NARC. E-ZINE #6 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Reliably informed

  • Welcome to issue six of our digital ‘zine! It’s the place to come for video interviews and sound clips, mini-documentaries, live performances, playlists, reportage, reviews and much more, created exclusively by us as well as by some of the region’s talented creatives.

Spanning music, theatre, comedy, film, art and everything in between, the NARC. E-ZINE is designed as an antidote to doom-scrolling! With the aim of entertaining and informing, we will provide you with a constant source of exciting, surprising and unusual content continually evolving throughout the issue’s lifespan. Dip back in regularly, there’s new content uploaded all the time!


NARC. Mini-Doc #3 – Combining The Arts: Spaces For All

In the third instalment of our NARC. Mini-Docs series, Lizzie Lovejoy explores the world of non-traditional performance spaces, chatting with Middlesbrough’s Pineapple Black and Redcar Palace, to celebrate the fantastic work they do.

Watch the episode via our YouTube, Facebook or IGTV channels now!

NARC. TV Mini-Docs - North East Cultural Activism

In the second instalment of our NARC. Mini-Docs series, Hope Lynes speaks to local activist groups in the music industry and culture scene, including Curious Arts, Art Mouse Promotions, Tracks, Sister Shack and Ruth Lyon, to find out why people are driven to fight back and speak out on subjects they’re passionate about

Watch the episode via our YouTube, Facebook or IGTV channels now!

The Early Purple – The Way of the Sufi

Northumberland musician Matt Saxon’s new project The Early Purple has attracted considerable acclaim considering he’s only on his second release, and the fusion of vocal harmonies and assorted instrumentation has led to comparisons to the likes of Midlake and Fleet Foxes.

According to Matt, new single The Way of the Sufi is “about how when times aren’t looking particularly great, we turn to art and literature for comfort”, and continues the artist’s exploration of themes of personal growth, mental health and spirituality.

This Club Could Be Your Life

Earlier this month musician and promoter Phil Saunders presented his part biography, part almanack, part local history book, This Club Could Be Your Life. Summing up 15 years of alternative club culture in the North East, with a particular focus on his time at promotions company Ten Feet Tall and Middlesbrough’s The Cornerhouse and the Empire, the book teleports the reader back in time to when all that really mattered was the weekend, your friends, your favourite bands and partying until 3am.

Here, he’s put together a carousel of images designed to evoke those nights of sticky carpets, everlasting friendship and loud music.

NARC. TV Mini-Docs - Magic Hat Cafe

In the first of our NARC. Mini-Docs series, Evie Lake introduces The Magic Hat cafe, an anti-food waste cafe in Newcastle, discovering an innovative and progressive organisation which puts the environment and community first.


Hector Gannet – Tower On The Hill

North Shields’ indie folk rockers Hector Gannet prepare to unveil their new album in January, but first they’re teasing us with an attention-grabbing new single, Tower On The Hill, accompanied by a suitably poetic video.

Songwriter Aaron Duff explains that the song is: “a stomp-driven and powerful reminder to those in high places that the day of reckoning will come, and that people (and indeed nature) can only stand for so much when it comes to being constantly abused, oppressed or demeaned.”

Summer Night Air - Old Folds (Remix)

Electronica music project featuring Paul Heathcote and Alex Thompson, aka Summer Night Air, drops their brand new album Five – released via Cruel Nature Records. The album differs from previous releases as it moves away from the ambient soundscapes and moves into electro-pop, song-like format, complete with guest vocalists.

You can purchase the album by clicking here.

As a special treat for the E-zine, Summer Night Air has given us an exclusive remix to one of the tracks from the album, Old Folds, by The John Cream Collective.

Heather Ferrier Trio – 5 Minute Walk

Alt. folk accordionist Heather Ferrier debuts a brand new track featuring her newly launched full band line-up. The trio, which also comprises Adam Stapleford on drums and guitarist Alasdair Paul, bring together an explosion of groove and riffs intertwined with unique compositions which make her contemporary folk an even more enticing prospect.

5 Minute Walk is a nostalgic reflection on the years of simplicity and freedom she experienced in her formative years, and a tribute to strong friendship and emotional growth.

Playlist: Man Power

If the winter blues are beginning to get to you this blissful ambient live mix from Wallsend-born DJ, producer and musician Man Power could be just the thing to help your mind travel somewhere new. It’s also a perfect preview of the live show heading to Sage Gateshead on Friday 4th November in support of experimental and ambient music legend William Basinski.

Geoff Kirkwood (aka Man Power, aka Bed Wetter) told us: “This was recorded live at the legendary Pikes Hotel in Ibiza at the End of Summer 2021 just after I’d made a start on what would eventually become my symphony NXS8. The selection features music that inspired the Bed Wetter project alongside the earliest electronic drafts for the work I’m debuting with the Royal Northern Sinfonia at Sage Gateshead.”

Chris Ord - The Deal Playlist

Prolific Northumbrian author Chris Ord is set to release his fifth novel, The Deal, on Saturday 22nd October. The book is a dark folk horror set in Howick, near Craster, centring around the mysterious disappearance of a girl from a local orphanage, and a teenage boy’s search for the truth.

To add a bit of atmosphere to his latest work, Chris has put together a playlist that would soundtrack The Deal.

Here, he tells us a bit about the inspiration behind his choices… 

The Deal is set in Howick in Northumberland and combines my passion for the mystery and intrigue of the local history, music, and landscape into what is probably best described as a folk horror. Atmosphere and setting are important parts of my writing and there is nowhere better than  Northumberland to inspire this. The songs I’ve chosen for my soundtrack to  The Deal reflect this brooding sense of mood. Steeped in drama, they suck  you into their worlds with unsettling words and music. The sea and winter season are also key parts of The Deal, characters in themselves, and several of the songs in the list mirror this. I’ve also chosen the majority of songs by northern musicians including Scotland, as the folk music of the borders and beyond is an inspiration to me and my writing. The Deal is woven with themes of love and family, honour and betrayal, trust and deception, and these are themes that flow through these tracks too. Above all, these are songs I love,  and I believe you should always do what you love.

My Writing Life with Fran Harvey – Jenna Warren

Fran Harvey’s podcast is an in-depth chat with writers about their writing life, and provides an insightful peek into their creativity and ideas.

On this episode, debut novelist and bookshop owner Jenna Warren celebrates the launch of her book The Moon And Stars, a deliciously funny, heartwarming tale about a love- and stagefright-struck singer, with roots in musical theatre and nods to The Phantom of the Opera and Cyrano de Bergerac. Jenna launches the novel at Saltburn’s Book Corner on Saturday 22nd October.

Read the transcript of their chat here:

NARC. TV Episode 31 – SQUARMS

Welcome to episode 31 of NARC. TV, our magazine-style programme featuring performances and interviews from North East artists.

This is the last episode in our current series, and boy do we have a treat for you! Rounding off series four is a high-octane and unpredictable performance from North East electronic duo SQUARMS, who chat with David Saunders about their experimental sound and cyber-bothering approach to music releasing, which has seen them rack up serious acclaim.

This episode was filmed at The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle by Art Mouse Media.

We’ll be back in the new year with another series, but for now why not check out previous episodes featuring performances and chat with North East artists on our YouTube channel.

One Off @ Live Theatre

Having spent most of his young adult life in HMP Durham, Ric Renton learned to read and, crucially, to write. Having turned away from a troubled upbringing, he put his experiences down on paper and One Off is his debut theatrical production, coming to Newcastle’s Live Theatre from Thursday 10th-Saturday 26th November.

Here, Ric speaks of his experiences, fighting against the odds and how he crafted his urgent and black humoured production.

My Writing Life with Fran Harvey – Jacob Kerr

In the latest episode of My Writing Life, Fran Harvey chats with Northumberland-based folk horror novelist Jacob Kerr, whose debut book The Green Man of Eshwood Hall is a harsh and brutal tale which explores class, family dynamics and the dark depths of folklore.

They chat about how he began his writing career, the details of his research and how music helps Jacob to imagine his characters. Read a transcript of their chat here:

Playlist: Scrannabis

Hip-hop artist Scrannabis teams up with fellow regional artist Thomas Walliker to release a brand new single, Wake Up 55. Here, he compiles some tracks which give an insight into his inspiration.

