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PledgeMusic News Les Musicals: The PledgeMusic Interview

Jonathan Ansell (of British vocal troupe G4) and Rhydian Roberts have joined forces for a celebration of the songs from musical theatre in a new project entitled Les Musicals. Collectively selling over 3 million albums worldwide to huge international acclaim, Jonathan and Rhydian are giving their unique interpretation to some of the greatest songs, from some of the biggest musicals, of all time. Their Les Musicals PledgeMusic campaign is full of great fan experiences and offers, including personal birthday calls from both Jonathan and Rhydian, attending recording sessions, tea at the Ritz, a special weekend in Vegas with the guys and much, much more. Alongside these are signed CDs, posters and limited-edition merchandise. Jonathan and Rhydian recently spoke to us about the new project.

[[jpg213825]]How did you first hear about PledgeMusic and can you tell us a little about your latest PledgeMusic project, ‘Les Musicals’?

Rhydian – I released an album through PledgeMusic before in 2014 and with the help of my fans, we secured a number one album! Having a strong fan base, it seemed fitting to involve the fans in our first Les Musicals album together.

Jonathan – I heard of the platform through seeing other artists projects online and immediately realised what a brilliant concept it was, to be able to create music directly with the fans. That’s why I am delighted to be collaboratively back on PledgeMusic with this new album. We are excited to be able to celebrate Musical Theatre in its own unique way with this album, following our sell-out tour in 2018 and with many more shows booked in 2019. Les Musicals is set to keep thrilling audiences both onstage and on albums, for many years to come.

Although maybe a few parallels in your careers to date, you both have quite distinct ‘back-stories’, fill us in on how you came together in this musical collaboration?

R – I have often admired Jon, we came from the same show, namely X-Factor. We were both runners-up. He is a tenor, I am a baritone. One day we just decided to get together and collaborate. We were thrilled with the response.

J – We both met at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Birthday party celebrations in Hyde Park. It was a massive show with incredible artists on the billing. Rhydian and I seemed to hit it off straight away and were delighted to begin a friendship, which is now flourishing more and more through the recent tour.

The PledgeMusic campaign that you have put together for ‘Les Musicals’ is quite amazing. Lots of really inventive and creative experiences for your fans – from attending the recording sessions in Prague to a skydive with Jonathan and a weekend on a private yacht. How did you come to think all these up?

R – Jon is full of great ideas! The yacht in Majorca was my idea though and thanks to my uncle, who will lend us his.

J – We have both run successful PledgeMusic campaigns for other albums and have loved the way that you can create exciting experiences for the fans to engage with. The obvious ideas sometimes seem a bit dull, so we decided to spice things up a little and that’s why there is such variety in our ‘exclusives’ on offer. I genuinely hope that someone takes the plunge and goes for the skydive, as it’s a great excuse for me to fulfil an ambition to do one. Come on folks, let’s make this happen!

The album is featuring ‘smash hit songs from some of the greatest musicals of all time’, can you give us an insight into some of the titles that you are looking at to include on the album?

R – There will be a selection of songs which audiences have heard on our last tour. There are also some new arrangements of great Broadway songs yet to be heard.

J – We recently released ‘And I Am Telling You I’m not Going’ as a track on Rhydian’s new album The Long Road and that is likely to also feature on this album. We plan to record the big show stoppers from the latest tour. Tracks from Les Miserables, Wicked, Blood Brothers and many more, I can’t wait to get the list going!  

The album is released next year; can we look forward to seeing you together live on stage sometime in 2019, belting out songs from Les Musicals?

R – If all things go to plan yes, but we need to make this album first.

J – You most certainly can, we have an extensive 2019 tour hitting the road around the UK and we can’t wait to share the tracks from this album, plus many more smash hit songs from the shows.

Find Les Musicals tour dates in 2019 here 

Rhydian went on to tell us that the first record that made a big impression on him was Right Said Fred’s ‘I’m Too Sexy’ back in 1991 and his favourite album of all time is Queen’s Greatest Hits. Jonathan opts for ‘Love Changes Everything’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love musical. When away from making music and relaxing from their busy work-schedules, Jonathan has a penchant for fishing and Rhydian confesses to being ‘a wonderful house husband’ and a love of domestic chores. However, performance is the ultimate high for both guys especially for Jonathan when there is “an electric audience and thrilling atmosphere…which enables you to notch things up a little and really give people a show”. Continuing on the live theme, Rhydian has very special memories of performing at The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. For Jonathan, The Royal Albert Hall does it for him; “a cherished space that evokes many fond memories…I’ve been fortunate enough to sing there with various shows, including our show with G4 plus the Classical Proms and the Festival Of Remembrance in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen”. 

Thanks Jonathan and Rhydian for sharing your thoughts with us and we wish you luck with your PledgeMusic campaign. 

PS: we’ll draw a veil over Rhydian telling us that the strangest thing a fan has ever given him was a belly-button brush (true!) and how some of Jonathan’s more ‘enthusiastic’ fans have tattooed themselves with his image, that’s for another day. 

[[project:les-musicals]]

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PledgeMusic News Discover The Emerging Artists Fund Round 1 Winners

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Earlier this week, the first set of artists to benefit from the 2018 PledgeMusic and PRS Foundation Emerging Artists Fund was announced. The eight diverse acts have displayed the talent, a burgeoning fan base and the ‘DIY’ drive to build a long-term career. We can’t wait for the launch of their PledgeMusic campaigns and to see what they do with the support that the fund provides. In anticipation, check out some of their previous releases by following the links below.

Following support slots with the likes of Fickle Friends and Clean Cut Kid, Middlesborough lads Cape Cub are using the fund to record and promote their brand new EP.

Watch the video for single ‘Moonglow’ on YouTube or stream the track via AWAL now.

The Alt Folk/Americana Singer-Songwriter Emily Mae Winters will be using the fund to record her new album High Romance at Urchin Studios in December, after releasing critically acclaimed Siren Serenade in 2017. 

Check out Siren Serenade on Spotify now.

F E L L is the performing and recording project of illustrator and teacher Nicholas Burrows. The London based Indie Creative will use the fund to complete the production and promotion of a new EP.

Download the album There Still Are Mysteries via Bandcamp now.

In less than a year Lazybones have built up a strong following in Brighton, selling out headline shows in some of the city’s most loved alternative venues. The Alt-Rock trio will be using the fund to complete the production and promotion of a new EP. 

Watch the animated video to single ‘CRAZY’ on YouTube now.

Mansion of Snakes, an Afrobeat/Cosmic Jazz 12-piece from Leeds have already made waves with their behemoth live performance in venues and festivals nationwide. They will be using the fund to record and release a new album on vinyl and CD.

Check out their self-titled EP on Bandcamp now.

Following the independent release of two tracks and a collaboration with the DJ and music producer Ronika as part of Roundhouse Rising Sounds 2018, R&B/Soul Artist Marika will be using the fund to record and release three singles and music videos. 

Check out Marika on Soundcloud now.

Leed’s Chipshop Pop trio PEAKES released their debut EP Space in late 2017 to critical acclaim and have since performed a live session for BBC Introducing Yorkshire, as well as sold out shows in their hometown. They will be using the fund to record their second EP.

Listen to debut EP Space via Spotify now.

Brighton’s Future Soul 4 piece Yakul have brought their fluid jazz style to venues, festivals and airwaves both locally and further afield. They will be using the fund to record and release a new EP, as well as write new music.

Watch a live session of ‘Realigned’ on YouTube now.

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PledgeMusic News Emerging Artists Fund Round 1 Winning Artists Announced

The PledgeMusic and PRS Foundation Emerging Artists Fund, launched in April this year, has announced its first set of artists to benefit from the partnership and today releases details of the second round of the scheme.

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In total, 8 new artists and acts have been selected in the first round of the programme to receive funding and launch their own PledgeMusic campaign – full list below. The 2nd round opens Monday August 6th, with the deadline for submitted applications being 6.00pm on Friday 7th September.

Details here https://www.pledgemusic.com/feature/eaf18 

Speaking of the of the programme to date, Luke Arthur of PledgeMusic said:

“Always gratifying to be part of a process that directly helps new and developing artists move ahead in their career. Together with PRS Foundation, PledgeMusic looks forward to working with the very worthy list of winners and building on the initiative in the next round of the Emerging Artists Fund.”  

PRS Foundation’s Senior Grants and Programmes Manager, Joe Frankland said:

“Huge congratulations to the eight talented artists being supported in this first round of the Emerging Artists Fund. It’s fantastic to be working with PledgeMusic on this innovative approach to supporting artists to get to that next step in their career. I’m looking forward to following each artists’ campaign and the impact this support will have.”

The full list of Round 1 winners are:

Cape Cub 

Emily Mae Winters

Fell 

Lazybones 

Mansion of Snakes 

Marika 

PEAKES 

Yakul 

The Emerging Artists Fund offers artists and bands focussing on recordings, releases and/or touring, an innovative financing model to accelerate careers through support from PledgeMusic to generate initial funding and grant support of up to £2,500 from PRS Foundation.

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PledgeMusic News Therapy?: The PledgeMusic Interview

Dead set in the centre of these turbulent, divisive times Therapy? are here to offer their take on this new age of anxiety with album #15, CLEAVE and “ten tough new songs dealing in melody, riffage, rhythm and intensity”. The album will be released on 21st September and the PledgeMusic Therapy? campaign offers vinyl (black & limited coloured), signed CDs, an exclusive t-shirt (not available anywhere else), handwritten lyrics and a range of other tasty bundles. The band was formed in 1989 by guitarist/vocalist Andy Cairns; we spoke to Andy about the new album and many other musical matters.

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How did you first hear about PledgeMusic and can you tell us about your latest project and new album CLEAVE?

I first heard about PledgeMusic when a musician friend of ours, Ricky Warwick (Black Star Riders, Thin Lizzy, The Almighty) mentioned it as part of a solo project he was working on.

Therapy?’s new album CLEAVE is a collection of ten songs with a melodic leaning, but still heavy and powerful. Produced by legendary Brit Rock producer, Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters, Feeder), he’s taken our classic 90’s sound and updated it to the 21st Century.

You’ve signed to a Marshall Records for the album – an off-shoot of the famous amp manufacturer. Apart from (hopefully) being given free and state-of-the-art Marshall equipment, how did this partnership come about?

The main guy at Marshall Records called Steve Tannett, worked with us when we were part of the Universal Group in the late 90’s and a chance email from him to our manager ended up with us signing a worldwide deal with the label. Steve’s great and knows his music. Having worked with him before, it makes the day-to-day business of being a touring band with a new record out a lot easier.

You’ve said that the themes of CLEAVE are very much of the moment in terms of division and conflict; when you were writing the album, were these sentiments uppermost in your mind or did it just come through organically, so to speak?

It all arose from one comment at a party near my home in Cambridgeshire. I needed to have a starting point for the theme of the album. The current, divisive and unpleasant atmosphere in Britain is palpable, but I didn’t know where to start dealing with it from a songwriter point of view. At this party – which was very middle class and proper – I mentioned during a discussion that I was disappointed at the Brexit result. Someone actually said: “well, if you don’t like it you can always go back home”. I went home that evening and wrote the lyrics to ‘Kakistocracy’, a track on the new album. 

One of your exclusive PledgeMusic campaign offerings was the new album on coloured vinyl, limited to 500 copies. Pleased to say that they very quickly sold out and fans are asking if any more can be added?

We’ll have to ask Marshall about that! We’re very glad they’re selling!

PledgeMusic Exclusive T-shirt

 

The album comes out in September, can you give us a glimpse as far as you are able, as to when we can see Therapy? performing the new album live?

People can go to www.therapyquestionmark.co.uk and click on tour dates. We start on October 10th and carry on through November. Dates are very likely to be added for December and early 2019 too.

What’s the first piece of music that you can remember making an impact on you?

Sparks, ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the Both of Us’ and The Sweet’s ‘Blockbuster’. I heard these songs on the radio when I was very, very young and apparently used to go around singing them all the time. The first record I heard however that made me want to form a band was Buzzcocks ‘Ever Fallen In Love With Someone You Shouldn’t Have’.

What’s the last album you bought and the first that you purchased with your own money?

The last album I bought was Divine Weight by Alex Zhang Hungtai and the first album I bought with my own money was Love Bites by The Buzzcocks.

First concert that you remember going to?

Siouxsie and the Banshees, Belfast Ulster Hall, 1979. It was amazing.

Where were you when you first heard one of your songs on the radio?

I was in the Belfast flat of our Bassist, Michael McKeegan. We were listening to the John Peel Show when he played our first single ‘Meat Abstract’, which we’d sent him a few weeks before.

What album in your collection would you save in a house fire and who in your opinion has taken music forward in the last 5/10 years or so?

Burial’s Untrue is the album that I would have to save. In terms of ‘taking music forward’, it’s hard to decide. Maybe Burial for electronic music. He works in such a painterly way. Chills every time. Puts ‘the feels’ centre of experience with a strange mixture of old-fashioned melancholy and nu skool sound design. In rock, I think Mr Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age has a lot to answer for in the way modern rock sounds. Bands like Deafheaven are taking it away someplace new currently.

Perfect gig: what makes it for you as a performer and speaking of which, care to pick out one or two memorable shows you have performed where this all came together? Any particular venues, that you have a fondness for playing in?

Way too hard! We love playing. Venue-wise I love Brixton Academy, Belfast Ulster Hall, Brudenell Social Club Leeds. I think my favourite gig ever was the first time we played the Belfast Ulster Hall in 1992. It’s the place I used to go to see all the big bands that came through, so to be playing it myself was a wee bit special.

My Life’s Playlist – list 5 songs that are special to you.

Buzzcocks – ‘Ever Fallen In Love’: this mixes a punk adrenaline rush with poetic lyrics and the most gorgeous of melodies.

Only Ones – ‘Another Girl Another Planet’: beautiful melody, anthemic chorus and not only one, but two of the best guitar solos ever played by any guitarist ever!

Burial – ‘Archangel’: Shivers, I get shivers every time I hear this. It just aches. Time stops. Drums like heartbeats. An atmosphere like the metallic taste you get in your mouth when you’re excited/afraid/full of lust. 

Otis Redding – ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’: says all it needs to say succinctly, with enormous emotional resonance and with one of the greatest vocal performances of all time.

Lil Peep – ‘Kiss’: my teenage son got me into this. Emotive lyrics. When he died in 2017, it was obvious that he meant so much to a certain generation and he’ll leave a mark on more to come. This tune sneakily welds a couple of emo tunes together, takes the bits of melody it needs, then turns it into something spectacular for young minds.

[[project:therapy-cleave]]

Therapy? Official Site
Therapy? Facebook
Therapy? Twitter
Therapy? YouTube 
Therapy? Instagram

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PledgeMusic News The Guess Who: The PledgeMusic Interview

One of the greats, The Guess Who, are back with a fantastic new record and their first studio album of new music in over 30 years! The new album, The Future IS What It Used To Be arrives September 14th on CD, vinyl, and digital formats and can be pre-ordered now, along with a whole bunch of fan goodies, through the band’s PledgeMusic campaign. Guests on the album include Tommy Shaw (Styx) and Guess Who founding member, Jim Kale. We spoke to Garry Peterson – who has banged the drums on every Guess Who album – and Derek Sharp (vocals/guitars since 2008) to tell us about the new record, the past, present and the future of The Guess Who.

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How did you first hear about PledgeMusic and tell us a little about your new PledgeMusic project?

(Derek Sharp) I first heard of PledgeMusic through Sass Jordan and Brian Tichy, who were using it for their project S.U.N., contributing to a Kiss 40th Anniversary Tribute album. Sass is a brilliant singer from Montreal and Brian did a Christmas Holiday album through PledgeMusic last year.

The new album called The Future IS What It Used To Be has been a long time coming; what galvanised you into making a new record?

(DS) I had been writing songs specifically for this band since I joined. We did some recording over the years, but it became more focused when Will Evankovich (guitars/backing vocals) Joined the band in 2014 and we decided to complete the album together.

Your PledgeMusic campaign has signed albums, cool merch, signed guitar, drumsticks and a drumhead signed by all the band. Was it fun dreaming up the campaign?

(DS) Of course! it’s really an integral part of marketing and promotion in the present climate.

Looking ahead, what is coming up for The Guess Who? Is this the first of a series of new records? 

(DS) Yes! We intend to continue to make records and play to as many people as possible. 

Can you remember the first piece of music that made an impact on you?

