Industry Interviews

NMC Guest: Simon Shaw (KU Promotions)

How long have you been active in the north east music scene and what do you do?
Hey, I’ve been active since I was 18 years old as a musician, I think I put my first gig on when I was 22 as a promoter? I’m 33 years old now, it’s been a long long time. My main role is co-promoter over at KU Promotions alongside Jimmy Beck but I also am a rep for other gigs and even more recently also take photos/videos of gigs. Bass playing wise I’ve played in a fair few projects most notably Cape Cub but currently playing with ‘Travis Shaw’ and ‘Church, Honey’ with a couple others TBA (that’s a promoter joke but also true).

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
I’ll speak mainly as a promoter from now on as that’s been my full-time work for so long and probably more interesting than wanting to perform on stage ‘because it’s class’. I wanted to put gigs on because I wanted my mates to have somewhere to play at the start.  I did everything myself to keep the costs down to please the venue owner at the time which meant setting up, doing the sound, taking little breaks away from the desk to take photos and serve some drinks if the bar was busy. I did that four, sometimes five nights a week for three years. I do think I’m still here because I’m very honest and friendly and people can see I’m horribly working class, I’m not from money in fact my parents were both disabled growing up. I am a people pleaser and somewhat live my happiness through the events I put on. I love live music, I don’t think there’s anything better than a dead good gig.

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
If you’re wanting to be a promoter I’d say find your local small venues, go in and watch the gigs as early as possible, maybe turn up at the door time. Stay as long as you are allowed and watch and take in what’s happening. Usually these gigs have the lowest overheads so speak to the owner of the building and see how feasible it would be to put a night on and explain it’ll be your first. Thankfully the buzz with your mates about your first promoted gig will be enough to fill a small room but then comes the graft. Little tips that always work is to keep the bands happy with expectations of what the gig is and how sales are going. Keep your engineers happy by sticking to planned timings and give them enough space and time to work. Keep everyone safe and most importantly, look after yourself. It’s a tough craft at times because the buck literally stops at you, if an event fails it’s because you didn’t get it right and that’s okay.

What are your favourite things about the north east music scene? Are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
I think the word wholesome is the vibe for me. I love seeing people succeed in their own expectations. My favourite thing is listening to people talk about something they really care about and the music world is full of those kinds of people.

Are there any upcoming events that you’re especially excited about and, if so, why?
The big one we’re promoting this year is a new music festival in Stockton called The Gathering Sounds festival. The best way to describe it to gig going fans is that it is a very slightly smaller Stockton Calling festival. Six stages all in established music venues like Georgian Theatre, ARC and KU itself. We’ve got This Feeling and Under The Influence promoters curating their own stages at this years festival. The line-ups announced please do check out because I could write a book about them all by now, headliners are Red Rum Club, Sophie and the Giants and The Mysterines, Du Blonde and Himalayas. It really feels like this is the year for a bloody big all day music festival ey?

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
My personal social media accounts are full of my work or you can check out KU Stockton on the usual places, I’m over at @SimonShawBass. Always happy to answer questions and I love a good natter so if you spot me at a gig let’s chat. Thanks very much for the questions Northern Music Collective.
KU Stockton: Facebook | Simon: Instagram & Twitter

Industry Interviews

NMC Guest: Rotate Records

Who are, or what is, Rotate Records? And what do you do?
Rotate Records is a Durham based dance music label looking to expose the city’s present, but unseen production talent. The label is one part of the multi-faceted organisation, Rotate: a collective of producers and DJs whose primary goal is to provide a platform for Durham based artists to promote their music and bring the local scene onto the map. We want to bring together the huge mix of tastes, skills and sounds from both the student and local communities and our debut project, the various artists compilation ‘66 Saddler Street’, aims to do just that.

What is the history of Rotate Records?
Rotate grew from a group of students who had a strong collective appreciation for underground dance music. We actually started from a house party that essentially moved house and turned into a full fledged weekly Wednesday night club event. That first year, pioneered by the ‘founding fathers’ Luke Thorne and Callum Traynor, saw this close community grow. The next year Isaac Green, Andy Knape, Dina Hudson and Brettan Garrett continued their legacy and brought in wider crowds, attracting those not so used to our kind of music, whilst at the same time still giving grassroot DJs the chance to play a live headline set. This year, despite the obvious lockdown restrictions we expanded our organisation. With such a strong following from the previous years, we had all the backing to start a podcast series and begin our new label Rotate Records. Fortunately, these were possible to do at a time when events were not.

