Indieterria meets Karen McBride

Welcome again!

The grand opening of “A Very Insecure Exhibition” for two leading Manchester photographers Shari Denson and Karen McBridde, is approaching quickly.

In less than a week, the audience will be treated to a unique artistic experience: a one night only event combining photography, art and networking. Both ladies are fiercely independent and they are known for doing things the Mancunian way – being innovative and different. We can expect many surprises and many aces up their sleeves.

Karen McBride herself

We have a good news! The secret location for the exhibition has been revealed on the waves of the BBC Radio Manchester! Karen and Shari appeared on Mike Sweeney’s middday show on Monday, 18th of February at 10 am. Mike grilled them to get the information out and finally we know where the exhibition is taking place. It will open at 8pm, on Friday 22nd of February at Projekts MCR (SkatePark at Mancunian Way). We also know that a special bar has been built for the guests so please expect the unexpected!

Address: 97 London Rd, Manchester M1 2PG
Website: http://www.projektsmcr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/The.Pumpcage.Skatepark

Mike Sweeney Show

You can listen to the show online for 30 days at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06zvp9g
Also, you can listen to the recordings of the show below:

Yesterday, we have spoken with Shari Denson about her career and photography. If you’d like to read it, you can find it at:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/indieterria-meets-shari-denson/

Today, we have sat down with her co-conspirator and a fellow photographer, Karen McBride to discuss the beginnings of her passion for photography, first cameras and her many, many accomplishments. It is always a pleasure to speak to women that inspired entire generation of new photographers, artists and painters.

John Robb (Membranes) photographed by Karen McBride
https://www.facebook.com/theMembranes/

Staying up late with Robbie Williams on tour, working with Debbie Harry, winning a prize for aerial photography – you are one of the most exciting guests we have interviewed so far. Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.

Karen McBride: My name is Karen and I take pictures. I love what I do and hope that you do too.

You hold a degree in Ancient History and Archaeology and carved yourself a name as innovative and influential music photographer. Can you tell us what lead you from academia to rock and roll halls and tour buses?  

Karen McBride: Well, my brother was in a band and he needed some pictures for his album artwork. I’d been into photography from an early age and art too, he knew this and so I took his pictures. More bands found out what I was doing, they liked the results and it built up from there.

We heard that you found your first camera – a Kodak Brownie – in a bin. Is it an urban legend or a true story? And if it is, do you still have that camera? 

Karen McBride: It’s a true story and yes I still have it. The camera comes with me everywhere. I tried to restore it but you can’t get film for it anymore. But it’s my mascot.

JJ Rosa photographed by Karen McBride
https://www.facebook.com/JJRosaOfficial/

Over the years, you have photographed biggest names in the industry: Pink, Robbie Williams, Lou Reed, Liam Gallagher, Billy Bragg, Green Day, Debbie Harry, Elbow, Prodigy and your works have been used by Sony, Warner Music, NME, MTV, Classic Rock, Clash Magazine.  You have been called one of the most significant female photographers of your generation by Slash. When you started out, were you experiencing this level of success in a male dominated field?

Karen McBride: Starting out, you can never imagine where anything takes you, really. I could never have imagined, I’d ever be able to sustain a career this long, let alone, create images that bands and the general public still like. I’m glad they do though!

Despite your incredible accomplishments, you don’t shy from working with unsigned artists or young and upcoming bands – for example The Blinders. Not many photographers of your calibre would do that. Do you think it is important to support artists at the beginning of their careers?

Karen McBride: I could never shy away from them, they are exciting in my opinion it would be so wrong to ignore them just because I shoot bigger artists too. in fact I love the rawness of the new band.

Guy Connor of Paris Riots photographed by Karen McBride
https://www.facebook.com/theparisriots/

You enjoy a reputation of a local hero in Manchester. John Robb (The Membranes/Louder Than War Magazine) described you as “Unashamedly Mancunian. While other contemporaries headed South, Karen has always resisted the lure of the bright lights of London for the unmistakable and unique vibe of her hometown”. It seems that you have influenced Manchester as much as Manchester influenced you.

Karen McBride: I’m deeply humbled that anyone would see me as all hero!

There is something unique about your style. The aesthetics, colour palette, the dynamics remind us of  the classic images on the record sleeves of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Accidentally, your first book was also called “Elvis Would Have Really Liked Me”. Is it us or has The King been an inspiration?

Karen McBride: That book is still a work in progress. The guy who designed the cover and content was a long standing friend of mine and passed away last year. It will get published and it will be dedicated to him. I miss him deeply. He understood my creative approach. He would be so proud of this exhibition. It’ll be the first one he’s missed.

And yes, the King has provided my backdrop. Everything I ever photographed came from being inspired by American music.

Flyer promoting A Very Insecure Exhibition

You are known for unusual photography projects and expositions. In 2011, you held a talk at The Deaf Institute during Photo-book Month Manchester, to which you brought a model and ended the meeting with a real life photo session exercise for the audience. In 2015, you held another talked about exposition “Stripped Back” that combined photography and collages with live music and artistic performance. You also launched your own clothing brand during that event. You like to keep your audience on their toes.

Karen McBride: Thank you! “Stripped back” was performed in The Green Room, which is now called Gorilla. In 2007, the venue was sold out and it was much smaller than it is now. It had a capacity of 200 back then. I try to do things differently and I think when you see the new exposition, you will know first hand what all the others exhibitions were about.

