Friday, 30 November 2012

Interview: Guti (BidoLito!)

Guti live at Circus, Liverpool Saturday 1st December

As Guti As Gold
Argentine producer GUTI comes to Liverpool this weekend as part of an impressive Circus line-up, marking his second Liverpool appearance in as many years. Surfacing in 2009, Guti is still a new name in electronic music, working his way to the top of bills all over Europe with his creative Latino American-influenced house music. Go back a few more years and Guti was playing to tens of thousands as a pianist in his blues band Jovenes Pordioseros (Young Homeless), selling out stadiums across the world and landing himself in folklore of the South American rock scene.
Guti started to experiment with the studio as he became more involved with the production of Jovanes Pordioseros, using his jazz training and South American culture to create a style of house music that was unique, exciting and let’s face it, desperately needed. Guti’s break came in 2009 when Loco Dice featured one of his tracks on a mix, prompting him to release his first electronic works under the excellent Desolat imprint. Guti’s success as an electronic artist in his own right is epitomised this weekend as he shares a bill with Julio Bashmore and Laurent Garnier in what is sure to be one of the best shows the iconic Masque has seen in years.
Bido Lito!’s Mike Townsend caught up with Guti last week to see how he was getting on.


Bido Lito!: How did you find yourself getting involved with electronic music? Any DJs/producers that acted as early influences for you?
Guti: I don't really know, it just happened. It was a new world for me and still it is. Luciano, Ricardo Villalobos, Dice were early influences in the beginning. Then Marco Carola. Playing with Marco changed the way I played a lot.

BL!: How do you find the intricate and precise nature of house music works with the more free form nature your jazz and blues past?
G: Yes, with electronic music you have some rules, but in any kind of music you have some rules. You need to try and find your space in music. What I like in electronic music is all the space you have to work with. Silence is the greatest element in this music I think…

BL!: Do you find it has helped you create a more original sound?
G: Your sound is, in the end, yourself. So I think, yes, everything does.

BL!: You first broke after featuring on a Loco Dice mix-tape. How valuable was this exposure? What advice did he have for you going forward?
G: Completely invaluable! He gave me so much advice and I’ve followed it ever since. He is a great man and artist. I’m still growing up and learning, though.

BL!: As a keyboard player in Jovenes Pordioseros, you were playing to crowds of 10,000+ in your home country. How have you found going from shows like this to moving to be a live electronic artist? Have you had to change the way you connect with your audiences?
G: I’ve played really big shows before. When you are part of a band, you are a group: now it is you and the crowd. Now I play some big shows like that very often. Some years ago when I made the switch it was a bit shocking but now it is OK. Life takes you wherever it wants to, and I’m OK with this.  

BL!: You’re based in Düsseldorf right now. Was this a conscious decision, given Germany’s historic electronic music scene?
G: It is a place that gave me calm and music. It isn’t the first choice in many people’s minds, but it works for me. Especially the privacy and reclusion.

BL!: How are you finding it over there? 
G: Peaceful. Lonely. Musical. Calm.

BL!: You’re playing in the Masque this weekend, somewhat of an iconic venue up here in the North West. Have you heard much about it when preparing for this show?
G: I played at the Masque already! Two years ago with Seth Troxler, and I loved the place. Can’t wait to come back.

BL!: You have releases out on a number of record labels at the moment, including Desolat, Raum and Crosstown Rebels. Any plans to launch your own label any time soon?
G: Yes next year. I’m on the process of setting it up. It will be not club orientated though, more jazz and soundtracks. Music you can dream to.

BL!: Your debut full length album came out in 2009 on Desolat, followed by a number of singles. Do you feel like full length albums are important / the future for you as an artist?
G: I had a double EP in 2009, and the album in 2011 on Desolat. For me is all about albums now. That’s why I haven’t released much this year. Next year I’ll release my jazz album on my new label and a new Guti album somewhere else.

BL!: I heard that you have Seth Troxler’s name tattooed on your arm? What’s all that about?!
G: I have his name tattooed on my arm and he has mine on his! He’s one of my best friends, even if we do only see each other every few months. He is a bit dangerous, and so am I. That’s the whole point, we always meet somewhere without plan and always having the craziest time. That’s the way it should be.

