Our third If Wet of the season saw us hosting a special event as part of Three Choirs Festival. The turnout was heart-warming with the venue having to be changed twice due to over subscription.
This event focussed on the Theremin and we were delighted to have leading player and aficionado Lydia Kavina as our guest. We explored the sound of the Theremin and how other sounds / synths are sometimes mistaken for one. We then looked at similarities between the timbre of the Theremin and the human voice; culminating in a duet between Lydia and singer Emily Prosser – pictured below.
We will leave any further description of the event to The Jazz Mann, who provided this in-depth review; for which we are very grateful.
Lydia Kavina and Emily Prosser – duet
Thank you to Lydia, Emily and Three Choirs for helping us put this event on. And to all those who attended! We had a great time.
Our second If Wet of the season saw us hosting a special event in our home village hall. In fact, for various reasons, it is the only event we have planned to take place in our village hall this year.
Late last year, John Doran of The Quietus got in touch to ask about us hosting him for an event as part of his tour, to launch his new book Jolly Lad. We weren’t entirely sure how this fitted with a standard If Wet but we thought we’d go for it; in part to just keep bringing exciting stuff to Callow End.
As John intended to perform readings from his book, accompanied by music from Arabrot, we decided the emphasis would be more on performance than usual at an If Wet. We also decided to try and find a selection of artists for whom storytelling was central to their work. The wonderful Sarah Angliss immediately sprang to mind but we wanted to have two further artists to accompany John and Arabrot. David and I chatted and he reminded me of Josephine Dickinson, who we had met when running If Wet at Bardsea Malt Kiln last year. I got in touch with her, and her enthusiasm to be involved was palpable…so that was our line-up sorted!
Tickets sold well and we were delighted to have a great turnout on the day as well; The hall was as full as it has ever been for an If Wet. We started by setting the scene and briefly demonstrating the headset for our latest project Amplification, before handing over to Josephine for her delightful talk, which covered studying under the tutelage of Michael Finnissy and going mushroom picking with John Cage.
Sarah testing. Sam helping. David supervising.
John and Arabrot prepare.
Sam with Amplification headset.
Josephine speaks, to a full house.
Josephine soaks up the generous applause.
Next up we had Sarah Angliss, who was a delight to behold, as ever.
Sarah and Hugo.
Sarah plays her recorder.
Lastly it was over to John Doran and Arabrot. John read from his book; Arabrot created ambient soundscapes in accompaniment. Wonderful stuff!
John and Arabrot.
John and Arabrot.
John takes questions.
Thank you to our artists and to all who attended for making this such a wonderful experience! Callow End Village Hall has never witnessed anything quite like that…
Our first event of the year took place at Maker Faire, where we were invited to programme a stage for the two days of the festival. Our plan was to have an artist on each day who would talk about their work in a slot in the morning and then perform in the afternoon. As it worked out, we just ran the whole of each day as a drop-in session, for people to come and ask questions etc…with a performance in the afternoon.
For this If Wet we invited the wonderful Graham Dunning back with his Mechanical Techno set-up and Paul Granjon with his musical robots. They both went down a storm.
Thank you to our artists, all who attended and to Maker Faire for being such wonderful hosts!
We are the Music Makers
Paul trying out the prototype of our latest piece Amplification
Day One featured Graham Dunning. It was wet and cold, and we were outdoors…but the show still went on!
Graham Dunning with onlookers
Graham Dunning with record
Graham Dunning adding to the stack
Graham Dunning tweaking
Graham Dunning putting a donk (cymbal) on it
Graham Dunning manipulating light-dependent synth
Graham Dunning with full stack
Graham Dunning smiling
Day Two was Paul’s day, and the sun had come out. He played his wonky dance music to an appreciative crowd.
Paul Granjon with audience
Paul Granjon with tail and ears
Paul Granjon with tail and ears
Paul Granjon readying Mofo
Paul Granjon with Mofo
Paul Granjon dancing with Mofo
Once again, huge thanks to our wonderful artists, audience and to Maker Faire!
Due to heightened demand, and our limited village hall capacity, we are pre-selling tickets for this event. Here is the ticket booking page.
Our first If Wet this year in our home of Callow End Village Hall represents a bit of a departure from our usual events. Last year, John Doran of The Quietus got in touch to ask whether we would host an event as part of his tour to celebrate the launch of his book. We weren’t entirely sure how this fitted with If Wet but John and The Quietus have shown us a lot of support over the last couple of years, and we always relish an opportunity to play with the If Wet format; such as If Wet as radio show.
When we heard more about the tour and John’s book, it became clear what sort of artists we might invite to this event, to accompany the reading and performance John and Arabrot would deliver. We decided on a sonic storytelling thread, and Josephine Dickinson and Sarah Angliss seemed immediately appropriate.
As your hosts we will kick the event off, as usual. Then it will be over to Josephine to provide us with an insight into her work and background.
Josephine has something of a unique story. She has known normal hearing, sudden profound deafness, sudden total deafness, extreme aural hallucinations and, most recently, the experience of sound with a cochlear implant. A poet, composer and artist, she studied with Michael Finnissy and Richard Barrett in London, then moved to remote Cumbria, where she lives on a tiny hill farm. Josephine will share her story and explore its implications and possibilities for her practice. She will be open to the insights and ideas of the audience. “It is an ongoing and exciting journey that has only just begun.”
Photo: Alan O’Duffy
Next up, we have Sarah Angliss in our hall for the second time, to provide some of her captivating folk tales and music provided by her and her robotic friends.
Sarah is an award winning composer, roboticist and historian of sound whose music reflects her fascination with European folklore and long-forgotten machines. Sarah is known for her singularly embodied performance which mixes theremin, saw and ancient instruments with live electronics, with the ensemble of musical automata she’s designed and built to work with her on stage.
Her If Wet presentation will feature new songs from Ealing Feeder, her forthcoming solo album, inspired by London folklore.
Lastly, we will have John Doran, performing a reading from his book Jolly Lad; accompanied by Arabrot.
Jolly Lad is a memoir about the recovery from alcoholism, habitual drug use and mental illness. It is also about the healing power of music, how memory defines us, the redemption offered by fatherhood and what it means to be working class.
This will definitely be distinct from our usual If Wet events. There will be more emphasis on performances and less on discussion but we certainly hope to maintain the If Wet flavour in various ways. Firstly, either side of the performances we hope to encourage questions from our audience; the usual generous and open exchanges. Secondly, our village hall setting – coupled with village ale, home-made grub and cake – will provide the usual atmosphere.
As this is a one-off special event, we have decided to pre-sell tickets at the princely sum of £6 each. These may sell fast, who knows, but please consider buying your tickets now so you are not disappointed. Here is the tickets page. JOIN US.
Please note: this event may overrun if discussions take flight.
If Wet #21 is our first of 2015 and takes place across the weekend of the 25th and 26th of April as part of Maker Faire!
We are delighted to be part of Maker Faire this year, where we will host an If Wet strand on one of the stages. We have invited Graham Dunning to present his work on the Saturday and Paul Granjon will be showing his on the Sunday; each giving performances later in the day.
For our first If Wet event of 2015 we will be heading to Newcastle for Maker Faire.
As your hosts we will kick the event off, as usual. We will set the tone each day and present our latest piece of work. It will soon be over to our invited artists though to discuss their work and working methods.
On the Saturday, we have Graham Dunning presenting his ingenious Mechanical Techno system, which he uses to create wonky techno, through a series of stacked platters, tonearms and contact mic drum / synth triggers. In his words:
“Mechanical Techno: Ghost in the Machine music – vinyl dissonance for lost memories. A live dubbed rhythmical collage made of squeezed record crackle, analogue synthesizer, dubplates of field recordings, dusty shellac records and clumsily triggered drum machines.”
During our first session of the day Graham will discuss this system and his approach. Later in the day you will get chance to come back to the stage to hear him perform a Mechanical Techno set.
On the Sunday, Paul Granjon will present his work as an electronic artist interested in the co-evolution of humans and machines, a subject he explores with hand-made robots and other machines.
Paul has exhibited his machines worldwide, for example representing Wales at the Venice Biennale 2005 with a couple of Sexed Robots. More recently he’s been turning art galleries into factories where people are invited to dismantle obsolete consumer electronic items and turn them into interesting stuff, or just have fun taking them apart. Paul is currently working on Coy-B, an intelligent biting machine and on Guido, a robot guide for an art and technology exhibition.
We are delighted to invite Paul and Graham to present their work at Maker Faire and that we will all get to see them perform too! We look forward to seeing you in Newcastle.