On 22nd of February, alongside another female photographer Shari Denson, you will hold an photographic display entitled “A very insecure exhibition”. This is a special, one night only event and the venue still is not disclosed. We are told to expect a true celebration of creativity. Tell us more about it. Where does the unusual name come from?

Karen McBride: I was planning a solo exhibition and my friend, Shari Denson offered to do a press shot for me. We started talking and laughing and talking again…and we ended up photographing each other!  So I said to her that I’d found a very interesting venue and that it would be selfish to do the exhibition on my own as her work is stunning too! She jumped at the chance and here we are. It’s very exciting to work with her, as I admire her so much. It really makes perfect sense for us to do it together.

 

Cover of A Very Insecure Exhibition book produced by Karen McBride and Shari Denson

The exhibition is accompanied by a beautifully printed art-book. Apparently it can be open from both sides and will contain 50 pictures: an even split of 25 images for each one of you. Will it feature any of the photographs from the exhibition or is it to showcase your newest works? Will it be possible to purchase the book after the exhibition?

Karen McBride: (laughing) Yes I think it might do! and You can order the book online: https://ukgiclee.co.uk/avie

It is only the beginning of the year and your calendar is already full. Please tell us what have you planned for the spring and summer? Any tips where can we see your works?

Karen McBride: I never discuss my diary. I take every day as it comes. For now you can see my work alongside Shari’s’ on the 22nd Feb in Manchester.

The famous last question at Indieterria: let’s say that you can photograph any person or any event in the world. No time or space restrictions. Were are you going and who’s going to be immortalised by your camera?

Karen McBride: Elvis, anywhere he wants!

Cover of A Very Insecure Exhibition book produced by Karen McBride and Shari Denson

A Very Insecure Exhibition:

22nd February
Projekts MCR (SkatePark at Mancunian Way)
Manchester
20:00 pm – 23:30 pm

Tickets costing £6 – £8 can be obtained from the address:
https://www.universe.com/events/a-very-insecure-exhibition-tickets-manchester-5K0X7V

There are daily updates to the event (please remember that the location of the event is still not disclosed)- so keep your eyes open
https://www.facebook.com/events/1180667978750896/

The exhibition is proving to be very popular – and the media take notice. You can safely say that the event will be a success when Visit Manchester and national music magazine both pick up the story!

https://www.visitmanchester.com/ideas-and-inspiration/blog/read/2019/02/a-very-insecure-exhibition-the-underground-photography-of-two-of-manchesters-finest-photographers-is-coming-to-a-secretive-city-centre-location-b741
https://louderthanwar.com/2-manchesters-best-photographers-announce-photo-book-launch-party-conversation-john-robb/

 For those who enjoy a bit of additional reading, we have found a bunch of articles about Karen and her work.

https://www.bobbooks.co.uk/blog-post/an-extraordinary-photobook-month-manchester-with-karen-mcbride
http://aboutmanchester.co.uk/who-are-the-women-behind-manchesters-music-success-a-new-exhibition-explores-them/
https://ilovemanchester.com/women-manchester-music-times-changin/
http://www.aidan.co.uk/article-karen-mcbride-stripped-back.htm
https://www.mudkiss.com/karenmcbrideinterview.htm

You are cordially invited to the exhibition and we hope we will see many familiar faces in Manchester!

M/R

Indieterria meets Shari Denson

Dear Readers,

In December 2018, we have travelled to Manchester to see a photography exhibition entitled “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”. It chronicled city`s musical heritage via the lenses of local photographers. We have to admit – it was an extraordinary experience to see all the iconic shots beautifully laid out at the Manchester Central Library. As expected thousands of locals and tourists alike flocked to see it. We promised ourselves that next time another such exhibition is held in Manchester, we`d be back to attend its opening.

Meg Lores of The White Stripes photographed by Shari Denson

And we are!  We cannot be more excited to tell you that on February 22nd two leading female photographers – Karen McBride and  Shari Denson will join forces to create one night only photography exposition (in a secret location for now) to showcase their work. If you are a music obsessive like us  – you don’t need an introduction to the magnificent images produced by both ladies.  Everyone else just needs to know this – Karen and Shari revolutionised pages of music magazines and bands portfolios. They set the bar incredibly high but also inspired many starting photographers.

We are lucky – not only a weekend of incredible art and music awaits us in Manchester  – we also were able to interview both iconic photographers ahead of the exhibition for this blog.

This chapter is dedicated to Shari Denson, you can read our interview with Karen McBride by clicking on the link below:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/indieterria-meets-karen-mcbride/

So without further delay.  Dear readers – please meet one of the most influential music photographers known to English music scene.

Shari Denson photographed by Stuart Hadfield
https://www.facebook.com/stuart.hadfield.94

You worked with the likes of White Stripes, Interpol and Elbow while your images have been featured  on album covers (Ian Brown), in print (Independent, NME, Guardian, Louder Than War), in retail (Amazon) and on television (The Mercury Prize, Later with Jools Holland). Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.

Shari Denson: Hello, I’m Shari

It is said that you became a photographer after attending  many concerts around Manchester – including legendary venues such as Manchester Apollo. Looking back, was there ever a definitive moment  when you realized that you wanted to capture moments on film, or was it rather a longer process that lead you to photography?

