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Guest 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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Guest 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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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: 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