Mik Newton

Music professional Mik Newton has two complementary roles here at Hull School of Performance Arts (HSPA). As a lecturer on Music and Music Production degree programmes and the head of our very own independent record label, Purple Worm Records, he is our go-to contact for any aspiring musician or performer.

With Purple Worm, a not-for-profit label that celebrates the best of the Hull music and champions the city’s homegrown talent, Mik promotes musicians from HSPA and beyond. He has secured global distribution for Purple Worm artists across 140 countries, in 90 online stores.

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“You can buy all of our music from online stores including iTunes, Virgin Napster and Spotify,” he says.

“We’re currently working on releasing a Humber Street Sesh fundraising album in advance of the 2013 Humber Street Sesh music festival in Hull’s creative quarter.”

The Humber Street Sesh double album features 36 of the bands and artists from Hull, including EndofLevelBaddie, Street Parade, The Colour Line, Mono Life and Audio Subscene. The 2013 festival sees the introduction of The Purple Worm Stage.

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The record label recently produced the Dr Skank’s Skool of Skunk album, featuring punk/ska acts including Counting Coins, The Talks, Double Down and System Paralysis.

It has also launched a new dubstep/drum’n’bass “sub-label”, Sub Cube Records, which features international DJs and producers from Ukraine, Bali, Poland and Italy.

Students on the degree programme also benefit by gaining hands-on experience at Purple Worm. Mik says:

“We teach work-related learning. This means the students are put into A&R teams to go out and source bands; then they put together and release a prototype single; after that, they release and market a compilation album; finally, they learn how to run a record label on zero budget.”

Running a record label on zero budget is exactly what Mik has been doing at Purple Worm since 2009. “We don’t have any funding,” he says. “All the profit goes straight back into the label and it gets bigger and bigger, year on year. I’m now researching the possibility of establishing it as a social enterprise.”

Mik is also working on the development of a standalone Purple Worm events company that would allow prospective sound engineers to progress and get first-hand experience of working in Hull’s live music scene.

Folked Up Album Release

His own professional network of contacts is diverse and ever-growing. Arriving in Hull as an engineering student in 1993, he soon picked up a residency at The Strand student union venue. Eventually switching his academic studies to a more musical path, in the early days he worked as a sound engineer for a touring Kylie tribute act, before engineering at Zenith Studios and Red Star record label, working with Hull bands, such as GST Cardinals. He then set up his own production company, Mik Newton Recording. As a result, he guesses he has worked with “most of the bands in Hull” over a 20-year period. Mik has a BA (Hons) in Music Production and a PGCE.

Mik has released his own alternative dance, hip-hop material, as Supercharge. He also DJs at venues including Fruit, Welly, Adelphi and Zest in Hull, and Sankey’s Soap and Boardwalk in Manchester. He manages music events, such as Hull’s Love Music, Hate Racism festival and Concrete Jam Skate festival.

Purple Worm Hour

You can listen to Purple Worm Records’ weekly radio show on West Hull Creative Radio (WHCR) 106.9FM, every Friday at 10pm.

Connect with Mik on LinkedIn; and with Purple Worm Records on YouTube and on Facebook.

Tim Keech

Hull School of Performance Art’s guitar specialist Tim Keech has decades of experience as a lecturer, tutor and professional musician. He ranks flexibility almost as highly as the art and craft of performance for musical artists.

And within our Faculty of Arts, fractional Music lecturer Tim specialises in theory and performance practice.

His teaching career includes teaching music and physics in schools; running his own music school in Spring Bank, Hull; teaching guitar at the University of Hull; and lecturing at Hull School of Performance Arts, where he has taught since 1997. Tim has a BSc (Hons) in Civil Engineering from the University of Leeds, a PGCE and an MMus in Music Composition from the University of Hull.

But music performance has been a constant throughout Tim’s career.

“A gig has been part of my way of making a living for the past 20 years,” he says. “It’s a day at the office for me, you have to be able to judge each performance and adapt.”

Tim mainly performs with jazz fusion band Mad Dog and the Sophisticats. With this outfit, he plays up to 100 gigs per year, up to half of which are likely to be weddings. He also plays in the Wakefield Arms Jazz Band and produces CDs for the band ahead of its annual visits to a jazz festival in Herne, Germany.

Although his “first love” is jazz, Tim says:

“To make a living teaching guitar, you have to be pretty versatile.”

