RadiOh Europa

In the last couple of weeks we've been bombing around getting our new performance 'RadiOh Europa' ready for its first showing at Transform festival in Leeds, and then again at Fondation Cartier in Paris. We've now just got back from Paris, the gearbox is still not fixed (believe me we're trying!) so we drove the whole way home without first gear. The performances went well though. Thanks to anyone who came or tuned in online (over 700 people listened online!) and thanks to all the people who have sung for us in the last year, your courage and your care pours out of the work and we've done our best to foreground your voices because its the voices of those who have come forward to sing that make this idea what it is.

We're having a short rest and then we'll be back on the road (hopefully with a new gearbox!) soon and you can catch us in Salisbury, London, Hebden Bridge and Rennes in the next couple of months. RadiOh Europa will be performed in London at Greenwich and Docklands international festival next (on 23rd June). IN the mean time you can read a little article about us and our van in the guardian

See you somewhere soon!


Transform festival Leeds April 2019

In 2019 we're presenting a new collection of works that span a continent, re-imagining the ways we think about Europe. We're returning to Leeds where our journey began to present the full Oh Europa experience, commissioned for Transform Festival 2019


They'll be a drop-in micro-exhibition in our motorhome and free guided tours plus a 20 hour-long performance called RadiOh Europa in which we'll play every love song we've recorded to date.

We'll also be in Leeds in our van collecting more love songs so keep an eye out for us and add your voice to our collection. More info here!


So we made it! 31598km later and we're back in Bristol! We're currently trying to re-acclimatise to living in a house and not moving everyday. Its going to take some time we think, everything feels strange. The fact that water continuously flows out of taps, the fact that there's more than one room to spend time in. The fact that we're not outside most of the time, all feels weird. We're sad to leave life on the road behind, its been such an enormous pleasure and we've felt so lucky to have been able to make it all happen and the project exceeded our most optimistic expectations.

We travelled to 32 countries in total, we recorded over 700 people singing love songs in French, Spanish, German, Czech, Slovakian, Russian, Romany, Finnish, Hungarian, Swiss-German, Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Arabic, Chinese, Filipino, Greek, Swedish, Romanian, Ukranian, Portugese and more! We met so many people and felt so overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of the people we met, and the willingness to sing for us. We were worried that when we returned to the UK the weight of the Brexit situation and the atmosphere of the country would feel difficult or a shock to the system. We imagined ourselves pulling up in the drizzle in Bristol and facing cynicism or indifference to what we were doing but instead, we pulled up in the bright Autumn sunshine and people were full of love and hope and enthusiasm and loads and loads of people sang for us and we remembered that the people of Bristol, and the people of the UK are warm, full of humour, creative, talented, brilliant people. It was a great ending to the project.

The next night our van was parked outside our house and someone grafittied it. Just a kid probably. It was a small tag but it felt upsetting to have the van de-faced. We managed to get it off but the next day, parking in a different spot to try and avoid it happening again a man came out is house and grumbled about 'people in vans' and said he had is 'eye on us'. Both small incidents but a reminder that its a challenge to continue to respond with love and that people in all their complexity will not always have love to give.

But we will continue. This 6 month journey is over but we will continue to travel and to invite the people we meet to sing. The songs we have collected will continue to broadcast all day everyday on the 42 beacons we have placed across the continent, and we will continue to add more beacons so more people can travel to hear the songs, and perhaps find a space within their lives to listen to the voices of other people in Europe and hear all the loneliness, the heartbreak, the loss, the longing, the regret, the hope, the warmth and the love that they are feeling.

We'll also be presenting a performance and exhibition from early next year in various places across the UK and Europe so keep an eye out for that, and in the meantime find a beacon near you and listen to the songs, or watch the videos we made from the trip, or listen to a podcast or read this lovely article in the Independent about our journey, or just think of a love song you know and sing it to yourself or to someone you love.

Over and out (until next year)

James and Gemma

Liebeslieder singen!

