Slambarz co-founder Dominic Heslop: “live shows, performances and bass shows where young people can connect in a safe space”

Organised by Hive South Yorkshire in association with Off the Shelf festival, Slambarz is a competitive music event open to young lyricists, rappers and music producers from across Sheffield and beyond. Before the latest instalment at Leadmill on Thursday 10th November, we heard from co-founder Dominic Heslop about how it all started out and the importance of these events in providing a platform for nurturing creativity in the city.

How did you get into rap and poetry?
I found it a way to express myself. Having a speech impediment at ages 9-10 made it difficult to formulate sentences and speak cleanly, and I found writing was a way to counteract that.

How did Slambarz begin?
Slambarz was established in 2017 by myself and a lady called Vicky Morris, who’s worked with me since I was 11-years-old. She is an author herself, a facilitator and a teacher in an organisation in Sheffield called Hive South Yorkshire. She knows that I’ve always had a passion for making music but wanted to provide platforms for young people, to create a community that could access places which aren’t ordinarily available. So, in 2017, we had a pilot event at the Hubs which had a really good turnout and then we did it again later that winter. Since then we’ve been at Tramlines, and now we’re at the iconic Leadmill!

What happens at Slambarz?
Slambarz is a grassroot music initiative for artists within the culture, both established and up-and-coming. What we do is provide performance opportunities on this stage and how we ask them to apply is by submitting a song that they’ve made or some evidence of work. We then have a selective process of who goes in what categories. It’s a 14+ event so between those two, 14 and 18, we have a category called Under-18 Best Newcomer. There’s also an 18-25 category, which is for the more established artists who may have been to studios before, may have done a couple of music videos or had a few gigs elsewhere. Everybody will perform one song with a chance to win studio time with a local studio in Sheffield. We’ve also got prizes like JD vouchers and artist portfolios if they’re taking it seriously. I’ve also got a podcast on the side and am giving a prize for the winner to get a slot in that, plus we’ve got raffles and a shared platter by Wingin’ It at Sheffield Plate on offer. Yeah, there’s quite a lot going on!

What are you hoping to achieve with the youth of Sheffield through these events?
I’m wanting to have performances more regularly for the young up-and-coming and established artists that wouldn’t ordinarily get that opportunity. Tramlines is massive but only a few people can get on there. We also have the Leadmill but it’s normally credited artists who get on that. I want to make this a regular occurrence – maybe 3, 4, 5, 6 times a year we’re we do live shows, performances and bass shows where young people can connect in a safe space; they can embrace each other’s music, they can network with other artists and producers. In short, Slambarz is a gateway for young aspiring artists to get to know what it’s like to have the stage.

For more information on Slambarz, visit the webpage or give them a follow on socials @slambarzlive.

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