Interview with Ilana Lorraine & Nate James, founders of Sessions 58

Sessions58 is a collective of London's emerging music talent - artists, musicians, singers, poets and songwriters. Ilana Lorraine & Nate James have been running intimate acoustic open mic sessions for 7 years giving an open platform to the best talent that London has to offer. 

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Looking Glass: We are celebrating Sessions58's 7th anniversary this month! Tell us about how it all started. 

Nate: Ilana and I met at the apartment 58 members club after not seeing each other in ages and decided to start a cool new night for musicians to sing their hearts out to a crowd that would listen and appreciate!!

Ilana: I was working with Apartment58 Members Club looking after their Honorary memberships & they asked me if I could start a new live music night for their members. I'd already been running an event for my artist friends to get together called Grassroots Gathering with Kevin Mark Trail & wanted to do something in that vein but in a "living room" setting so the proposal was perfect ... Coincidentally Nate (who was a member) walked into the club during my meeting. we hadn't seen each other for years, in fact since we used to go to a jam night called 10 Rooms, so we caught up & I mentioned to him the concept and he straight away was keen to co-run it with me.

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LG: Can you give us some of the best, proudest and funniest moments of events you have done over the years? 

I: I always loved the Jazz Cafe Nights that we did, we packed it out with 400 people both times & it felt really special to celebrate the talent that we had brought together at Sessions. 

The thing that makes me proud though, is to see how strong the bonds are that have been created over the years between artists & to see how artists have grown since the first time we saw them play. It’s especially so great to see when the whole room are singing along with artists singing their original songs - I remember when Alex Vargas used to come and the whole room would be in full verse.. Also artists like Gareth Esson & Joshua Kyeot have songs that have almost become anthems for Sessions58.

N: The proud moment for me is every week watching what we have created grow and grow and hear our incredible collective sing the roof off!

 

LG: What do you consider a successful event? 

I: A successful event in my eyes is one where the whole room looks engaged & as one. When we see artists get a good responsive crowd and feel good after performing - that is always a good sign. Nate & I always make sure to have a mix of various talent from Acoustic Solo Acts to those who use the House Band. I always love it when it spontaneously kicks into a bit of a jam & love to see artists collaborating and singing together.

N: People leaving with smiles on their faces and hearing nothing but praise for Sessions58.

LG: You gather quite a strong group of artists around the event. Where do you find new artists? 

I: I think that both Nate & I have been around music for such a long time that we have people now in the industry send us acts either they are working with or recommend talent they've found. We also get sent a lot of enquiries via our social channels and email & it seems that the word has spread rapidly as we are getting emails sent to us from all corners of the world which is really great to see. Of course we also do our own bit of scouting - I normally do that on Instagram, Youtube & Facebook actually.

N: Many artists come to us through recommendation or word of mouth otherwise we keep our ear firmly to the ground!

LG: Would you say you 'discovered' any artists in the early days of their careers?

N: Krissy from "The Shires" was a regular fixture at S58... We've had some amazing artists walk through our doors including Beverly Knight and Roachford too.

I: Yeah definitely. Prior to Sessions58 I used to run other nights including The Music Box with Patrick Alan for 2 years at The Pigalle Club & the Hedges & Butler. We used to showcase acts like Jessie J & Alexandra Burke.

At Sessions we've seen a lot of artists now move on to bigger things - Jess Glynne, Alex Vargas, TailorMade, Girli for example & some do really well in The Voice & XFactor. 

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LG: How do you manage running the events as well as your own successful careers? 

I: Good question, haha sometimes it can be tricky but Nate and I are a good team and work out how to utilise the artists within the collective to help out when one of us are performing out of town.

I also coach artists as part of my work so actually Sessions58 lends itself as a great platform to those artists whom I work with.

N: It takes work especially as I travel a lot but Monday nights at Sessions58 is our baby, like any proud parents we don't neglect.

LG: What are plans for the future of Sessions58? 

N: Taking it global like ‘Sofar Sounds' as a franchise is definitely on the agenda, we are already in talks in the USA and Europe to expand!!

I: I see Sessions58 growing in several directions already... From running our own stage at festivals to having artists run similar nights in their own territory.

We have been approached by many artists in their countries to start a night similar so there are talks about how we could franchise the concept.. we would have to find speakeasies similar to Looking Glass though as this type of venue has become part of the brand identity. 

We are in talks with brands and other media partners to potentially come on board. One thing that definitely feels like a next step is to film content and start building a production team that can capture the footage of what happens each week. 

I'm also running The Coach House on the side which is an Artist Development programme for talent - I can see that this side of the business is growing more and I aim to organise songwriting camps & boot camps for artists to really work together and collaborate.

I can see us recording a compilation and putting it out on Spotify & making some merch too ... Its about time we had Sessions58 t-shirts ;)

 

Come and support Sessions58 7th Birthday tonight and get ready for a great night of live music, cocktails and jams. 

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