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Guest Interviews

NMC Guest: Stephen (Tech Manager, Oxjam & NOVA Radio)

How long have you been active in the North East music scene and what do you do?
If we want to go back to my early DJing days, that takes us back about 18 years. Over that time what I’ve done has changed a lot. For the past 6/7 years I’ve been mainly associated with Oxjam Newcastle, I started to bring most elements of what I do under that brand including my radio show, which I’ve recently renamed as I’m trying to separate the elements of what I do into distinct things in themselves again.
So what do I do right now I guess is easier to answer. I present the Grassroots Music show on Nova Radio North East, which is my main outlet for promoting new music I really love. I’m currently Tech Manager at The Globe which has been really important to my need to see live music this year as working tech for the livestreams has allowed me to continue to see gigs over the past year. Pandemic conditions have put Oxjam events on hold for the past year but I’m still Oxjam Newcastle Manager, I’ve been running the festival in Newcastle since 2014 and it has been a big part of my life for most of that time.
Versatility is important, the more you learn to do, the more opportunities you will have to get involve.

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
I think music plays a big part in most people lives at some point, there’s something naturally human about that and it crosses borders, eras and cultures. Its always been pretty important to me though my tastes have, not so much changed as expanded a lot over time. I started out as a DJ and still love a lot of electronic music, but over the years as I discovered new scenes my tastes expanded a lot. After DJ-ing for a while I really wanted to learn production, making dance music had always sort of been the thing I wanted to do but I wasn’t much into tech growing up and DJ-ing had seemed easier to understand, I also found a free DJ-ing course where I learned the basics of that. I went to college to try to learn some production basics and stayed in education much longer than anticipated, eventually leaving Uni with a Master’s Degree in music. More important than the academic side of college/university was the exposure to lots of other music’s and music scenes. As a student I got involved with radio for the first time, put on my first events and learned to sound engineer events (A class at college I really hated initially). Post-uni I just looked for any opportunities to get involved with stuff, running a few events, doing some dj-ing volunteering at venues like the Star and Shadow and getting involved as a volunteer with Oxjam, anything to stay active I guess.
The local music scene is a meritocracy, the more you do the more you get to do.

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
There are lots of opportunities to get involved with the music scene, so get involved. There’s not a lack of people that want help with projects and you will always get further with collaboration than you will just working on your own. The most important thing is to do something, if you want to get into radio but don’t have a station, start a podcast. Want to write? Start a blog. The other side of this of course is to remember reputation matters, people need to know they can rely on you if they are going to keep working with you, so do get involved with projects, but only as many as you can realistically put the required time into.
Be active, get involved, be reliable.

What are your favourite things about the North East music scene are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
I loved the variety, it doesn’t matter how long you have been involved locally or how much about the scene you think you know, there’s always something new happening (sometimes something old happening) your going to come across you didn’t know existed.
There’s not one North East music scene, there are multiple and many of the scenes know very little about some other scene’s existence. For someone like me that likes variety, it’s a good thing. You can usually learn much more from a scene you know nothing about than you can about a scene you are embedded in.
Keep an open ear and an open mind, and never get into a place where you think you know everything that’s going on.

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
For the radio show check out the Grassroots Music Show on Facebook or Instagram, the pages are pretty small at the minute as I was until recently running everything through Oxjam Newcastle. If you have music you want me to play, send it over – never hold back from sending me music to listen to: I love listening to new music. General advice when sending out your music; pick one or two of your best tracks, that’s generally good advice but I listen to everything so with me you can send as much as you want.
Grassroots Music Show: Facebook | Instagram
Oxjam Newcastle: Facebook | Instagram
Email: oxjamnewcastletakeover@gmail.com


Categories
Guest Interviews

NMC Guest: Sean (Sofar Sounds Newcastle)

How long have you been active in the north-east music scene and what do you do?
Sofar Sounds is an organisation that set up secret, intimate gigs in hundreds of cities worldwide and the Newcastle branch has been around since 2013. Our shows aim to put the focus back onto the musicians, and allow our inquisitive guests to discover a wide variety of talented emerging artists, both local and from around the world, in unusual settings.
I am the city leader for the Newcastle team. I plan and organise all our shows with the help of our amazing team of volunteers. We take care of everything from the line-up to the theme and the venues.

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
Music has always been a part of my life even as a kid, and I’ve loved live gigs since my questionable punk-pop days of the mid-noughties. I used to play a little myself in school and college but have found that I’d rather champion those that can do it so much better.
I was invited to a Sofar show in 2015 when I lived in London and was captivated by everything that made it unique. Soon afterwards, I joined the London team, originally as an MC – presenting the shows on the night. My deep loud voice cuts through a crowd quite easily! I transferred to the Sofar Sounds Newcastle team when I moved up north in the summer of 2017 and began to take on more organisational roles. I became city leader at the start of 2020.

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
Firstly that you don’t have to be an amazing singer or play an instrument! Everyone is involved in music in some way, even if it’s just listening to your favourite tracks while out running or winding down with a beer.
Do check out your local scene – there are hundreds of artists bubbling under the surface waiting for lift-off and you will be guaranteed to find someone you like. Support your favourites by going to gigs or on social media. Look out for when they release new material. Tell your friends and family about them. You can play a huge part in the development of home-grown musicians by championing them and giving them the confidence to succeed.
If you’re an artist, use your passion and experiences within your own life to create truly unique work. Anyone can learn how to copy other people’s music and lyrics, but when you write and develop your own, it gives your music a heck load more gravitas. Don’t be nervous, don’t be embarrassed and definitely don’t keep those songs hidden in a sketchbook somewhere. Other people will want to hear them too. We organise events like Sofar to get your music out there to folk that perhaps wouldn’t normally discover you otherwise.