We are firm in the belief that any decision we make regarding our projects is open to review at a later date, and when we came to assess our plans for our third season of monthly If Wet events in the village hall we decided we would put these on ice; and save our Kickstarter cherry for another day. There are various reasons for this decision but central to it is the fact that doing a regular event each month is really time-consuming and energy-sapping. If Wet was intended to drive our own making, for demonstration at the events, but the regular monthly events actually stifled our own building of stuff in 2014; so for now we have put them on hold.
This doesn’t mean an end to If Wet events in 2015. In fact, we have a few really exciting events lined up already and we are looking for more. Here are some dates for your diaries:
If Wet at Maker Faire Saturday 25th – Sunday 26th April
A series of If Wet demonstrations and performances over the two days of the festival, taking place at the Centre for Life, Newcastle upon Tyne.
If Wet hosts John Doran Sunday 10th May
An all-day special event in our home venue of Callow End Village Hall. Including an If Wet salon, followed by an event featuring Arabrot performing an ambient set featuring John Doran reading from his new book Jolly Lad, due out early May on Strange Attractor Press. Yes, this is happening in Callow End!
If Wet at Three Choirs+ Thursday 30th July
A one-off If Wet event on the Theremin as part of the Three Choirs+ programme in Hereford. Further details soon.
If Wet at Worcester Music Festival Sunday 20th September
Plans are afoot for If Wet to revisit Worcester Music Festival (and hopefully the glorious Quaker Friends Meeting House) for the second year running.
There are a couple more events in the offing and we welcome anyone getting in touch if you’d like to discuss us programming and hosting an If Wet as part of your event, wherever you are in the world!
We also started a regular monthly radio programme on Sound Art Radio in December 2014, which is broadcast on the last Sunday of the month from 2-4pm; each programme featuring a different musical instrument. More information on that here: radio.ifwet.org.uk
We welcome any suggestions for the radio show and we look forward to seeing you at an If Wet in 2015!
As our Season #2 finale, If Wet #20 was never going to run totally smoothly. Last year’s finale event was delayed by a bouncy castle, so we had form. For this event, our main presenting artist, Rosanne Robertson, was severely delayed so we had to busk it somewhat.
Luckily, we had invited all of the artists from our second season to come along as our guests and some of them turned up with stuff to present. We also had a couple of great Run What Ya Brung presentations so we were kept very busy until Rosanne arrived.
After Rosanne’s wonderful presentation/performance we had a section where we read out or played back responses to If Wet from all the artists who presented in 2014. This was lovely, so we have documented that below too.
Thank you to everyone for your support this year. We have some [Kickstarter] plans for next season and we are running a radio show (starting on 28th December, 2-4pm) in the meantime. It has been a really lovely year for us.
Thank you for coming down to the hall! X
The Dynamic Duo, introducing our last If Wet of Season #2
Alan Stephen demonstrating no-input mixing (RWYB)
Richard Windley demonstrating his latest noisy units (RWYB)
Richard Windley’s latest noisy units
Paul Gittins setting up his latest addition to his Oak Apple Orchestra
Paul Gittins setting up his latest addition to his Oak Apple Orchestra
Tim Cranmore inspecting Paul’s Oak Apple Orchestra tin can instrument
Ray Lee demonstrating an Ethometric instrument
Stavroula Kounadea discussing the Ethometric Museum
Joining hands to activate the Ethometric instrument
Rosanne Roberts reading from her book of found conversation
Rosanne Roberts making noise
Rosanne Roberts making noise
Rosanne Roberts making noise
Rosanne Roberts’ instruments
As mentioned we asked all Season #2 artists to attend or send us a response of some kind regarding their experience of If Wet. Here they are:
FLATPACK Sebastian Hegarty
I had a great day with If Wet at the Flatpack Festival, Birmingham. Got to hear the water instrument and the wet acoustics of Trevor Cox with his wave organs, dripping stalactites and subterranean oil reservoir: Lovely people, fascinating ideas and spoiled ears. Thank you very much Sam and David.
Distant Voices: Still Raining is a short damp apology for not being there (If Wet #20). The sound includes the remains of rainfall as it drip-drops through guttering and a short soliloquy in a fragment of voice taken from a telephone conversation with my lovely mam. The piece concludes with the song, I Get the Blues, filched from Terence Davies wonderful film, Distant Voices/Still Lives.
I can think of nothing more appropriate for If Wet then to send a sound effect for everyone to enjoy.
