The definition of a professional – “engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur.”
The thesis of my project is to give the reader an insight in to how South Hours works and how we are working towards longevity in the industry and becoming more and more professional. The concept behind everything is to try our best to be professional. Professionalism is a broad concept and, with regards to South Hours, includes but is not limited to:
- Live performances
- Recording singles
- Social media operations
- Networking with already established industry workers
I have been inspired to research and present about professionalism as it is the key to longevity. The end goal of South Hours is to be able to run the band as our careers and the way to climb the ladder to become successful artists is to be as professional as possible as early as possible. As a result of this, we are doing everything we can to establish ourselves as no joke to everyone around East Anglia and make a buzz for our work. Every band looks up to established artists, people who have made careers in the industry, people who have achieved the goal of making a living from their creative work and the one thing they have all have in common is being professional. These artists who bands look up to all have their own merchandise, their own videos, their own recordings, their own image. A band is as much a product as it is a creative outlet – you need to sell and market yourself properly to make money and have a career. You need to have all the elements any other business does and be able to promote yourself accordingly. It’s the same as starting out a shop – you need the goods (the music), they need to be good quality (the recordings and sound), it needs to draw people in (the aesthetic and merchandise) and it needs to appeal to masses. South Hours needs to make a jump. We are trying to stop being a local band who does it for fun on the weekends, we are pushing ourselves harder than ever to reach an industry standard level for both our live shows and our off stage presence. We now have a wider range and better quality of merchandise, it is at an affordable price and we have all invested in getting high level audio quality from our recording session with both Rhett Moir and Tom Donovan. To start a business you need investment an South Hours is currently at the investment stage. We have put in all we can and we are waiting for the big fish to bite, realise we have something special and have filled a void in the market so that they invest heavily and we make a large jump in to the professional industry. The only way to make that big fish come to us is to prove ourselves in the field. We have to prove we are dedicated, know the industry and know that we need to all be professional to achieve anything. The music industry is so cut throat that if you start messing around you are sealing your fate in a functions band forever.
We are starting to reap the rewards from our work as we are getting a lot of attention from a lot of venues in and around Colchester – we have achieved at least one gig per month since December. Below is an example of our stock image that we use to let people know about our shows. As you can see, it fits the aesthetic nicely and looks extremely professional.
This is what is inspiring me to present about professionalism. We are a product that people will buy, and to make it accessible to everyone, we need someone to push us out around the globe and the way to attract that person is to prove we are no joke and are; Professional.
The first specific idea for development throughout this project will be the quality of our recordings. The recorded versions of a song are usually the first impression people have of your band – streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Youtube have made music more accessible than ever and you can be heard all over the world. Therefore it is vital to a bands success that their recordings are good quality. The reason I am focusing on this is because South Hours already have 2 singles released at an average quality. These were done in college and that is heavily reflected in the sound quality – the arrangement of the songs is good and the musicality of the recordings is excellent, however the level of audio engineering is extremely amateur and takes away from the overall listening experience. As a result of this, the whole band is researching in to ways to make them sound better and who to use when we record.
The second specific idea for development will be how to market ourselves. We need to be a product and it is not just about the music, so this will involve things such as merchandise design, aesthetic on our social medias (for example using specific filters on photos, types of photo etc) and also things such as the way we present ourselves. We have taken influence from bands such as The 1975 and Pale Waves with regards to this – they go for a simplistic, minimalist vibe and this is something we are hoping to capture in the duration of this project. If we can pursue a specific vibe and aesthetic, this will hopefully become associated with the band and be synonymous with South Hours when people see it.
The third specific idea for development during the project will focus on our live performance. We are heading towards a level where people sing our songs back to them and it is obvious people are having a good time as oppose to just standing, watching and being polite. We want people to know our songs and hear people shouting the lyrics in the crowd. This is again a sign of a professional band as if this is happening then clearly people are listening to and enjoying our work and we are making progress to reaching more like minded people. A way to achieve this will be through pushing our social media, playing as many shows as we can before the 30th May and possibly even releasing another single before the final performance.
The main thing I have researched up until this point as a guitar player is simplicity. What I mean by this is the ability to find the perfect melody, chord voicing or lead line to fit the song. In South Hours we try and use guitar as more of a layer instrument as oppose to being right at the from with the lyrics. Because of this, I have tried to keep my guitar playing as reserved as possible, meaning I try and make the catchiest and most recognisable pieces that I can, while also keeping a keen focus on the lyrics of the song. This idea has come from bands like The 1975 who also do a similar thing. The guitars are there for the body of the song and are never overly complicated / never show the guitarist just showing off. This element is always in my mind when we are songwriting.
