and artists that I’d really love to incorporate into Shellingz. I’m hoping to do an event where we go from 130BPM all the way through to 180, really keep the audience engaged and have something for everyone. What do you think sets Shellingz apart from other parties in Bristol? I think what sets us apart is that we’re really interactive with our audience. We’re always open to views and opinions during the planning stage, and even during the events we encourage artists to come and jump on the mic. We’re all about inclusivity and wanting people to feel as though they’re a part of the family. What’s your favourite Bristol venue right now? Asylum will always have a piece of my heart as it’s the first venue I ever booked, and we held multiple shows there in 2019. It’s the perfect size and all underground so there’s no phone signal, so you don’t see people on Instagram during a party. It’s very ‘Jammer’s basement vibes’ to me and I think that why I love it so much. What are your thoughts on the Bristol music scene right now? I think for me, the only thing that Bristol is lacking is promoters having more accessibility to venues. I feel that owners should be more open to allowing up and coming bands and parties to use their spaces, to give people a chance to utilise the venues that we have left, as so many are closing.

Performing Day & Night Meeting the people protecting the city’s night owls: Bristol’s Street Pastors It’s Saturday night, and Helen is heading into Bristol city centre; her rucksack filled with flip flops, lollipops, space blankets, bottled water and sick bags. “You never know what kind of night it’s going to be,” she says. Helen is co-Chair of Bristol Street Pastors, a team of trained volunteers offering care and support around the city centre every Saturday night, partially funded by the Bristol City Centre Business Improvement District (BID). “There’s usually between three and six of us out together, giving practical help like the water and flip flops or picking up glass, but also talking to people and offering emotional support. It’s so rewarding,” Helen explains. “I’ll go on doing it as long as my legs will let me.” Street Pastors are just one of the City Centre BID’s funded measures helping to make Bristol safer at night. On their route around the city, the pastors usually encounter Safeguarding Marshal Chris and his colleague, who patrol the streets between midnight and 5 am on Friday and Saturday nights. The City Centre BID funds their role, primarily to help those who have become vulnerable

during a night out but also to talk to local businesses, defuse tension and assist the police where they can. “The pastors and marshals are a reassuring and helpful overnight presence,” says Keith Rundle, Operations Director for the BID. “We’re really proud of what they’re doing to make Bristol safer and more welcoming after dark.” The City Centre BID has also produced and promoted clear guidance on taxi safety, helping people get home safely after a night out as well as supporting the licensed taxi drivers that operate within the city. All of this has directly contributed to Bristol retaining its Purple Flag award; an international recognition for a diverse, safe and vibrant nightlife. Purple Flag assesses qualities such as cleanliness, safety, diversity, accessibility, and partnership working, so holding Purple Flag status means extra reassurance for those planning a night out in the city. When the night is over, the next phase of vital City Centre BID work begins - a deep clean. At 5.30 am,

Dave powers up the Max Vac, thoroughly cleansing dirty doorways in the city centre from Thursday to Monday, covering the busy weekend period when it’s most needed. He’s part of a four-strong team funded by BID, in partnership with Bristol Waste, who cover the entire BID area seven days a week, providing enhanced street cleaning over and above that conducted by the city council. Their fleet of specialist vehicles includes a Boschung for scrubbing pavements and an eye-catching milk float to jet wash unwanted graffiti. “We work round-the-clock to make Bristol cleaner, safer, more attractive and welcoming. That activity benefits everyone,” says Keith. “We’re investing for a better city centre, where businesses thrive, and everyone enjoys spending time, day and night.”

www. bristolcitycentrebid.co.uk @briscentrebid

Spring 2020



Wonky post-punk and loads of fun: a natter with Slagheap


he band name was a toss-up, between Slagheap and Solar Anus. Catherine, the band’s bassist, claims she came up with the winning title, but Sadie, the group’s guitarist and synth player, isn’t sure. “There’s another Slagheap,” adds Lydia, the band’s other guitarist, “and their song goes: Slagheap stands for fun and friends. And I agree with that.” I’d agree with that, too. When I meet with Slagheap; comprised of


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Catherine, Sadie, Lydia and drummer, Heidi, sparks fly within the group. Before our interview begins, the four spend time catching up; chatting and joking. They’re so at ease with each other – and they’re hilarious too. It’s lovely to be part of it, even just for an hour. “So, how did you all meet?” I interject. “We shared parents,” says Lydia, gesturing towards her older sister, Catherine. “Still do,” before a short discussion about Catherine having to clean up Lydia’s home birth ensues.

Years later, Catherine met Heidi, an amateur drummer, during a “latenight hospitality hangout.” Then, Catherine met Sadie, and soon, the pair found a love of gigs: “we were gig fiends,” Catherine recalls. “We would be really annoying and loud.” It all led to one night at the pub, where Catherine introduced Sadie and Heidi. The three got talking about Sadie and Catherine’s love of gigs, and Heidi mentioned she’d been playing in a covers band, just for fun. It’s when Heidi, who admits she can

be “a bit impulsive”, took a chance: “so, I was like: I’m just going to book us a [practice] room. And even if it’s just for a laugh, we’ll just go, make some noise and see what happens.” Lydia was “bullied” into joining the heap at the practice room. “We were just shouting about boobs and stuff in the first one,” Heidi recalls. “But I just had a feeling we’d got good chemistry together.” That was two years ago. In the time since, Lydia, Catherine and Heidi have turned little to no experience with their instruments (Sadie is a trained musician) into an eight-track, selftitled album, released in November last year. Catherine, in particular, learned how to play the bass from scratch. “You wouldn’t guess that,” I tell them. Recently, the group recorded a triumphant live session at London’s Maida Vale Studios for BBC Introducing in the West. In response, they seem coy, before Sadie explains: “we get a bit shy, but we’ve come such a long way as a band. We really like the sound of that DIY, kind of raw, wonky stuff – that’s the kind of thing we’re going for.” “Yeah,” Lydia jokes, “people have said to us from the beginning: don’t get too good.” It’s a progression that has been extremely organic; accidental, even. After Heidi drunkenly asked a promoter to put Slagheap on a lineup (“he was understandably a bit lukewarm”), the group got their first gig - inside a primary school. And since, the bookings have kept coming: they’ve just finished a UK tour with Geneva’s Massicot, and this summer, Slagheap will play their first festival slots. “Although creative practice, being together and hanging out is the most important thing,” Heidi explains, “we are starting to take ourselves and the whole thing a bit more seriously because why not? We’ve had some amazing opportunities and feel really lucky to be doing stuff.” At its root, Slagheap isn’t about external validation (though it “has helped,” says Lydia); it’s about friends uniting to laugh, make noise and express themselves. “Everything

“I think we have a natural aversion to taking ourselves too seriously” Heidi, Slagheap else is the sideshow,” says Catherine. “We have this magical space between the four of us,” Lydia expands, “where we are creative, we make each other laugh, and we probably feel safer with each other than most other people in our lives. That’s what we love about it.” Slagheap’s music is funny, raucous and informal; like any group of mates should be. Take ‘Catherine’s Pranging Out’, a “milestone” for the group, as their first-ever song. The track was inspired by a night out gone wrong, in which Sadie, Lydia and Catherine unknowingly attended a sex party on acid. “You just need the perfect environment and that’s the final say on the matter,” Catherine says, tying up a discussion about that infamous night. “If there are unknown elements, you’re just gonna fucking freak out. And then go down a prang hole for the rest of your trip – which is what I did-” the group burst out laughing. Or, take ‘Horsey Girl’, an ode to people like Sadie, who had a “prepubescent obsession” with horses. “I’d go to the library every week and read all the horse books available,” Sadie admits, over cackles. “Usually, a song idea comes from taking the piss out of someone and running with it,” Catherine resolves. “I think we have a natural aversion to taking ourselves too seriously,” adds Heidi. “Also, we want to talk about important things but not in a super worthy, teary, white woman sort of way.” It’s an important point to make. Slagheap isn’t just about taking the

piss out of each other – their music springs from real-life irritations and a shared need for catharsis: “we genuinely come to practice confused or confronted by certain experiences or feelings we’ve got, and we work through that confusion together,” Sadie explains. “And I think a lot of our song lyrics show that confusion, like ‘Do I Do I’, which stems from a conversation about what kind of life you want to have.” ‘Power Shower’, too, is a mix of humour and seriousness. Borne from a group joke about repeating the phrase in Sadie’s mum’s Northern Irish accent, the track also relates to autonomy, choice and masturbation. And ‘Love Island’ - a song about old and new relationships – “but then,” Lydia says, “we called it Love Island.” It’s discussion of real struggle without pretension or superiority - it’s just fun. It’s a playfulness Slagheap bring to the live space, too - “an antinode” to the often oppressively cool atmosphere of gigs. “I think it’d be nice to create some space for people to just hang loose and not worry too much about whether they look great or who’s going to ask them what great record they’re listening to,” Heidi explains. “Just, if you like Eiffel 65, live that truth, babe! You know?” And while the group begin work on album number two, Catherine shares their plans to start promoting, returning the favour to those who have shown Slagheap kindness so far: “it’s not enough, I think, for any of us to just be a band in a place. We want to feel like we have cool relationships, and bring up people around us.”

Spring 2020




Catching up with Chikaya: ahead of her first-ever appearance at Loves Saves the Day in September, the Bristolbased vocalist chats inspiration and musical development


LOUD Magazine

“If you have a genreless style then it’s like you have no limits on what you can do and where you can go”


first interviewed Chikaya two years ago, when she performed live on Noods Radio for International Women’s Day. As before, she’s friendly, laidback and takes the time to catch up before our interview begins; we talk (and laugh) about how, for both of us, Noods was our first experience of radio, and we discuss more recent projects. We also chat about time spent outside of Bristol, where Chikaya offers an interesting thought: “Bristol’s always changing, but even though it’s evolving all the time, it never loses its sense of character and individuality. There’s always something new happening that keeps it fresh, isn’t there?” Bristol’s constant evolution has no doubt inspired Chikaya. Since our first meeting, where, she says, she performed nervously on-air (you wouldn’t have known, mind), she’s released a new batch of material and supported Mercy’s Cartel on tour. Chikaya was also selected as one of BBC Introducing’s 2020 Ones to Watch by Radio 1’s Huw Stephens. She’s grown, and people are noticing. It’s no surprise – Chikaya has a certain allure; from her futuristic, violet visuals to her electronic, otherworldly sound. But Chikaya prefers not to attach any concrete labels to her sound, as this is where, musically, she feels most free. “I used to always say [my music] is cosmic trap, and it still has a lot of trap elements, like the rolling hi-hats. But in terms of the actual BPM of trap, it’s

definitely evolved,” she explains. “It’s still cosmic-” she pauses. “I think that is the perfect word to describe my music because that’s what I aspire for with my music. It’s a very ethereal type of word, and it’s a limitless word: cosmic means vast. And therefore, there’s a freedom in my music to explore my sound, my style. If you have a genre-less style,” she continues, “then it’s like you have no limits on what you can do and where you can go.” Adopting trap’s commitment to deep, hard-hitting atmosphere, Chikaya’s electronic-led sound layers oozy, glossy melodies with pared-down, punching beats. Yet whilst her instrumental curates something transcendental, Chikaya’s lyrical subjects are often rooted in reality: “I seek inspiration in social situations and my personal life,” she explains. “My friends, my family - my loved ones: whatever we’re going through, we all go through it together.” Take ‘New Wave’, Chikaya’s most recent single (since our interview, she’s released another, titled ‘Stargazing’). The most energetic single of Chikaya’s discovery to date, ‘New Wave’, details a period of personal growth. “New Wave, from the lyrical point of view, was written in 2018,” she says. “I was in a very positive place. I was feeling like chapters were closing, and I was growing as a person. Sometimes we have to unlearn habits and traits because they hold you back,” she continues. “You have to lose those to grow and to improve.”