Shari Denson:  It was long, long process. I’ve been a bar maid, a stage manager, a clapper/loader and focus puller on films amongst other things before I finally started being serious about photography. I wanted to make films and was doing a film studies degree. When I had my first child half way through the degree I switched to still photography so I could be in control of my time. You have to go by everyone else’s schedule when working on a film. So even though I’d always taken photos at gigs from being young, it was never with a view to making anything beautiful or striking, it was just for memories. I mean, my photos still serve as memories now but hopefully with an extra layer or two.  So  I was 30 when I got my first SLR camera and fell in love with photography. Fairly soon after that, I needed to complete an assignment for university and I decided to do it on live music photography.  And that was where it began for me.

Music was always around you – your brother  as dedicated gig goer took you to see The Teardrop Explodes and Echo and the Bunnymen when you were just ten years old, while your father  was a musician. This may sound a bit like a question they ask on Desert Island Discs – but if you were to name five records that shaped you the most – what would you choose?

Shari Denson:  I’d chose the following:

More Songs about Buildings and Food – Talking Heads
For the Roses – Joni Mitchell
Desire – Bob Dylan
The Spangle Maker 12” which also included Pearly-Dewdrops Drops – Cocteau Twins
Porcupine – Echo and the Bunnymen

iconic image of Elbow – photographed by Shari Denson

Every photographer could write a book about funny, slightly horrifying or straightforwardly weird situations they encounter behind the scenes of the glamour photo-shoots. Please, share one such a story with our readers.

Shari Denson:  That time I took a Sheffield band, Trap 2 on Saddleworth Moor in the freezing cold winter..forgetting it was a bit nippy, then asked them to hang about near some trees in the woods on the way back home, whilst I lit them with fireworks. All I could see was smoke, and all I could hear was coughing and spluttering, whilst I assured them everything was fine. The shots were awful but we had a scream. Great band, and really lovely lads who put with all sorts from me (laughs)

Your best known photo – that of Elbow from the promo session to their album “The Seldom Seen Kid” has been recreated as a mosaic by artist Mark Kennedy,  and is now exhibited on outside wall of the iconic Affleck’s  store. We imagine you must be feeling very proud every time you are on Tib Street.

Shari Denson: Yes, I mean it would have been nice to know about it 10 years ago when Mark decided he wanted to use the image… I only found out about a year ago. I’m sure my parents, who were still around at the time, would have been very proud indeed.

Mosaic by artist Mark Kennedy displayed at the wall of iconic Manchester landmark- Affleck`s http://www.markkennedy.co.uk/

Besides photography, you also direct videos and worked with Blaney, The Winachi Tribe, The Northstand, The Tapestry, The Backhanders, and The New Southern Electrikk among others.  Was it hard to transition from photography to video? Do you have any artists that you would like to work with?

Shari Denson:  Well, as I said before, I’ve always been interested in the moving image,  so the transition was exciting. I had the pleasure of learning how to use Final Cut editing software during my time at Badkamra, a video production company so it seemed natural thing to make music videos.  I wouldn’t name any band in particular, I just like to work with creative and collaborative, like-minded people.

In 2007 you had your first exhibition entitled “I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member” at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery. Other exhibition soon followed such as solo exposition at the Kro2 Oxford Road in Manchester in 2013, Night & Day Café in 2014 or Suffragette City in 2018. How do you prepare yourself before each event?  

Shari Denson:  Mostly by having a major meltdown. Apart from Night & Day, which was made much easier by Jan, who helped me immensely.

Your next exposition is a one night only “A Very Insecure Exhibition” that will happen on 22 February 2019 in yet undisclosed location in Manchester. It will be a joint event with another well known photographer Karen McBride. Can you tell us what can we expect?

Shari Denson: (laughs) I can only tell you this…you can expect something different….heartfelt and beautiful whilst being bold and powerful.

Trap photographed by Shari Denson

There is also a book prepared for the occasion. It looks amazing from the promotional shot we have seen so far. How long did the entire event took planning wise. And can the book be purchased online by those who cannot make it to the opening? 

Shari Denson:  Yes, it can. At https://ukgiclee.co.uk/avie/  We’re very pleased with it.

Manchester is famous for many things, among them Vimto, football and (of course) the music scene. The National Football Museum has been opened in the city centre since 2011 but somehow The Music Museum still hasn’t happened yet. Do you think it is high time that Manchester got a dedicated  place to properly celebrate its photographic and musical heritage?

Shari Denson:  I think that sounds like a marvelous idea!

You must have been asked many times about  your favourite shot you have taken. We want to know the opposite: what picture (if given the chance) would you permanently removed from your catalogue?

Shari Denson:  None. Each and every one has it’s place. They serve as my memories. I get emotionally attached to them and I don’t deal well with loss, so I wouldn’t get rid of any.

Flyer for the exhibition

A Very Insecure Exhibition

22nd February
Now revealed as Projekts MCR (SkatePark at Mancunian Way)
97 London Rd, Manchester M1 2PG
http://www.projektsmcr.com/
20:00 pm – 23:30 pm

Tickets cost £6 -£8 and can be purchased from the link below:
https://www.universe.com/events/a-very-insecure-exhibition-tickets-manchester-5K0X7V

You can also get all the newest updates from the event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1180667978750896/

Flyer for A Very Insecure Exhibition

You can follow Shari on social media and we encourage you to do it, she is a phenomenal artist!

https://sharidenson.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/sharidenson
https://twitter.com/sharidenson
https://www.instagram.com/sharidenson/

For those who enjoy a bit of additional reading, we have found a bunch of articles about Shari and her work.

http://www.mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/070377293-suffragette-city-mm-meet-two-manchesters-most-influential-women-shaping-music
https://www.mdmarchive.co.uk/artefact/18946/ELBOW_IAN_BROWN_I_AM_KLOOT_SHARI_DENSON_PHOTOGRAPH_2018
https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/going-out/sharis-homage-to-the-stars-1000324
https://louderthanwar.com/2-manchesters-best-photographers-announce-photo-book-launch-party-conversation-john-robb/

What else can we tell you?  Come back next week as we will publish our interview with Karen McBride. And prepare yourself for updates, images and maybe even polaroids from the opening. Its gonna be a proper party in the North.

