New Night ‘THORNY’ Kicks Out LGBTQ-Friendly Shows for More Inclusive Live Music | Full Interview


Photo (c) Paul Samuel White

Whatever you identify as, everyone is welcome… we’re here to give a platform to the outsiders and the misfits.

It was good to finally chat to Joseph Waugh, songwriter and member of new queer (and everyone else) friendly family, THORNY, who together have been plotting a switch-up of the usual gig playbook. They’ve got bands, yes. But also a mascot drag queen and open arms to all manner of music lover… Some of whom arguably feel a bit out at your average rockshow.

So this new queer-focused night, is it tightly for the LGBTQ community?

It’s aimed at anyone who wants to see an intriguing live show and have an amazing night. There’s just too much disparity between the ‘scenes’ or social groups right now, it’s restrictive. We’ve created a night that’s inclusive, so whatever you identify as, everyone is welcome.

The acts don’t tend to be straight white boys in bands though. There are plenty of those nights in Bristol — which is fine — but we’re here to give a platform to the outsiders and the misfits who, in our opinion, create some of the most amazingly weird and powerful work.

What was it about the existing live music scene that made some people feel excluded?

Well firstly female artists are massively underrepresented at local gigs in general, but some of the most incredible acts are female! Look at PJ Harvey, St Vincent or BJORK. And Bristol definitely has its own, like the icon that is Emily Breeze. Her and Candy Darling are headlining our next show.

I think there’s an underlying tone of exclusivity at a lot of music nights (and at art events) where you go and feel like you have to be ‘cool’ or chin rub instead of being free and having a good time. THORNY is the opposite: we show work from queer musicians, performance artists and filmmakers in Bristol that challenges the generic format with its vulnerability, intensity and strangeness. These people have huge voices but don’t get the opportunity to use them at most nights, so this is a chance to present new ideas that should give the audience the freedom to just enjoy it. It’s a rebellion against being cool.

A THORNY night sounds pretty unique then?

It’s the only event that has ever combined balloon fetishism, a real bleeding heart, and Will Young.

And your next one is on 4th Dec at the Exchange?

It is. As I mentioned, Candy Darling is performing… She writes anthems. We’ve also booked Wenonoah, whose album was released by Howling Owl earlier this year. Her performances are so raw and emotional they leave me stunned. And she sounds like Kate Bush (no biggie).

There will also be performances from live artists Tom Marshman, Liz Clarke and johnsmith, who will be new names for the music scene but are well-known in the art world. And how could I forget our mascot drag queen, Roxytocin.

And as a warm up for that night, we’re putting on a show with Ausform (more here) at their annual festival of performance at The Cube on 26th November, which presents THORNY in a completely new context. Exciting.

Sounds awesome. Then what’s the plan as we roll into 2016?

We want to continue to experiment and take risks with bigger shows and we’re organising an art exhibition for next year too. No-one can be certain of what’s going to happen in the future, but I’m certain it’s going to be fucking fabulous.

Connect with Thorny online here, tickets for 4th December available here.