INTERVIEW; james Simmonds from kult diy speaks to frazer mitchell about a new petition to help forward yeovil's thriving music scene
FRAZER; Hey James! It’s nice to catch up with you - there seems to be a lot to talk about - you’ve been busy!
So, let’s start from the beginning - you are the founder of Kult DIY - what is that?
JAMES; A while back there was a bit of an outcry for alternative events in Yeovil. People reminisced about times past when Yeovil’s ’scene’ flourished. But since the closure of many venues, the ‘scene’ dried up and it seemed like no one was going to take on running alternative shows so I thought I’d give it a go. I ignored off-putting opinions and created Yeovil Punk Collective, the idea was to put on punk shows drawing from contacts we’d made in the DIY punk scene and provide Yeovil with something a bit different. A few shows in I wanted to broaden the genres covered so the name changed to Kult DIY, a name that incapsulates my involvement in the UK’s DIY scene. Since then I’ve put on numerous events with Kult DIY at The Railway Hotel which has now become a central hub for the alternative music in Yeovil.
FRAZER; You’ve also been quite a figure in upcoming original acts and bands in the Yeovil area, putting on events, what’s going on there? How did that all start?
JAMES; When I first started putting on shows back in 2016, I did DIY house shows, where I’d book a few acoustic acts and have them play in my dining room. I then got involved with ‘Small Fry DIY Rolling Punk Circuit’ which was run by Alex from Wonk Unit. The idea was to create a UK touring circuit for lesser known acts to play. I agreed to put on house shows with acoustic acts but quickly realised there was much more demand for bands, so I started booking them at venues in town. From there I realised I could probably put on some more established acts. Things naturally morphed into Kult DIY, once again putting Yeovil on the map for alternative bands to play with the hopes of creating a ‘scene’ in Yeovil.
FRAZER; The big thing I want to talk about is your petition - now for those that haven’t seen, you’ve already for 100+ people signing the petition you made to install a Live Music and Event’s Noticeboard in Yeovil - which I personally think is a great idea. Where did this idea come from?
JAMES; Since starting the promoting stuff I’ve always tried to find ways of making people aware of my events. I use social media to a large extent and use more old school methods of flying but still people tell me they haven’t heard of any of the events I’m putting on. One of the methods I use is fly posting in certain areas in town and I think this is an effective way of advertising but the posters sometimes get ripped down and the areas are limited. I then thought what if there was a specific wall/area where all music events could be posted, a place everyone will see and then will be synonymous for knowing what’s going on. My influence for this are the drums they use in Exeter city centre where people poster events on, they’re very eye catching and you are instantly aware of what’s on there. I have messaged the council already here. I think this sort of board would be great for our music community, not just for knowing what’s going on but also bringing us all together.
FRAZER; We’ll put the link to the petition at the bottom of this page, so people can get involved and help sign this really important petition. Like I’ve said you have been quite an important figure in Yeovil based bands and original artists especially - what are the things you think need changing in the area?
JAMES; Back in the day, the Yeovil scene was heavily influenced by the colleges music department, so the students were very involved in the music scene. Since the music department was axed there has been a serious lack of youths getting involved in the music scene. Somehow this needs to change as I’m sure there’s plenty of great musicians or music lovers out there who would enjoy my events. Attendance is always a huge worry for me, no matter how great the act is there will always be a huge sketch if any people will turn up! Either people are unaware of the events or apathetic I don’t know but at least if the music events board is put up, this may reach more people’
A venture I’ve always wanted to do is start my own rehearsal studio as this is something that Yeovil lacks. This would give all musicians a place to develop and network.
FRAZER; What can original artists and bands do to help get round the problems they face?
JAMES; I think as we’re quite a small town and community we need to communicate with one and another. No matter what try to help each other out in whatever way we can, whether that’s coming to a show, sharing a post on facebook or organising an event, it’s best to unify then divide.
FRAZER; Thanks a lot for chatting with me James - and I wish you the very best for your future endeavours - whatever you need, you have the backing from Antix Music Network; after all, collaboration and working together is the way forward for a music scene like Yeovil has to develop.
JAMES; Thanks a lot for your support - I’m sure we’ll stay in touch soon!
LINK TO PETITION; https://www.change.org/p/yeovil-town-council-yeovil-music-scene-gig-notice-board-for-the-town-centre?recruiter=false&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial&utm_term=psf_combo_share_initial&recruited_by_id=7b9d9f50-5c09-11ea-a451-593323044ead&utm_content=fht-20555636-en-gb%3Av2