by Author Carol Reid

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Staff In The Spotlight - Interview with Programme Coordinator Phoebe Cross

This month's Staff in the Spotlight features our Programme Coordinator Phoebe, who joined Youth Music three weeks before the March lockdown. 

How did you find out about Youth Music and what made you apply to work here?

I first heard about Youth Music when I was looking for a career change a year ago (it doesn’t feel like a year ago!) and I came across the Programme Coordinator role and it just looked perfect. I hadn’t even considered the idea of being able to combine working in the charity sector with something related to music, so it was all very exciting. The more I read about Youth Music, the better it was and I’m so glad I applied - my colleagues are also my friends and I really love my job - is that cheesy? Ah well doesn't matter if it is! I've done a few online project visits and it's been super inspiring seeing the impact our grants can have. We fund such a range of projects, from early years to young adults but ultimately the goal is the same - making music more accessible to everyone, no matter their life circumstances. 

You’re an accomplished drummer amongst other things! Where did your musical journey start and what are you doing now?

Ah shucks! My Dad played drums in a band in the 80s so luckily he was down for me having a kit at home when I was about 11. I played drums on my own for so long and eventually when I started uni I ended up playing in bands as I thought it was about time! Scary at first but it’s meant I’ve got to play shows all over the UK, Europe and even the US and Canada which I still find wild. I’ve met so many of my favourite people through band stuff and been inspired to become way more of a social and environmental activist. We (Happy Accidents) had a tour booked in the summer to coincide with an album release in May but we obviously didn’t get to do them. We played a show in Barcelona in February which was amazing and the only one we’re likely to do for quite a while given the current climate. Instead when we’ve been able to I’ve been rehearsing and recording with all the various bands I play in, my other two are cheerbleederz and Me Rex.

You must have lots of time on your hands now that you're not gigging. How do you keep yourself busy?

Other than some music writing and recording, I’ve literally just moved to Crouch End so that’s keeping me busy. Our Chief Operating Officer Angela mentioned Freecycle in passing and I’ve become a bit obsessed with it haha - it’s great for finding things for the house and also getting rid of stuff to others who actually want it. In general I’ve been keeping busy by spending more time cooking new recipes – although I ended up in A&E the other day as I caught my finder in a hand blender. Careful out there, would not recommend, I got away lightly!

Tell us what you do at Youth Music - and what are the best and the worst bits about your role?

I work within the Grants and Learning Team and my work is quite varied which I’d say is the best part – admin relating to our grants process as well as looking after the Youth Music Network site and Twitter page and comms with out grantholders and beyond. I’m currently helping with the redevelopment of the Youth Music Network site project which is cool as I’m learning heaps all the time. The worst part at the moment is probably not seeing everyone face to face as often as I’d like, I'm sure most people are feeling like. But I’ve actually really enjoyed getting into a home working routine and adapting – Youth Music have honestly been amazing throughout.

You previously worked for an environmental consultancy firm. Do you miss doing bat surveys? What small changes can music industry organisations make to reduce their carbon footprint?

Yes I did! I worked in the environmental consultancy world for over five years prior to this role. It was great seeing lots of wildlife while working as an ecologist but how enjoyable surveys were depended on the weather and there was often weekend and evening work and it could be exhausting, especially getting up for dawn bat surveys. Thinking about it, nature and music do both have a lot of things in common  - escapism, therapeutic in many ways and you don't need to speak the same language to understand the beauty etc. Anyway, I eventually became more office-based, but always liked covering for people on bat surveys in the summer – maybe this is a good side-hustle in the future! In terms of thinking about reducing carbon footprints, generally buying office supplies as locally as possible and with plastic-free packaging, as well as finding alternatives to Amazon are good places to start. I think it's mostly about changing the culture and showing people why they should care about it, instead of having cheap and convenient products and services. Working from home is more normal than ever which has definitely done a lot to reduce office carbon footprints! I'd recommend Crown Workspace for sustainable office furniture etc! 

What's your best vegan recipe?

Ohh good question, I think the vegan recipe I’ve made the most is the Jamie Oliver vegan mac and cheese. I usually fry the onion to put on top with breadcrumbs at the end. I also add a teaspoon of Marmite to the bechamel and serve with garlic bread. I also highly rate the BBC Good Food red lentil and coconut soup - very tasty, budget friendly and pretty healthy I'd say. If you can be bothered to make some homemade croutons, do it! Would recommend the Bosh cookbook too, everything in there is super tasty but sometimes you need to set aside some time for prepping!