2018 has been a busy year for me. Back in February I released my first stand alone single, “Barbara” which has proved to be my biggest success to date, as many of you seem to have listened to it.
I have always planned to take my tracks out live but it’s been difficult to get gigs. Whenever the world “electronic” is mentioned to event planners in my local area, I’ve been met with laughter (genuinely happened) or something like and “oh” or a “ah”.
May rolled around and I was going to Bearded Theory Festival on the bank holiday. It’s a great festival that has its own ofsted approved school (meaning you can legally take you kids out of school to a festival, brilliant!) and just has that general vibe that makes music festivals very special.
I got a call on the day I was traveling down, I was told I could play a slot in the Something Else Tea Tent, as they had open slots. The only problem I faced was the fact that I hadn’t looked at my live set since October of the previous year and back then I knew I needed to reprogram much of my live set.
But opportunities had been so sparse that I decided to load my equipment up in the car and give it a go. Unfortunately my car broke down, this made me late and by the time I got to Bearded Theory Festival, I’d missed my slot!
Fortunately, the lovely lady that runs the tent said I could play on Friday as there was still some spots available.
So here it was, the biggest crowd I’d ever played to, at a festival that I think is ace! The guy before me ran over by a fair bit but that was fine as it gave me more time to set up (Electronic musicians will appreciate how long it can take to hook everything up) and I was starting to get that pre gig buzz!
I moved my equipment onto the stage with the sound engineer, told him to give me five minutes to hook up all my midi leads and such. He was very good, happy for me to do this and he even put Orbital on the PA to set the mood. We did a mini sound check and here’s where my first problem occurred! My drum machine wasn’t playing out to the PA. Five more minutes were spent trying to fix this but it was no good. I’d later realise that I’d brought the wrong lead, such a simple thing but this helped me to make improvements to how I pack my equipment to make things easier to find for later gigs.
I decided that I would scrap the drum machine, meaning one track would have no drums, not ideal but I was losing time now. So I started my set, I like to start with an introduction song, usually something a bit shoe gazey or psychedelic. I often use Brian Jonestown Massacre’s “Fire Song” which takes a minute to get through to a loop where I then start messing around and triggering samples.
The drum machine not working had really thrown me and I preceded to make a right mess of things. I accidentally triggered a whole bunch of samples that I didn’t need, so the very start of my set sounded like Satan’s favourite tune.
I quickly got rid of the samples that I didn’t need, frantically pushing buttons and dropping faders until it sounded normal. From here on the set worked out okay and I actually had a bit of fun.
It was amazing to see the tent filling up as I was playing my own tracks, I had a little moment and thought “that’s your music that is dragging people in here”, when I finished, a guy came up to tell me how much he’d enjoyed it. Such a great feeling and now I definitely wanted to do it again and this time without any screw ups!
I released my second single of 2018 around October time. “All Messed Up” took a few months to complete, meaning I hadn’t really looked at my live set since Bearded Theory. At the back end of the summer I had caught word of a movement for electronic musicians. I was complaining to a fellow electronic act about the lack of gigs I was getting and the general lack of understanding as to what it is that I do “live” and they told me about EMOM.
EMOM is Electronic Music Open Mic. What a fantastic idea, an open mic where acoustic guitars are not allowed (unless they are used to create drone noises) and a place to talk to like minded musicians.
I got into the group on facebook and saw there was one of their events coming up in York. They do them all over the country and it has since gone global with a night in Sydney planned and European nights planned for 2019. Personally I think it will lead to a festival style event some way down the road.
In the meantime I had started revamping my live set in Ableton. I wanted to avoid any mishaps like at Bearded (never going to totally avoid them) and I wanted to implement my new track in there too.
A few weeks after the release of “All Messed Up” I was at Musicport festival for my Compere duties. I have done this for the last 4 years, it’s such good fun and a great way to meet and talk to others in the music industry. With it being a world music festival, everybody has a different story to tell.
They run an open mic at the festival every year, I hadn’t planned to play this time (I had the year before) but the guy who runs the open mic asked me to, so I went and got my stuff. I thought it could be a good practise of my new live set.
It was really handy that I did it in the end, it made me realise a few things that needed tweaking and would put me in a good position for the upcoming open mic in York for EMOM.
Fast forward to November, I’m walking into the Fulford Arms in York with my Bass Station 2, laptop, midi controllers and desk, not knowing anybody in there, not knowing who to talk to or when I’m playing. Eventually I find out I’m on at 8:15pm. I play what I consider to be my best three tracks, my live set is programmed in a way that I can mix between tracks, gives it a continuous flow. You only get fifteen minutes at these EMOM shows, which is done to get more people on but fifteen minutes is absolutely no time at all, especially considering most of my tracks run five minutes long.
This was the first time I’d played to a room that was complete strangers. I had no friends or family here, nobody to tell me it was good and yet people did. Random people that I hadn’t even said one word to were telling me how much they had enjoyed it.
The creator of EMOM spoke with me, told me of some other nights coming up and was very complimentary about my set. I was overwhelmed by the positive feedback and couldn’t believe how massive my tunes sounded in that room (big up the sound guy!)
I decided for the next EMOM, which was a few weeks later in Leeds and being broadcast on the radio, that I would throw in a different track. The end goal is to have a string of all my songs that I can play, manipulate and mix. So it wouldn’t harm to add another track in and it’s one that I plan to release in 2019.
When I arrived to Chapel FM, where EMOM Leeds was being held, the fire alarm had been set off and we had to wait outside for about 30 minutes. Interesting start to the night.
I was on at 8:15pm again, I got everything hooked up as the act before me played, which is the way EMOM works. You tend to feel bad setting up next to someone who is playing but it helps to make the night run smooth and get more people on.
I played through my first two tracks, everything was going great, I was messing around with the mod envelope on my bass station 2, getting it to squeak and squeal. I’d only played ten minutes when the compere for the night came walking down with his mic. I thought I had five minutes left but they were wanting to do interviews too! I was told I had two minutes left so I had to blast through and cut short that new track I had worked hard to fit into the set. Oh well…
Everything went great and I had such fun again, I even got to stay around longer than I did at the York one to catch all the other acts.
When I got home, I saw the footage. Chapel FM had broadcast the show and livestreamed it to Facebook. They had three cameras in the room and were doing live editing. It looked amazing, with all the lights on the go, made me look like a total superstar!
They kindly allowed me to use the footage on my YouTube channel, so you can go watch it anytime!
I thought that was it for 2018, I started working on another track that I plan to release as part of my debut album, if that ever come to fruition. I started playing the waiting game on possible 2019 live shows when all of a sudden another opportunity came up.
Musicport did a last minute announcement that they were hosting an open mic for the Whitby Winterfest. I got in touch and got myself on the bill, I would be able to test out a longer set this time too. My big worry was the fact this was part of Winterfest. Most of the other musicians would be playing Christmas songs and I was about to rock up with some electronica about the aftermath of a nuclear war.
To my surprise, absolutely nobody walked off. I had fully prepared myself for a mass exodus, it was a slightly older audience, one that I thought would be appalled by the noises I was making. They stuck with it and most of the stall owners were really getting into it, I almost created a party atmosphere.
So that rounded off 2018, It’s been a great year for Nashville Electro Service. I’ve had over 8,000 overall streams across all the music streaming services, which is bonkers!
My end of year Spotify stats tell me I have listeners in 12 countries and people have listened to my music double the amount of time than in 2017. My Facebook like count is nearly at 250 and we’re about to break 100 follows on Instagram!
So, here’s to more releases, live shows and growth in 2019!
I hope you stick around for the journey.