Why I moved my ‘big gig’

In my last post, I wrote about a ‘big gig’.

This post is to say that I have moved the gig to Roadtrip & Workshop in Old Street.

Basically I found the pressure of playing with people not necessarily similar to my style, in a large venue with the demand of bringing in a big crowd, too much at this stage in my ‘gigging career’ – I use ‘career’ loosely as a term, as it’s not necessarily an aim for me right now.

I also felt that perhaps the promoter wasn’t doing as much as possible to promote the gig – there was nothing about acts on his website, no official Facebook event (which is pretty standard these days) or mailing list. When I sent him a regretful email cancelling, explaining that I felt I couldn’t bring in the audience he needed and that I had been offered a gig on the same night in a smaller venue (and also offering what I considered to be a fairer payscale) he was clearly pissed off – and that’s ok. I feel bad for cancelling, however I previously felt bad that, despite my own promotion, it didn’t look like I could pull a crowd – but neither could he.

Let’s look at the figures briefly, by way of example:

At the gig, if you brought 15 people or more, you would get £15 and a £1 per person thereafter. The price on the door was £4. Therefore, you would take £15 and the promoter would take £45. I know that there’s a soundman to pay for etc… (venues rarely charge as they get bar takings etc…) but there’s also money from people in on the door who hadn’t come to see anyone in particular – and there’s no door split between the acts for that.

I am currently happy to play for free if there’s no charge on the door. But if I’m having to promote a gig and play a 30 minute set (with little or no promotion from the actual promoter), I think I have a right to earn more. At the same time, I really don’t want promoters to fail, and I’m very ‘green’, but I’m no longer 19 and so up for the exploitation these days.

Here’s a very recent song:

I’m going to invest in a better microphone and start recording and making more effort with my songs – if you want to help me with them, give me a shout…

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A big gig

I’m starting to play ‘bonafide gigs’ in London now and all on my lonesome.

It’s a bit harder than I anticipated – first you have to get the gigs, then shamelessly self-promote, go about your day job (mine often involves evenings for recordings or going to comedy gigs) and try and fit in some practice.

At my last gig I was feeling confident after the soundcheck, but then a ten-strong group sat in the front and continued their boisterous conversation as I played – people did ask them to be quiet but they kept talking. Sadly I’m still inexperienced in singing and playing guitar together so it put me off somewhat – I need some mates to come and chuck stuff at me (like in The Runaways movie) while I practice. When you can hear people’s words more clearer than your own, it’s hard to carry on.

The noisy audience members are something I should be used to – every time I do a gig I think ‘if it happens again, I’ll give ’em hell’. Predictably, I never do, not wanting to alienate the more attentive audience members. However, if it’s spoiling the show for them, I owe it to them and myself to sort the situation out – ultimately, however, I think the responsibility is with the promoter to gain control. This is something singer Kal Lavele is the queen of – check out her W.E Love Sundays gigs at World’s End in Finsbury Park. She’s a master curator (and a bloomin’ brilliant songwriter too).

What I figure is, the more people who are there to come and watch and support, the better I’ll be. So, if you’re up for coming along, I’m playing at Rattlesnake on Upper Street in Angel on the 24th June. Doors are at 8pm and it would be lovely to see some people there! I’ve got a couple of new songs for you too…

Disappointed in Me: the video!

I wrote Disappointed in Me back when I was in my second year of uni.

I guess I don’t really need to tell the story behind it as it’s pretty much all in the song (yes, ‘relationship upgrade’ were the words actually said to me, along with ‘well I’m very disappointed in you’).

So why record it now? Well, I might have written it when I was 19, but the situation isn’t uncommon for many women I know. Also, it’s ruddy good fun to play and my friend Reece was looking for something colourful to make a video around.

So here it is, Disappointed in Me on YouTube! (And for those who you who have asked me, it’s an excuse to see the ‘Get Flat’ too.)

You can get the track for free from my Get Frank Soundcloud now.

I was dead lucky to have Reece Lipman make the video for me as part of his new venture, Shimmer-man Productions. I felt really anxious about being in front of the camera again after an extended period of not doing much on You Tube and also because it was someone else filming me, rather than me filming myself, so I had to just trust Reece and make like a op star. Luckily, Reece made me feel really comfortable and I sang along to my own song so many times I got used to it pretty quickly! (I couldn’t properly mime so I quietly sang.)

In other words, I’d thoroughly recommend him if you’re looking for a music video producer/director!

Tedx Bow

The other day, despite suffering a hangover from a late night Mariokart session, I headed to my new favorite cafe Muxima for the first Tedx Bow event.

The theme of the event, which featured a mixture of local speakers and Screen Ted talks, was ‘From the Heart’, and highlights included Amanda Palmer’s honest and eloquently explained ‘Art of Asking’ for funding her music (she compares it to her former vocation as a street statue performer) and Anise Bullimore’s very moving talk, ‘My body of work: an experience of cancer and art therapy’.

A few talks in, Isaak (who programmes Muxima’s upstairs space) came up to my ‘gang’ of Natalie, Elena and Andre (we’ve formed a mini singer-songwriter group and go on outings and stuff) and asked if one of us could fill a slot by playing. I didn’t really hear much of this conversation, so it was a surprise when I was pointed at… an hour later I was on stage with a borrowed guitar, playing the only three capo-free songs I still remember enough to play.

Photo by Antonio Luca www.aellephoto.com

Photo by Antonio Luca
http://www.aellephoto.com

Aside from two people who spoke all the way through my first song (someone told them to stop or leave as everyone in the room could hear every word they were saying… it was weird having just our three voices at counterpoint) everyone was silent and actually listened – it was amazing. It felt like they had more of an effect on me personally than I could ever have had on them. It’s easier to connect with the words you’ve written when you have the space to feel them; to hear yourself perform them.

Now I know this will come across as pretentious, but when you’re playing an open mic or a gig in a bar and it’s noisy and the monitors aren’t helping you like they should, it’s easy to think ‘I need to get through this!’, particularly as I’ve not performed much recently. However, the audience, speakers and audience at Tedx Bow – the community, I should say – has given me more confidence to just flippin’ do it.

I can’t wait for the next one!

Making music

Inspired by a chat with my songwriting friend Elena Dana, I decided to actually put a new demo online on Sunday.

I probably should have written this song a while ago, but it kind of came lyrically/melodically and then I had to be bothered to actually get my guitar and work out the chords (which as always, aren’t complex, so I have no excuse…) and structure it.

I’ve played two open mic slots in London so far and I have to seek out more and be proactive, but I get so scared about approaching people so only have myself to blame. I always say I want to have a band – which is totally true – but equally, I shouldn’t just lay down my guitar and refuse to play it until I do. If I do.

So, if anyone knows of nights I could play, get in touch.

Here’s the new song, 12 Feet Under.

This set of demos kind of reflects the more recent sound. So Far Away was written when I was 20… it’s a bit scary to think that that was nearly four years ago! Escapology was the only song I wrote while in Newcastle, while Hard Candy is a product of the time I lived in Willesden Green in an odd living arrangement that made me decide it was time to aspire seriously for my own place.

Now firmly settled in the Get Flat, I have no excuse not to write, and so I finally wrote the song I needed to write about some of the things that happened in 2010/11. I kind of wish I could do it semi-acapella with accompaniment from one of those rhythmic cup players you see on YouTube.

12 Feet Under
I’m on a train
I’m gonna give my body to the Tyne and hope my soul
takes flight
‘Cos I’ve got plans to be getting on with

And oh
You laundered marbles ’til you lost control
Oh
Now they’re coming back to trip you, trip you
Oh
Resting on your laurels ’til the branches snapped
And the tree on the ground
How it felled you

They’ll have to bury me 12 feet under
For your six feet on top
cos I am
Taking you with me I am
taking you with me
When my neck’s for that drop

And your mother should have warned you to be superstitious
For you’ll be crying out
For her arms
When I’m gone.

Here’s a song from Elena Dana – I used to play this on my Amazing Radio folk show back in the day…

Six Songs of Me

Six Songs of Me is being described by the Guardian newspaper as a music project that aims to give insight into the power that music gives us.

They’re asking users to submit six songs in reply to a survey on their website based on different songs for different occasions, from traditional questions such as ‘what would you funeral song be?’ to the song that ‘gets you dancing’. There’s a massive library of tracks for you to choose from courtesy of Spotify, so it meant that some of my favourite unsigned artists were unavailable (but then again, a surprising number were).

Click to watch Wretch 32 talk about his Six Songs of Me

The project is really easy to get involved with (you can even use the survey-style form on your phone) and it certainly got me thinking about the songs I always return to. It didn’t, however, ask for reasons why I chose the tracks I submitted so I thought I’d tell you a bit more about them here…

What was the first song you ever bought?

The first song, I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys, was picked up in Woolworths for approximately 99p (giving me a penny in change from my pound-a-week pocket money.

I went to a Saturday morning stage school and at the time we were doing a routine to the Backstreet Boys’ number, Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), which involved lots of zombie style moves. I loved it.

I became resolved to get into boybands for the first time. (Up until then my ears had been all about Blur, Pulp and the Spice Girls).

The video for this track is the blueprint for Westlife, really. It’s a ballad, features that keychange to the major 5th soon after a tension building pause and those white suits in the video that were brilliantly lampooned by another future favourite, Blink 182.

What song always gets you dancing?

Like I love You, by Justin Timberlake is a modern classic.

I was always a Backsteet Boys’ girl over N*Sync until I heard Bye, Bye, Bye and Pop and realised that despite their stupid denim ensembles and silly hair, they kind of had an edge over Nick, Brian and co.

Then Justin Timberlake broke free, pretended to have moves (and headgear) like Michael Jackson in his debut solo video, threw in a bit of sexy breathes and saucy lip licking and a solo star was born.

Like I Love You is a stonker of a pop tune. That Neptunes loop, that falsetto, that hideously cheesy make-your-insides-melt talky bit at the beginning and end of the song; ‘don’t fear me baby, it’s just Justin’… (To quote an equally cringey Miss Anastasia Steele, ‘oh my’!)

At a school disco when I was about 13, I recruited a twenty strong group of boys and got them to dance to this, with hilarious results. I challenged them to see how low they could groove to the floor. Then I outdid them. It’s referred to, thanks to Geordie Shore, as the ‘slut drop’ these days. Put this song on in my presence and I’ll out slut drop you too!

What song takes you back to your childhood?

I expect my answer to this one, Girls and Boys by Blur, will be mentioned by many others!

Blur were the first band I made the decision to make my own at the age of five or six… to the extent that my Dad bought me the Parklife follow-up, The Great Escape, as my eighth birthday present. (I presume he thought that if he bought it for himself, he wouldn’t have hold of it for long.)

I would bounce on the sofa to the Parklife LP, pouring over the collage-heavy inlay, with its lyrics and amazing doodles (the Magic America one featured a man with a hamburger for a head). At that tender age I didn’t understand the meaning behind the words of Girls and Boys, but I could still sing along…

What is the perfect love song?

I decided to make Footnote to Love by Newcastle/Edinburgh based artist Ajimal (aka Fran O’Hanlon) my song for this catagory.

I don’t tend to listen to music and think ‘what a love song’! Most of it tends to be morose to the level of a Radiohead album…

Recently Ajimal released a couple of tracks from his forthcoming EP, which he describes as being an exploration of childhood. Footnote to Love, the lead song from the record, is about how one comes into existence – it’s a love song directed towards the child. Coupled with the gorgeous video it also made me come to realise that it is a love song for the parents too. The love for the child came from love itself.

It makes me a bit teary. What can I say?

What song do you want to have played at your funeral?

I was surprised at how long it took me to answer this question, but eventually I chose I Will Follow You into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie.

This song is a bit too close to the whole death subject really, but the delicate acoustic guitar, the beautiful, simple lyrics and Benjamin Gibbard’s effortless voice make this one of my favourite songs of all time. It’s subject matter could be dark and gloomy, but there’s something pure and hopeful about this song. I guess it’s a love song too.

Finally, what is the song that makes you, you?

I knew the answer to this had to be a song by Kirsty MacColl and after much deliberation I settled on In These Shoes?

The Spanish-speaking chorus to this rhythmic, Latin number translates as; ‘no I don’t like to dance and I can’t ride a horse’, which I think is hilarious. It’s classic Kirsty. She wants a man who will go the extra mile for her and will join her in suffering in the quest of ridiculous fashion. Some red hot excitement.

If you’ve never heard Kirsty’s last record, Tropical Brainstorm, I urge you to listen. England, 2 – Columbia, 0 is equally feisty. It’s a unique album.

I grew up listening to her music and I don’t think I’ll ever quite realise she’s gone – her music is firmly here to stay in my collection and in my head.

See my playlist in full here.

So what are your six songs? Are you going to have a go at submitting your Six Songs of Me?

This is a sponsored post, but don’t worry – if I don’t like it, I won’t write about it!

This was released today…

…it’s the latest single from Newcastle’s Let’s Buy Happiness, Works Better On Paper

Having had a slight makeover since I first heard the track (it used to be a tad faster with less of the ambience heard on this recording), it’s a lovely example of how strong the band’s original material is (as well as great new tracks Dumb Girls and Crooks), plus a welcome return to the tantalisingly slow, drawn out, spectral sounds of Six Wolves’ B-side Wood Rings and classic track Devil Show.

It’s out now and it’s only 79 pence. Find out more here.

Brighton’s Got Talent

For all you lucky so-and-so’s heading down to Brighton this weekend for the Great Escape Festival, you’re going to have a mind-blowing weekend.

When I think about it, it’s not luck really, it’s that you had the good sense to book your tickets, sort somewhere to kip and are probably quaking with excitement right now!

As usual, Generator will be hosting an event, and it’s all the more exciting to see hotly-tipped lady Lulu James on the bill. She’s been featured in the Metro with her debut release, the Rope Mirage EP and has received acclaim for her magnetic performances.

What’s brilliant about James is that she kickstarted her blossoming music career on one of Generator’s free UMT courses (they’re brilliant – I briefly wrote about my experience on the course here), after meeting her collaborator Domzilla. After listening to the haunting, dub-tinged stunner, Rope Mirage, something tells me the latter has a similarly bright future ahead.

Find out more about the rest of the lineup here. It’s fair to say that regular readers will be aware of my love for Vinyl Jacket and I’ve previously sung backing vocals for Martin Longstaff (aka The Lake Poets) and will always be a devoted fan.

Other bands I’d give my shoe collection up to go and see:

Beth Jeans Houghton & the Hooves of Destiny – Her debut album was well worth the ridiculously long wait

Bastille – Dan Smith and Co will be the sound of the late Summer. Their single Overjoyed is out now on Virgin Records. Invest your ears now, and feel smug once they hit the mainstream

Gemma Hayes – Will be the first lady of folk at this year’s festival. Going to be a classy gig

Man Like Me – Energetic, crazy, brilliant. The only thing predictable about this gig is that it won’t be boring. Dance your socks off and get down with the trombones

Willy Mason – So much more than ‘that bloke who sung about oxygen’

We Were Promised Jetpacks – Just because.

Are you heading down? Who are you going to see?

The Next Few Weeks In Music…

It’s come to my attention that the next two weeks are going to be rather treat-packed for live music lovers in London.

On Wednesday 8th February Tom Williams & the Boat play the Jazz Cafe in Camden.

Although Tom & co are supporting their next release with the help of Pledge Music, Moshi Moshi have been providing solid support for the band of late, providing them with a juicy support slot alongside Sweet Baboo and Spector at Slow Club’s recent Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig. With a new album on the horizon and a brooding, upbeat single, My Bones, receiving regular airplay on BBC 6 Music, it’s a gig I’m especially looking forward to.

Joining the band on the lineup are Two Wounded Birds, Fiction and Becoming Real. Don’t miss it.

On February 14th Vinyl Jacket have been invited to play Huw Stephens Presents at The Social, Marylebone.

I left Newcastle less than a week before Huw Stephen’s curated an epic lineup featuring Let’s Buy Happiness and Grandfather Birds (I was SERIOUSLY gutted to miss it), so I’m properly chuffed to get to go to one of his nights at last. Worried about spending the commonly dreaded V-Day with a partner in the fear of typical cheesy activities? Surely a gig is the only way to go… As for single little me, I’m going to dress up for me and the music. In Vinyl Jacket’s case, judging by brilliant new single Red Light, this should involve a Hawaiian shirt with a neon flower print.

For the official event page head here. Other bands on the bill include Man Without Country and St. Spirit.

On Monday 20th February I’ll be heading to the Bull & Gate for the first time this year to see Fran O’Hanlon take to the stage as Ajimal.

Fran’s been working with Mick Ross of Frankie & the Heartstrings on a new EP, Childhood. The first single release from it, A Footnote to Love (part one) has just been made available on Bandcamp and is being released by the Heartstring’s Pop Sex Ltd imprint.

Mr Ross is known for his ability to bring the best out of the acts he works with, be it Waiting for Winter or Let’s Buy Happiness so I’ll be waiting for the rest of the recordings with a haughty impatience… or at least heightened anticipation anyway.

I’ve seen Fran play many times, in multiple environments. From the darkness of the Cluny 2, to the intimacy of Osbourne Valley’s Blank Studios. He’s always mesmerising. The elevated, occasionally stuffy, always sticky Bull & Gate venue will be a new challenge. I wonder if it’ll be just Fran and his guitar and keys or if he’ll be trying to bring others again like he did in the above performance for the Roundhouse Rising festival. The Bull & Gate is a venue that I’ve seen work for some bands (Shields and Holy Mammoth worked the stage like pros, but their supports didn’t necessarily fare so well), but as a solo artist Fran will need to stun the room into silence for everyone to appreciate his delicate material. But I’m not worried. It’s what Fran does best.

As always, share your gig tips with me on Twitter!