First Look: an opportunity to take an exclusive sneak peak into some of our favourite hotspots of the North West. First up, we visit Q U A RR Y to check out their brand new outdoor space! We also chat with co-founder Chrissy to find out more about the venue, from it’s humble beginnings to the grand plans for the future…
Photos by Daniel de la Bastide
Hi Chrissy! Can you tell us a bit more about how was Q U A RR Y born?
The project was initially a collaboration between SPINE Records (a Liverpool-based experimental noise label co-founded by myself, Ben and Jezebel) and the original Quarry Sound Studio (a DIY recording studio run by Jack Wait and Pauline Hauzy in the city centre). In 2019, Jack spearheaded the project to design and open his own recording studio after moving to Liverpool and invited the rest of us to help turn it into a multi-purpose space. During this time, SPINE had been promoting gigs in the city for a number of years and only dreamt of having our own venue… so, it wasn’t difficult to convince us to come along for the ride!
The rest of the tale is a bit of a whirlwind adventure as we sought out our beloved Love Lane tunnel, built the interior of the venue together based on Jack’s design, booked a number of shows at the beginning of 2020, navigated the pandemic, and finally, reopened last July. The journey to opening QU A RR Y throughout this period was aided by many and not limited to the core team; friends, family and members of the wider Liverpool music community were incredibly supportive in offering help with the building work and advice.
Since opening, Ben and Jezebel have gone on to concentrate on propelling SPINE Records further and enhancing the Liverpool experimental scene, but their input very much remains part of the fabric of the venue.
Check out the latest release on SPINE Records below:
What are the main ethos’ and aims of the venue?
From the beginning the primary aim was to simply provide a welcoming space for Liverpool’s musical community, with great sound and a diverse program to boot. Most of us come from music performance backgrounds – in previous lives, Jack and I worked as session musicians – so we know what it’s like to navigate the perils of performing live and the wider music industry at large. While performing live music is a thrill like no other, unfortunately it can come attached with some drawbacks for the artist, from stage nerves to not getting paid. Knowing this, we wanted to make QU A RR Y the sort of music venue that we ourselves would want to play, making everyone feel welcome no matter the artist and benefitting the scene as opposed to taking from it. Every show is another learning opportunity with this goal and we try to accept criticism and improve upon ourselves as much as possible. The further we get, we’re turning our attention towards education (taking inspiration from Future Yard in Birkenhead) and hoping to use our experience to help others seeking a career within the industry.
Why do you think it’s important to have a space like Q U A RR Y in Liverpool?
Liverpool has a rich history of historically significant music venues, some globally known; Eric’s and the Cavern Club being the most recognised. The DIY music venue might never carry the same historical clout – probably as a result of their typically short life spans by comparison – but their cultural impact is no less significant to those who attend them. Sometimes the term ‘DIY venue’ can become unfairly associated with ‘lesser’. However, I think it’s better characterised as a type of autonomy from the norm and a specific attitude to how art spaces should be run and organised, more often than not by artists and creatives themselves. It is within these spaces where upcoming artists can meet other like-minded individuals, perform their first live shows and simply just enjoy live music on a weekly basis. These experiences can be incredibly formative. For myself, attending shows at the original Kazimier – and their subsequent venues that followed (The Stockroom, Kaz Garden and IWF) – fostered plenty of these experiences, which I still discuss with others today when I realise we’d unknowingly attended the same shows. Even before the pandemic, Liverpool had unfortunately lost many of these spaces. There are fewer places for artists to perform smaller capacity shows than there were 5 or 6 years ago. I think this has definitely played a role in the positive response we have received since opening QU A RR Y; it’s super important to have such spaces in order for a diverse grassroots music scene to flourish. Hopefully over the next few years, more live music-orientated DIY spaces will open in Liverpool – it’s something we’d love to see!
What are your plans for your cute new outdoor space?
Our new outdoor space, which we opened in March, has allowed us to begin booking bigger, higher capacity events. Previously, we had been restricted somewhat by a small venue capacity figure – now we can really start increasing the scope of the events that we’re organising. Throughout the Summer we have a bunch of diverse all-day events planned, both in-house and from within Liverpool’s music community, such as House of Saturn’s Home of the Brave All-dayer (02/07), Moonfrog’s gothy post-punk All-dayer (13/08), and Plush Liverpool’s all-day/night event (16/07). There are also plans for a pizza oven and some smaller outside shows – though this will be a Summer ‘23 adventure.
Congratulations also on your upcoming 1st birthday! How will you be celebrating? Where do you hope to see yourselves in another year’s time?
Thank you – it’s surreal how quickly it’s flown by! Like most music venues and cultural spaces across the country, the pandemic brought so much uncertainty surrounding our future. It’s a real privilege to now be celebrating our first birthday with friends of the venue, old and new. We’ll be celebrating with our biggest event to date on the 9th of July, an all-dayer featuring some of our favourite acts who have played the venue so far, plus our favourite acts across the country. It’s a stacked line-up for sure, featuring DOGSHOW, Arch Femmesis, Microcorps, The DSM IV, Ostrich, Tits Up and Beija Flo amongst others – to say we’re excited would be a drastic understatement!
Throughout our second year, we hope to expand our team and begin the education programs mentioned in various fields, from music production and DJing workshops to event management and live sound engineering courses. Now that we’re reaching the end of our first year, the potential for QU A RR Y as a site of education is very exciting to us and something we have each developed a passion for pushing!
What’s been your personal favourite booking to date? Dream act to book?
Tough question! There’s been so many special performances, it’s difficult to single out simply one. One of the most memorable was certainly Liverpool band Ostrich’s headline show in February, with Alice Low and Bye Louis supporting. It was a sold-out show and there was just so much love in the room for all the acts that played, it made us all feel very warm and fuzzy. Most of all because Ostrich were one of the first bands to play the venue pre-pandemic, so it felt as though the moment was shared between band and venue. More recently, AJA Ireland’s performance at the second DANSE MACABRE event – our new in-house club night showcasing experimental and leftfield dance music – was head-splitting in the best way possible.
A dream booking of mine would have to be Cosey Fanni Tutti – discovering her music both as a solo artist and with Throbbing Gristle was so formative for me, booking Cosey at the venue would feel like a full-circle moment. Also, Dolly Parton – one can dream!
Do you have a favourite venue outside of Liverpool?
What was the last record/song you bought?
It seems that all the records we buy now come directly from artists who have performed at the venue. Some recent ones all three of us picked up include Leeds-based Cowtown’s latest record ‘Paranormal Romance,’ Finnish guitar player Kadonnut Manner’s ‘Primitive Guitar: Vol. 3’ and Galway musician Eoin Dolan’s latest record, ‘It Is Good That We Can Dream’ – all highly recommended!
Finally, what’s coming up next and how can we get involved?
Our 1st Birthday all-dayer is only a couple of weeks away – there are still some tickets remaining but act quick, we’re expecting a sell-out! Besides our 1st Birthday, we have a full Summer program of events coming up, welcoming both local and international artists to the venue.
Be sure to keep up to date with Q U A RR Y’s programme here, which resumes with Moonfrog Presents: Flying Moon In Space tomorrow night. In the meantime, follow them on social media and check out more photos of their space below!
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