Interview: Manchester With Love

You’d be hard-pressed to overstate the musical heritage of Manchester. From Factory Records and Joy Division to the Haçienda and Madchester, A Guy Called Gerald and Autechre to Oasis, WU LYF and the Fall, chances are you’ve felt its presence in your music library. At Truants, we’ve had Truancy Volumes from residents including Space Afrika, Samrai & Platt and Damu, and our love for crews like Swing Ting and meandyou. is definitely worn on our sleeves. Just over a month ago, the city faced a suicide bombing in the foyer of Manchester Arena, killing and injuring many after an Ariana Grande concert there. Considering how intimate and vulnerable music events are, and how many of us Truants have called the city our home, it was uplifting to see some of our favourites come together to support those affected by the attack. Manchester With Love was formed: “a collective contribution from the city’s music community”, featuring 226 tracks from all corners of the city’s creative landscape, released to raise funds for the Red Cross ‘We Love Manchester’ emergency fund. The compilation went on sale this week and we took the opportunity to speak to some of the people behind the release.

bee-manchester-with-love-truants

MANCHESTER WITH LOVE ORGANISERS

What’s your relationship with the city of Manchester, both personally and in terms of music? “We were either born here, raised here or [have] lived here for a very long time. We’ve all been involved in various parts of the music scene here for over 10 years or so. It has such a rich musical history, yet there are always new, young people, across the whole musical spectrum, pushing things forward, running new nights, starting new bands, etc. There’s real community in Manchester, on a personal and creative level, scenes overlap, cross pollinate. It’s easy for us to say, but it’s a special place.”

Where did the inspiration to aid the emergency fund through a benefit compilation come from? “It literally started with a text message that said, ‘I’ve got an idea…’ From there it has become a much larger project than we anticipated. We didn’t want this to be a compilation just featuring people who were in our crew, or immediate network, or branded by a certain collective, it’s not ‘ours’ and we don’t see it as our project, as it were. We reached out to as many people as possible in Manchester who were in scenes we weren’t and tried to reach out to more artists through them. From the very start we wanted to make sure that this has nothing to do with our personal taste and we weren’t ‘curating’ something. The aim was to make this as representative as possible of the entire Manchester musical spectrum. Obviously, it’d be impossible to get every active band or artist from every scene on here, but we wanted to make sure that every effort was made to reach out to as much as of the entire music community as we could.”

Can you detail the process that took the compilation from being an idea to a completed album ready for release? “It went in waves really. That initial conception text was sent at about 8am on the Thursday following the attack. The next 48-72 hours were very, very hectic. Endless phone calls, emails, trying to just reach as many people as we possibly could as quickly as possible. Even if they didn’t end up being able to submit anything, pretty much everyone who was contacted wanted to contribute. After the initial contact was made it then began to take shape a little bit more, in terms of organisation: spreadsheets, drives full of music etc, who had submitted, who hadn’t. Then the need to announce it to press, announcing the first few waves of artists etc. Once that initial week or so was out the way it began to settle into place, until the last week or so, where it’s gone from being very calm and in control to very chaotic then back again. Then the mastering… Some tracks were mastered, some not, so that needed to be sorted and we were still getting submissions way past the cut off. At the end of the day, when you have over 200 artists contributing, it’s bound to run on and on.”

Why do you think so many people were so compelled to get involved with the compilation? “After the attack, the city really came together to help in anyway they could, people were offering their services: taxi drivers driving people home, people offering shelter, places to charge phones, taking children to safety. Musically, I think the idea of one album not bound by genre or scene really appealed to artists as a collective response from the music community. Being side by side on an album with someone from the city they didn’t know or may not have heard of, or maybe a hero. It’s cool to have a project where you have bands like the Buzzcocks and A Certain Ratio alongside artists like Anz and Finn. This extended beyond just the artists though, Boomkat were on board immediately and have waived any fees from sales, even covering PayPal and card fees as their contribution. Neko Neko spent days going through balancing and mastering tracks that needed it. Radio stations have dedicated air time to the compilation. Hammo donated the artwork (which is also painted in Stevenson Square). Basically, people are very protective over Manchester and when something like this attack happens, the city really pulls together. People are proud of the musical heritage here. Seeing this whole project come together, it’s become clear that there aren’t many better metaphors for the city’s diversity than its music.”


SWING TING

Can you briefly introduce yourself? “Swing Ting production unit aka Samrai & Platt. Hail from the Midlands & Yorkshire respectively. We’ve been based in Manchester since 2006.”

Can you tell us about your relationship and history with music in Manchester? “We first met whilst studying in Manchester a decade ago as we both loved music so we’ve always had this association with the city. It’s in the heart and soul of the city, continuing to be one of its uniting factors.”

