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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 aaron@sadforlife.co.uk 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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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 ‘hello@victoriawai.co.uk’ 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

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NMC Guest: Lee Hawthorn (BBC Music Introducing Team Assistant & Social Media Admin At Independent)

How long have you been active in the north east music scene and what do you do?
I first became active in the North East music scene in 2013 when I was sent Leddie & Smoggy’s ‘Sorry We’re Late’ album to review in my days as a blogger. I’ve since done just about every job you can in the music industry as a podcaster, artist manager, helped with PR campaigns and more. These days I’m split between copywriter and social media admin for Independent in Sunderland, and working in radio for three different local BBC Music Introducing shows (North East, Tees and West Yorkshire).

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
I am, essentially, a glorified music fan who accidentally has a career in the industry. I started a blog in 2012 where I’d review primarily American hip-hop music. I used to be a proper nerd (and still am) in college and would re-do essays if I got anything other than an A until I realised how annoying it must be for my teacher. I was suffering with depression at the time and became obsessed with the music of Joe Budden and wanted to tell the world about it. After reading some reviews on websites like HipHopDX, I decided to do one on Budden’s ‘A Loose Quarter’ mixtape and from there got quite a lot of support on Twitter and ended up getting work with the likes of Complex, MOBO Awards and Pigeons & Planes a few years later.

In 2015 I got into radio, again accidentally. I used to love listening to Greg & Potta on Spark’s Hip-Hop Show when I first started at University of Sunderland, and then I was interviewed by Young Sceptic who took over from them on the show about the local hip-hop scene. This then turned into me working as producer on the show and eventually taking over from Young Sceptic when he left.

While at Spark I also did everything they would let me from being part of management with stints as an assistant to the music team, head of evening and overnight programming and head of social media and online content. I also produced a range of shows from wrestling talk shows to a pre-breakfast fitness show and a range of specialist music shows including Dance Revolution with Scott McGerty who can be credited with just about everything I know about radio.

I then pestered Nick Roberts at BBC Music Introducing in the North East offering to make packages previewing The Bridge, a hip-hop festival at Sage Gateshead for the two years it ran. Timing was on my side because the second one was taking place the same day as BBC Music Introducing’s event at Sage for The Great Exhibition Of The North Festival and I ended up volunteering to help around at that event. I expected it to just be taking photos and posting them on Twitter but I ended up interviewing some of the acts including headliner Sam Fender. A couple months later the job opened up for Team Assistant for BBC Music Introducing in the North East and thankfully I was successful.
I’ve since been responsible for the social media for the biggest simulcast in BBC Music Introducing history, helped with bits for BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend and curated a series of mixes on BBC Sounds including a special one for Glastonbury – and now work as Team Assistant for the Tees and West Yorkshire shows too.

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
Literally just do it. Get stuck in, but do what you love. It can be a hard grind and it will definitely test your patience but if you’re really passionate about whatever it is you want to do, for the most part it’s worth it.

There’s a really strong, friendly community. Whether its the musicians themselves or the people on the industry side, just about everyone in my experience have been super helpful, up for trying new things that might not work and generally just welcoming other people into the scene.
I wouldn’t be where I am without just reaching out and asking if I could help with something, and the other people being open to letting me.

What are your favourite things about the north east music scene? Are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
I think essentially what I just said, the strong, friendly, community but also that it is constantly evolving. Although there’s still this perception that the North East is just indie guitar bands, we also have some of the most exciting DJs in the world, a really underrated hip-hop scene that has literally given me a career and there’s some fantastic r&B/pop talent too.

I think 2017 as a whole was one big highlight for me. Coming from a hip-hop background, it felt like a seminal year for rappers in the North East with a number of albums released that year which I consider classics including from Eyeconic, Leddie MC, Reali-T, 90BRO and Kv$hnoodle. It was also the year Hash Rotten Hippo’s ObSceNE gave rappers a monthly home at Arch Sixteen Cafe in Gateshead which felt really special at the time and is sorely missed.

Similarly the times when Static was running in World Headquarters with HB finishing their set in the car park a particularly legendary moment and I’ll also never forget Young Sceptic Presents nights at Independent especially New North East’s headliner. NE Rising’s Open Mic Nights at The Cluny more recently have been incredible too, the NE Dons headliner for that felt like one of those ‘moments’ too.

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
I recently started doing more with my YouTube Channel which you can find by searching ‘Lee Hawthorn Music.’ The best, formal way to get in touch is emailing leehawthornmusic@gmail.com but I’m also @LeeHawthorn_ on Twitter and Instagram. Don’t be afraid to message a few times if I miss you, I get horrifically busy sometimes.
Lee Hawthorn: Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

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The Northern Music Collective: Our Story

In January 2019 a group of promoters, journalists and musicians began assisting one another in relation to the music scene of northern England around Newcastle upon Tyne and the surrounding region.

Realising that, through working together, they could better support live music collectively, the group launch a collaborative project to do this. The new year of 2019 sees the launch of the Northern Music Collective as it strives to support musicians in and around Newcastle upon Tyne.

The Northern Music Collective has a very simple aim: to champion music in the North East of England. To do this, the project brings together those whose love of music is their driving force; the very source of their passion. It unites us all as we work together for the benefit of the northern music scene.