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Among the hoard of fantasies, and broken dreams to be promised by the precocious breed of Independent festivals. There aren’t many out there that look to connect, and nurture emerging Artists and their creative talent. That was until I visited this year’s Brainchild.

Images by Leah Abraham and Ellen Muriel

Images by Leah Abraham and Ellen Muriel

Taking place in East (8-10th July) in the intimate woodland acre’s of Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum, Brainchild has had only 2 runs since its inception to make footprints in the Boutique festival circuit.  But 2016 seems to be this year that prodigious Creative Director Marina Blake, (at the ripe age of 23) and friends-based crew found their footing, creating the grounds for showcasing music, interactive arts, words and minds. Stitching together a delectable medley of musician’s, DJ’s, all-day Jam sessions, talks, workshops, screenings, Hula-Hooping sessions – the list goes on. Check out our Festival Preview here.

Brainchild is a sparkly breeding ground of bubbling energies, good vibes and artistic spirits. Promoted, and nurtured by communities of creatives in the South East/West London area, who grace the festival, and anoint it with a warm sparkle. Artists, festival goer’s, crew and musicians all camping together in a brotherly/sisterly like fashion. No borders, just connection. Magazine platforms like gal-dem, record labels like Banoffee Pies, spoken word artists like Vanessa Kissuule were all there, and down to get involved. The overall atmosphere permeates with an air of cosiness; everyone collectively contributes to maintaining that intimacy.

the vibes are just there now, you can feel it” (words from a friend commenting on this years Brainchild).

Brainchild is gloriously immersive: part outdoor gallery space, part festival, part workshop venue, all hands on deck interaction from both festival goers and those who helped bring the baby to life. An open plan creative hub that breeds community vibes and meaningful exchanges. For me, it was the kind of place to constantly wander, stumble across random groups, get nested into a conversation and suddenly find that your impromptu conversation has stirred up ideas for creative output. Totally refreshing.

When in 2015’s Brainchild, vocalist Poppy Ajudha and Sumochief did an impromptu jam which blossomed into this mellow collaboration.

Arriving on Friday evening, already having missed a chunk of the daytime activities (somehow I juggled the exhausting task of moving house that same day…don’t ask) I was feeling a tad sapped of the festival buzz. But Friday’s line-up provided a magically ripe introduction, showcasing a fluid blend musical genres that would flavour the next 2 days. Heading the furthest pole of the Wildlife Park, the BRAINSTAGE kick-started my journey of musical discovery. Scottish outfit Makeness shook things up with a wickedly energising set of trippy shuffle house and techno. Known for stitching together a wildly eclectic medley of Afrobeat, New-Wave, and Detroit techno. Tracks like 14 Drops were emitted across the small plane, invigorating bodies and tantalising spirits.

Advancing south back towards the Camping area, it was difficult to avoid the thumping echoes of 4-to-the-floor rhythms that sailed through the leafy trees. An exquisitely shaded, otherworldy woodland Dancefloor at the heart of Brainchild’s early inventions. THE SHACK was sending out delicious audial waves of a banging techno/disco groove that murmured out through the Forest woods and dispersed across the festival. Manchester based DJ/ Producer and Drummer Contour’s was particularly on point, as he cruised through a diverse, rhymic catalogue of old skool disco funk ( like Sister Sledge) to the more exclusive self-made productions. Check out Contour’s collab with Yadava  for a taster of the rhythmic expedition that the Brainchild crowd were thrust into. The final spotlight feature on Friday’s itinerary had to be the Silent DISCO in the FORUM TENT.  Not one I was expecting by any means, but there was something magnetic in the air, and energy of the crowd. Spirits were soaring high and everyone was fully open and receptive to all tunes that were been flipped out. There’s nothing quite like hearing MC Luck and DJ Neats Little bit of Luck flowing through a pair of headphones to reignite the hype, quite literally. The Forum tent lead the last part of the night to a harmonious skanking ceremony as the crowd feasted on the hoard of classic R&B/Garage and Hip-Hop.

Saturday morning rolled in, and somehow I was up early enough to wander down to the Globular shaped CINEMA tent and get my hands busy with Creamer magazine’s collaborative Zine making workshop. Doodling and crafting with pens, paper, gel stickers and glitter was a welcomed distraction from the fairly sore head and sleep deprivation. Very soon jazzy melodies and warm vocals radiated across the field, inviting me out the acclaimed STEEZ CAFE. A cosy Jam Spot-cum-Bar where musicians, vocalists, free-movers and listeners came together for the magical vibes, and open jam experiments. Some of my stillest and most spirited moments were enjoyed here. Often sat chilling on a cushion zoning into intimate performances from the likes of Puma Blue’s smooth, languorous soul/Jazz blues, catching a drift of honey-like serenades of An Is Phi (Sunday). Some of the lively-er moments included getting down with Brass-toned grooves of Ezra Collective’s exuberant hullabaloo of Afro-futurist, Reggae, Jazz. The hugely talented 5 piece ensemble had the whole tent shuffling, particularly when they dived into a funked-up rendition of the Afrobeat Master Fela Kuti’s “Water no get Enemy”. By 7pm energies had been revived and spirits refuelled.

Smatters of groups, emerging with freshly glittered faces, and bottles of booze signalled for Saturday evening shenanigans. As if on cue the lineup continued on a vibrant note, the BrainSTAGE tuned into deep dubby vibrations of SE Dub Collective – the beloved extended family of South East’s most gifted musicians birthed out of STEEZ. Lead by sensational vocalist Poppy Ajudha, the ensemble sent out smokey waves of hypnotic rhythms, and a rumbling rooting bass-line lulled the crowd to a meditative swaying. Twinekat’s notable Soul takeover was somewhat of a subdued, underwhelming session. The sound levels at THE SHACK had been diminished quite a few pegs. And the vibe compromised; not enough bass or oomph to compel me to remain in the picturesque escape of the woods.

“We are 99%, why are ruled by 1%…”

By Sunday midday I was straight up looking for physical (and spiritual) enlivening, and United Vibrations we’re ready to provide the goodies. A sunset evening, descended into a golden hour as the band unleashed into their immersive session of Afro-futurist Jazz transcended (maybe from the cosmos). Melding together a seismic sound of funk, Jazz, 12 tone and Mulatto combined. Sending out currents of positivity, love, unity at THE BRAINSTAGE. The crowd resurged to roaring volumes, and chorused, “I am we, I am…” We all basked in the magnetic connection, enhanced by the glimmer of warm strobe lights, and the call and response cues. It was a pretty stellar ending, to a dreamy and serene weekender. So Brainchild, you’ve stolen my heart.

Words by Leah Abraham

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