As restrictions began to lift back in May, we had the joy of attending Garden Sessions, two days of UK jazz, neo-soul, alt-indie and folk music produced collaboratively by Wildpaths and Norfolk & Norwich festival. In this spirit of collaboration, we teamed up with the folks behind Noisefirst and Written Records to conduct bitesize interviews with some of the event's fabulous performers and producers.
Here on Keylime, we had the pleasure of interviewing singer-songwriter Maya Law as well as Founder and Director of Wildpaths, Ben Street. Read on for an insight into their experiences of performing and programming live music after such a turbulent year.
Did it feel strange to be connecting with a live audience after all this time?
I was definitely more nervous than usual! I guess that comes with being a bit out of practice. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed playing live until I was on stage and seeing everybody there rather than through a phone on a live stream! So, yes it was strange but it was wonderful.
Was there anything about performing that you didn’t realise how much you valued/missed until live spaces were taken away?
I think connecting with other artists backstage and meeting new people. When you’re playing live, the audience only really sees the bits on stage but there’s lots going on behind the scenes that make it even more fun.
Do you think this period has changed your relationship with song writing at all?
I think I write more honestly and openly now. We had a whole a year where anything I wrote was only for myself so I wasn’t thinking about how it would be received. That definitely gave me a lot of freedom in my writing.
What was the most beautiful part of the festival experience for you?
Having a dance with everyone to Moses Boyd! Him and his band smashed it and finally being able to dance in a field with a bunch of strangers was definitely my highlight.
How did it feel to be producing a live event again after such a long time?
It was amazing! Having been unable to present Wild Paths Festival in 2020 (our multi-venue city festival) the whole team were really keen to push through and deliver Garden Sessions (a two day socially-distanced music festival in a city-centre Garden). It was a pretty quick turnaround and on a number of occasions it looked like it might get pulled but on the last weekend of May the stage went up, the artists arrived, the sun came out and everything was perfect!
What were some of your favourite moments from Garden Sessions?
Seeing some stand out performances from some of my favourite artists in the UK jazz and soul scene; Moses Boyd, Poppy Ajudha, Ego Ella May and the rest... but also just being around people, dancing again and sharing a very unique weekend with the creative community of Norwich.
What advice would you give to producers trying to break into the industry during such uncertain times?
Make sure you've got a good team around you, with a myriad of expertise, who can handle every facet of running live music events during a pandemic! Play scenarios and work out how to avoid 'pinch points' where people are likely to congregate and break distancing protocol. Bring on extra volunteers and event marshals to keep things running smoothly and communicate clearly the regulations and restrictions attendees must comply with (well in advance). Remember it's still a festival so make sure you make time to enjoy it yourself!
Do you have any upcoming events?
Yes, we have a 4 day, multi-venue music festival called Wild Paths - it's a new breed of festival, presenting the best in live music from indie, hip-hop and neo-soul, to post-punk and new-wave jazz and pairing it with themed after-parties, conferences, supper clubs, art fairs and a whole lot more.
The festival descends on Norwich for 4 days in October 2021 (14th - 17th), taking over 20 of the city's best-loved venues, and a host of other DIY spaces, including a Shoe Factory and a TV Studio. Featuring over 200 live acts, 60 conference speakers, artists, drag-queens, tattooists and DJ's, it's a celebration of music, food, art and culture... and the beautiful city of Norwich. You can grab a day or weekend pass from the website and wander from venue to venue seeing the best new music and discovering all Norwich has to offer.