An Insurrection at the Waters: Jo Bywater in conversation.

An Insurrection at the waters: Jo Bywater in conversation.

Liverpool is home to talent of many kinds both home grown and otherwise. Originally from outside the city, Jo Bywater is a multi faceted artist and you may have seen some of her artwork at this year’s Threshold Festival. When it comes to music though, judging by the crowds who filled our space during the Insurrection, you must surely have seen her performance of some inspirational and poetic songs? If that’s not the case, I urge you go see Jo live as soon as you possibly can. But, you have to read this interview with her first. Or even print it out and read it on the way to seeing her live. Whatever you do, read below for what must be one of the most pleasing interviews I’ve done in a long time!

It was great seeing your performance at the Insurrection. Any highlights for you from the show?

I really enjoyed playing at Insurrection. My highlights were being involved in a show and exhibition that was grounded on an ethos of independence, free speech, action etc… It’s motivating and inspiring to me to be reminded that there are like-minded people out there who do want to listen to new music. I was in the company of some great creative people including yourself! (Blushes ensue from this writer!)

Some may know you better as an artist than a musician. Does your art feed into your music or do you try and maintain a separation between the two?

I tend to see everything as a picture anyway, even songs. Initially I wanted to keep the music and art separate but as they’ve both developed they’ve just naturally grown together. Neither of them completely feed each other but they’re very much both me and so do run along side each other. The first few paintings I did were visual representations of songs - ‘One Small Step’ is an example - I used that as a basis to start but my inspirations quickly changed to other things as i gained more confidence in my artwork.  Over the last year when I decided to dive into creating my debut album the two crafts definitely came hand in hand.  The project was something I’ve wanted to do for a few years but wasn’t in the position to do so either with money or resources.

Jo Bywater at the Insurrection.

 ‘(Art and music) come from very deep expressive places for me…’  

You recently released your album for the world to hear. What inspired it's title Cycle Grace Pulse Break?

The title came from the song WAVE from the album.  I’m a bit obsessed with cycles in life, that’s how I tend to rationalize or understand things and I love the sea. Cycle Grace Pulse Break are very tactile, physical and visual words, the 4 words all induce different feelings and ways that a wave/situations can impact, be it soft, supportive or harsh or in rhythm; metaphors for life and the bigger picture. ‘Cycle Grace Pulse Break’ is a dance -  and playful. The year I wrote ‘Wave’ was also named ‘the year of fulfilment’ by me and a friend and that got into the first line of the song.
There are some great songs on the album such as Wave, which is the first single. What made Wave stand out as the first single and what is the song's inspiration?

‘Wave’ to me has an epic power to it and it’s very rhythmic. It was also the most recent of the songs I had written, gets great feedback and holds the album title in its chorus. It became the natural first choice to make a video for. As for its inspiration, I touched upon that briefly in an earlier question about the album title. In addition, it was about my observations and adopted attitude towards life’s ups and downs and that many things come to us in waves. I wanted to explore how they felt. I tried to emphasize the cyclical feel and drive of pulsing and rhythm in the chorus too.

Is there anything you would like to see more of in the world, be it something silly or something serious, and why?

I’d like to see more encouragement for kids to explore their creative expression freely and naturally and to challenge and explore the world/society around them; For more people to be in touch with their hearts and souls and not just their heads; For the taboo of mental health issues to disappear; For older people to be valued for their wisdom and not cast-off as past their sell-by date; More funny and clever street art/graffiti. More dragons, centaurs, care bears and hover-boards. More flying people - not in planes, just people knowing how to fly by themselves; these things to me depict personal freedom, expression, acceptance and dreams. I don’t think en masse people know they have an option to do that. 
Is there anywhere that you find particularly conducive to making music or art?

