About Safehouse

Safehouse Brighton is a collective that hosts two separate nights that focus on improvised and experimental music: Safehouse, on the first Wednesday of every month, and On The Edge, on the last.

Safehouse is a regular open session, which is open to all musicians of all levels to improvise, sonically, in a conversational way. We have been using a format in which participants are picked out to be put into a small group that improvises for 10 minutes or so, while the remaining musicians act as audience, then the next group is formed and so on.

On The Edge is a regular performance night, where we bring in better-known and sometimes out-of-town musicians and groups who have an emphasis on improvisation in their work. We try to precede the headliner with an established, local musician or group. The night is opened with the Wildcard Quartet, which is made up of names that have been picked out of a hat at the preceding Safehouse open session.

Musicians that have played at On The Edge include: Evan Parker, Lol Coxhill, Alan Tomlinson, Hannah Marshall, John Butcher, Ken Vandermark, Maggie Nicols, Hugh Metcalfe, Alison Blunt, Trevor Watts, Pat Thomas, Tristan Honsinger, Axel Dörner, Roger Turner, John Tchicai, John Russell, Steve Beresford, Tony Bevan, Louis Moholo-Moholo, Alexander Hawkins, Paul Hession, Mick Beck, Simon Fell, Luo Chao Yun, Ken Hyder, Sibyl Madrigal, Alex Ward, Steve Noble, Colin Webster, Bela Emerson, Zaum, ARC, Konk Pack, Vitamin B12, Red Square and Shatner’s Bassoon.

What happens at an Open Session?

How It Works

Best thing is to come along to one (first Wednesday of every month), and introduce yourself at the door. If you want to just check it out before committing to jumping in, that’s fine. Otherwise, if you are happy to dive in, then your name will be put in a hat. Then, at some point you’ll be called upon to join a small group (usually 4 people) and you’ll all just start making some sounds and see what happens.

There may or may not be any rhythm, tonal centre or structure to the pieces played. The music is free in that sense. No premeditated ideas or constrictions. Any sound is valid. It is a sonic conversation, in which players respond to each other as spontaneously as possible.

Pieces tend to last ten minutes or so and, ideally, find a natural ending. Hopefully, everyone that’s interested in sitting in will get at least a couple of turns through the night. Those not playing at any given time are the ever-supportive audience.

Amplification

All manner of instrumentation is welcome (acoustic, electric, electronic, voice). We have a PA for vocalists, but electric instrumentalists usually bring their own small combo amps.

Due to the acoustics of the room, we have been trying an acoustic aesthetic, meaning that we strive to keep the volume within the range of the quietest instrument involved in the piece. So, for example, if there is an acoustic violin in an improv with two saxophones and an electric guitar, then instead of trying to put a microphone on the violin, we would prefer the saxes and guitar remain sensitive to the limits of the violin and play accordingly, rather than drown it out with volume. Having said that, if all the instruments are capable of playing loud, then crank it up!

Time

Those wishing to listen can show up at anytime. Those wishing to play should arrive as close to 8pm as possible.

Cost

Since the players usually outnumber the audience, everyone present chips in £3 towards the room hire (members pay £2).