22 May 2020

Meet the team!

Here, at Rural Fest 2020, we pride ourselves on having friendly faces, a love of music and a passion for the natural world. We are the team behind the exciting new online digital festival ‘Rural Fest’ which is a celebration of all things musical as part of the international festival Make Music Day!
As NYMAZ Ambassadors we are all aged 15-25 and enjoying the challenge of bringing this musical adventure your way.
We have created an Open Call for artists to get involved – to read more about that click here: https://www.nymaz.org.uk/news/post/rural-fest-open-call
So, before we get into the nitty gritty, we asked our team some questions…let us introduce ourselves!

Our Team

CHEÏMA TUYSUZIAN -Programme Coordinator

Favourite musician/band? And why?

This is a difficult one! They are definitely not my first ‘favourite band’ but I feel like they made a difference: The Smiths. I heard ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ when I was just a small teen without knowing who they were, only years later, I heard that song again by chance and decided to investigate a bit more. The lyrics, their meaning and the way words are used and played with is absolutely amazing. Not to mention that it introduced me to English culture and many different bands! Also, I am going to say Fall Out Boy because I am a huge emo at heart.

What does ‘rural’ mean to you?

Growing up in a big city like Paris, rural was nothing but a pejorative term. I couldn’t understand how people could live in countrysides, away from cities and their fun, the crowd and its diversity. No one could drag me there, and I wouldn’t spend some time there - I thought I was too cool for that. But now, growing older, rural is a piece of heaven, a perfect escape when stuck, every day, in an over saturated city. It is where I want to spend my time off when I am sick of seeing the buildings and people around me.

How do you relax after a hard day of work?

I wish I could come up with an interesting and clever answer but honestly, a good old Netflix and chill is all I need after a hard day. If it’s not a sitcom (I am huge fan of them!), I just put on something I can watch without using my brain too much, and that doesn’t ask for my full attention, something a bit lame! At the moment, I do that with Gossip Girl - who doesn’t want to know what’s happening in the Upper East Side?

What are you excited about most for Rural Fest 2020?
The way all of our small steps are creating something bigger, the final product. I am absolutely excited to see Sophie’s musical story and Lucy’s interviews as well! But to be honest, I just cannot wait for the festival to happen, to discover the artists who will feature on our line-up. It is going to be an amazing first edition!

What’s your go-to karaoke song?
‘I Want It That Way’ by the Backstreet Boys. Some might say it is the best song ever written.

CLAIRE HAMILTON - Communications Officer

Favourite local musician/band? And why?
At the moment, I would have to say: Mush. I’ve had their newest album 3D Routine on repeat, they’re politically charged and whimsical all at once! It was hard to pick just one though, we are spoilt for choice with the talent up here.

What was the last concert you went to?

I attended Inner City Electronic (a city-wide festival in Leeds) in March, saw Peggy Gou which was biblical! However, specifically for a concert… I saw King Krule at Leeds Beckett at the end of Feb. 

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

Dizzee Rascal and Calvin Harris – Dance Wiv Me (a certified BOP!)

If you could exist in another time period, when would it be?
I would like to see if I could survive the wild west, so 1850s America. I’d like to think I’d be a tough, gunslinging cowgirl… but really, I’d probably be a toothless farmer.

Who would make your starstruck if you met them?
I once bumped into Joe Lycett at a food market in Birmingham and swiftly descended into a downward spiral of admiration and shock. I didn’t say hello but just freaked out in the corner. Major regret.

LUCY PULLAN - Music Journalist

Do you have any hobbies?
I play netball for the local women’s league, and have played at school and at junior netball since I was 7 years old.

Do you play any instruments?
I play clarinet, for which my grade 8 was cancelled just before lockdown. I also play saxophone and piano and I’m in the school concert band and jazz band.

What was the last concert you went to?
The last concert I went to was to see Sheku Kanneh-Mason in Leeds on a trip from school last year, he was incredible.

What fictional place would you most like to go? (from a film, book, video game – anywhere!)
I would love to be able to go to Hogwarts in Harry Potter!

Do you have a favourite animal?

My favourite animal is the panda and I sponsor one for WWF. I do love dogs though, mine is a border terrier.

SOPHIE KNILL - Music Leader

Favourite musician/band? (any) And why?
My favourite band is Little Mix, because they play funky music and it is happy and exciting! I got to see them live in Sheffield and it was awesome!

Do you play any instruments?
Yes, I play the Clarinet. I started playing when I was 8, and now play for the National Orchestra for All.

Why did you want to be a part of Rural Fest 2020?
I wanted to be part of Rural Fest because I thought I would be good at the music leader role, and I wanted to inspire other people to give music a go!

What’s your go-to karaoke song?
I would sing Jess Glynne’s ‘Take Me Home’, really loud!

Do you have a favourite animal?
I do have a favourite animal, which is a panda because they are cute and endangered. But I do have a dog, called Angus who is da bomb smile.

MARIA KNILL - Marketing Officer

Do you have any hobbies?
I have a few Hobbies, my favourites are Yoga, Singing and Sketching!

What was the last concert you went to?
I can remember going to see Little Mix, and I have seen many others at Deer Shed Festival.

How do you relax after a hard day of work/college?
I like to listen to music or maybe just read a book.

Do you have a favourite animal?

My favourite animal is my dog, Angus. He’s a black Cocker Spaniel puppy!

Where is your favourite place to be?
With my family at a restaurant!

Alongside our core team of Rural Fest production we have our Mentors who are helping to support and guide us through learning about our new roles, and what they entail. A taste of real industry experience! We got them to answer some questions too…so buckle up… here come the mentors!

Meet the Mentors!

SOPHIE COOPER Programme Coordinator Mentor

What’s your go-to karaoke song?
‘River Deep Mountain High’ by Tina Turner

What do you like about Yorkshire?
How you can be in the hills within minutes!

What’s your go-to comfort food?
Noodles, any noodles!

What fictional place would you most like to go?
The Shire (from The Hobbit and LOTR)

JANE THOMAS - Marketing Mentor

Why did you want to be a part of Rural Fest 2020?
I jumped at the chance to help mentor this brilliant bunch of inspiring and creative young people. Also, I understand what it’s like to grow up rurally as I was brought up on a farm in deepest Mid Wales.

What skill would you like to master?

Watercolours. I had grand plans to use lockdown productively but so far it’s been a juggle of working, homeschooling and ALL the cooking.

If you could exist in another time period, when would it be?
I’ll be greedy and request a time travel pass to flit between the 1930s and 70s disco please!


Do you have any hobbies?
Clog dancing, spoon whittling and learning everything I can about plants.

Do you play any instruments?
I play the violin, viola, piano, various types of recorder and I sing! I am also teaching myself the guitar.

What does ‘rural’ mean to you?
Wild rugged landscapes surrounded by birds singing and wildflowers

What’s your go-to karaoke song?
Thank U - Alanis Morrisette

What fictional place would you most like to go?
The Harry Potter world but mostly with Newt Scamander (Author of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’) so I can meet all the amazing creatures!

GRACE McNEILL - Communications Mentor

Favourite musician/band? And why?
My favourite band are called ‘The Wailn’ Jennies’. I first saw them live when I was 14 years old, and I fell in love with their harmonies. Their songs are a mix of story, poetry, and beautiful melodies I can’t help but feel calm and happy when I listen to them!

What does ‘rural’ mean to you?
Rural to me means landscapes, big skies, open spaces, hidden gems and local secrets. Pockets across the world which avoid the city and the urban life and revel in the simpler, back to basics, home-spun and beautiful corners of life. Rural to me is nature, and finding a place to sit and watch the world go by.

What skill would you like to master?
If I could master any skill it would probably be the art of growing plants, I wish I was ‘green fingered’ and could grow, and more importantly keep alive lovely plants (I once managed to kill a cactus – which I was very sad about.) Then I would be able to live my dream of homegrown veggies and a sustainable life.

What are you excited about most for Rural Fest 2020?
I am most excited about seeing how the day unfolds, and what exciting events are going to be highlighted throughout the day. It is really exciting to give the reigns over to young and inspiring people and see what they create. I cannot wait to see the outcome and I am certain it is going to fabulous.

Where is your favourite place to be?
For me this is easy. If I could be anywhere it would be on the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides with my main three people, eating from a trangia and watching the best sunsets imaginable!

- Music Journalism Mentor

Who is your favourite musician/band? And why?

Joy Division. I was lucky enough to see them at a very tender age and it’s no exaggeration to say their performance changed my life. It was the first time I realised that music could not only be so powerful, but have innumerable layers, depths and mysteries. I wanted more and to know more.

Who is your favourite local musician/band? (Yorkshire based!) And why?
A Historical favourite - Gang of Four (Leeds University students). They opened my mind to politics and virtually invented punk-funk. Current favourite - possibly Richard Hawley (Sheffield). He’s just total class in every aspect!

What is your favourite book? And why?
‘Stig of the Dump’ because it’s the first book I remember never wanting to end! Also George Orwell’s 1984 because it changed my entire worldview (see also Vance Packard’s the hidden persuaders, about advertising).

How do you relax after a hard day of work?
I watch scary telly

Where is your favourite place to be?
At a gig, either making notes in the audience or behind the drums, facing a meager audience, but thinking “this could be the one…”

So that’s us! We look forward to meeting you in the future, and hope we can be celebrating music with you soon! See you at Rural Fest 2020!



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