Newcastle art-rock/indie band Cat Ryan have announced an impressive 7-date UK tour that sees them take to the stage in Newcastle, Carlisle, Edinburgh, Dunfermline, Bristol, Leeds, and Manchester, which kicks off their 2023.
Following on from their slew of successful releases, the latest of which – “Lost My Connection” – landed on BBC Radio 1 music. Maintaining this momentum, the band’s hometown shown sold out well in advance, and Bristol is reported to be closing in on a sell out show too.
As an independent, Newcastle band, Cat Ryan are ones to be watching as they continually go from strength to strength.
This article aims to highlight the behind-the-scenes work that music publicists do, the ways in which their work can help you and your career, and why you may wish to consider using their music PR services.
For many artists the obvious first step when releasing new music is to attempt to do everything yourself. This DIY approach has its own benefits, for instance: being budget-friendly for artists, offering the chance to learn about – and gain experience in – a different aspect of the music industry, and provides an insight into the work that music publicists, labels, and managers do behind the scenes.
There are, of course, also advantages of hiring a music publicist. Two significant benefits of having someone else conduct the PR campaign for your new release are: that, firstly it is a big job that you no longer have to do (therefore allowing you to spend more time writing new songs, rehearse for gigs, and manage your social media) and secondly, that the experience, reputation, and professional-network that a publicist has, can help to deliver your music to the right people who, in turn, can magnify the impact that your music has during the course of your release campaign.
With these two options highlighted, it’s then worth discussing what the work of a music publicist actually entails; knowing exactly what it is you’re paying for and understanding why these services can be justified and how music PR fits into your music career.
Firstly: what does a music publicist do? A music publicist will try to secure as many opportunities, as much coverage, and support for your newly-released music as possible during a campaign. This means that they will aim to get reviews, interviews, and features from blogs and magazines; receive airplay from radio stations and presenters relevant to the sound, style and genre of the release; gain playlist support on streaming services; and inclusion on music podcasts. To achieve this, a good publicist will first create solid foundations by constructing a strong press release and electronic press kit (EPK).
A good press release will include links to an artist’s social media, a general biography, and relevant information about the song. Whilst a good EPK (which can be a Google Drive or Dropbox) will contain helpful assets such as high-resolution press shots, copies of the song/EP/Album as both MP3 and Wav and a copy of the press release.
Following this, a music publicist will contact their professional network, pitching your releases to them and persuading them to support your music. Rather than sending out blanket emails, they can tailor their pitches to outlets that have both an audience, and editorial team, that will like your music. Furthermore, by utilising their professional-network, a music publicist can pitch your music to tastemakers and other influential outlets that have a respected reputation in the music industry, thus maximising the impact and reach that your release has. As such, the specialisation that a music publicist offers can help artists, and their music, cut through the background noise and build the momentum that an artist needs to get to the next stage in their career.
Having identified what music PR is and what it entails, your next step will likely be working out what budget you may have for you PR campaign in order to decide whether you run it yourself or pay a PR agency.
This post already details what PR involves and to do it yourself is pretty straightforward: making an EPK, writing a press release, and then sending the press release to outlets. This budget-friendly option is great for gaining experience, though can be time-consuming.
Alternatively, paying a PR agent/agency can be both costly and a risk with no guarantee of media coverage or playlist adds. You can reduce some of the risk by researching a variety of PR firms and studying both their past campaign results as well as their clients. Our main piece of advice here is that PR firms are very good at marketing themselves, so a great tip is to see which clients/artists run repeat campaigns with the same PR firm: if an artist/band continues to work with the same PR agent/firm for all their releases, that indicates that they trust the company, are pleased with the results, and are consistently happy to work with them again; this can be contrasted with a firm who may have a lot of one-time clients who may experiment with a PR firm for a campaign, find that they weren’t happy with the cost, process, or results, and don’t return in the future.
