The Unsigned Guide Spotlight: January
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
Anto Dust - ‘Sinners Sing’
With the unified goal of “blending traditional pop music and hooks with haunting orchestral arrangements and epic soundscapes”, four-piece Anto Dust have undeniably achieved this, and their captivating single ‘Sinners Sing’ is a prime example of their memorable and bewitching sound. Think Lana Del Rey, Enya and Beach House, and you’re in the right ballpark.
With the track initially springing quickly to life pre-pandemic, it’s taken a while for finishing touches to be made, as songwriter and vocalist Anto elaborates; “I was going through the biggest hangover of my life and I remember re-emerging from my room after sleeping for days. I picked up the guitar and the words just flew out of me, almost unchanged to what they are now. The melody just was there from the start. We started to play it live straight after and the audience responded very well to it. After our break, due to the pandemic, we just picked it back up and I worked with Joe Donaldson on the initial score of the music. He added so much to the song in terms of soundscapes and later on Antonio’s guitars were able to add that little extra dreamy touch we love. Eleanor (keys & vocals) and our friend Maddy helped with backing vocals, giving the song depth and emotion, while Dave (drums) recorded and engineered the vocals at his studio in Shepherds Bush.”
Blown away by the response to the song so far, the band have also played some striking gigs of late, including their own sell-out headline show at The Lexington in London, plus a couple of summertime shows supporting Reverend & The Makers in London and Margate.
Radio airplay and positive press has also given Anto Dust a boost; being featured on Q Magazine’s ‘5 Songs to Hear this Week’, NME Radar, The Line of Best Fit, plus a few single premieres with Clash Magazine, has left the band feeling extremely grateful, “Considering we don’t have management or a label to back us, and everything we’ve achieved has been solely based on our own merit, we are incredibly humbled by the support we have been receiving from people in the industry.”
With exciting plans afoot for more new single releases in the coming months, plus a debut album which is almost ready to go, Anto Dust are already busy getting to work on another. They’ll be playing an international festival in Sardinia this May, but closer to home, keep an eye out for their upcoming tour of the South of England, where they’ll be playing alongside talented friends Cosmic Strip and Looking Glass Alice.
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Empty Machines - Velvet Sky
With only 2 single releases under their belt so far, Glasgow duo Empty Machines have already forged a distinctive sound all their own; brooding and atmospheric post rock. Although, with this only being the start of their sonic journey, it seems the band have more facets of their sound to reveal.
Starting life as the solo, home studio project of Thomas Crawford, it wasn’t long before vocalist Jodie Helena joined the Empty Machines camp, and together their DIY approach to the creative process results in an immersive sound, encompassing alternative, ambient and electronic genres.
Following in the footsteps of debut single ‘Luna’, their latest release ‘Velvet Sky’ has also been stirring up much praise with support from EARMILK, We Write About Music, Reyt Good Magazine, and Jim Gellatly on Amazing Radio.
Thomas gives us the lowdown of how ‘Velvet Sky’ came about; “We never go into a new project with any preconceived ideas of where it will go or what it will be. We just experiment until we feel something and get inspired. Velvet Sky started off with drums and the lead synth. I thought it had a bit of grit to it and I felt it sounded quite dystopian. I continued layering instruments, and it became something quite dark, textured, and sort of sci-fi sounding. When working on the song, I felt sonically, Velvet Sky captured the atmosphere of Blade Runner, so, this inspired the lyrics moving forward. It’s quite a dark sounding song, but not all our songs will sound like this. We don’t want to be confined within any one style or genre.”
With their primary aim to grow their fanbase, the band will keep on unleashing new material to spread the word, but are already thrilled by what they’ve achieved in such a short space of time; “We’ve only been going for six months, and we are totally blown away by the reaction we’ve had so far.”
Currently busy working on their next 2 releases, they have teased us with details of next single ‘Vicious Vulture’ which will introduce some psychedelic influences. But whatever the style, there’s no doubt that Empty Machines are definitely worth putting on your radar in 2024.
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Caleb Francis - ‘Only Nineteen’
Sheffield singer songwriter Caleb Francis has blown the door off its hinges with his debut single release ‘Only Nineteen’ and is unquestionably fulfilling his brief “to make slanty interesting indie music.”
Steadily building a following in his hometown of Sheffield with plenty of stand-out gigs, including support slots for Danny Mellin, The Rills, SHEAFS, Retro Video Club and Trampolene, the hard work put into Caleb’s set and live sound is definitely paying off. So much so that the launch shows for single ‘Only Nineteen’ at The Leadmill and Sidney & Matilda were both sell-out gigs.
Drawing inspiration from the likes of Lou Reed, Nick Cave, War on Drugs and Blur, Caleb’s influences can be detected in his leftfield indie sound, but don’t forget that he likes to keep things interesting and deliver an unexpected twist;
“Originally ‘Only Nineteen’ started off as quite a basic shoegaze tune. We really wanted to push the track in the studio and spent a lot of time on the production. This has led to the track sounding really ear catching at the intro which hopefully will then surprise people when the track kicks into a more classic full band track.”
With an undoubtedly exciting 2024 ahead, keep it locked on Caleb’s socials for details of a headline Sheffield gig which will be unveiled soon. Expect more live shows around the country and a second single which is set to drop this Spring!
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Ski Lift - ‘Living the Dream’
Describing their songs as “head bobbing ear-worms for your Dad's morning commute”, South London trio Ski Lift have certainly mastered channeling infectious indie, and their latest single ‘Living The Dream’ is a crisp and catchy zinger of a track, featuring angular guitars with an edge of pop sensibility, in the vein of Field Music, Talking Heads and Deerhoof.
It’s hardly surprising then that their music has been picking up airplay across BBC Radio 1, BBC 6 Music, BBC Introducing Wales, Radio X, and BBC Hereford & Worcester, including a live session for them from Lakefest. Throw into the mix some sync placements on Channel 4, stand-out gigs with artists such as ARXX and Holiday Ghosts, and it seems like the wheels are definitely in motion for Ski Lift.
Having released independently so far, ‘Living The Dream’ is the first single to feature the full band, with guitarist and vocalist Benji previously recording separate elements himself. With plans in the pipeline for Ski Lift to unleash their debut album during 2024, they hope to draw the attention of a label to work with in the future.
Until then, make sure you look out later this month for what is bound to be yet another stellar single from the three-piece, ‘Double Yellow’, which will drop on 17th January (pre-save here)
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Must Be Ghosts - ‘Soul For Sale’
Midlands trio Must Be Ghost’s recent single ‘Soul For Sale’ is a delightfully lilting indie pop song which has a carefree air and catchy melody. Although its topic is about feeling lost in life, the band had no such problems when laying down this track.
Guitarist Chris explains how the song came together so effortlessly; “The bulk of the track came about very quickly, it was one of those songs that seemed to come from nowhere. I started playing a riff on the guitar and Alice and Josh joined in, seeing where it would go. By the end of the session the skeleton of the song was there. I worked on lyrics and extra guitar parts over the coming weeks, then it was ready for Liam (producer) to polish it in the studio.”
So far the song has been crowned ‘Track of the Week’ on BBC West Midlands, with airplay during the breakfast show every day. And the gigs and support slots are accumulating, with a recent show supporting Honey Moan going down particularly well.
Over the coming months Must Be Ghosts have a new single set for release, plus a few more that they’ll be working on in the studio. Alongside playing their gig circuit in Birmingham, the band aim to branch out to shows in other cities too during 2024, and hopefully some festival slots will be on the agenda too. Watch this space!
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