The Monthly talks to Charlotte Dryden and Caoimhe O’Connell from the Oh Yeah Centre about Volume Control – Part 2

Part one of this interview is here

What backgrounds do the participants come from?

Charlotte Dryden

The programme up until now has been populated by young people from all areas. Probably the one thing that characterised many of the participants was that they didn’t always enjoy school, and because music was their thing, they were looking to get involved in something to do with music. Also some of the young people involved were able to or enjoyed applying some of their school learnings to very practical parts of the project too, such as the finance side of things, box office takings, paying the bands. So it’s helped young people have an extra curricular interest as well as take part in more informal learning process”

How do bands get to play the Volume Control gigs?

The young people choose the bands. It is usually bands that interest them, they might have some connection to the bands, or they have come across them themselves. Most of the bands or performers don’t have a big profile.

Sometimes bands with a profile will get booked, Volume Control booked SOAK early on in her career, but often we find that these are bands that the young people know and most of the bands are very happy to play on the stage at the Oh Yeah Centre.

And What about More Volume?

Caoimhe O’Connell

The idea of More Volume is that before this new direction, Volume Control was very much centred in the Oh Yeah Music centre. The participants came here, the meetings were here and they worked here for a year and ended up putting a gig on here.

We have condensed that programme into a 12 week programme and we partner with other organisations and we take it out into the community and to schools. Last year we had community groups in all areas of the city.

This year we have gone out into schools and we are working with Boys Model and Malone College. We sent out information about the project and those schools came back to us with an idea of how the projects could be realised.

The students or the young people from community groups work alongside our facilitators just as they would with Volume Control, and we let the participants brainstorm as much as possible. We offer them the possibility to take up roles in the project.

There is a good mix, actually we generally have more girls than boys and that is good in many ways because it is a case that women are under-represented in the industry especially in organisational roles.

Where do the gigs take place?

Malone College want to put on their gig at school, they think they can get a lot of students to the gig that will be during school hours, and the other school, Boys Model want to open the gig up to the public, so they will be putting on their event at the Oh Yeah Centre.

Who makes the decisions?

We try to give as much control over to the students. We let them discuss each issue from where the gig should be, when they should take place, how it is going to be promoted. Sometimes we have to manage expectations but we always do that by allowing the students to discuss and work through questions that emerge during the process of managing an event.

We also ensure that the participants take a role in the process, from promotions, to stage management, to the sound, there is a role for everyone who is part of the project.

We often have to go through quite a lengthy explanation of what it takes to put on a gig. Just recently one of the groups thought that all you had to do was tell the bands where to go and we went through all the bits and pieces that are required to put a gig on.

Where you need substantial expertise we get them to shadow the sound engineer for example. We make sure that people know there are a lot of options as part of the music industry. We had a young woman come to us who wanted to do music photography. Now, that wasn’t part of the course but we thought sure, let’s make it happen and so she will be photographing the gig.

Things like that show that there are many avenues and many opportunities way beyond just being part of a band or being a performer.

Do you have any success stories?

A very good example of what can happen; a young man called Ethan came to Volume Control, and he fell in love with doing sound, with being a sound engineer.

He worked really hard, he read all the books, looked at online tutorials, volunteered to help out at gigs and now a few years on he is setting up his own sound engineering business. Earlier this year he went to Portugal with Winona Bleach, a local band, to help work on the recording their new album.

We know that local musicians have a lot of respect for the what we are trying to do with Volume Control and the name as a brand now has a good reputation so that shows that the project is working, and now we are looking forward to the next 10 years.

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