HelKat Music: a chat with Helen Parton and Katherine Melling

DT met up with talented ladies, Helen Parton and Katherine Melling, behind new Tottenham-based music promotions company HelKat Music.

Helen and Kat have been living in Tottenham for the last few years. Last summer, they decided to team up and start HelKat Music and have been putting on live music events at The Cause, the meanwhile club space by Tottenham Hale station, since last August.

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‘We’re really committed to going out in and enjoying the area and this spurred us on to do our own thing.’ Helen explained.

Kat continued, ‘I’ve done a little bit of live music promoting previously and really enjoyed it. I work in music and wanted to bring more of that to my doorstep.’

They’ve put on three events so far and this year the duo are aiming to put on a gig every month. The next event, featuring THE COOLNESS, Roscoe Roscoe and local act Never Never Man, is on 1 February at The Cause.

Helen told us, ‘Every month we put on a night with some local acts, as well as acts from further afield, usually within guitar-based or electro music. We don’t have a full DJ set up because we think there is quite a lot of that going on in the local area already. In terms of going to see a band, in East London you might go to Sebright Arms or Shacklewell Arms but there isn’t really the same opportunity here.’

‘There are some good local bands that we want to support. We want to spread the word that there are more places than clubs to come and enjoy.’ Kat added.

Helen has a background in journalism and by day freelances for design and architectural magazines. ‘When I’m not at work I’m normally at a gig. Loads of my mates not only go to gigs but work in the industry as managers or promoters.’

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Helen Parton

Kat previously worked in the A&R department for Universal. She then started freelancing on promotions and events and works at a music supervision company as Business Coordinator, managing a small roster of producers and artists. She also runs another live music night on Mondays at The Ned in Bank.

The pair split out the roles within HelKat quite evenly. Helen said, ‘We are mates as well as music promoters and we meet up regularly.’

Kat continued, ‘You bring the passion for music, an ear on the ground. And I have a little bit more industry side knowledge, the nuts and bolts of putting the shows together.’

Kat also works with Tottenham Green Market. ‘I ran a vintage clothing stall there for a little while, but then I packed away the clothes and offered my help to Marika, the market manager, when she was thinking about doing the first Haringey Food and Drink Festival.’

‘I helped book the bands and I stage manage when we do the big events. From that I made a few local connections that we brought to HelKat. I booked Wondr Womn, a brilliant local rapper, for Haringey Food and Drink Festival. She’ll be performing at our International Women’s Day event in collaboration with Women In Tottenham on 8 March.’

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Kat Melling

Kat and Helen told us that The Cause have been really supportive with their events so far and said that Stuart, one of the managers there, has come up with loads of ideas and they’ve been given the freedom and support to do what they would like. The Cause has fast become known for techno and house music and the HelKat events usually run on a Friday pre-club to create a different vibe.

Helen said, ‘The Cause has a decent capacity and a great sound system. It can feel quite intimate even though it’s not tiny. It’s really well served in terms of being a live music venue.’

Helen’s favourite moment so far was Drones Club. ‘They really brought the party – it was amazing. They were in the DJ cage with the vocals and a few of the other members of the band, the bassist was outside the cage climbing on the ceiling and the dancers were going around the venue… It was a real old school rave up with live instruments and live vocals.’

HelKat Music Instagram video clip of Drones Club (below)

‘It was nice seeing a full room of people watching something that we put together and enjoying it. That’s the ultimate satisfaction of putting on the events.’ Helen added.

Kat said that she really enjoyed Moderate Rebels at their last gig. ‘They were really good and we also had a band come from Brighton – Demonstrations. We heard them online, we hadn’t actually seen them, and when we finally saw them they were really good live.’

HelKat Music Instagram video clip of Demonstrations (below)

‘Bands can sound so different on Soundcloud or Spotify to how they are live. You don’t really get an idea of the set up. The live experience is another level.’ Helen continued.

Helen said that one of the biggest challenges is working out which bands will work in the space and go together. Kat said, ‘We do an element of curation. It’s not a run-of-the-mill venue – we don’t have to fill the venue with live music every night. We want an event that hangs together as a night out for people.’

‘It’s about people having the trust in us, balancing our books and trying to book the right bands at the right price and make sure everyone is happy. We’re not doing the pay to play thing.’ Helen explained.

Kat told us, ‘For a start up situation in a slightly out of the norm location, we pay decent fees for unsigned bands. It is a ticketed gig, we have to, to make that work. We really do try to be fair to the bands.’

‘We have the greatest respect for other venues like The Lexington or Windmill Brixton who are doing their thing. It would be ideal to have something like that in Tottenham.’

You can check out HelKat Music’s next gig on 1 February at The Cause.

The international women’s day gig takes place on 8 March at The Cause including DJ training sessions for women and live music.

facebook.com/HelKatMusic
instagram.com/helkatmusic

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