Tag Archives: independent music

Laura St Jude: Artist Spotlight & Interview

Image courtesty of laurastjude.com

Laura St. Jude is a name you should take note of.

Despite the fact she’s just getting started in music, her sound is already well established. Sultry tones envelope a musical style which has been called both ‘beguiling’ and ‘flawless’ in the past. Vic Galloway listed her as ‘One to Watch in 2014’ and it’s not hard to see why; with influences such as Peggy Lee and June Carter and a look that is full of 40s style and 50s chic, Laura St Jude is someone you won’t forget in a hurry.

Suffrockgettes caught up with the singer for a chat about how an artist whose sound is steeped in musical history responds to the modern day demands of being a musician.

1. Firstly, how did it feel to be tipped by Vic Galloway as an ‘artist to watch in 2014’?

It feels great to be tipped as one of Vic’s ‘ones to watch 2014’. A few of my favourite Scottish bands are also on the list (The Amazing Snakeheads, The Rosy Crucifixion, Casual Sex and Halfrican) it feels fantastic to be on the list alongside musicians I really admire.
I write and perform with my band for myself first and foremost, as it’s what I love to do, but it’s fantastic to know that others enjoy my music too!

2. You are connected to sites like Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud. How important have they been in connecting you to your audience and establishing a wider audience?

I have a love/hate relationship with social media, but for me it’s a necessary evil. On one hand, I feel it’s a shame that artists are often obsessed with their online presence but on the flip side, it does help when connecting with others, and it’s certainly been useful for me when sharing and promoting my music – I can’t deny that.

I personally try not to focus on my online presence too much on the music front. I think the best way to connect with/widen your audience is to go out there and play as many live shows as you can – that’s really what it’s all about, you’ve got to really live it and love doing it and hopefully an audience will eventually gravitate towards you both online and offline.

3. Live music is the lifeblood for any band or musician. Do you think that people (fans/general public) are still as interested in the local live music scene and discovering new bands at a grassroots level?

Yes, I still think there is great interest in local live music. Of course, audiences have changed and lessened through time but I do think there are plenty of people out there who love to attend live shows and I’m really thankful for those people.

There are a lot of great bands in Glasgow/Scotland at the moment that have generated audiences and have given their fans something to be excited about. I personally love discovering new local talent and I’ve recently attended gigs that have genuinely blown my mind, especially when witnessing the audiences and their enthusiasm towards the bands/artists at the shows. It’s electric!

Laura St Jude performing

4. Has technology made it impossible for bands to make money from music? There’s so much choice out there and so many platforms by which to listen, isn’t it more about selling t-shirts and gig tickets nowadays than selling albums and EPs?

I don’t think it’s impossible for bands to make money but it’s certainly becoming more difficult. It’s true that people don’t buy albums/EPs as much as they used to. I personally released an EP for myself as it’s great to own a physical vinyl copy of your music; it feels like such an accomplishment to be able to hold your own record in your hand – even if nobody buys it.

I do agree though, if you’re involved in music purely for money, you’ve got the wrong idea. It’s not impossible but it takes a combination of real talent, hard work and luck to make a career out of music. I admire anyone who continues to record and release records despite the decline in record sales. Although it’s a tough business, there are still plenty of music fans who appreciate and support artists wholeheartedly and I love that!

5. With piracy of music still a massive issue and websites such as Spotify offering a pittance to artists for streaming their work, do you feel in some ways that music has lost its value to the current generation of music fans?

To an extent, yes I do. Music is so accessible now; people are able to stream/download music free of charge and at the touch of a button. I feel like people often take it for granted. There’s definite beauty in going out to a record shop or attending a live show and purchasing a record, you appreciate it more and it becomes a possession that you really love and care for, not to mention you’re supporting musicians by giving them the money they deserve.

I think when people download music and use platforms such as Spotify, music can become less significant to the listener as it’s too easily accessible, but unfortunately, you’ve just got to adapt and roll with the times, there’s nothing we can do about these things. We’ve just got to get by, do what we love and hope for the best.

6. It has been said before that there is now no middle ground in terms of the structuring of bands/artists – you’re either massive – like Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys – or your struggling to make ends meet. Would you agree with this statement or is the outlook for musicians in 2014 much brighter than that?