It is from a trip to an Oslo train station. This is me chatting in the space so people can hear the effect and it describes what is going on:
And here is a balloon burst, that brings out the warble:
The secret behind the warble is that this is space made from two half-cylinders of different radius connected together.
SUPERSONIC Ryan Jordan
Enclosed his press release: “these practitioners practice dark hypnosis in psychoactive hyperventilation clubs”
sorry not to reply sooner , I have been a bit gobbled up by my new job working in a chocolate factory.
If wet was great super friendly and interesting. Sorry I won’t be able to make it to Callow End, sounds spooky.
A few weeks before if wet I had been to a car boot sale, and found a rather amazing pedal powered fret saw, I did my usual thing, instead of rehearsing I built a new instrument, I converted the fret saw into a machine to bow my violin. The first gig we did in front of maniac children it didn’t work and then at the If Wet gig it worked like a dream and I pretended I was a virtuoso violin player. Everyone believed me. I also included a bath tub for the first time in my orchestra. Since then I have been using the bath full of water. Getting right into watery trumpet sounds Perhaps you could play the thing I did on the Isle of Eigg. I thought it would be appropriate for an If Wet event .Wet as anything it is.
In the spirit of If Wet me and Leslie decided to make an instrument and make some sounds with it. I had a wooden box with a lid knocking about and we bought some other bits and bobs from the local 98p Store. We recorded the whole process of making and experimenting as we went, with a nod to Robert Morris’ Box With The Sound of Its Own Making – the intention was to edit that down to a short piece for you to play.
TOUR Sompting Village Hall Leslie Deere
See above w/ Graham Dunning.
Fitzhead Tythe Barn Jules Bushell
“It was great fun and fascinating to meet other makers and sonic explorers at ‘If Wet’. An opportunity to meet other likeminded individuals, and a relief to realise there are people out there with similar interests. You are not alone! A chance to share ideas and take contraptions out of the workshop, even if they are still works in progress. Thanks guys, have fun, sorry not to join you there!”
Here ya go – this is what 6.00am in my house sounded like this morning.
And a separate message from KEK
“Hey. Thanks for the 2014 village-hall invite, IF-WETTERS; really enjoyed scrrra-a-a-a-aping the HTML from your website and turning it into MIDI-file music. Never played a musical web-page before. Digging those Tuh-tuh-text squirts, man; it’s the New Serialism”
Bardsea Malt Kiln Hugs Bison
Lee Patterson (1st)
As always, I’m on the last minute, in fact it’s a wonder I made it to either of the If Wet events that I contributed to this year – Bardsea and Callow End… Anyhow, both events reminded me that, despite the isolated way in which we may consume and produce music, music always has a social element – whether implied or actual and opportunities to share with like minds are increasingly rare. So, Sam, David – keep up the good work at Callow End and elsewhere!
Right, got to rush to catch a train to Huddersfield!
Callow End Village Hall Paddy Steer
Callow End Village Hall Lee Patterson (2nd)
Worcester Music Festival Paul Gittins Present
Ray Lee and Stav Present
Callow End Village Hall Sarah Nicolls
I loved being at If Wet: an intelligent, friendly and totally engaged audience. It was a really useful and genuinely fun and encouraging experience.
Callow End Village Hall Pete Ashton Present
If wet? not as much as it would be where I live, callow end hall dry n all.
Thanks very much for the opportunity to try out elements of current works, that although they are incomplete, at if wet I can test the metal of the idea and importantly the way it sounds.
As much as I try out sound as music, you gave me an opportunity to test visual work that confirms for me the direction that making stuff like this does: always in the opposite of what everything else is!
So I wish you all the best for this last one of the season, I do hope that season three makes it round swiftly next year. Every town should have a collective space for discussion, presentation & banter on artists work that is as informal & invaluable as if wet. Doing these activities keep the arts real. So continue to keep it real.
As our final If Wet of the season – and the last before we hand things over to the Kickstarter Gods – we plan to run things a little differently from normal; and have a bit of a celebration. There will be no presentation of work from us, we’ll start with a presentation from our guest artist Rosanne Robertson.
Rosanne is an artist based in the North of England working with vibrations, objects and the body.
