Continuing on our monthly focus on the great work of talent development agencies across the UK, we turn our eyes this month to The Warren, who for over 33 years have richly influenced and supported the music and arts culture of the city of Hull, East Yorkshire. We spoke to Arts Development & Label Manager Stew Baxter.
Tell us about The Warren / Warren Records?
Warren Records is a music development project at The Warren Youth Project in Hull. We have been running a free recording studio and rehearsal space for over 35 years alongside our other services such as counselling, advocacy, employment and education services and loads more. Warren Records was set up to showcase the artists that we were working with, learn how to run a label and work on building music infrastructure in our city. We have worked with hundreds of young people over the last 10 years helping them work on their music and brand as well as understand the wider industry outside of Hull. Alongside the artists we engage young people in the daily running of the label, design, press, merchandising, as well as live events roles such as stage management, sound and lighting, promotion and running shows. In 2017 we started the music industry conference 53 Degrees North to help bridge the gap between Hull and the UK industry and link people up. Its been a great success so far and had young people immersed in the whole process, many of them going on to receive job offers and great opportunities.
When did your organisation start operating and what was the reason for forming it?
The Warren Youth Project established in 1983 and has been providing vital support services to marginalised and vulnerable young people in Hull ever since. Operating from a former fire- station in Hull city-centre, the Warren’s staff team offers free support, guidance, training, music, education and counselling services to young people aged 14-25 who are experiencing unemployment, homelessness, isolation, sexual abuse, physical abuse, drug-abuse, bullying, neglect, domestic violence, family-relationship breakdown, learning difficulties, racism and homophobia. We also work very closely with young people who are experiencing physical and mental health problems such as self-harming, eating disorders, depression, psychosis, STDs and loneliness to name but a few.
We specifically target this broad demographic to ensure that we can comprehensively support young people’s progression through – and transition from – adolescence to adulthood in a number of areas, not least of which is their mental health wellbeing. At the Warren, we’re about ensuring that young people are listened to and get the support and the space and time that they might need to take control of their own lives and make the right choices. Our staff team strives hard to create the environment that enables young people to feel safe and supported to talk about the things that are bothering them.
Tell us about some of the work the organisation has done over recent years?
Over recent years we have done many notable pieces of work such as the Three Minute Heroes music and mental health project. We worked within 7 different schools and over 100 young people who emptied their thoughts onto paper within creative writing workshops, we then passed the words anonymously to established bands and artists in the area who composed songs around them. We ended up with a 15 tracks album, which was free to download. The idea behind this was to help young people get what’s bothering them out of their head and share it in a way that was creative and cathartic. The album went onto feature in Mojo Magazine, Sunday Brunch and received notable national radio play. We are now just starting the second phase of that project so check it out at http://threeminuteheroes.com.
We also started a new UK music industry conference in Hull called 53 Degrees North which brought a huge international music conversation to our city for the first time. The conference is in it’s third year now and has featured some great conversations around mental health, DIY music, radio and press, with guests such as Melvin Benn (Festival Republic), IDLES, Ken Scott (Bowie / Beatles Producer) alongside small showcases, panels and workshops. In 2018 we also added stages a 3000 capacity outdoor show alongside the conference, which featured Slaves, The Horrors, Dream Wife, LIFE, The Blinders, Lady Bird, Our Girl and more. Check it out here – https://www.53degreesmusic.com/about/.
What’s coming up for you? Any exciting events or projects?
We’re excited to be working with some great new artists throughout our Warren Records artist development project this year, there has been some great young talent come up such as Joe Russell-Brown, Serial Chiller, FINNO and Aimee Fatale. We have also been working with the great Make Noise Hull Project who have joined forces with us to discover and support young women in music through some bespoke mentorship projects. Last year we also opened Warren Record Store, a shop within our building that sells vinyl, CD’s, merch, zines and more and hosts free all-ages shows on a Saturday afternoon. This has been a great platform for the city and a place to share DIY art and engage the community.
We are into the second phase of Three Minute Heroes, which is going great and will be even bigger and more experimental than the pilot phase. And we are about to launch a series of smaller 53 Degrees North music industry interactive events in South Humberside ahead of our 2019 Conference in July which we are very excited about.. so keep an eye on the socials @53degreesmusic.