Sounds fantastic

mjf hothouse round 1 participant Maja Bugge: Sonic memories from the north #Lancaster

Following is a blog written by Maja Bugge, one of the first participants of mjf hothouse – manchester jazz festival’s talent development scheme for musicians seeking support in getting to the next stage of their career. Hothouse offers 6-weeks of mentoring from an industry specialist assigned to each participant by the mjf team, this was a response to the range of perceived barriers that we identified in the variety of artists looking for support through the hothouse programme. Initiating the 6-week project is a workshop day facilitated by various industry professionals, offering their guidance on subjects such as; marketing, self-promotion, composition, extending the lifespan of a project and project management to name a few. The artists then have 6-weeks of paid rehearsal and composition time to develop a new idea – aiming towards a final work-in-progress showcase for an invited audience of industry specialists, promoters, programmers, artists and mjf friends, with opportunity for each participant to receive bespoke feedback on the work that they present. Hothouse is not about commissioning artists to create a complete piece of music, it is about providing musicians with the support to develop professionally, giving them the time to create and take artistic risks in a safe environment.


24th of Nov.

“Sonic memories from the north is a project that tries to think about the sound of a place or maybe more the way we remember the sound of a place and how these sounds can be made into music. I have set myself the task to create solo improvisations on the cello accompanied by a soundscape made from field recordings of that place. The place I am researching is my hometown Lancaster and the first week of work was about talking to people about the sounds of Lancaster. It was fascinating to see all of the different sounds people came up with.” 


“Here is a list of their suggestions: kids playing, the hiss of the M6, rain, silence, seagulls, ducks, trains, river Lune, boats on the canal, the town hall bells, the bells from the cathedral, traffic, sirens, the distant stomping of big trucks driving, coffee machines, hospital sounds, dogs barking.”


“During week 2 my collaborators – sound recordist Hervé Pérez and photographer Jill Jennings came to Lancaster to document the sounds and visuals and to talk more about where the project could go. You can see some of the images in this blog.”


“Week 3 of the project has been all about trying out different ways of finding connections between the improvised cello material and the recorded sounds. I have worked on this in different ways; through deep listening into the structure of each “Lancaster signature sound” and then finding ways to work with this material on the cello, to write more conventional chord progressions and motifs which I then blend with the field recording soundscape. It is not easy, but when I can find interesting musical material emerging from the field recordings and make that into music, or when the improvised cello material all of a sudden makes you listen to the soundscape in a new way, then it is worth all the hard work.”


“Today the images are my biggest worry. I tried to simply make a slideshow on my computer and play the soundscape and improvised cello with it. It raises all sorts of questions, f.ex what is the connection between the visual and the sound. I don’t want a one to one relationship where we hear and see the same thing, so today I am unsure about where the visual work will go, but I am sure it will find its place.”


“I have been given a wonderful mentor by mjf for this project, Julia Payne. The mjf team identified that I needed a mentor with contacts beyond the north and she is a perfect match. She helps me on managing my time and thinking creatively about how the project can live on past the hothouse period. She is connecting me up with other producers and promoters and works hard on making me stick to my time schedule. I have (as so many artists) the habit of being unhelpfully ambitious and in doing so the creative work sometimes suffers. Her help is invaluable!” – Maja Bugge