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After a one-year hiatus, LightNight returns with a diverse range of events and installations spread across the city – one of which will involve an open source performance by Stealing Sheep.
After the trudge of lockdown, it’s fitting that the first festival to be held this year is LightNight. While a celebrated staple of Liverpool’s cultural calendar, this year’s festivities arrive as a shining light at the end of a tunnel, a re-introduction of in real life culture to our soon-to-be bustling city centre.
Hosted on the 21st May, the one-night arts festival will shine a spotlight across the city, with over 100 organisations collaborating to create an inspiring trail of events with talks, workshops, performance and music – all of which are following this year’s theme of ‘Play’.
STEALING SHEEP are among those producing an installation for this year’s festival. The synth-pop trio need little introduction having been a core pillar of the local scene for over a decade now.
The group are marking their return to LightNight with new project ‘Song Machine’, an interactive performance that invites the audience to write words into a website that will be sung in real time by Stealing Sheep. To learn more about the proposed installation, Lily Blakeney-Edwards caught up with Stealing Sheep’s Lucy and Emily to gain more insight into this year’s events, their own project and the emotional impact of the festival’s return.
This year’s LightNight is going to be particularly special for a lot of people. How are you feeling about this year’s event?
Lucy: A little bit nervous about it, but very excited.
Emily: We’ve not done a performance in a long time. Our last one was in Manhattan? So, it’s been a whole year. It’s quite daunting in that respect. It will be nice to entertain people in real life, rather than virtually.
L: The thought of being in the middle of a crowd, trying to see over people, it just feels so distant! It’ll be nice to get back to that.
You’re planning to debut your project ‘Song Machine’ at the festival. Can you tell us what it entails?
E: The band is going to become a human instrument!
L: The idea is that the public will use social media to send in song lyrics, and then we’ll go live and be an instrument!
E: We’re still working on logistics, like how it will look, but it’s very exciting. We want it to involve the whole community, so get everyone together, to make it a mass collaboration with Liverpool. We just want as many people as possible to get involved.
The theme for this year’s festivities is ‘Play’. How does your piece integrate into that topic?
L: The interactive element of it, with people joining in and helping us make music really fits into the theme. I’m hoping the lyrics sent in will be light and playful.
E: I was thinking that the whole idea of a song is quite playful. Everyone joining in, and making music – it’s just fun, isn’t it? Everyone’s desperate to play, see people and interact, so I think it will really bring people together. Even though we’re at the centre of it, if everyone gets involved it will feel like a community voice.
How do you want this year’s events to impact audiences, both within your own piece and further afield?
L: I want people to share a bit of time together.
E: Yeah, no matter how it shapes out, I want people to come together. I want a celebration and a sense of relief. A bit of reconnection to the community.
E: And for everyone to go home with a pint!
Stealing Sheep have made regular appearances at LightNight over the years, in some form or another. What are some of your highlights from recent years?
E: I did this thing at the Tate inspired by Tony Conrad in 2019. I was in a group of musicians who did a drone piece. It was mad, because we played a one-note piece for an hour without stopping. It felt like such a special event, that had such a massive impact. George Moore was doing it as well, playing this really unusual long, longbow instrument.
L: Oh, I loved that. It was so powerful. We also did a light up drum performance a few years back, which was great. And we’ve done some marching band work as well, been involved in parades and that.
E: Every year there’s so much brilliant stuff on though. I try and run around and see as much as I can
L: I always wish I could see it all, but you have to pick your favourites! But just seeing a few bits is amazing.
How does Liverpool’s culture and community influence LightNight festival?
E: Liverpool’s a small city, so it really bubbles up with the amount going on. There are so many pockets of scenery everywhere, so there’s so much to get stuck into. It links everyone, all the amazing spaces. It makes it seem like one big celebration.
L: And all of the destinations are so epic. Like the cathedral of the Invisible Wind Factory… Even the small spaces are decked out completely. So many amazing venues.
E: Yes! We love intimate spaces, because you can really connect to the audience. The Kazimier, The Bluecoat… The Stockroom is fantastic as well, one of our favourites.
Finally, how would you sum up the event in three words?
L: And bright!
E: That’s definitely more than three! We’re just so excited to come together and be part of LightNight, the three of us.
LightNight takes place in person and online on 21st May. The venue for Song Machine will be announced ahead of the event.