The South London revival continues – not with the homogenisation of the Elephant & Castle skyline into sleek high-rise Strata Towers, but with the continuing migration of DJs from Shoreditch basements into the many venues of the deep dark South – The Coronet Theatre and Corsica Studios being the most welcome sights on the Elephant’s main roundabout.
Ed Banger records return to converted cinema The Coronet in March, after their mammoth 61/2 birthday in 2009 which saw secret guests Justice rock over 2500 people. Night-giants Bugged Out are involved in the completely sold out Decked Out party on 5th February, which will ensure a queue that snakes under the railway arches down to New Kent Road, and Corsica Studios has recently been voted Britain’s Best Small Club by DJ Magazine.
The peppering of art colleges here; Camberwell and Goldsmiths among the most notable, brings an atmosphere of creativity, as music and arts go hand in hand. Corsica Studios has the Borough-assisted Corsica Arts Club, and this vibe started with the Peckham art collective !WOWOW! in 2003, who threw parties alongside exhibitions in squats in Southwark. Taking the baton is Hannah Barry Gallery in SE15, and Off Modern.
Off Modern are William Hunt, Johnny Prichard, Tom Harrad, Felix Petty and Yuri Pattison; an art collective from South London who met and lived together while at Goldsmiths University. They’ve run 11 nights at Corsica since November 2008, a party in an abandoned strip club, and organised the South East in East festival on Brick Lane. Off Modern #12 is on 4th February, including music from man-on-the-scene Theophilius London during his short stay in the UK.
I met with Felix from the group to talk a little about their plans for 2010.
How did this start? Was it always art and music?
When I first moved into South London it was at the tail end of !WOWOW!
By the time we started up Off Modern there was nothing going on and we decided that we shouldn’t really complain about it but just do something ourselves. It felt natural that if we were going to start doing events we should use them to combine all the things that we were interested in and use them to show work that our friends were making too.
Tell me about Off Modern #1.
November 2008, the set-up was surprisingly similar to how it is now. We booked two bands to play (S.C.U.M and GENTLE FRIENDLY), and a few people we knew to DJ (Tomb Crew, Nasty McQuaid, My Panda Shall Fly) and then invited about twenty friends to install work they’d made in the venue. About 600 people turned up. It was staggering. Since then we’ve always stuck to that formula, more or less, only in varying degrees improved, refined and made it better whilst expanding the things we do outside of the night.
Have you always used Corsica Studios as a venue for your nights?
Off Modern has always been at Corsica Studios, they’ve been incredibly supportive, but we’ve put on an exhibition in an empty unit of the shopping centre in Elephant & Castle, put on a massive party in an abandoned strip club and run a week long festival. Off Modern itself though is very Corsica Studios based.
How do you choose bands and DJs for Off Modern nights? Who would you most like to see playing at Off Modern this year?
We’ve generally just booked bands /DJs that we like, whether it all fits together or not, it’s all more interesting to put bands on a bill where they wouldn’t normally be. It works better, you never quite know what you’re going to get. Who is going to play at Off Modern this year? I haven’t thought further ahead then March!
My dream Off Modern line-up would be The Clash, Sam Cooke, The KLF, Tomfoolery vs Nasty McQuaid.
What have you got coming up for 2010?
We have a journal coming out in February, and from that hopefully we’ll be expanding our publishing base. There’ll be a retrospective exhibition at some point, possibly even two, and we’re starting to make more collective installations. We’ve just moved into an office/studio in Bermondsey and we’ll be working a lot with the other groups involved in that hopefully. We’re also collaborating with Top Nice on a project called Top Modern, which will be a roaming festival stage, combing performance art with musical acts, which’ll be running in the summer at about three or four festivals. We’re looking into starting a record label too.
Off Modern #12, Corsica Studios, Thursday 4th February.
Flyers designed by James Kirkup.