When we first started out we were very lucky in the sense we came from Canberra and at the time we were the only band doing our sort of thing live, it meant that whenever any band similar to us came to town we were the only band locally that were able to support them. So in that sense we were lucky because if we were in Sydney or Melbourne there wouldn’t have been a lot of bands before us, with artists like The Presents, Disclosure and Rudimental, but we were able to learn a lot very quickly from those bands, just being able to see them live and what they do behind the scenes. We came from a Rock band background so we were doing things differently in an electronic kind of sense. Lorde was a turning point because she was quite big and we were performing in front of a whole new type of audience. I think getting those supports also came to the fact that our music was always a little in the pop world, it was a bit niche and it was harder to pin, so we’d find it hard to get stuff on radio and we had to fit into those bigger pop acts like Lorde and 21 Pilots.
What advice do you have for emerging artists about to set off on their first tour?
As exciting as it will be, try and get as much sleep as you can, try and stay healthy and not drink too much. It gets hard with traveling and under a very tight schedule, eating whatever and drinking and you tire very quickly and people have their limits. To have a good environment you need to be rested and healthy most of the time, and be aware of touring with a band for the first time – especially if it’s going to be long – you’re going to be with these people in close quarters for most of your days, so be aware of those around you and be conscious with that and keep an ear out to see if everyone’s alright. They’re like your family for however long you’re on the road for.
What is your biggest business tip for new artists?
Try and involve yourself in as many aspects of the business as possible, even if you don’t know much about it, there’s a lot of different elements that go into the music industry. When you get to a level where you can pay a lot of different people, by all means do it, and get professionals to do that but also try your best to be on top of everything that’s going on and be savvy with all the different elements, whether it’s accounting, publicity, bookings or even how distribution and the label works. No one is going to look after your business better than yourself.
What is the biggest career barrier you have experienced?
We’ve built up our Australian fan base very grass roots over the past few years… so the biggest challenge for us would probably be doing that same thing overseas, and basically starting again. But being patient and understanding that Australia is only a small place is very important, and you have the whole world out there. It takes time and persistence, but try and introduce yourself and be confident in your own music and see people connect to it live. Some places are harder than others, it’s a matter of patience and persistence.
What advice do you have for emerging artists about to spend money on a PR campaign?
It’s easy to get excited about every song, because if it’s the first time you’re spending a lot of money on a song, make sure it’s the right song and that this is the song that you’re working towards. writing lots and lots of songs, and when you feel you’ve found that one song that you feel might be the one, then its probably time you spend some money on a PR campaign, try a few things and see how they go. It definitely worked for us, we were lucky with the song choice when we did it, but there was a bunch of songs we put out before hand which he had just done where we were learning before we paid or did anything, when we had Listen to Soul, Listen to Blues we decided that the song was alright so we put some PR behind it and it took a little time to get it away to radio, but they were persistent and we found a good PR team and that’s important, finding a good team who are motivated, because the PR is only going to go as far as the person that’s going to push it, you need to find someone that’s passionate about your project.
In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing the music industry today?
Spotify is an interesting one because we definitely need it and it’s a good tool for middle ground distribution for artists. Also, it’s interesting now how charting happens just through streaming, it’s actually a lot harder now for new artists to really break through and get a high charting position. The way the algorithms work, the big artists will stay at the top for 2 years without falling off. You have those really huge artists just permanently dominating – which is fine – but its harder to get those break through albums that are really good, and get those moments in the sun that they deserve, so they can be discovered by the general population rather than the music lovers. That’s an interesting challenge, how to balance that with the big artists, a few years before there was this middle ground there were all these new artists coming through in between sales and Spotify and now it has moved all to streaming, it’s full of the Ed Sheeran’s, Drake’s, Taylor Swift’s and Adele’s.
What is a songwriting challenge you have faced throughout your career and what did you do to overcome that?
Lucky for us, with writing, it often comes pretty easily. In the early stages, the writing is very fun and fluid and we compliment each other in different ways. We solve problems quite quickly, and because we’ve been going to school together since primary school we know each other very well and there’s a common understanding, we know how to take each others ideas and come to the best possible solution. Sometimes it is very hard when you have a bunch of writers in a room – they’re all great writers – but they might not have worked together before and be able to communicate their ideas back and forth. It’s easy to get stuck on your own ideas, but making a conscious effort to really listen to other people always helps. The challenges come when I write with other artists or with new people around, it’s a fun challenge, but it’s writing with a new person and understanding what they may want is an interesting thing. If I’m writing for another artist with a particular style, you have to try and interpret what they want. It’s fun and you have to step outside of your comfort zone, the more I write with other people the more I’m learning to do that. It’s a fun challenge.
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