We chat to the studio’s co-founder to find out more.

The clever swashbucklers over at Pirate Studios have recently launched a new talent competition Pirate Prodigies Programme, designed to kick-start the careers of three lucky acts.

On top of the incredible prize of promising to ‘break’ each winner (in a purely music industry way of course), they’ll also receive shit-hot mentors, radio airtime, support with releases and free studio time.

I caught up with Pirate Studios co-founder, Captain David Borrie to find out more about the Prodigies Programme.

Silent Vic: First and foremost, let’s get the important bit out of the way, are you a real pirate?

David: It would depend on how you define a real pirate.  I don’t really sail the open seas, but I have been canal boating a few times, one of which I was allowed to drive.  I think the fact that I refer to it as driving, is probably a clear indication that I am in no way justified to call myself a Pirate.  But I do like rum and I did see a guy on Saturday morning walking down the street with an actual parrot on his shoulder, so I guess this is something I could look into.

V: We first bumped into Pirate Studios at last year’s Sound City, when you and the gang were there doing a talk – tell us what’s been going on since then…

D: In between drinking rum and teaching our parrots despicable obscenities, we’ve been concentrating a lot of our time on getting setup in the US.  We recently launched some new studios in Brooklyn, which we are pretty excited about and obviously gives us a lot more opportunities to make pirate-related jokes about conquering new lands.  Apart from that, we’ve been looking a lot more at our artist development side, looking for ways to work with acts from our community and helping them launch their careers.

V: Pirate Prodigies is a new talent competition, but there’s hundreds of them, all promising the key to a world of musical success – what makes this different?

D: There’s some really good support out there at the moment with lots of people pushing the artist agenda which is great to see.  We are pretty excited about our own Prodigies programme because we think we’ve got an awesome package to offer.  Obviously we have the studios, for our Prodigies to use both across the UK and now in the US completely for free, but I think the most exciting thing about what we’re offering, is the team we’ve got involved from outside Pirate Studios.  We’ve tried to pick partners from every part of the industry that an artist would need guidance about in order to launch their careers and with people like Kate Nash and Jon McClure (Reverend & the Makers) there to advise, we think we’ve got a lot to offer.

Pirate Studios Sheffield

V: In the ‘instant’ age of the internet and a more fertile environment for self promotion, what do you think are the barriers for new bands wanting to get ahead in the industry and get people listening?

D: My answer for this is slightly odd, as one of the big benefits of the age we live in, is actually I think one of the greatest challenges.  It is now so easy for artists to get their music out there into a space for people to listen to it, be it YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud etc, it is really difficult to cut through and get people to listen to you.  There are so many bands we hear on a daily basis that are so talented, but it’s tough to carve out a space amongst all the competition out there and make sure you’re getting heard by the right people.

I’d also love to see more live venues opening and staying open.  The recent planning change to help protect live venues was amazing and I’d love this to be the start of more opportunities for musicians to play live.

V: Was it a natural step for you to, in essence, start to give back and support new acts coming through?

D: It was always something we wanted to get involved in since starting Pirate Studios.  Me and the other Co-Founder Mikey Hammerton, have always been into music whether it be playing instruments or supporting our friends and family who are artists.  Pretty much everyone who works at Pirate is a musician of some form, so there is a big emphasis behind trying to help where we can.  We came up with Pirate Live last year as a way of giving back to our community, putting our full production capabilities behind live streaming them playing direct from our studios.  Prodigies was really just a progression of this, as we looked for other ways we could start giving more to our customers.

V: You’ve got some pretty tip top people involved – tell us about some of them..

D: In terms of support we have Dave Bianchi from Various Artists Management, who manage artists such as the Libertines and Charli XCX. Katie Gwyther from Fear PR, who look after Liam Gallagher and Public Enemy.  Lyndsey Boggis, former Creative Director at BBC, who now books the The Great Escape and Mikey Jonns who has been pioneering the best in new British bands for over 10 years with his club night This Feeling.

This is a selection of a few of the amazing people we have involved, we have been really lucky with everyone who has offered their support with this programme.  It goes to show how many people out there are willing to give up their time to help the next generation coming through.