We're now in Germany, having spent a big chunk of our time in Greece recording a record-breaking number of love songs. The Greek public took to the idea with a level of enthusiasm we could only have dreamed of and despite the August heat they came in their hundreds to sing for us. We then caught a boat to Italy and travelled up through the Alps (putting a beacon on the Lunghin pass at 2645metres on the way!) and now into Germany. This weekend we're back in Neustadt an da Weinstrasse where we came in May to record some love songs at the Hambach! Demokratie festival. Its really nice to be back here both because its a really beautiful, peaceful part of the world but also because its offered us a chance to reflect on the journey, having now made a complete circuit across the continent. We're staying in the same place we were in May, in the driveway of a lovely lady called Birgit who likes our 'friendly dotted van' and who brings us cakes she's baked. Since we were last here we've stayed overnight in a vast range of weird and wonderful places. On the side of busy highways in Belgium, on the banks of mosquito invested swamps in Lapland, in farmyards, in an orchard, in huge monolithic campsites with waterparks, gyms and tennis courts and in someone's back garden. We've slept (or tried to anyway) on a beach in Greece surrounded all night be fishermen towing their boats in and out of the water, we've slept in a village square in Portugal, a vineyard in Hungary, on the banks of a lake in Macedonia. Carparks in city centres, churchyards, boatyards, in the middle of a busy music festival, directly under a relentlessly chirpy nightingale's perch in France, in the Alps at 2000 metres, on a ferry, in a truck stop completely surrounded by huge articulated lorries. Its been many nights on the road, some more restful than others, and being back in this part of Germany feels already a little like coming home. We only have 5 weeks left of the journey so the end is close but we still have journeys to Finland to visit the brilliant Anti-festival, The Netherlands and Romania! A final audacious, flourish of crazy long distance drives for this audacious crazy project before we come home to Bristol on the 20th October. Hopefully we'll meet you somewhere soon x

Love song podcasts

photo credits: Pelagia Karanikola/ SNFCC & Paul Blakemore

Baltic to Balkan

We're now in Serbia on our way to Athens, via Macedonia. The drive down through Finland and the Baltics was punishing in lots of ways. The van took a beating on the roads in Lapland and its needed an oil change sooner than we expected and a new set of tyres. The water pump stopped working in Estonia and the door fell off in Latvia as well! We managed to get everything fixed without too much fuss though. There's always someone around to help. Our headlamp kept blowing its fuse but we pulled into a small garage this morning and a man quickly fixed it with a pair of pliers and some electrical tape and didn't charge us anything. Magical helpers have sorted us out at every turn.

On our way through Hungary we recorded love songs at a festival called Ordokatlan. The festival takes place in 4 villages in the South West part of Hungary near the border with Croatia. We were parked up there for 4 days and recorded over one hundred songs! Everyone was very happy to sing for us, and the folk song tradition in Hungary seems very alive as everyone, no matter what age, knew a folk song. We also had the opportunity to visit some singing groups in the villages and record them singing which was such a treat. The membership of the clubs is dwindling as they get older. Its mostly elderly widows left in the clubs (our oldest singer was 90 years old!) and where they were once 70 strong they're now down to a handful of members, but the strength of their voices was really beautiful to hear. We feel very lucky to have met them and to have their voices as part of the broadcasts.

Our next official stop to record songs is in Athens so we're now steadily making our way there in the heat so fingers crossed nothing else goes wrong with the van!

Nordkapp 71° 10" 21

We reached Nordkapp today, the most Northerly point in Europe. Its 11 weeks since we left Bristol and we've driven 14,830km before arriving here. We placed a beacon here this morning so anyone who comes here can listen to all the love songs we record. They'll be listening to the same love songs as someone listening at the beacon we left in Punta Tarifa in Spain, some 4315km away (as the crow flies).

The sun doesn't set at this time of year this far North so we've been in continuous sunlight for a while now. We reached the Arctic Circle in Sweden yesterday (we've left a beacon there too) and half bouyed by the magical light, half chased off by a mosquito apocalypse, we just carried on driving after dinner and didn't stop until we'd arrived in Norway. The midnight sun illuminating the forests and fjords as we drove through lapland in a weird late night hysteria was one of the highlights of the trip so far. After a few hours sleep we continued on until we reached Nordkapp. Despite its extreme remoteness, people have been visiting here for centuries (the first tourist was Francesco Negri, a priest from Ravenna in Italy who came here from Ravenna, Italy in 1664) so the North cape itself is a strange combination of utter barren remoteness and tourist trap. The Nordkapp centre includes a panaromic cinema and a 'light cave experience' (we don't even know).

Tomorrow we'll head south again starting the long journey through Finland and take the ferry at Helsinki to Tallin and keep heading south until we get to Athens. Take a look at the map and you'll see there's now lots of beacons playing the love songs. If you're curious to hear some of the songs before you make the 4,000km trek to Nordkapp you can listen to a few of them here

Listen to some Love songs

Because we've recorded so many amazing love songs we decided to make a short podcast as a taster for those of you who either can't make it to a beacon or those of you who have visited a beacon but still want to hear more songs! We recorded it in Sweden, and its us introducing just a few of the songs we've recorded so far.

You can access it here