Erza Bang & Hot Machine, Gabby Young, Lanterns On The Lake, Kill It Kid, Ice, Sea Dead People - BBC Introducing Fresh on the Net Festival
Bill Cummings 22/10/2009
Excitingly radio legend Tom Robinson is curatating a two week festival at Riverside Studios in London. Taking place between 20 Oct - 1 Nov 2009: it's two weeks of hot indie, urban and acoustic acts played on BBC Introducing: Fresh On The Net. It's A season of upcoming bands and songwriters from across the genres to celebrate two years of Fresh On The Net: Tom Robinson's groundbreaking BBC Introducing shows on 6 Music. Bypassing the record industry, these shows focus exclusively on artists whose music can be heard for free online.
Hundreds of bands and songwriters on MySpace have won new fans and listeners thanks to national exposure on Tom's show. The focus is on quality rather than celebrity, though some - such as LaRoux, Florence & The Machine and Glasvegas - have gone on to dominate the airwaves at Radios 1 and 2.
Tom Robinson first became known in the 70s and 80s for hit records of his own such as such as 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay and War Baby but for the last ten years has become better known as a respected broadcaster and tastemaker on BBC 6 Music.
At Riverside Tom introduces three great acts per evening - any of whom could easily headline in their own right. Halloween night for instance brings together acclaimed spiritual rap virtuoso Juice Aleem with the synth-fuelled fury of New York's Ezra Bang and one of the hottest bands currently on London's club circuit The Laurel Collective.
Tickets are a mere £6. So join us at any of these carefully themed shows for an evening of fresh and adventurous music at Riverside Studios, a venue famous for bringing cutting-edge performers to a wider audience.
Artists taking part, in alphabetical order: a.P.a.t.T. , ALICE GUN, ATLUM SCHEMA, DAVID CRONENBERG'S WIFE, DEXTER BENTLEY, DR MEAKER, EZRA BANG & HOT MACHINE, FANGS, FICTION, FIGHTING FICTION, FILTHY PEDRO, GABBY YOUNG, GOLD SOUNDS, GRASSCUT, HOODLUMS, ICE, SEA, DEAD PEOPLE, JUICE ALEEM, KILL IT KID, KING CHARLES, KINKAJOU, LANTERNS ON THE LAKE, THE LAUREL COLLECTIVE, LETS TEA PARTY, LISBEE STAINTON, LUCY'S DIARY, MALCOLM KAKSOIS, MILK KAN, MISHAPED PEARLS, THE MORES, Mr.DAVID VINER, Mr.B THE GENTLEMAN RHYMER, NEPHU HUZZBAND, THE OCTOBER GAME, PHANTOM LIMB, PINEY GIR, REVERE, ROB MARR, RUSSELL JOSLIN, SERGEANT BUZFUZ, THE SISTERS OF TRANSISTORS, STUART SILVER, TAPE THE RADIO, THE VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMAN'S CLUB, WITH LOVE FROM HUMANS.
To celebrate this special event that showcases up and coming talent, we have TWO tickets to give away simply send us your name and email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday when a winner will be plucked out of our hat.
Earlier this year Tom Robinson spoke to John Johnston for the site SEVENGLOBAL.ORG.Tom talks about his history, his music tastes, the state of music and radio industries. Plus his unique platform for unsigned and small label music Fresh on the net, and how he goes about putting a festival line up together...
"Genres are my pet hate" says Tom Robinson "Growing up as members of the Beatles generation in the 1960s, my friends and I were pretty much genre-blind. Soul, Funk, Tamla, Pop, Rock, Folk, Country, R&B all rubbed shoulders on Top Of The Pops and Ready Steady Go - to us it was all music. These days if you're looking for, say, the Speech Debelle album in HMV it could be racked under Hip Hop, R'n'B, Urban or Top 40."
As he has lived through nearly six decades, a time that has seen the music business grow to into the global industry it is today, I was keen to find out whether Robinson thought music had lost some of its innocent romance: the feeling of people following their passions and going wherever the journey took them.
