We caught up with Psychedelic outfit Tempesst to discuss their DIY approach to their debut album, life as an independent artist and much more
Tempesst is a project founded by twin brothers Toma and Andy Banjanin, starting in their coastal hometown of Noosa, Australia. Since it’s beginning they have travelled the world, integrating in DIY scenes in New York City and (where they are located now) Hackney, London. It was from their new London home where they released their debut album ‘Must Be A Dream’, a totally DIY project, from artwork through to recording. In fact they recorded the album in their very own Pony Studios in Hackney.
With this in mind we chatted to Andy to find out more about their DIY approach and processes, why they started their own label and much more!
What was the thought process behind operating as a DIY band?
For the most part, creating things is DIY – You write songs and take photos because you are interested in spending your time that way so I don’t think there was much of a thought process behind it. More that it just blooms in a certain direction the more energy you put in.
What have been the advantages and disadvantages of acting independently?
We like having the freedom to create and release music whenever we like, so being independent really works for us. The disadvantages are that you need to build a whole world around your art which isn’t easy (especially if you are solo) but there are five of us so we work together. I think most artists would choose to be independent if it was a feasible and effective option.
“I think most new or alternative artists will need to develop themselves independently or with the help of an independent label”
Andy Banjanin, Tempesst
Was it something you planned to do from the get go or was it something that naturally happened?
We didn’t consciously set out to be independent but have always been really involved in every single aspect of Tempesst. As time passed, it presented itself as the most logical path for us and I think it is a trend that will continue to grow.
How has starting your own label and studio affected you as artists?
Well it removes any barriers to releasing your music which is the most important thing. It also gives you the time and environment to create freely which isn’t necessarily available in London so that is cool.
Listen/watch ‘Mushroom Cloud’ here:
Why was it you decided to start your own label and studio?
A friend gave us a PA system so we were actually just looking for a rehearsal space so we could use it LOL. One thing led to another and we found ourselves converting a warehouse in Hackney into a studio so that’s how that happened. For the label, I had always been interested in starting a label aside from Tempesst and Blake had a distribution deal lined up so it made sense to join forces.
You’re pretty well traveled as artists and have been integrated in many scenes across the globe, is the increase of DIY scenes worldwide or unique to the UK?
The US and Europe have incredible DIY scenes.
Do you feel it is possible to remain DIY but be signed to a major label?
With the changes to the music industry in the last while, it seems as though major labels are more suited to either mainstream or established artists. There needs to be enough fuel to power the machine so to speak. I think most new or alternative artists will need to develop themselves independently or with the help of an independent label and from that position it would be most likely to remain DIY whilst signed to a major.
How do you feel Brexit will affect DIY scenes in the UK?
Naturally it is a major bummer for touring around Europe with more hoops to jump through but that might help develop things here in the UK.
Lastly, what advice would you give someone looking to start as a DIY artist or looking to get involved in a DIY scene?
We caught up with Isaiah Ross of Jack Swing to discuss his experiences as an independent artist, DIY scenes and much more
Jack Swing are three friends Isaiah, Rowdy and Nelson who hail from Pittsburgh, USA. The American band is a delightful mixing pot of genres, all of which they master. Ranging from classic rock elements through to funk and disco, it’s an incredibly infectious sound that is retrospective yet brilliantly fresh. Imagine Vulfpeck but fronted by Hendrix or Clapton.
With the new year coming in (you will not be missed 2020) the American band are now looking to get funding for their next full release. They’ve started a campaign on indiegogo and it’s already amassed a fair few backers. It goes to show that even with streaming success, live shows and merch that independent artists, although in charge of their creativity have massive hurdles to overcome, especially during this strange time. With this in mind we wanted to know more about their experiences with operating as a DIY band, the advantages and disadvantages and much more.
So when your band Jack Swing formed did you always plan to go DIY or was it something that happened naturally?
Isaiah: I’d say it was a natural process. When I was coming up a lot of the bands that truly inspired me were local bands. To me these bands were on par with the greats and they were just normal people that I’d run into walking around the city. It was less of a decision and more just made sense to me as how to truly start a band.
What was the attraction of going DIY for you?
Isaiah: It was more the natural progression of things more than anything. As me and those around me grew and honed our talents, we realized that we were capable of handling a lot of the things that people outsource. It took a long time to do things the right way but now that we are comfortable handling most things ourselves, it both allows us to do more as well as make sure that we get things done the way that we truly envision.
Do you feel DIY is more tailored towards rock music or is it open to other genres?
Isaiah: Perhaps at a point. Now I’d certainly say it’s much less genre specific. There definitely was and still is the DIY rock band in a basement association. But over the last decade or so in at least my area I’ve seen a huge explosion of numerous genres embracing this approach to artistry. As a whole the industry has shifted towards artists finding their following on their own, which without a doubt encourages the DIY mindset and pursuit.
