Fair Play is Manchester's newest independent music festival to grace the streets of the Northern Quarter in April this year. With a priority on genre melding, independent, culture coordinating music from around the country. The festival is hosting over 35 acts over 5 venues at an affordable rate, the whole ethos of the festival is "playing fair" and making festivals "as accessible as possible".
They are hosting a variety of local DIY musicians from Algernon Cornelius to Priceless Bodies to up and coming bands such as Deathcrash and Blue Bendy who pulled massive crowds at the festival warm up gigs at The Talleyrand. The lineup offers "a first show in Manchester for some and a big stage for local bands".
The team behind this momentous festival are none other than Hannah Tinker, Kalum Winters and Jacob Brailsford, all with a whole host of experiences within the music industry. Hannah currently works within the team of Manchester's biggest independent music venue The Albert Hall with a history at Wilderness Record Store, Kalum runs experimental record label Do Your Best and both worked on M1 last year and Jacob runs both Interior and Autonomy who act as promoters and tour managers.
All in the team are independent and that ethos is carried on through the festival, the way it is ran and the music they are bringing forward to us. That's why it felt only right that we had to chat to them and find out about their story, politics and the future of DIY music in the country. We caught up with Hannah and Kalum in the cold graffiti covered corridors of Wellington House to learn more about the group, the festival and what we can expect from them in April after 3 years of prep and a pandemic delay.
What is Fair Play all about?
Kalum: It's in the name first and foremost, playing fair. I think that both includes an inclusivity angle, we cover an awful lot of genres, giving some their first Manchester show and giving locals a bigger show to play at, all at a very affordable price within a very costly gig market.
Hannah: We tried to make it as accessible as possible.
Kalum: Really we are just taking over the Northern Quarter for a weekend!
From the inception of Fair Play in 2019, what has changed?
Hannah: Over the 3 years the concept has really grown, the lineup we had back then was definitely dominated by white guys. Due to the pandemic and the isolation we all experienced I certainly thought about who I was more and then a lot came to light within culture with the 'BLM' movement and 'Me too'. We also wanted to spread it over more venues and it just seems to have grown as we have grown!
Kalum: Yeah, I think I've grown. It's definitely grown, it's got a much wider brush stroke than it did and takes in much more than it ever did. Part of that is down to there being more slots spread across 5 venues and that has given us more ability to curate more including the Untitled Records takeover stage which is celebrating their 5th anniversary.
What can we expect from the lineup?
Kalum: One thing I'm happy with is the local stuff we have on there, like halfs for example, they don't play particularly often and aren't your typical performance. At M1 they played balloons to make music and I'm proud to give that a stage. Backing up and falling under that same idea is Tibyan Mahawah Sanoh, who has worked with Space Afrika recently but hasn't done other live stuff yet. Then you have Another: Country $$$$ who hasn't played anything on this scale, Algernon Cornelius has but it's great to have people who, to me, represent the Manchester underground scene.
There are a lot of people out there that claim to be independent and actually have a lot of backing whereas we have picked up people that are truly independent and don't have that agency backing them.
Hannah: Even like Tony Njoku!
I think if you would have told us that we were doing it this big 3 years ago we would have laughed, because, like, we don't know what we are doing?
Kalum: I think we are just aware that we haven't actually done it yet and that's where we are at, it's especially prescient with the Manchester acts that we have chosen, we are honouring where this whole thing came from and how we still operate really.
Hannah: It takes from all of our backgrounds.
Kalum: It's good that three of us are doing it together as we all bring in different things, like Jacob is working with Blue Bendy and that brings a flash to this lineup. A lot of agency events all look pretty similar.
What are your thoughts of the politics of the international music industry?
Kalum: I think it's just a big bug bare for me of opening up the conversation of what independance and DIY means and it not just meaning "4 punk dudes in a basement." There are some incredibly successful, incredibly accessible DIY artists and recognising that is really important. Some people just upload mixtapes or playlists on soundcloud or bandcamp, it's the whole scope of that and all of that need supporting. Support the big labels and the big bands as well but the money to independants goes much further.
Hannah: I think it is recognising that DIY doesn't mean small, there are people like Roisin Murphy and Lily Allen never had managers but are massive.
Kalum: I think now we are back out and about again it is important that we support everyone in the music chain, support your favourite promoters, support your favourite festivals, support your favourite artists and sadly, support them financially, it's a necessity.
Hannah: And as we have learnt, if something drastic happens then these people won't be there.
What's going in the Manchester music scene at the moment, whether good or bad?
Kalum: I think a lot changed for everyone over the pandemic, there are a lot of things that haven't changed but there are pockets of things coming out that are celebrating everything that represents Manchester to me like Space Afrika, Rainy Miller, Iceboy Violet, Blackhaine and 6a6y 6 continue to do what they do. I think there are a few little circles that are really flying the flag and that's where people should be concentrating.
Hannah: I think in recent years it has become very monopolised, certain promoters put everyone on and I think it is straying away from that, whether that was from the pandemic or not?
Kalum: Part of this is all inevitable, calendars are crazy because everyone is cramming in dates. It's great to see that Sounds From The Other City is back, that is the bloodlife of Manchester and it's a huge thing for both cities, that's the festival we most align ourselves with and promoters like Grey Lantern and Beauty Witch just seem to have bounced back from the pandemic and are in fine form.
Hannah: I think the pandemic gave everyone a new lease of life.
Recommend us some things to check out in Manchester!
Kalum: 6a6y 6 always! They optimize what I think 'it' is. The Orion, I haven't been anywhere near enough since it reopened. Swimming at Sale Water Park, it's the best pain ever, the good pain, it did wonders for me last year.
Hannah: Go to the Albert Hall, independent venues as a whole, all the ones we are working with, Soup, Aatma, The Peer Hat, The Castle and Gullivers and then places like Partisan. Also check out Yaang! And check out Evolve Vintage, everything I wear is from her! Big up to First Chop and all other independent breweries in the city too like Cloudwater.
"Get yourself a ticket, come along, listen to the playlist. I think there is something for all ears at this festival - besides black metal, sorry! - April 2nd, 2pm till late..."
You heard it right, a one day music festival supporting and celebrating all that is great within the UK's DIY music scenes, right in here in Manchester's Northern Quarter. Get your tickets below!
The full lineup is Algernon Cornelius, Another Country $$$$, BABii, Big Joanie, Blue Bendy, BOSS, Bull, Callum Easter, comfort, The Cool Greenhouse, CURRENTMOODGIRl, deathcrash, DITZ, Famous, global charming, halfs, Home Counties, Humint, Horsey, Jessica Winter, Meatraffle, Nukuluk, Otis Mensah, Priceless Bodies, Regressive Left, Robbie & Mona, ROSIE ALENA, Sofa King, Slow Knife, TAAHLIAH, Tibyan Mahawah Sanoh, Tony Njoku, Tyler Cryde, Waterbaby and YAANG.