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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

Artists selected for Factory International’s Talent Development Programme

By Steve Cooke

Ahead of the opening of its landmark new cultural space later this year, Factory International has announced the 2023 cohort of musicians who will benefit from the organisation’s music change programme, Factory Sounds. Each will receive up to £1000 and gain from peer-to-peer support, networking opportunities and the chance to perform at Manchester International Festival (MIF) this summer.

Programmed and operated by the team who also deliver the world-famous MIF, Factory International will commission and present a year-round programme by leading artists from across the world, creating a global destination for arts, music, and culture in the heart of Manchester. With music a key part of its offer, the ultra-flexible building will present around 80 gigs a year across its spaces, adding to the city’s thriving music scene which generated £51m for Manchester in 2019*. Factory Sounds demonstrates how the organisation will invest in local talent, as well as bringing global stars to Manchester.

Factory International’s Director of Music Jane Beese, and Talent Development Manager Punam Ramchurn state “Factory Sounds is a programme that nurtures and inspires music creatives to take their career to the next level, and in this third iteration we’ve found another group of extraordinarily talented artists from across Greater Manchester. We always feel so excited for the creatives knowing this opportunity could really be a fantastic step change.”

The selected Factory Sounds recipients include:

The afrobeat influenced rapper PRIDO, currently working on the release of their new single.

“Being a selected artist by Factory International means a lot. I’m proud to be classed as a flag bearer for my city and this has re-enforced my faith in my art and I hope to inspire others to believe in themselves as I have experienced myself”.

Rapper, Poet, and DJ Meduulla who will use the support to promote and tour their upcoming EP Oblongata. “I’m really looking forward to developing my creative practice with the support of Factory Sounds. Having a space to connect with different artists is something I’m excited about doing with the programme.”

SHAR, writes and produces music for theatre, film, and live performance. Through Factory Sounds they will take the next steps in their career as a songwriter and music producer. “It's really great to be a part of Factory Sounds, this support and funding will help me realise the next steps in my career and help me to elevate as a songwriter and music producer."

FREEQUENCY3 is an alternative hip hop rapper soon to release their new single Why You Always Calling. “Factory Sounds gives me the opportunity to release my track in the exactly the way I want to do it and with the vision I had for it. When I hear that I was going to be a part of the cohort, I just had a huge sense of joy and emotions because I realise people understand what I want to do, it’s a big blessing and I’m so excited."

Jazz influenced, soul singing, song writing and guitar plucking musician, Jasmin Issaka will release an Afro-Psychedelic Futuristic EP and visual experience.

Drum and bass producer Rohaan will develop their skills as they create their next EP.

The solo artist, and multi-instrumentalist James Holt, will master and release two new singles.

Shoegaze indie pop band Foxglove will record and release their debut EP.

Lavender Rodriguez mixes afrobeat, alternative soul/RnB and electronic house and will benefit from Factory Sounds as they work towards developing their new live set.

DJ STNLY will further develop ROJAK, a queer rave ran by and for the Queer, Trans and Intersex People of Colour community.

The selection panel included Jane Beese Factory International’s Director of Music, Punam Ramchurn Factory International’s Talent Development Manager, Rivca Burns Festival Square Programme Curator at MIF23, and Malaki Patterson Artistic Director at The Music Works.

Factory Sounds alumni include: All Hands-on Deck, Balraj Singh Samrai, Bitez, Chris Massey, Dirty Freud, Edane Ng, Fixed Abode, Gibbon, Hur̃guf, is33n, Jacob Connor, Ku'umba, Lone Taxidermist, Loose Articles, Magpahi, Mali Hayes, Maryanne Royle, Obeka, OneDa, SAF-S2E, Sam Malik, Sophie Cooper, Sprechen, Test Card Girl and Vzion.

Factory Sounds is just one of the ways in which Factory International supports local artists. Building on the organisation’s track record of commissioning artists to make new work, Factory International will be a training ground for the next generation of creators. The focus will be on creating opportunities for artists from the North of England, particularly those most underrepresented in the sector, to develop work at scale, to be interdisciplinary and support the development of new international networks to export talent from the region. Other initiatives include a new annual Factory International Fellowship in which six artists from the north will shadow the creation of major new work at Factory International and the festival, as well as providing bursaries and dedicated artistic support; and Artist Takeover - a new Factory International programme dedicated to showcasing new and exciting artists from Greater Manchester and the North of England.


PRIDO is rapidly becoming a frontrunner in Manchester’s music scene, with his storytelling afrobeat bangers. Citing hip-hop, grime, soul and afrobeats as his influences, the singer-songwriter and rapper exhibits a diverse musical range.

His works have received nationwide airplay and official playlisting from BBC Radio 1 and 1xtra, Capital xtra, Climax, Afrobashment, Reprezent, Pie and Unity Radio, to name a few. 2022 saw him perform at BBC Introducing’s showcase in Manchester amongst other shows. He has also notably featured in campaigns for Converse and Footasylum.


