Dig Deep Fundraising is a not-for-profit project and events brand that works to raise for various charities and bring people together with by doing something musically different. Since we share such similar interests and have both been putting on events at Indigo, we’ve been lucky enough to have been in vague contact with for a little while, but have never had to chance to meet in person. Fortunately we heard of Dig Deep’s event for Manchester Mind at The Bread Shed this Thursday, which we thought was the perfect excuse to finally get in touch. I was keen to meet head honcho, Finn Jones for I’d heard he was a good egg from our contact at the Manchester homelessness charity The Mustard Tree. (Read our exclusive interview with them to find out more). Unfortunately they were wrong and I was left sorely disappointed.
I’m joking, of course, Finn lived up to all expectations. Meeting in the wonderful Solomon’s Cafe Bar, we found ourselves down in the basement where we’d hosted ArtBox a few months back (it was too noisy upstairs). After a bit of a chat and a positive promise to get a Dig Deep x Funraising collaboration underway, I pressed ‘record’ and got digging (deep) into the big questions. As it turns out, the origins of Dig Deep lie both in back to back DJ sets, and Finn’s keen attitude. ‘I’d just done a couple of really good ones and [felt on such] the same wavelength as the DJ I was DJing with. I wanted to do more back to back DJ sets, I wanted to see more back to back DJ sets, and I’d always wanted to do something with music and charity and so [Dig Deep was] a good way to combine them’.
Although its conception was simple, Dig Deep as a concept grounds itself in being a little bit different. I was told how their nights always have an ‘element of versatility’ to them. ‘There’s always… an element of maybe surprise in them. They can be versatile in terms of genre and they always support local DJs at the same time, so [Dig Deep] is kind of like a win win situation in that respect’. Finn digressed, revealing a thoughtful outlook on the relationship between music and society. ‘If you look at the history of [any] music, it’s always reflected the culture of its time. Think for instance of the origins of Reggae Dub and soundsystem culture, or Jazz… early House and Techno…’ he tailed off before driving home an important point: ‘[Music] has always given voice to the voiceless in many ways… So does charity obviously’. He continued, citing the teamwork involved in back to back DJ sets in order to conclude: ‘Music encompasses a lot of what charity encompasses. [They] have lot of similarity’.
Finn further detailed his reasons for running Dig Deep: ‘There’s so much money in music. I’m hoping some of it goes where it’s needed’. He detailed his outlook on the modern music and events scenes, producing a more detailed portrait of his project: ‘I hope that DJs will be up for [playing] for free because they love their music. This makes the nights more about the music and less about the egos, and more about the music and the causes people wanna support. I think that can be lost in modern music in some ways’.
This kind of ideation explains both our and Dig Deep’s decision not to commit to any one particular charity. Finn elaborated on a few more reasons for this however, which are of equal importance. ‘I think there’s so many charities that need support that it’s difficult to commit to one. We want to start off supporting local charities (we started off raising for The Mustard Tree), and we want the DJs to be involved in picking who they want to raise the money for – they’re the ones playing and attracting the crowd!’ Finn had another great idea which reminded me of our decision to raise for Manchester Mind with art at ArtBox. Rather than involving art however, it was an idea which resonates through the tightly-strung bow between music and charity, and it struck a chord with me: ‘Maybe one day, say we’re doing Latin or Afrobeat music, or like a South American night – hopefully we can do a charity that’s international or that’s got some relevance’. Though it might not seem like it, this kind of thinking could have a huge impact. Since music acts as a medium, a relevant cause really make event-goers feel closer to a social issue or area of need, and inspire them to think more carefully about it. It’s this keen level of attention to detail that causes change and action.
And Dig Deep has plenty of events to implement this kind of thinking. As aforementioned, this Thursday on the 15th of March they’re working through the night with Funk, Soul, Disco and House ‘with plenty of flavours from Africa and South America’. ‘This is at the Bread Shed what used to be Pub Zoo– that’s me and my friend Al going back to back all night’. Foreign flavours aren’t the only twist on the night, however. I was told that the event is going to be the official after-party for the Manchester Metropolitan Art Showcase. ‘They’re having a real focus on humanitarian stuff, so we’ll be displaying some of their art as well which will be cool’. As well as this, Dig Deep are booked in every Saturday night at Indigo, Withington from the 14th of April until June. That’s not forgetting a potential event at The Peer Hat on the 20th of April, and Deaf Institute on May 10th.
There are reasons for Dig Deep’s base-camp at Indigo. It’s not just that it’s a cool little place, nor that it’s free to put charity nights on there. ‘I know Hass who runs Indigo he gives us bar takings of about 10% [of our nights’ earnings] so we can pay DJs’ costs and spend on artwork and promotion, and then from every night take 10%’. This isn’t the only great contribution that the bar-owner has made to the collective – he also came up with the name Dig Deep. Fair enough to Hassan.
