Words by:
Photography: Fenn O'Meally

In his own words, UK funky pioneer turned genre-hopping DJ, producer and performer Lil Silva recalls the moment he decided to provide a platform for artists to get weird 

The music industry needs a shake up. It’s really focused on what’s most readily available and how much things are being streamed. When I started dipping back into the charts after my first album, Yesterday Is Heavy, I was like, have I lost my shit, or is everything sounding the same? Have I not got the right platform to find the weirder things? Or have I just become too weird? It threw me.

I’ve never been about jumping on bandwagons. I’ve always been a weird geek interested in a broad range of things. I love singing. I love collaborating with orchestras and string bands. I make beautiful music and dark bass. I love DJing, and I love being away from the decks. I want to be able to circle freely in all those territories, but people sometimes get lost in the spectrum of it all. So I’m always trying to work out how I can merge those worlds and still make it clear what Lil Silva is.

That’s why I started Nowhere. It’s a club night that combines live improv and DJing. I never reveal the line-up, so you won’t know who’s there until you are. We want people walking in like, “What the fuck’s going on here?” The first time we did it, myself, Sampha, Giles Kwake, Elmiene, Dan Hylton and Karl Onibuje came down and improvised tracks from my album and some covers, then we made up a bunch of songs on the spot. It’s a way to transition what I do on record into a rave setting, so I can find my happy ground with performing while also catering to everyone showing up for different elements of my work. But it’s also a response to a fast-moving industry.

There are so many incredible artists and producers outside of what’s being hyped. They’re the wildcats, man. They’re the ones that need a platform. With Nowhere, I wanted to be like: “Hey, here you go.” I love that it’s a safe space for performers and DJs to do something weird, or play things they usually wouldn’t play in their set. Nowhere isn’t about playing it safe; it’s a space to do what lights you up. A lot you’ll hear is new, unreleased, unrehearsed – you’re not gonna get a totally Shazam-able event. We want people connecting. It’s all about the moment: if you’re there, you’re there.

Still Heavy Vol. 1 is out now on Nowhere Music

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