Sam and Sofia – Sam Genders and Sofia Hagberg – are a husband and wife promoter team putting on a fantastic line-up of gigs around Sheffield. Sam was a founding member of Tunng and Diagrams, and Sofia co-founded End Of The Road Festival. Bucking the trend for Sheffield-based music professionals cutting their teeth here before fleeing south, Sam and Sofia have recently moved here from London and have thrown themselves into bringing an eclectic selection of musicians to the city, as well as celebrating local acts. They’ve also opened their living room up for some secret, intimate shows, including Woodpigeon, Liz Green, Samantha Crain and Jeffrey Lewis playing acoustic sets.

It seems that more often than not in Sheffield, people leave as soon as they start to get a bit successful and famous. You have followed a different path though. What brought you to Sheffield?
To be honest, partly the cost of living. We both work in music and it’s not an easy business to survive in. Moving here from London has halved our living expenses and allowed us to focus on what we love, although we already had a few friends in Sheffield and we knew that there’s an amazing creative side to Sheffield within art, film and music. Sofia was also longing to live somewhere calmer and closer to nature, as we love going for walks.

Can you tell us about the gigs you’ve got coming up?
We’ve got David Thomas Broughton collaborating with Juice Vocal Ensemble on 9 September. Expect something out of the ordinary. Then there’s John Smith on 24 November and a Christmas show with Sweet Baboo and Pictish Trail on 2 December. All three shows are at the Greystones – one of our favourite Sheffield venues.

What kind of experiences, both as a musician and a promoter of a big festival, are you bringing to your gigs in Sheffield?
It’s important for us that the artist and the audience both get to have a great experience. We value attention to detail and quality across the board, whether it’s the artist’s rider or the greeting of the audience on the door. We want everyone to go away feeling like that was one of the best concert nights out they’ve had in a while.

Who are your favourite musicians at the moment?
[Sam] I’m excited about Julie Byrne – wonderful voice and songs. And I really like Pinkunoizu. Their video for ‘Moped’ is one the best things I’ve seen in the last year.

[Sofia] John Smith. He has toured relentlessly over the past 8-9 years, self-released all his albums and worked so hard to get to where he is now. I also love Tune-Yards. Merrill has such an amazing stage presence. And John Grant. Everything about his songwriting is beautiful.

Are there any local artists you’d recommend?
There’s the lovely Nat Johnson, Magpies if you’re into something folky, King Capisce if you’re after something more instrumental and experimental, and High Hazels, The Crookes and Slow Club of course.

What do you think about the music scene in Sheffield at the moment?
There seems to be so much going on that it’s certainly worth celebrating. So many amazing artists, as well as all the great events – Sensoria, Doc/Fest and Tramlines, with the wonderful Folk Forest, and more.

Finally, what are your plans for the future?
[Sam] I have a new Diagrams album on the horizon and I’m off to China in a few weeks to spend a month working as a musician in residence on behalf of the British Council.

[Sofia] My friend Penny Blackham and I are starting to offer mentoring to artists, promoters and festival organisers, which is exciting. I’m also studying to become a dog behaviourist in my spare time and there’s quite a lot of DIY and gardening on my to-do list for the near future.

samandsofia.co.uk

Ben Eckersley