How do you turn a studio recording into a live performance?
Sam Grant has played in front of thousands of people at festivals with his band Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs. Recently, he spent time exploring how he’d present his latest project, Rubber Oh, in a different way from his previous performances. To achieve this, he used a Foundry residency at Sage Gateshead.
“It made no difference that I have played in front of huge crowds,” he says, “Strip it down to a handful of people in an acoustically clean space like Sage Two, and it exposes you in a good way; you learn from it.”
Lucy Scott is the Senior Producer in Contemporary at Sage Gateshead.
“Foundry is a residency that offers established artists from the North of England the time and space to create new work, refocus their practice or develop an existing project, she says. “Working in our Sage Two venue, artists can take the next steps in their creative development with the support of our technical and Artist Development teams and call Sage Gateshead their home for the week.”
When Sam moved from Richmond to study Music Production at Newcastle College, he created a recording studio called Blank Studios with three friends.
“My main role in the studio is as a producer and engineer, and I play in two bands, Rubber Oh and Pigs.”
Sage Gateshead’s acoustics are tailored to creating world-class sounds. When Sam first visited, he was taken aback by the ‘amazing space’.
“I’ve played hundreds of venues all over Europe,” he says. “I would easily say that Sage Two is the best for its atmosphere and acoustics. I’ve played in stunning places, and few come close to it.”
Finding suitable funding opportunities is a common struggle for artists like Sam. It was only recently that he became aware of the Performing Rights Society (PRS) Foundation and successfully applied for the Momentum Music grant.
Momentum provides financial support for bands with an established national and regional fan base. Pigs used this funding to cover recording, production and PR costs associated with their second album, King of Cowards.
Rubber Oh was an idea Sam had been thinking about for a long time. He made their album without any expectations. However, the label Rocket Recordings liked it and wanted to release it. Sam used the Foundry to develop the project.
“I didn’t want to put weeks of work into something if it wouldn’t have a legacy,” says Sam. “When I knew the album would be released, I decided to work on it as a performative project. Foundry was the ideal programme at the right time.”
Playing Live and recording in the studio requires different skills. Having a block of time to learn and tweak songs from a recorded album is vital before going on tour.
“We spent three days working through the songs, and on the fourth day, we had a sharing event with around 20 guests,” he says. “It was one of the scariest gigs I’ve done because of its intimacy.”
“It was the first time Rubber Oh played live together. We felt uncomfortable, but it was a brilliant way to start a project.”
Sam believes there are multiple benefits of doing a Foundry residency.
“The confidence it instilled in us was big: confidence enables better performance,” he says. “You also get over the first hurdle of performing live.”
“Learning how all the tracks work together is huge,” says Sam. “You have faith that the music translates life, and it’s a better show for it.”
Foundry can be adapted to suit what individual artists need. They can film live performances and try new material. Artists can also use the time to deepen their understanding of how to collaborate and perform with one another. you can gain a good understanding of each as a band and how to collaborate.
“Ultimately, it’s an amazing opportunity to have a focused set of days to develop music,” Sam says. “It’s taking the next step and doing what you need to move a project to the next level.”
If you want to help Sage Gateshead support artists like Sam Grant, and continue improving lives through music, consider making a gift to our fundraising campaign.
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