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Livefeed Offers Music Industry Expertise to Galway Teens

30.10.2019

 

A music industry project with a difference aims to tap into the talent and passion of a new generation of performers, producers and promoters.

 

By Orla Higgins

 

Pooling their extensive experience of the national and international industry, Tracy Bruen, Eoin Dolan and David Boland have set up Livefeed to help young people in Galway City and County achieve their musical ambitions.

Galway is synonymous with live music. All year round, the streets are alive with an eclectic mix of sounds, and the city’s pubs are frequented by budding talent and experienced musicians alike. Embedded in this vibrant scene are Tracy Bruen, Eoin Dolan and David Boland. The trio have been actively making, producing and promoting music in the city, not least through their involvement with a series of all-ages music events called ‘Sos.’, and artist-led record label and collective Citóg Records.

Recognising a lack of opportunity for young people to obtain a foothold in the music industry, the group set up Livefeed to tackle this issue in tandem with Galway’s designation as European Capital of Culture. “There are limited chances for young people to perform music and explore interests in music production and promotion in safe, youth-friendly environments,” says musician, event manager and promoter David. Tracy quickly agrees, recalling feedback from participants at her young-adult open-mic sessions: “I realised something had to be done and I engaged with Galway 2020’s early discussions around potential projects to include in the Bid Book. I wanted to tailor something for young people where they could develop their skills and interests outside of the pub space.” When the time came to solidify the project for 2020, Tracy immediately knew that Eoin and David were the people to work with. “Our competences really complement one another.”

 

“It doesn’t matter if they’ve never seen, played or organised a gig –  there is no pressure on anyone. With doughnuts, tea and hot chocolate around, there’s always a welcoming atmosphere.”

 

Over three-month cycles, Livefeed will feature a number of consultations, workshops and performances in locations throughout Galway City and County, aimed at young people aged between 13 and 18. Tracy says, “The overall ethos is to grow a culture of music where young people can explore their interest in music and not just performance. At a young age, some people may have identified that their passion lies in performing. Whereas a love of music may lead others towards sound production, home recording, management, podcasting, blogging or photography; how do they go about gaining hands-on experience?”

Explaining the Livefeed process, Tracey adds, “The first thing we do is go to the location and hold a consultation with all the young people who are interested. The whole thing is youth-led. We find out exactly what they want from this. We ask questions like: what are your interests, which problems have you encountered in pursuing an interest in music, what does a gig look like for you, what would you like to learn about music? Even if they haven’t figured it out yet, we will find a way to help them along their path.”

A second workshop follows, responding specifically to requirements expressed by participants in the initial consultation. According to the Livefeed team, “It doesn’t matter if they’ve never seen, played or organised a gig –  there is no pressure on anyone. With doughnuts, tea and hot chocolate around, there’s always a welcoming atmosphere.”

David says, “We have met some incredible young people and we want to set them up for success. For the second workshop, we have a great production team engaging with the young people. The participants get to work with potential role models, not much older than themselves, who are doing well in various areas like music writing, sound engineering and event management.” It all comes together in the shape of a final performance organised by the participants, with guidance from Livefeed mentors, “a high-quality event where the young people perform for peers, parents and a public audience.”

 

 

With a collection of workshops already under their belt, the organisers have received overwhelmingly positive feedback. “While we can assume that people are enjoying and benefiting from Livefeed, it’s great to get actual feedback. I get a lot of emails from parents about how much their son or daughter has taken from the experience, that they have really enjoyed the buzz of being on stage or doing hands-on work with sound production experts,” says Tracy.

This success is reinforced by comments from two young people who expressed delight with their exposure to industry expertise at the Gort workshop. According to Ethan Minihan, “I met so many new people. The Foróige venue had great acoustics, and I tried out lots of new things with the sound engineers.” Fellow participant Hugh McGuire agrees. “Livefeed was an amazing experience for me. I learned a lot about event management and music & sound production. The way it was run was great; everyone had a job to do and a choice of what to learn.”

This positive response is not surprising considering the wealth of talent and skills in the organisers’ repertoire. Renmore-native Eoin Dolan draws on his experience as both a musician and full-time youth worker to identify suitable locations and project partners. As well as writing, recording and performing her own music, Dunmore-born Tracy works with young people on a daily basis as a full-time teacher. Musician and self-confessed “Donegal blow-in” David Boland uses his broad experience organising and promoting music events to manage the project. All three play active roles in the consultations, workshops and performances.

Livefeed workshops will pop up across the county and city throughout 2019 and 2020. Eoin explains, “It’s really important for young people to see the benefits of working together. They could be in a room with their peers and there could be a sound engineer, musician, promoter and photographer among them. They have all the skills to do it for themselves. This is very empowering for them to hear. As part of Livefeed, we want to connect participants in different areas of Galway, based on complementary skills or shared ideas for new, creative projects.”

 

“We have met some incredible young people and we want to set them up for success.”

 

Livefeed will culminate in a major music performance joining all participants from the various locations into one exciting 2020 event. The ambitions don’t stop there. “While we want the young people to continue individually in their various fields, we are also hopeful that something like a youth organisation might take Livefeed on as a long-term project beyond 2020,” says Eoin. “We believe the template we are creating now is really a model for the future.”

Ultimately, Tracy, Eoin and David would like young people to benefit professionally from the same sense of camaraderie and skill-sharing that they experience with one another and with the Galway music scene. “Everyone needs a community, everyone wants a community,” stresses Tracy. “This project just wouldn’t exist without Galway being European Capital of Culture. It’s crucial that we use the opportunity to increase participation and access to facilities in smaller or overlooked towns and villages.”

There is a resounding certainty among the group that the value of these workshops extends well beyond professional life. As Eoin puts it: “You can meet your best friends through music. If there is something that we can gather around, as a people, like a record label or an open-mic event – that’s where a community forms and the magic happens.”

 

 

 

Photography: Julia Dunin


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