The Virtues of DIY Music.

Josh Evans is a 21 year old singer-songwriter hailing from the Rhondda Valleys. He’s also a freelance sound engineer and a promoter for the Bonsai Acoustic Club. Josh argues the case for DIY music and that nothing needs fixing with the Cardiff scene, just the attitudes of local bands.

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In a previous article regarding the South Wales music scene it was decided that the music scene needs to be ‘fixed’. Like a guitar with a loose wire, it just needs a little nudge or WD40 to get it going again. But what exactly needs fixing? And wouldn’t a better question be ‘who is going to fix the music scene?’.

I’m talking about the D.I.Y ethos which has evaporated from South Wales. The get-up-and-go attitude that prevailed from punk in the 70’s through to underground rave in the 90’s. It’s something that I believe the music scene needs to embrace once again, starting with its bands and artists.

The key is to treat your music as a business; there’s no harm in that. Many people don’t like this idea as they see making music as a hobby and as an art form that should be enjoyed, rather than work, but carpenters wouldn’t be carpenters if they didn’t enjoy it. Much like Alan Sugar or Dragon’s Den, artists need to invest in their talent if they truly believe that it’s worth it. I paid for my first E.P with money that I made from being a Sound Engineer. Visual artists need to pay for the paint and canvases that they use to create, they don’t expect funding from Arts Council.

Of course, the myth that musicians and artists can make a healthy living from one source of income is quickly being dispelled. Benny Horowitz, bass player with American rockers The Gaslight Anthem, also has a barber shop called Tiger-cuts, acoustic-punk songwriter Sam Russo can be found on English construction sites, and Wales’ own Graveyard Johnnies frontman Joe works at the Dr Martens’ shop in Cardiff. (See here for more: http://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/blog/our-favourite-bands-and-their-day-jobs)

Yet the majority of the music industry in Wales doesn’t see it in this way. Bands feel that they are owed something from the government and councils. There’s an underlying idea that bands and artists should be paid for doing what they want to do, and that they should wait to get money before doing things, rather than doing it themselves.

To receive funding these days bands need to be at a certain level in their careers, at a tipping point on which the money will help them to break through to success, which is the way it should be.

Too many charity organisations are having their funding taken away from them, companies that could benefit greatly from money that instead gets thrown at bands with no idea. Money that could be put into non-profit organisations like Theatr Fforwm Cymru, or could have saved the Welsh Music Foundation.

Bring back the punk D.I.Y ethos of using what’s around you to create something from nothing. Instead of waiting and wishing for gigs to come to you, organise your own. Start your own record label with like minded people. The results will be more rewarding and you’ll get to keep all of the money that you’ve earned. Alternatively be independent. There’s a lot of support for artists at the moment, such as the Unsigned Guide, and radio stations/local radio shows, or online podcasts like The Amp Session.

John Smith (http://johnsmithjohnsmith.com) is a completely independent artist, he’s his own booking agent, manager, distributor etc. He’s a very talented guitarist and songwriter from England, has recently toured with David Gray (Most notable for his 2000 hit ‘Babylon’) and is currently touring Australia.

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Josh Smith

Musicians are very talented people, with a multitude of skill sets. Sion Carver of Fingertrap owns and runs Hypertrap studios, Tom Collins of We’re No Heroes is a graphic designer. We as a creative industry need to pool together our skills to help each other, instead of working against each other.

The music scene doesn’t need to be ‘fixed’ as it either exists or it doesn’t. So long as there are a handful of musicians helping each other to carry equipment into venues, or cheering each other on down the front at shows, then there is a music scene, no matter how small, how big, what shape or form.

Josh Evans.

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Interview: H M S MORRIS

Welsh psychedelic electro-pop rock three-piece HMS are a fantastic band. Another great example of an extremely talented and unearthed band that seem to be in abundance around South Wales at the moment. Dont believe me? Check out their soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/hmsmorris

Their music is reflective,  transcendental and melody laden. The hypnotic voice of Heledd leads you away on a mystical journey. It is a beautiful all round experience to listen to their music.  The wondrous soundscapes painted by the band are analogous to Melody Protchets Melody’s Echo Chamber, a fantastic comparison to garner for such a fledgling band.

 

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Photo Credit: HMS MORRIS

We had a chat to the band about their diverse musical backgrounds, favourite venue and if they do infact, need more cowbell.

 

How is the band doing?  Anything in the pipeline?

 

Good thanks, ticking along nicely, we’re gigging quite a bit early next year around Cardiff, Bristol and London and we’re in the last stages of writing an album, hopefully it’ll be out in the public by spring.

Find HMS Morris’ Gigs on their Facebook  page here https://www.facebook.com/HMSMorrisband

 

 

Please tell us a bit about the band’s musical background.

 

We’re all pretty diverse, my family (Heledd) are all musical, I grew up surrounded by quite a lot of classical music, my gran was an organist and Dad’s a singer. I soon rebelled from the classical stuff and listened to a lot of 90s grunge and pop and learnt to play the bass, it all kicked off from there really.

 

 

For those yet to experience HMS MORRIS, how would you best describe what you do?

Always a toughie this one. It’s psych-pop I suppose, guitars, synths, catchy melodies, some of the arrangements are quite ‘in your face’ especially some of the synth sounds, I’d like to describe it as a bit 80s.

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Photo Credit:  HMS Morris

How would you rate the current health of the South Wales Music scene?

I’d say it’s doing quite well, thanks to the Horizons Scheme and the Welsh Music Prize we all have something to fight for, a little competition always helps to keep things alive. It’s such a strong community, everyone knows everyone and everyone’s up for helping each other out. Seeing Houdini Dax and Cate Le Bon reach audiences further afield really gives us a lot of hope. I grew up in the Carmarthenshire Welsh Language rock scene, it was pretty quiet back then but even that’s kicking off right now.

 

 

 

What could be done to improve things?

Hummmmm, dunno, more TV exposure somehow, Welsh language bands get quite a bit on Ochr 1 but there isn’t really that opportunity for anyone else.

 

 

Best gig you’ve ever done?

 

We did a lovely acoustic gig at Hay festival this year, good vibes all round, also we did a festival in Cardigan called Crug Mawr in a small tent decorated as a chapel, everyone was so supportive, we played some new tunes for the first time and we didn’t cock em up so that’s always good.

Hay Festival’s Website Here: https://www.hayfestival.com/portal/index.aspx?skinid=1&localesetting=en-GB

 

Favourite venue?

Favourite one we’ve played? The grottier the better, In Cardiff: Jacob’s Market. Other than that Union Chapel in London’s a sight worth seeing.

 

Who would you site as your biggest influences musically?

I’m blown away by St Vincent, innovative, huge tunes and great moves. I’ve always loved Gwen Stefani and Jack White aswell.

(Ed- cannot recommend St Vincent Enough – listen to her latest effort Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcmfZvAnksA)

 

And outside of music?

Any grandmother, it just looks like a lot of hard work.

 

 

If you could augment your band with the addition of any musician and instrument – what would you choose and why?

 

A giant pipe organ and an orchestra of cowbells, I like drama and I think an organ would compliment our sound very well. I just like the clang of a cowbell, not before 10am though.

CowbellfeverBIG Self explanatory.. 

Favourite band of 2014?

Wowzers, that’s a question.

Quite like the ‘Jungle’ album, I’m not that up-do date on new music to be honest.

 

 

 Vinyl, MP3, CD or other?

 

CD with a full list of lyrics inside the booklet just like the good old days.

 

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Credit: HMS MORRIS

HMS MORRIS ONLINE

Facey B – https://www.facebook.com/HMSMorrisband/timeline?ref=page_internal

Twitts: @HMSMorris

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/hmsmorris

Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/hmsm

What is your favourite venue in Cardiff?

Please vote below!

 

 

How can we fix the South Wales music scene?

South Wales has huge potential to be a major draw for any band. Anybody who has hit up Womanby street any night of the week knows how raucous it can get. Two great universities along the South Coast of Wales and numerous great venues dotted about, it seems that the south coast would be a must visit for any band on a whistle tour of the UK.

 

South Wales Music Health Report – Interview with Max Hicks of Totem Terrors & public opinions.. 

 

Sadly, for some reason it is not. To try and discern why this is the case, we asked several local bands why this this? Can it be changed? Is the scene punching above its weight or is it in ailing health…?  We asked local bands: Totem Terrors,  The Cradles and  Third Party for their opinions on what’s going wrong and what is right with the south Wales Scene.

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Totem Terrors

Totem Terrors are a band from the UK (Cardiff & Brighton), formerly known as Joy of Sex. We spoke to Max hicks from Totem Terrors asking him for his verdict on South Wales as a place to start your musical journey.

“It’s really good for up-and-coming bands, but the lack of an independent mid-sized venue in Cardiff is hurting the scene. No mid-size venue means no middleweight bands playing Cardiff on their tours. That means less support opportunities for local bands, less industry presence and less buzz in general. Touring bands come as far as Bristol, so Bristol gets all the action whilst Cardiff starves. It’s a shame, because at the street level there are dozens of amazing bands here (I appreciate Cardiff isn’t all of South Wales, but it is the capital and in my experience the majority of bands from other parts of Wales eventually end up here, at least for a little while).”

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Arctic Monkeys play to the 7,500 capacity Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. This is perhaps a rare occasion that a bigger band has hit the capital.

 

The lack of a mid sized venue is an concern echoed by Cardiff band, Third Party. Gruff Russell-Jones, Singer of Third Party did however suggest that there is plenty to be optimistic about regarding the future of the Cardiffian music scene:

“There is load to be proud of in Cardiff’s music scene. From my own biased view from Cardiff i’d say: We’ve got Womanby St. which on a good night is the absolute best of pure musical thriving. There are loads of good acts out there and we’d love to see Womanby full of it every night of the week. A couple of venues take much of the strain in terms of supporting the grassroots.”

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Cardiff Band, Third Party

 

“We could do with a couple more platforms for our local artists in aid of healthy competition. More spaces to facilitate our work together locally to take what we do beyond. Cardiff & Wales deserve to be on the map as much as anywhere. We are getting there.”

 

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The Octopus Project @ The Full Moon Club – leading the way on Womanby Street

 

“We need more management, labels, pushers, seedy though influential hangers on… In short a wider network of support. There’s a good deal of talent around that needs to break out into the wider audience I never thought I’d say it but we need more of an industry to really keep this thing afloat so we can all take off at the same time and in the right direction.“

 

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Miles Kane plays Cardiff Student Union – big names playing Cardiff often bring their own support acts, leaving local talent in unable to get gigs. 

The Welsh government has  identified the The Creative Industries sector in Wales is amongst the fastest growing of the key sectors identified in Economic renewal: a new direction report. They now provide Digital Development funds providing funding from £5,000 up to £50,000 and up to 50% of each project. This perhaps allows Welsh artists more creative freedom, but they are hindered by the lack of venues.

(this is something me and Max talk about in further depth in the accompanying podcast.)

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The Cradles 

Declan Andrews from Cardiff outfit The Cradles, suggests that Cardiff’s lack of venues is redeemed by the vibrancy of the pop up festival scene: the likes of Oxjam, Hub Festival and Swn at the vanguard of this phenomenon:

“We’ve played a lot of shows in the South Wales region over the past year and we’ve enjoyed playing with a variety of other bands. If you look at the likes of HUB Festival and Swn then it’s clear it’s healthy insofar as there are a lot of bands doing a lot of different things and people who are passionate about making the local scene thrive. Having said that, we’re aware that it’s quite easy to get caught up playing the same venues in your home city over and over again so what we’ve been focused on lately is getting to other cities in the UK where people who haven’t seen you before can see you live. For any band aspiring to go places that’s an absolute necessity.”


 It does seem that these mini festivals are perhaps providing a catch net for new talent in the local area, which takes some of the strain off smaller venues in the area like Clwb Ifor Bach and The Full Moon Club.  Despite the emergence of Buffalo bar and more recently Abacus as a popular live music venues, we can only wait on the effect that these new artistic spaces will have on the South Wales scene.

 

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Leed’s Hookworms @ Wombandy’s Clwb Ifor Bach

 

 

Interview: A M I D A

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54-46’s interview with Manchester band A M I D A below…

How is the band doing? Everything Okay? Anything in the pipeline?

Hello, yes we’re doing very well, thanks. We’re just gearing up to record some new songs for 2015.

 

Describe your musical backgrounds and how you have got to where you are now.

I think we each have a different idea of the band we’re in, a different vision of the band we want to be in, but no one’s vision is winning. Thankfully.

 

For those yet to experience Amida, how would you best describe what you do?

To avoid the gruelling awkwardness of description, we would just direct people to our Spotify

Link Here: Amida – Boring Birth … or Bandcamp page (amidamusic.bandcamp.com).

 

Can you please explain your name?

I’ve been trying to figure it out myself. You are free to interpret.

 

Best gig you’ve ever done?

We always adore playing in Leeds, so it would probably be one of the shows we’ve done there.

 

Favourite venue?

For me, the Deaf Institute in Manchester.

 

 Who would you site as your biggest influences musically?

A lot of the usual suspects, then a lot of other stuff that would sound pretty unconvincing if we listed them.

 

If you could augment your band with the addition of any musician and instrument – what would you choose and why?

I think a female vocal could be really nice in the mix. The music needs a woman’s touch.

 

Favourite bands of 2014?

MONEY, and FKA twigs.

 

 Vinyl, MP3, CD or other?

I’m all about streaming.

 

If you made a 5 song mix tape to impress a lover, what would you put on it? 

1. Sky Ferreira – Everything is Embarrassing

2. Chet Baker – There Will Never Be Another You

3. Depeche Mode – Slowblow (Darren Price Remix)

4. Al Green – Schooldays

5. Glass Candy – Etheric Device

 

Thank you very much for your time!

54-46 Recommends – W A Y U L S

Please introduce us to the band..
We’re WAYULS, from Wayuls. Pleasure to meet you.
We are: Tom (Producer, Bass, Synth), Rich (Vocals), Aaron (Guitar), Zach (Percussion, Synth &
Electronics) & Cannonball on drums.

For those who are yet to be converted… how would you best describe your sound?

We usually just say it’s Wonky Pop with Arabic melodies. Basically we sound nothing like Neutral
Milk Hotel and embrace all things digital.
How would you chart your musical journey so far to where you are now..

It started off with just Tom creating tracks, manipulating his voice to sound like an oriental girl and
bashing out a solo one. Then the rest of us joined to take his creations to the live setting, and have
worked as a five piece ever since. We see the project encompassing all art forms not just music, so
the visual and conceptual aesthetics of what we do are important, as well as providing an artistic
platform to collaborate with friends.
What is the band currently working on?
More music. We are constantly recording, and have a bunch of songs at the mixing stage, although
we are undecided how we will present the new stuff to the world. Saying that, the tracks mostly
form two separate conceptual EP’s, so look forward to them in the new year.
We are also working on our live visuals and a new music video for a single featuring Winford
Bydes from Palomino Party.

How would you rate the current health of the South Wales Music scene?
Very poorly (pun intended). Don’t get us wrong there are one or two fantastic bands emerging and a
few acts we love, but the wrong acts are getting pushed. We pop out to see bands and usually find
middle of the road acts playing to a poor turnout, the gig goers aren’t really given something to dig
their teeth into. We look up to acts like Islet with their emphasis on performance & really creating
an “event”, more people should take a leaf out of their book.

You have a very unique sound… who do you draw inspiration from musically?
Nik Kershaw, Japan & 90s pop music. Although our sound comes out of the melting pot without
any true intention to reflect that of our influences.

And outside of music, who inspires you?
Aaron O’Conner (he scores when he wants). The rest of Newport County FC & also Jim Bowen
from bullseye.

 

Any current plans to tour?
Yea, 2015 will be a big year for us. Keep your eyes peeled & mouth dribbling.
What does the band get up to after hours?
We run our clothing company “Tuesday Ltd”.  In the evenings we drink Buckfast, and hang around
our mansion. In the basement we have made a private club called “Club Winky Wonk,” there’s
usually a UV paint party every night. Oh and we are also Medical Students.
Best gig you’ve played?
Despite some huge ones, we’d choose our first gig. We sold out Moon Club in Cardiff and only
played 3 songs over a 25 minute set, that night had a tremendous buzz about it.
What would success be for WAYULS?

We’ve been on BBC Radio Wales & been featured on Wales Online, and are pretty content with
the support from local media. A feature on something national like The One Show would be nice.
Rich really wants to tell Matt Baker about his experiences in sheepdog trials and Sub/Doming.

 

Get on it.

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/w-a-y-u-l-s

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WAYULSWAYULS

Interview: Third Party

If you haven’t heard this band. Go and listen right now.  Gruff Russell-Jones driving vocals bear a striking resemblance to The Teardrop Explodes’ Julian Cope, surely an excellent comparison. The band are stylish, cool and and having caught them at OxJam earlier this month, provide a cracking live performance. Combining elements of mod, ska and punk this band are well worth  your time.  Catch them here: http://thirdparty.bandcamp.com/

 

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We had a brief chat about their sound, THE DUDE and current projects… 

For those who are yet to be converted… how would you best describe your sound?

A truly modern clash of post-punk, garage, R&B, psyche-abilly (sic.) and ska.

Either this or dad/pub-rock.

It’s good time music basically with the odd scattering of lyrical content.

 

How would you chart your musical journey so far to where you are now…

It’s been one thing after another really, the joy of the journey being all it takes for us to stay at it.

“To be born Welsh is to be born with music in your blood and poetry in your soul” and a never say ‘Dai’ (it’s welsh for Dave) attitude, apparently.

 

What is the band currently working on?

We’ve just released a video for new single ‘Reasons to be Idle’, we’ve a video to go with it which we are promoting and getting out there in whatever ways we can…

We’ve always got shows to be looking forward to and always in constant search of the ‘new sound’.

I’d love a new ‘set’ every night but they tell me it’s not possible…still working on that though of course…

Along with this quest we’ve also got a christmas jingle entitled:

‘It’s Always Christmas’ which we’re about to rip it out of in the name of seasonal cheer.

 

How would you rate the current health of the South Wales Music scene?

There is loads to be proud of for certain.

From my own biased view from Cardiff i’d say:

We’ve got Womanby St. which on a good night is the absolute best of pure musical thriving.

There are loads of good acts out there and we’d love to see Womanby full of it every night of the week.

A couple of venues take much of the strain in terms of supporting the grass roots.

We could do with a couple more platforms for our local artists in aid of healthy competition.

More spaces to facilitate our work together locally to take what we do beyond.

Cardiff & Wales deserve to be on the map as much as anywhere.

We are getting there.

 

Is there anything you would do to improve it?

We need more management, labels, pushers, seedy though influential hangers on etc./whoever/whatever…

In short a wider network of support.

There’s a good deal of talent around that needs to break out into the wider audience

I never thought I’d say it but we need more of an industry to really keep this thing afloat so we can all take off at the same time and in the right direction. 

 

Who do you draw inspiration from musically?

Without our dads or the pub this would never have been dad/pub rock.

John Peel (more than we realise), Mark E Smith, any musical ‘Gruff’, Ian Dury, Aretha Franklin, Muddy Waters, Dr Feelgood, PJ Harvey, Lou Reed, Ludvig Van and Johnny Cash.

 

And outside of music, who inspires you?

Any artist of any medium who is self-sufficient and gets whatever it is done however they can.

People in and around who are making things happen in spite of the odds, regardless of gain personal,

financial or otherwise.  Also the holy trinity of Tommy Cooper, Eric Blair and ‘The Dude’ off Lebowski.

 

Best gig you’ve played? 

The best and the worst was the last one at The Bird’s Nest, Deptford.

After playing a fine show with new band ‘Rustling Bones’, onstage with ‘Third Party’ I broke a guitar string.

And although i’d brought a back-up guitar like a pro, the guitar played like a tramp.

We had to make a sort of gonzo-performance-art-spectacle out of essentially only half-decent music and still pull off a good musically-based show. The crowd went wild, in a way.

 

If you could add to your band any musician of any instrument… who would it be?

I wish I could play everything all of the time.

 

Favourite venue?

It has got to be the one we play (and that one that will have us play) most often. It’s the Moon Club, it’s home, where else?

Interview: Clones of Clones

Today’s interview sees 54-46 talk to Washington DC indie rock band Clones of Clones. Channelling Black Rebel Motorcyle Club and Stone Roses, Clones of Clones have just released a brilliant 3 track EP called I Don’t Need Your Love, with a full length album to follow in early 2015.

 

Writing compelling, emotionally driven tunes the band complements the pathos in their lyricism with the emotionally imbued ambience of their music.

 

We had a chat with the band to talk about their new single, plans for future recordings and what success would mean to the band.. .

 

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Tell us a bit about the band’s origins to where they are currently at. 

We’re relatively new… from Washington DC and just touring around the region in the US.

 

You have just released “I don’t need your love” single – which marks a departure in sound from Neighbourhood EP. What have you changed since your last release?

Most importantly, we got a new guitarist (Todd).  Otherwise, we have all grown up a little bit and gotten a little more comfortable with who we are individually and as a band.  That maturity comes through in the music; the newer material is more genuine and relatable.

 

Was the process of making it enjoyable?

Absolutely.  We recorded at a place called the Fidelitorium in North Carolina.  During the recording, the band lived at a house on the studio property so we were able to totally immerse ourselves in the creative experience.  We were able to forget about everything else in life for a time and just focus on the music.

 

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Who would you site as your biggest musical influences?

The Pixies, alt-J, Minus the Bear, Modest Mouse, and many, many, many more

 

Can you tell us a bit about the Local Scene in Washington DC? Is it in full flourish or decline?

I’m going to be a DC music nerd for a minute… we had a really great music scene in the 70s and 80s (before my time) with the emergence of punk (Bad Brains, Minor Threat) and gogo.  Recently, I have been less impressed by the music scene.  But the past few years have shown a tremendous flourishing of Do It Yourself (DIY) venues popping up all over the city. These are shows being hosted in peoples’ basements with some of the biggest DC area bands.  It’s a pretty amazing experience.

 

Are you recording at the moment? 

Just finished and planning to release a full album early 2015.

 

Outside of music, what makes you tick? 

The four of us are totally different outside of the band – one of us is an avid rock climber, one of us is an architect, one is an engineer, and the other is a salesman.

 

What would success be for Clones of Clones?

We’d love to make a living playing music.  Currently, we need to work other jobs to keep food on the table.

 

Any plans to tour currently? 

Currently just playing shows regionally.  We’d love to go on a bigger tour if we can get enough gas in the van.

 

What’s the best gig you have ever done. 

Opening for the Sam Roberts Band here in DC.  Packed one of the biggest venues in DC and it was a tremendous show.  Despite Sam Roberts’ great success, the band were really down to earth.

 

Your favourite venue?

Probably 9:30 club here in DC.

 

What is the plan for the near future

We’re planning shows and promotions for the current EP and eventually for the full album next year.

 

 

For everything Clones Of Clones, Visit:

http://www.clonesofclones.com/