Chloe Mogg and Amy Crouch – In the service of the 7 Arts

Dear Readers,

Number 7 always had magical prosperities. It was the lucky number in many Western and Eastern cultures. There were 7 Wise Men in Greece, River Styx encircled Hades seven times to protect the underworld. 7 principles of higher education in the ancient times were known as Artes Liberales. Christianity introduced the concepts of 7 Deadly Sins and 7 Heavenly Virtues. Modern times are also filled with all things seven: Seven Up (we are only kidding!), 7 Samurai, The Magnificent 7, seven books in the Harry Potter series and of course the seven pillars of the modern art: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Literature, Music, Performing and Film.

The world of art is not always appreciated as it should be. With rampart capitalism on the loose and omnipresent everything-has-to-bring-profit attitude, one has to argue and fight for the funding of concerts, exhibitions, museums and libraries. But when tragedy or unprecedented event happens, such as the corona virus pandemic, everyone turns to the arts for comfort. Music and films are helping millions to get through and we really hope the calming nature of art will not be forgotten once the dust settles.

The 7 Arts Still Exist Online Festival small poster

In the meantime, artists of any kind are doing what they have always done – they make the world more bearable with their craft. And on local level, we have two young girls who are proving that the seven traditional arts are alive, well and kicking even in the digital age.

Chloe Mogg and Amy Crouch organized the first West Midlands Online music and arts festival last week. It took place on 18th – 19th of April and brought together performances from 36 musicians and more than 20 artists. As you can imagine, it was a great success. More than 24.000 people tuned to watch the performances, the event was shared more than 200 times, hundreds of comments were posted on social media and the online art exhibition was seen more than 1000 times. 24 thousand people is enough to fill a big stadium, so if it was a real gig, the festival would have been a sold out affair.

We want this blog entry to serve a specific purpose. To show that artists can do very well online performing from their own bedrooms, and those who are organizing such events, should know how much they are able to achieve. And hopefully the success of  The 7.A.S.E Online Music & Arts Festival will be a great example how to go viral while streaming.

Pretty in Pink – the big poster with all performances listed

1. Organizational team:

As, we have mentioned that the online festival has been the brainchild of two young women. Best friends, collaborators and both equally talented:

Chloe Mogg – Singer, songwriter, journalist and producer. Delivering a mixture of musical influences, Chloe Mogg creates a spacious journey that will take you through all the emotions of music. As a young singer-songwriter with “parrot” hair, she brings life and colour to her performances. Known for her quirkiness and smile, she haunts the audience with her ability to tell a story with only her voice, guitar and ‘strange’ effects. With influences from Jeff Buckley, Nick Harper, Alanis Morissette and Marika Hackman to name a few, Chloe showcases a wide range of inspirations. Supporting artists such as Nick Harper, Jon Gomm & Quill, and playing hundred’s of festivals all over the UK (including Lakefest, Moseley Folk & Arts Festival, Avebury Rocks, Leamington Peace Festival), Chloe’s in her natural habitat on stage. With debut EP “Thalamus” getting radio play on BBC Radio 6 & BBC Introducing Hereford & Worcester, the songwriter has recently released her first single in 2 years “Judgement Day” which sees her experiment in an electronica/trip-hop world. Currently the songstress is in the recording process of her debut album due for release October 2020, the debut album will see all her influences in one place and will become her most diverse work yet.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chloemoggmusic/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChloeMogg
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chloemogg/

Chloe Mogg with her festival make up on

Amy Crouch – Artist and designer. “My work challenges the traditional conventions of painting. The visual elements of the paintings are geometric and abstract in creation however, the physical form of the canvas is manipulated and changed in order to affect how these simple geometric shapes look. In doing this, the focus is always still on the fact that it is a painting and when I’m pushing the boundaries of the canvas, I’m always thinking about how far I can push those boundaries without it no longer being a painting.”

Amy graduated from University of Worcester in Novembert 2018 and won the Meadow Arts Prize 2018. Her exhibitions have included the Degree Show 2018 at University of Worcester and the Parallax Art Fair in Kensington, London. Current exhibition is entitled “Nothing is Square pt2” and is based at Shipton Street Gallery.

Website: https://www.amycrouchart.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amycrouchart/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amycrouchart/

Amy Crouch – with one of her artworks

2. Radio stations:

Everyone of us knows the song “Radio GaGa” by The Queen with its most famous line: “And everything I had to know, I heard it on my radio”. In times of corona virus, except for the internet, radio is the most important source of information, music, news and everything else. And being mentioned by popular DJ’s or being interviewed on air is a huge boost for any event.

Chloe Mogg has an impressive musical resume having been played at BBC 6 Music, BBC Introducing in West Midlands and BBC Hereford and Worcester many times. Her work at the online festival has been quickly spotted and that led to her being invited to speak to Kate Justice at BBC HW twice to discuss the event. Sadly we were unable to find the first interview which took place around the 1st of April (not an April’s Fool joke, we assure you!), but we had secured the second one from 15th of April. Chloe was also mentioned by legendary BBC6 Music DJ Steve Lamacq during his BBC Recommends show on 17th of April and finally appeared on BBC Introducing HW with Andrew Marston on Saturday 18th of April during Jack Cattell set being streamed live! You can listen to all clips below:

 

3. Newspapers:

Establishing a proper relationship with press is vital for any artistic endeavour. Local journalists are always on the look out for an interesting topic to cover and an online music and arts festival during a full country shut down, proved to be a real hit.

Worcester News, the leading newspaper in Worcester, has been especially supportive towards the festival. They printed two large articles: one on Saturday 18th of April 2020 in their online edition and another one on Monday, 20th of April in their printed version of the daily paper.

