We all know Liverpool is one of the best cities in the world when it comes to music. The Beatles helped to cement our title as a UNESCO City of Music with their amazing career, but what we have gone on to do as a city since then with music is definitely something we need to be talking about now. 

Enter, Bido Lito! 

For those not in the know, Bido Lito! is a music magazine based right in the heart of Liverpool. Every month they print a free physical magazine shouting about all the amazing things that goes on in the world of music, arts and culture in our city. From huge shows taking over parks to the smallest gigs in the tiniest basements; they have everything covered for you to check out so it’s definitely worth picking up a copy when you’re here. 

In May 2019, Bido Lito! will be publishing their 100th issue of the magazine and to mark the occasion they will be throwing a whole host of events in the city to celebrate the issues gone by, the future and Liverpool’s ever thriving music scene.  

To find out a bit more about the world of Bido Lito! and their plans for the 100th issue celebrations we sat down with Christopher Torpey, Editor in Chief of the magazine to talk all things Liverpool and to ask for some recommendations to add to our playlist.  


How and when did Bido Lito! start?

The first issue of Bido was published in May 2010, just before Sound City festival took place that year. That was our June issue was our calling card, our manifesto. Months of work went into that first issue - learning about layout principles and print options, recruiting writers and photographers and illustrators to help us bring all the ideas to life, working out how to distribute it - and then when it came out we were locked into a 4-weekly cycle of reproducing that and getting better at every aspect as we learned more (especially the selling ads side of it!). We’ve got a few of the early attempts and proofs locked in a drawer somewhere, which we break out every now and then for a laugh. They’re not for public consumption, ever!

No one ever told us to do Bido - we just did it. It certainly wasn’t easy, but worthwhile things rarely are. Thinking back to 2010, it was strange to think that Liverpool didn’t have a dedicated music publication to shout about all the great stuff going on. Other cities did, but Merseyside was lacking a central ‘thing’ to pull everything together. It had a past of independent zines and mags that had done it at various points in its illustrious past, but maybe it wasn’t ‘sexy’ enough in 2010, who knows? So that’s what we jumped into back then, and we haven’t really looked back since.

The main thing was always about being out and about and finding all the movers and shakers and makers who were doing stuff in the city. It soon transpired that there were hundreds, and that the creative world living just under the surface was a lot richer than we first thought. It was - and still is - really exciting delving into that, meeting new people and seeing/hearing the art they were working on. It’s been massively inspirational doing it.


What is your aim for the magazine?

Our aim is just to keep unearthing boss talent and music, simple as that! It’s great seeing artists create a buzz locally then transcend that and get proper recognition from much further afield for what they do. Hopefully we play a part in that process - and if we can improve that and switch more people on to what’s going on here then that’s the best result we can hope for.
Ultimately, we hope that Bido Lito! continues to be an important voice for new music and creative culture in the region, and that it outlasts the people who are currently holding the editorial reins (myself included). 

I truly believe that it’s important for artists and culture in the whole region that there’s a platform to celebrate them, offer critical opinion and feedback, and help push them to the next level. And the same with the wider infrastructure around art and creativity in general: for the sake of the artists, we all need a platform to push and cajole and critique and encourage everything, and bang the drum for changes that are needed. We hope Bido continues to be that - and we hope that we’re joined by more voices as time develops. 

We all know how good the region is doing right now, but it could be doing so much better. It has the potential to be a world-renowned arts and music hub, and we should aim to fight until we achieve that. Just because London has traditionally been the centre of the music industry doesn’t mean that it always should be. Let’s challenge that. We’ve got more chance of being successful in that aim if we all pull in the same direction; sometime you just need one central voice to lead that charge.


How have you seen Liverpool’s music scene change over the last 100 issues? Has there been any stand out events or developments?

Yes, it’s always changing, and it’s an effort to keep up with it! Changing in that there are always new people and ideas coming in and challenging the norms, which is great. It’s what keeps things fresh, prevents staleness from setting in. Contrary to what people might think, I’ve never seen a prevailing genre or style ruling in the Liverpool of the past nine years. There’s always been a strong seam of guitar-based rock, which comes out as classically indie, garage and psych depending on the individuals with guitars in their hands. But to say that particular style dominates is to miss the great rap and trap scenes, the alternative electronica and DJs, the neo-soul and neo-jazz acts and the weird outsiders who make today’s music landscape so varied and interesting. I suppose the one thing I have seen more of, as my eyes have become more accustomed to seeing it, is this diversity of attitudes. Sometimes they intermingle, sometimes they stay in their silos. You can always argue for more cross-pollination between scenes and genres - and I would argue for it, because it’s at those boundary lines that you get the most interesting art - but you also can’t force it. If musicians want to stay in their own bubbles then they can do, leave em to it. Just create the opportunities for people to collaborate and get out of their comfort zone if they want to.

