Goldsmiths set to host vinyl and Sound System celebration

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A celebration of sound system and vinyl culture is being held at Goldsmiths, University of London with exhibitions, discussions, workshops and club nights taking place in January.

Thali Lotus - Founder of Caya

Thali Lotus - Founder of Caya

The university is hosting the critically-acclaimed Let’s Play Vinyl photography exhibition throughout the month.

And a four-day festival at Goldsmiths’ campus in New Cross will help kick off the exhibition ­– including free hands-on workshops on how to build your own soundsystem and toasting.

Leading sound system operators will also help lead a conference on how the Jamaican artform helped elevate the record player “into a musical instrument in its own right”.

The month-long programme begins with the opening of the Let's Play Vinyl exhibition on Wednesday 10 January

Then on Thursday 11 January a joint launch party is being held to celebrate the photography exhibition – as well as the latest work from Goldsmiths Press. 

Stuart Hall: Conversations, Projects and Legacies examines the career of the cultural studies pioneer, interrogating his influence and revealing lesser-known facets of his work. This collection of essays and photographs evaluates the legacies of his particular brand of cultural studies and demonstrates how other scholars and activists have utilised his thinking in their own research.

The evening will include a short reading and Q&A with the editors, as well as an audio-visual celebration of the life of the cultural studies pioneer.

The launch party also kicks off the Sound System Outernational Weekender which combines insight into sound systems from Goldsmiths academics and other experts as well as gigs and hands-on workshops. 

On Friday 12 January there is a special screening of Legacy In The Dust: The Four Aces Story.

During the day on Saturday 13 January the Strictly Vinyl conference is being held on campus. This is a free conference for reggae sound system scene and vinyl culture supporters, professionals & researchers, featuring panel discussions, demonstrations, films and workshops. 

The evening of Saturday 13 January sees theory put into practice ­­– with Skin Deep Sonic Transmissions and Unit 137 Full Sound System & Crew playing Goldsmiths Students’ Union.

Then on Sunday 14 January aspiring sound system operators and MCs can try out building their own rigs or toasting at a series of free workshops.

Participants can learn how to construct a high quality mini loudspeaker in classic style, young people can explore the art of toasting and composing lyrics over dub beats, and children can interact with a 60s Dansette record player.

Audiences will also have an opportunity to operate an interactive sound installation, consisting of a custom-built sound system, turntable, Matamp Super Nova mixer/preamp, Matamp Quasar amplifiers and Fane loudspeakers.

The workshop is part of the touring Let's Play Vinyl photographic exhbition. The show uses portraiture and interviews to shine a light on some of the new, more diverse sound systems, which are enhancing the traditions of reggae and vinyl. 

The exhibition which runs until 12 February features 21 images from photographer Elliot Baxter which portray the current generation of reggae sound system operators, saluting them as productive entrepreneurs creating their own arts ecology in modern Britain.

The celebration sees Goldsmiths collaborating with Let’s Go Yorkshire, the organisation behind the touring Let’s Play Vinyl exhibition.

April 'Rusty Rebel' Grant - founder of Rebel Rock

Professor Julian Henriques, from the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, said: “In the midst of the current vinyl ‘revival’ it is important to recognise the hugely important role that the Jamaican sound system played in turning the domestic record player into a musical instrument in its own right.

“An appreciation for the value of the ‘vinyl sound’ is only increasing in a world of digital music files and the SSO#4 Vinyl Weekender pays respect to where this sound comes from with four days of discussion, demonstration, films and much more.”

Martyn Haigh, Director of Let’s Go Yorkshire, says: “The contemporary exhibition captures the spirit of the current generation of UK soundmen and women who are carrying on what previous generations started. We have commissioned photographer Elliot Baxter to take a selection of portraits to bring together a visually stunning exhibition of talented sound system operators, saluting them as productive entrepreneurs creating their own arts ecology in today’s Britain.”

The exhibition forms part of the Let’s Play Vinyl National Tour developed by Let’s Go Yorkshire in partnership with the University of Leicester; Goldsmiths, University of London; Birmingham City University; and the University of Huddersfield.

The Let’s Play Vinyl National Tour is supported by Arts Council England and Kirklees Council.