Liverpool International Music Festival – celebrity-filled PhD research

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Post by Cat Wilkinson – 1st year PhD student

During last bank holiday weekend, I was granted backstage access at the Liverpool International Music Festival (LIMF) and was able to rub shoulders with some of the U.K’s most coveted artists. Taking over from the highly celebrated Matthew Street Festival, LIMF focused on three things: celebrating greatness, discovering the new, and inspiring the next.

I received this perk in the form of a press pass from my CASE partner KCC LIVE, a local radio station targeting 10 – 24 year olds in Knowsley. I have been based at the station for the last few months conducting participant observation as part of my PhD research project ‘Connecting Communities through Youth-led Radio’. Being part of the team brings with it many exciting opportunities, such as this.

As well as being exciting, attending LIMF gave a window of insight into one key area of geographical thought, namely cultural regeneration. In particular, the festival, working with both the commercial and voluntary sector, brought to the fore the creativity in Liverpool by showcasing the talent of local, as well as global, artists – for instance the internationally acclaimed Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Liverpool legends The Christians, Connie Lush and Deaf School

My co-presenter Rob Tobin and I were allocated press passes which enabled us to watch the concerts, both at the Pier Head and Sefton Park from the area between the stage and the audience. We had an amazing view of the action – the only downside was that we kept being hit by flying objects, including jewellery and underwear, aimed at the A-list stars on stage!

Rob says:

“Being behind the scenes at such a big event was amazing. Casually walking past some of the most famous faces in world music was a bit crazy, and being so close to the stage when the artists were performing was fantastic.”

During the weekend we watched as the artists arrived in their tour buses or fancy cars, got changed in their allocated dressing rooms, had something to eat in the catering room, and then went out on stage. Our mission for the weekend was to get a quick photo with all of the artists at some point in that process, whilst keeping our avid listeners up to date with all the backstage gossip – and we did pretty well!

We met some of the U.K’s finest talent backstage, including X Factor favourites Little Mix (with a special mention for my favourite member Jesy), JLS, Union J, Diana Vickers, and Lucy Spraggan, Britain’s Got Talent’sThe Loveable Rogues, upcoming boy band The Vamps, girl groups The Saturdays and Stooshe and Radio 1’s Dev, amongst others.

Rob sums the weekend up nicely:

“The Pierhead and Sefton Park are both great live music venues and almost 40,000 people were there. Any job that involves meeting The Saturdays is a good one. Getting to go to events like LIMF to interview stars is definitely one of my favourite things about working in radio”

As well as having a fantastic time and getting to meet celebrities, I was able to see first-hand and collect important observations for my PhD research on the cultural impact that such regional sounds (or sonic geographies) have on Liverpool as a city. With LIMF scheduled to run for the foreseeable future, it is hoped that by encouraging local artists and nurturing such creativity, this will add to the wider regeneration of Liverpool. As part of this aim, the LIMF Academy are working to inspire young people (home grown talent) who are interested in entering the music industry, also important to my research as I work with a youth-led radio station. So overall, LIMF was successful in both celebrating Liverpool’s musical heritage and showcasing up-and-coming talent, and for me provided a fun and celebrity-filled weekend as well as important data for my research.

The festival events are running through until the 22 September – more information is available from http://www.limfestival.com/. You can listen to Rob and Cat on KCC LIVE on 99.8FM in Knowsley and Liverpool or online at kcclive.com every Wednesday from 10am to 1pm.

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