DIY Till We Die: Pretty Preachers Club

Image from Pretty Preachers Club

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.”

Martha McKay

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. 

Read the previous edition with School Disco
Music journalist and photojournalist based in Cornwall.

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