Talk of revolution from Don Letts, Jah Wobble, Peaches and Andrew Weatherall. Words: Damon Fairclough
LIVERPOOL Sound City has always been more than a festival of music. Since its launch, in 2007, it has also been a festival of talking about music, with its Sound City+ conference bringing big names and industry figures to Liverpool to discuss the current state of play.
This year, to celebrate its 10th anniversary, Sound City+ is welcoming Jah Wobble, Don Letts, Peaches and Andrew Weatherall to Camp & Furnace where they will join what organisers are calling “a packed programme of speakers, debate panels, workshops and the acclaimed Sound City+ 1-2-1 meetings”.
This year’s event takes place on Friday May 26 with the theme of "Revolutions". Participants will chat about the momentous moments that changed music over the last half century, including the British invasion of the 1960s, punk, Britpop and acid house. (Though knowing what we know about some of these movements, we suspect that a few memories of what happened may be a little fuzzy to say the least.)
As an eye-witness to the punk explosion of the mid-1970s and co-creator of post-punk’s revolutionary sonics with Public Image Limited, Jah Wobble has seen it, done it and played the bass line. As a one-time close friend of John Lydon and Sid Vicious, not to mention collaborator with everyone from the late Jaki Liebezeit to Liverpool’s own Pagoda Chinese Youth Orchestra, he could replenish the conference’s stock of anecdotes single-handedly.
Not that he’ll have to, as veteran DJ, filmmaker and founding Big Audio Dynamite member Don Letts will also be present to talk about playing records for punks at the Roxy Club, managing The Slits, and why punk and reggae were so closely connected.
Andrew Weatherall will discuss the continuing acid house story, reflecting on his career as a DJ, remixer, producer and label boss. From his days as one of the Boy’s Own collective through to his era-defining work with Primal Scream and many years as a sought-after DJ, Weatherall will surely have plenty to say.
As will electro-punk musician and performance artist Peaches, whose recent, less-than-family-friendly appearance at the Invisible Wind Factory was hailed as a triumph of bum-quaking basslines and X-rated performance art. Outspoken in her music and in life, organisers say Peaches will discuss “art at the edge”.
Sound City+ also promises conference appearances by Anne Dudley, J.J. Jeczalik and Gary Langan – three of the founding members of Art of Noise – along with rock photographers Kevin Cummins and Tom Oxley talking about the power of photographs, and journalist Hattie Collins who wrote the book This is Grime.
The whole day is being hosted by the author and DJ Dave Haslam, and rock ‘n’ roll historian Jennifer Otter Bickerdike.
While the main Sound City festival rocks Clarence Dock for four days from May 25, with acts including The Kooks, Metronomy, The Human League and John Cale, Sound City+ is making its home in the Baltic Triangle.
Dave Pichilingi, CEO of Sound City, explains: “The Baltic Triangle is synonymous with everything that is innovative and cutting edge that is coming out of Liverpool right now; it is part of the fabric of the city. The zeitgeist is here! We want to show the thousands who come to the conference what the fuss is all about and send them home with an amazing impression of Liverpool.”
Organisers promise that further speakers, panels and activities will be announced over the coming weeks.