Saffron’s New Artist Development Scheme

Saffron are launching a new project to commission three Black women or non-binary music makers to create a piece about our relationship with tech.

There are a lot of barriers that stand in the way of great ideas being realised, and Bristol-based Saffron Music are well aware of this. Since being founded by Laura Lewis-Paul in 2015, they’ve been on a mission to tackle the ever-present gender gap in electronic music with a series of classes, initiatives and programmes aimed at bringing more women and non-binary folk into DJing, production, tech and other aspects of the industry through a supportive and experienced network. Their latest endeavour also acknowledges the racial divide that still persists in the music industry with a project specifically reaching out to Black women and non-binary music makers.

This Artist Development project will invite three artists from the South West of England to take on a paid commission to create a musical work exploring the topic of human relationships with technology. That’s a broad but potentially rich jump-off point for anyone creatively minded, but it’s not exclusively for someone who considers themselves a fully-realised artist. The project is bolstered by a programme of personal and professional development, including one-to-one mentoring, a residential artists’ retreat with on-site music masterclasses, a live showcase event and more besides.

The project builds on the success of last year’s collaboration with music-architecture agency MSCTY, which brought through five artists creating site-specific works around Bristol. Saffron’s initiatives to date already have concrete outcomes which pass on invaluable skills and support to artists who might not otherwise have seen opportunities to engage with their ideas. If further proof were needed, look no further than Saffron Records, which has launched into a pronounced release run as an extension of its already-active artist development schemes.

L-R Dutchie, HANAH and Marla.

Dutchie, who leads the Sound Engineering teaching for Saffron, has just recently dropped a soulful, vocal-led EP Satin Planet, while HANAH’s lilting, shuffling broken beat single ‘Solo’ precedes the Colours Now And Then EP dropping late October. Then London-based bassist Marla will be stepping up with a solo release All That We Have, which follows on from an accomplished backdrop of playing alongside the likes of Yasmin Lacey, Ego Ella May, Obongjayar and Georgia Morgan Turner. While these artists may have had different degrees of engagement with music already, it’s been through the Saffron programme they’ve been able to further develop ideas into something tangible, with guidance and support where so often it’s lacking. To check out the music and support the artists, head to the Saffron Records Bandcamp.  

You can find out all the criteria for entry and download the application pack for this year’s Artist Development programme here. The deadline to apply is 6pm on November 14 2022.

The Saffron team. Photo by Giulia Spadafora.