All the best for now,
Mal/Rita

Indieterria meets Tin Mole

Dear Readers,

This December Indieterria stops for a while in a port. Kingdom of Mancunia always had the best music and record collections and even  people who did things differently. So for the time being, we will stay in a safe and warm haven of Manchester and will report on new acts coming from the town and its  wonderfully loud venues of  Northern Quarter.

Two years ago we began Indieterria by interviewing Salford`s own Tigerside. This time around, we reopen a new year by chatting to the artist known as Tin Mole.  You probably did not hear about him yet (unless you listen to Salford City Radio 94.4 FM with Zach Peach who was one of the first DJs to play Tin Mole), but surely soon there will be a lot of hype around the artist who mixes samples, indie rock, trip hop and spoken word in a truly innovative fashion.

Tin Mole logo

You may be familiar with Tin Mole`s previous project – Ladies` Dart Night as they delivered their politically charged musical sermons across the North sharing stages with Garden Back or Strange Bones. Sadly, Ladies` Dart Night ended in 2017 and members of the band moved on to other projects.

We discovered Tin Mole  via Tom Robinson`s excellent Fresh on the Net portal and were so impressed with his debut single “Slug Frontier” that we contacted  him and asked for an interview. Tin Mole is an enigma wrapped in riddle, his answers are short, to the point with the usual northern swagger and edge. But you can`t deny him vision, talent and artistic integrity.  He works double hard to put music out there, doing his own PR (press releases, photos, editing) while studying and working at the same time.  Practical, honest and determined –  Tin Mole breaks the mold on Mancunian scene, offering something fresh and unusual.

Read on, listen and tell us what you think.

Tin Mole
?

Ladies` Darts Night logo

Ladies` Dart Night
 Luke Geoghegan (drums, keys)
Nathan Connell-Howard (guitar, bass)
Jonny Sowerby (vox)
Tom Milnes (vox)
Phil Stuttard (vox)

You are not a newcomer on Manchester music scene. Would you like to introduce yourself to Indieterria readers?

Tin Mole: I’m Tin Mole, a producer from Manchester. I’ve been in a couple of bands and done a fair bit of techno DJ`ing on the underground mole scene.

Before Tin Mole, you have been a member of five piece Ladies` Darts Night. You have released EP “Tragedies, Comedies & Histories” in 2017, toured nationally and shared stages with such established young acts as Garden Back and Strange Bones. Then suddenly you called it quits. What happened?

Tin Mole: It was fun while it lasted but it all went to pot after a trip out to Edinburgh. The Irn Bru was strong that day.

Tin Mole in a curious selfie mode?

German blog “Hey Musik” described Ladies` Darts Night as “pulling groovy, fuzzy guitar from The Stone Roses, powerful lyrics with a poetic rhythm like John Cooper Clarke or Morrissey, and pounding drums paired perfectly with a mysterious bass like Joy Division. If you’re into a loud, mesmerizing sound backed with politically infused lyrics, then this 5 piece band are who you need to be listening to”. The writer even travelled to Manchester to see you. Not every band on the Manc scene can say they had interest from foreign journalists.

Tin Mole: Yeah we were doing alright but it is what it is. “Mesmerising sound” is a great compliment, I like that.

You were pulling no punches as a band. “Message for May” is right up there with Shame`s “Visa Vulture”, an attack on PM for her policies. Your other song “Shopkeeper” tackles grooming. I get a feeling, had the band continued, you would be going in the same direction as The Blinders, leading politically charged music onwards.

Tin Mole:  Yeah we were sort of heading that way, just writing about things we were passionate about at the time. I do still write a lot of that type of thing but they’re amongst other more personal topics, like battles with slugs.

In contrast to being in a band, Tin Mole seems to be a solo act.

Tin Mole:  It sort of is. I’ve written and produced some tunes and Nathan Connell-Howard from Ladies` Darts Night has helped out with guitar parts. I’ve got a 6 piece band together now to play the tunes live which I’m well excited about.

Your first single Slug Frontier is a strange mix of trip hop, spoken word and samples. It reminds us of Black Grapes, Sleaford Mods and Tricky. With some incredible poetic lyrics. Is there a story behind the song?

Tin Mole: Thanks. they’re good acts to be compared to, especially Tricky. As for the story behind Slug Frontier, it’s all true… Every word.

We heard you will be releasing a new track soon. What shall we expect?

Tin Mole: Similar sample based production but a bit slower, slightly less shouty and every word is a lie.

Tin Mole is on a mission to fight slugs.

You once said “I think everyone knows deep down Manchester is Britain’s true second city. Sorry Birmingham.” Do you still feel the scene up north is ahead of everyone else?

Tin Mole:  Yeah I think it is in some ways. There are great bands coming out of Manchester like Duds or Gnod and The Blinders are doing really well. But it always seems that the London bands get more publicity. That’s usually the way with everything in the London-centric Brexit apocalypse.

There is an aura of mystery around Tin Mole – no bio, scarce presence on social media , no agent, no label. It seems that you try to let the music do the talking, rather than drive attention to yourself as an artist.

Promotional image towards Tin Mole`s upcoming single.

Tin Mole:  I talk enough shit in the songs so I don’t feel the need to bombard people with more of it. I’m trying to keep it as DIY as possible and I think the music speaks for itself enough, but no doubt things will pick up on social media in the coming weeks and months.

“Slug Frontier” is easily one of the singles of the year for us. After hearing it for the first time, we immediately started to look for your gigs. And we know we are not the only one. Do you have any concerts planned, and if so – where can we see you in the future?

Tin Mole:  Nice one, I appreciate that! We have a couple of gigs in Manchester confirmed for the new year but don’t think I can say anything until the promoters announce it. But I do know that there’s an exciting new band playing at a venue called Jimmy’s on Saturday 2nd February 2019, so might be worth keeping that date free.

The last (goofy) question. Your bio mentions a strange creature that looks like a monster of the week from Doctor Who: “silvery-white metal, made of tinplate or aluminium with a long muzzle, and small eyes, feeding mainly on worms, grubs, and other invertebrates”. What is Tin Mole and is it safe to keep one as a pet?

Tin Mole:  It’s what it says on the tin really. As long as food and drinks are provided with access to a studio, then yeah of course it’s safe.

Tin Mole as an ice cream vendor.

You can follow Tin Mole on socials:

https://www.facebook.com/tinmole/
https://twitter.com/tin_mole
https://www.instagram.com/tin_mole/
https://soundcloud.com/tinmole

And you can still find information about Ladies` Darts Night online too:

https://ldartsnight.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/ladiesdartsnight/
https://twitter.com/ldartsnight
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3fZRpZd-o8&t=172s
https://soundcloud.com/ladiesdartsnight
https://open.spotify.com/artist/0l1QTRDsC00gFoO394cUM1?si=2TOpjOMDRy6d5B1RXG3Dfw

If you fancy some additional reading on the band, check out those links:

https://www.gigmit.com/ladies-darts-night
https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/incoming/boxer-liam-taylor-mates-behind-9646663
http://www.gigslutz.co.uk/ep-ladies-darts-night-tragedies-comedies-histories/
https://heymusikblog.de/2017/07/20/behind-scenes-manchester-uk-music/

The cover to Slug Frontier – Tin Mole`s debut single

In next few weeks Tin Mole should drop a brand new track which we will surely review on this blog. We are very excited about this artist. Nothing speaks to us more than music that is fresh and unusual. Looking back is a waste of emotions – and projects such as Tin Mole offer us a glimpse of what will be hip and trendy in the future. Just what A&Rs love.

All hail the incredible creative potential of Mancunia!

M/R

Inditerria meets WITCH FEVER

Welcome again!

 

They are bold, they are loud and they are young. They don’t care what anybody thinks and they are not interested in pleasing anyone. Our today’s guests are truly special. Very rarely, our blog has the pleasure to host a full female band, and we are really happy we can introduce you to WITCH FEVER. The group is known for its strong feminist/equality message, beautifully crafted dynamic shows and excellent music. We caught up with the quartet on the eve of their charity gig, Manchester Punks for West Papua at Alphabet Brewery in Manchester and we spoke about their influences, being catcalled at gigs and playing at the legendary Granada Studios.

The band photographed by Debbie Ellis aka Asupremeshot. Used with permission. https://www.facebook.com/asupremeshot/

Official bio: Manchester based all girl punk grunge band. Angry and honest, bringing grungey riffs, a heavy beat and an eclectic mix of clean and shrieking vocals.

“They are raw, in your face and making a glorious and beautiful racket, are full of explosive and kinetic energy and collapsing new riffs and are going to make a noise musically and culturally” – John Robb for Louder Than War

 

“Imagine the Slits meet Black Sabbath partying with Pussy Riot in Kim Gordon’s angry neighbour’s basement. Drunk. Witch Fever are wonderful.” – Legendary Hacienda DJ, Dave Haslam

“All girl grunge punk band from Manchester with unhinged feral vox and a ramshackle approach yes, but supercool sonics, this band display an undeniable rough-hewn charm.” – Bug Bear Promotions

 

“For a band who were catcalled onstage in Bristol for not being proper punk, they’re near as dammit the epitome of its sound and attitude. So, to paraphrase another great punk band: get outta their way or they’re gonna shove.” – Nightshift Magazine

Amy Walpole (guitar, lead vocals)
Alex Thompson (bass, backing vocals)
Alisha Yarwood (lead guitar, backing vocals)
Annabelle Joyce (drums)

Louder Than War magazine announced Witch Fever`s arrival with the words “deep inside the claustrophobic music scene of Manchester, there is something happening”. Please introduce yourselves to the readers of Indieterria.

WITCH FEVER: We’re Alisha, Alex, Annabelle and Amy. We are WITCH FEVER. We play punk, we’re all women, and we don’t take any shit!

The band describes themselves as punk – grunge but we see your sound as being much broader than that. Would it surprise you if we qualified you as the heavier end of the indie circuit, boldly crossing into metal scene at times? We have been listening to your material and Val.i.um of Pist.On, Karyn Crisis, Jack off Jill or Tura Satana come to mind almost instantly.

WITCH FEVER: We totally see the cross over into metal – a lot of our riffs are pretty doomy and evil. The indie thing, not so much, but we’ll take your word for it! (laughter).

