Jammin’ In July: My Musical Alphabet

Greetings readers,

Today I’m taking inspiration from fellow music-blogger Daria, from The Music Wonderland, who created her own musical alphabet. I thought it was a great way to share your favourite artists, so I asked if I could upload my own version and she said yes. So, I’ve combed my ITunes, album collection, and previous blogs to bring you my favourite artists for each letter of the alphabet – complete with some throwbacks in there too.

(There are a few gaps towards the end though, sorry!)

 

A – Against The Current

One of my favourite bands at the moment, New Yorkers Against The Current also dropped one of my favourite albums of 2016 with their debut release, ‘In Our Bones’. They have a lot of different elements to their sound, from danceable pop-driven tracks to dark, brooding rock vibes, which all combine to make something undeniably addictive.

To see my review of ATC’s debut album ‘In Our Bones’, click here.

 

B – Bring Me The Horizon

BMTH have been around since my early teens but, admittedly, I have only really gotten into their music recently. Whilst I liked the rough and raw screamo sound of previous releases, I couldn’t listen to it for too long; I couldn’t understand the lyrics, I couldn’t sing along, it just didn’t hit me in the same way that bands like Bullet For My Valentine did at the time, with their darkly twisted debut album ‘The Poison’. However, with their newest release ‘That’s The Spirit’ came a new sound that I’m totally into. Gone are the undecipherable lyrics and discordant arrangements, to be replaced by a melodic stadium-rock vibe. Their trademark ferocity is still there, but has evolved into something different – a change for the better in my opinion.

To see my review of Bring Me The Horizon’s newest release ‘That’s The Spirit’, click here.

 

C – Cassadee Pope

If you were into the pop-punk scene in early 2007 when the female fronted era exploded, then you may recognise ex Hey Monday front woman Cassadee Pope. Having been a fan of the band since their formation in 2008, I was crushed when they decided to go on hiatus with only one album to their name – 2008’s ‘Hold On Tight’. Following their short-lived time as a band, I was beyond intrigued when I found that Pope went on to become a contestant on The Voice USA; following her journey through the competition, which ultimately saw her crowned the winner. She has since released her debut album ‘Frame By Frame’, which reached #1 in the US Country music chart.

To see my article on Cassadee Pope following her win on The Voice USA, click here.

 

D – Demi Lovato

Quite simply, I absolutely adore Demi Lovato. From her musical ability and captivating power-house vocals, to her confidence to speak candidly about her personal struggles, I think that she is someone to be admired.

For more about why I like Demi Lovato, and why she is #1 on my ‘Top 10 Interview Wish-List, click here.

 

E – Ed Sheeran

Simply put? Ed Sheeran is amazing. I truly believe that he is one of the biggest icons of my generation. He has gone from strength to strength within the industry over the years, not just with his own albums but working behind the scenes on hits for other artists, including Justin Bieber, Major Lazer and One Direction. Everything he has done, to this day, has been absolute fire; with one chart hit after another. And, since the release of his newest album ‘Divide’, 2017 has so far been another massive year for our favourite red-head – already having made history by occupying both the #1 and #2 spot in the charts with ‘comeback’ singles ‘Shape Of You’ and ‘Castle On The Hill’ respectively. He gets better and better with each album.

To see my review of ‘Shape Of You’ and ‘Castle On The Hill’, click here.

 

F – Francheschi (Elissa)

I’ve been a fan of Elissa Franceschi’s music since my late teens. Introduced to her after she did guest vocals on You Me At Six track ‘Always Attract’, I then went on to check out her solo music – and fell in love. The soulful songstress has a beautifully delicate, yet powerful, quality to her vocals and her music is always mesmerising; full of honesty and overflowing with poignancy. She is currently on a musical hiatus, as she has been for the last few years, but there have been some little signs online that could hint at a possible return to music soon – here’s hoping! It’s been far too long.

To see my review of Elissa Franceschi’s EP ‘Devoid of Rue’, click here.

 

G – Green Day

One of my first favourite bands back when I first discovered rock music, Green Day were a huge part of the soundtrack to my early teens. Admittedly, I don’t listen to them nowadays, but there will always be a special place in my heart for them.

 

H – Hobbie Stuart

Honey-voiced heart-throb Hobbie Stuart, is a pop singer-songwriter and vlogger. Having built an online following via YouTube over the last six years, Stuart uploads both cover videos and original material to his channel. His smooth, r’n’b-tinged vocals seem to be able to wrap themselves around any song; leaving their own stamp on existing tracks and giving life to his own songs. Having seen him play a short set in Brighton, where he also turned on the town’s Christmas lights, it’s fair to say that he’s just as good live as he is on record – a rare quality nowadays. As well as his hypnotising vocals, Stewart’s hilariously candid personality also comes across in his vlogs, making them even more entertaining. You just can’t help but love him, really.

To check out my initial ‘One to Watch’ on Hobbie Stuart, click here.

For my live review of Stuart’s short set at Brighton’s Christmas light’s switch on, click here.

 

I – Issues

I discovered this metalcore six-piece after recommendation from a friend of mine, and I’m so glad I gave them a listen. Their thrashing yet melodic sound draws on a multitude of different genres, from heavy rock to electronic, and even some R&B. There is a brutal heaviness running through every track, which is lifted by honey-voiced vocalist Tyler Carter’s melodic tone as it drizzles over the gravelly sounds of Michael Bohn’s aggressive screams. This provides a great contrast and incorporating elements of other genres also brings something different to the table, keeping things interesting.

To see my introductory ‘One To Watch’ on Issues, click here.

 

J – Justin Timberlake

Sorry, I’m not sorry. Justin Timberlake is up there with some of the best male vocalists in the pop scene. From the curly-haired kid in boyband Nsync to the suave pin-up that girls fantasize over, JT and his music continue to stand the test of time – his smooth brand of r’n’b drenched pop still winning hearts, and awards, worldwide.

 

K – Kelly Clarkson

Again, another artist whose vocals continue to always cause a stir in the pop charts, fifteen years after she became the first ever winner of American Idol. Kelly Clarkson has an amazing voice; strong, bold and powerful, both on and off record. The majority of her music centres on themes such as heart-break, self-empowerment and independence, much of which really speaks to me. Her second studio album ‘Breakaway’ was a big part of the soundtrack to my early teens, with its pop-rock sound and dark undertones.

 

L – Luke Pickett

Luke Pickett is an artist that, I don’t think, gets as much recognition as he should. I discovered Pickett’s music 10 years ago, thanks to my friend using his track ‘Empty Corridors’ as her profile song on Myspace – remember those days?! I fell in love with it and soon became addicted to other songs such as ‘Going Down With This Ship’, ‘Dream Love Cure’ and ‘Cruel Love’. I even came close to interviewing him for this blog at the very beginning, after emailing his management, but somehow it fell through. I still go back and listen to those old songs from time to time, and I’m always keeping an eye on his new stuff. With his level of talent, impeccable, addictive vocals and ability to craft a captivating, poignant song, I can’t understand how he’s not a mainstream artist!

 

M – My Chemical Romance

The mouth-piece for an entire musical movement, and responsible for starting a conversation about the misunderstanding of subcultures, My Chemical Romance became the voice of a generation of misfit teens and in the process became revered; seen almost like heroes. Their music spoke to so many people (including myself) and created a community. Over the years, and the many colours/styles of Gerard Way’s hair, they created so many iconic moments that will always be remembered. I’m so glad I got to see them live before they split; it still hurts my heart a little that they’re not together anymore.

 

N – Nirvana

Another band that I, admittedly, don’t listen to anymore, but who influenced my music tastes back in the day. When I started listening to rock music in my mid-teens, Nirvana were a band that I inevitably came across; I say inevitably because you can’t have not heard of them if you’re into rock, I mean everybody knows who Kurt Cobain is, right? I loved the overall vibe of their music, (I used to be into the heavier stuff!) Kurt’s gruff and gravelly vocals, and I’ve always been interested in their/his compelling story. It’s not at all surprising to me that their music continues to influence musicians and have an effect on people, to this day.

 

O – Out Of Sight

Having disbanded quite a few years ago, you might think it’s weird that I chose to include pop-punk band Out Of Sight. However, after seeing them supporting You Me At Six live back in 2009, they were a band that left a lasting impression and I loved their music. Luckily, when I did work experience for Kerrang! that same year, I was given a copy of their demo CD by Katie P after I told her how much I liked them. To this day, I’m still so thankful to her for that because, if she hadn’t, their music would be 100% lost to me – and I’m so glad that it isn’t. I still listen to it from time to time and it never fails to put a smile on my face.

 

P – Panic! At The Disco

Another band that were a big part of the 2007 explosion of ‘emo’/pop-punk artists in the rock scene, you couldn’t not like Panic! At The Disco. Their single ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ is now a cult favourite among people of that era – there was a time when everyone was singing along to that chorus!. Over the years they’ve headlined the likes of Reading Festival and gained national airplay on Radio One, and continue to sell out arenas to this day.

 

Q – Queen

Not a band that I listen to regularly, but Queen is an absolute classic – there’s no doubt about it. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, ‘I Want To Break Free’… everyone knows at least one of their songs, and they’re great to dance to!

 

R – Room 94

I discovered Room 94 thanks to Twitter back in 2012, and they quickly went on to become one of my favourite bands at the time. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you may know that I tried for an entire year to get an interview with the boys and, after meeting them at multiple shows, luckily got that chance at the Brighton date of their 2013 ‘Three Brothers and One Kit’ summer tour. It’s still one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever done and they’re really lovely and funny guys – I’d interview them again in a heartbeat!

To see my interview with Room 94, click here.

 

S – Set It Off

This Floridian foursome have been one of my favourite bands for a few years, after discovering them when I was invited to interview them at a show. I’d never listened to them, or seen them live, but their stage presence and show changed that irrevocably. So taken was I that I went straight to their merch desk after their set and bought their debut – and at the time, only – album ‘Cinematics’, which I listened to in its entirety for months. I’ve kept up to date with their releases ever since, and seen their sound evolve from dark and twisted orchestral pop-rock, to something lighter and increasingly pop-based, all whilst retaining that certain Set It Off something.

To see my review of Set It Off’s second album ‘Duality’ click here.
I’ve also done short reviews of a handful of their songs from newest album ‘Upside Down’. To see those, click here (Uncontainable), here (Something New) and here (Crutch).

 

T – The Summer Set

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, then you’ll know that The Summer Set are one of my Top 5 favourite bands ever! I try to see them live every time they come to the UK and each time is always more fun than the last; they never fail to put on an amazing show, it’s like a party that nobody wants to end. I love their unique brand of inspirational, poignant, summery, feel good pop-rock, made even more distinctive by Brian Dales’ original vocal tone. I’ve bought every album they’ve ever released and their music just gets better and better over the years. Their newest release ‘Stories For Monday’ was one of my top albums of last year and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next!

I’ve actually been lucky enough to chat to John Gomez, Jess Bowen and Brian Dales on separate occasions and they’re all lovely (the latter I even managed to interview before a show at Kingston Peel, despite him being a little worse for wear!)

To see my review of the band’s newest album ‘Stories For Monday’, click here.
And, to see my review of the last time I saw them live, at Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms, click here.

U – —–

 

V – Versaemerge

Another great band that, sadly, aren’t together in this format currently, Versaemerge were part of the second wave of the pop-punk/emo scene. When the likes of Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco were established they paved the way for similar bands to breakout, one of them being Versaemerge. After being signed by the front-running label of the era, Fuelled By Ramen, Versaemerge released their debut – and sadly only – album ‘Fixed At Zero’. Over the years they battled a lot of obstacles, including significant line-up changes, as well as the long wait between releases. By the time a second album looked to be forming it came with a change of sound, gone was the dark melodic rock, in favour of an electronic vibe; times and the scene had changed. Shortly after, remaining members, Sierra Kusterbeck and Blake Harnage decided to reinvent themselves as Versa, an entirely new entity. However, the status of the band is unclear as no new material has been released, and vocalist Sierra now fronts new musical project ‘Neaux’. One thing’s for sure, I hope they revive Versa at some point because I’d be so sad if they just faded away.

As a female, Sierra was one of my main inspirations of that time, and while I was at university I was actually lucky enough to interview Blake Harnage for an article I was working on about fan-funding. To see that article, click here.

 

W – Waltzz

A young aspiring rapper that reached out to me for a review back in 2015, Waltzz is now a name that you’ll definitely be familiar with if you follow my blog regularly. Full of passion and unrivalled drive, Waltzz – real name Liam Stewart – is an artist that I really admire. From his music (and his passion for it) to the overall message he tries to convey, he is definitely worth checking out. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting him and he’s a really great, down to earth guy too – which is always a plus!

To see my review of Waltzz’s most recent single ‘I’m Alright’, click here.

 

X – —-

 

Y – You Me At Six

You Me At Six have been one of my favourite bands since I was seventeen and, now in my mid-twenties, they still are. Over the years I’ve seen them grow with their music and, in turn, I have grown up with it. So many of their songs serve as a reminder of many different events and happenings, and I have nothing but fond memories of seeing them live – all 10+ times! They have yet to make an album that I dislike, and my only hope is that they continue making music for a long time yet!

To read my review of You Me At Six’s latest album ‘Night People’, click here.

 

Z – —-

 

And there you have it – if you got this far, to you I give the biggest of high-fives. I hope that I inspired you to give some of these artists a try, if you’ve not heard of them. What did you think of my choices? If you’ve got any recommendations for the letters I missed feel free to let me know in a comment.

As always, thank you for reading! I’m uploading twice a week throughout July so, If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, feel free to come and join me on:

Facebook & Twitter
🙂

Advertisements

Tracks of the Month: January/February

Hello everyone,

It’s that time again… yes, it’s nearing the end of the month so as is tradition around here, I’m going to take you through the songs that have dominated my stereo/ITunes/headphones over these last few weeks. If you follow my blog regularly then you may’ve noticed that I didn’t do one of these last month, so this is going to be a culmination of my January and February favourites. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

 

Crutch – Set It Off

Taken from Set It Off’s latest studio album ‘Upside Down’, ‘Crutch’ is a pop-driven track with a gracefully explosive rock chorus. The song opens with a motif that sounds like it came straight out of a video game, with Cody Carson’s smoothly distinctive vocals not far behind, adding a soulful, almost, r’n’b tinge.