(Garry Peterson) The jazz standard ‘C Jam Blues’ originally composed by Duke Ellington in 1942 also covered by Ella Fitzgerald & The Count Basie Orchestra, Oscar Peterson, Django Reinhardt and Charles Mingus.

(DS) ‘Rock Around The Clock’ by Bill Haley and the Comets

What’s the last album you bought and the first that you purchased with your own money?

(GP) First was Rich vs Roach, a 1959 studio album by drummers Buddy Rich and Max Roach with their respective bands of the time. Described as a “drum lover’s dream come true”, it’s both a period piece and a great musical record of possibly the finest drummers of their era at the height of their creative and technical powers. The newest is Soul Side of Town by Tower Of Power, which 50 years into their career has earned them their first Billboard No. 1.

(DS) First one for me was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and most recent was Celia Cruz with La Sonora Mantancera.

The first concert that you remember going to?

(GP) The Ventures

(The Ventures are widely considered to be the greatest surf band of the era. Formed in 1958, they sold over 100 million records worldwide and are the best- selling  instrumental band of all time. Ed.)

(DS) Don Messer’s Jubilee at the Fort William Gardens, Thunder Bay, Ontario. 

(Don Messer was a Canadian fiddler, bandleader and radio broadcaster who died in 1973, but is today remembered as an icon of Canadian folk music. Ed. )

Perfect gig: what makes it for you as a performer and maybe a memorable show for you?

(GP) The perfect gig for me is one in which the band and fans are in complete harmony. The SARS benefit concert in Toronto July 30th with The Rolling Stones, AC/DC & Rush in 2003 was a big highlight.

(DS) Same concert as Garry, only with a different band!

My Life’s Playlist – please list 5 songs that are really special to you and maybe a couple of lines on each as to why.

(DS) 

  1. Long Distance Love/Little Feat – where music meets lyric in the most perfect way.
  2. Love’s In Need Of Love Today/Stevie Wonder – one of the many songs that taught me how to sing, harmonize and phrase properly…. in any genre.
  3. Moonlight Serenade/Glenn Miller Band – a perfect lesson on music arranging and how to get 15 musicians to make one beautiful sound.
  4. Whole Lotta Love/Led Zeppelin – the song that helped me turn a corner on guitar playing and my approach thereafter.
  5. Rock Around The Clock/Bill Haley and the Comets – this song came on the radio when 5 years old, I decided at that moment what I was gonna do the rest of my life.

(GP) The question of a life song playlist is too immense and overwhelming to begin to contemplate for me. Music is the ultimate drug.

[[project:theguesswho]]For more information visit:

Official Website: theguesswho.com

Facebook: facebook.com/theguesswho

Instagram: @TheGuessWhoBand

Twitter: @TheGuessWho

2018 US Tour Dates:

Fri, Aug 24, 2018        Foellinger Theatre                                Ft. Wayne, IN

Sat, Aug 25, 2018       Lincoln Amphitheatre                           Lincoln City, IN

Fri, Aug 31, 2018         Oregon State Fair                                Salem, OR

Sat, Sep 1, 2018         Fort Randall Casino                              Lake Andes, SD

Sat, Sep 15, 2018       Twin River Casino                                 Lincoln, RI

Sat, Sep 29, 2018       Helwig Winery                                       Plymouth, CA

Sun, Sep 30, 2018      Yoshi’s                                                 Oakland, CA

Fri, Oct 5, 2018           The Golden Nugget                             Las Vegas, NV

Sun, Nov 11, 2018       Magic City Casino Amphitheater          Miami, FL

Fri Nov 23, 2018          Boomtown Casino Hotel                       Reno, NV

Fri, Nov 30, 2018         One World Theatre                               Austin, TX

Sat, Dec 1, 2018          Arlington Music Hall                              Arlington, TX

Tue, Dec 11, 2018       Savannah Center                                 The Villages, FL

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PledgeMusic News Fantastic Negrito: The PledgeMusic Interview

Xavier Dphrepaulezz (AKA Fantastic Negrito) cares. His new album Please Don’t Be Dead, is a cry from the heart by an artist sending a wake-up call as to what is happening in the world today: in the neighbourhood, in his native America and across the globe. However, it doesn’t stop there. It is also a call to action, to do something and make for a better world for everyone. Fantastic Negrito’s debut full-length album The Last Days of Oakland won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2017. The new album Please Don’t Be Dead is out now and has been hailed by the Washington Post newspaper as: “a truly fantastic blend of blues, funk, rock and R&B…a soundtrack of the lives of those who won’t give up and are willing to carry on”. For a few minutes at least, please immerse yourself in the words and wisdom of Fantastic Negrito.

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Tell us some of the thinking about the new album Please Don’t Be Dead; it has been described as ‘a call to action’ – here’s hoping this is also a view you concur with – what ‘actions’ are you looking for? 

I see these times as a call to action for artists and creative people, people who want to contribute. I’m looking for all of us now to step up our game because elected leaders on both sides of the spectrum have proved to be useless, corrupt, and self-serving. I believe artists can point the world in more of a direction towards love. 

You’ve said in the past that “music is medicine for the soul” and there is certainly a great mix of musical styles in this album; how does song-writing work for you? For example; do you imagine the rough idea of a song in your head and work from there, or is it a lot of blood, sweat and tears in a room alone somewhere?

For me songwriting is very organic, so it can come any way. It can come sweating it out for years over a song or it can be inspiring and fast. Like when I wrote the song ‘Dark Windows’ I simply wrote it at the end of the album, based on the short time that I knew Chris Cornell and it came very fast. When I look at ‘Plastic Hamburgers’, it’s something that I’ve been thinking of for years. So, for me, it’s very organic. I don’t have one way.