Not only musically, but also lyrically you seem to be much bolder, going further than many of your peers on the circuit. The Blinders use dystopia/literature to deliver their political message. Cabbage, Shame or Strange Bones are known for their strong opinions but none of them are as direct as you. In “Toothless” you scream out “I`m a force to be reckoned with” and everyone knows you mean business. Was it a part of the plan to become such a heavyweight act or did it come together naturally in the rehearsal room?

WITCH FEVER: We didn’t plan it. When we started, we knew we wanted to be on the heavier side of things but didn’t really have a specific direction.
Amy found that lyrics are the only place we can be totally honest and angry about anything we wanna be angry about. It’s important to us to dispel any myths about women only being pretty or quiet or delicate – of course women are these things at times but they are not ONLY these things. On stage, we make femininity about anger, power and strength.

All the members of the band come from different parts of the country but study in Manchester. Do you think that being “out of town” gives you an edge of being different and fresh on the scene that is dominated by local lads with guitars?

WITCH FEVER:  We’ve all had quiet different upbringings and lived in totally different places so we suppose the experiences from that come together and make us what we are. We all moved to Manchester expecting it to be amazing for music but it was quite underwhelming. There’s a significant lack of women/non-binary people being given opportunities that men are. We’re here to change that, and hopefully inspire others too.

You have recorded incredible session for Stay Fresh/CITY LIFE at the Old Granada Studios playing two tracks: “Toothless” and “Creeper”. It must have been an experience to play the same room in which the Beatles gave their first ever television performance in 1962.

WITCH FEVER:  We loved doing that, however we had no idea about the Beatles thing! Maybe people will be saying that about us in 60 years 😉

John Robb of Louder Than War/Membranes is not the only fan of your music. Dave Haslam – legendary DJ and journalist also is impressed. In his piece for I Love Manchester (Women in Manchester music: are the times a-changin’?) Haslam mentioned you and Liines as the groups he recommends to other music journalists and your image illustrated the article. Did you expect to have such important figures in your corner when you started out?

WITCH FEVER: Not at all! We’re still surprised by things like that. It’s really encouraging to have prominent men in music on our side, and Dave really is lovely! He’s always championing female artists which is great!

You have toured extensively nationally (Leeds, London, Oxford, Birmingham among others) and internationally (The Netherlands). You have appeared with Cabbage at their Glamour At Thee Ritz. You seem determined to bring your music to the masses. How important is touring?

WITCH FEVER: Very important! We love getting to play new places and meeting so many people. We’d rather not have to do the Megabus thing though!

Amy Walpole photographed by Debbie Ellis aka Asupremeshot. Used with permission.
https://www.facebook.com/asupremeshot/

When speaking about touring, we cannot not ask you about a certain gig in Bristol where you have been though some horrible experience. Would you like to revisit the story for readers of our blog – because in 2018 there are still people out there who do not believe that gigs can be harrowing experiences for artists and the public, especially women.

WITCH FEVER: So, regularly we experience misogyny, sexism and harassment, but Bristol was a gig in which it was so bad that we had to formally complain and ask for CCTV footage. We were being constantly leered over and undermined before and during our set. Men grabbed us, a guy from one of the bands shouted at us to take our tops off, a woman asked us to strip for her friend etc. Throughout the set, we kept repeating that we felt uncomfortable and needed space but nobody listened. Now at most gigs, we make a point of saying that we do not tolerate it at our shows.

On 30th November your debut release double A-side single “Toothless”/”Daddy pt.2” will be released via Brassneck Records. The red vinyl 7” looks magical on promos that we have seen. Can you tell us more about this release?

WITCH FEVER: Its blood red, has a sleeve with 4 individually designed sides, and you summed up the rest! We love it!!!

You will appear at the fundraiser Manchester Punks for West Papua on 1st December 2018 at Alphabet Brewing Company, alongside The Membranes and Modern Family Unit. What can we expect from the set?

WITCH FEVER: Every gig is different and mad in some way! We haven’t played for a couple of weeks so it’ll be a lively one!

You can say that 2018 was a very good year for Witch Fever. What are your plans for the upcoming 12 months.

WITCH FEVER: More records released, new songs, more videos, LOTS MORE GIGS, and a big fuck you to the patriarchy!

Alex Thompson photographed by Debbie Ellis aka Asupremeshot. Used with permission.
https://www.facebook.com/asupremeshot/

The interview wouldn’t be complete if we haven’t had a quick word with the band’s manager, Debbie Ellis. Debbie has been working as a professional photographer and manager for many years and her experience is very valuable. And we are truly proud to have the ability to highlight the wonderful work that women in music do!

Self portrait – picture by Asupremeshot (Debbie Ellis)

How did you start working with Witch Fever?

Debbie Ellis: A few years back, I took up photography. I started out doing gig photos and met a young female photographer who was also in a band. She asked me to go see her band WITCH FEVER and take some pictures. So I did, as I suppose, I’m more intrigued by female artists in general as I was in a band myself and enjoy the dynamic of working creatively with women. I thought they were great and a friend of mine suggested I manage them. The band said yes and now we are here, 3 singles in and there’s a real buzz about the band. They are so talented and driven. They exceed any expectations live. You really have to see them to appreciate their unadulterated power.

Manchester music scene is dominated by guys. Witch Fever  are doing an excellent job causing some ripples and showing that all female bands can be successful as well.You are the only female manager we know! Being a woman, does it make your job harder? Are there any other female managers out there we need to mention?

Debbie Ellis: I know The Moonlandingz have a female manager, which totally makes sense.

