Entering its third year, the GIT AWARD is set to once again applaud Liverpool’s latest international exports whilst shining a light on some of the city’s lesser-known gems, as the run-down of this year’s nominees on the left suggests. Ahead of the ceremony – set to be held at The Kazimier in an American Hustle-themed night on 11th April – we caught up with last year’s winner Baltic Fleet.
Awards, what are they good for? Absolutely plenty would be Paul Fleming’s answer, if you were to ask him. Since being declared the winner at last year’s GIT Award showcase in Leaf, Fleming’s Baltic Fleet have been quick to capitalise on the opportunities that winning the Award has granted them. “Musicians can get by without winning awards that’s for sure,” Fleming tells us, “but what it does is put you in public consciousness more; it gets you out there. I think every band starting out or in the early parts of their career needs as much help as they can get. Unless you get a single out that goes viral or it gets a ton of radio play, you need all that help. I think the Award has shown there’s a sort of ecosystem there; press, promoter, labels, radio, all working together and I think that really helps because you bring all those people together and that creates a platform in itself.”
Having seemingly bypassed the regional scene, Baltic Fleet had already established a good national following before the Award, having secured themselves a niche with their eponymous debut and gaining widespread acclaim for their fully-realised motorik follow-up Towers. Fleming recalls: “I was already sort of… I wouldn’t say successful. Over the first couple of albums I’d probably already done more in London than [in] Liverpool, even though I was based in Liverpool.” For Fleming then, the regional attention he garnered on the back of receiving a nomination was as important as the other facets of winning.
Leading up to the award, Baltic Fleet were able to further cement their name locally when they played a handful of local support slots, whilst playing the GIT Award showcase was an honour in itself for Fleming. “For me just to be nominated, looking back, that was huge. To win it was great but to be amongst those acts that were nominated was a really major thing for me. I’ve got a lot of respect for the acts that were on the shortlist.”
Elaborating on this point, Fleming explains that winning the Award also served as a kind of recognition of the work he was doing, and encouraged him to kick on. “For me, it was massively important, it was a major, major milestone and it’s helped me take things to another level with Baltic Fleet. I was making music in my bedroom; then the next thing, I’m winning an award. Hopefully
As well as giving Baltic Fleet a firm root in Merseyside it also helped to establish them in the public’s consciousness on a national level. “I did notice around the country that a lot of people started getting in touch for interviews and a couple of labels were in touch, different promoters, bands asking for remixes. So it definitely had a wider spread than just Liverpool.” This wave of publicity culminated in a showcase spot on the opening night of the Yoko Ono-curated Meltdown Festival at the Southbank Centre in London. “We had good momentum anyway,” says Fleming “but that definitely sort of put a rocket behind it for a period.”
The local networks Fleming has been exposed by off the back of the Award will provide the perfect avenues to ensure that the third Baltic Fleet release – currently in the offing – is heard across the width and breadth of Merseyside. The significance of securing a base in Liverpool is not lost on Fleming. “There’s a lot about the legacy [here], there’s a long-standing historical scene, an arts scene, a music scene especially. Going back [to] the days of it being the world’s biggest port and it’s just gone on since then through the sixties and the Mersey Beat to The La’s and going back to the 80s post-punk stuff. So there’s always been a scene going on in Liverpool and I think that’s why people come because they know it’s a ready-made cultural ecosystem. And it’s a great city as well; there’s great venues, there’s so much stuff always going on.”
Looking at this year’s shortlist, Fleming says he can see that Liverpool’s music scene has hit a rich vein of form. “I really like Outfit, I think their album was brilliant, and Forest Swords’ album was brilliant too. I’ve not heard the Tea Street Band’s album yet but I have remixed one of their tracks and I know they have a big following locally.”
Given that the judging panel includes tastemakers from the Guardian, BBC 6 Music and XFM, it would be safe to assume that this year’s GIT Award will garner even more attention than in previous years, putting great momentum behind the winner. Regardless of who wins, anyone on the shortlist – or anyone making music in Liverpool for that matter – should hold a collective sense of pride as the GIT Award’s diagnosis of the local scene indicates that it is in fine health. Fleming concludes: “if you’re in a band and you’re not on that list, it’s not something to be disheartened about, it’s something to actually make you go further and to work harder and keep doing what you’re doing.”
The GIT Award ceremony takes place at The Kazimier on 11th April.