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.

Album releases template

“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.”

Andy Brady

Andy Brady, Hull School Of Performance Arts’ programme leader in Technical And Theatre Production, is a big believer in telling it like it is.

“People often think stage management is a glamorous career,” says Andy. “The reality is, you have To enjoy this job. You’re realising other people’s dreams. I’ve worked with shows and done 72 hours straight. The reality is, you’d better enjoy it, because you’ll be hanging off a scaffolding tower 20ft in the air, living off Red Bull and McDonalds at 4am.”

Stage managers and theatre technicians may be the unsung heroes of the stage but Hull-born Andy is equally down-to-earth when describing the benefits of his calling.

“I get to play with toys,” he says. “I could be out on a building site or working in a factory but I get to play creatively for a living.  What you’re doing in stage management is creating worlds and making imaginations come to life.”

He spent 3 years working in and around the West End as a freelance stage manager and technician after completing a BA (Hons) in Stage Management at London performing arts school, Rose Bruford College.

Andy’s clients included Jermyn Street Theatre – a “testing house” for the West End – the Tate Modern and his alma mater, Rose Bruford College.  He has worked on a variety of productions, including The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, The Bacchus, Bouncers and Madness of George III.  He also production managed a full season of shows at London College Of Theatre Studies.

Before the bug for the technical elements of the theatre bit him, Andy was an actor and dancer, studying performing arts. This phase of study saw him working and building contacts with Hull theatre companies such as Magic Carpet, Hull New Theatre, Hull Truck and Hull Youth Theatre, all of which stood him in good stead for a move back home to Hull.

He began teaching adult education at Preston Road New Deal For Communities, then joined Hull School Of Performance Arts in 2001.

Andy continues to build upon his contacts within the community, in his own practice and with the opportunities he provides for his students. He works with Hull Truck, offers design and technical support to City Arts, stage management for Hull’s thriving dance scene and lighting design for a local street dance company and New Voices, a York screenwriters’ festival.

Andy’s major research interest is in digital performance, which he hopes to develop on a Masters degree.

I’m investigating the links between digital arts and graphics,” he says. “I’m looking at the development and use of media servers and midi operating systems. It’s very big in technical theatre – you can’t see a show without huge projection walls and automatic lighting. Touchpad and iPad technology for lighting systems and sound networks is another area in which I’m doing a lot of research.”

View Andy’s LinkedIn profile HERE:

A presentation by Andy on Stage Management History can be seen HERE: