Chris Blackwood – Interview

Friday 18th August 2017

Fresh off the back of his debut album release, I spent time chatting with Chris Blackwood about his music career so far, and what has encouraged him to push forward with a career in music.  Upon first listen I was taken aback by the amount of sheer talent Chris has, and it’s aparent that growing up listening to the likes of Oasis and Bob Dylan has played a big part in how his songwriting has been influenced.  The debut self-titled album is a concept album that tells a tail through the different stages of life; starting with birth, then moving in to the confusing middle years, and finishing with a bitter ending.  After playing in and around Manchester, Chris is now stepping out and ready for national recognition.

Hello! Please could you tell me about how it all started for you? Has there been anyone in particular that has inspired you to take the step in to music, and at what point did you know you wanted to make a career out of it?

The first real connection to music I felt was seeing the “Supersonic” video by Oasis on TV. I was only twelve, but it blew me away. The music really connected to me, and I spent the next four years devouring indie rock music. Then when I was seventeen I discovered Bob Dylan and that blew my mind again. This time with words and lyrics. It was at this point I knew I had to make a career out of it. I had been writing songs ever since I started learning guitar was I was twelve, but Dylan made me write different kinds of songs. Songs that matter.

Your single “The Quiet Elude” is the first release from your debut album. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

Fantastic. People understand it which is the main thing. It’s short, simple and effective, which is perfect for a first single from an album. My main worry was that it doesn’t really reflect the album’s sound, but I chose the song as it would be the neatest transition between the acoustic EP’s and the fully fledged full band album.

Who did you work with for the accompanying video for the single, and where did the shoot take place?

I worked with Gaz Davies, who is a fantastic filmmaker. We shot the music video above a jazz bar in Stephenson’s Square, Manchester. It was this cool little photography studio. We got rid of all the backdrops and just kept the room looking bare, as I thought that’d match the aesthetic of the song. We got it all filmed in three hours! A short amount of time that reflect the brevity of the song. Gaz is also filming the album release show on 2nd September.

Could you tell me about your writing process, and how you know when a song is ready? Is there anyone who you can bounce ideas around with?

Songs come from nowhere. Most of the time I’ll have an idea that pops into my head and I’ll run to my guitar to pick it out. Normally I’ll figure the rest out in less than half an hour and the song is done. You can’t just sit down and write. The labour will show. It needs to be natural and unforced to make it seem organic and real.

I always write songs by myself, apart from my single “Unwinds,” which was written with James Fewkes. There is also a song on SoundCloud called “Slipstream,” which was written with Rob Jones. But apart from this I write them all by myself.

What can we expect from your upcoming self-titled album, and how did you find the process of putting it together?

Oh it’s a journey definitely. Everything’s very carefully placed. It’s been a few years in the making in my mind, and it took about eight months to record. It was relatively easy to record because I had all the parts already figured out from years of playing them. The hardest I’d say to get right were the instrumentals. I’ve never done an instrumental track before, never mind three. I wanted to get these to not seem out of place with the rest of the tracks.

What has drawn you to create a concept album, and do any of the tracks draw upon personal experiences?

Every release I do has some kind of concept. Maybe that was inspired by listening to Pink Floyd and The Beatles when I was younger. The two acoustic EP’s had individual concepts, and these were differentiated with each other. Dark and light. This album is like chapter one of a wider concept I’m planning.

All these tracks draw from personal experiences. The problem with this is that it needs to be broad enough to fit into everyone else’s personal experiences. But I believe everyone feels these things when they’re growing up, so I’d like to think the concept is universal. But I don’t force it either. A concept should never get in the way of good songs, then it gets too pretentious. People can find their own meaning in the tracklisting, that is the best way to listen to this album.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged and helped you to develop your sound?

Pink Floyd and The Beatles as I said earlier are my inspiration for concept-driven music. Apart from that I’m heavily inspired for this album by Elliott Smith and Pavement. Also Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines, two bands I listened to a lot of when I was a teenager.

I used influences as a device on this album. The first half is inspired by the indie rock I listened to when I was a teenager, the second half inspired by Bob Dylan, Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine.

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the whole process, and have you been given any lasting advice?

The only lasting advice I’ve been given is that a career in this industry doesn’t last. That’s why you’ve got to give it your all while you’ve still got it. That’s why I’ve decided to release everything myself. I don’t want to wait for a record company to come along for me to record the music I want. I worked for an entire summer to afford the recording costs of this album. You’ve got to do it yourself. Don’t rely on anyone else.

How are you feeling about your album release show and are there any tracks in particular that you’re most excited about performing live?

Very excited, first time I’ve played with a full band. It’s at a little placed called Aatma, not far from where we filmed the music video. The support acts are fantastic as well. Mystic Rose, The Prions and Scott Lloyd.

I’m looking forward to playing it all to be honest. You can get so much sound out of four people rather than one acoustic guitar. A much more fully-formed sound. But if it’d have to be one track, I’d be “Faraway.” The outro will be fantastic live, and I’m looking forward to how people react to it.

Finally, what other artists are you listening to at the moment and do you have any recommendations?

I’m really liking Sonic Youth at the moment. I’d like to incorporate more noise rock elements into my music. I’ve added partly noise/shoegaze elements to the outro of “Faraway,” but I’d love to investigate more.

Also I’m loving Can. Krautrock is something I’d love to explore further. I did a twenty minute version of my song “Whirlwind” a while back and I’d love to release it if the opportunity arose.

Connect with Chris Blackwood via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Riva Taylor – Interview

Wednesday 16th August 2017

Following the release of her poweful single “Deeper Than Us” in July; which was co-written with Jamie Hartman, who also co-wrote the stunning Rag n’ Bone Man track “Human,” it’s clear that songstress Riva Taylor is in good hands and that we are in for something special from her upcoming album which is due for release in the coming months. So for now whilst the release is under wraps, I was interested to find out more about Riva and her fruitful background.  Being the youngest singer at the age of 12 to ever sign to EMI has certainly put her in good stead; she has since collaborated with many known artists and producers, spent time travelling, touring, and gained herself a degree in History during it all to boot.  Intrigued by Riva I caught a moment to find out more about her story.

Please could you tell me about yourself, where it all started and how you came to be a singer/songwriter?

How long do you have!? In a nutshell – I started as a kid on the West End stage. I just loved singing and performing and did it as much as I could, whenever I could! It led to a few TV appearances as a kid and being signed to EMI Records. I always wrote songs for fun, but only in my 20’s did I begin to collaborate with songwriters and record my own music.  With age and experience there’s so much more to write about, I’m loving it!

When did you realise you could sing and wanted to make something of it?

I probably answered that above! Its something I’ve always done but I made an active decision to pursue a career as a singer as an adult. After I took a break from the industry between 18 and 22 to go to university.    

You have a great story to tell, starting with being the youngest singer to sign to EMI at just 12 years old. How was the experience for you being so young, and how do you feel it has shaped you as an artist today?

Those years have definitely shaped the way I approach my career, the people I work with and my love of exploring new places. I was very fortunate to have been given opportunities to travel and promote my music in all sorts of fun places like Japan and Finland. I also met some wonderful people who I am still in touch with and have been helpful over the years while I have been shaping this last album. One of the most valuable things I learned is that nothing is given, surround yourself with positive influencers and take your destiny into your own hands!

Following this you went to University to study History. How did you juggle this with your music commitments?

I didn’t. It was the first time in my life that I committed myself full time to education, no juggling or putting my pen down to jump on a plane! Of course I missed it and involved myself whenever I could (after the novelty of vodka shots and reading 5 books a week wore thin!) – gigging, theatre and the odd recording session. But music took a backseat, and I needed time to regroup and work out what I wanted from life… a question a lot of 18 year olds ask for sure!

For your dissertation you focused on the exploitation of black US rhythm and blues musicians.  What encouraged you to research in to this, and what was it that interested you about this topic?

I had begun to specialise in US Civil Rights History and minority groups in the US and read a book on the subject. I knew I wanted to research the subject in more detail, PLUS – I got to listen to loads of awesome music! Music is written at the happiest times, and the saddest times and the struggle faced by African Americans in the US at the time was often voiced through their music. It also shaped the rock n roll style of some of the best loved white artists at the time like the Beatles and Elvis and should be celebrated.

You’ve recently released your first single ‘Deeper Than Us’ from your upcoming album. How are you finding the response so far?

Had a fantastic response so far. The remixes have charted and been played by Pete Tong on Radio 1 and by Tiesto. Its given me opportunities to perform it live too – which is when I’m my happiest! Excited to see where things take me next.

The track was co-written with Jamie Hartman. How was the experience? Did you already have a narrative in mind when you wrote the track, or is this something Jamie helped you to develop?

Jamie was fab to work with! We had no idea what we were going to write when we began, but when you write a really important thing is being a little transparent and honest about what you’re going through. So Deeper was definitely a product of two people putting their heads together and stemmed from the fact I felt self actualised and positive at that moment in time!  

What can we expect from your new album, and how does it compare to your previous material?  Are there any notable differences or developments?

It’s very different. I’m vocally different, its darker, it has more edge and its a product of from my own experiences. It’s ‘Deeper’ (excuse the pun!) and that’s all I’m giving you!

How would you describe your music?

Epic, womanly pop.

Finally, if you were invited to perform in the BBC Live Lounge which song would you cover and why?

Imagine Dragons, Believer. Great band and I’m loving their new album…

Connect with Riva Taylor via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Natalie Alexander – Interview

Tuesday 8th August 2017

Natalie Alexander is a Country songstress hailing from the beautiful Santa Cruz in California.  She has just arrived on the music scene with her debut single ‘Cruel’ and her self-titled EP, which brings us the promise of powerful music that evokes a range of emotion.  Armed with her guitar, Natalie is inspired by the likes of Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift and hopes to continually evolve as an artist.

Speaking about her debut EP, Natalie says that “There are countless talented people in the world but what sets apart the best from the rest is artistry. I don’t know that I’m there yet but it’s going to be in the front of my mind as I continue to grow artistically. There’s a song on my EP for every kind of 2017 country fan.“

Listening to ‘Cruel’ it’s great to hear Natalie making something of her talents, and I hope this is the start of something glorious to come.  So as she steps out, I grab a moment with Natalie to discuss how it started and how it’s all going so far.

Photo Credit: Brandon Showers

You’ve recently found your love for song writing and playing guitar. Has there been anyone in particular that has inspired you to take the step in to music, and at what point did you know you wanted to make a career out of it?

Music was always a huge part of my life, but I think it came to a point where I realized it was what I wanted pursue, not just a hobby. That moment came my junior year of college. I had been taking voice lessons for fun and recorded myself singing over a karaoke track, just to track my progress. The producer of my EP ended up hearing it and called me saying he wanted to meet, and that’s really where it all began.

Your debut single ‘Cruel’ has just been released. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, it’s unbelievable. I’ve been contacted by so many people who love my music and are asking for things like signed photographs. When that happened the first time I was shocked! I’m so glad people are responding so well to “Cruel” and the other songs on my EP. It’s definitely motivation to keep creating music they want to listen to. 

Will there be a video release for the single?

We’ve been talking about a video for “Cruel.” While no formal plans have been made as of yet, it’s definitely a possibility here in the near future. That would be such a fun video to make.

Could you tell me about your writing process? Being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas from, or do you just know when a song is ready?

I’m still very new in the writing department, but it thus far has been a very private process. I like to keep a note on my phone of little things I hear or come up with, whether that be a short phrase or sometimes I’ll come up with a whole verse or chorus. I’ll then sing it into a voice memo on my phone and I can build off of it from there. I’m really looking forward to working with other writers on my own songs. The collaborative nature of music was something that drew me to it in the first place, so I’m looking forward to that next step.

What can we expect from your new EP, and how did you find the process of putting it together?

This EP happened very naturally. I knew almost from the second I heard those 4 songs that they were the ones I wanted on my EP. I think the songs I recorded are each unique and collectively they provide a taste of the different things I’m capable of. I hope there is a song on there for each type of country music fan and I’m looking forward to continuing to develop as an artist and experiment more with my sound and what I like to sing.  

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged and helped you to develop your sound?

Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift are at the top of that list. I’ve always admired them both, my voice and style of singing has definitely been influenced heavily by Carrie, and Taylor Swift’s writing is next to none. Having people in the industry that I idolize gives me something to reach for which is crucial, I think, in my growth and development as an artist, so I thank them for that.

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the whole process, and have you been given any lasting advice?

I’m loving it! It’s really fun and getting to create something for people to enjoy is incredibly rewarding. Probably the best advice I’ve received is to make music that I like, not what I think will sell. Being genuine is incredibly important to me and I think that’s really rule number one to being genuine as an artist.

What other instruments do you play? It sounds as though you have quite a musical family, and your love for music started at a young age, so I’m guessing you know how to play more than just the guitar.

I actually started playing the piano when I was 8, that was my first instrument. Guitar is something I’ve picked up more recently for songwriting and performing. My first music love was definitely the piano – it’s a beautiful instrument with such a rich sound and it’s so fun to play.

You’re passionate about protecting women, children and animals.  Are there any charities in particular that you advocate, and what has drawn you to these causes? 

When I was in high school I saw a number of my friends raising service dogs with Canine Companions for Independence. I think that is such an amazing cause. I love my two dogs and the joy they bring me, so what a beautiful gift you’re giving someone in need of a service dog!

Connect with Natalie Alexander via her Website, Instagram and iTunes.

Cameron Jay – Interview

Thursday 29th June 2017

Cameron Jay has been chasing her dreams of becoming a Singer/Songwriter ever since her first music lesson when she was 9 years old.  She is working hard to build herself a successful music career; from her early days of performing at charity festivals, to recording her debut EP, and  having the amazing opportunity to join Sam Bailey on her UK tour earlier this year, Cameron has been gaining continued support.  With such a story to tell I wanted to chat with Cameron to find out about how it’s all going and what to expect next.  Her single ‘I Want You‘ was released on the 4th April and has a great R&B vibe, with her debut EP providing a more emotional and heartfelt ambience to it.  I recommend you give it a listen!

Hello! Please could you tell me more about your early years and what inspired you to become a singer/songwriter at such a young age?

Well I had my first singing lesson at aged 9 years old at school and I knew then that singing was what I wanted to do. I did my grades 1-3 and took part in the festival competitions and I was always marked really well. Unfortunately, a year later I was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer which put all my after school activities on hold but soon after my recovery I took part in a charity competition which I would say paved the way for my whole career leading up to this point now.

I was only 12 at the time of winning the competition and George Walker who was running the show really took a shine to me and continued to support me throughout my early teens years.

The prize was to record and write a single and perform at the Emmerdale Annual Charity Ball that he held in aid of The Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust. From there I joined the girl band with one of the competitions he hosted a year later and we went by the name of ‘Heaven Scent’. We recorded a covers album called ‘From Above’ and performed at the Emmerdale Balls and day time Extravaganza’s for a couple of years before breaking off to do our own thing.

I recorded my first solo covers album when I was 16 in aid of CLAN who supported my recovery after my cancer and then went on to record a single ‘Where Will We Run’ in aid of Just A Drop Charity whilst living in London.

I did a lot in my early years for charity but since then I have released my first EP which showcased my original material for the first time. I worked with so many amazing individuals whilst living in London and this journey has brought so many amazing opportunities from dancing in the Olympics, to performing at Brixton Splash, winning a singing battle, auditioning live in front of Fazer of N-Dubz, travelling to Nairobi, Kenya to perform and I am just so glad I never gave up on my dream to make a career from singing.

What artists did you listen to growing up, and how have they encouraged you and helped you to develop your sound?

Growing up listening to Lauryn Hill as well as getting into hip-hop at quite a young age I feel has definitely influenced my writing style but vocally I think Christina Aguilera, Dina Carroll, Carole King, Whitney, Mariah and definitely Celine Dion played a massive part in allowing my vocal range to excel.

My singing teacher left for Australia and I didn’t find anyone else that I felt I resonated with so I would say these artists were like my teachers. Of course, the Spice Girls had a massive influence on me as well which I think every girl aged 7/8 loved the Spice Girls at that time.

As I got older Christina Aguilera was someone who inspired me massively to sing songs that had messages of hope and speak of the things I have been through in life. Her ‘Stripped’ album got me through a really a dark phase in my life and I thank God my dad gave me this album as I would say it really brought me back to being me again after that horrible time.

You released your single ‘I Want You’ on the 4th April from your debut EP ‘Fearless’. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

The reception to ‘I Want You’ has been fantastic actually. So many people enjoyed hearing an upbeat track from me as the songs on my EP ‘Fearless’ are a little more serious and speak about my experiences of leaving my hometown and moving to London and the things I experienced whilst living there. ‘I Want You’ was written with my good friend Junaid who is based in London and was produced by two really cool guys from Derby who go by the name ‘Sound Junkeyz’ and we are looking forward to working on some new music over the next few months.

But to be honest it is extremely difficult being an independent artist because you are juggling so many things from writing songs, booking studio time for track production and recording vocals, whilst trying to liaise with venues and event organisers to book you for their shows and actually pay you for those shows. As well as making sure any new opportunities that arise you create a press release, contact all the media platforms in your local area, then have to chase them up via email and by phone before getting an answer on whether they will run your story or not. This doesn’t include the time needed on social media, meeting and greeting those you follow to show your appreciation and directing them to your music.

