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Indie Music

Live Music’s Glass Ceiling: Up and Coming, But Going Where?

There is always more than one angle on any given scene. But there is an elephant in the live music industry taking up the unattended room and gorging on the irony of our desire to save iconic indie venues while being ambivalent about the reason they exist in the first place. And no, that isn’t to keep the doors open on your sentimentalised fragments of youth.

The future of music is disintegrating around the fixation of legacy acts that hold the monopoly of the live music industry while only creaking out of their coffins to effectively catfish us at £50+ a pop on their anniversary (read: crucifixion) tours. At some point, recollection became more compelling than discovery, causing more artists to concuss themselves on the glass ceiling invisibly constructed around indifference of newness.

What does the average music fan care if the current hierarchy of gods and nobodies creates classist unsustainability for your average independent artist? Not a lot. They have no vested interest in the future of artists they’ve never heard of. Ignorance is bliss.

Sycophant-Watch (@SycophantWatch) / Twitter

Until revered by dictating tastemakers, they have paid their way into the industry or just got INCREDIBLY lucky; independent artists are up, coming, and going nowhere. That isn’t an insinuation that the music industry has ever been an egalitarian dream; far from it. For some perspective, imagine the current state of the music industry if we ignored the bands on the rosters of Rough Trade, Factory Records and Mute Records because we were too preoccupied with what happened five decades before. That’s precisely where we’re at in 2022.

While the majority raved at how impressive it was for McCartney to headline Glastonbury at 80, in context, it’s a symptom of a far more insidious disorder in the live music industry.

Pin on Music and Society

Independent artists are lucky if they break even on tour, let alone break into the industry. Where does this past-decade-sonic-memento fascination end? Do we only let new blood seep into the industry if it sates the affluent artists that need a cheap/free opening support band? Sure, the stamina of an octogenarian icon is impressive. As impressive as the new music that constantly comes our way? Absolutely not.

For what it is worth, I understand the lack of enthusiasm for discovering and supporting independent music. I’m as prone to lapses of jaded disillusion as the next person. Consumer confidence hasn’t been in pits deep as this since the 70s. It plunged with the cognitive bandwidth that gave us the luxury of being able to care about such frivolous things.

Buying tickets to tours just announced doesn’t seem as appealing with the constant reminders that inflation keeps rising at the same rate as the water we have to keep our heads above in this hyper-warped time. Lest we drown in the entropy force-fed by entities that prefer us cowed into fear, division, and isolation. As if a collective of awkwardly amalgamated bodies at gigs that have forgotten to be in a crowd wasn’t enough to make music fans give See Tickets a wide birth.

In the run-up to Glastonbury, the BBC speculated how overwhelmed attendees would be. That same funk and social awkwardness have been floating around every venue since July 2021. If you haven’t noticed it, that’s probably because you’ve started treating gigs like kebabs. In the cold light of sobriety, you’d give it a miss; with your favourite anxiety-quashing poison, you’re numb to the questionable sensory appearance, and that legacy acts give their apathy to their roadies as the heaviest thing to carry.

Something has got to give before the reality of live music plunges deeper into a Black Mirror plot and we are left with an ageing population of icons that we will glue ourselves to before they appear on our screens as holograms on tour and rave about the experience.

But who am I to imply that supporting independent artists should take precedent when every passing day the media etches into our psyches a scarcity complex and teases us further into nihilism? Someone painfully aware of the cognitive dissonance choking the live music industry and desperate for the resurgence of the punk ethos.

How many times have you heard some iteration of “if you are in it for the money, you are in the wrong industry?” as though we should let live music be another death knell of capitalism and its greedy for independent artists to not be out of pocket for all that they contribute to society?

After all the insistence on the value of music and creativity that echoed in lament while it was on pause for 18 months, independent artists gritted their teeth through the cumulative blows and prepared to play their role in society once again. Only to find that getting enough advance tickets sold to leave the promoter inclined to carry on with the event is near impossible.

Independent music has triumphed over the oligarchy before. Just as it did after the economic crisis in 1974 when punk and electronica burst the pop bubble that would have been impenetrable if it weren’t for the likes of Tony Wilson and Geoff Travis. Technically, the industry is more accessible than ever before through the power of social media and software enabling artists to create masterpieces in their bedrooms on a shoestring. But what use is the power of technology if we passively accept its manipulation?

And for anyone thinking that the threat of the world ending is enough justification to mentally nope out of giving a fuck about culture, every generation before us has believed that they will see end times. Fear is a fundamental part of the human experience; the end is always nigh when prophecies of doom are so attractive to our ego-driven minds that believe we will see reality crumble around us.

Turn off the news. Support scenes that allow artists with autonomous voices to thrive. Smash the illusion that enough fame makes a person celestial, and maybe apply some self-awareness to the sycophantic fetishization of a few key figures.

Amelia Vandergast

It Won’t Be Alright: Charlson returns with contemplative new single about moving apart on ‘You Say’

Lovingly taken from his debut one thousand-mile journey album called ‘U.S. 285‘, this is all about finding that true meaning and purpose in life, as Charlson returns with the reflective single called ‘You Say‘.

Charlson is a thoughtful alt-rock artist based out of Boston and Las Vegas in the USA. He makes that perfectly tuned road trip music, that has you thinking deeply about those flashback moments you wish you could take back, as well as those memories you want to make going forward.

This is the story about a lukewarm love that was going strong but things have changed and you feel that they are moving far away, as you want to instead move closer.

His honest voice reflects the pain with a groove energy, that catches your attention as you sing with him on the mellow chorus. There is a lot of intricate acoustic melodies with that old school 80’s feel that gets into your veins, as you gaze outside and wonder where that lost love really went after all these years.

You Say‘ from Charlson, is a sad tale about how you want to be with them so much, but you feel like they are actually driving away whilst saying the exact opposite. Their eyes are telling you the truth and they are locking away information that you need to know, as the relationship ends you wish that your love could burn bright like it was before.

Stream this new single on Spotify and see more on his IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Want it bad: Willy Matéo shows his intentions for the night on ‘#F***Boy’

Willy Matéo sends our pulses racing on the hot RnB fused new single all about showing what you are made of under the sheets via ‘#F***Boy‘.

Unsigned singer-songwriter, hairstylist and entrepreneur Willy Matéo is a motivated man who wants his music to be heard to the masses in the world who can relate to his music. He returns with his latest heat-seeking single that guarantees to get those hearts beating, over a production that catches your attention.

His voice shows us a man who is tired of tiptoeing around the subject and makes it clear that he is the right man for the job. His lyrics are raw and honest, clearly thought out and made with a certain purpose. Too often we don’t say what we really mean but this is a quality that this singer doesn’t have an issue with, as he takes us on a steaming journey to the bedroom, where things are going to get racy real quick.

#F***Boy‘ from singer-songwriter Willy Matéo is a new school RnB flavored party track that is best played when you are with that human you want to be with, right then and there. No words are needed, just putting the volume up loud will lay down your expectations and from there, the curtain will be drawn closed and a fun evening awaits.

Turn the lights down low while listening on Spotify and see more on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

The future is here: Oso meets his match on the steaming hot RnB single ‘Tap In’

Featuring the lovely Melanie Angel on the new video as the fellow washer at the local dry cleaners, fresh new singer-songwriter Oso drops one of the hottest RnB tracks of the year with ‘Tap In‘. He has his hands full with her but he doesn’t seem to mind in the slightest.

Oso is a Queens, New York RnB/Soul artist who is one of the new breed of musicians who are aiming to bring the genre back to prominence in his city. After growing up in the golden age, he has that extra special style that ensures that if he wants it enough, he will move up the ranks quickly. Co-produced by Hitmaka and the duo Ayo N’ Keyz, this seems like a dynamic team that have just made a hit track.

When you are clearly too creative for the shackles of school life, music is the savior and doing what you love is a blessing; you will sleep in studios and do whatever it takes to make it. This is the only way to succeed in this wild game with so many other artists around, so you need to stand out from the rest.

His voice is so smooth, you don’t need a razor to shave. This is a singer who has endured hardships and who isn’t letting go of this opportunity very easily. When you have talent you need to put in the hard work too otherwise it won’t work for long and it feels like we are witnessing the start of something special.

With an EP on the way, this is the single that is going to help knock the door down and listeners need to wake up and enjoy the ride.

This is the story about upping your game and speaking to that person you like otherwise you may never know what could of been. You might seem to get rejected a few times but that is all a part of the game. Showing your intentions and looking fresh with a smile, is all you really need to do to see if they are into you too. From there, the temperature heats up real quick.

If you want it bad enough, you gotta put the time in and it feels like Oso is that guy. ‘Tap In‘ is the hottest song I’ve seen/heard all year and you might need a cold shower after watching this video.

The tension is so obvious and this is an excellent RnB track that signals a new era for a previously-stale state of affairs. No more. The future is here and looking really bright.

Put your shades on and see this video on YouTube. See his IG for more info on what’s next.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Hide and go seek is over: New York City singer-songwriter Ximone Rose is refreshingly reflective on the incredible ‘i Found Me’

Ximone Rose is transcendent on her new single ‘I found Me‘ and this is that peaceful pureness that is hard to find; unless you look deeper underground.

The former child-actor, creative and wonderful NYC singer-songwriter Ximone Rose, has a rare ability to change your mood with one note of music.

This is the story about how we all need someone to help you find yourself again. We all walk down the dark road and get lost sometimes. The world is confusing and our minds get wrapped up with so much plastic that we all need a lifeguard in the sea of life; to pick us up so we can reset our perspective.

Her voice is like a floating angelic memory, each word is made with such tender loving care as she weaves her way into our broken hearts so lovingly. The way she keeps her tone so effortless is absolutely mind-blowing and you feel like a huge weight is lifted off your tired shoulders. This is properly made music that has that extra class that you can’t teach. She was born with this gift that she has chosen to use, rather than walk into the other side of the music scene, that can cloud your innocence so quickly and scar you for life, weighing you down like a cement brick tied to your feet.

Feeling that youth inside you is so important in this serious world and being happy again should be high on your priority list. Ximone Rose shows us what really counts on ‘I found Me‘. She is a special talent who’s music will make you think and lift you up over any obstacle you may be currently facing.

Hear this top track on Spotify and see her music journey on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

In-between the party: Cozy Danger drop brand new honest single ‘Where Are All My Dogs At’

Taken off the brand new album called ‘Invincible Dog Story‘, ‘Where Are All My Dogs At‘ is the fresh new track from the mellow dudes from Cozy Danger as they greet the animals at the house party first.

This is the story of how you want to be at the party so bad, over think it, decide to go but you take so long to get there, you are sweating by the time you arrive. Once you get to the party, you seem more keen to say hi to the dogs rather than party with the humans.

The authentic indie rock track has shades of reggae and this is a really fun and honest listen with a story that you will probably make you smile, if you have dealt with anxiety when going to a party before. The cool kids are looking and you don’t want to make a fool out of yourself. Ultimately however, enjoying yourself and not caring what anyone else thinks is the best way to go in life. This is easier said than done but definitely possible.

Cozy Danger are quality on ‘Where Are All My Dogs At‘ as they sing with so much honesty and this is a real look inside how some people struggle when going out, while others either are chilled and comfortable, or others have some Daddy or Mommy sodas to forget how you really feel.

Hear the new single on Spotify and follow their socials via IG & FB.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Music with a message: Stephanie Heitz sings with such heartfelt honesty on ‘Alone’

Southern Indiana’s wonderful Christian singer-songwriter/church leader Stephanie Heitz is a passionate artist who has an Indie-Jazz R&B style that meshes soulful gospel-influences melodies, to put shivers of joy in your tired body. She returns with a striking new single all about finding a way out of those troubling thoughts that sometimes twist our mind into unhealthy knots on ‘Alone’.

This is an artist that finds strength with her faith that keeps her sane and inspires her to use her gifts wisely. After overcoming some personal issues that threatened to push her down, she rose up again and felt the love from above to help pick herself up and drag her out of the quicksand of life. Sometimes you can get stuck and feel that nothing is going your way but looking deep inside yourself, finding solutions where you least expect them is the only way to conquer your demons. Believing in your faith helps, but only if you look in the mirror and change your ways because you want to be a better person. This combination unlocks the door that enables you to walk through and never look back.

Her voice is so real and she sings with unwavering honesty. The call for help is so relevant in this dark year of 2020. We are so alone and need to get out and think of happy thoughts. It’s like you are being caught underwater in the stormy seas and keep on getting sucked up and down, getting thrown around by the powerful waves. We all need a lifeguard to come and rescue us or if not, we need to find that extra breath and find the shore by ourselves.

Stephanie Heitz is truly incredible on ‘Alone’. This young woman uses her God-given gifts to open the window of enlightenment to let others see what can be achieved, if you believe and never give up. Good things are always on the other side if you are willing to humble yourself, ask for help and follow through on the energies you have prayed about.

Life is hard sometimes but good things can happen if you want them to; as your mind is more powerful than you think.

Stream this faithful song on Spotify and see more from this inspirational soul via her IG and FB.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Creative choreography is back: South India’s The Fortune (ft. Lucia Valdes) drop vibrant video ‘Not Here For You’

Southern India duo The Fortune brings their blend of R&R-Soul to uplift the morbid mood of the world with their official video for ‘Not Here For You‘ (ft. Lucia Valdes). With dance moves that are only for those with supple hips, the exciting song reflects the electric energy of this close knit duo who love to support the underdog artist.

Kerala, India based classically trained pianist Dr Dhananj Shivganesh and sound engineer Nikhil Pradip are the creative masterminds of this project and they support the underground music scene and unearthing diamonds in the rough that have not been found. Until now that is. Music is alive and well in a country that is slowly becoming a music mecca.

The dancing and choreography is exquisitely done and the vocals shine through like a sunny day outside. The beat is a pleasurable listen and this is a spectacular song that you just can’t get enough of.

A story all about not dancing for anyone else is portrayed and this is example for all of us out there. We often get wrapped up about worrying about impressing others due to the comparable nature of social media which is the opposite of what we actually should be doing. Dancing a way of self-expression and The Fortune (ft. Lucia Valdes) fuse this track tightly that young and old need to see on ‘Not Here For You’. You are here for yourself, your family and close friends after all and being free and enjoying looking at yourself in the mirror humbly, is the way to go.

See the video here on their YouTube page, hear more on Spotify and see their IG & FB.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Protecting your son no matter what: Kenward sings the truth about being a father on ‘Safe And Sound’ EP

New father and incredibly talented singer-songwriter Kenward, firstly wanted to make a single about the feeling he got deep inside his bones when he first realized he was going to be a father. ‘Safe And Sound’ EP is the music that has arisen from this incredible moment of being a Dad, a feeling that makes him happy and guarded at the same time.

Life is different now and he needs and more importantly, wants to take care of his young one as best as possible. That bond is there and stronger than ever.

The protective bear inside of him burned brightly at first and has only gained in light in his heart since. Soon, the single became an EP and this shows his love towards his son and for him to know that he is there for him no matter what happens.

There are 4 incredibly well-written and easy-on-the-ear gems here: ‘Safe And Sound’, ‘Searching Without a Light’, ‘Hallie Gray’ and ‘Starting Looking At You’.

The first two songs ‘Safe And Sound’ and ‘Searching Without a Light’ are particular highlights as the intricate guitar melodies takes your breath away. He smooth voice is so compassionate and caring, always kind and strong at the same time. The perfect mix of a man that knows he needs to be fair but set boundaries at the same time. Easier said than done but achievable.

There are no bad songs or fillers here and each song is meaningful and from the heart. I imagine this being played on his son’s 18th birthday celebration as they laugh and smile over an adult beverage, his friends happy too and wishing their father did the same thing. His tone gets your heart strings to blow in the wind to get some fresh air; the emotion is heightened by a performance that will have you hugging those close to you that you care about. His voice goes to notes that you thought impossible and the lyrical delivery is quite frankly masterful and humble.

Life has changed for Kenward on ‘Safe And Sound’. He has stepped up to the plate with his words and he knows that he needs to back it up with actions now. Life as a kid with a strong role model that looks out for you, listens and supports you no matter what detours swerve around the corner; is only going to make that blood bond stronger long-term.

Stream this wonderful EP on Spotify and see Kenward’s journey with his son and family via IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

The feeling of regret after a breakup: Excellent vocals amid pain sets Xavier Ralph apart from the rest on ‘Thoughts of Me’

The soulful Sussex pop singer-songwriter Xavier Ralph rides the love wave on his new single called ‘Thoughts of Me’. This is about that feeling of a relationship that was maybe a bit too good that you don’t think will ever get better. You want that lover back but the door has closed and the lock is bolted closed now.

Signed by the legendary indie Uprise Records UK, this is an artist on the rise as his team are beyond excited with his growth and the excellent results so far, shows their belief in him is on point.

The crashing waves flow through and make a soothing sound over the ocean as you wonder down the beach, lost in your own thoughts as you go through everything that just happened. This is the start of a music video that touches on a relevant topic that so many of us have faced. That pain after feeling love; that empty feeling that has you questioning your every move. Instead, this should be when you take it on the chin, get up, heal and move on. This is easier said than done however and will take that extra strength and discipline to be your life jacket and keep you afloat.

This is the story of a mind that is ticking way too fast and tormenting itself about a love that was going so well and then ended too fast. This is a harsh feeling that you probably shouldn’t feel but do anyway. You cared more about her than she did for you so swimming again to new seas is perfectly right in this moment.

His voice is so smooth and each note hits the right spot. You can see his youth and how being in love for the first time is proving more complicated that he originally thought. This is a quality track with the splendid production adding so much class. ‘Thoughts of Me’ from the Hastings singer-songwriter Xavier Ralph is such a clean pop song that it won’t ever need dusting.

See this excellent video on YouTube, hear more on Spotify and follow his journey on IG & FB.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen