Two and a half weeks

Any of you that follow my You Tube channel will be aware that I’ve made a video account of my time without employment.

I wanted to do this as a record for other people who, like me, have been made unexpectedly unemployed and have no idea how the system works. In some ways it was a difficult process and there were phone calls and meltdowns that I caught on camera but decided to keep out of the final edits. In the end the result was a simple vlog.

I probably come across and stubborn and ignorant in some videos, but I honestly did not know how the system worked for jobseekers. At the entrance to the job centre there’s a big banner that tells you that the idea of the place is to ‘find you the work you want’ but in actual fact they just want you in work. This is an understandable desire, but possibly one of the reasons people stick to signing on. If they are forced into a job that they don’t want and therefore have no time, help or resources to find their ideal vocation, they’re going to be even more adverse to steady employment.

Earlier this month I made the final of a competition held by Primula Cheese and Capital FM North East. The idea was to create a recipe for four on a budget using a variety of Primula cheese. I went for the simple, yummy bean enchiladas recipe I once made for my former Amazing Radio show. I knew I wouldn’t win the £1,000 prize but it was a fantastic day out that really made me feel ‘normal’ again. They even made a film of the event which is hilarious as I couldn’t stop laughing before they announced the winner. Priceless.

Ready Steady Squeeze Final from Adam Troup on Vimeo.

Another thing that kept me occupied over the last two weeks was the wonderful UMT: Play course, run by North East music agency Generator. I met two fantastic girls, Mary and Harriet, and together we formed ‘Mary Sends Out Warning’ and wrote three songs for a performance to friends and family in a mere four days. We also recorded our mini masterpieces and hopefully I’ll be able to share those with you soon!

Here are some pictures from the ‘Big Day’ as taken by the wonderful Jazzy Lemon (who I shall miss very much when I head South).

For listeners

As my Amazing Folk Roots show was due to be on Amazing Radio tonight, I thought I’d better write something to explain why it won’t be!

Yesterday my contract was terminated by The Amazing Media Group, so my show has been cancelled with immediate effect.

I have been told that there is no shame in redundancy, so I hope to find work in media again sometime soon. What is sad is that everything was so instant, so sudden, that I didn’t get to do a final show – my show for tonight has already been broadcast once, but they didn’t want to broadcast it again tonight. If there is no shame in redundancy, then why has work been so swift to erase me?

I am no longer Producer Frankie on Amazing Afternoons and Kyle will be carrying on solo, which will be fine (so afternoon listeners please don’t worry!) Amazing Radio is a fantastic idea. I’ve worked with hundreds of bands, lots of talented music writers and bloggers and met some fantastic people. The team I have worked with have been brilliant. They are young, fresh and talented – and held together by the equally brilliant Operations Manager Kevin, who truly is the heart of Amazing Towers.

However I feel now, I know that I should look back and be proud of my time with Amazing. I recorded my first show for the station when I was 20, making me the youngest presenter on national radio. I put together The Afternoon Show (as it was originally called) before I graduated from university, recruiting Kyle to present and developing features that came and went before settling on ideas that I was happy with, such as Matchmaker and the New Music Tour. The show itself was deemed strong enough to be live, but I became a victim of this success as I have constructed the show in such a way that it can survive without me, and I really hope it does. There were many things I did for the company and I’m not sure what will happen, but I hope it grows without more people needing to lose their jobs.

There have been many people who have helped and supported me in the past few years that I’ve not really stopped. Waking up this morning, therefore, was a very surreal feeling, and one I didn’t like very much!

Now I need something to do, and all ideas and offers are much appreciated!

Frankie’s fish pie

I was recently sent this fish pie recipe by one of the listeners of my Amazing Radio show.

I decided to have a go at the recipe, (which was rather adventurous for my usually fish-adverse culinary habits), but gave it a bit of a twist by exchanging and/or omitting a few of the ingredients.

Here’s what you’ll need:

500g white fish (I used pollock), 2 hardboiled eggs, couple handfuls of frozen peas (defrosted), sachet of cheese sauce (powder mix), couple cloves of garlic, couple of bay leaves, 300g milk (plus a dash more for mashing), 800g sweet potatoes, salt and pepper for seasoning.

Gently simmer chopped garlic, bay leaves, 300ml milk and the fish in a large pan for 15mins. Add a knob of butter if desired

Strain out the milk mixture and keep handy. Break fish into small pieces once cool enough to handle. Remove the bay leaves.

Mix the cheese sauce sachet with the milk mixture before adding in the fish, peas and chopped hardboiled eggs and pouring into a dish for baking. Season with salt and pepper

Peel, chop and boil sweet potatoes for 15 minutes before mashing with a dash of milk

Top the baking dish and mix with the sweet potato mash. Sprinkle on a little cheese if desired and season with salt and pepper

Bake in a preheated oven for 180 degrees for 40 minutes or until suitably golden

..And then Serve! (I’m rubbish at final serving pictures). I’d recommend serving with a side of steamed broccoli and spinach.

Thanks to Ade for the original recipe!


Frivolise me!

I began a game in the Amazing Radio office the other day called ‘Frivolise Me!’

This essentially involves deciding to embark on an activity and then making it decidedly more ‘frivolous’ – for example taking a taxi instead of a bus to town, or buying a fancier product than you usually would. It’s a rather materialistic, entirely unserious game, but one that’s worth a giggle. It was only when my colleague Stevie B replied to one of my tweets that I realised that I had been playing the game without realising!

I headed into Newcastle city centre after work fully intending to try and find this pair of ‘rusty’ paperbag waist shorts from Miss Selfridge ready for Spring, or at least a similar pair for a cheaper price. I decided to try Primark to see if they stocked such a style.

Bag from charity shop

It turns out that they didn’t… but they did have a pair of leather look shorts that I noticed on my way out of the store! Naturally I grabbed a pair in my size, rushed to the changing rooms and had a go with them! Probably not an item on many fashionable Spring ‘must-have’ lists, but an item I gladly bought in place of the ‘safer’ Miss Selfridge option.

Shorts £10 by Primark, pussybow blouse (vintage) from Oxfam, heels by H&M

I do already have some leather look brown shorts from Zara, and fake leather skinny trousers from Topshop, but I couldn’t resist adding these to my growing collection. There’s something I can’t resist about this fabric. It’s less obvious than denim – especially when worn during the day – and  can be dressed up as in the photo above or dressed down as in the photo below.

Headband by Topshop, tee £9.99 by Zara, bag £10 from Tyneside metro market

(As you can probably see for yourselves, I’m sticking my tummy out in this photo, delightful eh!?)

I blogged about this Zara tee in my last post. It’s oversized and rather short which means I’ll probably wear a vest top underneath it if I take this outfit further than my bedroom. The headband is a couple of years old. I got in from Topshop in a bid to disguise my unruly hair as a ‘deliberate statement’. It wasn’t deliberate in this photo either, but I have been experiencing a minor revolt from my barnet today! The bag was a wonderful vintage find from Tyneside’s Saturday metro market last Saturday. You can’t tell from this photo but it’s a gorgeous, inky hue with an almost marbled effect. I’m attempting to work more ‘ladylike’ pieces into my wardrobe, and have bought a couple of waist-focused black pieces in the past couple of weeks; a shift dress from Topshop’s sale and a black, elasticated waist dress from Zara that I’m planning to debut at a Little Comets gig this weekend.

So what have you ‘frivolised’ recently? And which do you prefer, denim or leather?

Must-hear viewing

“Must-hear you say? But these are videos I see below…”

Yes that is indeed correct, but they’re music videos so I hope you watch them to hear them… if that makes sense? Basically they’re videos that if you haven’t seen, you should, and if you have I heartily salute you with my well-bitten fingernails.

Firstly I present to you the wonderful Leeds-based solo artist James Owen Fender. I truly love this artist: Awesome voice, sensational tunes. Also check out his video for former single The Cloud.

Next, here’s lovely songwriter Martin Longstaff, performing live for Amazing Radio as The Lake Poets. This was recorded exclusively for the station at Newcastle’s Blank Studios. I wrote an article recently predicting big things for The Lake Poets in 2011, and Martin will be a guest on my Amazing Folk Roots Show this Sunday from 7pm.

Now I’ve been meaning to post this next video for far too long. It’s Newcastle four piece Grandfather Birds recording in The Amazing Sessions for Amazing Radio. This video was created by the lovely Paul Alton, who often attends local gigs armed with a video camera. (The song’s pretty sensational too).

I wasn’t too big a fan of previous effort Ungrateful, but I have a huge soft spot for this number, Hunger, by Wichita label act Frankie & the Heartstrings. It’s a fantastic video starring Robert Popper of BBC comedy Look Around You and features a particularly fine performance from keyboardist/guitarist/all-round-legend Mick Ross.

Finally I’m not sure if this is an official video. but we’re loving Kyla La Grange at Amazing Towers right now. Her voice might be too sugary for some, but this song, Walk Through Walls, is epic.

So what do you think? Any new acts I should check out?

Amazing Movie Making

I’ve been attempting to create some video content for Amazing Radio‘s You Tube channel recently.

We’ve recently become You Tube partners which I’m really excited about (my old channel isn’t, but it was always an aim). I announced upon my arrival at Amazing Towers in June that You Tube partnership was always a plan and in the end they approached us, which was nice!

Now we just need to start getting content, and finding an audience for it! I’ve started by making a simply Q & A video with Kyle Wilkinson, who I produce every week day on The Afternoon Show.

We might do more videos like this so if you have any questions for me (as the presenter of Amazing Folk Roots), for Kyle or for any of our presenters then feel free to ask away!

The Velvet Choir

Next Friday (10th December) I’m playing a festive gig with The Union Choir at Newcastle’s Cluny.

It’s for NARC magazine‘s annual ‘Stars in their Eyes Xmas Party‘ event where a selection of North East acts perform three cover versions of songs by a band of their choice.

Anticipation for the event is high, with acoustic folkers Rainfalldown performing (sadly June Carter-less) as Johnny Cash (and band), post punk revivalists Cult Image as The Ramones, Holy Mammoth as Blink 182 and us, The Union Choir, as The Velvet Underground and Nico. Amazing Radio‘s Tom Cotton will also be DJ-ing… as himself.

Velvet dress by George @ Asda, £14

[Post bath I decided not to leave the house hence the absence of makeup/decent hair. I did try to make myself ‘decent’ by removing the red eye in this photo, but it’s left me looking even odder!]

With every gig comes the occasionally frantic question of what to wear. I’ve decided to take our incarnation as The Velvet Underground (and yes, technically I’m ‘Nico’) quite literally by wearing this velvet number by George @ Asda. I found it online and headed into the Heaton Asda Living store on a whim after snow rendered me unable to travel to Birmingham. I’d decided to get some bubble bath and have a sulky soak as i’d taken the day off work for my journey to the midlands, but then this dress was too tempting to resist trying… It was reduced from £24 to £14 and is a beautiful shape, texture and colour. It’s not too risque lengthwise (but has a slit at the front so could be if I’m not careful!) You can find it online here.

I haven’t accessorised fully in the photo but I’m wearing pearly mary jane style shoes (with a ribbon tie) and a charm bracelet pendant necklace that my dad got me as a graduation present. I’m also wearing a fake pearl headband by Accessorize but I think I’ll ‘toughen things up’ with my leather jacket, smokey eyes and loose hair for the gig itself.

Hope you can make it down!

An Amazing article!

An exciting thing happened this morning!

The Guardian wrote about Amazing Radio!

Getting to know the boys from emerging act Mike Fantastic

Getting to know the boys from emerging act Mike Fantastic

It’s quite a big thing for us as we’re rather ‘underground’ in our music policy (and also because we don’t advertise.) We’re a commercial station that doesn’t play ads (save for the Christmas DAB trails) and we only play new and emerging artists (who have popped their stuff over at amazingtunes.com.)

I’ve written about my job in many a post on this blog, but if you’d like to go straight to the source you can check out our website, follow us on Twitter or even join our Facebook Group and join the ‘New Music Revolution.

The perfect LBLD?

I’ve always dreamed of finding that ‘perfect Little Black Dress’

I thought I found it for a mere £9.99 in H&M today but when I got to the dressing room it just didn’t fit right.

I had places to be so had to leave the strapless, shiny black pleated bargain behind with the shop assistants. Feeling down I moved to leave the shop but stopped in my tracks near the exit… By Jupiter! I had found it!

It was wrinkly, not in my size and made of fake leather! I had to buy a size up but it means it will be perfect for casual winter layering (for the Amazing Radio office) whilst not being a too tight and ‘fetish’ looking. Once off the hanger and on my body the wrinkles disappeared and gave an almost smooth look.

Faux leather dress, £14.99, white shirt both by H&M

Faux leather dress, £14.99, white shirt both by H&M

It’s the perfect day-to-night dress too. Here I toughen it up a little with my Peacocks grey hiking boots.

Boots £20 by Peacocks

I quite like it with my red heels too; there’s plenty a pair of shoes that would work with this dress which is why I adore it so.

I have a gig with The Union Choir in support of The Winter Hill Transmission’s single launch next Friday (19th November) and I’m not sure if I should wear this or the Primark dress below…

Dress £15, by Primark

The flash of my camera has made the underskirt of this dress look a lot shinier than it actually is. It reminds me of a Peacocks dress I saw in a magazine (but it’s a lot nicer in the lace detailing department and £8 cheaper.) I have to wear it with a belt because the empire line design into the full skirt is so unflattering I was tempted to take it back. The swift addition of the belt made me have a sudden change of heart.

I think that the leather look dress might be better for The Union Choir gig, and the crochet dress for my first Get Frank gig on the 25th November – but again, I’m not sure.

Help me out? Which one for which occasion?!

A terrifying musical debut!

I’m playing my first gig as ‘Member No.11’ of The Union Choir tomorrow at The Star and Shadow Cinema with Brilliant Mind, O’Messy Life and John Egdell tomorrow… and I can hardly contain my excitement.

For this isn’t any old gig… this is a Halloween special!

Wig by Smiffy's, jacket by Religion, top by H&M and faux leather trousers, £38 by Topshop

I was going to go as a convict before realising that I should probably have some kind of matching stripy hat. I’d already ordered the handcuffs for less than a pound from Amazon so I invested another pound in a bandit mask. I don’t think I’ll wear the mask over my eyes much because it covers my nose and is a bit too wide for my face! I decided to keep the handcuffs for my costume by pretending that I’m a robber that has been ‘picked up and put in a police van in cuffs, but escaped en route to the cells.’ My amazing manager Kev at Amazing Radio found the wig in a cupboard and said I could have it so I’m wearing it to ‘up the bad girl status’.

If there’s any night of the year that you can go ultra vampy with deep, dark lips and messy black eyes it’s Halloween so I’m preparing to go all out with my crayons!

The Union Choir are playing last and I’ll only be practicing with the some of the band for the first time on the afternoon before the gig so personally, it’s going to be nerve wracking stuff! I’ve also been known for writing and interviewing bands for the radio so to suddenly make my Newcastle stage debut in front of a lot of them will be quite terrifying.

Me and Anna, the cellist from The Union Choir will be carving a couple of pumpkins before practice tomorrow so I’ll pop some photos of them on shortly. Apparently South Shields (where many band members are based) is all out of pumpkins so we may be a few jack o’lanterns down!

The doors for the gig open tomorrow at 7.30pm so I hope to see you there! And don’t forget to leave a comment telling me what you’re dressing up as!