Blog: Mak Page

The founder of Hull Street Sesh (5 Aug) talks about his work supporting unsigned bands and his ambitions for the festival

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I grew up on the English Riviera in the South West, in a little town called Paignton next to Torquay. Music was a passion from an early age, mainly through listening to my brother and sister’s northern soul and 2 Tone collection.

I started Djing at the age of 15, went travelling abroad at 18 and, through friends I’d met abroad, got caught in the cultural fishing net of Hull in 1992.

I met my soulmate and comedy partner Deb in the old Sydney Scarborough record shop in Hull around that time, and we’ve got three amazing kids who all love their music. I’m a very lucky man. Family is very important to me.

In 1995 I started a mod revival night on a Tuesday, which was pretty well received and had a decent following of mods, scooter boys, punks and indie kids. That’s when Britpop had kicked off and, by 2002, after struggling with cover bands in venues playing the usual Oasis and Blur hits, I knew there was a gap for a lot of kids forming original bands in the city who were struggling to find a home to play and feel wanted in. That’s when I started the Sesh.

The first few weeks and months it struggled, yet a scene quickly built among 20-odd bands and their mates. The premise was to bring original local bands together, give them a live platform, DJ their music and talk about them. We tried to be as inclusive as possible and encouraged publicity, which, through quality, continuity and community, built a decent live music night. That community angle had huge benefits as a pretty vibrant and tighter creative circle grew.

Over the next 10 years the Sesh went from strength to strength and in 2012 we wanted to do something special for its birthday. That’s how Humber Street Sesh was born.

The idea was to celebrate with a music festival on Hull’s stunning marina, and within eight weeks a street party was held on Humber Street – known as the old fruit market quarter.

We thought maybe 1,000 people would come but 10,000 turned up. In 2013, with the UK City of Culture bid gathering pace, we went for our second festival and increased the area. This time 40,920 showed up. It was completely mindblowing.

The Sesh for years has relied heavily on emerging regional acts with a few invited “outta towners”. We’re currently really trying to increase this and engage more with other cities and create connections. By getting some of the very best emerging acts from around the UK to play Sesh, it creates relationships and opens up opportunities for Hull’s bands and acts to network. There’s such a wealth of talent around this region it’s insane.

I think it was the legendary Liverpool football manager Bill Shankly who said: “If we all work together, we can share the rewards together.” I’m a firm believer in that. The Sesh night took off because we encouraged a community of like-minded souls to engage and support one another. The same applied to Humber Street Sesh, where we gave ownership of the festival to the musicians and creatives.

I’m very proud of what we have achieved with the Sesh and Humber Street Sesh. We’ve captivated a city, and helped create a sense of pride within the community. Aspirations have risen, and we’ve created new jobs. To attract 30,000 to an event with emerging artists on the bill, without wheelbarrowing in the big names, has been so rewarding.

Together with the immense support of the city we have built an incredible platform for musicians. This year Humber Street Sesh is inviting bands from all over the country to come and perform – bands from as far as Manchester, Edinburgh and even Northern Ireland. I genuinely think we will be showcasing some of the UK’s finest emerging talent this year – talent which will soon be exploding nationally and internationally.

Of course Hull will always be at the heart of the festival but it’s only right that the UK’s biggest festival for emerging talent is on the radar of people up and down the country, not just those with a Hull postcode.

Where will Humber Street Sesh be in a few years’ time? Who knows? For the past 15 years I have constantly been overwhelmed and shocked with the support and talent of Hull’s music scene.

But, like the incredible artists who amaze us every year on Hull Marina with their talent, we are ambitious. I want our festival to become known as the country’s premier platform for emerging talent, with artists all over the country with talent, drive and ambition saying: “If there’s one festival we want to play this year, it’s Humber Street Sesh.”

Humber Street Sesh is on 5 August at Hull Marina. Visit for more information

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