Interview by Diana Cano Bordajandi
Liam O’Shea is a dedicated and passionate musician, promoter, DJ, and curator and Managing Director at No Bounds Festival. This festival is an exciting – and brand new – event that combines cutting-edge experimental music, art and technology.
The festival took place last month across various venues in Sheffield and featured artists like Jeff Mills, one of the main American names in techno, or Terre Thaemlitz, a Kawasaki-based producer who combines electroacoustic computer music with photography and graphic design.
Other names that flew up Sheffield were Dj Stingray, Laurel Halo, Rashad Becker, Minor Science, Sensate Focus or Timedance showcase Ft Batu and Giant Swan, Swing Ting or Juliana Huxtable and visual artists J.Davies and Mikk Murray.
The line-up also included coding/synth workshops, live artists Q&A’s and spoken word along with two simultaneous raves each night that ‘intended to be both fun, it’s raves at night after all, but also really satisfying from the perspective of those inquisitive souls among us’, Liam said.
The main purpose of this year’s edition of No Bounds Festival was to present a stirring collection of performers and artists while enabling new audiences to interconnect science, technology and art – and it succeeded. Its aim was ‘to make links with science, technology and art while also inspiring and opening up new audiences to the possibilities of making these links themselves’, Liam told us.
I can say that Liam has thrilled his audiences and promoted the city of Sheffield by bringing together this unique event.
You come from a music background – Dj, producer, and run a record label. How and when did your interest in new technologies come about?
Yes, I do come from a music background. I started as a guitarist in Jimi Hendrix, and now I’m here! I suppose it actually started right back there, to be honest. I was always attracted to the otherworldly sounds Jimi Hendrix created back in the ’60s and his notorious partnerships with people like Roger Mayer in pushing the sonic envelope back then and exploring the link between music and technology.
I think it stems back from this as a starting point. I grew up thinking this was a natural thing. From then into the Midi revolution and its uses in the UK hardcore continuum’s Rave axis, which was my late teens/early twenties. The new sounds emerging on massive soundsystems were genuinely new to me then, and it most definitely made me want to use these new tools to make music that moved me both physically and emotionally.
No Bounds Festival is a new brand festival combining Music, Art and Technology. What are the aims of the festival?
The aims are to firstly bring together a really exciting and interesting collection of artists to perform and present work in Sheffield. To combine this experience with happenings and art showcasing a diverse creative practice approach. To make links with science, technology and art while also inspiring and opening up new audiences to the possibilities of making these links themselves.
It is intended to be both fun, it’s raves at night, after all, but also really satisfying from the perspective of those inquisitive souls among us. It aims to provide a wide range of activities in the day sections that will keep you interested and then banging raves at night to shake you to your foundations in a shared communication of sound and light.
What were the biggest challenges you faced for its development?
Making this idea, I had to work with minimal resources. It’s been so challenging to do without the big teams I see working on other festivals. This is a tiny team with big ambitions, but this first year especially it’s been the hardest year of my life. But my god, do I feel alive!
As a curator, what would be your biggest curating extravaganza?
You mean, what would I like to do if I had unlimited resources? I suppose if this is actually what you mean it would involve the cutting edge of science and technology. Multiple stages on different planets in the solar system and zero-G Dj sets plus installations in planetary cores live streamed into people’s brains via new as yet undisclosed technologies that aren’t currently on the market.
What is your chief enemy of creativity?
Having too many options and disorganisation. It’s a daily battle, but I’m very aware that restriction breeds creativity paradoxically for me, and while going with the flow is seemingly great, when I’m forced to work in a constant direction, I get loads done. I’m constantly not wanting to do that, though. It’s the nature of my wiring, I think.
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