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72: Explore the world of MUSICSEEN...

Arguably one of the most powerful tools to come out of the local music scene, Nina and Connor's 'MusicSeen' is a true testament to the hard working music community and the hidden gems that can be found within the Liverpool scene - and living proof that the world can be so much brighter with inclusivity and diversity embedded into it's core. Both incredible humans and ridiculously talented creatives in their own right, we grabbed Nina and Connor to ask them about their ever-growing project, and dug deeper into what MusicSeen has to offer...

 



In a nutshell, what is Music Seen to you, and how have you seen it evolve over the years?

Nina: MusicSeen is definitely a passion project for both of us I would say. We have invested many Weekends and afterwork afternoons in this over the past three years really, that is how long it took to get it off the ground next to working full time, but I think that is the case with a lot of creative projects, they are often voluntary jobs for the love of creativity. Obviously Connor laid the foundation for the project with all the work he did on Liverpool New Music and the Zooniverse as well, and I really joined in because I wanted to do something for the visibility of female artists in the city region. And from lots of meetings we came up with this idea of creating yellow pages for the city’s music scene, a place where you can easily find music by local artists, creative collaborators and events happening and also a way of making it super easy to support the local scene, as well as showcasing the amazing breadth of talent that we have in the city. 


Connor: MusicSeen is for me, a way to channel my love for the local music scene and all the things I have learned about keeping them represented and sustained. After having such a fun and successful time with the small scene that was created around the Zooniverse, I was inspired to try and get a big picture view of what was happening in the whole scene. It started with building a big database of local artists which I could track for new music releases on Spotify (using a custom build algorithm), then when Nina came to me expressing her interest in using that data to help represent women and other marginalised sub-groups, I lept at the opportunity to work with her to improve and grow what we had to offer. Since then we’ve spent months building a website with even more data and useful information with sights to expand that even further.


What element(s) are you most proud of with the project?

Nina: For me personally it is the list of local women in music, which was one of the first things we did together. I am so proud of how it has grown over the years, I think on the first list in 2022 we had about 250 women and this year we had more than 500, I am just so happy that we are able to find more and more artists to add to the list. And I am so happy to see people actually use it, we have had several promoters and radio producers tell us they have used it for achieving gender balance in their work and that is what it is all about! 

I am also immensely proud of our website being online after so many years of work we have put in, and to see that people are engaging with it and finding it a useful resource. When you plan these things around the kitchen table it is easy for doubt to sneak in if anybody will even want this, so it has been so amazing and reassuring to see people’s reaction to it being overwhelmingly positive. 


Connor: I am also really proud of our lists of local women. I just think they’re a great example of what we can do with the data we have to help others. Besides that, the website we have released took many months (if not years) of preparation so to see that being used and praised by people means the absolute world to me.


Why does the local scene need people/projects like yourselves in order to run properly? 

Nina: I think this is something we have often discussed that we don’t really want to be the people to speak for the scene or decide what the scene needs, as we are just two individuals, but what we can do is provide everyone with the information in one accessible place, to make people’s lives easier. Representation and easily accessible information is always the best starting point to make any informed decisions and I think that is what we provide with our project. We aim to connect people, showcase our local artists and really just make one platform where you can find everything you need to know about our local scene. 


Connor: I think we can be a part of bringing people together to start talking more about what kind of music scene they want and pushing for those solutions to happen. Liverpool is such a small city and the scene is physically very close, but I think there can be quite futuristic and exciting developments made that help really connect the scene better together, enough to make it more viable for the artists and professionals who try and survive within it. Just from my personal opinion, I think having a ‘HQ’ for the music scene would be awesome, where people could meet and feel like they’re part of something. It could act as a small venue, creation space and conference space too.


From your research and knowledge of the local Liverpool scene, what do you feel most passionate and interested about contributing to? And are there any elements to the scene that you’d like to change if you had the power to?

Nina: Again it is representation for me. I am really passionate about seeing more women and gender expansive identities on line ups and I think that has to start locally. I truly believe in working from the ground up, so if we can make things better on a grassroots level, then hopefully things will follow suit on bigger festival line ups etc. So I hope our resources will enable bookers to achieve more gender balanced line ups and in some ways it is also a way of holding people accountable. Because a common excuse on the topic will be “well where are the women to put on our line ups” and this way we can just hand them our list of local women and gender expansive artists in music and go “right here!”. 

Another aspect we talk about a lot and that we are hoping to do work on in the future is a safer space training/accreditation programme for venues, artists and industry professionals.


Connor: I too really care about representation. I think finding a way to deliver useful recommendations to people who are interested in the local scene would be awesome. Then obviously the creation of a music scene HQ I think would be great.


Are there any plans (that you can tell us about) for the future in terms of Music Seen?

Nina: Whoops jumped the gun here. Yes, like I already said, a safer space accreditation system with training opportunities for venue staff, artists and anybody working in the local industry, as an easy way to have everyone on the same page and to also see who has put the effort in to get training and stand up against harassment and inappropriate behaviour. This would be part of what we envision as a sort of local music scene charter, outlining the behaviour we all expect of each other, which brings me to our ultimate dream: the local grassroots music scene conference. Again we don’t want to speak for the scene, we want to provide a platform for the scene, so we would love to host a conference where members of the local scene could come together and discuss ongoing issues and how we can solve them together. 


Connor: Haha I also jumped the gun here a bit. We’re focusing on adding some cool things to the website. A video page, jobs page and generally keeping the current databases as up-to-date as possible. Then we’re also hoping to introduce a really cool community ticketing system which is super low fees with a portion of the proceeds going back to funding creative projects within the scene. Then ideally we’d like to open a shared creative production space so we can continue to film sessions and hopefully host community nights. Either way, there’s lots more to come!



 

TOP PICKS WITH MUSIC SEEN (click the answers for more info!)

Top 3 venues

Nina:

24 Kitchen Street

I played one of my first gigs in Liverpool there and it has been close to my heart ever since. Also only recently went to an event upstairs for the first time and absolutely loved the space.

Arts Bar

I love seeing local creatives start up grassroots businesses and succeeding with them to the point where they can now be a grassroots venue chain haha also love the fact that they not only offer a nice bar to meet and watch music but also rehearsal and other creative spaces at affordable rates.

Kaz Gardens

Honourable Mentions...

Connor:

Arts Bar

They really care about supporting creatives. They’ve been very supportive of our project too.

Frederiks

The Philharmonic Hall

Honourable Mentions...


Top 3 artists/bands

Nina:

Nil00

'Beautiful Fish' will forever be one of my favourite songs I think. Also their live show is incredible, if you haven’t had the chance to see them go watch their live video on YouTube, it is an absolutely incredible mixture of digital and analog sounds and imagery, my favourite a glitchy pixelated dragon printed on cardboard, just wonderfully weird and mesmerising. 

BrokenDownGolfCart

Sarah Wolf

Connor:

Simon Dale

He’s just so talented and really great friend. I love jamming with him whenever I can.

MC Nelson

Spilt Milk Society


Top 3 indie businesses

Nina:

Bold Place Creative

Loving everything that’s coming out of Bold Place Creative, a CIC and group of local female creatives who work in the same building. Big fan of dusty moon flowers for the bouquets of your dreams :)

Rose Kusabbi

Mattas on Bold Street

Connor:

Wild Loaf Bakery

It’s not related to music but the ladies who run it are just the coolest and I absolutely ADORE their bread!

Boot Music

Capeesh


Top 3 gigs/events you’ve ever been to

Nina:

Khruangbin at Manchester Albert Hall

The venue just fit the vibes so well and they are just so captivating in their performance, and really good vibes and also kind of funny, just love them. Also Laura Lee has the most beautiful bass and she said she found it in a charity shop for like 100$…

BBK Festival

Wombat Jazz Club at Granby Winter Gardens

Connor:

Mutant Vinyl at 24 Kitchen Street

The first ever time I came to Liverpool, my friend took me to Threshold Festival. I saw Mutant Vinyl in 24 Kitchen St and he absolutely blew my mind. It was that show that made me decide to move to Liverpool.

Bop Kaballa, Motormouf and Sweet Beans at Frederiks

Astles at the Cavern Club


Top memory of working within the local community

Nina: Not to toot our own horn but because it is so recent definitely our launch and the release of our newest women in music list! So much love for all the people who have supported us and the local businesses which are happy to display the lists! 


Connor: To be honest I agree, the release of this year’s IWD flyer/list really felt like we had unified hundreds of people together for a common cause and it just felt amazing. It was so affirming and well worth the many hours Nina and I spent on the project.


 

Love what you see? Head over to their site by clicking here and use it's endless backlog of contacts to it's full potential in all your future creative endeavours... a HUGE thank you to Nina and Connor for making this possible!



Review No. 72

by Meg Shaw, Local & Live Media

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