What have been the advantages and disadvantages of acting as an independent artist?
Isaiah: The main advantage is definitely being in complete creative control. By operating independently we can make sure that things get done exactly the way we want the want them to, on our timeline, with no interference. The biggest disadvantage is definitely funding and connections. Being in a band professionally is quite expensive. Having any portion of that handled goes a long way. When operating independently you’re also constantly expanding your network, If you’re booking your own tour, you want to be able to reach out to people that you trust and have worked with. Developing that level of trusted contacts takes serious time and effort. When represented it could be as easy getting a list of dates and showing up, playing, and leaving. Two completely different worlds.
What difficulties have you come up against as a DIY band?
Isaiah: When you’re paying for everything out of pocket things add up quickly. There’s a constant balance of working separate jobs to fund the band, while still making the music and art absolute top priority. Most musicians find themselves in this boat and it’s definitely exhausting. It’s crucial to find a balance so that you don’t burn yourself out.
Listen/watch latest release ‘Get What’s Mine For You’ here:
Have you found that taking a DIY approach has allowed you to be more creative?
Isaiah: Absolutely. While working independently we get to decide completely how we want to present ourselves. This allows for us to make every piece of our content the exact piece of art that we want it to be. Whether it’s a photo on Instagram or a video that we create for promotion each is an opportunity to create a unique piece of art exactly the way we envision.
Do you feel the internet has made it more of a viable option to act independently?
Isaiah: The internet has completely changed the landscape of music. It has made it almost imperative to act independently because on one level everyone has access to the same tools. Because of the internet without the help of major labels artists can put out music, find and engage with their fans, run full marketing campaigns (almost identical to those on major labels), and book tours completely on their own. Before the internet many of these things were reserved for artists with serious representation. The internet has put significantly more power in the hands of the artist.
Why do you feel more artists are opting for a DIY approach?
Isaiah: It’s the only approach that makes sense starting out, at least to me. Like I was saying the internet has completely changed the musical landscape. Since musicians can release music, find their audience, and book tours completely on their own they now are expected to. I feel that it is less “artists opting for a DIY approach” and more that the industry has shifted towards a DIY approach as a whole. In many cases even when a band gets large scale representation it’s after years and years of what we would consider a DIY approach.
Why do you feel there are DIY scenes popping up across the globe?
Isaiah: Because more and more people are realizing that you can create this without necessarily moving to a “music city.” All across the world there are people who love music and who want to create a shared space for it. Choosing to create these spaces plants serious seeds in a community. People now have the opportunity to engage in music on whatever level they feel comfortable, whether it is moving to a music city with high hopes or starting a band locally just for fun.
“The internet has put significantly more power in the hands of the artist.”
Isaiah Ross, Jack Swing
What makes a good DIY scene and how do you get involved in one?
Isaiah: A good scene is upheld by the community. Something that people from all sorts of different backgrounds, interests, and influences come together and put a bit of themselves in. That’s what makes it the most sustainable as well. So many of my formative music experiences were seeing local bands give it 100% under any and every circumstance. People coming together for no other reason than to experience and create something special together, connecting, and giving it everything they have.
Do you feel you can remain DIY if you’re signed to a major label?
Isaiah: To an extent. I believe it all depends on a bands intention. For example if a band is signed to a major label but still is completely present in all business dealings and retain complete creative control then they could hold on to the DIY mentality. I feel like many bands once they get to this point are relieved to not have to deal with so much and outsource too much of the work to the label, when I believe that true authenticity is much more beneficial in connecting with an audience.
Lastly, what advice would you give to an artist looking to start their own scene or get involved with their local DIY scene?
Isaiah: You just have to dive in. If there are shows happening, go to them (when the pandemic is over of course), find local bands that you love and tell people about them, if you want to start a band, start a band! Have a blast. If you’re not seeing the type of shows that you want to be seeing then create them. I’m certain there are plenty of people in your area who are looking for exactly what you are.
We Spoke To Martha McKay Of Pretty Preachers Club About Life As A DIY Artist, The Pros and Cons and much more!
The duo from Glasgow formed during the initial lockdown and it’s been a real rollercoaster of a ride for them since. In a short time they have built a strong audience, had coverage from a variety of publications and released three singles, a number of covers and their debut EP, ‘Going Nowhere Fast’. Their sound drifts in the indie bedroom pop genre and is driven forward by angelic vocals. This is matched by their clear talent for honest, emotive and straight from the heart songwriting. They have a fantastic way of bringing an audience into their world and experiences, creating common ground for listener and creator to sit upon. What is more impressive is the duo’s DIY approach to their music, from the ground up they work on Pretty Preachers Club, acting as their own publicist, managers, social media managers and much more.
We caught up with one half of the duo Martha McKay to discuss life as a DIY artist, the ups and downs and their experiences so far.
