At the end of 2021, our Emerging Artists took to the stage to launch their new Wantsum Music? record label. Our aspiring music journalist, Molly from Canterbury College captured the night in this fab review.
Molly came to us bursting with passion about music and wanting to learn more about music journalism to complement her studies, so we’re working together to develop her experience of interviewing artists, writing and social media content to complement her studies. We love seeing young people grow.
We hope you enjoy her first piece.
On Thursday 2 December Pie Factory’s Emerging Artists hosted an intimate and energetic night to remember for the launch of their brand-new record label Wantsum Music? At the small-but-perfectly-formed venue of choice, Tom Thumb Theatre in Margate, each artist brought their own individual music style to create an exciting and eclectic evening of live music.
I was lucky enough to arrive at the venue early to interview each performer and listen to them sound check. As soon as I stepped foot in the door, everyone welcomed me with open arms. The vibe that concentrated the room was already buzzing. It was clear that everybody was excited for this night ahead, and its safe to say I was too.
I started off my series of interviews with Maxine Scott and her guitarist Oren Valek, who together create a mix of R&B and Neo Soul music with a little inspiration from jazz. Their music has a raw and authentic feel to it, and really comes to life when performed live. Maxine brings a unique and catchy twist to the neo soul genre, by adding a contemporary mix to her music, which is exciting to watch and groove along with.
Maxine and Oren met at school. They had always wanted to collaborate as they were both into the same music and wanted to produce similar things. For them, lockdown was a blessing in disguise, as in some strange and magical way it brought them back together, to fulfil their school dreams of collaborating. You could tell this on the night– they were ready and raring to go and there was even talk of an EP on the way in the new year, and then releasing music with Wantsum Music? It was great to see that they were both already accomplished artists and seemed one step ahead with the release of an EP coming soon.
I was interested to find out what the most memorable gig Maxine had ever been to was. Her answer was not disappointing.
“The most memorable gig I’ve ever been to must be one of the first ones I ever went to when I was about 17. I was seeing The 1975 and I was so young, like when everyone would wait outside for hours on end and I was in a tiny little mini skirt, freezing cold, and I was just so obsessed with them and obsessed with their lyrics and all their instrumentation.”
Now I am sure many of you reading can relate to this, as I know I certainly can!
When talking about the record label with Maxine it was obvious that she had a fiery passion and enthusiasm about Wantsum Music? She was really excited about what is to come for the label and even mentioned that in the near future she is going to be releasing a song she has recorded on the Wantsum label. She said it will bring “R&B Soul and acoustic guitar vibes”. Oren was smiling and nodding in agreement, his passion for their partnership evident.
I loved talking to Maxine and Oren, and I was thrilled to see their live performance a little later that day. The mutual connection they shared both on and off stage was inspiring, they seemed to be communicating almost telepathically, and when performing they would just bounce off each other. As Oren would rear off into a soulful guitar solo, Maxine’s energy would seem to bounce off both of them. It was clear to see she was very proud and grateful to be performing next to him.
Maxine said being a part of Wantsum Music? is a great experience, and that being an artist creating a record label as well as releasing music on it is giving her an opportunity to work with some amazing musicians and share her passion with others. Being in charge of what goes on with the label was another factor of the process which she loves.
I then spoke to Claire Pitt Wigmore, who is a multi-instrumentalist and plays blues music with inspirations from trip-hop and indie.
As I was still getting a feel for the drive and passion behind the launch of Wantsum Music? I was interested to see what drove Claire as an individual to release and be a part of this amazing opportunity.
“I think we have all come from quite a creative area, Margate and Thanet, and we felt we wanted to have a platform to showcase our talent and how we work, and everyone in our local art scene is very supportive. There is also something about home-grown talent that’s not getting heard and I think Wantsum Music? will be great for that.”
Claire described the process of being an artist and creating a record label as “different” she said, “in the past, if I have worked with smallish labels – it’s always them doing admin work and I can focus more on the music side of things whereas with Wantsum we are in control of more or less everything, like how we’ll promote and showcase the music, so it’s really great to be in control of it all.”
I was in awe of Claire’s talent when watching her set that night, her skills when playing guitar and using the loop pedal looked effortless and made me believe that I would be able to do something like that (when really, I know, just how difficult and technical it is to use, and be good at loop pedals!).
The host Elz introduced Claire’s music as ‘beautiful’ and ‘dreamy’. I have never heard two words that described something so perfectly, as that really was Claire’s set summed up. She seemed to have the whole audience in the palm of her hand and the room seemed to fall silent in absolute awe during each song then break out in an explosive round of applause after. Claire played a song called “Dreaming” which was very personal to her, it was about a friend who had passed away, and the emotions and energy that Claire was feeling seemed to be lined through everybody standing in the room, it was emotional yet beautiful and very inspiring to see.
