Lockdown has been tough for most people. Enforced isolation, temporary seclusion, it’s broken apart friendships, blocked off relationships, and left families staring at opposite ends of a Zoom call.
Music, though, has a habit of bringing people together. With no gigs to speak off – and none for the foreseeable, either – some of your favourite artists have switched on their webcams and started broadcasting from home.
This weekend music charity Tiny Changes will host its own festival, an eclectic bill which thrives on a community feeling. It’s an organisation close to our own heart – set up following the death of Frightened Rabbit’s own Scott Hutchison, it’s spearheaded by the band’s drummer (and Scott’s brother) Grant.
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Speaking to Clash over the phone, Grant emphasises that Tiny Changes want “to bring people together as best we can, and as best as they can manage.”
“I don’t think we’ll know the real impact of this situation for a little while longer. Certainly not the impact on people’s mental health. I don’t even think everyone is aware in themselves of how it’s impacted their life. It’s a weird phrase - ‘back to normality’ - because I think the world has probably changed forever. I guess we’re going back into what we perceive as being more normal.”
What this weekend will emphasise, he explains, is the communal nature of music, from the way it is made, to the manner in which fans absorb it. Open a drink of your choice and get involved, he says – the invite is open to everyone.
“The good thing about this project is that people will be able to connect again in the right way. It’s wild how important human contact it. It’s maybe not just how important it is, but also that many of us didn’t value it before, or didn’t value it as much as we do now. I guess it’s that classic thing of not knowing what you have until it’s gone – it’s ridiculously cheesy to say it, but it’s something we’ve all come to realise we need.”
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Looking across the bill, there’s some old acquaintances of Frabbits, musicians Grant bonded with on tour. Frank Turner is down here, for example, alongside the likes of Bill Ryder-Jones, The Staves, and Matt Maltese.
“The live side for me was always what drew me to it and what kept me excited with every new album,” he insists. “Scott was very much studio focussed, and he loved that – he loved creating these things from nothing, and having this space where you can build a piece of art. Recording was great, and I enjoyed that part, too, but I guess being the drummer I was pretty limited in my input. For me, it was always about getting back on the road. We could see people that we knew in cities, go back to venues, go back to bars in those cities, places that I liked to eat.”
“Also, the fanbase was its own little community,” he adds. Quite correct, too: Clash attended a multitude of Frightened Rabbit shows across a decade-long spell, and we certainly felt part of a wider family.
Grant continues: “We always felt very connected to the people that we played to, and the people that listened to our music… in quite a special way, I think. And that always meant a lot.”
For this Tiny Changes event, Grant wanted to get the feel of “a good, well-organised festival.”
He explains: “At a good festival you’d have a fairly diverse line up, in terms of what style of music you’ve got. So that is automatically going to create a melting pot of people from different parts of the world, different communities, different genres, and that’s a great thing. At well organised festivals with good people going to it, that was just a brilliant part of it. And a great way to meet new folk, and listen to new music.”
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The line up definitely reflects this. Grant found exceptional Glasgow indie group Cloth on Instagram, while the bill moves from Intercultural Youth Scotland to folk and beyond. “Diversity. So important,” he says. “And again, so often overlooked. Understand that we’ve got a different goal for this festival than someone like TRNSMT, but you see it so often at festivals, where they can’t even be bothered to have a gender balance… and it should be Page One to even attempt it!”
“Personally, for me, I’m not saying that every festival has to have that split, but it’s your duty to try, and to be aware of it. And to try and book appropriate acts. So that was something we felt was important. And I think we’ve managed to achieve it.”
There’s a few old festival buddies here, too. Tim Burgess – the Saint of lockdown social media – will perform, and Grant reveals a personal connection. Following the death of his brother Tim reached out, and invited him to perform with The Charlatans at Scottish festival Belladrum. It was a moment of real beauty, and one that reached back to that brotherly relationship – Scott and Grant’s first ever visit to Glasgow’s fabled Barrowlands was to see The Charlatans. His role with Tiny Changes helps bring the charity’s mental health message in line with music, something Grant relishes being able to do.
“For me, with my involvement, it was always about combining the charity with what I do, and what I love doing. So that will be music, and having a festival, an actual festival, was something I had always considered was a great way or fundraising, but also a great way of getting people together and spreading the message.”
This weekend is a great chance to soak up some wonderful live music from the comfort of your home, a truly eclectic festival feel with an important message. Check up on each other, speak to each other, care for each other; “while I'm alive, I'll make tiny changes to earth”.
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Tiny Changes fundraiser takes place on June 20th - 21st, watch it HERE.
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