Coalition is a new hip hop night at the University of Warwick Student's Union. The night began in October 2005 and aims to bring the cream of Hip Hop and urban music to play in Coventry, to be supported by local acts and performers.
As well as the nights themselves, Coalition aims to reach into the community, giving local artists the chance to support internationally renowned performers, as well as plans for workshops, under 18 nights and more.
Warwick Student's Union has a history of hip hop and for nine years it played host to Mojo. This was a night that featured the likes of Afrika Bambaataa and Arrested Development , as well as helping to propel former Warwick University student DJ Yoda to national attention.
We spoke to organisers Darren Walter and Maxwell Golden about what they describe as "Much more than just a hip hop night."
Coalition - The Club Night
Despite only beginning in October 2005, Coalition has already drawn some popular established acts in the urban music scene to perform, as well as giving local artists the chance to share the same stage.
"Warwick University has for many years been able to draw big names and throw really good parties with good sound, good lights and all the rest of it." says Max, "So for us it seemed like the perfect venue for Coalition.
"Our plan has always been to bring big names down and put them on together with the best of the local scene.
"There's so much talent locally, an unbelievable amount, but what I don't see as much as I'd like to is the local talent alongside nationwide and internationally acclaimed artists.
"It seems like the local acts will happen in smaller venues and then a big name will come down and play on a bill by themselves in one of the main clubs and we're trying to bring that together."
Coalition - The Brand
With Mojo (Warwick Uni's former hip hop night) getting people to attend from around the Midlands and from as far a field as Kent, it's clear that a good hip hop and urban night can attract an audience from a wide area. But as Warwick University Student Union's Darren Walter explains, Coalition is aimed squarely at the people of Coventry and the surrounding area:
"The brand is aimed a lot more at the city than the students itself. There's a lot of ownership from the people of Coventry. So there's a lot of people buying into what it is, whether that is to attend as a member of the public or to actually play on the stage and we're continually trying to broaden how many people get a chance to play.
"The split of the audience varies, but it can be about 50/50 between students and non-students, which is a lot higher than most events at the Student Union."
Coalition - The Community
|""There's so much talent locally, an unbelievable amount..."|
As well as putting on great nights, Coalition aims to get involved in the wider urban music scene in Coventry, working with other promoters, artists and enthusiasts to promote the scene and nurture the next generation of performers - encouraging them, helping them to improve their skills and giving them a chance to play to a big crowd.
Darren: "Coalition is primarily a club night featuring urban and hip hop music, but our intentions are to get out into the community with the name and the event. That could mean workshopping with young people to enable them to hone their skills. It could mean under-18 Coalition nights in community centres and youth clubs, or to work alongside others in the city that are already doing things to get a more collective voice going.
"There is a need in the city to bring together all these different people and all these different groups and show people that you can achieve something with these sort of events. But before we can really make a noise, we've got to have a solid club night that people can buy into."
Maxwell: "There's a lot of people doing great work already, but what we can offer through the club night is something to aim for. For instance we've got a 16-year-old MC who is playing at one of our nights and he's fantastic and it's a fantastic opportunity for him. We'd like to see a lot more of that stuff happening."
Coalition - The Whole Package
As a night, Coalition includes all strands of urban music. It has individual nights that run on a theme, but always seeks to include a variety of styles and genres.
Maxwell: "Urban music to me, has always been a cacophony of sounds, whether a jungle or a grime beat or a hip hop rhythm. They're not as separate as the media often makes out and Coalition is about bridging what are I believe artificial divides placed in modern music.
"It's not just about the artists. We're trying to create an event with high production values right across the board. We have a great resident DJ called Ruffha and a fantastic visual artist called Pixalize from Leamington... the mad Frenchman... who projects on multiple walls during the events. We've got a fantastic sound system and great sound engineers and lighting."
Coalition - The Final Word
Darren: "Coalition's long term aims are - To raise the bar, get people interested and involved and get the scene really thriving."
Maxwell: "We are trying to build something - it's early days and we need to get the word out there. A lot of people who would really be feeling this night and what we're doing, have already assumed that there's nothing going on at Warwick University. So we need to let them know it's different now and things are changing."
After Easter, Coalition will put on regular nights into the summer and then during the new university term. Visit the Warwick University Student's Union website for more info - http://www.sunion.warwick.ac.uk