RT @CamdenPT: "Safety is a priority. Comfort? No. Which is not to say Trigger Warning is just uncomfortable, it’s a lot of things." Check…
view counter

Convergence, Collaboration and Grassroots. Glenn Max on the beauty of the Live Gig

Glenn Max is the Founder and Artistic Director of Convergence, the much respected annual London festival of music, art and tech - which in 2018 will see the likes of John Cale, Charlotte Gainsbourg, London Contemporary Orchestra, Simian Mobile Disco, Deep Throat Choir - and a whole load more take to the stage in ways you may never have seen before. This year, he explains, the line-up ‘places the deeply personal artistic visionary within the crucible of collaborative work’.

Here, Glenn reflects on the state of the music industry, his passion for supporting the grassroots scene, the power of collaboration, and how music and technology are evolving together.

Jamie McLaren: ‘Collaboration’ is at the heart of this years Convergence. Can you tell us why and how?
Glenn Max:
There are a number of reasons, but one basic factor is the sheer amount of work a contemporary presentation requires.

DJ's and electronic musicians prefer to work with their head down focused on work in front of them and maintaining their anonymity. This is not a performance medium in the traditional sense of the word. So increasingly there is a reliance on the visual work of a film-makers or video artists - as we see in our presentation of Ben Frost with Marcel Weber or Visionist with Pedro Maier (Heaven, 12 March).

Of course, the orchestra is the ultimate instrument and collaborative  platform for a composer. John Cale's configuration which leans on percussion and an army of violas, is a unique approach and allows him to re-shape his music for his career-retrospective (Barbican, 9/10 March)  

For Simian Mobile Disco, Jas and James, one of London's finest long-running collaborations re-invent their sound with the help of the Deep Throat Choir  in one of 2018's more unusual collaborations (Barbican, April 4).
It is though these disparate worlds and talents that we see chemical reactions, unexpected mutations and new realms of sound lead to new areas of invention. The convergence of artists is at the very core of our festival.

Jamie: 50% of London’s nightclubs closed from 2011-2016. What collaborations are rising to challenge this downturn?
Well the good news is that the problem is being recognised inside city and national government by a few enlightened individuals including Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London and his dedicated department for Culture and the Creative Industries. But essentially, a massive shift needs to take place if the trend is to be reversed. Importantly, the live music industry needs to re-set the balance of power between artist, agent, manager, venue, promoter. All these are factors in the equation that adds up to a successful event. But unfortunately the venues are not able to sustain this equation any longer.

My interview with Mark Davyd of Music Venues Trust is a great example of someone who has built a strong collaborative effort to reverse the startling trend of club-closings.

Jamie: You’ve invited the iconic John Cale to the festival - can you tell us how you met, and what we can expect?
: I met John Cale after having invited him to perform at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2003. As one of the worlds great artists, with a cloud of mystique and cool cred around him, I didn't expect we would build such a strong body of live work together.

But, he enjoyed my passion for his work and when I proposed something - he was up for it. He seldom said no. So the Nico concerts which launched at the Royal Festival Hall in 2008, opened up a new format for his work. I think he discovered how much he liked working with younger talent and the momentum built. Rome, Poland, Milan, NYC followed and a great array of singers joined - the likes of Mark Lanegan, the late great Mark Linkous, Lisa Gerrard, Peaches, Peter Murphy, Mercury Rev, Coco Rosie, Kim Gordon, Fiery Furnaces, Sharon Van Etten and others all brought their own unique interpretation to the music of Nico.

In Spring of 2016 we managed to persuade John to perform the music of the Velvet Underground in Paris in connection to an exhibition at Cite De La Musique. In May that year we did the same shows with different guest singers in Liverpool. In November we we did 3-nights at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in NYC. It’s been a good run of historically compelling shows.

Jamie: How do you see music and technology evolving together?
It’s a particularly exciting time and so much is happening in so many areas. Block-Chain technology could revolutionise the way artists music is accounted for and how they get paid. New technology in recording, mixing and mastering continues to evolve. An endless array of toys for creating and distributing music keep coming. The most important area of development needs to happen around artists rights and income. Sadly with all the digital outlets compensating artists so ineffectively we will need to find other modes of promoting music, and developing and managing income streams.


Music + Art + Technology
9 March - 4 April 2018