Popular music is the cultural generator of the 20th century. At its heart has always been the vinyl record, that object of near fetishistic desire and a stimulus for wild debate. We pursued our records insatiably, hunting them down to obscure cramped shops teeming with like-minded souls, rushing them home to our quiet little rooms. We carefully slipped them out of their thin, white sleeves and played them from start to finish, side after side, flipping them over lovingly, longingly, again and again. We loaned them out reluctantly, borrowed them greedily, pored over the sleeve-notes and artwork in moments of peace. We cherished them without shame, coveted them without guilt, adored them with a passion. We viewed them in equal measure as whispers in a confession box, screams in a field, and letters to a lover.
VINYL (Dublin) is our salute to all such things, an immersive theatre of the mind comprising musicians, producers, designers and filmmakers specially convened to celebrate the rich history and enduring legacy of vinyl, its landmark recordings and key personnel, the groundbreaking labels and studios that fostered such talent, with contributions and insights from some of its most perceptive champions.
This three-day event, to be held on the May Bank Holiday weekend (5-7 May 2018) at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, will feature specially programmed talks, panel discussions, curated collections, music performances, album playbacks, art exhibits, pop-up stores, signings, and equipment showcases. The various events will each make special use of the RHK’s expansive grounds and infrastructure, from the magnificent Great Hall and Baroque Chapel to its cloistered, cobblestone courtyard.
In this its inaugural year, VINYL will play host to Snow Patrol who will present an exclusive playback of select tracks from their forthcoming album Wildness in the company of broadcaster and writer Edith Bowman. Shane MacGowan, in conversation with Stiff Records supremo Dave Robinson, will consider his favourite records and how they have shaped him as one of the great chroniclers of our age. Chrissie Hynde will chat with Pete Paphides about The Pretenders some forty years on, whilst Bob Geldof will discuss the early days of the Boomtown Rats, punk/pop success, international fame, and why he will always be a musician. Geoff Barrow, in conversation with acclaimed Irish actor Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders), will discuss his career in music, from assisting Massive Attack during the making of Blue Lines to forming Portishead, and subsequently soundtracking films for Ben Wheatley (Free Fire) and Alex Garland (Ex Machina). Tracey Thorn will discuss her music and writing career in the wake of her latest critically acclaimed album, Record. Tim Burgess of The Charlatans will wax lyrical about the nature of vinyl and music with his good friend and all-round comedic Renaissance woman, Sharon Horgan. Noel Hogan (co-songwriter with Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries) will reunite with producer Stephen Street to reminisce about the making of the band’s debut Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? Aslan will reflect on their own debut album, Feel No Shame, released some thirty years ago, whilst legendary guitarist Scott Gorham will discuss Thin Lizzy’s meteoric rise to prominence, the band’s abiding legacy, and their charismatic lead singer Phil Lynott. James Lavelle, one of the most esteemed electronic music practitioners of the past twenty-five years, will discuss Mo’Wax Records and his time in the UNKLE collective. DJ, producer, and remixer, Andrew Weatherall will discuss his groundbreaking work with Happy Mondays, Primal Scream, New Order and My Bloody Valentine. Ed Piller (of Acid Jazz Records) and the actor Martin Freeman (Fargo, The Hobbit) will discuss their mutual love of mod subculture, its range of influences, its music, and how it informs their lives, not to mention their recent collaboration, Jazz On The Corner. Simon Raymonde, bass guitarist and keyboard player with the sadly defunct Cocteau Twins, will discuss the history and development of his Bella Union record label, as well as the musicians associated with it. Singer-songwriter and political activist, Billy Bragg, will outline his primary influences in both fields in a career that has spanned over four decades. A staunchly feminist spirit, and a true survivor, Peggy Seeger will draw from her 2017 memoir First Time Ever to speak of a childhood immersed in music and politics and featuring some of the most influential names in popular culture, from Woody Guthrie and Jackson Pollock, to Pete Seeger and Ewan MacColl. Welsh musician, author, filmmaker, producer and composer, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals will chat to fellow countryman Huw Stephens (co-host of our own Other Voices) about his search for cultural roots. Irmin Schmidt, one of the great pioneers of ambient and experimental music, will discuss the history and legacy of Can with the writer Rob Young (Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music). Musician, performance artist and writer, Cosey Fanni Tutti will recount tales from her critically acclaimed memoir Art Sex Music, whilst Vaughan Oliver, arguably the most iconic graphic designer of our times (working with the likes of The Breeders, Pixies and Cocteau Twins), will present ‘Walking Backwards’, a selective exhibition taken from his extensive design archive.
Exclusive exhibitions at VINYL will include James Lavelle’s ‘Daydreaming With UNKLE’, Vaughan Oliver’s ‘Walking Backwards’, Peter Boettcher’s ‘Photographing Kraftwerk’, and Rory Gallagher’s vinyl collection as assembled by the guitarist’s brother, Donal.
Across the three days of VINYL there will also be a Tower Records pop-up store stocked with the back catalogues of our various attendees along with hard-to-source special editions and books, whilst long established Irish hi-fi store, Cloney Audio, will be onsite showcasing their specialist audiophile systems.
The first festival of its kind anywhere in the world, VINYL will present the people who made the records that would define not just a number of eras but also their respective cultures. It runs from Saturday, 5 May to Monday, 7 May and will take place in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin.