As we step into the final month of an incredibly challenging year, many of us crave those social experiences that are so precious to so many of us; often facilitated by amazing soundsystems, great company and inspiring curation.
This piece launches a new bi-monthly feature in which the Loose Lips extended family highlight some of their favourite parties, festivals and raving memories of years past. On the day that a vaccine rollout is announced and as we look forward to 2021, we hope these personal insights will further excitement for times to come!
First up, co-founder Medallion Man looks back to a highlight of summers 2018 and 2019, Kallida Festival.
I first heard about Kallida Festival on the grapevine at Threads Radio; rumours of a musical melting pot in a truly relaxed setting, surrounded by a manor house and wonderful set design. I trusted the feedback, attended in 2018 and then again in 2019. As you can guess due to the 2nd outing, it was an absolute blast.
Kallida was simply magical. From it’s picturesque gardens to it’s humid cellar and vivid art, it couldn't help but make an impression. It was community epitomised - an intimate festival that overcomes any pre-conceptions about small festivals being limited in their curatorial freedom. Their “collision of sound & visual arts” breaks down boundaries between various genres, as well as showcasing unique visual installations from multidisciplinary artists.
Lots of the ‘boutique’/smaller festivals I’ve attended have often tended to specialise - looking to draw in a niche crowd connected by taste, thus building on that scene and not spreading the festival too thin. Despite understanding such an ethos and loving a ‘nerd out’ at times, this never quite hit the spot for me; I love that diversity of larger multi-stage events, where you can jump from stage to stage, always keeping your ears and eyes intrigued. This inevitably though, can come with the hustle of huge crowds and a lack of immediate community feeling. So, what’s the solution? Is there a middle ground? Yes, Kallida Festival. By basing the foundations of the festival on immersive experience and in being produced by lots of Sheffield’s talent, a city with groundbreaking music running through everything from techno to hip-hop and bassline, the unique recipe was formed. The festival naturally attracted both open-minded music lovers and avid fans keen to experience their favourite act; and once there, everyone was on the same page.
The musical evocations were many. Whether it be Bala Bala Boyz's fusion of raw dancehall-inspired production and UK-Congolese lyricism, Morriarchi's journey through disco, grime, UK funky and much more...or Teki Latex's DJ masterclasses and Layfullstop's moving melding of soul and hip-hop, all performers seemed to share the same excitement to be there, using it as a catalyst for producing something fun-filled and unique.
Another real highlight was the festival's showcasing of Nyege Nyege Tapes artists, including Kampire and Otim Alpha, a two-piece from Uganda playing a synthesis of electronic beats and traditional acholi wedding music, transforming both into a style called 'acholitronix'. It was truly something to behold - frenetic yet precise, energetic yet captivating…a blinding performance on the festival’s main stage that was likely burnt into the memories of all in attendance.
As mentioned above, part of Kallida's eccentric spirit was also due to the non-musical activities that were part and parcel of the weekend's celebrations of community and culture.
Swimming in the pool, tripping out to incredible laser-filled A/V escapades, karaoke like you've never seen before and playing 'blind football', were just some of the fun and games that defined a festival as motivated by artistic experimentation as it was true playfulness.
Its these kind of experiences that are so missed at the moment - not just because of the chance to dance and engage with the arts in such a fine environment, but also because of that indescribable feeling that comes from being at one with everything and everyone around you…and at Kallida, there weren’t many of those lucky allies who you wouldn’t share at least a joke or a fist bump with at some point over the weekend.
Whether it be the tea and cake stall that had the perfect solution to tonsillitis, watching England in the World Cup in the festival's own pub, or chatting to the sound engineer's about the finely tuned sonics of the Void rigs, the interactions were unforgettable!
Thank you to everyone who made the festival possible. At Loose Lips we were lucky enough to also be involved in the coverage of the festival, interviewing artists and filming/recording sets. Not only did this augment the range of adventures but also gave us an insight into the character and love of the dedicated crew who work tirelessly all year round to make such transcendence a reality.
I have no idea whether Kallida will happen again, as is at the moment a common insecurity that pervades many hopes and ambitions of those involved in, and excited by, event production. Two things are for sure though…if it doesn’t, it will be a memory I’ll never forget and something that has positively affected so many people’s lives…and if it does, I’ll be there and you bloody well should be as well!