My festival-going eyes are fixed firmly on the calendar, waiting for summer, which will once again see the return of a full, eclectic mix of music.
I believe that experiencing and participating in festivals can be one of life’s most incredible experiences. They have a specific way of bringing people together from all over the world to share in a magical experience together. I haven’t visited a festival since pre-covid so I couldn’t be any more ecstatic for what’s to come this year.
For this months’ playlist, I’ve chosen to delve into a selection of music from two festivals taking place this year that I’m super excited for - Kelburn Garden Party in June and We Out Here in August.
Kelburn Garden Party - 1–4 July 2022
Kelburn is a music and arts festival that explodes across numerous stages, nooks, and spaces throughout one of the most glorious locations in Scotland, the Kelburn Estate in Fairlie. The magical glens surrounding the festival and the enchanting music on offer is truly a cultural safari for the mind, body, and soul, and reminds you that art and music is intrinsic to a peaceful, fulfilled quality of life. You can be sure to expect a mouth-watering array of exciting new music and underground sounds from across the Scottish scene, peppered with incredible guests from around the UK, Europe and beyond. There’s plenty for everyone, from techno to disco, funk to jazz, dub to jungle, house to afrobeat, hip-hop to folk, it’s all there, and – the clue is in the name - it’s going to be one big party!
I thought I’d take this opportunity to highlight a few artists I am most excited to see at Kelburn this year:
Artist: Falle Nioke @falle_nioke
Where: Viewpoint Stage
Falle Nioke is my absolute favourite artist at the moment. He is an exceptionally talented singer and percussionist from Guinea in West Africa and speaks and sings in 8 languages. He effortlessly plays a range of cultural African instruments to accompany his voice, including Gongoma, Bolon and Cassi. Since moving to the UK, Falle has been successfully working with several producers, including Johan Hugo, Congo Natty and Sir Was.
I first came across Falle on BBC Radio 6 Music – where I tend to come across most new artists – and completely fell in love with his single ‘Rain’. It was about two minutes in when the beat dropped that I dropped my cooking spoon and screamed at Alexa to tell me what the track was. Useless as we all know she is, her reply was “sorry, I don’t know that one”, so I scrambled for my phone to pull up the good old, trusty Shazam.
From his collaborative EP with London-based ethereal dance producer Ghost Culture, the lead track from ‘Youkounkoun’ is a complimentary combination of Falle’s dynamic vocal melodies and Ghost Culture’s masterfully smooth electronics, and is one I dream of hearing and experiencing at Kelburn. His latest single, 'Leywole – Squid’s Let’s Get Trancey Remix', is nothing short of an electronic masterpiece that is certain to set all Kelburn goers into a euphoric state. Setting buoyant synth bass stabs against a ticking drum machine, Falle’s groove is addictive and too enticing to miss.
Artist: Main Ingredient @mainingredient303
Where: The Landing Stage
Friends of ours ‘Main Ingredient’ are an Edinburgh based DJ/Production collective that have been causing a scene since 2013. Dubbed the true original warehouse party starters, we’ll be working with them on upcoming events in the space which you should absolutely keep an eye out for. I’ve watched them perform many times and witnessing them at Kelburn will be something truly special to me. They’ve also just released their debut EP, ‘Movers International’ on Ramrock Records as part of their sister project. There’s only one word to describe this masterpiece - Epic.
Main Ingredient's specialty is masterfully mixing live analogue drum machines and synths, and they have a coveted record collection spanning back decades. They’ve had the pleasure of performing 8 years in a row at Kelburn, but this year is special as they are now OPENING the Landing Stage, which I know they will be thrilled with. I can’t think of a better act to open such a glorious festival on a fine Friday afternoon. If you’re heading to Kelburn this year, please don’t miss their performance. I promise you it will be an outstanding party starter.
Artist: Max Cooper @maxcoopermax
Where: The Landing Stage
I only came to listen to and appreciate Max Cooper’s music recently when his new work 'Unspoken Words' – his 6th studio album - was released earlier this year. The album is the latest in an impressive catalogue dating back to 2007 which I’ve now familiarised myself with. His label, Mesh, is keenly placed to explore the intersection of music, art and science through interdisciplinary creative collaborations that blur lines between art, mathematics, film, choreography, sciences, architecture, psychology, and spirituality.
He masterfully merges electronic music and visual art with scientific enquiry through powerful installations, live audio-visual, and immersive sound experiences, making him the ideal candidate for a spectacular performance at Kelburn. We've all experienced a moment at a festival when you hear that perfect song and realise how beautiful everything around you is, how incredible life is, and how great you have it. This set is sure to one of those moments and I know I won't be able to help but close my eyes and put my hands up in pure trance.
If, like me, your ears have deceived you for years and managed to miss such incredible talent, head to Cooper's Spotify page and be carried on a wave of emotional resonance and sensory immersion, focusing on humanity’s place in the world.
We Out Here – 25-28 August 2022
We Out Here is a festival curated and organised by Worldwide FM tastemaker Gilles Peterson, who needs no introduction. 2022 will be its third instalment and takes place at Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire. This will be my first time and I can’t wait to witness some legendary icons, DJs, and young improvisers over four magnificent days of music in one of the UKs most picturesque festival sites. I’m anticipating outstanding live music including soul, hip hop, house, afro, electronica, jazz and more - with Gilles at the wheel, we should expect no less. Here are a couple of artists I’m especially excited to see this August:
The Comet is Coming is a London-based jazz-rock band who incorporate elements of jazz, electronica, funk and psychedelic rock. Their music has the ability to destroy your preconceptions and force you to embrace the chaos and overcome fear. The transcendent experience of their music reconnects you with the energy of the ‘Lifeforce’ in the hope of manifesting higher realities through new constructs. “Because the end is only really the beginning”, as they would say.
At We Out Here this year, I expect this band will arrive in style and deliver a truly phenomenal headline worthy set. The sound system should deliver the goods which is essential for Comet's full-on experience. I’m excited for the epic highs and lows of Danalogue's synth work to be right in my face and bones, for Shabaka's sax to weave in and out of the sound perfectly and for it all to be held on track by Maxwell's Killer drumming. On stage is where this band needs to be experienced. If you've only ever had them on headphones or even a large stereo you've not even had half the experience. I’ve tracked them down again, and I will certainly enjoy every moment.
Rebecca Vasmant's eight-piece ensemble formed following the glorious sell-out Album 'With Love, From Glasgow ' released earlier this year, which really kickstarted my own deep, personal love of jazz music. Rebecca is a dear friend of ours at Sweetdram, so I feel very privileged to personally know such a respected musician who uses her platform for good, gives a voice to those who need it and stands up for what she believes in – for what is right. She continues to fight for gender and cultural equality in festivals and the industry as a whole and has personally made me feel strong and empowered as a woman.
Rebecca’s album is comprised of world class Scottish musicians from the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra as well as Amanda Whiting of Jazzman Records / Gondwana. Through the ethereal, floating textures, the music tells a love story to Scotland, and the wonderful talents we have in this beautiful country. It deservedly received international acclaim and reached the top ten position in the International Jazz Album Charts. Unsurprisingly, it was sold out everywhere on vinyl, in advance of the full album being available for streaming. I was lucky enough to grab a copy, and it’s my go-to record.
“The tracks are very personal to me. They tell stories of life, of the thoughts that exist inside my head. The record is a jigsaw that brought us together as the catalyst in forming so many lifelong friendships. Without musicians, there would be no music, and without friendships there would be no life.” – Rebecca Vasmant
The group will be playing LIVE this year and will be performing alongside some unbelievably talented, legendary acts: The Comet is Coming!!!, the renowned Pharoah Sanders, Kokoroko, Nala Sinephro, Coco Maria and loads more.
On another vital note – although not about music - the eco-conscious consumer in me was ecstatic to hear about the steps the We Out Here festival team are taking to ensure they minimise their environmental impact each year, and I wanted to list a few below here:
Danley sound systems – whilst maximising use of both recycled materials and rare earth materials in manufacturing - are some of the greenest sound systems available, taking up approximately ¼ of trucking space and power requirements (vs. standard line array systems) due to their efficiency
Their food and drink concessions will be held to the same standards, with reusable cups used across all bars on site. No straws, plastic cutlery, polystyrene, or any other single use plastics will be permitted on site in any capacity
The bars and concessions on site will offer a number of vegan and other products chosen for their sustainability
This will be the first festival the Sweetdram team visit together. It’s a long 6-hour journey from Edinburgh, particularly the tough road home, but it’ll be absolutely worth it, I’m sure.
- Tags: music blog