Sofar Sounds is about live music with an intimate touch. Founded by Rafe Offer and Rocky Start in 2009, the aptly titled Songs From A Room aka SOFAR invites the general public to host live musicians in their living rooms, as well as in a slew of unusual and unlikely venues around the world. Now spearheading gigs in over 85 countries, Sofar accepts applications from thousands of musicians to play their shows, with successful artists only told a few days before if they’ve made the cut and even more mysteriously, where they’ll play.
Providing a platform for emerging artists to display their wares to an ear-pricked public, Sofar teamed up with GAP last week, as part of the retailers #summerloves campaign, to put on their most ambitious show to date, a knees up at Hackney Downs Studio in the heart of East London. Like Sofar, we at CTC pride ourselves on being a platform for new, unheard music (heaven knows we love an underdog!) and so when the call came, we eagerly accepted the invitation to attend the Sofar x Gap #summerloves event.
On first entry to Hackney Downs Studio, the level of careful curation that had gone into the show was obvious, with the once cold industrial space purposely transformed in to an enormous faux living room. It was all about warmth and ambience, with beat up lamps and downward lighting as well as couches, squishy chairs and even a branded Cadillac scattered artfully throughout the space. The amassing crowd filled the room quickly, perching higgledy piggledy on any object available as we waited for the surprise line up to be announced and the show to begin.
The acts that followed were nothing short of inspired – thanks to the brains behind Sofar x Gap – with underground 3-piece Crushed Beaks taking the stage first, followed by Teleman and finally CTC favourite, Tom Vek. Vek in particular put on a stellar performance, we’d expect nothing less from the alt-indie star, smashing out the kind of metallic rhythms and unpredictable melodies that characterise his self-taught sound.
Following the show, I was lucky enough to catch up with Sofar director, Tom Lovett for a chin wag, curious to find out the logic behind hosting such a large event for a brand which has been built on intimate, 50 person gigs.
“We turned down nine out of ten people who apply to come to a show, but GAP’s support allowed us to put together this larger scale event on the fly and give more people the opportunity to experience what Sofar is about. It’s the biggest one we’ve ever done and we’re pretty proud of what we’ve pulled off here” said Tom.
I asked if he felt any pressure when deciding on the line up, particularly when faced with one of the biggest Sofar audiences to date.
“Crushed Beaks and Teleman have both played for us before in a smaller setting and although they’re both amplified acts, we knew that they could translate the intimacy of their sound to a bigger room.”
And Tom Vek?
“We’ve always wanted to get him to a show and we were lucky that the #summerloves event with Gap allowed us to pin him down.”
So, what did CTC take away from Sofar x Gap’s lounge room come warehouse live music event? Well, it’s obvious that at it’s core, Sofar Sounds is about discovering new music in a purist fashion. With big labels and big money so often deciding what lands in our laps, Sofar provides the chance for music lovers to engage with an artist on an intimate live level, a luxury not afforded by a Spotify playlist. Thanks to Gap, Sofar is now doing this on a bigger and more accessible scale whilst still retaining their signature “living room” magic. No doubt Sofar Sound’s has got more where this came from, and we for one, can’t wait!
To keep on top of Gap’s #Summerloves campaign, follow them on Twitter @UKGap