A fresh start (and a new podcast)!

When I was 22, I was asked to have a meeting before my usual work start time of 11am.

My job was to produce an afternoon radio show, which had been the first show to go from pre-recorded to live on the station, and had been extended to broadcast from 3 to 4 hours each day. I also hosted a weekly hour-long specialist music show.

In the months prior to that meeting, the executive producer had kept information from me and not invited me to meetings with the presenter. I was living in the North and, although I had made friends since my move nine months earlier, in the office I would feel isolated and alone.

In the meeting, the CEO, executive producer by his side, (as well as another member of staff who was genuinely once of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with), terminated my contract. I had moments to get my things and leave; my colleagues were concealed inside editing booths – barely larger than store cupboards – upstairs. I wasn’t permitted a goodbye. As I left, the executive producer followed me; “you forgot your coat”, he said bluntly, proffering a blazer I’d left draped a desk chair that had, until 15 minutes earlier, been mine.

On the surface, I was devastated. But perhaps my subconscious knew I would be ok, leading me over the Tyne Bridge into the Newcastle branch of New Look to vacantly stare at shoes. It was the day before Record Store Day 2011 and my musician boyfriend of the time was due to record a show for the station that afternoon. En-route over the bridge, I called the London-based producer of the show and told him I’d convince the guy to still take part.

I signed on at Byker Job Centre, and ended up becoming a finalist in another radio station’s Primula Cheese recipe competition. (There’s a video evidence out there that has to be seen to be believed.) I enrolled on a last-minute place on a week-long songwriting course, and emailed CVs to people I had interned with. I kept busy, despite often being unable to stop tears forming as I walked down the street.

And then, two weeks after staring at my feet on a doorstep in Gateshead, I walked into Channel 4 as an Online Producer. I would not forget my coat again.

When my role was closed at Twitch three weeks ago, despite knowing exactly where the nearest branch of New Look could be found, I headed to a coffee shop and made a list (god, I love a list), before hosting The Bridge for Ginx TV. The sudden end of something had brought opportunity I hadn’t had back in 2011 – perhaps influenced by my previous experience I’d saved what I could over the years and realised I was fortunate enough to have the luxury of time to think about the future.

My coffee-fuelled to do list was dominated by a couple of things; firstly, I wanted to see where I could go with hosting, and secondly I wanted to start a podcast – and there was no time like the present; my showreel was good to go.

Hosting-wise, I’ve got some projects in the pipeline, I can’t wait to share with you all, including hosting PUBG at Dreamhack Austin, and another project with Ginx TV. And the podcast? My Life in Pixels is now available in iTunes. (It’s also available at Podbean for anyone who prefers not to get their podcasts from Apple.) Episode one features the great Jake Roberts, who spoke to me about his history with games in the same week he picked up a BAFTA Games Award for Best Debut in recognition of his fantastic puzzle game Gorogoa. In future, I’m hoping to speak to more developers, as well as friends from different aspects of the gaming industry. We’ll be chatting about the games that made them want to make gaming their careers.

I’ve been very fortunate in the past few weeks to have had some tremendous support from the online community – from Twitch streamers, audiences and peers. This is something I didn’t have all those years ago, and it’s definitely a key reason why I’m able to see positivity in this experience. So if you’re one of those people who’ve called, emailed, Tweeted or commented, then you forever have my gratitude. Thank you.

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Turning 23

On December 27 I’ll be 23…

… It’s not considered a landmark year, but the last 12 months have been so erratic, it seems to feel a bit more significant. I’m in my third office in a year (Sky this time, after a great six months at Channel 4) and things are finally settling down a bit. I’m also enjoying being away from my Shoreditch shoebox of a bedroom – Willesden Green has been good to me so far!

However, the settling down bit is scary. Nothing, as ever, is set in stone. I’ve got ten months left of my fixed term contract at Sky so time will tell if I find anything more permanent. I do like experiencing different workplaces – the corporate operator Sky has about 17,500 employees compared to Channel 4’s Public Service Broadcasting 800 (again, approximate). It’s also a very different role to my previous ones.

