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“it’s about how music makes me feel” – katriona gilmour talks leeds music scene

“it’s about how music makes me feel” – katriona gilmour talks leeds music scene

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“There are some really great bands in Leeds,” says Katriona Gilmour, new editor of Leeds Music Scene. “Some of our younger bands have been very well received at festivals, like The Marsicans. There’s St. Somebody – they’re really good lads, and a rock and roll band called Carnabells, I love them so much. If you like music a little bit harder or a little more raw, there are bands like Castrovalva and Post War Glamour Girls. I could just reel loads off.”

If knowledge and enthusiasm make a music website editor, LeedsMusicScene.net has found the right replacement for Dave Sugden, its founder and editor of fourteen years. I almost want to form a band on the spot, to give Katriona another to discover.

“I hope to see some of the bands that we are talking about, make it,” she says.  “Like Marsicans; they went down really well at Leeds Festival last year, but got an even better reception at Reading. It’s amazing to see bands like that actually get out there and be discovered by other people.

“And I want to mention Bearfoot Beware – they encompass everything that music is about, they’re raw and have such energy on stage, they have such a dynamic. And Deadwall, they’re another one of my favourites.  They have great harmonies and I love the whole mix of what they put together: it’s very clever songwriting. There are so many good bands.”

Most of them can be found at Leeds Music Scene’s website. In fourteen years, LMS has become statistically formidable: it lists 3,479 bands and 230 venues, 70 with gigs coming up soon; there are 6,181 reviews, 2,413 news articles and 401 features. It can be daunting, but Katriona sees the website as there to help. 

“There are a lot of bands out there who despite their stage persona are actually quite shy. They might be able to go on stage and stand up in front of people, but they’re still a little bit nervous to approach anybody. And maybe they’ve tried emailing or trying to contact somebody a couple of times, but nobody’s got back to them.

“I want to let all local bands know that they’ve got an opportunity with Leeds Music Scene to get their music heard, to be reviewed, to get some of our guys down to their gig, wherever it is. I want to put more of a friendly face on the website, to have mini writer’s biographies and put the people out there.

“I remember going to a gig once and somebody gave me a flyer on the way out and asked me why I was there. When I said I was reviewing the night for Leeds Music Scene their automatic reaction was an intake of breath and to say, ‘Ooh, we’re scared of them!’ And I was like, but why? We’re all really nice, we’re all very approachable.”

For musicians starting out, the first reviews can be one of the most daunting parts of the journey, but they’re a key part of becoming known. “Maybe it’s the review that’ll take you and make you listen to a new band,” says Katriona. “Or If you read a review and a reviewer is talking so passionately that you want to go and see that band – well, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

And the impressive scale of LMS reinforces the fact that while Leeds doesn’t have the reputation of Manchester or Liverpool, it’s still a great place to be whether you’re a musician, a music writer or a music fan.

“In Leeds you can go to one place and listen to some acoustic folk, you’ll go to another place and you might hear metal, you might go to another and you’ve got math rock. There’s such a wide range of music here and such a lot of talented artists. Maybe it’s down to the college – I know a lot of artists come out of Leeds College of Music – but Leeds is almost like a beacon that people travel to because we’ve got an amazing scene.

“There is a lot of change here. I think our scene is very diverse and I think it’s one of the biggest scenes outside of London. I know there’s quite a lot going on in Manchester but not like there is here. I think because we’re such a small city – people might argue with that, but we are a small city – I think we’ve got a lot more going on for the space that we have here. Leeds has got some great, great acts.”

Documenting it all is what Leeds Music Scene is about, and living up not only to the music scene in the city, but to the hard work Dave Sugden has put in over the years, is going to be one of Katriona’s biggest challenges.

“While it was just under the radar that was okay,” says Katriona. “But then Dave made the announcement on the website and I just thought, ‘Oh – it’s real!’ It’s out there now so people know my name and they know who now has the reins. Before we announced it Dave was saying, ‘Here you go, you can hold the baby for a little while,’ and I was thinking – he’ll take it back. But he hasn’t! 

“So I am a little bit scared because I want to carry on the good work that Dave has done, and keep up the good reputation that Leeds Music Scene has. It’s a big responsibility because Dave has done an amazing job.”

It was Dave himself who suggested Katriona should take the job on, after she applied for the live editor role, since taken up by Sam Monk. It’s not hard to see why Dave decided Leeds Music Scene would be in safe hands. Katriona has knowledge, curiosity and passion for Leeds and for music: every band is a mystery, every musician a potential new favourite that everybody should hear.

“I love the whole passion behind music, so I want to know what drives musicians, what inspires them, and I’m genuinely interested in finding out what they love to do.

“I love music, and I love to write about it, not because I can play an instrument and can tell you all the technical things about how it goes together. It’s more about how that music makes me feel. And that’s why I call this a passion, because it is about how I feel.”


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