An initiative to get more Londoners picking up instruments has returned for a third year. First Timers gives people who have never played in bands the opportunity to not only meet bandmates, but also perform at a two-day festival at DIY Space for London.
And if that all sounds a bit daunting, don't worry, there are workshops to provide introductions to guitar, drumming, beatboxing, sound engineering, keyboard synth, and songwriting. The first round of workshops were all booked within a week but there are limited spaces on the second round of workshops so book your spot here.
One of this year's organisers, Jaca Freer, who will be teaching drumming workshops, explained the premise: 'It's about demystifying what the instrument is about, we need to break down this idea of a big, scary instrument. I mean, yes, it's big and loud but shouldn't be scary.'
Big Joanie formed at the first First Timers in 2013. Image: Roman Manfredi
First Timers actively addresses the lack of diversity in London bands. Freer explains: 'We find the DIY punk community is still mostly dominated by men. People are not aware that there are so many queer, disabled, female, POC who want to play. It can be very white. We want to demystify and diversify the local music scene.'
The criteria is simple, the band should include:
- Members who have never played in a band before
- Members who are taking on a new role in the band for the first time
- One or more people who identify as disabled, trans, queer, a person of colour, non-binary, LGBTQIA+, a woman
Charmpit formed at last year's festival and are helping organise First Timers 2017. Image: Claudia Moroni
'It's about getting people who have always wanted to play but never had the confidence or maybe they weren't encouraged at all. It's about breaking down barriers and finding a more supportive community. Anyone can do it. You don't have to have studied music to be in a band.'
Twenty-four bands will take to the stage for the first time over May 6-7 at DIY Space For London.