Shhh! Here’s a quieter way to enjoy good music

Aaron Fyfe will play at Hampstead's Shhh music festival

Aaron Fyfe will play at Hampstead's Shhh music festival - Credit: Archant

Heath Street Baptist Church is hosting the most considerate music festival in town, says Alex Bellotti.

The streets of Camden may be a little quieter these days in light of the busking ban, but for anyone who’s found themselves sardined amongst the audience at the Dublin Castle or Kentish Town Forum, you might just appreciate the need for a little quiet.

We all known the scenario: a great band is just coming to the end of their set and as they launch into your favourite song, the whole crowd instantly drowns them out with an unwelcome sing along; or worse still, the stranger in your ear decides it’s the best time to have a loud, lengthy conversation with his friend about his future career path and poor life choices.

“I still go to gigs and feel like just telling someone to shut up,” says Howard Monk, who was so worn down by such situations eight years ago that it inspired him, alongside visual artist Luke Drozd, to start Shhh, a one day music festival especially curated to encourage quietness.

“I remember the Luminaire in Kilburn had it written in the paintwork: if you’ve come to talk to your pals, there’s a bar downstairs. The Jazz Café – I don’t know if it still does – used to have STFU (ask your children) written down one of its columns.”

Taking place on Saturday January 31 at Heath Street Baptist Church, Shhh London 2015 features a host of prodigious up-and-comers from all corners of the musical spectrum. While some might falsely associate it as a folk event, Monk explains that “it’s purely about the aesthetic and the volume and the dynamics”.

The festival will see many acts – including singer-songwriter Aaron Fyfe, folk singer Pip Mountjoy and electronic artist Forced – play quieter numbers or stripped down versions of their regular material, although the whispery reference is more of an instruction to the audience than anyone else.

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With an impressive track record since the event begun, Monk certainly has the right to demand a bit of hush.

“I’ve been looking back at our old posters and I’ve been very impressed actually – if I may be impressed by our own programming. We’ve got a good strike rate; the people who play generally go on to become really something.

“This is the Kit, Jon Hopkins, Stuart Braithwaite – who already was quite a big deal with Mogwai – Sam Amidon: lots of people have played and subsequently gone on to do really great stuff so I would expect two or three from this lineup to do the same, probably tipping the top liners, like the Wooden Arms or Laura Moody, to go on from here.”

Shhh London 2015 comes to Heath Street Baptist Church on Saturday January 31. For more information and tickets, visit