Now the director of Funk the Format & Funk the Family Festival, as a journalist in London Elle J Small wrote for some of the world’s most influential publications in the heyday of music journalism – Blues & Soul, Rwd, Mixmag, Dazed and Confused – before the internet sent many of them tumbling. As well as earning a reputation for tipping unknown bands, she was instrumental in importing the sounds of Brazil to London in the early noughties. Now a mother of two living in Hove, Brightonsfinest sat down with her for a lesson in recent musical history, to hear about the origins of the festival, and to learn how her identity in the music industry has evolved over time.
Local independent label Hidden Trail Records has garnered some considerable success with Ellie Ford’s debut album The Other Sun – this is partly down to the record itself, which we called “remarkable” in our review. Still, it’s clear that Hidden Trail punches far above their weight, and has broken a lot of ground with this release. Of course, they’re not a one-artist label, so we sat the co-owner down to discuss the aftermath of Ellie Ford’s album, and to hear what they’ve got coming up in future.
What is the focus and direction of Hidden Trail?
I’d like to claim there was a master plan at the inception of the label, but it just grew quite organically through contacts I’d made via a blog I used to write, and friends in the Brighton music scene. The other owner and I are big music geeks who have pretty varied tastes, so we always wanted to try and have an eclectic mix of music on the label. Although our two releases so far this year have been in the alt-folk world, our next two are quite different.
At a little over a year old, 1 Brighton FM has just been awarded an FM license. With approximately 90 volunteer DJs, they produce a jaw-dropping spread of high-quality, independent content, and this is sure to only increase as they truly take to the airwaves. We caught up with Steve Ellis, the station manager, to go over the origins of 1 Brighton FM, what the license means for them, and to see what the future holds for this exciting new feature of Brighton’s broadcast landscape.
About to officially start his role as BIMM’s Music Industry Ambassador on 1 August, it's the culmination of over thirty years work in the music industry for this most friendly and engaging of people. From researching the industry whilst doing an MA, to setting up a label, managing bands, lecturing and tutoring music students, and generally being instrumental in shaping the music scene in Brighton, Phil has been there and done that in this ever-changing and fast-moving industry. He took time out to answer some questions for us.
Oxjam began in 2006, with the aim of creating a network of music-loving people across the UK, all united by a shared goal – raising money for Oxfam to help fight poverty around the world. Ten years on and the festival is still going strong, with hundreds of incredible gigs taking place each October all over the country. It's a national festival with a local focus and Brighton, being such a hub of musical creativity, has a bit of a duty to step-up and represent!
For several years Brighton has had a multi-venue festival, what they call a 'Takeover' event. Much like The Great Escape or Drill Festival there are shows organised in venues around the city which can all be accessed via a wrist band. We chat to Caroline Waters, who is our local Oxjam Takeover manager, to find out about her history with Oxjam, what's going on in Brighton this year and how you can get involved.
What is your official title and what are your roles and responsibilities?
I am general manager. I oversee the day-to-day management of the festival. We've got our booker, Adam; our marketing manager, Karen; and Lisa, who is our production manager. My role is to make sure everyone is on track with what they need to be doing, hitting our deadlines. I also oversee the festival budget.
What were you doing before?
Before this role, I was the executive producer of The Great Escape. I liaised with all our international trade partners, people like Canada House, all the partners who have international showcases at TGE (The Great Escape), and also our UK-based trade partners, such as PRS and PPL. I also used to oversee the Alternative Escape. This will be my fifth year with TGE.
What’s the history of the Kemp Town Carnival?
The roots of the Carnival stretch as far back as the late 70s. The Kemp Town Pram Race, a fancy dress pub crawl/race through the streets of Kemp Town Village, was a cherished annual community event that eventually came to a close in the early 80s.
How did Acid Box come about as a promotions company in the first place and what made you pick Brighton?
Polly: Erm, well I started after I left college, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t want to go to university. At college I’d studied multimedia, so TV, radio, film, journalism and all that kind of stuff. I did a final piece for my course where I did a live music show where I put on live bands and stuff. After getting a taster, I tried putting a gig on back in Eastbourne which is our home town and it worked well, so then I did it a few more times and it picked up and then I decided to actually try and do something with it.
Tell me about your background, why and when did you come to Brighton?
I was born and remained a Londoner until leaving University. Got into pirate radio as a teenager in the early 80s. Then in 1989, changes in the law made pirate radio a criminal offence. There was a strong family connection with Brighton and I had just finished a broadcast journalism course, was doing a bit of freelance work and also teaching at Goldsmiths’, my old college.
My name is Marcus Hamblett. I’m a musician first and foremost and I record and perform as a solo artist, as a duo with drummer Tom Heather, and with bands including Sons of Noel and Adrian, Eyes & No Eyes, Emma Gatrill, Rachael Dadd, Rozi Plain and many more on an occasional basis. I earn my bread and butter as a session musician and over the last few years I’ve been fortunate to tour regularly with Alessi’s Ark, Laura Marling, Willy Mason and Bear’s Den. I also produce other people’s music and release music through my label Willkommen Records. We also put on occasional shows in Brighton.