The Sounds of Newcastle series

The Sounds of Newcastle is a series of eight acoustic performances of local musicians filmed in iconic Newcastle locations. Produced and directed by Sam Hodgkins of Kingdom Design studio, the videos are being uploaded progressively to video sharing site, Youtube over eight consecutive weeks starting from April 8. 

This week’s feature artist for The Sounds of Newcastle is Riley Warren. He recently graduated from the University of Newcastle, and has been performing in Newcastle’s live music scene for a number of years.

Jason Lowe was the first artist to be featured in The Sounds of Newcastle. Check out the video below.

The third video in the series will be coming out this Sunday. You can subscribe to see all the videos here.

We chatted to Sam about the concept, what sort of equipment he’s using and the process he went through to secure local musicians for the project.

What inspired you to come up with the concept?

I’ve always loved watching acoustic, intimate sessions of my favourite artists on Youtube. I think stripped back versions of songs make us feel close with the artist, and I think there’s something special about that connection between the artist and their audience, even if it is on a video.

After moving here early last year to study, I began to get a glimpse of some of the brilliant music in Newcastle, and a friend suggested I contact some of them to work on acoustic sessions. Once I had filmed with Riley Warren up on Strzelecki lookout and fell in love with the beautiful combination of location and sound, I decided to put together a series.

What camera and sound equipment did you use for the project?

I used a combination of Canon 550D and 5D mkii, with a Rode smartLav and Zoom H4 on a boom pole. All my own gear. This project is a great example of the ability to produce videos with accessible, amateur production gear.

How did you select the musicians you worked with?

Initially I approached a couple of musicians that were friends of friends, Riley and Jason. After shooting with them, I produced a short introductory video inviting local musicians to apply. After a couple months of applications, I selected 6 more artists, based on their overall quality and appropriateness to an acoustic session. I was blown away with some of the stunning sample work that I was sent, some by artists that weren’t necessarily popular or recognised.

Do you have a favourite video in the series and why?

Oh that’s tough! They each have their own special feel because of the sound and style of the artist.

Tim Hilberts, who will be featuring in week 4 with his track ‘Make You Happy’, blew me out of the water with his voice and melodies. His debut record ‘Integration’ soon became on of my favourite albums of 2014/15. You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. So thats a special one for me.

Its hard to go past the first release with Jason Lowe’s mellow vocals and uniquely peaceful slide guitar. On the other hand, the 8th acoustic session with Vanishing Shapes and their experimental folk sounds is just breathtakingly brilliant.

What do you think makes an iconic location?

I guess iconic locations are those that Newcastle people know and love, and perhaps are unique to Newcastle. And seeing as I’ve only lived here for just over a year, I asked around. Long-time locals told me of the Obelisk, Newcastle baths, and a few other places that I didn’t get to shoot at, like the city train station and the Stockton ferry. The choice of locations was also influenced by my experience of exploring Newcastle during my first year here. So its also kind of just Sam’s favourite places in an around Newcastle haha!

Tell us about Kingdom Design and what you hope to achieve? 

I call Kingdom Design my creative media project. Over the past 2 years, I’ve been exploring the creative areas of graphic design, web design and videography aswell as digital and analog photography (You can find some of my work at and kingdesignau).

I plan to narrow this down to my passion for music and film and their active relationship in helping us deal with difficult things in life, and become fully human. Ultimately, I’d love to work with musicians, and create beautiful visual pieces to accompany their musical expression and message. So if you’re a musician, and this interests you, hit me up!

Where’s your favourite spot to kick back with some live music in Newcastle?

I like the Lass. They have good music, and quite a few of the artists in The Sounds of Newcastle series actually perform there regularly. My favourite experience last year though, was seeing Trophy Eyes and Pasha Bulka at Hombre Records. Props to that place for supporting the local Punk/Hardcore scene.