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Offset Prints

In his forthcoming book, photographer Tom Kavanagh captures the experimental scene at the heart of east London's Offset Festival

Now in its third year, Offset Festival draws the east London crowds further towards Mecca each September. Well, as far as Essex at least, to Hainault Forest, which plays a fitting host to this small, but perfectly groomed festival. Since 2008, it has attracted such legendary acts as Gang Of Four, Wire and The Slits to its main stage, but, being an event devoted to the idea of the underground, the festival stays loyal to promoting new, interesting and ground-breaking acts. In this way, the Experimental Circle Club (ECC) tent, set up by promoter and DiscError record label founder Ciaran O'Shea and DJ Thomas Silverman, is Offset's petri-dish. Having cultivated an array of up-and-comers such as Electricity In Our Homes, Factory Floor and Kap Bambino, its agitator attitude and white-hot following have now been distilled into an exhibition and book. In ECC. Photographs From Offset Festival 2009, photographer Tom Kavanagh perfectly captures this tribal gathering.

Dazed Digital: What is it about the ECC Stage and Offset Festival in particular that inspired you to make this book?
Tom Kavanagh: I love the whole scene. I have been documenting it all since the early days of Junk club in Southend. I am fascinated by the constant references to the past in the music and fashion, it has a great DIY attitude. I see Offset as a fantastic platform to document such a strong subculture that has been emerging for a number of years.

Dazed Digital: What did you hope to capture?
Tom Kavanagh: The festival has strong references to the post-punk movement of the late 70s and early 80s. I wanted to capture a generation of people who are taking the DIY post-punk movement and making it their own. My process is part of that. I use 1970s film cameras and manipulate the images digitally. I like the fact that some of the shots look like they could have been taken 30 years ago.

Dazed Digital: Have subcultures always inspired your work?
Tom Kavanagh: I have always been drawn to scenes outside the norm. I love what is going on with subcultures at the moment. People are taking subcultures from the past and reinventing them for the modern day creating entirely new scenes.

Dazed Digital: Do you think it's important to always connect the aural with the visual?
Tom Kavanagh: Yes. I think the look is as important as the music, sometimes more so. You have to look the part. It's not just about the music, it's about the fashion, the art; it’s a way of thinking.

ECC. An Exhibition will be held at The Kenton, 38 Kenton Road, Hackney E9 7AB, from August 5 for one month
ECC. Photographs from Offset 2009 is released through the DiscError Recordings online store and is available to pre-order now from

Offset Festival 2010 will be held over September 4th and 5th at Hainault Forest Country Park, London/Essex
Confirmed acts include Liquid Liquid, Blurt, These New Puritans, Caribou, Factory Floor, Atari Teenage Riot and many more. Go to for the full line-up