AND

Hell YES!

From day one of being in a band to present day of working as a band manager and a music photographer, I have experienced a lot of, mainly negative remarks. Usually with regard to my ability to use technology, write a song, play an instrument, perform on stage. I feel as a manager, my authority is questioned regularly. At quite a few gigs, whether in the role of manager or photographer, I have been asked am I one of the bands mum.

Although on the upside organisations like “Girls I Rate“, “Women in Music” and PRS 4 Music are some I know of that have good support networks. I recently heard about the Keychange initiative set up by the PRS Foundation, which is to encourage festivals to achieve an equal gender balance of performers by 2022 by signing their pledge. To date, many of the big named festivals have signed up, so it will be interesting to see if it comes to fruition. I know Sound City Festival has a lot of women in influential roles and are part of the Keychange Initiative.

Personally for me, the one thing I have always done, is to support and champion other female artists. I love working with women and to be able to give a little back means the world to me, and it goes a long way.

Debbie Ellis photographing Witch Fever

You are not only a manager but also a photographer, again one of only handful of female photographers in rock music. Your pictures are part of the successful “There is a light that never goes out” photography exhibition at Manchester Central Library. Tell us more about it.

Debbie Ellis: The exhibition has been curated by the renowned music photographer, Jill Furmanovsky. She had the foresight to leave one wall of the exhibition clear so she could gather a selection of more recent photographs of contemporary Manchester bands. As the majority of the exhibition features phenomenal images of iconic Manchester bands, such as Oasis, Joy Division, The Stone Roses, The Buzzcocks etc, which have been taken by herself and other acclaimed photographers as Kevin Cummins, Ed Sirrs & Paul Slatery.

As you can imagine I am absolutely thrilled to have two of my images (Blossoms & Witch Fever) included in the exhibition.

I totally think the fact I have been in a band and I’m female works in my favour when working in my photography role, too. I can be so tuned in to how the artist / bands are feeling. My approach is much more creative than technical. Photography to me is a creative process that cannot be rushed, you need to take time to get to know the people you are photographing before you get the results that make for a great image. Irving Penn, the 1950’s master of portraiture, would take over 200 photos on a contact sheet to tire out the subject before he would find ‘truth’ in their face!

You can follow the band on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/witchfever/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WITCHFEVER
Bandcamp: https://witchfever.bandcamp.com/
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-502164447/carpet-asphyxiation
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsgn5oXDn_IRBjCjIJ1giCw?app=desktop

Debbie Ellis:
Website: 
http://www.asupremeshot.com/
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/asupremeshot/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Asupremeshot
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asupremeshot/

More information:

http://listensd.com/2018/05/23/manchester-punk-festival-2018/ 
https://louderthanwar.com/witch-fever-interview/

Please come back soon as we will have a full review from the gig ready in a couple of days!
It was an amazing show and  we need to tell you all about it!

Take care,
xxx
Rita and Malcia

Indieterria Review – The Blinders at Thekla in Bristol

Event poster at Thekla

Gum Soul, White Room, The Blinders 
Thekla
Bristol
11/11/2018

11th of November 2018 was surely a day to remember. At that time each year, we celebrate National Independence Day in Poland and The Remembrance Day in the UK. This time however, for music fans, it was also the last day of the Blinders’ October/November tour supporting their debut album “Columbia”. Jokingly nicknamed “The Last Battle of Bristol” this date was hugely anticipated for several reasons. The Blinders haven’t played Bristol since their This Feeling days (February 2017 at The Stag & Hounds) and in the interviews, the band was adamant that the Johnny Dream and The Codeine Scene personas will be permanently gone. Expecting a bloody send off, fans quickly  grabbed offered tickets. The gig was not a sold out event but not many tickets remained at the door and it is safe to say that Thekla was nicely packed.  We arrived around 6:30 pm as the doors opened and we had to stand in a long queue to get inside. If you have to wait for the admission, it is a good sign that the concert will be a success.

The venue from the outside

It is a common knowledge that Thekla is one of the most unusual venues in the country. It is actually a real boat turned into music venue and when you see it for the first time, it can look really strange. Not Upside-Down strange, just strangely strange if you know what we mean. Yet, you quickly start appreciating the facilities they have: two bars (one long on the ground floor and one upstairs), upper deck with quiet seating section and a balcony, large toilets, bands quarters, rehearsal rooms, cloakroom and a large secured smoking area in the back. There is also an outside sitting area on the main deck that must be really pleasant in the summer, but it was too cold for us to go there although some locals were brave enough to sit there with cold drinks wearing nothing but shorts and a vest. To each their own as the song goes…

Johnny Dream poster exhibited at the lower bar

Better shot of the same poster – this is how A0 format looks like. Its huge!

The view of lower deck as seen from the upper bar

After leaving our bags and jackets in the cloakroom, we entered the main concert space with large scene and merch stands on the left. Previous reviews mentioned already that The Blinders selection was much smaller than on previous gigs but there is no reason to complain about it. The band sold out their vinyl records, CD’s and most of their tees and we were really happy to hear their tour manager repeating himself saying “Sorry, this is our last date, we are sold out!”. We wish all the bands we have seen this year could say the same. There were many signed posters and badges for fans to grab so nobody left the shop empty handed.