"Music is no longer central to people's lives in the same way. After 1950 when I was born, music emerged as a kind of bush telegraph communicating the values of a generation," he explained. "People like my brother who bought Elvis and Bill Hayley records in 1956 were tuning into a consciousness that teenagers were experiencing across the world at that moment. Older people simply didn't get it. Same with the Beatles, psychedelica, glam, prog, punk, hip hop, dance, trance, baggy and grunge"
"Music served a central cultural role in defining an identity for several generations, but it's been decreasingly true over the past 10-15 years," he said. "Music is everywhere now. I'm not saying that's good or bad, but I do remember having to save up a month's pocket money for a new record and then go round to a friend's to hear it. That availability does mean it's not so special anymore. On the other hand we have instant access to almost everything, which is fantastic."
So, does he believe that the current music scene has become oversaturated with similar acts? "A lot of people say that, but I don't agree. Yes, part of me does despair as yet another new group of four or five skinny white boys with guitars comes along. But then people are also still managing to keep it fresh and interesting. Grammatics for example, are an innovative yet accessible band who make me think that there are still areas to explore." Robinson let out a chuckle before continuing. "At my age, I can still remember 1962 when The Shadows were the biggest band in the country. That's when the A&R guy at Decca turned down the Beatles because the next big thing couldn't possibly be three guitars and a drummer."
It's this long experience of the industry that has allowed Robinson to connect to his radio audience on BBC 6 Music and help the next big thing along their way. As one of the BBC's most influential digital radio stations, 6 Music's aim is to bring the hottest talent for those too old for Radio 1 and not yet ready for Radio 2, into its listeners' lives - while also focusing on the influences of contemporary music. However, the station recently suffered a crisis of identity with some listeners aggrieved at presenters such as George Lamb bringing more chatter than tunes to the airwaves. With the opportunity too tempting to pass by, I had to ask Robinson his thoughts on the station.
"6 Music is an exciting place to work. It's a shame that the cutbacks at BBC mean the station is run on a shoestring. It's an incredibly dedicated team that work there and we punch above our weight in terms of output and the bands that we break. People work very long hours simply through their love of music. I work most days without any help from a broadcast assistant; it's just me and a part-time producer doing the whole show. It's very hard sourcing the material online for four hours of entirely new music each week - but then it's hugely rewarding because we give something like thirty new artists their first national radio exposure every week."
When asked whether the station has done what it set out to do, Robinson paused and one gathered the feeling that many at the station feel more could be done. "There's so much scope for what could be done out there," he eventually said. "Up till now the music industry has always been unbalanced; the 95% of artists have worked hard for very little reward while the remaining 5% have been ridiculously overpaid."
"So much great music never gets heard - 6 Music could have covered any number of areas and still have work to do," Robinson said with a tinge of the heart-on-sleeve attitude that served him throughout the punk era. To hear him speak about the subject shows that passion is not lost in music yet.
Robinson's show is starting to reap the benefits of his hard work. The podcast of the show already attracts 15,000 monthly subscribers, while his "Fresh on the Net" blog offers advice for independent artists on how to get ahead. Robinson's Twitter feed flags up links to interesting new tunes whenever he comes across them. Is this what Robinson thinks the radio industry has to do in order to remain relevant today?
"Radio has to adapt," Robinson said with a sense of pragmatism. "The traditional model is one-to-many: one broadcast, many listeners, offering a pre-digested listen. Listeners phoning or texting in to the show are celebrated as proof of 'interactivity', which is a BBC mantra. But it's still dealing with them one at a time. Whereas the whole point of the web is that it's many-to-many. Our job now is to facilitate conversations among the many - to act as a stimulus and guide to the possibilities out there."
"In that sense," Robinson continued, "the most important part of what we is not the show itself, but the online tracklisting afterwards. Listeners can click straight through to the actual music and artists we played in the show."
"In the same way online journalism with webzines and blogs has a vital role to play. There's far too much stuff on MySpace for the average listener to wade through; you need direction, and online music criticism sets out a table from which people can then choose."
With this in mind, my thoughts turned to the BBC-wide Introducing initiative. Isn't this just an attempt to stay relevant within the music industry as the Internet takes listeners away from linear radio output?