Hailing from North Manchester, Meduulla is a 23-year-old Zimbabwean-born Rapper, Poet and DJ paving her way through the UK rap scene. Meduulla marries her modern flows and witty lyrics with jazz inspired hip hop instrumentals to create music that reflects the present day whilst carrying a nostalgic air.

Despite having been a writer for 10 years, she only released her first single in 2021 which then led to her appearance on BBC’s The Rap Game UK as a finalist.  Her independently released single, Mish Muulla was selected as Track of the Week on BBC 1Xtra Radio, resulting in Meduulla performing at Reading and Leeds festival 2022. The wordsmith is a 2023 Sound and Music Seed Award recipient and her poetry won first prize in TogetherintheUK’s migrant writers competition. Her passion for using her lyricism as a force of positive change continues to be recognised by various cultural organisations. This year, Meduulla will release her debut project entitled Oblongata.


STNLY is a queer Malaysian DJ currently based in Manchester. He is obsessed with queer clubbing culture. At it’s best he think it allows us to experience our true selves, imagine/manifest the possibilities of what life could be, and provides a space for solidarity/authentic connections. They like to think of DJing as a ritual of casting spells that helps loosen the grips of our past and future, and nothing brings him more joy than watching his fellow queers lose themselves on the dancefloor. He is as flirty with genres as he is with boys.


Charlotte Barber goes by the moniker SHAR and is a sound designer, composer, multimedia performer and artist, hailing from the south and residing in the north. She writes and produces music for theatre, film and live performance. She intertwines beautiful harmonies, piano-led melodies, and soulful nuances.


FREEQUENCY3 is an Alternative HipHop rapper, exploring emotion, values & the ripples of life through music, both written and freestyle.

In September 2021 her life changed overnight, from being an active Host, DJ and dancer to not being able to walk without using crutches. During the past 18 months creating music has been like therapy for FREEQUENCY3, enabling her to explore the nuances of a living with Chronic pain without a full diagnosis.

Over the past year she has supported Dizraeli in her hometown of Manchester on his UK Tour and rapped in the CalibySnoop Cypher, which brought together some of Manchester’s best rappers to launch Snoop Dogg’s CalibySnoop wine in the UK. 

Jasmin Issaka

They’re jazzy by name and jazzy by nature! Jasmin Issaka is a jazz influenced, soul singing, songwriting and guitar plucking musician. And if that's not enough, they’re also a creative visual multi-disciplinary force of nature. Thanks to the Factory Sound program Jasmin is excited to embark on a new creative journey. A journey that will involve exploring their funky psychedelic visual nature, African-heritage and soulful musical sound. Resulting in a fantastical Afro-Psychedelic Futuristic EP and visual experience.


York born, Manchester-based producer Rohaan is emerging as one of the most refreshing figures in the drum & bass realm, whilst continually exploring the many subgenres of bass music.

Rohaan’s recent single, “Euphoric,” on HARD Recs was featured on BBC Radio 1 Introducing and was also plugged into his very own guest mix for George FM. Gaining recognition from his peers, as well as being touted in UKF’s Top 20 Producers & Albums list, Rohaan’s high-energy compositions have catapulted his name to the festival forefront. He’s coming off a streak of dates in North America, including stops at EDC Orlando and Insomniac’s NYE Countdown to top off a fruitful 2022. Looking ahead, Rohaan will be making his way over to host his debut appearance at the sold-out Electric Forest festival taking place in Rothbury, Michigan at the end of June.

James Holt

Bolton-born solo artist, and multi-instrumentalist, James Holt has long been championed by music industry giants, such as legendary producer Brian Eno, and the listening public alike.

With each of his releases he has demonstrated an impressive musical progression - a progression that has surely been recognised by listeners around the world after amassing 2.5 million streams, winning international song writing awards and gaining a loyal gig-going fanbase - and collaborations that have seen him work with some of the most acclaimed producers in the business (James Skelly, Jim Spencer). James is incredibly self-sufficient not only performing every instrument himself (drums aside) but also filming/editing his music videos, designing many of his own artwork covers and self-releasing his music.

He has received widespread support and esteem from a host of revered musicians, DJs and radio hosts. Among them: Brian Eno, Dermot O’Leary, KCRW, BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6 Music, Radio X (John Kennedy), ITV, KEXP, XS Manchester, BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Introducing and Amazing Radio. 


Foxglove are a euphoric indie pop band from Manchester with many musical influences shaping their sound. From 80’s synth pop to early 00’s guitar ballads, Foxglove also take on a shoegaze blare and team it with bouncing melodies, Abi’s powerhouse vocals and Ryan’s synthesiser-like guitar.

