Tag Archives: music

“Everyday is an Adventure of Surrender”

Jo Nava moved to London from Denmark with her family 3 years ago. Since then, she has made her space on the corner of Tottenham court road, where she wows passers-by with her new style of busking. Using a loop machine and her laptop she is able to create new unique songs you usually only hear on the radio right in front of you. With this she plays her own music only, introducing us to a mixture of song and rap with lyrics that tug at your heartstrings and lift your soul as she inspires you to live a positive lifestyle.




The Music Industry for Young Adults

In the next interview, young adults share their different opinions on the music industry in relation to their musical background. The participants in this piece, represent really diverse music profiles, going from music press magazine with Clara Leira in “Mondo Sonoro”, to Music Business Management students such as María Jáñez. The mix of perspectives in this video gives a complete and coherent vision of what youngsters have to say about the music industry. In this interview, María and Clara share their tips in order to help individuals who are willing to start a music career.

Check their work here:

Mondo Sonoro


María Jañez’s blog


Marcelo Lusardi: The Blind Rider

It is 11:40 in the UK, 12:40 in Spain. Marcelo sends me a message, he is ready. A couple of minutes after that, I receive a phone call from him. He starts talking to me in Spanish in a kind way, as if talking to a close friend.

Then, we change into English and we continue with the conversation. Marcelo tells me about his childhood. He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1997. In 2003, when he was five years old, his family moved to Santiago de Compostela, in the North West of Spain. After that, he describes his childhood in a curious way: “I’ve been all my life having sight, like absolutely normal sight. Watching everything, skating, seeing everything around me…”

Marcelo begins speaking about the event that changed his life for ever. In June 2015, when he was 17, he started losing sight in his right eye. At that point, doctors did not know what was going on, even Marcelo was not aware of his own condition: “It was a pretty confusing month for me, because I didn’t know what was happening”. By November, he began to lose his vision in his left eye.

Marcelo keeps talking about his state and how doctors did not think he was going to be blind: “They told me my optical nerves were affected by a virus, but they didn’t know at all. It was just like a thought of them.”

After a brief pause, Marcelo tells me about his genetic disease: Leber hereditary optic neuropathy. This gene transfers from generation to generation, but it only affects men. The disease stars in one eye and then moves to the other “and then it gets worse”. He also explains that there are different cases: some people with this disease have a good percentage of sight and they are, somehow, able to read, but Marcelo’s situation is different:

He continues describing his life and how in April of 2016 it started getting worse: “I was in my house, pretty depressed”. After that, he cheers himself up by talking about something that is really important in his life, music. He used to play the guitar before getting blind, but he put more effort into it when he began losing his sight: “I started playing sad songs and that stuff” he laughs “I don’t know, it is really cool to play music being blind and feel the sound”

But Marcelo was not alone in his battle. He describes the unconditional support of his parents and his skating friends, and how one day his mother introduced him to a blind friend of hers who changed Marcelo’s standpoint: “Blind people can do everything, they can go to school, use computers, mobile phones, everything like, really normal. And I don’t know, I guess that pushed me to go outside and be happy again.”

Next, he talks me through how he started skating again. Marcelo, with the help of his white cane, decided to go to the plaza where he used to skate, but without his skateboard. He describes how his friends pushed him to get on his board and how it was like “starting from the beginning”.

He also explains that his friends helped him to learn new tricks, like the kickflip, and how he could have not done it without them, because he could not know if the board was flipping on the right direction: “It was really fun to learn with them around me and supporting me.”

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Rondita en congreso… filmed by @elmo.sk #blindpower

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Marcelo, also known as the “Blind Rider” on Instagram, with a following of over 50,000 users, tackles the social media topic from a humble perspective: “skateboarding has also supported me a lot with people from around the world that follow me and like my videos”

The “Blind Rider” continues by defining how being blind has changed his perspective in life: “Well, being blind maybe it’s like something bad at first, but it can give you a different point of view” says Marcelo laughing. He finishes by explaining the way in which he meets people now, which has changed completely, as he pays more attention to personality now: “that’s pretty cool actually, not focusing on the physical appearance”

The phone call ends like it started, talking in Spanish while laughing, as Marcelo comments how weird it was for two Spanish speakers to maintain a conversation in English.

Does a perfect success formula exist for Music Industry?

What do Justin Bieber, Zayn Malik and Adele have in common? They are what every musician dreams to be like one day. Fame, success, power, money and music, they are the complete golden package.