In terms of venues and spaces, I’d definitely say that the city is slightly the poorer for the absence of The Kazimier. Poorer in the sense that it was a great venue, and also a space that incubated a whole host of experimental artists who showed the value of being multi-faceted (Stealing Sheep, Barberos, All We Are, Harlequin Dynamite). But we can’t get bogged down with too much sentimentality - the younger generation of musicians and gig-goers will find their own new spaces to do the same things, and that’s part of the evolution of a place. I like the fact that you could walk into Sound on Duke Street or 24 Kitchen Street on most nights and find some amazing music going on, and a hardcore group of people rocking out to it. Those little scenes weren’t there nine years ago. You can’t second guess them, just let them pop up organically and direct themselves.

One note of caution would be in looking at why so many venues have closed down in that period. Static, The Magnet, Buyers Club, Wolstenholme Creative Space, The Reeds, Nation, MelloMello, The Lomax have all ceased hosting music or shut down completely, for various reasons. The lessons that need to be learned from the fate of these venues is that we need to create the situations where they can thrive and continue to be places where artists and musicians can play with impunity. They shouldn’t be looking over their shoulders at the hiking of business rates or being worried about the whims of landlords. If we’re to truly be a city of music, we need to make sure that these conditions are made to be as favourable as possible to venues and arts spaces.


Liverpool’s music scene is pretty non-stop - can you recommend any venues or festivals to head to for new music? 

As mentioned before, I’d always recommend visitors to go and get lost in the goings on at Sound and 24 Kitchen Street on any random night. You never know what they’ll be up to, but you can rest assured that the nights will be interesting! You may even find your new favourite artist. And if you get the chance to see a show at Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool Cathedral or The Olympia then jump at it. There aren’t many places like them.

There are also dozens of festivals right across the calendar, catering to myriad styles and cultures and tastes. It almost feels like there’s one every weekend now! But that’s great because there’s always a place to go and have a boogie and learn something new. Sound City has always been the one for new and emerging music, both local and international. Liverpool Music Week mixes more established artists in alongside some breaking alternative artists too. I’d have to add in brand new festival on the block, Future Yard, to this field as well! Loads of the best Wirral-based artists will be making some noise in Birkenhead for its first outing this year, alongside some of the most exciting names from the UK and US. LIMF is one of many summer events that make great use of the wonderful Sefton Park, and they pack in a huge amount for such a small admission fee. 

But Africa Oye has to be the highlight of the festival calendar: I can’t think of anything better than sitting in the sun and enjoying the amazing vibe that that event emits. And it’s free. We don’t know how lucky we are!


There’s probably loads, but are there any bands from Liverpool you would recommend checking out?

You’re right, there are loads - where to start?! My current favourites are Eyesore & The Jinx (punky, edgy, hooky), Beija Flo (Lady Gaga if she were born in Harlow and raised by Scousers) and Bill Nickson (the best). You should also check out soundscape artist Podge, who’s an absolute wizard; and an actual wizard (or so he says) in the form of Yank Scally, who has possibly made album of the year so far. Mysterines are absolutely flying too - I’m expecting world domination from them soon. That’s Juvey? is gonna take off when people finally catch up with him. And if you want a party/riot/mosh, you’ve got to see Ohmns - probably the favoured band of the majority of Liverpool’s musicians.

If you want some backstory to why all these artists are so good in all their weird and wonderful ways, check out the people who’ve paved the way before them: Clinic, Stealing Sheep, Queen Zee, Esa Shields, Bang On, Outfit, Bill Ryder-Jones, Forest Swords, The Sand Band, Ex-Easter Island Head, Mugstar, Ninetails, Seal Cub Clubbing Club, The Coral, We Came Out Like Tigers, Beach Skulls. It doesn’t just come from nowhere, there’s a rich heritage of this stuff to feed off.


Aside from music, you also cover Liverpool’s rich culture scene; what places would you recommend visiting or are their any events you think are worth the trip to do?

Aside from all the festivals mentioned above, I’d definitely recommend people go and pitch up at William Brown Street for the day and soak up all the amazing art in the Walker Art Gallery and the splendour inside the World Museum. St. George’s Hall is pretty spectacular too - and you won’t find many better places in the world to stop for a quick browse than the Picton Reading Room in the Central Library

Then from there I’d head down to the Pier Head and wander round the Museum of Liverpool, from there you get a great view out across to the Liver Buildings and the other two Graces. Any trip round there isn’t complete without stopping by Tate Liverpool and the International Slavery Museum at the Albert Dock, too. After soaking up all of this you should be well versed on Liverpool’s history - and its often uncomfortable relationship with aspects of its past - which will make help in understanding the people and atmosphere of the place. It’s fiercely independent and considers itself in a world of its own. The people here also have an immense amount of civic pride for their city, and that’s infectious.

If people need any more convincing for reasons to come here, then the Biennial takes place every other year, bringing amazing artists to exhibit in galleries and public places across the city. You’ve also got LightNight each May, which is a brilliant evening to be out pounding the streets drinking in amazing light and sounds shows and incredible commissions.