I live in a flat in an old house in Aigburth, my room has big windows and trees and birds and is near Sefton Park. This is where I do my creating ultimately; usually with a cup of coffee. The places that charge me with creative energy and head space for the artwork and music in the first place tend to be certain parts of the park especially in the sun, rundown buildings, Mello Mello in town; always places that aren’t uniform and have got passion and a story to tell. - Things that ooze energy. But then I need peace and solitude.

What do you think the message of The Nerve Centre is?

A strong space for an independent voice; Action; Expression; A collective voice and elevator for valid and independent opinions and creativity; To challenge what exists in the mainstream and to create a proactive response and alternate voice; Local support.

Any final messages for the people of Nerve?

Keep up the good work! Persevere in carrying the torch, more people will get involved and the voice will be louder.  Keep pushing to spread the word with more Nerve Centre's etc so more people will hear about it. And thanks! 

Thanks to Jo Bywater for a great set at the Insurrection and an even better interview. Listen to her album and check out her live performance soon. You know it would be criminal not to! 

Interview, blushes and live image by Sebastian Gahan.  


Interview: 20lb Sounds

Dan, on guitar and vocals, Gary, on bass, and Ross, on drums, make up 20lb Sounds. You may remember just last year, on a cold and frosty night at Renshaw Street that 20lb Sounds played a memorable set during the RatHole Radio event. Early on in this years Insurrection they played a set at our lovely room in FACT. I caught up with the band...

Hi Guys. You played your first acoustic gig at the Insurrection. How did it go and any highlights from the night?
Gary: It was interesting to play the tunes in a different way than we usually play them. 
Dan: Yeah, I joked that we were cheating with amps plugged in but it really was very different for us. It was nice to see the songs could still come across without loud distortion. That was a highlight for me.

You played a good set. One of my favorites was Jimmy Carter. I know the name is used in convenience, but is there anybody else, famous or not, who you'd like to write a song about and why?

Dan: I was trying to think of famous names but then I realised the answer, I'd probably choose my granddad. He led a very interesting life and was something of a legend to me. He was a docker in Liverpool and a strong union man, he influenced my political views a lot.

You also mentioned that people keep sending and/or telling you facts about the man himself - that is, Jimmy Carter. What is the most obscure or bizarre thing you've learned about Jimmy Carter so far?

Gary: That he is an honorary Geordie.
Ross: He was given the key to Newcastle a while ago. Hence the line in the song.

You also played at last years event at Renshaw Street. How has the band changed/developed since then and what does the future hold?
Gary: We had only just started back then. None of us had been in bands for years. We have all improved as players and we know more tunes now. Our set has gone from mostly cover versions to nearly all original tunes.
Dan: Yeah, we've definitely improved I think. Writing more of our own songs has been really important. I've enjoyed that a lot. Hopefully we can keep writing songs, recording them and playing gigs. Improving and growing. - If somebody else out there likes listening to our music that's great too. 

Last year we had a big Greek god looking over us. What caught your eye particularly on the walls this year?
Gary: The projector screen.
Dan: That was pretty eye catching. There was a video of someone at another event (possibly in America) playing an acoustic guitar while we set up. There also seemed to be a lot of interviews playing and I enjoyed that. Some of the paintings I also liked but I'd struggle to name just one right now.

Besides 20lb Sounds, what other activities do the band pursue? 

Gary: I also make drum and bass music with a friend. We call ourselves The Lone Gunmen and we have done a hand full of gigs. I also listen to Dan and Ross talk about cricket a lot. 
Ross: We don't talk about it that much.
Dan: What can I say we're just that rock and roll, talking about cricket and drinking tea. We all do different things really. There's a lot of chat about football and other sports in the practice room though I admit. I like spending too long on the Internet myself, once I turn on the computer I'm lost for hours.

Your new E.P. entitled El Bubblino is out for the people to hear. What was the inspiration behind it and will there be any new material out soon?

Dan: I wrote the song about my friend Adrian McEwen's invention Bubblino. You can find out more about him at bubblino.com, it's something of a geeky inside joke really. He's from Mexico and he blows bubbles, it seemed like a funny subject for a song.

Gary: I expect there will be a constant stream of new material. We're finding it quite easy to get new tunes together and we work together well.

Some bands are named at odds with their output. Would you say that the band name is indicative of the music you make? 

Gary: I don't think the name is representative of the bands sound at all. I don't think the band name is important. It's just that you have to have one.
Dan: I was gonna make some comment about the weight of our sound and how heavy it is, but you've ruined that argument now. There were all kinds of silly suggestions for names going round for months, but in the end we realised we just had to pick one and go with it. So 20lb Sounds it was.

The theme of the event at FACT is Insurrection. What issues in the news (or not) would you urge the people to consider seriously?
Gary: I would urge people to be suspicious of mainstream news and question how it is decided which stories make the news and which don't and what the motives are behind this.
Dan: That's a good answer. I'd probably say they should think about the major changes and cutbacks our government is making right now. I realise we have debts but there seems to be a lack of humanity to some of it. I wish politicians thought more about the consequences of their actions sometimes.

Is there a song someone else has written/performed that you'd love to perform yourselves and why?
Gary: I would rather play our own stuff and keep making new ones. If there was any song we particularly wanted to cover, we would just do it.
Dan: We've played quite a few covers since we started, but it's nice to write our own stuff I agree.

Complete this sentence. The Insurrection is....

Gary: The Insurrection is always the birth of a new corrupt system. Will this ever change?
Ross: I can't beat that answer.

Thank you to 20lb Sounds for an excellent show and an excellent interview. For more on the band see the link below...

Interview and images by Sebastian Gahan. 


Interview: Juve

 An Interview with Juve...

Our (other) man on the scene at the Nerve Centre talked to a fair few people there as well as wearing a rather nice hat. Here's a chat between Nerve's John Owen and Juve, a local hip-hop artist who performed during the Insurrection...

John: Why have you chosen the name Juve?
Juve: It started off as Juvekyle, a play on the word 'juvenile' since my name is Kyle and then it was just a bit of a mouthful so I just changed it to Juve...

John: When did you start ever doing anything like this?
Juve: When I was about ten my mum showed me an Eminem album and I was just listening to that and it inspired me to start writing. But it's only now, just recently that I've started constructing proper songs instead of just messing about with it, to be honest.

John: Do you like that style of delivery? Have you always thought that this is the style you want rather than crooning or something stupid like that?
Juve: I just think it's important to have a balance. If it's always bombarding people with messages sometimes people might be turned off by that. Sometimes you have to have a message, sometimes you might just want to get people attracated to the beat and make it catchy.

John: How old are you now?
Juve: Fifteen...

John: Do you think the people in your generation are inspired by events going on in the world or uprising? Does that that influence you in any way?
Juve: (Thinks) Sometimes...

John: Or does it go right over your head and do you think 'let's get on with life...'
Juve: Yeah, I think our generation is more interested in what's on telly than anything else. 

John: And you've done a couple of songs about Facebook and other social networks. Is that a particular bug of your own? 
Juve: To be honest, I like Facebook but I just thought I'd name a few things that I dislike about it.

John: And did you enjoy the space today?
Juve: Yeah, it's nice to see a variety of musicians, you know not like Justin Bieber to honest!

Thanks to Juve for performing at The Nerve Centre and taking the time to talk to us.

Interview by John Owen
Intro and transcription by Sebastian Gahan.

The Nerve Centre.

The Insurrection: Thank You All!

The Insurrection at FACT's welcoming gallery has been a big success and from everyone involved thank you for coming!  Check out some images from the event below:


Jay Lewis played twice!

The ever active screen!

Enjoying the images on offer...


Jazamin Sinclair performs...

Jo Bywater...

Messages and Causes.

Mashemon are in the house!

Images by Sebastian Gahan.

The Nerve Centre.

Review: Jazamin Sinclair at The Nerve Centre.

