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 The Cosmics

Dear Readers,

The Cosmics has been shaping West Midlands music scene for three years now. They announced their arrival on the local scene with a punkadelic anthem “Johnny” and do not show any signs of slowing down. It does not happen often that so early in their career a band will achieve best of both worlds – cult status in their home town and respect of their musical peers.Ask anyone in West Midlands and they will tell you – The Cosmics are unlike any other band. Not only in sound but how quickly they progress from one stage to another, like they have found a secret formula to make it in the music business. We can only think of one other act in the last four years with such distinctiveness, influence and uniqueness – The Blinders.

This blog will be longer than others – that is because we wanted to do a proper introduction to the band. We interviewed them, we went to see them on their first European tour and gathered some press coverage of their debut EP.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the indie circuit – please meet a trio that will define the future of music in the UK – The Cosmics.

**** The interview ****

Before the band travelled abroad to play shows in The Netherlands, Belgium and France, we have sat down with bassist and vocalist Erin Grace to talk about the band`s Glastonbury appearance, their EP and working on exclusive pressings of their singles via Flying Vinyl. This is what Erin told us:

The Cosmics photographed by Psychedelic Eye
https://www.facebook.com/psychedelic.eye.photography

Many bands claim that they are as close as relatives. You don’t have to – you are one very talented family.  Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.

Erin Grace:  Thank you! We are Erin Grace (bass/vocals), Connor Boyle (guitar) and Danny Boyle (drums).

The Cosmics formed in 2015 and within one year gathered incredible support. In 2017 BBC Introducing invited you to play their stage at the biggest festival of all – Glastonbury. Tell us how do you remember that show?

Erin Grace:  Glastonbury was an unforgettable dream come true, it felt very surreal, being on stage, there was huge  feelings of excitement, it’s something we always dreamt of but never thought would happen when we first started the band.

Since Glasto you have been going from strength to strength – the list of your achievements is longer than  life span of many indie acts: rave reviews from Steve Lamacq and Hugh Stephens, radio play on BBC 1, BBC 6, Amazing Radio, Radio X, coverage from BBC Introducing West Midlands. You played Isle of Wight and Reading Festival.  Your ascent to veterans of indie circuit was swift. Do you feel overwhelmed by your own success?

Erin Grace:  We don’t feel overwhelmed by anything, we just appreciate every opportunity we’ve had and we’re grateful for this journey as a band.

You shared stages with Starcrawler, Surfbort, The Murder Capital, Goat Girl and Birmingham finest -Table Scraps. Its equivalent of playing in Premier League of Indie Circuit. Do you book your own shows or do you prefer to use agents or external promoters?

Erin Grace: It depends what kind of show we’re going for, we love DIY shows and we also use promoters that suit us. Sometimes we book our own shows, though if we’re supporting a band or playing outside of Birmingham, we use promoters.

We have to ask you about your unique stage dress code: vintage dresses or costumes inspired by 60s and 70s have become your trademark. You have also been included in Fred Perry Subculture series.  How important is stage attire to you and was this aspect of your shows something that you wanted to explore?

Erin Grace:  Outfits are relatively important, they can express a mood or an era, we all love vintage fashion too so it just feels natural to wear what we love.

Your debut single “Johnny” came out in 2017 on Flying Vinyl – a company specializing in limited releases on vinyl. You returned to working with them last year when you took part in Flying Vinyl`s first compilation “Paranoid Futures”.  We would love to hear how your collaboration began?

Erin Grace:  Flying Vinyl approached us a few years ago when “Johnny” first came put and ever since, we love what they do!

The Cosmics ready for action – photography by Jessica H_Ingram
https://www.facebook.com/jessicahingramphotography

You just released your debut EP. It was recorded by Rory Attwell (Palma Violets, The Vaccines) and produced by Andy ‘Hippy’ Baldwin (Sundara Karma, The Orb, Blur, Oasis). You got to work with some established names. Where was it recorded and how long it took for the EP to be finished?

Erin Grace:  The EP was released on 13th June and we recorded it all in London, we went to record on few separate occasions over the course of a year so each song was written at a different time.

You also launched the EP in London. How did that go?

Erin Grace:  The EP launch went better than we expected, it was great having our friends on the line up. The show was a lot of fun and The Old Blue Last is a great venue.

The record is promoted by single “Eyes” and a very curious video. Cyclops on skateboards. Please tell us where did you film the video. Some part of it look like Digbeth. Who directed it?

Erin Grace:  We filmed everything for the “Eyes” music video in Birmingham, some bits in the city centre and others in suburban areas. Our drummer Danny directed it and filmed the video.

Before “Eyes”, you released “Trust Is Blind”.  We really want to know the story behind this song. In the video you look like a character from Lynch movie – you smile to the camera and yet the viewer has a feeling that any given moment you will break into tears. Then in a blink, you charge on stage where you tear down the decorations in a  fury that would suit Courtney Love at the heights of her Hole days. Like to keep your viewers on their toes?