BL!: What does 2013 have in store for you? 
G: 2013 will kick off with collaboration with my great friend Davide Squillace. This record will also come with a Carl Cox remix. Not a bad start right?

Guti plays Circus on Saturday 1st December at The Masque, alongside Laurent Garnier, Julio Bashmore and Circus resident Yousef.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Live Review: Terra Naomi (BidoLito!)

Adam Barnes, Rags
Mellowtone & The Sound
LEAF Liverpool
Sunday, 4th November 2012

The evening begins with a rare live performance Rags. Having impressed last year with excellent single You Started It All, produced by Picture book, we’ve heard very little from the Norwegian songstress. Alone with an acoustic guitar, Rags’ astounding voice does its best to encourage a series of uninspiring songs. Littered with b-movie lyrics and sub Norah Jones melodies, each track blends gravely into the next as Rags struggles to connect with an increasingly disinterested audience.

Promising singer-songwriter Adam Barnes comes to Leaf after an impressive 2012, touring extensively and prickling the ears of national press with his lovely mini album Blisters. As he launches into a heart-breaking rendition of Come Undone, his voice cracking as the high notes just escape him, it’s impossible not to warm to the young lad from Oxford. The sprawling piano accompaniment threatens to over power at times, especially on If I Was a Lonely Man which would have benefited from a bit more subtlety. His best songs by some distance though are those that tackle the darker side of human emotion, epitomised by the bleak and sombre We Can Only Sleep. At times though Ben’s songwrting flirts around the wrong side of average, as he introduces a flavourless ballad “about loving apples” whilst the audience regretfully concede that there is no metaphor and perhaps he just really loves apples.

Headliner Terra Naomi eventually shuffles on stage offering a few timid words of introduction. With over 20 million YouTube hits, Terra is one of the pioneers of the internet pop-star, epitomising the hope and optimism that came during the YouTube boom back in 2006. These days of course, unknown singers are getting millions of hits every week as ‘YouTube sensation’ becomes the most winced at term in music, only emphasising how well Terra has done to launch a three album (and counting) career off the back of it.
Terra plays alone on stage, offering much more stripped back renditions of her songs, much to their benefit. Up Here and Jenny are transformed into quirky, fun pop gems as Terra plays with the tempo and dynamic at will, giving them a personality that struggles to come across on record. The Vicodin Song is astonishingly moving as the snow patrol-esque guitars are replaced by a sparse, twinkling piano arrangement, rendering a chatty LEAF second floor utterly silent.

The covers inevitably rear their heads, as Terra plods through lazy versions of Billie Jean and Time After Time prompting much of the audience decide they need another drink. It would be unfair to dwell on these two songs too much, but with three albums worth of original material to play with you have to question their inclusion at all, especially for an artist who has spent the last few years trying to escape her YouTube success story.

The songs are far from extraordinary, but it is the charm and charisma that Terra both speaks and performs with that keeps the set from falling flat. This enables her to transcend all the musical clichés and criticisms that come with music of her genre and her background and produce a memorable performance. Whether it will be enough to maintain her popularity beyond the next few years is questionable, but for tonight, in what is one of the loveliest venues in the City, it will do just fine. 

Monday, 15 October 2012

Live Review: D/R/U/G/S, Ejeca, Organ Freeman (BidoLito!)

Ejeca - Organ Freeman - Residents
Waxxx In Public @ Waxxx Warehouse

Waxxx’s rise to the top of the Liverpool nightlife scene is a welcome one. To those who attended one of their parties in an empty Shipping Forecast eighteen months ago, it will have seemed impossible that they would be filling up warehouses as they do today. With a well-earned reputation for throwing the wildest and most unique events in the city, Waxxx breathe life into a frustratingly student orientated club scene, with parties that recognise young people’s desire for more to their nights out than cheap drinks and the chance to meet Mini-Me.    