Another crucial piece of advice is to be wary of any PR firm that reaches out to you, your manager, or label. A PR firm will have their PR agents working on running your press campaign and will spend their time sending your music to blogs, playlisters, and radios. If a PR firm – or PR agent – emails you (or messages via social media), the chances are that they have also sent the same copy & paste email/message to a multitude of other artists. This is also time-consuming for them and, ultimately indicates that, instead of working on an artists’ press campaign, they are dedicating time trying to entice new clients. This means that, if they’re reaching out to you when they should be working on a press campaign that an artist has paid them for, it is also likely that they will also spend time reaching out to potential clients during your press campaign. With PR, you want someone to be dedicated to your music release, rather than someone continually looking for new clients at he expense of their existing campaigns.
Hi Cosial. How are you doing and what have you been up to lately? Hello! I’m good thank you! Recently I’ve just been travelling a lot. I feel like 80% of my time is spent on trains honestly. I’m at university in Manchester two days a week, and then usually back for gigs or other music related things over the weekend! I don’t mind the journeys though. I’m also in the middle of this EP release, so I’ve been doing lots of prep for that, which is exciting!
In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style? I’d say bedroom pop is my sound, kind of laid back, with intimate and intense lyrics. Most of the stuff I’ve done so far has been very DIY recording and releasing wise, which is very bedroom pop. Lyrically, I love to try and pinpoint a feeling that’s otherwise hard to articulate or explain. I’m not sure how well I actually do this, but all my favourite artists have that in their music.
You’ve just released your debut EP titled “Sports”. What is the story behind the EP and its title? What themes and ideas influence your music and writing? It’s called Sports as the main theme behind it was constantly feeling like you’re second place, ‘on the bench’, and just watching life happen around you. This empty feeling of being in a constant chase for something really drives the EP. I’d say my writing so far has mainly been me, very messily, navigating my teenage years. It’s all very dramatic, possibly toxic and definitely romanticised, but being 18 just is.
We’re fans of your music & remember your live set at Mosaic Tap last year. What have been career highlights for you so far? I’d say being chosen for Generator First Notes and Tees Music Alliance funding and mentoring are definitely highlights for me. Knowing that people believe in you enough to actually invest in you as an artist is really really validating. I also remember this one moment last year when I first started gigging, I think it was my third gig, there was a couple people watching that were singing along to Tide. I was just completely baffled at that.
Do you have any plans for the year ahead that you would like to share with us? Also, what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year? Yeah! I have a few songs ready to go, I’m just kind of figuring out a plan post-EP wise. My single with Generator First Notes is coming out around June time. In the upcoming year I’d like to get more refined as an artist, I think. I’ve been at it for a year, but a lot of stuff is still relatively new to me. I’d just like to really find my sound and develop as a writer and musician.
What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general? Oh god, I honestly don’t feel in a position to be giving advice! But I’d say definitely apply for all opportunities you can, even if you feel like you’re miles off actually getting them. Funding, gigs, residencies – if you want it just go for it! The worst that can happen is you don’t get it. Sometimes I’d stop myself from going for things like that because of the lingering imposter syndrome that came with it. Another piece of advice I’d give is to always celebrate your progress. Often, I find myself brushing off little victories because I feel like I should be chasing something bigger or better. For me, a lot of stuff that might feel normal or ‘not a big deal’ in the music scene is stuff that 15-year-old me would be absolutely mindblown at – I think it’s important to acknowledge this. Be proud of yourself!
Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live? Ooo I love this question! Bigfatbig was the first local music gig I’d been to, and I was just absolutely shook at seeing them perform. Their debut EP is also so amazing – hoping to see them live again soon. I supported BROCKHOFF in December and instantly fell in love with her music, I’ve been listening to her ever since! I’d absolutely love to see her live again. Mt Misery is another one I love to see live, lovely music from lovely people!
Hello. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style? Our sound is a mush mash of 80s and 90s inspired dream pop, with core foundation of modern indie and alternative guitar music. We have taken more recent inspiration from American post punk and Australian pysch.
