GIITTV: IN CONVERSATION: The Wave Pictures

The staff at the Mogal-E-Azam Indian restaurant, just a stone’s throw from Nottingham’s cultural triangle of music venues (Rock City, The Rescue Rooms and Spanky Van Dykes), are always delighted to welcome the night’s performers to their humble establishment. The owners and waiters act with such enthusiasm and appreciation that a group of musicians would choose to bless them with their custom, that you suspect they go to great pains to get the meals exactly right. Given the barnstorming set performed by The Wave Pictures at Spanky’s later on, supported by the hilarious band The Thyme Machine, and a post-show pub visit with both acts where the gorgeous actress Alicia Vikander walked up to the bar in front of me to order a drink (if it wasn’t her, she has one Hell of a doppelganger loitering around the Midlands area), I’d say it was a pretty damn successful evening all round. David, Franic and Jonny peered over their restaurant menus to answer a few questions…

WavePics1

Your new album is called ‘A Season In Hull’.  I always found the place hopelessly grim, yet somehow brimming with character. I’m intrigued to know what appealed to you about the place enough to make you want to base an album around it?

David Tattersall:
Well, the title is just a pun on a French poetry book by Arthur Rimbaud called ‘A Season In Hell’. I don’t particularly LIKE the book, but I just thought it was a really funny title, and that’s why I wrote the title track. We’ve always had a nice time in Hull, and I suppose I like that Philip Larkin lived there, and worked in the library there, so there’s a nice romantic association with the place. Since we made the album, though; we’ve found that not many people know the Rimbaud book, so whereas it was meant to be an amusing title, it really doesn’t seem to have amused very many people much!

It’s a vinyl only release. What is it about vinyl only releases that appeals to bands these days?

David: There are lots of reasons. One is purely because we love and buy vinyl records ourselves. Another reason is that it makes it a kind of special and distinct project, so when we were recording it, we knew exactly what it was going to be for. And I suppose it was because, these days, with music being all on the internet, I think we’ve lost something that the band thinks is quite precious in a way, which is the idea of ‘Album as Album’. You know, something that you have to sit and listen to as a piece in its entirety, because with the internet, all the music’s just flying around in the air, and people just click from one to the next – which is fine.  But technology has changed the way in which people listen, and relate, to music. It’s inevitable with any huge technological change, I guess, but making it a vinyl release, if you want to listen to it, you’ve got to sit and listen to it, and not just be online for 45 minutes.

On your last record (Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon), you worked with the great Billy Childish, of course. In which way did he push you that was different from your normal approach?

Jonny Helm: In a much punkier way! That’s the obvious answer anyway!
David: He did a lot of the musical side of things – he brought a lot of riffs and things like that…
Jonny: It was much more of a collaboration than any of the previous Wave Pictures albums…  Although it ended up with just our name on it and not his!

Bit of a weird question this time – when my father-in-law passed away in November last year, we complied with his wish of having ‘The Birdie Song’ played while everyone danced to it as the coffin went behind the curtain. As a result, bizarrely, whenever I think of my father-in-law’s funeral, I laugh. It makes me think of The Wave Pictures, in a way, because it’s like… marrying the ridiculous with something that makes a lot of sense. Is that kind of a “vision” you had when you made your records? Does that make any sense at all, in fact?

Jonny: It does!
David: Well, I quite like it if people take things as more ridiculous than if they take it super seriously.
Jonny: Yeah, I think a lot of bands take things just a little bit too seriously, and that goes for recording techniques and how they try to project themselves in the world and everything really. It doesn’t mean you have to be Half Man Half Biscuit, but it’s good to inject a little humour into it.

I think I said in my review of the album that you were “the Marr to your own Morrissey”…

David: Oh, I read that review! That’s true as well…
Jonny: …Though he’s probably a bit better than both of them, aren’t you Dave?

When I was in bands and approached cover versions, we used to only ever choose songs that we thought weren’t that great and could make better…

David: …Whereas we like to take great things and make them worse.

