Sound and Music have teamed up with PledgeMusic to launch a new crowdfunding campaign, “Compose. Create . Engage”, with five of Britain’s most exciting new music creators and contemporary composers.

Designed to empower composers to realise projects outside the confines of traditional commissioning (which Sound and Music’s annual Composer Commissioning Survey reveals to be grossly inadequate and unsustainable for composers), as well as to develop and build their own network of supporters, “Compose. Create. Engage” will test whether a crowdfunding platform can be as useful to contemporary composers as it is for rock and pop acts.

Meet the composers who will be leading this experiment and find out what motivated them to get involved!


Alex McLean 


I am a musician working with pattern and code, writing code live to make broken techno. I work solo as Yaxu, and my collaborations include Slub  and Canute . I’m actually an interdisciplinary artist, collaborating on a weaving project (, and curating events (e.g. I have been live coding music for 16 years, co-founding and developing the TOPLAP and Algorave movements. My free/open source Tidal software is used by hundreds of musicians across the world, and I am co-editing the Oxford Handbook on Algorithmic Music, to be published in 2016. My solo release Peak Cut was released on Computer Club  in 2015.


Why did you apply for this opportunity with Pledge Music?

I had been curious about crowdfunding for some time but didn’t really know how to start planning one.

What challenges do you think you will face during the campaign?

Hopefully exciting ones, like getting challenging feedback from backers that makes me push things further! It’s going to be hard work, and there’s bound to be down points, and so I expect the hardest thing will be pushing through them.

What are you most excited about working in this way?

The whole possibility of involving others in the process of composing algorithmic music, and seeing where other people take the software I make.


Follow Alex: Pledge Campaign // Twitter// Facebook // Website // Youtube

Bobbie Jane-Gardner


Bobbie Gardner is a composer, arranger, producer and music leader.

She has received commissions from Uchenna Dance Co., Vocab Dance Co., mac arts, Punch Records, Vivid Projects, Fierce Festival, Grand Union and Heart n Soul.

She has extensive experience of working in schools and in the community. She is now working on the next phase of her hyperlocal, community-based music project for-Wards.


Why did you apply for this opportunity with Pledge Music?

I’m about to embark upon an ambitious 2 year project called for-Wards which involves commissioning a team of composers who work within genres spanning from reggae to hip hop to contemporary classical, to produce 10 original musical works in response to found sounds and stories captured in Birmingham’s 10 districts. Personally, this project is both an exciting and anxiety inducing feat I wish to carry out.

In this current climate of shrinking funding opportunities, as an artist and producer I’m keen to do things myself and find areas of work relevant to my artistic practice. I’m curious about the different ways I can broker a direct relationship with my audience to support the running of the project.


What challenges do you think you will face during the campaign?

When browsing the Pledgemusic website, the majority of artists utilising the service are bands who are asking for their fans to support something quite tangible; be it an album recording project or tour.

for-Wards comprises quite a few contrasting elements (i.e. community engagement, composing new music, performances, recording…) so I need to be clear about which part of the project “pledgers” will be supporting, and what exactly it is they will receive in return for this.

Another challenge will be to work with all the different artistic partners to pull the campaign video together. I’m excited about filming something which is both succinct and clear in painting a picture of the 5 different (year 1) composers, artistic partners and communities we will be working with in the first year of the project. Due to the ambitious nature of the project it’s important I get this right. I wish for the video to be fun, authentic and to whet the appetite for potential for-Wards supporters.

What are you most excited about working in this way?

What I like most about the project is how the campaign invites pledgers to be part of the story of the project, and to have a direct connection with how their money has supported behind the scenes. I’m curious about whether this new model of crowd funding can work with the sort of work I care about, (especially with for-Wards being a multi-genre project. I’m keen to see whether I can grow new audiences and receive support to bring for-Wards to fruition.


Follow Bobbie: Pledge Campaign // Twitter// Website // Soundcloud


Jacob Thompson Bell


I am a composer and sound artist making contemporary classical and experimental music. My work often uses unusual forms of notation and combines visual imagery with musical performances. I work closely with artists, dancers, filmmakers and other musicians to create and curate installations and performances in galleries, concert halls and some more curious spaces. I’m also a co-founder of Collectives and Curiosities, a collaborative platform exploring creative connections between media.

I’ve written music for ensembles including London Sinfonietta, London Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of Opera North, the Ligeti Quartet, notes inegales, Lontano and CoMA (Contemporary Music for All); as well as soloists such as Heather Roche, Joely Koos and Joel Bell. I’ve been artist in residence at Somerset House (Sound and Music Embedded Artist in Residence 2013 – 15) and LSO St. Luke’s Concert Hall (LSO Soundhub 2012 – 13). Right now, I’m producing Fresh Yorkshire Aires, a celebration of graphic scores by Yorkshire-based artists, featuring performances by pianists Matthew Bourne and Philip Thomas.


Why did you apply for this opportunity with Pledge Music?
Fresh Yorkshire Aires is all about connecting with composers, artists and audiences in the Yorkshire region, so working with Pledge Music to help people get involved and follow our progress seemed completely natural. The project culminates in two exhibitions and live musical performances, which will be created by a team of 6 artists and musicians, so it’s also a fantastic way to help us share creative ideas with one another.

What challenges do you think you will face during the campaign?
A big challenge will be reaching such a broad audience – Yorkshire is huge and diverse, and we’re hoping to get people following our work from across the region – from Wakefield to Whitby!


What are you most excited about working in this way?
Probably the most exciting thing about working with Pledge Music is that we’ll be able to give people a window onto our works in progress. Pledgers will be able to see (and hear) sketches and ideas from all of the artists involved, so when they come along to the final performances and exhibitions, they can feel a real connection to the work on show.


Follow Jake: Pledge Campaign // Twitter // Facebook // Website // Soundcloud


Marc Yeats 


Marc Yeats is a composer, visual artist and a GPS-triggered user-mediated installation producer, workshop leader and project manager with SATSYMPH LLP.  His music is performed, commissioned and broadcast worldwide. Transduction, complex surface relationships, asynchronous alignments, contextual, harmonic and temporal ambiguities, polarised intensities and a visceral joy of sound are all primary concerns.

Performances and commissions include: The Edinburgh String Quartet (UK), the Chamber Group of Scotland (UK), Psappha (UK), Richard Casey, Stephen Combes, the London Sinfonietta (UK), the Endymion Ensemble (UK), Lonba (Argentina), Paragon Ensemble (UK), the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (UK), illegal harmony (UK), 175 East (N.Z.), Sarah Watts, SCAW (UK), Sarah Nicolls, Federico Mondelci, the Commonwealth Sinfonietta (UK), Contempo Ensemble (Italy), Rarescale (UK), The Scottish Clarinet Quartet (UK), Symposia (UK), the New York Miniaturists Ensemble (USA), Trio IAMA (Greece), The International Concert Brass Soloists (Switzerland), Dirk Amrein (Germany) Expatrio (UK), Chroma (UK), Kokoro (UK), Consortium5 (UK), Ensemble Amorpha (UK) Chamber Cartel (US), Auditiv Vokal (Germany), Syzygy Ensemble (AU), Gleb Kanasevich [US], Inventi Ensemble [AU], the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (UK), the Hallé Orchestra and Chorus (UK) conducted by Sir Mark Elder, Tokyo City Philharmonic (Japan) and Gewandhaus Radio Orchestra (Germany), with broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Scotland as well as US, German, EU, Hawaiian, Japanese and New Zealand radio.


What did you apply for this opportunity with Pledge Music?

Freedom – Freedom to make things happen without going through our normal cultural gatekeepers whose decisions so often result in a ‘no’ to way too many amazing projects – freedom to appeal directly to audiences, fans and engage new people directly in what I’m doing and bring them on the journey with me so we can make stuff happen together and of course the freedom to have a viable alternative to deliver projects in the future. Additionally I’m thrilled I can be a bit of a pioneer with this initiative and with the help of Sound and Music share the learning and experience that results with other composers so the whole new-music community can benefit. And last but not least, an opportunity to make my own piano music recording project with Ian Pace happen; now, that’s REALLY exciting!


What challenges do you think you will face during the campaign?

Signal to noise! The challenges will always remain communicating the love, passion and excitement of the work I are creating with others. There’s just so many tastes out there, so many different projects to compete with, the pressure is on to get the message out about how wonderful the work and collaboration I am proposing is and just how much people will enjoying being a part of it if they reach out, get involved and take a chance, especially if the kind of music I’m creating is not familiar to them. The challenge is to gather a critical mass to make things happen and then maintain a momentum throughout the campaign and beyond to reach one’s goals. I want to grow a family of supporters and fans that can help my projects into the future as a sustainable resource of people who love and support what I do. That is a challenge but one I’m ready to meet!


What are you most excited about working in this way?

In the first instance realising my project with Ian Pace. I’ve never heard this music, not for decades in some cases and to now be able to hear performances and recordings with one of the world’s leading pianists and interpreters of contemporary music is like a dream come true; it really is. I’ve waited a long time for this and the collaboration is going to be dynamic and electrifying!

Follow Marc: Pledge Campaign // Twitter // Facebook // Website // Youtube // Soundcloud

Shaun Blezard

shaun blezard above

Some Some Unicorn is a large collective of like minded musical magpies under the laid back eye of composer and improviser Shaun Blezard. The band began during Shaun’s time as a New Voice composer with the British Music Collective and pulls in players from across genres that focus on improvisation and experimentation in their work.
The band has featured members of Hugs Bison, Breathing Space, Pere Ubu, Beats and Pieces Big Band, Roddart, Ripsaw Catfish, Wire Assembly, Inclusion Principle, World of Fox and many more and is never the same twice.

The sound of Some Some Unicorn is improvised around loose ideas from Shaun to create a big band free drone soundscape similar to the paths trodden by Godspeed! You Black Emperor and The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble with an eye on the world of later period Talk Talk. The music flows around and between players, the audience and the room to become a journey in that particular time and space – though there are markers in free jazz, ambient electronics, free improve and the electric jazz experiments of the early 70’s all players bring their own influences to add to the melting pot.

Though players and poets come from a variety of backgrounds the heart of Some Some Unicorn is everyone’s belief in community.


What did you apply for this opportunity with Pledge Music?

I applied to raise funding for the second Some Some Unicorn album Unicornucopia. I wanted to be part of this scheme so that even if we don’t raise the full money I will learn a great deal from Pledge about running such campaigns in the future which will help myself and the band be more self sufficient in the future.
What challenges do you think you will face during the campaign?

The biggest challenge is in selling the more experimental side of music to the Pledge fans, who are more in the mainstream music wise, but having Pledge onside is a major bonus. It will be about hitting the right tone to get fans to listen to the music and engage with Some Some Unicorn.
What are you most excited about working in this way?
Building a bigger fanbase to help make the future of the band more self sustaining, and having some fun with the campaign.


Follow Shuan: Pledge Campaign // Twitter // Facebook // Website // Vimeo // Soundcloud // Bandcamp