What are your aims or mission statements?
Rotate’s primary focus has always been to provide a platform for Durham based dance musicians to showcase their music, whether that be DJs or producers, local or student. With our events, we aim to give fledgling DJs the opportunity to perform a headline set, often their debut. With Rotate Records, we aim to showcase the raw talent of dance music producers in Durham that have been under our noses the whole time.

How did Rotate become integrated in the music scene in the North East? And what is next for Rotate Records?
Rotate as a collective has comprised a number of students over the years who have had ties to Newcastle in the North East especially. Our residents at Rotate have been going to raves in Newcastle since before the brand was founded, notably events run by Rush, Ape-X and Ill Behaviour. It is through these events that we’ve been able to get in touch with DJs and producers and integrate ourselves with the music community in the North East. Everyone has been so accommodating and ready to go out on a limb to help out, which has really helped us to grow and develop.

We’ve got a lot of exciting plans for the next couple of months, after our debut compilation release on June 18th, we’ve got a couple of events lined up in Durham. We’re doing a takeover at the BST Durham Terrace Party alongside Harrison BDP and Hamdi on the 21st of June and have numerous other events in venues around Durham. After this premiere compilation we have a couple of singles lined up to release over the summer which we’re hoping coincides with the return of events and clubs over the coming months.

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
As cliche as it is, above all else strive to be ambitious and independent. For us, we’ve never been afraid to stray from the beaten path and as a result we’ve adapted to all the challenging conditions we’ve had to face over the last year. The majority of us had not done much before we got involved with Rotate, it was just a case of putting in the hours at any opportunity and loving every bit of it that got us where we are now.

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
We’ve got a website which we keep updated regularly with our mix series, live streams, podcasts, playlists, merch and events:

Check out our social media as well for all our latest events and news:

You can also get in touch by email at 

Industry Interviews

NMC Guest: Bekka (The Tyne Tribe)

How long have you been active in the north east music scene and what do you do?
Oooh. This is a hard question to answer as I’ve been in and out for years, ha! But if we’re focusing on what I do currently, then I would say since the start of 2021.

I had the idea of wanting to create a newsletter database for gig-listings for when the world is out of the pandemic. I got too excited and launched The Tyne Tribe on International Women’s Day. In it’s current form, it’s best described as a curated newsletter of some of my favourite musical discoveries from the North East who I call “The Tribe” (I spent four years in London so I’m basically re-educating myself) and it also features some small-scale reviews, shares other publications articles’ and songs I’m currently listening to.

As lockdown restrictions ease it will focus more towards listings, events and music news but for now I am enjoying sharing some of our regions best talent and being able to provide another platform to shout about how wicked everyone is.

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
So I used to have a couple of online zines from around 2011-2015 that focused more on promoting acts from the UK and USA rather than necessarily regionally. I went to University in Sunderland though, so had some very ad-hoc single review pieces published in The Crack and on the Uni’s website as well.

But my zines helped me land an internship at Sony Music so I moved down south and worked on various releases including Blue, Judas Priest, Carrie Underwood and Live Lounge. After my year was up I moved to a digital agency where I spent three years creating social strategies and album campaigns for Ward Thomas, Calum Scott, Tom Walker, Years & Years, The xx, Ellie Goulding and loads more! It was a brilliant experience and I loved seeing the real industry side of things that seems to be hidden to us Northerners.

After four years down south I decided to come back up North and for a while I didn’t do too much. I was briefly involved with Sofar Sounds and also did some live music photography which is a big passion of mine, but only this year did I decide to properly get back into the scene because I miss it so much and it’s also grown bloody loads which is amazing.

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
Just go for it. Regardless of what area you want to get into whether its writing, photography, promotions, playing in a band –  just give it a go. I spent years being scared to network because I thought people wouldn’t take me seriously so have the confidence to fight for whatever it is you want and as long as you work hard you’ll get there. Also be nice to people, the music industry is way smaller than you think and connections are everything.

What are your favourite things about the north east music scene? Are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
The people. Honestly, I know everyone says it but it’s so true. I haven’t got a lot of connections in the North because I was too scared to make any before I moved (so hiya if you’re reading this, let’s grab a beer) but since I have started The Tyne Tribe you can see how truly supportive everyone is of each other and it’s refreshing to see.

I think my personal highlights are just becoming more familiar with the local venues since coming home. I took them for granted before, but now they’re some of my favourite places to be.

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
If you’re interested in The Tyne Tribe we’re on Twitter @thetynetribe, or you can subscribe to the newsletter that goes out twice a month here (it’s free)

If you wanna be pals with me and grab that beer, I’m at @bekkacollins on Twitter, but also still do freelance social strategy work and shoot gigs when I can 

Industry Interviews

Forward NE

What is Forward NE and what does it hope to achieve?
Forward NE is a supportive network for female, trans and non-binary musicians, working for equality and diversity in the North East music scene. We’ll be doing this via workshops, seminars, networking and industry insights, and we’re really hoping this activity will be shaped by the participants’ needs.
Our core group is made up of women with several decades of experience between us, and vast contacts and networks to call upon to help provide additional support.

Forward NE Logo

How can others become involved?
We really want our activity to be shaped by those in the industry, so we’re encouraging people to join our first event on Tuesday 27th April at 6pm via Zoom to meet like-minded people and have an informal chat about what we can do moving forward, sign up for a free ticket here:

Why is this needed?
While things may have improved over recent years, the playing field is nowhere near level for women and gender minorities in the music industry. In our region alone there are more male promoters than female; you’re more likely to come across all-male line-ups at gigs and festivals and gender minorities are often not represented at all. Nationally, women make up just 19% of artists signed to UK music labels in 2019*; female acts accounted for just 10% of the most played songs by British artists on BBC Radio 1 and 6Music from June 19-20**. There are also deeper underlying issues around safe spaces and how women, trans and non-binary musicians are treated in the industry.
* Research conducted by Vick Bain, Counting the Music Industry: The Gender Gap
** Guardian article

Are there any other organisations or resources you’d recommend to others too?
There are some great organisations in the North East already highlighting some important research and pushing for change. Check out the likes of Tits Upon Tyne, Sister Shack CIC, Crystallized, Newcastle Council’s Shout Up campaign, labels like Coat Rack Records and Rebel Rose, champions like Sheesiders and Hun.

How can people find out more about Forward NE?
Check us out on social media:
People can also email us at

How can people stay up to date with Forward NE? Are there social media accounts or a mailing list that people can join or follow?
We’ll be keeping people informed on our activity via a mailing list, which can be signed up to here:

Industry Interviews

NMC Guest: Jordan (Editor at Spotlight Music)

How long have you been active in the north east music scene and what do you do?
I am the editor and manager for which is a North East based music blog, but we also occasionally do video content and put on gigs too.
My role is primarily to organise and delegate content to our volunteer writing team and make sure that it is of a good standard when we publish it and share it on social media.
In addition to this I am constantly networking with musicians, PR, managers, photographers and venues to make sure that they are on our radar and we are doing our best to help those who need it.
I’ve been active as a journalist and reviewer for around four years, an editor for three of those years and sole owner of the Spotlight brand since 2018 when it’s other founders moved on to pursue different projects.

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
I’ve been going to gigs since I was 16, we used to get a lot of the national up and coming metalcore and hardcore bands come through Newcastle on tour so I was constantly at the 02 Arena and The Cluny for those. When I started a journalism course at uni I initially wanted to pursue a career in news journalism, but found myself being involved more and more in local arts and culture projects. I met one of the founding members of Spotlight while at university as it was just starting out and they were looking for writers, before long I was writing content for the website and not long after that I was sub-editing other writers’ contributions and helping to organise their events and social media.

Spotlight became my priority once I graduated from university and I jumped at the chance to officially take over ownership of the website in 2018.