"The important thing about BBC Introducing is that it's focussed on the needs of people who make music in the first place, rather than those who make a living out of marketing it. It's great to see the BBC to be actively seeking out artists who don't have big budgets or insider contacts, but who do have talent."
"It seems to me music radio has traditionally been just another marketing arm of the record industry. Commercial companies bring their product direct to the programme producers - who then play the music and the DJs tell listeners when and where they can buy it. Whereas our BBC Introducing show on 6 Music tells listeners where they can hear the tunes for free - with full knowledge and consent of the artists."
Despite this shift, many in Britain still view the BBC as an outdated institution. Many media critics label the current licensing scheme as irrelevant to the media landscape of the 21st century. Controversies such as the Andrew Sachs debacle have the BBC's critics an excuse to attack it. I asked Robinson what he thought about the Ross and Brand affair - and whether the BBC license fee was still relevant - only to be surprised by the otherwise anti-establishment musician and presenter's response. But then again, with its obligation to the public rather than a board or shareholders, the BBC has never really fitted into the capitalist model of "establishment".
"I don't condone what Russell and Jonathan did for a moment - it was fantastically ill-judged. But you do have to bear in mind that in the week after it had happened there was one complaint," Robinson explained. "Then the Daily Mail group, with extensive interests in commercial radio and television, publicised the story and told readers where to complain. Only then did complaints suddenly escalate to 30,000. I'm not defending what they did, but the furore was deliberately orchestrated."
"Pound for pound, the license fee is an absurdly small amount per day compared to a Sky or cable subscription - for 35p you get the whole of BBC radio and television, plus the iPlayer and a vast content-rich website. It strikes me as fantastic value for money," he said with a passion straining in his voice. "And I bet senior staff at the BBC-bashing media - namely the Mail and Murdoch press - don't listen exclusively to Capital Radio and Talk Sport on their kitchen radios. BBC radio delivers a huge range of quality content as one of the world's most trusted and respected names in brodcasting. And these people seem intent on kicking it to pieces."
With these arguments still rumbling on, however, all Robinson can do at the BBC is focus on what he's doing - something he constantly does during the interview. "Our mission with Introducing is to directly connect listeners with new music and musicians with new listeners. The listener can contact the creator directly, bypassing a record industry which is in any case completely indifferent to small independent artists."
It's this idea of short-circuiting the whole process that makes Robinson's "Introducing" stage at this year's Wychwood Festival so interesting. His relationship with the festival has been a vicarious one, talking to the organisers since its inception, suggesting acts and promoting it through his radio endeavours. This year, the organisers asked him to play at the festival, but Robinson had bigger plans in mind. "Give me a stage and I'll give you 15 or 16 bands," Robinson told the organisers, and it was an offer they couldn't refuse.
"Unfortunately, there's no real budget for it," Robinson lamented, with the acts only being given the petrol money to get themselves there. "None of these names are a big enough draw to bring paying customers in to the festival." Robinson and the event's organisers have, however, found ways to make it worthwhile for the artists to appear.
"It's something I've never heard done before," enthused Robinson, sounding like a bottle rocket waiting to go off. "We have a laptop by the side of the stage that will record the sets straight on to 16 track digital - at very low cost to us - from which we then donate the masters to the band."
This means that, in lieu of payment, the bands receive raw master recordings of their own performances - together with all rights in the material. "This is a generation who are completely familiar with recording and mixing their own material at home. They'll know how they want the mixes to sound better than anyone else" Robinson fervently noted. "The other area we thought about was merchandise. Most gigging bands earn more money from selling CDs and T-shirts than they do from the actual fee in any case. Venues and festivals know this, and will usually levy a commission of anything between 10% and 25% on merchandise sales - which have to be carried out from official stalls away from the stage area."
For Robinson's stage a well-lit stall will be set up right beside the stage. Artists will be able to walk straight off stage and start selling and signing records almost as soon as the applause has died away, keeping 100% of the takings. It's a simple idea that has managed to entice a lot of acts along for the weekend.
