An Open Letter To First Timers Fest…

Dear First Timers Fest,

Thank you for existing and for the best Sunday afternoon spent at the Amersham Arms, watching new bands perform live together for the first time.

I (and the GIHE team) have been following your work as a non-profit organisation, encouraging people from all walks of life to start making music for a while now and I think what you do is vital and beautiful – and I hope you feel appreciated!

For those who don’t know, First Timers are a London based initiative who run workshops and festivals that aim to make music accessible to all. They focus on creating fun, low pressure environments for people to learn instruments, form their own band and aim to build a community of like-minded people who think access to music shouldn’t be blocked by financial or social barriers.

I have seen and felt the joy of the First Timers community first hand, having attended their Bass Workshop with Jodi earlier this year and their Festival earlier this month. Turning up alone to these events can feet a bit daunting, but from the moment I walked into an event, the team of volunteers were warm, approachable and always willing to chat. It’s a human-centered initiative designed to make you feel comfortable, and it’s always a pleasure to be in the room with other people who are seeking a connection through music.

Between sets at the festival, I spoke to volunteers and organisers about how much I was enjoying the day. They took the time to stand and talk with me, which was no small feat considering that logistically, organising stage times and supporting 15 new bands must have meant they had a truly chaotic day. My only regret is that I couldn’t stay for the full festival!

It was inspiring to watch new bands like Wormdriver, Poorly Trained Radicals, Pig City, Egg Doggs and Achers share their music with a crowd for the first time. Considering it was a festival for beginners, there were so few “mistakes” in the performances, and if any person on stage looked like they were unsure, the crowd immediately applauded or cheered them on to dissolve the uncertainty. It’s this shared supportive attitude that makes First Timers Fest such a pleasure to witness. It’s an attitude that often gets lost in the pretensions of wider, more “serious” music spheres. It’s easy to forget that everyone has to start somewhere and ultimately – so what if you fuck it up? That’s half the fun anyway, and that’s what First Timers are here for.

I grew up as a working class girl in Essex and despite secretly wanting to, I never learned how to play an instrument. I was one of four kids, incredibly shy and had no idea where to start. My brother taught himself how to play guitar and synths via Youtube videos, but I couldn’t grasp any of it through a screen. The one bass lesson I had with Jodi this year made me feel like I might actually be able to get somewhere with an instrument, if I just make the time to practice it more often. If First Timers had been around when I was a teenager, I think they would have helped me get to where I am today a little bit quicker. I’m grateful to have found them now as an adult, and I really hope others will read this and reach out and join the First Timers community too.

Keep up the good work folks and I’ll see you again soon.

Love & solidarity,
Kate x

 

Follow First Timers Fest on TwitterFacebookInstagram & their official website

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: GIHE on Soho Radio with Julia-Sophie 04.05.22

Tash & Kate were back on the Soho Radio airwaves playing loads of new music from some of their favourite female, non-binary and LGBTQ+ artists, and Mari offered some of her “musical musings” too.

Electronic artist Julia-Sophie joined them to talk about her latest EP it feels like thunder, and her anticipations for her Get In Her Ears headline show at The Shacklewell Arms on Thursday 1st June, with Maria Uzor and Dewey. Grab your tickets here.

Listen back below:

 

Tracklist
Sade – Your Love Is King
ESG – not my first (rodeo)
Anonhi x Hercules Love Affair – Poisonous Storytelling
Gazelle Twin – Hole In My Heart
Ethel Cain – American Teenager
Softcult – Uzumaki
Martha Rose and GRIP TIGHT – Never B Mine
Jelly Crystal & Seinabo Sey – I Tryyy
Tender – Control
Fears – Fabric
Fraulein – And I Go (La La)
Kills Birds – Cough Up Cherries
Amaroun – Orchid
Chelsea Carmichael – All We Know
Julia-Sophie – Dial Your Number
**Interview with Julia-Sophie**
Kraak & Smaak, Fred Nevché – Scirocco
Ultraista – Tin King
Shivum Sharma – Overload
Tomberlin – Sunstruck
Bitch – Hello Meadow
Ghum – Some People
Grawl!x – Hopelessness
Deep Tan – Rudy Ya Ya Ya
Breakup Haircut – Out Of My Way (I’m not getting on the night bus)
Noga Erez – End Of The Road

INTERVIEW: First Timers Fest

First Timers are a London-based DIY community of musicians and activists who believe that having access to creating & playing music should not be a privilege, it should be a joyful and social experience that empowers everyone. They encourage people from all walks of life – particularly those who identify as non-binary, LGBTQ+, disabled or female – to attend their workshops and gigs in order to experience and create music in a non-judgemental, low pressure environment. They aim to build people’s confidence, as well as forming a community of like-minded individuals who feel empowered to tackle the lack of diversity in larger music industry spheres.

