Music enthusiast Toby Chelms has built up a firm following for the family friendly gigs that he’s been staging under the banner Youth Anthems at Wharf Chambers in Leeds for the past three years.
The shows have always had a charitable element too – and now the city-based promoter has taken the concept a step further by putting together a compilation CD of songs that have their roots in children’s music.
It’s a really nice mix of styles. We’ve got some straight indie bands, some ska bands, some punk bands, a lot of folk music as well. It’s a similar to the kind of bands that come and play at our gigs.
Among the artists who have contributed tracks to Youth Anthems Undercover are Esper Scout, The Seven Inches, Shake Your Halo Down and Wilful Missing.
Proceeds from the disc or digital download will go to the charity City of Sanctuary Leeds to help them continue their work making the city a “safe haven” for people seeking sanctuary or protection in the UK.
“A few people mentioned over the years that it would be really good if there was some kind of CD for the gigs we were doing that people could take away,” says Chelms. “Bands can sell merchandise but I think because so many bands are playing people thought it would be something quite fun to have.
“I toyed with the idea but it seemed quite a time-consuming thing. Then last November a friend who runs a local label said ‘It’s not that hard to do and this is what it would cost’. I was chatting to City of Sanctuary – about 18 months ago we got a few artists in Leeds to put together a colouring in book and we made a chunk of money from that – and I thought if we did a CD we could really make a good wedge for them and it would be a really fun thing to do.”
Chelms emailed all 33 bands who’d played at Youth Anthems’ gigs asking if they’d like to provide a song. “Sixteen local bands got in touch saying ‘We would like to do this’ so I set a deadline for the end of the year and everyone came in on target.”
To broaden the CD’s appeal Chelms also contacted an acquaintance who runs the American label Fun Fun Records if he would like to submit songs too. “Not only was he up for it but he would let me use anything from his label. He suggested four bands from the label and said, ‘Pick a song from these albums’ so we’ve got four American bands on it as well.
“As a result of that we’re now in talks with one of the bands about bringing them over for a UK tour so that’s gone quite well.”
All the songs are suitable for children. “A lot of the bands opted for things like covering TV theme tunes, some of them more recent and some from their younger years.
“We’ve had a band cover a poem, we’ve had bands do exclusive songs, someone’s written a nursery rhyme. It’s a really nice mix of styles. We’ve got some straight indie bands, some ska bands, some punk bands, a lot of folk music as well. It’s a similar to the kind of bands that come and play at our gigs.”
Chelms has had 200 CDs pressed and sold 35 on pre-orders. Digital orders have been healthy too. He says: “We gave it a set price but allowed people to pay a bit more and people have been very generous so far as well.”
Youth Anthems Undercover is available from https://catsayerecords.bandcamp.com/album/youth-anthems-undercover-a-benefit-album
The next Youth Anthems gig takes place on Sunday August 21 and features Chrissy Barnacle, Trust Fund, Jamine Kennedy and Mia La Metta. For details visit https://youthanthems.wordpress.com/