Why did you choose to contribute this particular track to the compilation? ““Hold Your Corner” was one of our first accomplished productions and we felt it caught a little of the soulfulness of the city so it was a pleasure to rework it for this brilliant compilation and cause. Hopefully it will allow people to come to together and hold a corner of a sweaty club in the near future.”

What are some of your favourite artists, events, establishments or other entities across Manchester’s cultural sectors? “Artists: Fox (of course!), Children of Zeus, Jenna G, Zed Bias, Jon K DJ sets, Anz, Finn, Florentino, Trigga, Killa Benz, Tappa Benz DJ sets, Doctor C DJ sets, Ruf Dug + many more! Events: Hotmilk, Friends & Family, Hoya:Hoya, SFTOC, Bada Sound, Luv Dub, Electric Chair, Wet Play, Chow Down, Oh Bacchanal, Keep It Unreal, Soul:ution, CITS. Establishments: Soup Kitchen, Islington Mill, White Hotel, The Whitworth, HOME/Cornerhouse, People’s History Museum, Manchester Library.”

What’s the most important thing about music in Manchester to you? “It’s not constrained – representing and paying tribute to the diverse influences & history of the city, both musically and politically.”


MAXWELL STERLING

Can you briefly introduce yourself? “I grew up in Blackley, North Manchester in the ‘90s and from an early age was influenced by artists, musicians and writers from the city. I started playing music in my teenage years and quickly became interested in composition and improvisation. I studied at Leeds College of Music and then moved to Los Angeles to study film scoring at UCLA. My interests lie in writing music that implies a narrative or scene, as well as collaborating with the likes of fashion designers Christopher Shannon and JW Anderson, visual artist Friedrich Kunath, film director Ty Hodges and musical polymath, James Ferraro. This year my debut album, Hollywood Medieval was physically released on the Death Of Rave.”

Can you tell us about your relationship and history with music in Manchester? “Manchester, with its richly diverse music and art scene, has always inspired me. I can remember being (happily) dragged to see the Fall, Gabrielle’s Wish and Kraftwerk at a young age by my mother, Linder Sterling, and stepdad Michael Bracewell. My mother was part of the Manchester music scene in the late 1970s/’80s, with her band Ludus as well as designing the Buzzcock’s “Orgasm Addict” artwork. I always felt inspired by her and her peers’ music, ethos and prolific output. I moved away from Manchester when I went to university in Leeds, but always remain inspired by the strong sense of community, talent and above all, the city’s uniquely magic blend of mythic, industrial, sometimes mournful, sometimes sarcastic, never-ending stream of music, art and literature. There’s something in the tap water…”

Why did you choose to contribute this particular track to the compilation? “I chose to contribute “Hollywood Medieval Pt. IV” for the compilation because it represents a fictitious landscape that, to me, feels two-parts Boggart Hole Clough, to one-part Beverly Hills. The song was initially inspired by my childhood in Manchester – when I was around 12 years old, I was obsessed with Games Workshop/ Warhammer (the shop in the Arndale Centre, pre-1996 bombing) and spent all my spare time drawing comic books. This track is an attempt to get back to the childlike naïveté, the excitement of getting lost in fictional worlds. I wrote the track whilst living in Los Angeles, thus, the music is a journey between my two favorite cities in the world, both with their deeply intoxicating and heady identities.”

What are some of your favourite artists, events, establishments or other entities across Manchester’s cultural sectors? “Mancunian residents, such as the likes of CROWW, Demdike Stare, Conor Thomas and Tristan Clutterbuck never cease to inspire me. There is such diversity in the city, and always someone new to check out, so much so that you have to keep many fingers on many pulses to begin to attempt to get a thorough look into the rich and fertile bed of creativity. I have incredibly fond memories of visiting Pelicanneck as a kid with my stepdad, at both the Afflecks Palace and Oklahoma locations, getting my grubby mitts on Warp samplers, Boards of Canada, Plastikman and Arve Henriksen. Regular Manchester club nights, such as Faktion, Fiktion and Club CITS, in my humble opinion, are unlike club nights anywhere else I’ve been to in Europe or the US, an unparalleled attention to musical detail, sets and atmosphere – if you haven’t already been to one, you simply have to… now!”

What’s the most important thing about music in Manchester to you? “The single most important thing to me about music in Manchester is the freedom. Manchester, historically, has always differed from London or other capital cities – it observes what trends might be happening elsewhere, but politely doesn’t give a fuck. The city allows you to find your identity, your community, your inspiration, in the most natural and organic ways. This will never change, despite socio-political events and unease – the core of the city is untouchable and the community is one of the most loving and inclusive in the world.”


GRAHAM MASSEY

Can you briefly introduce yourself? “Graham Massey from 808 State.”

Can you tell us about your relationship and history with music in Manchester? “I’ve probably played more venues in MCR than anyone ever, been doing gigs here since 1977, from prog to punk to rave… All D.I.Y scenes ‘part from a brief period when the world went mad and we had some really odd chart singles. Proud to represent MCR all over the planet.”

