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New Documentary 'The Sound of Bristol' Proves The City's Underground Spirit Lives On

We spoke to producer and editor Charlie Rees about illustrating exactly why, when it comes to music, Bristol is the capital of the South West.

There's a reason Bristol is a nationally renowned party town. Questionable representations on behalf of Channel 4's series Skins aside, Bristol is a stand out city in terms of creativity and expression. When the rest of the UK lost dubstep, during London’s grime lapse, before Manchester found its finest, there was always Bristol. And, as CYNO productions’ latest documentary stands to illustrate, there always will be a Bristol.


The Sound of Bristol is a short feature that illuminates the best of the city's soundscape. The local strengths and social mechanics that enable’s the subwoofers around Somerset to perform at the unwavering standards that they do. Friend to the musically deeper and darker, Bristol is perhaps the only place on our fair isle where the underground is overground.

In the filmmakers own words, "Bristol's consistent reliance on community and the cross-pollination between it's artists is what sets it apart from other cities in the UK. As House's clutch on the club scene loosens, a darker, heavier sound is once again at the forefront, bringing with it a new wave of originality and creativity."

With input from Bristol scene stalwarts such as Kahn, My Nu Leng and Chris Farrell, operator of Idle Hands record shop (one of two record shops in the country to have been stocked with the 300 presses of Loeafah’s lost dub Midnight/Woman), as well as Noisey's Man Of The Year 2013 himself, Big Narstie, The Sound of Bristol explores how things do in the capital of the South West.

Watch the documentary below, and read our interview with producer/editor Charlie Rees about how he captured the current state of Bristol's underground.

Noisey: What was the key thing that happened which made you want to make this film?
Charlie Rees: I really wanted to capture the current state of the underground scene here as, musically, it’s such an exciting time in Bristol. A lot of the sounds that have been developing over the past few years are now being recognised on a much wider scale. I think a switch back to a darker, heavier sound is coming, so I was really keen to document this stage of the transition.


How would you describe the Bristol musical identity?
The attitude in Bristol is very much that everyone likes to see each other doing well, places like Stokes Croft and St Pauls hold their idea of community quite dearly and I think these kind of values are applied to the music scene here. I think Bristol differs from a lot of places around the UK because artists don’t compete with each other in the same fashion and this, for me in a lot of ways, sums up the city’s musical identity.

In one sense grime is seen as a very East London rooted scene, and in another it’s a truly national scene - taking in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester etc. What’s your take on that?
I think that the idea of grime can translate to people from any city or place; to say that it is fixed or rooted in East London is limiting to the genre on a whole. I mean, of course it originates from East London, but I find that as different cities and regions produce their own take on grime it allows the genre to develop and mature.

Do you think one sound is really triumphing in Bristol at the moment or does it continue to be a mix?
Commercially, house is still the go to genre, but within the underground scene there is a real melting pot of up and coming sounds, sounds that can’t be boxed into a genre or labelled in the same way and thats what I find really interesting. Bristol has all kinds of cool, creative music coming out of it and to say one genre is triumphing would be the start of a discussion that you could never win!

What labels are in Bristol at the moment that are really nurturing the scene?
Bandulu hands down for me. Kahn and Neek haven’t only put out some of the best music in Bristol on that label they have also brought through with them some really talented up and coming guys like Boofy and Hi5ghost. I think it’s cool that those guys are interested in the growth of the Bristol scene on a whole and not just their own popularity, as you can see in the documentary, Kahn cares for the future of the Bristol scene and it’s refreshing to see.

Thanks Charlie!