The summer festival season is now in full bloom. Many great events are now behind us (Glastonbury Festival, Isle of Wight, Camden Rocks) and many are yet to take place. One of the festivals that we have been looking forward to for a long time, started on the 4th of July and will last until 21st July. It is of course the Manchester International Festival – a biannual celebration of music, art, theatre and film.
Thousands of people are expected to visit Manchester to participate in more than 250 presentations, art exhibitions, talks and concerts throughout the city. We are of course interested in the musical part of the event the most and the MIF LIVE is looking extraordinarily good. With gigs from Janelle Monáe (already sold out), Queens of the Electronic Underground (showcase of the best female DJs and producers in electronic music presented by BBC6 Music’s Mary Anne Hobbs) to free public concerts at Albert Square, there is nothing to complain about. Fans of rock, funk, soul, dance, jazz and even spoken word will have plenty to choose from. We have sat down with Manchester music legend, Mr Dave Haslam, to speak about his involvement with MIF, curating the Albert Sqauare stage and his newly released book “Life in thirty five boxes”.
Official bio: DJ and writer Dave Haslam DJ’d over 450 times at the legendary Hacienda in Manchester during the late 1980s and has since DJ’d worldwide (including shows in Peru, New York, Berlin, Barcelona, and Italy). He made his debut at the Hacienda on May 1st 1986. Ian Brown, Tim Burgess and the Chemical Brothers all later credited his eclectic Thursday night sets as an inspiration. In 1990 he toured America with Mike Pickering, Graeme Park, and Paul Oakenfold. Since the early 1990s he has hosted a variety of successful club nights in Manchester, including ‘Yellow’ at the Boardwalk. He’s played afterparties for New Order, Gorillaz, and Depeche Mode. He’s is also the published author of “Life in thirty five boxes”, “Sonic Youth Slept on My Floor”, “Life After Dark: A History of British Nightclubs & Music Venues”, “Not Abba; the Real Story of the 1970’s”, “Adventures on the Wheels of Steel: The Rise of the Superstar DJs”, and “Manchester, England”. In 2012, he co-curated the exhibition “Dreams Without Frontiers” at the Manchester Art Gallery. In 2017 he co-curated a major New Order project for the Manchester International Festival.
Not many people know this, but you were born and raised in Birmingham! At this moment, West Midlands scene is incredibly strong with amazing acts such as Table Scraps, The Cosmics, The Pagans SOH, The Novus, Karkosa and many others. Was it like that when you were growing up?
Dave Haslam: I write about my Birmingham teenage years in my memoir “Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor”. I was lucky enough to be able to see some great bands, many of them local, including the Au Pairs, Steel Pulse, Dexys Midnight Runners, and The Prefects. Birmingham at the end of the 1970s was full of good gigs, and I was already a massive music enthusiast. When I came to Manchester in 1980, I was already trained up to go out looking for exciting new music and the weird stuff.
You are a man of renaissance – an published author, DJ, radio presenter, producer, journalist, legendary promoter. Is there one thing that you regret not doing? If yes, what is it?
Dave Haslam: I don’t think about regrets, really. I probably should have taken more photos and videos etc. In the 1980s not many people did any of that; not like now! But in terms of my work life, I really 100% cannot complain.
So far you have written four books and the fifth one is being released this month. It is called “Life in thirty five boxes”. Can you tell us more about it?
Dave Haslam: It’s a book about the joys of collecting, specifically vinyl collecting. It’s about how attached we can become to our vinyl; those records are like our best friends, our potent memories. But then the twist at the end I sell them. This was three years ago. And everyone thinks I was mad to do so, but I explain why and I tell the story of what happened to me and the records afterwards. It’s actually a very emotional rollercoaster of a book!
For Manchester International Festival, you are curating a series of gigs that will take place in the Albert Square. There will be nine acts over four days – all performances are free of charge. We love the idea! Was it something you wanted to do yourself or were you approached by the Festival to organize it?
Dave Haslam: I have done similar things for the Festival before. Way back when I got Everything Everything to play, and also Dutch Uncles, as they were both breaking through, and also Lonelady who I adore and doesn’t play much locally. On the DJ side, I gave Bicep their first ever gig at MIF and now they are mega (their song “Glue” is one of my favourite songs of the last couple of years). So MIF trust my ears, I guess!
You have chosen a mix of legendary acts (Horace Andy) and up-and-coming bands. Some of them proudly represent Manchester (The Blinders, Witch Fever, Liines), other acts come from Birmingham (Pagans S.O.H), Halifax (The Orielles) or Norwich (Sink Ya Teeth). How long does it take to finalize such a varied line up?
Award winning West Midlands quartet, The Pagans S.O.H debut new single just in time for MIF
Dave Haslam: It took about five minutes to come up with the line-up. I sat down with a pen and wrote the names of six or seven bands I’d like to invite, the ones I’d like to play in an ideal world. Then it took about two months to track everyone down and organise it. But the great thing is, everyone on that first list said YES! Then I was talking to my friend Dom who runs a fabulous sandwich shop in Stockport and DJs playing reggae (he’s basically the Blood & Fire Soundsystem) and I told him I wanted reggae on Sunday evening. He knows so much about reggae, so we threw some ideas together, and then he said, “Oh Horace, might come and get on the microphone”. I asked: “Are you talking about Horace Andy?” and he was. Dom knows everyone! So I agreed: “Yes, Dom, let’s do that. Let’s bring Horace!”.
In February 2018, you published an article in ‘I Love Manchester’ magazine entitled “Women in Manchester music: Are The Times A-Changing?” in which you argued that female artists must be given their rightful place on the Manchester music scene. You mentioned Witch Fever and now you have booked the band for the gig you are organizing. The whole line up is 50% female artists too. It’s refreshing to see somebody actually doing something practical to address the gender gap. What do you think needs to be do done more to improve the gender equality in the music business?
Dave Haslam: It’s worth remembering that there’s a lack of female representation in many walks of life and in many businesses. Female lawyers, for example, have big obstacles to get through; they work in a very male dominated industry. So there is nothing unique about the gender gap in music. In a way, the answer to your question is in the question itself – it’s about doing practical things. Men need to wise-up and in some cases open their ears. It amazes me how many indie-type lads are totally wedded to the idea that their favourite bands are and will always be basically four boys with guitars. Any deviation from that – either in terms of other kinds of music, or female fronted acts – are too weird for them. And women need to keep nurturing a sense of solidarity, the sisterhood can move mountains!
Two of the acts you have chosen played Glastonbury this year: Liines and The Blinders. Are you expecting crowds?
Dave Haslam: I have been organising concerts long enough to know that you can’t guarantee anything, but I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get good crowds because the bands are ace. I like to think some people will come out of curiosity too, knowing these are special events.
If you were to name Manchester acts to watch for in the coming months – who would you recommend? Is any new band catching your attention?
Dave Haslam: I’m actually very excited about the quality of some of the spoken word performers around at the moment. Can I mention Eve Piper? She was at Glastonbury too. She grew up in Chorlton, and she’s a name to look out for. The Manchester band I am kicking myself I didn’t make room for at MIF are Cold Water Swimmers, their new single is called “Burn Your Idols“.
The Blinders perform “Brave New World” at legendary Leftfield Stage at Glastonbury Festival 2019
The last question at Indieterria is usually a bit of a fun. Let’s say you have the opportunity to resurrect Hacienda and to bring it back into the City. Of course the original location is no longer available but you can chose a new place. What’s the new address?
Dave Haslam: Somewhere secret, or at least hard to find. The Hacienda was best before it got commercialised. So many of the best things are under the radar. You can find those places if you look hard enough.
Manchester International Festival Albert Square Schedule (in bold events curated by Dave Haslam)
Tent – 400 people (please show up early as it is first come first serve basis)
Square – 2500 people at one time
Sun 14 July
12.30 – 2pm – NoTTwins present BeeLive with China Lilly, Emanuel J Burton, Maxi Zee, Pablo & ALEKS
3 – 4.30pm – Young Identity & Contact present One Mic Stand
5.30 – 7pm – KYSO
8pm – 12am – Horace Andy Soundsystem set with Blood & Fire
Mon 15 July
12.30 – 2pm – Kara
3 – 4.30pm – Psychedelic DiscoTech plus guests
5.30 – 7pm – Chorus of Others
8 – 10pm – The Orielles & Working Men’s Club
10pm – late – Psychedelic DiscoTech plus guests
Tues 16 July
12.30 – 2pm – Jon Kenzie
2.30 – 3pm – John Robb talks Ballet with Jordan Mooney
3 – 4.30pm – Matthew Whitaker
5.30 – 7pm – The 7:45s
8 – 10pm – The Blinders, Witch Fever & The Pagans SOH
10pm – late – DJ Shell Zenner
Wed 17 July
12.30 – 2pm – Lingua Franca World Music Agency present The Tebu Project
3 – 4.30pm – Hannah Ashcroft
5.30 – 7pm – NoSpace
8 – 10pm – LIINES & Sink Ya Teeth
10pm – late – DJ Jez Kerr ACR
With multitute of shows, concerts and festivals happening over the summer, Manchester is once again emerging as a leader in cultural entertainment. We all could learn a thing or two from our Northern brothers and sisters.
Have a fun and support your local scene!