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

Indieterria meets Shari Denson

Dear Readers,

In December 2018, we have travelled to Manchester to see a photography exhibition entitled “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”. It chronicled city`s musical heritage via the lenses of local photographers. We have to admit – it was an extraordinary experience to see all the iconic shots beautifully laid out at the Manchester Central Library. As expected thousands of locals and tourists alike flocked to see it. We promised ourselves that next time another such exhibition is held in Manchester, we`d be back to attend its opening.

Meg Lores of The White Stripes photographed by Shari Denson

And we are!  We cannot be more excited to tell you that on February 22nd two leading female photographers – Karen McBride and  Shari Denson will join forces to create one night only photography exposition (in a secret location for now) to showcase their work. If you are a music obsessive like us  – you don’t need an introduction to the magnificent images produced by both ladies.  Everyone else just needs to know this – Karen and Shari revolutionised pages of music magazines and bands portfolios. They set the bar incredibly high but also inspired many starting photographers.

We are lucky – not only a weekend of incredible art and music awaits us in Manchester  – we also were able to interview both iconic photographers ahead of the exhibition for this blog.

This chapter is dedicated to Shari Denson, you can read our interview with Karen McBride by clicking on the link below:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/indieterria-meets-karen-mcbride/

So without further delay.  Dear readers – please meet one of the most influential music photographers known to English music scene.

Shari Denson photographed by Stuart Hadfield
https://www.facebook.com/stuart.hadfield.94

You worked with the likes of White Stripes, Interpol and Elbow while your images have been featured  on album covers (Ian Brown), in print (Independent, NME, Guardian, Louder Than War), in retail (Amazon) and on television (The Mercury Prize, Later with Jools Holland). Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.

Shari Denson: Hello, I’m Shari

It is said that you became a photographer after attending  many concerts around Manchester – including legendary venues such as Manchester Apollo. Looking back, was there ever a definitive moment  when you realized that you wanted to capture moments on film, or was it rather a longer process that lead you to photography?

Shari Denson:  It was long, long process. I’ve been a bar maid, a stage manager, a clapper/loader and focus puller on films amongst other things before I finally started being serious about photography. I wanted to make films and was doing a film studies degree. When I had my first child half way through the degree I switched to still photography so I could be in control of my time. You have to go by everyone else’s schedule when working on a film. So even though I’d always taken photos at gigs from being young, it was never with a view to making anything beautiful or striking, it was just for memories. I mean, my photos still serve as memories now but hopefully with an extra layer or two.  So  I was 30 when I got my first SLR camera and fell in love with photography. Fairly soon after that, I needed to complete an assignment for university and I decided to do it on live music photography.  And that was where it began for me.

Music was always around you – your brother  as dedicated gig goer took you to see The Teardrop Explodes and Echo and the Bunnymen when you were just ten years old, while your father  was a musician. This may sound a bit like a question they ask on Desert Island Discs – but if you were to name five records that shaped you the most – what would you choose?

Shari Denson:  I’d chose the following:

More Songs about Buildings and Food – Talking Heads
For the Roses – Joni Mitchell
Desire – Bob Dylan
The Spangle Maker 12” which also included Pearly-Dewdrops Drops – Cocteau Twins
Porcupine – Echo and the Bunnymen

iconic image of Elbow – photographed by Shari Denson

Every photographer could write a book about funny, slightly horrifying or straightforwardly weird situations they encounter behind the scenes of the glamour photo-shoots. Please, share one such a story with our readers.

Shari Denson:  That time I took a Sheffield band, Trap 2 on Saddleworth Moor in the freezing cold winter..forgetting it was a bit nippy, then asked them to hang about near some trees in the woods on the way back home, whilst I lit them with fireworks. All I could see was smoke, and all I could hear was coughing and spluttering, whilst I assured them everything was fine. The shots were awful but we had a scream. Great band, and really lovely lads who put with all sorts from me (laughs)

Your best known photo – that of Elbow from the promo session to their album “The Seldom Seen Kid” has been recreated as a mosaic by artist Mark Kennedy,  and is now exhibited on outside wall of the iconic Affleck’s  store. We imagine you must be feeling very proud every time you are on Tib Street.

Shari Denson: Yes, I mean it would have been nice to know about it 10 years ago when Mark decided he wanted to use the image… I only found out about a year ago. I’m sure my parents, who were still around at the time, would have been very proud indeed.

Mosaic by artist Mark Kennedy displayed at the wall of iconic Manchester landmark- Affleck`s http://www.markkennedy.co.uk/

Besides photography, you also direct videos and worked with Blaney, The Winachi Tribe, The Northstand, The Tapestry, The Backhanders, and The New Southern Electrikk among others.  Was it hard to transition from photography to video? Do you have any artists that you would like to work with?

Shari Denson:  Well, as I said before, I’ve always been interested in the moving image,  so the transition was exciting. I had the pleasure of learning how to use Final Cut editing software during my time at Badkamra, a video production company so it seemed natural thing to make music videos.  I wouldn’t name any band in particular, I just like to work with creative and collaborative, like-minded people.

In 2007 you had your first exhibition entitled “I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member” at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery. Other exhibition soon followed such as solo exposition at the Kro2 Oxford Road in Manchester in 2013, Night & Day Café in 2014 or Suffragette City in 2018. How do you prepare yourself before each event?  

Shari Denson:  Mostly by having a major meltdown. Apart from Night & Day, which was made much easier by Jan, who helped me immensely.

Your next exposition is a one night only “A Very Insecure Exhibition” that will happen on 22 February 2019 in yet undisclosed location in Manchester. It will be a joint event with another well known photographer Karen McBride. Can you tell us what can we expect?

Shari Denson: (laughs) I can only tell you this…you can expect something different….heartfelt and beautiful whilst being bold and powerful.

Trap photographed by Shari Denson

There is also a book prepared for the occasion. It looks amazing from the promotional shot we have seen so far. How long did the entire event took planning wise. And can the book be purchased online by those who cannot make it to the opening? 

Shari Denson:  Yes, it can. At https://ukgiclee.co.uk/avie/  We’re very pleased with it.

Manchester is famous for many things, among them Vimto, football and (of course) the music scene. The National Football Museum has been opened in the city centre since 2011 but somehow The Music Museum still hasn’t happened yet. Do you think it is high time that Manchester got a dedicated  place to properly celebrate its photographic and musical heritage?

Shari Denson:  I think that sounds like a marvelous idea!

You must have been asked many times about  your favourite shot you have taken. We want to know the opposite: what picture (if given the chance) would you permanently removed from your catalogue?

Shari Denson:  None. Each and every one has it’s place. They serve as my memories. I get emotionally attached to them and I don’t deal well with loss, so I wouldn’t get rid of any.

Flyer for the exhibition

A Very Insecure Exhibition

22nd February
Now revealed as Projekts MCR (SkatePark at Mancunian Way)
97 London Rd, Manchester M1 2PG
http://www.projektsmcr.com/
20:00 pm – 23:30 pm

Tickets cost £6 -£8 and can be purchased from the link below:
https://www.universe.com/events/a-very-insecure-exhibition-tickets-manchester-5K0X7V

You can also get all the newest updates from the event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1180667978750896/

Flyer for A Very Insecure Exhibition

You can follow Shari on social media and we encourage you to do it, she is a phenomenal artist!

https://sharidenson.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/sharidenson
https://twitter.com/sharidenson
https://www.instagram.com/sharidenson/

For those who enjoy a bit of additional reading, we have found a bunch of articles about Shari and her work.

http://www.mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/070377293-suffragette-city-mm-meet-two-manchesters-most-influential-women-shaping-music
https://www.mdmarchive.co.uk/artefact/18946/ELBOW_IAN_BROWN_I_AM_KLOOT_SHARI_DENSON_PHOTOGRAPH_2018
https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/going-out/sharis-homage-to-the-stars-1000324
https://louderthanwar.com/2-manchesters-best-photographers-announce-photo-book-launch-party-conversation-john-robb/

What else can we tell you?  Come back next week as we will publish our interview with Karen McBride. And prepare yourself for updates, images and maybe even polaroids from the opening. Its gonna be a proper party in the North.

All the best for now,
Mal/Rita