He also composes, writes, sings, plays, arranges and produces for other musicians. Tim does the arrangements for an Andrews Sisters cover act based in Leeds and runs an a capella close harmony jazz group, Bamba Dooda.

When studying for his MMus, Tim researched the development of jazz harmony, including mapping the fingerboard of a guitar, which he describes as “a lifetime’s work”.

“My research didn’t end with the completion of the MMus,” he says. “I investigate better ways of passing on playing techniques to my students. That is a constant. If I go into a practice session now I’m not trying to advance my own technique, but look at ways I can accelerate students’ progress, or anticipate and avoid potential difficulties. Continuity is the key.

“From a guitar-teaching point of view, I’m always interested in doing the job better and looking at ways I can circumvent or pre-empt students’ problems.”

Tim’s great passion is to pass on good performance habits. Many of his former students are now professional musicians.

“From a technical point of view, the biggest mistake most people make is picking up the guitar incorrectly,” he says. “My performance expertise comes into play when we’re looking at turning a musician into a professional act. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you pause on stage for as little as three seconds, you can empty a dancefloor.”

Mark Williams

Mark Williams is a graphic artist, lecturer, author and curator.

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He combines lecturing Illustration at Hull School of Art and Design (HSAD) with freelance practice and the running of the Museum Of Club Culture (http://www.museumofclubculture.com) in Hull city centre’s cultural renaissance quarter, Humber Street. He is also on the board of the city’s annual festival of the arts, the Freedom Festival.

He has worked as a freelance graphic artist all over the world, including alongside Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.

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The Museum Of Club Culture is the world’s only exhibition space of its type. Mark, an alumnus of Hull School of Art and Design (1979-82), shows his own photographs, screenprints and illustrations, as well as work by students and guest artists. Guest speakers hosted by the museum include Sue Tilley, Lucien Freud’s muse

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Every cult and sub-cult falls under the museum’s spotlight. And Mark – also known as Mark Wigan, thanks to his love for the northern soul club nights at Wigan Casino – captured them for posterity in Warhol-esque Polaroids taken while working as a roving reporter and all-round sub-culture vulture for i-D magazine and the NME. His detailed paintings and drawings have defined club culture since the 1980s. His background also includes producing nightclubs, taking bands and DJs on clubbing tours and designing album sleeves for the bands he met on the circuit.

Recent exhibitions include Memorabilia: Part 2, which put Hull’s nightclubs in the spotlight to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Welly club.   http://www.giveitsomewelly.com/

“Our research and consultancy is vital for HSAD to move forward as an art school,” says Mark. “As are the links we create with enterprise. As a lecturer, it is very important for your students to see your work as current and public.”

Students work on collaborative projects with the Museum Of Club Culture, such as Text Me Up with artist Tracey Moberly. They also work with Hull’s museums service on exhibitions at the Ferens Art Gallery and with the University of Hull on its Far East Asia collection.

Mark’s current personal projects include an exhibition of his own illustrations for Diesel Jeans; art directing and set designing for a hip-hop puppetry play in Liverpool, Melody Loses Her Mojo, and writing.

He has written a series of five books the Basics Illustration Series (Ava Publishing), aimed at undergraduates featuring a global who’s who of illustrators and graphic artists. He is currently researching the sixth.

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He describes the series as “a contemporary graphic arts school in book form” and says work by HSAD students and members of staff is being considered for the sixth book.

“I’m re-evaluating the role of the arts curator and how that impacts on teaching in art schools,” he adds. “It’s a rethinking of the art school for the 21st century.”

The sixth book, a second edition of Basics Illustration: Thinking Visually is due to be published by Bloomsbury in 2014.

In the 1980s, Mark was commissioned by Andy Warhol. The pop artist had seen Mark’s work  – a four-storey high mural – in London’s Limelight Club and asked him to paint the New York venue of the same name. Warhol also introduced him to other influential artists, including Keith Haring. In the late 1980s, Mark’s work could be seen everywhere from nightclubs, to acid house record sleeves for the likes of A Guy Called Gerald and Frankie Bones, music video animations, T-shirts and flyers.

