It will come as no surprise to those tuned into Manchester’s independent music wavelength to hear of the dilemma at the heart of Sessions of March. Having filmed performances by 26 artists during phase one of the project, they’ve easily identified another 30 to appear before their lenses, and even then they’d only have scraped the surface creativity flourishing in and around the city.

Since originally launching following a month of filming their favourite locally-based musicians during March 2015, Sessions of March’s YouTube channel has amassed over 20,000 views. Its most popular videos feature Henge’s ‘Central Pier’, Jenna & The Gs’ ‘Poison Apple’, Red-Eye HiFi Live Band’s ‘Trapped’, and Ten Foot Wizard’s ‘King Shit of Fuck Mountain’, but there’s plenty more to discover using the ‘random’ button on their main website.

The dilemma lies in raising funds to help to make it happen, which its founder and ringleader-in-chief, Kris Extance, hopes to do via a Kickstarter campaign which begins on 11 January. He filled in the gaps by answering our questions.

How were the first seeds of the project planted? What inspired you to start it?

The project began as a way for a group of people to say goodbye to a creative venture at a venue in south Manchester. A huge extended family of people had helped create the venue with a strong ethos for supporting local independent music. However after nearly six years, the remaining members of that team felt this ethos was compromised too much and we felt we had to choose to leave the venue.

The aim was to create a snapshot of the amazing music we had discovered through the venue over those years. However, as we made the first sessions, due to strong suggestion from the musicians, the idea evolved into launching a Kickstarter to try and do it again. There were so many bands we couldn’t fit on the first sessions so the game changed and we started preparation for the launch.

We recorded 26 artists and approximately 80 tracks in first sessions. This is with a hugely diverse range of styles involved. The inspiration for the project was this amazing variety of music and the fact that the venue was the only place previously where we had seen this huge range of stuff alongside each other. Since we could no longer see this in the venue, this seemed the most appropriate way to make it continue to happen.


How is the team knitted together?

The team initially comprised of me – I organised and funded the project. I got my favourite audio team of WR Audio (Biff Roxby and Dan Watkins) to cover the audio recording. Then a longstanding venue team member, the legendary Dan Jones from Midnight Sounds production company, took on the videos side. Joining him was the only Sessions team member not related to the venue, Mr Matthew Jones (not related to Dan) from Lion’s Den productions, who helped with the video side. Then the last main team member is a true source of inspiration for me, Mr Jason Badiozzaman, who has generally helped out and supported us through the project.

What’s your view on the use of phone cameras at gigs?

It does make me sad sometimes to watch people using camera phones at gigs. But more specifically, it’s when you see people who are watching the screens more than the actual stage.

I understand someone maybe wanting to video their favourite song or simply take a photo or two as a lovely reminder, but it’s saddening to watch people missing out on what is such a beautiful experience by trying to record it.

Is this something you’re able to bypass with Sessions of March?

I guess with Sessions you have a perfect opportunity to see amazing bands’ superb live performances without any need for videoing it on a phone, as we videoed it using an array of DSLRs and a GoPro or two. However, it’s not the same as being part of an audience, all in one room for one purpose: to appreciate the music.

What are your aims for the Sessions of March for 2016?

Our aim for 2016 is to make our Kickstarter, launching on 11 January, a success and raise enough money to try and record another 25 to 30 independent bands, thus doubling our snapshot of the amazing creative community that Manchester has to offer. Then from there, we have a lot of possibilities, including live events and even more recordings, but we cannot do any of this without making the next set of sessions happen.

Background image: CCTV by Andy Cropper.

Ian Pennington