While making Wake Up 55 I decided to mix up the songs I was listening to a little give myself fresh ideas, and with a scene like the North East it was easy to find tunes that gave me loads of new ideas, like Luke Royalty and Sweets’  track I Could Get Used To This and Kate Bond’s back catalogue. It was listening to these more melody-driven songs that helped me land on the new sound I’m going for. Sprinkle in people like Rex Orange County and Arlo Parks, and you get what I was trying to go for. This playlist is full of tunes I listened to during the making of the track!”

Redcoat Holiday Bangers playlist

North East theatre company The Six Twenty return to stages across the region this month with their production of Redcoat, depicting the warts and all life of a holiday park entertainer, in a non-stop explosion of live music, dance routines, en-masse balloon animal modelling.

Here, Redcoat Lewis compiles some songs which inspired the creation process for his one-man show, explaining: “I hope they remind you of those heady Summer nights as we head into the colder months. Get your Hawaiian shirt out one last time, make yourself a cocktail (preferably in a coconut) and have yourself a Redcoat boogie to these!”

ZELA debut new video for High Wasted Genes

Brat-pop siblings ZELA are more than making waves right now thanks to their attitude laced electro-pop. They describe new single High Wasted Genes as a “punky, dark-party anthem” which explores “youthful freedom; bad behaviour, taking risks and the impulsiveness that comes with being human”.

The video was shot on location in Newcastle and sees ZELA night-rioting throughout a disused hotel, an empty nightclub and a windswept Northern beach. “The inspiration for behind the video comes from the lyrics “just you and me in our beach hotel” and the film Requiem For A Dream; we wanted to combine psychedelic dreamscape cinematics with a high octane angsty performance.”

NARC. TV Episode 30 – Sarah Johnsone

Welcome to episode 30 of NARC. TV, our magazine-style programme featuring performances and interviews from North East artists.

On this episode we’re treating you to a performance from Stockton-based songwriter Sarah Johnsone and her band, whose powerful indie rock style is shot through with often soulful, jazzy inflections. We also chat to the band about how they fuse contemporary influences with classic sounds to produce a style all of their own.

This episode was filmed at The Engine Room, North Shields by Art Mouse Media.

My Writing Life with Fran Harvey – David Almond

In the latest episode of My Writing Life, writer and musician Fran Harvey talks to multi award-winning North East author David Almond.

Famous for his transporting prose, which spans children’s and YA novels, plays, songs, picture books and even opera libretti, he speaks about his first forays into writing, how he approaches his craft and coping with self-doubt. Read the transcript of Fran and David’s conversation here.

David leads a writing workshop at Live Theatre on Saturday 22nd October, and his graphic novel Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist gets a special Halloween reading at the theatre from Thursday 27th-Sunday 30th October.

5 Minutes With Luisa Omielan

Luisa Omielan creates iconic one woman shows. She was the first comedian to receive a BAFTA Breakthrough for stand-up. Not the first female comedian. The first.

The good folks at Tyne Theatre & Opera House have a chat to Luisa ahead of her new show playing at the venue on Friday 21st October: authentic, raw, honest and timeless, it’s the only show that can make you laugh your head off and cry your eyes out simultaneously.

You can book your tickets to see Luisa’s new show TEN at Tyne Theatre & Opera House here.

Elysium Theatre’s Covid-19 Monologues

Having reacted swiftly to all their productions being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, North East-based Elysium Theatre Company began producing online monologues written and starring Northern talent. Having gone on to win numerous awards, the company return with a third series which prove as thought-provoking as ever. The company’s return to online work is clearly a successful new medium for them, as artistic director and founder Jake Murray explains: “It’s not film and it’s not theatre, but somewhere in between.”

This episode, Ask My Anything, was written by Chris Neville-Smith and directed by Dan Bradford. Political activist Lucy (Heather Carroll) takes questions in the aftermath of a political sting that went tragically wrong.

Passing Ships

Local filmmaker John Lee Taggart’s new short film focuses on the raising awareness about the shocking rates of male suicide, particularly in North East England. The poignant film features a narrated poem by Stranglers’ guitarist Baz Warne, with an epilogue by Melanie Hill (Waterloo Road, Coronation Street).

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