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Artist Interviews

Artist Interview: Nomad Anthem

Hello. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style?
I like to think we’re a bit like pop punk and modern day rock meeting up to party together. We draw a lot of inspirations from bands like Green Day and Foo Fighters. Our shows are high energy and filled to the rafters with hooks.


You’ve just released your latest single ‘Smile’. Is there a story or meaning behind the song?
It’s the story of that last summer you have with your buddies before parting ways and making your way in to adulthood. Absolutely living on the upside with lots of good times, drinks and memories made. I like to relate it to that end scene of American Pie where the guys are sitting around the table at Dog Years reflecting on their last summer all together.

As a band, what have your musical highlights been? Have there been any particular gigs, festivals, or other music-related experiences that you treasure?
We’ve been lucky enough to play some great shows in our time so far. The Great British Alternative Music Festival has been by far the highlight so far. It was an honour to play for such a large and engaging audience. I’ve also been a huge fan of The Wildhearts since I was a teenager and to rock out and then get to see some of my heroes play was pretty special.


Do you have any plans for the year ahead that you would like to share with us? Also, what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year?
We’re currently in the middle of our SMILE tour and we’ve got some very exciting news coming imminently. Keep checking our socials! We do have plans to release more music this year. We’re currently sitting on a handful of songs so you might see a few more singles or possibly even an EP before the year is out. I think the latter would be our main goal to achieve.

What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general?
Simply play the music you love to play and don’t let anything or anyone get in the way of that. Music has always been a passion and for me personally, I’m very fortunate to have been playing on the North East and parts of the national scene for over two decades, and we certainly have something very special up here. We all just need to stick together and keep supporting each other and we’ll see more local names make their way on to peoples stereos and in to peoples hearts.


Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live?
There are so many! Sticking to our punk routes, we’ve had a lot of fun playing with and following the journey of Filthy Filthy (Hull). They’re so much fun and they’re taking the northern punk scene by storm. Slightly more locally, Prince Bishop are in the midst of making a name for themselves on the local scene. I was lucky enough to drum on their recent singles and their song writer (Ben Trenerry) is something very special. If you like Spacey, catchy prog rock, be sure to check them out!

Follow Nomad Anthem on socials: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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Artist Interviews

Artist Interview: Philip Jonathan

Hello. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style?
In a nutshell, it’s cinematic folk – or Ben Howard at the front and Sigur Ros at the back! I spend a lot of time in the hills or on the coast and this inspires a lot of my writing. So I tend to like these earthy, organic folk sounds sitting on top of wide open spaces and atmospheres created by orchestral and electronic sounds.


You’ve just released your debut EP titled “Pluma”. What is the story behind the EP and its title? What themes and ideas influence your music and writing?
Pluma” (‘feather’ in Latin) is about searching for hope in the highest, lowest and most mundane moments in life. The tie for me between a feather and the concept of hope goes back some way. Chokehold came about through the grief of losing a close friend who passed from cancer a few years ago. As he got more unwell, he kept on seeing feathers everywhere, and this prompted him each time to remember things to be thankful for and to live in the moment – that things were going to be okay. He was someone of faith and for him, existence was bigger than the life lived here so he had a different perspective. I worked the feather into most of the music videos – leading the woman to the shore in Seafront, behind the sunflower at the end of I, Hope, and all the bird-feeders in In the Garden. The artist who made the cover art, Goutham Tulasi, had shared with me how Seafront had accompanied his journey making peace with his father’s death. He suggested having a flower bursting from the end of the feather. Even after the feather has fallen from the bird: its story isn’t over yet. 

I couldn’t pin down any one thing that influences my music and writing. Often I find writing songs is a way to authentically examine some of the questions I ask myself. But a recurring theme in that process is a search for some kind of redemption – to find meaning and beauty in the middle of some of these struggles.

We really enjoy your music and had the pleasure of seeing you play at a Sofar Sounds event in Gateshead. What have been career highlights for you so far?
The day I released my first track, Seafront, stands out for me – the amount of messages I received from friends and total strangers about it was totally overwhelming! It took me about a week of near-constant messaging to reply to them all. That was a huge moment for me after years of not sharing so much of this music to realise that people actually valued what I was making. After that, another big milestone has got to be the gigs around the “Pluma” release. I played Sofar NE, sold out my first headliner for the launch gig and played to a packed room in Berwick the week after. It was both humbling and surreal to realise that so many people were coming out to support me! I’ve always wanted to play at Sofar – they have the best audiences, so that was really special. At the launch gig, the crowd started singing along to In the Garden – Alicia (my backing singer) and I were so surprised that we forgot all the lyrics! We had a good laugh about it on stage and managed to carry on though.


Do you have any plans for the year ahead that you would like to share with us? Also, what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year?
The next few months are about taking time to allow creative ideas to bubble up again. The last year has been so intense learning how to self-promote, use social media, send out press releases etc. that I’ve had almost no time for the most important bit – songwriting! But I’ve already been back in studio getting started on the next EP. I hope to be finishing off that through the Summer and Autumn, whilst getting out and playing as many gigs as I can in the meantime! Expect some new releases towards the back end of the year/early 2023.

What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general?
I recently wrote a piece on just this for the fantastic local music Zine ‘Every Day is a Rhythm’ – you can read it here: https://t.co/8JuMtQ62v2. But in summary: Figure out what drives you and what your internal metrics of success are – the things which aren’t dependent on anyone else. Don’t make art about numbers or what other people are saying, make it about what moves you or you’ll probably burn (or sell) out. Second – and I’m still on the learning journey here – don’t compare yourself up or down. Celebrating and championing those around you is a great antidote to the urge to compare yourself to others.


Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live?
There’s a few most established artists who massively inspire my sound that I’d love to plug. The Staves are phenomenal live. Also, if you like any of my music, I thoroughly recommend Roo Panes, Matthew and the Atlas, the Paper Kites, the Oh Hellos and Francis Luke Accord.

However… locally (as I’ve recently been discovering!) we have some phenomenal talent. I’m a particular fan of Benjamin Amos live (so much energy!), Tom Joshua (can’t wait for him to release more music), Jodie Nicholson (a rising star + beautiful vocals) Matt Hunsley (cracking vocals and interesting arrangements) and Ceitidh Mac (some serious music there). I also saw Faithful Johannes live recently and I can say it was a unique and truly extraordinary experience.

Follow Philip Jonathan on socials: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

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Industry Interviews

Industry Interview: Jay (Shutter Productions)

How long have you been active in the north east music scene and what do you do?
Been active in the scene for nearly 13 years now. I’m a photographer and video director, working mainly with local artists on live sessions and shooting/filming live events.

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
I became involved at a young age attending gigs and festivals in Newcastle. I ran a music magazine ‘Shutter Magazine’ years ago which I used to get access to events. I built a reputation over the years and most of my work comes from word of mouth.


What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
My advice would be: be humble, but firm. Be a people’s person but don’t let people walk all over you. I let people take advantage for years before I realised they were just using me for my skillset and pretending to be my friend. There will be a lot of pretentious people but don’t let it put you off, keep grinding and keep an open mind.


What are your favourite things about the north east music scene? Are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
I love the north east scene but artists need to push their music further than their friends and friends of friends. I’ve seen very talented musicians over the years stagnate due to only passing their music around their local friendship group which in most cases, is other musicians who are all also trying to be heard. Gig outside your home town, promote your music to different demographics in different cities and never settle for the title of ‘local artist’.


Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
My work can be found on my YouTube and Facebook pages. Search ‘The Shutter Sessions’ on any platform and you’ll find me.

Shutter Productions: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

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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

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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 FLW_events@hotmail.com
Famous Last Words: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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Industry 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


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Industry 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