Music / News

Collecting love songs from across Bristol

By Martin Booth, Saturday Sep 11, 2021

A Bristol duo who have travelled more than 30,000 miles across Europe in a campervan-recording studio, asking people they met to sing them a love song, are returning to their home city to add diverse Bristol voices to the international project.

More than 1000 love songs in 46 languages have been recorded so far by Gemma Paintin and James Stenhouse of Action Hero as part of Oh Europa.

In Bristol, there will be six opportunities to add to this unique international artwork, with the Oh Europa camper can parking in locations from the Downs to Knowle West.

All the songs collected in Bristol will be broadcast later this year on Ujima Radio and BCFM as well as joining the permanent archive of love and heartbreak which is broadcast 24 hours a day from beacons across Europe via the Oh Europa app.

These are the Bristol locations where the Oh Europa camper van will be:

  • September 11: Theatre on the Downs, 4-8pm
  • September 12: Clifton Observatory, midday-4pm
  • September 18: The Plough, Easton, midday-4pm
  • September 23: Wellspring Settlement, Barton Hill, 2pm-6pm
  • September 25: St Paul’s Learning Centre, 11am-3pm
  • October 2: Filwood Community Centre, 10am-2pm

Bristol artists Gemma Paintin and James Stenhouse have travelled more than 30,000 miles across Europe in a campervan-recording studio as part of their project Oh Europa – photo: Paul Blakemore

Gemma and James said: “After travelling all over Europe asking strangers to sing us a love song, we’re so pleased to be bringing our campervan back home to Bristol!

“We can’t wait to hear the love songs Bristolians have to sing and to add them to our archive.”

Oh Europa in Bristol is presented in collaboration with MAYK, the producers behind Mayfest, Bristol’s biennial international festival of theatre, whose co-directors say that it is “such an honour to be working with the mighty Action Hero to bring this extraordinary work back home to Bristol”.

MAYK’s Kate Yedigaroff and Matthew Austin said: “Action Hero consistently shapeshift and challenge boundaries and preconceptions in order to make connections with audiences all over the world that are vital, honest, moving and full of hope.

“In this moment it feels like hope, joy and connection are the tools we need to feel resilience and pride. We can’t wait to hear Bristol sing.”

Listen to Matthew Austin talk about Oh Europa in the latest episode of the Bristol24/7 Behind the Headlines podcast:

Main photo: Lukasz Michalak

Read more: Love songs beamed across Bristol for Valentine’s Day

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