“United in the shared pursuit of head-music”: Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia On Five Years Of Creativity

Ahead of next weekend’s “fucking out-there” celebration of “audio-futurists”, PZYK Fest organiser Christopher Torpey gives us an insight into five year’s of diverse creativity, and why he thinks that the fiesta has such an enduring appeal…
Human soup installation.  Image courtesy Keith Ainsworth for Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia

VR: adventures in virtual and actual realities

We’ve become increasingly fascinated by the possibilities that virtual reality offers up, and how it fits in with the whole ethos of the festival. Psychedelia has always represented that journey of discovery for us, being taken somewhere else through your chosen medium (be that music, film or other enhancement), and VR is the closest we’re likely to come to teleportation. The idea of stepping outside of the physical realm and into a world conjured solely in your mind, while still retaining some of the loose, spatial rooting in our ‘normal’ sphere, is as psychedelic an approach as ingesting certain natural plants to instigate a trip through your own mind, like the old mystics used to do. Plus, it makes for a fucking out-there experience!

We dabbled in VR realms last year with the Thorium-232 piece that our Artist in Residence Anton Newcombe (pictured, second from bottom) worked on with Michael Saup, Stanislav Glazov and Li Alin; but for this year, we’re going a whole lot further. We’ve commissioned three, brand new and exclusive VR modules specially for the festival, all of which will be presented within PZYK PRYZM, the immersive AV environment we’ve built in the first floor PZYK Gallery space.

“A marriage of odd nature, heady seismology, and Dionysian kicks”

Illustrator and all-round off-the-wall Monsterist Pete Fowler has worked with Liverpool company Draw & Code to bring alive his idiosyncratic world as Perambulator v.1. Fowler has also teamed up with Huw Buford of festival headliners Super Furry Animals, one of Fowler’s long-time collaborators, on the amazing soundtrack for this world. Demdike Stare and Michael England have also teamed up to work on a VR environment: entitled Forest Of Evil, the piece weaves together Demdike’s unique haunting electronica with England’s trademark stark and brutal visual aesthetic. And we have concocted our own world that represents this year’s PZYK visual universe. Dionysia is the coming together of the festival’s visual guru Sam Wiehl, Bonnacons Of Doom (soundtrack), PsychFi and The Colorverse, a marriage of odd nature, heady seismology, and Dionysian kicks.

VR makes anything possible. By embracing this technology, we can go anywhere together.

Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia 2015: Goat

A visual assault

One of the most important things in creating that atmosphere — where people can slip into the right mindset to enjoy the whole experience — comes in setting up the right canvas. The idea is to turn the performance spaces and whole venue into a shimmering world that’s an extension of not just the festival’s aesthetic, but also of the worlds the artists are trying to invoke. That’s why so much consideration goes into the visual world: to enhance everyone’s experience of what they’re hearing and feeling.

“We’ll be unveiling our 360-degree, immersive AV environment called PZYK COLONY”

Each performance space has its own feel and corresponding AV setup: Furnace will have an analogue-meets-digital-glitch vibe, provided by Innerstrings; our own PZYK lighting wizards are taking over the Camp space, with strobes and flickering walls of visuals giving this room more of a club feel. Also, from midnight each night in Camp, we’ll be unveiling our 360-degree, immersive AV environment called PZYK COLONY, which will host our late-night den of iniquity. Blade Factory and District will also have their own unique atmospheres. It all makes the festival the ultimate in escapism.

Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia 2015: Spiritualized


The whole world we represent is a global community of like-minded individuals, that are united in the shared pursuit of head-music and enlightenment. The festival is a coming together of that community, where artists from all over the world unite with their audience. There are acts from right across the PZYK diaspora taking part in this year’s festival, as this worldwide movement goes from strength to strength. Our Congregation is our most important aspect.

