Due to current events we’ve had to move around our weekly music news, however we will still be here every Tuesday with a Leicester music update for you in partnership with PPL PRS Ltd.

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CJ Pandit named in NME Top 100

cj pandit

Another Leicester artist looks set for big things as CJ Pandit has made this year’s NME Top 100 hottest artists to look out for. Head on over Spotify to check out CJ Pandit’s latest tracks.

INTERVIEW: Elise Meara

As part of this year’s Cultural Exchanges programme at DMU you can get involved in a discussion on how the music industry has responded to the pandemic. Leicester based artists will join representatives from our sponsors, PPL PRS, as well as Help Musicians UK, to discuss how the industry can move forwards and the next positive steps to take. The event will be live streamed so that musicians, promoters, venue owners and more can tune in. We caught up with one of the organisers, Elisa Meara, to find out more about it.

cultural exchanges

Can you tell us a little more about the upcoming event?

Called ‘Music In Response To COVID-19: What We’ve Learned and Where Were Going’, our event is a panel that focuses on discussing how musicians and the music industry in general have coped with the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they are looking to move forward in 2021 and thereafter in a positive way.

The panel itself will be made up of two Leicester-based artists: Grace Petrie and Leonie DuBarry-Gurr (LION/S & Avant Garden), as well as representatives from PPL and Help Musicians UK.

Who is it aimed at?

It’s aimed at musicians, people working or wanting to work in music, and music fans. We think it will be interesting to anyone with an interest in live music.

Looking back to this time last year, could you have ever envisaged something affecting the music industry in the way that Covid has?

Looking back to this time last year, I’m not sure that any industries would’ve envisaged being affected to quite to the extent that they have been, however it seems that the most affected industries are the ones that are based on interaction with other people – The collaborative nature of music has been impacted hardest, which is such a shame given that music is something that is best enjoyed together.

How do you think the music scene in Leicester has navigated the pandemic?

I think that some venues, artists and promoters have navigated the pandemic well under the circumstances, a number of venues including Firebug and The Soundhouse have really made the most of their time, live-streaming some performances online, and setting up socially distanced shows when they’ve been able to.

leicester music crowd

A lot of people have found it hard to stay creative during this time, what advice would you give in that situation?

For musicians who would usually be touring extensively through the year, the pandemic has allowed more time to focus on their music and work from home, which in some cases has been very fertile – but its also brought lots of complications, which have affected everyone in different ways – financial pressures being a key one. I think It’s important to remember that not everyone will be creative during these strange times, which is completely understandable. You shouldn’t beat yourself up about!

What help and advice is there out there for musicians and those connected to the industry?

There are a number of schemes available to help. The Musician’s Union are offering grants of up to £200 to members who are enduring hardship due to COVID-19, as well as offering advice on applying for funding from other sources such as The Arts Council.

Help Musicians UK are another organisation that have been providing help, support and opportunities to musicians, including health and welfare services, creative development funding, as well as offering a mental health helpline for the entire music industry

The government’s Self Employment Income Support Scheme is also available to help many self-employed musicians.

There are a lot of musicians who will slip through the gaps in support though, so we’d encourage people to support musicians through buying music and merchandise where you can. 

Do you have any particular artists, venues or promoters who’ve really stood out in how they’ve responded to the pandemic?

As previously mentioned, The Soundhouse and Firebug are two venues in Leicester that have responded to the pandemic in quite innovative way. Both of them have been streaming shows from local artists to a really high standard.

Leonie, who appears on our panel, programmed an outdoor event called ‘Avant Garden’ in the summer which was a real highlight of the year, bringing in-person live music back for an evening.

Grace Petrie, also on our panel, has raised thousands of pounds for at-risk live music venues, and other charities through streamed shows from home and an A-Z of covers from the first lockdown.

Who are some of your favourite local artists that you’re looking forward to seeing when venues re-open?

Again, our two artist panellists, Grace Petrie and Leonie DuBarry-Gurr (who performs as LION/S), are two acts that we cant wait to see when venues re-open. We’re really excited to have them on the panel to talk about what they have planned.

Where do you hope to see the music scene in 3 months time?

In three months time, we hope things will be getting back on track to how it was before the pandemic hit, however if this year has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected! It would be great to see more livestreams from artists done in interesting ways – something that’s more than just watching the act perform. We’re interested in the interactivity that internet platforms provide in that respect.

Where can people sign up to the event?

The event itself will be livestreamed on Facebook on the ‘Cultural Exchanges Festival’ Facebook page, on Monday the 11th of January, starting at 6pm and lasting for one hour with an opportunity to ask our panellists questions, but it will be available to rewatch after as well.



Enjoy this week’s best of Leicester playlist packed full of suggestions, recommendations and top local talent. This week we’re featuring some of our favourite songs from local artists throughout 2020.

Have a listen and get in touch to tell us which tracks you’re loving.


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