Ruby Taylor set out to create the magnificent sounds of Yumi and the Weather back in 2012. However her beautiful, tantalisingly addictive tunes, abundant in repetitive rolling simple guitars, casual sax and muffled background chants have only just been released on her EP ‘All we can’ back in October. The songs ‘All we Can’ and ‘Must I Wait’ are dream like yet equally crisp and controlled. I regrettably missed the chance to see her play her first ever London gig at The Notting Hill arts club last month, I can only imagine how spellbinding she must be live.
Last Saturday saw the 10th anniversary of the Ultimate Seminar, a day at the University of Westminster jam packed with an array of inspirational speakers shedding light on the joys of the music industry as well as its evident trials and tribulations. Colin Barlow, A&R specialist and President of RCA Records described the current state of the music industry as “like an aeroplane changing its engine mid-flight”. Encouraging stuff. Barlow went on to recount the pivotal day when a chap from Newcastle randomly dialled his number and asked if he could play him a tune down the phone. Barlow hesitated warily and then thought ‘why the hell not’. Thanks to his willing spontaneity he soon became one of the first people to experience the beautiful sounds of The Lighthouse Family and after a lot of hard work convinced his label to sign them. Barlow said his perseverance and undying passion for music was essential for success in his relentless position as A&R.
Although the day was admittedly full of encouraging cliché’s like “believe in yourself and you will succeed”, “Fortune favours the brave” and “Just be yourself”, the producer Naughty Boy’s story was a motivating tale of determination as well as well-deserved pot luck. Having dropped out of university the skint Shahid Khan aka Naughty Boy decided to enter the hit TV game show ‘Deal or No Deal’. I kid you not. On the morning of the show Naughty Boy said that two white doves flew into his room and landed on the table: “I immediately knew I was gonna get lucky man”. That day Naughty Boy went home 44 grand richer and used the money to build his own recording studio. The first collab project he landed was with Emeli Sande and he later rocketed to number 1 with his song ‘La La La’. Sat in between both his manager and Ted Cockle the MD of Virgin he said that all would have been impossible without their everlasting support.
The last panel of the day was flooded with artists such as The Night VI, Shannon Saunders, Jacob Banks and Etta Bond, all stored on my groaning itunes. It’s fair to say it was a surreal experience. George the Poet, who has recently been signed personally by Darcus Beese, spoke whimsical words of wisdom about the music industry in which he feels businessmen have tried to perform the impossible conversion of an art into a science. He encouraged the budding songwriters in the audience not to trouble themselves with the science of the business side to music making but to just be themselves and channel their energy into producing the music they were made to create.
The best part of the day had gravitated towards the topic of ‘getting noticed’. As an artist do you wait for an A&R to find you or do you need to desperately put yourself out there? Is it important to have an established twitter fan base or is having no following whatsoever more of a statement. Conflicting personal views from the panel seemed to confuse the desperate twenteens of the audience yearning for ‘the answer’. However one piece of advice stood out for me. One of the Baker Boys grabbed the mic and said ‘ just listen, get off twitter and make your own trends, enough said.’
Tip from the day: Tom Prior is the one to watch from Darcus Beese.
This week’s mixtape fix has to be the new project Lucid Dream from SPZRKT. Pronounced Spazzy Rocket, this name definitely resonates his original, eclectic and experimental style. The 23 year old has been compared to the likes of The Weeknd and Frank Ocean and songs such as The Feel II remind me of a young soulful John Legend. His impressive array of producer collaborations is the perfect soundtrack to everyday life.
Photo courtesy of BMOOREVISUALS.com
Supporting Bipolar Sunshine at Electrowerkz on the 20th of November the blonde bombshell Ulla Nova certainly turned many heads. Not only is she beautiful, she has a cracking set of pipes on her. Although her recorded tracks like ‘Kid from London’ fuse electro pop and airy vocals with almost hip hop beats reminiscent of FKA twigs vs Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’, live she projects a lot more soul behind her effortless belters. Without wanting to make too many comparisons she’s kind of like a London Grammar with attitude.
After Ulla Nova and a beautiful sing-along performance from Kimberley Anne, Bipolar Sunshine took to the stage. Many may not remember the Manchurian 6 man band Kid British but their lead vocalist, Adio Marchant, has since left his past of ska and rap and gone on to front Bipolar Sunshine. His beautiful, spine tingling ballads comprise of restrained guitars and Bloc Party style airy, unison choruses. There is an addictive sense of desperation behind his lyrics and samples of lovers’ quarrels from the hit romantic flick The Note Book echo this aching sentiment. All of this mounts up to a repertoire of fantastic songs that you simply need to play over and over again. Bipolar Sunshine will be supporting the chart topping Rudimental on their sell-out tour next year so there is no doubt that their success will soon spiral in an upward trajectory.
Last week I travelled to the interesting venue Scala in Kings Cross to watch Hunter & the Bear work their magic. I was admittedly uninspired by the seedy spiralled staircase into the labyrinthine venue, but to be frank, what more is to be expected from the home of the UK’s National Twerking championships. Yes, it exists. Thankfully with no Miley wannabes in sight the Scottish trio took to the stage and proceeded to blow everyone away. With their heart-warming country tones and folky rhythms Hunter & the Bear are definitely something to get excited about. Jimmy, Will and Josh are young, rugged and effortlessly talented. Their single ‘Forest on the Hill’ most certainly challenges the Mumford & Sons trend that is forefronting the mainstream charts and gives Lloyd Yates’ ‘Down By the River’ a run for its money. Whilst this song may verge on pop because of its fantastically catchy chorus, the band also showcased their originality, individuality and darker side with songs like Catalina and Wayward Son. This group is surely one to watch for the folk loving festival season next year.