‘New Wave’ is about the happiness you feel after this process, and how the process can peak and trough. Chikaya is not from Bristol, yet the city has played an integral part in her development as an artist. “Bristol is a great city to find your feet,” she says, as we chat about the city as another key source of inspiration, “because it has got this chilled, laidback vibe to it. I think it enables people to grow in their own time.” Not only that, but Bristol’s different musical communities, compounded by their collaborative and supportive nature, Chikaya explains, contributes to a city-wide “domino effect” when it comes to musical inspiration: “going to Bristol, on any given night of the week, you’re going to be inspired because you can guarantee you’re going to be witnessing music that is going against the grain.” Armed with a brand-new single and a recent live session with BBC Introducing in the West, it seems Chikaya’s 2020 is off to a flying start, and she seems to be taking it all in her stride: it’s an attitude explored in ‘New Wave’, after all. Talking more about the track, Chikaya says it’s rooted in “letting your troubles disappear” and “taking things slow.” In fact, taking things slow is something, Chikaya admits, she is “constantly” having to remind herself of: “everything happens exactly when it’s meant to – I believe that. And I do believe that I’m on the right path. And so, taking it slow is basically just so you don’t trip up over yourself, over your doubts – and that’s something I’ve overcome.”

Spring 2020


Scalping Scalping’s James Rushforth (bass) and Alex Hill (electronics) reflect on the group’s debut release, Chamber, Bristol and the necessity of extremity

I’m starting to realise we’re actually perfectionists,” James says, over coffee at Stokes Croft’s Café Kino. “I never thought I’d be that person, but I’m starting to realise - the amount of fucking detail we go into is just stupid.” It makes sense: Scalping have released only a few tracks. But it doesn’t matter - they’re meaty enough to satiate any craving for severe, genre-defying sound. After all, the audio-visual project (comprised of James, Alex, Isaac Jones [drums], Jamie Thomas [guitar] and Jason Baker [visuals]), shouts a big fat ‘fuck you’ to the separation of electronic music and that of the traditional band. Instead, Scalping unites the two under one, sweaty roof. Six months since their latest release, a track named ‘Ruptured’, Scalping are back at it. Speaking of recent writing sessions, James explains: “we’ve tried to make the metal bits more metal, and the bits that sound like weed more weedy.” They’re taking all facets of their sound, pushing them to their “weirdest” limits and embracing it. It’s a natural


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progression for the group, who in March last year, released their debut EP, a two-track record titled Chamber.

Chamber, a 10-minute release, feels like a fleeting visit to Hell’s nightclub - in a good way. It’s forceful, industrial but infectious; brimming with intoxicating crossovers between traditional, band-like instrumentation and electronically-produced sound. “When we did Chamber,” James says, “it was like: we just need to do the techno thing.” So, the punch and pound of Chamber was a conscious choice. It was a firm declaration of Scalping’s electronica/band crossover; it was something, James insists, that needed to be “very apparent” in their initial output. With what James describes as Chamber’s “130 chuggers,” the EP made something crystal clear: yes, Scalping is a band, but they don’t do dull or formulaic - or 11 pm gig curfews. They’ll see you on the dancefloor instead. And it worked: last summer, Bruce played a Scalping track at Dekmantel Festival, and the group’s recent, late-night event at The Island soldout almost immediately. So with the

hybrid firmly asserted, it’s time to push and squeeze experimentation for all its worth. The stuff Scalping have been experimenting with, James says, is “much more psychedelic.” “We still are chuggers - we’ve got chuggers - but now we’re trying to explore it,” he continues, half-jokingly. “We can always come back to sounding like a 4/4 techno band, but that’s not really what makes us Scalping. We want to stay slightly out of all of these tropes and words.” Alex agrees: “the longer we can keep it hard to categorise, the better, basically.” Techno metal, rave metal, acid metal (“that’s probably my favourite one,” says James); Scalping have been labelled all sorts, but they don’t seem to mind. “As long as it stays away from post-punk I’m happy,” James laughs. Whatever the label, though, James says he wants Scalping to be perceived as extreme: “because if it’s not extreme, then that’s not really the point of it. It’s called fucking Scalping!” But why is extremity so vital for Scalping? James, for the first time, seems a little coy: “because there’s

Spring 2020


“We’re not writing songs that you’ll sing along to, or even put on at home - it’s the whole package, the whole aesthetic” Alex Hill so much boring music.” Alex adds further clarification: “it’s really rare that you see an exciting guitar band.” For Scalping, then, excitement is extremity, and extremity is something which most guitar-led bands lack. “It isn’t weird enough, really,” James resolves. Sure, Scalping make sound with traditional ‘guitar band’ instruments, but that doesn’t mean they want to rehash the age-old, songwriting formula, lolling in the bounds of genre. “It’s just a different way of looking at stuff, I guess,” Alex explains. “We’re more interested in the sound and aesthetic of things, rather than like - a song. We’re not writing songs that you’ll sing along to, or even put on at home - it’s just the whole package, the whole aesthetic.” At its root, Scalping is an audio-visual pursuit. And so, in its purest form, Scalping exists in the live space: “it’s all about the live show. I think it always will be,” Alex confirms. After all, it’s where Scalping’s ambiguous crossover between traditional instrumentation and electronicallyproduced sound becomes most apparent. It’s also where you’ll find a rejection of the ordinary setlist. Scalping gigs take place as one, continuous session, backed by a disorientating set of live, responsive visuals. Surreal, incessant and integral to the project, the visuals are the work of artist and graphic designer


