100 issues. Nine years. However you look at it, it’s been quite a while. To be frank, a good while longer than we could ever have expected. When we first set out on this idealistic journey, issuing monthly love letters to our city’s music community, our aim was pretty humble: to platform and celebrate. We paid no mind to how long we could squeeze it out for. We launched in May 2010 – maybe we could cling on until Christmas?
The manner in which the city has embraced Bido Lito! over the past 100 issues says as much about Liverpool as it does about these pink pages. After all, this is the city that celebrates itself, that sees our music and our creativity as an utterly defining aspect of what, as a people, we are. What we stand for. What we mean in the world. In that context, it’s unsurprising that a magazine such as ours should flourish as it has.
But, what we understand – and we know the city understands – is the constant need to evolve. Standing still is stepping back and, in a city so rooted and defined by its past, we must constantly force the conversation, force the debate, instil a future-focused culture. We need to embrace and shape change, both locally and globally.
When we were developing the idea of Bido Lito! in late 2009, Spotify wasn’t yet 12 months old. The reality of how people consume and create music has changed seismically over the past decade. In the first issue of Bido Lito! we lamented the fire and loss of Korova. Debates around the gentrification of the Baltic Triangle and the massacre of Wolstenholme Square were years away. Music, technology and the city we love have changed, and are changing, at an unrecognisable pace.
Thinking broadly, it seems that artistic creativity is no longer a uniquely human condition. The AI-generated Portrait Of Edmond Bellamy (created by the Generative Adversarial Network, courtesy of an algorithm) caused a storm by selling for almost half a million dollars at Christie’s. It is also highly likely that Spotify ‘artist’ Clay Edwards – who has amassed a cool 20million streams of his only track on the platform – is no more than a bunch of code.
Enabled by music-making software platforms such as IBM’s Watson Beat, Jukedeck and Amper Music, would-be composers today have the opportunity to let computers do the hard work of actually coming up with the ideas. With just a few basic cues, these platforms can come up with fully-formed, multi-track mixes of bespoke compositions, which can be dumped across into GarageBand for personalisation. Royalty free.
Justified by early adopters and their tech firm creators as a ‘liberation’ to musicians – who may be unable to afford the ‘costly’ process of learning to play instruments or have the time to finesse the art of composition – is utilising AI in this way really a positive development? Is it symptomatic of the all-of-it-now talent vacuum that’s persistent in our self-obsessed, egomaniacal digital world? Or, is the new human/technological interface a positive, collaborative relationship, which can shape a new creative future?
Thinking about changes to the city specifically, some will say that, in time, cities change and this is the natural order of things. But is it? Without shaping approaches to the future based on structured thinking and understanding of the present, the evolution of the city will be shaped by the strongest forces. And that comes down to power and money. If, knowing what we know now, we could go back to 2010, what would we – as a city and a creative community – have done differently?
The temptation at a landmark such as 100 editions is to look back – through the fog of nostalgia – at what has been achieved over a century of editions. But this is not what we will be doing to mark the occasion. Instead, we will be exploring the unique set of challenges our city’s creative community faces today, taking the opportunity to explore questions such as: what will Liverpool’s new music and creative culture look like in 2028, in another 100 editions time? And, what we can do differently today to help shape a better, creative tomorrow?
We don’t propose to have all the answers. But, through a unique series of projects to mark our 100th edition, bido100! will seek to ask some of the right questions. Maybe, through new ways of thinking and innovative collaborations, through harnessing technology, through embracing and supporting our creative ecology, we will be able to look back when we reach Issue 200 (yes, we will get there) and reflect on how we – collectively, as a city – made decisions in 2019 that helped shape a brighter future for our city.
On LightNight (17th May), RITUAL 2.0 marks the launch of bido100! and invites participants to consider a creative future based on Artificial Intelligence. Are we at the vanguard of a new chapter of ritualistic expression, a cross pollination between human and AI creativity? Is this Ritual 2.0? A large-scale, public realm light and sound installation developed by artist SAM WIEHL with an accompanying soundtrack mix by FOREST SWORDS, set within the subterranean tunnels of Moorfields Station, will explore these pertinent creative questions. The installation is one of LightNight 2019’s commissions and will take the form of a walk-through, immersive experience, encouraging the public to consider AI’s ideal boundaries and parameters as we plough head-on into a new technical age.
Performances on the hour throughout the night, from 6pm / FREE
AI Audio Lab
Following on from Ritual 2.0, AI AUDIO LAB will be an installation which places the Liverpool public within a new world of automated creativity, where AI, algorithms and cutting-edge technologies have the capacity to create the very music we enjoy, with varying degrees of human interaction. Working with Dr Robert Strachan (Senior Music Lecturer, Liverpool University) we will invite you to step into a virtual recording studio and shape the creation of an Artificial Intelligence-composed piece of music, in a genre of your choice. We will also be inviting a selection of artists to create new work within the installation, with the outcomes broadcast across Bido Lito!’s digital media channels. The project will be hosted within SEVENSTORE’s new Baltic Triangle location and is intended to encourage participants to critically engage with the idea of a music future based on a partnership between AI and human creativity, questioning the union’s boundaries and parameters.
AI Audio Lab launches on 29th May.
Inside Pages Festival (22nd June) is designed as a full-blown celebration of the artists and music community our magazine was established to champion. The event follows on from an event of the same name we held back in 2010 when we started out, and we are thrilled to be able to announce the full line-up.
Longstanding Bido Lito! heroes and gloriously scrubbed-up oddballs CLINIC will headline the festival, off the back of releasing their first album in seven years on Domino. STEALING SHEEP – always at the heart of the Bido Lito! family – will be joining us for an exclusive, late-night DJ set. Our recent cover artists XAMVOLO, YANK SCALLY and EYESORE & THE JINX will all perform live alongside rapidly emerging indie gems THE MYSTERINES. MC NELSON will also present the first ever performance of a new piece of work he has been developing as part of his residency with Metal in Rotterdam (as featured in last month’s Bido Lito!). Some of our favourite squeezes in PIZZAGIRL, SEATBELTS, OHMNS, RONGORONGO, REMY JUDE ENSEMBLE, THE ALEPH and HANNAH & THE WICK EFFECT make up what is set to be a scintillating exploration of Liverpool music, and a fitting celebration of our 100 editions.
Tickets on sale now at ticketquarter.co.uk.
Held within the iconic surroundings of The Bluecoat on Friday 7th June, POW WOW! will be a unique discursive event where we will debate the key issues, challenges, opportunities and changes we will be contending with in 2028. The event will feature the first of what is set to be an annual Roger Eagle Memorial Lecture and will be conducted by the inimitable BILL DRUMMOND. An opportunity to shine a focus on Roger Eagle – one of our city’s most enduring musical forces – this annual lecture will invite an artist to explore a topic they see as pressing today, but also in keeping with the spirit of the man himself. Who better to give the inaugural lecture than Bill Drummond, whose unique character and perspective was shaped by the great impresario during his informative Eric’s period.
The evening will also host the Pow Wow! Discussion, featuring representatives from the worlds of art, politics and journalism casting their minds forward to what the world has in store for our creative future.
Saturday 8th June will see the inaugural Bido Lito! Community Members’ Forum. This annual event will see our Bido Lito! members, contributors and partners come together to shape the agenda the magazine will pursue over the coming year, as part of our continuing drive towards community-focused journalism. To become a Bido Lito! member, visit bidolito.co.uk/membership.
Tickets for the Roger Eagle Memorial lecture and the Pow Wow! Discussion are available now at ticketquarter.co.uk.
Earlier this year we announced Liverpool, 2028, a collaboration with dot-art gallery which invited local artists to consider our city’s creative challenges and opportunities and respond to the themes of rapid digitisation, the rising prominence of AI and the changing face of our city: all ideas central to bido100!. We are pleased to be announce the successful artists who will be featured in the resulting, multi-artist show; Alan Murray, Darren Blenkhorn, James Chadderton, Michael Lacey, plus regular Bido Lito! regular contributors Hannah Blackman-Kurz and Tommy Graham.
Through paintings, collage, graphics and mixed media, the featured artists have explored a Liverpool of their imaginations, buoyed by technology or eroded by a decaying society, this varied, inspiring and sometime unnerving show will offer an alternative view of our city’s tomorrow. Liverpool, 2028 opens at dot-art on Queen Avenue on 23rd May.