I was commissioned as one of only two official photographers by Sound City for their 2014 festival.
Liverpool Sound City is the largest international music, digital and film festival and conference in the UK, welcoming over 360 artists in over 25 venues in Liverpool’s city centre, with in excess of 40,000 music fans and over 3000 industry professionals in attendance.
It was an interesting brief in that I was specifically asked not to photograph any of the bands – though I did get tempted and grab a few of them!
The reason being was that they required images that could be used to promote their 2015 event and images of bands would not be relevant as they would not necessarily be performing at future events.
This was actually a huge blessing as while crowds of up to 20 accredited press photographers elbowed and jostled for space in the press pit, trying to get that all elusive perfect shot of whatever band’s lead singer, I was able to pick and choose my spot (with plenty of elbow room!)
The usual city centre live music venues hosted many of the bands and others included a memorable DJ set by John Hopkins and a rare live performance by the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop (Dr Who theme, anyone?) at Nation. The loft space at Brooklyn Mixer, the famous basement at Heebie Jeebies, Sound Food & Drink’s bohemian atmosphere all rubbed shoulders with the Anglican Cathedral and the bare brick and concrete of the NCP car park on Duke Street in hosting bands – the variety of venues as eclectic as the acts themselves.
The Conference at the Hilton Hotel hosted talks and Q&A sessions with some industry mammoths. Sonic Youth ‘s Thurston Moore in conversation with Dave Haslam and The Velvet Underground’s John Cale ‘s honest and interesting chat with the Quietus ‘ John Doran were the two highlights for me. Sound City also work with local universities’ photography students to provide a great opportunity to develop their skills, gain experience and expand their portfolios and there have, in previous years, been Q&A sessions with influential music photographers, such as Kevin Cummins and Gered Mankowitz.