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Jason Baker. Jason, the pair explain, is left to his own devices, adding elements to the live show so long as they receive an “extreme reaction” - positive or negative. “Because we don’t really have a front person,” Alex explains, “Jason has the freedom to occupy that space, which he really enjoys. And he can get away with anything because we don’t ever try to reign him in.” Scalping’s unholy ascent is rather impressive, given Alex and James admit they “didn’t know much” about electronic music before moving to Bristol. Originally from Stratfordupon-Avon (“ends,” adds Alex), the pair spent their teens playing in bands. Later, they began studying at BIMM. While university, they say, wasn’t particularly informative musically, going to Howling Owl Records events, and seeing bands like Giant Swan, was essential in Scalping’s formation. In fact, Alex names Giant Swan as the band’s “number one” inspiration. “It was the first time I’d ever seen dance music performed live with that much energy,” Alex enthuses, recalling an early Giant Swan gig at The Crown. “I’d seen people do live electronic sets, but it was always quite considered whereas that was like seeing a punk band playing techno. It was chaos.” “Bristol is entirely the catalyst,” adds James. “Scalping wouldn’t exist without Bristol.”

Six Quick Questions Name a track that reminds you of your formation. James: ‘Fall Back’ by Factory Floor. Alex: Daniel Avery was quite a big jumping-off point. Do you listen to anything that would surprise us? Alex: Jamie really likes country. James: I basically exclusively listen to soft boy music Puma Blue, Japanese House, Jamie Isaac, King Krule. Really soft stuff. What’s a song that you’d listen to before a live show? Alex: We have this hype song, this Special Request tune - ‘A Gargantuan Melting Face Floating Effortlessly Through The Stratosphere.’ Interesting. Why? Alex: In the moments before a show, we all get a bit stir crazy, especially at festivals if we’ve been sitting around all day. So, we all get a bit excited. James: Yeah, we have the wig out. If you were cast away to a desert island, and you could only take one Bristol record, what would it be? James & Alex: Oliver Wilde, A Brief Introduction to Unnatural Light Years. James: That record is beautiful. It changed my life in a massive way. And if you could only take one other band member, who would it be? Alex: Probably Isaac, because he lives like he’s on a desert island anyway. James: Jamie would just complain – he’d be the last person I’d want to be with. Alex: Yeah, Jamie’s a diva.

Banoffee Pies Records’ Top 5 Releases with

Ell Weston

Having unleashed a wide range of projects onto eager listeners during a busy sevenyear tenure, Banoffee Pies is ready to celebrate a big milestone in 2020. Approaching his imprint’s 50th release, label boss Ell Weston picks out five of his favourite projects so far

Marenn Sukie Malinal (OTAKU01)

How Du Landing (BPLP003)

Gallegos Mad As Hell (BP008)

OTAKU is a sub-label under the Banoffee Pies Records platform which focuses on music for home listening. The first of the series came from UK artist Marenn Sukie, with a five-track drum project exploring Trip Hop and Lounge. Undoubtedly one of our favourite releases to date. Our last album, Landing, came from Bristol producer How Du, best known by his hip-hop alias Simiah. The album delves deep into gritted MPC jams with 2 step and Garage influences in an emotional listen. You can catch him live at The Gallimaufry once a month during his Sunday residency. Another Westcountry producer and one of Bristol’s mainstay DJs, Gallegos’ Mad As Hell was the first solo EP released on the label in our original series. A 4-track journey in UK rave and breaks with complex drum patterns and a post-Brexit apocalyptic artwork to match.

This was the latest release to land in the Original series Interplanetary in 2019 from Manchester producer Interplanetary Criminal Criminal. A raw selection of UKG tracks with futuristic Move Tools and nostalgic influences, and plenty of sub bass to rock (BP010) the system.

Various Artists Limited Series 008 (BPLS008)

Released at the end of summer 2019, Limited Series 08 is a deep dive into twisted drums and a range of moods, from broken beat to drum & bass. Each release on the series itself focuses on a specific feeling, with inserts from four or more artists suited to various occasions.

Spring 2020



Bristol Reggae Orchestra Inclusivity, community and passionate musicianship are at the heart of the Bristol Reggae Orchestra, perhaps the only group of its kind in the world. LOUD meets the hard-working artists at the helm of a truly unique collective


LOUD Magazine

“When we get together and do it on a big stage, it really is something special”


tarted up in Autumn 2009, the Bristol Reggae Orchestra emerged from a community steeped in musical heritage. From roots reggae artists to classical performers, St Paul’s is home to a wealth of musicians - a perfect fit for such an ambitious project. Following a community meeting on potential schemes to bring people together in and around the area, it was agreed that an orchestra would have the potential to tap into an extensive population of musical people. A team of 15 founders including Black Roots lead singer Charlie Bryan and acclaimed reggae guitarist Leroy Forbes - formed the group, and immediately set to work putting their first performance together. Percussionist Barrington Chambers (pictured, bottom left), another of the founding members, is with me as I wait for the band to arrive at the Malcolm X Centre for a Monday night band practice in St Paul’s. Looking back on the group’s origins, he tells me it wasn’t until March 2010 that the orchestra played live for the first time, but once word spread they had no trouble building a buzz. The group sold out its first-ever show at St George’s Concert Hall in less than a week. “Once we got the word out and people started hearing about us, thinking ‘a reggae orchestra – I wonder how that works’, it just grew and grew,” he remembers. In the ten years since then, the Bristol Reggae Orchestra has maintained a strong core group. To date, they’ve performed at venues and festivals across Southern England and

