A couple of weeks ago Same Teens attended Un-Convention Factory – an artist-focused music industry event with the aim of creating, recording and distributing a new record during a day whilst also exploring current industry challenges and sharing and debating ideas. It was a day of epic mathematical proportions with 300 people surrounding 8 bands who aimed to produce 1 live-recorded album by the end of 12 hours. There were 60 music industry professionals on board to talk attendees through everything from marketing your band, to the state of the music industry, to the elusive concept of music as culture. This is what happened after an extensive and interesting day once the calculator got thrown over our shoulders and we got to concentrate on the music…
There’s a lot to be said about like-minded people sitting in the same room together. From heated debates about ‘Music as Culture’ to people running round filming, taking photos and a live album being recorded on site, Un-Convention embarked on an ambitious day of music promotion.
For all the talk of the ‘state’ of the music industry- that we live in an X-Factor processed world, musicians can’t be expected to be paid anymore and the internet is over-running the industry- it was interesting and gratifying to see so many people gathered for the love of music rather than the monetary gains that can be made by those at the top.
Interspersing talks with prominent names with live performances from bands such as Gallops, Young Fathers and The Whip (which were all being recorded for an album) and with artists framing the event on either side screen-printing, face-mask making and painting meant that the atmosphere of the event was busy to say the least! Plus Brian Travers was there from UB40. What more could anyone possibly want?
Set in the backdrop of Macclesfield’s Heritage Centre the connotations of Ian Curtis, Joy Division and the Unknown Pleasures project were abundantly felt and gave conversations about the ‘Death of the Rock Star in today’s music scene’ added resonance. Highlights musically came from Young Fathers ‘Fun Time’ (who not only sounded good but also came with a high-octane performance and the best trousers ev-er), Gallop’s instrumental ‘Baby’ and the epic ‘Dum Dum Boys’ by Louis Barabbas and the Bedlam Six. Giving lesser bands a platform besides those with more established roots like I Am Kloot reinforced the message that Un-Convention is about those within the four walls of the music industry helping, networking and showcasing together in a shared process.
A talk exploring the aesthetics of music and band identity saw work by Buzzcocks and Happy Mondays being dissected- arguably two bands whose identity through their album art and graphics has been cemented in the minds of many- especially the heady, trippy work which encompasses the Happy Monday’s unique sound and stance in music. Perhaps the most interesting (and heated) talk came in the form of ‘Music as Culture’ which took contention with the point “When commerce is the only consideration, we believe the cultural, social, intellectual and artistic life of the citizenry suffers”.
There was a lot to be said about past music scenes such as punk (with speakers such as iconic film maker Don Letts on the panel something perhaps unavoidable) and the significance of Madchester. However, it was Brian Travers who seemed to focus most on the music scene now without disparaging it as something anybody with a laptop can get involved in, by inviting Young Fathers up at the end to get their impromptu opinion. With Jez Collins, Dave Haslam, and Andrea Goetzke making up the rest of the panel an informed and interesting look at ‘Music as Culture’ ensued.
Finishing with many hustling bodies running from one side of the room to another to vote on which of the artist’s creations they liked the most the night drew in and embarked on a free gig for all with performances from Har Mar Superstar and The Whip.
Every element of Un-Convention eked out the ethos they have created, an attitude which will carry forth an industry which is reputedly straining and an event which combined audience, speakers and bands in a common purpose:
“Un-Convention understands that the most interesting stuff happens on the margins. We don’t mind the mainstream. We just don’t find it relevant. Un-Convention doesn’t believe in ‘Do it yourself’. We believe in ‘Do it together’.”