Erin Grace:  “Trust is Blind” surrounds themes of betrayal and dishonesty, it’s about trust being broken. Yeah, we wanted to add twist into this track, we enjoy experimenting with noise.

We are hearing that the EP has been selling well and you got played on legendary American radio KEXP. So where do The Cosmic go from here? Any plans for the future?

Erin Grace:  We plan to keep gigging in cities and countries we’ve never played before and we’ll continue to make new music!

You can follow the band on their socials:

https://www.facebook.com/thecosmicsband
https://twitter.com/thecosmicsband
https://www.instagram.com/thecosmicsuk/
https://thecosmicsuk.bandcamp.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx3KjGaX2RJvXI5e7nljvGA
https://soundcloud.com/user-838453312
https://open.spotify.com/artist/0aocL5HcJzJlZJtAZH6caL?si=OYgzbMbGTZ-TwFXsFRmQ7Q

 

 **** The EP ****

The Cosmics presenting cover and the vinyl of their debut EP

The self titled debut EP has gathered rave reviews across the industry. These are just some of the reactions that we have gathered for the purpose of this blog. There are many more out there ranging from big established brands (The Clash Magazine) to local newspapers and blogs (Birmingham Review, Independent Music News), radio stations (Brum Radio, BBC West Midlands, BBC Introducing). The EP received airplay from Steve Lamacq (BBC 6 Music), Huw Stephens (BBC Radio 1), X Radio, Amazing Radio, KEXP in US among others. No management, no booker, no label or radio plugger. Just the strength of their music.

Front cover of the EP and A side of the vinyl pressing.

The Clash Magazine:
“New cut “Eyes” is a short, sharp shock, driven by that urgent vocal and those taut guitar lines. The sound of The Cosmics thrashing away in the unholy night, it carries some uncanny reverberations. Tune in now.”
https://www.clashmusic.com/news/the-cosmics-rev-it-up-on-eyes

Circuit Sweet:
“Lead single “Eyes”, taken from the self-titled record,  perfectly encapsulates the kind of 60’s beat that The Cosmics perform with such perfect refrain before collapsing almost entirely into a much more modern take on the garage-fuzz sound. Addictively catchy, the band walk the line between surf and noise effortlessly while showcasing a raw talent for song writing”.
https://circuitsweet.co.uk/2019/04/brand-new-garage-fuzz-from-birminghams-the-cosmics-debut-ep-announced-for-june/

The vinyl pressing of the EP

The 405:
“On this release they’ve perfectly captures the debauchery of their live performances”
https://www.thefourohfive.com/music/article/the-cosmics-capture-the-youthful-grit-and-glamour-of-their-sound-in-the-video-for-eyes-405-premiere-155

Backseat Mafia:
“The thing about The Cosmics is they’ve mastered sounding like they’re from the 60s girl band sound, strained through a messy, edgy garage punk filter. That’s because they have the melodies at heart that could have made it onto a classic soul all-nighter, but instead of organ and bass, they’ve got this frayed guitar sound that leaks feedback and lashes itself to the track. Brilliant stuff.”
http://www.backseatmafia.com/track-the-cosmics-drained/

Travellers Tunes:
“The immediacy of the record is undeniable. Singer Erin Grace co-opts a Shangri-La’s vocal for the verse before effortlessly sliding into a furious punk rock delivery in the chorus.”
https://travellerstunes.com/review/thecosmics-drained

Back cover of the EP and B side of the vinyl pressing.

**** The Tour ****

Before going abroad, The Cosmics played dates in Birmingham, London, Glasgow and Manchester.  As we had to go to continental Europe for a bit ourselves, we have decided to catch up with the band on the road and bring you an exclusive coverage of their gigs though videos and photos. This is what we have found and you can judge for yourselves that The Cosmics had a lot of fun! Tours can be great!

Tour poster

On 20th of June, The Cosmics travelled to Ghent in Belgium to participate in Girls Go Boom, a one day festival organised at a popular Muziekcentrum KinkyStar. Located in the historical (and tourist) city centre of Ghent, the venue has a capacity of 80 people and is known for supporting independent and emerging acts, not only local to Belgium but also from all over the world. In the last two years, nearly 100 bands from Europe, Canada, USA and Australia played at the Kinky Star and majority of their shows are sold out. Manchester darlings, WITCH FEVER (whom we have seen recently at the Albert Square during Manchester International Festival alongside The Pagans SOH and The Blinders) performed for Girls Go Boom in October 2018 and completely blew the audience away. We had a pleasure to speak to one of the organisers of the festival and we were told that the team are big fans of indie/post punk music from the UK. The Cosmics were chosen as their songs caught the team’s eye (and the ear as well) while browsing the newest releases on BandCamp. It is worth adding that Girls Go Boom book only female fronted and fully female bands (including LGBTQ+ artists who identify as females). They are the only promoter in Belgium who does it and their shows comes with a set of quite obvious rules. They include no homophobia, no racism and no sexism, girls in the front, safe space for sexual and racial minorities and no patriarchal bullshit. Everyone is cordially invited  – men, women, non binary or gender fluid persons. Their motto is “It doesn’t matter who you are, you will always be among friends”. We can only applaud their initiative as it was one of the nicest, safest shows we have seen in a long time. The venue was packed to the last place, everybody danced (and pogo’ed), drank beer, sang and had a lovely time. And there was no pushing, no shouting, no aggression, the photographers could work uninterrupted without fear of having their equipment destroyed. Every gig goer received a complimentary badge at the door and the entry was free. We need something similar in the UK as some of the gigs we go to are a parade for bullies and football hooligans. Organisations such as Safe Gigs For Women are doing a splendid job but there is a long road ahead of us.

