In The Middle with Nice People Magazine

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In September 2018, two particularly nice people came together with plentiful nice ideas, and Nice People Magazine was formed. After a year of mags and gigs, co-founders Meg Firth and Tom Nixon decided it was time to release a celebratory record, featuring an array of talented Leeds musicians. Writer Hollie Griss sat down for a chat with Meg and Tom on a chilly November’s afternoon at the magazine’s home, Hyde Park Book Club, to talk all things nice.

How did the idea for the compilation come about?

Meg: When we first started Nice People, I wanted to start a magazine and Tom wanted to start a record label, so we decided to sort of merge the two together! And then we thought there wasn’t really a better time for a record than our first birthday.

Tom: I wish we’d have planned it earlier cos it was stressful as shit, but yeah. It was a lot easier to do the mag and build it up to a point where we could do a record, like the compilation.

Meg: Through the magazine we’ve built up a really nice community of friends who helped us out with it. Jack at Eiger Studios let us use their studio in exchange for videos, and then all the bands were really lovely.

And how did you choose the artists for it?

Tom: We knew all of them actually, mostly through doing the gigs and working at Hyde Park Book Club (HPBC). It was just convenient being friends with them because it meant everyone was really excited and wanted to be a part of it. They gave up their time for free, wrote new tunes, and were very giving with it because we were friends. And they’re all really, really good bands. We absolutely love everyone we put on the record.

Meg: I think we’re blessed in Leeds to have such a rich and vibrant music scene with loads of intersecting genres. And the people who are making the music are not only phenomenal at what they do but they’re also really lovely people, ‘nice people’ aha. So it’s been super easy in that sense – it’s not been hard to source bands or anything.

So how did you choose a cover artist for the compilation?

Tom: That was a guy called George Addy. He did the big mural for Salemango in June, and we loved that so we ended up asking him.

Meg: We sent him a mood board with what we envisioned, and then he came back with something completely different but perfect.

Tom: It was definitely exactly what I wanted, but I didn’t know I wanted that. We saw it and were like, that’s perfect, but I would have never of thought of asking for that. He killed it.

If you had to pick, what would your favourite track from the compilation be?

Tom: Oh god. I don’t want to piss people off! Can we do one per side? Oh no that’s even harder.

Meg: It depends what mood I’m in but if I’m feeling a bit down and rainy then I really like the Golden Age of TV one, because it’s beautiful. And then when I’m out of that, the Van Houten one probably.

Tom: Mine’s probably the Koyo one. More because it was a surprise – they went quite different to the stuff they normally do. I love it, it’s a good tune. But I like all the others, they’re all great.

And they all played at your first birthday celebration – that must have been quite a special day for you. How did it go?

Meg: Yeah, it was a loooong day. It was a strange one because it felt like we’d been going full throttle for two months, all summer basically, and it felt like that was our time to let our hair down a little bit. But then it was just as stressful, and very emotionally draining as well. It was surreal.

Tom: You get so many people being like, ‘you’re doing such a great thing, we love it’, and it’s so overwhelming. I love that everybody supports it so much, but I don’t think you can ever properly enjoy your own event. You’re running it, so you can’t just chill out, enjoy it, dance and get pissed, because you’ve got to pack up at the end of the night, and make sure everyone else is having a good time and that the bands are getting on stage on time. But I wouldn’t change it and it’s fun as shit.

And it’s not just the issue launch parties you put on, but other gigs too – Nice People Presents?

Tom: We’ve only done one so far, with Otis Mensa, but we’ve got some others coming up. They’re not announced yet so I won’t say anything.

Meg: Yeah we’ve got three in the pipeline.

You did live sessions too in the run up to the comp release – what made you want to do these?

Meg: We anticipated it to be such a whirlwind, so we wanted to document it anyway. We had Tom’s little VHS camera recording everything anyway, and then we were like…

Tom: …let’s just record it properly! So it worked out quite well, and it’s just more content too.

Meg: It’s nice to have that as a little spotlight for the bands as well. Like, they’re phenomenal, so the more ways we can get that across to people the better.

Finally, are there any other exciting plans for the future of Nice People Magazine?

Meg: Yeah, so issue 7 is coming out on 3 December.

Tom: And that’s also going to be another big one actually. We’re doing the launch in collaboration with Dusseldorf, which is a night that me and Adam (general manager of HPBC) run. We’ve got a sweet line-up for it. We’ve got Yaatri opening, who play like jazzy, psychedelic stuff with some incredible guitar-work, and sweet vocals from Beth Herrington. And then we’ve got What? Nah who are a math-rock band. Then Tall Talker who again are kind of math, jazzy. We’ve got Morpher headlining and it’s also their single launch on that night. It will be like Nice People x Dusseldorf x Morpher single launch, all in one.

Meg: It’s gonna be one big party!