Harkive 2016 – The Final Countdown – 6 days to go!








On Tuesday 19th July Harkive will return for its fourth year to once again collect stories online from people about the detail of their music listening experience.

The project asks people to tell the tale of HowWhere and Why they listen to music on a single day each year, with the aim of capturing for posterity a snapshot of the way in which we interact with the sounds and technology of today. Since launching in 2013 the project has gathered over 8,000 stories, and on Tuesday 19th July we’ll be doing it all again. We hope you’ll join us by telling Harkive your story.

We’re now on the final countdown to Harkive 2016, with just 6 days to go. As we have done in previous years, in the run up to the big day we’ll be posting some ‘example’ stories from people who do interesting things with their music listening. Today we welcome Claire Gevaux, Creative Director of Help Musicians UK.

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Help Musicians UK is the leading UK charity for professional musicians of all genres, from starting out through to retirement. They help at times of crisis, but also at times of opportunity, giving people the extra support they need at a crucial stage that could make or break their career. You can find out more about their work by visiting their website, or following them on Twitter.

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Claire kindly agreed to keep a record of her music listening on Thursday 7th July for Harkive, and here is her story.


Waking up in a hotel room in Liverpool, the morning after the night before, and the strangely appealing Paranoid Android from the Radiodread album by Easy Star All Stars is still floating around my head. There aren’t any clever devices for playing music in the room, so I resort to Radio 6 Music on the TV – I wonder if Shaun Keaveny would like my earworm this morning.   First Aid Kit starts my day with a silver lining and a decaf coffee.


Leaving the Albert dock, I walk across Liverpool listening to Mendelsohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream as I had the privilege of sitting in on a rehearsal with the Hallé Orchestra and I was fascinated to hear and watch Sir Mark Elder’s precise direction of the whispering passage in the first movement. It also brings to mind the recent celebration of Shakespeare’s death and the relationship between music and other artforms and in telling the stories of our lives.


By late morning, I arrive at my destination, Milpafest, Britain’s leading Indian Art Development Trust, based at Liverpool Hope University. Alok Nayak, Artistic Director, tells me about his organisation which educates, promotes and trains people of all ages in Indian arts. Although based in Liverpool, it is national in its reach and international in its outlook, and can take credit for creating its own sub-genre influenced by film and other artforms as well as contemporary life in Britain. We talk about the challenges for artists to achieve long term, sustainable careers in Indian Music, with few making it as international soloists but that there are routes to performance and orchestral careers thanks to the work he has championed. On leaving, Alok gives me a CD of Tarang, the UK’s Indian classical music ensemble to listen to when I get home.


My next destination is the regenerated Baltic Triangle area of Liverpool, where the Community Interest Company landlords are ensuring a thriving creative industries hub whose tenants benefit from lower rents and opportunities to collaborate which are fundamental to their success. As I walk past posters advertising the next Biennale and public art celebrating the city’s heritage, I’m reminded of the incredible journey Liverpool has been through, particularly in recent years. Not only of heartbreak and tragedy but also how the people of Liverpool embraced the importance of the arts and, in particular, music which gave them pride in themselves and their city. I am reminded of the commission that Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra undertook to commemorate the 96 victims of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster. Working with composer, Michael Nyman, Symphony No.11: Hillsborough Memorial includes the names of all those who died in 1989 and was performed in Liverpool Cathedral in 2014 as part of the Biennale.


My first meeting in the Baltic Creative Campus is with Liverpool Sound City, and Becky tells me about their plans to enhance the network of festivals in the North West and to tackle the lack of appropriate industry support for emerging and diverse talent who can develop into the status of festival headliners.


Over a quick lunch in Unit 21 (which reminds me of the similar spaces that popped up all over Hackney in the past 8 years) I listen to my playlist of artists we’ve been able to support through organisations such as Merseyside Arts Foundation. She Drew the Gun has been working hard since they were given support from Merseyside Arts Foundation for much needed studio time and mentoring. Since then, the ‘dreamy lyrical psych-pop band’ has gone on to win Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Contest. Check out ‘If You Could See’. Another great Merseyside achievement has been The Lottery Winners, who were successful through our Emerging Artist Fund with PledgeMusic and who we showcased at The Great Escape. After my meeting with Peter Shilton, I listen to their debut EP with indie pop greats like Elizabeth and Young Love I can’t wait to hear their first album, now possible with the recent signing to major label Warner Bros.


Leaving the creative industries quarter, I switch my playlist and listen to the new release from Perhaps Contraption playing at the Manchester Jazz Festival at the end of July. As a group they are certainly pushing boundaries and creating a unique musical experience. Check out their second album, Mud Belief but also watch them live as they’re great performers too.

I’m meeting with Yaw next, Creative Director of ‘Nothin but the Music’ an academy for young talent in Liverpool to be empowered to have successful careers in the music industry. Yaw brought some of his recent graduates to a showcase in Camden where I met the incredibly talented Jalen Ngonda. After our meeting, I listen to Jalen’s ‘You Deserve What You Got’ on my final walk across the city to Hope Street and the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.


My day ends with a wonderful concert celebrating 10 years of conductor Vaisly Petrenko’s tenure at Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. An evening of Elgar’s interpretation of the Italian Riviera ‘In the South (Alassio)’, Shostakovich’s very modern Cello Concerto No1 in E flat and ending on Rachmaninov’s Symphony No.3 in A minor which, although didn’t have many contemporary admirers, is a wonderful homage to Russia, its history and his devotion to his homeland.


On my wander back to the Albert Dock, I’m back in contemporary mode, and reflecting on my love of northern cities and their relationship to the people who live there. Liverpool particularly reminds me of home, of Newcastle, where I grew up and discovered punk, goth and was influenced by my mum’s love of Stan Getz and Motown. Musing on the thoughts of home, I listen to Samantha Whates ‘Granny’s House’ in which she explores what makes us think of home and, for her, in this song at least, it’s a cup of tea. We helped Sam when she was injured on tour and we were able to, literally, get her on her feet again. She generously support Help Musicians UK in our recent Musicians Against Depression #MAD campaign (musicanddepression.org.uk) and talked openly of her own experiences with mental health as a professional performer.

As I walk around the docks, it occurs to me that I should end my stay I Liverpool with another childhood influence, this time from my sister. We spent many happy hours listening and playing Beatles songs so my final choice of the day is the album, Revolver. With its ambitious diversification sparking new musical subgenres, its eclectic nature feels an appropriate place to conclude my own diverse musical journey of the North West.

If you enjoyed Claire’s example and would like to tell your own Harkive story in a similar way, you can do so by emailing submit@harkive.org on or after 19th July with the tale of your listening day, writing as much or as little as you want. If email is not your thing, you can contribute your story in a number of other ways, such as by Tweeting with the hashtag #harkive across the day, by posting to the Harkive page on Facebook, or by adding stories and images to Tumbr and Instagram – just remember to add the hashtag #harkive to each of your posts. More information on the ways in which you can tell your story are on the How To Contribute page.

Harkive 2016 is just 6 days away. We do hope you’ll join us on Tuesday 19th July by telling us the story of your listening day. If Harkive sounds interesting, please do help us spread the word by telling your friends about the project. In the meantime you can keep an eye on the project by following us on Twitter, or by liking our Facebook page. If you have any questions about the project please feel free to email us.

Thanks again to Claire for her story. If you’d like to follow her activities, you’ll find her as @ClaireGevaux on Twitter. We’ll have another story for you tomorrow as the Harkive 2016 countdown continues.