You’ve just released your latest single “Mona Lisa”. What is the story behind the song and its title? What themes and ideas influence your music and writing? The story behind ML is lyrically based around trying to cheer someone up but it never working and how eventually sometimes you just realise it might be because you’re not a match. As always our music might sound quite major based with some deep ass lyrics. Standard Butterjunk.
Do you have any plans for the year ahead that you would like to share with us? Also, what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year? We are about to go on our first tour in November which is a real buzz and we want to play as many shows as possible. We have an EP played and hopefully will sneak in some festival slots along the way.
What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general? Just be yourselves and play as many shows as possible without being ripped off by junkie promoters (very hard). PS always ask for fees first – one guy tried to pay us in whispa golds. Newcastle is the friendliest place in the world so share your music with everyone you can and make some axe friends along the way!
Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live? WH Lung, Ciel, Palma Louca and Tay Temple who’s supporting us in Manchester. All class acts who are super tight!!
Hello. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style? I always struggle with this question. I think it’s difficult to identify your sound when your influences come from all different genres, styles and eras, although, I guess you could describe my sound as pop with country and folk nuances.
My style, however, is heavily dominated by my passions. Aware of injustices of all types (particularly gender-based) which exist within our society, I have always tried to use my music to explore the emotions I feel for these issues.
You recently released your debut EP “Long Live The Woman”. What is the story behind the EP, its title, and the songs it consists of? The EP was actually initially part of my final year studying Music at Newcastle University. After receiving such good feedback and, most of all, after falling in love with the project, I decided to record it. Two of my lecturers, Fred Hollingsworth and David de la Haye, produced everything and really brought my dream to life. I wanted to keep the project acoustic and authentic, with an untouched and live feel to the music.
I have always been fortunate to be surrounded by strong and independent women. Together with my own experiences, their stories of womanhood along with the heartbreaking stories of violence against women that have flooded the media in recent years inspired me to write a composition which sought to both empower and educate.
I spent some time trying to think of an EP title which would capture the themes and ideas within the project. “Long Live The Woman” felt right for two reasons. Firstly, as the words have strong connotations of protest, I thought that the title would associate my EP to a protest against the injustices faced everyday by women all around the world. Secondly, no matter how much we try to fight for gender equality, there will always be people who try to prevent it. I want to inspire people, even if only a few, to not give up with the fight.
What themes and ideas influence your music and writing? As you can probably infer, I am mostly driven by my passion for equality and justice. However, I have always been in awe of how music has the power to move people and give relief to emotions and feelings. I try to write from a personal and honest perspective and hope that my music is able to connect with people, no matter how few.
Do you have any plans for the year ahead that you would like to share with us? Also, what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year? So, I am currently studying for a PGCE in Primary Education at Newcastle University. I know that music will help me throughout my career as I hope to foster a love for music in the children with whom I will be working. I think it is extremely important for young children to have opportunities to see and be involved with music. It has many benefits on the development and growth of children and, most of all, it is a wonderful thing to experience. During my undergraduate degree, I came across an article which emphasised the importance of “music for music’s sake”. Sometimes children don’t need a reason to learn and practice music; they should just be free to explore and have fun.
Aside from my studies, I have a few headline gigs lined up in Newcastle where I’ll be supported by some wonderful musicians. After growing up in The Lake District and establishing a strong musical presence over there, I am eager to expand my brand into the North East. There are some wonderful venues in which I would love to perform.
In terms of releasing music, there are a few songs that I would love to release as singles (and perhaps with a band) but maybe that’s a project for the summer holidays!
I feel so lucky to be able to embrace my two main passions in life: music and teaching.
What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general? I think it is so easy to get caught up in the ‘big goals’ for a musician in life that you can forget to appreciate the smaller wins. For me, I have started to take pride in knowing that my music has touched a few people, rather than feeling deflated if it has not reached a certain number of streams.
The ability to write or perform music that resonates and connects with people is an incredible privilege. It is one that shouldn’t be taken for granted, nor should it be ignored.
Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live? I was recently at a gig watching Newton Faulkner at Wylam Brewery and had the pleasure of seeing his support act, Sam Richardson. I would highly recommend him (and Newton Faulkner, for that matter) to anyone!
On a more global scale, the New York based sibling trip, Bailen, are a group I am eager to see when they tour the UK.
Aside from that, I would urge people to seek out any local musicians performing at small venues in Newcastle. You have no idea how much it means to them!
Stay updated with Eliza Faye via: Instagram Catch Eliza Faye live at Mosaic Tap on 24 Nov: Tickets
Hello. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style? It’s so hard to describe your own style, but if I had to pin it down I would say that a combination of country, folk and with some jazz influences underpin my sound. I have a very simple and honest approach to writing my songs, which makes them transparent and pretty exposing at times. I also find my aversion to perfectionism show up in my writing, my songs can sound quite conversational as often the finished product is pretty much how the words fell onto the page in the first instance.
I grew up playing the fiddle, and my first love was Scottish traditional music. I am indisputably still influenced by this style of music but in my teenage years I discovered Chet Baker, Laura Marling, and Nora Jones amongst others, and my own sound has developed to be mellow and understated but emotive. Texturally, I love to play around with ebbs and flows of tension and release amongst the instrumentation, and pushing and pulling the tempo.
You’ve just released your latest single “Red Bricks”. What is the story behind the song and its title? What themes and ideas influence your music and writing? I wrote this song a couple of years ago after I had moved house a few times in a short period. I was living somewhere I didn’t know very well and quite far from my friends and family, which as a creature of comfort, I found quite uprooting. I was sitting with feeling homesick and nostalgic and this song appeared in one or two sittings. I felt guilty of the times I had took for granted with my loved ones, and time seemed to be going so slowly and fast that before I knew it I hadn’t seen them for months at a time. We were just coming out of a post-covid life and I was also coming to terms that the quiet period that we were all supposed to write our debut novel and learn a new language in was coming to a close, and I felt like I hadn’t done much with it other than become detached from people who I cared about.
Like most of my songs, this song is exploring introspective ideas about myself, the people around me and the way that time treats us all. I like delving into thoughts I have about what I observe around me, and I start the majority of my songs from automatic writing.
Do you have any plans for the year ahead that you would like to share with us? Also, what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year? For the rest of this year and next year I have a few solo gigs coming up, but I have been working with my band to try and get our sound together which has been a special kind of lush. I’m currently playing with the band of my dreams so I’m feeling so lucky to get to play my songs in that context. I also have a few more releases coming up which I am just finishing off at the moment.
In terms of achievements, I don’t know if there’s anything specific I’m chasing, but I’d love to keep doing more gigs, I’m loving going out on my own and meeting new people.
I’m also super excited to be playing at the new venue Mosaic Tap supporting Eliza Faye on 24 November. It’s such a cool wee venue that’s really looking out for artists and I think it’ll be a really great part of the music scene here.
What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general? For North East artists, I would say that most of the time you already have all the contacts/people within arms reach already. It’s such a small but dense scene, there’s always someone who you will likely have mutual connections with that you can work with or learn from. If not, go out to gigs, message people on Instagram and generally just be approachable, if you’re nice then not much can go wrong!
For artists in general I would say that the most important lesson I learned was to let go of the idea of doing everything perfectly, it was holding me back from creating anything at all for many years. I realised that making music is about creating something authentic to you, and nobody can tell you you’re doing that wrong. Find your people who will support you and be your own cheerleader. And again, I think the most important thing of all is to be nice to people, music shouldn’t be scary or competitive, there truly is space for everyone to do their thing.
Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live? There are so many! I would say that locally, I love Ceitidh Mac, Lovely Assistant, Maius Mollis, Eve Simpson and Martha Hill. Further afield, I have just discovered AO Gerber who I am lucky enough to be supporting at The Cumberland this November.
Hello. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style? Our sound and style is primarily inspired by post punk/new wave music, with a smattering of other styles that we all find compelling. We often take influence from loads of different sounds and genres when writing, so we end up being a mish-mash, but we quite like that.
