Pupil-run record label and venue in Penicuik set for three-day music festival

Penicuik High School pupils involved in Burnt Out Records.
Penicuik High School pupils involved in Burnt Out Records.

A record company and live promotions agency run by pupils at Penicuik High School celebrates its tenth anniversary this week with a three-day music festival.

Around 20-25 pupils are currently involved in Burnt Out Records, where pupils write and record their own music, designing, mixing and producing CDs for sale throughout the school year. The label also has professional artists come to play at its very own venue – The Music Hub – where artists such as Nina Nesbitt, Wingin’ It, Sophie Bancroft, Siobhan Miller, American duo Hungrytown and up and coming artist Emily Burns have all played.

Keith Murphy, head of music at Penicuik High School, has been involved in Burnt Out Records since the very start.

He said:“Over the years the pupils have been inspired by professional musicians playing the Hub, chatting to them and playing with them, which is really important.

“We have got quite a lot of links with the industry. We have had kids go on to do production stuff and we have had people involved in the business side, while those involved in the posters etc have gone on to do graphic design.

“So it covers all aspects.

“When it all began it just seemed like a good thing to do. Over the years it has grown arms and legs. Now it is very much part of the school and quite unique. It has been really interesting to see it grow.”

The jewel in the crown for Burn Out Records is undoubtedly The Music Hub, the former library taken over by the school and converted into a 100-seater live music venue, where the tenth anniversary three-day music festival will take place this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

“It was set up to give young people a platform to perform”, said Keith.

“It’s really the kids who run it, we just help and advise. But they make the decisions on who comes into play.

“The first gig there was Sophie Bancroft in 2008. The kids generally book people once a month, either a professional musician, their own artist from the school, or even a local unsigned artist.

“The acts really enjoy it, it’s special. We had Blue Rose Code in twice, they played here on the Tuesday and then the Queen’s Hall on the Friday.

“We run it as a professional venue, so it doesn’t feel like a school concert. We sell tickets online and it’s licensed premises.

“The money made has been reinvested into the venue.”

Keith explained more about Burnt Out Records, which has supported 30-40 acts from the school during its ten years. He said: “We have two branches, one is the venue and the other part is the record label.

“We have a studio here at the school which isn’t that unusual anymore, but we give kids that platform as well.

“This year we have six artists signed to our label. I say ‘signed’ – they have not actually signed anything – but they record with us and release songs. We have got a YouTube channel which has a lot of live stuff on it from our acts. The kids run it all. Teachers are a bit more hands-off.”

Keith is looking forward to this week’s tenth anniversary festival.

He said: “What I think is really good about it is that these three nights perfectly cover what Burnt Out is all about and it is the perfect start to our tenth year.

“You have Beth Malcolm, a young up-and-coming songwriter on the Wednesday, and on Thursday it’s former artists night, featuring former pupils who were involved in the record label. So it’s quite nice that they are still playing music, we are talking five or six years down the line from leaving school.

“Then on the Friday we have Admiral Fallow, a band that is pretty well known and established.

“These three nights represent perfectly what we have done in our ten years. The kids came up with it. It is by design. That is what they wanted to do.

“The Admiral Fallow gig is sold out and the others are selling well, so we are very excited.

“Two groups from the school will support Admiral Fallow and having that on the CV is really positive thing for any band.

“This festival is also about getting the local community involved. You normally have to travel into Edinburgh or even through to Glasgow for a gig, but this is on our doorstep.”

Two of the Penicuik High School pupils currently involved with Burnt Out Records, Jasmine Hood (S4) and Anna Fergusson (S2), revealed what they have gained from the project, and the brighter future prospects it has given them.

Jasmine said: “I enjoy working as part of a team to put on gigs, watching and hearing the music being played in our very own venue is amazing.

“I’ve learned so much about the music business in general and also developing valuable skills such as networking, promoting and running gigs.

“I’ve learned that a career in music is definitely a real career as well as being hugely enjoyable.”

Anna added: “I enjoy the business side of putting on gigs such as promotion, sales and using social media to network.

“And I have now realised how many different careers are available to me in the music industry.”

Tickets and details for the three concerts are available from www.brownpapertickets.com/producer/718905.