I wasn’t going to say that! I was going to say you do some very brave covers – Creedence, Springsteen, Van Morrison…

David: A friend of mine pointed out to me that it’s a bit of an indie trend, taking some rubbish pop songs and doing them in a sort of “meaningful”, indie type of way, and we don’t want to do that. If we’re gonna cover a song, it’s gonna just be because we love it. We don’t do the ironic indie cover game. It’s almost more to show a different side to yourself, these things get pigeonholed, and people think there’s no relationship.  I mean, people see the way you dress, and they just assume you’re just like all the other bands who dress like that. So you do a Creedence song, then you’re showing a different side to yourself, but also how much more music there is in those songs, rather than just being a certain type of song. As soon as I sing them, they just sound totally different, but it’s not a joke thing; if it doesn’t work when we try it, we just sack it off. We’ll try 10 covers, and if one comes off, we’ll do it for another couple of years. The words have to be meaningful to me, though, otherwise I can’t do it. When I covered the Creedence songs, the first thing I thought was that his (John Fogarty’s) songs were closer to mine than you would think because he’s interested in memory songs. So that appealed.

So, now that you’ve worked with one of your heroes in Billy, is there anything else on your “bucket list”?

David: That’s a good question. One of the things that we thought when we got to work with him was that we couldn’t imagine anybody else who would remotely compare to him in terms of how good he is with the sound. And now what we’ve done, is we’ve gotten rid of Billy, but we’re still using his studio! It’s all worked out fine!  I don’t think there is anybody else, really. The trouble with it is, most famous records now by the people you’ve heard of, they sound really bad; and the people who made the best sounding records from the sixties or whatever, those guys are all dead or barely functioning, so I don’t know if there’s anybody left.
Jonny: We’ve always said that we could give Bob Dylan a hand to make a good sounding record again, because his most recent albums have got a bit boring!

Well, you’ve been around for 17 years now, so you’d have the experience! At one point, around the time of Instant Coffee Baby, it seemed like you were going to become really big…

David: It never really happened, did it? We don’t know why. We were confused by it – we should have been really famous (laughs). No, we were on Moshi Moshi Records, and we saw all these other bands on these very specific career paths, with management and long waits between releases and very controlled plans to get famous, and we thought that seemed really stupid. We thought it’d be better to keep releasing records and be totally independent – and of course, in some ways, that is better, because we’ve got a real fanbase.  On the other hand, all of those people got really famous and we didn’t! We were on the label at the same time as Metronomy and Slow Club and both of those got much more famous than us. But then in order to do that, they had to do things that we weren’t prepared to do. We were very inspired by Herman Düne in particular, and Jeffrey Lewis – people we looked up to, who were very independent, and didn’t have management or any of those types of things. It was difficult because we always tried to keep the music business at arm’s length. We’d go and meet these people – me and Fran would go to meetings with these horrible people – booking agents or managers – in horrible offices, and we couldn’t relate to them at all, so we just stayed away. And maybe that’s why we’re not famous. It depends on the way you look at it, though, because we’ve done things in exactly the way we wanted to, so in a way, we’ve been very successful. We’ve probably made hundreds of mistakes, but they were our mistakes that we thought were a good idea at the time. But now…  Yeah, I guess it would be nice to be a little more famous!

And you can’t fault the guys’ work rate.  No sooner has A Season In Hull been released (and critically acclaimed, incidentally, having attained Album Of The Day status on 6Music), than there is talk of another new album to be released in October!

Whatever successes The Wave Pictures do have, or whatever level of fame they ever do manage to muster, they sure as Hell deserve it.

Oh, and it may not be obvious to the inattentive reader, but you may have noticed that Franic Rozycki didn’t answer any questions. This is not true, however, as I’m sure he did.  Sorry about that Franic, if you’re reading this – it’s nothing personal, honest!

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GIITTV: OPINION: Kanye West & His Ever-Changing New Album

The release of Kanye West‘s new album, The Life of Pablo, has been something of a clusterfuck. Everything, from its title to its track-list to its musical and lyrical content, has been revised multiple times, and quite a few of those revisions occurred after its official release date (14 February).