Foxglove love experimenting when writing music, aiming to encourage euphoric feelings that are always implemented within their music and style; No two of their songs will sound the same. Their debut single Run was premiered on BBC Radio 1’s Future Alternative Show by Nels Hylton ahead of the release date.

Lavender Rodriguez

Manchester based, Hampshire grown Lavender Rodriguez explores afro-futuristic sounds, spinning plates of afrobeat, alternative soul/RnB and electronic house/dance music simultaneously. Their music celebrates the intersectionality of queerness, mixed race and life experience of what was before and what's to come.

Factory International

Factory International is the organisation behind both Manchester International Festival (MIF), and the landmark new cultural space which opens its doors in 2023, creating a global destination for arts music and culture in the heart of Manchester.

Factory International will commission, produce and present an ambitious year-round programme of original creative work, music and special events at its new venue, online, and internationally through its network of co-commissioners and partners. It will also stage the city-wide Festival every other year, at its new home and at venues and spaces across Greater Manchester. Driven by the same interests and ambitions that define MIF, artists will be encouraged to create work in new ways, to collaborate across disciplines and blur the boundaries between art and popular culture.

Factory International builds on the legacy of Manchester International Festival, one of the world’s leading arts festivals, and the first to be entirely focused on the commissioning and producing of ambitious new work. Renowned for its world-firsts, since the first edition in 2007, innovative and forward-thinking new work reflecting the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture, has been staged across Greater Manchester – from theatres, galleries and concert halls to railway depots, churches and car parks. Working closely with cultural organisations globally, whose financial and creative input helps to make many of these projects possible, much of the work made at MIF also goes on to travel the world, reaching an audience of 1.6 million people in more than 30 countries to date.

The design of the new venue is led by Ellen van Loon of the world-leading practice Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), their first major public building in the UK. Its development is being led by Manchester City Council, with backing from HM Government and Arts Council England.

Built with flexibility in mind, the building is based around large, open, adaptable spaces that can be constantly reconfigured, enabling artists to develop and create large-scale artistic work of invention and ambition of a kind not seen anywhere else in the world. Audiences will be able enjoy year-round, in a new world-class facility, the broadest range of art forms, from major exhibitions and concerts to intimate performances and immersive experiences, including over 80 gigs a year.

The 13,350 square metre building includes a 21m high warehouse with capacity for up to 5,000 people standing, which can also be divided by a movable, full-height acoustic wall, and a hall with a flexible stage which can house an audience of up to 1,600 seated or 2,000 standing, as well as other spaces inside and out. The warehouse and the hall can also work together, with the proscenium capable of opening fully into the warehouse and allowing the stage to run deeper into the building.

Its public spaces, from the foyers to its outdoor areas, will come alive with year-round activities such as family friendly workshops, pop-up food stalls, music, workshops and markets, many of them free, creating a thriving riverside destination for everyone to enjoy.

International in spirit and practice, Factory International will collaborate with venues, festivals and companies across the world to commission artists together. Working with local, national and international partners and co-producers, it will produce and premiere major new work, before it travels globally, and share ideas, projects and training with peers worldwide.

The possibilities of digital technology lie at the heart of the vision for Factory International, driving experimentation and innovation in its physical productions and enabling the creation of new experiences for audiences through works created within the virtual world. It will also engage audiences beyond its physical structures through broadcast and streaming of live and hybrid projects.

A laboratory for experimentation and R&D, Factory International will be a training ground for the next generation of creators. Artists from Manchester and all over the world will be commissioned to make new work in physical and online realms, while talent development programmes such as the Factory Fellowships will see emerging artists placed alongside international creatives.

Factory International will play an important role in the lives of Greater Manchester residents, building on MIF’s record of working with communities and bringing jobs, skills, training and creative opportunities for local people and artists. Through the Factory Academy, it will become a major training centre for local people, equipping them with the skills needed for careers in Manchester’s ever-growing creative industries and helping to build the technicians, producers and other creative talent that will bring the future alive.

Factory International will be a space where local people are actively involved – from participating in flagship commissions, co-designing programmes of activity, to shaping the organisation through involvement in its public forums. Community decision making will be at the heart of the organisation from the outset with The Welcome, a series of events chosen and curated by a group of Greater Manchester residents aged 17 to 70.

Through partnerships with schools and collaborations with local arts and education organisations, Factory International will provide a range of year-round learning opportunities for Greater Manchester residents of all ages, embedding arts and creativity into school, college, and university curriculums and beyond.

Rooted in Manchester, Factory International will strengthen the city’s status as a national and international centre for culture, creativity, and innovation, as well as a major visitor destination attracting international visitors, benefiting both the visitor economy and tourism to the city. The economic impact of Factory International will be considerable, creating or supporting up to 1,500 direct and indirect jobs and adding £1.1 billion to the city’s economy over a decade.

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