Uncertainty continues to reign around the world; Covid infections ebb and flow and as numbers increase, so too do restrictions. With these come the inevitable cancellations – concerts, parties and public events with large crowds are directly in the firing line. Our government is treading the same fine line that all others are currently walking, in an effort to keep the number of positive cases down while at the same time allowing for life to proceed. In the entertainment industry, long-term planning is key, but organisers now need to be ready for circumstances to change at the drop of a hat.
And circumstances have indeed changed in Gibraltar – the summer brought with it great promise of a return to normality, or at least ‘the new normal’, but ended with a slew of cancelled events as the pandemic once again reared its head on the rock. As a result, many of the gigs that were meant to be discussed in this interview have unfortunately been put on ice (for the time being).
Wayne seems to take this all in his stride. “Covid is here, it hasn’t gone away, we’re going to get cancelled gigs”. He’s quick to point out that insofar as he is able, he will reschedule events rather than give up on them. This is where you need passion to motivate your planning, when the bottom line might not be especially convincing.
As founder of FutureSoundz, Wayne has created an outlet through which to put his love for music to good use. His aims are twofold: to bring the right UK bands to Gibraltar, and to nurture the right local bands on the rock.
Which are the right bands?
Wayne seeks out UK-based indy talent that is about to break out; musicians on the brink of their first international tour, say, perhaps a band that has written the title music for a new Netflix show. These criteria are perhaps best exemplified through his booking of The Clockworks: the Irish four-piece was profiled by the Guardian and elsewhere in the British press in March. In July, they came to Gibraltar to play at The Lord Nelson. This month they are touring the United States with the Pixies.
Booking costs and venue choices are, of course, a consideration for FutureSoundz, and Wayne uses his eye for talent to identify bands who are in that sweet spot: destined for bigger things, not quite there yet.
And the locals?
The clue is in the name. FutureSoundz looks to support young bands in particular, the talent of tomorrow; those still honing their craft who can benefit from the support and exposure Wayne can provide.However, he wants young bands to be moving in the right direction too. If a local outfit is to support a touring band, they’re expected to play 75% original material.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good cover band? Plenty of people want to hear their favourite songs on a night out, but Wayne has his eye on the creators. He wants bands he can trust with a half-hour slot, who won’t look out of place opening for reputable groups from the UK; he wants bands who might in turn catch the right eye, raise their own profile and grow professionally.
And sure, Covid cancellations may have put a bit of a dampener on things in terms of bringing talent over to Gibraltar and hosting larger-scale events, but even with the Covid cloud looming, there is still a silver lining.
“I’m getting calls from bands in the UK who haven’t gigged in 18 months! I’ve been in contact with musicians of astonishing quality, and we hope to get them down here as soon as we can”. Gibraltar’s status as a green list country may continue to pay dividends well into autumn and winter.
As far as Wayne is concerned, the best is yet to come.
Despite living here for close to 20 years, he still describes himself as a bit of an outsider, but says he hopes the passion and effort he puts into his work is endearing him to local musicians and music lovers alike.
More than that, Wayne’s work with FutureSoundz in the last couple of years and his collaboration with the Musician’s Association of Gibraltar, have coincided with a resurgence in the local music scene for which they can both certainly take some credit.
As for his plans?
“The endgame has always been a festival. The FutureSoundz Festival”. The reality of Gibraltar’s finances mean that it may be some time before the Gibraltar Music Festival returns in the format, we had grown accustomed to (if it ever does). Instead, Wayne envisages something akin to Camden Rocks or Live at Leeds – multiple venues hosting acts throughout the day, with a grand finale at one large venue in the evening.
This, he says, could be done for a fraction of the cost of the GMF and would give the entire community the opportunity to take part, contribute, and engage with the influx of music fans that would no doubt be drawn to the rock.
Wayne paints a very appealing picture of future possibilities, and despite the future being even more uncertain than usual, you wouldn’t fancy betting against him turning his dream into a reality. Watch this space.