Another key thing I research when working in South Hours is guitar tone and pedals. I have recently invested in a high quality pedal board and this is because in order to achieve the synth like, 80’s tone I desire I need to utilise different types fo reverb, chorus and delay. I have been searching for an ambient yet clear tone for a while and I have finally achieved that. As these pedals are a high quality, the sound is much more professional and we have veered far from the ‘college band’ sound, therefore the research has been beneficial in achieving my concept. The pedals have also helped with the quality of our recordings as we now have a very good, authentic sound and are not relying on making the sound good in the post production which ultimately eats time, and in a real world sense would cost us more money as we need more studio time. It also makes us seem more professional as we go in, ready to record with our tones sorted and we can get straight on and maximise our efficiency.
Above is a photograph of my complete pedal board. I will breakdown each pedal, detailing why I use it and what it is.
Digitech Polara reverb (furthest left)
I chose this reverb pedal for the variety of sounds I can get from it. I can go from a classic plate reverb, to a hall and it even includes a reverse. This means that I can make my guitar sound nothing like I guitar at all which is something I like. It does everything a standard reverb does and more which is why I chose it.
Digitech Obscura delay (Second from left)
I chose this delay for much the same reasons as the Polara – it has so much variety I can do everything and more on this pedal. It is also made by the same company as my reverb so works perfectly next to it in a chain – It also includes classic delay setting such as slap back and again, a reverse.
Keeley Electronic Seafood Chorus (Middle)
I chose this chorus pedal for its quality. it is a boutique pedal and utilises a vibrato and chorus which gives me a rich sound and everything I need. The chorus is very versatile and can go from a slight tinge of ambience to crazy Mac DeMarco like sounds.
BOSS DS-1 distortion (Second from right)
I use this pedal when I need to saturate and distort my guitar tone and I chose it because it is an affordable and easily used pedal. It is incredibly reliable and while the right tone may be hard to find, when you find it it can sound amazing and like any of the top end pedals.
PolyTune Noir Mini (Furthest right)
I chose this pedal because of its size. The PolyTune tuners are one of the best tuning pedals available and the mini one is perfect for a board of my size. It is reliable and always correct.
the research in to these pedals has helped me achieve my concept and ideas for development because I now have the sound I want and I can go in to any studio, go on to any stage and sound like South Hours because of the board. It means we have a certain consistency in our sound and when people hear the guitar they instantly think of South Hours. They have also helped us become more professional as before I only went on stage with one pedal (the chorus) and aesthetically, that looks very poor whereas the board and everything lined up nicely looks a lot better from an audience perspective.
With regards to our recordings, we decided the way to go forwards was to record the drums externally from college. We began to research in to who was the best studio engineer for our budget and after having conversations with our lecturers and reading online, we have decided on using Tom Donovan. This is the best drum sound we can get and the results are fantastic. We booked 2 days with Tom and recorded a total of 6 drum tracks and one complete song. He uses a lot of vintage gear in his studio and edited each track personally with us there. We wanted to do the drums outside of college because we have heard what the sound quality is like from the college studio and they are simply not good enough for the level we want to be at. If we want industry standard, professional sound we have to dive in to our pockets and hire a professional to do it and Tom was the man. A link to the song we finished with him and be found below, and when compared to our college recordings from last year, the difference in quality is massive.
As we are rehearsing more, we are realising that we need to work on our transitions between songs. This will be vital to having a smooth performance at the end of May and making ourselves look as professional as possible. One thing we have done is create an intro song to catch the attention of the audience when we play and then we transition from that in to the first song. It is in the same key as the first song and works very nicely when we get it right. We are using a reverse reverb to create a drone like effect which is atmospheric and then swirls on the bass and lead guitar. The transition needs to be timed perfectly with me and Owen as when is stop, there is silence and Owen already needs to be playing the start of Talk Yourself Out, otherwise there will be a gap and it will sound very amateur and poorly rehearsed. This is again an idea we have from the 1975 as they play an intro track that leads straight in to their first song, as seen below.
With regards to the video, we have been discussing ideas for it with a colleague of ours called Liam Davison. We have met with him and discussed the kind of video we want to do, how we want to do it and where. We have taken influence from the video for Television Romance by Pale Waves. This video is very simple, using simple camera angles and cinematography. It takes place with the band playing their song in a flat, with the aesthetic being very ‘British’ – For example there are mugs everywhere, tea bags etc. This is something we want to do – The premise for our video is that a girl will wake up after a party and be going about her day, while we are playing in her house but she can’t see us. So for example, she will get in the shower and I will pass her the shampoo or she will make a cup of tea and Ben will drink it. The video will be a reflection of how we write our music – striped back and simple. The video will have one camera man, moving through the house as we are all standing there. It is extremely low budget (free), easy to film and will only take a day – just like our music. We don’t invest a lot of money and most songs we write come together in a day, and are then perfected afterwards – the video will be shot in a day and then edited to perfection afterwards.
Below you can find the Television Romance video and a video that Liam made in 2018.