You’ve just released your debut single “It’s Raining Somewhere Else”. What is the story behind the song and its title? What themes and ideas influence your music and writing? “It’s Raining Somewhere Else” is, in short, a very pretty break-up song. The song is really about those stages one goes through during a separation, but with a focus on the acceptance of the situation and moving on. The title is a reference to never really knowing what’s going on with another person and while the other person may be doing just fine it may not be the same for the other. When we write a song, we always try to tell a story perhaps about subjects that we don’t often hear about. That being said, our songs are often about isolation in one way or another. Maybe it says more about us than we think haha.
We’ve caught your live set a few times and understand that you have more gigs lined up. What have been career highlights for you so far? And what other live plans do you have? We recently played Little Buildings in Newcastle which, so far, has been our most rewarding gig. Such a fantastic crowd and energy within that very small room; it was an absolute joy. We’ve just played NE Volume Music bar in Stockton supporting Elephant Red, and our next gig is on 22nd October at the Globe in Newcastle supporting Holiday in Tokyo. After that, we’re hoping to put something on ourselves in winter, maybe early next year? We’ll see.
Do you have any plans for the year ahead that you would like to share with us? Also, what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year? In the coming year we plan to release two more singles. One we just finished recording and the other to come out around Christmas with a music video. In the New Year we plan to follow those with an EP, more single releases and hopefully bigger and better gigs. Our biggest aims would be to reach a much wider audience and hopefully play as many festivals as we can. Maybe management too if we’re lucky?
What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general? As up and coming artists ourselves it’s difficult to feel we’re in a position to give advice to anyone. However an important thing to do is PLAN. Plan your sound, take time, care and plenty of thought when it comes to songwriting and production. Plan your marketing strategy and how much time you want to devote to what you think is the most important goal. Those goals may be anything from gigs, recording, scheduling releases or making friends with promoters. Passion is great but being smart is everything. But above all we would say PRACTICE, we can’t stress this enough. Learn your craft and be the best you can. Be disciplined and love what you do and you’ll get somewhere (We hope).
Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live? We always have to recommend our good friends MXYM, and Keiran Bowe. Quality artists. Swine Tax is a band that really stood out to us when we caught their live set, very impressive stuff. Pink Poison as well, they keep popping up in the music scene as of recent and are definitely worth seeing!
Hello. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style? Hey! Stylistically I feel like I gravitate towards a very particular sound… My love for moody and obscure chords has lead me to associate with Dream Pop that has elements of melancholic rock. I’ve always been really drawn to songs that are filled with reverb and haunting melodies, ‘Break Me Gently’ by Doves being one of the first. I find comfort in music that transcends me into my own little world or takes me back to that memory in which I can’t seem to leave. Harmonies are the backbone to my song-writing style; each layered vocal has its own personality which is something I’ve been really focusing on recently – especially with my latest single ‘Nineteen’!
You’ve just released your latest single “Nineteen”. What is the story behind the song and its title? What themes and ideas influence your music and writing? I went through a very dark period of my life at 19 where I completely lost myself and hid my problems behind the face of someone who thought going out partying every night would cause them to gradually fade away. In reality, it did the complete opposite and in the end I broke. For years after, I’d constantly take my mind back to those memories in my head and torture myself for it; I couldn’t seem to forgive the person I was.
To me, music is therapy, it’s what grounds me, therefore writing a song about it seemed like the best way to completely close the door to what kept haunting me. As I was in the process of writing, I found a bigger purpose, and that was to write something so vulnerable that the listeners themselves could find comfort and reflect on their own journeys.
When taking this song to the studio, after the first rough bounce of the track me and the producer (Adam Forster) felt it needed that extra bit of emotion, so we decided that strings would achieve this – we got local musician Jonny Winter to come along and work his magic, and it really hit different! ‘Nineteen’ really pulls on heartstrings like no other song I’ve written, the progressive energy perfectly pulls together every emotion I felt in that period, so it means the world to me when I see how much it has impacted its listeners.
We really enjoy your music and had the pleasure of seeing you play at a Sofar Sounds event at Yoga Therapies, Newcastle. What have been career highlights for you so far? Sofar Sounds was certainly up there with one of the best! To have a room completely dedicate those hours to sitting and appreciating live music was every musician’s dream. The crowd were lovely, and the team at Sofar Sounds were so welcoming and really encouraged us to explore intimate settings.
Selling out my first headline gig with the band was such an incredible feeling too. Knowing people have bought a ticket to watch and support us fills me with pride, especially those who have watched my journey from the start. I released my debut track ‘Fool For Him’ just out of curiosity, I was absolutely terrified of it going wrong which is why I hid myself behind other musicians for years. If I was to go back to that release day and tell myself, I’d be given these opportunities I’d probably not believe it! Bobiks is a fantastic venue, after playing there a few times as support, I’m so excited to take the stage in October and show everyone what we’re made of.
Working on the music video for ‘Nineteen’ will certainly live with me for the rest of my career! It was so exciting to see how the full process works including searching for the model, hiring extras, finding locations and the filming itself. Ross at Aytball film did an incredible job at bringing the story to life, he’s very particular with his filming style and the second he sent me the video I was completely in love with it. In the past, I’ve done videos myself as well as working with one of my best friends Megan Wilson to pull together the video for ‘Confusion’ – I just love how creative you can be when it comes to storytelling and feel it’s so important for the listener to be entertained and to interact with your music!
Do you have any plans for the year ahead that you would like to share with us? Also, what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year? We have plenty of great gigs lined up! We’re playing the first ever Great Market Caper event on Saturday 3rd September which I strongly recommend everyone to get themselves along to – live music, food, comedy, beers… loads to get involved with! We’re also headlining Tynemouth Social on September 9th with the support from The Peevie Wonders through ‘Snow Moon’ who are huge original music advocates. As well as this we’re supporting Vice Killer at Cluny 2 on 24th September which we’re buzzing for.
My next single ‘Hypnotised’ will be released in October which I’m extremely excited about. I’ve had this track in the mix for quite a while and I have every hope it’s going to be one of those songs that gets stuck in your head, it’s very lively and addictive. We play it in our set so if you want to get a sneak peak, come see us live!
These past few months have really been about pushing the name out, about becoming part of the music scene – which is getting bigger and better by the day – and about just really enjoying myself and getting to know everyone! The main thing I’d love to achieve this year is bringing out that one song that stands out from my current discography. I feel like ‘Nineteen’ was the entrance to a new path but there’s always room to push myself even further and bring something to the table that no one would expect me to produce…
What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general? Socialise!! Go to gigs, make new friends, listen to new music and if something stands out to you, give it a share. One thing I’ve learned especially when releasing new music this year is everyone is so supportive of each other. At the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat wanting to make a mark on the industry, so the more we help each other, the Northeast music scene will grow. Also don’t be afraid of sending that email or applying for that festival. When I first started out, I was too scared of emailing about to see what gig opportunities there were, all because I hated the thought of rejection. But now my mindset has completely changed, you never know what could come out of it, and even if it’s nothing at least you know you gave it a go!
For artists in general I would say my biggest statement would be to not compare yourself. It’s so easy to fall into that hole of watching what others are doing and wishing that could be you or that you’re not doing enough. Everyone is on their own journeys and if you believe in yourself enough and truly put your all into it, great things will come. Don’t get me wrong, there are days where I get down that I’m falling behind, but that’s human nature and it’s so important to keep yourself grounded. If anything these days inspire me to think outside the box and I’ll always put my mind to the test, ‘if I pick up my guitar right now, what song could I write that would be a game changer?’ or ‘If I go on my laptop, what kind of content could I design that could really stand out?’ – these are the type of things I question myself when I feel low, and most of the time I find some of my best work comes from it!
Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live? There is so much good music out there right now, it’s almost too hard to decide! One band that I’ve watched grow is Vice Killer. These lads really know how to write a good tune. They give me early Arctic Monkeys vibes, but I’ve noticed a bit of Fontaine’s DC come through some of their new stuff. I rushed across Tynemouth to see their set at A Stone’s Throw and was not disappointed… so when we were asked to support them, I was buzzing!
Another notable mention is The Peevie Wonders. These guys are crazy but in the best way possible! A few months back we were asked to support them at Downcast, when I first saw the line-up, I genuinely thought ‘why am I being asked to support a Stevie Wonder’s tribute band?’ however when I showed up to the gig and realised who they were and how good their music is, I instantly knew they were going to take off. Would highly recommend seeing them live if you love Irn-Bru and indie boys (don’t ask… just find out for yourself!).
Some more artists who I’ve loved listening to are Honeyflux, Cosial, Keiran Bowe, Cortney Dixon, Noyou, Bosola, Motel Carnation, Kate Bond, Sarah Johnsone, Earth Farm and Amateur Ornithologist. There’s so many I could mention here but the list would be endless! For everyone who does want to get more involved with the scene, get yourself down to gigs and explore!
Hello. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style? It took a while for us to nail down our sound. In the beginning it was all very much leaning towards your classic “indie-rock” type of stuff. There’s nothing we inherently dislike about that sound, there’s just plenty of excellent indie-rock bands in the north east already so we wanted to make sure we sounded a bit different. In short, our sound is clean, modulated 7th chords used as a backdrop for morose subject matters.
You’ve just released your latest single: “White Marquee”. What is the story behind the song and its lyrics? Furthermore, what themes and ideas influence your music and writing? White Marquee tells the story of Matty’s dad playing guitar publicly for the first time at a talent show. The song takes place at the caravan park in Slaley that Matty’s family frequented during the summer. There are references to classic singer/songwriters that not only act as the band’s inspiration, but as the setlist that was performed. The song mentions the likes of Paul Weller, The Mavericks, Elvis Costello and (most notably) Paul Simon.
When it comes to how we go about songwriting, we like to start off with a mondane moment and flesh it out. Courtney Barnett’s “Avant Gardener” is a great example of this.
Do you have any plans for the year ahead that you would like to share with us? Also, what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year? We have two more singles from the upcoming album that are ready to go, we’re really excited to see how people react to them. We’ve also got a couple of gigs coming up which we’ll be announcing in the near future. As for the rest of the album, it’s just about finding the time to get the rest of it done. It’s all well and good having the full album finished in your brain, but in the end we still need to learn it, practice it, record it and release it. We won’t be giving a set date for the album release as we know that something will definitely come along and push it back anyway. Just keep an ear out in early 2023.
What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general? My advice would be to email/follow/contact as many bands/promoters/venues as you can. Send them your music and you’re plans/availability. Then once you’ve done that and built a rapport…delete your social media. Just for a bit. It’s not healthy to be constantly comparing yourself to someone else who has that radio play or scored that festival slot. This is supposed to be fun. Use social media only as a tool to get your foot in the door. Also, Spotify statistics are NOT indicative of how well you are doing. Spotify is a brilliant tool to get your music out there, but don’t worry if your numbers are low. It’s far better to fill out a room of 50 people for a gig than it is to have 100 listeners that will listen once and you’ll never meet.
Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live? Reservoirs are a wonderfully unique band that bring the 50s into the modern day. Don’t expect a cheap gimmick though, these songs are intricate, expertly performed and, most importantly, earworms.
Amateur Ornithologist has an absolute knack for realeasing exactly what I want to hear. His vocals are so distinct and every song is mastercrafted to stay in your head for weeks on end.
As one of our own side projects, we also recommend you keep an eye out for singer/songwriter Simon York West, who is set to record and release his debut single in the coming months. Simon is a Baritone guitar player inspired by modern folk.
Hello. In your own words, how would you describe your sound and style? I always find this a hard one to answer! I would say tonally and texturally that my sound is sparse and intentional finger picked guitar accompaniment, and restrained vocals. Restrain is a theme with my music- never quite giving it all away punctuated by brief release- either with straight to the point lyrics, or musical builds. My foundational musical influences are in folk revival artists- and though I still honour these subtly, I find myself moving more and more being drawn to and swayed by contemporary pop influences.
You’ve just released your debut single titled “The Tide Turned”. What is the story behind the song and its lyrics? Furthermore, what themes and ideas influence your music and writing? I wrote ‘The Tide Turned’ following attending a Hudson Unearth songwriting workshop led by Emily Portman. The topic of the workshop was writing influenced by ballads and fairy tales, specifically siren stories. Emily recited a siren story, depicting a tale of a mythical creature stolen from the sea by a man, forced to marry him and bring up children in a foreign land. She lives this way unhappily for years, before finally stealing away secretly and escaping, but with the bittersweet taste of leaving her children behind. From there we were set an automatic writing task- to reflect on the story and write freely for a matter of minutes. At the time I was processing a lot of grief in my own life, something about the story resonated with me and words came pouring out. It was a fast turn around, the words coming together with melody and chords that same week. When arranging the song to record, I was inspired by cumulative builds in songs- particularly as seen in ‘End of the Affair’ by Ben Howard. This is also seen in ‘Saved These Words’ by Laura Marling ‘I Know The End’ by Phoebe Bridgers. All pieces that start off unassuming before cascading into emotion and sound.
We have seen the music video that accompanies your single. What ideas went into the video and how was it filmed? How did you find the experience of recording the song and filming the video? I was fortunate to be selected to work with brand new label, Both Sides Records on this release. BSR is a Brighter Sound project aiming to support women and marginalised genders in the music industry. One of their aims was also to ‘demystify the recording process’, meaning essentially to reveal what goes into making a record. I loved this ethos and decided to take influence from this when approaching videographers, and sketching out the final product. I specifically chose to work with videographer Megan Savage because I knew her passion around creating transparency in content creation. The school of thought behind this is improving accessibility to the arts. If young artists/emerging artists, and particularly people of marginalised intersections can see what goes into making a record/creative product, they might feel like it is more possible to do it too, know what to expect- what the challenges might be and how to approach them. The music video is an impressionist reflection of this- in the sense that it shows my process from start till the end of the day; warming up, the more intense parts of recording, and the lighter moments in between too. The day was emotionally charged, and being filmed while recording certainly added a layer of pressure, but not an unmanageable one. This is part of the balance of recording for me- just the right level of pressure, and the right types of pressure. I fully trusted Megan which made it objectively a breeze.
Do you have any plans for the year ahead that you would like to share with us? Also, what would you like to achieve in the upcoming year? I have plans forming to release a kickstarter to fund an EP, so keep an eye out for this! I am also hoping to apply for funding/residencies/call outs and keep growing my following and developing my sound.
What advice do you have specifically for other north east artists? And what advice do you have for artists in general? For Northeast artists, link in with the local resources, they are invaluable! My personal faves are Generator and Sage Gateshead. There is also a growing scene of excellent promoters in the Northeast. Show face, stick your neck out, and if you are booked by promoters ask how you can help them out, either by promoting shows, recommending other acts etc. There is nothing more satisfying than a symbiotic promoter-artist relationship. And for artists in general – create yourself a support network. Despite performing being a social environment, the behind the scenes upkeep can sometimes be isolating; the admin, the late nights coming back from gigs, writing blocks. This could be in the form of starting a regular meet-up to do admin, a writing group, or session. And most importantly, create space in your life for things in your life that are not music. Being freelance can be a roller coaster, so it’s important to have other sources of joy. Trust me, in the long run this will also improve your relationship with creating and performing!
Lastly, what artists are on your radar that you would recommend others listen to & see live? I am currently a huge fan of Lovely Assistant, Martha Hill, and Me Lost Me – all performing prolifically in the Northeast.