Q: What is THE ART OF DFFRNCE?
XV: THE ART OF DFFRNCE (AOD) is a monthly night I curate at Constellations, a staple venue located in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle. A rare blank-canvas situation granted by local promoters Melodic Distraction, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to create a platform for artists with similar tastes to mine. Though I’ve personally been lucky enough to receive a lot of local support for my music over the few years I’ve lived in Liverpool, I’ve always felt it was one of few isolated incidents – There were a fair few artists making moves across the city, I just didn’t feel there was a definitive scene rooted in the genres which I and many others identify with the most. THE ART OF DFFRNCE is a step towards solving that problem.
Q: What was the thought process on starting the night and how did it all come about?
XV: The idea first came about late 2017 – I was in New York with my band for a few days. The New York music scene is known for its unrelenting competition – giving birth to some of the scariest musicians in the industry – so one could only imagine our faces when the promoters took us to a local underground jam-session after our show. I’d never seen or heard anything like it: all improvised but so vivid, a mixture of year-round, globally touring musicians, college students and local artists all sharing the same stage. One of the best musical experiences I’ve had to date. I really wanted to recreate that as best I could back in the UK, so when the chance came along I knew exactly what I wanted it to be like.
More than this, THE ART OF DFFRNCE is an attempt to bring all the pieces back to the board – to create some structure around a soul-spectrum scene in Merdeyside. I found a lot of my confidence came from being given platforms like this to perform in front of people who appreciated the same music and culture I did, a lot of my drive from being surrounded with musicians who wanted what I wanted just as bad as I did. Those early opportunities kept me going until I was able to find confidence in myself. The jam-sessions we hold let musicians be musicians, which they rarely ever get to do these days. I’ve always felt the greatest asset to a musician was the ability to improvise, as all the artists I love have bent and broken the mold somehow. Our jam-sessions are the perfect way to build that muscle.
Q: Is this the first taste of putting on and curating an event? How are you enjoying it?
XV: It’s an interesting one. I have a lot of newfound respect for promoters who have maintained large and long-standing live music events in the city – it’s notoriously difficult to get people to come out to see live music in Liverpool, especially when it comes to soul-spectrum stuff. That being said, it’s a little easier than I thought It’d be. The first AOD night was beyond anything we planned for, the turnout was huge and the jam session pretty much ran itself.
People seem to love our nights, especially musicians. Singers rarely get the chance to jam properly either – most singers know this to be too true – so we made sure to accommodate them. It works. That’s basically how I learnt to improvise years ago, just bouncing ideas off others in real time. There are tons of musicians in the city eager to play something – anything – somewhere. Goes to show that the scene was always present, it just needed a home.
Q: For any creatives or music fans, why should they attend the AOD?
XV: Because there’s nothing like it in the city. This event isn’t about money, it’s about music. Some things just need to be about music. The AOD is a space to meet like-minded people and feel like what they love matters – I think that’s important.
Q: What have been some of the highlights so far from past events? We know the jam sessions can get really interesting?
XV: Every night is interesting, every jam is different. The best part for me is seeing artists and musicians who have been playing in great bands or working on great original music meet each other on the stage for the first time. People who I know are going to go on to do great things with their music. That’s how history is made. We’re going to grow the night into something special, everything takes time. Next time someone like me comes to the Liverpool, there’ll be no question if and where they belong.
After a hiatus during the summer, THE ART OF DFFRNCE is back for phase 2 and returns to Constellations in Liverpool on the 18th October, free of charge. Little Grace and Jazmine Johnson front the bill with the Jam Session to finish.