It would be easy to chalk this all up to a simple lack of planning, but many commentators have found a different angle on the whole thing:

Sources like The Guardian and The New York Times are suggesting that Kanye’s recent activity represents a big, brilliant shoulder-barge to the boundaries of what an album can be. Your average LP is a finite work with a beginning, a middle, and an end; when it’s released, we take it as read that the version we hear – the version sold in record shops, streamed on Spotify, and reviewed by critics – is the complete, definitive version, and that everyone who buys it will receive the same end product. The Life of Pablo – and all the conflicting takes, edits, leaks and bootlegs thereof – demolishes these norms, and whether by accident or by design, Kanye West may well have fundamentally changed the way we all think about albums.
I mean, the whole thing seems like kind of an awkward mess to me, but then it’s easy for me to snark because a) I haven’t heard the album, and b) all of this ‘death of the album as we know it’ talk is kind of terrifying for me.

It was bad enough when Taylor Swift offered us two different versions of 1989 – regular and deluxe – then released deluxe-edition-only track New Romantics as a single, thereby revealing that the deluxe version was the real one and that us poor suckers who bought the standard CD only got 81% of the full story. But this Life of Pablo stuff is a breed of chaos that I’m not sure I can even process; that we may eventually end up with a hundred different versions of this LP, none of them truly definitive, is an intriguing thought, but how can I properly appreciate an album if it won’t sit still long enough for me to even weigh it up? It usually takes me a good few listens to really get a feel for an album, and I suspect that this constant state of flux would keep me permanently locked out of the experience. If an artist I actually liked were to pull this stunt, my primary reactions would probably be disappointment and a feeling of alienation.

But, okay, I don’t want to be the stuffy old dick who’s so set in his ways that he’s willing to lay down in the path of progress. Tempting though it is to respond to these articles by shouting over them and thumping my copy of 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, I appreciate that music is evolving, and that the album format must adapt in order to survive. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the arguments in favour of Kanye’s ‘art is never finished’ model:

It gives Kanye’s fans a deeper insight into his creative process. 

Here’s an interesting point of view from that New York Times article I linked to earlier:

“Think of how we understand pop music titans like Dylan or Prince. Over time, more demos and alternate versions and live versions get released — officially or not — and our understanding of their process deepens. Given the speed and porousness of the Internet era, we may soon be able to assess and comprehend Mr. West in much the same way. Albums that seem to be complete will only get less so. Songs that sound fixed in stone will be revealed to be the product of much trial and error. The process will be laid bare, as fascinating as the end result.”

Okay, sure – it is sometimes cool to hear the rough sketches that begat the fully-formed bangerz we know and love. But it’s eminently possible to share those sketches with listeners without compromising the sanctity (ugh) of the album as a single, standalone piece. Tindersticks handled this well with the 2004 remaster of their self-titled debut; the reissued version came with a bonus disc containing twelve demo tracks, most of which were early versions of key tracks from Tindersticks itself. This package gave fans a sneaky peek at the flesh and bones of their favourite songs whilst still allowing them to experience the original work in full, sans tampering (remastering don’t count because this undertaking, generally speaking, doesn’t change the actual content of the album).

Or, if ‘bonus disc’ is too humdrum a treat for your listeners, why not do what PJ Harvey did last year and just let people watch you while you’re in the recording studio?

It allows Kanye to make continuous improvements, even after the album has been released.

Is that a good thing, though? That Guardian piece compares Kanye’s ongoing tweaks with the ‘patches’ that video game developers will sometimes release for their games, but the main purpose of a patch is to fix a bug, not to alter the artistic content of a game or airbrush a creative choice that people have criticised. An album patch only makes sense if the sound came out a bit choppy in the original master, or if one of the tracks doesn’t play properly, or something like that. As soon as we give artists the ability to chop and change their artistic decisions on the fly, we absolve them of all responsibility for what they create – after all, why put any thought into what you’re recording if you can simply fix it later?
This has kind of already happened with The Life of Pablo. A leaked demo of the song Famous – and, again, I haven’t listened to this album; the following is just what I’ve read on the New York Times website – reportedly contained a line suggesting that Taylor Swift owes Kanye sex:

“Two days before Mr. West played Pablo for the world at a Feb 11 fashion show at Madison Square Garden, he held a listening session for friends, family and representatives of his record label. The next day, a Reddit user began a thread titled, “Rumor: Kanye West is going to diss Taylor Swift on his new album.” The post went on to detail the opening lines from Famous: ‘I feel like Taylor Swift still owe me sex/ Why? I made that bitch famous.’”