"Everyone gets equal billing," Robinson explained. "I like to think of them as all members of our Introducing family of artists." The members on this jamboree have a diverse collection of backgrounds, partly from Robinson's pet hate of genres - and also his dialogue with the Introducing shows on other BBC networks. Orphans and Vandals are one such band, an electrifying live acts who sound like a cross between The Waterboys and Velvet Underground, with none of their songs under eight minutes long. At the other extreme is Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer working in the genre of "chap hop" as he spits his lyrics in a posh accent. Other notable bands include acoustic Merseyside trio Shellsuit, whose gritty debut album Walton Prison Blues was written and published track by track on the internet over the course of a year. The yearning lyricism of The October Game will be proving that indie music still has plenty to offer while Avipaul was recommended by Bobby Friction's Introducing show on Asian Network - and will be mashing influences from the eastern and western world into one great sound on the weekend of 29 May.
Robinson has seen a lot throughout his years, but that passion that served him during an era of discrimination and social turmoil has remained with him as he helps navigate the boat through all that's fresh on the net.Tom Robinson is curatating a two week festival at Riverside Studios in London. Taking place between 20 Oct - 1 Nov 2009: it's two weeks of hot indie, urban and acoustic acts played on BBC Introducing: Fresh On The Net.
Tuesday 20th October, 8.00-10.20 pm
A Primal Scream, Angular noise with a twinkle in its eye
ICE, SEA, DEAD PEOPLE , FANGS & NEPHU HUZZBAND
Wednesday 21st October, 8.00-10.20 pm
Blang Records Night
Joe Murphy presents SERGEANT BUZFUZ, DAVID CRONENBERG'S WIFE, MILK KAN, MALCOLM KAKSOIS, KINKAJOU, LUCY'SDIARY, DEXTER BENTLEY and FILTHY PEDRO.
Thursday 22nd October, 8.00-10.20 pm
Avon Calling, barnstorming bands from Bath and Bristol
WITH LOVE FROM HUMANS, FIGHTING FICTION, LETS TEA PARTY
Friday 23rd October, 8.00-10.20 pm
Explorers Night: a wander along pop music's wilder shores
FICTION, GRASSCUT & A.P.A.T.T.
Saturday 24th October, 8.00-10.20 pm
Songwriters Night, powerful, emotional, unmissable
ATLUM SCHEMA, LANTERNS ON THE LAKE & THE OCTOBER GAME
Sunday 25th October, 8.00-10.20 pm
Vocalists Night, fine bands with gobsmacking singers
MISHAPED PEARLS, PHANTOM LIMB & KILL IT KID
Tuesday 27th October, 8.00-10.20 pm
A Gentelmens Night Out, wild, weird and wonderful
MR.B THE GENTLEMAN RHYMER, KING CHARLES & VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMENS CLUB
Wednesday 28th October, 8.00-10.20pm
Ambiguous Records Night
Al Mobbs presents ROB MARR, ALICE GUN, THE MORES, Mr DAVID VINER, STUART SILVER and GOLD SOUNDS.
Thursday 29th October, 8.00-10.20 pm
Acoustic Night, three outstanding writer/guitarists
RUSSELL JOSLIN, LISBEE STAINTON & PINEY GIR
Friday 30th October, 8.00-10.20 pm
Independents Day: Bristol beats, searing indie & insane retro electro
TAPE THE RADIO, DR MEAKER, THE SISTERS OF TRANSISTORS
Saturday 31st October, 8.00-10.20 pm
HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: a night of flamethrower rap, rock and rhetoric with:
EZRA BANG & HOT MACHINE, JUICE ALEEM, THE LAUREL COLLECTIVE
Sunday 1st November, 8.00-10.20 pm
GABBY YOUNG, HOODLUMS, REVERE
For further information and images please contact:
Ian Cuthbert, Press Manager, Riverside Studios
tel: 020 8237 1025, email: email@example.com
Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
www.riversidestudios.co.uk, box office: 020 8237 1111
All gigs are priced at £6
Further information on Tom Robinson's radio show BBC Introducing: Fresh On The Net see:
Fresh On The Net Mixtape by tomrobinson