Liverpool Sound City has shifted from being a multi-site festival to being hosted from a single location – how do you think this will change the dynamics of the festival and the festival experience as a whole?
Of course we understand it will change the dynamic. However we also believe it will re define to some extent what city centre festivals are all about. We think the multi venue model is a little tired and ragged round the edges. In 2014 we had more venues than ever but we still had queues around the block with people wanting to get into see their bands. This model gives us a blank canvas right on the banks of the River Mersey. It allows us to keep all the elements that our audience know and love as well as allowing them to see all the bands and engage with an amazing eclectic wider arts and culture programme. We believe audiences want more from the experience. This allows us to put them and the artists right at the heart of a totally unique experience and immerse themselves completely.
If a festival goer had absolutely no knowledge of Mark E. Smith, what would you say about him to encourage them to visit his ‘in conversation’ slot?
Our theme for the conference this year is the idea of the unsung hero. Mark E Smith epitomises this concept. Through his band The Fall he has almost single handedly helped to shape generations of artists and bands. They recorded more John Peel sessions than any other band. Without The Fall many of the more commercial bands of the last 20 years would not have existed. He is cited as being a massive influence on generations of artists. He has never compromised his sound or his art for the money. This will be a rare opportunity to hear from the man himself and understand the amazing rock and roll journey he has been on.
The arts programme at Sound City includes everything from swing dancers to samba and a lantern parade – what do you want people to take away from this side of the festival?
It includes the above and so much more from Lindy Hip Hop Dancers to Northern Soul Dance lessons! In a nutshell what we want people to take away is a totally immersive experience. We want our audience to wander our post apolcalyptic site and feel like there is something to grab their attention wherever they turn.
What is it that has kept this festival fresh and interesting enough for you to have stayed in it as long as you have?
I love every single day. The goal is to be not frightened to change. This year feels like year 1 all over again. Just when everyone is getting comfortable with this new model we will change it all again! It is what keeps life interesting.
How important is it to you to have a bill that strikes the balance between established acts like Belle and Sebastian and The Flaming Lips to completely unknown artists? What do they each bring to the Sound City experience?
Emerging talent is right at the core of the Sound City experience. We have become the ‘go to’ festival to find your new favourite bands. We were the first festival to present acts like Florence and the Machine, The 1975, Bastille, Royal Blood, Jake Bugg, Paloma Faith, Mumford and Sons, Miles Kane, Ed Sheeran and 100’s more.
Which bands are your personal ‘top picks’ on this year’s bill and why?
Beyond the obvious acts such as The Flaming Lips, The Vaccines and Belle and Sebastian who are going to look splendid with the backdrop of the city centre skyline behind them. My other main shouts would be Dead Button from South Korea. Two kids who make the most amazing noise and have the most fantastic songs and melodies. The lead singer looks like a young Korean Elvis. Another shout would be to make sure you do not miss Swans. A rare outing for the NYC outfit that is sure to blow your little cotton socks off.
What do you want Liverpool Sound City to be known for?
Putting Liverpool back on the map on an international stage as a city that is absolutely synonymous with contemporary music.
There are probably people who’ve never been to Liverpool before who are considering coming to Sound City this year. What can you say about the city to really sell it to them?
This city parties like no other on this planet. That is why artists love playing here. Liverpool people love to welcome people from all over the UK and the world into the city they are so so very proud of. Liverpool = Music
See you on the dancefloor
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