Emerging Lancashire musicians kickstart careers with new Artist Development Programme

A handpicked group of Lancashire's most promising young musicians are set to shine thanks to a new Arts Council England funded Artist Development Programme.
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The pilot programme, created by Clitheroe-based production and management company Actual Music (AM) is aimed at engaging and developing the profiles and skills of eight emerging artists from across Lancashire.

Over the course of the 6-month programme, the selected artists will develop a professional portfolio of audio and visual assets while receiving training and support to help them upskill in commercialising their practice through promotion and live performance.

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Ormskirk’s Katie Nicholas is one of the eight artists who are currently taking part in the programme. Katie brings her heartfelt Americana and captivating stories to the forefront of her music.

Producer duo HOLDEN at the Actual Music studiosProducer duo HOLDEN at the Actual Music studios
Producer duo HOLDEN at the Actual Music studios

Speaking about her ambitions for the programme, Katie revealed she hopes “to find a formula that works and means I can release more frequently instead of hoarding songs for years!”

The Non-Stick Pans (Peter Rugman) mix diverse musical influences with his knack for comedy, promising an eclectic showcase. Peter joins the programme hoping to advance his production skills which he describes as being “in their early stages”.

Peter said: “I'm eager to enhance my understanding of production vocabulary to contribute meaningfully in collaborations.”

Darwen-based naut (Jordan Riding) brings unique electronic sound to the group. He said: “I’m currently finishing work on my second album and feel experience in a studio environment with some professional guidance will be absolutely invaluable to my growth as a musician and producer, and with where I would like this project to go over the next couple of years.”

Phil Johari recording at the Actual Music studiosPhil Johari recording at the Actual Music studios
Phil Johari recording at the Actual Music studios
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Also taking part in the programme is Holden, a twin producer duo on the verge of releasing singles that will resonate with indie music lovers. They’re hoping that the AM Artists Development Programme will help them to enhance their production skills.

British Birds, an indie band from Chorley, stand ready to impress with their catchy tunes and grassroots vibe. The band are looking forward to receiving “outsider opinion from within the industry” which will help them to sharpen their songwriting skills.

Phil Johari undergoes a transition from engineering to music, sharing his soulful sounds and the journey behind his debut album "Slow Burn." His focus over the next six months will be on refining his music to include less instruments and to understand how to “put more emphasis on the hook strength and groove.”

Also taking part in the programme are Frank So, and The Forensics, who are looking to make improvements to their music across the board, including fine tuning their song structure, instrumentation, learning methods of production that will help them achieve bigger, and fuller sounds, as well as being able to make their music more accessible to wider audiences.

Katie NicholasKatie Nicholas
Katie Nicholas

The AM Artist Development programme offers a real-world platform for these artists to elevate their music careers. Highlights over the six months will include recording and mixing a track, filming a live lounge-style video, performing at The Grand in Clitheroe, and learning the ropes of the music business through targeted workshops, delivered guest speakers from the music industry.

More than just creating music and videos, this programme is about building a community. The artists will connect, share experiences, and even mentor young musicians from the area, fostering a vibrant music ecosystem within Lancashire.

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Jamie Turner, founder of Actual Music and programme leader, said: “The AM Artist Development initiative is more than just a boost for individual careers; it's a commitment to nurturing the local music scene.

“By focusing on real skills, live performance opportunities, and community building, the programme aims to empower these eight talented musicians to make their mark on the music industry.”

The artists will have a chance to showcase their talents during two live performances at The Grand in Clitheroe. Ripple Effect will take place on May 25 and June 1, with each date featuring four artists.

May 25 will see Frank So, The Non-Stick Pans, The Forensics, and Naut taking to the stage, while June 1 will feature Katie Nicholas, British Birds, Phil Johari, and Holden.

More information about each of the events and tickets can be found on The Grand’s website.