#2 What Is New Weird Britain? A Guide To The UK Underground In 2018

Last week The Quietus released three essays articulating the gloriously fertile underground scene of the UK- a scene coined as ‘New Weird Britain’- and how those cherishable artists within it account for a nationwide explosion of defiance in music.

 

The way that we discover and consume music is constantly changing. In a climate of the tame repetitive mainstream where music is only valid if it gets financial return, Supersonic has always celebrated the counter cultures that emerge to create music against the odds. On our third stage this year for example we have the likes of Yerba Mansa, Cattle, Youth ManOrlanza, bands who all infiltrate the mundane with their shredding loudness, alternative rhythms and deliberate distortion of the sounds commonly associated with the drums and guitars. New Weird Britain for Supersonic is a freeness, a liberation of music.

 

Read John Doran‘s take below, where he highlights Supersonic line up UKAEA, Gazelle Twin, TirikilatopsMesange and Vanishing Twin as his choice for this year’s festival

 

 

New Weird Britain Essay #2

New Weird Britain: A Guide To The UK Underground In 2018

By John Doran

 

2017 was the most financially healthy year for the music industry to date – although if you have any skin at all in the DIY game or are just the sort of person who loves to attend Supersonic you could be forgiven for not being particularly jubilant, as an ever more massive slice of this money simply gets hoovered up by tech companies, streaming service providers, superannuated rock bands, world bestriding pop stars and arena filling EDM DJs, leaving the rest of us at the margins scrabbling in the dust.

 

Anyone expecting a corresponding narrowing of horizons in the underground brought about by shrinking budgets however, will be disappointed as exactly the opposite seems to have happened. Currently, necessity and financial impoverishment are the mother of invention. All across Britain musicians are throwing uncompromising, unprecedented and unrepeatable events in independent, often non-standard, venues – and in doing so they are rejecting the idea that there is nothing new to be experienced in music. As art funding dries up, as rents and house prices soar in major city centres, as the digital economy slashes away at the revenue streams once available to them, as critics say it’s all been heard before… fewer musicians are clinging to outmoded career paths or losing heart but instead are being emboldened in less standard creative enclaves.

 

Expanding way beyond the blueprint of the traditional independent musician, empowered by the information (and ‘grey area’ software) available on the internet, they use performance art, film projections, contemporary dance, dazzling homemade costumes and eye boggling light shows while others create psychedelic and immersive shows that don’t stand a chance of turning a profit but can’t be forgotten once experienced. This can either be read as a militant rage against the late capitalist machine or the last expulsion of energy being shot out by a dying scene going supernova (I’m confident it’s the former, not the latter) but either way it’s thrilling to experience first hand.

 

All of these events happening right now in warehouses, converted Victorian mills, local art galleries, the backrooms of pubs, church halls, community centres and independent gig venues are a proud, ‘Fuck you’ to lazy golden-ageism. I started referring to such pigeonhole-resistant acts and events as New Weird Britain, simply for the sake of my own sanity and poor organisational skills. It’s definitely not a genre in the sense that it has a sound or a uniform or an easily described set of codified values or rules (but then again, neither did post punk or post rock really). It was simply a name dreamt up to reflect the feeling that everything that we love about music is still left to play for. (The limits of the term’s usefulness in describing music can be demonstrated quite clearly by the fact that I’ve so far only really discussed it with two other writers – Noel Gardner and Luke Turner – and they already have completely different ideas about what the nomenclature means.) Of course mould-breaking, description-defying, multi-disciplinarian DIY musicians are nothing new (you’ll know this for sure if you have been a regular at Supersonic festival over the years) but in 2018 they are beginning to feel less like completely isolated outliers who tend to be shuffled off to their own ‘outsider’ enclosure and more like revolutionary heralds of the possible.

 

New Weird Britain at Supersonic (according to John Doran):

UKAEA / Gazelle Twin / Trikilatops / Vanishing Twin / Mesange

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