Wales, in London, Cardiff, Devon and Southampton as well as Bristol. Today, the group is made up of 36 musicians, led by musical director Ben Jenkins. The group has all the hallmarks of a traditional orchestra, with a few additions that would never have a place in a traditional arrangement. You won’t find a saxophone in a classical orchestra, for example, but nothing is out of the question here until it’s been tried and tested. “There’s such excitement whenever a new instrument joins the orchestra,” Ben says. “What will it bring to the table? What’s the untapped potential of a reggae bassoon? Or a reggae harp?” Most of the band’s songs are covers of well-known reggae tracks – think Bob Marley or Toots and the Maytals – or homages to the key figures of Bristol’s original roots reggae scene of the 70s and 80s. Ben says, though, that the songs that often get the best reception are original productions written by group members. Arden Tomison, baritone sax player with the orchestra for the last eight years, estimates that “around a third of the music we play is written or composed by members of the group.” “In my kitchen,” Barrington adds with a smile. “A lot goes on in my kitchen.” The music, however, only tells half the story of the Bristol Reggae Orchestra. Staying true to the original vision for the group, there’s a big push to involve members of the local community and put together a collective made up of people from all walks of life. “We have a huge mix of nationalities and musical experience

in the orchestra,” Ben tells me. “There are people with a great feel for Jamaican music, people with a classical background, and, of course, those who just love a bit of reggae.” The group are keen to work with BAME members of the community, who might not necessarily be aware of what the group does, but may be able to benefit from being a part of such a unique musical project. Even the membership fees – which usually cost £5 per person, per practice – are flexible to accommodate people who struggle to get the money together. “We want to be as inclusive as possible,” Arden explains, “so if people can’t afford the membership for whatever reason, we do our best to work around that. We’ve had people come who are homeless, who are in difficult personal circumstances, but we do what we can to support local musicians to the end.” With a busy summer to look forward to, as well as 2020 performances in London confirmed, the Bristol Reggae Orchestra’s doors remain open to new members. Musicians of all disciplines can get themselves down to a practice session, see what the group is about, and potentially get involved in the truly one-ofa-kind collective. “It’s so relaxed here, genuinely friendly and the atmosphere is always really warm,” Arden says. “And when we get together and do it on a big stage, it really is something special.”

Find out more at bristolreggaeorchestra.com, or contact membership@ bristolreggaeorchestra.com to get involved.

Spring 2020



Tilly In 2017, after weeks of internal debate, Tilly Springer sent her CV and a covering letter (“so funny!”) to Noods Radio. She’d hoped to secure a residency with the independent radio station. To her surprise, Tilly earned a quick response from station founders Jack and Leon, so she headed down from Gloucestershire: “I haven’t looked back since.” Nowadays, Tilly is a close friend of Jack and Leon; her monthly show is a Noods staple and needless to say, she’s getting noticed. In the


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past year, Tilly’s played in Paris, Berlin and London, and booked her first festival slot. In the club, catch Tilly mixing New Beat and EBM – stuff with “a bit of a clang to it.” And on the airwaves, let Tilly take you on a journey; sink into downtempo sound, tease nostalgia with obscure, retro blends of 80s synthpop, disco and wave, or immerse yourself in some “real bathtub trippers.” Often weird, but always accessible and fun, it’s no surprise Tilly’s show is among the station’s best.

“I’ve learned you don’t have to be super ‘party-party’ and extroverted to be a decent DJ with the best gigs” What was it initially that made you want to get involved with Noods? I was really desperate to play my tracks without the pressure of a club environment, on a platform that didn’t take itself too seriously, which is hard to find in an industry of elitists and chin strokers. How would you sum up your show? I find it hard to sum up my show, but I would say it’s anything weird and near nostalgic - with tracks you think you’ve heard before, but you’re not quite sure. I guess I’m aiming to put the listeners on “the scent” for music that they were near to discovering. There’s really nothing unusual, cool or rare about what I play, so I don’t want it to feel isolating and distant. I basically want people to tune in and think: “I want to join an independent station like Noods, too.” What has changed for you since you played your first show with Noods? And how crucial has the station been in your progression as a DJ?

too. It’s helped with everything; from my confidence to my digging, to my mixing abilities, to my (albeit, small) reach. Noods has been integral to my progression as a DJ in the underground industry. It’s helped me to carve my own path at my own pace: slow and steady. For example, the industry is really driven by networking, and I’m quite introverted, so I find it hard to put on the outgoing act and put myself out there. Despite this, I’m still able to get the most amazing opportunities. I’ve learned you don’t have to be super ‘party-party’ and extroverted to be a decent DJ with the best gigs. Music should be for everyone. How do you source the material you play? Do you have a particular process? No, not really, I have a very inconsistent process – it’s nothing special or niche. I am absolutely obsessed with history; I did a degree in it, so I guess unearthing stuff, wider reading, and learning a story is ingrained in me.

Everything and nothing has changed! Momentum, mainly. And access to fully functioning industry-standard equipment. I’m still driven by discovery, but I don’t feel restricted to the machinations of the wider industry.

I dig digitally and physically - I think you’re blinkered if you constrain yourself to one or the other. You have to stay open-minded. I’ll also spend hours in record shops and at markets. It honestly depends what mood I’m in, how much money and time I’ve got.

For me, Noods has created this wave where I can jump on and off when I feel like it. I haven’t had to change anything about myself to be heard, and the station has encouraged this,

Life can get in the way, I have bills to pay - some months I can find and buy loads of stuff, some months I can’t, and that’s fine. DJing is a privilege, so I feel lucky when I’m able to do it.

What are some of your favourite sounds to play and mix? Depends where I am and what I’m doing. In the club, I love playing around with New Beat and EBM. I’m not too keen on club music that sounds too slick, clinical and sophisticated. When I’m out dancing, I want to think “what the hell am I listening to?” which is why I like to play around with a lot of European beat records. They’re really fun, silly and cheap to collect. Name a track that you couldn’t live without. ‘My Heart’s On Fire’ by Machinations. Set closer vibes. Name a new track you love. ‘Surround’ by Glas Gesture. It’s from Noods’ debut compilation, Hypha, which features tracks from residents. Name a track that reminds you of Bristol. ‘Here Comes a Raincloud’ by China Crisis because it’s always raining here. Or ‘Walkin’’ by Dhuo because it reminds me of walking along the harbour on summers night – that’s a crackin’ view. What do you do when you’re not on the airwaves? Normal things. When I’m not working, digging for music or enjoying the company of friends, I’ll spend long periods alone to recharge my batteries. Alone time and normality are sacred.

