The Unsigned Guide Spotlight: July

Blog by Louise Dodgson under Artist Managers, Creative & Branding, Finance, Law & Music Business, Live, Media, Music Publishing, Music Training & Careers, Record Labels, Recording & Production, Selling & Distributing Your Music

Problem Patterns - ‘Letter of Resignation’

Straight off the back of two major support slots with none other than the original riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna’s electronic band Le Tigre, Belfast shouty punks Problem Patterns want to be known as your go-to band for venting your grievances in a cathartic way, “It's 100% rage, but also fun. Come to us when you want to get your frustration out by screaming and dancing.”

But, as well as creating an opportunity to channel the riotous energy of their listeners, Problem Patterns are also vocal proponents of inclusive, queer punk rock, with our chosen Spotlight track ‘Letter of Resignation’ being about guitarist Beverley’s decision to leave the church; “It was a big part of my life for a long time, before I gave up all hope on changing things from the inside. Letter of Resignation itself was sparked and the lyrics written in one evening after spotting an ex-Christian minister, who had been fired for saying that there was nothing wrong with being gay, on the street smoking. The rest of the song encompasses my own frustrations with it all. The superiority complexes, the view that everything is so black and white, that you have to conform to being less than yourself to be part of the community, never mind the seemingly unending scandals and abuses - but it still is wherever you look in Northern Ireland and religious attitudes extend into people's places of employment and where they go out socially too.”

There’s no surprise that Problem Patterns’ feisty, fuzzy sounds are picking up traction with radio and blogs, and their live shows are reputed to be celebratory, uplifting outbreaks of fun and positive havoc.

Those aforementioned Le Tigre support slots, both at iconic venues - Manchester’s Albert Hall and Glasgow’s Barrowlands, were a jaw-dropping moment for the band; “We were absolutely buzzing to be there because we love them and the Le Tigre fans were the best craic. I think it's probably any artist/musicians' dream to be noticed by the people that inspire them and the fact that we've been met with such an outpouring of support from people like Kathleen Hanna has been the weirdest and most inexplicable part of what we do.”

With a number of UK and European festival slots coming up over the summer - including My People Fest in Berlin, Crapfest, Core Festival, Greenbelt Festival and Shambala - the quartet have also announced they’ll be playing a headline show on 17th November at the Sebright Arms in London. Their hotly anticipated album ‘BLOUSE CLUB’ is also set to drop on Alcopop! Records some time in the coming months, so be sure to keep a beady eye on Problem Patterns.

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Mali Haf - ‘SHWSH’

Keen to dip her toe into every genre imaginable, Welsh artist Mali Haf has definitely brought an array of interesting elements to her latest single ‘SHWSH. Undeniably a catchy alt pop gem, it’s interwoven with ethereal, enchanting sounds and pulses, feeling both futuristic yet earthy at the same time.

Still embarking on a voyage of discovery when it comes to her musical style, Mali Haf gives us a little more insight to the song; “The music I’m making now is starting to feel more me, and I wanted this song and my upcoming EP to feel like an introduction to my artist self. To put it simply, artists I look up to are authentic and have a strong sense of self and I want this song to say “Yeah, I’m still figuring it out, like all of us, but I’m going to do that through listening to and trusting my gut feelings and staying true to my core values.”

Recent highlights for Mali Haf include supporting Kosheen at the Queen’s Hall in Narberth, and also playing as part of this years’ FOCUS Wales festival. Performing her songs in Welsh language is something that Mali takes pride in and gives her a real buzz; “So many people connected with it, even though many of the crowd didn’t speak the language. That in itself is a great feeling.”

The first single to be unveiled from her EP release ‘Jig-so’ which is due in Autumn, Mali’s material is the result of a collaboration with South Wales producer Minas, and there are more tantalising singles in the pipeline in the run up to the EP drop. And be sure to keep it locked on social media for live dates over the summer including slots at a few Welsh festivals over the coming weeks.

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Hollows - ‘The Floor’

Crafting determined alternative rock since 2021, Manchester trio Hollows have been progressively building an army of supporters with every new release. Their latest smash single ‘The Floor’, out on End of the Trail Records, is powerful, vital and vigorous, as the band wrangle an epic sound that seems far larger than your average three-piece can muster.

Along with their previous singles ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Chequered’, Hollows have drawn approval on the media front from the likes of BBC Radio 6's Steve Lamacq, Radio X's John Kennedy, as well as BBC Introducing, Amazing Radio, XS Manchester and editorial playlists on Apple Music.

The band are also turning heads on the live front too with triumphant support slots for Peter Hook & The Light, Crawlers, False Heads and Space under their belts, not to mention an appearance at The Great Escape. In fact, their biggest hometown headline gig is set to take place this very evening at The Deaf Institute, and is bound to be a sell-out.

More shows and fresh material are on the horizon, including a slot at Tramlines Festival Fringe, so we’re certain that the flame of interest in Hollows will be burning bright for some time to come.

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Dance Lessons - ‘New Job’

Making soulful dance music that is true to themselves seems to be the golden ticket for London female-produced trio Dance Lessons, whose fusion of alternative pop, electronica, new wave and jazz-laced sounds has inadvertently pricked the ears of many a tastemaker blog and radio show since they started making music together in 2020.

Enviable reviews have been rolling in from the likes of Clash, COMPLEX, Fader, The Line of Best Fit, plus radio spins on BBC Radio 1, BBC 6 Music, and an A-list spot on NME Radio, and not forgetting being crowned one of Earmilk’s ‘Best New Artists of 2021’. There’s zero doubt that Dance Lessons are making waves with their irresistibly upbeat single releases to date.

Their recent track ‘New Job’ has all the elements of a summer floor-filler for the broken hearted, including an infectious singalong chorus. Ann tells us the story behind the lyrics; “I initially wrote it late last year, before a break-up. Afterwards I went on a mad search for new ways to distract myself. The song shows the similarities in perspective of two people post-breakup, both using distractions to mask the sadness.”

The band’s first London gig is coming up soon on 19th July at Vout-O-Reenees. It’s a free show, so no excuses not to go experience Dance Lessons in the flesh. As for the rest of 2023, we can expect some more single releases, in advance of their planned album drop next year.

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Gates of Light - ‘Embrace the Night’

An international collaboration between five artists across four cities, three time zones and two continents, Gates of Light was conceived during lockdown and consists of singer songwriter Louise Quinn and producer/musician Finlay MacDonald (Glasgow), producer/DJ Scott Fraser (London), producer/DJ Kid Loco (Paris) and film/art director Tim Saccenti (New York). Their electro prog rock project was made possible with the support of Creative Scotland’s Open Fund, and the quintet have big plans, with ‘Embrace the Night’ signaling the beginning of a batch of new material they’ve been busy cooking up.

The second Gates Of Light album will be released on label Last Night in Glasgow as three separate digital EPs, preceding a vinyl compilation next year, with each EP focusing on an individual producer and the city they’re based in. Mid-August will see the unveiling of the first EP instalment, ‘Gates Of Light II (Glasgow Edition), set to be followed by a Paris edition produced by Kid Loco and a London edition produced by Scot Fraser.

Current single ‘Embrace The Night’ was co-written by Louise Quinn and Finlay MacDonald (wor_kspace, Teenage Fanclub, BMX Bandits) and it drifts between fervent synth surges and soothing celestial vocals. Already named as ‘Single of the Week’ on BBC Radio Scotland, the band have also picked up plenty of praise for this and previous releases from the likes of BBC 6 Music’s Mark Radcliffe, Jim Gellatly, Vic Galloway, plus The Arts Desk and The Scotsman, amongst others.

Catch Gates of Light live as part of an array of Last Night from Glasgow artists at The Glad Cafe in Glasgow on 7th July.

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How do I get featured on the Spotlight blog?
Our Spotlight blog is compiled every month from fresh new music submitted to us by our members. We want to hear from you!

We select 5 of the best tracks from our members to champion on Spotlight. As well as being featured on our new music blog, your track will also be played on our monthly Reform Radio show, get a free release package from CD Baby, plus the 5 tracks are also forwarded onto a select bunch of music industry professionals...including folks from Big Life Management, Club Fandango, Decca Records, Memphis Industries, Rocksound, DIY Magazine, Transgressive Records and The Great Escape. Find out more about Spotlight here.

To be in the running you’ll need to sign up as a member to The Unsigned Guide, then follow the instructions in your Welcome email to submit a track for Spotlight consideration to us.

Members of The Unsigned Guide get access to our huge directory of 8,000 UK music industry contacts, spanning 50 areas of the music business. Check out our quick video to find out more about the directory & other services we provide to help emerging bands and artists.


Emerging and unsigned bands and artists can submit their song for Spotlight tastemaker new music blog


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