Festivals Inside Liverpool Sound City’s curation: “It’s our ambition to be the best festival for discovering new music”

Inside Liverpool Sound City’s curation: “It’s our ambition to be the best festival for discovering new music”

Ahead of this weekend’s fest, we spoke to Nick Otaegui about the curators who’ve gotten involved in this year’s line-up.

Liverpool Sound City are changing things up in more way than one this year: not only are the festival returning to their original location, in the heart of the city itself, but for some of this year’s showcases, they’re going to be handing over the reins to a host of curators. 

At this year’s festival, a range of organisations and brands have worked with organisers to offer up carefully curated line-ups across each of the venues, including yours truly. 

We’re delighted to also be hosting our own stage at the event, which takes place on Sunday 6th May. Headlining the DIY Stage at Constellations is superstar-in-waiting George van den Broek, aka Yellow Days.

He’s joined on the DIY stage by Class Of 2018 alumni Sorry and King Nun, along with Class Of 2018 tour openers Bloxx, Puma Blue, Gaffa Tape Sandy, Vistas, ALASKALASKA and Plaza. Get all the details on the DIY stage at Liverpool Sound City here.

In the lead up to this year’s edition, the festival’s Nick Otaegui spoke to us about the experience of bringing in a range of curators, and which showcases he’s most looking forward to. 

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This year you’re getting a whole host of organisations on board to curate their own line-ups within the festival. How did you come up with the concept?

After ten years of running Sound City, last year we did a huge survey of our audiences and what came back strongly was that people loved discovering new bands at Sound City. We decided to refocus on this and with the move back to the city centre we thought, “How can we get the widest and best mix of new artists?” We came up with the curator idea, which is something we’ve been doing for a couple of years now with our sister event, Off the Record and which works really well.

Why was it important to incorporate this into the festival this year? What do you think it’s brought to the line-u

It’s our ambition to be the best festival for discovering new music so working in collaboration with lots of people who are passionate about music helps us to do that. I think it’s widened what we include, for example, working with Abandon Silence (Liverpool’s leading dance music promoters) has brought us more underground DJs, and Punch Records from Birmingham have brought us a soul line-up. It’s definitely brought more new artists to our attention.

Was this also connected to the festival moving back to Liverpool’s city centre?

Yes definitely. Moving back to the city centre and to the Baltic Triangle has given us a variety of spaces to work with of all different sizes, which is really suited to an eclectic mix of acts.

There’s a real mix of curators for this year - how did you invite people to contribute? What do you expect, for example, Zadari Festa to bring to the mix, in comparison to someone like Heavenly Records?

This year we started with our own contacts and networks, people whose opinions we respect and trust. We’ve been working with Zandari Festa in Seoul since 2013 when they first brought a Korean showcase to Sound City and since then we now take UK artists - such as African Boy, She Drew the Gun and Chelou - to Seoul in October to showcase at their festival. We know they are spot on when it comes to promoting Korean music and they bring something totally new each year. Heavenly Recordings have been coming to Sound City for a long time, and in 2014 Jeff Barrett signed Hooton Tennis Club when they played on Edge Hill University’s The Label stage. Heavenly is also home to Stealing Sheep who are playing this year so they have a great affinity with Liverpool.

How do you think the curation side of things enhances the experience of Liverpool Sound City for punters? What do you hope they take away from these specific showcases?

We always want people to see something at Sound City that they’d never normally expect to see. I think the curator showcases will help them do that, and hopefully they’ll discover some of their new favourite bands at them.

Who’s showcase are you looking forward to most?!

I’m really looking forward to seeing Dorian and Louvar, a brilliant hip hop duo from Luxembourg who are playing our opening night party at District tonight (Friday 4th May) and at 17.45 at Blade Factory on Saturday 5th May during the festival.

Liverpool Sound City takes place from 5th - 6th May and DIY is an official media partner. Tickets are on sale now. Visit diymag.com/presents for more information.

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