Tonight sees them attempt their most ambitious project so far. The Waxxx In Public theme takes inspiration from Josh Harris’ We Live In Public, where the ‘Warhol of The Web’ documented people’s lives via webcams, exploring the way modern societies willingly trade their privacy in exchange for a constant connection with the world. As details were released, attendees were instructed to add a Facebook page if they wished to ‘take part in the experiment’, promising an Orwellian experienced they would never forget.  This intriguing concept was complimented by their most impressive line up to date, with hotly tipped duo D/R/U/G/S supported by EJECA, and ORGAN FREEMAN.

The first act of the night is Organ Freeman. Sporting two singers and dressed like boys from the Hitler Youth, the lads from the Wirral offer short burst of energetic synth rock to an intensely polarised audience, delighting and bemusing in equal measure.

Promising Belfast producer Ejeca is next up, bringing dance music back into the focus of a relieved crowd. Boosted by a collaboration with fellow Belfast duo Bicep on the excellent ‘You’ earlier this year, as well as support from Jackmaster and Radio 1, these intimate surroundings will surely be a fond memory for him very soon. Tracks like Love Daze and The Way I Feel keep things nice and smooth, as their UK garage style vocals and deep house baselines steadily flow through the audience in what is a confident and engaging set.

Headliner D/R/U/G/S arrives in the main room to a backdrop of brilliantly effective projected images, promising an hour DJ set and an hour long live set. The duo’s exciting brand of ambient house music is welcomed by a serotonin overloaded crowd, seamlessly crossing the bridge between the dynamic and the danceable as they exercise almost total control over their audience, dominating a packed main room with a breathless foray of ideas and sounds that demonstrate why UK electronic music is in such a good place right now.

The ‘We Live In Public’ concept is very quickly forgotten, which is a shame. A rather half-hearted execution saw people’s Facebook pictures flash across a projector in a style that resembled a freshers week disco, as people reluctantly conceded that there was nothing more to it. Such an ambitious idea was always going to struggle to flourish, especially with a line-up as strong as this one, although the idea itself must still be commended. Now they have a permanent home in place, it will be exciting to see what they can achieve with these concept driven club nights. With the new venue rumoured to have come with a five year lease, Waxxx look like they are making some room for an exciting, ambitious, and unpredictable future. I can’t wait.

Mike Townsend

Friday, 5 October 2012

UNTITLED Launch Night - Live Review (For BidoLito!)

HiFI (Formerly Binary Cell)
27th, 28th September

In an interview with Bido Lito! last month, UNTITLED founder Hasan Abbasi talked at length about his ambitions for his new night and for himself as a promoter with admirable confidence and infectious enthusiasm. Namedropping the likes of Abandon Silence, EatYourGreens and Chibuku, UNTITLED set itself the ambitious target of becoming a vital component of an already thriving Liverpool electronic music scene.

Residents of Liverpool will know that the city is already littered with student nights promising one pound drinks and the chance to meet mini-me from Austin Powers. Head to concert square any given weeknight and you will fall victim to a swarm of tired promo staff trying to coax you into their dry iced nightmares. With a handful of new nights launching every term, you’d be forgiven for mistaken Hasan’s confidence, likeable though it is, for naivety
Based on strong ticket sales for the original launch in May last year, UNTITLED’s relaunch is made into a double header, spanning across the final weekend of September and hosted by Seel Street’s HiFi (formerly Binary Cell). With a capacity approaching 900, selling out both evenings would be a remarkable achievement.

Promising to please listeners of all electronic music, UNTITLED’s two night launch took advantage of the impressive pool of talented local DJs Liverpool has to offer. With residents drafted in from already established local nights like Abandon Silence, Waxxx, EatYourGreens and Discoteca Poca, UNTITLED did its best to make good on its promise of being one of the most eclectic nights in town.

The nights themselves are mostly enjoyable. The DJs are good, the atmosphere is friendly and excitable, and the crowd, though not quite as big as organisers might have hoped, is still large enough to create a bit of a buzz. Mike ‘HORZA’ Wilding particularly impresses with an abrasive and lively set, justifying his recent appearances at Outlook and Parklife festivals. Local drum and bass veteran ANDEE J provides an unlikely highlight as he reminds us that drum and bass isn’t dead just yet. Other DJs do their bit and are generally very good, doing their best to keep a lukewarm crowd dancing on their feet and not sat in the smoking area. However, the constant genre hopping and the many, many set changeovers eventually contribute to an unsettling lack of continuity, making it difficult to lose yourself in the evening and have a good time. The stairwell is often the busiest part of the venue, as people hop back and forth between floors in an attempt to find something that catered to their taste, making the spacious Hifi rooms feel more vacuous than ever.

Another stumbling block for the night is that the majority of the crowd consists of fans of going out, not fans of electronic music. Now you would be forgiven for thinking this sounds pretentious and conceited, but allow me to explain. Of course there is nothing wrong with these people, many Liverpool nights thrive on them. However, everything leading up to the weekend; the interviews, the social media and the nights themselves, saw UNTITLED try to distant itself from Liverpool student nights and from the people that enjoy them. What the organisers have failed to understand is that the first UNTITLED event last term, and the infamous Thugz Mansion house parties that it was born out of, consisted largely of students just looking to have a good time with their friends. By misunderstanding its market and by aiming at the wrong goalposts, UNTITLED has risked alienating a potentially wide and lasting student fan base and leaving itself with nothing at all.

In his interview last month, Hasan suggested that UNTITLED would one day settle alongside these nights as essential parts of Liverpool’s Electronic music scene, bringing fans of all styles of dance music under one roof. This unfortunately, is where it all falls down. These aforementioned nights don’t offer something for everyone - far from it. This is exactly why they are so good, and exactly why they are still thriving after two years. The reason these nights have such a loyal and committed following is that people go there to get away from an indifferent and generic crowd, to be welcomed into a scene that truly understands them and one that they truly understand. If these nights were to suddenly try and please everyone it would be a betrayal of everything that has made them so popular. I’m not trying to suggest that for example, jungle and deep house listeners are worlds apart. Of course they’re not. But when was the last time you danced to both on the same night?

It is altogether an enjoyable evening. Come three o’clock, everyone spills out onto Seel Street with a grin on their face.  But in Liverpool, with the right people, the right outfit, or the right drugs, it’s not hard to have a good night. With club nights and venues falling every month, and with so much choice around the city, a good night just doesn’t cut it anymore. It has to be memorable. With another night planned for Halloween, perhaps UNTITLED and its organisers need to try and do what Waxxx et al. all do so well: find an identity, find a niche and stick with it. At the moment, UNTITLED lives up to its name as the ‘night you can’t put a name to’, which sadly, might be its downfall. 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Live Review: Boddika, Huxley & Mickey Pearce (BidoLito!)  (page 28)

Selective Hearing & Abandon Silence Present: Mifest Weekender (Liverpool)
Huxley – Mickey Pearce
The Hold, The Shipping Forecast
Saturday, 11th August 2012

When it was announced that Abandon Silence would be collaborating with Selective Hearing to curate a stage at Mifest, the biggest surprise was that they hadn’t done this sort of thing more often. The likes of Eliphino, Joy Orbison and young heavyweights Bondax made it one of the best dance line-ups of the summer, only increasing the disappointment when it was cancelled due to bad weather and a “less than friendly local council”. In a remarkable turnaround, the three days were divided across three venues in Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool for an astonishingly cheap £7 per night.

Swamp 81’s MICKEY PEARCE gets things started, easing us into the evening with the sharply programmed drum sequences and lurking bass lines that has had recent 12’’ Don’t Ask, Don’t Get on repeat all year. Midnight passes and The Hold is already overflowing, with door staff turning people away in their dozens and kids literally leaping over the gate to get in (seriously, one guy actually did this, people clapped and cheered and I’m pretty sure we all hugged). Make no mistake; a sell-out for a local night outside of term time is mightily impressive even with the help of MiFest and Selective Hearing. Next up is Tsuba’s HUXLEY, whose unique blend of UK Garage and Contemporary House has seen him become one of the UKs most sought after producers this year. Within minutes of his set it’s easy to see why, launching into highlights from the brilliant Out The Box and Let It Go EPs, shaking The Hold to its core with some robust baselines and layers of infectious synths and abrasive percussion.

Last up is BODDIKA. Now on his own after he was originally scheduled to play b2b with Joy Orbison, the London based producer had a lot of hype to contend with. Any fears were allayed as he responded with one of the best sets Abandon Silence has ever seen. Being surrounded by 200 revellers punching the ceiling with excitement has become a well-earned tradition for Andrew Hill’s night, but it has rarely seen anything like this. In the midst of all the chaos, Mickey Pearce and Huxley stand alongside Boddika in awe at the atmosphere they have created. Its far too hot, you’re drenched in your own sweat and the lad next to you has knocked his third beer over your new shirt and it’s impossible to care. As the crowd erupts in “Boddika’s a Scouser” chants (still trying to work that one out), the night comes to an end and the exhausted crowd drags themselves back up the stairs and back to reality. This was unbelievably good.

This is what you get with Abandon Silence. Whether its Julio Bashmore, Boddika or just the residents, everyone is there to completely lose themselves in the music and dance themselves into the ground. With “big changes” promised for the new season, it seems inevitable that it will outgrow its current venue. What’s certain though is that no matter where it is, it will take all those hundreds of beaming faces with them. Local producer Mele recently called it his favourite night in the world. Not going to disagree with you there, lad. 

Monday, 6 August 2012

Preview: Bestival 2012 (Waxxx)

Waxxx Magazine - July 2012

Bestival 2012 - Preview

Bestival is the one you always go back to. Having spent the whole of University listening to insufferable students compare their BeStiVal tiMeZ, it’s clear that people hold a deep and lasting affection for the Rob Da Bank curated weekend on the Isle Of Wight. Bestival has grown from 10,000 people in its first year to nearly 60,000 in 2011 and is filled by a cross section of festival goers from the whole summer. From the inevitable mankini sporting wanker to your mates mum who thought everyone slept in heated tipi’s, Bestival’s come-one-come-all attitude earns its reputation as the friendliest festival around.

Then of course there is the line-up. The most staggering thing about Bestival’s line-up is just how vast it is. By the time you reach the end of the poster there will be steam coming out your ears, not least because of soul legend Stevie Wonder. The festival has grown in the last few years but make no mistake about it, landing Stevie Wonder is a remarkable achievement for the organisers. I mean, even when he was announced as the Glastonbury headliner in 2010 people were shocked that he even knew what it was. New Order’s inclusion as the other headliner does go some way to emphasising how much his booking may have set them back, with the absence of an increasingly friendless Peter Hook in the reformed line-up offering little consolation.

As always, Dance and Electronic Music takes centre stage at this year’s Bestival. After 2012’s masterpiece Fin, Spanish House producer John Talabot and his flawless build and release sounds will challenge the likes of Julio Bashmore and Soulwax as the weekend’s best dance act. Nero on the main stage will draw all those rave painted bro-steppers and their £2 pills away from the dance tent, allowing you to enjoy the likes of Scuba, Blawan, Four Tet and Ellesmere Port’s very own Evian Christ without worrying about getting your head kicked in. 

Despite looking and sounding like your drunk uncle (if you replaced the alcohol with a lifetime of drug abuse), Jason Pierce and his psychedelic wall of sound Spiritualized must not be missed. Imagine hearing the swoon of Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space as the sun starts to set – oh man. There is plenty for all you sensitive souls out there too: Sweden’s First Aid Kit will warm your heart with their simple folk melodies that made this year’s The Lion’s Roar so disarming, and if the hair-raising vocals of Elena Tonra of 4AD’s Daughter don’t bring a tear to your eye then you’ll need to accept that your black heart will probably be alone forever. Those looking to get their funk on will need to get themselves to Brooklyn hipsters Friends and Lewisham producer Kwes, whose infectious rhythms will have you shuffling in your converse until your Supreme cap falls off. 

Bestival is quite unusual in that is has the scale and ambition of the likes of Reading and Leeds, whilst retaining that charm and modesty that we love most about our small festivals. Desperately resisting the urge to use the term ‘melting pot’, it’s a place where the metal heads from download, the pill-heads from Creamfields, the Stevie-Wonder-Who’s from V and the people who don’t give a shit either way can come together with their sights set on ending the summer in style.

Bestival Is On The 6 – 9th September