 

You can read the main article at: https://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/18386422.online-music-arts-festival-promote-artists/
PDF version is available at: Worcester News_page 4 20.04.2020

And once the happy news got out, the sister titles of “Worcester News” around several counties, re-printed the story as well.  In this way, Chloe and Amy went viral from Wales to East Midlands. They appreared in Bromsgrove Advertiser, Kidderminster Shuttle, Tewksbury Magazine, Malvern Gazette, Halesoven News and Droitwich Advertiser among others.

https://www.bromsgroveadvertiser.co.uk/news/regional/worcestershire/18386422.online-music-arts-festival-promote-artists/
https://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/regional/18386422.online-music-arts-festival-promote-artists/
https://www.tewkesburyadmag.co.uk/news/regional/18386422.online-music-arts-festival-promote-artists/
https://www.malverngazette.co.uk/news/regional/18386422.online-music-arts-festival-promote-artists/
https://www.halesowennews.co.uk/news/regional/18386422.online-music-arts-festival-promote-artists/ https://www.droitwichadvertiser.co.uk/news/worcester_news/18386422.online-music-arts-festival-promote-artists/

On 23rd of April, another article appeared in Worcester News and Kidderminster Shuttle! This time the journalists praised the festival’s success, attendence and the atmosphere!

Both articles are available at:
https://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/18400222.worcestershires-online-music-festival-saw-24-000-viewers-tuned/
https://www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/regional/18400222.worcestershires-online-music-festival-saw-24-000-viewers-tuned/

And as last time, the story has been picked up by number of other titles such as Hereford Times, Droitwich Advertiser, Ledbury Reporter, Malvern Gazette, Halesowen News, Bromsgrove Advertiser and Dudley News. You can see the links to each article below:

https://www.herefordtimes.com/news/regional/18400222.worcestershires-online-music-festival-saw-24-000-viewers-tuned/
https://www.droitwichadvertiser.co.uk/news/worcester_news/18400222.worcestershires-online-music-festival-saw-24-000-viewers-tuned/
https://www.ledburyreporter.co.uk/news/regional/18400222.worcestershires-online-music-festival-saw-24-000-viewers-tuned/
https://www.malverngazette.co.uk/news/regional/18400222.worcestershires-online-music-festival-saw-24-000-viewers-tuned/
https://www.halesowennews.co.uk/news/regional/18400222.worcestershires-online-music-festival-saw-24-000-viewers-tuned/
https://www.bromsgroveadvertiser.co.uk/news/regional/worcestershire/18400222.worcestershires-online-music-festival-saw-24-000-viewers-tuned/
https://www.dudleynews.co.uk/news/regional/18400222.worcestershires-online-music-festival-saw-24-000-viewers-tuned/

Additional mentions came from SLAP Magazine in Worcester and New Noise Magazine:

Slap Magazine screenshot

https://www.slapmag.co.uk/the-7-a-s-e-online-music-arts-festival/

New Noise Magazine screenshot

https://newnoisemagazine.com/news-the-7-a-s-e-online-music-arts-festival-is-set-to-take-place-18th-and-19th-april/

4. Founding:

The 7 Arts Still Exists Festival hoped to raise £250 for future artistic projects. And they managed not only to hit the target by mid Saturday, but collected a round £300 to date – a whooping 122% of their original target! This will help Chloe and Amy to cover their production and advertising costs of another edition of the festival. Hopefully, we can get a real 3 dayer next time!

Fundraiser

5. Arts Gallery:

More than 20 artists participated in the Art Exhibition curated by Amy Crouch and hosted on her personal website. It featured a wide range of styles (graphic design, photography, abstract and mixed media) and attracted more than 1000 views during the weekend. If the opening took place not online but in a traditional art gallery or a museum, people would have been queuing outside of the doors!

We dont think we have a venue that large in Worcester. The exhibition would have to be probably held in the Guild Hall, on both floors!

6. Aftermatch:

With the event completed, comments exchanges, links shared, streams finished and fundraisers reaching their targets – it’s now time to relax and enjoy the festival memories. Luckily we have no wellies to clean and tents to wash! To summarize what has been achieved during those two days, Chloe has created two playlists that contain the majority of the acts that performed.

Please give them a listen. You may discover your next favourite artist.

Soundcloud:

 

And on Spotify:

 

 

Please visit the events socials:

Festival Main Page:
https://www.amycrouchart.co.uk/the-7-a-s-e-online-music-and-arts-festival/music

Festival Arts Gallery:
https://www.amycrouchart.co.uk/the-7-a-s-e-online-music-and-arts-festival/exhibition

The 7 Arts Still Exist group has more than 1200 members already! It can be accessed at:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/the7artsstillexist/

Main event page on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/events/2616013701977211/

The event was free but you can still donate in lieu of tickets at:
https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/the-7-arts-still-exist

This of course is not the end! Chloe and Amy are thinking about new editions of the festival. Bigger and better, with more attractions for everyone to enjoy. We will keep an eye open and our hand on the pulse to cover any future events, streams and shows that this dynamic duo will be involved in. Our West Midlands scene is doing very well, despite lock downs, isolation and closures.

See you down the (virtual) front row,
R+M

Ali Hirsz – Going viral for the right cause

Dear Readers, 

Nothing makes us happier at Vanadian Avenue than when an emerging artists we admire, are going viral. And when that happens, we are always ready to take screenshots, write down the links and put it together into a nice, tidy database. You may ask why do we do it for?  The answer is very simple: young bands very rarely get exposure that established artists are getting all the time. Interviews, reviews, media mentions, high profile links, plays – everything counts in the perfect world of social media. If you are not visible, it’s hard to get to new fans, it’s hard to interest a label in your music, and it’s almost impossible to get yourself signed.

Exposure is essential at the beginning of every career and if it happens for the right reasons, you are a winner. And Cambridgeshire based trio, Idealistics are definitely going viral for one of the best reasons we have ever heard – fighting for musicians with disabilities and long term illnesses.

Ali Hirsz, the lead singer of the band suffers from rare form of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). There is no cure for her illness and she has many side effects that make her daily life very difficult. Because of the rarity of her condition, she is being fed with a pump that goes directly into her heart. Earlier this week, Ali underwent a serious emergency heart operation, but before going to hospital, she sat down with Catherine Wylie from PA Media Group to discuss her aliment, prejudice associated with disabilities and difficulties musicians with long terms illnesses face. Her openness, honestly and frankness made the interview such a good read that it was picked up by many sources, and we truly hope so the music industry will pay attention!

We are pleased to report that operation went well and Ali will now begin a long process to recovery. Her fans were of course updated on the band’s official Facebook page:

The interview was featured on three popular national news pages: AOL, Yahoo News and Talk Talk News that are visited by millions of readers daily. Please see the breakdown of the campaign (with screens) we prepared below.

NATIONAL NEWS:

AOL:

AOL News

https://www.aol.co.uk/news/2020/04/06/singer-with-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-to-welcome-disab

Yahoo! News:

Yahoo Main Page news – it can’t get better than this!

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/singer-rare-condition-urges-music-113109619.html

Talk Talk:

Talk Talk News

https://more.talktalk.co.uk/news/2020/04/06/singer-with-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-to-welcome-disabled-artists

After appearing in the national news, Ali conquered local titles as well! The article appeared in more than 460 local newspaper and we are incredibly proud that what she had to say resonated strongly with so many readers.

LOCAL NEWSPAPERS:

Article that appeared in nearly 460 local newspapers

Google Search results – Ali is going viral!

We have chosen several newspapers to show you that Ali’s story reached every part of the United Kingdom, including Ireland, Gibraltar, Isle of Wight and remote parts of Scotland. And West Midlands of course (Hello Worcester News!)

Worcester News:
https://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

Express and Star:
https://www.expressandstar.com/news/uk-news/2020/04/06/singer-with-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-to-welcome-disabled-artists/

The Northern Echo:
https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

The North West Evening Mail:
https://www.nwemail.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

This is Local London:
https://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

The Evening Express:
https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/uk/singer-with-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-to-welcome-disabled-artists/

This Is Money:
https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/wires/pa/article-8191695/Singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists.html

Dudley News:
https://www.dudleynews.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

The Gazette Herald:
https://www.gazetteherald.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

The St. Helen’s Star:
https://www.sthelensstar.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

Richmond and Twickenham Times:
https://www.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

The Telegraph & Argus:
https://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

The Whitchurch Herald:
https://www.whitchurchherald.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

Hereford Times:
https://www.herefordtimes.com/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

Salford City News:
https://www.salfordcitynews.co.uk/news/national-news/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

News and Star:
https://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

Business IQ North East:
https://www.businessiqnortheast.co.uk/cars/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

Daily Directions:
https://dailydirections.com/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

Oxford Mail:
https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

Swindon Advertiser:
https://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

The Gazette:
https://www.the-gazette.co.uk/news/national-news/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

The  Belfast Telegraph:
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/singer-with-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-to-welcome-disabled-artists-39106200.html

Gazette and Herald:
https://www.gazetteandherald.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

The Gibraltar Chronicle:
https://www.chronicle.gi/singer-with-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-to-welcome-disabled-artists/

Sunday Post:
https://www.sundaypost.com/news/uk-news/singer-with-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-to-welcome-disabled-artists/

Glasgow Times:
https://www.glasgowtimes.co.uk/news/viralnews/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

Jersey Evening Post:
https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/uk-news/2020/04/06/singer-with-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-to-welcome-disabled-artists/

Bournemouth Echo:
https://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/ 

Isle of Wight County Press:
https://www.countypress.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

 The Argus:
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

Chard and Ilminster News:
https://www.chardandilminsternews.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/ 

York Press:
https://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/national/18360968.singer-rare-condition-urges-music-industry-welcome-disabled-artists/

We would like to thank to Lyle Bignon of Birmingham Music Coalition, who put Ali in touch with the PA Media Group team, Catherine Wylie for speaking to Ali on such a short notice, Richard Canham, the Deputy Head of Video at PA and to Dominique Hirsz and George Gillott of Idealistics who were absolute sweethearts keeping everyone’s spirits up.

Thank you so much!
M+R Dabrowicz

Indieterria meets Rob Hirst

Dear Readers

We may live through hard times for the dreamers (as mighty Welshmen Trampolene observed) but we definitely need visionaries and cultural catalysts – perhaps now more than ever. Hard times call for movers, shakers and people who will push things forward when everyone is looking back at nostalgia.

Through our blog we tend not only to support new and upcoming artists but also those who tirelessly work behind the scenes in labels, music websites, venues and radio stations.  Today`s entry is dedicated to a man who will be seen by future generations as Sheffield`s answer to Tony Wilson – Mr Rob Hirst.

Rob has dedicated years to build a network and to promote bands from across the country in conditions that would make others throw the towel in. His strength, persistence and  vision are shining though and elevated artists to better things.

Rob Hirst – a man for the job

We had a real pleasure and privilege to speak to Rob about his label, music industry and his dream band.

