Here at Inspire Music, we have been very lucky to have been supported from numerous people in the music industry. We have been lucky to have met so many brilliant people who work hard behind the scenes and people who work across a wide spectrum of genres.
So, as part of our blog, we are going to start running an ‘Inspired By…’ series. This will feature short spotlights and interviews with people in the music industry including artist, musicians, promoters and media. They will be a little look into their world and what inspires them.
One person who has supported us from the very beginning is Nick Cantwell and that’s where our first feature begins.
Nick is the founder and owner of Belles & Gals; a company that celebrates the world of female country music and one of the nicest people in the industry.
Charlotte caught up with him earlier this week to find out a little more about Belles & Gals.
When did you form Belles & Gals and why?
I formed Belles and Gals in January 2016. I’d had a bit of a tough time personally, as I had lost my dad very suddenly the previous November – and I had tickets to see Canadian country artist Lindi Ortega in the middle of January. I was genuinely 50/50 as to whether I should go, but I decided to make the trip. The gig was just fantastic and was a real lift. Without wanting to sound too sentimental, the gig made me realise just how much country music meant to me and I knew I needed to become more involved. Belles and Gals started just a few days later!
Our aim at the site is to feature all artists – whether a worldwide superstar or an artist who is literally just starting out. We’re definitely not in the business of putting artists down either – we know how much time, effort and passion it takes to record a song, an EP or an album!
Can you tell us how Belles & Gals has evolved since launching?
It’s taken off a lot more than I imagined. I was hoping to simply meet other people who liked similar music to me (I knew literally nobody who liked country!). However, I soon realised that the site could be a good promotional tool for artists. I didn’t dream that we’d be featuring interviews with the likes of Brandy Clark and Lindsay Ell a couple of years down the line. It’s truly humbling when a Nashville publicist sends an email asking if their artist can feature on your site!
What has been amazing is the growth of the team – it started out as just me, but I have been joined by a number of talented, enthusiastic and passionate people who are just a joy to work with. In 2017 we moved into live gigs, with the first gig in Liverpool taking place on our first anniversary. We’ll be scheduling more gigs in 2018!
What is your proudest achievement to date?
There was one particular moment this year that stands out. We hosted a gig at the Sound Lounge in London (a venue that will be much missed) during the summer. It was a songwriter’s evening in the round and we got a fantastic crowd to come along. It was just a great night with amazing performances from all of the artists – at one point I looked around and literally everyone in the venue was on their feet. To be involved in that moment was just amazing.
Who is your favourite country artist?
Can I be greedy and mention two, one from either side of the Atlantic?
My favourite international artist would have to be Lindi Ortega. I’ve already said that she influenced me to start the site. As an artist, she has a rawness that is hard to define and is incredible live – the one word I would use to describe her is ‘real’.
My favourite artist from the UK would have to be Hannah Rose Platt. I don’t think an album has ever had such an effect on me as Hannah’s debut ‘Portraits’ album – I connected immediately and it has never let go. Hannah is an incredible songwriter and I cannot wait to hear her new album in 2018. I was lucky enough to work with Hannah for a few months earlier this year and we’ve become great friends in the process.
Is there a particular artist at the moment who you feel is ‘One to Watch’
I’ve listened to so many upcoming artists in the last couple of years, that this is a tough one. However, one particular artist has really stood out when I first heard her a month or so ago. She is a young singer from Norwich called Lucy Grubb. She has a real originality in her sound, which makes her stand out. With a great voice too and a poise in performance – she ticks every box for me.
Anything else you would like to add?
One of the joys of running Belles and Gals has been realising just how good the UK scene is. If I’m completely honest, prior to the site, I had no real idea a scene existed. Fast forward a couple of years and I go to at least one gig a week, maybe more (as many as I can get to, without my wife and two daughters getting annoyed!). The scene is just magic and there is so much talent out there. I just wish a larger percentage of the annual C2C crowd would take a chance and go to a UK gig. If they were like me, they’d fall in love with UK country too!
For more information on Belles & Gals visit: http://bellesandgals.com/
Follow them at: https://www.facebook.com/BellesandGals/