Apparently, a later revision of that song changed the offending verse, and for what it’s worth, I think Kanye did the right thing by making that alteration (even if – as has been claimed – it was an in-joke between West and Swift, it’s still a horrible, horrible line). Also, to be fair, we only know about Famous‘s original lyric because somebody leaked a demo online, presumably without Kanye West’s blessing.
But…still.

It means that the album constantly remains fresh.

No argument here. But, as I’ve already suggested, it’s difficult to warm to a piece of art that’s constantly ‘fresh’; I can only speak for myself here, but the albums I listen to most are the ones I know inside-out, and The Life of Pablo will never reach that point (the point at which putting the album on feels like wriggling into your favourite jumper) unless either the listener or the creator eventually gives up and decides to stop at the current version of the record. As soon as that happens, the current version become the ‘real’ version, and the whole grand experiment becomes pointless, because all of the other editions were just works in progress, as opposed to being the equally important links in a never-ending chain.
(This is kind of what has happened with Sundries, the ‘living album’ from anti-folk hero Lach that, in its way, was a kind of a forerunner to The Life of Pablo. Each week, Lach would remove one track from Sundries and replace it with another, meaning that the album was constantly shifting and that the version you downloaded became obsolete almost straight away. However, Lach doesn’t appear to be updating Sundries any more, and while he’s nobly dubbed its final incarnation ‘The Last Version’ instead of ‘The Definitive Version’, it’s kind of hard not to view the set of tracks that’s now available on Lach’s Bandcamp page as anything but the ‘canon’ version of Sundries.)
But let’s give Kanye the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’ll keep updating and reimagining The Life of Pablo for the rest of time. In this unlikely scenario, there’s a fourth potential advantage to the idea of an ever-changing album:


It means that no single edition or reissue of the album can be held up as any more ‘definitive’ than any other.

Now here’s the one benefit of this model that I can really get behind. I hate it when I buy an album and, less than a year later, out comes the ‘Special Edition’ with more extras and incentives and inexplicable rewards for the people who were smart enough not to buy the record when it first came out. It always feels like a bit of a middle finger to the fans who bothered to go to the shops on release day – at least Taylor Swift was gallant enough to release 1989 (Deluxe) at the same time as the standard version, giving us the choice right off the bat rather than forcing us to re-buy or miss out further down the line.

So there, finally, is a harbour at which I may be willing to board this ship: if Kanye West’s model of constant change eradicates those dickweedy, cash-grab, come-on-at-least-wait-a-couple-of-years re-releases that seemingly aim to discourage people from buying their favourite band’s new album right away, then perhaps I’ll rethink my position on this matter.

For now, though, it all just strikes me as kind of cowardly. One of the hardest parts of any artistic endeavour is the part where you step back and decide that, yes, this is complete, this is An Art that I’m happy to share with the world. By coming back and tinkering with The Life of Pablo every time he thinks of something else he wants to change, Kanye West is unburdening himself of his duty to take that step, and I’ve no real interest in listening to his “unfinished masterpiece” until he starts acting like it’s actually ready.

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GIITTV: PREMIERE: Department M – Air Exchange

Leeds-based electronic experimental noise pop duo Department M release their new album ‘Deep Control’ as a limited edition 12” vinyl on 18th March 2016 via independent label Hide & Seek Records. As a taster we have the premiere for their new single ‘Air Exchange’ soulful two hander with guest vocals from Snow Fox underscored by futuristic pop sounds, listen here:

http://ift.tt/1UtZUO2

Initially a collaboration between front man Owen Brinley(formerly of the Grammatics) and long-term producer, James Kenosha, drummer and co-conspirator Tommy Davidson (Pulled Apart By Horses) lent a fresh pair of hands and ears to the writing and recording process this time around.

“After the super-taut feel of the self-titled mini-album released on Fierce Panda in Dec 2013, my aim was to create a musical antidote” explains Brinley of the album “The term ‘industrial’ had been bandied about a lot in interviews and reviews – conjuring images of a tension-head, aggro listening experience. For this record I wanted to the opposite, I wanted to make a deeply personal and soulful pop-record but still within the confines of Department M’s musical reference points of warm analogue synths, future-pop production and experimental textures.”

