You may have heard a buzz surrounding a new arts collective here in Norwich. Comprised of seven core members, Euphrasie popped up on the local scene just a few months ago. Now, the group are getting ready for their first live event on the 30th April. I sat down with four members of the group (Elly, Dom, Miles and Callum) to talk about what the collective is all about, their plans for the future, and how they feel about the Norwich art scene.
I gather you’re all friends, can you tell me about how the idea of an art collective first came into being?
M: It initially came from within Red Mar. It was an idea that Dylan put towards the group about having a collective name to branch all of our individual projects, but since that idea we looked at other ideas that made it less insular and branched out to more multimedia things; not just music.
D: Yeah, it started by thinking about who we would personally want to create with and then it grew from there. So, it’s a lot about collaboration.
So, it all started with Red Mar, can you explain who/what Red Mar is further?
M: It was a band I formed in high school with another friend called Harry – an experimental rock band. It’s the typical set up of any band but more left field I suppose. I’ve been doing that since 2018 but with the whole group 2019/20.
How will the physical art side come into this and join up with the music?
E: Within Euphrasie it’s been all about stuff that will be playing alongside the music. With this in mind we’ve gone more towards video work and installation work. Me and Ruby just went to Meddlers scrap yard to film some video footage of us messing around basically, but we got all these ideas of ritualistic performance work, things like that – using the body. The main idea is stuff to project with music playing so it’s collaborating across media.
Big performance pieces then?
E: Sort of, but also installation. We want some physical objects too! The whole idea is for it to be an artistic community, whether that’s music, art, anything. We’re involving lots of different people we know from uni as well to collaborate with, so hopefully we’ll get some steam going to attract other artists and then just get bigger and better.
I was going to ask, is this project something you want to keep within your group for now or to expand widely into the Norwich community?
M: I think, as with anything that you’re starting, it’s good to start with a select few people so you can really think about what you want to be doing. But, as much as I think we’re interested in presenting events, especially Ruby and Elly, we’re also interested in doing some workshops to invite people to experiment and have fun – to enjoy the playful side of making things. So that will definitely open up to a community thing.
C: I think it’s important to create a space where people can come together to collaborate but also where people can visit. I suppose the best way to articulate it is that we’re the ones creating that space.
D: It’s a way of utilising the fact that we do all know each other and know other artists, so this collective will help to make the relationships more mutually beneficial.
M: There’s also an added intimacy as we’re all friends, so we can comfortably work together. That’s definitely not to say we’re an insular 7 piece collective – the whole idea is to engage more people – but for right now we need to show with a smaller group.
You have an event coming up on the 30th April, what can people expect from that?
M: For that first event, at its core, it’s essentially a gig and a single launch for Red Mar at St Edmunds Church, Fishergate. We’re still working through what we’ll be doing visually but it’s important that people walk into the gig and know it’s a Euphrasie space. We’re hoping to have some visual art, projections and potentially some installations.
E: It’s kind of a taster event. We’re doing this as a Red Mar gig put on by Euphrasie and that means we’ll process and plan out the next Euphrasie event based on this. It should get more merged as we go along, that’s what I’m hoping.
C: It’s important to note as well that the gig elements are one arm of three different types of events: gigs, showcases and workshops. The workshops will be the collaborative, play focused thing that Elly and Ruby are working on. Gigs, as we have lots of musicians involved, they’re naturally something we want to be doing and then in terms of showcases, those will be on a more intimate level.
M: The showcases are still in the works but we’re hoping to make them full day events, so we can dedicate time to actual exhibitions going into music in the evening. But for now, we’re starting with something a little more digestible.
How do you feel that this fits into the wider Norwich arts community and the universities here?
E: There was a project called site collective that me and ruby weren’t involved with but we went to the events and were friends with some of those people. They’re currently less active but we really saw how creating a collective allows you to build a community and accessibility for getting involved. On my side of things that’s really where a lot of inspiration came from.
M: It wasn’t a frustration of not seeing something a bit more different going on in Norwich but with the music that we make in Red Mar, we naturally are on the edges of what’s going on in the mainstream. So, not only did I personally want more of a platform for the experimental music going on but I also wanted greater collaboration between all forms of art. I’ve been looking for something a bit more out there and I think that can be achieved by working with the visual arts.
C: I suppose as musicians you can control your context more as well when there’s no promoter. Whereas in this sort of thing you can totally control your outlet.
M: Yeah, it can be difficult to know where to put us (Red Mar) and who to put us on with. This can work in our favour but also it’s nice to be able to do things on your own terms, work on events with like-minded people and not rely on promoters. We’re young as well and it’s really all about making something happen.
C: That’s key actually – Is there anything else going on like this for young people? There are a few people who put together experimental events but not necessarily with younger people doing it. Norwich’s art scene is huge and there’s lots going on but it’s not always joined up. It’s very fragmented due to the nature of Norwich and Norfolk, so it’s a chance to start connecting more people.
Speaking into the future – What are your plans beyond the gig?
D: We haven’t got anything fully confirmed but we have spoken about putting on 3 big showcases a year.
M: Yeah, in between each of these we’d love to do individual shows for members and continue building new relationships with people. I’m definitely interested in branching out a little bit from Norwich whether that’s bringing people here or taking our ideas elsewhere.
E: It would be brilliant to collaborate with nearby places such as Yarmouth, where although the scene is small, there are lots of new events and art spaces popping up. We all know how young and full of artists Norwich is but it would be interesting to go somewhere where that might not be the case.
D: Norwich almost feels like an untapped gold mine.
C: They have been saying that for about 20 years though.
D: Well… We’re digging!
If you’re interested in Euphrasie and want to keep up to date with what they’re doing, you can follow them @euphrasie.co
Tickets to Euphrasie’s first event can be found here.