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Piece of the Pie – Billy

Posted on: June 2nd, 2020 by Steph Dickinson No Comments

Billy, 18 

How did your journey with Pie Factory Music start?

I was 16 when I joined Pie Factory Music. I figured it would give me something to do when I wasn’t at college. To be honest, formal education just isn’t for me and although I didn’t mind media studies, I was bored during maths and English so would often bunk off. College wasn’t creative enough for me so after just 10 months, I dropped out all together.

My pal told me about Pie Factory Music as he knew that I loved making music. I wrote my first rap song when I was 10, and was always performing in rap battles – I remember when I was in year 6 at school going up against kids in year 11. 

I just thought I would attend Pie Factory Music as they offered free studio space. Something that is absolutely unheard of.

What did you gain from attending Pie?

After two years, I gained so much more than time in a studio. I made a lot of friends, gained more confidence, learnt how to record music and be more creative with my beats and raps. I made my first album and performed six gigs at events and festivals across Essex and Kent – this would never have happened without the charity.

Billy performing at Elsewhere, Margate whilst taking part in our Emerging Artists Programme in 2019

Pie Factory Music gave me the confidence to take up new opportunities, take risks and make an effort. However it was the staff that I got to know that made a real, lasting difference. 

Matt, Zoe and Luis had a significant impact on my life. They didn’t change me but through their conversations, I gained maturity and how to conduct myself as an adult. In some way, they were role models to me. I went to them for advice and conversations about my life in general. Zoe, especially, helped me realise that I had a real talent for writing music. They unlocked my full potential.

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To read Katie’s story click here

Piece of the Pie – Katie

Posted on: May 21st, 2020 by Steph Dickinson No Comments

Katie, 19 

“I joined Pie Factory Music when I was 7. My dad is a musician, he plays every instrument under the sun and I spent my childhood listening to and being inspired by him. He was the one that encouraged me to join the charity as he believed that I should have other musical influences. 

For around seven years I took part in their vocal group, learning how to sing, write songs, develop harmonies and practice performing. I learnt how to do vocal warm ups and I got studio time where I could record my own songs. I never knew I had such a passion for singing. 

I was home-schooled and spent a lot of my childhood dropping in and out of youth clubs, like swimming, drama and science clubs. However I stuck with Pie Factory Music – they had amazing youth workers that you can relate to and they always had a session that interested me. 

I now volunteer with the charity leading one of their projects called Action Community Thanet! (ACT!) It’s a weekly social action group to support the local community. We’ve held fundraising quizzes, sponsored walks, sleep outs for the homeless and a lot of litter picks.

Pie Factory Music was a place for me to build on my social skills, meet and trust other adults and interact with new people. They increased my confidence, I gained leadership skills and it taught me how to be part of a team.”

To get involved in our ACT! social action group for young people contact us here. They are doing lots of wonderful things to help vulnerable and isolated people during lockdown and would love to hear from other young people who want to join in.

To read Elijah’s story click here

Piece of the Pie – Elijah

Posted on: May 19th, 2020 by Steph Dickinson No Comments

Elijah, 21

“I joined Pie Factory Music when I was 15. I was new to Kent, didn’t know a lot of people in the area but I wanted a place to record my own music.

I’ve always loved listening to and playing music, I really appreciate it. It brings out a strong reaction in me.

I didn’t have much confidence and was very reserved and insecure about my music. I would rather blend in with the crowd than be the centre of attention. When I first joined Pie Factory Music, I would sit at the back, looking at other people recording their own music rather than getting involved. 

I opted to have a private workshop session with Matt, one of the music leaders, and I felt comfortable enough to record my own song. He was an amazing mentor to me, he worked at my pace and I grew in confidence. I then had the courage to get involved in the Monday evening workshops where lots of young people make music together. 

I’ve since recorded my first album, performed at gigs in Kent and London, and Pie Factory Music introduced me to another music hub that has offered me funding for a new project that I’m currently working on. 

I’m now a mentor at Pie Factory Music, running studio sessions for young people who are interested in creating their own music. When I see them grow in confidence and make progress, it makes me really proud. 

I didn’t just gain confidence and make music at Pie Factory Music, they taught me life skills, like how to collaborate with people, networking skills, how to set up my own gigs and how to approach others in the industry. 

Matt showed me how to handle myself in situations and be a better person. Whilst Zoe was another big inspiration, she showed me how to market myself, be professional but most of all she helped shape who I am today.”

To find out more about our continued support of young people during lockdown click here

The Thanet Emerging Artists Programme

Posted on: October 28th, 2019 by Zoe Carassik-Lord No Comments

A Year of amazing events organised by, and for, young musicians.

