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!
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.