Sage Gateshead has announced that Man Power (Geoff Kirkwood), Me Lost Me (Jayne Dent), Rapasa Otieno and Joe Snape will join the organisation as Artists in Residence from September 2020. 

The artists were selected from over 100 applicants from across the region and will be resident at Sage Gateshead for 10 months.  The residency will benefit each of the selected artists at a pivotal moment in their career and support them to develop an ambitious creative project.

As an Artist in Residence, they will have access to funding, investment in a creative project of their choosing, a residential retreat, rehearsal space, one to one advice and support, and a concert at Sage Gateshead or virtual event to showcase their project at the end of the residency.

Man Power is the alias of Geoff Kirkwood, a North East born music producer specialising in dance music who has spent most of the last decade touring the world’s most well-known clubs and festivals performing as a DJ. Broadening his endeavours via his Bed Wetter project in early 2020, Geoff expanded in to experimenting with music and archival sounds as a method of exploring his own upbringing and regional identity. Geoff’s current focus is to further use experimental methods as a means of tackling varied concepts which include community, internationalism, privilege, exclusion, and the potential barriers he perceives for certain communities to engage in the arts.

Talking about his upcoming residency, Geoff said: “As someone from a North Eastern working class community without the traditional arts credentials, I hope my appointment as Artist in Residence for such an iconic and world-renowned local institution might go some way towards making the arts feel more accessible to people with a similar background to my own.”

Me Lost Me is the electronic music project of Newcastle-based musician Jayne Dent, who was recently included on BBC Introducing North East’s 2020 Tips List. Influenced by folk, electronica, art pop, ambient and noise music, Me Lost Me creates a beguiling mix of soaring vocals, synth, field recordings and hypnotic rhythms. Her live shows are atmospheric, dark and playful, with a repertoire that explores storytelling through original songs, improvisations and reworkings of traditional ballads. Me Lost Me has said she will use her residency to work on her forthcoming album.

She said: “During the residency I’ll write and record a new collection of songs to follow on from the release of my second album, and am looking forward to having some focused time to experiment and develop, while hopefully collaborating with some great musicians in the process.”

Rapasa Otieno is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, music educator and contemporary dancer. His debut album Tipona (my shadow), was released earlier this year. While playing several indigenous instruments to East Africa, Rapasa’s principal instrument is Nyatiti, that originates from the Lüo community who are settled around the shores of Lake Victoria, Kenya. 

He said: “I am excited at the idea of investigating more ways to become independent in my creativity as well as strengthening successful collaborations with local artists.” 

Joe Snape mixes conventional and homemade electronic instruments with light, text and video to make unusual and emotive performances. His work has been presented at places like The Kitchen (New York), Café Oto (London), and Wonder Site (Tokyo), and also at the Elbphilharmonie (Hamburg) and Aldeburgh Music. Joe is a former UK Young Artist, has been nominated for the Arts Foundation’s Creative Producer fellowship, and has helped commission new work from almost 20 young composers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Joe said: “There are two things that I’m particularly looking forward to as Artist in Residence at Sage Gateshead this year. The first is making a funny, heart-breaking evening-length piece with a new ensemble about music, memory, and the way those things come into play in the stories we tell about ourselves. The second is learning more about the North East’s rich tradition of music-making and community building, and figuring out how my work as a composer, but also as an aspiring teacher and a citizen, might usefully contribute to that tradition.”

Abigail Pogson, Managing Director at Sage Gateshead, said: “During these uncertain and complex times, musicians and artists can help us make sense of our world and our reactions to it and explore the future. 

“Many freelance musicians have been hit hard by the financial and practical challenges brought by Covid 19. It has therefore been especially important that we support musicians during this time and continue our artistic development programme right through lockdown.

“I am delighted that we are now announcing four new Artists in Residence for our 20/21 season. It is fantastic to establish some new creative relationships and look to the future. Welcome Man Power, Me Lost Me, Rapasa Otieno and Joe Snape to Sage Gateshead.”

Sage Gateshead’s building is currently closed but the artist development work continues online. The hope is that this year’s residency programme will culminate with a final performance held inside the venue.

Sage Gateshead is a PRS Foundation Talent Development Partner in association with Youth Music. The residency is supported through this scheme and is part of the organisation’s commitment to artist development and the future of the music industry. Every year Sage Gateshead supports more than 100 musicians through programmes such as this and Summer Studios (where artists can use the venue for free over the summer and access industry expertise and world-class facilities).

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