I asked about what long term plans Finn had for Dig Deep (other than getting Dig Deep an official bank account – ‘I’ve got to get a bank account – I’ve walked home with like £600 in my pocket which felt a bit… dangerous’). He spoke of expansion. ‘London, Liverpool, Sheffield, Bristol, Brighton, Leeds, anywhere and everywhere! We’re looking to book bigger DJs and i guess we’re looking to create a bit more of a reputation and try and sort of spread it around, but I mean that’s very long term and should take a while, so, for now I guess we’ll spread around Manchester’
Finn also made sure to give credit where it was due. ‘We should mention Cosmic Slop, which was part of my inspiration for doing Dig Deep as well. Those nights raise for a charity called MAP. He explained, ‘Basically this guy started teaching young kids who’d had troubled backgrounds about music, production and sound. He tries to get them careers in music to offer a kind of escape from their personal lives and give kids a chance to explore their passions’. To fund MAP, the same guy started running Cosmic Slop on their huge soundsystem. ‘They’ve hosted Floating Points, Mr Scruff and all that, and they never announce it. They’re all about making a night that can kind of dot around the musical spectrum’. Bad news was afoot, however. ‘They’ve been doing this really well for a while, but they’re gunna get evicted [from their venue] in about a year and a half’s time and they need a lot of money.
As if I could be any keener to help support an events brand, Finn reached another kicker: ‘All the DJs that play there say that it’s the best soundsystem they’ve ever played on.’ I was sold. luckily enough for us, the Cosmic Slop is flooding over to Manchester, with an event on the 30th of March. Finn threw a suggestion out there, ‘we should do a Funraising x Dig Deep school trip’, at which I may have laughed at the time, but in retrospect realise would probably prove quite valuable since they’d probably show us how partying with a purpose is really done.
When he’s not digging deep, Finn is a full time student at the SSR School of Sound Recording, doing production and ‘everything sound related’. He also works as barista and occasional DJ. ‘DJing and making and coffee are kind of the same – it’s all twisting knobs and pressing buttons – and they make noises as well! I mean it pretty much helps my mixing’, he laughed. We moved onto the community. ‘Do I feel more of a part of it? I mean yeah you definitely meet more people doing events,’ he even took the time to (jokingly) flatter us, ‘I think now that I’ve had an interview with Funraising i definitely feel part of the community’. Highlighting his dedication to utilising a diverse range of Manchester spaces, the music man honed in on the focus of Dig Deep: ‘I spose what’s important is ‘consistent variation’, which is a bit of a paradox, but we wanna celebrate everything from Techno to Disco, from Dubstep to Drum and Bass, and Hip Hop to House’.
In terms of the events themselves, Finn described the welcoming air that circulates through them. ‘The crowds have been lovely, a positive cause definitely breeds positivity on the dancefloor, and the back to back element can bring that up for the DJs as well, it’s a lot of chemistry going on there’. I asked what Finn was most proud of in Dig Deep. Of course, having raised over £1000 already, his response encompassed the incredible amount of change that his collective had made. ‘I suppose raising money and awareness for charity… I think music is an incredible, powerful and really fun way of doing that which is the beauty of it, but the charity’s got to be the core of it, gotta be the most important thing. Really good music, for charity. That’s probably where the pride’s at at the moment’. Essentially, it’s everything in Dig Deep that is Finn’s greatest pride.
He doesn’t neglect to remember the people that he aims to support, however. ‘They’re doing the hard work putting their blood sweat and tears into this – we’re doing the easy bit having a party’. His understanding of charity seemed to stem from his mother’s run of a Brighton LGBTQ charity, a branch of Mind. ‘Every year it might be their last year because they rely so heavily on support and donations and people just helping them’. He revealed that lottery bids and fund are a massive part of it, and a constant stream of applications for that are what have been keeping them afloat. The pressure for charities sounds immense, necessarily due to the many people who desperately rely on them. ‘It’s not just about losing your job, it’s about keeping the charity going for its users’, Finn added.
With regard to future plans, Finn had several. ‘We wanna record our events and start putting them up on mixcloud so people can relive the magic or just see what we’re about, we wanna support more local projects like Invisible – Manchester and MAP’. We have the greatest amount of pride as a media project that Finn detailed that his plans to raise for Invisible – Manchester are a result of this article of ours by Jess Thomlinson Blount. He spoke some final words of wisdom before we ended our recorded conversation: ‘I would like to keep it more local for now – I think it’s important to support people starting out when you’re just starting out yourself’.
As aforementioned, Dig Deep for Manchester Mind is this Thursday so slam your names down on the event page wall for £2 entry. Now that I’ve spoken to Finnian I’m convinced that this is probably the best value for money you’ll ever get anywhere. Apart from 50% off pies at Pieminister on the last day of pie week (£2.50 per pie can you believe it? Got two pies but no regrets). Anyhow, should you choose to head down to The Bread Shed after 11 pm, entry is a fiver. There’s no shame in digging deeper into your pockets -that’s a whole fiver that goes to the wonderful Manchester Mind.
And since they posted the big funk soul brother on the event today, I imagine you can expect the Dig Deep lineup to be spinning some unique and excellent tunes such as this number by Sadar Bahar:
See you there! x
To find out more about Dig Deep Fundraising, head to their Facebook page.
And, to find out more about Cosmic Slop’s cause, the excellent MAP, head to their new website over here.