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A collage of images taken from Bristol Harbour Festival 2023
Chris MackinJul 18, 2023 2:14:06 PM4 min read

dBs students work behind the scenes at Bristol Harbour Festival

After a successful - if rather wet - Harbour Festival, we catch up with some of our students to hear about their time working on the frontlines across stages, festival zones and as artist liaisons. 

The lessons we impart across our degree programmes are nothing without the opportunities to put them into practice in real-world environments. Thanks to the amazing work of our Industry Liaison Officer, Adam Berwick, 9 of our students were able to get hands-on, earning £100 a day at Bristol's iconic Harbour Festival. 

Split across three roles; stage assistant, zone assistant and artist liaison, each student was able to get stuck into a real working event. Here's how they got on…

Amanda Wall

Role at fest: Artist Liaison
Course: MA Innovation in Sound

Hi Amanda! You’ve just wrapped up working at this year’s Harbour Festival, how was it?
"Definitely a challenge weather-wise, and we had limited coverage for the stage. But man, it was fun!!!!!! Nothing stopped a show, and we worked so well as a team and I definitely made some friends for life."  

What were your responsibilities as an artist liaison across the weekend?
"Everything really; I got the forklift to move to let vehicles into the stage area whilst playing, sourced drinks, set info - anything they needed - and when they were playing, recorded videos for JELLI Records. Generally, I just helped with any necessary information and lifting stuff about helping the sound team and artists on stage."

A collage of pictures taken during Harbour Festival 2023  
How did you hear about the position?

"Adam Berwick! We had an email describing the jobs and positions, which were perfect! I've worked in artist/tour management for years, so it's amazing to have these opportunities to grow that experience. I really appreciate it."

What was the biggest highlight from the weekend?
"Being part of the stage crew and meeting some amazing people and PROBLEM-SOLVING!  I was just trying to do everything I could to make life easier; set lists on the wall, sandwiches and crisps (I knew it would get the team through Sunday!), I blagged free coffee from Las Iguanas (shhh) for the sound engineers, found scraps to tie up the fending/banners it was moving and bending in the wind, water, water, and more ordering from HQ on site and anything else we needed; encouraging artists as the weather was challenging and reassuring them on running order and how we do the line check."

Martin Soutelo

Role at fest: Zone Assistant
Course: BA (Hons) Music Production & Sound Engineering

Hey Martin! What was it like working at this year’s Harbour Festival?
"Overall, it was a good experience that allowed me to get a closer contact with the running of these kind of events."

What were your responsibilities as a zone assistant across the weekend?
"I was assisting the zone manager, which included different tasks like controlling vehicle access to the site, checking with traders that they are okay, managing access to accessible platforms, among others."

What was the biggest highlight from the weekend?
"The weather behaved properly on Sunday, haha!"

What are your key takeaways from the experience?
"It made me more confident when speaking to all sorts of people: audience, traders, security and artists. I experienced that respect is key when you are working in a big team, from communication to understanding each other." 

Linda Engelova

Role at fest: Stage Assistant
Course: FdA Sound & Music Technology

Hey Linda! What was it like being part of the team behind the scenes at Harbour Fest? 
"Really good. The team was very helpful but also let me get hands-on with things. Everyone was really polite and passionate about the acts they were putting on. The weather was awful, but that couldn't be helped!"

What were your responsibilities as a stage assistant across the weekend?
"Setting up and disassembling PA system, patching and routing of instruments, communicating with the artists, setting up basic levels of instruments and mixing on the fly."

What was the biggest highlight from the weekend?
"Being hugged and thanked by Laid Blak."

How has this opportunity helped you in your own development?
"I got a much better understanding of my own abilities, and I could see how much knowledge I acquired and where the gaps are. Also knowing I can handle myself under a huge amount of pressure."

Emanuele Perrone

Role at fest: Stage Assistant
Course: MA Music Production & Sound Engineering

Hey Emanuele! How was your first experience of Harbour Fest?
"The experience at the Harbour Festival was absolutely fantastic! It was a thrilling and dynamic environment filled with energy and creativity - and a just a bit of rain (only a tiny bit...)."

What were your responsibilities as a stage assistant across the weekend?

"As a stage assistant, my responsibilities included assisting James (sound engineer), Sam (stage technician), the JELLI Records team and the fantastic Amanda Wall, setting up equipment, ensuring smooth transitions between performances, and providing general support during the festival."

What was the biggest highlight from the weekend?
"The biggest highlight for me was witnessing the sheer passion of the team I was working with. It was my first experience on the other side of the stage and I learned a lot. However, I realised that I prefer to play on the stage and that I should spend more effort to find people to play with. Nonetheless, the experience was super cool and it opened many work opportunities."
How has this opportunity helped you in your own development?
"This opportunity has been invaluable for my personal and professional development. It allowed me to gain hands-on experience in the event industry, improve my technical skills, and network with industry professionals."