Festival 2017

7-9 July

East Sussex

Welcome to Brainchild Festival. We are a DIY powered and volunteer-led festival celebrating the talents and ideas of the people around us. For three days in July, we stitch together incredible creative projects into a program of live music, jam sessions, spoken word, DJ sets, talks, workshops, film, theatre and installation art.

The festival is a meeting of minds; it is very intimate, with artists, crew and festival-goers all camping together and no VIP areas on site. We push important conversations and interdisciplinary art to the forefront and welcome everybody to get involved. Built up by friends of friends over the years, the atmosphere is warm, open and relaxed. Brainchild is the perfect place to let your guard down, try things out and discover amazing artists. We hope that you will find something you love this year.

Winners of the AIM Award for Best Independent Festival 2015 & 2016!

★★★★ - The Independent

Over the years Brainchild has become more of a big creative network than a 3 day festival. Every year, over 300 young artists contribute their work and ideas across different areas, be they art installations, led discussions or DJ sets.

Here’s the first few artists who’ll be with us this year, with many more to come. Stay tuned for our next wave coming at the end of April.


anu (rhythm section international)

anu is a DJ and illustrator based in London. When not ushering in the dance, her work as wicked radio host is unparalleled, with shows for NTS, Rinse, BCR & Balamii, bringing a seamless colourful palette of music ranging from nostalgic Bollywood soundtracks, new age walls of ambience, early Hosono and party tunes. With a supremely varied collection and sensibility, she always brings a smile to the dancers faces.

Check out her illustrations here and her NTS show here.


Caleb Femi

Caleb Femi is a poet, filmmaker, and the current Young People’s Laureate for London and we are so excited to have him to Brainchild for the first time this year.

As a poet, Caleb’s commissions include the Tate Mordern, The Royal Society for Literature, Lit Festival and the Guardian. Caleb has graced major stages such as the Roundhouse, Barbican, British Library, Royal Festival Hall. He has also opened up for Lianne La Havas and has performed at many festivals including Latitude, Ed Fringe, Boomtown, Lovebox and Greenbelt to name a few. Caleb has also won the Roundhouse Poetry Slam and Genesis Poetry Slam and is currently working on a debut pamphlet.

As a filmmaker, Caleb has released two documentaries ‘What Did Love Taste Like In The 70s?’ and ‘Heartbreak & Grime’, to good international reception, which has led him to give talks and panel discussions on the topic of Grime music, Roadman culture and masculinity.


Cecilia Knapp

Cecilia Knapp is a writer, poet and performer. She’s taken her poetry all over the UK and internationally, made commissioned work for the TATE and BBC iplayer, and had her words played on Radio 1, 1Xtra, 5live and XFM. Her one woman theatre piece Finding Home is an exploration of loss, identity and growing up. It is supported by the Arts Council and the Roundhouse and has enjoyed sell out London runs. It will tour in 2017.


Fuck You Pay Me

Actor, activist and poet Joana Nastari presents a work-in-progress deconstruction of London Stripclub culture.

In city slowly eating itself, an industry which employs thousands of women is fighting to keep up. As the streets of Soho are cleansed and the last remaining strip pubs are giving way to yet more artisan coffee shops and luxury flats, the casualties of this city-wide sterilisation are rarely heard from. Fusing music, spoken word, comedy and verbatim interviews, “Fuck You Pay Me” refuses to satisfy your appetite for a ‘scandalous tell-all’ or tragedy porn. Instead, it’s a celebration of the complexities of life as a stripper in London, a deep and thoughtful look into the politics of our relationship to sex, work and the rapidly changing city in which we live.

Joana is a founding member of feminist artists collective “Sexy Lamp Society”, organising meetings and talks, as well as hosting experimental theatre nights in unconventional spaces. Joana has worked as an actor across London theatres and was most recently nominated for a Broadway World award for Best Actress for her role as Unn in the Awakening. She also hosts sex worker community events at a local strip joint, encouraging women to share experiences, skills and secrets.

“A country without bordellos is like a house without bathrooms”

– Marlene Dietrich



Hot Mess

Hot Mess is Max Levine and Anna Piper. Anna is a stand-up and actress, she was highly commended in this years Funny Women competition. Max is a writer and performer with credits including The Cambridge Footlights and BBC Radio 4’s Newsjack. They met when they were members of The Soho Theatre Young Company and they aim to amuse you.

Having had them scratch their new show with us at Hatch in November, they then went on to run a preview at Platform, our home in Southwark. The shrieks of laughter and delight were quite unlike anything we’ve ever heard, and we cannot wait for their set in our comedy showcase at this year’s festival.


Laura Misch

We were overwhelmed by Laura’s spirit and talent at last year’s festival. After she played in Alfa Mist & Barney Artist‘s B2B set, Laura took up Alice Phoebe Lou‘s invitation and got involved with her main stage set purely through improvisation.

This year we’re very excited to have her with us to play her own tunes with some guest musicians. Laura’s infectiously soulful music has been increasingly garnering praise; with plays on Radio 1 & 1Xtra and features on Majestic Casual. After playing her unique electronic solo set at shows alongside jazz & soul luminaries Soweto Kinch, Andrew Ashong and Binker & Moses, Laura went on to sell out her debut headline show, which combined her exploratory electronics with some of London’s finest musicians. She’s since followed this up by playing sold out shows supporting rising stateside lyricist Noname and the ever-energetic jazz great Roy Ayers. Across her online music and special live set-up, you can expect textured sax soundscapes, achingly poignant melodies, deep groove and a whole lot of soul.


