Interview: DMC organisers Colin Tennant and Mike Nicholson
The Dumfries Music Conference will be making a welcome return this year and the organisers have just announced the dates – the 19th to the 21st of October 2017!
Here at Small Town Sounds, we might be wee a bit biased about this event – we’ve attended the Dumfries Music Conference (DMC) workshops, industry talks and gigs since it began and have become more involved with it during the past couple of years through doing live broadcasts as part of Radio DMC. It’s been fantastic to watch the event grow in numbers and reputation since it started back in 2012 and it has become an important part of the music event calendar in the region.
We were keen to find out more about this year’s event, so we had a right good chat with DMC organisers Colin Tennant and Mike Nicholson…
Hi guys! It’s lovely to speak to you. You’ve just announced the dates for this year’s Dumfries Music Conference – tell us, how excited are you?
Good to speak to you too, Melissa, thanks for talking to us. We’re genuinely very excited about DMC 2017 – our annual, flagship event. It marks a couple of important moments for Dumfries Music Conference. Firstly, it’s the one year anniversary of DMC becoming a Community Interest Company. In the past year, we’ve delivered a 12-month programme of music education and showcase events, which has been very well received. Secondly, DMC 2017 will be our fifth birthday! With all that in mind, we’re pulling out all the stops to make this year’s conference extra special.
What can we all expect from this year’s DMC? What will set it apart from the others?
Those who have followed DMC for a number of years will no doubt recognise that each year we make every effort to put together a unique, three-day music conference that sets it apart from any of our past events. Of course, we have certain programming building blocks – like workshops, talks and live music – that will always form the backbone of the conference, but there’s always a special twist. We don’t want to say too much at this stage but we plan to explore video and moving image in relation to music and are currently developing a series of events around that theme.
DMC is now in its fifth year and has become a well-established and respected event in the town. What inspired you to start it, and to continue with it for all these years?
We were both born and raised in Dumfries, so we have a very strong connection with the town. We believe good things should happen here and are passionate about making those things happen. Music has been a huge part of both of our lives for almost as long as Dumfries has. Combining them has been a very enjoyable experience.
It all started with The Stove, of course. Without The Stove, there wouldn’t have been the foundation for initiatives like DMC to spring up. Colin is one of the co-founders of The Stove and we’re very happy that our relationship with The Stove is as strong as ever. The Holywood Trust supports and funds everything that we do. DMC literally wouldn’t be possible without them; it’s such a great thing for the region. We also realise that there are lots of talented people living and working in the area and we wanted to offer an alternative event to those already taking place in the region, which provides opportunities for learning about the music industry and for discovering how young people can initiate and sustain careers that don’t just focus on performing.
This is why, earlier this year, we launched a mentoring scheme that allows young people, aged 16-25, to learn from professionals who are working across different areas of the industry – from sound production to music curation, music journalism and marketing.
Thinking of all the past DMCs, what would you say your personal highlights have been so far?
That’s a tough one! Our first year was one big highlight, to be honest. Not knowing if we could pull it off and in the end delivering an event that we were both proud of was great. Certain live performances stick in the memory: Hector Bizerk, Honeyblood, Brat and the Bonemen, Barstow Bats, Zoë Bestel, 13 Crowes, to name a few. Talks from Greg Wilson, Brian Cannon, Tony Andrews and some very important names in the Scottish music industry have all been part of DMC over the years. We’ve also had lots of brilliant workshops and film screenings. Stuart Macpherson’s ‘Flight’ performance last year was amazing, and since we launched Radio DMC in 2015, there have been countless highlights from that alone. One particular Radio DMC highlight occurred when an impromptu jam between a few random musicians culminated with DMC Radio host, Chazz, fronting an epic version of ‘Rappers Delight’ by The Sugarhill Gang. It was brilliant!
We’re also very proud of putting on events like our ‘A&R Listening Lounge’ in 2015 and of bringing industry experts to Dumfries. This has resulted in influential people talking and writing about D&G based musicians. For example, after inviting Alan Morrison (former arts journalist/editor for Sunday Herald/The List and now head of music at Creative Scotland) he wrote an article in ‘The National’ discussing Zoë Bestel after hearing her for the first time at DMC 2015 (you can read it here).
Likewise, Jim Gellatly wrote about ‘Brat and the Bonemen’ in his New Music column for a national newspaper after DMC 2016. This type of coverage makes us very proud, as we believe D&G based musicians should be written about and celebrated on a national (and international) level. Hopefully by creating events like Dumfries Music Conference and inviting industry people to Dumfries, this will happen more often.
In the past year you have expanded DMC to include some events throughout the year – is this something you plan to continue to do?
Definitely. For us, 2016/17 laid the foundations for DMC to push on to another level. We’re happy with how the last year went but we want to build on that and deliver an even stronger programme over the forthcoming 12-months. Our aim is to involve as many people as possible in Dumfries Music Conference. One of our key objectives this year is to build awareness of DMC and what we do by offering a programme of events that is accessible, fun and insightful. So, alongside our three-day music conference, we plan to deliver a number of events, ranging from mentoring programmes to gigs, internships and workshops that explore the broad scope of the music industry.
Keep an eye out for further DMC announcements over the next few weeks – exciting times ahead!