A brand-new project, Side by Side, launched at the weekend with the aim of providing a platform and exposure for typically underrepresented communities within music.
The special compilation album has been curated by record label Come Play With Me (CPWM) and is entirely compiled of songs by women and LGBTQIA+ artists in the area. And amongst the artists involved is Manchester-based Tyron Webster.
A graduate from the Leeds College of Music, Tyron has already become an exciting name within the Manchester scene, with performances at Manchester Pride and a headline show at The Castle.
He’s set about using his music and experiences of the industry so far to show why it’s important for projects like Side By Side to exist.
“I wanted to get involved as a black queer artist as I really do understand that importance of representation,” he told Audio.
“CPWM have always been pioneers of a fair music game and they really do want to rep people so genuinely and not in a tokenistic way which is why I was so keen to get involved as they’ve always shown me love.
“Representation is so, so, so important. It’s good for the young musicians that are woman, people of marginalised gender or part of the LGBTQIA+ community that think the industry isn’t for them.”
Looking back at his own experiences, Tyron says underrepresented communities such as these are often overlooked and usually have to work that bit harder to be seen and heard. So much so, he’s found himself questioning his own place in the industry in the past because of who he is.
Not wanting others to go through the same, Tyron hopes the project will restore a sense of self-assurance for artists and prove to everyone that they have the right to be there just as much as the next.
Naturally, it’ll unlock opportunities and build a new level of confidence for them to express themselves and have their music heard by the masses.
With a multi-ethnic background, Tyron grew up with all kinds of musical influences. From a young age he was surrounded by all the wonderful Caribbean sounds with the reggae, calypso and ska that were played at family gatherings. Meanwhile, pop, rock and R&B were always at the forefront of his own music tastes.
But without being able to really pin down a moment that he knew music was the career for him, he recalls it just being a part of him for as long as he can remember.
“I used to watch Prince – Purple Rain movie on repeat all day, every day when I was little. Music has always been an escape for me, so I’d sing for family and in school shows,” said Tyron.
“Then I took it seriously from college where I studied it and then when I went to university to do music is where it really became a career. So, I can’t really recall a time where I thought this is it, I’ve always just done music.”
Regardless of his influences, Tyron’s own music is packed with soul and personal experience, making it pretty easy to connect with.
His track on the Side by Side compilation – ‘Love Ya, Pt. 2’ – is a sequel to ‘Love Ya Pt. 1’ that he wrote with his producer Chris Durkin earlier this year.
Themes of heartbreak, break ups and pain set the tone for both instalments. But overall, Tyron wants the message that ‘love is love’ to come across loud and clear. Because no matter what our sexual orientation, love is the same for us all. This is something absolutely everyone will have in common. So for inspiration, Tyron draws on that common ground to show we’re all human.
“The song is a self-love, self-discovery song,” he said.
“I felt at the time there was so much pressure to be in love and find your ‘soul mate’. I met a guy who on paper was great, amazing and perfect for me, but I knew I had work to do on myself for me to be able to let him in and to be able to genuinely love him.
“I know too many people that will just settle – especially in the gay community due to the pressure from society so I took inspiration from that. All of my songs are written on personal experiences. Part. I is more of an R&B production, while Part. II is a ‘sad boi’ violin stripped back moment to really bring the message and emotion of the song across.”
Elsewhere on the album there’s a healthy mix of genres, with all kinds of pop, R&B and hip-hop productions making up the 12-track collection. But also on there is Manchester-based The Elephant Trees, whose track ‘Day 42’ is an ode to the repetitiveness of lockdown and the mental health implications that come with it.
To add to the occasion, CPWM have made 500 vinyl copies of the compilation using repurposed wax from the pressing factory that would otherwise be binned. Not only does this make them more eco-friendly, but means each one is completely unique using different colours.
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