A collective has launched in Sheffield for local and student bands and creatives
“When you’re a student it’s a soup of creativity”
While Sheffield is world renowned for its music and creative scene, which has produced the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, and The Human League, it can be difficult to know how to get a foot in the door.
New collective Violet Gang hope to change that. In bands themselves, they are offering gig slots, management opportunities, and much more. We sat down with Stephen Harrison and Dan Jenkinson to chat about the newest opportunity for Sheffield's musical and creative students.
Where did the inspiration for Violet Gang come from?
Dan: I've been promoting in Sheffield for a couple of years, and Steve and Bradley were doing the same thing. Between us all, we got to the point where every time we got drunk we were like "we can cover so many more bases between us all!" Doing videos, doing production, promotion, management. I think the development side as well is something we were always working on together, like with Cora Pearl and Heavy Lids.
Stephen: We just didn't put a name to it, really, and now we're taking it much more seriously. Dan's basically the head honcho here, running everything, and I'm the "creative side". Basically everyone's working to scout new bands, and we can grow them locally starting from The Washington all the way up to the O2 if we can.
We've interviewed Heavy Lids and Cora Pearl, both of whom consist of current and/or former Sheffield students. How have you found working with student bands?
Dan: It was an eye opener for me because when I first met the Cora Pearl lads I had no idea they were students. They have a really good student crowd.
Stephen: It's a real community, because when you're a student it's a soup of creativity, everyone's different but bound together by this whole experience. With bands coming out of uni, plenty of people get behind it, even if they're not sure about the music, and you end up reaching out to music and converting them. Cora Pearl have done that really well.
Dan: By bands like that coming into the scene, and bringing along a student community, it's widened the Sheffield music community. That's something we wanna grow a lot more as well. Cora Pearl and Heavy Lids have mentioned they had so many friends who wanted to get down and see bands, they just didn't know where to go.
Stephen: Just knowing where to play or get on that ladder can seem near impossible. We've learnt those steps so can show you the shortcuts.
So for those students into their music and not knowing where to start, where would you recommend?
Dan: I'd always recommend starting at The Washington. Everybody hangs out here. Come to gigs here and there'll be so many people who are part of the scene regardless.
Stephen: Just come and get hammered at The Washington because you'll bump into people who will change your life. It happened to me, it will happen to everyone. Throw a stone in the smoking area and you'll hit someone working in merchandising or can do your PR or is a really good videographer, or puts on gigs here. The community is going to pay you back and if you commit to them as well, everyone wins.
What sets Sheffield apart for live music?
Stephen: The beauty of Sheffield is that it is big but feels small. With The Washington community and stuff, every gig is really close and in that community, it's easy to spread the message.
Dan: We want to get to the point where we're working with bands and promoters in other cities, and they're coming here and helping our bands out here. Then there'll be bands developing all over the place. Our strengths are we know we can develop bands to a certain point.
Stephen: It's like an escalator.
In terms of the bands on your roster, what's coming up for them?
Dan: There's a couple of big shows coming up next February which have just been announced – Graces and Cora Pearl are both headlining Leadmill – then hopefully both will be going off on tour around that point.
Stephen: Next year will be tours, festival season, plus some pre-prepared releases.
What impact do you want Violet Gang to make on students in Sheffield?
Dan: We're looking for new bands to work with from the ground up in Sheffield. Any musicians that have moved to the city, or any bands starting up at uni, get in touch with us.
Stephen: There's something we can do for bands at every level, even if you've never played a note on stage before.
Dan: At the moment it's the groundwork, then next year it's taking off. Not just bands, we're looking for any creatives – videographers, designers, artists, merchandisers.
In a band, or a creative in Sheffield? Violet Gang can be contacted at [email protected]