Interview with super talented Sunderland musician Faye Fantarrow; loving Kings of Leon, importance of supporting new music talent, refusing to be pigeon holed & big, bold ambitions!

When you think of North East music (and fringes) scene – what or who comes to mind? I’m probably going to show my age here – but I think of The Futureheads, Maximo Park, Nadine Shah, Sam Fender, Field Music, Kenickie, Becca James, Frankie & The Heart Strings & Cheryl Cole (how could it be a list without Chez!). Lush talents folks producing lush music – and many also organising festivals, cultural happenings and lushness across the region.

I don’t attend as many gigs as I used to – but I do have lots of musicians and bands reaching out to me as The Culture Vulture and I see LOADS at the events I work on and the venues I support; so I know that we have an AMAZING music scene and we have a brand new generation, ready to graft to make it, developing their craft and doing amazing things. But the fact so many reach out on the regular signals that there is often little help and support for new musicians who want a career in the industry. And for those without access to expert advice and financial support to buy equipment – progression routes into music in the region can be TOUGH.

But there is a shining light! There are a lot of exciting happenings going on in Sunderland and there is a reason why lots of new music talent is coming out of it, permeating across the North East. Organisations & creative individuals are joining forces, investing into and facilitating new music talent development at the grass roots & helping them overcome any barriers they may have in the music industry. There’s only one thing that excites me more than a organisation investing into the creative & cultural sector….it’s when MULTIPLE orgs come together to do it as collaborators, sharing knowledge and hopefully, creating more impactful opportunities for nurturing new talent.

The Tonalities

The Tonalities

One such Sunderland-based arts organisation doing just that; We Make Culture CIC. They believe that accessible music making opportunities, enhances lives and builds communities. One new strand of their work is the lush Young Musicians’ Talent Development Fund, launched in October 2019 supported by Sunderland Music Hub, it identifies and supports young musicians in Sunderland to take the next steps to develop their music or careers. Young musicians or bands applied and had the opportunity of securing £500 worth of bespoke support, ranging from equipment to develop their live performance to mentoring to help market and promote their music.

Young Musicians in Sunderland at Pop Recs.

10 bursaries were awarded early 2020 to young musicians and bands who are ready to progress their careers. One young musician who was successful in securing a bursary, Faye Fantarrow aged 17. About the bursary she said “As a young female singer songwriter establishing a foothold in the music industry is very hard and for that reason I’m going to use this fund to help in the next steps of my career by linking up with a mentor. I’m also releasing a new single in the spring and will be using part of the fund to help promote that.”

Well that peeked my interest and I checked out Faye’s music. What a voice and what a talent! So I decided to reach out to Faye and nab an interview….

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Faye Fantarrow

So hiyer Faye – you’re a fantastic female singer & song writer and you’ve got lots of folks sitting up and taking notice! Have you always been musical? Journey into music?

I began singing in primary school as part of the school choir but didn’t think it was cool enough in secondary! I always enjoyed singing and got my first guitar when I was twelve but didn’t really pick it up properly until I was around 15.

Tell me about your music? How would you describe it?

I think all artists hate this type of question; it’s hard to pigeon-hole yourself into one genre/style, each song is different and doesn’t always fit a set type.

Where do you seek inspiration for your music making and writing?

Basically looking out of the window, watching people, the world, and also personal experience.

Do you perform much? How do you feel about performing in front of others?

I’ve not been performing long and I haven’t turned down a gig yet …I do love performing.

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Faye Fantarrow next gig ^^

You’re 17…. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you…. Are you going to pursue music full time? Go to Uni? Get a job? What’s the dream?

Ultimately the dream is to write and perform full time but I am also a realist and I know very few people are lucky enough to achieve it so I so have a back-up plan. I am currently studying A-levels and have applied to Uni’s but I’m also planning to take a year out to fully focus on my music and see where it takes me….

How do you find the music scene in the NE?

It’s improving and there are a few opportunities but not enough; it is still very heavily dominated by white male indie bands. So while any music scene is better than no music scene, I still think Sunderland venues need to wake up to the talent and diversity that is not being tapped into.

What do you think are the challenges/barriers to young musicians like yourself?

Getting your music heard! Also the way music is produced, is changing rapidly with the emphasis now on the artist to record their own stuff, out of their own pocket and studio time is very expensive which puts a possible career out of reach for most young people across Sunderland.

