BIMM Birmingham lecturer plays the UK’s first festival in 14 months

17 May, 2021

Relax, relax, gigs are back… Well, sort of. Music fans in Liverpool had the chance to enjoy a near-normal gig as part of a government pilot event. 5,000 people gathered in Sefton Park where all attendees were required to produce a negative Covid test upon entry. The mini day festival is the first in the UK for fourteen months with no social distancing or face masks. Just dancing, singing and live music… Finally!

The mini-day festival was headlined by award-winning Manchester-based, Blossoms, who are known for their alternative indie-pop sound. The group was on a UK tour as the coronavirus pandemic struck in March 2020 – with their biggest gig at Manchester Arena cancelled during the first lockdown. Blossoms were joined onstage by BIMM Birmingham’s Collette Williams.

Introduction to Collette Williams:

Collette is a session drummer, multi-instrumentalist, and artist with over ten years of experience working for some of the world’s biggest artists and record labels. Her career began with her working for record labels such as Sony, SYCO, and Warner leading her to drum in the video for Gabrielle Aplin’s ‘Sweet Nothing’. She later accompanied her live on The Graham Norton Show and graced the show for the second time in 2019 when the 90’s pop sensation ‘Shakespeare’s Sister’ made a comeback.

Alongside session playing, Collette’s band ‘Rews’ was the first full signing to Marshall Records in 2017. The duo toured relentlessly, playing up to 30 festivals a Summer across the UK, Europe, China, and the USA. A festival highlight being the John Peel stage at Glastonbury 2017 when Mark Radcliffe (BBC 6 Music) named them alongside Chic as his Glastonbury highlight. To top the year off, Collette was named in Music Radar’s ‘The 10 best new drummers in the world right now’ list.

Collette added another skill to her list when she began drum teching for the Scandinavian punk rock band ‘Refused’ in 2019, their co-headline tour with Thrice took them all over Europe and later Scandinavia. She then began working with (UK No.1 album) Indie sensations ‘Blossoms’ as their drum tech until they subsequently asked her to be their percussionist and backing vocalist.

Summer 2019 lead to slots on the main stage of Reading and Leeds, Radio1 Live Lounge, Soccer AM, Maidavale sessions with Jo Wiley, and a New Year’s special performance on Top of the Pops. They embarked on a huge UK tour in 2020 with performances at the likes of Manchester Arena and a support tour with ‘The Killers’. Collette endorses Natal, Zildjian, Protection Racket, and Aston Mics.

Interview with Collette

We caught up with Collette, who spoke to us about the performance:

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about what you do?

I’m a multi-instrumentalist specialising in drums/percussion and vocals. I also drum tech for bands and artists. I’m currently working with Stockport band ‘Blossoms’ as their percussionist and backing vocalist as well as backline tech – lots of different hats!! I’ve been working professionally in the industry for around ten years now and working at BIMM for the last three.

What was this amazing experience like?

It was euphoric. Everything from start to finish was meticulously managed and looked after. The on-site team was great, as was the stage manager; everything went really smoothly backstage and allowed everyone to feel at ease given the circumstances. Walking out on stage was overwhelming, the audience response was deafening, and it was lovely to see people hugging and catching up with friends after providing a negative covid test. Playing music live again felt fantastic!

How does it feel to be in the few that have had the chance to perform in the last year?

I feel exceptionally privileged and lucky to have been a part of this event and some others over the past year. There are many artists and especially crew that have been left without work and even worse, financial support. We’re not out of the woods yet, but if events like this capture the positive data we all hope for then there is light at the end of the tunnel for us all to return to what we love!

What do you see in the future of the live industry, post-Covid?

One thing I saw at this gig was people using their phones a lot less; rather than filming the show or taking pictures for Instagram, they were living in the moment, chatting to friends, and being present – it was a really lovely sight! There will definitely be hurdles to overcome when getting the live industry up and running again, but we’re an innovative bunch so if we all work together we can bring it back bigger and better!

Collette is one of our many experienced and talented lecturers. To discover more, please visit our Lecturers page.

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