Since graduating from Fine Art at Manchester School of Art in 2009 Robertson has exhibited and performed at places such as The Bluecoat Gallery (Liverpool), Silent Barn (New York) and Roodkapje (Rotterdam). Recent projects include sound art commissions for Museum of Science and Industry and John Rylands Library at Asia Triennial Manchester 14 for sound art series Call and Response by Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art and also a mini residency and state side edition of Noise Above Noise for Exchange Rates Bushwick in Brooklyn. And now she is coming to our village hall in Callow End!
It’s always nice to welcome artists to If Wet that also run artist-led spaces / events and The Penthouse in Manchester and her event NOISE ABOVE NOISE are just that.
For If Wet she will deliver a performative presentation created for the occasion, entitled Objectum Sexuality – usually a term used to describe people who develop emotional connections and loving relationships with inanimate objects – Robertson will borrow the term to demonstrate her methods, recent collections, sound makers, arrangements and her connections to them. The presentation will be semi improvised in-keeping with her live practice and will involve various art works, texts, visuals, pre recorded and live sound to create an overall live impression of her work.
This is what Dazed and Confused said about Rosanne: “For me Rosanne’s very much a ‘doodlebug’, that is to say, a provocateur who tirelessly works across all platforms, creating work by any medium necessary and who works beneath the skin”
Following on from Rosanne’s presentation we will have a bit of a review and celebration of our second season. This will be relatively low-key; a chance to relax with you all before we head to the local pub afterwards to continue celebrations. We won’t get to the pub until after they stop serving food but they offer a 10% discount to anyone attending If Wet if you want to eat beforehand…BUT – as ever – there will be plenty of lovely food at If Wet itself; so we can get properly fed before we get watered.
Lastly, as usual we’d welcome short, informal presentations in our Run What Ya Brung section. Just bring any sonic oddity along and you can present it to the audience for their wonderment. We hope we might coax a couple of regular contributors to bring something along, to present at our final event before we roll the Kickstarter dice.
Oh and this is all accompanied by the usual local ale, home-made grub and cake. JOIN US.
As outlined in our future plans, we are starting a regular monthly radio programme, to fall – as If Wet does – on the last Sunday of the month, from 2-4pm; during our off-season.
At present we are thinking we will “broadcast” via Mixcloud (embedded on our site) and we are also finalising plans with Soundart Radio to include our show in their schedule.
For now, the shows will be pre-recorded but we plan to always make them live in a given timeslot and then be on-hand via Twitter for any interaction and feedback. Our first show will provide some holiday listening for most, as it will be aired at 2pm on December the 28th.
Each show will focus on a different musical instrument and is intended to drive our research and development as instrument makers, as well as hopefully being entertaining! It’s not intended to be comprehensive; more a snapshot of what we have unearthed to date.
We need your help, on two fronts:
We have never run a radio show before so please let us know anything you know about that. Anything goes at this stage; from suggestions that our approach is all wrong, through to personal reflections about what you like as a listener
Links and suggestions for our first show, which will focus on the tuba. Please just add information on anything or anyone you think is exciting in the world of the tuba, via the comments. We are open to all sorts: from contacting players for input, to talking about technical aspects, to playing banging brass band party tunes. We’d rather you popped it in the comments and we didn’t end up featuring it than missing something great that’s out there…
SO, please help us by popping your comments below. We look forward to reading them!
[Oh and we have some ideas for what instruments to feature next but we welcome yours]
Here are a few pictures from If Wet #19, which featured two visiting artists. We were delighted to welcome Pete Ashton and Ben Gwilliam to present their latest work.
Our next event is our last of this season, featuring Rosanne Robertson! We aren’t having a big end-of-year event this year but we are planning to head to the pub to celebrate another season afterwards! JOIN US. Oh and, we have scribbled some notes on the back of a blog post regarding our plans for next year.
The odd speaker pods of our light-responsive Sonic Graffiti pieces
Starting up our light-responsive Sonic Graffiti pieces
Pete demonstrating slit-scanning
Pete demonstrating his selfie project
Pete demonstrating his Live Sonification of Photography, using images taken at If Wet
Ben demonstrating an early prototype of his latest piece
Ben’s long-form video and sound piece
Very rarely we had no Run What Ya Brung contributions this month, and ran to time!
Thank you to our guest and to all that made it down. Thanks to Team Joory for the wonderful catering and to Francis for the great cakes. Oh and St. George’s for the cracking beer. AND cheers to George Benson for taking these pictures – except those of Ben, which Our David took. Who did we miss!?