INTERVIEW: Waves Festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Lottie Willis

The team behind Independent further attempt to reinforce the musical prowess of their fair city as they announce the first of what they hope will be an annual inner-city festival straight out of Sunderland. Going by the name Waves, this new endeavour brings together five of the city’s premier venues, with Independent, Live Lounge, The Peacock, The Bunker and The Ship Isis working in perfect harmony on Saturday 6th November.

In speaking to organiser Ben Richardson, it was clear that bringing a music-centred event which would have wide appeal was on the agenda in the formative planning stages. “The main thing all along was to create an event that the people of Sunderland could be proud of. Something that made every person who was into music in the area all come out on the same day and just have a nice time.”

Independent is in the vanguard of Sunderland’s return to the musical map; the region is littered with multi-venue festivals, but Waves will be the first in the city for several years, and Ben believes it’s an event that music lovers in Sunderland deserve.

When surveying the breadth of genres on display, attendees to Waves are spoilt for choice. There’s indie pop from the likes of noyou, Club Paradise and Faye Fantarrow; some of the region’s finest singer-songwriters in Lottie Willis, Sophia, Elizabeth Liddle and Ani Sandwith; punk pop power courtesy of bigfatbig and Casual Threats; the North East’s emerging rap scene is well represented through the sounds of SQUARMS, Philth Like and Sågaboi; there’s dreamy soulful pop and RnB from Nadedja and Badmind, and a large helping of post-punk from Pit Pony, Roxy Girls, Kickin’ Lilies, Leopard Rays and Point Blanc.

The main thing all along was to create an event that the people of Sunderland could be proud of

On this eclectic line-up Ben comments: “We really just wanted to portray the music scene up here how it really is, people’s music tastes are becoming way more spread out and there really is a lot more diversity and difference than you might think.” It’s refreshing to see such a good gender balance in the line-up, which has been a point of contention elsewhere in the region. “You know what, we didn’t even have to try to be honest, and I don’t think you especially have to in the North East – if you just take a minute to think about who the most exciting new artists are that you think could really go somewhere, so many of those are women.”

With such a wealth of talent on display at the festival, Ben is justifiably proud of the line-up. When pressed for a favourite, he’s spoiled for choice.It’s very hard to choose. I just love Club Paradise. They always sound massive live. For those not from Sunderland, I’d say Kickin’ Lilies, they’re really cool.” And for those looking for their new favourite act, Ben’s money is on: “noyou, or Lottie Willis. She’s only 17, and she’s just unbelievable.”

Also recently added to the line-up are artists including This Little Bird, Kay Greyson and Tipps, who will be performing on the Live Lounge stage curated by Young Musician’s Project.

Waves festival takes place on Saturday 6th November at Independent, Live Lounge, The Peacock, The Bunker and The Ship Isis

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