Mark then spent many years working as a freelance graphic artist in New York, London and Tokyo and can be seen in public and private collections in Tokyo and Madrid. Clients included NHK, Fuji TV, BBC, Panasonic, i-D magazine, Elle, New Musical Express, Deviant Records and Sony Music. In Japan, projects included set designs for shows and animated title sequences for television companies and music videos. A company he set up that licensed his designs for different products, such as futons and textiles, led to the opening of a chain of shops.

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Before returning to his artistic roots at Queens Gardens, Mark lectured at Tokyo University, Camberwell College of Art and Salford University. Other academic work includes a role as external examiner at Birmingham City University, the University of Derby and international courses in Thailand, Hong Kong and India.

“I worked for 13-14 years before going into teaching,” he says. “It’s good for educating your students because you have links with people in the business. Here in Hull, graduates from HSAD’S Illustration course are now illustrating for Vogue, Observer, Penguin and Dorling-Kindersley. Our graduates are getting a good reputation with employers. I teach them about copyright, how to promote themselves and online portfolios. I try to challenge and inspire my students, encouraging them to follow their own paths, develop a personal visual language and build the confidence and abilities necessary for professional life.”

So armed, the most talented and adaptable Illustration graduates can play a vital role in the global cultural landscape, says Mark:

“Illustration is constantly evolving. It is not graphic design nor fine art, it sits between the two and operates between disciplines, this always makes it difficult to classify”.

“Often described as graphic art or commercial art, it is a powerful and direct contemporary form of visual communication. Illustration illuminates all kinds of subject matter and makes sense of the world by conveying messages through a myriad of visual languages and contexts.”

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To see examples of Mark’s work or to find out more, visit: http://www.wigansworld.com

View his work online at FlickrVIDEOAVA BOOKSTumblr

…or follow him on Twitter

Craig Steer

On honeymoon in Memphis, Tennessee, a germ of an idea began to grow for Music Performance lecturer Craig Steer.

The Music team set up a unique collaboration for Hull School of Performance Arts (HSPA) students at the famous Stax Music Academy, which grew from soul record label Stax and the Soulsville Foundation.

As a result, HE Music students and staff have been visiting the academy to help deliver the Stax Summer School for one week a year since 2010.

Craig says:

“I’m proud that HSPA volunteers at the Stax Music Academy. Our Music tutors deliver history, theory, performance, recording, production and live sound classes. Our students from across the music pathways act as our ambassadors, mentoring students at Stax.

It all helps to raise our profile, as well as providing a valuable experience for staff and students. We have maintained a great working relationship with the Stax Music Academy and the international collaboration is our unique selling point.”

While in Memphis, the Hull students have the opportunity to follow in Elvis’s footsteps, recording at the iconic Sun Studios. And in 2012, students met soul singer Reverend Al Green at his place of worship.

“We teach the cultural history of popular music but to go to record in the studio where Elvis recorded – where rock n’ roll was born – nothing compares to that,” says Craig. “It’s the best learning experience, seeing where the music comes from. It’s a very worthwhile visit”.

Craig has been teaching music at HSPA since 1999. His current research interests include a PhD with the University of Leeds. His thesis has a working title of His Master’s Voices? An Aesthetic Empirical Investigation Into Music Production Techniques, The Voice And Listener Perceptions. With plans to turn his findings into a book, he is researching the effect of production techniques on vocal performance in popular music.

Craig also has a BA in Music Performance and an MMus in Musicology from Leeds, and a PGCE, which he completed at HSPA.

In his spare time, Craig plays an in an original songwriting group – Steer – with his brother and two former students; an acoustic group – Launderette Poets – with other members of staff and does audio production honours for student bands and other local artists.

He also helps to encourage student music projects through HSPA’s very own record label, Purple Worm Records, run chiefly by Mik Newton.

Staff Profiles – Hull School of Performance Arts

In Alphabetical Order:

ANDY BRADYTechnical and Theatre Production

HEDLEY BROWNActing

Phil Codd – Music Production

Lisa ChapmanDance

Art DickensonMusic

Marguerite  MackleyHead of Learning and Teaching

Kerrie GranthamMusical Theatre

SUSAN JARVISBroadcast Media

TIM KEECHMusic

Alison Llewelynn JonesActing

MIK NEWTONMusic

MARK PEARCEDance

VAL PHELPSActing

CRAIG STEER Music Performance

MARISSA STEERMusic

Taylor RobertMusic

Wai WanMusic

Sue WhiteMusical Theatre

Jezz  WhiteMusical Theatre