Those who stuck around after Jo Bywater's excellent set on the last weekend of our lil' old Insurrection in FACT's welcoming gallery will have enjoyed a set from local artist and musician Jazamin Sinclair. Most of the crowd did and they enjoyed a set of some well chosen covers and a couple of originals from the multi faceted artist and her guitar. Contrasting with the rough edges of the previous artist's set well, Sinclair's material was warm, performed passionately and believably and above all, the people liked what they heard. 

Despite admitting to being 'scared' before the gig Sinclair showed no sign of it at all and gave a set quite similar to last years excellent performance at Renshaw Street. Why fix what doesn't need to be mended when it works perfectly?

The well chosen songs included the two originals, the almost Beth Orton like Old Change and the beautiful Sitting in the Sun, which certainly did conjure up with words being in just such a position, which is an excellent feat when one is in a darkened art gallery! The audience, growing as it was, was obviously in agreement as by the time the end of the set was reached with a performance of Rollin' in the Deep, for which she was joined by Denise and Jan on vocals, hit just the right notes and left people wanting more.

The bigger crowd for this gig was not a surprise and hopefully more people will go away having discovered some great songs and a multi talented artist.To find out more and hear some songs check out the link below:

Words and Image by Sebastian Gahan.

A video filmed during the Nerve Centre. How would you respond?


Review: Mashemon at The Nerve Centre Insurrection.

For days I'd been wondering just what the surprise Mashemon had mentioned for this gig was going to be. Something old? Something new? Something borrowed? Something...acoustic? Well, if this was a marriage of something it would be interesting and as with every Mashemon show, it was a treat for the ears and the eyes with candy coming from every moment of the show for our open mouths.

If that was a strange description for a gig, then I'm proud because many words have been written about strange things but not enough on Mashemon. In conversation before the gig words to the effect of 'not family friendly' were uttered by singer and guitarist Ronnie and although the other member of the baby eating twosome was discussing staying up late for The Sweeney - now Taggart I agree with but... - all was forgiven when the show began with the always informative projection screen showing the visual effects that accompany all the best Mashemon performances.

Soon a veritable feast of faces was filling the Gallery, consisting of invited guests, adoring admirers, persons attracted by notes floating through the darkened air and pesky people with notebooks and camera's like myself. The set opened with that staple of their shows Sanity Check. Backed by a video showing what appear to be the once commonly seen Top of The Pops dancers doing as their name suggests, it was a stripped down, mellower version of the rockier album take and was excellent. The sex industry baiting lyrics became clearer without the rock edge and made those dancing people on the screen look rather ironic but not very sexy. 

This was followed by - rub your hands in anticipation - a new song called Another Mans Dirt that was also excellent and had a vaguely oriental flavour to the sound. And the new songs kept coming like missiles you really want to get in front of shouting 'hit me!' with Frank Bloke, which was introduced thus: 'If you don't like bad language, well...' The silence said it all as the song, with some of that ol' bad language was performed and well received. At some point in the night, someone trod on a wire and there was no sound for a minute or so. To rather hilarious effect, the person responsible was rebuffed with a joking 'He always like to turn up and cause trouble at our gigs!' 

Last came the anthemic Facts, with it's chorus preaching to the choir somewhat with the refrain 'when you going to change your way to my way...' and ending the song with a request from the audience for the obligatory 'one more!' which was soon obliged with the charmingly titled On Your Knees. The stripped down sound for this gig really did show a different side of the band and it was highly enjoyable with the usual black humour, excellent songs and thought provoking visuals. 

Do remember that if you don't go their way, Mashemon may just eat you. Be at their next gig and see why! 

Words and Image by Sebastian Gahan.


Review: 20lb Sounds at The Insurrection.

The life of a journalist is one of perfect busyness and enjoyment in many forms and so it was that I arrived at the Insurrection on a chilly afternoon that was fast becoming an unseasonal evening to witness a band whom I have seen before at the previous incarnation of The Nerve Centre.

