Earlier this month, intern Aoife Miralles caught up with Aiden of Divine Schism to chat about working with Fusion, Covid-19 gigs and how music can bring communities together...
Divine Schism, made up of Aiden, James, and Andrew, promotes multiple genres (from alternative and rock to indie and electro) and a wide range of groups – from grassroots, up-and-coming bands, to established world-touring artists. But how did it first come about?
"I started putting gigs on as a music promoter (often alongside art exhibitions) in 2011, when I was based in London and Oxford. Before Divine Schism was established, I did some work at Oxfringe and was festival manager at OxJam festival 2015-2016, which hosted 80 bands over 10 stages. Working these events got me lot of contacts with many local bands and promoters!”
Did you have a specific goal in mind when setting up Divine Schism?
“Not really. When I first started it I was living in London, I’d just moved from Oxford and was doing the London side of things. James, Andrew and I wanted to put our own bands on.
We wanted a platform to put on music that we liked. At the time, there wasn’t much stuff going on that we wanted to see – so we started our own thing, which has grown over the years.
I’ve played for Divine Schism probably around 10 times over the years, either solo or in my band!”
What's your vision for Divine Schism?
"Continuing to grow organically. Introducing artists from the local area and around the world, connecting a range of artists with communities, and offering diversity on local line-ups.
“ And helping to create good, supportive vibes in the Oxford music scene.”
How did you first become involved with Fusion and what attracted you to working with us?
“In the early 2010s, I think, I helped with an OxJam all-day festival. I was then asked to run a stage with Fusion.
It’s a great venue as it's got a nice, accessible, safe space for performances, in a good area. It's also got a good capacity for standing or a seated gig.
And the staff are friendly, supportive, and enthusiastic – lovely to work with!”
You've been working with Fusion for nine years now! How has Divine Schism changed and your relationship with us grown?
“Divine Schism has been growing organically - particularly rapidly in the last couple of years. And now, I guess we are one of the main promoters in Oxford. Last year we did over 50 shows, around 10 of which were at Fusion.”
"Fusion is now one of my first ports of calls now when I want to put gigs on!"
Covid-19 has thrown a lot of things up in the air so for those that didn't know about Divine Schism what were you up to pre-lockdown?
“We put on bimonthly gigs at Fusion, featuring local artists and bringing artists from further afield. Then in 2017, after running the OxJam festival along Cowley road, including the Community Centre, we decided to run our own festival, ‘If Not Now, When?’. It was based out of Fusion and the East Oxford Community Centre and 2020 would have been our fourth year!
Our latest project before lockdown included a concert by LA harpist, Mary Lattimore.”
And during lockdown?
“We've been putting on shows in lockdown, alongside another promoter organisation, Freak Scene.
These live streams, called remOHte COMMUNITY! gigs, have been put on monthly since April. The next online gig is 7th August via our Instagram.”
I think it’s working really well – we get around thirty to eighty people listening in.
We also have a nice little WhatsApp group for staying connected with booking artists, and providing them with support. We can relate to the others, understanding what it’s like to find shows as musicians.
How can music help the community during lockdown?
“It’s a way of bringing people together. People are sending us messages and talking about the remote gigs, saying that it’s really fun – it’s nice that people appreciate it.
Our live stream gigs encourage donations to various charities, including the Young Women’s Music Project.”
Finally, any future ideas for other kinds of workshops or projects?
“Garden gigs, hopefully soon, weather-permitting – as the next step back to normal reality. It would be good for people to see each other in different environments.
It would be great to also make use of outdoor spaces to put on socially-distanced shows, with around 30-40 people – depending on rules and guidelines, of course!"