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New Sound & Vision festival bringing music and comedy to Cambridge





Sound & Vision is a new, multi-venue festival taking place across three days and nights from Thursday, April 21 to Saturday, April 23.

Comedian Tom Ward. Picture: Jiksaw
Comedian Tom Ward. Picture: Jiksaw

The festival, which is being held in Cambridge for the first time after previously being staged in Norwich, will feature more than 70 acts – both new and established – from the worlds of music and comedy. The locations being used in and around the city are the three stages at the Junction, The Portland Arms, The Boathouse, Thirsty Cambridge, Storey’s Field Centre and The Blue Moon pub.

Ruth Cousens, one of the co-founders, says: “The idea is that it’s a combination of festival and conference – so they’ll be three conference days where members of the music industry and the comedy industry will come and there’ll be sessions about how to have a creative career, how to sustain yourself using things like YouTube and podcasting, and self-releasing music...

Shao Dow. Picture: Hotbox Live Photography
Shao Dow. Picture: Hotbox Live Photography

“The festival provides loads of showcasing opportunities, so we’ve got 40-odd 50-minute comedy shows, we’ve got three big nights in J1 – we’ve got the Bella Union, which is a record label set up by one of the Cocteau Twins, Simon Raymonde, and Tim Burgess [lead singer of The Charlatans] is headlining that night for us.

“Then the Thursday and the Friday we’ve got big headline nights as well. That brings in the crowd, and then on top of that we’ve got people from the Access Creative College – so very new bands getting the opportunity to perform in front of the industry [people] who are coming for the conference.

“We’ve got local, up-and-coming comedians who can showcase their work, so the idea is to kind of create this whole atmosphere of creativity in Cambridge and developing this community, but also developing the economy around that as well, particularly off the back of Covid.”

Comedian Mike Wozniak. Picture: Idil Sukan
Comedian Mike Wozniak. Picture: Idil Sukan

Ruth and her partner Adrian run Sound & Vision. “My partner set up Sound & Vision in Norwich, which ran for six years up until 2017,” explains Ruth, “and that was hugely successful and some bands got signed off the back of Sound & Vision Norwich.

“There’s a band called Let’s Eat Grandma which came through the whole festival, from starting on a youth stage to headlining and then was signed; it went on to win Album of the Year at the Q Awards in 2018. So it’s a model that works really well, and downstream it’s based on South by Southwest (SXSW), which is obviously now this huge global festival in Austin, Texas.

“We’re not talking about that scale at all but that’s the sort of model that it’s based on, because it brings in industry and performers and creates that same sort of atmosphere that we’re trying to go for.”

Ruth, a Cambridge resident, notes that the comedy side of things is being done in partnership with the Cambridge Fringe, an organisation she has been part of for a number of years. “We’ve used the Fringe’s processes,” she says, referring to the booking of the acts. “The Fringe has an application process because that’s kind of the fairest way of doing it...

Eckoes. Picture: Luke Nugent
Eckoes. Picture: Luke Nugent
Singer Tim Burgess. Picture: Cat Stevens
Singer Tim Burgess. Picture: Cat Stevens

“Then on the music side, Adrian is doing a lot of the curating there but also working with Simon Baker from [concert promoters] Green Mind.” Ruth adds that a number of other collaborations have taken place as far as the music is concerned in an attempt to “cover the range of genres”.

Comedian Felicity Ward. Picture: Philip Gatward
Comedian Felicity Ward. Picture: Philip Gatward

For more on the Sound & Vision festival, go to soundandvisionconvention.co.uk.

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