Interview: Ben (Unison Music & Events) and Jordan (Spotlight Music) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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During the Covid-19 lockdown North East based DIY music activists Unison Music & Events and Spotlight Music wanted to encourage collaborations between local musicians as well as promote all the good stuff they were doing and so the Crossover Covers project was born. The project asked musicians to cover a song from a local contemporary in a series of videos that ran from April until the end of July and produced a whopping twenty nine tracks! Fifteen of those tracks have been selected and turned into an even greater force for good via a digital compilation album that is available to purchase, with all proceeds going to Crossings Community Group. To get yours head to their Bandcamp and pay a minimum donation of £5.

We caught up with Ben (Unison) and Jordan (Spotlight) to find out more…

What is it about a cover version that people like?
The best thing about a cover version is often when it’s different or a challenge, when someone takes on a perfect song, or something that’s out of their comfort zone and they still pull it off. When you see your favourite artist cover another of your favourite artists, it’s just exciting and interesting, something a bit different. 

What is your favourite cover song (outside of this) and why?
At the moment I’m hooked on Sam Fender’s cover of ‘Waiting For Love’ by Avicii.
There’s a lot of beauty in House and Dance music that I think can go unnoticed but when you’ve got someone like Sam Fender with such soulful delivery at the helm and some live instruments there’s no denying it. 

Who came up with the idea for Crossover Covers?
That was me (Ben), not sure how it happened but I had the idea for a week or so, took it to Jordan and we developed it together and gradually reached out to a bunch of artists who were more than happy to be involved. It developed throughout into what it is now. 

How did you find the logistics of it during a global pandemic? 
When we got started it was fairly alright, it was just the initial planning process that was tricky, we couldn’t meet up for a planning meeting at all. After that it was all a social media project really. However, I do imagine it may have been difficult for the artists, trying to record digitally, or having to stick to just one person recording the cover etc. 

Any favourite renditions?
Ben: My personal favourite is probably the bigfatbig cover of Mt. Misery, two of my favourite North East bands getting together, the class lyricism and songwriting of Mt. Misery matched with the punky energetic output of bigfatbig it’s just so interesting and so good.

Jordan: Honestly I can’t get enough of Thomas Dixon and I’m so impressed by the way he captured the power behind ‘Before The Fall’ by Ten Eighty Trees while also shining a light on its more introspective and melancholic side. It’s a pleasure to have had someone with such skill give us his unique take on the track. 

Tell us more about the album… Who is on it?
The album features an array of North-East musicians including BBC Introducing’s pop punk favourites ‘bigfatbig’, rock powerhouses ‘Sing Again Syren’, captivating saxophonist ‘Thomas Dixo’n and infectious indie outfit ‘Mt. Misery’. 

All proceeds go to Crossings Community Group. Why did you pick them and tell us more about the good they do?
I heard about Crossing Community Group years ago while volunteering with a similar charity in Sunderland and helped raise some money for them through a Spotlight gig last September.
They do fantastic work facilitating a space for the Asylum Seeker, Migrant and Refugee communities in the region to come together practice and perform music alongside local musicians.  I think that it is such a wonderful thing to come together through music, share experiences and learn more about the multicultural society that we live in while providing a safe space for those who are often ostracised and betrayed by the system.

Will there be any more Crossover Covers in the future?
In short, yes. We’ve loved every bit of running this project, all the way from getting in touch with the artists to putting the final album out. Next time we’ll be tighter, neater, better planned and it’ll be done well in advance to allow us to make it even better. 

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