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


Afterlight Festival 2022

With a brand new music festival taking place this weekend, we’ve spoken to the organiser at Afterlight Management to find out everything about the upcoming event. Read about it all here.


Afterlight Festival 2022. Where is it, who is playing, and what ideas have gone into the event?
The venue is called The Dirty Habit, which is located in Whickham, Gateshead. Ticket holders for this festival will be treated to one sonic delight after another – and they have a plethora of music to choose from!

Having the exciting opportunity to curate this Afterlight Festival is something I do not take for granted. Originally planned for 2020 (but we all know what happened during that year), I took the chance to host this event as part of my Level 6 Project, which counts towards my final year grade, as I’m currently studying for BA (HONs) in Music at the Academy of Music and Sound, Gateshead.

Taking my inspiration from popular music festivals such as NARC.Fest, Twisterella, Sol Fest, Lindisfarne Festival and Kendal Calling, the soundscape of Afterlight Festival reflects the changing themes of our glorious north east music scene, which is always in a state of flux. There’s the gentle acoustic indie-folk vibe, which evolves into the alt-electronic and hip-hop stylistics of our ever-fascinating electronic music scene which the north east’s very own Northern Electric Festival always does so brilliantly well. The last section of Afterlight Festival pays tribute to all the alt-rock bands that bring the party live on stage! That’s what I hope this first-ever Afterlight Festival will demonstrate on Saturday.

What sort of artists, genres, and styles can attendees expect to see and hear?
There’s acoustic indie from Aley V, skilful piano player and vocalist Lily Brooke Widdowson and Jon Doran who will be joined by the breath-taking Northern Assembly. Next up, we have smooth, soulful, and hip-hop infused Psimitar followed by the rebellious brilliance of SQUARMS. To finish off the festival in style we have four bands that every head-banger will be in their element. The dreamy indie-lo-fi of Holiday in Tokyo will be a joy to behold, while Manchester lads Uno Mas bring their upbeat indie-rock and smooth vocals. Newcastle trail-blazers (and main support band) Crux provide a naughty amount of hook-laden vibes and liveliness leading us all to our energetic, carnival-personified-in-a-band headliners, Feed The Elk! These guys will delight, surprise, and capture your music-loving heart. Feed the Elk represents a celebration of all that we love about being able to attend and embrace live music, and that goes for all the artists on this stunning line-up, too. Each artist is brilliant in their own, individual right. 

How many artists are playing and what time does it all kick off?
Festival goers can expect captivating performances for each of the nine artists that will take to the stage area of Afterlight Festival, doors are open from 15:00pm and the music starts at 15:30pm with Aley V showcasing her story-driven vocals and acoustic melodies.

Where can people get tickets, hear the artists before the event, and find out more about the festival?
Anyone interested in supporting this DIY music festival need only to click on for all event and ticketing information. It’s much more cost-effective purchasing tickets early and via the online ticket link. Alternatively, there Afterlight Management via Facebook and then just head to the events section. AfterlightMgmt via Instagram and Twitter both feature promotional posts for the festival, too, so take your pick.

To get a sense of what’s to expect in preparation for the event, I’ve got Afterlight Playlist Picks #3: A playlist for all those who would like to get a sonic taste of the artist on the Afterlight Festival line-up, plus many more sensational artists from all over the UK. 

Artwork by Charles Sanders
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: 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

Artist Interviews

Artist Interview: Elephant Memoirs

Hello, Elephant Memoirs. You’re a north east trio: how would you describe your sound and style?
I would say our sound is that of a trio playing heavy, raw, guitar based music. We would like to think that we have a powerful sound which comes from playing as a tight unit and often structuring our songs to emphasise power when necessary. We do have a softer side too and our new single “Done In” showcases this along with the power mentioned above. Being from the north east is a big part of our identity too and we don’t hide away from this. We sing and play naturally and try not to be something that isn’t authentically us.

Your latest single – “Done In” – is doing very well. What is the story behind the song and what does it mean to you?
Done In” is a song about growing up and realising the adults you looked up to and learned from as a kid just become other people as we become adults ourselves. We see them not as indestructible idols but as flawed individuals just like us and we no longer require their teachings.
On the musical side this is a song that starts very gently and builds to a hard hitting middle-8 and final chorus. “Done In” is a perfect example of the different sides of Elephant Memoirs tied up in a single song.

You’ve been very active as a band, releasing several singles and even hitting the road with a mini tour, playing in Glasgow, Stockton, and Newcastle. Where do you find the energy and what keeps you all motivated?
We’ve always had a good work ethic in our band, so as long as we are all fit and healthy (and we aren’t trapped at home due to a global pandemic) then we want to get our music out there. We genuinely feel like we are getting better as a band, so we want to get out and show people what we can do. Motivation has never been a problem for us. We love playing in this band and if we ever stop enjoying it, we will knock it on the head. At the moment we feel like we have a good creative buzz and we want to keep that going.

In terms of playing in other cities, what was the experience like? Would you like to do more of this with even more tour dates in the future?
We really enjoyed getting out and about in 2021 (leaving the house seemed like an adventure after 2020). We love playing Newcastle, so it was great to headline back at home. But to play some places that we’ve never been was really special. We love the opportunity to play in front of people who have no idea who we are and try to win them over. Meeting other bands and making new friends is great, although obviously not everyone could understand what we were saying in Glasgow.

What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general?

The advice we would give to other bands would be to try new things out. Go to new places, try making music videos and get interesting photos and develop your sound. Also send your music to different radio stations, magazines and blogs. Advice for north east artists would be that there are a lot of good people in the north east music scene who aren’t there to rip you off. Find them, work with them and enjoy yourself.

In terms of industry infrastructure, are there any organisations in or around the north east that you would recommend that other artists reach out to for advice and support?
There are many good people around in the northeast. There is loads of good promoters and PR folk. Along with people such as Generator. However, we haven’t had to use many. Picking a lot up as we go over the years, along with having good reliable folk to turn to. You have Jay from Pillar Artist, who does a lot, not just for the local scene but a wider field and does put on some great gigs. He also has a great roster of bands too. You also have Afterlight Management ran by Snaz Craigm again offers great things to the northeast. They are always around to help bands out however they can and have a vast array of knowledge within the industry. You also have newer people such as Rebel Rose, who again look to do what they can for unsigned bands.

Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live?
Some of our local favourites are Ten Eighty Trees, Pave the Jungle, Cat Ryan, One Million Motors, Beachmaster. To be honest the list goes on haha. We can’t recommend these enough, and we’ve had the pleasure of playing with most. Definitely check them out if you see them playing. We would also encourage though to support all local music and get along to gigs as often as you can; for one it supports the artists and venues but also you might just find your next favourite act!!

Follow Elephant Memoirs on socials: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Catch their next gig on 23 April at Central Bar, Gateshead: Event | Tickets

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

Artist Interviews

Artist Interview: Keiran Bowe

Hello, Keiran. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style?
I always find it difficult to answer this one, I like the lyrics to stand out, I’m writing about my past and what I’ve learnt in such a short space of time but at the same time, they are lyrics that I think people can relate to. It’s then about creating a sound around those lyrics, either a catchy riff/beat people can move along too or just chords that allow for people to be able to sing words back.

Big things have been happening to you since the release of your latest single: “Hinny”. What is the story behind the song and it’s title? What themes and ideas influence your music and writing?
I tend to write my songs in an almost chronological order, of events that have taken place in my late teen years and having to grow up quick. “Hinny”, in particular, comes at one of the most difficult times of my life, where things could have panned out a lot different to what they did. Without going into detail, it’s almost a reassurance message to a mother worrying about her son, as if to say “Look I know it may feel like the worlds crumbling around you but he’s gonna be alright”.

You’ve been busy, playing a steady stream of live shows around the north east. What has it been like playing gigs through the year and what gigs do you have in the diary for 2022?
It’s the busiest me and the lads have ever been, as hectic as it’s been it’s definitely been the best few months we’ve had as a band. Seeing packed out venues, seeing new faces and meeting some incredible artists, you can’t beat it. We’ve a load of stuff booked for 2022 some of which haven’t been announced so I’ve got to keep hush about those. We’ve a one off close to home gig at the Thomas Wilson social club on 11th Feb, The Green Room in Stockton 5th March and a headliner at The Cluny 2 on 2ndApril.

Have you had much of a chance to look ahead to the new year? If so, what plans do you have and what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year?
Now we’ve got mgmt, everything is a lot more organised. Credit to them they really have worked wonders for us so far. We plan to keep the ball rolling, a new single 25th February, which is, probably the best yet. Following on from that it’s literally gigs gigs gigs, graft and gigs.

What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general?
The north east scene is something I’m so proud to be part of. The talent is insane. Network would be my first advice, get to know those on the scene, get to know venues and the guys that run them, there’s people who can help you on your way. Then it would be just to take every opportunity you’re able to take, and at the same time, go watch other local artists and show them the support. It goes a long way.

Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live?
I need to get out and tick a few people off the bucket list, we’re talking BigFatBig, Club Paradise, A Festival A Parade, Lizzie Esau. Those who are a must see live, Motel Carnation, Kate Bond, Elizabeth Liddle, Palma Louca and Don Cayote.

Follow Keiran Bowe on socials: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Industry Interviews

Industry Interview: Pippa (Generator & Singing Light Music)

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 two years, having moved up to Newcastle from Wales to study music at Newcastle Uni – however since the moment I arrived I got well and truly stuck in the local scene!

I have my fingers in quite a few pies – I currently work at local talent development agency Generator, at artist management and distribution company Singing Light Music, and I also work at Du Blonde’s record label imprint Daemon TV.

How did you become involved in music and what have you done to get where you are today?
I was a musician from a young age and got involved in gigs through playing the saxophone – but I soon realised that it was behind the scenes that I wanted to build a career in. Whilst at University I put on some live events within the jazz community and became more active in the wider scene in general, going along to as many gigs as possible (difficult during a global pandemic!) and picking the brains of those currently working in the industry (mostly via zoom!).

After completing a placement whilst at University – I landed my dream job at Generator, and through the power of networking, gained work with the amazing people behind Singing Light Music and Daemon TV.

What advice would you offer to others looking to be more involved in music?
Utilise your surroundings! Seek out/go along to as many gigs and events as possible, and make the most of the expertise of those already working in the industry. In my experience – people are more than willing to chat through what they do and help out if they can, one of the great things about how collaborative the North East music industry is!

What are your favourite things about the north east music scene? Are there any particular highlights from your experiences?
How close knit and welcoming the local music community is. Ever since I stepped foot up here I’ve been welcomed by the Newcastle music scene with open arms – and I’ve been very lucky that I’ve met lots of great people who have supported me in building a career up here.

Particular highlight for me has been being a part of the founding group of supportive network Forward NE (for women, trans and non-binary people working for equality and diversity in the North East). I’ve been able to meet and work with loads of great people, and have been a part of organising some fantastic events building collective power for change.

Where can others find out more about your work and how can they get in touch?
I’ve recently set up my own platforms as a creative practitioner so I can put all my various music activity and projects in one place – you can find me over on @PMorganMusic on Instagram and Facebook, and @PM__Music on Twitter.
PM Music: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

I’ve just announced a gig on there with the amazing collective NEWISM (North East Music In Soul Music) at Cobalt Studios on the 19th of March. Tickets on sale here!

Artist Interviews

Artist Interview: Crux

Hello, Crux. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style?
We often describe our sound as alternative rock, but that’s quite an umbrella term. Though, we’ve recently been described as prog rock mixed with punk which I think accurately describes our sound. Our bassist, Hallam, cynically thinks this is the sound we’ve developed as we’re not technical enough to write actual prog rock!

October 2021 saw you release your debut EP: “Death at the Cash Machine”. What is the story behind the EP and, generally, what themes does it deal with?
The EP has been years in the making. It started with the release of Bigg Market way back in 2019 – this was a real turning point for us as we’d never really been comfortable in the recording studio beforehand and we were really pleased with Kyle Martin’s work at The Garage Studios on the track. The single had local success, featuring on a documentary about the street, as well as receiving radio play. The track also helped us get in touch with acclaimed producers, Jim Lowe and Max Heyes. So, in the October and November of 2019, we recorded Slaving Away and Living in Dystopia in London. These singles were due to be released at the start of 2020, then covid happened… 

Resultantly we didn’t release the tracks until October 2020 and February 2021. As soon as the recording studios started opening again, we got in touch with Andy Bell at Blast Studios and recorded the remaining three tracks, Incel, Radgie Gadgie, and Agent Orange (+erased), and we finished recording in April 2021.

Despite the fragmented timeline between all of the songs, they encapsulate our varied sound and themes. Our lyrics usually comment on social issues, and the EP looks at the death of collectivism and the rise of individualism, and the pressures this puts on people. One pressure we really dissected in the likes of Bigg Market, Incel, and Radgie Gadgie is toxic masculinity, one of humanity’s worst diseases. 

You’ve managed to remain active, despite local, national & international circumstances. What has it been like playing gigs through the year and what gigs do you have in the diary for 2022? 

We’ve been very lucky to play quite a few gigs from July to the end of this year. They’ve been really exhilarating – I think so many people were cooped up for so long that as soon as people were back in their local venues, there was just a massive release of energy, so they’ve almost been cathartic as everyone just goes mental. We have noticed as soon as cases go up again, gigs are less well attended, which is no surprise!

We’ve got a few gigs scheduled in for 2022 so far, we’ll be playing the NE Volume Music Bar on January 21st, The Globe on February 25th, and Teeside Student Union on March 11th.

Crux (Photo Credit: Chris Ord)

Have you had much of a chance to look ahead to the new year? If so, what plans do you have and what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year?
We’ve just received confirmation that our EP vinyls will finally be shipped to us in April 2022, so we’re thinking of hosting a vinyl release party then, and potentially releasing Radgie Gadgie as a single to help gain some momentum.

We’re also rehearsing four new songs at practice at the minute, and we’re really excited with how they’re sounding. It’s likely we’ll get these recorded this year and released.

We’re hoping to play a few festivals in the summer also, as long as they don’t all get cancelled again!

What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general?
The things I’d do to go on a time machine back to 2014 when we were first starting to give myself a lecture on the do’s and don’ts. I’m still learning though, that’s one bit of advice, no one in the music industry knows exactly what’s going on, it’s a bit of a free-for-all (good old free market capitalism), so you’ve just constantly got to be on your toes and learn from every experience.

The main things I’d recommend for local artists and artists in general would be to make sure you get a really good recording of your track, and make sure you’re very prepared for a release. Beware of sharks too because there’s plenty of them, but in the same sentiment, never burn bridges. Connections are one of the most efficient ways to make headway in the industry.

Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live?
I recently saw Lanterns on the Lake and black midi live; both were unbelievable experiences and I couldn’t speak highly enough of them. We also played with Goodsprings in December and they put on an unbelievable live show, Sam’s a cracking front man, and it’s brilliant to see how much they’ve progressed as a band over lockdown. We’re also playing with Alex James at Teeside Student union in March, and we’ve always been a fan of his, we’d definitely recommend anyone giving his music a listen!

Follow Crux on socials: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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