Build Your Own is all about collaboration, and we know there's a
team behind Mellowtone - can you introduce everyone and their roles?
We are built on collaboration I suppose. We realised last year that we
had done shows at over 40 venues, and have worked with a range
of promoters, festivals and events. In terms of people involved -
Richie Vegas and Jonnie O'Hare are the ever-present resident DJs, and of
course moral support, not forgetting Monkey who is our compere. Elsewhere, Paul Donnelly looks after our graphic design, but also integral are all the co-promoters, illustrators, people who man the door, venue staff, guest DJs, former hosts, former designers and
illustrators, sound engineers, and of course the acts themselves.
Mellowtone is like a big extended family and of course everyone
who comes along to our gigs is a part of that too. We were once described
as "a commuinty in itself" which I quite liked. As for my own role,
I suppose it's split between being Captain of the good ship and the general
Mellowtone has been a unique live music event for over ten years now.
How did it all begin?
I had worked promoting other people's stuff as a student, and it started
really as an idea to run a night - something I would quite like to go
to. At the time no one was putting this sort of show on really. Now there
are lots of gigs in weird and wonderful spaces, but when we started there
didn't seem to be as much, most of the live music - and especially
songwriter-based stuff - was in more traditional "music venues".
We wanted to
work in quirkier spaces - galleries, cafés, places like that. Candles on
the tables, a sit-down crowd. Not an open mic or a folk club. We wanted to
do something that appealed as a laid back evening, a gig, but one that
could still turn into a bit of a party, so we ran it as a clubnight. And
then we just carried on. It's grown and morphed organically into what is
You have a massive passion for local artists and the Liverpool
music scene - who are some of your favourite bands / acts you've worked
Oh far too many to name! Liverpool acts I reallly like are Edgar Jones, Nick Ellis, John Smith, Dead Cities, SJ Downes, Ragz Nordset, The
Prelude, Dave Owen... I suppose everyone on our Ten Years compilation,
but that really is just the tip of the iceberg. We're very lucky in
Liverpool to have such a vibrant music scene. We're spoiled for choice!
Over the years it's changed and evolved into much more than a regular
event night. Why did you start releasing music too?
Folly? Certainly not for the money, haha. Again, just an idea that ended
up being followed through. The Ten Years release was to commemorate that
milestone, and to showcase and document a period in Liverpool's musical
history, to highlight some of this music. And of course to celebrate it
and hopefully take it to a wider audience.
In an age of digital downloads and music piracy, what do you see the
future of live music looking like? Will technology be the death of gigs?
For me it will still retain the magic - a show is a one off experience;
it's unique. The atmosphere, the connection between artist and audience.
I consider myself very lucky to be able to see so much live music, and I guess it's recorded music sales that will continue to suffer. I can see
it being difficult for some recording artists, people will have to play live
more to earn money and of course in general there will probably be less money knocking
around - especially at the local end of the spectrum. I think we'll
probably continue to see a glut of music released. Live music will just
carry on, surely!
We know the Mellowtone team have also built a few other things - can
you tell us a little about your other projects?
Part of the same family are Beaten Tracks - a yin and yang of sorts. As
well as regularly DJing around town, and spots at a few festivals, the
collective have been involved in various music and gallery projects, often
putting together soundtracks for exhibitions. This year we're working on a
large commission for LIMF called Liverpool: Next Stop New York. It's a
party, with DJs Greg Wilson, Les Spaine, No Fakin, a sprawling
exhibition at the View Two Gallery, and three days of talks, Q&As (and of
course music) at the Palm House over the August bank holiday weekend, exploring
Liverpool's relationship with Black American music. It's been fascinating
to work on.
We started Above the Beaten Track back in 2008 to provide a platform
for songwriters as well as DJs and visual artists when there wasn't really any opportunities at the Mathew Street festival. That's now a one-day
extravaganza at the Bluecoat, this year on taking place on 5 September.
Most of us are all involved in some way with the wonderful Africa Oyé
festial too. Talking about building something... that's been a real
What's next - can we look forward to any more gigs / records this year? Or do you have some names for us to watch out for?
Well, coming up for Mellowtone, we are at the bandstand in Sefton Park for
the LIMF weekend, which has been really special the last two years so we're
looking forward to returning. And Above the Beaten Track is back at the
Bluecoat om 5 September.
In terms of gigs, we are on a short summer hiatus, but upcoming for
September, we welcome back Richard Dawson, we have an upcoming
collaboration with the Irish Festival, as well as lots more shows to be
And a couple of surprises for early 2016 already in the pipeline...And every Wednesday it's the Magnet's Open Mic; we've been co-promoting that with them for the last few months, and it's been going really well so far, with new guest hosts each week.
Names to look out for, hmm, from Liverpool at the moment I would keep your
ears peeled for She Drew The Gun, Xam Volo, Johnny Sands, and Clean Cut
And finally, you clearly love music, but can you play? We've got lots of electro-inspired music hacking workshops coming up in FACTLab, including Retro Electro with Darsha Hewitt and a music hacking Tweet and Shout event - would you have a go?
Haha, I can play records and can just about fumble my way around a
guitar, but certainly wouldn't call myself a musician. Keep us posted, you never know...
Find out more about the FACTLab music workshop programme here.