Keep music live with Helkat

Jim Ottewill meets promoters Helkat to learn about how they are transforming Tottenham into a hotspot for live music…

“Tottenham definitely has a growing bar and club scene, as well as all the recording and rehearsing spaces, but not much in the way of proper live music. It’s something we’re hopefully addressing…”

Step forward, Helen Parton and Katherine Melling, a pair of music aficionados with a passion for live performance and amps turned up to 11. As Helkat, they’ve hosted a series of gigs at The Cause since the venue opened its doors in Tottenham Hale in 2017.

While the majority of acts passing through this exciting new space have been DJs brandishing the latest bleeps and beats, Helkat’s nights have offered something a little different. They’ve so far lured the likes of psych rockers, the Moderate Rebels, live rave collective the Drone Club and Brighton’s, Demonstrations to N17.

Brighton based band, Demonstrations Credit: Katherine Melling

So how did they start out? “Katherine and I spend loads of time watching live music,” says Helen.

“She works in the music industry but for me it’s a lifelong passion. We had a chat with the guys behind the Cause at the Test Pressing Festival, last spring and they mentioned they were looking for more live music. All they were short of was a few guitars in the mix- which is where we come in!”

The Test Pressing Festival and its mix up of scuzzy guitar bands and leftfield leanings has certainly been an inspiration, becoming a musical baton the pair look to carry on, with their line ups.

Tottenham may be known for its headline stars such as Skepta or Adele but scratch the surface and there’s plenty of emerging talents bubbling away.

“The music scene is very diverse,” says Helen.

“What’s surprised me is the number of music spaces there are. We put on WondRWomN at our first gig and she runs a studio giving young people free recording sessions. Most of the acts we’ve welcomed are part of the community; they either live or rehearse nearby because it’s still relatively affordable.”

This sense that Tottenham’s creatives have each other’s backs and act out of a spirit of collaboration rather than competition seems integral to the pair’s approach. “The area has a really strong sense of community and that’s really inclusive,” says Helen.

“It means the area has a great underground buzz– even for people who are relatively new to living here.”

What is it about Tottenham that’s so appealing? For Helkat, it’s the independent spirit that courses through its veins.

“I love the entrepreneurial vibe,” says Katherine. “Businesses popping up everywhere, the industrial estates where things are happening in warehouses and weird corners.”

There’s certainly a sense that Tottenham’s appeal lies in retaining its rough edges, something which gentrification has smoothed off in the likes of Hackney or Clapton. Katherine agrees.

“The 1930s Millmead Business Centre, by the canal round the back of Beaver- town Brewery where Bally Rehearsal Studios is also based, is in such a weird but brilliant spot and is a fascinating historical building. I also love the wild and desolate green spaces round the canal and marshes. And soon there will be a huge music festival on the site when Field Day comes to the area.”

Ah yes, Field Day. In an exciting new development, one of the capital’s most innovative festivals will be calling neighbouring borough of Enfield home this year. It should only bolster the good work being done in the local scene.

For Helkat, who would be their dream line up? It seems they’re steadfast supporters of locals.

Helen says: “I mean, anyone with a strong connection to the area really, to continue what we’ve been doing– Adele maybe?”

“Shout out to Adele!” Katherine says.

“Come on girl, when you’re next in town we’ll make it happen.”