V: You’re going to be offering the winners a fricking amazing package, including mentoring, hallowed radio play, merch, releases – what’s the catch then?

D: I would make another crack about forcing them to walk the plank, but I think I’ve probably overdone the pirate jokes now.  In truth, this whole platform is a test for us, to see whether we can work together with the artists in our community and make a difference to their careers.  There are so many people looking to take their share of the next big artist and so we thought it would be nice if we did something where we didn’t take any of the rights or ownership away and tried to give everything back to the artist.  If it works, and we can help some artists, then it’s a great advert for us and the studios.

V: What’s the submission process like, is it dead easy?

D: Depends whether you like our little band van game or not I suppose. But to be fair you can skip that and get straight to the submission form if you want.  We just ask for the act’s name, a link to their best track and an email address we can contact them on.

DavidBorrie (Pirate Studios co-founder)

V: If musicians don’t get the chance to submit this year, are you going to make this an annual prize?

D: I hope so. I’d love to make this something we do all year round across all of our locations.  We’ve had such an amazing response to the competition with close to 2,000 entries, a lot of which are genuinely amazing.  It’s actually going to be pretty tough to go down to just 3, as there are 100’s of bands in there we would like to work with and help progress.  I guess it’s a case of seeing how this one goes and hoping people like it so we can do more of it in the future.

V: Do you have some top tips for bands and acts looking to apply to Pirate Prodigy?

D: When it comes to the Pirate Prodigy Programme there are no barriers to entry.  All genres are welcome. We’ve had incredible entries across loads of different genres including Folk, Metal, Acoustic, Grime, Hip Hop and more.  There is no judgement cast by us on the type of music you’re playing, as long as it’s good.

So, in short, my advice would be apply and don’t assume that the kind of music you’re playing would exclude you.

V: Finally, what albums or bands are you currently listening to?

I am listening to the new album “Kites” by Submotion Orchestra at the moment.  I was a massive fan of their first album “Finest Hour” and am loving that this one has returned to a style reminiscent of that.  Otherwise, it’s a bit of NOFX – in anticipation of going to see them in June, as well as a few of the bands we’ve seen recently at Pirate Studios.  I highly recommend checking out a guy called Keir, if you get a chance.


Pirate Prodigies is free to enter and open to acts from across the UK.
Find out more and apply here: www.piratestudios.co.uk/prodigy
Hurry, the deadline to apply is Monday 19th March 2018.

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Pirate Prodigies


Co-founder, Producer and Presenter of the weekly Silent Radio show. Part of the Silent family since 2010.Over 10 years experience of working with national, award-winning youth charities and in the creative industries. She’s the former Deputy Director of NOISEfestival.com, Europe’s leading promoter of emerging creative talent. Here she helped secure new creatives secure massive media exposure (BBC R1, 1Xtra…), showcases at mega impressive locations (Downing Street, V&A...) and kudos from the best in the business (Brian Eno, Boiler Room, Peter Saville…).She also flies the flag for women in the media as Director of Manchester’s independent music website Silent Radio and co-Founder, Exec Producer and Presenter of the Silent Radio show on MCR.Live; Further radio includes BBC 5Live, BBC Radio Manchester, plus the odd bit of TV Production Management with international broadcast credits (BBC, ZDF / Arte, Smithsonian…), she also dabbles with playing records to people and her first podcast is currently in pre-production.Bestest gigs: Pulp, Sheffield Arena, ’12 | Micah P Hinson, Sheffield Lantern Theatre, ’12 | Dream Themes, Manchester Star & Garter, ’14 | Patrick Watson, Manchester Gorilla, ’15 | Less Than Jake, Nottingham Rock City, ‘01 | Frightened Rabbit, Manchester Deaf Institute, ’12 | The Decemberists, Manchester Academy, ‘11 | Passion Pit, Manchester Academy 2, ‘09 | Iron and Wine, The Ritz, Manchester, ‘08 | The Verve (with Beck), Wigan Haigh Hall, ‘98 | Take That, Manchester Eastlands Stadium, ‘11 |Worst gig: Fall Out Boy, Manchester Roadhouse ’05 (subject to change)