Reflective Post:

For this assignment, I have created a blog named “Breaking Band”. Throughout my blog posts, I have aimed to give my audience an insight into the music industry of today, and how young bands, such as the band I am a part of, aim to break into success. First-hand experience and anecdotes are the main features, as well as a few more general points regarding the music industry, including a few pieces of advice following personal experience.

The overall aim was to supply content for those interested in unsigned bands/music,  and I hope some of the content will help any new bands looking to start up, or even just to guide them into the basics of the music industry. My posts are also written in a fairly informal manner, which I took inspiration from a music blog that is written by John Mostyn, his more informal approach was something I found much more accessible, and I didn’t want to make my posts too serious for my audience.

Each post also contains a “Music Genie” section, where I introduce an artist similar to ourselves, in attempt to spread talented, unsigned music. This is a feature was inspired by a popular blog named “HD Online” which has a section in which the writer features a different, largely unheard of artist each week.This section of my blog post was to fulfil the audience needs of discovering new music, and I wanted to make it related to our band, by putting forward artists that are of a similar popularity level and genre.

Famous music blog pages such as Pitchfork have established their audience through many years of producing content, and some of my target audience will certainly be the same as theirs. However, a lot of their content focuses heavily on bands that are already signed to record labels, and opinions are given from an outside perspective. My blog is unique as it is written from first hand experience in the band, and I think this is something that will appeal to many people who may be in a similar position to myself.

By containing techniques such as the inclusion of short, funny anecdotes, I aimed to keep my audience engaged throughout each post, as well as providing an entertaining factor as well- this links to the informal manner in which the whole blog was written.

References

http://www.hd-online.co.uk/

https://johnmostyn.wordpress.com/

http://pitchfork.com/

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Recording: An Insight

We recorded our debut, 3-track EP when we were just 15. The EP was titled “Province”, which was taken from a Latin textbook found in one of our classrooms at school. We excitedly ventured to Room 4 Studio, in Easton, Bristol, where we recorded, mixed and mastered 3 tracks in just two days. Around seven months later, we went back to the same studio and recorded a two-track Single; the A-side being a bass driven track called “The King” (one of Sam’s finest moments in the band’s history).

However, the sound engineer somehow managed to distort Sam’s recording of the bass, so it had to be re-recorded on another day. This would’ve ordinarily been no problem, but Sam had since been grounded following some “completely unacceptable” behaviour on our end of GCSE trip to Newquay with the boys. Subsequently, the song written by Sam that revolved around the baseline, was recorded by Charlie. Sorry mate.

In the February of our gap year, we released a 5-track EP named “Shaded Glass”, with a new record label from Bath, named Rechouse Records. The lead track on this EP was “Dripping Away”, which took the longest time to record, with all 4 of us having a crack at the harmonies in the chorus; it’s not as easy as it looks.

Furthering this EP, in July we went on to to self-release our guitar-pop track “Kiss My Face”. One of our most poppy songs to date, undoubtedly the most fun to write and record. For this track we headed back up to Worcester to use the recording time we had been given by MAS Records. The sound engineer Woody, and the facilities of the studio were superb, which resulted in some really high-quality recordings (not to mention a few hysterical nights out in Worcester mid-week)

I think the one thing we’ve learned over the years about recording/releasing material, is that it simply cannot be rushed. It’s pretty much just common sense; if you spend 5 days on one song, its going to sound better than if you spend 1 day on it. Patience is important, which is something we’ve definitely learnt through experiencing it ourselves. On top of this, a large proportion of your success you receive will be down to the pre-release marketing you do. No matter how good your songs are, if it only gets listened to by your parents and your mates at school, you are never going to achieve a lot. Not to say, after around 4 years of being on soundcloud, our largely un-marketed debut EP has racked about almost 10,000 plays and around 500 downloads. Not bad lads, not bad.

Music Genie: Jasper Storey 

“20 year old Folk-Funk Singer/Songwriter from Bristol. Expect big things from this boy over the next few years”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdyysd5T5Rc – “Jasper Storey – Monday Morning”

Live Performance: An Experience

We began playing live shows when we were fifteen years old. Our first major show at a legitimate venue (not including school assemblies/shows) was in July 2011 at The Fleece in Bristol. We managed to secure a support slot for a band named “Ramonas”, an all-girl tribute band to Ramones… (don’t ask) Nervous doesn’t even come close to describing how we were feeling before going up on stage. All dressed up in our new shirts and shoes, a packed out Fleece (300 people or so), saw four young school boys take to the stage to play an all original set , bar a cover of “What If” by Bombay Bicycle Club. Generally speaking, and from what I remember, I think we played quite well- with the exception of a few questionable harmonies from our bassist Sam and myself; but at least we tried. This gig gave us an unbelievable confidence boost, and we then began playing all around Bristol, dubiously telling venues we were eighteen (this was the age restriction for most venues)

By the time we were actually 17/18, we had built up a fairly strong repertoire of gig experience across Bristol. The Fleece, The Louisiana, The Croft, The Cooler, Colston Hall, The O2, The Thunderbolt, The Exchange and various random village halls including Nunney and Redfield. Although some of the gigs in the small quirky places weren’t necessarily beneficial in the sense of making it as a band, they did give us very good experience playing live, and this is so important for upcoming bands, your live performance will determine whether people remember you or not- you need to stand out on the night and make people want to go home and listen to your music again. Further to this, the small quirky shows are where some of the best band memories are made…

More specifically, our slot at Nunney’s  (a small village in Frome) “Saturday Night Sessions” brings vivid memories of hiding backstage after we had performed (backstage being the kitchen in the village hall), with a large group of the local Frome secondary school girls, anxiously drinking out of a two-litre Strongbow bottle. The night went on to see one of our band members getting to know a particular girl a little too well, who actually turned out to have a boyfriend- they subsequently broke up. It’s safe to say we didn’t return to Frome in any hurry.

Similarly, our show at Redfield, we unknowingly arrived with our full kit (drums, amps, etc) to an acoustic night. Long story short we left a room full of pensioners even more deaf, slightly scared and a little bit confused. We had a lot of fun though. 

The live show that stands out the most to me, was one in 2014 we played at The Louisiana, in Bristol. During the support acts the room was probably about 40% full, and worry started to kick in… where is everyone? Fortunately, by the time our set came it was all but a full house. Two highlights from the set was the big mosh pit that surfaced during one of our songs and when our cameraman on the night attempted to crowd surf through it… 

Music Genie: Bridges 

“Honest. Raw. Energetic. A unique take on alternative rock, centred around poignant lyrics and euphoric drumbeats.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTM4oFeBXzs  “Bridges – Amor”

Band Life

SAONA:

Rish – Lead singer,  Rhythm Guitar

Charlie – Lead guitar, Keys, Backing Vox

Sam – Bass guitar, Synth

Alex – Drums

The concept of playing in a band is a million miles away from the reality of it; at the early stages, anyway. Don’t get me wrong we have (and continue) to play some amazing shows, had numerous opportunities and I definitely wouldn’t change a thing. However, the reality of it includes bits that nobody thinks of; sending thirty/forty/fifty emails to try and get new gigs in different venues and cities, spending hours rehearsing to polish a 10 second part of a song, or even just having to accept that not many venues will even give you a free beer, let alone cover your petrol.

Likewise with writing new music; I think the days of being completely unique and breaking into the music industry as a young band have all but gone; our 21st century generation has been swarmed with an influx of generic pop/electronic music. It seems there is now quite literally a recipe to writing a chart song, and as an artist if you’ve cracked it, you have guaranteed success. If Calvin Harris released a song tomorrow, I am sure it would make the top 30, no matter how awful it may be.

This really made me begin thinking about SAONA, and what we’ve potentially been doing wrong. I concluded that (as evidenced by many bands), your first track/EP/album, has to be, in some way, pop influenced. For example, bands such as The 1975, or Bastille, who began their early, pre-2013 days writing largely alternative music, have now only risen to success in the past 4 years, by releasing pop-based music.  If it’s not, simply not enough people will be interested. It’s like one huge snowball effect; the 1975’s debut album charted straight at Number One in the UK, and i do wonder if they hadn’t released “Chocolate” as their guitar-pop track single beforehand, if it would’ve even made the top fifty. Of course, this is a fairly large generalisation, there are different genres of bands that make success through non-pop music; the lo-fi/noise/grunge rock scene is still alive, but will never become as big as the guitar-pop bands, in my opinion.

As hard as you work, it always seems there will be someone better/more successful; being in a band highlights this to the extreme. I think there is an element of luck involved in breaking the music scene, i.e. if the  right person stumbles across your music at the right time and place, you can be catapulted into potential success and fame. 

Music Genie: Joe Probert

“Joe Probert is a singer/songwriter from Bristol.  Passionate, raw and powerful in his delivery and poetic lyrics he blends indie rock with an English folk twist.  Songs full of catchy choruses, eccentricity and ecstatic emotional highs. Joes primal voice transports you to his world.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61FmFzsTStE – “Joe Probert – Shake This Fate”

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