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
If you haven’t found an artist or project you love in your local music scene, don’t give up! There’s always a huge range of hard working individuals in every genre imaginable, you just might need to scratch beneath the surface or try something new.
Take a chance and see a random band play live (Post-pandemic obviously) or start asking around for some recommendations, read blogs or listen to playlists and I’m almost certain something exciting will show up.
You can build some really rewarding relationships just by showing an interest in your local artistic community and more often than not the musicians are hugely grateful for your support.

If you’re wanting to get involved in writing reviews, features or music journalism I would say that there is no secret key to success other than to practice and delve into reviews made by others. Try out different styles and formats until you find something that fits you.
Start your own blog or see if you can contribute to a pre-existing one and be open to feedback and constructive criticism so you can learn and grow.
But definitely don’t be hard on yourself if you find yourself struggling to find inspiration or can’t quite reach a stage where you’re comfortable showing off your work to others yet.
Everybody starts from this point and you are absolutely as capable of being a fantastic writer as everyone else!

What are your favourite things about the north east music scene? Are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
I love that, even after all this time, I’m still finding new musicians, labels and projects that I’d never heard before! 
There is always something new around the corner to discover, and a dedicated following ready to help support it, no matter how niche.
I’m also so encouraged by the fact that, once you start engaging with the music scene, familiar faces show up in crowds or on stage and that makes the experience feel more special.
This is especially true when you’ve been involved for a few years and you can see artists develop and grow over time!

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
Spotlight Music: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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

Industry Interviews

NMC Guest: Claire (Founder & Editor at NARC. Magazine)

How long have you been active in the north east music scene and what do you do?
I’ve been going to gigs in the region since around 2002. Music and writing have always been a passion and I started freelancing for local magazines and newspapers but ended up a bit frustrated that there wasn’t an outlet for me to talk about the amazing talent I was discovering in the region, so I set NARC. magazine up in 2006 to fill a gap in the market – both for likeminded writers, but also for musicians to get a wider platform. Since then, we’ve become an established part of the region’s cultural landscape, a source of alternative music and culture news, reviews, interviews and opinions, with a dedicated audience and a trusted voice.

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
Mostly by good old fashioned networking – if you can call going to gigs and talking to anyone who’d listen to me ‘networking’! In the early days, attending as many gigs as I could and meeting new people was absolutely essential in building a picture of the region and understanding the scene. It’s often at gigs that I meet writers who are keen to join the team, and hear bits of news that end up turning into articles.
I’d like to think we’re approachable and open to anyone who wants to be featured in our pages, and we treat musicians and creatives in a fair and friendly manner.

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
When it comes to writing, just doing it a lot will serve you well! When I was first starting out for at least a year I read nothing but music magazines – across every genre and style imaginable – and I read them from cover to cover. It helped me to understand the style of writing I liked (and that I didn’t like) and helped to shape my own voice.
When I first started out, there wasn’t really anyone to ask advice from or get any insight into the industry, so I largely forged my own path and made it up as I went along for the most part – now I’d like to think that there are more resources out there for budding writers, and I’d certainly like to encourage people interested in music and culture writing to get in touch with us at NARC., I’m always happy to give advice to writers as well as bands looking to get a bit of an insight into the world of press and promotion.

What are your favourite things about the north east music scene? Are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
We’re a small region, but I think we have the potential to make a lot of noise. Being somewhat isolated from the rest of the country has its plus points, I think the music scene is largely quite supportive and there are a lot of well-meaning people and organisations who can help steer musicians on the right path (like Tees Music Alliance, Generator and Tracks). I think it’s this aspect that makes me feel the most proud to live here and be involved in the music scene.
In terms of personal highlights, right now I’m feeling very wistful about the events we’ve been involved with in the past – things like NARC. Fest and Stockton Calling – these festivals are always a highlight of my calendar, as I get to see so many bands and meet music fans, which is really at the heart of what we do at NARC. I can’t wait to get back to a sweaty music venue and some loud music!

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
Our monthly magazine can be found on Issuu while we’re digital-only – and when we’re in print our list of outlets are on our website, where you’ll also find loads of original content including videos, features and exclusives. NARC. TV is our magazine-style online programme, which features performances and interviews by local artists filmed in local venues – that’s available to watch at
And we’re on the usual social media channels too: Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.
Anyone is welcome to get in touch by emailing me at

Industry Interviews

NMC Guest: Adam (Promoter [Famous Last Words] & Founder of MUNRO Festival)

How long have you been active in the north east music scene and what do you do?
I have had a voice in the music scene for nearly nine years. Famous Last Words started in 2016 and the majority of the organising, planning, designing the work, promotion and managing I have done myself.

