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more than their heart’s work — lcom archive

more than their heart’s work — lcom archive

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There’s not much room in the room at 2am, when you’re building a musical career from scratch, and the air from wall to insulated wall rings and trembles with what you’re making; it can’t be seen, and there’s nobody there to see you make it, except for the band: everything is for the band.

People interrogate musicians for that everything. Like a landscape to frack, the thought of the coal beneath the verdant glimmer of the music tempts mining by any means; where there’s coal there’s utility, a material to warm us, and with enough pressure, there are diamonds, so we can garland the polished glimmer with more raw glitter.

Leeds College of Music • courtesy LCoM Archive

Leeds College of Music • courtesy LCoM Archive

People write about musicians to try and delve beyond the tone and rhythm to something deeper beneath the music; they photograph the players to try and capture something through the lens that isn’t communicated through the ears. But they can’t find it. Because they weren’t in the room at 2am when what happened, happened, in the original; because every recording or performance since is a facsimile of that moment; because even if there had been a camera in the room, there was nobody there with two free hands to take a picture.

As we delved into the archive boxes full of press cuttings and photographs at Leeds College of Music, we learned that lesson. We were looking for that core moment of creativity and cool, in a photograph, so we could show you, and say: this is what creativity looks like, and cool, and Leeds College of Music.
We couldn’t find it.

Leeds College of Music • courtesy LCoM Archive

Leeds College of Music • courtesy LCoM Archive

It is there. It has to be. LCoM’s recent alumni have travelled and, importantly, are travelling, along paths where photographers, writers and fans follow, divining rods tuned for hidden depth, or feet just tuned to damn dancing, because the sounds sound good.

Eaves, Malaika, John Gomm; members of Everything Everything, I Like Trains, The Music, Post War Glamour Girls, Hookworms, Submotion Orchestra, The 1975; players in the bands backing Saint Raymond and Kylie; they’re all out of LCoM lately, along with industry professionals working as studio producers, film music composers and installation artists in New York, California, Hong Kong and Sweden. Skinner has gone straight from graduation in July to Leeds Festival in August, and Weezy Jefferson, Krumm and Pé are just some among the class now out and working.

Leeds College of Music • courtesy LCoM Archive

Leeds College of Music • courtesy LCoM Archive

There’s so much of it, all springing from Leeds College of Music, and sprung from its various guises and buildings and takeovers of spaces over the years, that the LCoM creativity and cool is easy to find, but hard to identify when you find it, because it’s as seamlessly part of the music industry and the city as notes inked on a stave. The mistake comes in trying to prise apart two elements that were fused through methods you can’t comprehend, to get at something that can never be yours.

What you can have, though, from recordings and performances, is more than enough. It’s everything it ought to be. You don’t have to know what was behind a piece of music to get behind it; the invitation to be a listening or dancing part of what was made those late nights, in those locked down rooms, is a warm one, and sincere, because it is as much as can be reasonably shared, and when people make music with all their heart, why ask for more than their heart’s work?

Leeds College of Music • courtesy LCoM Archive

Leeds College of Music • courtesy LCoM Archive

Leeds College of Music maintains its relationships with its alumni and shares the working out of their hearts’ music with regular playlists on SoundCloud, and YouTube, and video links and news on Twitter and Facebook, and concerts at The Venue on their top floor and streamed live on the internet from their studios and on stages across the city; and if it’s not an archive, that’s because it’s as alive as LCoM itself. It has heritage, acquired over fifty years, and in the photos here you can see glimpses, surface shots of glances and hints. Really, you have to hear it.

Most of the heritage lies ahead, in further reaches that won’t take you inward, closer to the source, but will come out to you, in playlists, videos, and live performances. That’s where the Leeds College of Music archive is. They’re building it around you.

••

Originally published in The City Talking: Leeds, issue 28


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