When it comes to our merchandise, we have opted for keeping it fashionable and recognisable. We have literally just put our logo on beanies, bags and t shirts. This is a simple yet effective way to sell our brand to more people as everything costs £5 to our customers – the simple branding allows us to produce the stock with a low cost, yet still keep it fashionable and appealing. We have taken inspiration from artists such as The Internet where they keep their designs very simple and marketable. Everyone can wear a South Hours shirt, we have not limited ourselves to a demographic at all making the band more of a brand than just music.
This is a good way to market yourself and shows our professionalism and understanding of the industry as we are openly aware that you cannot just rely on your music any more. You need to create something visually inspiring to your audience to make them go and buy a CD, or search you on Spotify or anything – this article below describes how important it si to brand yourself well and keep that image up across all platforms. This is definitely something we have taken on board as we have a constant dark theme, with a lot of black and white (hence the design on our merch). We also understand that our demographic is mainly teenagers. We market ourselves to relate to these teenagers who love taking Polaroid photos, wearing vintage clothes and love bands similar to our own personal tastes. This is described in the article and is a way of connecting to out audience through our branding.
As seen in this photo, we have people who achieve a high number of likes on instagram and are quite popular, wearing our shirts just because they like them:
From this connection, we hope to gain a larger fan base and then achieve our goal of being a professional band.
With regards to our social media platforms, a good measure of how well we are doing with regards to our Instagram is how many followers we have compared to how many likes we receive on our posts. We had a chat with Liam Davison who manages social medias for local venues in Colchester such as Three Wise Monkeys and Vbar, and he said that the minimum likes we should be getting is 10% of our followers. At the start of the project we had 900 followers on our instagram and now we have over 1,000. We average around 120 likes per photo so we are just within the 10% mark so this is positive and shows that we are steadily growing. A way we are making our social medias grow is by not letting them slip – what I mean by this is we have to keep uploading, updating and thinking about our socials in order for them not to grow stagnant and keep growing. This was discussed in our chat with Liam and we got inspiration from videos produced by the Water Bear college.
Social media is a key thing today when it comes to growing your band as it is used so widely by so many people. You can reach America, Japan and even Australia in a matter of seconds with platforms like Instagram so to have a good online presence is vital to growth and ultimately, longevity. We have kept a theme with our social media as we believe it is better to keep it uniform and aesthetically pleasing so people not only look at it because they like the band, but because they appreciate the camera work and style which we convey.
One thing we have all discussed as a band is how to make the music appeal to our chosen demographic. We try and keep our music as up beat as possible and keep it lively to allow our listeners an immersive experience which also brings about people re listening. It is important to appeal to as many people as possible so that you get as much of an audience as you can, and therefore keep yourself afloat in the industry which will bring longevity. We always have our demographic in mind and perceive it to be mainly 13-30 year olds, people who are going through life experiences or have been through them. The lyrics are tailored to relate to a large amount of people in some way – everyone has had a break up and every one has been messed around by a romantic partner.
In September I am going to university in Southampton which will open up a whole new area for South Hours to conquer. Ben and Owen are going to London so this will open up a lot of new venues for us to play in and ultimately grow our fanbase. We tailored these decisions as we recognise that we need to reach as many new people as we possibly can so with me on the south coast pushing the band and talking to venues and promotors and Ben and Owen in London doing the same, we are hoping to explore more avenues and turn more heads. We know that London is the hub for creative arts and if we are going to find someone to impress, it will be in London. The south coast is ever growing with festivals such as Boardmasters so impressing people along there will be key to bigger and better shows. Southampton is just down the road from Brighton which is again a hub for young people and music which will benefit us as our demographic is young, artsy people who enjoy easy listening music. The moves around the country will ope more areas and bigger shows for us which is the next step for South Hours, and while we are in different cities, we are still only 1 hour from each other at any given time so the core of the band can stay strong. We are all adults now so we can travel to practice and song write.
One problem we will face in realising our ambition for the project is attendance from band members. A constant plague on South Hours’ work has been other band members not showing up to rehearsal or studio time with no explanation as to why. This means that our efficiency has been slowed down massively and has affected the amount of new material which we can produce. This has happened during this project. For 3 weeks now we have been trying to perform a whole set in the Swinburne Hall in front of our lecturers for feedback however our drummer (who is not longer on the course) has bailed every time. This has hindered us massively as we haven’t had the chance to go through the set with the whole band together in over 1 month now, and we can’t get the feedback from industry professionals on what we need to do to make the next step. A way in which we have resolved this issue is by putting extra pressure on Sam and giving him much more notice so he has time to arrange getting in to college. For example we have told him that this session is essential to us passing our course, getting a good practise in for our gigs and ultimately achieving the goal of being a professional band. We finally got the chance to perform in the Swinburne Hall and part of the video can be found below.
Another problem we are expecting to encounter will be on the night of our final performance at The Bull. The problem will be all the bands bringing all of their gear – so amps, drum kit, mic stands etc – and this will make the night extremely complicated and messy as everyone’s stuff will just be lying about. We have learned in the last few months from gigging outside of college that it is essential that everyone just shares gear and keeps the stage and surrounding areas as tidy as possible. All the local venues have small stages so there is no room to put 8 amps and 4 drum kits, so sharing is the most efficient way to put on a good show. The reason it is vital to a good show is because a clear stage gives the players the ability to put on a proper show and move around – they are not bound to just one corner because if they move they will stand on someone’s pedals or put their foot through someone’s snare. Having a clear and tidy stage will also look much better aesthetically. This is a big thing for South Hours and half of being a professional band is your aesthetic – if the stage is clear, it looks like you know what you’re doing and makes the audience think you’re more professional. We have come across this problem before when gigging outside of college
A way we are getting around this problem is by communicating effectively with every band involved. We are discussing who has the best amps and drum kit so everyone can share them which will mean that there is a lot less clutter on the night. We are also going to try and organise with the venue if there is any kind of storage area in which our gig bags and instruments can go while we are not playing.
Another problem I fear we may encounter is that the video may not be made in time. Making a good music video is a lengthy process, and I don’t think 8 weeks will be enough time – especially coupled with the amount of shows we have planned and the amount of songs we are trying to record and release. I fear the video will take a back seat with everything that is going on. A way we will soften this blow will be to start the video planning and start the communication with the right people in order to bring the video to reality. Although it may not be finished, I am hoping the video will be in the works by the time this project has ended.
With regards to our recordings, we may face the problem of audio quality. We have achieved a high quality drum sound but we are extremely wary that the guitars may not compare. A way we are getting around this is by using the best amps at our disposal in college and getting Rhett to do the mixing as he is the best we have at our disposal. There is also the other issue of having one song mixed by Tom Donovan and the rest of them mixed by Rhett. There will be subtle differences in the plugins used, the general technique of the mixing and the overall sound. A way we are getting around the differences is by not releasing an EP.
We are releasing the songs all as singles with at least a month between each. This means that the hype continues for South Hours and we don’t have the same issue that we had last year where we got 2 singles out and then have had nothing for over 12 months. This relates to our end goal of professionalism as we are focusing on marketing ourselves and making sure people don’t get bored of us and have a reason to invest; we have lots of new music on the way. To keep this hype going, we are currently in talks about how to release the single effectively and time them with gigs so that people can come and watch show and then go straight home and listen to more of our set with headphones on. So to solve the problem of people losing interest, we are timing our releases around our gigs and possibly having a couple of release parties where we have physical copies and maybe give away a free shirt to random people or something like that.
Planning and Production.
During the project we have differed from the plan drastically. One reason for this is a series of unexpected shows outside of college which we have been offered that have had to take priority as to be a professional band, you need to do as many shows as possible and make a good impression on each. As a result of this, the plan for this final project has taken a back seat when it comes to South Hours. It is very difficult to keep to a plan when you’re in our position as we have a lot of interest from a lot of different venues and people, so with regards to our professional careers, communicating and working with these people has to take the priority.
One big thing which we didn’t plan for were subtle changes when we recorded. what i mean by this is adding things such as synths or synth effect guitars to add drone notes and another layer to the overall sound. We didn’t anticipate these changes and as a result the sessions took a bit longer than we thought because we had to find the right sound. We were quite naive with how many extras we would need to add to the recordings and as a result, the plan changed and took longer.
We have not yet started work on the video for Bruise, which is one thing we really wanted to get done. We are still discussing ideas for it within the band and with our friends who would shoot the video. This is one of the changes to the plan – we are focusing on our upcoming gigs and singles releases than our online video presence. We have decided to pool our funds and resources in to getting good recordings out rather than an amazing video – the video will come in time. The reason for this is that we have use of a free studio at college and only a limited time left to finish our recordings in it. We don’t have the money to fund a video and hire out a studio, engineer and mix and master the songs ourselves so the college studio is perfect. We have prioritised getting more music out there which we hope will attract the right people and push us one step closer to this being our careers.
One thing we have done with regards to the video is plan it with a colleague of ours, Liam Davison. Liam has a degree in media studies and promotion and pitched to us his idea for a music video and offered to film it for us as well. The video is not likely to be done by the time this project is over, however the plan and idea for the shoot is a positive step and it will happen over the summer.
A reactive change we have made during the project thus far has been a lot more practise time. We have been practising in and out of college due to the unexpected gigs we have been offered. We need to show the real life industry workers that we are professional so we need to work as hard as we can for these shows. As a result, we have used a lot more of our time in college to practised than we had planned. I do not think that this is a bad thing – differing from the plan may be seen by some as unprofessional and not what we should be doing, however with regards to our futures it is essential and we have acted accordingly.
It is very difficult to stick to a plan when working in a creative arts industry. One day you could be planning to go and meet with a local newspaper, when a week later Sony Records could be contacting you to come and sign a record deal. The industry is constantly evolving and because of that it is nearly impossible to make a long term or short term plan – No one apart from the big companies themselves know how they are evolving and soon, physical copies of music could be extinct so then what would we do when that happens and we’ve planned to make 500 copies? So with regards to professionalism, i think we are much better off to keep an open calendar, have vague ideas of what we want to do and not think too far ahead. A big company such as Apple Music may think we are stupid for getting a load of physical CD’s and write us off as old fashioned, so we wait for demand and then supply – but this can only be done in the moment.
One thing we didn’t anticipate with the project was time off. We all needs breaks in whatever we do and we were so absorbed by getting everything done that we didn’t take in to account time off. What people don’t see when they see a successful band is the physical and mental impact it can have on the artists. It really is a full time job, from running social media to writing new songs to rehearsing. We all suffered mentally from this project and we all needed some time off – we started to get snappy around week 5 and decided to make things less intense for a week just to give ourselves some space. This was not in the plan and ultimately did halt things for a while, we didn’t stop entirely but we did slow down a lot however it was needed to continue being as productive as we could be.
Another thing we didn’t anticipate and has held us back is designing artwork for our singles. We didn’t think about this enough and now when it is nearing the time to release some music, we have nothing to put as a front cover. We have taken a bit of time to set and think about our designs however nothing has come to fruition. This has been a small change to the plan but nevertheless, it has pushed other whitings back as we need to think about it.
Overall I feel the plan was largely too thought out to function properly. We have limited studio experience and did not anticipate everything to take this long and shows that even though we play a lot of gigs and write good songs, we are still very naive in the industry. The fact we veered from the plan in almost every week shows that we don’t think things through properly and this has been a good lesson for the future to think about things such as artwork, shoot locations and to anticipate gigs that would be of good value to us like the ones we encountered during this project. with regards to professionalism, this does not bode in our favour however no one becomes elite in just 8 weeks, it takes time and mistakes to get to the top of your field and I think we are well on our way. Next time we would start something like this sooner and maybe give the reader an insight in to maybe a year of South Hours, as oppose to 8 weeks. This would show the reader exactly how we are progressing because everything in this industry takes time and it is very hard to pin point when everything can be done.
During the project we have made exponential progress with regards to our practical skills. Our live shows have gotten much better since this project started because we are all thinking about our professionalism. This means that the shows are much better put together, transitions between songs is good and the way we act on stage is also exceptional. At the start of the project, Owen was a very nervous guitar player with us as he is relatively new to the band. Now, he is much more comfortable and the hours and hours of practise we have put in has made him an amazing player and one of the most comfortable members with the set. This is evident in our live shows.
In the first week of the project, we added a new song called ‘Lose what we had’. This song has been tailored to be catchy and very pop like. It is a classic indie rock song and will be a real crowd pleaser when we gig it. this has shown our progress in the practical element of the project as the song is fun to play, catchy and bound to be a hit with audiences. This demonstrates our maturity and eagerness for longevity in the industry as it has been made simple and catchy on purpose – it has been made to appeal to everyone and not just appeal to a niche audience. Nothing about the song has anyone showing off, it is just a good song that hasn’t been over complicated. We realised we needed a song like this because our set was getting a bit dull to our fans who come the shows – we needed a song to gas everyone up and we achieved that brilliantly. A video of this song can be found below at 4 minutes in:
In the second week of the project we worked a lot on the re recording of our song ‘Bruise’. There was a discussion on only using a DI to record the guitars, but in the end we decided to use both and amp and a DI. Me an Owen made sure we used different amps and different guitars to each other so there was a clear difference in the tones and they weren’t competing on the recording. This is a step forwards as we have taken a more difficult approach to recording, however this has made the sound a lot more professional and lot higher quality.
Aesthetically we have also come a long way since working on this project. Below you can see a poster from a previous show and also ones which we are playing during the project:
As you can see, the quality of the posters has improved as we have gone on. They look more and more professional and a lot less like they were made at home in five minutes. The were designed by professional companies and the quality of the image is higher and just looks a lot better. We have helped through conversations before the nights of the shows about the design of the posters and I think it shows how far we have come when looking for something aesthetically pleasing to draw the listener in as the first thing they will notice on a poster is the artwork, not the bands. this can be appleid to be a practical skill as it is a practical part of the industry – promoting yourself correctly and being on top of what will draw people in will ultimately bring more people to your shows, more people listening to your music and then you get more inspired because people are enjoying your work.
During the rest of the project we have just honed in on our performance skills. The session we did for Scott in performance workshop went very well and his feedback was extremely positive. We know our set very well at this point and as a result of that we can work on how to perform on stage – for example how we move around, communicate and how we connect with our audiences. Some things we have done to improve this aspect of our shows include always facing the crowd, getting the crowd to sing parts back to us and being happier on stage – if we reflect happiness in our performance then the audience will be infected by that and have a better time as a result.
