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Perspective

How Bristol became a musical and artistic melting pot

Historically a centre of the slave trade, Bristol is the hometown of a wealth of internationally renowned artists: Damien Hirst, Banksy, Portishead, Tricky and Massive Attack. Author Melissa Chemam says there is a clear link between those two facts. As people were brought in from across the world, their cultures came with them. The result put Bristol ahead of much of the UK when it came to new and different sounds and ideas.

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Chemam’s new book, "Massive Attack: Out of the Comfort Zone", due to be released in March 2019, focuses on that group and how history and their hometown helped them develop their unique sound.

She was drawn to Massive Attack as they took a strong political stance in their music and even concerts. Something that continues as the group mark the 20th anniversary of perhaps their most popular album, "Mezzanine". She tells us that their latest show contains footage that most TV channels would consider too violent, but the group chose to confront their audience with them.

Chemam also discovers that while the group is international in spirit and sound, they still need the protection of Bristol. "If you don’t protect yourself you will become a slave to the system, a product to market," Chemam says, something Bristol’s musicians have done everything to avoid.

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