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5 May 2014

Interview: Strummerville

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Strummerville is not only one of the more inspiring things to happen in music, ultimately it is essential. Friends and family members of Joe Strummer set up Strummerville after his passing, a registered charity, it aims to reflect Joe Strummer’s magnificent, standout contribution to music. They offer support, resources and performance opportunities to artists who would not usually have access. This project has been a phenomenal success thus far and is going from strength to strength.

Halina was lucky enough to catch up with Trish Whelan who runs Strummerville and has been a part of the music industry for a number of years.

Halina: How did Strummerville begin and what is it you aim to do for musicians?

Trish: We started after Joe passed away; people began to send money and wanted to keep his legacy alive so this was the best way. We help to create opportunities for musicians by helping with recording and advice. It is to help them get their music out there and giving them a chance.

H: Joe Strummer was known for his open minded and embracing attitude. Do you feel that Strummerville is carrying on his ethos on a bigger scale?

T: Absolutely! We do not judge anyone nor are we political. We just want to help everyone how we can and as much as we can.

H: You have set up rehearsal rooms in Belfast and London. Are there any plans for other cities and indeed other countries?

strummer6T: We opened out first official Strummerville resource at the newly refurbished Roundhouse in Chalk Farm in 2006, and we have actually just opened another one in London. We are looking to open a further recording/rehearsal space in Bridgwater, Somerset, a series of Strummerville Showcase nights giving unsigned musicians a chance to highlight their work, as well as a continuing presence at Glastonbury Festival. We have also set up by helping Africans namely in Malawi and set up a sister school.

H: Glasgow PodcART are particularly aimed at the unsigned like yourselves. Are there any bands that you would recommend to our audience and us?

T: There are absolutely loads of DIY bands! Dan Smith being one you can find him at www.myspace.com/dansmithuk he is amazing. Also another top act to check out is Beans On Toast (www.myspace.com/sexdrugspolitics) they are a top act!

H: We have felt a shift in music of late, people are becoming more independent and innovative when releasing and exposing their music. Do you feel that this has helped Strummerville relate to more people?

T: Yes, people are a lot more open now and the treasure chest of the music industry has unlocked. It has empowered people to get more out there and there is more of a punk ethos now. I am a great believer in the good getting through.

H: Would you ever consider corporate sponsorship or is Strummerville always going to be a charity?

T: I think we would have to take a view on who was offering what. Also, what they would want in return, if it were for a good cause you cannot rule out anything like that. You have to think about who is going to benefit and as long as it has the same purpose and is for the good of everyone.

H: Are there any plans to host an event of your own i.e. a concert or curate a festival or stage?

T: Oh my God, it’s non-stop! This years Glastonbury was the biggest open we have done yet! We are always showcasing and have masses of great things happening with the likes of Billy Bragg and other brilliant musicians who really care about what is happening.

H: For unsigned bands that feel as though they have nowhere to seek help or feel that they have hit a dead end do you have a message?

T: There is no such thing as a dead end or no help. The main thing in all of this is you have to keep playing and remain true to yourself. The good will always shine through.

Strummerville have been a huge inspiration to Glasgow PodcART and will continue to do so. It is the idea that the passionate will always prevail and that instead of creating barriers and having blinkers on you embrace everything and everyone. It is through music that we do this and it comes from our hearts, our souls and our very beings. Joe Strummer as a man encompassed all of this and Strummerville are not only keeping his dream alive but also are creating a beatific reality from it.

Halina Rifai

Strummerville have recently released a Summer Sessions Compilation Album.

The album features tracks from the 14 artists who performed at our Summer Sessions Showcase on 30 May 2009.

To get your copy of this album please send a SAE to:

Summer Sessions CD stummer1
Strummerville
22a Stable Way
London, W10 6QX

For more information about Strummerville please visit: http://www.strummerville.com

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