The UK music industry remains hopelessly tethered to London. The metropolis may exert an out-sized gravitational pull, but there are ongoing attempts to reverse this. Look at the founding of EMI North, for example, or the BRIT School’s move to open a Northern campus.
Bradford Music Month is an attempt to celebrate and platform the city’s creative communities, the people who are helping to create a brand new soundtrack for this Northern hub. Supported by Bradford Council, Bradford Producing Hub and ACE North, it’s a month-long series of events and workshops organised by three BFD DIY music industry folks.
Running all through the month, the eclectic bill moves from Terrorvision’s homecoming show at the historic St George’s Hall through to a Bhangra and bassline rave, paying homage to the 90s daytimers movement forged by South Asian youth.
It’s all pretty exciting, and comes as Bradford’s staunchly independent music scene finds itself in rude health. Bradford Music Month co-organiser Gail Simpkins is your guide…
Previously considered a relatively unknown relative of Leeds, Bradford has often been overlooked by touring bands and audiences alike when it comes to our music scene and gigs. However in May 2022, that was all to change, as the nation’s eyes turned to the winners of the City Of Culture 2025 bid, and Bradfordians celebrated the opportunity to step out of Leeds’ shadow to showcase the passion and talent that lives in our music venues, festivals and studios.
The music scene in Bradford has always been considerably DIY, however with new found interest in the city, suddenly external support and funding encourages even more possibilities into the district…
We started to develop the idea for Music Month when Bradford Festival ceased to exist, as Bradford did not have its own, stand-alone Music Festival that incorporates multiple genres. Seeing this gap in the district, along with a shortfall of opportunities for young and emerging musicians to help develop and hone their craft, Music Month was born – and here we are, hoping to shine a light on some of the brilliant things happening here!
We couldn’t possibly shout everyone and everything but here are some great places to start with independent music in Bradford:
Music venues in Bradford have historically hosted like David Bowie and The Beatles, amongst many, many more – and even now, the hard working venues and promoters are continuing to attract attention from bigger touring entities.
Adding the (soon to launch) Bradford Live into the mix, this should secure a spot for Bradford on all levels of touring circuits. In the meantime, you can check out these independent music venues in Bradford –
The Underground – 9 Duke Street, BD1 3QR
The Underground is a mixed genre versatile space, hosting everything from Grammy Award Winning Arrested Development, to Family Raves, to ‘An Audience With / Meet & Greet’ events. A favourite with local grassroots musicians, they also launched an original £1 Gig Night event, offering emerging bands in the scene vital opportunities to trial their first ever ticketed line ups.
Nightrain – 7-19 Queensgate, Bradford, BD1 1RB
Bradfords premier rock venue, Nightrain has hosted many rock and metal giants, including local heroes Terrorvision, Molly Hatchet, Dubwar and Those Damn Crows. Nightrain also host a nostalgic mix of tribute bands, and support local musicians too!
The Live Room at Caroline Street Social – Caroline Street, BD18 3JZ
The Live Rooms presents the very best in live folk, roots and acoustic music, including world-wide reps, cult heroes, and up-and-coming musicians – the only rule is, they have to be outstanding!
The 1 in 12 Club – 21-23 Albion Street, BD1 2LY
Owned and run by its membership as a collective based upon anarchist principles, its activities include social and political campaigning — most visibly as a hub for the city’s May Day activities — and use of the building as a self-managed social centre and host for performing arts. In the 1980s it was one of the main locations for the UK crust and anarcho-punk scene, and in the 1990s played host to much of the country’s straight edge metalcore scene. A firm favourite on the touring circuit for punk bands across Europe.
Black Dyke Mills Heritage Venue – Black Dyke Mills, Brighouse Road, BD13 1QA
Run and managed entirely by volunteers, Black Dyke Mills is a live music and community space in the heart of Queensbury. Over the last few years they have showcased some of the finest grass-roots music around. Amongst the many artists who have appeared at the mill are Kiki Dee, My Darling Clementine, O’Hooley and Tidow, Sam Baker and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams.
On the local festival circuit, there’s many big events to watch out for. Community events, such as Bradford Dragon Boat Festival & North Parade Street Party, offer free entry music festival experiences for all the family to enjoy, as well as many more – but in the specialist festival market, here’s some big names to watch out for –
Bradford Music Month
A month long celebration of music and music led events in the district. Led by our team of Bradford Music Lead Sinead Campbell, Venue & Production Manager Gail Simpkins & Label Owner Ned Archibong, we endeavour to put a spotlight on all the amazing music events in the district during the annual ‘Month’, and add in cool and interesting events of their own, such as Bhangra & Bassline day rave – a nod to the city’s involvement in the Daytimers movement – and Garden Of Eden, which is a series of NPR Tiny Desk / Sofa Sounds style gigs, interspersed with music-led wellbeing workshops.
The First MOVES Festival was in 2017 at Patterns Nightclub in Brighton. Two dudes from a well traveled band with a burgeoning label decided to invite some musical friends to take over two floors of a nightclub. MOVES was born. It was a struggle to put the event on annually, thus the festival has been popping up finding a vibe at The Old Market, Brighton where the festival has been for the last three occasions recently returning on March 4th. 2023 saw MOVES Festival pop up in Bradford for the first time, in the summer.
Bradford also hosts a wealth of talented and passionate musicians, across a wide variety of genres, but here’s our list of must-sees –
Inspired to fight against the economic struggles facing their hometown of Bradford, Drella is the project of Jonny, Toby and Alfie, who combine politicised lyrics with gritty guitar to deliver their brand of post-punk / alt rock.
Probably one of the hardest-working and most likeable musicians in Bradford, Red Shakes balance a prefect blend of guitar-driven indie rock with pop, and churns out floorfiller after floorfiller. Championed by many in the local music scene, to see a live performance is to understand that there is something incredibly special hiding in these songs, poking fun at life through the lens of a young adult.
HerOrangeCoat is an up-and-coming British singer-songwriter, specialising in sadness. After an initial flirtation with a heavily pop-inspired sound, the purchase of a ukulele radically changed the trajectory of her music, burying her deep into the emotional depths of acoustic melancholy. Her music is delicate yet rich, multi-layered and yet stripped back. Her lyrics often combine the short, shallow phrases written in her youth with the lived experience she has since acquired. Her coat is orange.
PERCYBONES is a Leeds-based dark trap metal artist who cut his teeth in Japan with his dark art creative outlook in music and visual artist direction.
Grabbing the attention of media outlets across the north of England, Bradford own Kenzo Jae churns out an impressive amount of chill ethereal rap releases.
Influenced by the great country, blues and Americana storytellers of the last 100 years, Chris Dover has adopted Bradford as his home town, and has created his own brand of singer-songwriter music that tugs on your heartstrings, Chris also brings tiny gigs and songwriters rounds to the city, very much bringing a spotlight to the storytelling aspect of songwriting.
Jae Depz is one of the North’s most prominent figures in his scene. The producer / songwriter / DJ has collaborated with some of the biggest talent around and held down DJ residencies in Bradford, Manchester and Leeds playing mixes ranging from hip-hop and R&B to house and bassline.