In September 2018, a group of young musicians from Thanet met for the first time. This was the start of the Thanet Emerging Artists Programme, an ambitious new project with the aim of introducing young musicians to new areas of the music industry, and giving them all the resources they need to kick start their music careers.

The programme started with a Studio exchange – the young producers travelled to Raw Material in Brixton, and began the process of making collaborative songs with other young musicians who they had never met before.

The young musicians from Brixton then came down and visited Pie Factory’s own studio, and the result was two fantastic collaborative songs.

The next part of the programme was something a bit closer to home. Wheels and Fins festival finished a fantastic weekend of music with a day of music curated by The Libertines. As part of the ‘Sharabang’ celebrations, our young producers donned the famous redcoats, and spent the day busking around the festival site.

Evan, Rocco, and Bryn from Vendettas
Elijah Femi, and Josh A.K.A Sik Smoke

After these two fantastic days out, the Young Producers began planning their first live music event, and attended a Masterclass presented by Michael McClatchey from Moshi-Moshi Records.

Local music venue Elsewhere had just opened, and they agreed to host our first ‘Thanet’s Finest’ music event.

The night was a massive success, and was the result of weeks of hard work and planning from our young producers.

After the success of the first Thanet’s finest night, the Young Producers then attended two more Masterclasses presented by Harriet Jordan-Wrench of Secret Sessions, and Gemma Cairney and Beth Clayton from Boom Shakalaka Productions.

After these Masterclasses, planning begun for Thanet’s Finest 2 – an even more ambitious night that was hosted at Ramsgate Music hall. The young producers curated a huge line-up, including Laughing Water, King K, Yung Volk, Babii, and back to back drum and bass sets from DJ bean and DJ Detonate.

Babii has since released a highly praised debut album, and has performed shows all over the world.

Things quietened down for a while whilst our Young Producers studied for A-Level and GCSE exams, but it didn’t take long before planning for a third live music event began. ‘Dripstar’ was an idea pitched by two of our Young Producers, and was this time a fundraiser for Pie Factory.

It was a night of local Rap music, again taking place at Elsewhere. As with the previous two events, the turnout was great.

Shortly after, planning begun for the final live music event of the year – Dreamland’s Street Week.

Our Young Producers were given the opportunity to curate the line-up for an afternoon of music at Dreamland as part of their ‘Street Week’ festival. The Line-up included Alice Jures, Amie Leeb, Olivia Rogers, Sik Smoke, Moose, Ratsnest, and those who attend our band factory sessions.

It was a great end to the summer, and was an amazing first performance for some of the line-up.

To finish off the programme, we rounded up some of the experts who had presented Masterclasses over the course of the year, and put on a Music Industry Crash Course panel. You can read the full write up about that event here:

The Thanet Emerging Artists Programme reached hundreds of young people, and gave the opportunity for 25 young people to perform live, some for the first time. Our Young Producers have all gone on to perform live, and release their own music independently since taking part in the programme, and it’s given them a massive head-start to the music careers.

We’d like to say a huge thank-you to Youth Music for funding the programme, and to everyone who has made it possible. We hope that this is something we’ll be able to do again in the future, and if so, it will be even bigger and better than before.

“The outcome [of the Young Producers programme] was to change us musically and give us a kick start. This is real, this is life, and this is how you’re going to overcome it if you want to be budding musicians, and I think that is what it has done.”

Music Industry Crash Course

Posted on: October 22nd, 2019 by Zoe Carassik-Lord No Comments

On October 14th, as part of our Thanet Emerging Artists Programme, we hosted a panel event at the Turner Contemporary in Margate.

We invited a panel of music industry experts to join our panel, who between them covered everything from getting gigs to copyright.

Our panelists were:

Beth Clayton

Beth is head of Content and Strategy at Boom Shakalaka Productions, and is part of Nick Cave’s Management team.

Michael McClatchey

Michael is a Co-Owner of Moshi Moshi records. The Label started in 1998, and has boasted signings from Bloc Party, and Florence and the Machine. The label now also has a management strand, managing Metronomy, Baxter Dury and more.

Harriet Jordan-Wrench

Harriet is a creative entrepreneur. She is the founder of online music platform Secret Sessions, her work has played a part in the careers of many global superstars. such as Ed Sheeran, Jessie J, Bastille & Lumineers

Mike McEvoy

Michael is an award-winning composer with many film, television and pop music credits to his name – He is also currently doing drop-in sessions at Pie Factory to give advice to young musicians.

Matt Smyth

Matt has worked for in the Music Industry all his life, as a Performer, Producer, and Sound engineer. He has also been working for Pie Factory for years running our studio sessions, and has helped countless emerging artists from Thanet Record and release music.

The Advice

Harriet kicked off the night with some advice about Getting Gigs.

