Joe Bates is a composer and curator, and artistic director of Filthy Lucre. His work has been internationally recognised by major competitions such as MATA Festival and the London Symphony Orchestra Panufnik Scheme.
His work is programmed in venues across the UK, from established festivals like Occupy the Pianos, Lammermuir and the Barbican’s Sound Unbound programme, to independent music nights and theatre. It has been described as a work ‘made with brilliant material,’ whose ‘result was utterly uncanny.’ (New York Classical Review) He also performs his own music as an electronic artist. His recent electronic EP, Flim Flam, was described by composer Dominic Murcott as “quirky and floating somewhere between classical music and electronica.”
Joe Bates co-founded Filthy Lucre in 2011. Filthy Lucre puts on events that move from concert to gig to club night. Tied together by artistic concepts, such as cultic rituals and urban sprawl, the events are not determined by genre constraints but by a cohesive artistic vision. Focusing on ambitious contemporary music, Filthy Lucre has performed music from Scott Walker to Fausto Romitelli and collaborated with filmmakers, dancers, visual artists and many more. Filthy Lucre has been described as “a fascinating and daring experiment, performing some challenging 20th-century music in an entirely new and different context.” (Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill)
He was educated at the University of Cambridge by Robin Holloway, where he was awarded the Sir Rudolph Peters Prize for Music. He studied for a Masters in Musicology at Kings College London and studies composition independently with composer Christian Mason. He is also a Clore Emerging Leader, as part of Clore’s scheme for the development of leadership skills in the arts.
Bates’s work explores the boundaries between genres and between the acoustic and the digital. His training was oriented towards contemporary classical music, but included experience in drag bands, and with pop rock and electronic music. His notated work often combines classical forces like orchestras and piano quartets with electronics or with unusual instruments such as Sound Icons. His self-performed works focus on electronics and include his recent electronic EP, Flim Flam.
These works often use alternative tunings and explore the ambiguity they can create. It blends the riffs and harmonies of rock with structures and instrumentation drawn from contemporary classical music. It uses intense, still, driven melodies, drifting synth sounds and notes that fall into the gaps of the traditional Western scale. This aims to evoke the idea of second-order desire: desire at a remove, the desires we choose rather than succumb to.