FIONA Elcoat arrived in Northumberland eight years ago after, in her own words, “hitting rock bottom and wanting a fresh start”. Well whether it was the rural air, her own determination or a mixture of both, the region has certainly done her proud and she now has a successful music promotion business- Flying Pixie Promotions- and a popular show on Duns-based Generate Radio.
Originally from Doncaster, Fiona moved to Belford in 2004 desperate to give her life a jump start and after finding her feet she was soon running her own taxi firm alongside her husband.
But with a long standing passion for music it seemed inevitable that Fiona would find her way into an industry that had always interested her.
And like artists like Lily Allen and the Arctic Monkeys it was social networking site Myspace that helped kick start Fiona’s ambitions.
“I became friendly with a presenter from Radio Borders who helped to run a venue in Hawick,” she told ‘Life’.
“He quickly realised how much I loved music and suggested that I set up my own Myspace site telling people who some of my favourite acts were. I wasn’t one for computers but I set up a profile and pretty soon bands were contacting me and asking if I could get them gigs in the area.
“I was particularly shocked to get a message from Andy Murray from Wolfstone; one of my favourite bands. He said that he was forming a new group with Wolfstone’s lead singer Ivan Drever and before long I ended up doing some promotional work for them.
“It all felt totally surreal and it still does. Here were these bands that I used to pay good money to see wanting me to work with them.”
And Fiona’s networking hasn’t been restricted to British shores. One of the acts she’s actively promoting at the moment is Germany’s Seer, who she dedicated a special slot to on her Generate show.
And like her other clients the partnership was a very unexpected one.
“I’ve got a friend over in Germany who got me on the guest lists for one of their shows over there,” Fiona continued.
“I saw them play and met them afterwards and what I was most impressed by was how down to earth they were; they had a lot of time for their fans.
“While all of this was happening I’d been offered a spot at Generate and to my delight Seer agreed to do a special with me. This included a live chat via Skype and an acoustic session and the interested in them seemed to sky rocket from there.
“Scottish Sun and DJ on Amazing Radio, Jim Golightly started playing them as did Tom Russell from Real Radio XS.
“I decided to set up a fanpage for them on Facebook and the responses have been amazing. I’ve been inundate with requests for CDs which I’ve been selling from my agency website.”
An act from the other side of the Atlantic also touched base with Fiona on the internet and although she was reluctant to commit to any promotion due to her ever growing rosta of acts, she was too impressed with their album not to.
And readers may have actually seen the band in question- Jez- as Fiona got them two gigs on the day the Olympic torch came through Berwick- one in Media Mania on Castlegate and one in The Barrels.
As well as making a good impression on bands, “they like the fact I’m not going to rob them like other promoters,” she joked, Fiona has also proved a big hit with Generate listeners, with her show one of the big ratings winners for the station.
Not bad for someone who used to be painfully shy and lack self esteem.
“All my life I’ve lacked confidence,” she admitted. And I’m a massive technophobe which made the radio thing even worse but I forced myself to learn all of the ins and outs.
“I originally signed up to do one hour a week on a Tuesday evening but that went up to two and now I’m at three with people wanting four. I’m giving it some consideration but I have to remember I’ve got a 45 minute drive home after the show and a son to take for the school bus in the morning!
!When I’m on the radio I’m just me; I don’t speak with a ‘BBC accent’ and the music I play ranges from bagpipes one minute to Deep Purple the next. I even played a song from a Haven Holidays CD recently!
“My only proviso is there that has to be some kind of Celtic link no matter how tenuous. The first time I played an ELO record I justified it because there was a cello in the song which is effectively an overgrown fiddle!”
Fiona hasn’t taken any of her success for granted and and she hasn’t reached the point she’s at now without putting the hours in.
“I’ve been speaking to the drummer from Runrig and got an interview with Sandi Thom lined up- I often think ‘how did this happen to me?’
“I’ve always loved music but growing up my mum didn’t want be getting involved with things like that. I was always the child sitting in the corner thinking they weren’t capable of anything.
“My husband said once you achieve your dream you’ll look for the next one and I think that’s very true. I’d love for Generate to get our FM licence so we can expand and get even more listeners.
“I’ll be honest with everything I do I don’t get a lot of sleep! After I do my show on a Tuesday I’m sometimes up til 3-4am putting my playlist online and creating a listen again link for people who can’t listen to the show live for whatever ever reason. I have some listeners in America.
“People on Facebook often say ‘Fiona go have a rest’ but my outlook on life is that you’re a long time dead so you have to live for the moment.”
To find out more about Fiona and the artists she represents visit www.flyingpixiepromotions.co.uk.