The 100th issue is coming up in May. How are you celebrating this amazing achievement?

Well, first up, we’re looking forwards to what the future holds for music and creativity and the city. The temptation, at a milestone like this, would be to look backwards at what we’ve achieved. But we think it’s far more important for us to use the milestone to ask a few questions about what waits in store for us. There are some really interesting ideas brewing that will affect us greatly, and we have the chance to make sure they affect us positively. Things like the development of technology and artificial intelligence, which are already impacting our lives in small ways (driverless cars and drone technology). What’s really interesting is thinking of where this new tool intersects with humanity, and human creativity. What does a world with AI look like in relation to art and creativity and culture and journalism? We have a duty to look these questions square in the eye and figure out how to use them in the best way possible, rather than running away from them in fear.

For the period when our 100th issue is out (23rd May to 22nd June), we’re hosting a series of events that try and confront the question of what our city and creative community will look like in 2028 - the time it will take for Bido Lito! to publish another 100 issues. 

We start off a little before the 100th issue comes out with a compelling audio and visual installation at Moorfields station for LightNight (17th May). AV artist Sam Wiehl and electronic musician Forest Swords are teaming up for Ritual 2.0, a free public realm event that will encourage the public to be immersed in a world where they’re confronted with the possibilities - and possible pitfalls - that an AI-driven creative future will bring. This will form the basis of a testbed of ideas that will morph into AI Audio Lab, which will run for the duration of the bido100! season in a pop-up laboratory. In AI Audio Lab, members of the public will be invited to try their hand at creating music to their own set of parameters using the latest artificial intelligence music creation software. As they’re led through the process, technicians will make the participants consider a future where algorithms decide, create and disseminate the kind of art we will be consuming. Are we comfortable with letting machines take this from us?

On 7th June we’ll be hosting a discursive event at The Bluecoat. Pow Wow! will feature the first ever Roger Eagle Memorial Lecture, delivered by infamous disrupter Bill Drummond. This will be preceded by the Pow Wow Discussion, where people from the world of politics, journalism, art and music come together to discuss the wider ideas of humanities direction of travel, and what we can do to positively affect our future. The following day will see the first of our Community Membership Forums, where we get together all our members to set down the agenda and future topics of discussion for Bido Lito! The growing community membership movement is something that we believe is offering rays of hope in a journalism industry that has been battling to justify itself in a digital world with outdated models and beliefs. The appetite for a model that has greater openness and dialogue with its members is one that is attracting great traction, and we hope to harness this as part of our own development as a platform that reflects and represents as wide a group of opinions as possible.

We finish with a huge all-day festival on 22nd June at Constellations. Inside Pages is a nod back to our beginnings, but the artists playing this are among the most interesting and creative minds currently at play in Merseyside today. It will be a celebration, a party and a massive thank you. A thank you to the people who’ve supported us, and to the musicians of this great city who make our job so easy by being incredible in so many different ways!


Our 100th issue itself will pull apart all of these themes when it is published on 23rd May, and we’ll be celebrating its launch doubly: first, with the opening of an exhibition at dot-art gallery featuring the work of five artists who have interpreted the idea of what Liverpool’s creative community will look like in 2028; and second, a free event at our home in The Merchant, with some pizzas, drinks, old friends and new, and a very special guest DJ. If you don’t find something within here that you like then I’m giving up!


What does the future hold for Bido Lito! and the Liverpool music scene?

I’m really optimistic for the future, because things are on a really good trajectory at the moment. I’ve also seen so much diversity, resilience and ingenuity from the artists who’ve come through over the past nine years to suggest that this is a place of boundless creativity. I see no reason for that to stop, so I’m just looking forward to seeing what the passage of time and new influences brings forth in the artists of tomorrow.

With the introduction of the Liverpool City Region Music Board, I hope we can solve some of the issues around infrastructure, music education, artist development and venue protection that will help greatly in improving the ecosystem around music. Ultimately, we want more musicians to be able to thrive and make a living off being dead good, and that’s hopefully where we are heading. There’s no reason why Liverpool shouldn’t be seen as a music hub on a global level, as much for what’s happening now as for what happened 60 years ago.

As for Bido Lito!, we’ll just keep working to our next deadline and carry on finding new people and things to shout about. The moment that we run out of bands, DJs, venues, promoters, labels, festivals, movements, artists, comedians, poets, activists and characters to wax lyrical about is the moment we give up and go home. I can’t ever see that being the case - so be prepared to be hearing a lot more from us!


To find out more about the Bido100! events and to check out their online version of the magazine head over to their website - www.bidolito.co.uk

Or even better, if you find yourself in Liverpool and want to pick up a physical copy of the magazine, check out a list of their stockists here.  

Pick up the pink one; as they say!


BLOG POST PROFILE


This blog post has been written by Sophie Shields, Digitial Marketing Assistant for Marketing Liverpool.

Sophie is from Liverpool, loves all things music, particularly the local music scene and Liverpool FC. 

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