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
Following the blog, I took an interest in the event organisation, planning and the behind the scenes of live music events. This included preparation, familiarising myself with all aspects of the event, equipment and promotion. In doing so, I started working with events company Ten Feet Tall, that at the time were based at the Middlesbrough Empire. During my work with them, I created Famous Last Words. FLW has been a huge personal success as I have worked with incredible local artists and some further afield. I have also had the pleasure of managing stages at Stockton Calling, The Gathering Sounds and Twisterella over the past few years. FLW have also managed it’s own all day festival called MUNRO for the past two years.

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
The three most important tips I always give to people, if they ask me this question, are:

Tip 1 – Get to know everyone within the music scene, physically go to gigs, have a look around see who is there; 99% of the time people will always have a chat with you and if they don’t know something they’ll help you by directing you towards someone who does.

Tip 2 – Get involved because you love music, not because you want to make money from it. I can’t stress this enough, at a grassroots level everyone is doing it because they love music. There isn’t any other reason than that.

Tip 3 – Don’t be a doyle. Simple advice.

What are your favourite things about the north east music scene? Are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
The North East music scene is amazing, from Newcastle to Hartlepool, from Sunderland to Stockton, it’s full of class talent.
The togetherness as such, everyone is wanting everyone to do amazing things and take it to the next level, I think because sometimes the North East does get over looked in some ways, it gives everyone a motivation to prove people wrong and the area has been doing that for years now which is class.
My highlights as a promoter would be selling out gigs, Cape Cub & Michael Gallagher are probably the highlights for me in that sense because they were the first two I did. Working with Stockton Calling is always a blast as well, always one of the first things I write on my calendar whether it be as a promoter or as a ticket goer.
The highlight that is always in every gig and I don’t know if anyone else does it as a promoter but I watch people leave and if I see people leaving with a smile, I have done my job, giving them a nice night, bit of entertainment. Always something I look for.

MUNRO is always a highlight, working with the likes of The Lottery Winners, The K’s, Komparrison, Plastic Glass, Club Paradise, Walt Disco. I could spend all day chatting about MUNRO but I don’t want to bore your readers too much.

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
Famous Last Words can be found @FamousLastBoro on all socials! I do prefer if bands want to send me something or are wanting to work with me, to email me at
Famous Last Words: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Industry Interviews

NMC Guest: Emily (Owner of Darling Zine, Journalist & Assistant Director of Tits Upon Tyne)

How long have you been active in the North East music scene and what do you do?
Since I was born! There was never a defining moment that I got involved in the scene. My dad is a DJ, hosts events, runs Method Radio, and worked at Sage Gateshead so I’ve always been brought up around and involved in the music scene.

I am now a journalist, primarily discussing music, which has always been my dream job. I write for a range of publications such as NE Volume, Spotlight Music, The Music Files and others outside of the North East. My articles can range from music reviews to opinion pieces about women in the scene. I was also promoted to Assistant Head of Tits Upon Tyne at the start of December 2020 which means I run a team of writers, organise timetable as well as doing social media promo etc.

With the pause in live music, which was previously my main job, I began my own publication, Darling, during the start of Lockdown number one. Darling promotes women and non-binary musicians who don’t seem to get the attention they deserve in mainstream media. I have so much fun with this as I got to explore design as well as meeting loads of amazing people.

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
As soon as I was old enough I started volunteering at Sage Gateshead teaching music editing to youth offenders and disabled youth. Through this, I also got to host my own event and work at festivals like The Bridge and Americana.

I have a tiny bit of experience as a musician playing at places like Durham Cathedral but I was never passionate about being on the stage, especially not in the more classical scene I found myself. Instead, I branched off from that and got a job working in promotions at O2 Academy/City Hall Newcastle. This job was an absolute dream job especially while I was in Sixth Form, I got to see so many amazing performances. I miss concerts so much but thankfully I was able to be involved in the Socially Distanced Virgin Money Arena in summer which was super cool.

