Industry Interviews

NMC Guest: Aaron (Base Camp Boro & Heelapalooza Festival)

How long have you been active in the north east music scene and what do you do?
I’ve been active in the North East Music Scene for around 15 years now. Since the age of 13 I’ve played in bands and at the age of 18 I took the dive into promoting gigs. Treating it as a hobby or side project until about 2 years ago when Base Camp was starting out. Now I’m an Event Manager and Promoter at Base Camp, hosting everything from films and quizzes to live music and wrestling shows. I run the ‘currently on pause’ Sad For Life Records and I also birthed the Festivals Heelapalooza and Celebrate Everything. 

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
I first became involved in music when I was about 12 because I was surrounded by a music loving family, my Dad would sneak me into 18+ shows to see my two brothers playing to capacity rooms under the town hall and I had a cousin that was off selling out shows in Japan, releasing albums, supporting The Libertines and generally just having a good time. Every aspect of it was exciting to me and I knew I wanted to be involved. I obviously assumed this meant that if I pick an instrument up I’ll be a natural. I was wrong, and average at best.
I started promoting gigs instead at 18 with my friend Leon, hosting a weekly community radio show playing local bands music, a weekly gig at The Legion and frequently allowing too many people in and a free entry 4-band bill at Doctor Browns in Middlesbrough every Thursday(This was 4-Play and later became Whirling Dervish under Joel). We hosted bands like Dead Sons and Chapman Family at times. It was nuts.
I’d later play in the band Bi:Lingual with my friends George and Stephanos (now of Swears) and Dylan Cartlidge(now of Dylan Cartlidge), I always enjoyed promoting the band a bit more than playing. We had a good run and I have some incredible memories with some of the best people. After we split I kind of couldn’t be arsed to embrace the creative side of myself and decided to take myself more serious. I mean I was managing an arcade in a bowling alley. That didn’t last too long.
A few personal issues and walking out of jobs later I eventually started managing a bar in a tattoo studio and decided to use that job as a platform to host weekly gigs in there, I’d also just booked up the gig calendar for a bar on the same road. So one time there was like a 2 month run where 2 of my gigs were happening at the same time on the same road in 2 bars that didn’t like each other very much. I started Sad For Life Records and was playing bass in Heel Turn around this time too, both were exciting fresh projects. all of this caught the attention of Ten Feet Tall… FINALLY. Now I am where I am at Base Camp and in the living happily ever after phase with my work.

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
Crack on. Try it all. Find what you enjoy the most and embrace it. Be that playing an instrument, selling tickets, reviewing shows, taking photos, etc. Most importantly, enjoy yourself through it all. Music and art isn’t meant to be stressful. 

What are your favourite things about the north east music scene? Are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
My favourite thing about the North East Music Scene is the community, the people, I’ve made most of my friends through being involved in music and I have the best friends in the world so….
Some personal highlights for me include all of the gigs Bi:Lingual had with allusindrugs, there wasn’t a boring moment and we thrived off each others energy. Supporting DZ Deathrays was a good’un.
My favourite time ever though had to be promoting and running Heelapalooza, I had no idea what I was doing but i embraced every opportunity like Jim Carrey in Yes Man and it paid off. Refereeing the first ever No Ring Death Match in the UK on the floor of a nightclub in the middle of the day with glass, blood and bodies everywhere. I should have been running a stage but I wasn’t gonna miss that opportunity. 

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
If anyone’s interesting in following me and seeing what I’m up to just follow @basecampboro @heelapalooza @sadforliferecords and @aaronjohnlythe and if anyone wants to get in touch just follow me or add me on socials and message me. I hate formal emails but if you’re that way inclined my email is alternatively if you fancy a game of Warzone my activision account is BobbyTurmeric#4733037
Facebook: Base Camp Boro | Heelapalooza | Sad For Life Records
Instagram: Base Camp Boro | Heelapalooza | Sad For Life Records

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