Pecs: The Drag King Collective

Pecs is an ever-growing collective of female actors, comedians, singers and dancers, who love nothing more than to put on handsome drag shows for the queer and curious Ladies & Gents of London and beyond.

Pecs have charmed their way through London’s cabaret scene, leaving a trail of delicious cologne in their wake, giving sell-out performances at such (dis-)reputable venues as The Abbey Tavern, The Battersea Barge, and Bar Wotever at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

Their shows explore the performativity of gender; unleashing their inner masculinity they undermine the patriarchy through a particular brand of searing satire and down right silliness.


SE Dub Collective

It’s not often we get to see QUITE so many incredible musicians bring the heat as when we see SE Dub Collective, and after their beautiful set at last year’s festival we had have them back.

In this super-group you’ll spot musicians from the thriving South East London music scene, such as Ezra Collective, Nérija, SumoChief, Poppy Ajudha, Maisha and many more. These are some of the most talented and generous musicians we’ve had the pleasure of growing with over the last for years, and believe us when we say that their take on dub, reggae, dancehall and rocksteady will have you going wild.




Seeing bassist/producer Huw Bennett bring ‘Keira’, the debut Susso record, to life with a full band was one of the most brilliant musical moments we enjoyed last year.

The project is inspired by and directly samples the magnificent sounds of the Mandinka people, recorded in Gambia in 2013. Initially traveling with the aim to gain perspective as a musician and to discover a new world of music first hand, Huw found himself humbled by such a welcoming community of artists, mostly belonging to the celebrated Suso and Kuyateh griot (musician and storytellers) families. Huw’s guide and teacher of traditional Mandinka repertoire was Yusupha Suso (who features heavily on the album), son of internationally renowned griot Mawdo Suso and master balafon in his own right. In return, Huw was found a bass guitar and asked to perform with the families band, fronted by Yusupha’s Mother and his sisters.

Have a listen to the record here and his interview with Musica Macondo here.


Touching Bass

Andwot and Alex Rita represent 2/6 of Touching Bass, the collective of London-based soul disciples who throw monthly offline dances in an intimate Brixton restaurant. These groove specialists are focused on forwarding the legacy of black-oriented music, whether it’s their monthly NTS Radio slot, regular sessions at Brilliant Corners or various sets elsewhere.


Wovoka Gentle

“Wovoka Gentle is constantly evolving project. Our roots are in traditional soil – we love the structure and soundscape in folk songs – but we wanted to work from those foundations to develop a new vocabulary, a new kind of songwriting.”

Ever since we first saw Wovoka Gentle play, we knew we had to get them involved with Brainchild in some way. Not only are they creating new sound palettes with eclectic influences, but their approach is shaped by their roots in performance and theatre. Just after they formed, the band wrote and performed the score for avant-garde physical theatre company Stasis’ production A Table, directed by Aniela Piasecka, and went on to provide music for the world premiere of Alex Howarth’s stage adaptation of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape at London’s Bridewell Theatre. Informed by such collaborations as these, the use of performance art, installations and projected visuals has made its way to the heart of Wovoka Gentle’s live shows.

Wovoka Gentle launched their first EP, Wovoka Gentle [Yellow], via Yucatan Records in July 2015 with a sold out show at London’s Cecil Sharp House, followed by two more records, Wovoka Gentle [Blue] and Wovoka Gentle [Red] and sold out shows at Elektrowerkz and Chat’s Palace.

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Join the crew! Brainchild is a festival that’s run on the goodwill and hard work of lots of amazing individuals. If you’d like to help us make the weekend happen, then volunteering over the festival is a great way to do it.

As part of the volunteer team, you will see the festival from the inside. The volunteers at Brainchild are fundamental to its success, helping to make sure things are ticking over and doing a variety of jobs, from bar work to catering, ticketing and lots more in between. Every year we’ve met some of the most generous and spirited people on the volunteering team – read on for more info.

How it works:

Over the weekend, you will help out for 10 hours split up into 3 shifts so you still have lots of time to explore the festival and party. Plus, if you volunteer with a friend, just let us know and we’ll do our best to put you on shift together.

All volunteers will need to be on site from Thursday evening for a briefing and to be given their rotas. You will also need to be on site until your shifts are complete which might be Sunday night or Monday morning.

After the festival, when you’ve done your shifts, half of your ticket-price will be refunded to you.

And, if you can stick around, there’s drinking and relaxing to be done with all the crew on the Monday night. We hope you’ll join in, email ‘tomo’ or ‘ali’ @brainchildfestival.co.uk  us know if you have any queries.

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Get In Touch

Please note that the deadline for submissions in music, art, talks/workshops and poetry has now passed. Theatre and film submissions are open until the 10th March. However, if you get in touch we will endeavour to get back to you to discuss your idea, just write to the relevant programming teams at either ‘music’, ‘art’, ‘theatre’, ‘talks’, ‘poetry’, ‘film’, ‘workshops’ followed by …@brainchildfestival.co.uk.

Alternatively, please check out Platform, our HQ in Southwark, London where we are able to put on events and projects – maybe your idea can happen there.

For volunteering inquiries, email tomo

For site and production email joey

For food traders email jasper

For press and partnerships email marina

For any other enquiries email team


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