The British Library preserves The Subways’ Glastonbury demo


A milestone moment in The Subways' history now resides in the British Library’s Sound Archive. The band’s 2004 winning demo entry into Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition has now been digitised as part of a National Lottery Heritage funded effort to preserve and provide access to some of the UK’s rarest and most at-risk sound recordings. This CD, alongside other competition entries, was identified as a significant artefact by the Library’s Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH) project. As it is the only version of the demo to exist, it is a unique snapshot of the band before they were signed. Billy spoke to the UOSH team about the band’s journey from the kitchen in his parents’ council house to the Other Stage at Glastonbury, and what it means to know this demo now resides in the UK’s national library. Listen to all four tracks, and read the interview here.

The Glastonbury New Bands Competition Collection contains more than 4,600 demos that have been submitted by unsigned bands and musicians to the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition from 2004-2009, including some early performances by artists who have, like the Subways, since established themselves in the music industry. It stands out as a noteworthy record of the status of contemporary music genres and youth culture. This collection has now been fully catalogued and preserved, and will be available to the public soon. You can read the full article on the history and impact of the Emerging Talent Competition here.

UOSH is a UK-wide project that will help save the nation’s sounds and open them up to everyone. The British Library is home to the UK’s Sound Archive, an extraordinary collection of over 6.5 million recordings of speech, music, wildlife and the environment, from the 1880s to the present day. However, the nation’s sound collections are under threat, both from physical degradation and as the means of playing them disappear from production. From 2017–22, UOSH will work with partner institutions across the UK to digitise, preserve and share our unique audio heritage.

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