Brighton Pier is truly iconic. A feature of our landscape since opening in 1899, this pleasure pier is Grade II listed, has featured in many works of British culture (Brighton Rock, Quadrophenia, Carry On At Your Convenience et al), and is by far our most important tourist attraction, and therefore asset. Anne Ackord is currently in charge of this timeless attraction, so we recently caught up with her to talk renovations, Horatio’s Bar and the infamous Slaves gig.
The 52nd Brighton Festival, the largest of its kind in the UK, is headed up this year by Guest Artistic Director David Shrigley. A relative unknown, Shrigley operates in the world of the visual arts, as a lively, sly, sometimes subversive illustrator, writer, film-maker, conceptualist and sculptor. You may have seen his Really Good sculpture (a massive sculpture of a thumbs up, or a 'like'!) on Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth. Or his 2013 Turner Prize-nominated installation David Shrigley: Brain Activity. Or perhaps his headless stuffed ostrich, or his cast of a single tooth (Brass Tooth) which he then created multiple editions of, and sold at £1,200 a pop. He's also a big music fan, and has worked with many artists, including making videos for both Blur and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, designing record sleeves, and collaborating with musicians such as David Byrne and Grizzly Bear for his spoken word project Worried Noodles. Brightonsfinest got the chance to catch up with him at this year's festival launch.
A true lynchpin of the Brighton music scene for many years now, Simon Parker has promoted hundreds of gigs (under the Cable Club name), been in loads of bands, and generally been the go-to guy for all things music. He’s now bringing that deep knowledge and love of music back to Brighton in the form of Vinyl Revolution, which opens to the public on 15 July.
Next year, The Great Escape (TGE) will host the Unsigned Music Awards (UMA) at Brighton Centre, on Wednesday 16 May. Established just two years ago by former BIMM students Simon O'Kelly, Georgina Thomas and Ben Connor, the first ceremony in 2016 at the Troxy Theatre in London proved to be such a success that TGE's parent company, Live Nation, who are the biggest live music promoters in the world, decided to hook up with this exciting and ambitious start-up. With almost all the big movers and shakers in Brighton for this year's TGE, as well as hundreds of outstanding new bands and artists, Brightonsfinest took the opportunity to talk to Simon about UMA and its plans for next year.
Now the director of Funk the Format & Funk the Family Festival, as a journalist in London Elle J Small wrote for some of the world’s most influential publications in the heyday of music journalism – Blues & Soul, Rwd, Mixmag, Dazed and Confused – before the internet sent many of them tumbling. As well as earning a reputation for tipping unknown bands, she was instrumental in importing the sounds of Brazil to London in the early noughties. Now a mother of two living in Hove, Brightonsfinest sat down with her for a lesson in recent musical history, to hear about the origins of the festival, and to learn how her identity in the music industry has evolved over time.
Local independent label Hidden Trail Records has garnered some considerable success with Ellie Ford’s debut album The Other Sun – this is partly down to the record itself, which we called “remarkable” in our review. Still, it’s clear that Hidden Trail punches far above their weight, and has broken a lot of ground with this release. Of course, they’re not a one-artist label, so we sat the co-owner down to discuss the aftermath of Ellie Ford’s album, and to hear what they’ve got coming up in future.
What is the focus and direction of Hidden Trail?
I’d like to claim there was a master plan at the inception of the label, but it just grew quite organically through contacts I’d made via a blog I used to write, and friends in the Brighton music scene. The other owner and I are big music geeks who have pretty varied tastes, so we always wanted to try and have an eclectic mix of music on the label. Although our two releases so far this year have been in the alt-folk world, our next two are quite different.
At a little over a year old, 1 Brighton FM has just been awarded an FM license. With approximately 90 volunteer DJs, they produce a jaw-dropping spread of high-quality, independent content, and this is sure to only increase as they truly take to the airwaves. We caught up with Steve Ellis, the station manager, to go over the origins of 1 Brighton FM, what the license means for them, and to see what the future holds for this exciting new feature of Brighton’s broadcast landscape.
About to officially start his role as BIMM’s Music Industry Ambassador on 1 August, it's the culmination of over thirty years work in the music industry for this most friendly and engaging of people. From researching the industry whilst doing an MA, to setting up a label, managing bands, lecturing and tutoring music students, and generally being instrumental in shaping the music scene in Brighton, Phil has been there and done that in this ever-changing and fast-moving industry. He took time out to answer some questions for us.
Oxjam began in 2006, with the aim of creating a network of music-loving people across the UK, all united by a shared goal – raising money for Oxfam to help fight poverty around the world. Ten years on and the festival is still going strong, with hundreds of incredible gigs taking place each October all over the country. It's a national festival with a local focus and Brighton, being such a hub of musical creativity, has a bit of a duty to step-up and represent!
For several years Brighton has had a multi-venue festival, what they call a 'Takeover' event. Much like The Great Escape or Drill Festival there are shows organised in venues around the city which can all be accessed via a wrist band. We chat to Caroline Waters, who is our local Oxjam Takeover manager, to find out about her history with Oxjam, what's going on in Brighton this year and how you can get involved.
Small Pond has become one of the most interesting concepts in Brighton of recent times. Coined in 2013 by a gang of friends who had an ambitious plan to not only put on their favourite live acts but release their records, book their tours and film their performances. Since then, their ambitious plans have lead for the development of quite the innovative, exciting company. They have now developed and built their own recording studio and rehearsal space (in an exceptionally DIY fashion I later found out) down on Castle Street – just off Western Road – with state of the art facilities, the finest equipment in the business and the special inclusion of the Neve console.
I caught up with Vlad for a beer and a chat about where Small Pond was, where it was going and how it got here in the first place. He outlined everything from the building of the UK’s most ambitious studio project to the very early days of Small Pond and the legacy of their Royal Mail van. It became clear that Small Pond really is a company with no limits now – their ambitious plans just seem to be growing and growing. So over a couple of beers, we had this chat: