Thursday 21st June 2018. Sun shining, burgers grilling and sound of Sweet Female Attitudes 2000 smash hit “Flowers” coming through the speakers. Sounds like a good evening doesn’t it? You’re dead right it does…
For our Summer Glug party we had 3 great creative minds all hailing from the north of England talking through their journey and what inspires them to want to do the work they do.
Kicking things off was Eleanor Barrett co-director of The Brick Box, an arts organisation at the forefront of culturally driven people led regeneration initiatives, founded in 2010. Eleanor and her co-director Rosie Freeman moved the community interest company from the London to the former industrial powerhouse Bradford in 2016, attracted by the DIY ethos and vast potential of the city centre’s underused spaces in heritage buildings.
From an early age Eleanor knew she needed to be creative even though there was no real plan on how to achieve this. Leaving home on her 16th birthday with no more than a bag of clothes and a dream she worked her way up from homeless hostels, working with people who had substance misuse problems to then attend Sheffield University to undertake a media studies degree. She explained that although you may not know what exactly it is that you want to do, it’s more important that you ensure you learn from your failures and stay true to yourself.
Staying true to her beliefs as well as a pinch of absurdity led Eleanor to be invited to the prestigious SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas to hold a panel on ‘Following your creative passion’ and how to turn it into something more viable than a hobby. With little funds available The Brick Box managed to crowdfund enough money to fly to Texas and present their pitch in front of 600 people titled “Absurdity Sells”.
Originally from Bradford Eleanor was keen to focuses her efforts on the local community, whether that be throwing a huge party for David Hockney’s 80th birthday party outside Cartwright Hall or turning a disused Marks & Spencer store into an enchanted forest with activities for all the family, The Brick Box is the spirit of the town that she loves so well. Using disused spaces and opening them up to the public to enjoy and have fun is the way Brick Box are able to give back to the community and deal with the other “absurdities” that are going on in Bradford at the moment, like the issue of street drinking, substance misuse or housing issues.
Opening up the floor to questions the inevitable question came “How did you settle on the name ‘The Brick Box’?” to which Eleanor replied “When I was very young me and my sister had a box of bricks, playdough, Cindy doll legs and all manner of other things that we called the brick box. When we got the brick box out we could build anything we wanted with it so it seemed like the perfect name for the company.”
We absolutely loved having Eleanor down to speak and we hope to get along to their new bar in Bradford called The Brick Box Rooms on Ivegate very soon!
Carrying on from there was Judd Wrighton a commercial artist who works across a number of creative industries currently; Creative Director at Thirdsight, Tattoo artist and illustrator at Lord’s Ink tattoo studio, photographer, graphic designer and musician.
Leeds native Judd Wrighton took to the stage to talk us through what makes him tick and why. He took us on a journey talking through the creative industries he’s working on for the past couple of years. From playing in bands to creating artwork and illustrations for those bands then moving to tattooing and opening his own studio and creative company called Thirdsight it seems like he’s not stopped.
Funding his creative passions was the first problem that Judd ran into working in hospitality industry to fund it, which resulted in t-shirt designs, tote bag commissions and all manner of other artwork. With the outlook “If you are a creative and you walk into a room with a load of doors, why wouldn’t you look behind the rest of the doors in the room?” Judd explained that his whole process is simply proving people wrong, if he doesn’t get it right the first time he’ll get it right the next time. Judd didn’t attend university and didn’t follow the rulebook as to how to get into the creative industry however with enough street smarts and what he describes as a “cheeky” streak he has been able to work his way up through the ranks to now running his own creative company.
He talked about how much more important it is to value your time rather than money, which comes and goes but your time won’t which is an incredibly important piece of advice for a young creative or anyone looking to get into the industry. He talked about the importance of networking (NOT social networking) and surrounding yourself with positive people and positivity as he put it so eloquently “a room is only as bright as the people in it.”
Judd ended his talk with some audience interaction, good old-fashioned kick about which had quite an inspiring message. He invited members of the audience up to the stage area to have a go at kicking a ball into a net and achieving a “GOAL” (get it, GET IT!?)
We want to extend a massive thank you to Judd and his football helpers for coming down and tell us his story. You can check out more of what Judd does at his brand new company Third Sight by visiting www.thirdsightpictures.co.uk.
Rounding up the evening we welcomed Leeds’ coolest dad, KMAH Radio boss Kristan Caryl. Kristan co-founded KMAH Radio in 2015 as an excuse to keep on hoarding house, soul, dub, funk and jazz records, as well as giving people in the Leeds a platform to showcase their record collections.
Kristan Caryl is the mastermind behind KMAH Radio as well as a full time music journalist who is now based in Leeds. Growing up in a small hamlet, Kristan had time to spend playing with animals, drawing, painting and writing which has now blossomed into his full time career. Skipping a long way forward we find Kristan beginning his university journey at the University of Newcastle which sparked his interest in not only music but specifically electronic music. After quite a formative cup of tea with a friend who was on his way to apply for a position writing for the student newspaper, Kristan found himself along at the same meeting and the rest is history.
Moving forward 5 or 6 years we find Kristan at a crossroad in his life and not really sure what the next move should be. All of his friends were putting out records and putting on events and nights but he thought he could do one better; the idea for KMAH Radio was born. After 2 years of meetings and gaining 4 more people (Kristan, Mike, Mike, Arthur and Hamish… KMAH!) on board they had their team begging, stealing and borrowing all the equipment that they would need for the station things were really starting to take shape for KMAH. A very lucky haircut led to the station getting its actual studio after sparking up a conversation while having a hair cut in Renaissance hair salon just off Albion Street in Leeds the owner offered the derelict attic to station for a very good price and with a new floor down, a few extra walls, tables for the equipment the station was ready to go…
KMAH’s focus is to be inclusive of everyone and ensure that they try their best to cover all bases in terms of age, gender, sexual orientation which Kristan describes as “the most difficult but most exciting” part of running the station. He also mentions how wary he is not be accused of tokenism for his own or the stations gain which was brought to the spotlight by London based station Radar Radio who stopped broadcasting earlier this year for accusations of tokenism, homophobia and racism. People of all backgrounds play on KMAH Radio from jazz aficionados, showing of only their rarest and most prized records, to budding bedroom DJs collecting or making records, Love Muscle bringing their “pumping gay dance party” and a touch of glam to the studio every month, Ed Vector with his bi-weekly show on the station since the very first broadcast almost 4 years ago to the new startup Stretchy Dance Supply crew who focus on all things UK dance related you are sure to find anything and everything you could possibly need from 12pm to 12am 365 days a year on KMAH Radio.
Back to the tale - scene was set, the station was up and running and thing’s could not have been going better. They were getting more listeners than ever and people begging to get on to have their own show on KMAH Radio. But then, in August 2016 disaster struck. Kristan received a message from the owner of the hair salon explaining that there was a break in and someone had been in the studio. The intruder managed to steal all of the DJ equipment unfortunately, which almost derailed the station completely. After an investigation it was found out that the man who stole the equipment was homeless. The station is completely not for profit and none of the partners of KMAH have ever taken a penny from what KMAH has made in its time, so realising that this really might be the end was a bit of a tough pill to swallow for so they decided to set up a CrowdFund account which was set at £5000 so they could replace all of the equipment. Kristan had no expectations of getting enough donations to relaunch the station so made the decision early on that the money made would be given as much as possibly to Simon on the Streets, a local Leeds homeless charity.
Within 2 weeks the CrowdFund account had made over £5500 which was more than enough to replace the equipment as well as donate over £2000 to Simon on the Streets. Kristan explained that although the break in was one of the worst things to happen to the station, they were able to turn things around and help out a very important local Leeds charity it breathed new life into the KMAH studio.
And that was it! We had an absolutely stellar time at the wonderful space that is Duke Studios. We want to extend a massive thank you to all of the speakers and to everyone who came down and had a beer or a burger with us (or both!)
We will hopefully see you all again very soon when we return to Duke Studios for our next Glug event on 27th September - What I Wish I’d Never Known!