The events collective bringing inner-city raves to Cornwall

The events collective bringing inner-city raves to Cornwall
How a group of school friends battled everything from venue closures to a life-altering brain injury to give Falmouth nightlife a kick up the arse.

What began as a group of mates with a passion for electronic music has rapidly flourished into an events collective at the forefront of a re-emerging subculture in Falmouth, a seaside town in Cornwall.

There’s a certain buzz to the music scene here. Local venues such as The Cornish Bank and The Chintz are packed most nights of the week, holding everything from jazz nights to psychedelic rock gigs, while the widely known International Sea Shanty Festival, which is exactly what it sounds like, holds it down for the area’s rich nautical history. Throughout the 2010s drum and bass had a firm place in the town too, with clubs like the now-shuttered Mono hosting regular rave nights and local collectives like Noise Pollution, Sweatshop Audio and Sub Frequency bringing in artists, sounds and influences from all over the UK. It helped that Falmouth is a university town, so the scene was constantly fuelled by a wave of new people coming in each year and keeping the demand going.

For various reasons – namely a mix of Covid and venue closures – the scene wound down by the end of the decade. By the time live music returned to the high street after the pandemic, many of the collectives had folded and the spaces catering toward that crowd had closed. Now, after a quiet few years, this genre is making its long-overdue return to the nightlife – and one new collective at the forefront of its rejuvenation is Foulmouth Audio.

Founded by local lads Ben Wyatt, Sid Alflatt and Owen Lindsay in the summer of 2021, Foulmouth Audio was built on friendship and a shared love of dance. The twenty-somethings, who say they’re more like brothers than friends, first met in high school and bonded through a mutual love of skating. When they hit their mid-teens in the late 2010s, they began sneaking into events using older mate’s ID’s, kickstarting a love of drum and bass that would bring the trio even closer. Their kinship was cemented at Nass Festival in 2019, where their enthusiasm for learning skate tricks shifted towards the art of mixing.

However, when the boys emerged from the pandemic old enough to go to events legally, things had died down. Many venues had received noise complaints while others were forced to close due to disputes with the council over licensing and unmanageable overheads. “Pre-Covid the rave scene in Fal was pretty sick,” Owen remembers. “After that, the events kind of stopped and not much was going on anymore. That’s why we wanted to start it back up again.”

As soon as lockdown restrictions were lifted, Ben, Sid and Owen could be found behind the decks at house parties all over Falmouth, and it didn’t take long before word made its way to local venues. The trio began playing weekly Thursday night sets at local club The Kings, and soon found themselves filling slots at some of the town's most prominent venues. After a summer of playing club nights and flirting with the idea of starting their own collective, Foulmouth Audio was officially born. Realising the potential of what they had started, they enlisted the help of artists and longtime friends Alfie Galespie and Charlie Stephenson to join them as MCs.

Two months into their founding, though, Ben suffered a life-altering brain injury that required multiple surgeries: one to remove a bleed on his brain, and another to replace the area of skull which had been removed in the first. A few days after being released from hospital, he began having seizures and found himself back at square one. “I knew that the second surgery hadn’t worked,” Ben recalls. “I was absolutely delirious and wondering if I’ll ever be able to have the life I want to live; skating and music seemed impossible to reach.”

In order to carry on with daily life until the second replacement surgery, he was given a helmet (resembling the sort you'd wear to skate or play hockey in) to protect his brain. While he wasn’t allowed to skate, work or do so many other things without causing extreme pain or endangering his life, he was still able to mix. After all that turmoil, Ben – and the group – refused to be held back. They say now that the experience made them stronger not only in their brotherhood, but as artists too.

A launch event at local bar Bahama Mamas in February 2022 made it clear what Foulmouth were about. Even after selling out, a queue five people wide formed outside the venue and went so far down the street that a system had to be worked out for safety. For the boys, it was a moment of realisation: the need for events like this was desperate, and they were going to be the ones to provide it. “For us it was like graduating, and this night was to celebrate that,” says Ben.

Now, Foulmouth Audio hosts multiple raves on a monthly basis, with ‘Dubplate Robbery’ proving to be their most popular event. In early 2023 they formed a relationship with local bar Five Degrees West, securing the gig at the reopening of their basement nightclub and bringing established artists such as Napes and AziFM down to headline events alongside them, as well as tapping local DJs and friends to help fill the lineup.

When speaking about Falmouth’s drum and bass scene and its community at large, they radiate excitement – waxing lyrical about their inspirations, such as Bristol-based collective Invicta and legend-DJ Goldie, and the best free parties and venue-held events down South. “We always try to go to as many events as possible,” says Sid, who also freelances as a stage tech at some of the UK’s biggest festivals. “It's a staple to being a part of this community, for supporting each other and for collaborations.”

“Our core goal is to create a safe space for people to express themselves. As we do this, we hope to help grow the scene in Falmouth and remind people of what raving should stand for.”

Sid, Foulmouth Audio

Having already established themselves in the local scene, Foulmouth Audio have begun putting their energy into expanding beyond Cornwall, supporting big name acts like Critical Impact and Bryan Gee and playing events in Plymouth, Bournemouth and, perhaps the most important to them, Bristol. Sets at clubs like Basement 45 and Dare2Club proved that it wasn’t only the Falmouth scene they were set to make moves in. “From our early days as fans to our first headliner, we knew this was a necessary step to elevate our expression and be in the thick of the scene,” says Sid.

When asked what direction they wanted to take the collective, they all said the same thing: “to play bigger venues and festivals, alongside releasing music under the Foulmouth name”. Despite their rapid growth, however, the crew remains grounded. For them, it's still about the music and the community they've built around it. Whilst they share the passion to make a name for themselves in bigger cities, their main concern is to continue playing a vital role at home.

“At the end of the day our core goal is to create a safe space for people to express themselves,” says Sid. “As we do this, we hope to help grow the scene in Falmouth and remind people of what raving should stand for.”

Photography by Benjamin Stamp.

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