Hamish Dunbar is the founder and Director of Cafe Oto in Hackney, London, which receives funding from PRS for Music Foundation. He has just been awarded the inaugural Genesis Foundation prize – £25,000 – which is awarded in recognition of outstanding mentors of young artistic talent covering all art forms.
Café Oto opened in April 2008, with little money, in what was an old, disused warehouse in Hackney. Since then it has built up an international reputation for presenting experimental music and sound art seven nights a week, and has had a great impact on the UK music scene. It is the only venue in the UK programming this sort of music and runs a year round schedule of live performances, talks and salons, with an average of 290 events a year and over 23,000 people attending.
Talking about the Genesis Foundation award Hamish told us:
“Setting up Cafe Oto was backbreaking hard work! If I think back to the hours Keiko and I put in over the first few years I can’t quite believe how we came out of it with our sanity intact. Having worked seriously hard establishing the venue and watching it grow, getting that kind of acknowledgement really means a lot.
“The Genesis Award will enable us to continue to champion the musicians we believe in. Not only will it help us build on what we are currently doing it helps raise the profile of both the venue and experimental music at large.”
Peter Brötzmann/Steve Noble/John Edwards – ‘The worse the better…’ (ROKU001)
Ok, so you could have probably seen this one coming… little bit of shameless Oto promotion! This is the first release on our in-house record label. Recorded live during Peter Brötzmann’s first ever residency at the venue in January 2010 it is the first time this trio ever played together. They played two blistering sets that night that have gone down in Oto folklore and this is the result. Steve and John are Oto regulars and are, in my mind, two of the UK’s best free players. Peter Brötzmann is a legend with a career spanning many decades and an extraordinary back catalogue. This trio represents one of the things I think we do best at Oto – pairing the best UK players with great international players and in doing so forging new relationships that hopefully go on and have a life outside of the venue.
Brass Pins And Match Heads – ‘International 78’ (MR 083LP) MISSISSIPPI RECORDS
This was a Christmas gift from John who now helps me with programming at Oto. It’s a compilation of 78’s from all over the world compiled by Ian Nagoski. There’s some beautiful and surprising music on here. Mississippi Records are a great little label covering all kinds of stuff you just don’t find elsewhere. It’s really worth checking out what they do.
Kazuki Tomokawa – ‘Beauty Without Mercy’ (PSF 033CD)
This is seriously uncompromising underground folk music from Japan. I have been a fan of Kazuki Tomokawa for some time and saw him in a tiny club in Tokyo for the first time some years back and was blown away. He is coming over here for an extremely rare UK show as part of our Counterflows festival on the 10th of April. I encourage everyone to go! This is released on the brilliant P.S.F. Records – always a reliable source for some of the most interesting stuff coming out of Japan.
Michael Hurley – ‘Blue Hills’ (MR-070)
This is a great recent album by Michael Hurley. Hurley put out is first record back in 1964 on Folkways. He has a really unique singing style usually accompanied by fiddle or guitar, but on this album there is one side where he is playing pump organ… Beautiful stuff!
Otomo Yoshihide – ‘Solo Piano’ (unreleased)
This is a stunning recording live at Cafe Oto from Otomo’s first residency. Unlike any solo piano recording you are likely to have heard! Not available yet but keep your eyes pealed.