The new album from department M – ‘Deep Control’ – is released on 12” vinyl & digital download 18th March via Hide & Seek Records.

UK Headline Live Dates:

Thurs 24th March – Fulford Arms – York
Fri 25th March – Brudenell Social Club – Leeds
Sat 26th March – Birthdays – Dalston, London

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The VPME LUSH – Blind Spot EP

We’ve missed quite a lot since we’ve been away, including the return of Lush !! Unlike many recent reformations which trade entirely on nostalgia, Lush’s return has been marked by the release of their first music in twenty years in the shape of a brand new EP. There also appears to be a suggestion that more material may be forthcoming at a future date.

The Blind Spot EP which is released on the 15th April on the band’s own Edamame label sees Miki Berenyi, Emma Anderson, Phil King reunited along with Justin Welch (formerly Elastica, stepping in for the late Chris Acland)  and it sounds like they’ve never been away.  The production from Jim Abbiss and Ladytron’s Daniel Hunt is perfectly judged retaining that classic Lush sound, and whilst it reaches back to touch fingers with the past, it very definitely moves the band into the here and now.

Lush sound more like their beginnings than their endings on Blind Spot, but it’s also the sound of a band not straining to reclaim former glories. There comes a time in life when you realise that perhaps spray on skinny jeans is a look best left in the past  and instead of clinging desperately to the memory of your faded youth, you embrace the person you are today. Blind Spot is an elegant, sophisticated example of where Lush are now and it manages to seamlessly bridge their twenty-year absence with an uncomplicated sense of dignity and grace.

(ps. We’d also recommend buying the vinyl as not only does it come beautifully packaged but also has some highly amusing etchings in the run-off groove Wink )

We asked Miki Berenyi about the inspiration for the lyrics on the new EP.

Out Of Control

“Most people with teenage kids are fairly quick to recognise what’s going on in Out Of Control. You can love someone more than anything in the world, and still fight, and it feels devastating because all you want to do is hold them and make everything all right, but it’s not happening. “

Lost Boy

“I had a dream about Chris and realised during the dream that it wasn’t real, and well… self-explanatory, “

Burnham Beeches

“Burnham Beeches is about what love felt like when I was a teenager. It’s light and uncomplicated and fills your senses, but it’s fickle and fleeting and when it’s not working, it just evaporates.”

Rosebud

“Rosebud is – well, it’s complicated. My daughter was being bullied by some boys at school and not the knuckle-dragging thugs you’re immediately imagining but a bunch of articulate middle-class wankers who didn’t like having their sense of entitlement threatened. It’s tough being a teen, and if you’re a girl and you don’t conform to the simpering teary-eyed passive ideal, you’re fair game. I’m Maleficent, and I will have my revenge!”

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Ltd Edition Vinyl & CD, Pre-order

Lush Band

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Dave Hill | The Guardian: Wanted: “muscular, interventionist” London mayor to boost “build to rent”

The boss of one of London’s most prestigious property estates wants City Hall to help expand and transform private renting in the capital

London’s absurdly high and rising housing costs cause an array of problems for the city and a vast range of its people, from the poor and low paid to middle income professionals in private and public sectors alike. The growth of the private rental sector (PRS) is a symptom of the problem – about 30% of London households are now accommodated by it compared with less than 20% at the start of the century. Can it also be part of the solution?

At last week’s PRS Forum, an annual conference for industry players and sages, Grosvenor Estate chief executive Peter Vernon argued that it can. His speech to delegates at 155 Bishopsgate concisely outlined the potential for many more homes to be built in London specifically for private rent. For years, wise wonks have tried without great success to persuade more big investors to sink cash into “build-to-rent,” but Vernon thinks a breakthrough might be in sight. He quoted British Property Federation figures suggesting there’s around £30bn out there that will be looking for the right opportunities over the next five years. He then highlighted two of the various things he thinks are needed to “catalyse this market.” Here’s the first:

A step change increase in the supply of developable land. With others, I believe this will require, in London, a muscular, interventionist mayor; a mayoral delivery body that identifies, assembles and designates sites for development, maximising the potential of public land and using CPO [compulsory purchase] powers if necessary, that puts in place the necessary infrastructure and then sells plots to those who want to build, sub-dividing larger sites to accelerate delivery.

I believe we need a clear and unambiguous planning policy for build-for-rent. At present, build-for-rent investors and developers just don’t know where they stand in London. The GLA has a draft but broad policy statement which each borough is interpreting differently. This ambiguity is creating a stand-off between the planning authorities and the private sector and holding back the investment of substantial private capital. I think we need a clear, city-wide framework that recognises that the economics of building rental homes is different from building homes for sale, and therefore requires a different approach.

Continue reading…

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GIITTV: Pinkshinyultrablast – Grandfeathered (Club AC30)

Wasting no time in following up their well-received debut Everything Else Matters, (released 13 months ago to the day), St Petersburg’s Pinkshinyultrablast have returned with Grandfeathered. 

Although very recognisably the same band that many knew and loved from that first record, Grandfeathered is a move into an altogether more dense territory and is not as immediate as its predecessor. Signs of this shift were apparent in the choice of first single from the album, ‘Kiddy Pool Dreams’ which was nowhere near as commercial as former 45s ‘Umi’ and ‘Holy Forest’, those being more at the Lush end of the shoegaze spectrum, as opposed to the Spacemen 3 end.

However, Grandfeathered is very much an album worth sticking with and has some wonderful moments, such as the shimmering ‘Initial’, which fittingly opens the record before squalls of feedback and really quite rockist guitars introduce ‘Glow Vastly’, with its unusual time signatures and stop-start sound.  The heavenly calling card of Pinkshinyultrablast remains singer Lyubov Soloveva, whose vocals are perhaps a little lower in the mix this time around, but still float serenely somewhere above the clouds, untroubled by the sounds of distortion and at times, all-out noise, emanating from below.

‘I Catch You Napping’ is an uptempo track and arguably the catchiest song on display, its sweetly chorused guitars blending nicely with some more discordant sounds further in.

The two singles, (the aforementioned ‘Kiddy Pool Dreams’ together with the new one ‘The Cherry Pit’) sit either side the spirited ‘Comet Marbles’. You will probably have as much luck working out the lyrics as you would deciphering early Cocteau Twins words, but it doesn’t matter in the slightest; Soloveva’s vocal is the perfect foil for the often obtuse sounds conjured up brilliantly by the rest of the band.

The single of ‘Kiddy Pool Dreams’ from last Autumn featured an inspired re-imagining of the song (re-branded as ‘Kitty’s Cool Beams’), which took the band’s sound and remoulded it into a synth-driven M83-ish dream of a track. It would be really interesting to hear the band edge of into that direction next time around, but for now, Grandfeathered is a welcome addition to this pretty special outfit’s small but perfectly formed canon.

Pinkshinyultrablast – Kitty’s Cool Beams

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GIITTV: Track Of The Day #805: Medium Wave – The Most Beautiful Sound (We’ve Ever Found)

Mysterious soulful synth-pop six piece Medium Wave release their debut album Pleasure last week, and maybe as one could guess from t heir name it’s a lovingly crafted homage to pop records of the 1970’s and 1980’s, they describe it thusly: “10 upbeat songs brimming with Linn drum beats, synthesizer rock-outs and nectarous harmony melodies from twin lead vocalists.’

The Most Beautiful Sound (We’ve Ever Found)
has been swirling around my head since I heard it last year, all mellifluous intertwined melodies, deliciously glacial synths, dabbing organs lines that snake their way through your frontal lobes, funky baselines that get you grooving and craftily self-referential lyrics. “It’s not the sound of the future/It’s not the sound of the past/It’s not the sound of the city/It’s not a sound that will last,” they sing in a soulful crescendo of choruses… It’s the sound of skillfully crafted down-tempo art pop that sits somewhere between the early work of Depeche Mode, Prince, and Late of the Pier, but much on a much more individual frequency. Brave Medium wavers…

 

 

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GIITTV: IN CAMERA: Outlines Festival 2016

The inaugural Outlines Festival took place in Sheffield on Saturday, 27th February 2016. An offspring of the now famous Tramlines festival, this brave new one-day winter warmer mixed established names with some of the hottest new talent like Oscar, Pumarosa and Kagoule.

We headed to South Yorkshire to have a look at some of the new music line up.

Photo credit: Luke Hannaford

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