20lb Sounds are as their name suggests all about making a good noise. Of course, it's a melodic noise and that makes it all the better. For this show they played an acoustic set for the first time and kept making joking reference to it with one liners about 'folking up' and 'shutting the folk up.' Frankly, I love jokes so I was along and smiling and when the music was being played I was enjoying it even more.

Lead by Dan Lynch - who may be known to many readers as the generous voice of Rathole Radio, who regularly charms our ears with a variety of Creative Commons sourced music via his excellent radio show - the band say on their website that they are at the beginning of a journey but that is the same for all artists and I enjoyed the songs they played, such as a song sourced from their new El Bubblino E.P.  called Jimmy Carter which apparently has created a situation whereby people keep sending the band updates on said ex-President's whereabouts and actions! 'People think we're really into Jimmy Carter and they keep sending me updates on his travels and weird facts about him!' said Lynch with a laugh before opening the song.  

It's bluesy swing on E.P. is less evident in the acoustic format but the charming conceit of using his name only because it fits the melody is brilliant enough to win over the harshest of audiences. The band gave thanks at one point for the audience 'not wondering off to do something else when many have done so before' and it is an act that surely would be ill informed when there is so much on offer with the bands music. It's a testament to 20lb Sound that their acoustic set is as much of a charm as their regular louder version

A cover of the Redemption Song was also successful and a never before played song Makes No Sense also impressed. Another good night of music at the Insurrection! To hear more of the band see the link below:

Words and Images by Sebastian Gahan.


Mashemon: Note Left Unwritten at The Nerve Centre.

Note Left Unwritten from Mashemon's brilliant show at The Nerve Centre a few days ago!  Watch it, now!

The Nerve Centre.


Images from the Democracy Village.

Democracy Village by Tracey Dunn:

Here are some of my photos from the exhibition at FACT. I took them at Democracy Village last June. Democracy Village was  a camp set up on Parliament Square outside the Houses Of Parliament, Westminster,London, to protest against the war in Afghanistan

They wanted to 'Bring the Troops Home' and'Stop the War'. There were various tents, a Peoples' Bank, an info stall,lots of flags and banners,a garden for peace, a vegetable Garden and chairs to sit on. It lasted for three months although the People of Democracy Village still regularly hold events.

See these images and more at FACT until 12th April.

Images and words by Tracey Dunn.

Philosophy in Pubs at The Insurrection: Philosophy of Poverty.

Big Society ideologues would have been tingling with pride on Monday as members of Philosophy in Pubs, Nerve and members of the public gathered at ‘Insurrection’ in FACT to discuss the crucial subject of ‘Poverty’ after a hard-hitting introduction from rap artist Immortal Technique with his ‘The Poverty of Philosophy’. Oh okay, a part of that might not be true. The lyrics refer to not the weakness of philosophy but its lack in poor communities.

Drawing from the video the first question was ‘Is poverty a natural state’? Most contributors commented that the poverty that exists now is systemic. Zambia, for example spent 7% of its budget on state services in 1997 while spending 40% re-paying foreign debt. Many ‘poor’ countries are rich in natural resources. It was suggested that, despite this, individuals are seen as and often feel responsible for their poor status.

There were many examples of poverty not just in the wider world but in our immediate surroundings. Although of a different order than the poverty experienced in most third world countries many contributors recognized a poverty of hope and spirit in some working-class communities. The discussion broadened out into a wider analysis of the destructive nature of inequality in society and how those without access to cultural capital may try to buy happiness through consumption.

For some group members there was the hope of gradual change as new technologies and different ways of networking provided new and exciting opportunities. For others the problem was more urgent and there were many passionate contributions. During final comments people recognized the worth of discussing a subject which is generally avoided. Over thirty people attended the meeting on a Monday afternoon, everyone contributing in some way to a rich political and philosophical discussion.

Words by Jimmy Stanton.