Please Don’t Be Dead: where did that title come from?

It came from my own experiences and from touring Europe, where people kept asking me what’s going on in America? People were very concerned about what the leader of the free world was saying. I think the album was kind of a letter and ode to America, democracy and the free world. Please don’t be dead. 

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You’ve done some time in major label-land (and I’m hoping that PledgeMusic represents a slightly better fit for you now!), what are the things that appeal to you working in the fan-funding world to release your records?

Well, what I love about not being on a major label and what I love about this point in my life, is I don’t really have a desire to be some of kind of pop star. And when I entered into this phase in my career, I really entered it more as a contributor. 

When I was with major labels, I was much younger. I don’t think I really wanted to contribute, as much as I was looking at how I could benefit me and what accolades I could attain by being a musician. It’s much more relaxing now, much more genuine. For me, it’s a great fit to build community and let the community connect with us directly. And there’s a lot of freedom to really be an artist and be as creative as you want to be. Not having to please the gatekeeper. 

Can you give us a glimpse into the future plans for Fantastic Negrito, either imagined or real?

Well, we are growing our collective Blackball Universe into a very serious contributor to music, art, philosophy, farming, yoga…. all the beautiful things in life. One of our partners, Malcolm Spellman, is a showrunner in film and television. We’re also working on a new urban farming initiative called Revolution Plantation that changes people’s relationship to the land from one of abuse and exploitation, to one of healing and economic opportunity. That’s the future. Blackball Universe. The collective. I like that word. Getting people together to form a consensus and do incredible things in the world.

Note: Blackball Universe, established in 2000 by Xavier started off as a record label and today has grown into a multimedia creative collective.[[jpg212814]]Following our conversation about the new album, we spoke more generally about Fantastic Negrito’s musical tastes; the artists that he champions and respects and what moves him musically. 

Can you remember the first piece of music that made an impact on you?

It was ‘St. Louis Blues’ by Louis Armstrong. Blew my mind. My dad was playing it and I think I was five years old. 

What’s the first concert that you remember going to?

I remember one special concert. It may not have been the first, but it was the roller skating rink in San Leandro. There were about 100 people there and it was 1987 or 88 and it was a group called N.W.A. That was one of the early concerts that left a big impact on me because there was Dr Dre, Ice Cube, Ren and Eazy-E, all on one small stage. 

Who in your opinion has taken music forward in the last 5/10 years or so?

 Kendrick Lamar, he set a high bar. I definitely also think Kamasi Washington and Sturgill Simpson. 

Perfect gig – what makes it for you as a performer and speaking of which, care to pick out one or two memorable shows you have performed where it all came together?

I think whenever you make that spiritual connection, that intangible connection, you could call it a ‘perfect gig’. Memorable shows? The island of Cyprus in 2017, because I didn’t expect the fans to be that enthusiastic. I didn’t know what to expect and it was extraordinary because they were just so enthusiastic and loud and singing along. So, it was a surprise, Cyprus.

Note: Fantastic Negrito headlined the Fengaros Festival on the island of Cyprus in August 2017.

My Life’s Playlist – can you list 5 pieces of music for the readers, that are really special to you.

  1. Little Red Corvette by Prince
  2. Donny Hathaway Live, the entire album
  3. The Message by Grandmaster Flash
  4. Nina Simone, I Put a Spell on You
  5. Robert Johnson, Me and the Devil

Fantastic Negrito’s new album Please Don’t Be Dead on CD, gold vinyl + a limited edition of black vinyl test pressings, is available to pre-order now.

[[project:fantasticnegrito]]

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PledgeMusic News Elliott Morris: The PledgeMusic Interview

Elliott Morris has a formidable reputation as one of the hardest-working and most sought-after young artists on the acoustic scene, touted by Acoustic Magazine as ‘The Next Big Thing’ for his unique, percussive techniques and original songs, combining elements of folk, roots, blues, jazz and country. Over the last few years Elliott has supported a seemingly endless list of artists including Andy McKee, Frank Turner, Seth Lakeman, Albert Lee, The Levellers, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, The Joy Formidable, Roddy Woomble and Mark Morriss, as well as being joined on stage by Ed Sheeran. We spoke to Elliott as he climbs over halfway towards his target to fund the release of his second album.

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1. Welcome back for campaign number two! We’re delighted to have you back but what made you return for your second album? Did you get a lot out of the previous campaign?

I had a blast working on my debut album with PledgeMusic, and I’m delighted to do so again for this one! The way PledgeMusic allows me to connect with my audience to work together on a project is incredible. Having folk with you all the way is a great way to work, as you can constantly share snippets, ideas etc, both as a bit of a tease, but also in order to get some feedback before stuff gets serious! 

2. You’ve managed to cultivate a fantastically engaged fanbase, and you’re still very early in your career. What tips could you give other musicians to do the same and is it difficult to maintain?

Gig and write as much as you can! The only way you can refine what you’re doing is by doing it…. a lot! And there’s no substitute for a good song or an entertaining performance. Write a bunch of songs and gig them, and you’ll know if they’re any good by the audience reaction! 

3. You’re a great example of how an independent musician can make great strides in an often difficult industry. What are some of the struggles that you face? Do you see yourself taking the traditional path of signing to a label and management eventually?

Not necessarily. I’d never rule it out – there are deals out there that can really help musicians on their way. But not being signed to a management or label gives me a lot of freedom. It means I can write what I want, sound however I like and gig where and when I want to. This obviously comes at a price – but that’s where my audience with PledgeMusic come in! It’s hard as an independent musician to find that money up front to invest in studio sessions, CD printing costs etc. But crowdfunding means that people who like what you do can get involved so you can keep doing it. And it is stressful running a campaign and wondering how you’ll get on – but my lot haven’t failed me yet! I can’t describe how much of a wonderful feeling it is having others believe in my music as much as I do. I couldn’t imagine doing it in any other way.

4. You went on a UK tour after the last album and to Canada too! How has that journey and the musicians you met along the way influenced the new album?

This album again includes Jack Carrack on drums and my brother Bevan on bass. Working as a trio with them has really helped mould my songwriting. I’ve been influenced to play off them more. Although I am a ‘solo artist’, working with those two has meant that I can write a song that works both on my own, but also gives them a nice big canvas to put their stamp on when we’re together. And I hope that the album will reflect that too. I know it’s a silly phrase, but they’re both very ‘musical’ players – they know how to ‘serve a song’ and play what’s needed, but they are also very capable of coming out with an awesome fill or groove, and I feel very lucky (most of the time) to be related to one of them, and to have forged a friendship based on bands, beards and beers with the other.

I also have a few guest appearances on this album, including Rosie Hood from The Dovetail Trio and Stu Hanna from Megson. I’ve known both of them from numerous folk festivals, so it’s been really fun working together on new tracks and I can’t wait for folk to hear them!

5. What other services do you make use of as an indie artist that you could recommend to some of your fellow PledgeMusic artists?

I host my music through Emubabnds, a wicked digital distributor based in Scotland. Great guys and a great platform. And BBC Introducing. They’ve been a huge supporter of my music over the years. I always make sure I upload my new tracks to them. I think every track from ‘Lost & Found’ got played on BBC Radio, local shows to the big ones – even Gaelic BBC station ‘BBC Radio Nan Gàidheal’ and BBC 6 Music! Tom Robinson at 6 Music even played the two instrumentals ‘Lost’ and ‘Found’ back to back. I hadn’t even thought to do that!

6. You’ve decided to sell one of your Tanglewood guitars as part of the campaign, which must be a difficult thing to part with. Where’s that been with you so far and can we hear it on any tracks that you’ve already put out?

If you know any of my (VERY) back catalogue, you’ll have heard it on a lot of my early EP tracks. I had two Tanglewoods that went with me to all my early gigs, and I’ve played some very special shows on them. One of them I sold to my brother, so it’s staying in the family. The other one I’ve decided to put up on here. It was a wonderful companion, but I’m sure there’s another family for it to go and live with now! I may even play it on the record if it sells and the buyer wants us to. We could even sign it in the studio!

7. What are you most excited about with the new album? Are you eagerly anticipating just getting it out there to fans or are you enjoying the journey for the moment?

With ‘Lost & Found’ I had no idea what to expect. The Pledge campaign was stressful – wondering if I’d reach my target etc! I constantly had a tiny voice in the back of my head asking me if people would like the album. No – that voice wasn’t my brother…! But as soon as we got in the studio with Mattie and it all started taking shape it sounded great, and at that point, I guess I could breathe a sigh of relief! So this time I’m way more relaxed and ready to enjoy the journey. 

I’m really excited by the range of sounds in the new songs and having a bit of a play with the other musicians to see how they end up. It’s all very exciting at this stage because all the songs are there, but things aren’t fully set in stone. I love that about this stage, I have a good idea of how everything will come out, and yet some things are still developing or evolving. 

8. Finally, what’s the future hold for you? Once the album’s out, what can we look forward to from you? Another tour? Back in the studio? Or something new?!

Definitely more gigs – solo, duo and trio shows. And maybe even bigger ones! I also already have some ideas for a future project, but I think one thing at a time is probably best! There’ll hopefully be a lot more online content in the works as well, some collaboration videos and sessions. But let’s get this album made first!!

[[project:elliottmorristwo]]

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PledgeMusic News Dorothy: The PledgeMusic Interview

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For those who don’t know the name Dorothy, that’s very likely to change in the near future. The Los Angeles-based singer is quickly rising to the top of rock music with her infectious blend of classic rock, southern rock, and blues. Fresh off the release of her critically-acclaimed album, 28 Days In The Valley, which was recently hailed by Forbes as “is one of the best albums of the first half of the year,” the up-and-coming rock star has embarked on her “Freedom Tour.” We got the chance to chat with Dorothy to talk about her latest release, the tour and everything in between.

When we first heard your new album, we were pretty blown away. What were some of the inspirations for 28 Days In The Valley?

Dorothy: The album was inspired by my journey with sobriety, evolution as a songwriter, and embracing a much needed change (mentally, physically, emotionally) in my life.

You said in a recent interview that the new album has a “lighter and brighter feel.” What influenced the change in your sound?

Everyone influences the music just with their being. The fact that we did this album live, with different musicians and a different producer (Linda Perry) means it would naturally have a different sound and feel from the first record. I really embraced being a woman on this album. I feel good, sexy, empowered. I wanted it to be fun and lighthearted but at the same time emotional and raw.

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Later this month, you’ll be heading out on your “Freedom Tour.” What are you looking forward to most about the tour?

Being with my family! My band and crew are everything to me and I love traveling the country with them. Also, our VIP meet and greets are wonderful because we get to meet fans in person and hear stories about their life. It really shows you how music touches people.

You’re giving fans the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the tour with your Digital Tour Diary. What are some of the things fans can expect to see?

Who even knows! Last tour I accidentally washed my wig in our laundry machine and it came out look like a creature from an 80’s B horror movie. Yes, I wear wigs…because who even has time to do their hair? Not me.

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With the looming road trip ahead, can you tell us what will be on your tour playlist?

Creedence Clearwater Revival, Florence & The Machine, Dolly Parton, The Hollies, Halestorm (they have a new record out), Kesha (“Praying” is one of the best songs of 2017), Gary Clark Jr., Robert Johnson, The Allman Brothers, Heart, and as much 90’s hip hop as I can get my hands on.

Are there any dates you have circled on your calendar? Any cities that you’re especially excited to hit?

I’m VERY excited for Lollapalooza and our show with Joan Jett on August 18th at the McGrath Amphitheater in Cedar Rapids, IA.

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Judging by the unique fan experiences you’re offering through PledgeMusic, it seems like you’re all about your fans. Any interesting fan stories you can share with us?

I love our fans! I’ve had a few of them get my face or signature tattooed somewhere on their bodies, which blows my mind.

With the new album and this upcoming tour, there’s plenty to be excited about, but what’s on the horizon for Dorothy?

We will be going back out with Greta Van Fleet in September, and I plan on writing as much as I can with my manager’s magical acoustic guitar when I have downtime.

[[project:itsdorothysucka]]

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PledgeMusic News Bernie Torme: The PledgeMusic Interview

Where to start with the great Bernie Tormé? His long and incredibly fine career has traversed the rock ‘n’ roll landscape for several decades and inter-connected with some of the biggest names in the world of premier league rock including Ozzy Osbourne, Ian Gillan, Dee Snider and too many others to mention. Dublin-born Bernie learned his trade from his local heroes such as Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore and Eric Bell. Today, Bernie is making his own solo albums and was an early convert to PledgeMusic with his first project Flowers & Dirt back in 2014 and we are talking to Bernie about his new PledgeMusic Campaign for double album Shadowland, scheduled for release later this year.

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You’re now on your fourth project with PledgeMusic; how did you first hear about PledgeMusic back in the day and tell us about your latest PledgeMusic project, namely your new album Shadowland?

I initially heard about the concept of pledging & PledgeMusic from Ginger Wildheart; he was doing it a lot and it seemed like a great idea to me. I really wanted to make a new album at that point, but it was hard to do because where there had been record companies in the past who would finance all that and that was no longer the case. I was also delighted to find that the lack of record company input wasn’t just because it was me! After I spoke to Ginger I also spoke to Arthur Brown and his manager. Arthur was in the process of doing a campaign at that point, so I came into it having had a lot of good advice.

Shadowland is my current PledgeMusic album project and I’m really excited about it. Every pledge I’ve done is different, they all have a different rhythm & a different vibe, this one feels very relaxed & a bit more free. I’m not sure why and it will probably end up at panic stations when I get nearer the end. I have some great songs and ideas that I really can’t wait to do and it’s a double album, so that again is going to keep me on my toes! 

It’s a fantastic campaign that you’ve put together for fans; there is truly a treasure-chest of special items & experiences on offer, including one to come and PLAY ON THE ALBUM with you! For aspiring guest musicians looking to apply, what are you looking for on this one?

Yes, we had some really great one-off items and they all went really quickly. That really surprised me. I’m hoping to add some more collectables to put on the campaign, I’ve got lots of them! 

Of course, the most exciting thing for me is having pledgers play on a track. I’m not really aiming at anything but making one particular track sound huge & different. Just about any instrument would work, it doesn’t have to be guitar – kazoo, keyboards, saxes, you name it, all are welcome. That might sound possibly a bit like I’m tempting fate and chaos, but truth is I like a bit of chaos, it makes you think, makes you work harder, it’s a door to something new and different! It is still early days, but we’ve already got quite a few for that, so that’s a definite bit of excitement for me, & hopefully for pledgers too! It will be huge! And a challenge!

Another goodie in the campaign is an additional album of rare vintage tracks called A’s & B’s 77-81…. any early track-listing and a few thoughts that you can share with us?

Yes, the tracks are historically pretty interesting I think.  It basically starts off in ’77 with a promo single that my then manager had us record to be able to get gigs called ‘The Hunter’. That was just before we turned punk and we didn’t get all that many gigs out of it! So the next single is ‘I’m Not Ready’ which is definitely punky go faster and faster land! Then the Weekend EP which is slightly less punk, more new wave, but we are still foot on the floor with the accelerator & then going on to two solo singles I recorded while I was in Gillan: ‘All Day & All Of The Night’ which was a Kinks cover that used to get played at the Planetarium in London because of the crazy guitar sounds! Lastly, ‘The Beat’ which came out in ’80 or ’81. With all the B-sides it comes to 13 tracks in all I think? Some of it is pretty good and some of it is pretty good for a laugh!

It’s kind of interesting to me in the context of recording now how quickly these things were done at the time, usually within an afternoon, or if you were really pushing the boat out and had a budget within a day. That was both A and B sides & mixing! For what it was, it worked. It was an urgent time.

Your career has been truly remarkable – too many highs to mention, but glancing over your shoulder, what two or three moments from the past resonate most for you today?

So many really, but perspective changes as time goes on, that’s part of living. One multiple thing that resonates is every single show I did at the Marquee in Wardour Street, I think I played it more than anyone else on the planet, it all kind of blends into one event starting in 1975 & ending in the late ‘80’s. I loved that place, I’ll haunt it when I die! What a long lasting party!

Another is playing Reading Festival in 1980 with Gillan when we played ‘Trouble’ our forthcoming (& first top ten) single for the first time live: seeing 35,000 people dancing was just amazing. You just knew it would be huge.

And another obvious one was helping Ozzy Osbourne get back on the road a few days after Randy Rhoads tragic death. That was a watershed experience in my life, hugely tragic, very difficult, and full of very complex emotions for all involved. I was very happy that I helped out, and still am. However, it radically changed my whole view of who I am and about doing what I do. It was a very difficult experience to process intellectually and emotionally. I’m not sure I ever have completely, or ever could. The most obviously memorable part of that was playing Madison Square Garden, which was also a very bittersweet experience. Randy had really wanted to play that show and being watched there by a 16-year-old Zakk Wylde, who had bought a ticket to see Randy. It was some kind of closure for me to hook up with Ozzy again recently after 36 years at SwedenRock Fest, that was really nice. And hanging out with Zakk Wylde. I’m very fond of Ozzy, he’s a good guy, & Zakk is a true guitar giant.

Moving forward, give us a glimpse into your plans for world domination following the release of the new Shadowlands album later this year?

Ha! World domination, I’ll leave to the dodgy politicians! I have a 10 date UK tour coming up & some winter festivals, lots of other stuff still coming in, but that’s enough for me for starters.

What’s the first piece of music that you can remember making an impact on you?

This will make you laugh! ‘Walkin To Missouri’ by a guy called Tony Brent, which charted in the UK in January ’53. Now I was only born in March ’52, so they must’ve been playing it a year or two later on as well! It was about a sparrow having to walk home to Missouri because he couldn’t fly. My folks played it to me all the time because it used to make me sad, which they thought was lovable! So I finally asked my Dad if he would go and pick up the sparrow in his car & give him a lift to Missouri, pretty difficult considering we lived in Dublin! Anyway, the thing to me is that it gave me a sense of the emotional power of music. It can move people. Something I have never forgotten.

First concert that you remember going to?

Oh yes! The Walker Brothers supported by The Troggs & Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich & various other minor bands too! This was in 1966, back in the days of the package tour, people would play for 20 minutes…. and then a compere! I dug the Troggs though, they were great! ‘Wild Thing’ and all that! Great sound.

Perfect gig – what makes it for you as a performer?

Good audience and a good stage. The technical stuff needs to be there too, but I’ve had some fantastic gigs when it was not really technically up to par, PA-wise, lights wise. The audience is always the most important thing for me.

Speaking of which, care to pick out one or two memorable shows you have performed where all the above seemed to come together?

I don’t think I could to be honest; there has just been so many great shows, that the occasional nightmares are the ones you remember! I played SwedenRock Festival a few weeks back, and that was pretty perfect. Great stage, great lights, fantastic crew, and an absolutely killer audience.  It was as near perfect as anyone could hope for! The Rory Gallagher Festival in Ballyshannon I did a few years back, that was pretty perfect too. Both of those were just great fun, I realize how lucky I am to be able to do things like that!

Any particular concert venues that you have a fondness for playing/performing in?  

I always loved the old Marquee Club in Wardour Street London and the Rainbow in North London. Glasgow Apollo. Newcastle City Hall. All gone now except Newcastle City Hall and that’s no longer a tour venue.

My Life’s Playlist; please list 5 songs that are really special to you, any relevant anecdotes welcome.

These would change from week to week or even day to day! I’m pretty fickle!

  1. Anything by Chuck Berry. ‘Oh Carol’, ‘Maybeline’, ‘Sweet Little Rock ’n’ Roller’, ‘Johnny B Goode’ ‘Too Much Monkey Business’, he created rock ’n’ roll guitar. I love it all. I saw him once and he was absolutely crap! I forgive him!
  2. Bob Dylan’s ‘Chimes Of Freedom’ from ‘Another Side of Bob Dylan’. I could have chosen about 50 other Dylan tracks, I’m a big fan.
  3. ‘A Love Supreme’ by John Coltrane. Nothing I can say.
  4. ‘Shapes of Things’ by The Yardbirds, what Jeff Beck did on this totally got me into guitar. Truly mind-blowing stuff.
  5. Hendrix ‘Manic Depression’, what a great track, a heavy psychedelic jazz waltz! For me Hendrix is incomparable, at the time he was so different & original. A lot of what he did first has become ‘normal’ by now, it wasn’t at all like that at the time.
  6. Five really is no way enough! I could go on & on! But I HAVE to include Ozzy’s ‘Mr Crowley’, great song, great lyric, great melody, great progression, and absolutely stunning guitar from the wonderful Randy Rhoads. And apart from all that I just love it.

5 perfect dinner party guests (anyone from any era or any background), again any relevant thoughts as to your choices are most welcome. 

I must admit I’m not really a dinner party sort of person! Can I have a drink at the local hostelry instead? I’ve met quite a few people, so it would have to be mostly people I haven’t met. Perfect? Probably not.

  1. Randy Rhoads – I’d really love to have met him, I’ve spoken to his brother Kelle and he was a really lovely guy.
  2. Olivier Messiaen – classical French composer and cited as one of the major composers of the 20th century. He probably wouldn’t talk to me, but I’m a huge fan of his organ pieces. So I could be a real fanboy!
  3. Constance Markievicz – suffragette & Irish revolutionary, who was the first female MP elected to the House of Commons, though she never took her seat. My mother was named after her. I don’t agree with a lot of what she did, but I would be very interested to talk…. she would have to be dug up first of course!
  4. Rory Gallagher – who I did meet was a lovely, lovely man, and it would be boon to have him there being nice & calming everyone down.
  5. Bob Mueller III – because I’d like to ask him what’s going on……?

(Robert Swan Mueller III served as a Director of the FBI under George Bush 2001-13 and was the longest-serving FBI head since J. Edgar Hoover…he is currently Head of Special Counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 US elections. Ed.). 

Yes, it sounds like a madhouse!

[[project:shadowland]] 

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