Whether you know him by name or not is irrelevant. If you are into the Manchester music scene, you’ve almost certainly been to a show, gig or night organised by Ciarán Cullen.
A well rooted regular on the scene Ciarán is the Events Manager at Soup Kitchen. Under his forward-thinking guidance the Northern Quarter venue, a staple for most of its residents, is fast developing legend status due to the fantastic mix of gigs and nights he inspires there. Not content to simply book a band or hire a DJ, Ciarán adds an extra artistic dimension to the meaning of a music event; raising standards and keeping other venues well and truly on their toes. Here we grab 5 with Ciarán to talk about his job at the forefront of the Manchester scene and to pick his wits about the hottest tipped acts.
Can you tell us how you came to be the events manager at the Soup Kitchen?
I got offered a position... But they needed to have their arm twisted! I knew that Soup Kitchen was a great venue with potential to do many things... So I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get cracking in with a relatively new space and get events booked in.
What do you love and loathe about your position as Events Manager?
I love many things about my job but mainly getting to listen to and discovering new music is the best part, thinking up new ideas for events/art exhibitions or club nights is the next best. Having an idea for an event come to reality and be a success is extremely satisfying. The most frustrating part would be the 24/7 aspect of the job. Being totally switched on all the time is difficult.
Discovering new music is the best part, thinking up new ideas for events/art exhibitions or club nights is the next best
Manchester has a strong musical history, is this something you very much feel a part of?
I’d absolutely like to think so. But time will tell. It’s great to be involved in a venue where it’s on the tip of everyone's tongues every week. Hopefully delivering consistently good shows and having the best DJs and club events will set the venue in stone...
What do you think of the Manchester music scene? It’s highs and lows?
Manchester’s music scene is thriving and almost growing beyond what the city can take. That’s why there are countless new venues opening and old venues still fighting their corner and huge city festivals springing up every Summer. Manchester seems to be bucking a trend at the moment. Manchester nightlife if thriving. Downside of this? More competition of independent pubs and clubs.
What musical direction do you think Manchester will take in the future?
Impossible to say... It seems to vary from week to week. I wouldn’t like to make a prediction.
What first got you interested in music and gigs?
I play bass guitar... I’ve played in band. I still want to be in a band. It’s the best job in the world. That’s what got me into music and promoting shows.
Being an independent music venue, you are in charge of what nights/gigs you host. How can you tell what’s going to be hot? And what is not?
It’s always difficult to predict what’s going to “be hot”. There are so many factors that count against some events; if you counted them all up and studied them know one would ever put a show on ever again. Research of music press is helpful. Sometimes you can see certain bands getting more press than others. This can tip live gig sales over the edge which is great but heart-breaking when you have an awesome band on your hands and sales are slow, but then it’s down to a good promoter to convince people its a show worth investing in.
I play bass guitar... I’ve played in band. I still want to be in a band. It’s the best job in the world. That’s what got me into music and promoting shows
Does this always fit with your personal music taste?
I go off the ideal of booking in acts I like. There are obviously some things we would love to see come through the venue more than others and we definitely have our own musical preference and direction. But like small music venues across the country at the moment (which by the way are shutting down as we speak) it’s important to keep our heads above the water. You have to make the most of some events in order to make the impossible ones happen.
What is the best show/night you’d had at Soup Kitchen?
This year has been METZ
by far. Toronto based post punk rockers. Unbelievable live.
Hot tips: Who do you think Manchester Finest readers should keep an eye on??
You might want to keep a close eye on Manchester band Embers
. Leeds band Hookworms
who are playing here next month and Francis Lung
a one man show who is simply sublime.
To see what great events Ciarán has lined up check out the Soup Kitchen
website or visit their Twitter
page. Ciarán is on Twitter here
Interview by Anne Louise Kershaw
Find her on twitter here.