“If you ever want anybody to listen to you, to trust you, to give you money, or put you on at their event, just be good at what you do”

“Work on your craft ….. That always has to come from passion. Why do you want to be a musician? Think about why you want to be in the industry. Every time the going gets tough, remind yourself why you’re doing this”

“Research the gig or the venue you’re applying to. If you want to apply to play a grime show and you’re a country singer, its probably not going to work. You need to really know the people and the places you’re contacting. When describing yourself, cut copy and paste can be risky – You’re better of with just two or three personal lines about yourself rather than pages of artist influences. What’s even better, is going and meeting people in person.”

“Network in real life. It’s so easy to be behind your computer, but we’re human beings.”

Next up was Matt, who shared some advice from his time in the industry.

“It’s such a crazy industry to be involved in, and to try and maintain a career in. It’s not the type of job where you apply for it, you don’t send in your CV, or send in a letter. It’s a lot more about getting to know people, networking, and a lot of jobs will lead to other jobs.”

As Michael began to talk about Record Labels, the sound of Thunder boomed outside.

“That thunder is quite appropriate, because as we all know, Record Labels are the bad guys. We hang around backstage handing out business cards and trying to break the band up. That’s the cliche – and it’s an enduring one, probably because there’s an element of truth. Record labels were set up to make money from a musicians art, and through the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s labels did that ruthlessly. It wasn’t until bands like the Beatles came along and started to take back control of their creative output that things started to change. Then Punk came along at the end of the 70’s and sped the whole process up, and around that time you’ve got a whole new raft of independent labels like Rough Trade, Beggars Banquet, and Stiff Records, and they were designed and created to be more about the music and less about the commerce.”

“At the end of the 90’s technology came along and reset everything. The Internet empowered musicians to release their own music. You can release your own music, and that’s great. But it’s like, you can sell your own house, but it’s a good idea to have someone help. Someone who will do a better job than you can yourself.

Whether you should release, or self release depends on what you want to achieve. You can record your own music at home, and release it, but the chances are you’re going to have a limited reach, and you’ll make a limited amount of money back from that. If that doesn’t matter to you that’s fine, but if you’re hoping to make a living out of it, and reach a lot of people, then record label’s are probably the way to go.”

“The smart thing to do might be to self release first, then go to a record label when you’ve established yourself. Sign a record deal that suits you, then when you’re massive, ditch the label and start self releasing again.”

Next was Beth, with some advice about Branding and Marketing.

“I work for Nick Cave’s management team – For anyone whose not sure who that is, the Peaky Blinders theme tune is one of his songs”

“Branding is how your represent your music and yourself to the outside world – In particular, how you show people what makes you and your music distinctive.

Things that are important – Having an image, or way you like present yourself, a good social media presence, a good strategy for collecting data, a good visual approach to representing yourself and your music, and a plan.”

“When you read online about tips for marketing yourself, there is a lot of emphasis on social media, a lot of emphasis on digital presence and on numbers. They are all important when you’re presenting yourself to a label, to a promotor, or to an agent – but don’t let it distract yourself too much from your music. Stuff in real life is really important as well.”

“For anything you’re posting online, work out what it is you’re trying to achieve. Are you trying to get more followers? Trying to keep your current followers engaged? Or trying to just get as many people to listen to a song? Then work out how you’re going to measure this.

Think about who your audience is, and where they are – people use all the platforms in different ways. It’s really good to vary content across platforms. Mix it up, it will make it more interesting for you – don’t post links to an Instagram post on your other platforms, don’t cross contaminate! Create stuff for the place it’s supposed to be.”

Last but definitely not least was Mike.

“What I’m gonna be talking about is this term: Copyright. Copyright is ownership – It’s about property. This property isn’t not something you can walk into, or have a key to, its an intellectual property. Something you’ve created. Anything you create, like a song, or a recording, there is a value attached to it. In the UK, if you write a song, you are seen as an author. You have rights as an author – that means it’s owned by you.

A recording is a different – often a Record Label helps pay for someone to record music. To make that money back, they often co-control the copyright for that recording with, or on behalf of, the artist. But this is separate to the copyright (or ownership) of the song”

“I think it’s really important that if you’re really serious about having a career in music, and you’re going to be a writer or someone that’s going to create recordings, that you know about copyright, and understand the value of it.”

“If you do want to find out more, go to the PRS website (Performance rights society). They collect all the royalties and distribute them to the artists. It’s a good resource if you want to know about song writers copyright”

You can read about this here:

We finished our Crash Course with a Q+A that was open to the audience, as well as questions from online. Our first question was from Rhys, one our young producers.

Rhys: “What’s the most professional way to approach a venue?”

Harriet: “I would first find out who the promoters are that are putting on nights at that venue. If it’s a case of just wanting to get on stage at that venue, then approach all the people that put on gigs there. Try and meet the promoters face to face.”

We then had a question from Zoe, who was hosting the panel.

Zoe: “How important are live performances when it comes to being noticed by a record label?”

Michael McClatchey: “Being able to play live is pretty essential. It’s not the be all and end all, but it’s a very powerful promotional tool. I always prefer to work with an artist that can perform live. Look for open mic nights, or even approach venues about putting on your own show if you’re confident that you have enough mates that will come”

Rhys: “Is it still worth sending demos to record labels?”

Michael: “I definitely still think there’s a use to it. But don’t get hung up on record labels, don’t see that as the end goal. Just try and get your music out to as many people as you can. If you want to attract a label, then get a lot of people to your gigs, and a lot of people talking about you.”

Zoe: “Matt as someone who has worked on many demos, what do you think a good demo sounds like?”

Matt: “In this day and age, from my perspective, it feels like labels are looking for a product that they can put straight to market. The old model certainly was making a demo, but now with a laptop or a phone, you can make something that’s of release standard. You have to get as close to releasable quality as you can.”

Harriet: “Ultimately you have to prove that there is a fanbase for what you do. But, if you do want to show people your music, think about what is the easiest way to for someone to hear it. If that’s just a link, then get their email address and send them that. Keep it as easy as possible.”

Beth: “Ultimately I think Soundcloud is the best way to share your music. Because you don’t need to log in to see it. Open platform linking is best for sharing music. And put it at the top of the email!”

Harriet: “One thing I’ve liked when someone is trying to get a live show, is when people have sent me a highlights real of short clips from their gigs”

Michael” “One of the first things I’ll look for is a live video that someone has filmed at a gig”

Question from online: “Should artists always ask for payment for a gig?”

Matt: “If you’re just starting out, you kind of have to play for free. How else are you going to get your foot in the door? If you’re doing stuff for free, and being the person thats helpful, and committing your time, thats whats valuable to people. That’s how you get the first 50 people, or 100 people to like what you do. You have to do something to get out there. The tough thing is working out when you need to start asking for payment. But at the start, grab every performance opportunity you can. Because they can be hard to come by.”

Michael: “If you’re confident that you will bring a lot of people, then ask for a cut of the door. You need to know your own value”

Audience member: “When it comes to explicit content, are radio edits still necessary?”

Michael: “Definitely. More so for Spotify now than radio”

If you want to find out more, then you can watch the full live stream on our Facebook page here:

We hope that our panels expert advice has helped with some of your Music Industry queries, but keep your eyes peeled for more Pie Factory Masterclasses in the future.

Bhangra X Hip-Hop

Posted on: September 24th, 2019 by Zoe Carassik-Lord No Comments

This summer, Pie Factory Music collaborated with Cohesion plus, and the Gulbenkian to put on a unique series of workshops for a project called ‘Bollyhop’.

Cohesian Plus is community project focused on promoting positive community relations and cohesion in Gravesend.

Two brilliant musicians ran the Project: Ollie Seager, and Bill Singh.

The aim of the BollyHop project was to create a fusion of Hip-Hop and Bangra music, and to give the opportunity for different communities to work together on a shared project.

Ollie is a Rapper, Singer, Song-writer, and producer who runs music workshops for young people.

Bill is a renowned Bangra drummer, with a passion for Hip-Hop, who works regularly with young people teaching Bangra drumming.

The project started at Pie Factory, with Bill and Ollie working with Rhys (AKA ‘MOOSE’) and myself, to begin building a beat that would form the base for our song. Rhys began writing Rap Verses and the structure for the song quickly fell into place.

Next, the project moved to the Gulbenkian in Canterbury, where Reece and myself met with Bill’s Bangra drumming group. We shared what we had worked on so far, and all began improvising over the beat, and sharing ideas for the song.

Everyone had something to contribute, and the surprise discovery that one of the boys from Bill’s Bangra group could beat-box added another element to the piece.

By the end of the two days at the Gulbenkian, everyone was happy with what was produced, and so we returned to Pie Factory to professionally record the finished product with Matt Smyth. Like with the rest of the project, the recording process was a collaborative effort, with everyone contributing their own ideas to how the BollyHop track should sound. Everyone’s different ideas and influences are reflected in the finished piece, which is really unique blend of the two genres.

The Project culminated in a group performance at ‘Boing’ festival in Canterbury, where Reece, Ollie, Bill, and the Bangra drummers performed our BollyHop track live.

The project was a great success, and provided a really unique and enjoyable experience for everyone involved and was a great example of what can be achieved through collaboration.

Written by Evan Williams – Music Programming Intern