Every year the Music industry sees many new artists flock from all over the world in hope to score their one sweet chance to be the next musical sensation. Some of them grow up listening music and dream of becoming like their idols, some wish to live the life of fame and have their moment in limelight, some feel it is their calling because music is the way they want to express their life’s story. They spend most of their life training for music, learning their instruments, performing, some even pursue music in their college degrees in hopes of improving their success chances. Seven in every 10 children (69%) in the UK say that they currently play a musical instrument with adults at 74%.

And these people come in all shapes and sizes with vast diversity in their ideologies. Yet the one thing they profess that unites them is their passion, inclination and inherent talent for music.

But then why is it that when we observe the working lives of these people, only a very few manage to break big in the industry? What is the difference between the artists who become famous and those who don’t? Are they more talented? Or did they have any special connections that most don’t? Or were they just plain-and-simple lucky?

The answer is as simple as it is frustrating, for all of the above reasons are true, but one. For people who do manage to climb their way to the top of the pyramid, being talented is a given thing. Because really without talent why would they even consider pursuing this career. This super competitive industry with more supply than demand for new musicians. It’s not like the musicians have the ‘fake it till they make it’ kind of liberties. Nowadays big record labels mostly want those artists who already have established themselves up to a certain level, who have their fan base, have already performed many gigs, and even better if they can write their own songs too. They practically want people who already have their plans figured out down to the last detail and are halfway done in executing it.

Now imagine the kind of distress a newbie but a wannabe feels when he first decides to go down this path. All the planning, making the right connections, discovering their ‘unique’ style and finding a way to sell it as ‘new and original’ to their audience, putting themselves out in the open and creating a fan base, finding the right people to help in the PR and production of their music and connecting with other artists to get a chance to perform in big gigs. So much work to do in so little time, because if we are being real, the music industry is notoriously ageist when it comes to accepting new artists. And unless you are an already established celebrity or a super-rich individual trying your hand at music, there is not much room for entry in the music industry at a ‘late’ age.

But still every year the music industry sees more and more artists coming into it. It is a huge business, with it contributing £4.4 billion to the UK’s economy as recorded in the UK Music “Measuring Music 2017” report with about 142,208 jobs sustained by the music industry. And now with the growth in the online streaming platforms, the industry is experiencing a resurgence in its profits.

And one such newbie artist, looking to make it big in this industry, is Leonard Nedelcu. There are many things that he shares with other talented musicians, like his love for romantic songs, playing the piano, penning his own songs, and being born with the looks of a superstar. But the things that make him stand out in the crowd are his deep appreciation of music by John Legend, Shawn Mendes and Sam Smith, his approach to music as his way to include the LGBTQ+ communities and share his story in a way that is relatable to all.

In this interview of his confessional musings, he shares his story, aims, and the beginning of his musical journey. He talks about how a person, a child of two economist parents gets into music, his struggles. And how despite them all he managed to create and release his first single, “Start with you”, while working on an extended playlist which he hopes to release by end of this years’ summer. All the while being a student at the University of Westminster, pursuing a Commercial Music bachelors’ degree.

Here’s a snippet of ‘Start with you’

He seems to have tapped into the ‘success formula’ of pursuing formal musical education to work on his talents, learn to create his music, find and make industry contacts and finally get discovered. It’s almost like he is trying to pull an Adele (success story) here.

You see, even though every artists’ success story is different, the basic formula of approach to things remains the same. And the six main success formulas are:

  1. Using YouTube to break big
  2. Performing at the biggest, most popular music clubs to get discovered
  3. Participating in Musical Contest show, and with any luck, winning it
  4. Becoming a part of a band, and when/if it goes big, using that exposure and experience to fuel solo act
  5. Formally studying music and training to be the best through schools
  6. Self-releasing music until discovered by big record labels or celebs to endorse music deals

Some of the very well-known celebs got their starts using these very formulas.

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Justin Bieber – the YouTube star before becoming the Global star

Like most things relating to him, even his start in music has a story. Even from a young age, Bieber had an affinity for music, and he narrates himself that when his mom gifted him his first set of drums he was “basically banging on everything I could get my hands on.” But it was an obscure talent contest in his hometown, in which the 12-year-old Bieber finished second that put him on the road to superstardom. Although, his YouTube journey did not begin with the purpose of becoming the next pop sensation. As a way to share his singing with family, Justin and his mom began posting clips of Bieber performing covers of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Ne-Yo on YouTube. And the next thing you know, Justin was an Internet sensation, with a large following of fans and an eager manager arranging for the teenager to fly to Atlanta to consider a record deal. There, Bieber had a chance meeting with Usher, who eventually signed the young singer to a contract.

Taylor Swift – from performing small gigs at the Country music capital to performing globally at her sold-out concerts

Inspired by her grandmother, a professional opera singer, Taylor Swift soon followed in her footsteps. By the age of 10, Taylor was singing at a variety of local events, including fairs and contests. She sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a Philadelphia (where she lived at the time) 76ers basketball game at the age of 11, and began writing her own songs and learning guitar at 12 years old. And to further pursue her music career, Taylor often visited Nashville, Tennessee, the country music capital. There she co-wrote songs and tried to land a recording contract. Noting her dedication, Taylor and her family moved to nearby Hendersonville, Tennessee, in an attempt to further Taylor’s career. Then a stellar performance at The Bluebird Café in Nashville helped Swift score a contract with Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records. She released her first single, “Tim McGraw,” in 2006, and the song went on to become one of the Top 10 hits on the country charts. It also appeared on her self-titled debut album in October in 2006, which went on to sell more than 5 million copies. With that, more popular singles soon followed, including “Our Song,” a No. 1 country music hit. “Teardrops on My Guitar,” “Picture to Burn” and “Should’ve Said No” were also successful tracks. And once she firmly established her roots in the music industry, the sky became her limit.


Zayn Malik – gone from contest show to being part of famous boy-band to finally becoming the solo music star

A triple threat of music in terms of utilizing the success formulas if you say so, he began as a teen taking performing arts courses and appearing in school productions. Then in year 2010, he auditioned for the seventh season of the reality TV music contest show The X Factor. He sang “Let Me Love You” by rhythm-and-blues vocalist Mario as his audition song and was accepted into the next round. Then he was eliminated before the final round of the competition, but judges Nicole Scherzinger and Simon Cowell grouped him with fellow competitors Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson to form a new act for the remainder of the show. And thus, the global sensational boy-band One Direction was born. They finished the competition in third place and they were immediately signed to Cowell’s Syco music label. Then came the One Direction with their first single, “What Makes You Beautiful,” which topped the pop music charts with when it was released in September 2011 in the United Kingdom. And their debut album, Up All Night, proved a best-seller in both the United Kingdom and the United States in 2012. After that Malik toured extensively with One Direction, meeting the band’s young female fans around the world. But in March 2015, Malik surprised fans by dropping out of the group’s world tour. On March 25 then, Malik announced that he was leaving One Direction for good. And soon after leaving One Direction, Malik launched his solo music career with a demo version of “I Don’t Mind,” which was leaked online by producer Naughty Boy. Then official singles followed, including “Pillowtalk” and “It’s You.”  And both of these tracks were featured on his first album, Mind of Mine, which debuted in March 2016.

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Auckland / Mt Smart Stadium / Mar 25

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Adele – the modern-day champion of classical and old-school-style music

“There was no musical heritage in our family,” Adele told The Telegraph in a 2008 interview. “Chart music was all I ever knew. So, when I listened to the Ettas and the Ellas, it sounds so cheesy, but it was like an awakening. I was like, oh, right, some people have proper longevity and are legends. I was so inspired that as a 15-year-old I was listening to music that had been made in the ’40s.” And it soon became apparent that while clearly bright, Adele wasn’t oriented towards traditional classroom settings. So, her mother enrolled her in the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology, which has the likes of Amy Winehouse as its alum. Then while she was at school, Adele cut a three-track demo for a class project that was eventually posted on her MySpace page. And when executives at XL Recordings heard the tracks, they contacted the singer and, in November 2006, just four months after Adele had graduated school, signed her to a record deal.

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Thank god for factor 50 sunscreen – photo by Nic Minns

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Ed Sheeran – from street-smart artist to king of the global music charts

Even from a very young age, Ed had been as quick and smart at learning things as he had been active at working on his dreams. He studied at Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham. Then he also studied music with the help of ‘Access to Music’, a UK-based independent training provider. And he also joined the National Youth Theatre when he was a teenager. So, it was no surprise when he had started recording CDs and selling them from his teenage days. At the age of 14, he released songs ‘The Orange Room’ and also ‘Spinning Man’, both he regarded as important works of his early years. And it wasn’t long before Sheeran was recording CDs and selling them, and he soon put together his first official EP, The Orange Room. With that accomplishment and his abiding ambition driving him, at only 14 years of age, Sheeran headed to London for the summer. Thinking he could find gigs in the big city, Sheeran left home with his guitar and a backpack full of clothes, and his musical career took flight. And once in London, Sheeran got busy recording and playing the local singer/songwriter circuit and quickly released two albums: a self-titled record in 2006 and Want Some? in 2007. He also began opening for more established acts, such as Nizlopi, the Noisettes and Jay Sean and released another EP, You Need Me, in 2009, a year that found Sheeran playing more than 300 live shows. Then in 2010 Sheeran posted a video online that got the attention of Example, a rapper, and Sheeran was asked to go on the road with him as his opening act. This led to establishing an even larger online fan base and gaining inspiration for many more songs, which later ended up filling three new EPs, all in 2010. Next Sheeran headed to the U.S. that year and found a new fan in Jamie Foxx, who asked Sheeran to appear on his Sirius radio show. Soon after, in January 2011, Sheeran released yet another EP, his last as an independent artist. Without any promotion, the record reached No. 2 on the iTunes chart, and he signed on with Atlantic Records. With Atlantic, Sheeran released his major debut studio album, + (called Plus) which became an instant hit, and the album sold more than a million copies in the U.K. in the first six months alone. Then Sheeran began co-writing songs with bigger artists, such as One Direction and Taylor Swift and supported Swift on her 2013 arena tour. And quickly and steadily he became the huge global star that he is today.


Still out of all the artists who pursue music as their career, 95% of them fail to make a proper living out of it, let alone become huge successes (results from a survery of 200 musicians in UK). The artists we celebrate as our champions, as the main faces of the music industry are only a handful of people out of the millions that get into this industry with dreams of making it big.

And every person wanting to make a career in music looks for a success formula, but life doesn’t work that way, especially in music. For every successful artist following a set mould to enter music industry, there are thousands who failed at it. That is the harsh truth about this industry. And no amount of wishing, dreaming or googling for tips and tricks can change that. The only thing sure about a success formula is that it only works for a few people. At the end of the day, the only way one can make progress towards becoming a musical success is through genuine talent, unending hard work and determination, and with loads of luck and good timing.

The rocks and rolls of starting a band

We imagine that being in a band to be all sex, drugs, and booze. But for one young band member selling himself for sex was his stepping stone into the industry.

“In the bluntest possible wayRhys prostituted himself to a Scandinavian women for a hundred quid.”

James Cumner, 21, from the up and coming band, The Sulks, tells Westminster News Online of the rocks and rolls that come in getting a band off the ground.

“Her husband, now wants to kill him. He knew the road where he lived, luckily not the house, otherwise I fear he would be no more,” he says with an apprehensive look, “Rhys now lives in Brighton, so hopefully that is the last of that.”

“We are a band from Swindon, finding money is hard. We need to pay for a producer, recording studio, art work for the cover, and travel to gigs. What, or who, Rhys did helped fund most of the EP.”


The Sulks EP ‘Silence Is Only the Start’ front cover. Art Work by Rob Baker.

The other half has come from a campaign set up on Pledge Music, where people donate by buying merchandise and the EP before it has been released.

“We got lucky with that, we reached our target and a little bit more, if we hadn’t reached our target we would have got nothing.”

Reaching their target has allowed them to branch out away from their hometown of Swindon, “I’ve moved to London, Rhys to Brighton, my brother lives round the corner from me and Matt is at uni in London, it has worked out quite well.”

But the move came at a cost. “I can’t think of anything harder or more ruthless than sacking your best mate.”

“He was the co-founder of the band. His final dreams rested with the band,” he says solemnly looking down at his pint, “It just wasn’t working out, we needed commitment, the hours, sacrifice, everything. He wasn’t prepare to do it.”

“I regret none of it. In this business you have to be ruthless,” he says with a determination eyes.

“In a band it’s trying to build,” he says sighing looking up at the ceiling for the right words, “You need a foundation, we replaced ours with another foundation. We are now moving forward.”

And so it has proved. In the last few months The Sulks have been working on their new EP with producer Gordon Raphael, who has worked with bands like Blur, Radiohead, The Libertines and The Strokes.


The Sulks recording their ‘Silence Is Only the Start’, in Gordon’s recording studio in Northamptonshire.

“Nothing can prepare you for the moment. To work with someone who played a key role in the resurrection of Rock n’ Roll, especially when he comes to you. It’s special.”

“Walking in as a speccy ginger kid from Swindon with this alien of a man drinking his coconut milk was strange. He closes the blinds, tells everyone to fuck off and works with you one and one.”

“He is very creative and patient. He tells you in this soft American accent to try this try that, puts you in a scenario and asks to pour your heart and soul into it. He is a true perfectionist.”

Before working with Gordon, James says of the big influence his dad had on his progression.

“Dad wanted to live his dream through my brother and I. One day, I faked being ill to avoid going to school, instead of watching TV, he told me to a learn a song on guitar before he got home.”

“He is an honest bastard, which you do and you don’t need. He will tell me which songs he does and doesn’t like, he was like a mentor and a massive influence on where I am now.”

Although it is another family member that James dedicates his musical aspirations to; “I only starting writing songs because my grandad died, his dying wish was for me was learn to play piano, drums, guitar, and be in a band.”

“I used it as therapy. I repressed a lot of things, songs allowed me to let it all out, which helps.”

Such therapy was required when at 14 he was told he wasn’t good enough.

“My music teachers, Mrs Sutcliffe and Mrs Brown, said that I would never make it in music. I couldn’t read music and they said it was practically impossible.”

“I cannot wait for the day I get to a big festival or on TV and can say up yours, it would give me great satisfaction I proved them wrong.”

Their new EP is set for release on 16 April with all their last EP being taken down on 1 April which James says will be a relief once it is out.



“It was almost impossible to get it done. Scheduling was the main challenge with my brother working full time, Rhys having no money and Matt’s Uni we couldn’t find a time we were all free.”

“The only time we really got was 9pm to midnight, after work. We were all knackered and where our studios were it was a two hour commute back.”

Despite the struggles, their determination has seen them travel to Paris were James recalls looking out of their hotel window at the Eiffel Tower, “The best part was we were drunk, I just thought wow, we got ourselves here, this is our reward.”

“But, for me, the best moment, so far, was playing a gig in Brighton at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar. We were supporting The Blinders and the gig had sold out. We went to rehearsal, no one was coming through the door, we were expecting five people. We came out, a full 120 people were there it was buzzing.”

“It was the biggest crowd we had played to. It pumped us up. it got to the drum solo of the first song and my brother absolutely nails it. After the gig five six people came up and said we were better than The Blinders.”

But for The Sulks, the real hard work begins now.

“We have a second EP already written, we just need to rehearse, and find the time. Hopefully the first EP gets us out there enough, so we won’t have to prostitute ourselves again.”

You can hear The Sulks new EP, ‘Silence Is Only The Start’ on Apple Music, ITunes and Spotify on 16 Pril, with their next London gig April 5, at the New Cross Inn.

Or check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thesulksband/?ref=br_tf


Getting stuck in a Bare Trap

Bare Traps have been played on Radio x, radio 6 music and BBC Introducing all over the country. They are the new up and coming indie band that you never thought you needed.


Bare Traps

As their publicity is growing, so is their fan base. With over 1000 likes on their Facebook page and almost 1000 monthly listeners’ on Spotify, they are truly on their way.

The band originally started at the University of Westminster, where they were all music students. But after the first year the bassist and lead singer left and were replaced. Then, in late 2016 the original band mates came back together to reform Bare Traps. And the fans are excited about it.

The band are currently gigging around London, and if luck goes their way they will be performing at The Isle of Wight Festival. If you want to see them live and show the band support you can watch them play at Hoxton Underbelly on Tuesday 04/04/17.

And if you can’t manage to make it here is a small compilation of what they sound like live.

I managed to grab the band before they performed at their latest gig for a quick interview which you can check out below.

The band are extremely excited for their new single All in you, which will also be released as a video, it’s the first video the band have made and it looked like they had a great time.

The music video is due for release next week which the boys can’t wait for. You can keep up to date with Bare Traps on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


Bringing back the indie: A conversation with Fickle Friends

Fickle Friends are an English Indie pop band who have been topping charts and headlining venues all over the UK. Their first hit single ‘Swim’ came out two years ago, and since then they have been seen at festivals such as Reading and Leeds, slowly making a name for themselves.

They sat down with me before their first sold out headline show at the Heaven nightclub in London, to talk about their sound, their struggles as musicians and Pokemon. 


Image: Omar Balde

Q. Did you ever think you would become this successful? 

Sam/ Drums (S): It’s hard to think that we could be this successful, especially with the amount of people we could have worked with being at university together.

Natasjia/ Vocals (N): I never thought we would be this successful. We moved to Brighton and I only knew Sam and about 2 others. I reached out to him saying I need drums for a show, and well here we are.


Image: Tooba Haq

Q. The name Fickle Friends is very different. Where did it come from? 

(N): We used to joke about starting a DJ duo, and we were spit-balling names for it and we came up with The Fickle Friends, because we’re bad at sticking to plans and then i just kind of stole it for the band name

(S): The person we stole it off knows, don’t worry. He was the engineer for the album that we uploaded.

Q. How does it feel to be working with Mike Crossey? He’s managed bands for the 1975 and Wolf Alice which are both huge.

(S): It’s actually kind of funny, because when we weren’t signed and doing everything ourselves we’d always joke to work with him. He [produced] the 1975 record and we loved it so much so when we got to know we were going to work with him, I was ecstatic.

(N): Everyone’s dreams came true when we went to LA!

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Image: Tooba Haq

Q. Speaking about LA, how was living the LA experience? 

(N): It was really exciting because we were there for a month, living on East Hollywood and the Valley just writing music, living the tourist life. We climbed the Hollywood sign and went to Six Flags – the big theme park.

Q. Any favourite rides or recommendations? 

(S): I think the first one we did, the X-2! Out of the four of us here, I’ve never heard so much fear collectively.

(N): By far one of the scariest rides I’ve ever been on. You genuinely think, ‘this is it, I’m going to die, this is the end.’

This video doesn’t exist

Q. You’ve been to a lot of festivals in the past year, about 53? What has to be your favourite? 

(N): I think Reading and Leeds this year would have to be the best one. We’ve had a lot of festivals under our belt, but this year I think we had bigger crowds and people knew our songs and they came to see us.

(S): It was Reading definitely, that was probably the highlight of our festival season.

Q. What would you say is the festival that you really want to play in the future?

(N and S): Glastonbury for sure.

(N): I would also love to do something like burning man which would be insane. I just want to do all the big European festivals. Maybe some in Australia. I honestly just want to travel.


Image: Tooba Haq

Q. This year must have been quite the relief for you after finally getting a contract, how has that been? 

(N): It means that we won’t have to work part-time jobs in the day to support our music at night. It’s not like oh I’m broke, can’t write a song this week because I need to work 7 days to pay rent.

(S): But I mean, we wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t done that so

Q. That must have been hard, did you guys ever think of giving up?

(S): We were close –

(N): I don’t think we ever said we were going to give up, but I think it did get to a point where we were like how long can we keep doing this for until we have to take a step back and give it a breather

(S): We were very close, and it feels good that we stuck it out

(N): It forced us to kind of re-evaluate where we are as a band, and then we made some changes around because something felt off, but we got it.

Q. How does it feel being in London’s Heaven for your first headline show?

(S): It’s quite a big deal for us. The last big headline we did was at Dingwalls last year, with no contract and half the crowd coming tonight.

(N): I still can’t believe it.

(S): Its kind of fueled a fire in us, I just want to do more headline shows and travel.


Image: Tooba Haq

Q. Any sort of fun pre-show rituals?

(S): Pacing. Theres a lot of pacing, and we don’t really talk to each other much.

(N): Theres like this brief bit of terror we all feel before getting on, but once we get on stage it’s all forgotten

Q. Who would you love to open for in the coming years?

(N): I’m going to go out there and say something like Drake. Or maybe Childish Gambino.

IMG_2764 (1)

Image: Tooba Haq

Q. One of your first hits, Swim came out in 2014. That is not that long ago, how do you think you’ve grown and changed as a band?

(S): It was quite mad when Swim came out wasn’t it?

(N): Yeah it was, i think we’ve kinda figured out how to write better lyrics and understanding our sound more. We’ve just improved so much, and with being together for so long we kind of understand each other more and what works basically.

(S) Its kind of always been that, just moved into a better version.

Video rights: Fickle Friends Vevo/ YouTube.

Q. Like a Pokemon? 

(N): Yes exactly. Like a Pokemon!

(S): We were a Squirtle and now we’re a Blastoise.

Q. If you could be any Pokemon which one would you be?

(S): From the original, Blastoise was always the one for me.

(N): Such a shame Pokemon Go is over, I was so into it

Q: When can we expect a new album to come out? And what are you guys doing in it? 

(N): The summer of 2017

(S): We’re actually playing 3 songs from the new album later tonight, so watch out for that

(N): You can expect some dark pop, because right now we’re very upbeat and pop-y. Theres a couple of ballads and its a little slower.

(S): A broader spectrum of Fickle Friends is a good analogy.

Q. Any names for the album yet or? 

(N): Oooh there are some ideas, but we’re very bad at making decisions.

(S): So yeah, no actual name yet.

This video doesn’t exist

A snippet of the show in Heaven, London.

Video credits: Tooba Haq

Q. And finally, can you describe your band in three words for us?

(N): chill, sex, and violence.

(S): Not chill for sure.

(N): Can we say indie on fleek, because someone said that to us during our show last night.

(S): So yes, Indie on fleek.

Fickle Friends have released the song Hello Hello, on the 8th of March which you can check out below, along with their soundcloud link!

The rise of vinyl records

It’s true that holding a physical album or a vinyl makes music lovers happier than spending 99 cents on a digital track.


This is the reason why the music industry has seen a notable rise in the sale of vinyl’s in the past 5 years. Data released by Nielsen Soundscan show that 9.2 million vinyl’s have been sold in the US in the last year whereas more than a million have been sold in the UK, which is a milestone achieved in Britain since 1996 when the Spice Girls released their smash-hit single “Wannabe”.


But what are the main reasons this is happening? Is it just because collectors love to own a piece of memorabilia of their favourite artists?
There’s actually more behind it. Experts say that vinyl records deliver a richer and high quality sound which can be “stressed” and “ruined” on a digital track.  Tracks mastered on a vinyl record are pressed onto it on a quality of cymbals 640k instead of a normal mp3 track which is usually 320k.


Another fact that studies revealed is that the sound of an LP introduces engagement and accuracy throughout the recording of every instrument of a song onto it. For example, reproducing bass on vinyl is a serious engineering challenge, there’s a lot of adding additional vibrations and distortions to make the sound “warmer” than a normal album according to Pitchfork.com – this not only increases the quality of the sound but connects emotionally the artist with the listener.

HMV, the British retailer has seen a rise on vinyl records sale for 69% in 2016 which is +78% on 2015.
“People are buying vinyl records because you can easily frame it and hang it on the wall of your bedroom” employee Mark commented.
The chain has started organising events where fans can meet their favourite artists and get their new album signed for free. That boosts up their sale on physical music.

Bands have already started to release HMV signing session tours nationwide.


Banquet Records, an independent record shop in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey started to organise live shows followed by singing sessions in 2008.

“I’ve seen my favourite bands here at Banquet Records, that’s where I get my exclusive LPs. I have many and they’re all signed, I have All Time Low, Blink 182, Moose Blood, Tonight Alive to name a few. This is how I started my vinyl records collection and I have over 120 now. I am so proud of it”

The store his home to alternative and upcoming new bands in the music industry. It’s one of the most known music stores in the UK and sells limited and rare editions of EPs as well as LPs.


It’s true, part of the demand comes from the old fashion consumerism to possess things that defines us. Something you can satisfy when buying digital music.


Nik Pollinger, a digital anthropologist who advises companies on the factors that motivate consumer behavior, told TIME in an email, “What we display in public is used to send social signals about our identities. Making our taste in music visible has historically played an important role in such signalling for many people.” Owning a vinyl collection, of course, “restores this ability.”

That doesn’t mean that digital sales are decreasing. That is still the feature and record labels are already dealing with it, experimenting new strategies of sales and marketing.
In 2015 global digital music grossed 6.7b dollars which is an enormous figure and a plus 10.2% compared to 2014. Streaming remains a significant factor within digital music with platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. Premium subscriptions have seen a massive rise in the past couple of years with more than 78 million people now paying for music, a big fight against piracy.


A vinyl is usually more expensive than a digital download. Most releases range between $11 and $30 although special edition can reach up to more than $70 (which you can buy here).


The most sold biggest selling vinyl albums are Blackstar by David Bowie, Back to Black by Amy Winehouse and Nevermind by Nirvana in the UK. They’ve been in the top 20 since 2012.


Although sales within vinyl albums are increasing, they’re only making 6% of overall music sales worldwide in the last year. It’s nice to see a wide increase and we hope to understand the many reasons why people are inspired to own a vinyl instead of an album.

The Route of Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran is the epitome of British. With his messy ginger hair, beer belly and awkward sarcasm. He’s the kind of guy you find in your local pub awkwardly hovering near the pool table. And yet, he is a worldwide sensation, how the hell did this average guy from Suffolk become a household name?

During the release of his latest album, Divided, Ed Sheeran broke a number of Spotify records including the streaming record, with his album streaming over 68 million times in a day and all 16 tracks from the album sat comfortably in the top 16 songs on Spotify’s top 50 UK chart.

Sheeran’s popularity began to grow in 2011, with the release of his debut album, Plus and the song A Team which earned Sheeran the Ivor Novella Award for best song musically and lyrically. Sheeran later went on to smash the Brit Awards for Best British Male Solo artist and British Breakthrough Act in 2012, cementing his place as a star.

Some may have thought with the major success of his first album that he would end up being a one hit wonder, but now, with the release of his highly anticipated third album it’s safe to say he isn’t going anywhere.

His music ranges from acoustic heartbreak to pop, it’s music you wish was around when you were 15 getting drunk in a field. He’s collaborated with numerous artists including: Calvin Harris, Taylor Swift, Elton John and has wrote music for none other than One Direction.


Credit: Heart Ed Sheeran Busking

Part of his charm is the fact that he genuinely had to work to get where he is, his route to stardom began by busking. Then in 2009 he played over 300 gigs and couch surfed to continue to perform. But it isn’t just his musical talent that makes people love him, he also seems to be just a regular, genuine guy.

At the Brit Awards this year Sheeran was seen walking out of an after party bare foot, holding his girlfriend’s heels whilst she trotted behind him wearing his trainers.


Credit: The Daily Mail, Ed Sheehan being a true gent.

If that isn’t a true gentleman I don’t know what is. But his nice guy persona stretches further back than that.

In 2015, Ed Sheehan spoke at the Live Benefit gala in New York and spoke about his stutter struggle. He told the kids “Embrace your weirdness.”


Or that time he decided to give away his entire wardrobe to charity shops in his local city.

And in 2012 when his single the A Team (inspired by his volunteering work with Crisis) reached global charts, he asked all VIPs on the guest list to donate to the cause. But it isn’t just Ed’s big heart that has made everyone fall head over heels for him, he’s actually pretty funny as well.

Like that one time at the GRAMMY’s where he was too drunk to really pay attention to the interview.

Or that time he decided to give life and diet advice, and not in the way anyone was expecting.


And he never takes himself too seriously, especially his dress sense.

It’s safe to say that the guy is your typical English man, and although he is funny, and kind, even being called the nicest guy in pop, we love him purely because he is him. Ed Sheeran, it is true, I fell in love with an English man.


I like long conversations, interesting people

When I got into Birmingham for my chat with Ryan I didn’t know what to expect. Spending time with a member of your favorite bands is as exciting as it is when you’re a kid and you taste an ice cream for the first time. Birmingham was very cold that day but I was hesitant to just get backstage, sit down and talk.


“I didn’t prepare any question, I just want to have a conversation with you” I tell him ahead of our talk. He laughs.

Ryan Scott Graham is the bassist and backing vocalist for State Champs and right now they’re in Birmingham on their UK tour supported by Northbound and As It Is. They’ve got one show left in London then Ryan is off to Florida to work on his second album for his solo project “Speak Low If You Speak Love”, an acoustic project he’s very passionate about.

Why did he start making music? What made him grab that bass at such young age?

“Growing up I was a baseball player, and that’s what I thought I would do and then as I went to school – this is funny because I remember very vividly- one of my friends had a t-shirt with a local band on it, they were called The Great Basement Escape, the t-shirt had a ship on it. I wanted to buy the t-shirt so my friend said they were playing a show that week and I should’ve gone. At that time, I wasn’t playing or listening to any rock music. I didn’t know what to expect. I was probably 14? I ended up going to this show with him. I was amazed, it was cool although I didn’t really understand anything about it. It was totally strange to me. I was wearing this big jersey and sweatpants. I looked ridiculous … after that, I asked my mom to buy me a guitar. I started learning by myself and here I am.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

If you’ve never thought about Ryan playing the World Series, this is definitely your chance. It’s true State Champs came after his acoustic writing but that’s how he started and well-known in the music scene.

But speaking of which, what are the struggles of a musician nowadays to be successful? What does inspire him and why is Ryan so passionate about Japan, books and art?

Watch the full interview here:

Find out more about Speak Low If You Speak Love here.
State Champs are playing Download 2017, get tickets here.


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