As part of our fifth birthday celebration, we look back on the people who have shaped the city’s scene from 2012 to today. From club night promoters, photographers, DIY record label owners, producers, managers and radio presenters, Bristol’s never been better.
Jeffrey “Big Jeff” Johns
What can be said about our one-of-a-kind Jeffrey Johns? While many on this list have made their mark on one side of the curtain, Jeff’s made most of his frontrow-centre. His presence at a show can totally transform the vibe, as his enthusiasm for new music rubs off on everyone in the room.
Dave & Matt Deadpunk
Dave Campbell and Matt Otridge have been bringing loud bands to Bristol for all of BLM’s little life. From the Croft days (RIP), to the opening of the Exchange, to what they’re perhaps most beloved for these days; the always epic Deadpunk Special. First wave of 2017 acts just announced.
Oliver Wilde, Spectres, Scarlet Rascal, Kayla Painter, Trust Fund; Hankin Films has touched so many bands. His tireless work is not just original, but also brought quality music videos into reach for underground acts with big hopes but modest budgets. He was also a longterm team member at Rise and co-founded BULB.
Tiffany’s long-standing (2005!) music blog DrunkenWerewolf is frankly one of the most popular things to be made in Bristol. She’s done plenty in the last five years though, with involvement in LadyFest, the Unsigned Music Awards and more, plus speaking as a mentor at Prince’s Trust events. Tastemaker is simply not the word.
Remember Start The Bus? What about Simple Things? And Colston Hall’s The Lantern? The chances are Matt booked those memories. From curating amazing free shows to founding one of Bristol’s best festivals, we’ve got a lot to be thankful for. Shout-outs to Crack Magazine for taking ST to the next level.
This 11-strong collective of artists featuring Khan, Vessel and more carved out their own scene in Bristol, even garnering themselves the cover of The Wire. Their penchant for out-there production and thick-as-thieves collaboration made the entire scene work harder, as they pumped out everything from radio shows to a full-length collaborative album.
Sam & Richard ‘Intro’
“Music in Bristol is such an incredibly important part of me and my life – it’s my soul food!”
What would life be as a Bristol act without Sam Bonham and Richard Pitt to spin your new record and get you on your way to more BBC airplay? Few relentlessly promote and shape Bristol music as they do; even transforming 6Music Festival into a citywide party by helming a sea of fringe events. Sam told us: “Bristol and the West Country has provided me with a soundtrack to the past five years. I’ve run marathons with Barnaby Carter, snuggled up late at night with The Bronze Medal and travelled around the world with Fenne Lily.”
Mike Pony founded Submerge Festival – a ground-breaking mixture of electronic music, audiovisual art and live performance. The first of its kind, last year it created an experience unlike any other. With experimentation, artistry and inclusion at its core, Mike is pushing Bristol’s cultural reputation forward.
Stephanie Elizabeth Third
Photography is one of the many disciplines which converge with music to help create an act’s identity, and Stephanie has helped countless Bristol acts with theirs in her own distinct way; from Spectres and Idles, to Twin and Lionface. She also founded feminist art zine BOX and tons, tons more.
David & Richard AIH
Art is Hard are all about bringing DIY bands to the forefront. Two White Cranes, Neurotic Fiction, Oro Swimming Hour and Something Anorak have all released via David West and Richard Walsh’s label, with the team also responsible for bringing the likes of Diet Cig and Alex G to Bristol for the first time.
Joe & Adrian Owl
“We’re not sure if we’d still be alive anywhere else.”
Joe Hatt and Adrian Dutt of Howling Owl Records have made one of the most notable impacts on the scene here since their inception just over five years ago. “We started the label after moving to a new city and being blown away by all the exciting music we’d landed in, and nothing has changed.” Releases with the likes of Oliver Wilde, Klein, The Naturals and more, countless sweaty live shows and forming half of Spectres, Joe and Adrian have made a lot of their time in Bristol indeed. Adrian is also a key team member up at Rise.
From aboard the good ship Thekla, Patrick Somers has been a long term key player behind not only the 30-year-old venue, but festivals like Hit The Deck and the formidable Dot to Dot. Although recently jumping cities, he keeps a hand in Bristol music, still through promoter DHP.
In her early 20s, Maya is likely our youngest entry, but in her short time she’s had her fingers in a dizzying number of pies. She’s worked on Love Saves, Banksy’s Dismaland and Glastonbury, even having a spell last year as Bristol manager for DICE, a company looking to revolutionise how we get tickets.
Five years ago Jo Bligh was a teenage music journalist making sense of his place in the world. After several permutations he and Kieron Gurner are now helping countless music lovers do just that, through their inclusive, utterly fun night THORNY; a true alternative outlet for the queer community.
Throughout the last five years this Bristol-based bigwig has made a lot happen. Launching the Bristol Summer Series and more from Metropolis Music’s Bristol office and grabbing local talent early (hi, George Ezra!), before going solo last year with Crosstown Concerts and subsequently its label, backing Keir, Soeur and more.
“We promoted some really memorable shows… From Shellac to St Vincent.”
When BLM kicked off, Tim had already made a dent in the scene as a tireless independent promoter. In the last five years however, he’s played a crucial role in building up The Fleece, followed by the Marble Factory and promoting across Bristol and beyond via MJR. Whatever you’re into, the chances are he’s brought one of your favourite bands to Bristol. “I’m still super proud of playing a major part in turning [The Fleece] around… I still can’t thank owner Chris Sharp enough,” he told us. “Local music was in a bit of a wasteland pre-2011, but it’s super refreshing to now see artists like Turbowolf, Elder Island, Idles, Tamu Massif & She Makes War receive deserved attention.”
Rehearsal studios are vital, but Sol from Factory Studios has gone above and beyond. Curating main stages for multiple festivals, serving as a ‘pop-up club’ for Alfresco Disco and more, and even working with the government to provide free rehearsals, recording and mentoring to young bands, he’s made himself and Factory central to the scene.
Aled of promotion, label and management outfit Chiverin continues to make waves with his network of refreshing, on-step acts. He’s gotten behind acts like Fenne Lily, Tamu Massif, RHAIN and more, putting on swathes of sold out shows in the process, not to mention the legendary Independent Venue Week of 2015.
Spectres, Towns, Oliver Wilde, The Naturals… So many excellent debut albums from the last five years have been laid down within the walls of Malthouse Studios that Dom and co have a lot to be proud of. Set to be one of the most nurturing spaces for Bristol bands for years to come.
“For me, the Bristol Women in Music network has brought to light just how many ace companies have bases here in Bristol.”