Musician, label owner and a walking encyclopaedia of great new bands – please introduce yourself to readers of Indieterria.

Rob Hirst: Hi, I’m Rob the owner and founder of Fans for Bands and These Bloody Thieves Records! (laughs)

It`s been a year since you have founded These Bloody Thieves Records. In that time you worked with artists such as False Heads, The Howlers, C33`s among many others. That is a truly impressive accomplishment. Tell us where did the idea for a label come from and how did you manage to make this a reality?

Rob Hirst:  I guess it was just a progression from all the other things I was doing. I was working with a lot of bands via Fans for Bands, discovering new bands via my Spotify playlists and I was scouting for others management and labels. When Ditto approached me about the label in the box within a few hours I had the branding, put a post on social media and Luke from False Heads was keen to work with me. It was up and running in 24 hours.

2020 started with a bang at the label. You just announced Singles Club – a very ambitious plan to release 24 singles this year. Can you give more information as we are sure many bands would love to get in touch.

Rob Hirst:  Yeah, I wanted to do something different this year after a frustrating end to 2019. I was bored on Boxing day and the idea just popped into my head. I put a post out on social media and the submissions and support came flooding in. By end of Feb 2020 the label will have put out five singles already with artists all over the UK.

You are the man behind the Fans for Bands project. Please tell us more about it. What exactly is Fans for Bands and how does it work? How this platform can benefit  unsigned artists?

Rob Hirst:  The name itself kind of explains what it is. This is my freelance side to my career and the also the PR/marketing brand that supports the label. The idea is to have a budget marketing (PR/Spotify and Social Media Growth) that gets excellent results based on my passion, knowledge and contacts without ripping a massive hole in the artists pockets.

At the end of December 2019, These Bloody Thieves welcomed Matthew Stockman as head of A&R and Live Events. His presence will surely invigorate the label. We are very curious what live events are in the pipe line? Showcases or maybe even a festival?

Rob Hirst:  Matt is incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to discovering new bands and was an active figure on the London scene before moving to Sheffield and then joining the label. Matt will be looking to discover new artists and then give them a slot at our stages in Sheffield and looking to actively promote to new artists to a Sheffield crowd.

We know its maybe a cliché question but what are you looking for as a label? What qualities should an artist/band possess to grab your attention?  And how prospective artists can approach you?

Rob Hirst:  It’s all about the quality of the artist. Preferably discovered as early as possible and to help to support their releases. Obviously, we want to play our part on breaking a band. But the label has never been about making money. It’s about putting out and supporting great artists and to encourage people to listen to something other than Lewis Capaldi (laughs)

Music Business is not the easiest of industries – and we are sure that running a label is not a walk in the park. But it also offers some valuable lessons to us all. If you were to share some of your experiences with those who want to set up their own labels – what would you say to them?

Rob Hirst:  Yeah of course. Success will definitely not come over night. Don’t sign too many artists at once and don’t invest too much money that you will not see back. I have no regrets about the levels on money invested and lost in the first year. It was all about been taken seriously and getting a reputation so that we could then attract the best artists in the UK – Which has definitely worked.

Last (in)famous question – imagine you can create a super group consisting of any musician from history. Who is in the band, what instruments do they plan and what`s their name?

Rob Hirst:  Wow! Depends what mood I am in! I have to reform my old band and have a mid life crisis. Those musicians I played with played a huge part in my life and all led me to working in music full time. But off the top of my head!

Crispin Hunt (Longpigs) – Vocals/Rhythm Guitars
Nick McCabe (Verve) – Lead Guitars
John Entwhistle (The Who) – Bass
Reni (Stone Roses) – Drums

These Bloody Thieves Records logo

You can follow These Bloody Thieves on socials:

https://www.thesebloodythievesrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thesebloodythieves/
https://twitter.com/TBT_Records
https://www.instagram.com/thesebloodythievesrecords/

 

Fans For Bands logo

and Fans For Bands:
https://www.fansforbands.com/
https://www.facebook.com/fansforbandsuk/
https://twitter.com/fansforbandsuk
https://www.instagram.com/thesebloodythievesrecords/
https://open.spotify.com/user/dbjph28w55odrz4ehj79ckorm?si=IwmniJg1SgmpfxN20g6QSQ

 

Indie radar Logo

Rob Hirst is also the man behind Indie Radar – a mammoth play list for all things indie. If you want to know what is hip on the indie circuit – this is your place to start.

Indie Radar
https://www.facebook.com/weareindieradar
https://twitter.com/weareindieradar
https://www.instagram.com/indieradaruk/

Big thank you to Rob for his assistance and patience. Please support your local scene during this time. We will emerge from it as better, stronger industry.

Mal/Rita

Indieterria review – Q&A with Joe Talbot and Alan McGee

Dear Readers,

We promised you a detailed review from the Q&A session with Joe Talbot and Alan McGee in Birmingham and we are keeping our word. Kevin Fitzgerald of Toura Toura and his team did the impossible and delivered one of the best events we attended in a very long time. It was intimate (despite being nearly sold out), full of hope, community spirit and unplanned confessions from Joe himself and the audience. At times it felt like a group therapy or a meeting of people hell bent on changing the world. AF Gang as a secret society for betterment of humankind? We will take it and sign ourselves right up.

Q+A in Birmingham poster

It  was a beautiful evening at The Night Owl – one of our favourite venues in Digbeth (Birmingham`s answer to Manchester`s Northern Quarter). The amount of psychedelic shows we have seen at the Owl is a story for another blog!  We arrived early to find best seats and to speak to people (big shout out to Rebecca and Arron a couple of awesome kids who travelled all the way from Stoke and had their return journey on a coach at 3 in the morning). We grabbed our drinks and strategically positioned ourselves next to a heater and were ready to be entertained.

Believe us, everyone was properly spoiled on the night. Before Alan and Joe took to the stage we had a chance to see two local bands play their sets (about 30 minutes each) and  they were excellent picks. First came The Jack Fletcher Band – a four piece from Wolverhampton. We had a pleasure to interview them for Indieterria in 2018 and we knew what to expect from Jack and his men. The band went to play some of their biggest hits (“Young Man At Heart”, “Carousel”) and left audience speechless. It was so quiet during the set you could swear the Q&A was held in a cathedral instead of a music venue. The Jack Fletcher Band offer indie rock anthems that can only be described as real life stories. There is something in their music that has Paul Weller quality to it – the ability to tell stories of ordinary people with such grace and compassion. If you haven’t seen them live yet – do so as soon as possible.

After The Jack Fletcher Band came The Pagans S.O.H. We must have attended a dozen gigs of The Paganistas by now and its always a pleasure to see them doing their thing. They mix hip hop, rock, funk into a concoction that is truly unique on the circuit. Show us a band like Pagans and we will be buying you lunches at Digbeth Dining Club for a year. Every song played on stage was vibrating with positive energy that all hearts and phones in the room charged up immediately to 100%. And Pagans did not stop for a second – from “Banananah” to “Da Vinci” and “Come Down to Reality” – the band played flawlessly and enjoyed themselves as much as the audience.

Once the music stopped – chairs were brought on the stage, lights dimmed and Alan McGee and Joe Talbot entered the room.

Joe and Alan gave a fantastic talk with many tips for people struggling with mental health, addictions, bands trying to make it in the business. There was a lot of laughs – Joe is a really funny man with wicked sense of humour. And it’s true that he’s very honest and very open about everything. He joked that the crowd gathered to see him last night was the biggest that IDLES ever had in Birmingham!  Alan guided the conversation for the first half, then the microphone has been passed to the audience. Fans themselves had some incredible and  well prepared questions: what gig IDLES  frontman thought was his favourite (you will guess it was Glasto), what he would like to be asked about (Joe got philosophical pondering about questions about questions) and his advice for starting artists (don’t look at others, do your thing, play the best gig even if you play to empty room, surround yourself with people who uplift you rather than mindlessly criticise you, value quality over quantity,  try to spend less time online, create for yourself first – were some of the best ones).

The main consensus in the room was that IDLES and everyone else is part of something much bigger than ourselves and only combining forces could allow everyone to be better off. The Be Kind spirit was very much in the air and if there was one thing to take away from the meeting it was just that –  be considerate, be optimistic, be kind to yourself and others and you will make a huge social and even political difference.

We gave Joe a small gift on behalf of all AF West Midlands fans who couldn’t make it to the show. He actually loved it and laughed hard when he saw the writing on the Thornton’s chocolate cup.

We have made just one video from the talk as we didn’t want to record the entire show. As Joe said it is important to participate instead being constantly on the phone trying to capture the gig.

Our night was further made when we had a chance to speak to Alan McGee  and he told us we were great. Not like we are gonna brag about it now but it did put a big smile on our faces. We went home in an Uber, over tipped our driver, fed the livestock (aka the cats) and then slept until midday.

It was totally worth it. What a night!

M/R

Just a small update – we wanted to show you how the event looked from all sides so we edited some of our mobile pictures. The Night Owl is such an iconic venue and the Digbeth part of Birmingham has some of the city`s most vivid and extraordinary murals. So we captured that as well.  We hope you will enjoy – especially Joe`s reaction to the lovely Thortons` Chocolate Cup with “Well Done” on it. We simply could not help ourselves.

 

If we find any more resources or materials that need to be added to this review – we will surely add them.

All Is Love,
M/R

Indieterria meets Joseph Murray

Dear Readers,

Some time ago we had a pleasure and privilege to speak to Gavin Monaghan, the founder of legendary West Midlands` studios – Magic Garden. The interview proved so popular that we were asked to go back and write some more about the studio and its personnel.  And we are happy to oblige. Part of what we do at Indieterria is to highlight the assets that young and up and coming bands have at their disposal. And nothing is more essential than a good recording studio and talented producers/engineers. Bands, artists and those of you who one day plan to produce albums professionally – please meet Joe Murray. He is one of the best engineers in the country and he has a lot of incredible things to say about working with musicians, mixing and making the magic happen.

If that is not the best interview we did this year then we don`t know how to do interviews.

Joe Murray at work

You are second in command at the iconic Magic Garden Recording Studios.  Please introduce yourself to readers of Indieterria.

Joseph Murray: Hey everyone. My name is Joseph (Joe) Murray and I’m here to try to answer these wonderful questions and hopefully not bore y’all to deathhh!

Gavin Monaghan – the owner of  Magic Garden described you as a man of many talents. You act as engineer, producer and mixer. You and Gavin work very closely with each other. How do you divide the workload on a regular day in the office?

Joseph Murray:  That is very kind of him as always. One of my favourite things about music is that there is no such thing as a regular day, which keeps things exciting and creative! I think due to how long and how closely we’ve worked together on mountains of records, we’re able to share the workload in various different ways to get the best out of the track and the band. So here’s a rough example of working with a random 3-4 piece band:

Step one: The Band shows up and before anything we have a look around and a general chat. The main thing is putting the band at ease and trying to make sure everyone`s comfortable and “vibing”. The band`s music is massively important and the recording will live forever,  so of course there can be a few nerves here and there.  I try to make sure the band knows I’m on their side and their music means as much to me as to them!

