Garage punk duo Slaves have had a brilliant year, from their single release ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie’ in early 2014 - an instant classic - to a string of high octane gigs and now a place on the BBC’s Sound of 2015 list. At a great show at The Victoria Dalston, they played fan favourites and some new ones too.
If there is one thing that will give a band an unchallengeable advantage over their peers and win them the instant respect of the audience it’s a synth dude (or dudette) who has risen to the occasion and strapped on a keytar. You wear the ‘tar: you win. It’s that simple.
Music Tech Fest London 2014 launched with an incredible mix of technology, performance and probing of the future of the music industry. With everything from brain hacking to playable interactive artist merchandise, wearable tech and new business models, it was a compelling first day.
The live music scene is in spectacular health, especially at grass roots level - and our team went to some stonkingly good shows in 2014. We saw plenty of newer bands who are more than ready to headline music festivals, and should be doing great things in 2015. Here are our favourites.
Beth White, the inspirational founder of Who Run The World, a promotions company dedicated to booking women, looks back at two amazing years of shows, and at the future for women in music, ahead of the WRTW second birthday celebrations on Sunday 13th August at Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden, with ARXX, Fightmilk, The Baby Seals, The Menstrual Cramps, Suggested Friends, and Beth White.
During the final year of a music degree course, I was asked to write an independent research paper on a topic of my choice. Rather than write an essay purely for the sake of a good mark, on a topic that had already been written about many times before, I was keen to explore a contemporary issue directly relevant to independent musicians, one which genuinely interested me - house concerts.
The first WITCiH festival is an absolute ‘don’t miss’ and takes place in London 26-28th September featuring electrifying female and non-binary artists. WITCiH - The State of Gender? hosts four audio-visual premieres and includes a lecture from Gazelle Twin who has just released thrilling new album Pastoral.
Tickets for the event at The Barge House in Dalston are available here
Animations, an app battle, new instruments and even a new genre - Gunk (geek punk) were all vying for attention as Music Tech Fest day 2 progressed.
Music Tech Fest is back, from 29-31 May in Umeå, Sweden. With the latest in music tech, plus performance, a hack camp and jam sessions, it’s another don’t miss event. Artists already confirmed include Scanner, Laura Kriefman with Guerilla Dance Project, and Kenneth Alewine’s Performing Melancholia, a visual music experiment with an automaton. Exciting new band merch technologies, sound artists, instruments and digital platforms are all featured too, and tickets are free. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from Music Tech Fest Paris to give you a feel for what to expect.
Hosted by the UK’s rapidly growing Omnii Collective, a quartet of top talent from the Monika Enterprise label came to Cafe Oto from Germany to talk about their new Monika Werkstatt album and to play live, creating one of the most exciting electronic music nights in memory. Four brilliant and established artists - Gudrun Gut, Pilocka Krach, Sonae and Barbara Morgenstern, ably supported by new British talent La Leif, plus a surprise, non-performing appearance from Electric Indigo, co-founder of female:pressure along with Gudrun.
The first Music Tech Fest, run by Ravensbourne College and Stromatolite in London gathered sound gurus, hackers and musicians together to make, talk and play. From synth legend and 3D sound designer Martyn Ware (The Human League, BEF, Heaven 17) to the dance demon that is Coldcut/Ninja Tune’s Matt Black, and new app designers, minds were well and truly expanded, if not blown! There’s even a free Synaesthesia app.
Last week I found myself in The Chambers, a cellar bar in Folkestone, drinking ale and watching the most surprising music.The place was packed - but not with gig goers. One section of the bar/restaurant housed long tables filled with cheerful diners out on work or birthday dos while on the far side people stood chatting near the bar. In the middle Lewis Floyd Henry sat on a wooden chair, playing to a small but intent group of music lovers.
Day Two of Music Tech Fest Scandi - the festival of music ideas - in Umeå, Sweden, included the launch of new music format TJAY, an amazing performance from Graham Massey, Scanner and Jason Singh, plenty of new music tech and hacking. The next Music Tech Fest is #MTFCentral and takes place in Ljubljana, Slovenia 18-20 September.
