Stealing Sheep, Dogshow, Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band, Obscenic, TiLT Dance Collective, the Costumologists, Impropriety and countless others sprang from or were inspired by The Kazimier’s madcap creative slew, with the place acting as a vessel for so many other groups and people to enjoy the space in their own specific, personal way. The Kaz’s doors may be closing, but it will take more than bulldozers to flatten the creative energy that the place has incubated; one chapter closes, and another begins.
So, what does The Kazimier mean to you? We asked this question to several of the supporting cast around the Kazimier Collective – the people who’ve played at, performed at, filmed, managed, soundtracked and enhanced the Kazimier spectacle over the past seven years:
Laura Brownhill | founder member, performer and member of Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band
Rob Lewis | Technical Manager and Master of Vibes
Hollie Coleman | TiLT dance collective, performer and member of Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band
Joel Murray | member of Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band and Barberos
Jack Whiteley | filmmaker and prolific Kazimier documenter [we have included a selection of Jack’s amazing Kazimier films below for you to enjoy the jouney]
What does The Kazimier mean to you?
Laura Brownhill: The Kazimier bares a myriad of meanings to me. It has been intrinsically linked to every aspect of my being for the best part of a decade, and it has formulated my growth creatively, socially and spiritually while I have existed in Liverpool. It has been a privilege and an immense life experience to have witnessed or facilitated some of the wonderful things The Kazimier has hosted, that have has shaped a large group of people.
The Kazimier has also served as a nucleus for the creative community and has been an epicentre and platform for local, national, and international talent, artists, musicians and revellers.
The building itself has been a blank canvas for me and its other co-founders to sculpt our artistic identities, a base for making art and performance a point of social cohesion, a place where our wildest visions have come into fruition. A place where magic has been bestowed.
The intimate structure of the building has proved to be the perfect setting for so many special gigs, shows and happenings and this will be hard to replicate anywhere after its demolition, but to me The Kazimier is very much about the wider sphere of creative people that keep its essence fuelled. That is what will spawn the new beginnings for the Liverpool scene, the belief that the power to make things happen is within the passion of the people.
Rob Lewis: The Kazimier is the best-sounding 500-cap venue in the world, and I feel honoured to have served the music/artistic community for best part of five years in the club. I have dedicated the best years of my life to this space and have received a shit ton of wisdom and experience in return.
Everyone who comes through has a moment of ‘what the hell is this place?’ ‘where is the branding on the PA?!’ Then I fire up the sound system and people’s anxiety is immediately ameliorated.
The Kaz has been my living room: I got the full Kaz experience and I will be forever jazzed about it. The Kazimier and the people at the centre of it – and concentrically outside – are my family.
Stealing Sheep: The Kazimier is a distinctive place that we’ll remember for its fascinating visuals and music, held together by incredible people with great ideas. We’ve been very inspired by this place and we love all of the people behind it. It represents friends, creativity and excitement!
Joel Murray: Well it’s been the place I’ve played the most, drunk the most, danced the most and probably had the most fun in the entire nine years I’ve lived in the city. It’s so much more than just a venue, I think it’s important to remember that… The Kazimier is a creative collective which will go on doing things in the city, it’s just losing its shell for now. The first shows those dudes put on blew so many people’s heads off and changed a lot of things for a lot of people. I don’t think I’d be doing some of the creative projects I’m doing now without it (HEX, etc). They’ve influenced the city and built a scene around the place.
Hollie Coleman: It shows what can be done when people have a vision. No matter how big or how huge, dreams can be brought to life and we’re all invited to join in in their magical world! It is a centre of community, support, creativity and magic.
Jack Whiteley: Pure vibes! Friends. Family. Music. Dancing. Laughter. Joy. Euphoria. Escapism. Hedonism. Getting krunked. Drinking. Drugging. Dreaming. Full-body gurning. Crazy legs. Crazy days. Crazy nights. Crazy by Seal (#bestsongever). Watching Loz smash the shit out of his drums in various weird formations. Watching Sam stick his bottom jaw out while playing his synths. Turning around to see Venya and Vbz owning the sound booth. Looking up to see various objects/confetti/people come down from the ceiling. Moonwalking across the top stage performing Billie Jean on New Year’s Eve. Snogging babes (mostly Rebecca Hawley #namecheck). Basically The Kazimier = LOVE.
If you could take one physical memento from the club as a souvenir, what would it be (and why)?
HC: The beautiful sanded, varnished and polished octagonal floor that was done for the first Tilt Dance event and probably only lasted one month after – well worth it though!
JM: Hmmm… no idea. I think the memories will suffice!
SS: We’ll take the cable car lanterns.
JW: The people (although thankfully we’re not losing them!).
LB: I don’t have any inclinations to take physical mementos from the club as a souvenir as the memories are all too strong. Much appreciation goes to the likes of Jack Whiteley, Sebastian Brückner, Mina Bihi, Lee Isserow and all the folk that have documented the club’s activities over the years. The videos and photos are a priceless archive: so many preserved smiles and joy!
Do you think Liverpool’s music community will be affected by the closure of the club?
SS: It was the perfect platform for realising projects, but we’re optimistic that the artistic community will be pushed to find new ways of working – and already signs of that are happening and it’s good to break this formula. The Kaz Garden and Cosmolodge will also maintain the communal spirit of The Kazimier and keep everyone together.
JW: Undoubtedly. I don’t know any other place in town that attracts the same calibre of musician and artist. Don’t get me wrong, there are other great places in Liverpool, but The Kazimier was always unique in not only what it offered but the way it offered it. It was the whole package: incredible bookings; a unique and bonkers setting; impeccable sound and lighting; a great bar, reasonably priced; friendly staff; no dicks on the dancefloor; bouncers that hugged rather than harassed you. It was basically your dream venue. Shit-damn-funk I’m gonna miss it!
HC: Yes, and the wider artistic community too. The Kazimer has supported TiLT Dance events from start to finish. Thank you!
JM: Yes, hugely, and I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet with a lot of people. The Kaz is soooo unique, there’s nowhere else anything like it in the city currently, it’s leaving a massive gap in the scene. I hope someone steps up and tries to fill the gap rather than just opening up another new soulless meat-and-beer bar with exposed light bulbs and brick walls. There are all these new expensive so-called trendy bars opening up and yet no new venues… the council seems to be more interested in having the city full of ‘luxury’ flats, student accommodation and shit faux-London beard-stroking plastic bars than they are in venues and cultivating our amazing local music scene, which historically the city is so famous for – they’re killing it.
LB: Yes, it’s a sorry affair that the process of gentrification takes so much away from grassroots culture. The Kazimier has spawned new bands and provided free practice space and endless opportunities for new outfits to perform to audiences. Without this, and with the recent loss of our sister space MelloMello, local musicians and gig-goers will feel a void in the scene for sure.
The extensive and versatile programming over the years has been so valuable to Liverpool’s music culture. There’s no doubt, though, that with closure of one door, a new one will open to take its place. So let’s look forward to a rejuvenation of the music scene and the re-shaping and progress of its musical community.
What’s your favourite – or the most memorable – thing you’ve been involved in at The Kaz?
HC: Too many, as it would be all of them!
RL: Highlights: Oneohtrixpointnever, Thee Oh Sees, Battles, EVERY HIP HOP SHOW, The Low Anthem, Metronomy, Jonathan Richman, WIRE, Polar Bear, Peanut Butter Wolf… The list really goes on and on – I will probably compile a top 10 after dust has settled.
Most of all I have loved the opportunity to hone my craft and create the perfect mood for artists to thrive.
LB: There have been so many memorable things that I’ve been involved with at The Kazimier and I’ll always carry [the memory of them] with me. I’ve always loved the Improvathon, and the 33.5 hours every year that I’d sleep deprive myself to endure the madness of my actor friends and their alter-egos!
Favourite gigs have included Sean Kuti & Egypt 80, and the first time Charli 2NA played – he picked me up with a giant bear hug on the top stage just before he went on. The club was bouncing with energy, he played a two-hour set, and then we had some laughs amidst a green haze post-gig in the dressing room with his entourage.
A very vivid memory is on NYE 2009/10, when I was lowered from the ceiling through a spaceship called The Kronos dressed as a hybrid version of robot Maria from Metropolis! It was part of the midnight spectacle – up in the roof was just myself and two others. Mike Lill propped himself on a precarious plank and jammed his foot into a gap and took the strain on the other end of the rope that I was attached to. I risked my life as The Kronos opened in the ceiling and Tracky Crombie held my hand as I stepped out into a gap where I could see hundreds of people below me on the club floor. Luckily, Mike was strong and lowered me with grace! I remember feeling the warmth of the energy in the room rising up, it was an unbelievable sensation. We commenced the 10-second countdown to New Year’s Eve and then the club exploded with joy, über excitement and love and copious amounts of confetti! People were hugging and kissing each other for about 10 minutes after midnight struck – it was true beauty!
JM: Well, Atalonia – although not actually at The Kaz but organised by those guys – was monumental back in 2011. That led to me being involved with so many of the other shows they’ve put on really, on so many levels: performing, managing, organising etc. I’ve really loved being a part of the team and I’m sure we will all continue to work together in one way or another in the future.
SS: The Kronos Returns and hopefully this New Year’s Eve party galactic karaoke!!!!
JW: It has to be any one of the big club nights they used to throw back in the early days – Reconstruct, Imperium, The Fantascopic Fair – but mostly I’d say the epic New Year’s Eve parties The Kronos, The Kronos Returns and The Kronos Begins. With those nights New Year’s Eve for the first time actually lived up to the hype. They own New Year’s. Bring on Escape To Planet Kronos!