The Getintothis Award: Peter Guy Interview
The inaugural Getintothis Award has been described as ‘Liverpool’s answer to the Mercury Prize’. With the shortlist about to be announced, Nerve met up with music journalist Peter Guy, originator of the Getintothis blog to discuss what inspired the prize.
By Richard Lewis 26/3/2012
Hailed by the NME as ‘Liverpool’s answer to the Mercury Prize’, the first GetIntothis (GIT) Award has caught the imagination of the city’s musicians and gig promoters, who have enthusiastically thrown their weight behind the venture. A prize for the best record created by Merseyside-based musicians, the criteria for entrants was to submit a minimum of four tracks via CD or mp3 for consideration, between November of last year with the closing date at the end of this February. The judges have been inundated with submissions, receiving an incredible 380 entries for the prize.
Open to all musical genres, the prize provides a level playing field for artists, with bands who have record deals with small indie labels, rubbing shoulders with musicians who are well known on the local gig circuit alongside those who may not have even played live yet.
The prize winners will receive recording time at Liverpool studio Sandhills Studio plus showcase performances at this year's Sound City and Liverpool Music Week. The recipients will also play a gig in London at Vice Magazine's bar The Old Blue Last, as well as having a promo created by Virgin Media Shorts filmmaker of the Year nominee Ian Gamester which will be screened at FACT.
Hosted on the Liverpool Daily Post’s webpage, Getintothis started in May 2007, and has seen Peter who then worked on the paper’s sports desk, guide the blog through half a decade of changing fortunes in the city’s music scene. Now working for the Liverpool Echo’s online digital team, he feels that the music being created in the city at present is the strongest it has been in a long time.
‘Liverpool has been on an upward curve since 2007’ Peter says, sat in his usual base of operations when away from the office, Bold St. Coffee. ‘The commercialization of Liverpool ONE and the Capital of Culture has meant the independent and creative sectors have gone through the roof. When I started Getintothis, I was one of hardly any online ‘zines writing about music and I think the scene was in a bit of hangover since the post-Zanzibar, Bandwagon scene.’
‘I think Liverpool was getting unfairly pigeonholed by the outside press’ Peter says. ‘I think the way we’ve moved with the times has meant the city has become one big collaborative pool of talent, not just in music but in the arts too, as the independent scene has come together. I think the GIT Award will be a great example of shedding light and giving a platform to the literally countless creative types in the city who are worth celebrating.’
The initial inspiration for the prize came about from a more modest source than the usual corporate awards bashes such as the Brits or the latter-day NME awards. ‘I thought it was gonna be like the Popjustice prize where I give someone a fiver and say ‘Well done mate, you’ve been making boss music for a year!’’ Pete grins.
‘With Mike Deane from Liverpool Music Week, Dave Pichilingi from Liverpool Sound City, along with Gary McGarvey (the man behind Horse Graphics) saying they wanted to get involved, it just snowballed from there. The people from FACT, the guys at The Bluecoat, all the cornerstones of the art scene not just the music scene are interested in the award.’
One major difference between the GIT Award and the Mercury Prize, which it resembles most out of the existing awards shows, is the presence of a transparent judging panel. Unlike the Mercury’s, where various judges will be interviewed after the result has been announced, the full list of adjudicators is never fully revealed. The GIT Awards by complete contrast has all of the judges and their place in the city’s music scene made clear from the outset. All of the judges have links to the city, whether they live and work here at present or were born on Merseyside.
As founder of the prize Peter is head of a nine-strong judging panel and in the event of a tie has the casting vote to decide a winner. The judges include Joshua Burke, co-founder of Liverpool music and lifestyle magazine Waxxx, Andy Capper, global editor of Vice magazine and John Doran, editor of music webzine The Quietus which won of Record of the Day's 2011 Digital Publication award. They are joined by Steve ‘Revo’ Miller, Liverpool music promoter and the man behind club night EVOL and former music journalist Paul Rogers, who is head of content at Liverpool Football Club’s website . Craig G Pennington, editor and publisher of the Liverpool music magazine Bido Lito! Alexandra Topping, a Skelmersdale-born journalist for The Guardian and Matt Wilkinson, new music editor on for the NME complete the group of nine.
From the hundreds of submissions, a shortlist of twelve will be announced on Tuesday 27th March who will be put forward for the award. Setting up a shared internet dropbox in November when the project was announced, the judges had access to the tracks submitted to the account up until the closing date for entries in February.
Trying to whittle such a huge number of entrants down to a mere twelve created difficulties the judges had to overcome. Peter explains of the process, ‘I was very against people ranking the acts in order. If someone was third on everyone’s list, they might have got through as an also-ran. Whereas someone who finished top with three or four of the judges but finishes bottom on the others leads to acts who people feel indifferent about being put through.’
Any slight advantage some musicians may have had with being able to submit more expensively recorded material than other entrants is rendered void by the prize’s insistence on being as open as it can be. Peter explains, ‘Some of the people who have been eligible for this process haven’t even got a physical CD, some of them have only just learnt how to upload onto Soundcloud, we want it to be as inclusive as possible for everyone.’
‘The youngest person we’ve had enter was an 11 year old from Bootle, a singer-songwriter in the making and at the other end of the spectrum we had a 70 year old from Kirby who sent me a handwritten letter along with sort of rootsy, country material, it was good stuff. It shows that the word’s got out there.’
The prize has also meant that bands who may still be slightly under-the-radar have come to greater prominence via the process. ‘Barely a day’s gone by at the Echo where I haven’t had a CD land on my desk with ‘The GIT Award’ written on the envelope’ Peter nods. ‘There were bands where I’d heard their name but not their music, so it was a good educational process for me to familiarize myself with artists who are getting a bit of a buzz around town.’
Following the announcement of the shortlist, the winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Leaf Café a month later, the relatively new venue scene of some of the city’s best gigs in recent times. The trophy itself is being designed by Sam Venables, who recently had her work exhibited at the Wolstenholme Creative Space and is part of The Royal Standard collaborative group of artists.
‘The format of the awards night will be similar to Jools Holland meets the Mercury Prize’ Peter says of the ceremony. ‘Hopefully we’ll have all 12 entrants playing there. By the nature of it though, some of these bands are going places and they might have to change their plans. Each band will play one track, or they’ll have a ten minute slot to do something special, there’ll be five or six play, then a interval bit, then the rest play and the winner will be announced.’
Although the winner will have been decided prior to the acts taking to the stage, Peter is mindful of any information leaking out as to who might have won. ‘Myself and one other judge will know who has won on the night and no-one else,’ Peter states. ‘I think it’s very important to maintain that level of spontaneity. One of my favourite groups of people in the city are The Kazimier guys and they thrive on spontaneity and letting things evolve.’
Peter hopes the awards bash will be ‘a mini-festival experience under one roof’, with musicians who may have only had little exposure so far able to make their mark on the evening. With the overwhelmingly positive reception to the announcement of the award and the deluge of submissions for it, it looks highly likely the GIT Award will become a permanent fixture on Liverpool’s music calendar.
The shortlist of twelve candidates for the GIT Award will be announced on Tues 27th March exclusively on Getintothis: www.peterguy.merseyblogs.co.uk
The GIT Awards ceremony will be held at Leaf Café, Bold St. on Friday 27th April.
Comment left by Gaz on 26th March, 2012 at 17:34
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