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Exploring Bristol’s Vibrant Music Scene: A Melodic Journey Through Time

Nestled in the vibrant heart of England’s southwest, Bristol emerges as more than just a city – it’s a cultural epicentre, a vibrant melting pot where music aficionados converge to fulfil their creative aspirations. For budding music producers and performers, Bristol stands as a sonic playground teeming with opportunity and inspiration.

Let’s take a whistle-stop tour from where it all began to some of its more contemporary triumphs. 

 

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The Birth of a Musical Legacy

Man playing guitar in black and white

Bristol’s history of maritime trade and cultural exchange provided a melting pot for influences from across the globe. Here, we saw traditional folk music and storytelling begin to flourish providing a rich soundtrack to the inhabitants of the city. Sailors and seafarers often brought with them songs and tunes from their homelands, sharing them in taverns and waterfront gatherings across the area. These folk traditions were enthused with seafaring adventure borrowing Celtic, African, and European influences. Sea shanties also had a significant influence everywhere. 

 

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Revolutionary Sounds

As time developed, so did the sounds of the city. The 60’s and 70’s provided a catalyst for counter-cultural activity with venues such as the legendary Dug Out Club providing opportunities to encounter new and emerging artists.

Bristol’s musical narrative weaves through diverse genres, tracing its roots to the soulful rhythms of reggae introduced by the Windrush Generation. However, its influence extends far beyond, notably birthing Jungle and Drum and Bass, genres that echo through the city’s streets, shaping its sonic identity.

The Windrush Generation’s arrival in Bristol brought with it the soulful sounds of reggae, infusing the city with a raw energy and cultural richness that reverberates to this day. Reggae sound systems became the heartbeat of Bristol’s burgeoning music scene, providing a platform for expression and resistance.

 

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Electronic Innovation

DJ decks

The 80s saw Bristol remain a leader in musical innovation. The underground club scene nurtured new distinctive sounds such as trip-hop which was to take the world by storm. Bands such as Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky were leading the way and still have a significant influence on the city’s sounds to date. This atmospheric fusion of styles had a profound impact on the industry.  The influence of this type of music is incredible and has profoundly and positively impacted electronic music innovation, pop, alternative music, indie, R&B, and soul, as well as the soundscapes of film and television to date. 

 

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Drum and Bass Revelation

In the 1990s, Bristol played a pivotal role in the emergence of Jungle and Drum and Bass, genres characterised by frenetic breakbeats and deep basslines. Artists like Krust, DJ Die, and Roni Size were at the forefront of this movement, pioneering a sound that would influence electronic music globally.

Bristol’s electronic music community continues to flourish to this day, boasting a dynamic mix of seasoned veterans and emerging talent. Producers and DJs explore various sub-genres, from house and techno to experimental beats, fostering an environment of innovation and creativity.

 

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A Tapestry of Diversity

Rappers on stage

The modern scene is thriving and demonstrates diversity across the musical spectrum. From Indie rock, drum and bass to jazz, and grime; the city has something for everyone. 

The pulse of Bristol’s underground music scene beats with raw energy, attracting aspiring musicians and producers from near and far. Renowned names like Eva Lazarus have emerged from Bristol’s bustling music landscape, paving the way for fresh talent to thrive.

Local artists such as Kahn & Neek, Hi5ghost, Lemzly Dale, OH91, and Sir Hiss are making waves in the Trap scene, infusing the city with their unique blend of bass-heavy beats and intricate melodies. Meanwhile, Grime enthusiasts resonate with the sounds of Joker, Gemmy, Jakes, Daffy, and Boycott, who bring their own brand of gritty urban music to Bristol’s streets.

Drill enthusiasts are drawn to the hard-hitting beats of Young Tribez, K9, K Nino, Tuggzy, and Ceeze, while Jungle aficionados immerse themselves in the jungle rhythms of DJ Stryda, Suv, and DJ Die. Hip Hop lovers groove to the tunes of Dizraeli, Gardna, Jay0117, Split Prophets, and ThisisDA, who infuse their music with the raw energy of Bristol’s streets.

Additionally, the Drum and Bass scene is ignited by the likes of Roni Size, DJ Die, DJ Krust, Suv, and Clipz (formerly known as Redlight), each contributing to the city’s diverse musical landscape.

 

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Inspiration Awaits

Music artist singing on stage

At Access Creative Bristol, we sit on some musical history ourselves.  Our college is on the site of the old Bierkeller, a culturally significant venue for the city. This venue served as a cornerstone of Bristol’s cultural landscape, hosting punk rock gigs to showcase the latest electronic beats. The building provided a platform for a diverse array of musical talents to shine. Its intimate atmosphere and legendary acoustics have drawn renowned artists and emerging acts alike, contributing to Bristol’s reputation as a breeding ground for musical innovation. Bands such as Nirvana, The Stone Roses and the Arctic Monkeys all performed here.  Other incredible venues include; 

  • The Louisiana – Famous for its intimate atmosphere and eclectic lineups from Indi rock to folk. 
  • Rough Trade – Intimate performance venue staging new, emerging and indeed established talent. Pick up a record or two while you are there. 
  • Bristol Beacon – Standing proudly in our city centre, this venue remains committed to showcasing local talent alongside international talent. Our own vocal artists students recently performed there, an incredible experience for all those there and a proud moment for friends and family.
  • The Exchange – Boasting a diverse array of performances ranging from punk and metal to experimental and electronic and a haven for alternative music lovers.
  • The Fleece – With a history dating back to the 1980s, The Fleece has earned its reputation as one of Bristol’s premier live music venues
  • The Old Market Assembly – A cultural hub where music, art, and community come together. 
  • The Crofters Rights – This venue prides itself on its eclectic programming, featuring everything from indie rock and electronic to hip-hop and beyond.
  • The Gallimaufry –  Another venue providing an eclectic mix, the perfect spot to unwind and discover new sounds.

So why study music in Bristol? The answer lies in the community of creativity which can be found in our city, built from the foundations that we have briefly explored in this blog. From its vibrant street art scene to its breathtaking natural beauty, the city inspires and energises at every turn.

Whether exploring the historic harbourside or traversing the picturesque Bristol Downs, there’s always something new to discover here. If you’re an aspiring musician, a professional or simply a lover of the art of music and performance, you’ll find a supportive and nurturing environment and venues to help you thrive.  

For more on ACC Bristol on our dedicated campus page, or visit us for an open day to explore this incredible, inspiring space for yourself.

Last updated on: 30th May 2024