Music videos are in my opinion amongst, if not the the highest of all art forms. There’s just something magic that happens when you intentionally juxtapose music with a moving image. Nothing else quite gives that same tingle down your spine as that distinct cross-interpolation. So, trying to get close to my music video making dreams I joined Sofar Sounds Bath in 2017 as their videographer where, still to this day, I film pop-up boutique gigs at random, unexpected venues around the city.
Then in 2019 my amigo Jonny Morgan, a singer/songwriter, comedian and compare for Sofar Sounds Bath introduced me to Matt Owens, himself a solo artist having previously played bass in the internationally successful band Noah and the Whale. Matt had an idea to bring a new brand of live music gigs to Bath, but unlike Sofar Sounds which focuses upon discovery both in terms of its venues and line-ups, Livewired would remain routed at Bath’s Chelsea Road Cafe, a venue managed by his brother Ben Owens, and invite renowned names from the world of Americana and acoustic rock music to perform.
To the untrained eye, Sofar and Livewired may have seemed like the same thing, so I was determined to find use video to help differentiate Livewired’s uniqueness. One key component in the early days was the inclusion of the “Livewired Podcast Videos” where Matt would interview performers, often in a drunken state, either in his studio/shed after the gigs, or whilst out in the field. This content certainly helped to establish Livewired as more of a finger on the plus of the local music scene, however visually I felt it still needed more.
The “eureka!” moment came when filming Kerri Watt, one of the most photogenic humans on the planet, performing a stripped back version of her song “Cut Me Loose” during an all-day Livewired Festival event in the summer. Due to logistics we had flipped the venue in reverse of the usual set up so that artists weren’t performing in front of direct bright sunlight. This made it far more difficult to get the crowd in shot but as a result the video of the performance came off more like a studio session than a live gig. It was at this point that we had found our visual differentiation.
With Livewired the focus lies squarely upon artists, music writing, the music business and community, so to strip out shots of the audience and unnecessary b-roll of the venue this is achieved visually. The act of ‘stripping back’ also goes hand in hand with the notion of ‘authenticity’ in music where messing in any way with the traditional music of certain cultures is counter-mount to sacrilege, and some country acts refuse to even multi-track opting only to record in a full live band set up.
When we took Livewired to the Love Fields during Glastonbury Festival we continued to hone this approach, surrounding the act with cameras and to capture more in keeping with the style of a music programme rather than attempting to evoke the experience of having attended as is the style of Sofar Sounds.
Livewired has underpinned a huge swathe of my work in music and a project I am very proud to be a part of. The full library of videos is available to view on the Livewired YouTube Channel.