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.
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….
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.
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?
Who is your fave band?
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!
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!
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!