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INTERVIEW W/ Capeesh CIC - The community project offering free music tutoring to young people across Merseyside!

Capeesh CIC are a community youth project based across Merseyside who are helping young people engage with music and use it as a tool to develop their creative, professional and personal skills to set them up for later life while having fun in a safe and friendly environment.

They have a range of tutors who specialise in an array of instruments and provide interactive group sessions for FREE to young students. Ahead of their Independent Venue Week live showcase at Handyman's Pub on February 1st (Tickets available here) we spoke with the project's creator Mark Rowley as well as STONE guitarist Elliot Gill and Singer Songwriters Grace Parry and Samya O'Grady who all tutor for Capeesh.

Q. What was the initial idea behind starting Capeesh CIC?

Mark: "Basically we set up in December 2017 with an idea to give more opportunities to young people, to grow an audience for new music and to support independent venues. Elliot was right there at the start when we had a meeting with young people, sharing ideas about how it could work; kind of making it for young people by young people from the outset. Then around 2019, I had the idea, copying from other organisations, of combining youth work with music tuition. My background is in youth work so I thought it’d be a good fit".

Elliot: "It's like a free initiative for student to access music lessons. Obviously everyone has a different playing field, some of them have been playing for a couple of years, a couple of months, and some people have just literally just started so there’s different types of rudiments to bring to them all individually".

Q. As tutors, what are your personal experiences of joining Capeesh?

Elliot: “Capeesh married the two things that I was good at doing; being a musician and working with kids. So, it was the perfect thing for me!"

Samya: "Music's the only thing I've actually understood, I feel like It's a thing that understands me so it just made sense to develop it but I didn’t know youth work was something I could do! I knew I could relate to people, I think 'cause my mom was a teacher and I’m lucky I had my mum's skills, but youth work was new to me. I thought I’d give it a go and it just felt really natural when I went there, it feels like a kind of therapy, not just music.

Grace: "I hadn't heard of it until they messaged me about playing one of the live shows. It was a great experience and I wanted to do it more and after talking to Mark and Samya after the show I got involved and It's been lovely, it's been an amazing experience".

Q. What do you aim to achieve with Capeesh CIC?

Mark: "We wanted to work with young people, develop their interest in music and explore how they could get more involved in it, either for pleasure or with a target in mind. This aim for development is why we bring in younger people, most youth work targets 13 and over but we go a little bit younger because the interest is there. We do really good work and the feedback we get from parents and people that come to observe it is fantastic. There’s a guy called Mark Jones who’s Head of Music at a school in Crosby. He came and said that the energy, the vibrance and the young people collaborating and making music together was one of the best examples of music teaching that he's ever seen in his long career".

Elliot: "I think my role, having played guitar for a number of years and having experience as an emerging artist in the music industry is to teach that sense of musicianship that doesn't necessarily get taught within schools. I come in almost on a mentor kind of basis and try to have a School of Rock Jack Black kind of enthusiasm which usually captures their imagination".

Q. What do you feel the students get out of the sessions?

Elliot: "I think in my childhood playing guitar was a very solitary activity because I wasn't really in a band until my late teens and I spent a lot of that time indoors but Capeesh changes that for people. My main draw to this project is that if I’d had an opportunity to be involved in something like this when I was 14 or 15 I'd have been straight there. It's a very existential kind of feeling for me as a young person because I had to backtrack on my own musical journey to remember what it was like learning my first bar chords or playing my first gigs and then pass on any experience I've picked up onto the young people during our sessions".

"I think its not just the musical skills they learn, it's a cumulative experience that teaches them how to develop all aspects of themselves. All the knowledge and experiences that come with being in a band is something that we're trying to pass on. We try to distill that discipline into a usable kit and give these young people access to it, especially broader traits such as never giving up. A lot of people think there's just a lucky few who make it and it's not necessarily the case. It's just a case of dedication and even if it doesn't take you all that way, it's so valuable to learn those skills at a young age".

Q. Do you feel working with Capeesh also develops & benefits yourselves as individuals?

Samya: "Definitely! Since working we’ve all got loads of opportunities and we're taking up other jobs in youth work; it's something I can see myself doing in the future! The amount of connections I've made through Mark and Capeesh is enormous as well".

Grace: “I didn't even know that it was something I would like but now it's something I'm trying to do outside of Capeesh as well - it's developed me as a person! When I first met the rest of the team I was really shy but I feel like i've become so much more confident by working with Capeesh”.

Elliot: "I think the most exciting part about Capeesh is the capacity for development. As it goes on we strive to get more and more fun and we're just constantly developing ourselves to be more resourceful and more structured, having a little bit more of a rigid sort of curriculum while maintaining that kind of informal and fun atmosphere so that it doesn’t feel like school".

Q. You also host live shows, what's the idea behind these?

Mark: "Yes, we do a range of shows. Some are in-house celebration sharing events aimed at people who are starting out. The idea behind these shows is for people to start building their performance skills; it's fine to make mistakes at them, it's fine to look at a phone and no matter how many bum notes you might sing you’ll get a big round of applause and a big cheer because you’ve had a go and built your experience".

"We then also have public events for people who are a little bit more advanced in their journeys and a bit more confident around performing".

Q. What do you want the students to get out of their performances?

Mark: "Every time you play in front of an audience you learn a little bit more about yourself as a person, as a musician and as a performer. So that's really what playing these gigs are about, building your own confidence and self worth".

Grace: "I think the self worth part's really important. I started gigging when I was like 13 and I didn't know for years that you're meant to get paid for it. It doesn't matter how old you are if you're gigging, you're meant to get paid. These gigs show them that when they do things outside of the youth centre they should know their worth and expect to get paid for their talent".

Elliot: "Performing is a nerve wracking thing. We give these kids an embryonic kind of experience that teaches them, in a safe environment, that it's okay to mess up a little bit. We give them feedback and they learn a little bit about themselves over time and pick up skills like memorising your lyrics, understanding how gigs are operated and how important set times and change overs are. It's developing your professionalism as well as your performance".

"Playing a show is like looking at a really cold swimming pool and you really want to jump in and do a cannonball but you start psyching yourself out because you’re scared of the cold. Once you've jumped off, ie. once you've started your song and your set is underway, you're in it. You know you're about to hit the water and there’s no turning back. But when you do hit the water you realise it’s just fine and all of a sudden you don't want to get out of the pool…you wanna stay in! The thrill of playing live is one of the most visceral and if I could bottle it up and give it to someone I would. These shows are the closest thing to doing that”.

Q. When is your next public live show?

Mark: “Our next show is on February 1st at Handyman’s Pub as part of Independent Venue Week. Grace, Samya and Elliot are all going to be performing. Then we’ve also got a young woman named Poppy King who's come to us via Grace. We’ve got Astles on as well so it’s going to be a sort of singer-songwriter showcase. It's just individuals getting up and doing their kind of set but I want to encourage all the artists to look at doing collaborations with each other too. Then we’re finish off with DJ sets from the lads out of Monks so its going to be a great night and, excitingly, Elliot is actually going to be performing solo for the first time”. (Get tickets for the live show here).

Q. How are you feeling about playing solo Elliot?

Elliot: "It's something that's outside of my comfort zone. I don't normally do anything like this but If I can’t push myself further outside my comfort zone when performing then how am I supposed to make the case for the kids we teach? You have to lead by example…even if that means going down with the ship haha”.

Q. Apart from coming down to the February 1st gig, how else can people support and get involved with Capeesh?

Mark: "If people want to get involved and support I think the best way to get in touch with us on email at or you can donate to our GoFundMe here".


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