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Land of Kings Round Up

Dazed Digital looks back at this Royal musical adventure in East London's Dalston and talks to assorted musicians and DJs

The Land of Kings festival is one of those that happen once a year, in the vicinity of your neighbourhood, under local unimpressed eyes and with a jolly curious camaraderie. It is a time to discover hidden dungeons, that old underground venue you didn’t ever dare to slide into and some spinning tunes, art displays and cool performances by local natives. Yes, the Land of Kings took place in Dalston last week it didn’t pass unnoticed. Dazed Digital was there to record a full report of the night or, shall we say, pick up the leftovers, brush off the crumbles and serve them to you with finesse. Following the successful first year event in 2009, the Land of Kings returned full speed taking the best of Dalston’s talent and opening the doors to multiple venues for the showcase of art, music and the buzzing night culture of the area.

From interactive theatre companies such as Gideon Reeling, performances from Thisisnotanexit records and the Pool DJ agency, to club nights from Say Yes, Girlcore and Living in a Disco, the bursting of talent at this year’s line-up was not plausible without DJ sets by the new electro-pop lady Little Boots, the spinning rock of The Horrors and the live sound of brass by The Hackney Colliery Band at The Vortex. Further down the road, at Moustache Bar, some intense tunes were brought to the dancefloor by Absentee guitarist Babak Ganjei, and of Wet Paint, who had a few comments to add on the festival.

Dazed Digital: How did you find out about the festival and how were you invited to DJ?
Babak Ganjei: Well, I’ve played with my band in promo nights organized by Super Youth, who are putting up some acts here tonight and they got in contact and asked me to spin.

DD: Are you DJying music related to what your band plays?
Babak Ganjei: I’ll be playing old and new, stuff that I like. It’s nice to try play old stuff to forget what your ruled by.

DD: Are you going to other venues to see other bands?
Babak Ganjei: Yeah, I don’t have a clue where I’ll end up but I really want to see Yuck. I am so disorganized though that I don’t know where anything is happening!

Yes, indeed, a festival is not one without live music, and even though scarce tonight, Yuck were notorious for their display of shoegaze indie extravaganza on and offstage at Barden’s Boudoir. This band features members of Hiroshima and New Jersey, and talking to the drummer Jonny and Max, guitarists of the band, they showed madness at high levels.

DD: So this is the first year you’re playing at the festival. How did you get here?
Max: Well I just live down the road. (Laughs)

DD: So this festival feels like a community…
Max: yes, to some extent I know a few people here but there is room for exploration.

DD: Such as…
Max: I really like the band that is just on, Dignan Porch, although we’re outside right now!
Jonny: Check! Check? Dictaphone…. Check! (laughs)

DD: Where else have you played?
Max: We’re a relatively young band so we play around the area a lot and in some other places in London. It’s always nice to play at home.

DD: So what are your plans for the future, where do you see yourselves in a few years.
Max: Having released twelve albums!
Jonny: Twelve!!??

DD: In just a few years?
Max: Yeah, man, we live fast! (laughs) I think the first aim is to be able to sell out anywhere in the world, really; to have a good crowd.
Jonny: Man, you’ve got a beautiful jumper…
Max: Four days, ok? Just for four days I’ve been wearing it! And it’s not like I’m not wearing a t-shirt underneath. I changed! Ok?

Later on in the night, Cheatahs, formed by Little Death’s guitarist Nathan Harris now with his own project produced some lo-fi noise-pop to make you “smile” accompanied by James Wignall. When it came to playing records, this is what they had to say.

DD: What will you be DJing tonight?
Nathan Harris: Some cracking tunes. Ha.
James Wignall: I brought some nice vinyls and we’ve got an iPod as well.

DD: The tunes you choose are based on personal preferences or thinking of the people coming to listen and dance?
Nathan Harris: Well, we’re playing at 1.00 am so I think that by then we will be pretty drunk and quite selfish.
James Wignall:I am hoping that people will be pretty drunk as well because I think you can dance to anything more easily.
Nathan Harris: We DJ pretty regularly so I’m sure it’ll be fine!
James Wignall: Well it is a pretty casual festival.
Nathan Harris:  Yes, it is. I mean, I saw the ad on Facebook about a week ago and I was asked to DJ just like that, out of the blue, so even though we have records ready from other nights, we haven’t got a set prepared. Whatever happens, happens…

Other acts of the night included Graffiti Island, Lovvers Djs, Sexbeat, The Detachments, Gyratory Systems, Deep Teknologi, Dignan Porch, Greco-Roman Soundsystem and the Sound of Rum. The Rebel Dining Society, meanwhile took the dining experience to different level by providing a Royal Banquet at a secret venue, mixing food art and music and serving a three-course dinner fit for an eccentric king. To top it up and finish off, we were invited to the Dungeon of Discoveries, the exciting surprise of the night. In a bunker below Dalston’s artery, festival-goers could explore an out of the world exhibition space with interconnecting rooms, acoustic performances and sensory-based interactions that included a sprawl of phosphorescent ping pong table under UV lighting with touch sensitive bats hooked-up to sampler – usable to make new acquaintances with – light games and video works. Curated by Cleo Roberts and Taktal, this cavernous basement was the highlight of the festival. For one night only, minds are shaken up, ears are bled and senses are overloaded with flourishing culture, relaxed attitudes and a vibrant scene. If you did not make it this time, you should keep an eye for next year’s mini Land of Kings 2011.