The Unsigned Guide Spotlight: April
Blog by Stef Loukes under Artist Managers, Creative & Branding, Finance, Law & Music Business, Live, Media, Music Publishing, Music Training & Careers, Record Labels, Recording & Production, Selling & Distributing Your Music
China Moon - ‘Forget’
Manchester trio China Moon have been conjuring their dark, brooding and enigmatic sound for a couple of years now and latest release ‘Forget’ perfectly combines melancholic guitars and poignant vocals which stealthily build into a soaring, gallant crescendo of a song.
From the point at which it was originally penned, the song has grown to take on a new meaning during a strange and uncertain year: “'Forget' was one of those songs that just fell into place in the practice room. We went from a simple chord progression to a finished song in a really short time. Musically it feels very much like a progression from our first EP towards a moodier sound, and lyrically the song is one that resonated emotionally at the time of that conflict of moving on from something (or someone) negative but still remembering those memories. Then through lockdown, the song still feels incredibly relevant to the past year - trying to escape our inner demands and that feeling of isolation.”
After riding the high of playing their first sold-out headline gig in January 2020 whilst touring their debut EP ‘Sleep Talking’, the band are obviously keen to get on stage again soon, but have used their time in lockdown wisely to explore and develop their live show:
“We’ve had time to take a step back and think about what it is we’re doing and how we can expand on the experience of our live shows. We’ve been quite lucky because Matt and Ellie live together, so they’ve been able to rehearse regularly at our practice space during lockdown before passing ideas back to John remotely. This new way of working has led to a change in our current set up to include keys, adding a whole new dynamic and texture to our sound and we can’t wait to bring that to our fans.”
With a few summer dates already in the diary (lockdown roadmap pending) we hope to see China Moon at a nearby venue soon. And keep your ear to the ground for more new material incoming shortly, as they head back to the studio in the next few months to record the follow up to ‘Forget’.
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Lukas Setto - ‘About Time’
Written, performed and produced by Lukas himself, ‘About Time’ has all the elements of an old school R&B floor filler, oozing soulful pop flavours that also give it that contagious, radio-friendly edge that will have you humming along for days to come.
Bringing the live band feel to the club is precisely what Lukas was aiming for; “I wanted to create an uplifting Nu Disco track that would get people in the mood to dance. I love to incorporate live instruments into my music and this track is no different, with live horns, bass and electric guitar alongside synths and drums.”
And he must be hitting the right note with his smooth concoctions; since bursting onto the scene in 2019 Lukas has clocked up 3 UK Soul Chart Number 1s, as well as radio airplay from the legendary Trevor Nelson on his BBC Radio 2 show. With influences from Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder apparent in his music, and touching on the modern soul sounds of The Weeknd and Bruno Mars, it seems that Lukas has cultivated a magnetic recipe that could lead to commercial success.
Of course, he’s eager to get back to the live scene, but in the meantime Lukas will be using the coming month to work on his next release. If it’s anything like his last singles, we’re in for a treat!
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Idlework - ‘Don’t Call My Name’
Ivo and Daisy, aka Idlework, have been writing music together for years, which seems incredible given their fresh-faced youthfulness. Influenced by jazz, soul and alternative music, the duo certainly have a mature, refined sound where their years of songwriting experience becomes apparent. With Ivo producing from his bedroom and Daisy laying down silky smooth vocals, they’ve collaborated over FaceTime of late, and together create sophisticated, jazz tinged, enchanting music, making it easy to forget that they are both currently juggling their musical life alongside their school life.
After gaining some traction with their debut single ‘Plastic Flowers’, Idlework have served up the chilled out, carefree delight of ‘Don’t Call My Name’ - the perfect soundtrack for warmer weather and longer sunny evenings. The track was a natural progression from their debut, as they explain: “We’re constantly writing new music and the extra time gifted to us by the national lockdowns allowed us to complete the recording and production process. We wrote the song, following on from the storyline of our debut single, about us realising a close friend was changing into someone we no longer recognised as someone we wanted to associate with.”
Ranking up almost 50k streams on Spotify, a solid Tik Tok fanbase, plus support from BBC Introducing in the West, Idlework is off to a flying start. They’re also currently writing their first EP which they intend to use as a vehicle to experiment with more diverse styles as they figure out what they enjoy creating the most - think Pixies, Lianne La Havas, Beabadoobee and Billie Eilish. We can’t wait!
Shaun McLachlan - ‘When We Dance’
Usually found on percussion duties for acclaimed band Delta Mainline, Edinburgh-based singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Shaun McLachlan is making his mark with his first foray into a solo career. Although we use the word ‘solo’ very loosely as Shaun has surrounded himself with a hearty musical fellowship on his debut single ‘When We Dance’, a song which builds into a driving powerhouse of a track, weaving together lo-fi folk with heavy fuzz-laden sounds, sliced through with Shaun’s vocals. The end result will leave you feeling a little warped, yet strangely comforted.
The writing and recording process has clearly been a pleasant distraction from the challenges of lockdown and Shaun has welcomed outside collaboration and inspiration on the project from the get-go: “I wrote this song last year during the first lockdown, probably like many others did with their own hobbies/interests and to keep the mind occupied. I thought nothing of it and had no real plan to be honest. Eventually, with the encouragement, help and guidance from one of my oldest friends, Gavin King, the next thing I knew I was recording in his spare room in Musselburgh (East Lothian) with an array of old Casio keyboards, a laptop and an acoustic guitar. The song grew and grew. With that came some outstanding contributions from incredible musicians and engineers from Perth to Dunbar... stretching all the way down to the Midlands. The fact that these amazing people wanted to be involved (in what began as only a few chords) left me humbled to say the least during what was an otherwise dark period in my 39 years.”
The vast array of contributions include everything from pedal steel and brass to harp and accordion creating, in Shaun’s own words “...a rich, warm and dynamic wall of sound.”
The single has already proved itself a fixture on the radio airwaves, with BBC Scotland’s Vic Galloway firmly on board, not to mention the lauded Jim Sclavunos (one time member of Sonic Youth and The Cramps, and current member of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) who has played ‘When We Dance’ on his Soho Radio show.
Out now on TriptychWave Records, all digital download proceeds of the single will be donated to the Scottish Association of Mental Health.
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Beach Riot - ‘Sofa Surfer’
Brighton’s Beach Riot may be partial to generous helpings of loud, angsty fuzz, but with sprinklings of twisted pop added to the mix, they sure manage to keep things catchy.
'Sofa Surfer' is their latest single and it’s definitely struck the right chord - the band have been showered with praise from the likes of Kerrang!, CLASH, Louder Than War and MOJO, not to mention plenty of love across the airwaves from various DJs at BBC Radio 1, Kerrang! Radio, BBC 6 Music, Radio X, Amazing Radio, BBC Scotland, Total Rock, and even legendary US station KEXP. Wow!
So what’s the story behind their killer track? “The song was born in the middle of a long sleepless night when I couldn’t take the ticking on the boiler anymore, so went downstairs and sat on the sofa at 3am and it just fell out of my head. Those voice memos, whilst trying not to make too much noise, are pretty hilariously awful.. but they got the job done in my haze.”
After smashing Reading and Leeds in 2018 (“something we’d all dreamed of”), there will be plenty of eager fans chomping at the bit to catch Beach Riot when they head out on their UK tour this November and December. Dates are on sale now to check the links below.
And before that we can all look forward to another single on the way, plus debut album ‘Subatomic Party Cool' which will be released on Alcopop! Records this summer.
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