Spring 2020



LOUD Magazine


Angela Jones Introspective and warm, Angela Jones makes music that evokes memories of days spent lolling in the sun. Drawing lyrical inspiration from poetry, Jones’ often acoustic sound is soulful and brims with vivid, idyllic symbolism handpicked from nature. Raised in Peterborough, Jones moved to Bristol to study music. And this summer, she’ll release her debut EP, Rosewater, with the help of Colston Hall’s artist development scheme, Home-Grown Heat. How did you first get into music? Name some early musical inspirations. I started writing poems when I was younger, and I learnt to play the piano on an old keyboard. Lauryn Hill was one of my earliest inspirations when it comes to songwriting. I remember writing a letter to her when l was a kid; l was so inspired by the way she used her music to elevate social and political issues. I also loved Bob Dylan, Billy Joel and the Beatles; they all have a nostalgic, organic sound. It’s so timeless. From your song titles to your press shots, nature is a clear theme in your work. Why’s that?

Ahead of your EP release, you’ve put out a new music video for the song ‘Rosewater.’ It’s beautiful! Could you expand on the story behind the song? Thank you! Roses are symbolic of love, and rosewater is used for healing in a lot of cultures, both in a physical and spiritual sense. So, the general idea for the song was about healing a hurt caused by loving someone. Not necessarily in a romantic sense; it can be understood as grieving the loss of someone you love, or being disappointed at experiencing a negative side to someone you love.

It’s where l feel most peaceful.

The main message is that, even though these things are painful, it’s still better to be open and loving than to be closed off from feeling these emotions at all. It’s the most open and honest song I’ve written in a long time.

Are there any places of natural beauty in Bristol that have inspired you?

Has the Home-Grown Heat scheme impacted you as a musician? If so, how?

In my first year of university, l always used to visit Brandon Hill. It has really pretty gardens, and at the top, you can see so much of the city, but feel like you’re far away from it at the same time.

It’s been really good meeting new people; hearing their songs and influences. I’ve gained insights into my songs that I wouldn’t have thought of before. Having someone back and invest in you is so motivating, so I’m glad to be part of it.

You draw lyrical inspiration from poetry. So, who is your favourite poet? Maya Angelou is one of my biggest inspirations. Not only as a poet, but as a person; she was so intelligent and resilient, but also open and sensitive to her surroundings and towards other people. She always advocated humanitarian sentiments in her poetry. I would love to be able to sit down and talk to her - I feel like I could gush over her forever.

A project supporting the city’s emerging artists and underground talent, Home-Grown Heat connects participants with industry professionals, who can provide mentorship, support and guidance.

Spring 2020



Abi Ward Making waves behind the scenes: Abi Ward was crowned 2019’s Stage Manager of the Year by Women in Live Music. LOUD meets with the young, Bristolian freelancer to discuss her impressive career so far omen in Live Music (WILM) is a European platform and online community for women working in live music. Through online discussion, meet-ups and workshops, the organisation aims to connect, educate and inspire women working across the industry; from tour managers to wardrobe assistants.


And while WILM nurtures links across Europe (Germany, Finland and Serbia, to name a few), their 2019 Stage Manager of the Year is from Filton, North Bristol. In December, Abi Ward was nominated for three categories in the annual WILM Awards, and secured the Stage


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Manager of the Year title, as voted for by the general public. When we meet in Hamilton House, Abi tells me she couldn’t quite believe it when she heard of her nominations following a late-night stage management shift: “I emailed asking: are you sure you got the right Abi Ward?”

youth scheme, New Generation Takeover. A young events group and progression route into the industry, the programme allowed Abi to get hands-on experience of event promotion and management. Finally, age 18, Abi secured a role with Colston Hall’s Education team.

Well, I can certainly believe it. Abi may only be 25 years old, but she’s been working in the live music industry since she left school, and has been involved with voluntary projects since the age of thirteen. Born and raised in Bristol, Abi attended music sessions at Colston Hall “religiously” throughout her teens, where she learned to play bass. Later on, she began volunteering with the Hall’s

Having spent much of her teens attending gigs, learning from tutors also involved in the Bristol music scene, and later, programming gigs at Colston Hall herself, Abi started to build a strong understanding of life behind the stage early on. And so, when Abi’s funding started to dry up (initially, she was funded as a BBC Performing Arts Fellow to work with the Bristol Music Trust based

“You get to meet people from all walks of life, and I think that’s a really good life lesson” at Colston Hall), she took matters into her own hands. Noticing that the concert venue lacked an artist liaison, Abi propositioned herself as the perfect candidate: “so, I kind of made a job for myself, and I’m still kind of doing it now,” she chuckles.


Nowadays, when she’s not hanging out at the Mother’s Ruin, DJing with tunes she describes as “guilty pleasures” or dabbling in chef duties, Abi works as a freelance artist liaison and stage manager. She’s worked on some huge gigs (in January, she acted as the promoters’ representative at Bombay Bicycle Club’s sold-out show at SWX), and is a regular at big-name festivals. Glastonbury, Shambala and Green Man; Abi seems to love what she does, and she talks about it with passion. But what does it really involve? What does an artist liaison

actually do? “I call it a glorified babysitting job,” Abi smiles, “because you’re making sure things run on time; you’re making sure everyone’s happy and content.” Day to day, Abi’s role involves organising schedules for upcoming gigs, communicating with bands and management, and preparing artist riders. “A few of them ask for drugs in a funny way,” Abi laughs, as we chat about the most ridiculous requests, “the funniest one recently was a band asking for weed - they called it jazz cabbage.” Nice try. On the whole, Abi’s job sounds incredibly fun, but she explains how her career, like any, has its challenges. “It’s not as rock and roll as people think it is. You have to be professional,” Abi says, as we discuss the job’s unsociable hours and winter work droughts.

