LOCKDOWN has been tough for artists in the music industry. Finding a way to engage with fans during a pandemic has been a test. Simone O’Kane spoke to Graeme Park.

MUSICAL harmony is something that Graeme Park only knows too well.

But during the covid crisis, the way that musicians and DJs have been affected has been crippling.

That’s why Graeme Park has spent time campaigning with the Night Times Industries Association, talking to politicians trying to put the case forward for the impact on the hospitality venues and clubs.

“I am being a voice in my industry, I am very lucky that people pay a bit of attention to what I say,” said Graeme.

“Shops can open, people are queuing to get in stores and it’s all really busy, so why can’t restaurants and bars have people inside, it doesn’t make sense.”

Graeme said he lost 90 per cent of his income because of the crisis as gigs were cancelled including the much-anticipated Hacienda Classical 2021 tour.

The DJ, who is also a part time senior lecturer said that people who attend major events are going to have to follow the rules.

He said: “I worry that people will relax a bit too much because we still have to follow all of the guidance and social distancing. I hope people don’t get too relaxed about everything, we have to learn to live with covid, it’s not going to go away.

“It’s going to change a lot when we are allowed back out, for example, I am always happy to do photographs and meet people, but I hope that people realise that they can’t come running up to me. I haven’t changed from being quite accessible, but we have to put our safety first.

“You can still catch covid. I have had my vaccine, but you can have the vaccine and still catch it. I will hopefully get a lateral flow test, if it comes up as positive, I will have to do a PCR test. But if it comes that I have got covid, I will have to cancel all gigs. But I will be fully vaccinated by the time we get back to the regular gigs and I hope everyone else gets their vaccine as soon as they can.”

Because of the pandemic, Graeme said he had to unfollow those with ‘conspiracy theories’ on the vaccine, including an old friend from The Stone Roses.

He said: “I stopped following Ian Brown on Twitter, I know him quite well, we are the same age, his birthday is six months before my birthday, the last two Stone Roses re-union tours I toured with them.

“Then he started posting all of the bizarre conspiracy theories online, I didn’t agree so then he started trolling me twitter, so I unfollowed him. To be fair he has pulled out of the Neighbourhood Festival, as organisers said artists have to have their jab, so at least he is putting his money where his mouth is which is fair enough.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Gpark

Graeme has been working behind the scenes with his live streaming and Long Live House Radio Show, he works closely with venues such as the Old Courts in Wigan, Square Chapel Arts Centre and the Piece Hall in Halifax, where he is a patron.

Speaking of his memories in Blackburn, Graeme said: “I have always had a great time in Blackburn and played King George’s Hall many of time.

“Going way back to the late eighties, early nineties, I would find myself DJing at a warehouse in Blackburn after the Hacienda, so me and Blackburn go back a long way.

“But during lockdown, I haven’t been reflecting, I have been keeping myself busy with the live streams and MixClouds as well as charity work. I would rather look forward rather than backwards. I try to keep engaging with my audience, some people may have had time to reflect but I haven’t had a minute to myself.”

Graeme will be DJing at the Hacienda Classical shows that are coming up across the UK. The live concerts are run by former Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook, it features a 70-piece orchestra and DJs including Mike Pickering who is the only DJ Graeme has done a back-to-back set with.

He said: “I have turned down many offers to do a back-to-back set with other DJs, but personally I am not a fan of back-to-back. Mike and I go back a long way and when we do DJ together, we know what the other one is thinking, and it works really well.

“I am happy that the Hacienda Classical will be back to thrill the nation with positivity and love.”

Question and Answer

What song still gives you goosebumps?

There is one track that I dug out last week that never fails to do that and it’s Surrender Yourself by Daou. It is a perfect club record; it’s got everything in it and is a really long song. It’s one of those records I used to put on in the Hacienda when I needed the toilet on a Saturday, it’s 12 minutes long. It was long enough for me to get the key for the downstairs toilet from under the bar. It’s a great record, I can’t wait to play that.

If you were on a desert island, what record would you take, you’re only allowed one.

I would probably take Vivaldi’s Four Seasons because it has everything in it. Energy and calm, atmosphere, that may come as a surprise but if you are on a desert Island, you’d go mad if it was a dance record. Four Seasons changes, it goes up it goes down it goes quiet it goes loud and if you were on a desert island it would reflect the elements of the island throughout the year.

Tell us about when Todd Terry played your records.

Todd’s record label flew him into the UK to launch his record label and I was asked to play at the launch alongside him. I went on first then went to the bar. While I was dancing, I was saying 'these records are the same as mine, he’s brought all the same ones as me'. When I went back, mine were all there. His records hadn’t turned up from America and he thought someone had asked me if he could use my records, but that never got to me. I was a bit shocked and thought it was a bit rude, he left them in a right state. I have known him for 35 years; we have always got on and we still laugh about that when we see each other.

Visit https://www.thisisgraemepark.com/ for tour details.