Why the NME is tipping Norwich

Rebecca GoughInfluential music magazine the NME has placed Norwich in its Future 50, a list of the current driving forces in music. REBECCA GOUGH found out just how and why Norwich is making its mark.Rebecca Gough

Influential music magazine the NME has placed Norwich in its Future 50, a list of the current driving forces in music. The city was one of just two places in the list and REBECCA GOUGH found out just how and why Norwich is making its mark.

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Think of places synonymous with music and you're more than likely to hark back to the Liverpool's Beatles influenced Merseybeat, Manchester's baggy scene or perhaps even California's 60's surfing sound.

However, according to a new study by the NME magazine it is the fine city of Norwich that is currently creating a musical stir.

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The magazine's annual Future 50 is a list of the top driving forces in music and is made up a mixture of bands, artists, places and technology.

And this year, sandwiched between singer Bradford Cox, and guitarist Nick Zinner, is Norwich, one of only two places to make the list.

As the magazine says: 'Pulling together the list has been about looking beyond some of the more obvious sonic pioneers to find inspiration in places you might not automatically expect - Syria, for instance, or on the stage of a boy band institution such as Take That, or, er, Norwich.'

And, according to those involved in Norwich's music scene, that is the reputation the city has struggled with in the past.

While the initiated are aware of the plethora of music venues across the city, from the Arts Centre and the Waterfront, to the B2 at the Brickmakers Pub on Sprowston Road, and a number of up-and-coming bands, Norwich has struggled to make its mark nationally.

Lisa Horton, singer and keyboardist in Norwich-band Bearsuit, said: 'The music scene in Norwich has been really strong for many years, so it's fantastic to finally start getting recognition in the national music press.

'It often feels like we're a bit cut off here and its hard for new bands to get out, so hopefully this will help put Norwich firmly on the music map.

'There are so many inspirational fresh bands in the city like The Brownies, Fever Fever, and the Kabeedies, so I'm excited that the NME are sitting up and paying attention.

'The scene here has been pretty experimental for a long while, so hopefully now the rest of the country will be catching up with us.'

From bands who made national news several years ago such as Cord, to the newer sounds of The Kabeedies, The Brownies and VioletViolet, Norwich fans are spoilt for choice.

Stuart Hobday, director of the Norwich Arts Centre, said: 'I think there's probably a healthy scene at the moment with not just bands, but solo artists coming through wanting to make music.

'There's a lot of good infrastructure with good labels like NR1 and Hungry Audio and good promoters like WombatWombat.

'I think it's been reasonably healthy for the past few years but things like BBC Introducing (which supports unsigned, undiscovered acts) have helped showcase bands.

'I think it's improving all the time and certainly there are other places like Ipswich and Colchester which don't have nearly as much activity.

'What we need now are people to come along and support it and to try something new.'

Craig Hill, manager of The Kabeedies, who played last year's Glastonbury festival and the Suffolk-based Latitude, said the city's music scene was rapidly improving with more and more Norwich bands playing elsewhere across the country, and requests from others to play in the city.

He added: 'I think the bands and the promoters and the fans make for a really good scene. Sometimes it's difficult to pinpoint but there's a number of things I think are important and certainly I've noticed that throughout the UK people are picking up on Norwich.

'A lot of the venues are also 14 plus and I think that makes a difference. Then there are the band playing outside Norwich so they're flying the flag as well.

'I think Norwich has changed a little and progressed with certain bands becoming known nationally but I'm surprised because apart from NME running a small article on Norwich as part of a number of towns, as far as I know they've never run a review or interviewed any of the Norwich bands.'

Other artists to make the top 10 included Dizzee Rascal, whose "commercial dominance" has been underlined this year according to the magazine, while Little Boots and La Roux also feature.

United States band the Animal Collective were at the top of the list and The Knife, a Swedish musical duo were awarded second place.

t The Future 50 list appears in the current issue of NME.


t Bearsuit - www.myspace.com/bearsuit

t The Brownies - www.myspace.com/thebrownies

t Fever Fever - www.myspace.com/feverfevertheband

t The Kabeedies - www.myspace.com/thekabeedies

t VioletViolet - www.myspace.com/violetviolet1

t The Loyal Few - www.myspace.com/theloyalfew

t Collider - www.myspace.com/collidertheband

t NDX - www.myspace.com/neurologicaldisaster

t Tin Man - www.myspace.com/thetinman

t The Great Shakes - www.myspace.com/thegreatshakesmusic