I’ve not had the chance to podcast recently so I’m hoping to get back to the music in 2012, if there’s a demand for it. I need to get over the North West thing – in Shoreditch I’d go off to gigs and events most evenings but I’m more of a hermit in my new home, perhaps it’s the cold or maybe I’m risking getting too comfortable.

I had one of those epiphanies the other day, the kind that will seem irrelevant to everyone else, where I realised that podcasting and blogging are activites I can pursue independently. I don’t have to rely on anyone else to put my plans into action – but neither to I have to ask anyone. And that’s sometimes dispiriting.

The two things that I’ve loved doing in the past, presenting and music, have required me to find others to help me go further. I can write songs, but I’m scared to play guitar solo, plus I’m not a very advanced player. It’s great to be able to play with others as it makes the whole process more fun, but it’s also nerve wracking to reveal what you’ve written.

The last track I wrote was the first in several months. It’s short and it’s ‘demotastic’; long pauses, Garage band reverb and general poor quality. But it’s the idea that counts, I suppose!

I also would like to move from radio into onscreen presenting. I guess I could do this at home with vlogs but I’d love to film future music interviews and get out and about. Unfortunately this requires assistance so I guess I’ll need to pluck up the courage to start asking people to help out. I’ve always been quite embarrassed to admit how much I enjoy presenting for fear of it changing people’s opinions of me. I enjoy meeting new people, and I like the excuse to find out the hows and whys of music and more – interviewing is the tried and tested method of getting those answers.

Soon, I’ll be revealing my top musicians of the year, so if you’ve got a band you think I should listen to, leave me a comment below.

Get Frank Does Leefest

Although I gather the usual term would be ‘fresh from the field’, I actually am exhausted from the field, (having spent a consecutive weekend in one).

However, I’ve finally recovered enough to give a bit of time to putting this, the Get Frank Does Leefest podcast together.

I’m so incredibly grateful to Rich, Dave and all the guys at Leefest for making me feel so welcome. It’s the most fun I’ve had at a festival in a long time and, despite going on my own, I was kept company by some amazing people.

For this extended edition of the Get Frank podcast, I hit the press area of non-profit festival Leefest to chat to some of the emerging acts gracing the stage over the weekend.

PLAYLIST
Fraser – ‘Let It Rain’
Public Service Broadcasting – ‘Introduction (Let Yourself Go)’
The Stanley Blacks – ‘Caroline’
Jose Vanders (feat. Luke Leighfield) – ‘Blindsided’
Professor Penguin – ‘Pirate’
Loose Talk Costs Lives – ‘Hemlock’
Pengilly’s – ‘Writing Things Down and Thinking Things Over’

Highlights from the festival include; Professor Penguin’s performance of ‘Pirate’, Sneaking a peek at The Stanley Blacks as they recorded an exclusive performance of ‘Caroline’ for Leefest TV, Jose’s entire performance (particularly her introduction to her track ‘Man on Wire’ and her exquisite phrasing), Loose Talk Costs Lives’ shirts, Pengilly’s bottle of ‘adult lemonade’ and the night that followed, Public Service Broadcasting’s on-stage telly and the guys from Fraser, just well… being the guys from Fraser! Finally, thanks to Zanna for the lift to the station!

Listen to the podcast here

Second chances, Leefest and Pengilly’s on film

I’m currently sat in my room listening to loads of bands from tomorrow’s Leefest lineup getting far more excited than is good for my little, beating heart

I’m hoping to cover the festival for my next podcast, having invited lineup curator Rich Legate to join me on my last episode, which you can listen to and download right now by clicking on the handy soundcloud module below…

It’s been a difficult week for everyone, I’m well aware. Seeing people’s tweets, messages and general social networking statuses have been heartbreaking – but I’ve also found equal emotion in the incredible images of crowds holding their brooms aloft and grouping together to clean up and erase the damage. For some this will be impossible and all we can do is try to support them. I’m lucky to have amazing friends who have all been Tweeting and texting to see if I’m fine – thank you! I hope you are all safe too, and will remain so.

As we reach the weekend, London is starting to breathe again. My sigh of relief will come this weekend at Leefest, as I try to brave working the press area of a festival again (it’s been a while!) Again, I’m lucky to have been given my own ‘second chance’ by Dave, Rich and all the Leefest crew, who’ve been immensely supportive and accommodating of me and my very new, admittedly green podcast.

I received a brilliant email from Ric of Leeds/London band Pengilly’s today, to say that the long-awaited video for the band’s single Toby’s Hill is ready for your visual and aural consumption. And my word, was it worth the wait.

PENGILLY’S “TOBY’S HILL” MUSIC VIDEO from BROWN BREAD FILMS on Vimeo.

Live, the band are a sight and sound to behold so make it a staple of your future new music agenda to check them out live sometime soon. In fact, why not this Saturday at Leefest? You can still get tickets for the two day festival (which starts tomorrow). You can either get a weekend ticket, which includes two nights of camping, or a day ticket. It’s a non-profit festival and money will be partly reinvested in next year’s event and also donated to local charity, KidsCo. So many ‘small’ festivals have fallen by the wayside this year – through the dogged determination of its young team of organisers, Leefest has resisted throwing in the towel and is on the eve of greatness. I can’t bloody wait.

Hopefully I’ll see you at Leefest tomorrow, if not, I’ll be bringing an update soon!

Get Frank’s Leefest Special

For my fourth Get Frank podcast, I decided to do a special on non-profit festival Leefest.

The two day event, which takes place on the 12th and 13th August on a farm in Bromley, South London, raises money for charity KidsCo and is a brilliant way of making new music accessible to the masses – whilst attracting big name talent that usually would give Kent amiss. Plus, at just £55 for the full event (including camping), I think you’ll agree that it’s a bit of a bargain!

Get Frank's Leefest Special

Leefest - see you down the front?

For this podcast, rather than feature one interviewee, I took on a co host in the form of the lovely Rich Legate. He’s a former LSR FM station manager and is in charge of booking artists for the festival – no mean feat considering that much of the festival has been organised on next to no money (money that included savings of some of the young organisers).

A unique element of this festival is that it mixes new and emerging artists with big name headliners and attempts to treat all as one. At the festival you’ll be able to see up and coming acts gracing the main stage as well as the smaller tents usually reserved for the newbies. It’s brilliant experience for the musicians and great for us smug, ‘musically-interested’ types who want to see the ‘Next Big Thing’ play in a potentially muddy field in Kent five years before they play in an almost certainly muddy field in Somerset…

Rich was kind enough to put in the legwork for this podcast on my behalf and bring me five of the acts he’s most looking forward to seeing across the weekend (fingers crossed he gets time!) They are; Fraser, Pengilly’s, Loose Talk Costs Lives, Stanley Blacks and Professor Penguin, who Rich performs with as a guitarist.

If you’d like to check out the podcast and possibly even subscribe to future episodes, head here.

The Get Frank Podcast #3

It’s podcast time, and this month it’s ‘The One With… The Union Choir

I was really excited to interview Jon from The Union Choir as I’ve had the privilege of rehearsing and performing with the band. It’s one of those insights that not many interviewers are lucky to have, so I hope I made the most of the opportunity in the interview!

Frankie Ward and Jon Melvin

Hanging out with Jon from The Union Choir

The podcast is quite mellow this time, and I look back after recording it and wonder where all the female artists went – something I shall rectify in the next episode I’m sure. There are, however, some fantastic bands in this episode, and they stretch from the North East through to Southampton so hopefully I’m spreading out my regions a bit!

So who have I got on the podcast this time? Well I kick things off with one of those artists you’ll never forget seeing live; solo medical student Fran O’Hanlon, aka Ajimal. He’s the songwriter that, together with Martin Longstaff (The Lake Poets), is never omitted from debates on Newcastle’s best bands. Continuing the Newcastle trend, I couldn’t resist popping a top track by the North East’s most entertaining and witty act, Brilliant Mind.

In honour of one of the gigs I attended in June, I bring you a track from Pengilly’s, having had the pleasure of seeing the band in question play a strong set at The Lexington. In support of my interview with Jon, I also play two of the acts that played on the same bill as The Union Choir at Camden’s Dublin Castle; Southampton’s Doyle and the Fourfathers and guitar-tapping maestro Daryl Kellie.

If you’d like to be on the next podcast, please drop me a line by emailing frankiepromotes@gmail.com or tweeting @getfrank.

Head over to Podomatic to have a listen to the podcast now – and be sure to leave me a comment here (if you have one)

The Get Frank Podcast #2

I recently published the second of my Get Frank podcast series.

As I’ve moved to London, it’s taken a bit longer to get this episode out! I’m still learning, but I’m just starting on episode 3 now, which will feature an interview with Jon Melvin of The Union Choir (and I’m happy to report has far superior audio quality to the previous two interviews for the podcast as we managed to find a noise-free room!)

The current episode of the podcast features Matt and Matt of the wonderful Vets in Hong Kong. The London based trio defy expectations with their (mostly) acoustic lineup of instruments, creating brooding, occasionally violent sounding arrangements. Their recent self-titled EP features a mixture of DIY and studio produced recordings and is packed full of memorable melodies that are quite impossible to shake off. Live, the band’s sound comes alive with Matt Reay’s impressive percussion, which is a theatrically rhythmic sight to behold.

Podcast guests Vets in Hong Kong

Also featured on the podcast is the hotly tipped acoustic artist Daughter. Since moving to London I’ve started writing reviews for For Folk’s Sake and once of my first pieces was a review of Daughter’s new EP His Young Heart. I’m going to have to see her live soon as I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time.

There’s also ska-brilliance on the podcast, provided by Birmingham’s Glasto favourites 360, guitar packed epic-ness from North East group Holy Mammoth, a hauntingly beautiful new track from super-sized supergroup (and future guests) The Union Choir and a soothing acoustic tune to wrap things up nicely from Zygmunt Day.

Don’t forget, you can send in your own tracks for the podcast to frankiepromotes@gmail.com. Listen to the podcast here.

The all new Get Frank podcast!

I have just finished uploading my very first Get Frank podcast!

I may no longer be working for Amazing Radio, but I want to continue to support new and emerging artists, and I thought that producing and presenting my own podcast would be a good way of doing it.

I’m intending to produce a 30-40 minute episode every 2-4 weeks (depending on the response to the pilot episode). The idea of the podcast is that it will feature a mixture of acts that I have seen live (or am planning to) and will centre around a featured artist who will guest on the show by way of an interview.

The first episode features Wylam five-piece Vinyl Jacket who are currently promoting debut single Painting Stations. The single, which has been released by new Newcastle-based label The Calico Print, has found a home on many a radio station, including BBC Radio 1, BBC 6 Music and Amazing Radio, and should see the boys recruiting a strong fan base. The guys make fantastic interviewees, and I really couldn’t think of a band I’d rather have helping me out on my first episode.

Alongside Vinyl Jacket there’s also mentions for Pandas and People, Let’s Buy Happiness, Grandfather Birds and Pilots, plus plays for Craig Wosahlo, Baskin’s Wish, The Carpels, Toodar and Mammal Club (as remixed by Mr Blazey).

The real challenge I’m currently struggling with is the editing process. This isn’t because I’m inexperienced in using sound editing software, but because I don’t have a professional program intended for the task on my computer. (I miss Adobe Audition greatly!) Currently I’m editing interviews and preparing song extras (with fades/transitions) in Audacity, loading into iTunes and multi-tracking it all together in Garage Band. For the links themselves I’m recording with a Zoom H2 microphone straight into Garage Band. When I was editing the pilot I kept having to rerecord ins and outs because, unbeknownst to me, the clips kept cropping. Once I’m safely back in employment I’ll save up and invest in a copy of Logic Express, and then I can think more about audio imaging and the concept of the podcast itself.

If you have any comments, questions or would like to be featured on the next Get Frank podcast then drop me a line at frankiepromotes@gmail.com. Find out more about the podcast and how to subscribe here.