FEATURE: Northern Electric Festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Me Lost Me by Luke Waddington

In a scene habitually dominated by guitars, Northern Electric Festival strives to paint North East music in a more colourful and comprehensive light. Established in 2016 by musicians Steven Chell, Simeon Soden and Tom Bullen, the annual weekender returns to the Ouseburn Valley on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd August, bearing a programme chock-full of the eclecticism and imagination which have become the event’s trademarks.

“I started putting on small gigs again as a means of connecting with other electronic musicians, and that’s how I met Simeon and Tom,” recalls Steven. “The idea for the festival followed in late 2015 when we were talking about putting on some of the other artists we’d met over the last two summers. We started Northern Electric Festival as a means of creating opportunities for those artists, and establishing an annual networking event where local creatives could meet other people in their city who had the same interests.”

As well as providing a stage for lesser spotted performers, previous editions of Northern Electric have exhibited a healthy thirst for both evolution and collaboration. As Steven explains, it’s a multifaceted approach they’ve been keen to sustain: “This year will be our first working with the Star & Shadow and Blank Studios, which we’re really looking forward to,” he reveals. “They’re right next door to one another, so hopping between the two venues to catch as many acts as possible is going to be super easy. We’ve also dedicated an entire stage to a broad palette of hip-hop, rap and R&B curated by NAMI Up North – a local vlog and podcast supporting creatives in the North East. They also believe it’s important to find platforms for local alternative artists, but come at it from a completely different angle, which is exciting.”

Our local electronic music scene is really vibrant at the moment

This openness is reflected in the startlingly diverse breadth of performers over the two nights – from the experimental sounds of Old Police House chief Mariam Rezaei and the brooding darkwave of Mausoleums, to the inventive DIY bedroom pop of Mayshe-Mayshe, intimate indie/R&B of Worry Party, the unashamed ‘80s-tinged anthemism of Blamire and the chaotic anarchy of rap collective NRTHGØDS.

While remaining something of a niche, there’s no mistaking the scene’s growth in the period since Northern Electric’s advent. “Five years ago the audience for electronic music in the North East was relatively small. A lot of people we’d met really struggled finding promoters who would book them or like-minded people to perform with. Now, though, artists like Jayne Dent [Me Lost Me] are breaking down all sorts of barriers and people are loving it; local label Kaneda Records are working hard on releases and finding new audiences for artists from a variety of genres, and live AV sets are becoming a lot more popular. Venues are really embracing this, with spaces providing comprehensive projector set-ups alongside excellent PA systems.

“Our local electronic music scene is really vibrant at the moment,” he concludes. “I don’t think we’ve seen any real shift away from guitar-orientated sounds or traditional bands, but the fact that local electronic artists and people that are experimenting and trying new things are being spoken about in the same breath is really refreshing.”

Tickets for Northern Electric Festival are available from this link


Friday 2nd August

The Cluny 2
Mariam Rezaei
Me Lost Me
Beanotown Secret Police

The Cumberland Arms
Spell Token

The Tanners Arms
Rohli – Buhl/Daughters

Saturday 3rd August

Star & Shadow Cinema
Lightwaves Museum
Behold A Pale Horse

Blank Studios
The Fishery Commission
Worry Party
Bert Verso

The Cluny 2
Philth Like
Jack Fox
Andrew Wallace

Cobalt Studios
Diz (DJ Set)
Grey Tapes
Emergency Librarian 2
Calm C

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