Beardyman’s new Dream Team Sessions kicked off at The Jazz Cafe in London, billed as ‘you make up the track titles, Beardyman and his very special guests make the album’. Part of his ‘album in an hour’ project, the first night featured guitarist Gary Lucas from Captain Beefheart, Andy Gangadeen from The Bays/Massive Attack/Chase & Status on drums and percussion, and solo bass player Steve Lawson, whom we’ve interviewed before. Rolo McGinty from The Woodentops, reviews.
Bishi’s incredible WITCiH Summer Salons are a magnet for talented innovators, and the June edition was a classic, with amazing insights from Imogen Heap, Bishi and Rachel Wingfield from Loop.pH. The next salon is on Wednesday 12th July at The Barge House in London with Rebekah Ubuntu, Jenn Kirby, Bishi and Kat Five.
Desperate Journalist generated huge excitement ahead of their sold out album launch at The Lexington, with even their peers calling them the future of indie music. Their exhilarating, euphoric and intense post-punk is amazing live, and the album a must-have release.
We bring you the third day and final installation of our coverage of Music Tech Fest London 2014. It is safe to say we were completely blown away by the variety of innovation in all the projects. It was also particularly exciting to see the results of the Hack Challenges, both with adults and young people alike. The tender age of some of the participants was by no means a barrier to their creativity and technical abilities!
Legendary electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire is being celebrated with a day of events in Manchester on Saturday 12th January, including specially-commissioned new music that will also be played in other cities too.
The second day of #ArtBeatFest was stuffed with hotly-tipped artists, from country punk to dream pop, electro and rock. Put together by ArtBeat Promo, along with The Zine, Panda Power and Kitmonsters - our reviews team checked out these rising stars at The Amersham Arms in London.
Ableton has announced the immediate release of the new Push, alongside Live 9.5 – a free update for all Live 9 users. It’s inviting owners of the original Push to take part in a trade-in that offers a saving on the new version, plus Ableton is introducing Link, a new technology that lets you play in time with multiple instances of Live and a growing number of iOS apps.
Playing foreign territories is always exciting. Polish audiences are receptive, open, and willing to book music that does not fit in boxes. When you stand on stage in Poland, everyone stops what they’re doing. When you stop what you’re doing, and your set is over, they usually ask you to continue!
The first #ArtBeatFest was a two-day thrill-a-minute rollercoaster at The Amersham Arms in London, featuring bands across all kinds of genres, from Hyper-Pop through to Electro and Garage Rock. With a booking policy of future festival headliners, and spearheaded by ArtBeat Promo, along with The Zine, Panda Power and Kitmonsters, the all killer no filler lineup was stuffed with the stars of tomorrow.
A mystery tour of experimental electronics in Denmark
The final day of Music Tech Fest Scandi - the festival of music ideas - in Umeå, Sweden, was both inspiring and thought-provoking. It saw kids hacking, new instruments for more accessible music-making, the Hack Camp awards, and some memorable performances including LJ Rich mixing it up with cocktail master Emil Åreng.
New festival We Are Robots presents an amazing line-up at the Old Truman Brewery in London from 2-5 November. Focusing on the ‘future and innovation of music’ it features performances, installations, workshops, discussions, technology, and an industry conference, and includes leading names and exciting newcomers, with Daniel Miller DJ-ing at the after party. Tickets to the main exhibition are free, with performance, panels and workshop tickets available separately.
An event and an album
Songs About Women (in the 21st Century) is an exciting compilation album that will be launched on 15th November at Rhythm Factory in East London, with performances from six of the featured bands. It’s been compiled by post-punk band Gertrude who have selected great acts from around the country. The varying genres include electronic and experimental music, and a Focus E15 poem, and many of the artists have been championed by BBC Radio 6 Music and XFM. The theme is what it means to be a woman, and Gertrude say the musical insights range from the personal to the political: the bitter sweet to the lyrical. The album is free to download, and we asked them to tell us more about the project.