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Greetings From Beacons
After the despair of last year's washout, the impeccably-crafted BEACONS Festival returns to the Yorkshire Dales aiming to make up for the rain-enforced cancellation of the 2011 event. And looking at the line-up they've assembled it looks like they're going to achieve it.
With reggae legends TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS lording it over a jam-packed bill, you probably don't need to look at the supporting cast for justification to pack your bag for Skipton's Funkirk Estate, but a cursory glance will show you just what a fine array of great stuff is also on offer. ANDREW WEATHERALL will be manning the decks with his latest A Love From Outer Space project (with Sean Johnston), and ROOTS MANUVA is in control on the opening night (Friday) to kick Beacons off in style. MOUNT KIMBIE, PATRICK WOLF, FACTORY FLOOR and a host of others will be on hand to serve up some juicy hors d'oeuvres to these legendary main courses over the three days, and legends-in-waiting WILLIS EARL BEAL (Sunday), SAVAGES (Friday) and SWIM DEEP (Saturday) provide some mouth-watering punch lower down the order.
Wild Beasts at Beacons 2012
One of Beacons' biggest pulls this year will be a headline set from WILD BEASTS on the Saturday night. Their richly textured sound improves year by year and album by album, making them a genuinely exciting band to watch and listen to as they continue to develop their own unique style. From a local perspective too the success of a band like Wild Beasts, with all of their experimental and litereate tendencies, has opened the door for our very own OUTFIT to forge an indentity for themselves as musical extroverts. With the recent release of the EP Another Nights Dreams Reach Earth, Outfit have managed to consolidate a sound that is becoming unmistakably their own. Honed across two cities, ANDREA evokes a sense of distance whilst maintaining a personal, emotional depth that has won over many critics. With the band back in Liverpool to record their debut album, we felt it was about time we got reacquainted with our favourite outfit. Jonny Davis caught up with the band’s vocalist Andrew Hunt to find out how the five-piece are gearing up for Beacons.
Bido Lito!: How are you finding living in London?
Andrew Hunt: I'm enjoying it a lot, it's a fun place to be, there's a lot to react to and think about. There have been some pretty good parties too, we really like parties.
BL!: Although there are no doubt personal and collective reasons for Outfit relocating to London, any band moving away from Liverpool raises questions about the ability of this city to give musicians a leg up. Having moved away from the city, do you think Liverpool has the infrastructure to nurture musicians and help them reach a wider audience?
AH: Yes absolutely. Any city has the ability to give musicians an environment to exist in but it's the artists themselves who need to lift themselves up, there's nothing in the way really. In any case Liverpool is a pretty famed musical city; it has had an awful lot of famous bands come out of it, some of whom were/are great. For some reason people in Liverpool feel hard done by, I've never really understood that to be honest, it's vibrant and far more encouraging than other small cities. I know that I personally wanted to move to London because I'd lived in Liverpool all my life and wanted to explore a bit, where else would I go in the UK? People put too much emphasis on where you're from. Also being a band in London is not really any easier, at all, but it's an inspiring place.
BL!: Have you started recording the album yet? Can you give us a taster of what to expect and will you be performing new material at Beacons festival?
AH: We haven't actually started recording yet no. We have demoed around 12 new tracks though, and I'm super excited about them. They will mature and coalesce into different forms over the next few months I'm sure, but they're strong and I hope they sound "like Outfit". We're recording and producing ourselves and we're actually moving back to Liverpool to do the recording, so people can calm down about our postcodes.
BL!: You seem to have excellent control over your image/web presence. Is there a manifesto for what Outfit is/represents/wishes to achieve as a unit?
AH: One thing we've learned as people as well as in the context of a band is that you can't control the way people see you, but if you have a strong character and a clear sense of self then that sets you up pretty well for being understood. Outfit is quite an honest band, despite assumptions one might make about an act who have been covered a lot in the media, we try and write about things we have felt and try not to be too self conscious about our influences. We don't have a manifesto, we're not a business or political party, but it would be nice to feel like we've articulated something which has a wider resonance.
BL!: What are your thoughts on the current economics of the music industry? Does a band still have the right to make a living from music when its economic value has crashed and music production is so cheap?
AH: Music production isn't always cheap, it depends on what you are doing, and you should always pursue your true intentions. It's a dangerous situation when economics force artists to change their values, and you're going to start seeing a lot more artists working deep within a more corporate framework because publishing and ad syncs are still very profitable for bands. That presents a more nuanced ethical dilemma than we had in the past. But people still value music, the thing people are less interested in is exchanging money for files, when the files are already out there. But people still go to shows and buy pin badges with mp3s on or whatever and "support" music. It's changing and we're all being very slow to catch on. I'm sure there is a way to make it work. I don't like it when people cop out of personal responsibility by citing their culture as being responsible for lack of engagement with artists, but it is the mode of transaction which is becoming outdated, not the transaction itself, I believe.
BL!: How do you feel about the hype you are getting? Is it something that you pay attention to and are you wary of the negative effects it can have?
AH: The web is like a big pond that no one wants to get stagnant, so you must keep stirring it. I don't feel like we're in a hyped band, in fact I often feel quite out on a limb in the UK music scene. I'd feel weird about being hyped if I thought our music was shit. But I quite like it.
BL!: What music are you into at the moment? Is there a lot of crossover in all of your listening habits?
AH: We all listen to quite different things, Nick has been killing Mt Eerie's last album recently, Tom is all over L-Vis 1990, Dave has been diggin' that Darkside EP. Chris has been learning to play some really hard jazz piece for ages, I think that might be all he's listening to. I have been enjoying Os Mutantes recently. We converge when it comes to melody and interesting production, that's something we all agree on.
BL!: Minor variation on Desert Island discs – If you could only listen to one artist/bands back catalogue for the rest of time, who would you choose?
AH: For me it would probably be either The Beach Boys or Arthur Russell, both have enormous back catalogues and are quite varied, but possess an uplifting kind of spiritual heart which would probably keep me from stabbing myself dead.
BL!: Good luck with the recording. I’m looking forward to seeing you guys at Beacons.
AH: Good bye Jonny, see you in Liverpool soon!
Greetings From Beacons Festival takes place at Funkirk Estate, Skipton on 17th,18th and 19th August. More information on the line-up and tickets can be found at greetingsfrombeacons.com.