BBC Introducing supports unsigned, undiscovered and under the radar musicians from all across the country. And this month marks the 13th anniversary of Hull’s local station, BBC Introducing Humberside.
Established to offer a structured way in order to give the recognition deserved of many unsigned musicians in the area, it all started with “Raw Talent” in 2002, tying in the name of host Alan Raw. Having performed music from a young age, learning to drum in his family’s Ceilidh band and then working as a sessions drummer with a variety of bands (one of which grabbed the attention of John Peel), he had the needed connections with a wide range of bands and musicians.
Since 2007, the show has rebranded as BBC Introducing, with over 30 shows now offering the same recognition to their local acts, with Radio 1 and 6 Music adopting the Introducing concept.
As part of my research for a feature celebrating BBC Introducing, I was invited back for a second time to Hull’s BBC building in Queens Gardens – I last attended when interviewing Coaves as feature artists for Browse Magazine.
Two of my favourite Hull acts were performing: Streaming Lights and Emma Fee. Dragging our chief photographer, Chris Pepper, in, we were greeted by producer Katy Noone and directed promptly into the studio to meet Alan Raw and take some shots of the master at work. Alan is one of the many passionate people who dedicate a huge proportion of their life to supporting local arts, and he was both charming and charismatic from the initial handshake of the night.
From this point, we were handed a pair of ear defenders each and taken through to the main room, which is a café during the daytime. In addition to us, there was also Patrick Mateer, a photographer/videographer who is friends with the show’s organisers, fiddling with a series of cameras propped on tripods. Blinds drawn, lights dimmed, Streaming Lights were set up for their live recording. John Anguish, the sound engineer who has worked with the show since Raw Talent, talked them through the programme and we were amerced in the electronic waves of their sound. Chris and Patrick roamed the room, cameras in hand, as I took my own few sneaky snaps. It was strange for them to perform in this manner, the focus being solely on their sound, with singer Steve Minns doing a few kicks just because it felt like he should.
They performed two tracks from their album ‘KICK’ – Telepathic and Cut Of Your Jib – before heading into the studio to chat with Alan. This is my favourite part of being in the studio for the live sessions: the banter between presenter and band. Discussing their upcoming gigs and new album, the room was filled with comfortable laughter. The connections between the Introducing staff and the musicians strong, as Alan commented on how Martha Mangan, who deals with the social media aspects of the show, was pleased with them for having played one of her favourite tracks.
Emma Fee then entered the studio, a large room seemingly controlled by a single Macbook. Performing her two songs – Eyes of Mine and Wrong, both from her new album – acoustically, she sat inside the studio and not out in the café like the lads. Though it wasn’t cramped, even with the many cameras and pair of photographers, I could see more through the window panel behind Emma, and so stood with Streaming Lights to listen to the set over the speaker system. This was quite strange, like listening to the radio show while seeing it unfold before you, but a perfect way to enjoy the moment.
Emma conducted her discussion from the recording studio, with Alan behind his desk in the next room. They communicated through a set of headphones, chatting along with interjections from Mike Jessop, who supports Emma on his Cajon.
At the end of the show recording, everyone looks tired, except Streaming Lights who always have energy to spare. Chris and I helped the band transfer their instruments, and then I got to see exactly what Katy’s role involved. Alan describes her as the person who keeps everything and everyone together. After the show, both she and Alan tweak any issues, and while listening to one of the songs they’d noticed there was a swear word which needed to be cut from one of the songs. Katy explained that often they will run over the two hours quite often, to allow for any mistakes. Swear words aren’t allowed in the songs they broadcast; it’s not about watershed rules, but simply that the BBC prefer all songs to be radio-ready and suitable for all audiences. She tinkered about with this, before she and Martha headed home.
At this point, Alan would normally finish his own tinkering before setting off, but this was my chance to interview him. We discussed BBC Introducing and all it does for undiscovered musicians, as well as how he got involved in it, and then moved on to discuss his other passions and activities. He currently performs in a couple of bands, including Hull-based Endoflevelbaddie. Having played The Sesh the night before, we had to discuss this: “Last night, at the Sesh, was, you know, so good. It is incredible. A lot of people like Endoflevelbaddie for dancing to – people always dance, and loads of them – and a lot of people like Endoflevelbaddie to listen to on the recordings as well. But I tell you what though, there’s nothing like being in the band. It is an amazing experience. It’s like dancing to Endoflevelbaddie but it makes a noise when you dance as well, coz I’ve got my feet on pedals and sticks in my hand and it’s a whole different level of dancing to Endoflevelbaddie. I just love being in the band.”
We also discussed his work with the POP and HIP galleries in town, of which POP also celebrated an anniversary – their first anniversary – this week.
And, then, with all light diminished from the sky, I set off for home myself, leaving Alan with that tinkering still to do.
It’s amazing to see what happens in order to produce those two hours of radio listening, and find out all about our local show. Everyone involved is wonderful, friendly and professional at all times, with Hull’s new talent at the heart of all they do. It’s a job which you can’t simply leave at the office; as Katy pointed out, even with the introduction of the Uploader, she still loves to receive CDs and vinyl copies of EPs and albums.
What’s even more amazing, is that this brand started here, in Hull at BBC Radio Humberside. And these same people have been doing this for 13 years, in response to a need for new talent to receive the recognition so many of them deserve. Thank you BBC Introducing Humberside for inviting me into your world, and thank you for doing all that you do.