‘Nobody Will Do Anything For Us Well Do It Ourselves! Newcastles Wild DIY Music Scene Thrives Against The Odds

‘Nobody Will Do Anything For Us  Well Do It Ourselves! Newcastles Wild DIY Music Scene Thrives Against The Odds

It's a Saturday night in the center of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and a small but highly engaged audience is belting out 40 minutes of melancholic space chorus, the soundtrack to a montage of shipyards, estates, dance halls and cafes. the age-old Northeast. expand . An hour of live ambient music from duo Golden Shields followed, followed by a fiercely intense set from Newcastle-based Spanish singer and producer Laura 'Late Girl' Stutter Garcia, recalling both minimalist works, early angst and Björk. .

We are at World Headquarters, a room in Curtis Mayfield's house, with portraits of black radicals and musicians, anarchist and anti-apartheid songs, and commands to "love one another" on every wall. The event was organized by Jeff Kirkwood, left-field DJ-producer AKA Man Power, head of community engagement at WHQ and label executive and promoter Me Me Me. He also performed an opening set called his Bed Waiter, a test run for the upcoming gig. A one-orchestral edition of the Royal Northern Sinfonia supporting US environmental pioneer William Basinski later this month at the region's massive arts centre, Sage Gateshead.

Tonight is the product of an experimental musical community that includes everything from the pagan electronic folk of Me Lost Me to the raw sound of Kenosist, exuding creativity and regional pride. It is a scene that continues despite serious challenges. After nine years, the radical and community art space Old Police House (TOPH) recently closed after being disrupted by the Covid lockdown. Equally exploratory and internationalist, Taakfees, which featured international underground stars from Mother Moore to Terry Riley, failed to secure further funding from the Arts Council after a successful bid nine years ago, apparently due to increasing competition.

However, there is no shortage of DIY spaces and collectives. Star and Shadow Cinema and Event Space (which originally hosted Taakfees) has been run by volunteers with a non-hierarchical policy since the 2000s. Cobalt Studio is a live music venue, club, print shop and cafe that rents workspace in a maze-like building and shipping container between a BMX event center and a folk bar. (We often have dancers in the cafe, says Cobalt founder Kate Hodgkinson.) The nonprofit music venue, bar, workshop and radio studio is a new addition to Luber Fiend, co-founded by exotic electronic label Stephen "Bish" Bishop. became opal bands.

Much of it is fueled by a sense of being unfairly singled out. "The North East has been neglected and isolated by government after government," said Kirkwood. "Especially after Covid there was a strong feeling. well, nobody's going to do anything for us, honey, we're going to do it ourselves." Hodgkinson says of the visit, "not much to look forward to when you go to this former shipyard and launch site. For Coke, bachelor and bachelorette parties that can't afford a cool place." His mission is to welcome them and offer an audience to prove them wrong.

Concerts, seminars and projects continue every day. The task will begin again, starting with a new series of concerts. Kirkwood runs a cheap labor scheme for poor residents of North Shields, a stark contrast to nearby Tynemouth's quirky and trendy oyster bars and craft market.

And the hidden but vital past is preserved. N-Aut (No-Audience Underground Tapes) offers free tapes of past concerts and festivals from venues such as TOPH; Directed by David Howcroft, said to be the inspiration behind Newcastle's own comedy Revy Davy Gravy. Susie Davies' new documentary The Kick, The Snare, The Hat and a Clap captures the outdoor raves of the Ouseburn Valley in the 90s, and Task TV's fascinating YouTube channel captures much of the underground culture.

The kick, the snare, the hat and a slap Documentary - Video

Kirkwood will follow the Sage Bed Waiter Orchestra with a new piece featuring Fiona Bryce. In the church where her grandparents were married 70 years ago, she is partially performed by a choir of people with dementia, including her grandfather, who raised her. The play is certainly about the past, but it's also about building and drawing more attention to an artistic future that, as Kirkwood says, is “not only distant from what's going on, but a culture of its own. "

The scene struggles for inclusion, particularly in the predominantly white and pro-Brexit areas of Newcastle and Gateshead. Miriam Rezai is a platinum-selling artist and researcher who currently develops Task with founder Lee Etherington and co-owns TOPH with noise musicians Adam Denton and Mark "Kenosist" Wardlow. He credits avant-garde harpists Rhodri Davies and William Edmonds of noise-pop duo Ya U with not only inspiring and enduring talent, but an alternative social circle that has included him in shows and collaborations since the turn of the millennium until today. . "I am a working girl with dark hair, of mixed race," she says. "It was always difficult for me to work full-time while studying and to make friends. I feel the boundaries of class and I am grateful to be able to belong. His circuit now takes his career around the world with increasing commissions and collaborations.

It also has a great sense of local history behind it. Etherington has been working since 2011; For the past decade he has performed non-fi gigs with local ambient-industrial duo Ben Ponton of Joviet France, creating a local micro-infrastructure for 1980s queer music. He mentions places where No-Fi regularly plans events, such as Morden's Tower, “a medieval craftsman's guild built into the walls of the old town, where Ginsberg, Trotsky, Bunting and later all sorts of modern stuff lived. It was the 60s."

Club night at Cobalt Studios, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Photo by Michelle Allen

Club and rave culture is an important historical pillar. World headquarters since 1993, founded by Tommy Caulker, Newcastle's first black franchisee. Before WHQ, Kalker was targeted by organized racist groups for running the Trent House, a downtown bar that was a haven for the unsavory, including the founders of viz. He was the first to play house music in the UK and reached the gay crowd with his late night rock recordings. While WHQ has other new directors, including Kirkwood's creative partner Gabriel Day, Kolker's insistence on being a safe space against discrimination remains in its ethos and environment.

During the 90s there was a growing illegal party scene in the North East, from techno splits in canyons and warehouses, as Golden Shields' Swede Bergman recalls, to "crazy parties on the mountain", a sleepy clothing store in Whitley Bay. Get the weirdest, atmospheric end of Warp or Ninja Tune, like the gigs, and play live." From that scene, which moved into the hippie-rock world, came the likes of Coldcut co-writer and record producer Raj Pannu, who is now deeply techno for me Me Me – and Stevio, founder of Freerotation, the small festival that has become the UK's social hub.The rise of the millennial electronic music community.

Of course, it's impossible to talk about the Northeast music scene without touching people's faces. The Cumberland Arms Pub, where these packed dancers gather, is at the center of a scene that will feature new talent such as Domino Records-signed art rockers Richard Dawson and Me Lost Me, as well as hypnotic manipulators and loop. pedal singers. Stars of Natal. There is little separation between the DIY circle and local folk groups like the Unthanks. Even Mark Knopfler recently rediscovered his roots in the same bar scene decades ago. A city this size creates a connection that Kirkwood adds to Wiz's canonical catchphrase, "Sting's daddy milks me." (Ernest Sumner actually toured the dairy where Kirkwood grew up in Wallsend.)

Me Lost Me performance at Sage, Gateshead. Photo by Amelie Reed

Amidst all this underground heritage is a large and brilliant Rishi room with many works of art. Its cultural dominance is, to put it mildly, ambiguous. Etherington talks of "money flowing into iconic places" (such as Sage, the Baltic Center in Gateshead, which has received millions over the years), while independents have been left out. Rezaye worked at Sage for a short time but left after hosting the 2014 Ukip conference. "I just can't stand hate speech and racism," she says. Others are milder. Day is an administrator there and their late daughter is an artist. Kate Cobalt's Hodgkinson said it created cultural appeal when it opened in 2004, helping art graduates like her to "stay and really shake things up" rather than join the London rat race.

So Kirkwood's upcoming Sage show is an attempt to use its big stage to showcase something Northeastern and underground in a unique way. We interact with WHQ audiences from teenagers to seniors, join the Saturday night drinkers and listen to their raging passion – a strange mix of left-wing politics and entrepreneurship and a certain thrill to get involved. Unwittingly, several musicians echoed Kirkwood's line, "It's wrong, we'll do it ourselves."

Together with musicians with local house DJs, poets and rag sellers we go to Zerox, a new LGBTQ+ indie bar where the kids frequent Eraser, Grace Jones and Talking Heads. It's a far cry from the hypnotic immersion of the WHQ show, but it also defies the idea of ​​the North East as a monocultural 'bachelor town' in its own way. No one is resting on their laurels here. Each of these artists and DIY fields struggle every day.

“It's tough out there,” Rezai said. "But we did something of our own, and I'm proud of that."

William Basinski performs Royal Northern Symphony with Bad Waiter, Bryce and Novak at Sage Gateshead on November 4th.

This article was last updated on November 4, 2022. An earlier version called Newcastle a “predominantly white, pro-Brexit area”. This means it covers an area larger than the city, including Gateshead. In addition, Trent House was attacked by organized racist groups, particularly the National Front, as mentioned earlier. Also, Susie Davis' name was misspelled in an earlier version.

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