The Lower Bar

The door to the green room

Stage times

On the evening, The Blinders were supported by two bands: Gum Soul and The White Room who replaced Calva Louise for the second leg of the tour. We haven’t seen any of them playing live before, so we were looking forward to their performances, especially after reading very enthusiastic reviews. Gum Soul were the first ones to hit the stage, some 45 minutes after we arrived. Their music can be classified as college rock/grunge that is fused with typical British indie. This is a very good mix and the band played a proper, strong 30 minute set. We had a chance to quickly speak with them after their show and we learnt that they are based in Bath but they play regularly in Bristol and managed to develop a healthy fan following. It was visible as once they started playing, the first few rows were populated by their fans who knew lyrics to each of the five songs they played (“Empty Room”, “Sour”, “In & Out”, “Scratch Ignorance” and “The Knees”). We liked “Sour” the most – it is their leading single and a very good track to play live. Gum Soul have formed only in February this year, but they seem to already have a distinctive sound and they know which direction they want to go. We will be keeping an eye on them in 2019 as the band is promising new material. If you have a chance to see them play locally, please do.

The White Room are described as a psychedelic pop, a marriage of convenience between The Sparks and early David Bowie, with art rock and shoe gaze influences. They are a five piece from Brighton, known for their flamboyant sense of fashion (Simon Le Bon meets David Byrne) and stage theatrics. Their lead singer, Jake Smallwood is very charismatic and he knows how to be in the centre of attention. He grabs the microphone with both hands, walks to the edge of the scene and pushes himself as far into the audience as possible, sometimes singing mere centimetres from the gig goers’ faces. This literal, in-your-face approach, seems to be working like a charm – the girls are mesmerized, the blokes are stretching their hands to pat him on his back and shoulders. With his platinum blonde hair and  jade green shirts, Jake looks more like an actor than a musician but oh boy he can sing. His voice is crystal clear and again balances somewhere between Bowie, Le Bon and Mark Hollis. Except for Smallwood, the rest of the band comprises of Jacob Newman on guitar, Tristan Sava on keyboard, Hen Sava on drums and Josie McNamarra on bass. They have just released their double EP “Eight” and we had the pleasure of hearing all the best tracks from it: “Tomorrow Always Knew”, “Circles”, “Stole the I.V.” and “The Blue”.  The band has been around for nearly two years and they have a large and dedicated fan base. they will be on tour in the late winter/early spring of 2019, so please keep your eyes open as they might come to the (independent) venue close to you.

White Room in action

This band needs to be seen live to understand what an incredible act they are

Just like in Birmingham, once the support acts were gone and the lights dimmed, the atmosphere changed rapidly. With the headliner about to come on the stage, fans grouped tightly on the main floor and on the balcony. In certain moments, the pushing and showing in darkness got so bad that the security had to calm down  some of the most eager of fans. We sadly won’t remember the gig too well as we had to leave after the third song due to medical emergency but it was good to see the band in fantastic shape again. The show started very similar to their London gig, with Gene Wilder’s “Pure Imagination” from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” movie that quickly blended into Columbia style propaganda monologue by Patrick T. Davies. And once the monologue was finished, “Gotta Get Through” smashed our eardrums and sent the crowd into frantic pogo. “Brave New World” followed without break, only to slow down with “Where No Man Comes” and then turn into the poetic declamation of “Free The Slaves”.  We have not seen the rest of the gig but we were told that Thomas Haywood, sat on the floor among the audience singing his mantra “There is no hope” during “Swine”, Charlie McGough battered his bass with intensity not seen previously and Matty Neale nearly broke his drum set with powerful blows. Was it a great send off to Johnny Dream and a proper good bye after 22-day tour? The answer is yes.

Even if it was our first time seeing The Blinders live, those three songs would be enough to turn us into believers. This band is going places, and this is not a secret. This is the truth. They have been predestined for the greatness and they will never settle for anything else.

After all, they’ve got the divine right.

The merch stand

Merch stand

Setlist:

Gotta Get Through
L’etat C’est Moi
Brave New World
Where No Man Comes
Free the Slave
I Can’t Breathe Blues
Swine
Hate Song
Rat In a Cage
Ramona Flowers
Et Tu
Brutus/Berlin Wall
Orbit (Salmon of Alaska)

“Columbia” is available on Modern Sky UK
https://theblindersofficial

The Upper Balcony at Thekla right before The Blinders gig

Audience patiently waiting for the Columbia transmission

****

We often try to photograph and film some part of performance to make sure our review is as close to the experience as possible. It it also to give our readers a chance to see how the event unfolded. Please find below some galleries for your enjoyment.

Photo gallery: Gum Soul


Photo gallery: White Room (soundcheck)


Photo gallery: White Room (performance)

 


Photo gallery: The Blinders

We have been writing extensively about the Blinders on our blog Indieterria, so please have a look if you want to know more.

Introduction to the band:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/indieterria-presents-the-blinders/
Interview with The Blinders:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/08/24/indieterria-meets-the-blinders/
Columbia review:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/08/30/indieterria-review-columbia-by-the-blinders/
Columbia album performance blog:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/09/21/indieterria-presents-the-columbia-library-archives/
Columbia Tour blog:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/10/15/indieterria-presents-the-columbia-tour/
Beyond Columbia Tour:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/11/16/the-columbia-tour-continues-anno-domini-2019/
The Blinders at Castle and Falcon in Birmingham review:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/10/27/indieterria-review-the-blinders-at-castle-and-falcon-in-birmingham/

Again, our thanks go to the band and the crew for allowing us this extensive coverage.

And we are not done yet! We have seen The Blinders few weeks later in Manchester – so another blog will soon be up. Stay tuned.

Mal+Rita