Step two: After all the gear is loaded in and coffees have been made, we’ll all gather in the control room and have a talk about the song and the vision for the track. It`s crucial to get an idea of where we’re heading.

Step three: Once we’ve discussed the in’s and out`s and any ideas on how we should track the record, there’ll be a little bit of mind reading between Gavin and myself and I will head next door to the live room with the drummer to get a better idea of what kit they are using. Whether they can use studio`s various shells or maybe they’ve brought their own or perhaps they just got their prize snare. I’ll then give all the drums a tune which is HUGELY important and often overlooked! The drummer and myself will have a nice in-depth chat about what they like and we will find two, maybe three snares to narrow it all down.

Step four: When we’re hearing everything back through the mics, we’ll then move on to start tracking against the vibey guide track Gavin and the rest of the band have put together.  We’ll do this till we’ve got the “magic” and then I’ll spend a little while putting together the best of each take whilst the band get some sustenance or a nap.

Step five: Then it’s time for the big bad BASS, which 9 times out of 10 we will capture through a high quality direct signal and an amp for vibe. Having the direct signal means that when we’ve wandered into guitar land, we can re-amp the direct bass through various oddities and balance the mid-range against the real guitars.

Step six: And speaking of guitars – another bit of mind reading takes place and Gavin dons the chef`s hat and starts crafting the bands melodic elements. At this point,  I`ll take what we’ve got so far into my mix room and start doing some session file housekeeping so that once Gavin has tracked the rest of the musical components it`s a matter of bringing it all together. From here I’ll start working on my Mix! Every day is completely different: some days I’m producing an electronic artist in one room and Gavin is recording an acoustic songwriter next door and on other occasions I’m mixing an album whilst Gavin’s producing vocals for another project. Every sessions is different so I’m open and ready for most anything (animal attacks included).

Joe worked with many established acts – here in the picture he is shown with Paper Buoys

About two months ago we interviewed  Gavin himself and he mentioned that the studio was being refurbished. Can you update us on the progress of the works? How does Magic Garden grow?

Joseph Murray:  The studio is always changing and growing, which again keeps things fresh we’re always on the hunt for the next big thing or a mysterious hidden gem.

At the moment, we’re putting focus on the benefits of a hybrid approach so far as getting the most out of the computer whilst also squeezing out the analog goodness of the hardware units. The main room is centred around two different analog consoles from two different eras to give us options and choices, when it comes to different genres or bands or even song by song.

One of the desks is a vintage 70’s German broadcast, which gives us great clarity, punch and in general just makes most things sound a little more lively. Then to the side, we’ve got a fantastic gem of a 60’s British desk which again gives us vibe, colour and some nice, rich saturation.

We’ve also got a stock of various preamps – for even more flavours. I find that if you can get the recording chain working WITH the sound from the start, life is just easier later. They’re all tools, like paintbrushes – some are great for huge broad tonal strokes and others are better for fine movements and just a little bit of highlighting.

Meanwhile in the “B” Room, we’ve focused on the finishing side of projects and put the emphasis again on a hybrid approach focusing on the summing side and making sure that the hardware used is as flavourful as possible. In both rooms we’ve got matched monitors to make it easier to transition projects and maintain the same vibe and vision. There’s also a vast microphone collection ranging from the standards to the weird and wonderful and that floats between the rooms

What we are trying to do via this blog is to highlight options available for people who want to break into the music business. And we not only mean artists or bands, but also future technical experts: producers and sound engineers. Judging from your experience –  if somebody wants to find themselves on the other side of the mixing desk – where should they do?

Joseph Murray:  I can obviously only speak for myself and my own experiences, so my advice would be… you should be prepared to work hard (and long) and make sure you love music. Luckily music is so multifaceted and there are so many moving parts that I guarantee there are jobs you’ve never even heard of.

I’ve always thought that the technical side of the recording process can come second and will be worked on for years and years and years… So as long as you’ve got the attitude and decent taste you’re onto a winner. I would also say to remain open minded, you could walk in wanting to be the producer but find that you actually enjoy the engineering side more or even the sound design aspect. Be fearless-ish.

Prepared for any weather.

What are the do`s and don’ts of your profession. If you were to pen a list of helpful and unhelpful habits of studio personnel, what would you include?

Joseph Murray:  I think that attitude is probably one of the most important aspects to studio life. It’s long days, usually all in the same room. You’re dealing with people and it`s important that they know you’re on the same team and you only want what`s best for the song at the end of the day. Being able to write a good clear track sheet is always helpful, making (good or bad) coffee is always appreciated, in fact make lots of coffee. Take notes, ask questions, listen to  e v e r y t h i n g .

For don’ts – each studio or professional will have a different view on what not to do but my main one is don’t make mine or anyone else in the rooms life harder and that`s about it.

You have been instrumental in creating one of our favourites albums of last year – “Columbia”  by The Blinders. Tell us more about the recording process behind this record? Was it easy to work on it? Or maybe it was a truly dystopian experience?

Joseph Murray:  That`s great to hear and thank you very much! It was a brilliant album to be a part of for many reasons. Firstly, I lurvve the guys and they’re great to just hang out. Secondly the songs were top notch and they’re performers through and through, which makes creating an exciting record a joy. The process for the album wasn’t too out of the ordinary and just felt organic. They’re a band with a collective vision and unwavering commitment to get to it. They each know what they like and what they want whilst also being collaborative and open to suggestions and guidance. We were able to develop the songs in such a way that I reckon got the best out of everyone!

