We chat Big Weekend, Ben Howard and inspiring future musicians with Hull’s acoustic hearthrob.
On June 9 we’ll host our first (sold out) HUSH gig, aimed specifically at young people aged 14-19.
This new series of gigs will happen in unusual and unexpected places, with the first HUSH show happening in the Annison Building in Witham, Hull. Created in partnership with Creative Voice and Music 4U, each HUSH gig will feature some of the best and freshest young talent the city has to offer, accompanied by a workshop in the run up to the show.
HUSH is just one of a heap of opportunities that Jack Conman has been given to showcase his talent recently. At just 19 years old, his performance with Kev La Kat saw him win over audiences at the BBC Radio 1 Academy, while his solo sat at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend went down a storm.
“I think my music’s quite indie I guess,” says Jack. “I don’t really like the term singer/songwriter, but I suppose that’s what I am. I just like stuff that’s quite sensitive.” With a distinctive, melancholy elegance rarely found in musicians of such a young age, Jack maintains a cool and confident demeanour beyond his years.
A skilled guitarist, Jack actually started off as a drummer. “I always tapped on things when I was younger. I really liked tapping on tables and was always getting told off at school – I drove people mad.’’ Eventually he started tapping on his own guitar. “I saw people like Ben Howard doing it and thought I’d lay it down and give it a go. I tried it out on the strings and it worked out!’’says Jack.
Our first HUSH headliner, Jack also helped run the first HUSH workshop back in March at Kardomah94. He may be a young lad, but he wasn’t short of advice to help other aspiring young musicians explore their songwriting skills. Working alongside Jack at this workshop, Kev La Kat (also Jack’s manager, from label Love Our Records) gave a brief introduction to Ableton, editing, looping, programming, effects, studio tricks, mixing & mastering.
I told one of the students you can just talk about anything lyrically, anything that you’ve been through, anything you’ve struggled with in the past or anything that has hurt you.
“The workshops went really well, I really enjoyed it,” says Jack. “I find songwriting easy because I like describing imagery. You’re writing about stuff you’ve already been through. To me it’s an easy thing to do.’’ One of the most valuable methods of writing for Jack, is using inspiration from the relationships he forms outside of the practice space as opposed to strumming away by himself.
“I told one of the students you can just talk about anything lyrically, anything that you’ve been through, anything you’ve struggled with in the past or anything that has hurt you. She tweeted me and said ‘Thank you for helping me express myself.’ It meant a lot to me.”
Even at the age of 12, Jack was already writing songs about the trials and tribulations of young love. “A friend of mine got a girlfriend and he confused her a bit and dumped her, but for some reason I thought he really shouldn’t have done what he did. He should have been more sensitive! I like to think I have empathy for people.”
Hull’s better than Manchester for Music.
Performing on the BBC Introducing Stage at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend in May was a huge opportunity for Jack. ‘‘A lot of my favourite artists have played it, it’s a pretty big deal. I got an email out of the blue – it was a shock really’’.
It’s fair to say that Hull’s tightly knitted creative community have always been incredibly supportive towards Jack and it’s easy to see why. “You can play a set in Manchester at different bars every night, but the same people aren’t going to be there, there’s not that uproar. I’ll play a gig here and suddenly this mass of people arrive because they’ve told their friends they’ll come down.”
“It’s better here than Manchester for music.”
Jack will headline the first (sold out) HUSH gig this Friday, 9 June at the Annison Building in Witham, Hull.
Upcoming workshops (venue and times TBC)
If you’re interested in attending any of our free workshops, specifically for those aged 14-19, please get in touch. Spaces for the workshops are issued on a first come, first served basis, so make sure you reserve your place by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information on the workshops will be available online at hull2017.co.uk soon.
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