So, was operating as a DIY artist a conscious decision or was it something that PPC fell into naturally?
Martha: It’s definitely a bit of both. We have had to record and produce everything ourselves on limited equipment as we don’t have the funds to hire a recording studio. But I feel like that’s the best place to start! It really makes you appreciate how much hard work goes into recording and producing music.
What’s the attraction of going DIY for you and what are the benefits?
Martha: The freedom for sure. I love the fact we can work at our own pace and have the complete freedom to do whatever we want with the music we write/ produce.
Do you feel there is a rise of DIY artists and if so why?
Martha: Absolutely! Due to so many free online distributors, releasing music has never been so straight forward. This is filling the diversity gaps in the industry in the sense that it makes music production available to everyone, not just those with money. It’s really exciting to see so many up-and-coming bands and artists from different walks of life.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of operating as a DIY artist?
Martha: Advantages- There aren’t deadlines which is quite relaxing. We can work at our own pace and don’t have anyone telling us to get stuff done. For example we wanted to postpone our EP release date by a month just so we could spread stuff out and so it would be closer to gigs we have planned in the new year.
Disadvantages- All the different software and equipment can be a bit overwhelming at times but we are slowly getting used to it. We recently bought new mixing software and it’s very confusing. We do (to an extent) enjoy exploring and trying it all out though.
“I love the fact we can work at our own pace and have the complete freedom to do whatever we want with the music we write/produce.”
Do you feel acting as an independent artist has allowed you to be more creative?
Martha: 100%. We have complete freedom to create whatever we want and because we work together we often come up with ideas the other person wouldn’t have thought of. We aren’t restricted to a certain genre either so we love being experimental and trying out loads of different things.
Why do you feel there are so many DIY scenes popping up around the UK?
Martha: I think 2020 has had an incredible creative spell on a number of people. There are so many incredible new acts and bands. This partially comes from lockdown, artists using their abundance of free time to be imaginative and write lots of new material.
What makes a solid DIY scene and how do you get involved?
Martha: Support and solidarity is definitely what the grassroots/ DIY music community is all about. It’s like a big family of people who stream/ buy each other’s music and attend each other’s gigs. It’s really a comforting thing to be a part of. I think the best way to get involved is by visiting local independent music venues as often as you can, getting involved with artist’s facebook groups and make sure you’re in all the WhatsApp chats. That’s the best place to start.
Listen to ‘Long Hot Summer’ (Cover) here:
Do you think it is possible to remain DIY if signed to a major label?
Marth: To an extent. I think we have all heard the horror stories of hugely successful artists being taken advantage of by their label. But I think you just need to be savvy and keep your wits about you. I don’t know all that much about labels as i’m still learning, it’s all very new to me, but I do think there are ways to get the best of both worlds.
Has the internet made it easier for DIY artists and scenes to flourish?
Martha: Absolutely!! The internet seems to be the place most artists start their journey. It’s much easier to be noticed now than it probably was in the 50s when the likes of The Beatles were on the rise. Labels, Magazines, Journos, managers and promoters are all an email away. That being said, it can be difficult getting a response as these people’s inboxes are usually flooded with demos every day…
How do you feel Brexit is going to affect DIY scenes across the country?
Martha: I think it’s going to be devastating. Starting a band when your funding is limited is already incredibly taxing, now with added pressure of Visas and the rise in transportation costs, it is going to hugely impact independent musicians trying to cross the channel. The live music industry generates around £1b every year for the UK economy, yet very little has been done by our government to protect it.
Lastly, what advice would you give someone looking to start their own scene or get involved with their local scene?
Martha: I think going to as many local gigs as you can as soon as things are back to normal. try and see a small show every week- you’ll discover so many new amazing bands/ artists and potentially meet loads of new contacts. Make sure you’re added to WhatsApp and Facebook groups too, they’ll ensure you’re kept up to date with what’s on and help you get close to new people.
Recently we discussed how the music PR landscape was changing as well as how music press is changing. The rise go blogs and fall of print music journalism has created a vacuum and allowed for new methods of promotion to flourish. Possibly for the first time ever artists can have complete control of their promotion and have the skills and tools needed to do so. One said tool is Musosoup, the music PR platform that creates a self-fulling circle of payment between bloggers and artists. For an emerging or underground act Musosoup is an incredible tool that connects the artist to thousands of bloggers around the world, ensuring quality content (paid and free).
We caught up with owner and founder Chris Sharpe to chat about the platform, how it works and why he decided to create Musosoup.
When did you come up for the idea of MUSOSOUP and what was the main driving factor?
Chris: The seed for this started to happen while I was struggling to keep writers on my blog Lost in the Manor, you literally build up a team, and then you lose everyone just purely for financial reasons.
I also run bespoke PR and I can see that forking out £500-2k every-time an artist releases music is just not realistic for the majority of artists. It should be more about the talent than who has a larger bank balance. Our team has now found a way to balance the scales for both artists and curators to move forward sustainably.
Why do you feel tools such as MUSOSOUP are useful to emerging musicians?
Chris: It’s cost-effective, less time consuming and allows curators to work hassle-free, which means that they’re a lot more likely to listen to the acts music.
How do you feel the music PR landscape is changing and why is it platforms like MUSOSOUP are being used by artists?
Chris: PR has not changed for years in the way it’s been traditionally done but the music industry is constantly changing and PR is only just starting to catch up. These new style platforms are making connecting easier than ever. Like all new products and ideas, they have their flaws but forever growing and improving quickly. We are constantly listening to feedback and ideas from those both on and off our platform and we will continue to do so and look for ways that we can develop and provide solutions to both the musician and the curator.
What are the advantages to an artist when using your platform?
Chris: We’ve made our platform super simple for the musician. They make one submission and we make sure that they get in front of the right people. They don’t have spend time researching each publication and they don’t have to pick and choose who to submit to based on their budget.
Learn more about Musosoup here:
Do artists have to sit in a certain genre to be considered for MUSOSOUP?
Chris: No we accept all genres and we have curators that support all genres too. Some, naturally, are a bit more popular than others, but that’s to be expected. Guitar bands will have plenty of potential matches, whereas something a little more niche like ambient drone music for example won’t.
For us, it’s all about quality, if we feel the music hits our quality standards on the submission but we feel not many connections will happen we let the artist use the platform for free so it becomes a risk-free process.
Is MUSOSOUP open to a global audience?
Chris: Yes 100% we have submissions and curators from all over the globe.
What are some success stories of artists that have used MUSOSOUP?
Chris: With some artists having been previously stung from paying out x amount to a PR company, it’s been great to hear that we have made them more coverage for a tiny % of the cost.
What advice would you give an artist who is looking to promote their release?
Chris: Just take things slowly if you are starting out. You don’t need hundreds of articles if you are trying to generate your first few pieces of press. It’s better to have a select amount and spread them out around your release and market them to a targeted audience with ads. It would be fantastic to get on the Guardian newspaper of course but these things can happen as you mature as an artist.
What sort of content can an artist expect to receive from the curators on MUSOSOUP?
Chris: We have a huge range happening from playlisting, reviews, interviews, radio spot plays, podcast spots, youtube channels and social shares.
Is there a form of quality control on curators to ensure that artists are receiving quality content?
Chris: First and foremost is the curator needs to have great taste in music and want to support artists. If the curators are not great at writing but have amazing taste then they can still work with us, but we will make an agreement on how. Every curator works in a totally different way and we work very closely with them on how they use our platform. It’s all about us having a chat, finding what the curators are looking to achieve with their goals and seeing if we can find a way to partner up. We don’t judge them on the size of their publication or how many followers their playlist may have. Rome was not built in a day as they say.
Lastly, what are the plans for the future with MUSOSOUP?
Chris: We are in the process of building up our curators which is the key to really making the platform super effective for artists. As a rule we work with our curators as a team to build new features so it becomes built around them and their needs. Lots of crazy ideas in the pipeline but I can’t mention all those just yet..
The Brighton Based Band Talk About Their Journey As A DIY Band
In the UK and across the globe there are DIY scenes popping up at an ever expanding rate. There are several reasons for this but a main factor is the internet has made it easier for an artist to sell, distribute, promote and exists without the help of a major labels or management. For every genre there is likely a growing or blossoming DIY scene, from hip-hop to dance music through to garage rock. In every neighbourhood, town or city there is some form of independent artist trying to get heard. You’ll likely have seen them promoting themselves and their art on your social media timelines!
Before covid-19 and the subsequent hiatus of live music there were flourishing scenes across the globe. There has never been more music, from a wider range of artists available to a generation and it is incredibly exciting. Although the world may feel grey, dystopian landscape at times there is creativity on every corner, whether that is online or in person. The internet hasn’t only made it easier for bands and artists but also for new music fans. It’s not a difficult task to find your next favourite band or song thanks to the internet. It is for this reason that DIY artists need to be supported and talked about because without them we’d all be listening to Rita Ora or Tekashi69 (no offence). DIY artists are for the most part, creativity manifest. They’re dedicated artists looking to expand sonically, bringing you real, thought out and original music.
With this in mind we want to chat to an array of independent to get to know more about what it means to go DIY, how it works and its advantages and disadvantages. First up in this article series is Brighton’s freaked out garage rockers School Disco. Lead singer and guitarist Rory Lethbridge give us the nitty gritty on how the operate as a DIY band and how it works for them.
So, what is the attraction of operating as a DIY band and how has it benefited you?
Rory: I think nothing has really attracted us other than we wanted to push the band forward and got addicted to doing it ourselves and achieving small goals as a band that then mount up to bigger overall gains. I love working out how things work as well as learning about it. I feel this will allow us to have a substantial career as a band and not get left in the dust.
The benefits are that everything is completely on your own terms and what you put in is what you get out. If you want to make freak-out-post-black-metal-shoegaze-folk as a DIY artist no one is gonna tell you not to. You have complete creative control. Also, the flip side of this is that almost every artist starts as a DIY artist and I think it’s a really important step in your career. Knowing and learning what a band does beyond recording music and playing live music is super important. Learning how to write emails, approach people, form relationships, write a press release are really important skills that go beyond just the music industry. Learning all of this and creating a network around the band to help move your career forward is super important. Doing things on your terms is important so if you do end up getting a manager or an agent you can be more engaged and know what’s going on. You don’t want to get left in the dust when things get more serious.
Do you feel DIY is something that is tailored towards rock music or is it a practise that is seen in other genres?
Rory: I think it works for all genres, some better than others. I’m not particularly well versed in all genres because I mainly play in rock, indie, and pop bands. However, I think the ethos of DIY applies well to electronic music too. I see raves popping up all around Brighton (pre-Covid) for drum and bass and UK hip-hop nights seem to be a plenty and have a really nice closely-knit community. Furthermore, it’s so easy to self-release via Bandcamp or SoundCloud or through services like yourselves at RouteNote that I don’t see why it wouldn’t apply to all genres. I think if DIY is done right it might not seem DIY.
What difficulties have you come up against as a DIY band?
Rory: I think sometimes it’s difficult for people to take you seriously or it might come across that you’re not as serious. For example, it seems like blogs are way more inclined to listen to well known and established PR agents as opposed from bands sending off emails themselves. However it is all about the relationships, a lot of the coverage we have gotten has been through relationships we have made and we are continuing to make all the time. This is the same with a lot of the gigs we get. We have established relationships with promoters in various places across the country and then continue to work with these promoters so we can all grow together. I also think funding can often be an issue with being a DIY artist, though we have the support of some really amazing DIY labels, we often don’t have the funding to put into things we want to.
For example, we don’t tour as much as we’d like as we all have lives outside of the band and can’t always afford to take time off or afford to just play shows sometimes. We also have all these amazing ideas for merch but that requires investment.
Was going at it DIY a decision made before forming School Disco or is it something that naturally fell in place?
Rory: It naturally fell into place I think, we really wanted to do more things as a band and just ended up learning and doing things ourselves. When I started playing gigs when I was 16, I didn’t know what a promoter was or did! We just approached venues who said we could put nights on ourselves. We couldn’t afford to record records in studios, so we ended up recording ourselves and learning along the way. We’ve not got a booking agent, so we learned to book gigs ourselves.
Watch their RouteNote Session in full here:
What makes a solid DIY scene and how do you get involved in one?
Rory: I think as mentioned before developing solid relationships with like-minded and passionate people, it really is as simple as that. Just be nice and put your ego to one side and just help everyone and allow everyone to grow together.
Is there a way to remain DIY but still be signed to a major label?
Rory: I think the major label is maybe a step too far as the infrastructure there is so great that there wouldn’t be much left to do yourself. With a marketing team, press team, social media teams it’s hard to keep your imprint on the music or bands visual depiction, not to mention the label may have a vision for you. Major labels are often putting in major investments into artists and they don’t want to leave anything down to chance. I’ve never been signed to a major though and probably won’t ever get signed to a major with the music School Disco are making, so I couldn’t tell you! If it happens, I’ll let you know!
It appears that DIY scenes are popping up all over the country. Why do you feel this is?
Rory: I think with the Internet now it’s never been easier to release music via Bandcamp, Soundcloud, or even Spotify etc. Furthermore with Facebook, Instagram, free video editing software, free Photoshop alternatives, mobile phones, cheap recording equipment. It has never been easier to write, record, film a video, edit the video, take a press photo and release it.
Maybe we should make that a challenge. Can you write, record, make a music video, edit a music video, and release a song all in one day!
Why do you feel more artists are opting for a more DIY approach?
Rory: Like I said before, it’s never been easier. Also if you have a passion and a vision for a project, you might not want someone else’s’ fingers in your pie! Furthermore, having a manager, an agent, a record label etc are really fanatic tools but also they are taking a slice of said pie. Starting out it might not be financially beneficial to pay someone to book gigs or manage the project if there is no money to be made. On the flip side, it might make total financial sense as they might be able to book gigs that are way better than you are able to with your network, in which case it might totally make sense.
Do you think post-Brexit the DIY scene will flourish or will it struggle?
Rory: I think a bit of both, a lot of DIY bands rely on going and touring the EU as a source of income for the band as they generally treat bands better and buy more merch than people in the UK. On the flipside bands always will overcome and adapt in the DIY scene and people will make it work and use the opportunities to grow and develop the scene within the UK. I’m both terrified and interested to see what Brexit brings.
Do you think the internet has made it easier to be successful in a DIY scene?
Rory: I totally think it has. Anyone can have a viral moment now. There are so so so many people across the globe who are interested in all styles of music and there is a massive market to tap into. With more artist-focused platforms like Bandcamp it’s never been easier to upload a track and see what happens. These platforms help artists communities grow and it’s an ever improving one too. If you’re wanting to take things more seriously planning a release across multiple platforms with full self-promoted PR EPK’s etc then there is a wealth of information and resources available that are great sources of information for DIY.
Lastly, what advice would you give to an artist looking to start their own scene or get involved with their local DIY scene?
Rory: Just be nice, no one wants to get involved with someone who isn’t and it can hurt and taint your career. I can think of a couple of bands who have let their ego get in the way and have damaged their reputation with promoters I know because of their stinky attitude. Relationships are one of the most important things in the music industry, so don’t go burning bridges. I also think it’s super important to grow your socials and brand as this is a great transferable skill as the Internet and social media is a huge part of everyday life now.
Making music since childhood and honing his talents, Alson is now being picked up by some of the biggest electronic music channels on YouTube.
Alson recently spoke to me about how life is going for the producer in a changed world with festivals and gigs off the billing for a year. Whilst there are drawbacks, the Netherlands native is staying positive at his current home in Spain with the backing of some of the world’s biggest EDM lovers behind him and the chance to work on new material.
Alson has been making music from a young age, bonding with his dad over Magix music maker “I think it was… haha”. Then at age 10, with the download of FL Studio, what would became a lifelong passion began in making music.
“Around 16 years ago I downloaded FL Studio and was playing around with my friends in the neighbourhood. We changed from playing games to making beats. It was basically just sampling kicks and distorting them. In the Netherlands, harder genres of electronic music were popular and inspired us to make rough sounds.”
Since then the creativity has been flowing through Alson’s veins, through his teens and into adulthood, honing his skills with each production and year that passed. Today he’s already accomplished a lot with his music, playing at Ibiza multiple times with a discography of music available online.
About a year ago he decided to hang up his House music hat for a while and has been experimenting with ‘Future Bass’ish music’. He says: “Future Bass inspires me a lot, because I feel there’s more freedom – more tempo possibilities and room to experiment as a producer.”
That’s not all that’s changed for Alson in the last year. He released his first track with Trap Nation last year and has forged a strong connection with the music channel renowned around the world for finding and promoting brilliant electronic music.
“I am greatly appreciative to Trap Nation, they’re the first big channel that promoted my music. It’s important to make a first big step as an artist, it’s not easy but that makes it feel even better.
“You have to work hard and, of course, have a little luck at the same time, because you are always a little dependent as a smaller artist. They kept signing more music after which resulted in releasing my 4-track EP ‘Enemies‘.”
With the support and love of Trap Nation and Lowly Palace behind him it seems like things are just getting started for the already experienced music producer. This year would have seen Alson return to Ibiza for live shows but of course the world has changed recently with Coronavirus. Whilst disappointed with his gig cancellations, Alson is staying positive and using the time to create and take a step back.
“I think for the environment and the nature maybe the COVID-19 period was necessary and I hope that we can learn from this in whichever way possible. Appreciate what we have and enjoy the things around you.
“Travelling is fun but it’s more important to be healthy and sometimes just do basic stuff. I have been reading things that I’d never thought I would read before in my life and the whole period made a positive impact/change in my life I think in the end.”
Hopefully we’ll see even more golden tracks coming from producers, as a positive result of the global situation at the moment. We certainly can’t wait to hear more from Alson.
We’ll leave you with some words of advice from the man himself on creating and finding the inspiration to write music:
I think the best way of starting is being in a replaced mode but at the same time work in a chaotic way – try different concepts of songs and pick the best idea. When you like it the next day (and your producer friends confirm it) you know it could have potential.”
Mathew Daniel is the current VP of International at Netease Cloud Music. Mathew has had a very strong music background, especially in China. Mathew was recently interviewed at Midem about the Chinese Music Market and his role within Netease Cloud Music.
Jordan Jane has been crafting his talents in Cornwall since childhood and in the past year his music has propelled to a position as one of Cornwall’s most promising up-and-comers. We spoke to Jordan about his music, inspirations and what’s coming next as his music gets picked up nationwide.
Lets start at the beginning, what was it that made you want to be a musician?
From the moment I saw my primary school teacher playing the guitar in class, I knew I wanted to learn music. I started learning many instruments at primary school such as guitar, drums, piano and carried this on at a secondary school for performing arts. I started writing music at around 15, just jotting lyrics down on notepads and trying to get melodies to them. I go to a folk night down in my local village which always inspired me to write music of my own.
What is it about music that you enjoy and inspires you to keep creating and playing?
I love writing melody lines and lyrics, I am inspired by musicians around me which really drives me to work on new songs. I also love playing my music live and getting good feedback from audiences. I like to think I inspire young musicians into taking up a career in music.
In your blossoming musical career, what has been your favourite moment so far?
My proudest moment so far has to be performing live for BBC Introducing. I had a great time recording with them and interviewing at Radio Devon and Cornwall. Things like these I would love to do much more of and always look to play my music in unique and interesting places.
You’ve released some great new music in the past year and have been writing and recording for years. Do you have a track that is your proudest achievement?
My personal favourite has to be “Follow the Cliff Face North”. I like how this track has a sad but moving story line behind it. I love writing songs with a message or a strong story, I think writing a song someone can relate to is really important. The track is about a ship sinking at sea, which down at Cornwall has happened a lot. The story tells of how the family’s feel and the sadness of someone lost at sea.
If you could collaborate with anyone in music, dead or alive, who would you want to work with?
There is only one answer to this for me – John Martyn. His music has been the biggest inspiration to me. Albums such as Solid Air and Bless The Weather have been my favourites since i started playing guitar. The man was a genius musician and the king of story telling within acoustic music.
As your music is really starting to kick off with plays on various BBC radio stations, lots of gigs, and festival bookings, what does the next year hold for you?
In the next year I plan to release two new singles and 2 EP’s. My new single ‘Sleep’ will be coming out in November. Followed by ‘Jessie the Girl’ in the new year. I’m planning a tour next year, mostly venues in the South West of England with a few festivals here and there. I also have a few European dates which I’m very excited to announce. I’ve also been endorsed by KMA Pedals and Dr Scientist this year and next year I will be looking to create more successful brand partnerships which would be amazing.
If you were stuck on a desert island and you could only take 1 track to listen to and 1 item, what would they be?
I would take ‘Tapestry’ by ‘Carole King’ because I’m not sure there’s a better album out there than that. And item wise I would take my Martin Acoustic, just so i could carry on playing on my lovely desert island.
What advice would you give to other aspiring musicians from the things you have learnt so far?
My advice to any musician, old or young, would be to just go for it, write music, record it, and just send it to everyone that you think might want to hear it. Don’t be shy, and never think your sound is wrong because there’s a sound for everyone. Be yourself and unique and play music you love. If you can connect with the words you write then its a good chance others can.
Borrtex thought there was a mistake in his stats but one Spotify playlist shot his streams up to near a million with one track.
As streaming services become the one place we go to for music, playlists are becoming the new albums in their power and influence. 18 year old producer and composer Borrtex (Daniel Bordovský) from Prague, who uses RouteNote to get his music on the top music stores and services, has experienced what a playlist can do first hand after being selected for Spotify’s massive Sleep playlist with 2.2 million followers, one of Spotify’s own hand-curated playlists.
In that moment his music was suddenly put in front of an audience of 2.2 million new potential listeners. Borrtex said: “I first thought it was some kind of mistake! I didn’t get any notification until the second day, so I thought there was something wrong with the numbers in the Spotify for Artists app. But the next day, when I got an official email from Spotify saying my track was added to one of the biggest playlists out there, I realised it’s real!”
When we asked what it was like seeing his track in one of Spotify’s biggest playlists, Borrtex said: “I remember being super happy about the news! It’s like you are working on something for a year and then the moment of exposure is here and you know that the hard work finally does payoff!”
Before his recent track We Are Saved was added to Sleep Borrtex was steadily building an audience with consistent releases of amazing production that have been featured in over 1000 projects including documentaries and short films. But being put in front of millions of new listeners is an exciting new step, earning hundreds of thousands of streams every week since being added. You can see below just how impressive the track’s growth was after joining the playlist.
We spoke to Borrtex a bit more about his music and the journey to where he is today as things look to start rocketing forward for his music.
How did you start making music?
I started early in May of 2017 when I arrived from Los Angeles. Me and my friend had an amazing opportunity to speak to a few of the best worldwide known film composers there. We visited the studio of Danny Elfman and James Newton Howard. Later on we also were invited to have lunch with James, so it was truly inspiring to see how these great film composers work on a professional basis.
At that time, I was a film maker. I was focused more on doing documentaries, and we were invited to LA to shoot a short documentary about working in Hollywood. But when I got back home I thought more about doing music as I have a musical background from my childhood; I used to play the piano as a kid. And one day I simply decided I want to try to write my own melody and things went quite well, so later that month, I ended up releasing my first EP with 3 tracks.
What are the inspirations that have shaped you and your music?
As I mentioned, my biggest inspiration to start writing my own music was James Newton Howard. Without his generosity and kindness to show us his studio, I’m not sure if I was here now as a composer. I remember being very fascinated not so much by the music but more by his personality and by the way he can express part of himself in the music he composes.
When it comes to other artists who inspire me, it’s definitely Hans Zimmer who I got to meet in June 2017. It was like a dream coming true. Me meeting the most popular film composer in the world? I couldn’t believe it! I also think the big part that brought me to film music is also my deep interest in movies themselves. Since I was 15 years old, I just loved watching films and TV series.
What is it that you love about music and making it?
The best thing about making music is the freedom I get as an artist. My creative process is just the way I want it to be, I can go out and get some inspiration from nature, or I can stay at home and just improvise. I can adjust it by my own needs and I can fully express myself along with my feelings and ideas. And that’s what I really love about it! Also, playing the piano is simply the one activity when I get completely lost in the moment and forget what time it is.
I can do it for hours a day and I’m still having fun while writing new tunes. The goal I have with my instrumental music is to help people bring the emotion to their lives. Sometimes you don’t feel like singing, so there is my music to support you, it’s here to make the perfect emotional background for your situation. I heard from some of my fans that my music helps them to stay calm and relaxed or that it just helps them focus better while studying. And reading all those messages gives me a reason to never stop composing.
What are your plans for the future?
After the graduation, I hope to finally have more time to compose. I’m not sure what exactly will happen, but you definitely can expect me to release a new album along with a few singles and maybe also EP by the end of this year. I also have some film scoring projects coming, so I will be working on my first feature film where it will be me who takes care about the music!
What advice would you give to other up-and-coming artists?
This is a great question! I think the biggest and most important piece of advice is to work hard and be patient. If you work on yourself every day, you get better with every track you release, and if you are patient enough to not stop producing, then I can promise you, good things are on its way.
At the beginning the problem is, you don’t get the exposure you deserve; nobody knows you. But as you are developing your skills and you have a decent social media presence then things change. Yes you do start with small numbers but if you persist, then it starts raising and in a moment, before you realise it, you have hundreds of thousands of streams!
So, believe in yourself, be good in communication (with fans but also with people who inspire you) and be patient, don’t give up.
With their tasty new single out today I spoke to Diviners, one of electronic music’s hottest up-and-comers shooting on to the scene.
The ingredient’s making up Diviners include half a shot of Kamil Pankowski and Kamil Relikowski. Both Kamil’s were born and raised in Poland where they met each other and began making music together as well as in their own ambitious endeavours.
Over the years the pair have been honing their craft, building their name and dropping killer tune after killer tune. They’ve just dropped their new track, How featuring Chris Severe and whilst we’re still soaking in the glory of it lets talk Diviners.
What inspired you both to start producing and creating music and how did you start?
Kamil R – I started 7 years ago together with Ason ID, Alan Walker, DJ Ness, Steerner, Jakob Liedholm, Zaxx, DJ Pygme. My main inspiration was Avicii’s & Otto Knows piano sound and Alesso’s melodic tracks, it was fresh in that times.
Kamil P – My adventure started 8 or 9 years ago. At the beginning I was active on a lot of music forums. My curiosity led me to start using FL Studio and learn how to produce own tracks. The nature inspires me the most – I really like snowboarding and beautiful views – trying to express it in all our songs.
We’ve met each other 4 years ago. Then decided to make songs (mainly Progressive House) together. On 6th of December 2014 – we went for one of Kygo’s show in Poland. It really motivated us – that’s how Diviners were created.
What are your biggest influences and who would you work with if you could?
It would be good to make a track with Aviicii, Kygo or Axwell. Ingrosso in the future!
How does it feel having the support and respect of peers like Alan Walker and the Chainsmokers?
We are good friends with Alan so it feels really nice that he is still with us – we also supported him on his show in Poland earlier this year. The Chainsmokers were really unexpected for us for sure and we’re so happy that they have heard and liked our track ‘Savannah’.
What is the music scene like in Poland and how has that influenced your music careers?
It’s not that good at all. We can’t play our own music at clubs or festivals because its ‘too soft stuff’ so we have to fit our music to the theme. We think we’re better known abroad.
If you were stranded on a desert island with 1 song and 1 item, what would they be?
Silhouettes’ by Avicii. An item? Definitely piano!
We can’t wait for your new track ‘How’ when it releases next week, what sort of vibe can we expect from it?
It’s one of these chill tracks with guitars we really enjoy to do.
What was your favourite part of creating ‘How’?
Our favourite part was changing main piano lead to the electric guitar steam recorded for this one by our friend. It gave a green light to the track.
You guys have had an incredible 4 years since coming together to start Diviners, topped off with a 2017 full of amazing music, shows, and more for you. With such an awesome 2017, what can we expect from Diviners in 2018?
We have a lot of new music. We’ve updated our hardware in the studio so work will go much easier and faster than before. Can’t wait to show you more of Diviners.