Oh Yeah Music Centre, Belfast

Stuart Bailie from the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast gives us the lowdown on the city’s live music scene…

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 30 Jan 2014
  • min read
Independent Venue Week is bringing together 18 venues across the UK to celebrate the power of live music.

Running from 28 January – 2 February, the PRS for Music-supported project is hosting a series of live shows to underline just how important the network of smaller venues is in supporting new bands and giving them a helping hand on their way up. Without them, it’s likely that the UK’s music scene would be in a far less healthy state.

We’re speaking to a number of venue owners and bands taking part in the scheme to get their thoughts on the state of live music in their area. Check out our recent interviews with project ambassador Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood, Manchester band Bernard + Edith and Carrie Davies from the Half Moon in Putney.

Our latest interview is with Stuart Bailie, CEO of Belfast’s Oh Yeah Music Centre. He gives his thoughts on live music and why Belfast is such a dynamic rock and roll city…

When was the venue founded?

The Oh Yeah opened to the public on 5 May, 2007. The idea first came together during conversations with the local music scene and the band Snow Patrol around Xmas 2005. We're a dedicated music hub with a venue space, rehearsal rooms, a recording studio, office units and a music exhibition. We took our name from a song by the band Ash.

What’s it like running a venue in your area?

Belfast is a dynamic rock and roll city. There is no shortage of exciting artists. The finances are challenging, but an inspiring night makes it all worthwhile.

How did you get into it?

My background is in music journalism. I was at the NME for 11 years. I've also been a BBC Radio Ulster presenter since 1999. I was simply there when the project needed a few foolhardy people. Everybody who works at Oh Yeah has come to it in a brilliantly random way.

Do you remember the first gig you went to?

Dr Feelgood at the Ulster Hall. An iconic venue and a fearless band. Loved it.

How can artists get to play at your venue?

We bring in a lot of new bands via the all-ages gigs, Volume Control. Songwriters find their way in through the Over The Hill events or the workshop sessions we call Getting To Know. Some acts simply book the venue for their own launch events while we're keen to pull new bands in as support acts. Festivals such as Belfast Music Week also provide many opportunities.

It's a wonderful idea. What is there to dislike?

How important is playing live in the career of a band?

There's nothing as exciting as a band that can enthrall the people.

What’s the most memorable gig to take place at the venue?

The first Open Day with Elbow, Gary Lightbody, Lisa Hannigan, Jetplane Landing and Duke Special. The compere was James Nesbitt. We never stopped smiling.

Is live music in good health in your area?

Generally, yes. There are a handful of venues that really care for live music. The Belfast audiences are sharp but keen. The Northern Ireland licensing laws are rubbish.

Which new musical talents to have played at your venue are you tipping to succeed in 2014?

2014 should see the breakthrough of Soak, one of the most self-possessed teenage songwriters anywhere. We also pleased that our 30 January gig will feature Little Bear, Go Wolf and The Couth - three of the best.

The Oh Yeah Centre will host a live showcase on 30 January featuring Little Bear, Go Wolf and The Couth.

Visit the IVW website to pick up tickets for the gig and the other shows taking place.