With all this experience in a range of sectors, I think I’ve managed to make a lot of connections which really helps with my journalism. I always keep myself crazy busy, taking any opportunity I can find and I think that really pays off too.

I always wanted to do something creative, loved music and was drawn to English as an academic subject. I’m now studying an English Literature BA with the goal of doing a Journalism MA after that. Writing was always something that came easy – you didn’t have to overthink things like you do in Maths or Science; there’s more freedom. The idea of a 9-5 office job also terrifies me, I like to be in control but have a deadline at the same time so writing allows for that balance as well as being something I genuinely love to do. I also try to be involved in everything at once and writing allows me to explore this by finding new things and new people.

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
Be confident! Talk to as many people as you can because 9/10 times they are happy to answer any questions you have. While it’s pretty difficult at the moment to meet people, once concerts have resumed they are a really great place to find like-minded people.

What are your favourite things about the North East music scene? Are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
I love the community! Newcastle is so small so it’s pretty easy to get to know people if you’re willing whether that’s in a work environment or just through random conversations at Dog and Parrot.

One highlight that sticks in my head is dancing on stage with Goldie at Lindisfarne Festival. It was actually my last festival pre-corona (September 2019) and I was able to work as a stagehand. I love Lindisfarne because it feels like a little community, everyone there is always so happy.

Also working at the O2, Christmas parties were amazing. Seeing the whole venue become a playground for staff was so surreal after going there as an audience member for so many years – the scary bouncers aren’t actually that scary, especially once they’ve had a few pints.

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
You can view my cv & full portfolio at
There’s also the option to subscribe so you can see when I’ve written a new article!

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NMC Guest: Victoria Wai (Photographer)

How long have you been active in the north east music scene and what do you do?
Too many years – always stop/start but in it for the long haul. I am a predominately a live music photographer but also do documentary style photography from recording/rehearsal studios, backstage and soundcheck which is where my heart lies – I’ve also started to do (live) videos when artists/management/venues allow. Video is very much a working progress but definitely a direction that I am going.

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
I simply love music. I cannot play, sing or write but somehow found an eye for photography and managed to combine that with music and it is through pure passion I have got to where I am. I am a bit of an introvert so have held back a lot and maybe have let a few opportunities go because of it and somehow although I am more in the shadows a lot of people know (of) me which has led to conversations and a building of trust and honesty from it. Sometimes a bit too much trust on my half but you live and learn.

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
Do what you love and love what you do. Follow your heart and not the crowd. If you’re honest with yourself then the path you find yourself on will be genuine and the hard work will pay off one way or another. It sounds so cheesy but it’s a harsh world out there and you have to genuinely be in it for the love of it otherwise you will lose your way. Talk to as many people as you can and get involved with as many things you can but also look after yourself.

What are your favourite things about the north east music scene? Are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
If I am honest, I started on the North East scene but then found myself in London a lot as the sounds down there got me more and the artists I loved rarely came to the North East so I had a huge gap from when I started to where I have found myself in recent years and in this time I’ve come to embrace the North East scene. There are so many of the familiar faces in the crowd that when I am flying solo photographing gigs and I am restricted to three numbers I can normally hang with someone I didn’t come with for the rest of the gig. Or even if I am there for the full gig at least there are friendly faces I can talk to in between sets – whether that be the gig goer or a performer on stage to even the sound engineer and the person in control of the lights. I love the genuine support that most of the artists have for each other too and when I’ve met those on the other side from journalists in radio and print to studio managers and sound engineers you just feel the support of everyone wanting people to succeed. It is true community spirit.

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
If you want visuals then Instagram is probably the best platform but you can also find me on Twitter with some photos but a lot of chat/rant about other things. I am @Victoria__Wai on both platforms and that is with two underscores. Facebook if you want the quieter version of me which is Victoria Wai Photography.
One day I will get to grips with my website but at time of writing it is broken, however my email is open and I can be reached at ‘’ should that be better for you
And when gigs start up again come say “hi”. A lot of the times my head is on the game and I might not see you so I am not ignoring you but just working.
Victoria Wai: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter