Tottenham Soundscapes: an alternative to a classical concert

DT spoke to Verity Lane, a music maker and sound artist from Tottenham. Verity spent ten years in Japan, studying music and learning about Japanese culture, before returning home to Tottenham a couple of years ago. She is also a producer for regular Tottenham Soundscape events.

Recent performances have included an end of summer show with jazz legend Trevor Watts, Tottenham based multi-instrumentalist Sylvia Hallett and Tottenham based avant-garde percussionist Beibei Wang.

Over two days this October, Verity organised ‘Japanese Sandscapes: The Tale of Mt Fuji’, which was based on the famous Japanese story ‘The Bamboo Cutter’, and narratives were told with sand and sound. Live sand art by Akifumi Kasanuki was accompanied by traditional Japanese instrumentalist Kaho Aso, piano by free jazz musician Veryan Weston, experimental violin by Alison Blunt and percussion by Beibei Wang.

Japanese Sandscapes: The Tale of Mt Fuji. Photo: Sean Kelly

What can attendees expect from a Tottenham Soundscape performance?

Tottenham Soundscapes’ is a music project that offers an accessible alternative to conventional classical music concerts. With ‘community spirit’ at its core, we showcase an eclectic mix of classical, contemporary, world and the avant-garde within an all embracing atmosphere. The event is free, so anyone can come along and experience the unknown.

Firstly, I will always aim to have at least one professional Tottenham based musician (of which there are many!) to perform at the concert. We usually have three individual sets, with a Tottenham themed improvisation at the end of each one hour concert. The concerts attract so many open-minded people from the Tottenham community and beyond, so there is a real sense of togetherness before, during and after the performance. Everybody interacts with each other – both audience members and musicians – allowing for new bonds to be made.

So far the Tottenham performers alumni include Evan Parker, Liam Noble, Clive Bell, Sylvia Hallet, Zac GVI, Barrel, Quest Ensembe and Abe Gibson.

Tottenham Soundscapes

Where did the idea for Tottenham Soundscapes come from?

When I got back from Tokyo, I looked at All Hallows’ [church] and the building appeared more beautiful than ever, so I really wanted to do something there. I asked Fr Pearson if he wouldn’t mind me putting on a concert, and he said yes. The series creates a platform whereby local musicians could showcase their talents, celebrate the area of Tottenham and create a space where the community could interact. The series also sheds light on the heritage area of Bruce Castle Park, attracting locals as well as those new to the area.

What’s your connection to Tottenham?

I was born in Tottenham and grew up here, so I have seen it change and develop over the years.

All Hallows Church
All Hallows Church

Tell me about the lady behind Tottenham Soundscapes – you lived in Japan for a decade. What influence has that had on your music?

Living in Japan changed my whole perception of life, as well as making my music more radical. I’m very interested in Japanese aesthetics, including the concept of impermanence (mujo), sublime (yugen) and space (ma). I try to symbolise these various elements in my music by keeping repeats to a minimum, creating audio depictions of nature and including lots of moments to reflect.

You’re a composer and producer, can you tell me a bit about the music you create?

It is hard to pigeonhole myself, but I would say that I am more of an artist than a conventional composer. I create soundscapes of poetry, stories and themes using traditional Japanese instruments in an alternative way. Recently, I have been collaborating with animators, dancers and artists to create Japanese-themed audio-art installations.

What’s your favourite sound?

I have two favourite sounds at the moment: koto harmonics and the area of the koto that creates a metallic sound when struck. I think these two sounds really characterise my music.

Photo: Sean Kelly

The next Tottenham Soundscapes will be in 2018. You can follow Verity and her projects here:

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