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Late Junction Festival

Gazelle Twin wearing a jester costume with a hobby horse, seated on a chair

Arwa Haider spoke to Late Junction presenters and artists involved in the first Late Junction Festival.

‘For the past twenty years, Late Junction has been staking out the edge lands. Far from being home to the marginalized, edges are catalytic places of wonder, where ecosystems spiral together resulting in previously unimagined outcomes. This is where we presenters and producers hunt, tracing the lines where genres collide, react, repel and mix. It’s the ‘junction’ of Late Junction that keeps us forever twisting and turning, looking one way then the other, seeking, exploring and travelling on. The community we seek to nourish is unique. It confounds, challenges and feeds. It feels so right to be celebrating that under the banner of the first ever Late Junction Festival.’ – Verity Sharp, Late Junction presenter

The award-winning BBC Radio 3 programme Late Junction is a celebrated realm of musical discovery and possibility, flowing between ancient roots to future rhythms, fuelled by the far-ranging passions of its presenters, including Verity Sharp, Nick Luscombe and Max Reinhardt. That distinctive spirit is channelled into the inaugural Late Junction Festival, produced with the Barbican and Reduced Listening. Over two nights at Hackney’s EartH venue, the programme will embrace sets from emerging talents and veteran pioneers championed by Late Junction, as well as collaboration sessions and a live Late Junction Mixtape.

‘I’m looking forward to the Late Junction festival in part to enjoy performances from some of my current favourite artists and also to share the experience with fellow music obsessives who make up our ever-increasing Late Junction family’ – Nick Luscombe, Late Junction presenter

For the first night, Gazelle Twin (aka Elizabeth Bernholz) headlines with a set that summons the intoxicating avantfolk of her latest album, Pastoral. The vivid sound and vision of this collection is a kind of chopped-and-screwed, electro-fied take on olde English traditions and tropes, with Gazelle Twin emerging in haunting and hearty ‘Red Imp’ guise.

‘When I first started listening to Late Junction in my late teens, I remember feeling like it was the perfect show for my darker, weirder sensibilities. Through it, I encountered so many new things and unusual approaches to sound,’ she says. ‘It’s a wonderful circle of influence; where the music from the show has had a strong bearing on so much of what I do and how I’ve developed as a creator, and now I feel I’m part of that loop which is ever-changing. It is really gratifying.

‘The festival is of course, a brilliantly curated thing, and the time really feels right for it now. Over the last ten years, it feels as though there has been a real rise in the popularity of just the sort of strange cross-section of music that LJ have always presented on air. So, to do that with a festival programme, is very exciting.’

Further Thursday night highlights include indie quartet Hen Ogledd, whose tunes meld medieval lore and snappy psych riffs, and Pulled By Magnets: the new collective from livewire experimental jazz drummer Seb Rochford, with saxophonist Pete Wareham and bassist Neil Charles. Opening act Chaines presents eerie, transformative electroacoustica from debut album The King.

‘It’s an adventure in audio for all of us – presenters, producers, guests and, hopefully, listeners. Radio is such an intimate medium and Late Junction is such an intimate programme, people actually let us into their heads late at night! But now the radio community is about to become a real one, in real time, in real Hackney… ritualistic revelry meets a Dionysiac dysfunctional family gathering? Could be, who knows? And wow! what an unending delight of a bill.’ – Max Reinhardt, Late Junction presenter

Night two of the festival brings an invigorating blast of This Is Not This Heat: the 21st century incarnation of seminal post-punk outfit This Heat, led by Charles Hayward and Charles Bullen. The multi-instrumental duo regrouped decades after their original incarnation (with late bandmate Gareth Williams); they’ve been cited as an inspiration by generations of rock and electronic acts, and LJ presents one of the last chances to catch what Hayward describes as ‘a message in a time capsule vibe’, before TINTH dissolve again.

‘It’s amazing, the response we’re getting, especially from young people; their excitement is exciting for us,’ says Bullen. ‘When we did this the first time, the thing we’d always hear is that “you’re ahead of your time”; maybe there’s something in it.’ This Heat’s music smartly merged political details and other narratives. Do any particular tracks have a renewed resonance in our current turbulent times?

‘We used history as subject matter to talk about contemporary politics,’ explains Hayward. ‘So the material was referencing events that had already happened: a cultural memory. It feels so strange, to sing the songs again when things appear different on the surface, but still rest on structures of hierarchical power. The track ‘Cenotaph’ [from This Heat’s 1981 final album, Deceit] has the chorus 'History repeats itself', and it sends chills down my spine. We will also be performing ‘New Kind of Water’, ‘S.P.Q.R.’, and ‘Twilight Furniture’ as well as more abstract pieces: ‘Music Like Escaping Gas’, for instance, which manifest our fundamental sense of dread from less overt angles.’

For this set, TINTH will play in the six-piece formation that they showcased last year (with Alex Ward, Daniel O'Sullivan, Frank Byng, James Sedwards). Hayward explains: ‘The music wants us to tunnel vision, so that's what we're going to do.’

Friday also promises the otherworldly soul of CURL, comprising visionary Mica Levy, Coby Sey and Brother May, and O Yama O, featuring visual artists Rie Nakajima and Keiko Yamamoto (who’ll be experimenting with the venue’s space, alongside David Cunningham), plus a closing Mixtape set from NTS DJ and songwriter Carla dal Forno. Late Junction always reveals thrillingly unpredictable routes, immersive sensations, and new ways to come together.

BBC Radio 3 Late Junction Festival is produced by the Barbican in association with Reduced Listening


Thursday performers

Cee Haines electronics, vocals, flute, clarinet

Pulled By Magnets
Pete Wareham saxophone
Neil Charles bass
Seb Rochford drums

Hen Ogledd
Richard Dawson bass, keys, vocals
Dawn Bothwell electronics, vocals
Sally Pilkington synth, vocals
Rhodri Davies harp, guitar, vocals
Will Guthrie drums

Gazelle Twin
Elizabeth Bernholz vocals, recorder
Natalie Sharp electronics

Friday performers

O Yama O
Rie Nakajima objects
Keiko Yamamoto vocals
Billy Steiger violin
Marie Roux drums
David Cunningham guitar

Coby Sey DJ, keys, bass, synths
Mica Levi vocals, guitar
Brother May drums
Leisha Thomas guitar, vocals
George Finlay Ramsay vocals

This is Not This Heat
Charles Bullen guitar
Frank Byng drums
Charles Hayward drums
Daniel O'Sullivan bass, keys
Alex Ward guitar
James Sewards guitar

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