Q&A with Ian Killian and Brandon O’Neill of The North Room
Williamsport’s newest all-ages music venue and art space is looking to add an even greater depth and width to the downtown arts and entertainment scene. The North Room, 25 W. Fourth St., recently opened its doors to music acts, artists and art enthusiasts from across the region. Aiming to educate the public on different types of art and music, the space already has a loyal base of members and is looking for an even greater impact going forward.
Next on the bill for The North Room is an all-female art exhibit titled “Girl Spaces.” The show will feature eight local artists’ work, including illustrations in various media. The show will run from April 5 to 24. An opening reception will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.
The Sun-Gazette recently conducted an interview with Brandon O’Neill and Ian Killian of The North Room to learn more about the venue and its upcoming “Girl Spaces” exhibit.
ISAIAH BRITTON: What were the inspirations for The North Room?
IAN KILLIAN: I’ve booked music shows for a while now. I’ve always had to go through other people, and it was never under my control. So it’d always have to work around things. Stuff would be mixed up on their end and it would affect me. All my friends were involved when I booked, so we all decided to just do a space ourselves. Luckily my landlord, Matt Showers, said that he had a space available and asked if we’d like to use it.
BRANDON O’NEILL: There are a couple of venues that we’ve been going to – and even places outside of town, like (in) Lewisburg – where we’ve met our friends. We’ve been in several bands ourselves. We wanted to get that community thing going again, and we had the right amount of people to help us do it.
IB: How were you able to identify a community demand for what The North Room provides? Was there an “ah ha” moment, or was it more gradual?
IK: That’s hard to say. Our type of music, our scene, fluctuates. We put it together because we and our friends wanted a place to call our own, where we can create music and create art and show other peoples’ art. Another sort of goal is wanting to educate the area’s younger generation – and even older generations – that there is other music out there, there are other styles out there; that there are other ways of thinking.
BO: And not just through music, but art in general. We wanted to make this community-based. We wanted to have people from all over our area to be able to display their work and have a space to be able to rent out to be able to do that.
IB: It’s more than just a local venue, in that you don’t have people from just Williamsport. It seems regionally accessible. To what do you owe this branching out?
IK: So far, the bands that have played are bands that we know and have done shows with. But we get national acts. Just last week we had a band from West Virginia.
BO: Some of them are friends that we’ve met at other shows. There are bands in Baltimore that we’re friends with who are helping us out. We also made a compilation album. It was a real joint effort on all parts, local and not. That really helped us to branch out.
IB: What was the inspiration behind the “Girl Space” show?
IK: We needed a gallery because we weren’t really doing anything with the art we had. The girls showing their art are inspiring. They do what they want and are very talented. They do get recognition, but not as much in this area. This is just one step that can help take them there.
BO: A good majority of the artists are good friends of ours. Some of them may not have that opportunity to display their work. This is one place for them to be able to do that, especially since a lot of them are younger.
IB: What can attendees expect to see at the show?
IK: It’s mostly paintings, drawings, illustrations, and some watercolor. An artist from Lycoming College (Christina Moliterno) has some stills from her senior project that will be featured here.
IB: How can the public learn more about The North Room?
IK and BO: Face book.com/thenorthroom and thenorthroom.tumbl r.com.
IB: Anything else you want to mention?
BO: We’ve had some talks about having a comedy night, or a movie night with movies displayed on the wall.
IK: We are always looking for members. We run by membership. That’s what pays our rent. We’d like anyone who’s interested to help out. People can pay ranges of whatever they want per month. Or even if they volunteer to just watch the door, or help clean up, or just show up. That’s really what we want. And people could rent out the space if they want. We’d like it to be a safe space for anyone who’s interested.
The North Room’s stated mission is “to bring a positive artistic experience to downtown Williamsport that showcases local/national artists, local/national bands, and The Radery: A pop-up market.” For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.