This is the first in an interview series featuring women I know and respect who are involved in the music industry in one way or another. They have been, and continue to be, a big inspiration to not only me but each other too! They are super supportive, excellent at what they do and are all about sharing artists they love and their music…. so I think they deserve a bit of recognition and to be in the spotlight for who they are and what they do.
Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
My name is Gail Friel, I’m 37 years old and I co-own Purple Orange Arts Venue with my partner Michael Mathieson and own pr@purpleorangecentralscotland. I have 2 beautiful daughters, Abbie who is 13 and Eva who is 7….Michael has 2 sons Denholm (8) and Brandon (6)
How did you find yourself in the music industry?
I found myself involved with the music industry from the day i met Michael. He has been a guitar teacher for 12 years and regularly put artists on at a pub local to us. Michael had just opened a music shop from where he based his teaching and also offered guitar repair services and started to sell guitars. As a regular visitor to his shop I was drawn to his passion for the live music scene. His dream was to own his own venue and give the youngsters he was teaching, a stage to play on whether it be at that point or in the future. A few months after we had met, the lease for the hall behind Michael’s music shop came up for lease, he asked if he should go for it to make his dream come true to have his own venue…I said of course!! And we threw ourselves in right at the deep end the Purple Orange was born.
Tell us about Purple Orange and what your hopes and dreams are for it?
*Purple Orange Arts venue in Bathgate has been running for 3 years now. Owner and License Holder is Mr Michael Mathieson. Michael has been a music teacher for 13 years and teaches both adults and children on weekday evenings. The aim of the owners and the venue was to be a grass roots music hub for local singer/songwriters and give them a platform to give them the confidence and exposure to become gigging musicians on the circuit around Glasgow/Edinburgh. We have succeeded massively in this venture and now the venue has merited a fantastic name for itself and the owners throughout Central Scotland. Purple Orange Arts Venue are at the top of NHC’s “most trusted” list of venues, having gained credibility for the shows put on and the treatment of artists who play there.
The venue in the past year has hosted Kyle Falconer, Nick Mercer Jr and is welcoming Tom Hingley and Adam Ficek in the next few weeks. The vision of the venue is to continue bringing household names into the venue and allowing the local talented musicians to share the bill by being on the support.
The venue is a major advocator of promoting Under 18’s events and hold 2 monthly. One is named Purple Tangerines and is organised and ran by Gail. The other is organised and ran by one of our under 18 artists who has been coming to the venue regularly.
What’s the best part of your job?
The absolute best part of my job is when i have believed in someone so strongly from very early stages of them gigging and then to see them getting the recognition they deserve from people who are more experienced or higher up in the industry than I am.
Describe a typical day in the life of Gail
The thing I love most about what I do is that there is no typical day, apart from one thing…i always start off with a massive to do list that is the only thing that is consistent and somehow always manage to get through it. My days vary from sitting in my office contacting venues, promoters etc. to actually going out and physically meeting them. I spend a lot of time listening to links that artists send me who wish to play at our venue. I handle all the bookings for the venue and create the events.
Who are some of the bands and singers you want everyone to know about?
The 3 bands i want everyone to know about are FIREBUGS, THE BACKBEATS and THE ALAN CROOKSTON CEILIDH BAND…3 very different bands genre wise. The artists I represent are ROBBIE HUTTON, DECLAN MILNE, MEGAN BLACK
Music PR isn’t a 9-5 job; how do you balance other aspects of your life with it?
It definitely isn’t a 9-5 job, I’ve seen me still sitting up at 2am because I’m trying to get something finished, or I’m brainstorming ideas. Hobby, if I didn’t love it as much and have the passion I do, i couldn’t possibly give all that i do to it…Because I believe so strongly in what we are doing and because of the joy our venue brings to other people, it is not a job that ever gets boring or I get fed up with. Luckily my job is also my hobby, I have always had a strong passion for music. I don’t sing or play myself but this is my way of fulfilling my dreams of being involved in music. Michael and I have 4 children between us, when we have the children around work basically comes to a halt.. We try to make every single minute we have with them count, our lives with them are full of fun, and they are at an age where they understand what our job is and how hard we work. Often on the Under 18’s evenings you will find either my 2 daughters or Michaels 2 sons behind the bar serving the juice. One dream that we do share is that we would love our children, if they have the same passion that we have in music, is to pass the business onto them in the future.
Most memorable gig to date and what made it special for you?
The most memorable gig to date would probably be a gig that happened just recently. A couple of weeks ago we had Mark Morriss booked to play at the Purple Orange..i was of course excited about seeing him play, but the support line up was just absolutely amazing. We had Robbie Hutton, Andy Swift, The backbeats (all artists I work with) and then Luke Gibson, Aaron Wright, Greg James, Billy Mitchell and the amazing Carly Connor (who had been on my wish list for the venue for a good couple of years) For me, to have all that amazing talent under our wee roof was just mind-blowing and it’s a night that will go down in history with everyone who was there.
Where do you want to be career wise this time next year?
This time next year, I’m hoping career wise that I am still running the Purple Orange Arts Venue with Michael, I hope that a lot more of our artists will have played at festivals and I’m hoping we have possibly had a few festival stages of our own. I hope that my PR agency continues to go from strength to strength and my wee craft gift boutique is still going strong!