Why did you choose to contribute this particular track to the compilation? “Because I had recently found it on my hard drive and was playing it in the kitchen a lot, It was a jam when we got some new equipment a couple of years back.”

What are some of your favourite artists, events, establishments or other entities across Manchester’s cultural sectors? “There is so much diversity in the scenes at the moment , We have a strong improvising music scene for instance and always have had; The younger jazz scene is very active again. The DJ scene is really diverse and some DJs have kept the ball in the air for years by staying open and aware of changes. The Soup Kitchen has been a great venue in recent years, Islington Mill, venues that take chances and aren’t too genre specific. Artists like Paddy Steer who has doggedly ploughed his own route for decades is finally getting some recognition. Some of these artists are lifers.”

What’s the most important thing about music in Manchester to you? “A spirit of experimental belligerence. The Manchester public have embraced all kinds of radical music if you let them at it, the responsibility is with broadcasters. Half this iconic MCR music would not get on commercial radio these days, keep an open door on new music, make a space for it, don’t marginalise it. Manchester music is a fabulous relay race, you wouldn’t want to let the team down.”


AFRODEUTSCHE

Can you briefly introduce yourself? “AFRODEUTSCHE (Henrietta Smith-Rolla), British-born Ghanaian/Russian/German composer, producer, singer and DJ based in Manchester.”

Can you tell us about your relationship and history with music in Manchester? “I grew up in Devon, moved to London as a teenager, started visiting Manchester for love and ended up falling in love with Manchester… Until that point I’d never considered the possibility of making music, it wasn’t until I moved here [that] I found my place and my musical home.”

Why did you choose to contribute this particular track to the compilation? “I wrote this piece after the attack as a way to try and process everything. This has been and continues to be a deeply sad, sensitive and different experience for everyone, creating music is my go to when I need to make sense of things. I really had no idea the piece would be in a place that could help in some way.”

What are some of your favourite artists, events, establishments or other entities across Manchester’s cultural sectors? “Artists: Autechre, G Kut, Graham Massey, Hesska. Events: Kiss Me Again, Club C.I.T.S”

What’s the most important thing about music in Manchester to you? “That it continues to be a connector. Music in Manchester means everything to me, I literally don’t know what I’d do without it!”


HERRON

Can you briefly introduce yourself? “My name is Sam Lewis, I’m from Manchester and I produce electronic music as Herron.”

Can you tell us about your relationship and history with music in Manchester? “In terms of my relationship and history with music in Manchester, I started producing electronic music on my computer from about the age of 13 and from around 15 years of age I was collecting tunes. The first record shop I hung out in was called TWOC Records in Northenden which was close to where I grew up. It sold speed garage, bouncy and hard house. My first clubbing experiences would have been at Wigan Pier, which I went to for about six months and at the time, not knowing much about dance music outside of the record shop I thought it was class although it wore off fairly quickly and I started to move on. Around the age of 18 I moved out of my mum’s in Wythenshawe and closer to the city of Manchester where I got more into clubbing and sound system culture and hung out with different sound systems/free party organisers. I gained most of my early DJ experience playing at illegal parties all over the centre and outskirts of the city. I also explored established clubs, primarily Sankeys Soap and Tangled. From my early 20s I started to put on my own events with group called Pasquo and Getwax. We used some pretty cool spaces that hadn’t been used before. We’d all share DJing and myself and another guy called Sam produced music, solo and together. Eventually this party faded out. I finished my college course and started uni but also met some new friends who wanted to start a party and eventually we started meandyou. which we still run.

“Somewhere in the midst of uni and meandyou. I started up Soup Kitchen with two different guys. Soup Kitchen and meandyou. are separate and successful in their own ways and offer something to the city. Soups has grown into a very healthy independent spot for live and club music (not to mention food and drink) whilst meandyou. is now a record label.”

Why did you choose to contribute this particular track to the compilation? “I chose this track in particular because to me it sounds like a deconstructed drum and bass record and the idea of deconstructing things made me think of the minds of people who have mentally broken down to the point where they want to inflict damage on innocent people, to deconstruct their thinking would be a wonderful thing.”

What are some of your favourite artists, events, establishments or other entities across Manchester’s cultural sectors? “Some of my favourite artists from Manc are A Certain Ratio, Tom Boogizm, Biting Tongues, Demdike Stare.”

What’s the most important thing about music in Manchester to you? “The most important thing about music in Manchester? I guess I just want to see the music scene happy and healthy and for it to develop whilst always remembering and respecting its roots.”

Manchester With Love is out now and available digitally via Bandcamp (usual charity release reduction of hosting fees) and Boomkat (100% of sales to the fund).

Art by Hammo.

Tayyab Amin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *