INTERVIEW: NORTH EAST WOMEN IN SOUL MUSIC | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: L-R FALLU, Kate Bond, Georgia May, Frankie Jobling by Amelia Read

North East Women In Soul Music (NEWISM) aims to provide a platform for the rising female neo-soul talent emerging in the North East. Founded by Georgia May, Frankie Jobling, Kate Bond and Karla Farrar (aka FALLU), the group has become a space for the North East’s soulful women to support, promote and encourage each other. 

The core of NEWISM is in the ‘NE’ premise; the region’s neo-soul scene has come under increasing focus over the last couple of years, thanks in part to artists like Georgia May, whose stunning 2020 album Mood Daze fused elements of R&B, trip-hop and Afrobeat. More recently, Kate Bond’s single Yasmine was picked up by Radio 1 DJs thanks to its laidback melody and fearless approach to the heavy-hitting subject matter of toxic relationships and mental health. Kate is emphatic that there is a need for more support of the genre in the North. “We think it’s important that soul music is recognised in the North East. We are often forgotten about because the focus of the industry is on the South, so having a collective where the shows we put on are busy and highly anticipated is so important in showing the industry how much the soul scene pops here.”  

We would love NEWISM to be the start of something that helps get up and coming female artists out there, because there are so many in the North East,” says Frankie Jobling, “if we can act like a platform and start varying who performs at the events, it could be a really big thing. It would eventually be a support system for women in music.”

Frankie’s new single, Where Do You Go When You Go Quiet?, is released this month. Taking influence from classic sounds, while imparting her own contemporary vibe, Frankie’s soulful and sultry voice gives her an instant likeability. “I wrote this song in frustration at wanting to help someone, but them not letting me in, and them feeling like a burden for not wanting to share their problems.” The beautifully melodic track is filled with emotion, as Frankie admits: “All my songs are really confessional, they’re like diary entries, where I’ll go back through my journal and look for little things that I’ve written down and I’ll use them to make songs.” 

A healthy respect for the sub-genre’s principle sounds is something that unites all four musicians. Newcastle-based FALLU’s style contains a melting pot of sounds, with elements of funk and R&B fusing with psychedelic vibes and clashing beats. Collective founder Georgia May explains how her influences stem from her childhood: “Growing up I enjoyed listening to India Arie, Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill, and Eryka Badu. My influences and my natural style made me a neo-soul artist. I’m writing again and can’t wait to release more music, play some festivals this year and hope to work more on my own craft to improve my vocals and performance behind the scenes.” 

having a collective where the shows we put on are busy and highly anticipated is so important in showing the industry how much the soul scene pops here

Frankie comments that her inspirations have come from far and wide. “When I was growing up, I listened to all of the old school stuff, a lot of jazz and soul – I’m really heavily influenced by that, with a massive contemporary twist on it.” Proud of blending new and old generation sounds, it’s this fusion that has made the neo-soul scene such an exciting one.

Audiences can witness this burgeoning movement flourish at one of NEWISM’s regular live shows. Their debut show at Hoochie Coochie back in October, which also included Durham songwriter and producer Phibi, was enough to encourage brand new promoter Pippa Morgan (aka PM Music) to want to work with them for her first event as part of Generator’s Create:Live programme. “I first came across NEWISM at their debut show as a collective back in October. I’d gone along to some of the girls’ gigs prior to this and was already super impressed by the standard of talent there was in the North East soul scene. It’s so important that artists (especially female artists!) are celebrated and supported within this genre, so that soul can continue to grow and thrive in the North East.”

PM Music’s NEWISM showcase on Saturday 19th March at Cobalt Studios will feature performances from all the founding members, Georgia May, Frankie Jobling, Kate Bond and FALLU.

It’s important to the promoter and performers that NEWISM provides a safe space for musicians and audiences, as well as an encouraging environment for talent to flourish. Frankie’s enthusiasm about their shows is infectious:It’s like a big party, that is all I can describe it as! The last time we performed there was just so much love in the room, and so much empowering of each other.”

Serving as a great introduction to the region’s neo-soul scene, and providing an important connection between musicians and audiences, FALLU is excited by the group’s potential. “When we first spoke about NEWISM, we honestly never thought it would get this much recognition. We were just four female musicians wanting to play a gig together. NEWISM has definitely brought something to my life that I never thought I’d have. I feel lucky to be a co-founder of such a wonderful, female-lead collective.”

North East Women In Soul Music featuring Georgia May, Frankie Jobling, Kate Bond and FALLU takes place at Cobalt Studios, Newcastle on Saturday 19th March.

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