In 2015, we were overjoyed to have Spiritualized (above) headline the festival; not only did having them represent so many personal ambitions realised, but it also felt a bit like having a ‘scene’ godfather presiding over a communal happening! It was utterly brilliant.

“Tim Gane’s new project, Cavern Of Anti-Matter, has got the former Stereolab man back at his best”

This year, we’re really excited about both of our headliners: Super Furry Animals just touch on that magic, weird vein of psychedelia that everyone can relate to, and their Friday night headline slot promises to be a riot. And there’s just something that fits with having The Horrors headlining the Saturday night in Furnace — their sound is perfectly suited to that room’s sleazy warehouse vibe, and I think that’s going to be a massive PZYK moment. There’s so much brilliant stuff packed in elsewhere too: Simeon Coxe’s Silver Apples show will be a masterclass in electronic manipulations; Tim Gane’s new project, Cavern Of Anti-Matter, has got the former Stereolab man back at his best; tropical punks Flamingods are on an absolute roll in 2016, as are The Lucid Dream; The Moonlandingz will blow some minds sky high with their outlandish antics, and we can’t wait to be soothed by the dextrous groove of Kikagaku Moyo. Plus La Luz, and Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation, and Harald Grosskopf, and La Hell Gang, and The Stairs, and… we could go on all day!

Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia 2015: Anton Newcombe

Musings in drone

Psych scenes, communities and festivals are flourishing right now, in a global movement in consciousness that we’re massively proud to be a part of. Each year, we programme a series of talks and conversations that act as a bit of a chill-out from the musical side: Musings In Drone is like our tripped-out chat show, which seeks to dig out the stories, tales and experiences of the artists, labels and heads within today’s neo-psych scene.

Taking place on the afternoon of Saturday 24 September in the PZYK Cinema space, the spoken word bill is going to be hosted by our own audio-oracle Bernie Connor, presenter of the impeccable Sound Of Music podcast.

“Celebrated screenwriter and actor Graham Duff will present an illustrated talk examining the numerous ways hallucinations are depicted on screen”

This year, we’ve got another ace bill in store: Steve Davis (The Interesting Alternative) in conversation with Bernie Connor, talking about how his love of prog and techno blossomed away from the green baize of the snooker table; Spacemen 3, Spiritualized and Spectrum bass player Will Carruthers in conversation with Drowned In Sound’s Dom Gourlay, talking about his recent memoir Playing The Bass With Three Left Hands; Super Furry Animals guitarist Huw Bunford and the group’s long-time visual collaborator Pete Fowler discussing their VR artwork with The Quietus’ Julian Marszalek; and celebrated screenwriter and actor Graham Duff presenting an illustrated talk examining the numerous ways hallucinations are depicted on screen.

Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia 2015

Craft and craic

We’ve got the most knowledgable music fans at our festival and you learn about all sorts of new and old bands just by sharing a beer in one of the numerous communal areas, or a coffee in the Bold Street Coffee tent. The atmosphere at the festival is like nothing else we’ve ever experienced — it’s all just so friendly and accepting, and the people who make up our wider Congregation are what make the whole event feel so special.

We also have our own craft beer brewed each year, for those that like a nice drop! Black Lodge Brewery have concocted a Guruguru Brain IPA for us this year, which has been brewed using Japanese Sorachi Ace hops, in honour of our featured label Guruguru Brain from Tokyo. We can’t wait to give that a sample! And our latest triple LP compilation will be available in a transparent vinyl exclusively at the festival this year, featuring a mix of artists from across the neb-psych firmament. That will be available to purchase from the on-site record store: A Psychedelic World Of Wax Wonders, hosted by Dig Vinyl.

Are you ready for the PZYK of your life?

Christopher Torpey

See NME’s ”Best Small Festival”, Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia, at District, Blade Factory and Camp and Furnace, Baltic Triangle, Liverpool, 23 & 24 September 2016 — day ticket £40, weekend ticket £80

Posted on 16/09/2016 by thedoublenegative