What are your favourite things about the north-east music scene? Are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
I personally love how welcoming and inclusive the scene is, and that you can build up a network of friends and familiar faces just by attending a few shows and supporting your favourite artists. Across the dozens of Sofar shows that I have been involved in, one of the best things is being able to mingle with the guests and artists during the show, to find out more about their personal stories.
It is also amazing to see artists that played a Sofar show near the start of their journey, that now after months or years of building their brand, are getting the recognition they deserve in tour support slots, record deals or airplay on national radio, etc.
For us at Sofar, we hope to provide a music experience that people will remember. It’s also thanks to our volunteer crew and hosts that every show is different. We have had rock music in a church, folk in an opticians, synth solos in a museum and I’ve been very lucky to host not one but two shows in my own house! Our International Women’s Day shows are also definitely one of our yearly highlights.

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
At the moment, our gigs are obviously paused due to the global pandemic, but when we are allowed to put on shows again, you can find all information including the chance to apply for tickets at https://www.sofarsounds.com/cities/newcastle

Sofar Sounds: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

We also have a Spotify playlist featuring most of our artists that have played a show to date (Sofar So Good: The Definitive Sofar Newcastle Collection).

Categories
Guest Interviews

NMC Guest: Charlotte (Events Manager & BIMM Student)

How long have you been active in the north east music scene and what do you do?
I’ve been going to gigs since I was around 12, but the first concert I organised myself was when I was 14. I’ve been putting on gigs in Newcastle and working in/at events for around 5 years, and I now work as a Music Journalist for Quite Great PR and study Events Management at BIMM Manchester, but plan to be home for festival season. I currently run online concerts for BIMM and work as Head of Events for BIMM Radio but hope to be putting gigs on as soon as things open up again.

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
My first gig was a charity fundraiser at The Globe which allowed me to start booking gigs at Think Tank. I’ve spent the last few years networking as much as possible, working with companies and festivals such as SSD Concerts, Curious Arts and Tipping Point Live to get my foot in the door with the local music scene.

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
Speak to as many people as possible and take every opportunity you’re given. There’s no point in being shy and most people involved in the music industry are really friendly anyway, the worst someone will do is say “no” and even then they may know other people who can help you.

What are your favourite things about the north east music scene? Are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
I love the community feel of the industry and the great range of events and festivals that we have, working as a stage hand at Hit The North at Riverside and as a box office assistant at This Is Tomorrow Festival have been some of my highlights.

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
You can find me on LinkedIn (just search Charlotte Bredael) or you can check out my online gigs ‘Freshly Locked-Up’ on Facebook, @BIMMRadio on Instagram and follow my blog @NewMusicPF on Twitter.
Freshly Locked-Up | Bimm Radio | NewMusicPF

Categories
Guest Interviews

NMC Guest: Rebecca (The Alternative Fix)

How long have you been active in the north east music scene and what do you do?
I’ve been involved for about five years when I started presenting local radio at University on Spark Sunderland and worked doing a few shows across the schedule including producing the local music show. But it’s only been about the past year I’ve really got knee deep in the local scene with getting my new music blog up and running and taking up lots of local opportunities with that!

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
I’ve always had a love of music from a young age and always knew growing up that I wanted a career in the thing I love. I did my degree at uni in Broadcast Media and through that got really involved with local radio and our amazing local scene (that has only got better and better over the years too). I fell in love with finding new music and getting to talk about it for hours each week and knew it was what I wanted to do in life. I wanted to start a website for years but kept putting it off because I’d never gave written journalism a go but during lockdown in March I just went for it and launched my music blog and never looked back since!

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
Honestly just grab any opportunity you can take because I wish I had sooner. Over the past year especially, I’ve learnt there’s so many amazing, talented and kind people on our scene, so just reach out to places like local radio stations, blogs etc and try and get as much experience as possible! The key to the music industry is trying to get as much experience as possible and at the beginning most of that is unpaid but it really is worth it with the skills, contacts and friends you make along the way. It’s always handy as well to try build up as many skills as you can across the industry because it really does come in useful, for example I’ve tried to teach myself graphic design this year for my blog posts and there’s plenty of apps you can get these days that are very user friendly and free too! As cliché as it may sound, don’t put off your goals and ambitions and just go for it because our North-East music scene is full of lovely, supportive people whether it be other journalists, artists, promoters… you name it!

What are your favourite things about the north east music scene? Are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
One of my favourite things like I just mentioned is how lovely 99% of the people I’ve came across on the scene are! I love how supportive fellow artists and music journo’s are of each other. I suffer from really bad mental health and although we’ve been in a pandemic for the past year I’ve met some of the most amazing and talented people this year all through music and doing my blog, we have a lovely little network so get stuck in! Another thing I love is what huge names we have on our scene at the moment, it is definitely the strongest I’ve seen the scene since getting involved five years ago and not to be biased but I think locally, we have the strongest and most diverse music scene in the country. So many artists on the North-East scene are destined for some BIG things!

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
My music blog I run is for new indie, alternative and rock music and is named The Alternative Fix. I started this up during lockdown so only been doing it around 7 months but it’s going really well! I now get artists getting in touch not just locally or nationally but globally from the likes of America and Australia, it’s insane! The support and comments I’ve received have been so lovely and positive, it’s crazy how well it’s gone already and feel really proud I run and produce 100% of the content all by myself!
The Alternative Fix: Facebook | Instagram | Website