There is a widely recognised gender gap in music in terms of female musicians – do you think it’s harder to be a female identifying musician?

Most definitely; you just have read the twitter comments on Annie Mac’s account when she voiced this opinion. I was shocked by how many people (including females) thought the bias was ok as there aren’t any good female artists out there (in their opinion) and this way of thinking will continue unless women are given an equal share of stage/air time to show how we deserve to be there.

Are there any regional performers that you admire?

Martha Hill, Eve Conway, Kay Greyson and Big Fat Big.

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Faye Fantarrow

Who is your fave band?

Kings of Leon!

MINE TOO…. Fave type of music?

I can’t limit myself to a type of music and why be denied?

Advice to musicians wanting to get started who might see you and what you’re doing as inspiration?

Stick to making the music that makes YOU happy and if someone tries to change you walk away, it’s their loss!

How did you get involved with the Young Musicians Talent Development Fund?

A friend of my sister mentioned it to her as they knew I liked to write my own stuff, then as part of YMP I saw the fund advertised and applied online!

How did it feel to secure a slice of the fund and see your name announced?

It was fantastic and a great opportunity; it felt very special.

What are you going to use the fund for?

I am using the fund to help move me forward and get my music out there, I have been very lucky to have Sue Collier appointed as a mentor for me too!

Where can we check you out/listen to your music?

I have some of my music available on Soundcloud and my debut single, Lines, is available on Spotify and Apple Music. I am working on new music and will be back in the studio soon so please keep any eye on my socials for updates!

Where can I see you perform?

I am at Independent Sunderland March 7th supporting the brilliant Martha Hill along with Mt.Misery.

Anything happening across the region in 2020 – that you want to tell me about?

Keep an eye out for the Lamp Light Festival on 8th & 9th August in Sunderland; it should be fantastic!

Faye Fantarrow

Faye Fantarrow

Well how lush – I’m really excited to see what Faye does next, feels like she’s on the cusp of something special!

You can follow Faye on her socials & of course, give her music a listen!

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Youtube

And keep an eye out for We Make Culture & Sunderland Music Hub for all the great work their doing across the region!

That’s all for now Culture Vultures. Until next time!

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Takeover Festival 2020 : What is it, how to get involved & meet #teamtakeover Harrison & James

I had the pleasure of attending the Takeover 2020 launch event and hearing about the plots & plans for this year’s festival – you know when you leave somewhere and feel buzzing with ideas and can’t wait to get home and write about it – well here I am!

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The Takeover is an annual week-long arts festival at The Customs House that is produced by, with and for young people to develop and showcase their leadership skills. The festival is led, planned, marketed, delivered and evaluated by the Takeover Team, a group of 12-18 year olds who are recruited from diverse backgrounds and have varying leadership and arts experiences.

I am working on Takeover 2020 advising & supporting with audience development and marketing. I will also be working with the Takeover Team supporting them with marketing, PR, social media & supporting their skills development. I’m buzzing.

The Takeover is authentically a festival by & for young people – the Takeover Team have full control. In a similar ethos to Mortal Fools’ approach with young people – they treat & support young people as creative practitioners & professionals from day one, investing into them and their learning journey as the future generation of creatives, freelancers, entrepreneurs, innovators, writers, performers, artists, facilitators, business professionals etc. And they have an amazing time too!

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Young people may get involved with a specific ambition of realising an event, others may want to learn more about an art form or professional element of practice, others it’s about meeting & connecting with young people and for others, it’s to develop the transferrable skills for their future career or education choice.

This year’s Takeover dates are 25th-29th May (get them in your diary!) & a five-day festival awaits for young people; each day into evening. Lots of the programme is unknown (at this stage) because it’s worked up with young people – but there will be a visual arts exhibition displaying young people’s work, a poetry evening, a new theatre show, film awards, music, workshops and who knows what else!? I’m excited for what the team comes up with!

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Recruitment for the Takeover Team is currently open – they will meet every Monday from 24th February, 5pm-7pm at The Customs House. This is open to ALL young people aged 12-18yrs old. You don’t have to be able to attend every session (great if you can though!), you can dip in and out and if you can’t make the first session, you can get involved at a later Monday. To get involved & find out more all you have to do is email Izzy@customshouse.co.uk

I was blown away at the Launch and it was great to hear and see from last year’s young people about why they got involved, their REAL experience, what they learnt and what they are excited about doing & making happen for this year’s festival. Now I could wax lyrical about what a brilliant opportunity this is for young people and why other young people should get involved…. Or I could share mini interview profiles with two of last year’s team, who are also part of Take Over Team 2020 as Team Assistants. I had the pleasure of meeting them at the launch and what BRILLIANT humans. It’s young people like this, that make me feel a bit better about the future of the world….

Over to James & Harrison

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Takeover Assistant James

Tell me a bit about yourself?

I’m an 18 year old college student currently studying for my A levels in Maths, Chemistry and physics. I enjoy going out to gigs especially locally.

Why did you join The Takeover Team last year?

I joined last year as I have always been interested in the running of different venues and always wanted to organise such events for myself so when I heard about takeover festival it was an opportunity I simply couldn’t miss.

What was your favourite part of Takeover 2019?

For me my personal favourite part of the festival was The Lake Poets gig as it was the main thing that I helped in organising and seeing it go as well as it did felt really rewarding after putting in all the effort in the build up to prepare.

What did you learn from being part of the team last year?

Last year, I feel like I learned a lot about the inner running of a venue; as well as learning a lot about other communities that were involved in the festival – the different theatre groups, dance groups and LGBTQ+ artists that aided us with the festival.

As Takeover Assistant this year what will you be focusing on?

This year I will be concentrating on developing my leadership skills as I’ve never been in any kind of leadership role, so this is a whole new experience and challenge that I’m excited to undertake.

Why do you think being part of The Takeover 2020 team is a good opportunity?

For me, it gave me an opportunity that will help me in the future showing me the ins and outs of organising a festival. It also is really rewarding when you have put in weeks of work building up to one event and seeing it go brilliantly is a great feeling you rarely get the opportunity to achieve at our age.

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Takeover Assistant Harrison

Tell me a bit about yourself?

I am an 18 year old sixth form student currently studying A level Maths, Computer Science and BTEC Business. During my spare time I enjoy playing football and have a particular interest in business finance. In the future, I would like to complete an apprenticeship in this field.

Why did you join The Takeover Team last year?

Last year I joined The Takeover Team as I felt it was a unique opportunity to gain real-life work experience as it’s something not easy to come by. When Natasha approached me, at first, I was hesitant as I was unsure of what my role would be in the team but I was not disappointed.

What was your favourite part of Takeover 2019?

My favourite part of Takeover 2019 festival was the North East Young Filmmaker’s Award as some of the talent on display was immense. However, I really enjoyed leading the finances of the festival as that is where my aspirations lie and the experience was invaluable.

What did you learn from being part of the team?

Last year, I learnt all the different entities needed to run a successful festival and how every member of the team has value and brings their own skill sets. I also gained leadership qualities as I was team leader on 2 of the days.

As Takeover Assistant this year what will you be focusing on?

This year, I will be focusing on the finances of the festival again but I also hope to develop my public speaking skills as well as furthering my leadership qualities with being in a more senior role.

Why do you think being part of The Takeover 2020 team is a good opportunity?

The Takeover Festival is an opportunity for any young person to express themselves in whichever way they want. No matter what your interests are, there is a place for any young person wanting to gain work experience and a place for you to aid with your own festival. For me, my interests were in finance but many of the team had backgrounds in the arts and each team member was valued equally bringing different qualities to the table.

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Well how cracking is that – I wish there had been opportunities like that when I was a young person instead of spending time learning about biscuit making (long and strange story!).

Take Over team recruitment is open – email Izzy@customshouse.co.uk for more info. Sessions are Mondays – 5pm-7pm at The Customs House in South Shields.

There are also LOADS of other ways for young people to get involved & call outs open too! Let me take you through them…..

Other opportunities:

Visual Arts Call Out for the exhibition part of the Festival.

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Poetry Call out for Young Poets

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Young Film Maker Call Out

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Writer in Residence Call out – (Future Culture Vulture blog coming with last year’s writer Elijah Young.)

Takeover Young Playwright in Residence

That’s all for now Culture Vultures – I’ve got a back log of blog posts to publish – so expect them coming in thick & fast from now!