The Cosmics performed alongside Piss KittiVaginas, what else?, Dragon’s Daughters, DJ’s MOSHI MOSHI and Melissa Juice. Their show started exactly at 22:00 CET (21:00 UK time) and lasted about 40 minutes. The band played their recent singles “Trust Is Blind” and “Eyes” along with fan favourites: “Cundy Come Down” and “Brainfuzz” taken off their self titled debut EP. “Velma”, “Johnny”, “I Quit” and “Inishfree” filled the rest of the set.

It was wild and energetic ride, filled with solid dose of sound distortion and vibrations. Lead singer, Erin Grace, is known for her expressive performance and we could see her falling to her knees, bashing the strings of her bass like her life depended on it and move as in a trance. Twin brothers, Conor (guitar) and Danny Boyle (drums) were closely following Erin’s trail with thunderous beat and aggressive riffs. And the crowd loved every minute of the spectacle, responding with admiration to each song. At the end, the Birmingham based trio received a standing ovation and many cheers for the show. Judging by the reactions, The Cosmics have bright future in front of them. If you haven’t seen them yet, please do as they are on rise and soon they will be playing big stages instead of intimate venues.

 

You can learn more about Kinky Star at: http://www.kinkystar.com/media.php
and Girls Go Boom Festival at: https://www.girlsgoboom.com/0

The performance was live streamed on Kinky’s Star website and you can watch it at: https://www.facebook.com/MuziekcentrumKinkyStar/videos/487192875376482/

Two days later, on 21st of July, we met with the band again, this time in Antwerp. They were about to play another EU show at an independent venue called Cafe Cabron. Sadly, we couldn’t stay for the gig itself, but we have taken them for a small photo shoot around the beautiful The Grote Markt of Antwerp. It is so easy to fall in love with The Cosmics. They come as a full package – not only their music is a killer, but they have the looks, the talent and confidence that will take them far.

The show has been organised by Zing Zang Zong and was to start at 9:00 pm.
The Cosmics were to be supported by Belgian duo, De Batteries.
Form what we have heard – it was another success for the band, but that is a standard outcome for the Birmingham trio.

More information about the gig:
https://www.facebook.com/events/858188711217531/
https://www.facebook.com/zzzgarageclub/
https://www.facebook.com/CafeeCabron/

We are hoping to catch the band at another show this tour so watch out this space for additional content and more compliments regarding the band. If you still haven`t noticed West Midlands has the best scene and we are so happy to be part of it.

See ya down the front? You bet!

M/R

Indieterria meets Mutes

Dear Readers,

Birmingham/West Mids scene at times feels like uncharted territory. You may be an active player locally for years and still come across bands that you have not heard of before. And they usually will be bands that you dig immediately, from the first listen. Let`s take Mutes for example. One evening, on our way home we noticed a poster advertising a gig in the local venue in Worcester.  We checked the headliner to realise not only they were part of the West Mids scene but we had like a million mutual friends and hanged out at the same boozers and venues between Madlands and Mancunia (hello Sunny and Castle!) Mutes were noisy, unpredictable and fiercely independent. The same evening we sent them a message and asked for an interview. There was no time to be wasted. Below, you will find our conversation with vocalist James Brown and Tom Hewson – bassist and founder of FOMA records. It is a long, splendid read but that`s how we like our music – loud, untamed with artists having something important to say.

Band logo

Mutes are:
James Brown  (guitar/vocals)
Tom Hewson (bass)
Craig Philip Bainton (drums)

Official bio: After two long, domesticated years of breakups, job losses, uprooting and rebuilding, Mutes have returned with their reactionary, tempestuous sophomore LP “Pareidolia”– a meandering, exhilarating record that sees the Birmingham post-punk group delivering something entirely new. Mutes have continued to build up a national reputation supporting bands such as Sorry, No Age, Cloud Nothings, The Cribs, PINS, Menace Beach & more. The group have received a steady stream of acclaim for their recorded output and live shows since 2014.

The Mutes ready to take their new material on the road. Photo by Megan Lewis

DIY Magazine described you with these words: “Mutes occupy the kind of territory that heavyweights tend to own”. Please introduce yourselves to the readers of Indieterria.

James Brown: So we’re Mutes- a 3 piece band from Birmingham. Started as a solo lo-fi project for myself but has ballooned into something far more aggy and ferocious. We’re into noise rock, ambient music, math, chamber pop, garage punk… everything really. Our music is kind of arty punk I think. It’s ephemeral in a sense but it’s also a lot more drawn-out than most of our local contemporaries.

Mutes have been on Birmingham scene for a relatively long period and have impressive back catalogue, maybe even the richest on local scene.  Your debut, self titled EP came in May 2014. It was followed by “Starvation Age”, a full band release on One Note Forever Records in 2015. You also have  an LP  – “No Desire” – that came out in 2017 via FOMA Records. That’s a lot of material. James also has three solo EPs to his name:  “Various Distractions” (2013), “No One Is Nowhere” (2014) and “Inertia” (2016). Its seems like you have this urge to record at any time. And even at any place – judging from the fact that your albums have been recorded in a bedroom in Birmingham and  a basement in Leeds.

Overfed singles cover

James Brown:  We’re actually nowhere near as prolific as I’d like to be. It’s hard in this day and age- if you release stuff constantly it just gets lost in the ether. Ideally I’d love to release at least 2 EPs a year and an album every other. But it’s hard to maintain prolificacy when you have a full time job! Above and all music should be self-expression and playing in a band should be fun- there’s no point writing a song if you have no feeling or aesthetic bursting to escape. There’s more than enough songs in the world. We record anywhere we can due to budget constraints- I recorded and mixed “Pareidolia” myself because I knew I had to make the album but I had no money at all. And I’m glad- necessity is the mother of invention and there’s things I did that I could’ve never done on someone else’s clock.

Press release for your new records mentions “breakups, job losses, uprooting and rebuilding”. This struggle must have left its mark on the album. Would you be feeling comfortable to tell what have happened in the band in the last two years?

James Brown:  Well over the last 2 years Mutes have had 8 different members. And I’ve had 2 relationships, 3 jobs, lived in 2 cities. You get the picture. It’s not been a particularly stable existence, but for better or worse having music to keep me going has been imperative to not just jacking everything in. Because when you’re onstage, or laying down vocals, or in a sweaty, smokey rehearsal room and everything clicks – none of the other bullshit matters. I wrote out all the lyrics to “Pareidolia” the other day and they do really reflect everything I’ve gone through over the past couple of years- relationship breakdowns, identity crisis, substance abuse or whatever. Even if I was too mired in it at the time to realise that’s what I was writing about.

New LP is entitled “Pareidolia” and comes out on June 21st 2019. So far three singles have been released: “Swallowing Light”, “Overfed” and “Men of Violence”.  The album brings a brand new line up. How do you think the record will be received?

James Brown:   I honestly don’t know – all I can do is be grateful that anyone might spend their own time listening to it. That blows my mind, the idea that someone might choose to listen to something I’ve created. But if they do that and it elicits any kind of emotional response then that’s incredible and I am thankful.

You remain unsigned but release your material through FOMA that also have Hoopla Blue, Outlander and Repeat of Last Week on their roster. The label also organizes events and offers artists management in house. Can you tell us more about FOMA and the relationship you share?

James Brown:  I’ll pass this over to our beautiful boi Tom

Tom Hewson: I formed FOMA with my brother James Hewson and friend Adam Tomes, who I write music with in Hoopla Blue. We started working with Mutes before the release of their debut LP “No Desire”, which was exciting for us as a label as it was the first time we worked with a band we were not directly involved with. Since then we’ve also worked with Outlander. James self-produced “Pareidolia” before I joined the band on bass duties. The label has become somewhat of a family that share the same values and commitment to our city and the music it offers. It’s all an experiment to be honest. We want to shout about the beauty of Birmingham with each new release and event

The band photographed by visual artist Megan Lewis

Mutes will be going on tour to support the record. Where can we see you live?

James Brown:  Cardiff, Nottingham, Birmingham, Worcester, London, Shropshire, Manchester. It’s pretty drawn out and we’d have loved some more dates up North but we get where we can! I’ve had to book out some of the venues myself so it’s DIY to the bone. I love day trips and playing a gig is like a day trip but with you as the star! And free beer! I mean what’s not to love?

We always get excited when bands come to play in our city of Worcester. For this particular gig you will be supported by SedatedSociety – a project by members of Rubella Moon, Coat of Many, The Americas and Junior Weeb.  That is truly mind blowing! Anything we should be expecting from the performance?

James Brown:  It’ll be loud! I’ve always loved Worcester and have been lucky enough to become friends with some of the bands there – and ones that have flown the nest such as Souer. I absolutely LOVE playing small intimate venues, so I’m really excited to play Paradiddles. Asking SedatedSociety was a given- those guys have been to a couple of our shows and are great, and I like to hand pick line-ups any chance I get. If one person who has never seen us play before has a good night then it’s a success. I have literally played to just the bar staff before and if they’ve enjoyed it then I’m happy. Maybe we can all hit Heroes after and drink too much. I like the low ceiling in there, makes me feel less like a short-ass.

Mutes will tour in support of their new album

Last question: We all say that Birmingham scene is underfunded and not as competitive as Manchester or Liverpool for example. So, if you had a million pounds to throw at the Birmingham music scene – what would you change?  What would you improve?

James Brown:  A million pounds eh? Well, open a new venue- one that’s around 80 cap and has accommodation for touring bands. Put the money into ensuring all bands that play there get some kind of content-based benefit such as a decent quality recording of the set, possibly even filmed too. Maintain a blog that does video interviews. Ensure it’s a safe space for everyone who wants to attend. Keep the toilets clean and the drinks reasonably priced. I love the East Midlands scene – Nottingham, Leicester, Derby. They feel a lot more sincere and less flashy. Dubrek Studios & JT Soar are great examples – Outta Mind Promotions put on a fantastic all-dayer last month and I could play those things every weekend for the rest of my life and be happy. Any money left over I’d love to put into obtaining press and tour support for FOMA artists. You’re really making me want a million pounds now!

You can follow the band on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/mutesuk/
https://twitter.com/mutesmutesmutes
https://www.instagram.com/mutesmutesmutes/
https://soundcloud.com/mutes-1
https://mutesuk.bandcamp.com/
https://mutesuk.bigcartel.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZAMKXTW31pxdXjdEW5LmdA
https://open.spotify.com/artist/52mqrsNlDf6CVhB6XJ6LHf?si=jO6sk6uwTk6XONJKEtyKlg

You can also check out  FOMA on socials and give them kudos for supporting independent scene in West Mids

https://www.facebook.com/wearefoma/
http://www.wearefoma.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/wearefoma
https://www.instagram.com/wearefoma/
https://wearefoma.bandcamp.com

Mutes, photography by Megan Lewis

Some additional reading about Mutes:

https://counteract.co/news/brummie-post-punks-mutes-detail-new-album-announce-uk-tour
http://indiemidlands.com/mutes-men-of-violence/

Poster for Mutes/SedatedSociety gig in Worcester

Mutes will play Worcester on June 25th 2019 at Paradiddles with SedatedSociety supporting. This will be first gig for both bands in town and the venue is very intimate so grab your tickets at the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/events/295350488016053/
https://www.wegottickets.com/event/473034

Door time is 7:30 PM and first band is on 8:00-ish. We plan to see some friendly faces. Tickets are £3 (ADV) and about £5 OTD.

Oh boy we cant wait.

M/R

Indieterria meets Gavin Monaghan

Dear Readers,

Living in West Midlands may seem less exciting than living in London or in a Greater Manchester area. Many of the smaller villages have few buses running in the evenings and trains are expensive – which obviously has an impact on access to entertainment. But our neck of woods produces amazing music and we have some real hidden gems close to us. We want to shine a light on those assets in our blogs. Not so long ago we had interviewed RawSound TV – an incredible service for local acts. Now we had a privilege to speak to Gavin Monaghan – prominent record producer and owner of famous Magic Garden Studios in Wolverhampton. On May 3rd 2019, Magic Garden will host a fundraiser for Musicians Against Homelessness in Birmingham and the line up is just unbelievable. So read on and grab yourself a ticket while they are still available.

Meeting Gavin is a marvellous experience – he is kind, soft spoken and welcoming. He produced some of the best records we have heard and his stories will leave you mesmerised. Thank you so much for sparing some time for us.

The Wizard of Wolverhampton – photo by Lisette Rex

You have earned the title of The Wizard of Wolverhampton by musicians you worked with. Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.

Gavin Monaghan: Hello Indieterra readers! I’m Gavin, my Studio is called Magic Garden, and I’m very pleased to meet you.

You are a producer and owner of Magic Garden Recording Studios that have been going for thirty years. Can you tell us something about the studio and its rich history? Did it change over the years?

Gavin Monaghan:  I’ve been working out of Magic Garden for 30 years in the West Midlands.  I’m currently in my third and hopefully final location. It’s been a wonderful journey so far, and I’m enjoying every minute of it!

We know that Magic Garden is expanding. What new features are you planning to add to the studio?

Gavin Monaghan:  Joe, Liam and I are working with all sorts of inspiring artists in every genre, and my ambition is simply to keep doing more of the same, while practising Kai Zen (The Art of  continuous self-improvement).  I’m constantly adding new (and old) pieces of equipment and software to push things forward. We have recently finished construction on a dedicated mix and overdub room next door, which is now fully operational. It’s quite hard to contain my excitement! I look at Magic Garden as a piece of art in itself, which will hopefully never be finished.

In 2016 in interview with Louder than War you mentioned that you planned to start a record label with your colleague Mark Evans. What happened to those plans? Are they on hold or is the label up and running somewhere in the shadows?

Gavin Monaghan:  Mark and I are always looking for interesting artists to work with, and develop. We’ve currently put out three releases in single vinyl 45 format. Please feel free to send music. It’s a tiny concern designed to champion new music or help people who are already planning a release with strategies so we don’t release that much.

Magic Garden Vinyl was conceived as an idea from two old friends before The Brexit Con was perpetrated by the awful Tory/UKIP machine on the country. Unfortunately, as Vinyl is mostly manufactured in European locations, this will send the cost of vinyl through the roof (I never saw that on the side of a bus) but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Watch this space.

The list of credits to your name is enormous: Twang, Editors, Ocean Color Scene – enough to make young bands speechless. And yet you are known to work and championing up and coming acts: The Blinders, The Novus, Pagans S.O.H, The Lizards. How do you regard your role as a producer. Do you have your own way of working with artists?

Gavin Monaghan:  Every single artist and every member of every band is so different, that my approach is wildly varied depending on what they need to make the best record we can possibly create. We like to join the band for the time we are with them, and continue to do everything we can after they leave and go out into the world with what we have all created together.

I’m happy to be a sort of Rock And Roll helpline whenever I can, I’m so busy it sometimes takes a while for me to get back, but we always try to go the extra mile.

We are used to asking musicians about their influences. But what or maybe whom can influence a record producer?

Gavin Monaghan:  I’m influenced by inspiring people in every category, existing or as yet uninvented: artists, film makers, poets, activists, singers, musicians, chaos, order, kindness, humanity, animals, revolutionary concepts. Magick and changing the outcome of reality with beautiful intent. What if every good thing you could think of was true or could become so? A life without limits. I find that fascinating.

Before moving to Wolverhampton you worked in London’s most prestigious studios such as Maida Vale or the legendary Abbey Road. Why did you leave the capitol for West Midlands?

Gavin Monaghan: I originally left London to be with family. I ended up staying and it’s home now, though I do work in lots of other places (mostly residential studios) when the need arises. As long as I have speakers in front of me and beautiful music pouring out of them, I’m happy.

Gavin at work

On May 3rd 2019 Magic Garden  will organise a gig for Musicians Against Homelessness. The line up is absolutely mind blowing with Methods, Pagans SOH, The Novus, The Lizards, Moses and The Bohos attending. Can you tell us how the gig idea started?

Gavin Monaghan: I’ve been putting Magic Garden nights on in one form or another since the early 2000’s and quite a few people playing them have gone on to do really well. It’s lovely to watch them grow from a small start into something that people enjoy in a larger scale. The gigs are a lot of fun, and I’m only doing them to benefit various charities these days.

What can we expect on the night and where is the gig taking place?

Gavin Monaghan:  We can expect an incredible night of music, as every band is hand-picked for their awesomeness.

Famous last question – tell us  the weirdest thing that ever happened to you in a studio.

Gavin Monaghan: I was working in residential studio with A very famous band years ago, and a heavy silver candelabra jumped off the grand piano on its own and dented the wall while the singer was playing it. The same night, seven large crows flew into a bay window at the studio Manor House and smashed it to pieces.  Weird is definitely an understatement.

Thanks for asking me to do this, I’m delighted to talk about this path I’m on, and look forward to many more studio adventures.

Gavin at Magic Garden Studios

You can follow Gavin Monaghan and Magic Garden Studios online:

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

Poster for Magic Garden fundraiser for Musicians Against Homelessness

On May 3rd (Friday) a fundraiser for Musicians Against Homelessness will take place at The Wagon and Horses in Birmingham (Digbeth area). You will have a chance to see some of the best new indie acts with Methods, The Pagans S.O.H, The Novus, Moses, The Bohos and The Lizards – all hand picked by Gavin and the staff at the Magic Garden Studios. We can hardly wait!

Event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/330685257583461/

You can get your tickets (£5) at the address below:

https://www.wegottickets.com/event/468289

We are hoping you will come down with us to party in West Midlands and celebrate not only our incredible scene – but also the incredible studio and the man behind it. After all somebody mentioned 30th anniversary, right? Who knows, there may even be a cake! 🙂

M/R

Indieterria meets Lower Loveday again

Dear Readers,

We are few days away from our first proper musical showcase at the legendary Nambucca venue in London. We truly can`t wait to see the amazing Tiger Mimic and Memes and this band – Lower Loveday. Ladies and gentlemen – we had a pleasure to meet them a year ago and had amazing time speaking to the band. Now we sat down (quickly) with Lower Loveday`s frontman Mark Washington and  the band`s drummer Tom Garbett for a refresher.  And we had few things to ask them! So read on and check out the band`s new banger of a single.

Lower Loveday logo

You can read our old interview  with the band here:

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/02/23/indieterria-meets-lower-loveday/ 

We have spoken to the band exactly one year ago. A lot has changed in Lower Loveday – including a new member. Please introduce your new bassist to the readers of Indieterria.

Mark Washington (Lower Loveday): Yes, that year really has flown by and a lot has happened! Our new bassist is Ben Gillman from Worcester (West Midlands). He’s an excellent talent who’s played with a few bands in the area before joining us in December last year.

In March, you have released a new single entitled “Fire That Burns Inside”. Can you tell us what the song is about?

Tom Garbett: The song is all about a relationship struggle that I was having at that time and its summarising what I was feeling.  I was left in a rather awkward situation that was really hard to deal with so I decided to put my feelings down into a song. It is brutally honest in that respect. So in general it is a relationship conundrum I would say!

Lower Loveday have been championed on BBC Introducing West Midlands and BBC Hereford & Worcester

The song is promoted by a very interesting video. You show some fabulous dance moves and very colourful outfits. Who directed it and how do you remember working on the set?

Mark Washington:  Ah thanks very much! We had a lot of fun and managed to get it all shot in a day! We choreographed the dance ourselves which you can probably tell from the moves but we wanted to get people laughing and really enjoying the video as well as the song. It really had an amazing reaction! The video was brilliantly filmed and edited by Ben Parry at Indy Motion who are local to us in Evesham.

You are keeping a busy touring schedule. On April 27th you play iconic London venue Nambucca with Tiger Mimic and Memes, then on May 4th you return to O2 Institute in Birmingham to play with Open Arms. What can we expect from your live performances?

Mark Washington:  We’re really looking forward to these shows! You can expect lot of energy and good vibes a lot like our recent music video. We get the crowd involved, get them moving and try to get them to join in with the dancing and make sure they have a smile on their face too!

We heard that you are also looking to play more shows in the North. Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds are being mentioned as possible destinations. If any of the Northern promoters want to get in touch with you, what do they need to do?

Mark Washington:  Yes we have quite a few fans asking us to play further north than we have before! Promoters can reach out to us on any of our social media but the best way would be to send us an email directly to: lowerloveday@gmail.com

You can follow the band on the socials:

https://www.lowerloveday.com/
https://www.instagram.com/lowerloveday/
https://twitter.com/lower_loveday
https://soundcloud.com/lowerloveday
https://www.facebook.com/lowerloveday
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClGDR9XIPOo96KRox090yTg

You can catch the band playing a gig in London on April 27th – all info can be found at the event page below:

https://www.facebook.com/events/658720734568060/

 

Poster for our first showcase!

All right – enough fan girling here. Lower Loveday are officially going places and to miss them would be foolish. We will see ya at Nambucca.

Love,
Mal/Rita

Indieterria meets Ivory Wave

Dear readers,

West Midlands scene, although sadly overlooked in the mainstream press, has a long and proud musical heritage. From Duran Duran and Black Sabbath to the ever popular grime scene, Birmingham and the neighbouring cities are producing high quality musical talents at an amazing speed. And slowly things are beginning to change. The new influx of bands such as The Cosmics, MeMe Detroit, Table Scraps, Cherry Pickles, The Novus, The Pagans S.O.H or The Clause are changing the popular perception that only London and Manchester are the music hot-spots to go to. The Second City’s DIY scene has never been stronger and it is ready to take on the world. Indieterria spoke to Sebastian Baldwin, the drummer of  the newest star of the scene, the Ivory Wave, about Madlands, plans and an incoming tour.

George Johnson (vocals)
Luke Morris (bassist)
Connor McMinn (guitar, vocals)
Rob Clarke (keyboard, vocals)
Seb Baldwin (drums, vocals)

Official Bio: Birmingham band Ivory Wave have released their new single ‘Gold’. The band have landed support slots with DMA’S, The Twang and Superfood to name a few as well as playing festivals such as Isle of Wight, Truck and Shiiine On. Their growing army of fans are now packing out venues up and down the U.K. “Gold” is an infectious swagger drenched banger that relentlessly surges hyped up energetic tones into your ears. With a punchy bassline creating a funk flavoured strutting foundation, this track is fun vibrant and full of youthful adrenaline. Slick guitars glide and jingle between snappy drums, while flickering speckles of scintillation through swirling soundscapes. With attitude smothered vocals and pure unadulterated raw energy this swanky groove infested track is an instant shot of vitality and is sure to have you dancing and bopping carelessly.

About the track front-man George Johnson said: “Gold is about realizing your full potential, grabbing it with both hands and running with it.“

Ivory Wave picture taken by James Kay

Ivory Wave is a very poetic name. The story goes it was used in a conversation you once overheard in a pub and thought it would make a great name for a band. Is this true?

Seb Baldwin: (laughing) That’s exactly the case! Our singer George and bassist Luke were sat in a pub discussing potential names and caught the name from a nearby conversation!

You are based in Birmingham and according to your bio, you formed at the beginning of 2016. Please introduce yourselves to the readers of Indieterria and tell us more about your beginnings. How did you meet?

Seb Baldwin: Ivory Wave is made up of singer George Johnson, bassist Luke Morris, guitarist Connor McMinn, Rob Clarke on keys and of course me. We’d all played in different bands before and ended up forming through mutual friends and connections. We wrote the first few songs and it all just clicked.

We listen to hundreds of bands per year but we can safely say that nobody plays like you do. You remind us of the golden days of The Hacienda, Mancunian rock mixed with rave beats, but with a contemporary twist. Ivory Wave is not just a nostalgia play, but something brand new. It is fresh and exciting. What do you think?

Seb Baldwin: It is the same with us! We all listen to such a wide and varied mixture of music and styles that it’s hard to pin point specific influences down. We’ve all listened to most of what came out of Manchester scene so there are undoubtedly nods to that sound. But we have never laboured to create something that replicates a specific sound but rather focused on writing something that feels real and genuine to us.

You have been compared (but of course!) to every Madchester legend there is, from 808 State, Stone Roses, The Charlatans, New Order and Inspiral Carpets to Happy Mondays and even The Beautiful South. But you come from Birmingham! How did that happen that a Brummie quintet started playing Manchester inspired music in the middle of West Midlands?

Seb Baldwin: I think it is because we listened to all those bands growing up and although we have never consciously tried to write anything that sounds like them, those sounds have crept into the music we produce.

BBC Introducing in West Midlands described Ivory Wave as a “perfect combination of rave, acid hip hop and classic rock a la Duran Duran”. This is the first description of that sort we ever heard! Who inspires you to write?

Seb Baldwin: We are inspired by such a wide range of different artists, it wouldn’t feel fair to name few individuals. The key to our sound has always been the range of different genres that our music tastes cover. From hip-hop to rock, from pop right across the spectrum to grime, we all indulge in a wide enough range that when it comes to writing our own music, we all bring different dynamics and angles to what we put out.

The band is known to keep to “no label, no management, no agent” rule. Although you are not the only ones in the business to do so (Jordan Allen, Strange Bones or The Clause also decided to follow that path) it means doing everything yourselves. Does day to day managing of the band affairs have an impact on the creative process?

Seb Baldwin: Most definitely. To take the time to manage the bands social media, book shows, engage and organise meetings with a people across a range of parts of the industry to name a few things, all while we are working full time obviously takes a decent wedge of time away from creating music and playing.

Ivory Wave supporting the excellent DMA’S at the sold out gig at O2 Academy in Birmingham. Picture by James Kay

You are credited with creating the “Madlands” musical movement. Who else, besides you is in the league and what bands should we all be looking out for?

Seb Baldwin: (laughing) This is a common misconception! Jacky-P, ex-BBC WM Introducing presenter and DJ for Scxrlxrd actually coined the term, although we are more than happy to champion it. And we have to name every band in the area who is pushing for the common goal of putting the Second City back on the map musically: The Clause, Riscas, The Novus, Violet and Sugerthief to name but a few as the list goes on and on and on.

Ivory Wave supported established acts as The Twang and DMA`s and appeared on festivals such a Truck, Shiiine On and Isle of Wight. This year, you are already booked for Live at Leeds and Lakefest among others. Are you eager to take your music to the next level?

Seb Baldwin:  We are all grinding and pushing as hard as we are able. Getting to play bigger and better shows is already an amazing and humbling confirmation that our music is being well received and that we are establishing ourselves more and more as time goes on. Onwards and upwards.

April and May will see you hitting the road and going to Preston, Manchester, Nottingham and Leeds. Are you planning to add more dates? What about London or Glasgow? Any plans on playing there?

Seb Baldwin: We cannot say much yet, but we have a number of shows in the pipeline and will be announcing details of all of these soon!

Your current single “Gold” was released in January 2019 to a phenomenal response. It was a song of the week for BBC West Midlands and gave you several spins on BBC 6 Music by Steve Lamacq himself. The song also amassed over 18K streams on Spotify. We can easily say that this song is going through the roof. Did you expect such a positive response from public and music business alike?

Seb Baldwin:  We had been playing “Gold” for well over a year in our live set, and although we all loved it as a track we hadn’t thought of it as a standalone single until the fans started to beg for its release. After an influx of tweets and messages asking us to release it next, we went back into the studio and the result it out for the world to hear.

They say “ride the wave until the grave” – so we want to know, where is Ivory Wave taking you next?

Seb Baldwin: We are in this for the long run, although we couldn’t call exactly where we will end up. We are all driving at the band building and growing as time goes on. Long live Ivory Wave.

Articles:
https://counteract.co/interview/interview-ivory-wave-discuss-their-biggest-gig-to-date/
https://www.shiiineon.com/blog/ivorywave/
http://www.uniquelullaby.co.uk/2019/01/interview-w-ivory-wave.html
https://wordsformusic.blog/2019/01/27/band-profile-ivory-wave/
https://www.musicglue.com/ivorywaveuk/bio

Catch Ivory Wave on tour and you can now win two tickets  for their homecoming gig in Birmingham.
Good luck!

Please come back soon as we have some very interesting interviews and reviews coming later this month.
Catch you soon!

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

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