A parent shouldn’t have favourites but we need to ask  – which album you worked on so far is your pride and joy?

Joseph Murray: (laughs) Well I try to make whatever I’m working on at the moment be my favourite. I like the idea that for the time the band are in the studio with me I join them as an auxiliary member and in doing so it’s not about a personal ego or a personal preference, it`s about collaboration and doing your best for the band. We’re Family!

There are records I’m proud to been part of because of their musical or emotional significance, there are records I’m proud of because of my input and contribution and records that I’m proud to be part of because of the experience, so I wouldn’t say I have a favourite. It`s like being part of all of these different little tribes!

Besides working in the studio, we have seen you delivering am impressive stand up comedy sets at Musicians Against Homelessness gig in Birmingham in April. Was it one off or have you been doing it for a while now?

Joseph Murray: Ah, well thank you very much! That was actually my first set. I’ve never considered myself a stand up comedian, just a guy who spouts various amounts of nonsense and likes to hear people laugh. It was for a very good cause and as I’m a musician who is most definitely against homelessness how could I say no! If you’re also a musician who is against homelessness, I suggest having a look into what Musicians Against Homelessness do!

Joe Murray delivering stand up comedy set at Musicians Against Homelessness gig in Birmingham. Photo by Annie Monaghan
https://www.facebook.com/annie.monaghan.984

Every sound engineer have their favourite tools to use. What piece of equipment you just have to have at hand?

Joseph Murray: I often will rant about how you can make a record anywhere using anything because it’s the songs that matter and a good song will always be a good song. That being said, it’s nice to have the luxury of your favourite tools and it`s more often a question of what you’re comfortable using. The most important thing for me is my ears and monitors. Everything else is a bonus. My desert island bag would probably have in it a particular snare we’ve acquired that I don’t know much about other than it sounds incredible and seems to just balance the rest of the kit really nicely! Not to compare myself to Van Gogh but if he didn’t have his favourite brush I reckon he’d still paint a masterpiece.

We know that working with Gavin is a dream come true – he is the Wizard of Wolverhampton after all. However, let’s pretend you can work with any other producer (alive or dead) on any album in existence. Who do you choose to collaborate with and what’s the title of the record?

Joseph Murray: I feel that music is always changing and evolving and growing, so I struggle to pick a favourite album or producer. There are thousands of records that I would love to be part of. Some albums that come to mind straight away are the Berlin era recordings by David Bowie, especially “Heroes” produced by Tony Visconti whilst Brian Eno and Iggy Pop were hanging around too. That would of been an experience, especially seeing Tony recording Robert Fripp creating melodic feedback just by walking around the room.

I also think being with Nigel Godrich recording “OK Computer” would of been amazing, to be at the genesis of this new turn in modern music.

There are so many more – Bob Marley`s “Exodus” (not just for the weather), The Beach Boys` “Pet Sounds”, Marvin Gaye`s “What`s Going On”, Wu-Tang Clan`s ”36 Chambers”, Beastie Boys` “Ill Communication” and of course Fleetwood Mac`s “Rumours”.

Thank you very much for talking to us!

Joseph Murray: Thank you so much for your brilliant questions and I hope my answers made some sort of sense! Keep It Loud and One Love.

You can follow Joseph Murray on the socials:

https://www.facebook.com/josephjosephmurraymurray
https://www.instagram.com/josephjosephmurraymurray/

And Magic Garden Recording Studios can be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/MagicGardenRecordingStudio/
https://twitter.com/MagicGardenUK
https://www.instagram.com/magicgardenstudio/

There is an awesome playlist that showcases all the recordings made at Magic Garden on Spotify:

Yeah we know, we are so lucky to have such incredible studio in West Midlands and people like Joe and Gavin to take care of all the local (and not so local) artists. If you look for a place to bring your art to life – please get in touch with Magic Garden.

R/M

Indieterria meets Raw Sound TV

Hello!

Some might say that there’s never been a better time to be a musician. Internet gives you access to billions of users, streaming platforms are easily to set up and curators are at the stretch of the palm. You can set up professional recording studio in your own bedroom as the equipment is getting better and cheaper and it is not hard to master its use. It seems, the rock and roll dream is just around the corner and ready for grabs.

Others might argue that the technological edge is the same for everybody and it is hard to break through thousands of other bands competing for attention.  There are also external factors that need to be taken into consideration: lack of funding, closure of local pubs and venues, austerity, quickly changing musical trends, constant search for something new fueled by social media and Instagram influencers. DIY musical scene can also be divided and lack of unity affects the bands and gig goers altogether. You could say that for every ray of sunshine, there is a big rainy cloud covering it.

Yet the DIY  scene is holding on despite the odds. Bands are recording, exciting music is somehow making it to the national radio stations and new opportunities are springing up here and there. Indieterria sat down to speak to Mark Piddington the man behind RawSound TV to speak about the new ideas to help emerging artists, production techniques and their plans to permanently change West Midlands musical scene.

You call yourselves an “old school MTV” style music show in the Internet era. Please introduce yourselves to readers of Indieterria.

Mark Piddington: Hi. I’m Mark Piddington. Producer and Presenter of RawSound TV. Part of the reason for the idea of RawSound TV was that I could see that there was a lack of decent live music “tv” shows. Especially for unsigned artists. A show in the style of “The Tube”, “The Word” and many other iconic TV shows from the past that I felt the older generation were missing and the younger generation were missing out on.

