Originally starting out life as a one-day festival in Birmingham in 2003, Supersonic Festival has grown into one of the world's most important events for new and exciting music. Cherry-picking the finest in experimental music from all over the globe, the festival's line-up grows increasingly diverse with each passing year.
But with so much on offer, it can be a struggle to work out what the festival's must-see bands might be. So, we turned to Supersonic co-founder Lisa Meyer for her guide to the festival's most essential viewing. Here, she guides you through Supersonic's ultimate must-sees.
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe
"We’ve had a longstanding relationship with Robert. He first performed a solo set at Supersonic in 2010, and then came back in 2012, [and] also performed with OM. I really admire his cross disciplinary approach – he’s worked with artists like [experimental filmmaker] Ben Rivers, he makes artist books with his wife and he collaborates with really interesting musicians.
For Supersonic he is our guest curator, and has selected Moor Mother, Weware from New York and also Croww from Manchester. He will be performing with Yoshimi from the Boredoms and percussionist Susie Ibarra, with a new improv project called Yunohana Variations. [He's chosen] a really interesting section of artists – certainly Croww and Wetware were not on my radar. I really love this new aspect of the festival; working with artists I really admire to bring something new to the festival. Last year was Khyam Allami and before that Richard Dawson."
"This is quite a coup for Supersonic – the legendary folk singer does not perform often, so we're thrilled that she will be performing at the festival this year. I see a parallel with her esoteric interests and her early work, collecting folk songs with Alan Lomax with contemporary artists like Gazelle Twin – who, with her new work, is questioning the notion of Englishness, playing with ideas of outsider art, and referencing folk iconography, with use of a Hobby Horse and also with morris dance references."
"Gazelle Twin performed at the 2015 edition of Supersonic, when she was relatively unknown to our audience. She was dressed in a blue tracksuit and wearing a mask – blending dark electronica with performance art. The audience witnessed a sort of unsettling endurance test on stage. We’re waiting with bated breath to hear the new material, and honoured that this will be premiered at Supersonic Festival."
"Mario Batkovic is a Swiss based, Bosnian-born accordion player who’s on a mission to expand the possibilities of the instrument to its very outer limits. His music is so emotive and he has such a unique sound. Mario's music has been released on Invada records, the label run by Geoff Barrow of Portishead."
"Philadelphia-based artist and activist, Camae Ayewa, recently performed at Roadburn festival with long time Supersonic friends Justin Broadrick and Kevin Martin as Zonal. It was an incredibly powerful set, with their ultra-heavy bass driven beats and Moor Mother’s spoken word. I think she’ll definitely be one of this year's highlights, and will also be undertaking a residency with us in the Moog Soundlab that will be based at Birmingham Royal Conservatoire."
"This performance art duo from South Africa use music to explore issues around their identity – particularly in the context of where they live, being both African and queer. Definitely one of the artists I am most looking forward to seeing this year. Expect heavy rhythms and danceability, with driving, looping drums, developed as tools to further their unapologetic cause."
"Cattle are a double drumming, intense noise outfit from Leeds – what’s not to love!"
"Literally the best album title ever which came out on great UK label Rocket Recordings: JUST SAY NO TO THE PSYCHO RIGHT-WING CAPITALIST FASCIST INDUSTRIAL DEATH MACHINE. Their music is reflective of the world we’re living in right now and their driving rhythms bring an audience together into one heaving mass, absolutely brilliant live band."
"Best known as one half of DFA signings Factory Floor, one third of Carter Tutti Void alongside Cosey Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter (Throbbing Gristle / Chris & Cosey), and also one of our artists in residence in the Moog Soundlab. Another one to watch for us."
Daniel Higgs (Lungfish)
"This is quite a self-indulgent addition to the festival, as Lungfish are one of my favourite bands, so any project that features previous members is always a must. It's a real honour to host Daniel Higgs this year, he was the frontman for Lungfish and also an amazing artist and tattooist. His solo stuff is quite different, combining banjo and an almost stream-of-consciousness in terms of his lyrical output. I can’t wait!"