One thing that we have really improved on is our non verbal communication. This was something we identified as needs improving from performing out of college a lot – more often than not you cannot hear yourself in the monitors so need to rely on your own knowledge of the set and physical cues from the band. We have all learned to glance at each other when a drop comes and stop saying “are we ready?” before the start of each song as this is just unprofessional. This also makes the set a lot smoother as we don’t have to stop between each track, we can just carry on as one flayed performance and pick and choose when the breathing moments are.
As a result of improving this non verbal communications, our live shows out of college have been much better. We have had smooth sets and haven’t run over and the we give off the impression that we know exactly what we are doing which makes us look extremely professional as shown in the videos above.
One thing we did do during the project was record a short video for our colleague Lukas. He wanted a stripped back, acoustic version of one of our songs so we used our practical skills to achieve this. As it was only me and Ben available to do this recording, ben played the acoustic guitar and I played the electric. the way we stripped it back was by Ben finger picking the chords and I put a very wet and heavy reverb on and plucked the triad versions of the chords. This added a lot of atmosphere and made the song more full to compensate for not having the full band. I learned to do this during this project as a high end reverb has only been available to me since the start of Unit 13. This shows how I have developed as a player and am thinking about voicing of chords and how to fill up as much and as little sound as I need to.
Evaluation and Reflection.
The first week of the project has gone relatively well. We have gotten straight on with recording with Rhett and we have focused on getting a good guitar sound. A positive of this session was that we had the expertise of other lecturers such as Jim and Carnell in the studio with us, given their professional opinion on how everything was sounding. The first negative of this session was that Owen couldn’t make it. This meant that I recorded both guitar parts, both with the same guitar and the same amp. This meant that the blend of the guitars was not too definitive and there was no clear difference in the sound. As a result, this first take of the guitar felt a bit mushed together. Next week we are hoping to get Owen in to record his section on his guitar to get us that definition and then the guitars will be finished and we can move on.
The practise for our final performance has come along nicely, however we are focusing more on our upcoming out of college shows rather than the gig.
Week 2 saw us record Owen’s guitar for our first track in the studio. This was a big improvement as the guitar tones were different and blended very well together. We also used an amp this time whereas the first time we only DI’d guitar. This gave us a much more rich and rounded sound and made the track come to life. Ben started recording vocals and did a lot of talks, form which we cut and chopped them up to get one perfect recording of the lyrics. The mix is well underway and this has been a very productive week.
We were meant to perform in performance workshop this week however Sam cancelled last minute and we can’t do a whole set without the drums. This was a big hit for us as we want to get feedback on how we are performing so we can work on it building up to our final performance. As a result, Sam has promised to come in next week so we can get feedback an this will be very beneficial for us as it will give us specific targets to hit before 30th May.
Video ideas were meant to start this week but have unfortunately been put on hold as we have been offered a number of gigs in the upcoming week. This means that the video will take a lot longer for us to make and we have had to put talks on hold with our camera man and producer of the video.
This week we have focused mainly on rehearsals as we have an external show to perform at Three Wise Monkeys. This has meant that the video is yet again on hold. The is not the ideal situation a we want to hit our personal deadlines – this is not giving a good professional light as we are trying to organise with other industry professionals about recording the video but it keeps being pushed back and that is entirely on us. This has made us look quite amateur and we are working on changing that in the near future by setting dates to film and working our calendar around those dates. We also couldn’t perform in workshop again due to Sam not turning up again because of personal reasons. Regardless of his situation, It still makes us look like fools with our lecturers – this is a negative of the week because if we want one of our teachers to put in a good word with anyone in the industry, they will be hesitant as we can’t even perform in a lesson, let alone on the radio or a big venue. As a result of this, we have told Sam it is absolutely essential he attends next week and we get the feedback as time is not against us.
A positive of this week was that the studio sessions have been very productive – Bruise is ready to release and all the instrument parts in our next single, Tell Me If You’re Ready Or Not, are recorded to a very high standard. We are hoping to get this song finished next week with our two sessions on the Monday and on the Wednesday. We focused a lot on the sound of the snare drum making sure we didn’t over do the reverb on it and that is was nicely settled in the mix.
This week has been very productive as we have rehearsed well, advanced talks with the video and also nearly finished our second single in the studio. We have fully planned out our video now with Liam and it is looking to be filmed in the coming weeks. The studio sessions have come along very well and it is just the last bits of mixing on our second single before it is ready to release.
A negative of this week has been that we haven’t really rehearsed anything new song wise because we have been focused on the singles – With the gigs we have looming we need to crack on more with becoming as tight as we possibly can be.
This week has all been about two of our external shows. We have practised hard in college making the set tight and ready to impress an outside audience. We have also been getting all of our merchandise ready to sell at this show – we did a quality check on all the beanies, bags and t shirts we have and a are hoping to sell at least 3 of each. This will make us £45 which will go towards new recordings, merchandise and keeping the band afloat. The posters for the shows can be found below:
A negative of this week has been that we weren’t able to get in to the studio and start a new song. We wanted to try and get a new one in the works every 2 weeks however because we couldn’t get a new song started, we have left the final mix of Tell Me If You’re Ready Or Not with Rhett and we hope we will be presented with a finished product by next week.
