We Are Immersed: How USW students created an online music festival under the shadow of COVID-19

Today’s article comes from Emma Mae Greaves, and includes an invitation for you to join the Immersed! festival this weekend!

How USW students created an online music festival under the shadow of COVID-19

The music industry has found itself in dire straits for the past few months. With live music gone, collaboration at a minimum, and our precious venues closing left, right and centre, morale amongst creatives has been at an all-time low. However, behind the scenes of 2021’s all-new Immersed! Festival we’ve been experiencing something amazing in all of this madness; hope; and this is something we endeavour to share with our viewers this weekend when they finally get to see Immersed! Festival 2021 in all of its virtual glory. Immersed! takes place this weekend (30/31 January) for free! And you can find out everything you need from our Immersed! linktree.

Cherry Boys behind the scenes (photo by Stu Rowles)

 

Streaming (for free, by the way – links at the bottom of this article) from the Immersed! YouTube and Twitch accounts as per the new normal, viewers will get to experience a truly immersive music festival from the comfort of their own homes, all in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust and the #saveourvenues movement. To support this, each performance was specially filmed in venues across Cardiff, and in artists’ bedrooms all across the globe. The students at the University of South Wales that are behind this event have definitely triumphed over adversity, and to do so in the midst of such a critical situation for live music throughout Wales, as well as for the worthy causes we’re supporting, is a fantastic achievement that each and every one of us should be proud of.

From adapting to solely online communication, maintaining a Covid-safe environment, and strictly abiding by lockdown rules, the hurdles in the race the Immersed team have had to jump this year have been higher than ever before, and we’ve been running with weights on our ankles the entire time.

However, though we’re tired, and some of us stressed, hope for a musical future is in the air – with a line-up of nearly 50 incredible acts, six virtual stages, and a massive 200 USW students involved in the creation and delivery of this award-worthy festival. That’s pretty incredible.

In September, when Immersed! 2021 began as a concept in the empty halls of the University of South Wales, it presented itself as more of a huge floating question mark than a festival. But by the start of October, this giant bundle of confusion had actually become something tangible. We had all these ideas, all of this research, and most importantly; we had a plan. This was a plan driven by the music we’re now bringing you, from up-and-coming artists such as Adwaith, Otto, Mace the Great, Yasmine & The Euphoria, Chroma, Telgate, as well as a vast selection of the Libertino Records roster including Bandicoot, KEYS and Papur Wal, among many more.

Ben from The Kelly Line (photo by Natalie Ball)

 

It was a plan driven by the inspiration we took from Tumi Williams (aka. Skunkadelic), Sam Dabb (Le Pub and #saveourvenues) and Sarah Cole (#wemakeevents co-ordinator for Wales) in our talks with them throughout this process. It was a plan driven by a simple message that is now the backbone of the Immersed concept: we are Cardiff, and we are vital. Though this plan changed drastically over the course of putting Immersed! together, it’s still, in my opinion, the most impressive product of teamwork I’ve ever seen, and for third year university students – music students no less – this is a HUGE feat.

 

This sense of teamwork reigned massively over the production of this festival. We all had our roles, and we all (well, most of us) carried them out with perfectly professional practice. The festival scene is something we’re all accustomed to in one form or another but experiencing one from this side of the music has been like stepping into an entirely new world – one which the pandemic has rendered unrecognisable anyway. Nonetheless we embraced it, as we imagined, produced, filmed, programmed, promoted and looked forward to a whole weekend full of true talent, a genuine celebration of Cardiff’s diversity, and a whole lot more online wonder that has exponentially broadened our hopes for the future. We’re genuinely excited to share Immersed! 2021 with the world. 

Wen behind the scenes (photo by Liv Davies)

It’s been a long few months of unanswered emails, uncomfortable ‘please-promote-us’ phone calls, and fourteen hour days filming sets in amazing venues across Cardiff such as Tramshed, Cultvr Lab, and Frontal Lobe Warehouse. But now, we’ve got a whole bank of industry email contacts ready for us to utilise, we can actually pick up the phone and order a takeaway without panicking about what to say, and we saw more bands play in our days spent filming than we have in the last three years. It’s been one hell of a ride, and an insanely rewarding one at that. So, here we are. We’ve made it to the home stretch, and as one final push from me to you I say this: please watch what we’ve been working so hard for.

Enter the festival via the Immersed 2021 Linktree (in our Instagram bio, and on our website). Immersed! begins on Friday at 8pm with a long-awaited workshop from Grammy-award-winning producer High Contrast. We hope to see you there.

IMPORTANT LINKS:

By Emma Mae Greaves

 

See also:

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