Their next event, First Timers Fest, is happening this Sunday (8th May) at the Amersham Arms in New Cross. 14 newly formed bands will take to the stage for the first time to perform in front of a crowd, and we’ll be there cheering them on and witnessing this brand new talent!You can grab a ticket for the First Timers 2022 Showcase here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/first-timers-fest-2022-tickets-309402048857

We spoke to Deena, Ishani, Sian and Ripley from the First Timers team about how the initiative began, what they’ve learned from being part of the team and what we can expect from this year’s showcase…

 

Hello folks! Please introduce yourselves and explain how you joined the First Timers team & what it is that you do…

At the moment the core First Timers organising team is Deena, Ishani, Sian and Ripley. None of us founded the fest – that was Bryony who now runs the Good Night Out campaign – and all of us got involved through playing it! Making the fest happen is a fairly big endeavor, and involves booking teachers and workshops, publicizing, finances, liaising with teachers and bands, and a million other little things that crop up.

It’s a lot of work, but it seems to be paying off. You’re a fantastic grass roots organisation and you do so much for the DIY music scene.

First Timers Fest itself was a big thing for us and got most of us into playing music! Also, its easier to be what you see, so seeing other London initiatives like Girls Rock London and Decolonize Fest flourishing is super inspiring.

They’re both great organisations too. What would you say are the highlights of being involved with organising First Timers Fest?

Jam on your hands is one of our favorite bits, even though its probably the most difficult thing to bring together and is always chaotic. It’s a workshop where people get to try out a bunch of instruments then learn a song then we play it all at the same time – so you have three drum kits and five basses and guitars and a tonne of people singing – it’s fantastic! Seeing people having fun at workshops and then telling us they never thought they’d be able to play an instrument and now love it is also amazing.

I attended your Bass Workshop with Jodi this year and I felt the same, it was such a fun day. Tell me about the other teachers and volunteers who are involved with the workshops. I know that Joni from Fraulein ran your guitar workshop and Chuck SJ taught songwriting this year. How do you connect with teachers and get them involved?

Our workshops this year have been really very good and luckily it’s been easy to find great people to run them. Sometimes we put call outs for teachers on our social media, sometimes we source them from the pool of people we’ve got to know over the years, or musicians we rate, or even people who have played the fest before! We love it when our teachers are First Timers at teaching too!

What are your anticipations for the First Timers 2022 showcase on Sunday 8th May? Tell us all about the bands on the bill…

It’s going to be fairly eclectic- it always is! Floralis is bringing us art pop influenced by goth rock and hip hop. Achers will be playing hardcore. A N T I A are putting harmonicas into grungy punk. Melhole are combining synths and ukelele, and there will be THREE kinds of hand percussion in ROAD. Many of the the main food groups really.

Because of Covid, for most of us this will be the first Fest we’ve organised from start to finish so we are just really excited to see them all up there!

I’m excited too! If someone was considering coming to a First Timers event, but felt a bit too nervous to get involved, what advice would you give to them?

We are all really very nice and we also all understand how scary it can be to take those first steps! Advice? Bring a friend, or reach out to us before you come.

And if a musician reading this is interested in volunteering for the next set of First Timers Fest workshops, what should they do?

Keep an eye out on social media as that’s where we tend to put out calls for artists, teachers, photographers, and other volunteers. Aside from Jam on your Hands, the workshops are paid for teachers, but the rest of us are volunteers. We are always needing more hands on deck with organising so do get in touch if you’re interested in getting involved – it’s good fun and very rewarding!

Finally, any bands or artists that you’ve been listening to recently that you’d like to recommend?

Here’s a link to every First Timers Fest band ever! 

Lots of them are still going. Breakup Haircut are playing their album release gig on the 22nd of July, Big Joanie are touring soon, Charmpit released an amazing album over lockdown, Bitch Hunt, Whitelands, Panic Pocket, Irn Brunette and Trouble Wanted have been playing live recently. If we’ve missed anyone out please do add your current stuff to the spreadsheet!

But we are equally as in awe of every band that played the fest the one time then dissolved or morphed or started other projects. We’re proud of them all!

Thanks to the First Timers team for answering our questions!

Follow First Timers Fest on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: GIHE on Soho Radio with Peaness 06.04.22

Tash was back on the Soho Radio airwaves playing loads of new music from some of the GIHE team’s favourite artists.

Chester indie trio Peaness also had a chat with Mari about their upcoming debut album, World Full Of Worry, the music that inspires them, the festivals they’ll be playing this summer and the joys and challenges of being in a DIY band.

Listen back below:

Tracklist
Nova Twins – Cleopatra
Ibibio Sound Machine – Electricity
t l k – IWNU
Fears – 16
Midwife – Send The Pain Below (Chevelle Cover)
SASAMI – Call Me Home
Jenny Hval – American Coffee
Ydegirl – I Need This
Coco – Last of the Loving
Hannah Holland x Planningtorock – Planningtobeams
Real Big Sky – Long Lost
Ethel Cain – Gibson Girl
Francis Of Delirium – The Funhouse
x/o – Red Alert
Peaness – How I’m Feeling
**Interview with Peaness**
Nikki and the Waves – Online Chess
Horsegirl – Anti-Glory
Proper. – Huerta
CRi – Something About
Problem Patterns – Y.A.W
LibraLibra – Here’s To You Mr Robinson
Scrounge – This Summer’s Been Lethal
Breakup Haircut – Out Of My Way (I’m Not Getting On The Nightbus)
bestfriend – someplace else
Julia-Sophie – Dial Your Number
Wet Leg – Too Late Now