This is the week before the gig so our attention has focused to promoting that and telling everyone about it. We have designed a poster and put it all over our social media to entice people to come down. We have had a standard week with the studio on Monday and Wednesday where we were given a final mix on the finished songs to listen to and practise went well.
A negative of this week was that Sam couldn’t attend a practise because he was busy which means that we couldn’t rehearse as a full band the week before a show.
This was the week of the gig and we knuckled down and practised every chance we could. We had Sam involved in a lot of these practises which made the set extremely tight and by the Wednesday we felt we were ready for the show. We also got in the studio a bit to add some additional touches to the tracks and are planning to send one of them to BBC introducing next week to try and get some radio play.
A negative of this week was that we again haven’t had a chance to start the video. We have been so absorbed by the final performance and have focused almost entirely on that so we did not even think about the video which has pushed us back even more.
Following the gig we are all very proud of what we have achieved. In the last week and a half we have played 4 gigs in 4 different venues and have allowed ourselves a break from practise for this week. We have worked extremely hard for all this so a break is justified. We are sending off our songs to BBC Introducing and are awaiting a response from them.
I will go in to further detail about the final performance below however I feel it went relatively well. The crowd was good and we impressed some new people who have flooded our social media and bought our merchandise.
Overall I feel the project has been a success over the last 8 weeks. The work building up to the final performance has been challenging in a number of ways. The first way it was challenging was trying to get everyone together at least 3 times a week. We didn’t always achieve this and it did have an effect on the overall level of productivity for the band. The biggest example of this was trying to do our Swinburne session where we would receive feedback from our teachers on how well they think our live show and sound is. It took us 3 weeks to finally do this and whilst the feedback was generally very positive, if there had been something big we needed to change we would have been left with only 2 weeks to fix it before the final show. This was a bit of a risk for the band as we pride ourselves with being the most experienced band on the course and therefore we should sound the best. Next time we would definitely make sure this is one of the few dates we plan well in advance and make sure everyone is definitely around for.
Whilst those session were frustrating not to do, we filled our time with other things to keep not only the project alive, but the band. Whenever we couldn’t do a full set in Swinburne, we were in the studio with Rhett Moir and Matt Troup, working on the 6 tracks we have ready to come out. This meant that we had a lot more time than anticipated to work on these songs and as a result they are sounding exactly how we want them and they have given us the confidence to send them industry professionals, trying to get the big fish to bite. This has been a very good aspect of the project and has pushed not only our college work, but the band a step further. This is because we now have industry standard recordings, we can compete with other professional bands and some feedback we have had from people who work for Spotify has been that our recording quality isn’t good enough. As a result of that feedback, this project has allowed us to really push ourselves in the studio and take our time to make them sound as good as possible. This has meant that with regards to our recordings, we have achieved the goal of professionalism. We have worked with real life professionals and made sure that our songs compete with the best.
With regards to the final show at The Bull, i feel personally that the show went very well. I feel South Hours had the largest crowd of the night and once we had started playing, people were coming in from outside to watch us. This is a good thing as ultimately we are generating more of an audience for ourselves and as a result of that – more fans. After the show we had someone who worked in The Bull ask to buy a t shirt and ask about any other gigs. The fact we had someone who works for the venue notice the crowd we brought, liked the music and bought our merchandise is exactly what we want. We are appealing to the right people and are very happy with this. Another positive of the shows was that it gave us a chance to demonstrate to our lecturers how far we have come when it comes to live shows. As far as we were concerned, this was any other gig for us. We went in, set up and waited till we played, just like we do when we are playing anywhere else and i think our teachers saw how smooth we were and were very impressed by it.
A downside of this show was that i snapped a string during sound check and had no spares. This was frustrating for me as i usually always carry spares with me and it was typical that the one time i didn’t, is snapped a string. The way i got around this was by making phone calls to all the contacts i had in Colchester who play in bands and eventually i found someone who could give me a string. This was a minor hiccup but it was the biggest one on the night for me, however i feel the way i dealt with it was professional and demonstrated my attitude – it would’ve been very easy to just refuse to play and throw a strop but i stayed calm and sorted the issue within half an hour. I instantly thought about my options, for example borrowing someone else’s guitar or just paying without a string, but my calmness saw me through it.
With the lead up to the show, everyone did their part in designing the poster and promoting it on their social media. As a result of this big push by everyone on the course, the crowd was good and the night was a success.
