INTERVIEW: TUSK TV & TUSK EDITIONS | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: TUSK TV host Jennifer Lucy Allan

Following the success of their digital festival last year, the progressive folks at TUSK have unveiled their plans for more multi-media meanderings, this time in the form of monthly programmes broadcast on YouTube.

TUSK TV launches on Friday 2nd April with a five-hour extravaganza of diverse international musical brilliance. Simultaneously, a monthly digital subscription service, TUSK Editions, will offer a digital publication, album, exclusive mix and guest essay to subscribers.

TUSK mainman Lee Etherington explains how they took the decision to adapt to the ongoing circumstances and grow their audience. “We’re a festival and, for obvious reasons, can’t do what we exist to do in its usual form so it was a stark choice: do we stop existing or adapt to the circumstances? The TUSK Virtual three-day festival became a 14-day online event and was massively well received and also hugely extended our reach – we had over 12,000 unique global views during that fortnight and our archive is now getting nearly 2,000 views weekly. So suddenly these things become our greatest assets to be able to continue to work in the current situation – we can’t do ‘live’ but we can do digital and in doing so, greatly expand our audience.”

One of TUSK’s greatest achievements is in its ability to attract international talent, particularly as physical and geographical barriers were removed in the digital realm; it’s something that TUSK TV is determined to continue, and with the ‘double-whammy’ of a worldwide pandemic and the restrictions artists will face as a consequence of Brexit, one that Lee’s been forced into confronting. “We need to explore new ways of raising income in what we predict will only become a more difficult economic landscape as, in Britain, we’ve also inflicted Brexit upon ourselves so some further years of economic woe seem inevitable. We’ve seen other festivals and organisations dabble in membership and subscription schemes and the mood of audiences seems to have shifted more towards altruistic support for things they love.”

We’re a festival and, for obvious reasons, can’t do what we exist to do in its usual form so it was a stark choice: do we stop existing or adapt to the circumstances?

While TUSK TV will be free to access, TUSK Editions will provide paying members with exclusive digital content from a typically eclectic roster of artists. “We see it as a merging of the old record club idea and the current possibilities of digital publishing. Members and buyers will each get a large chunk of exclusive music from us as well as the more journalistic side of Editions – each month, members will get a zip in their inbox that contains over two hours of exclusive new music and writings from the likes of Jennifer Lucy Allan [TUSK TV host and presenter of Late Junction], Stewart Smith [The Wire] and others.” Kicking off the first edition will be the first duo album from Stephen Bishop and Mariam Rezaei, a rare Jim O’Rourke live solo recording, a mix from Hive Mind Records and a ‘blind’ improvisation between Greg Kelley and Joyce Whitchurch.

Drawing attention to diverse sights and sounds remains TUSK’s raison d’être. The first episode of TUSK TV features free jazz legend William Parker, smoky rapper Nappy Nina, four-way female skronk from SPUNK and an amazing solo set from percussionist Valentina Magaletti. “We’ll also have our host Jen popping up, a film from Chik White, Stewart Smith in conversation with William Parker, Joe Muuray talking to SPUNK, the Blind Tapes project and more. We’re billing it as a fat monthly microdose of TUSK Festival magic’.”

TUSK TV and TUSK Editions launches on Friday 2nd April


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