A PROJECT launched to support North-East musical artists and help develop songs they wrote during the summer lockdown has received entries from all over the region.
Releasing from Lockdown was introduced by The Forum Music Studios, in Darlington, and funded by Arts Council UK to support and fund established North-East artists who spent lockdown writing new material, to help them produce professional recordings of their songs, and to provide them with a platform to live stream a performance.
Allison McKay, managing director of The Forum said: “Many artists in our area have seen their careers and finances hit hard by the pandemic, and although many have written new material, they may not be in a position to afford getting their songs professionally recorded and promoted.
“Releasing from Lockdown is our latest way of continuing our dedication to growing grassroots music in the North-East. We want to ensure that talented people in our area can access professional facilities, a knowledgeable production crew, and experienced industry support – at no cost to them.
“We’ve had a fantastic response, and we hope this project will give them the best chance of their music being heard so that they can get gigs in the future and kickstart their music career.”
Now a variety of bands and solo artists are working closely with experienced industry professionals put forward by The Forum, including producer Jez Larder, who has worked on music for stars like David Bowie, Amy MacDonald, and Simply Red.
They will also get the chance to record their tracks in The Forum’s fully-equipped studio, perform at a special live-streamed online gig later in the year, and contribute to an album of music written during lockdown.
One of the bands selected for the mentoring programme includes four-piece rock ensemble Fires of Freya, who were inspired to write the emotive song ‘Strangest Times’ after learning that a close friend’s father had passed away during lockdown.
After hearing the tragic news of Washington man Phil Allsop’s death, the four band members decided to dedicate the song to his memory.
Lead singer, Cheryl Reynolds, said: “Phil’s son Ryan has been to a lot of our gigs over the last couple of years, he’s always there to support us, and he’s become a really good friend to everyone in the band.
“We’d just heard that he had lost his dad when Shaun – our guitarist – came up with the melody for what became Strangest Times, and I instantly thought it was quite special. It seemed right that we use the song to pay tribute to Phil.”
The song won Fires of Freya their coveted place in the Releasing from Lockdown programme, alongside other notable emerging artists, including Darlington-based indie singer-songwriter Caitlin Morrow.