The biggest down side to the entire project was that filming did not start for the video. We have spoken to our colleagues and are still planning it, however the amount of shows we have had and the added pressure of releasing new music has meant that the video has taken a back seat. This is disappointing for us as we really wanted to get it out as soon as we could, however when it came to South Hours as a business, we had to prioritize the live shows and limited studio time over the video which we have all summer to film. The ideas are good and we have a definite plan, it’s now just finding a location to film and a time when everyone is available. This has hindered the idea of being a professional band as having to delay things looks bad, however we handled it well and kept the information that we are producing a video between a select group so that none of our fans were disappointed when it didn’t arrive.
With the project as a whole, i feel this blog entry has demonstrated well how South Hours is becoming more and more professional. With things like the audio quality of our recordings, industry professionals contacting us and wanting to work with us and the thought behind the design of our merchandise, we are making very good progress towards longevity in the industry. We are only going to push ourselves further with regards to university where we can unlock whole new areas for South Hours to be heard. We are trying to cover as much ground as we can and get heard in as many places as possible to achieve that dream of this being our careers. As an individual player, the project has made me much more aware of just how much production goes in to recording songs and making them sound good. I noticed as soon as we had finished our first song in the 8 weeks, I was already trying to find new ideas of what I could add to the next ones to make them sound better when recorded. This could be things like messing with reverbs and delay, however we found that these little extras are much more on the fly than pre mediated changes. I feel I have achieved achieved the specific ideas for development throughout the project and as a result, the band has come forward a long way with regard to making a longer career in the industry.
In this section i will breakdown everything we did media wise during the project and assess both the look and the outcome of it.
Three Wise Monkeys with BILK and Surge – 19th April 2019
This was a good gig for us as BILK were on a UK tour and asked us to get involved. We were happy with how the poster looked as it was professionally made and our overall stage aesthetic on the night was good. We hit our dark theme bang on and made a real impact on everyone in the audience. We had many compliments from the audience saying that we had the biggest crowd of all the bands that night and Surge approached us afterwards to play a show with them in the future. This was a goof step for us as Surge have played festivals such as Isle of Wight and Reading and Leeds. Surge are obviously a very professional band and the fact they want us to play with them is something for us to be very proud of.
Brewhouse with Harry Frederick-Mires and Courtyards – 27th April 2019
This was a good show for us as it was a headline show. We were the pride of Jar Records that night an organisation which we have previously worked with and got the best reception of all the bands. People were singing the songs back to us and the poster for it was again professionally made and looked very good. Brewhouse is very intense venue so we got a real connection with the audience and as a result of that we feel every enjoyed the show and had a great night. Courtyards had come all the way from Yorkshire to play this show and are playing some major festivals this year and we had many compliments from them after the gig. This was very positive moment for us as we are starting to get recognised by more established artists and if we are doing that at 20 years old, then we can hopefully attract some even bigger names in the next few years.
Three Wise Monkeys with Rad Pitt, Tundra and Big In Sheboygan – 24th May 2019
This was an extremely positive show for us and while the other bands were math rock and hardcore, we had a very positive reception and even made a lot of new fans. TWM is one of our favorite venues to play and we cemented ourselves as a regular band who brings a crowd on this night with compliments from the head promoter, Stephen Dekker. We had a good look on stage as we hit our aesthetic perfectly and had some great photos taken which we can use on our social medias. TWM is the best equipped venue in Colchester so we always sound great in there.
V Bar Mayday Mayhem fro Robin Cancer Trust – 26th May 2019
V Bar only put on 3 shows a year now and we have been honoured to play two of them. The venue is extremely small and intense, however this is a good thing as it means we can really connect with our audience. As a result, the show was intense and we received many complements about how well we crafted our sound fro the size of the venue and how organised we were. The poster was not the best design and i feel it was a bit messy and amateur, however this was a small price to pay.
The Bull – 30th May 2019
This gig was our final performance so i will mainly focus on teh aesthetic of the poster in this section as i have covered above how the night went, The poster looks very good and it does not associate with the college at all, meaning anyone who came would have thought this is a professional night and not a bunch of students doing it. As a result i think this brought more of a crowd down to the night. The room was packed out when we played and we sold a t-shirt and a few other bits of merchandise to people who had never seen us before so this was a very positive night. We now have even more people wearing South Hours merchandise and spreading the word of the band.
During the project we recorded a total of 3 songs which are now finished. We re imagined our debut single Bruise and completed 2 new songs called Tell Me If You’re Ready Or Not and Outside. I am extremely happy with the outcome of these songs as they really are industry standard and ready to compete in the real world. We are still working on artwork for them but the overall quality is exactly how we wanted it to be. We have learned a lot from the recording process and feel we have progressed with regards to how the process actually works – For example we now know that there are always going to impulse changes to the songs such as new synth layers and the sound of the snare. We didn’t anticipate that there would be so many ways to change the sound of the drums and make them sound better – the key to a good recording is a great drum beat and sound so this is something we have taken away from the experience.
We also used our remaining time with Tom Donvan to get his mix on Outside after we had finished the drum tracks and all versions can be found below:
Overall these recordings have been the most productive part of the project and are the bit i am a most proud of.
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