Then you have to create visuals for your songs and film directors are certainly not cheap. You are literally doing so much on a very small budget which means you really have to work full time to be able to pull this all together. We really need more hours in a day! So I am currently really needing some more support from radio stations, promoters, agents to support me in getting my music heard across the UK and further afield.

Will there be a video release for the single?

Yes, there will definitely be visuals created for this track. I am going to be holding auditions for dancers & dance groups to come in and dance for us in front of a green screen and their auditions will be used to help create the visuals for this song. Other shots will hopefully be taken outside on a nice sunny day here in Aberdeen which doesn’t happen so often, so we may need to wait until the end of July or beginning of August to film these parts.

How did you find the process of putting your EP together, and were there any obstacles you had to overcome?

Actually, this took a lot longer than expected. It took me around 2 years! I did a lot of sessions with Jay Inkz and Adryan Glysson whilst living in London and I really took my time getting the lyrics and production for each track exactly how I wanted them all before I left London, so that when I moved back home to Aberdeen everything was ready just for me to start recording with Ryan Curtis.

He is someone I trust with recording my vocals and the recording process was pretty quick to be honest. I then researched independent companies in Scotland who could help design my front cover and actually print the CD’s as well as upload them to iTunes and Spotify, etc. At the same time as doing all this I was creating and organising my EP launch for which I hosted a 2 course dinner for 200 guests along with entertainment of 5 support acts and a mini burlesque show. It was so much fun, my only regret was not having someone there to capture professional footage on the evening.

What’s your writing process and how do you draw upon your inspirations?

I tend to write a few different ways… mostly I prefer to work in sessions with other writers as I feel you can capture different views on how the story for the songs could go. If sometimes I’m working with a guitarist I can just freestyle what I’m feeling or thinking in the moment and record a voice note and go back and type the lyrics up afterwards. Living in London was great because you would spend a lot of time on buses and trains and lot of inspiration would come to me in those times travelling back and forward to work or to music sessions.

What did you hope to achieve with ‘Fearless’ and how does it feel hearing the finished record? You have a great voice, and there’s a notable difference in some of the tracks. Was that intentional?

My intention for Fearless was to ‘let my music do the talking’. That’s why I didn’t go for a front cover with a picture of me on it as I really wanted people to get to know me better through listening to my songs.

You recently supported Sam Bailey on her UK tour. How was the experience for you and what were your personal highlights?

Supporting Sam Bailey has to be the highlight on my year so far! I had heard about the opportunity in April 2016 and I was actually pregnant at the time and I was desperately trying to reach Erica Banks who was the point of contact for the opportunity, and finally when I reached her she said not to worry as the performance wouldn’t be until April 2017. So a year later after my daughter was born I received an email saying that Sam and her team were keen to hear my music and within 5 days they had got back to me to say they would love to have me support her at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen. You can actually see the footage on YouTube.

What other artists are you listening to at the moment, and what was the last album you bought?

The last album I bought was Emeli Sande ‘Long Live The Angels’. I love her music, I love her writing style and of course she is a massive inspiration to me with having came from Aberdeenshire as well. Emeli has a song on that album called ‘Give Me Something’ that I can really relate to because I have felt that after having my baby and becoming a new mum I just didn’t feel like I knew where my place in the music industry would be and really needed something to believe in. But after the opportunity to support Sam came along I released my new single and since then everything has just been flowing effortlessly which is such a blessing!

What can we expect from you next; do you have a goal, and where do you hope your music will take you?

I have been scouted for O’Neill’s Sound Of Summer competition which is sponsored by Jagermeister and I really hope I can get to the semi final in Liverpool. The prize winnings are £6000, studio time in a professional recording studio as well as slot on the Jagerhaus stage at Bestival this year. This is such a great opportunity for me and I really hope I can take it all the way to the final in London so I can see everyone I was working with whilst living there as it’s been over 2 years since I have seen everyone.

I am looking forward to getting back into the studio this year. If I win Sound Of Summer I will be using some of the money to record my first album. I will be performing at our local radio station Northsound’s ‘Little Black Dress’ event on 25th August which is a ladies event to raise money for Cash For Kids charity and I am currently working with Mastermind Promotion who are an award marketing and and PR company based in London and I’m really looking to seeing how our campaign for my new single progresses over the next 3 months :)

Connect with Cameron Jay via her Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.

Daisy Clark – Interview

Tuesday 6th June 2017

Daisy Clark recently became a YouTube sensation overnight with her cover of ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ which stacked up over 12 million views, and even knocked Ed Sheeran off the iTunes Singer Songwriter charts – twice!  Her channel is packed with an array of wonderful covers from the likes of Ella Henderson, Adele, Harry Styles, and The 1975; and after being picked up by Music Crowns and spending time in Mark Ronson’s studio, Daisy is now due to release her debut single ‘Worlds Away’.  Hailing from Cornwall and at the tender age of 18, Daisy has spent the majority of her youth emercing herself in music, and it’s easy to see why her talents are quickly emerging.  Being one to watch I speak with Daisy to find out more.

How long have you been singing and at what point did you realise you wanted a music career; was there anyone in particular who inspired you to pick up a guitar?

I’ve been singing since I can remember. I always participated in a lot of musical and theatrical things when I was younger, so I grew up always singing and performing and I loved it. Music was always my main focus though and I knew I wanted to be a singer. Throughout school I loved listening to Taylor Swift who is a singer songwriter… just her and a guitar which is what I wanted to do. She wrote all of her own songs which inspired me to do the same.  

Your debut single ‘Worlds Away’ has just been released, and was recorded in Mark Ronson’s studio.  How was the experience for you, and how are you feeling about the release of your single?

I love hearing songs come to life in the studio, the contrast between just me and my guitar and high quality recordings with other instruments added is amazing to see and hear. It’s been a great experience to be in such an exciting environment where amazing artists have recorded and gone on to do incredible things, so for Worlds Away to be released today on all major platforms is so exciting! I am known for my covers but I am a songwriter so being able to write my own original in such a prestigious place was so cool! I’m looking forward to hearing what my listeners think of Worlds Away as it’s quite different to my typical, mellow, acoustic songs.

How did you find the writing process, and were there any obstacles you had to overcome?

This was the first song I’ve co-written in the studio. 90% of my song are written at home in my bedroom with just me and my guitar so it was different, but it was fun to experience writing in a different way. Also, when I first started songwriting I was quite shy and didn’t like showing my songs to anyone, so to have to actually write with other people was quite intimidating at first, but it ended up being a great experience.

The single has been written through a personal experience.  How does it feel listening back knowing it represents a certain period in your life?

I wrote the song about a friend who was going through a tough relationship, and I really sympathized with this person, so decided to write some lyrics about it which I then took to the studio. A lot of my songs are written through personal experience but this one was inspired by a outside perspective. I like that as a songwriter I can write songs about other situations and experiences that listeners can interpret and relate to.

There are loads of great covers on your YouTube channel and they all sound fantastic.  Are there any personal favourites that you enjoy covering?

I recently did a cover of ‘Attention’ by Charlie Puth which I LOVE. The bass line is so funky and satisfying to play. I’m very into acoustic music, so I love being able to take and upbeat pop song, and strip it right back to show the simplistic beauty in the music and songwriting.

You covered ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ and it knocked Ed Sheeran off the top of the iTunes singer songwriter charts – twice!  How did it feel to become a viral hit over night?

It was very strange waking up to a LOT of notifications and messages. I pretty much spent the day doing interviews and watching the track climb the iTunes charts which was so much fun but very surreal! Especially to be next to Ed Sheeran who is such an incredible songwriting inspiration to me. I had people like Dawn French and James Arthur contacting me, it was crazy!

Music Crowns have really helped and supported me along the way by putting me on a platform which pushed my cover on a global scale was incredible! For anyone who doesn’t know what Music Crowns is, it’s a platform for unsigned, newly signed and independent music artists to get great exposure through social media and various online platforms, I would definitely recommend that if you are an artist yourself and are looking for help in getting exposure to get in contact with Music Crowns.

If you could pick a song by any artist (past or present) that you could say you wish you had written, what would it be and why?

Probably ‘Put Your Records’ On by Corinne Bailey Rae. It’s such a good song that everyone can sing along to, and I adore the lyrics. For example: “Summer came like cinnamon, so sweet”… it’s just so good, haha.

Are there any artists that you would like to collaborate with if you had the opportunity?

Definitely Taylor Swift, as she inspired me to start songwriting and learn guitar! That would be amazing, however I would be very star struck to meet her in person, but it would be an incredible experience.

It looks as though you’ve got a busy schedule over the summer with many live dates and festivals planned.  Are there any venues in particular that you’re looking forward to performing at?

I love local festivals… I just performed at the Great Estate Festival which was incredible. I’m also super exited to play at Boardmasters and Tunes In The Dunes! They’re amazing festivals in Cornwall which are right on the beach. I am also getting to perform at the Royal Albert Hall at the end of the month, which really is a dream come true, there have been so many amazing artists perform there so to follow in their footsteps really is so great!

Finally a random question, but when viewing your blog my cursor turns in to a jar of Nutella.  Is there any reason for that? :)

Because who doesn’t love Nutella?? Haha, there’s no particular reason I just really like Nutella… and just food really!

Connect with Daisy via her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Daisy Clark is managed by Music Crowns, an online platform for independent and unsigned musicians. Worlds Away is available now on iTunes, Spotify and other major music distribution channels.

Chey – Interview

Thursday 18th May 2017

Hailing from South Wales, Chey is an outstanding singer/songwriter who has been on the music scene for many years.  From performing at charity gigs in her hometown to working with artists and producers from around the world, Chey is ready to really push things further and make a career out of her music.  Her latest single ‘She’s Got You’ has quickly picked up interest, and rightly so; it’s a soulful and heartfelt track with a stunning video to match.  I was completely taken in by Chey upon first listen so I had to take the opportunity to find out more – I’m certainly itching for an EP release and can’t wait to hear what’s next.

Please could you tell me about yourself, where it all started and how you came to be a singer/songwriter?

I come from a small Welsh village in South Wales and I started singing at a very young age. One of my earliest memories was aged 5, in a Christmas Carol service in a local church where I sang “little donkey”, I felt quite at home on a stage even back then. About fifteen years ago I started writing songs by putting my feelings and experiences down on paper and then putting them to music. Recently I’ve been working with artists from all around the world, I love to collaborate with other songwriters, there’s something quite magical about two people from different corners of the world coming together to make something special.

Your voice is simply wonderful. When did you realise you could sing and wanted to make something of it?

Oh thank you! I’ve been singing as far back as I can remember, singing has always been a big part of my life, it’s something I really enjoy and I’m very passionate about too! I’ve always wanted to make a career out of music but sometimes life just happens and dreams are put on hold. I’m ready to make it happen and show the world my music.

What’s your writing process and how do you draw upon your inspirations?

Usually during the writing process the music comes first, well most of the time, and inspiration comes sometimes in the most unusual places, inspiration is anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes I can be in the studio for hours just catching up and having a good old chat with my producer and nothing happens. Then other times I can go in and he plays a chord and we write a song within an hour, that’s why I love music, it’s so unpredictable!

How do you know when a song is finished and is there anyone you can bounce ideas off to give you any advice?

Even when you think a song is finished there’s always something you can do to make it better. After a studio session I like to live with the track for a week or so to really feel the song, I play it to all my close friends and family to see what they think and then I go back to my producer and we bounce ideas off of each other to see if we can make it better.

Your latest single ‘She’s Got You’ has been released for a couple of weeks now. How are you finding the response so far?

She’s Got You was released on 27th April and was premiered in the Huff Post. So far the response to the new single has been amazing, it’s had over 41,000 streams on Spotify and I’m so grateful for all the support that I’ve had with it. I’ve also just released a club mix which is available to stream and download now on all digital platforms. There’s also a really cool lyric video to go with it, which you can check out on my YouTube channel now!

It comes across very expressive and personal as though it has been written from the heart. Have you drawn upon personal experiences?

When expressing a song the words and music must have passion and sincerity, even though this song isn’t from a personal experience I try and place myself in the moment and express how I would feel telling the story. People need to relate to the song and the best way to do that is to mean every word and sing it from the heart.

How did you come up with the idea with the video for the track, and how did it feel seeing it finished? It compliments the song really well.

First of all I got in touch with the guys from Video Ink, myself and the creative director then had a long conversation about the song and the meaning behind the song and how we could tie that into the video. We came up with the idea of contemporary dancers, which I really loved. All the choreography and shooting was done in one day, I think this brought out the best in the dancers and really allowed them to feel the song and just dance with the emotions they felt at that time, which I thought worked really well.

What’s next for you and have you been working on an EP or album release?

I’m back in the studio now working on new music and new ideas, and maybe an album release very soon!

Can we look forward to any tour dates? It would be great to catch you performing live.

There will definitely be tour dates coming soon, you can keep up to date with the latest news and performances on my social media.

Finally, what other artists are you listening to at the moment and do you have any recommendations?

I listen to lots of genres and lots of artists but my favourite at the moment is Rag and Bone Man, his voice is pure velvet.

Connect with Chey via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Calum Foad – Interview

Tuesday 14th March 2017

It’s not quite Spring just yet, but I’m sat here in my office looking out the window to bright blue skies and can’t help thinking how much I’ve missed the Summer sun.  Undecided on what to listen to on such a cheerful day, I’m introduced to Reading born Calum Foad and his latest single You & I.  Trying his hand at the pop scene, with plenty of charm and an uplifting sound, I’m quickly finding myself singing along to a very infectious song.  Likened to Jake Miller and Olly Murs, and inspired by chart-topper Ed Sheeran, it’s easy to understand why Calum aims to be destined for pop success.

Hello! Could you tell me a bit more about yourself? How long have you been playing music, and who or what inspired you to pursue it as a career.

Of course! I’m Calum, I’m 21 years old and I’m from Reading (almost feels like an introduction worthy of a Paddy McGuinness TV show). I started playing piano aged 5 and guitar aged 8, but I didn’t start singing until I was doing GCSE music though. As cliched as it is, in the current climate Ed Sheeran was the inspiration to pursue a career in music. I was very much doing the singer/songwriter thing as he released The A Team, had 1000 people turn up to a free show he played at Camden Barfly and subsequently signed a major label deal. He was THE man!

Your single ‘You & I’ has been out for almost a month now.  What have been the reactions so far and how responsive are you finding the audience to your new material?

The reaction has been amazing, far exceeded anything I could’ve expected. The reach has extended beyond just friends and friends of friends, which is amazing! People finding me off the back of things such as the ‘This Morning’ fashion VT is also incredible… Such a bizarre feeling! I hadn’t released anything in quite a few years, so very much went from a standing start but people are really getting on board.

What’s your writing process and how do you know when a song is ready?

It entirely depends on the track, if I’m writing on my own I tend to write very quickly in short bursts. I’m not someone who’ll sit at a piano and play until something comes out, I’ll have an idea pop into my head and run with it. If I’m in a co-writing session, however, it’s a very different dynamic as you bounce ideas off the other person. Generally speaking, I’m my own worst critic, so what I do now is demo anything I feel to be ‘half decent’ and then let my producer hear it.

Are you working on putting an EP or album together and what can we expect from it?

Now that would be telling! I will say, however, I’m heading back over to America to do some more recording with Marc later on in the year.

How was the experience of working with Marc McClusky, and how easy was it to get him on board to help produce your music?  

Marc’s an incredible producer and all round lovely guy! The Marc thing came about completely by accident… He’d had some involvement with an app used for triggering backing tracks/samples live – I added him on Facebook to ask some questions about it, he checked out my earlier music, it went from there.

Who did you work with to create the music video for your single ‘You & I’ and who came up with the idea for it? Did you work alongside a team or did you create the idea yourself.

Both the You & I video and the upcoming single video were directed by a dude called Chris Porter, he’s an absolute genius. He really likes to think outside of the box (even if that did involve me having powder paint fired at me whilst bouncing on a trampoline – health and safety eat your heart out). I wanted something vibrant and fun and that idea is what Chris brought to the table.

Being in the early stages of your music career, how are you finding the whole process and have you been given any lasting advice?

Trying to carve out a career in the music industry is no easy thing to do, it’s something that if you really want to pursue, you’ve got to pursue it at the cost of literally everything else. On the flip side, for all the down moments it’s such a gratifying feeling when someone comes up to you and says something as simple as ‘I really like your track’… I MADE that! It’s a feeling that I (imagine) is akin to having a child… You’ve got to take the moments of pride with the moments of them metaphorically sh*ting themselves. Best piece of advice I’ve been given is ‘if you won’t invest in yourself, then why would anyone else’!

Do you have any live dates scheduled for 2017 and where can we see you performing?

All live dates are to be announced, there won’t be a huge number, as I’m focusing on writing this year, so please make sure you come down to the dates that are posted!

What’s your ultimate aim and where do you hope your music will take you?

Truthfully, I just want to be able to support myself doing music full time. When someone asks me what I do for a living, I want to be able to say ‘I sing’… That’s the goal!

Finally, if you were invited to perform on the BBC Live Lounge which song would you cover and why?

Good question! I’m a huge lover of all things 80’s, so it’d have to be something of that era that’s not been on the live lounge before… I’m thinking Steve Winwood ‘Higher Love’ or Womack and Womack ‘Teardrops’.

Connect with Calum via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.