Ever since I've started making music I've loved making it with others. That simple act of someone starting a basic rhythm and then somebody else adding to it, building on it. They smile at each other "yeah man". There's an understanding there.
At its best the Imaginary Millions night is the sum of a million of these interactions. Some we don't even notice. It's a collaboration between us and the audience, me and Adam the drummer, the singer who gets up to back the poet.
Trees and forests: does music matter if no one is around to hear it, respond to it, dance to it?
Collaboration is at the heart. Which can be everything from contributing to witnessing; both are as important. Collaboration needs trust, willingness and attention. The collective agreement that "yes, this is important" and "yes if we all participate, we'll find a great meaning both”.
So many collaborations at Imaginary Millions are serendipitous. People turn up. N'Fa Jones, a rapper from Australia whom I listened to as a kid turned up on the stage two months ago and it was amazing vibing with him.
Others are planned. Our posters and the artists we pick. Our jaunt over to Amsterdam was a collaboration with the booker and overall dude, Dean Medina, who sorts out amazing gigs in amazing spaces. Last month we had a collaboration with School Ground Sounds run by Tom Scott and Sarah-Nell Moullier. They brought down all their alum that have come up through their programs. We have some other musical and artistic collabs planned that are going to blow you away. Working with all the different bands, musicians, spaces (British Library, Reform Radio in Manchester), collectives (Lyrix Organix), etc has been sweet.
Who do we choose to collaboration with? It's a quality of person who gets what we're doing, who is familiar with the grammar of collective music, and has a humility to put themselves aside to serve the greater good. And also that they're badass at whatever art-form they are participating in. We also look for diversity. Something where the collision of things produces an "ah!" I think of the grime circle that formed out of a perfect storm of a guest drummer's rhythm, and the people in the room who could respond to that rhythm. We'll do that more and more.
I have an insanely high faith in collaboration. I trust that if two or more people are in a room together and they're willing to see each other then they can make something meaningful and immediate. No rehearsal needed. It's magic.
Stay tuned for more of this magic.