As the sun sets on 2016, its time for my last blog of the year, thank you all for joining me on this journey and i wish you all the very best of health, wealth and happiness for 2017! … see you on the other side. Sophie xx
Having recently moved to Bath, I have become more and more accustomed to bizarre characters performing equally bizarre acts across the city. One act in particular pulled out a quote which forced me to unexpectedly question my own trade, he said:”Ladies and gentlemen, please don’t walk away after watching me without making a small donation, regard it as the ticket price, please come forward and support a dying art”. He was referring to his live performance. As a musician, to suggest performance be a dying art-form is quite a frightening prospect; after all I have just signed up to at least £30,000 of debt to hone the skills of said industry, am I really trying to break into something that is on it’s way out?
In 2016, despite the fact that we have access to an infinite amount of resources and information to aid us in getting exposure, we also live in saturation. It takes courage to commit to anything in this day and age, but I think performance really does take the hat. When you think about the hours put into the writing, rehearsal and production of just one song, then multiply it by say ten for the album, knowing that in fact the gig is only a 45 minute slot and that is all you get paid for. A slim budget to work with when PA’s need rented, along with a van to move it, petrol, strings, pics…. This idea of artists making a quick buck for an easy craft is truly something of fantasy.
On a lighter less of the ‘impending doom’ note, I was wandering through Bath in the darker hours of a midsummer evening accompanied by some newly found strangers. After little to no deliberation we stumbled into Moles and walked in on some live music.
After having located the bar and proceeded to purchase alcoholic beverage with chums, we sat down to ogle the partakers of the open mic night. Open Mic nights are an excellent treasure trove of new and upcoming artists across the country, especially in student city’s. They are a more than worthy starting point for any ‘sesh’ or even to provide atmosphere when observing Brits in their natural habitats: pubs.
It’s no surprise that open mics in the quirky south-west (alright my lov’er?) show a mash of talent from rock to rap to classical instrumentals, the down right weird and everything in-between, and then Sam.
Although I (and many alike) am a sucker for the Ben Howardesque husk that almost pollutes the current UK music scene, there was something divinely refreshing about such a clear, crisp tone coming from… a northerner?
He’s a singer songwriter with a wicked hand when it comes to playing the guitar, Sam is one of the many prosperous musicians currently on Bath Spa’s renowned commercial music course, the study of British pop music and the industry.
Sam is currently in the up and coming band ‘Fake Street’. The band started up in 2014 in a city that can only be described as a gift to music (I am of course referring to Liverpool). Fake street performed at classic local venues reputed for their influences on the music scene such at the Pickett, the East Village Arts Club and Parr street studio 2 (All absolute musts if you are visiting). Listening to their music is an eye opening experience because you don’t know where to place it, but you actually do.
You’re right, it is kind of indie, but you’d also be right in observing the rawer sound that doesn’t usually find it’s way into an indie album. What ‘Fake Street’ are doing is bringing dynamics and a more natural head space to indie music and thus transforming the genre into something much more listenable as opposed to ‘hearable’. I love indie, but it tends to slip by pleasantly without really grasping at the deeper roots of music, pleasant but not the rush of ecstasy that comes with a song like “born slippy” or “hey jude”. That rush we feel when we hear a good song has nothing to do with genre or BPM it’s simply the answer to the question: Did they achieve what they set out to do? Or did a part of the message get lost along the way? Fake Street are definitely keeping the rush, and are manipulating it’s movement to the beat of their snare.
Within music there is a whole word of different musicians with different roles, some write words, some write bass lines, some play the instrument, some sing the song, some produce, some master but each layer adds a specific sound to that piece in question. Sometimes one and too many layers end up leaving the song with nothing; and taking from it the very tiny variations, cracks and chips in the paint that made the ear fall in love with it in the first place. However, due to a more organic approach, Fake Street have managed to create those spacy ‘transy’ vibes without stripping the human out of their work; and without sounding any less professional. It’s quite a trophy to be able to walk out with, in a time where the amount of people and influences working on one song can easily get into double digits, leaving the building with a signature sound is quite an achievement.
Having recently been featured by Dave Monks on the BBC Introducing radio broadcast, they are undoubtedly catching people’s attention. Listening to the interview which includes a couple of acoustic tracks, you will fully understand what I mean when I say adding dynamics to indie. The emotion and quivers in Sam’s voice will in turn send shivers down your spine. The natural guitar and scratchy snare give very natural hippy vibes to the melody but don’t distract from the sound they very individually create.
As a three piece Jack, Ben and Sam discuss how they dissected their work and analysed the specifics to rework themselves into something better and bolder than what they had before.
This isn’t boring indie music, this is something new, which might go down as indie in HMV but Fake Streets music oozes diversity from the crisp clarity of the vocals to the unpredictable rhythms in the bass and guitar that make feet tap in a way that would suggest it was an old favourite. There are Tennessee twangs here and there and punchy rock influences that surprise your ear as well.
Sam is working on his own projects as a soloist here in bath and can be seen at various venues in the city, as well as working with other young talent from Bath Spa Uni. There is a buzz in the air and a distinct enthusiasm and curiosity for what is going on around here, in this beautiful part of Britain.
We live in a world where music is being torn apart by people with more money and power than sense but Britain’s music scene is still true to its word in terms of its raw talent and organic origins, Fake Street being a perfect example of Merseyside indie with a different flavor to every track, one to watch.
Click to Listen to Youthful Innocence on Spotify, and please check out Fake Street on the links below.