Taking photos with artists is also “absolutely off the cards.” But lighter gripes aside, Abi admits she also has experienced misogyny on the job. “It has been hard for me as a young woman because when I was first around, tour managers that had been in the game for forty-odd years would take one look at me and say: ‘where’s your manager?’ I’m like: dude, I’m here to help you!” In better news, Abi says incidents of this kind have been small in number and thinks things have “been a lot better” in the past five years. And day to day, Abi notes communication and interpersonal skill as key when dealing with artists and their management: “It’s about being a people person. And if they’re not really people people, step back.” “You get to meet people from all walks of life, and I think that’s a really good life lesson. There are so many different people in the world, and you don’t know what problems a person’s having, so it’s just knowing the right kind of way to approach someone.” Before we part ways (the hour we’ve spent together has flown by), I ask Abi whether she has any advice for aspiring members of the live music industry. As well as being open to having people shadow her on the job, Abi says it’s all about getting “stuck in.” “Go to your local venue and just put the word out there,” she advises. “The worst they could say is no, and if they do, go somewhere else; because there’s plenty of venues in Bristol.”

Spring 2020




Musician, DJ, vocalist, spoken word artist, promoter, writer, Inclusion Officer: is there anything Ngaio can’t do? Over coffee, the Arts Council-backed creative discusses her latest projects

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t’s been five months since the release of We Fly; Ngaio’s latest EP created as part of Saffron Records’ Artist Development Programme. Home to an infectious amalgam of genres, the five-track record boasts neo-soul vocals, jazz arrangements and essential discussion. It’s a body of work which, Ngaio says, reflects herself not only as a musician but as an individual: “I was really adamant that I wanted it to be something that I felt really reflected who I am and what I think.” Take ‘Blackbird’, We Fly’s near-nineminute crescendo. A thunderous composition, ‘Blackbird’ offers an exploration of race, identity and representation. Through the medium of pensive spoken word and powerful vocal, listeners are met with Ngaio’s personal experience,

“I feel like I’ve been doing loads of groundwork, and now things are starting to come to fruition” too; of being mixed race, of microaggressions and exclusion. It’s a conversation starter, and a piece of work to connect and represent her audience. “People have really heard it in the way that I wanted,” Ngaio says, reflecting on the months since the track’s release. “They haven’t felt attacked or anything, which I think is a big worry.” ‘Blackbird’ had been in development for a while: its spoken word was written over four years ago, which, Ngaio notes, “shows how much things haven’t really changed or shifted. I’ve always written like I’m writing a diary. So,” Ngaio continues, “when I wrote that, it was because I was going through something internally.” The words were also inspired, in part, by Ngaio’s upbringing. She grew up in rural Wales, where, Ngaio says, “there were no other black people around, and I didn’t know what the hell was going on.” She explains that if the song were for a specific person, that person would be her nine-year-old self. Indeed, ‘Blackbird’ is a fearlessly personal track, and thus, ignited a level of vulnerability upon its release: “you’re really putting yourself out there for everyone to pick apart.” However, it’s a vulnerability Ngaio hopes will translate to her audience. Though the track platforms a discussion of critical struggles, they are struggles with which some listeners may not often engage or experience – but that’s okay,

Ngaio explains: so long as there’s a willingness to be vulnerable in response; to open up and engage with the content. “It’s a beautiful thing because when people do listen, and they do connect, you can see them becoming vulnerable in that moment of realisation.” Aside from making music, Ngaio works professionally as the Inclusion Officer at Bristol charity Artspace Lifespace. She is also the Director of the Bristol Bass Choir and is the founder of DJ collective and monthly party, Booty Bass. The EP’s title symbolises the purpose of Ngaio’s work: “I wanted We Fly to be the name because that is essentially why I do what I do. It’s the music; it’s the writing, it’s the inclusion and diversity work - I feel like that wraps up what I’m trying to do at the moment, which is for everyone to feel like we’re all succeeding together.” Today, we meet inside Easton’s Orchard Café, and Ngaio is effortlessly warm, chatty and energetic. It’s a positivity she brings to track two of We Fly, ‘Green Eyed Queen’. Although inspired by a friendship breakdown, the song champions seeing the best in others. But equally, Ngaio mentions how she has learned the importance of “quiet days” - days spent alone, focusing on herself. In fact, Ngaio couldn’t escape quiet days when she lost her voice a few years ago: “there was a worry about whether I’d be able to sing again. I had to be quiet for six months.”

‘Well, if there’s one thing that’s never quiet, it’s Booty Bass!’ I respond. “It’s funny you say that,” Ngaio smiles, “because I learned how to DJ when I wasn’t allowed to sing. I was barely allowed to talk, and I just thought: if I don’t find something musical to do, I’m gonna go mad.” It’s when Ngaio signed up for local DJ course, Mix Nights, and became instantly fascinated with mixing. This year, Ngaio will unite her work as a musician and her skills on the decks. On April 17, Ngaio is set to release a new EP via Durke Disco; a remixed version of We Fly. Some of Ngaio’s favourite producers have produced remixes for the release, allowing the EP to enter the club space. Ngaio’s planning on upping her DJ game, too: she’s learning how to sing and DJ, and mix jazz with drum and bass. It’s no surprise, given her recent grant from Arts Council England: “it’s still mind-blowing, to be honest.” The Developing your Creative Practice grant, Ngaio says, will enable her to undertake a production course with LA’s Beat Lab Academy, specialising in dancehall and afrobeat. So, for Ngaio, what is the most exciting thing about 2020? “I think seeing where I’m gonna be at the end of it because I just don’t know. I feel like I’ve been doing loads of groundwork, and now things are starting to come to fruition.”