Raw Sound TV is live music show recorded at Glass Onion Studios in Birmingham every two weeks, broadcasting on your YouTube channel on the Sundays in-between. Your shows include interviews with unsigned and new artists doing live performances and featuring videos along with interviews with the bands and occasionally live gigs. You’ve had 4 seasons so far and are currently working on a new season which is due to broadcast on the April 14th. Can you tell us how the recording and filming process works? 

Mark Piddington: We invite bands and artists to our studio which is fully equipped for recording and filming. After they arrive and meet the crew, we set them up for a sound check/ rehearsal, during which time the crew get audio levels for recording and camera angles worked out. After a short break it’s on to recording. The red light goes on and we film them performing three live tracks. After a short break we then conduct a short interview. We go through this process twice as we usually have two live bands featured per episode. After the bands have gone we do our ‘bits to camera’ which includes introduction to the show and individual intros to the bands. It can be a long night! Then, once all this is done, its on to editing the show for broadcast on the follow Sunday which usually takes well over 40 hours over the week.

Raw Sound TV at work – photo by Danielle Clarke

How long does it takes for a band to appear on Raw Sound TV? How do you select the bands? What do you look for? 

Mark Piddington: We encourage bands and artists to get in touch with us if they want to appear on the show.  Selection is very difficult for us as there are so many fantastic bands and artists around at the moment. We know that a lot of them unfortunately won’t get to appear on the show as we are only able to feature two bands per show.  We don’t let our own personal tastes influence who appears on the show. We try to look for quality in musicianship, song writing and what/ who we feel our viewers should be seeing and would appreciate.

Besides the music show, you also offer other services: recording live performances, making and editing videos and even access to a recording studio/rehearsal space. We know many artists look for those services – so please tell us about what you also offer and how bands go about this? 

Mark Piddington: The recording studio is a separate entity to RawSound TV. I established Glass Onion Recording Studio in 2003 and have been recording bands there since.  As well as recording, I also offer rehearsal space, studio dry hire and also music video production. If anyone wish to use any of the studio facilities/services, they can contact me via any of our social media platforms or at RawSoundTV.com.

Money matters are hard to talk about – but essential for both businesses and artists alike. Can you tell us about the fees and other charges that artists approaching you should consider?

Mark Piddington: Firstly, to clarify, we are not a business. RawSound TV do not charge anything for bands and artists to appear on the show.  It is totally free.  As the crew and I do not get paid and the studio given for free, we are currently trying to get the show funded in some way so we can continue to offer this opportunity to unsigned bands without them having to pay. Having been there myself I know that young musicians don’t generally have the funds to afford what some companies charge for ‘promotion’ and what they get for their money.

You’ve featured and worked with an exciting array of West Midlands acts: Alex Ohm, The Clause, The Cosmics, The Verse, Ivory Wave, Karkosa, Lady Sanity, MeMe Detroit, The Novus, Sugarthief, Violet, Lycio, La Dharma, The Goodwater and Candid – the list is endless. If an artist or band wants to get involved, how can they reach you? 

Mark Piddington: We have worked with over eighty bands and artists in the twenty months since we started. Some of whom are most definitely destined for big things. If an artist wants to appear on this show they can contact us on our website at RawSoundTV.com and navigate to the ‘want to be on the show?’ section.

You have filmed performances in many different places in West Midlands: The O2 Institute, Castle and Falcon, Square One in Coventry and The Flapper to name just a few along with outdoor festivals such as Lunar and the Bewdley Music Festival. Is it harder to record in a small, intimate club or in a large arena? 

Mark Piddington: They both have their difficulties. As opposed to the studio which is a controlled environment set up for filming and recording, live venues are not. Therefore, we always have obstacles to overcome when filming away from the studio.  More often than not, sound recording and lighting problems are the usual suspects as we have little or no control or influence over these.

Raw Sound TV have recorded many, many bands and concerts over the last couple of years but we are sure some of the performances must have stood out from the others. Do you have any favourites? 

Mark Piddington:  That’s a very difficult question. If I’m honest the ones that have stood out for me are when the whole recording process and post production has gone smoothly or when the crew have had a particularly good session and the band have performed well and, more importantly, enjoyed themselves. It is great to see the bands’ reaction to the whole process from ‘our side’ of the process. Festivals are always good fun for the crew but the days are long and can be a logistical nightmare (especially when it rains)!

Imagine that you can film any artist in the world, where and why?

Mark Piddington: Ahh, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for something exciting we “might” be doing over the summer that will answer this question. So watch this space!

Is there anyone you’d like to invite to appear on the next series or future series? 

Mark Piddington: There is no one in particular I have in mind.  The plan is to keep on inviting the best new, unsigned bands and artists on to the show.

Last question – we are only in April, but what are your plans for the upcoming months. Anything exciting to tell us about any what you’ll be including in forthcoming shows?

Mark Piddington:  Every show is exciting for us. Being able to give young artists this kind of platform and the excitement and enthusiasm they have for the show gives myself and the crew a massive buzz and makes the whole thing worthwhile. We also get a huge lift from the positive comments on social media from the bands who have now become friends and their fans alike.

No rest for technical crew – photo by Danielle Clarke

Lights, camera, action – photo by Danielle Clarke

You can follow RawSound TV on their socials:

Official website: http://rawsoundtv.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rawsound.tv/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rawsoundtv
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rawsoundtv/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzvfJMPXYhK65X2VRDIkifg

Please contact Mark if you’d like to be included in the next series of concerts. Also, if you have performed for RawSound TV in the past and you’d like to share your videos, please contact us and we will be more than happy to share your experiences.

We also have some incredible  artists to showcase  this month and we are thrilled to be sharing our new interviews with you soon.
Thank you for reading and see you soon!

Rita and Malicia