News & Features 25 Apr, 2014

Liverpool Sound City Interview

fan on the ground



David Pichilingi

David Pichilingi is the festival director of Liverpool Sound City and since the festival's inception in 2008 has been consistently booking the best new acts who often go on to fill arenas.  We spoke with David to find out what 2014's event has to offer.

So, I’ve never been to Liverpool Sound City. What can I expect over the three days?

3 nights of complete hedonism. For Sound City we take over the most unusual and unique spaces such as cathedrals, warehouses, car parks and even boats!  We fill them with the most amazing bands and artists from all around the world. Sound City has become synonymous with being the first place to discover your new favourite bands. Over the past 7 years we have been the festival to give artists such as Jake Bugg, Mumford and Sons, Florence and the Machine, Bastille, Aluna George, Savages and literally 100’s more their first big shows.  Beyond that we have an amazing fringe film festival and an international music business conference that this year features John Cale (The Velvet Underground) and Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) as just 2 of our speakers.

Rough Guide named Liverpool the third best city in the world (beaten only be Rio de Janeiro and Sarajevo). What do you thinks happening in the city now that’s brought this attention?

I am surprised we were that low down?  Liverpool is the greatest city on earth. It is not just about the ‘right now’…it has always been that way. I think the rest of the world is just beginning to realise.  Music and culture flows through our veins.  Some of the most creative and talented people have been born in Liverpool.  We are a welcoming city. We love to see people coming here from all over the world. 

Liverpool obviously has a rich music history. Do you think that music history helps or hinders new bands?

There is a myth that everything begun and ended with the Fab Four. The problem we have is that the biggest band in the world came from Liverpool and they cast a massive shadow. However let us not forget that after The Beatles came Echo and the Bunnymen, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Real Thing, The La’s, Teardrop Explodes, OMD, The Coral, The Zutons and even today The Wombats, Stealing Sheep, Tea Street Band, Bird, Circa Waves…I could go on and on. Liverpool history does not hinder bands. Bands do not think about history.  They just think about being in bands and changing the world with their music. There is something in the water in this city. As Carl Jung said ‘Liverpool is the pool of life.'

You’ve been part of the Liverpool music scene for a long time. What have you seen change the most over time?

I think the creative output in Liverpool at the moment is stronger and better than I have ever seen it.  There are more amazing bands and musicians coming out of this city than ever before. Much more exciting than the mythical 60’s when there were lots of bands, but to be fair not many of them as great as they are now.  The problem we currently have is the mess the record industry is in which means the commercial opportunities these great artists have are currently very limited. Beyond the talent, I would also have to say that the Liverpool live scene is better than any other city I go to, including New York. We have so many amazing venues and promoters that work hard every day of the year to keep the Liverpool music scene as strong and healthy as it is.

What bands are you particularly looking forward to seeing this year? Any “under the radar” acts we should keep our eyes out for?

Of the Liverpool bands playing people should check out Circa Waves, Tea Street band, Bird, Veyu, The Sugarmen...of all the other acts we are bringing in then definitely look out for The Neighbourhood, Jungle, The Wytches, but don’t be limited.Take the chance to take in bands across the whole city. You will find some amazing surprises. That is the beauty. Sound City is an amazing journey of discovery.

You’ve got keynote interviews and Q&A sessions with John Cale and Thurston Moore – what can people expect from those?

Getting John Cale to my home city is a dream come true. I grew up listening to The Velvet Underground. They made me and millions of others want to be in a rock and roll band. His music still inspires to this day.  John will be doing his first public interview since his life time friend Lou Reed died. He will be talking about his musical journey to date and of the relationship he had with Lou, Andy Warhol and all the other people he has worked with in his career to date.

Thurston is also a massive coup.  he will be talking about his life and journey so far also as well as focusing on the work of Sonic Youth and how they created the slacker generation almost single handedly.  We will also be showing the acclaimed film The Year That Punk Broke.

There’s a football element to Liverpool Sound City. How do you think that fits in with the music side of the festival?

Absolutely. Football is a global business. This year the Sound City conference will look at the business of global football and what the music business might learn from it. The music business needs to learn new lessons if it is to survive long term.  

Getting potential FIFA president Jerome Champagne and former Liverpool CEO Rick Parry on board seems like a bit of a coup. Was it difficult to convince them this was a good platform to speak at? Definitely not their usual fare.

No it was not difficult at all. We are working very closely with The Anfield Wrap and I think the infectiousness of our enthusiasm for Sound City rubbed off on them both. Jerome in particular is a real coup as it is very likely that within the next 12 months he will be the worldwide head of FIFA.  

It’s these elements that make the festival stand out. What else do you think Liverpool Sound City does differently to a lot of other city festivals?

Sound City is not owned and run by a corporate giant. The team are all desperately passionate about what we do. We get as excited as our audience gets. It is a total immersive experience that takes place in the most amazing and unique venues with the backdrop of Liverpool behind it and players that are made up of some of the most creative people in the world with the passion and fire of Liverpool people running right through the heart of it. You cannot buy that kind of experience.

And finally... who’s going to win the league?

Liverpool, 100%... no doubt whatsoever in my mind. Quote me on that.  

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