Spring 2020



A Party for the People Rave on Avon is ready for its Old Market debut. After the celebrated multi-venue festival took place in Stokes Croft for the last time in 2019, organisers have confirmed they’ll be turning their focus to BS2 from here on out. Festival Director Ruth Wiles gives us the lowdown on what to expect


orn from the ashes of the much-loved Brisfest, Rave on Avon has been running in a few different formats since 2014, when it started out as a boat party around the city’s harbourside to raise funds for the flagship September festival. The first standalone Rave on Avon took place in 2018 after attentions and efforts naturally moved towards it and away from Brisfest. A perfect fit for the vibrant and varied landscape

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of Stokes Croft, the festival made use of the area’s multitude of club venues and event spaces to create a one-day party unlike any other the city had seen before. “From the get-go, the idea was to hold Rave on Avon in Stokes Croft,” Ruth explains. “It was the ideal place to do it – a perfect mix of stages and spaces, a really good vibe and really supportive venues.” Rave on Avon has been immensely popular and one of Bristol’s most eagerly-awaited

“You need the right venues, the right staff at those venues and a crowd that’s in it to have a good time. Bristol gets it right in every sense”

parties over the last few years, and came to encapsulate the free spirit of Stokes Croft and the venues in and around it. But, of course, all good things must come to an end, and Rave on Avon 2019 – billed as ‘The End of an Era’ – was the last to take place in the area. A combination of gentrification, redevelopments and general uncertainty surrounding a number of venues has, unfortunately, forced organisers to move on, but where else could you take a party of Rave on Avon’s size and stature? “It was such a difficult decision to leave Stokes Croft,” Ruth tells me. “Without Blue Mountain, where are you gonna get that outside space? How would we address the huge hole left behind by Lakota? Stokes Croft is such an artistic hub, one of those areas that’s really defined by its music.”

place over the last few years, yet still manages to retain that old Bristol vibe. We’re all about celebrating the very best that Bristol has to offer, and there are so many great venues, bars and independents with their own unique character set up in the area.” With a multitude of new spaces to explore and a new landscape to make use of, Ruth explains that the team are keen to pull out all the stops and put together “the biggest Rave on Avon to date.” Despite the new location, though, the winning formula is set to remain the same. The Rave on Avon mission statement promises to “support and promote local artists, music and culture in Bristol and the South West”, combining a local focus with a selection of top-drawer electronic acts playing across a variety of venues and spaces.

As it turns out, the answer to all of those questions lies in Old Market. While few other parts of the city have the capacity to host an expansive multi-venue event like Rave on Avon, Ruth and the team knew as soon as they started looking in BS2 that they had found a new home that fit the bill.

2020 lineup and venue news is being released piece by piece. At the time of writing, Trinity Centre, Jack of Diamonds, To The Moon, The Elmers Arms, Good Store Studio, The Exchange, Stag & Hounds, Dare2Club and Moor Brewery will all be involved, with more venues still to be announced.

“We wanted to do something new, and Old Market is perfect. It’s become an increasingly vibrant

The musical programme, meanwhile, is one of the festival’s most ambitious to date. World-renowned, Bristol-

born tastemaker Eats Everything tops a bill full to the brim with highlyregarded local artists and a selection of the UK’s most exciting up-andcoming DJs. Across a diverse range of spaces, expect killer sets from Bristol favourites GotSome, the ZenZero duo, Em Williams, Ellie Stokes, Daisy Moon, Syz, Ellis Roberts and James Dyer. Elsewhere, don’t miss stage takeovers, marathon sets and more from revered local crews including Alfresco Disco, Friendly Records and Strictly Yes. While Rave on Avon has made the move away from Stokes Croft, the show must go on. The organisers’ drive to provide a polished multivenue festival that Bristol can be proud of, keep ticket prices down and champion local talent, is going nowhere. “You need the right venues, the right staff at those venues and a crowd that’s in it to have a good time,” Ruth says. “Bristol gets it right in every sense. Keep your eyes peeled for lineup news and venue details for another unforgettable Rave on Avon in May.”

Spring 2020


Bristol Promoters’ Index 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 something in Bristol. Here’s a list of local venues and their floor capacities to get you started Motion / The Marble Factory | 74-78 Avon Street, Bristol BS2 0PX 200-4000 (Multiple Spaces) | info@motionbristol.com | motionbristol.com Lakota | 6 Upper York Street, Bristol BS2 8QN 500-1200 (Multiple Spaces) | info@lakotabristol.co.uk | lakota.co.uk Blue Mountain | 2 Stokes Croft, Bristol BS1 3PR 400 | info@bluemountainclub.co.uk | bluemountainclub.co.uk Thekla | The Grove, East Mud Dock 500 | simon@theklabristol.co.uk | theklabristol.co.uk The Love Inn | 84 Stokes Croft, Bristol BS1 3QY 300 | 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 | dina@theislandbristol.com | theislandbristol.com The Loco Klub | Clock Tower Yard, Bristol BS1 6QH 200 | bookings@locobristol.com | locobristol.com Trinity Centre | Trinity Road, Bristol BS2 0NW 600 | info@3ca.org.uk | trinitybristol.org.uk


LOUD Magazine

The Fleece | 12 St Thomas Street, Bristol BS1 6JJ 450 | chris@thefleece.co.uk | thefleece.co.uk SWX | 15 Nelson Street, Bristol BS1 2JY 1100-1800 (Multiple Spaces) | enquiries@swxbristol.com | swxbristol.com The Lanes | 22 Nelson Street, Bristol BS1 2LE 500 | info@thelanesbristol.com | thelanesbristol.com The 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 450 | info@fiddlers.co.uk | fiddlers.co.uk Jack of Diamonds | 46 West Street, Bristol BS2 0BH 400 | info@jackofdiamonds.club | jackofdiamonds.club 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 The Trap | 10 All Saints Lane, Bristol BS1 1JH 100 | crownbristol@gmail.com | thecrown-bristol.co.uk/trap Leftbank | 128 Cheltenham Road, Bristol BS6 5RW 120 | bookings.leftbank@gmail.com | leftbankbar.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 | joel@thejamjarcollective.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 Spring 2020


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