After a well-deserved dinner break (an enormous spread of pizza and cheesy garlic bread) where we all relaxed, laughed and chatted a little more, we all got straight back on with the task at hand. Sound check being a prominent ‘mission’ to complete for all the artists. In some ways I might even go as far as to say that this was one of my personal highlights of the evening, I loved seeing how all the artists came together and shared a real mutual respect and appreciation for one another.
I continued with my interviews upstairs speaking to Zico, who informed me that he goes by the name ‘Zkay’ in the music world (catchy – I like it!). It was obvious that Zico is very passionate about music and has been influenced by his family members from a young age – his grandad was a drummer, his mum is a jazz singer and his grandma was part of Motown. He creates a wide range of music and doesn’t like to restrict himself with genres. He refers to his tracks as ‘vibey’ and says he produces different music depending on what he’s writing about and how he’s feeling.
I asked Zico how it felt to be an artist and creating a record label at the same time. He said
“It’s amazing really, as we get to decide where and what happens with our music, instead of someone using us as a by-product. We’re using everyone’s collective knowledge to build something bigger than us.”
Zico’s smile throughout our chat suggested that he was very excited and passionate about Wantsum Music? He is clearly enjoying the whole process.
“The best thing is that everyone is passionate, they all have a goal which will always be achievable with a group of people with the same mindsets.”
Zico is hoping that the next steps for him with Wantsum Music? will be recording and releasing a new music video so everyone should “Keep watching for new updates”.
Listening to his set in the evening, I could definitely agree with the description of his music being ‘vibey’. I could see the audience felt the same too as they were swaying and bopping along to each track, with the occasional ‘wooo’ and ‘oh yeahhh’ from people at the back. This was amazing to see, and I know it must have felt great for Zico too. Although the crowd didn’t know the words to his music, they still created this amazing, bubbly atmosphere that could have easily filled out an arena full of people.
Zico and I wrapped up the interview as it was now time for his soundcheck. He was performing upstairs, so I made my way back downstairs, to have a chat with Connor Beerling.
Connor is another solo artist who sings and accompanies his vocals with an acoustic guitar and harmonica. Speaking with him, he told me that his biggest influences were; Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Leonard Cohen. Hearing him perform after, I could definitely hear each of his musical influences peeping through his own unique music.
Connor had said that his music was about Peace, Protest, Love and Progress which was very inspiring and warming. When he performed, these four words transformed into music and it made the hairs on my arms prick up and even made my eyes water a little (no of course I wasn’t crying, but even if I was, it would’ve been in a cool way).
One of the songs Connor wrote and performed that evening was about the working class. I’m not sure what was more emotional about this song, the meaningful, powerful lyrics, or the reaction of every single body in that room.
It seemed to bring everyone together and it was heartwarming to see that I was in a room full of people who all agreed, as Connor’s song stated, that “the system should be bought down”. These lyrics caused an uproar of applause, that was so loud it drowned out Connor and his guitar.
Connor also performed a song that was quite close to his heart called “How could I ask for more?”. He wrote it about a homeless man he used to talk to every day. Despite the fact that he had nothing, he was so full of life and happy. His song talked about the irony that someone can have nothing yet be so happy, whereas someone else could have everything and be miserable.
Bringing an end to the interviews, I finally managed to grab Malpractice for a chat before people began to arrive for the evening ahead. Malpractice are a four-piece post-punk band from Whitstable. I loved the energy the four of them radiated, so I didn’t hold back with the questions. They spoke to me about ‘happiness drowned’ – “It’s a great song. It is about life over the last year and a half as you know, Covid, it’s not specifically mentioned but that’s the theme”
Malpractice met when they were at school and have been together for three and a half years, and are very excited for the next steps with Wantsum Music?. As a collective, they seemed passionate for WM?
“It’s great to give local and smaller artists the opportunity to grow and learn. It’s not necessarily about being big, it’s just being able to learn. Everyone involved will gain experience, they’ll learn things with Wantsum Music? that they won’t with other, bigger record labels.”
Malpractice headlined the launch event and ensured the night went out with a bang. The heavy drumbeats rippled through your body, to the deep soulful lyrics. They topped the bill in a fantastic way and meant people left with feet tapping, heads still bopping and hearts still racing. What a great way to end a great day!
The crowd were amazing, they were cheering after each song, going up to the artists after every set to congratulate them and they all seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. It was beautiful for me to see, as someone who is also so passionate about music, an intimate venue brimming with other music producers, enthusiasts and people just wanting to have a good time all bought together through these young artists striving for the ‘unsigned to be heard’.
The energy in the venue that night was uplifting, I left feeling very positive and excited to see what’s to come for the future of Wantsum Music? Throughout my conversations I had with each artist I was consistently asking what their most memorable concert was, and if after that night someone was to ask me the same, this would definitely be at the top of my list. Each element of that inspirational evening made it one that will stick with me forever.
- Get in touch with Wantsum Music? – email email@example.com
- Join Pie Factory Music’s Emerging Artists programme – email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos – Steve Kreeger @monkeysbrother_