Affinity Festival at Nottingham Contemporary

28 October 15 words: Bridie Squires
There's gonna be a festival on at 'Tempreh soon. We've got the full lowdown and ask some questions about youth and the arts
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photo: Miles Winterburn

“Gerra proper job, youth!”

As kids, we’re all-too-often told that there’s no point in pursuing the arts – whether it’s music, literature, illustration – as a career. Or we feel so intimidated by an imaginary heap of creative intellectuals scrambling to the top that it stifles our seemingly infantile ambitions and lands us a job on the blower, trying to flog insurance to an amphibian shop, wondering where it all went wrong. Or maybe that was just me.

But creativity is important, and not just because of “funky tunes and pretty pictures.” The communities that come hand in hand with artistic endeavours is something of a precious thing, especially in a society that sees nothing wrong with watching telly alone, spending cash monies, and not doing much else. Yet however much pooh-poohing we might come across as wannabe creatives, there’ll hopefully always be organisations giving young ‘uns a kick up the arts.

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, started in 1987, leads and funds a national programme called Circuit. Circuit hooks up young people – and not just students, mind – with some of the most renowned galleries and museums in the country, including Tate Modern, Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, and Nottingham’s very own ‘Tempreh. The aim of the game is for 15 - 25 year olds to steer their own learning and have a good shout about the arts in their city. And our lot certainly aren’t doing things by halves, putting on their own festival – Affinity.

The Nottingham branch of Circuit is better known around these parts as the Collabor-8 Collective. Every month, they take over The Space at Nottingham Contemporary for a jolly owd time making, doing and absorbing. I went along to one of their sessions and was well impressed with the free activities – from t-shirt spraying, to jumping around with a load of parkour lads. The themes and events change every month, all ideas birthed from regular focus groups.

“To be honest, I was expecting a bunch of old snobs running the group,” says Bobster, a Collabor-8 Collective member. “But the minute Becky [Collabor-8 Leader] started talking, I was drawn in. I found a new love for contemporary art and started to wonder about my purpose on this planet. I got invited for discussions and steering meetings, and when I found out Circuit’s Collabor-8 were running a festival… that was me.”

It’s easy to dismiss a festival organised “by young people, for young people” as a bit naff, but as far as the lineup and activities are concerned, Affinity is owning it. With loads of proper amazing artists, both locals and tourists, it’s set to be a schwang-dangger, with surprises in store to boot. Little birdies have told us a few secrets, and it gives me great pleasure to ruin it all for you…

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photo: Miles Winterburn

Harleighblu
Jazzy soul from a more-than-noteworthy voice, harnessed through years of belting it out and gigging her socks off in Notts. After signing to Tru Thoughts and jetting off to the lands of Paris and beyond to work her magic, she’s back in the ends to show us what them pipes are made of.

Lady Leshurr
The queen of grime is coming to Nottingham. Don’t let her perfect smile fool you – her sharp tongue will tear you a new one… whether you asked for it or not. After a recent appearance at The Maze as well as collaborating with the Mouthy Poets’ Deborah Stevenson on BBC 1Xtra, she deserves a massive ay up from us.

Mimm and Rough Trade
Ever since they both landed on Broad Street, them there record and clothing shops have been whacking on some awesome up-and-coming artists as well as established names. We can only look forward to what they’re going to bring, knowing no genre boundaries and with an ear only for serious, forward-thinking sounds.

K.O.G & The Zongo Brigade
As regular collaborators with Nottingham legends Origin One, it goes without saying that these lot know how to turn a crowd completely nuts. The nine-piece hail from Sheffield and their sound falls somewhere between jazz, rock, and hip hop, with a distinct world music vibe of Afro-fusion sounds. Yes please.

Congi
After dropping their unbelievable Nine Sessions EP and supporting Gilles Peterson at the Irish Centre, this duo are definitely onto summat. Signed to the exquisitely named Chord Marauders, their sound is reminiscent of the late Nujabes’ Japanese hip hop but with more glitch and punch. Not to be missed.

Warren Xclnce
Chilled-out, sexy hip hop from a soulful Londoner. Championed by Mimm and ghosting the 10k followers mark on SoundCloud, our Waz crafts dreamlike Dilla-esque beats only to do unthinkable things with their pace, tone and texture.

Three Girl Rhumba
The name is one big lie. They’re actually four Nottingham lads with high-energy, indie-rock tunes that chuck in funky vibes to get every toe in the room tapping. After making movements on the Nottingham scene, they’ve been boggering off to the big smoke for gigs. Cheeky vibes make it difficult not to forgive.

Same Streets
Straight-up rock‘n’roll from three local dudes, citing influences as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Libertines and The Clash. They’ve been bigged up by Nusic, gigged all over, and melted hearts with solid lyrics wrapped in the raspy, energised voice of singer and guitarist James Gooch.

Raphael Blake
A spoken word poet with a musical twist. Mr Blake hails from London but has been mashing up the local circuit with his progression-infused lexicon over beats that land somewhere between house and drum‘n’bass, chucking in tunes that have the ability to break every heart in Notts.

Bru-C
Nottingham’s golden boy emcee. After grafting away on the grime scene, he’s stepped it up a notch with his latest EP release, Black ‘n’ Red. Moving towards a more sparkly hip hop sound, it’s positive vibrations all round, with lyrics that are more focused, ambitious and assessed. Plus, he well knows how to get everyone hyped.

Yazmin Lacey
A delicate and sweet rasp of a voice that just keeps getting better. Yaz will send shivers up your spine with moving lyrics, delivered simply and beautifully. She’s collaborated with the likes of Trekkah and Frazer Lowrie, creating some of the most underrated music to come out of Nottingham. A huge heart, gorgeous sounds, and a humble character to top it all off.

Mouthy Poets
The biggest bunch of bards in the city, in every sense of the word. Alright, alright, DIY Poets are also pretty badass. Fronted by Deborah Stevenson, the massive poetry collective are always up to summat so expect diverse material, carefully crafted stanzas, and even a few giggles.
 

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photo: Miles Winterburn

Film Screenings:

  • This Is England
  • Guillemot
  • Persepolis
  • This is Monday
  • Paris is Burning
  • Psycho
  • Where The Wild Things Are
  • We Are The Best
  • Party Monster
  • Short Film Competition entries

Other stuff cracking off:

  • VJ workshop with Urban Projections
  • Live art and visuals
  • Dancers and performers
  • Q&A sessions
  • Delicious food
  • Screen printing workshops
  • Open mics
  • Art installations with workshops
  • Revamped caravan exhibition
  • Silent disco with The PJ DJs

Circuit: Affinity, Nottingham Contemporary, Friday 6 – Saturday 7 November.

Affinity on Nottingham Contemporary website

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