I think from the outside that how it might seem but it’s not necessarily the case. There are artists out there who aren’t too well known, who are signed to record labels and are making a comfortable living out of music, but I do agree that a larger percentage of musicians are generally struggling to make ends meet.

I think there’s hope for artists in 2014, I’ve witnessed some amazing new bands who I think could really make a change.

7. Are record companies becoming obsolete due to the ability of artists to become their own PR and distribution machine?

I wouldn’t say so. I think that although many artists do act as their own PR and distribution machine, they would rather accept record label support, if they were offered a deal by the correct label for them. It seems to me that most artists want to be picked up by a label so that they are able to make a living out of doing what they love.

8. Are Facebook likes and Twitter shares now more important to bands than record sales?

There’s definitely a hint of that nowadays and it’s something I really can’t stand! I think there’s even ways to generate fake Facebook ‘likes’ by purchasing them, which I think is absurd. Some bands treat music like a popularity contest and focus too much on the interest they generate online rather than going out there and interacting with their audience face to face.

I know plenty of musicians who only have a couple of hundred ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ and I often prefer their music to artists who have thousands of online fans. For me, it says nothing about the quality of the music, you can’t judge a band until you attend a live show or buy/listen to their music. I can’t speak for every musician, but I personally take no interest in counting my followers online. For me, that’s not what music is about.

9. How important will social media be in developing your fan base in the future?

Without a doubt, technology and social media is only going to become more prominent, it’s certainly something I will continue to use to help me reach an audience and to communicate with fellow music fans.

Social media will never be more important than song-writing, performing and releasing records for me, but it will always be beneficial for connecting with anyone who enjoys my music. The Internet is also fantastic for music blogs and music journalism, its great having the ability to discover new bands via these platforms.

10. Do you think the relationship between bands/musicians and their fans has changed because of social media and technology?

I’m not really sure; it depends on the artist/band really. Some bands chose to focus on using social media excessively to communicate with their fans. Others use it simply as a platform to post gig updates and promote records. Different bands connect with their audiences in their own ways. It’s undeniable that the Internet/technology has had a major effect on the music business and musicians themselves.

Laura St Jude’s debut EP ‘Fatal’ is available to buy now via Oligo Records on vinyl, CD or download here.

To find out more go to: www.laurastjude.com or visit her on Facebook or SoundCloud

 

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Life through my camera lens.

miff

Miff is one of the most talented photographers in Glasgow’s live music scene.

Being a part of the independent music scene in Glasgow – regardless of the role you play – not only means that you get to witness both the highs and lows that being involved in that scene entails, but you also get to meet some incredible people.

Passion is such a joyous energy that when you come across a person whose passion and commitment to their given subject shines, it makes you feel exactly the same way. Miff Morris, from Gobo Photography Glasgow, is one of those people who upon seeing her work, you instantly understand the dedication and love she has for it.

Her images always capture the heart of her subject matter and the joy that she gains from capturing bands and artists in all their guises is obvious from the precision and detail that she puts into every single shot.

Here, she talks about her five most prized live shots and why she loves them. But before that, Suffrockgettes asked for her general feeling on the Glasgow music scene as a whole. Here is what she had to say:

I have experienced an incredible amount of outstanding live shows over the last two years here on the Glasgow Circuit. From local unsigned bands to outfits who are signed to independent labels, I have never found a city as full of musical talent as what Glasgow has to offer.”

So onto the shots. Here, in Miff’s own words, are the images she loves most and why…

Baby Godzilla performing. Photo by Miff @ Gobophotography.

Baby Godzilla performing. Photo by Miff @ Gobo Photography.

“My first Image is of one of the most impactive trash metal bands that I had EVER experienced! Going by the name of “Baby Godzilla.” From the outset this band were special. There was an air of mystery about them, as we had no clue what to expect. So when they appeared with rampant fury, dismantling everything that stood in their path, my exhilaration levels peeked beyond belief. My heart began to race as I dodged and weaved my way from danger, trying to capture this raw, insanely humane energy they were creating. An energy which I shall never forget.

You can imagine the amount of expressive photos I came away with from this shoot but I choose this specific photo mostly as it compacts the whole performances attitude, and encapsulates the force in which lead vocalist Matt Reynolds and the rest of the band are expressing their emotions. It demonstrates an incredible amount of release through musical expression and I think the photo has an underground feel to it, which makes it very special.

I am proud to say that “Baby Godzilla” went on to get rave reviews in Kerrang! magazine, featuring on their front cover, and have gained an overwhelming response to their musical outpourings.”

The New Fabian Society in action. Photo by Miff Morris @ Gobophotography.

The New Fabian Society in action. Photo by Miff Morris @ Gobo Photography.

“My next choice is from a batch of photos I took of post-industrial punk duo “The New Fabian Society”. I have photographed this band on numerous occasions for promotional purposes and also in the studio while they were rehearsing, but my favourite time to capture the essence of what the T.N.F.S are about is when they are performing live. I find it inspiring just how powerful a set of drums, a guitar and some FX pedals can be.

I chose this specific image as my favourite, because at this specific time I felt that it had been long overdue from the last time I heard the New Fabian Society play live and I had been eager to catch more photographs of Michael driving home his purposeful, determined and unwavering sound. Michael’s performing style is hypnotic, captivating and high intensity. It’s like peering through a broken edged window that he eventually manages to blast out. This photo demonstrates this aspect beautifully as he seeks empowerment from his passion and drive that can only be found embedded deep within his songs.

I suppose it could be described as a sort of contrasting, controlled, chaos and a feeling that is left behind after their performance is usually one of being abandoned and seeking more. I haven’t come across a band that creates such a high emotive energy as “The New Fabian’s” do and I find the essence of what they leave behind on stage addictive and desirous.”

The Penny Black Remedy caught live. Photo by Miff @ Gobophotography.

The Penny Black Remedy caught live. Photo by Miff @ Gobo Photography.

“The next image brings back fond memories for me, as destiny guided me into the path of “The Penny Black Remedy” – an alternative fusion band of Country/Punk & Folk. I am a firm believer in destiny and it was destined that I should meet good friends of the Penny Black collective before I should meet them in the physical.

Kirk Brandon brought into my path Koozie Johns,  from London based duo “Folk Grinder”, where Koozie passed on kind loving messages through me to deliver onto the “Penny Black Remedy”. Their insatiable desire for performance, musical craftsmanship and ingenious talent certainly are a spellbinding collective to behold. Crafting their own unmistakeable sound, they unreservedly and consistently demonstrate a passion for a wide variation of music that has touched and inspired them to create what is being projected across today in their musical style. With a strong amalgamation of culture in the band, each individual stands alone as interesting, captivating characters. In this image is singer-song writer, Keith M Thomson from Scotland, who has an incredible all-round talent maintaining an air of sophistication in his demeanour and style.

I think this specific image encapsulates the essence of Keith’s personality and style perfectly. His flamboyant stance is radiant and charismatic. I absolutely love the way the light shines upon him, as the lighting for the duration of the show had been quite erratic and in this precise moment the light shone on him directly and in sufficient enough time for me to capture the image. It really insinuated his confidence and charm, plus the image highlights his humorous side.”

The Manic Shine in mid-air. Photo by Miff @ Gobophotography.

The Manic Shine in mid-air. Photo by Miff @ Gobo Photography.

“This Image is one that I am immensely proud of. I feel that if ever I wanted to capture the energy of a band, it would be through an image such as this one. “The Manic Shine” are number one contenders, amongst the bands I have photographed who can provide such exuberance within a performance.

I have been following this London based band for about two years now and they have gone from strength to strength in every sense of the word. They are one of the hardest working bands I have come across, promoting their music constantly through touring and continuous shows. Signed to an independent label called “Animal Farm Records”, their focus and driving force is their musical development. Every time “The Shine” come back to Glasgow it’s always an absolute pleasure to meet up with them and photograph their exciting shows.

For me this single image is one of the most highly expressive, as it pin points just how energetic and dexterous they are. Lead vocalist Ozzie Rodgers gives it 110 percent each time, never tiring and always ready to uplift and excite a crowd. I love how I captured this high flying unstoppable energy that he was exuding, as he scissor kicked and bounced his way through his set. The band as a whole created an insanely catchy fusion of groove, funk & rock that invigorates crowds and sends out a powerful musical interaction.

I was impressed my camera triggered at this specific point as well, as the lights had been hard to work with all night due to being so erratic and inconsistent. When I captured Ozzie’s scissor kick, I felt over the moon, making it a very special shot for me. It defines such an epic moment within the show. If ever there was a photo to sum up this band’s lust for life and musical release it would be demonstrated through this image.”

Amok fan captured by Miff @ Gobophotography.

Amok fan captured by Miff @ Gobo Photography.

My final image is one which I took in the basement of the 13th note about two years ago. I had been asked by a metal band called “Dementia” to attend and document this specific gig, leaving me open to photograph all the support bands and other elements that grabbed my eye. I felt content to be part of something niche, as the metal community are a tribe onto themselves. I love that they are a close-knit community and I felt part of an underground scene.

I came away with so many interesting, highly expressive shots from this session, but I choose this specific photo as it demonstrates the sense of devotion, passion and community in the more underground based scene. The band that was playing at the time when I took this photo are a trash metal band called “Amok” – who later went on to use some of my photographs from that specific gig in their album inlay. The album was called “Somewhere In The West” and was released on a German independent label called “Witches Brew.”

I feel that the 13th Note Basement is a great place to shoot live gigs, as it leaves you feeling like something special has taken place. The lighting was virtually non existent as I was photographing the gig, so I had to use my flash gun, leaving a wonderful highlighted effect on the fans hair as he head-banged to “Amok’s” furiously demanding sound. I feel that this shot carries an atmosphere with contrasting light and shadows, adding to the feel of the photo.

This image could almost be an early American trash band, from the early 90s shot in down town NY. I am drawn into that kind of feel from it, as it has quite a lot of grain. I love the way the lead vocalist is out and about in among the crowd, demonstrating just how intimate, niche and special the performance was to all who had experienced it.”

“Being an observer a lot of the time, looking through the eye of my lens, I tend to grasp shows differently through my own unique highlighted perspective. Taking my eye away from the lens and focusing on an overall hypothesis of the Glasgow scene, I would say that it most certainly has its negatives as well as its positives. Like everything in life I suppose, it has its contrasts. I find it comforting to know that there are people out there who shall protect the younger musicians from being ripped off. There is something out there for everyone. I urge all music lovers to come out and support your local music scene. Something special always buds from where your home and heart lies.” – Miff Morris

See more of Miff and the Gobo team’s incredible work via their Facebook page.

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Chvrches Reveal first signing to Goodbye Records

Promising Derry singer signs record deal with Scottish band’s newly established record label.

Female fronted, Scottish synth-pop band Chvrches have just announced their first major signing to newly established record label Goodbye Records.

Young Talent

Derry born singer SOAK, was revealed via Twitter as the independent label’s first act. The label, which was set up in conjunction with Virgin Records tweeted early last week that it had signed the young singer.

The label added to this on the 29th of January when it tweeted:

The 17-year old singer-songwriter has been making waves since the release of two EPs in the space of a year.

SOAK – aka Bridie Monds-Watson – only picked up a guitar some four years ago but despite this has found critical acclaim with songs such as Fingers Crossed from her Sea Creature’s EP.

“Soak’s sound has snippets of Cat Power and the delicacy of Lykke Li to it, despite her citing Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and ABBA as her main influences.”

Coming soon

The singer is set to support Chvrches when they perform at an intimate show at London’s Scala on February 17th as part of the NME Awards Show.

After this SOAK will then go on to support the band during their sold out European tour in March.

No release dates for new SOAK material have been revealed as yet, with the singer’s official website only stating that her newest EP, entitled Blud, will be available soon.

However, Goodbye Records have announced details of the first single to come from the singer, which is also entitled Blud.

Hometown hero

SOAK has become well known in her native country due to a string of festival appearances last summer and was previously signed to Universal in early 2013.

Her sound is said to evoke, ‘snippets of Cat Power and delicacy of Lykke Li, despite her citing Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and ABBA as her main influences.’

Label owners, Chvrches, fronted by Lauren Mayberry, formed in 2011 and came fifth in the BBCs sound of 2013 list of the most promising new music talent.

Their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, reached the UK Top 10 as well as reaching number 12 in the US charts.

Article by Kirsty Fraser

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