The Unsigned Guide Spotlight: August

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

The Famous Daxx - 'Gamble'

Written when she was 19 The Famous Daxx has created many different incarnations of ‘Gamble’, straddling grunge to singer songwriter, and eventually reaching the version she has finally chosen to release; an enchanting and sultry take on psychedelic pop, complete with haunting vocals that will send a chill down your spine.

Following up her debut single, ‘Weatherman’, she manages to tread the fine line between commercial and obscure on ‘Gamble’, a song about finding your place in the world, “It’s about growing up, being stuck in situations where I didn’t know what the future would hold. I recorded it with my producer Lucas Polo between 2020/2021, partly in a bedroom, partly in a small Wood Green studio. All the guitars and synths are me and Lucas, the drums, bass, pianos, backing vocals and violin were all recorded by female session musicians and friends of mine. It was the first time I felt like I had full control over my music, and working with a predominantly female team on it created exactly the environment I want to be in when I make music.”

Moving to the UK from her hometown of Munich in 2018, The Famous Daxx has worked hard to define her sound, inspired and influenced by everything from the cinematic soundtracks of Ennio Morricone, classical music and opera, to guitar music from the 60s to the current day alternative rock of Wolf Alice.

Keen to play live again soon, Daxx is busy putting together a female band to accompany her on the road and bring her songs to life. With 2 more singles due to be unveiled later this year, she is glad to be able to share the results of her dedicated creative process, “ has been so much work doing it all during a year that was really hard in a lot of ways, and getting through that and coming out with something I can be proud of, that was made on my own terms, means everything to me.”

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Man Without Country - ‘Gardener in a War’

Striking and exquisite, Man Without Country certainly knows how to craft atmospheric electronic music of the highest calibre. Drawing influence from Com Truise and The Japanese House, ‘Gardener in a War’ is the lead single taken from his latest EP ‘Bloods, Side A’, which has been hotly anticipated by fans and industry alike, following the high praise received for previous album ‘Infinity Mirror’, an ambitious body of material which was put out on Killing Moon Records in 2018.

Although Man Without Country has been in existence since 2007, initially as a duo, it was rebooted by Welsh producer and vocalist Ryan A. James in 2017 as a solo project for his ever progressing sound. Having previously collaborated with Royksopp on song ‘Sordid Affair’ and with an impressive canon of remixes under his belt for the likes of Interpol, School of Seven Bells, Band of Skulls, M83, and many others, venturing into creating on his own is a significant step for Ryan - which is why achieving such acclaim off the back of ‘Infinity Mirror’ is such a valued high point for him, particularly on a personal level, “I was proud of what I achieved with my 2018 album Infinity Mirror. Within the time-frame I’d set myself I wrote, recorded, produced as well as crowd-funded the whole thing with little help from anyone else - which subsequently gained the attention of a record label. The result is something I still look back on with much contentment, unlike most of my repertoire if I’m honest. I also managed to hit the number one spot in “synth pop” on Bandcamp with my latest release, which was unexpected, but I would put down to hard work, preparation and hopefully having decent music!”

And it appears that Ryan could be on track to equal, if not exceed, his previous triumph. ‘Gardener in a War’ blends intricate, driving beats with warped synths and probing chimes, and soothing, delicate vocals.

“The inspiration for the song came about whilst in lockdown. During that time I got into gardening pretty heavily, which gave me some headspace, and is what sparked the idea for the song’s theme. The track eventually became a collage about the obvious global situation we were all in mixed with feelings and doubts about fatherhood and the future. The verse vocals were originally from a collaboration I did with a Swedish artist named Tungorna, on a track called ‘Better Man’. I sometimes enjoy revisiting elements of earlier creations to try and paint them with new colours.”

With ‘Bloods, Side A’ now unveiled, described as ‘a welcome return’ by Huw Stephens, Ryan plans to spend some time reflecting and taking stock, although he does also allude to a couple of remixes and other projects he may be working on, so we have a feeling we’ll be hearing from from him very shortly.

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FRAUDS - ‘Ships’

With massive riffs, big hooks, and a ‘...catchy, catchy, catchy...’ chorus, the latest single from Croydon duo FRAUDS is brimming with glorious mischief. The band was initially formed as a covers act, playing old, obscure punk and garage rock songs which were passed off as their own handiwork, hence the name FRAUDS. Over the years the pair began dipping their toes into songwriting and creating their own material. Fast forward a bit, and they have since shared stages with Idles, Future of The Left, Tigercub, God Damn, USA Nails, Slaves, and Demob Happy, to name just a few, and are about to drop their second album ‘Long Spoons’ on Alcopop! Records. Quite an incredible trajectory!

Back to ‘Ships’, and the pair tell us how the song originated, “We wrote the bulk of this song a couple of years ago and we had the hook “ships won’t sail tonight”. We wanted to write something that had some narrative and about the environment. So we made up a character of a fisherman who is hopping from fishing village to small fishing village, promising prosperity and jobs to the local community but quickly disappears once the natural resources have been drained. Not just destroying the environment but the lives of the people who he hoodwinks into working for him on his ship ‘The Wishing Well’.”

FRAUDS have enjoyed plenty of peaks in their career to date; from airplay on Steve Lamacq’s show, to being personally invited to tour with Jamie Lenman twice, and playing 2000 Trees festival over the past couple of years. But, judging from their video, having fun and making connections plays a huge part in their fulfilment, “Overall I think the biggest achievement of doing this has been the friendships we’ve made with loads of amazing people across the UK.”

With ‘Long Spoons’ due to be released on 1st October, the chaps will be heading out on tour during September and October so look out for them shaking up a town near you soon. In the meantime, we can expect a new single, and hopefully they’ll sneak in a few shows ahead of their tour dates. We can’t wait!

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Ophelia - ‘Japanese Peru’

Typically found songwriting and playing guitar in Leeds indie rockers Talkboy, Tim Malkin, has branched out on his own for this stunning musical project. Ophelia is the perfect vehicle for his solo escapades...or as he prefers to see it, “the material it would be weird if anyone else sang.”

‘Japanese Peru’ is his beautiful debut single which dovetails gracefully between fragile vocals and trembling instrumentation to assured and soaring crescendos, reflecting the subject of the song, “It’s about an idyllic place that may or may not exist, and the hope that you’ll get there one day. I hope that people feel hopeful! I think we’ve all been waiting for the clouds to clear for ages now, and we’ve had to just keep going without any certainty about how it’s all going to turn out. I think hope is quite often misinterpreted as naivety...there is a lot of thinking about stuff that could have been / might be, all those things that keeps you up on a rainy lockdown Tuesday night".

Having already achieved so much as an artist - playing in Europe, South by Southwest, Seoul, as well as at festivals such as Reading/Leeds and Bluedot, Ophelia’s solo escapades have also been rewarding in new ways on a creative front, “I used to think that my songs had to be about really specific things for them to mean anything or be personal but at the moment I think that if you can just switch off and let stuff come out, you get to something a bit deeper.”

With this first single already driving positive reviews and curiosity aplenty, it’s good news to hear that our anticipation won’t be stretched for too long. Ophelia has a full 6 track EP recorded and ready for release on Learn Fear Records, due out this Autumn.

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Grant Kilpatrick - ‘When It Comes Around’

Indie rock doesn’t come much more punchy, contagious or rowdy than the latest spirited offering from Grant Kilpatrick. ‘When I Come Around’, out now on Different Colours, is a bonafide juggernaut of a track, laden with riotous guitars and vocals drowning in Liam Gallagher-esque reverb.

The fourth single to be unleashed by the Scottish anti-singer songwriter, Grant has skilfully melded the angular and the melodic into pure radio-friendly swagger. And it seems the urgency of the song has been there since the get-go, with all elements forging together pretty quickly, “I remember spending a couple of days writing the track at my studio. I tend to write music and lyrics together quite quickly so the skeleton of the song was more or less done by the end of the first afternoon. I hadn't really set out to write about any specific subject, I don't tend to do that. The words came and they seemed to have a thread of escapism running through them so I went forward with that.”

Grant further elaborates on the lyrics, “’s about wanting to escape, wanting to run away from something or somewhere that has become dull or dangerous, and I think the music reflects that too.”
With a whole stack of brand new material ready to go, be prepared to have more indie anthems fired into the stratosphere from Grant over the coming 6 months. It can only be a matter of time before he’s sat alongside Sam Fender and Queens of the Stone Age on the playlists. And if we’re extra lucky, there may even be some gigs on the horizon too. Watch this space!

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