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 Fraulein 09.02.22

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

London-based grunge duo Joni & Karsten aka Fraulein joined them to talk about headlining the first GIHE gig of 2022 at The Victoria in Dalston, their upcoming tour dates with The Mysterines, what initially inspired them to start playing instruments and Joni’s upcoming rhythm guitar teaching workshop for First Timers Fest.

Listen back below:

 

Tracklist
Ronnie Spector – She Talks To Rainbows
Dropper – Ok Ok Ok
Brimheim – can’t hate myself into a different shape
SASAMI – Say It
LOBSTERBOMB – Sense
SPRINTS – Little Fix
Kim Gordon – Murdered Out
Moon Panda – Falling
LEYA ft. Julie Byrne – Glass Jaw
Novaa – The World’s Thing
SEA CHANGE – Is There Anybody There
Pearly – Silver Of The Mirror
Fraulein – Belly
**Fraulein Interview**
Bachelor – Back Of My Hand
Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupil – Ceci n’est pas un cliché
Celine Love – Good Girl
MARIA BC – The Only Thing
Gazelle Twin – Hole In My Heart
Mitsune – Maru
Proper. – Milk & Honey
Double Helix – Rat Rave
Bluebook – Shake Shake
t l k – Frame of Ted
Bas Jan – Sex Cult
Queen Cult – Calm
Tits Up – Macho Bullshit
Sassyhiya – I Had A Thought
Nova Twins – Bullet

#ThrowbackThursday: GIHE w/ Charlotte Carpenter (02.11.17)

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown in the UK, we’re unable to make it into the Hoxton Radio studio to broadcast our weekly live new music show from 7-9pm. Instead, we’re sharing previous GIHE radio show recordings as #ThrowbackThursday sessions, so you can still enjoy 2 hours of new music tunes & chats with some of our favourite artists each week.

Today, we’ve picked our November 2017 show with songwriter and Babywoman Records founder Charlotte Carpenter. Tash & Kate spoke to her about her EP Shelter, her gig at St Pancras Old Church, producing and releasing music independently, taking up skateboarding again and her on-going love for Courtney Barnett and Avril Lavigne. She also played stripped back versions of two of her tracks on air.

Listen back to the show below:

Tracklist
Nina Simone – I Put A Spell On You
Kllo – Dissolve
Miya Folick – Give It To Me
Skye Wallace – Scarlet Fever
Ailbhe Reddy – The Tube
PINS – Bad Thing
Kid Cupid – Easy
King Henry & Rhye – Moment
Nova Twins – Thelma & Louise
syrra – I Can Be Mean
REWS – Your Tears
The Franklys – Keeper
Just Because – All I Knew
Pale Honey – Get These Things Out Of My Head
**Charlotte Carpenter – Interview & Live Session**
Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian At Best
BERRIES – Wild Vow
LAD – Dancefloor
Shania Twain – Man! I Feel Like A Woman!

ALBUM: Nova Twins Presents ‘Voices For The Unheard’

A year after the release of their debut album Who Are The Girls?, Nova Twins have returned to share Voices Of The Unheard, a charity compilation LP that’s bursting with righteous energy. Driven by their desire to spotlight the work of underrepresented artists of colour in the heavy music scene, the duo (formed of Amy Love and Georgia South) have put together a blistering collection of alternative anthems that showcase an eclectic, tenacious range of talent.

Following their ‘Voices For The Unheard’ Spotify Playlists, an open letter to the MOBO Awards and their online conversations about racism and sexism in music, Nova Twins naturally gravitated towards curating an album that followed up these narratives. Dr Martens Presents (a multi-disciplinary initiative supporting emerging creative talent) brought their idea of a record to life, providing the funding for the physical release of the compilation on limited edition vinyl via Blood Records. Voices For The Unheard is only available for pre-order until 1st March and all profits will be donated to The Black Curriculum, a charitable initiative working to get black history on the UK school syllabus. It’s a deeply political record in many ways, but it’s also a gargantuan distraction from these important issues too.

Amy & Georgia kick things off with their thunderous single ‘Taxi’, filled with Nova Twins‘ trademark distorted bass lines, jagged riffs and ferocious lyrics. Narrowing the track-list down to twelve must have been tricky, as their stellar Spotify playlists include songs by Ho99o9, Bob Vylan, Sampa The Great and Rico Nasty, but the band have tried to give a platform to artists who are rooted in their underground scenes, whether that’s in the UK or further afield.

‘All My Friends’ by Canadian four-piece The OBGMs is a manic mix of punk and garage rock, followed by the gritty charm of Connie Constance‘s ‘Monty Python’. Her track is probably the quietest on the record, but her skill for subtle song-writing punches just as hard as the the visceral metal & hip hop beats on ‘Cross Me’ by Dallas-based UNITYTX. The track burns with corrosive fury, the final lyric “This is rock music motherfucker!” epitomising what Voices Of The Unheard is all about.

The thumping beats and pulverizing synths on ‘Goatmeal’ by New Yorker LustSickPuppy and the intense punk & rap cacophony ‘Scared’ by duo Death Tour both blitz by in under two minutes. Guttural groans, strung out vocals and feverish riffs fuel ‘Aggressive Evolution’ by Liverpool-based Loathe, and their fury is matched by the genre-defying sounds of ‘Green Vision’ by New Yorkers Oxymorrons, who dominate the ear drums from start to finish.

Brit trio Pussycat and The Dirty Johnsons keep things rolling with their classic rock rhythms on ‘Ain’t No Pussy’, followed by the dense beats and incredible vocals on ‘Trouble’ by North Carolina-based queer/trans artist Khx05, who impresses more each time they’re listened to. Washington rapper Zhariah mixes glitchy beats and candid lyrics on the biting ‘Bitch Boy’ before the infectious rhythms of black feminist punk trio Big Joanie bookend this eclectic mix of rap, rock, punk, metal and electronic music. We’ve waxed lyrical about how much we love Big Joanie before on GIHE, and the infectious rhythms on their Hermitage Works live rendition of ‘Fall Asleep’ still have us chanting the chorus in unison every time.

Listening to Voices for the Unheard should rile you up and re-energise your appetite for heavy music. The album showcases a group of artists who have been galvanized by their individual experiences of discrimination, but who are now united in their attempts to create the authentic, exciting music they wish they had heard growing up. Nova Twins’ battle cry for equality and diversity was loud and clear on Who Are The Girls?, but it’s echoed long after the record’s release. The duo are a force for fun, for fury, and most importantly: for change in an industry that is still dominated by white faces.

You can choose to be part of the solution and help to change this by listening to Voices for the Unheard, following the artists on the track-list and continuing to share the conversations that initially fueled the record’s development.

Pre-order your copy of Voices for the Unheard here.

Click on the name of each artist/band to head to their individual Spotify pages.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut