Meet Listen Up Music, the all-encompassing music brand producing podcasts, playlists, gigs and promotions…and it all started with a gift of DJ decks. Sam Lambeth catches up with four lads from Manchester who are changing unsigned music for the better.
If you know, you know, goes the saying. And it’s certainly true of Listen Up Music. If you’re a grassroots musician, you should already be familiar with them. Their DJ sets have become legendary, their podcasts are addictive and now they’re putting on their own gigs. World domination surely beckons.
“It all began at an indie disco at Kendal Calling,” the lads – Wiggy, Rick, Gaz and Tony – recall. “We discussed how good it would be to do something like that ourselves. So, our initial reaction was to start off as indie DJs.”
They knew what it would take – good music, good crowds and good equipment – and soon Wiggy’s wife would treat him to a set of decks. That day saw the birth of Listen Up Music, named after that sublime Oasis B-side.
Since then, they have skyrocketed. Performances in and around their native Manchester led to them scratching the vinyl at a Coventry gig curated by fellow unsigned champion Shiner Sam. It was there, the team say, that they realised just how many unsigned artists they were out there needing a bit of a leg up.
“We’d been frustrated with the steady decline of indie and guitar music, in terms of the exposure it received,” the lads explain. “And after discovering how many great new guitar acts there are around the country, we decided to start the Listen Up playlists and help out.”
This support of emerging talent has positioned Listen Up Music as one of the premier purveyors of the best new music.
After launching their weekly podcast last year, they are now recording their fortieth episode. Each poddy features an interview with a new artist, as well as a musician picking three essential tracks in a feature called Desert Island Tuneage.
Now it’s time for Listen Up to expand further into new territory – gigs. “The contacts we have developed over the past few months have opened this door for us,” they explain.
“We want to make each event we put on to be a proper experience rather than just a headline act with some random support bands tagged on. We will also DJ at the majority of our events and will be including a late-night indie disco as part of the same night.
“A lot of gig-goers look for an alternative bar or club after a concert, why not retain the crowd and give them what they want as part of the same night? We want to try and generate a good atmosphere and keep that sense of community.
“We think full events like this are essential to support the new music industry at the moment in terms of the bands and venues themselves who will hopefully benefit from increased bar sales.”
Gigs coming up include new blood Moonlight Parade, The Mariners and Revivalry playing Aatma in Manchester, Apollo Junction at Jimmy’s in Liverpool and Aatma, and Inspiral Carpets’ Tom Hingley at 33 Oldham Street in Manchester.
With so many different threads coming together, Listen Up Music has swiftly become a one-stop shop for grassroots artists.
“We’ll always try and help out in whatever way we can and continue to explore other potential opportunities,” the lads beam. “These are exciting times and there has been an explosion of new music lately, so we want to be a part of it as best as we can.
“Our emails and DMs are always open should any bands want to work on…it’s all about the music.”
Indeed it is, and by making music the main focus, Listen Up Music have risen to previously unfathomable heights.