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.

Hss Front & Back cover copy

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.

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.