Sonar Trip

Capsule at Sonar Festival

In recent years, Birmingham has developed a potent electronica scene, breeding artists such as Plone, Broadcast, Pram, Magnetophone, Scorn, Sand, Tele:Funken, The Modified Toy Orchestra, Dreams Of Tall Buildings, PCM and Mike In Mono. Innovative artists need innovative record labels. The current Birmingham scene is bristling with vital new set-ups that are dedicated to the music’s confrontational byways, without relinquishing its funky pulse…

Capsule has been commissioned by UK Trade and Investment to co-ordinate a trip taking a selection of Birmingham based creative companies to this years Sonar festival in Barcelona. These include Different Drummer/Experimental Seafood Records/Static Caravan/Type Records/[k]rack-troni[k]/7 inch Cinema/Beat 13/Blowback Magazine as well as freelance journalist Martin Longley.

Under the supersonic banner a stall will be set up at the record/media fair held each year at sonar. The stall will give each company a presence within the festival increasing their opportunity to promote to an international audience and network with key members of the music industry.

A compilation CD featuring material from each of the Birmingham based labels and creative companies taking part has been compiled to further promote BirminghamÕs creative sector to an international audience at the sonar event.

Capsule has been working closely with the BPI who will be attending Sonar festival for the first time this year. CapsuleÕs link with the BPI has resulted in 3 tracks from Birmingham based labels being included on a further compilation CD. This CD will feature UK labels performing or attending this yearÕs festival, including acts from WARP, DOMINO, LEX, NOVAMUTE.

Sonar festival now attracts an audience of 90,000 people each year. As a festival that exists at the cutting edge of the music industry it has been highly influential to capsules approach in developing Supersonic Festival in Birmingham. Experiencing an event of such scale and scope we hope will be of great influence to each of the companies taking part, encouraging further development of the creative scene within the region.

About the companies going

Capsule & Supersonic
Capsule provides a space for experimentation within the realms of contemporary culture. In 1999, these Birmingham-based promoters opened up a unique project space for creative action, through the curation, promotion and presentation of audio and visual work. Their annual Supersonic festival is an eclectic playground, where emergent artists mingle with established and world-renowned practitioners. Supersonic 04 takes place on 23rd & 24th of July, and features Senor Coconut & His Orchestra, Zongamin, Spektrum & a newly-commissioned piece by Surgeon/Regis.

Beat 13
For the last five years, Matt Watkins has combined video, print and web design, mixing music, artwork and animations. Beat 13 acts as a collective forum for experimentation, operating out of its T-shirt and print shop in Birmingham’s Custard Factory complex. Matt has designed the artwork for the compilation cd and for the logo for this years Supersonic Festival.

Different Drummer/Leftfoot
Different Drummer was created in 1992 by Richard ‘DJ Dick’ Whittingham and Glyn ‘Bigga’ Bush, releasing discs by Rockers Hi-Fi, Mighty Math, International Observer, G-Corp and Noiseshaper. Recent signings Dollboy & Momma Gravy have imminent album releases scheduled. Different Drummer’s regular Leftfoot club night plays host to Gilles Peterson, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Jazzanova, Mr Scruff, Fila Brazilia, Grand Central, Roots Manuva, Carl Craig and Ty. There are also monthly Leftfoot nights in Paris, Nottingham and Croatia.

Experimental Seafood Records
Label head Lee Howard likes to view his output as ‘the lowest form of entertainment’. Experimental Seafood Records is a micro-label set up to promote and release works from some of Birmingham’s most overlooked and shunned artists. Specialising in the darker side of electronics, field recordings, sound art, electro-acoustics and spoken word, ESR has a militant view that exclusivity and design are just as important as the music itself. Their 7″ and 12″ singles arrive in deluxe gatefold packs, and have included phials of blood, strangely smelling sleeves and discs that are enclosed in wooden boxes, making them almost impossible to play. Releases often have ridiculously limited runs, and are frequently hand-crafted.

Birmingham-based producers Sir Real and 8-Bit Apocalypse launched [k]rack-troni[k] in the year 2000, dedicating themselves to the release of innovative and dynamic electro/breaks records that feed the head as well as crush the floor. Both are residents at the infamous House Of God in Birmingham, which has now been active for eleven years, making it the longest-running club night in the Midlands. 2004 sees the start of a new distribution deal with Veto Music.

7 Inch Cinema
Freeing film from its earthly shackles, 7 Inch Cinema places the emphasis on short durations, experimental approaches and multi-stylistic mash-ups. They offer images that can’t be viewed elsewhere, in the places we’d least expect to find them. 7 Inch encourage submissions of visual work for their regular evenings at The Rainbow public house in Birmingham, and are currently developing plans for a tour and festival.

Static Caravan
Static Caravan has been leading the way in non-commercial electronica formats since 1998. Head honcho Geoff Dolman has a special love for the 7″ vinyl single, and a deliberate predilection for winkling out undiscovered talent, often allowing his proteges to move on towards bigger labels. This leaves him free to pursue innovation and surprise, always taking the unfamiliar alleyway. He isn’t overly interested in MP3s…

John Twells and Stefan Lewandowski’s Type specialises in electronic, soundscape and cinematic music from around the world. Although based in the UK, Type artists are drawn from a community of musicians, and are variously located in Sweden, Norway, France, North America, Japan and England. Twells records material as Xela and collaborates with Gabriel Morley as Yasume. Lewandowski records as Aeiou, and handles all of Type’s graphics, photography, sleeve art and video pieces. The label believes that electronica needs emotional individuality.

other people from Birmingham going to sonar this year include:
blowback magazine
Ideas Factory West Midlands
Jigsaw Music