Preview: Brainchild Festival
Now celebrating its fifth year, Brainchild Festival is set to continue its creative mission by bringing together the future of the underground arts scene in the UK and beyond. The second weekend of July will see three days of music, art, film, theatre, poetry and more flourish in the countryside of East Sussex. The beauty of Brainchild comes from the fact that at its core, this volunteer-led DIY festival is simply a group of young creatives getting together and doing what they love. Vibes!
Setting out to "celebrate people's projects and ideas coming to life" seems a lot easier said than done. Yet the Brainchild crew do exactly that, and they do it well. This year's program includes a wealth of work from over 300 artists, covering bands, DJs, film screenings, talks, workshops, theater, spoken word, art installations and more.
No festival in a field would be complete without a healthy lineup of music, with community collective Steez playing a heavy hand in this regard. They'll curate the finest from South London's vibrant and constantly evolving jazz-not-jazz scene. In doing so they've got some of the most exciting talents coming through. (More on that in our picks below).
What's more, the festival continues to strive without sponsors, with a team made up entirely of volunteers. Such community spirit extends way into the depths of the festival - no VIP areas and an active encouragement for festival-goers to bring instruments or share their work. It’s no wonder the festival has won AIM Best Independent Festival two years on the bounce.
Here’s a few picks from the line up that we won’t be missing. See you there!
Emma-Jean Thackray is an absolute g. Earlier this month Zemzem spoke about the trumpeter and producer in an Ear to the Ground feature. And oh my, we can't wait to see EJT again at Brainchild. A recent alumni of the Red Bull Music Academy, her unique, layered sound combines trumpet, trombone, EJ's vocals, samples and beats; expect a genuine melting-pot of influences and a whole load of talent.
This one's the creative endeavour of bassist and producer Huw Bennet – an electrifying group inspired by the magnificent sounds of the Mandinka people of Gambia, after a trip Huw took in 2013. The music takes shape from direct samples of the amazing musicians, featuring the Mandinka balafon and the kora, alongside synths, electronic production and Huw’s own upright bass playing. Their debut record Keira was released last year through Soundway Records to an abundance of deserved hype. And live... well, you're in for even more of a treat.
Slam the Poet brings his rhythmic prose to the festival. Hailing from Lewisham and representing the Mad Vibes Collective, Slam the Poet is a real talent. We were lucky enough to see a teaser of his full piece at an event a few weeks back. And lie, we do not; it was killer. He'll also be jumping on producer and DJ, Footshooter's set. Check him out.
Project Karnak are duo Dominic Canning on keys and Sam Ouissellat on drums. Emma-Jean (above) actually put us onto Project Karnak when we were chatting about this year's Brainchild. Since having a listen, we are HYPED to see them do their thing live. Blending peppery, frenetic drums with cosmic jazz progressions, we're sure you'll be hearing more from PK in the months to come.
Creative magazine and collective gal-dem have absolutely killed it over the last few years, disrupting and upending the narratives and norms ingrained by the white patriarchal powers-that-be. The now 70+ strong collective of women and non-binary people of colour began in 2015 after founder Liv Little hit back against the lack of diversity and representation at university. Since then, the group have strived to highlight the work of PoCs ignored by mainstream media, developing an international network of members, taking over the V&A for a night in October showcasing the creative work of WoC, and inaugurating their 264-page, essay-packed print edition of their magazine. At Brainchild they'll be leading a workshop that will reimagine traditional feminist motifs through the figureheads and messages most relevant to them.
Artist Kavitha Balasingham strives to "stimulate retinal pleasures for others and herself". She works closely with colour aiming to create seductive visual interferences and illusions that boggle the human brain. Sounds fun. Working with Gavin Jones, she'll be bringing 'the den' to the festival, an interactive space reflecting the beautiful landscape of the festival. Dive into the mirrored construction and trip out inside the immersive optical illusion.
Fresh off the launch of their EP Yellow Ochre, the debut release of the freshly minted Total Refreshment Records, hyper-contemporary jazz-funk three-piece Vels Trio will be bringing their deep, hip-hop inspired rhythm section and virtuoso synth lead lines to Brainchild for a high-energy live show. In similar fashion to their sold out Jazz Cafe show, they'll be performing music from Madlib's Shades of Blue. Not one to miss – we won't be.
Brainchild takes place in East Sussex from 7-9 July.
Final few tickets remaining. Buy yours here.