Over the week we will be taking a look at Brighton's Gritty DIY Music Scene through the lens of music photographer, Jamie Macmillan. Each day we will be looking at different artists and their experiences with an impressive mixture of photo and interview.
"I'm a music photographer, so I obviously go to a lot of gigs and see a lot of bands. Live music's exciting isn't it? Getting close to a band, maybe a few feet away from a hero, or being there at the birth of something special and feeling that thrill of sharing a MOMENT with a few hundred (or thousand) others. It's like peeking behind the curtain, using all the senses rather than just hearing the music.
So when Ewan at Smashed Vinyl asked me to do a piece on the gritty side of the DIY scene, I jumped at it. Thinking I knew what these artists go through...it's obvious isn't it? Rehearsals, sound-checks, gig. Or sex, drugs, rock and roll and all those old clichés
What I didn't realise was just how hard it is being a musical artist in this world of streaming and downloads. It's more than hard; it's nigh-on completely and relentlessly fucking impossible. Finding band-mates who feel the same and can commit, finding a rehearsal space that won't electrocute you, finding a promoter who will help you, getting your gear to a gig when you can't afford a car, touring on no budget...
It's fitting that this series comes out just after Independent Venue Week. These venues are the bloodstream to our music scene, without them a lot of great artists wouldn't have a chance. Same goes for our independent music stores - nobody ever said that they couldn't wait to get home and play a download.
I'm so thankful to a lot of great acts that have given their time for no money - I hope this series sheds some light on what they have to go through before they set foot on that stage and beyond.
WHITE ROOM - words by Josie & Jacob
“Loads of venues, big and small, support our underground scene as well as attracting bigger acts. Until our recent tour, I didn’t realise how unique the Brighton music scene was.”
“You definitely feel that independent music is celebrated by the likes of Resident and Green Door Store, which in turn fuels interest in White Room and other DIY bands like us.”
“We used to rehearse in Jake’s bedroom, then new neighbours arrived and it changed from the best rehearsal space to the worst. Now we use Hidden Cam Studios, they helped us out big time for Reading & Leeds.”
“The Brighton music scene is competitive, some nights there are as many as nine gigs on in the city. We rehearse 2-3 times a week on average, not because of the competition but because (when we play) we just want to say what we want to say as best as we can.”
“I’ve seen Green Door Store host a 90’s hip-hop club night on a Tuesday, a metal night on the Thursday and a Swing & Blues night on the Saturday…maybe the fact that we all enjoy being different is what makes Brighton artists so similar.”
MANTRAS - words by all
“People would be surprised at the amount of time, money, sweat and tears that go into getting a band off the ground for little or no reward other than the love of doing it. The day you start getting beers given to you at gigs, the day you get paid to play a show, they day you get your travel covered and get a simple thank you from the promoter, is the day you feel like you've hit jackpot.”
“You have to be creating something new, fresh and exciting all the time to push through. It’s an exciting time for guitar music.”
“Brighton’s DIY music scene is cool. Liberal, easy-going and quite often a bit ‘out-there’ which I think the bands and musicians see themselves as.”
“All venues, all music outlets, all bands etc need to stick together. There’s less venues and record shops than ever, so in that way everyone is relying on each other to keep the flame alive.”