Lauren Laverne talks about Sunderland sounds at 6 Music Festival

Lauren Laverne - (C) BBC - Photographer: ANdrew Hayes-Watkins
Lauren Laverne - (C) BBC - Photographer: ANdrew Hayes-Watkins
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SUNDERLAND-born DJ Lauren Laverne says audiences can expect a rich array of local artists when the BBC’s biggest alternative music festival heads to the region.

The BBC broadcaster returned home to announce that the 6 Music Festival will take place in Tyneside next month.

“I think it’s fantastic for the region as a whole that the festival will be staged here,” said the former St Anthony’s School girl.

“And it’s not just musicians, there will be lots of local artists and arts groups who’ll be getting involved and I think they’ll have a great time,” she said.

Acts announced for the festival, which will take place at venues including O2 Academy and Sage Gateshead from February 20-22, include Maximo Park, Neneh Cherry, Interpol, Sleater-Kinney, Hot Chip, Ghost Poet, The Fall, The Charlatans and more.

Emerging artists from the area will also be provided with a platform to showcase their sound at the festival.

Lauren, who regularly returns home to visit family on Wearside, has always been a strong supporter of Mackem musicians.

“I am incredibly proud of where I’m from and I think there’s some fantastic music in the North East, such as the Brewis brothers (of Field Music fame) and Lulu James,” she said. “But when I play music on the show I play music that I love, it’s not a conscious thing of playing North East artists. They are played on their own merit.”

Last year, Frankie & the Heartstrings were invited to run a pop up version of their Pop Recs shop in Fawcett Street at the inaugural festival in Salford.

Lauren said: “I’ve been talking with the Pop Recs boys and I really hope they can be involved again this year as what they do is great. I think they’ve been asked to represent the shop again.”

Talking about how North East music has changed since she emerged with band Kenickie in the ‘90s, she said: “The music scene is so much more diverse now. When we were about we were very much the odd ones out on the scene. We had great support from friends, but a lot of people didn’t think it was cool to be a girl with a guitar and they would ask ‘but who writes your songs?’ I don’t think that would happen now.”

Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell was among the local musicians at the launch, which took place across a live radio broadcast from Newcastle University.

Kathryn, who is also a lecturer in folk and traditional music at the university, said: “This is such a musical region with so many traditions of music and it’s fantastic that the festival is heading here.

“Sunderland is doing amazingly well when it comes to producing new music. You keep hearing these great bands, one after the other, coming out of Sunderland, it’s an exciting place for music.

“You have new acts like The Lake Poets who sing about shipbuilding and heritage. It’s like cross-pollination because they appeal to a pop audience and folk audience.”

*Tickets for the first day of 6 Music Festival go on sale from Friday at 10am, priced £25. Visit www.bbc.co.uk/6music