The release of the Love Language EP this week prompted me to look back at our recent collaborative work with Hannover.
Since we achieved the UNESCO City of Music designation in December 2015 we have enjoyed a hugely productive relationship with this vibrant and welcoming German city. The UNESCO music office there is led by the wonderful Alice Moser who has proven to be a great friend to Liverpool. Not long after we got the UNESCO designation Alice visited Liverpool and met a number of people from the local music scene impressing them all with her enthusiasm to work with us.
Since then there have been a number of positive outcomes. A local choir led by Jennifer John went over there to perform while Astles (who came through the LIMF Academy) made the most of the opportunity to spend a week there, playing with musicians from across Europe. The hugely talented Luna (another LIMF Academy graduate) also enjoyed spending some time there earlier this year as did the brilliant DJ Giovanna. The Liverpool based L’Orchestra dell ‘Arte also arranged for an exchange of soloists between the two cities.
On a much bigger scale, last year, there was a really important collaboration between the two cities when the Liverpool Phil and Hannover’s NDR orchestra combined to perform Britten’s War Requiem in both cities to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of Armistice Day. I was lucky enough to see what was a hugely impressive and emotional performance.
There have also been a lot of more informal collaborations and partnerships that have developed over the last few years. There’s a lovely lad called Gunnar who is involved in a project called MusicZentrum. Gunnar has been over to Liverpool a number of times and invited Liam from the Kazimier to speak at one of their events in Hannover. This year he and Alice came to Sound City with a whole bunch of people from Hannover and met a range of people from Liverpool’s music community. This will hopefully lead to more partnerships and collaborations between the two cities.
When I was Hannover I met a really enthusiastic young German psych band called The Planetoids who were keen to play in Liverpool. They kept in touch and when they came to the UK this year they managed to get a gig at the Zanzibar (thanks Mike). As a young band with little resources they were doing the tour on a very tight budget and asked if I knew anywhere cheap to stay in town. While trying to find cheap rooms for the band I happened to mention it to two friends of mine (sisters Abi and Charlotte) and they very kindly said the band would be welcome to stay in their shared house in the city centre. (Abi plays in the brilliant Seatbelts and knows how hard it is for young groups with little money). After playing at the Zanzi someone in the audience was so impressed with them that they were invited to play at a student party the following night, where they went down a storm. They also insisted on performing an impromptu gig in their host’s front room! I’d say that’s proper partnership. A huge thanks to Abi and Charlotte for helping them out and being such gracious hosts.
At the other end of musical spectrum Alice’s boss Benedikt came to Liverpool to see the Requiem performance and liked the city so much that he recently came back in a personal capacity with the choir that he sings with in Hannover. They performed beautifully in the magnificent surrounding of the Metropolitan Cathedral only a week ago.
To bring things right up to date the latest Hannover/Liverpool collaboration goes live this week with the release of the Love Language EP.
This came about because myself and Yaw Owusu (of LIMF/LIMF Academy) and Kate Gilston (Culture Liverpool/LIMF Academy) all felt like we needed to do something to repay Hannover for the opportunities they had provided for Liverpool artists. (Although to be fair I had given Alice and Benedikt one of the greatest gifts it is possible to give — the chance to see the Mighty Reds play at Anfield).
The plan we came up with was a simple one that aimed to bring together musicians from both cities, and if it worked out, provide a platform for them to play live at Culture Liverpool’s LIMF. The musicians that eventually came together were LUCA and Tori Cross from Liverpool and Lu and Kreutzberg from Hannover.
The first step was to get Tori and LUCA over to Hannover and see what happened. Fortunately all four musicians hit it off and over a couple of days worked up three tracks which would form the basis for a short set at LIMF.
Then a couple of days before the LIMF gig Lu and Kreutzberg came to Liverpool for some final rehearsals. I met all the musicians just before they took to the Music City stage in Sefton Park and they were all understandably nervous because of the limited time they’d had to work together. Kreutzberg confessed to me that he was also worried because he had never been on stage in daylight before!
But they needn’t have worried. They performed a short but well executed set that entranced the audience, who obviously had no idea who they were or what to expect. They came off stage to a great reception from the audience and were excited and relieved that it had gone so well.
With hindsight it had all gone so well that we thought it would be a shame if the gig was the endpoint. The three tracks they had worked on really stood up on their own so the decision was made to give the tunes a final tweak and release them. We even got award-winning Liverpool based mastering expert, Mike Cave, to help out.
To my mind all three tracks on the EP are well worth a listen but the beautiful slow burn of trip hoppy opener ‘On My Mind’ is a real standout.
To be honest we couldn’t have expected the result to be so good and we owe a big thanks to everyone involved — Kate and Yaw in Liverpool and to Alice and everyone in Hannover who have provided such great opportunities for our musicians over the last few years.
View the full documentary online now: https://youtu.be/tOHJSpGGp3I
Kev McManus, Head of UNESCO City of Music, Liverpool