Hull has an explosive, diverse, and fantastic creative community from the New Adelphi Club to the wondrous exhibits of Humber Street Gallery. That same community can sometimes feel elusive to outsiders.
We asked some of our favourite artists in the area what it’s like in Hull’s ether of neurodivergent creativity. Neurodivergence is the term for conditions that completely change the way we think and our perspectives, like autism or ADHD.
With its location, Hull has always been a town with as many cultures as it has buildings, and its art communities are no different. Whether your experiences are within immigration, queerness, disability, race, or gender, there is something that represents you on this side of the bridge. The Humber Bridge itself is a testament to the mindset of Hull – a towering colossus built to bridge two cultures across a vast and dangerous river, the first bridge of its kind in a city all its own.
We asked Hull musician Trouser Dress (Carden, 18, they/it), what it’s like being neurodivergent in the Hull creative scene. By the way, if you haven’t listened to Trouser Dress yet, this is your sign to go find its amazing music on your listening platform. ‘Devil Town’ is a powerful conversation between the mind and the body bound into the chamber of a ukulele.
Carden told us that it first got into the music scene through its college, but “found the music work and staff at Warren Records so much easier to work with”. The balance between a producer and artist is intrinsic, and finding someone you can work with is vital, Carden told us that it ‘felt listened to’ and that it was allowed to work at its “own pace”. The Warren’s record label; Warren Records, is a free label for young people to develop and even produce their own music and perform at events, free of charge.
Carden also told us that its neurodivergence is integral to its art and that it struggles with the ‘social aspects of being a musician’. Support is vital for neurodivergent artists and from listening to its work, Carden’s found it. Carden explained that it hopes “to see more people being loudly disabled and neurodivergent and unapologetic about it”.
Carden expressed that it felt services like Warren Records ‘are not well known enough’ and that many young Hull artists could benefit from working with them. Carden wants you to know that “art is a message to everyone who feels stuck in life because of who they are”. It wants to “show people that it is ‘more than capable and that anyone can be involved in Hull’s music scene if they know where to go”.
We also spoke to Scott Langthorp (44, He/Him), Music Services & Label Manager for Warren Records. Scott told us that what he loves the most about Hull’s creative scene is that “it really feels like a family”. While he isn’t neurodivergent himself, Scott works closely with neurodivergent artists like Trouser Dress and Bizarre Fae to record and perform their music.
When we asked what Scott had learned from working with neurodivergent artists that he felt other producers could learn from, he told us that the key was to “be prepared to go completely off the rails and the most creative outcomes will come naturally”. Scott also said that to work with neurodivergent artists, you have to be ready for when things don’t go to plan as what you’ve “planned to do might change as soon as the session starts”.
It sounds like working with neurodivergent artists can be a wild ride, but if the talents of Trouser Dress and Bizarre Fae are anything to go by, I’d definitely say it’s worth it. If you want to see Scott perform as Endoflevelbaddie then look no further than the next Warren Records event and, if you’re lucky, you might get to see Trouser Dress and Bizarrefae perform too.
Much like with Trouser Dress, they attributed their early motivations to working with The Warren Youth Project. Bizarre mentioned that they’d actually been reluctant to make music initially but were really encouraged by Warren staff to go for it, thankfully!
Diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood, Bizarre mentioned a feeling of disassociation from their peers even before their diagnosis and that their music was shaped by this perspective and their passion for social justice issues like feminism. Bizarre told us that they’d tried to “write about matters of the heart and all that relatable jazz” but that it had never felt like their message for their art.
Bizarre spoke of a deep desire to see neurodiversity recognised for what it is – a difference, rather than a lack. They told us that they “want to see a world in which neurodiversity isn’t looked down on, but is simply that, diversity”. They were passionate about the value of art as therapy, but felt that often neurodivergent artists are limited to that scope, rather than recognised for their skill. Bizarre told us that “too often the creativity of neurodiverse folk is just a footnote in the success of their neurotypical peers during collaboration”.
If you haven’t devoured Bizarrefae’s ‘Dwarfed’ yet, the song is a burning pyre of feminine rage that taps into the treatment of women throughout history and throughout the reign of Walt Disney Studios’ princess-driven empire,
We talked to Hull DJ, MC, and rapper Noble (He/Him), about his experiences with neurodivergence and the arts community. Noble told us that he felt he was looked at differently as an artist because of his neurodivergence and that he looks out of place.
Noble wants to see “more people coming together to have their say” in Hull’s art community, and mentioned that he gets a sense of that happening at the Community Conversation events held once a month in Hull by Mencap’s Community Connectors.
When we asked Noble what he wants his art to say, he told us that he wants to use his art to spread positivity, and I have to say, having listened to his original works, that he certainly does that and then some.
Tales & Scales
Events like Tales & Scales ‘Rainbow Brick Road’ put a lot of the footwork into. bringing new people into the scene, reviving the community with fresh blood. Rainbow Brick Road was a night of fun, laughter, and honesty that was as refreshing as it was entertaining. If you want to see the next big event, go follow Tales & Scales on Facebook.
Tales & Scales Productions is a production company run and founded by a young, neurodivergent, and disabled writer; Emily Oetegenn (26, She/Her). Emily is a vibrant young woman with an ethereal kind of written art. Hearing her work can feel like strolling through a misted faerie glade. If you ever get the chance to see Emily perform, as she does fairly often in Hull, I’d absolutely suggest not missing the opportunity.
My own experience
As an artist in Hull’s creative scene myself, I’ve often found it to be as elusive as it is diverse, sometimes feeling like a sort of members-only club that I was too under-skilled to be a part of.
Communities are, typically, built on socialisation and communication. Those two skills, admittedly, felt out of reach of a young autistic writer like myself, more content in the pages of books than in the company of others. But I can’t overstate the value of companionship and the ability to seek out criticism and advice from members of your community.
I’ve also, on occasion, felt like my work didn’t fit the picture of disability and neurodivergence that is so often presented in art. Where I’ve always explored the darker sides of life with my work, drawing the shadows and depths of life into focus, the focus of others’ work was often on the joys of that experience.
I know that it gave me pause on more than one occasion when putting my work forward. For my dark-sided friends, I have to say – you have a community out there, but don’t shy from those who write or draw or perform more light-hearted pieces; work with them, learn from each other, and grow.
I’ve found beauty in neurodivergent art, a rawness that comes from that no-holds-barred perspective on life that can be as entrancing as it is brutal. I hope you find something that sets you on fire.
Don’t give up. Your community is out there, and if it’s half as powerful as the one in Hull, you’re in for a real treat.
Kytt S Baxter
Check out the artists featured here below…