ICYMI’s Rebecca Toohey talks putting on gigs and favourite female musicians

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Rebecca Toohey

As part of our International Women’s Day celebrations, promoter Rebecca Toohey tells us about putting on live events. 


It might be said that Rebecca Toohey started in the gig business by accident.  Before starting ICYMI in 2016, she was attending gigs all over the city as “a bit of a fangirl”, her gig going focusing on new and upcoming artists.

Now her focus with ICYMI is to put on shows with artists she is listening to, she tells us that it feels like a natural progression and extension of her appreciation for discovering new music.

Toohey tells us that the ethos of ICYMI is to spotlight bands from the grassroots level upwards.  Like many promoters around the city and further afield, Toohey tells us she knows how tricky it is to break through, for ICYMI their focus is to give a platform for bands they believe their fans should get to know.

Over the last few years, they have put on live events in Liverpool and Manchester and they have recently branched out to put on shows in London.

How did you come to promote your first gig?
By absolute chance, I stumbled upon a post on FB from an artist I admire called Siv Jakobsen asking what cities she should stop off in on her UK tour. So I slide into her DM’s, suggesting she come on over to Liverpool.

At this point, I had no idea of how to program anything as I had zero experience. After contacting numerous venues, it quickly dawned on me that this was going to be an expensive venture.

Until I waltz into Pen Factory, had a chat with the manager and he allowed me to put the gig on there. I took a risk and much to my amazement, it paid off.

What’s the best gig you’ve put on?
Quite a few standout moments, when it comes down to choosing favourites I’d have to say Her’s first headline show at Pen Factory, is up there as one of our best gigs. Thax Douglas made an appearance and read out a poem he’d written especially, it was surreal.

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Where do you unearth new music from?
Many different sources, but mostly through checking live listings, suggested artists on Spotify – release radar is a great playlist for fresh finds and checking out the likes of hype machine, along with similar music blogs that champion new music.

What advice do you have for any woman wanting to be a promoter?
Be prepared to extend your overdraft, no I’m joking. I say go for it, start off small and build up from there. Even if that means holding down a day job, and putting shows on at a frequency that doesn’t compromise you financially.

You might meet people along the way who dismiss your vision, believing in yourself is what’s key and without a doubt supersedes anyone else’s opinion. Being a promoter comes with its challenges, but it isn’t without reward. Creating a brand takes time, enjoy the journey.

Why have you chosen the artists on your playlist?
I have a huge amount of respect for the fierce females included in my playlist because of how much they empower women. They continue to push boundaries and challenge the status quo by using their voice to loudly claim space, whilst being unapologetically themselves.

As women we need to celebrate each other, make a stand against inequality and do our part in showing society we’ll accept nothing less – however big or small a role we play, it still contributes towards reaching that end goal.’

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