This is a definite example of the band’s sound taking on more of a lighter, pop vibe than their previous releases, however, it still retains that signature Set It Off sound. Personally, I love it. If there’s one thing I’m not too crazy on it would be the staccato video-gamey introduction, but I can look past that because the rest of the song is catchy as hell.

I’ve also been listening to some other tracks from ‘Upside Down’ including Jazzy, pop trackDiamond Girl’– which brings back a flavour of the orchestral sound from debut release ‘Cinematics’, with brass accents throughout and explosive, rock songWant’, which has more of a brooding, darker feel.

To see my review of the band’s previous album ‘Duality’, click here.

 

Lianne Kaye – Last Thing

This is getting to be quite a tradition around here isn’t it? Singer-songwriter, and YouTuber, Lianne Kaye was featured in my last ‘Tracks of the Month’ as well – and she’s back for very good reason. Kaye kicked off the year with a re-upload of her original song ‘Last Thing’, stating at the beginning of the video that the audio quality wasn’t the best in the previous one.

This new version of ‘Last Thing’ sees the ballad become very raw, consisting of just Kaye’s vocals accompanied by an electric guitar. The song opens with a beautifully delicate melody that flows into the verses. The chorus then amps up the power, both vocally and in the instrumental, with a chord pattern that lends itself to a very slight country/pop vibe. It’s an enchanting song about the to-and-fro of a turbulent break-up, of lost love and moving on – which I think everyone can relate to.
Vocally it doesn’t disappoint either, Kaye’s rich, strong tone sounding effortless and bold throughout. If you’ve read my other reviews you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Kaye’s music and, personally, I can’t wait to hear some more originals from her.

To see my review of the Kaye’s previous original song ‘You’, click here. And, to see my review of her officially released single ‘Clear’, click here.

 

You Me At Six – Take On The World

Now, I know I posted a review of You Me At Six’s newest album ‘Night People’ at the beginning of the month, but I had to include this song here because I’m absolutely in love with it. ‘Take On The World’ is a poignant ballad about being there for someone through the worst of times, letting them know that together you can take on the world.

From the first time I heard this song – and every time since – it never fails to give me goosebumps. As someone who has struggled with anxiety in the past, the lyrics and the overall message of the song really resonates with me and I know that if I ever find myself in that situation again, this is a song that I’ll put on and just imagine someone singing it to me.

I’m actually going to see You Me At Six on their upcoming April tour and, if you follow me on Twitter, you may’ve seen me say that if they play this song live there’s a massive chance I’ll be in tears. It just really hits home for me and it’s a beautiful song overall.

To see my recent review of You Me At Six’s newest studio album ‘Night People’, click here.

 

La La Land – City Of Stars

If you’ve not heard of the recently released movie ‘La La Land’, to you I ask, where have you been? The musical romantic-comedy drama – starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone – was up for a record-breaking 14 nominations at this year’s Oscars, and it seems to be all anyone can talk about.

From my Twitter feed to Facebook, I kept seeing people sharing positive reviews of the film and its music – a couple of people I follow even posted covers of this very song. So, I decided to go and see what all the fuss was about – and I wasn’t disappointed.

Fair warning, if you’re not into musicals or anything overly lovey-dovey, then you’re probably not going to like this film. But, I really enjoyed it, and this song in particular has stuck with me since I watched it. ‘City Of Stars’ has that, kind of, classic vibe of old Hollywood movies but incorporates elements that work to bring it into the modern day. That charm, coupled with a catchy rhythm and heart-warming lyrics, will see you singing it for days afterwards – trust me.

 

Ruelle – Invincible

Ruelle is an electronic/pop artist from Nashville, that I discovered whilst binge-watching the Netflix original series ‘Shadowhunters’ – based on Cassandra Clare’s popular book series ‘The Mortal Instruments’. Ruelle lends quite a few of her songs to the show, including ‘Invincible’.

The electronic track is delicately menacing, with its ‘you want a war? You don’t know what you’re asking for’ bridge, and beat-driven instrumental – like waiting for a storm to hit. However, this is lifted by Ruelle’s light, ethereal vocals, and addictively charmingly melodies which ensure the songs leave an impression  making you want to hear more. With its dramatic vibe, dark undercurrents and epic-sounding chorus, it’s not surprising that her work has been featured in multiple television shows and films, as it lends its self really well to cinematics. Currently working on her first full-length album, Ruelle is undoubtedly one to watch.

Honestly, I had such a hard time choosing which song to feature in this post; I also love the dreamy, romantic sound of ‘Storm’, the eerie but upbeat, danceable ‘Monsters’, and the swelling, epic-sounding theme to the Shadowhunters series: ‘This Is The Hunt’. (Click on each title to listen to them.)

 

Pvris – Eyelids

I’ve been meaning to check out American three-piece Pvris – or, Paris to you and me – for a while now, but this is actually another song that I discovered thanks to the ‘Shadowhunters’ Netflix series. Taken from the band’s debut album ‘White Noise’, ‘Eyelids’ is a beautifully haunting track.

Combining their electronic, pop/rock sound with a crashing, beat-heavy chorus, it works to create something dark and eerie, with Lynn Gunn’s delicately airy vocals lifting everything – also giving it a pretty and romantic vibe.

 

Another two songs I’ve been listening to a lot since their release in January, are ‘Shape Of You’ and ‘Castle On The Hill’ by Ed Sheeran, marking the end of his musical hiatus, as well as his recent Live Lounge cover of Little Mix’s ‘Touch’. Click here to see my dual review of both ‘Shape Of You’ and ‘Castle On The Hill’.

 

What songs have you been loving recently? I’m always on the hunt for new things to listen to so please feel free to let me know in a comment, and as always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, be sure to come and join me on:

Facebook & Twitter

🙂

You Me At Six – Night People (Album Review)

You Me At Six are back and look set to reclaim their place at the forefront of British rock music with brand new album Night People.

you-me-at-six-night-people

Three years after the release of their previous full-length offering ‘Cavalier Youth’, rock quintet You Me At Six started 2017 off on the best possible note – unveiling their hotly anticipated, brand new album ‘Night People’ in early January. Unlike the signature pop-punk vibe of the band’s earlier releases, ‘Night People’ carries on the maturity and musicality that we heard on 2014’s ‘Cavalier Youth’, but embraces a darker, heavier tone with a more straight-up rock sound. However, die-hard fans need not fear, as it’s still packed with addictive choruses and powerful songs that pack a punch.

Album opener, and title track, ‘Night People’ sets the tone for the record with its quietly brooding verses and erupting chorus, immediately demonstrating the band’s stylistic change. Similarly, ‘Swear’ and ‘Can’t Hold Back’ are also striking, with a heavier, self-assured vibe – and a little bit of sass thrown in there too. And the boys definitely haven’t lost their flair for writing an insanely addictive hook that – in a live situation – will no doubt whip crowds into a frenzy; songs like ‘Plus One’ and ‘Heavy Soul’ incorporating a flavour of their old style into the mix.

There are also some softer moments amidst the ballsy, fiery tracks, including ‘Take On The World’. An emotional ballad about being there for someone through the darkest of times, its heart and poignancy making it, arguably, one of the most stand-out moments on the record. Album closer ‘Give’ also incorporates this softer sound throughout the verses, but marries it with an explosive chorus, rounding-up the album perfectly. Overall the record is fast paced, as well as being extremely tight and cohesive. It tells a story and takes you on a journey thematically, with each song being a fragment of the bigger picture.

‘Night People’ is another example of You Me At Six’s growth over the years, as people and as artists, and that is reflected in the progression of their sound. It’s certainly grittier than anything we’ve ever heard from them before, and the whole thing sounds incredibly self-assured – like the band are standing up and saying ‘this is who we are.’

Welcome back boys, we’ve missed you.

 

Final verdict:

You Me At Six have been one of my favourite bands since I was seventeen and ‘Night People’ is a firm reminder of why that is. Over the years I’ve seen them grow with their music and, now in my mid-twenties, I have grown up with it. They have yet to make an album that I dislike, and some of my favourite lyrics are embedded in songs on this record. I would encourage everyone to listen to it – start to finish to get the full effect, of course!

 

Favourite tracks:

Plus One
Heavy Soul
Take On The World
Give
(But, honestly, there isn’t one song on this album that I dislike!)

 

As always, thank you for reading. If you’d like to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, feel free to come and join me on:

Facebook / Twitter

🙂

Artists I’d Like to See Live In 2017

Greetings readers,

It’s nearly the end of January; we’re a month into 2017 already! I hope you’ve all had a great start to the year and that you’re keeping up your new year’s resolutions (if you made any!)

If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you may remember that I did a post like this in 2015 as part of my ‘Journaling In January’ series, where I listed the artists I’d like to see that year, followed by a separate list compiling the artists I’d like to see again. I thought it’d be nice to make it an annual thing to see how my choices evolve, if any become staple and crop up more than once, and who I do actually manage to see live over the next 12 months.

I felt it unnecessary to split the list into two parts this time but, some of these artists I have seen before, so I’ll include links to any previous live reviews where applicable. So, before I ramble on too much, here are the artists I’d like to see live in 2017 – not in any particular order because trying to pick would take me far too long.

 

The Summer Set

The Summer Set at the Electric Ballroom

The Summer Set at the Electric Ballroom

I included The Summer Set in last year’s ‘Band’s I’d Like to See’ post, and my reasons for featuring them haven’t changed much. I feel as though my previous explanation perfectly sums up why I want to continue to see them live when they visit the UK and why I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen them live to do the same. As I said in my previous review:

If you’ve read my blog before then this Arizona based quintet don’t really need any introduction, as you’ll know that I’ve seen them a fair few times already. And there is one very simple reason for that: They put on an awesome show. Every single time I’ve seen The Summer Set live it’s been an insanely fun pop/punk party that nobody wants to end. Their energy is infectious and their set electrifying; with plenty of opportunities to jump around like a loon, as well as poignant moments that you can’t help but get caught up in. One thing’s for sure, they put everything they have into that moment and it always makes for a killer performance.

I’ve previously seen The Summer Set live a number of times, whenever they do a UK tour I try to get tickets as their live show is always insane.

Click here to see my most recent live review of the band at Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms, on the UK leg of their ‘Stories For Monday’ tour.
Click here to see my review of their newest album ‘Stories For Monday’.
Click here to see my live review of The Summer Set from back in 2014, with support from Paradise Fears & William Beckett.

 

Set It Off

screenshots

With Set It Off’s Cody Carson after their show at London’s Electric Ballroom

The last, and only, time I saw Set It Off was in 2013 when I got invited to interview them after their London show at Camden’s Electric Ballroom, supporting Aussie quintet Tonight Alive. Admittedly I hadn’t listened to their music before that night, so I was going in totally blind, and I wasn’t disappointed. After immediately buying their debut album ‘Cinematics’ from the merch table that night, Set It Off quickly became a firm favourite of mine.

Since then they’ve released follow-up record ‘Duality’, and their newest offering ‘Upside Down’ dropped in October this year. After following the progression of their albums over the years, it’s clear that their dark, orchestral pop-rock sound has evolved into something lighter and increasingly more pop-driven. Personally, I would like to see how that translates into their live set-up – as I know their performances to be quite chaotic and very befitting of a typical rock show – so it’d be interesting to see how this shift in genre correlates.

I’ve also included Set It Off in quite a few posts over the last year so, if you’re interested in those, please check them out if you’d like to:

Click here to see why I included the four-piece in my ‘Band’s I’d Like to See Again in 2015’.
Click here to see my review of the band’s sophomore album Duality.
Click here to see my Q&A with Set It Off’s Cody Carson at Camden’s Electric Ballroom.
Click here to see my review of the band’s debut album Cinematics.

 

Against The Current

I only got into Against The Current’s music in mid-2016, but I became a huge fan pretty quickly. I’d seen some of their cover videos on YouTube – often featuring other unsigned artists such as Alex Goot and Max – but I didn’t get around to listening to their original music until more recently. However, I’m so glad I did because I absolutely love it. I reviewed their debut studio album ‘In Our Bones’ as part of my ‘Jammin’ In July’ series, and as I said: ‘the band are quickly making a name for themselves and…look set to take the music world by storm’.

I’ve since seen a lot of live footage of the band (thanks to YouTube) and it looks as though they put on a great show full of energy and fun. Chrissy Costanza’s vocals also sound just as amazing live as they do on record, as evidenced by their unofficial video for ‘Young and Relentless’ – which sees them play their way through the busy streets of London – as well as the above video from A-Sides on YouTube. After missing them on their last visit to the UK in September 2016, I’m crossing my fingers that I can get tickets for their upcoming tour in March.

Click here to see my review of ATC’s debut album ‘In Our Bones’.
Click here to see my review of the band’s cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘I Really Really Like You’ featuring pop solo artist, Max.

 

You Me At Six

You Me At Six have been one of my favourite bands since I was 17 and, now in my mid 20’s, the amount of times I’ve seen them live is well into double figures – and for good reason. With headline shows at The 02 and Wembley Arena under their belts, as well as a whole host of others, the Brit rockers have come long way since their beginning in 2005.

Now they find themselves at the forefront of British rock music, gaining recognition from the mainstream, receiving airplay from the likes of Radio One and reaching number one in the mid-week charts. They never disappoint with their live show, it’s always a whirlwind of energy and fun, and I have nothing but fond memories of seeing them. The last time I saw them was in 2012 and I think that seriously needs to be rectified.

Click here to see my live review of the YMAS at London’s Brixton Academy, on the ‘Sinners Never Sleep’ tour in 2012.
Click here to see my review of the band’s most recent album ‘Cavalier Youth’.

 

Ed Sheeran

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, I’m guessing you know who Ed Sheeran is. Named the biggest selling artist of 2014 – scooping numerous awards and playing multiple sell-out shows at Wembley Arena – Sheeran took some time away from the limelight in 2016, using the year to work on new material and to re-charge.

After catching his stunning live performances at The BBC Music Awards and The Brits, to name a few, and having watched his live DVD ‘Jumpers For Goalposts’, I’d love to experience his live show. He’s one of the few mainstream artists I’d pay good money to go and see.

Click here to see my dual review of Sheeran’s newest singles ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Castle On The Hill’.
Click here to see my album review of his previous offering ‘X’.
Click here to find out why I also included Sheeran in my ‘Artist’s I’d Like to See in 2015’.

 

Stevie P & Sketch

A video still from Stevie P & Sketch’s debut offering ‘Everything (Pt 2)’

Again, if you’re familiar with my little corner of the internet, then this rap/rock duo should need absolutely no introduction as I feel like I’ve been banging on about them over the course of this year. Stevie P and Sketch (the latter of whom you may also recognise from E4’s Tattoo Fixers) have dropped some great tracks this year including, beaut rap ballad ‘Street Lights’ and abruptly raw number ‘Nightmares’.

I have absolutely no idea if the guys are planning on – or even able to – fit any live performances into their busy schedules but I’d love to see it happen, mainly for the fact that they never cease to surprise me. Each time they unveil a new track they seem to add in new elements that leave you wondering what else they’re going to work into their sound, almost drip feeding it to us. As a result it definitely makes you want to hear more to see where they’re going to take it next.

As well as wanting to hear more of their stuff, I’d also like to see their on-stage personas for myself and how that correlates with the music (if you’ve seen any of their music videos you’ll know what I mean.) I just think it’d be interesting, in the best possible sense, and you’d get to hear some great music – bonus.

As I said before, I’ve featured the guys in a few previous blog posts so, if you’re interested in those, please see the list below and have a read if you’d like to.

Click here for my review of Sketch and Stevie P’s debut track ‘Everything Part 2’.
click here to see my review of their follow-up single ‘Street Lights’.
click here to find out why the duo are #3 on my ‘Top 10 Interviews Wish List’.
click here to read my original article on ‘Tattoo Fixers’.
click here for my follow-up article on spin-off show, ‘Tattoo Fixers On Holiday’.
And, if you’re interested, click here to check out my blog about getting tattooed by Sketch at his studio in November last year.

 

Talia Mar

skins-elliott-photography-www-skinselliottphotography-com7

© Skins Elliott Photography

I became aware of singer-songwriter – and beauty/lifestyle vlogger – Talia Mar’s music when I saw her perform at a showcase event I went to back in November, known as ‘Musique LDN’. Because of the sheer volume of names on the bill each act only played 2-3 songs each, so it was a bit difficult to get a proper feel for the artists, however, I was immediately struck by Talia’s performance and really enjoyed her set on the day.

Since then I’ve checked out (and totally fell in love with) her debut release ‘Stolen’, which is entirely self-produced. I also did a review of the song in early December, and gave it an honourable mention in my ‘Tracks of the Month’. I’d love to see Talia Mar live because she has a great voice, to hear more of her material, and to just get more of a feel for who she is as an artist.

Click here to see my review of the ‘Musique’ event where I saw Talia Mar perform.
Click here to see my review of her debut offering, ‘Stolen’.

 

And that’s about it. Are there any bands/artists that you’d love to see this year? Who are your absolute staples that you know are sure to put on an amazing show every time? Feel free to let me know in a comment 🙂 .

 

As always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, be sure to come and join me on:

Facebook & Twitter

🙂

My Top 7 Songs of 2016

I’m baaaa-aaaack!

Hi everyone, if you saw my previous post (‘My Top Albums of 2016’) then you’ll have already got the gist of what this post is going to be. However, if you haven’t seen it, basically as it’s the start of a New Year I’m picking out my ‘best bits’ from the year before and sharing them with you. I’ve done a ‘Top Albums’ list in some form for the last few years, but I thought it’d be interesting to introduce a ‘Top Songs’ compilation also, almost as a follow up to my regular ‘Tracks of the Month’ segment – a ‘Tracks of the Year’ if you will.

I’ve gone through my previous posts and picked out my favourite of favourites for this, including singles from the beginning of 2016 right up until the end. As such, I have reviewed all but two of these tracks previously so these won’t be traditional reviews of the music its self but rather, me explaining why I like them – of course with a link to the previous articles.

*In order of release date, from earliest to latest in the year.

 

The Summer Set – Figure Me Out

Released in January 2016, ‘Figure Me Out’ is an elegantly explosive anthem perfect to start the New Year with. A song about losing your way and striving to find it again, it’s full of inspiring, uplifting vibes and shows that everybody has ups and downs no matter who you are. But, don’t let it get you down because you will eventually figure it out. The band certainly did, after initially breaking up in 2015, but luckily they rose from the ashes of what was, coming back stronger and better than ever before – and so can you. ‘Figure Me Out’ is a song that just makes you sit up straight, hold your head high and think ‘yeah I can do this’. 2017…bring it on.


To see my previous full review of the lead single from the band’s newest full-length release ‘Stories For Monday’, click here.

 

Against The Current – Forget me now

Now, I just want you to appreciate how hard it was for me to pick between the band’s singles ‘Forget Me Now’ and ‘Wasteland.’ I honestly almost couldn’t choose between these two, so much so that I nearly didn’t include either of them! ‘Wasteland’ has more of an eerie, haunting vibe, while ‘Forget Me Now’ is more upbeat and pop-rock based. But, I settled on ‘Forget Me Now’ simply because I can personally identify with more of the lyrics and every time I hear it, it makes me want to dance around my bedroom – I reckon it’d be great to see live.


To see my previous review of the ATC’s addictive debut album ‘In Our Bones’, click here.

 

Stevie P & Sketch – Street Lights

This song may just be my favourite of favourites. Released mid-way through the year, ‘Street Lights’ is a poignant rap ballad with a beautifully sombre melody and an absolutely stunning chorus. As well as this, the candid lyrics are poignant and powerful, and the passionate delivery undoubtedly packs a punch. Stevie P & Sketch’s vocals are on-point throughout and complement each other brilliantly. Personally, I think switching up the vocals from rapping to singing during the chorus is a surprise of the best kind, the harmonies interspersed throughout creating a somewhat haunting effect. If you’ve been following my blog a while then you’ll know that I absolutely love these guys; I’ve done reviews of all their tracks to date. However, this one made it into the list as, as a whole it is undeniably captivating; I fall in love all over again every time I hear it.

To see my previous full review of stunning track ‘Streetlights’, click here.

 

The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – Closer

The song that earned The Chainsmokers their first number one single, ‘Closer’ is a great summer anthem. The EDM track comprises of a very synth-led chorus – lending to a very dreamy, summery feel. Taggart and Halsey’s vocals work really well together, adding dimension and creating a beautifully powerful effect. I love the instrumental rise and falls in this song and I just think it’s perfect to blast in the car with the windows down.

To see my previous full review of summer anthem ‘Closer’, click here.

 

James Arthur – Say You Won’t Let Go

One of the biggest, and best comebacks of 2016 was that of 2012 X Factor winner, James Arthur. After taking a break from the scene after a string of controversies, and a battle with his mental health, Arthur made a return to music at the tail end of last year with emotional love-song ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’. I absolutely love this song, and I’m not the only one, as the guitar-led ballad held the #1 spot for four consecutive weeks. His newest album ‘Back From The Edge’ then also went on to earn Arthur his first #1 album, showing that he has firmly won his way back into the hearts of millions – including mine.

To see my previous full review of Arthur’s #1 single ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’, click here.

 

Little Mix – Shout Out to my Ex

Little Mix have turned up the heat with their newest album, and they certainly aren’t pulling any punches with this empowering break-up anthem. It’s fun, sassy, sexy and full of attitude. It’s also ridiculously catchy and, not to mention, a massive middle-finger to that ex – I’m sure we’ve all got someone we’d like to sing this to! Who needs a man? (or woman!)

To see my previous full review of sassy break-up anthem ‘Shout Out to My Ex’, click here.

 

Give –  You Me At Six

Seeing 2016 out in style is a band that have been one of my favourites for the last eight years. Brit rockers You Me At Six recently released their hotly anticipated fifth album ‘Night People’, but premiered this track – along with a host of others – back in November last year. The song has a beautiful melody, an explosive chorus and hugely relatable lyrics, set to Josh Francheschi’s unique tone; delicate throughout the verses, turning husky and powerful during the chorus. ‘Give’ is definitely one of my favourites from the new album.

Watch this space for a full album review of You Me At Six’s fifth studio album ‘Night People’ – released on Jan 6th 2017.

 

What were your top songs of last year? Are there any that you think I definitely should’ve included, or any that I shouldn’t have? I’m always on the look-out for new music, so feel free to let me know in a comment 🙂 .

As always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, be sure to come and join me on:

Facebook & Twitter

🙂

My Top 10 Interview Wish-List

Greetings readers,

Today’s post is one that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I originally planned to upload it as a video, but that proved to be a bit of a faff, so I decided to write it instead and…well, here we are.

I’ve always said that interviewing is my favourite aspect of what I do; it’s always exciting for me to interview an artist because I’m just little ol’ me who started a blog at university, I don’t have the added benefit of an established magazine behind me, it is just me. As a result, there are people I’d love to interview that I’ll probably never get the chance to, so I thought I’d compile a Top 10 wish-list of my dream interviewees.

Firstly though, I’d like to talk a bit about my interview style and what inspired my particular approach. The reason I interview anyone is because I admire their work, so when I get the opportunity to talk to an artist my goal is to make them feel as comfortable as possible. By doing this the interview becomes more conversational, which makes for a better experience; let’s face it, uber-formal, stilted interviews aren’t a comfortable watch, or read, and you’re less likely to get the best responses.

I watch a lot of interviews and the person that always sticks in my mind is Ellen DeGeneres. If you watch The Ellen Show, you’ll know that it looks like a hugely fun environment – from being in the audience to being a guest – and you can tell that there’s a genuine admiration or friendship between Ellen and the majority of her interviewees. The fact that the likes of Taylor Swift and Gwen Stefani have been on the show multiple times is testament to the warm and welcoming environment Ellen creates, and it always makes for a great watch. This down-to-earth, semi-informal, atmosphere is what I try to achieve with my own interviews.

‘So who’s in your Top 10?’ I hear you ask… continue reading to find out.

 

#1 Demi Lovato

I think Demi Lovato is an extremely inspiring young woman. I’ve reviewed many of her songs on this blog and I think, musically, she’s a powerhouse. Outside of her music, Lovato has been very vocal in regards to her struggles with mental health, including discovering she was bi-polar and conquering an eating disorder. She has since spoken out about the controversy’s that have surrounded her and has chosen to become a positive influence to others, stating that she wants to be the difference for people who think they have to look, or be, a certain way to be considered cool. I watched an MTV documentary on Lovato, ‘Staying Strong’, which gave an insight into her struggles and treatment, and it moved me to tears at points. I think often we forget that people in the public eye are just that – people, and it takes a strong person to be able to admit so publicly that they have done things they aren’t proud of, and change their ways. It’s for these reasons, and more, that I’d love to talk to Demi Lovato about her career, life, aspirations for the future and everything in between.

Click here to see my review of Lovato’s single ‘Confident.’

 

#2 Alex DeLeon

If you’ve read my blog before then you’ll definitely recognise this name. Alex DeLeon is the lead vocalist of The Cab – a band I was fortunate enough to interview back in 2012, via email, after contacting their manager. However, DeLeon has recently unveiled a brand new solo project under the moniker Bohnes. Having released a number of singles it’s clear that the singer’s newest venture is a world away from the pop-rock sounds of The Cab, favouring a more synth based, pop/dance sound. So, does this mean an uncertain future for the band? It’d be great to sit down with DeLeon to chat about this new project, the status of the band, and what he has coming up.

Click here to see my review of DeLeon’s debut single as Bohnes, ‘Guns and Roses.’

 

#3 Sketch & Stevie P

If you’re a fan of E4’s hugely popular TV show ‘Tattoo Fixers’ then you’ll already be familiar with half of this duo. Let’s be honest, I feel like I could talk to Sketch about tattooing (and a mutual love of Sloths) for ages, but outside of his work in tattooing, he also makes music. I first became aware of this after stumbling across a 30 second clip of a song called ‘I Walk With’, featuring Stevie P, that the tattooist shared on Twitter. With its heavy rock sound, complete with raw scream vocals, it came across as very Bring Me The Horizon-esque; I definitely wanted to hear the full track. Following this, the lads released a song called ‘Everything (Part 2)’, and what I was met with totally caught me off guard; it was rap, totally not what I was expecting. However, the song is undeniably beautiful, and you’d have to be made of stone not to be moved by it.

Five months on, the guys have yet to release a follow-up but have teased that new single ‘Street Lights’ is in the pipeline. Stevie has said via Twitter that the duo are currently facing ‘a few minor issues,’ and Sketch has also previously tweeted that he’s unable to release music at the moment, so there are obviously bigger things at play here. Having said that, it’d be great to chat to the pair about their music at some point and see what they have planned. I bet they’d be a really interesting pair to have a chat with too.

I’d also just like to say that I know ‘Tattoo Fixers’ has been getting a lot of negative press over the last few weeks, mainly over how the show is made, allegations of plagiarism concerning designs, and its implications on the tattooing industry as a whole. These aren’t things that I feel qualified to comment on, however, I can say that as a viewer I really enjoy the show and I like each of the artist’s different styles (I’ve actually emailed both Sketch and Alice about possibly getting pieces done by them.) Personally, I’d love to hang out on-set for a day to see for myself how things are done, so I could say from experience ‘this is what goes on’.

Click here to see my review of ‘Everything (Part 2)’.

 

#4 Vicky Pattison

I don’t know about you, but having never watched Geordie Shore, I had no idea who Vicky Pattison was until she appeared on last year’s ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.’ However, I see that as a good thing because I had no preconceived notions of her going in; as I’ve said elsewhere in this post, it’s all too easy to judge someone based on their media coverage. I thought she was absolutely brilliant, hilarious and a lovely, down-to-earth girl. She gave an interview on Loose Women following winning ‘I’m A Celeb’, and I was even more struck by how eloquent and candid she was. Again, it takes a strong person to hold their hands up and admit their wrong-doings and I have a lot of respect for her for doing that and changing her ways  – and with it the public’s perception of her. I think she’d be great fun to talk to about how she, and her career, have grown since Geordie Shore (and I daresay she’d be brilliant company on a night out as well!)

 

#5 Zoe Sugg & Gabriella Lindley

If you don’t know who Zoe Sugg and Gabriella Lindley (AKA Zoella and Velvet Gh0st) are, then to you I ask, where have you been? The two are huge hits on YouTube, with their beauty tips as well as follow-me-around style videos, having racked up millions of subscribers between them. One of the first videos I saw of Zoe’s was one about dealing with anxiety, and I had huge admiration for her taking on that subject because it takes guts to discuss that sort of thing so publicly. Similarly, Gabriella is also very candid and open about her struggles with the same issues, and knowing that both the girls suffer with anxiety is one of the reasons why I’d like to interview them together. I feel like they’d be more comfortable because they’d have each other for support, rather than it being a one-on-one situation which might make them feel more pressure – which totally isn’t what I’m going for. I watch both the girls’ videos regularly and I love their personalities and the way they come across onscreen, so it’d be awesome to chat to them about their internet presence and being in the public eye. Gabriella has also started posting covers among her video content, click here to check out my review of her most recent cover of Ariana Grande’s ‘Leave Me Lonely’, featuring fellow YouTuber Hobbie Stuart.

 

#6 Taylor Swift

As I said in my previous review of Swift’s fifth studio album, 1989: ‘whatever your opinion of the darling of pop music, you can’t deny that Taylor Swift is slaying the industry at the moment.’ From taking on the likes of Apple and Spotify, she seems to be everywhere. I’ve been a fan of Swift’s since the early days of ‘Love Story’ back in 2008, and since then we’ve seen her grow into the artist that she is today who looks set to take over the world. As with the majority of people in the public eye, everyone has an opinion on Swift, be it positive or negative there will always be one, and I think it would be great to be able to have an opinion based off of actual personal experience rather than media sensationalism.

Click here to see my review of Swift’s album ‘1989.’

 

#7 Ed Sheeran

There is one simple reason for this pick: I love Ed Sheeran. From his magnificent music to his endearingly down-to-earth nature, he comes across as a genuinely nice guy – and those are always the best kinds of people. He has said things in previous interviews that I whole-heartedly agree with, and his passion for what he does is undeniable. Sheeran is currently taking a break from social media, but has said that he’ll be back in the autumn with a brand-new album. It would be absolutely amazing to be one of the first to speak to him about his new music and what makes it “the best thing [he has] made thus far.”

Click here to see my review of Sheeran’s most recent album ‘X.’

 

#8 Simon Cowell

I know this will seem like a controversial choice, but that’s exactly my reasoning. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll know who Simon Cowell is and, whether you love him or loathe him, everyone has their own opinion of the music mogul. It’s safe to say that the majority of these opinions will be based on media perception and what we read – unless you’re a close personal friend of Mr. Cowell that is. Personally, I like to judge people based on my own experience of them as opposed to hearsay, (remember the old saying ‘don’t believe everything you read’?) and I would just love the chance to talk to Simon Cowell about the industry, and discover for myself what the big man in music is actually like.

 

#9 Gerard Way

The My Chemical Romance frontman was a huge inspiration to me growing up, aside from the fact that I loved the band’s music, I watched a lot of interviews with Way and I was always struck by his way with words. He would always put his points across eloquently and with such honesty; which I think is what gained him the unwavering respect of a generation of music fans, including me. A lot of people took Way to their hearts and revered him, almost like a hero, and I am proud to say that I grew up in a time when the band existed. They had their fair share of negative attention, but I have nothing but fond memories of their music and being inspired by them. I’m so glad I got to see them live before they split; it’d be a dream come true to catch up with Gerard Way and chat about his career after MCR and what he is up to at the moment.

 

#10 You Me At Six

Again, my teenage self wouldn’t be happy if this Surrey-based quintet didn’t make an appearance. You Me At Six have been one of my favourite bands since I was 17 and, now in my 20s, I feel as though I’ve grown up with them and their music. They have yet to make an album that I dislike, and they always put on a killer live show; I’ve seen them play 10 times and the last time I went I felt like one of the oldest people in the room (long gone are the days of me wearing brightly coloured fishnets, a tutu and home-made t-shirts.) Being that YMAS are one of my longest standing favourite bands it’d be great to speak to them about their career to date, and what their next move is.

Click here to see my live review of You Me At Six at Brixton Academy.

 

And there you have it, there are some artists I’ve interviewed before that I’d love to follow-up with, but for this list I decided to just include those that I’d probably have no chance of ever interviewing.

Who would be your dream person to interview? Are there any from my list that you wouldn’t mind having a good ol’ chin-wag with? Feel free to let me know in a comment :).

 

For regular updates come and join me on:

Facebook & Twitter

🙂

With a Little Help From My Friends (The Rise of Fan-Funding.)

Greetings readers,

I wrote this article a while ago to feature on my other website, Music Is Love, which was part of a university project. Since graduating MIL isn’t something I’ve continued with, as I already had this blog for three years by that point, so I thought it’d be cool to share the pieces, on this site, from time to time.

Enjoy.

 

In recent years technology like social media has been a big help in allowing musicians build a fan-base without the help of a record label.

In the music industry today, alongside the mega-stars like soulful crooner Adele and the extremely over-rated Rihanna, there are the smaller artists who have yet to get the superstar break, but work extremely hard making chart-worthy music and networking to build a fan-base. Yet these acts are constantly overlooked in the eyes of the mainstream. Unless you actively seek out these lesser known artists you may never get the chance to hear them, yet if you do you’d be floored by the camaraderie and sense of community among their fans.

There is an endearing quality in artists who remain grounded and humble, that don’t put themselves above their fans, and refuse to compromise their artistic integrity to fit somebody else’s vision.

R94 Tweet

This genuine attitude seems to elicit a loveable fierceness among fans who take these bands to their hearts, and want to help them succeed simply because they deserve it. Many take to popular social networking sites, like Twitter and Facebook, to create online communities for fans whether it be geographically specific or general.

For example, Versaemerge fan Gita helps to run the Twitter team for the band in Indonesia where she is from. After being approached by a friend who set up the profile, Gita has been helping to run the site for just over a year. They also have a Tumblr page and physically pass out flyers at shows, which has led to band member Blake Harnage offering to supply them with official flyers from their record label. Gita says, “pop-punk and alternative rock bands aren’t as famous as other mainstream pop bands and singers in my country and they are so overrated. We want people out there realize that there is loads of great music instead of mainstream music.” She says specifically of the street team,we made this street team for Indonesian VersaEmerge fans so we could talk as fan-base, share new updates and promote them.” She goes on to say that, “social media really helps us keep in touch and interact with the band… Blake and Sierra love to talk with fans via messages, and often also help if we need life advice or just someone to talk to.”

When asked why she feels so strongly about the band Gita replies, “they deserve loads of fans because they have such a great music.” She also says that part of the appeal is because they are so friendly, “it feels really good to know that the band we support is grateful and appreciate their fans, and if they do it just makes us love them more than ever. We are lucky, because Blake and Sierra appreciate us and treat us like friends.”

versa fan page

When asked how the band feel about these fan groups, one half of the Versaemerge duo, Blake Harnage answers, “it still amazes us to see our music reaching around the world to places like Brazil, Indonesia, Argentina and the Philippines to name a few, and we still have not been there.” Harnage continues, “I remember my friends always turning me onto new artists. Word-of-mouth, as well as social network sites, are both massive in helping new artists gain recognition. Both are driven by the fans.” Harnage says of their Versa Vultures – the affectionate pet name for Versaemerge fans – “Sierra and I are so privileged to have such a ridiculously amazing fan base. We’ve always tried the best that we can to connect with them by taking time to talk. It’s not always easy, but we know that going the extra mile helps to creates loyal, long-lasting fans. Also, we enjoy making so many new friends.” He concludes, “the fans will always be the most important part of the equation. Without them, we simply wouldn’t be able to do what we do on such a scale.”

Sierra Kusterbeck and Blake Harnage are Versaemerge

Sierra Kusterbeck and Blake Harnage are Versaemerge

Technology like social media has been a huge helping hand in allowing musicians get their work out there and build a fan-base without the help, or often disheartening hassle, of appealing to record labels and managers, even going back to the days of MySpace. This way of networking has become a lifeline for many aspiring or emerging talents, so much so that the fans have almost replaced the A&R division (the side of the record label that is responsible for sourcing new artists.) Though it could be said that this is part of the appeal, because a record label is not going to want to sign a band that isn’t generating any interest, however, if an artist already has an extensive and loyal fan-base they are seen as a valuable asset rather than a risk.

One of the bands that know all too well the importance and power of the internet, are upcoming Vancouver based pop-rockers Marianas Trench. Manager Jonathan Simkin says of their online presence, “this is one of the first bands that I have ever seen break first via online media.” He explains, “We built a fan base worldwide because of the band’s ability to connect with fans via social media; they were very good at creating funny clips and posting them online.” Simkin concludes, “social media and internet has been crucial to this band’s success.”

Marketing student Tracey also runs an online fan group; the UK online Street team for Las Vegas based band The Cab. She says of the platform, “it does help the fans connect with bands easier. Twitter is an amazing tool which helps us connect with fans and the band themselves. Without these platforms, it would be more difficult to communicate with people and getting the word out.” She explains, “social media is a given when it comes to promotion of bands. Free promotion is the best way of getting your message across; you can say what you want, give out the message you want and hopefully, it gets heard, people take note and listen.” Along with her friend Steph, they consider themselves two of the biggest fans in the UK. “We spend time, going into our own pockets to see, support and promote the band, we don’t get paid for running the Street Team – it’s completely voluntary. We do this out of our spare time and love and I would not change it for anything else in the world.”

The Cab fan page

And these girls are dedicated, both having travelled overseas to see and meet the band. “Personally, if you have so much love and passion for a band, it should be well known.” Tracey continues, “plus, having been lucky and met both Alex’s, they appreciate the work, effort and everything you do to promote them.” Speaking of appreciation, Tracey also says that she thinks mutuality is vital. “It gives a band their meaning, whether it’s a tweet saying Thank You or when meeting them a physical hug or photo – it doesn’t matter, if there is mutual love there it’s really worthwhile.” She concludes, “with The Cab, they are the most humble, nicest human beings on the planet and they deserve more recognition and that is why we are here.”

However, not all fans are as lucky when it comes to gratitude, as there are bands out there that forget where they started. Charlotte and Janine, who run a Twitter profile for You Me At Six fans, have experienced being taken for granted and say that it can affect a band’s appeal. “We think it’s extremely important that the bands are grateful and appreciative of their fans as without us they wouldn’t be where they are today. We’ve met bands who don’t really even look at you when you meet them and have no interest, it really put me off.” But luckily they’ve never received the same treatment from their idols. “We’ve met You Me At Six a few times, they’ve always been extremely grateful, talkative and genuinely interested in what we and other fans have to say.” So even though there are some rotten apples with delusions of grandeur, they’re not all bad.

You Me At Six

You Me At Six

Another way that fans can support musicians, particularly regarding the production of their albums, are fan-funding schemes like Pledge Music and Slicethepie. “We don’t see the fans as venture capitalists, who are investing in our records,” says Benji Rogers, founder of London-based Pledge Music. Instead, he wants listeners to feel “part of the process that gets a record into their hands.”

pledge

Pledge Music is an online platform, which helps artists fund their work, through fans pledging money towards the funding of an album or EP, in exchange for certain rewards decided by the band. In the past these have been known to include private living room gigs, song-writing sessions, and dinner-dates. “I believe, in their hearts, the fans want to do the right thing,” says Rogers. “We can’t convince teenagers to buy CDs. The quest for me is to give meaning to it, so they don’t want to steal it.”

Whether it’s due to being an emerging group, financial strain, lack of freedom or absence of a record label, many people join sites like these, including acts like rock group Madina lake, The Blackout and more recently, popular folk group The Lumineers. After parting ways with their record label, Welsh rockers The Blackout used Pledge to fund their third album Hope.

Welsh rockers The Blackout

Welsh rockers The Blackout

Guitarist James Davies says of this, “it definitely gave us a newfound drive, belief and momentum. The phenomenal response we had to the Pledge initiative really showed us how many people still cared about us.” He concludes, “without the people who pledged, this album literally would not have happened, so we can only thank everyone involved for helping us keep this band going.”

But it could be said that schemes like Pledge may not work for bands who are just starting out, true, bands like The Blackout are far from mainstream but they already had a solid fan-base who would follow them, would it work for an emerging artist? Elissa Franceschi is living proof of the answer, having surpassed her goal in just three months. When asked her thoughts on the idea behind Pledge and how it helps emerging artists like herself she responds, “it’s a fantastic platform and possibly the future of music making for under the radar artists, or those in-between deals.”

Rising talent Austin Nivarel also agrees, and says that he would consider doing a fan-funded campaign himself. “It’s a good alternative when you’re not on a label, and it’s a great way to get the fans involved in the process.” He also says that while he thinks it’s “really cool” that fans increasingly appear to be the propellant behind most musicians nowadays, he knows how dedicated the fans have to be to make an impact. “It’s very expensive for bands to tour and record,” he says, “so without a label backing them financially it’s important that the fans be extremely supportive and can go to the shows and/or buy merch/CDs.”

Judging by the passion and dedication shown by just the fans I’ve mentioned, support is never in doubt; if you look close enough you’ll always find it. And even if they’re not necessarily big mainstream artists with the help of all the behind-the-scenes forces, these bands are big to the people that know and love them, and even though it might take a little longer to break through that’s okay, because it’s more than just fans and bands, It’s a family.

 

For more information, and regular updates, come and join me on:

Twitter   &   Facebook

🙂