The Unsigned Guide Spotlight: May 2024

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

VICE VERA - ‘Tourist’

Unleashing her first release as part of solo project VICE VERA is Manchester artist Tamsin Middleton, who has channeled her incredible wealth of musical experience (inc. 15 years playing with bands including LIINES, ILL, Mr Heart, JD Meatyard, Calvin Party and Carousel Clouds) into her striking and provoking new single ‘Tourist’.

Despite only just unveiling her debut track, VICE VERA has been building up momentum on the gig circuit for a while, playing with the likes of Loose Articles, Bully, and Evil Blizzard. Using voice, electric guitar, effects and loop pedals to layer sound, texture and harmony, Tamsin articulates her sound and the significance of ‘Tourist’;

“Someone recently commented on my music: ‘if Polly Harvey and Siouxsie Sioux had a lovechild….’ I’ll take that; I’m a big fan of both! That said, I’d like to think I include soundscapes and meanderings all of my own, rather than copying anybody directly. There’s a definite post-punk flavour with a flair for drama, and ‘intense’ is probably the best word to describe my live set.

‘Tourist’ is an ode to the pain of paralysis and the frustration of feeling stuck. This song was written during a period of feeling such; you can hear this in the repetitive riff and the simmering anger in the vocal delivery. It is also an invocation to action - a reminder that motion is the antithesis of paralysis, and one step forward might be enough to break the spell.”

Shaped from footage taken during a trip to Prague with Tamsin’s ex-partner Garth Williams, the pair have worked together to craft an artistic and intriguing video; “Even though the relationship came to an end, we continued to collaborate and spent many hours over the course of about 18 months painstakingly editing a visual narrative to serve the feeling of the song. Our post-romantic friendship really was forged on the back of this project. Having never edited a video before, this feels like a huge creative achievement as well as a personal one.”

Another noteworthy achievement for VICE VERA was being awarded the Arts Council’s Develop Your Creative Practice fund earlier this year, giving Tamsin free rein to explore new avenues of her project. She is currently developing some new material with a view to record later in 2024.

With radio airplay and blog coverage building, it’s inevitable that it won’t be long before you’re hearing a lot more about VICE VERA. Catch her over the coming months performing at In A Nuts Hell Festival in Ulverston on 18th May, The Salty Dog in Northwich supporting Carol Hodge on 14th June, and Three’s A Crowd at Manchester’s Peer Hat on 20th July.

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FINE - ‘Shade of Blue’

Ahead of the hotly anticipated release of his debut album, Leeds artist and producer FINE has dropped an addictive single ‘Shade of Blue’, combining laidback electronica with the exquisite R&B vocal talents of Jess Edie to create a fresh, sleek and dazzling earworm of a track.

Having previously worked almost exclusively as a solo producer until recently, FINE was keen to push his boundaries into working collaboratively on his latest material, and he tells us how working on ‘Shade of Blue’ with Jess came about;

“The track started as a chance message when one of my previous releases landed the No.1 spot on a followers Spotify Wrapped. After a few messages back and forth they informed me of a talented vocalist friend looking to collaborate. I heard her demo and it was unreal. A few weeks later we were in the studio together and Shade of Blue was born. I think it’s important to note that I like to work fast in the studio... 80-90% of the track will be complete on the first session. When working with new collaborators, I prepared myself that this might not be possible. But whether beginners’ luck or a shared excitement and work ethic, the tunes seemed to write themselves on every session.”

Following the release of 2 previous EPs, FINE then received funding support through Music Local’s Launchpad programme, and momentum has continued to grow from there with airplay from BBC Introducing and BBC Radio 1, a feature on The Line of Best Fit, a place on the Glastonbury Long list, plus being crowned Single of the Week on Amazing Radio Single.

With 2 shows at The Great Escape on the horizon, as well as a string of FINE’s biggest gig dates so far, things are starting to reach fever pitch as his debut album lands. ’Then, Now, Until’ will be unveiled on 17th May on Leeds label analog horizons via Launchpad+ / EMI North, and if you’re quick you may still be able to grab tickets to the listening party he’s hosting tomorrow night (10th May) at Number 8 Cocktail Bar in Leeds.

Keep it locked on FINE’s socials for more news of live shows and upcoming releases.

Linktree   Bandcamp   Instagram   YouTube   Spotify

Tom Webber - ‘Keep Calling’

A soaring and infectiously upbeat song, surprisingly about casting off and moving on from friendships that no longer serve you, singer songwriter Tom Webber has a clever knack of bringing an essence of tenacity and reality to his brand of captivating indie.

“In a nutshell, it’s a blend of nostalgic and contemporary sounds. I love mixing elements of acoustic guitar, twanging electrics, modern synths and soulful vocals. I’ve always consciously tried to steer clear from the polished squeaky pop sound, so adding some grit into the mix with old/new sounds seems to work for me.”

‘Keep Calling’ is the result of Tom’s work with producers/writers James Dring and Jack Kaye from The Magic Gang, who come together to form a supreme songwriting trifecta. Tom shares the ideas that sparked the track;

“Jack and I were discussing the whole thing of people changing over time and how everyone loses connection with a close mate who they were tight with back in school or whatever. And with the main goal not to write a love song, we took the idea of a friend who won’t stop calling and wrote around that. It’s never been about anyone in particular but it’s a culmination of different experiences in my past which follow the same road of moving on.”

Just back from supporting Tom Meighan on tour, Tom has also opened for the likes of Richard Hawley, Nick Lowe and Suzanne Vega over the years. His festival performances also include Isle of Wight, Truck and WOMAD, as well as a personal highlight of playing at Glastonbury 2022, where he was crowned with the Demo of the Year accolade.

Beyond that, he is more than content locked away in the studio; “As a whole, an achievement for me is actually just getting to meet/record with so many great people. I’m a music lover first and foremost, so getting to create songs in a studio is the nectar of happiness to me.”

Which is where we find Tom at present; focusing on writing and recording new material. He’ll be emerging for a Sofar Sounds gig in London on 31st May, as well as a slot at Black Deer Festival on 14th June, so catch him while you can.

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Francesca Everly - ‘Flight Risk’

Indie pop artist Francesca Everly is only just venturing out into the world with her music, and we were instantly struck by the melodic, airy nature of her charming single ‘Flight Risk’, the first to be unveiled from her upcoming debut EP.

Drawing inspiration from the likes of Lizzy McAlpine, Holly Humberstone and Olivia Rodrigo, Francesca tells us the impetus behind the music she makes; “I strive to offer a raw and unfiltered glimpse into my inner world, narrating my emotions and personal experiences with honesty and authenticity. I craft a sound that blends nostalgic melodies with soft folk undertones, creating a vibe that feels both familiar and deeply personal.”

Recently bagging a place for ‘Flight Risk’ on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist, things are off to a flying start for Francesca, slightly ironically given the subject matter of her song;

“‘I wrote ‘Flight Risk’ about a year ago when I was in a moment of my life where I was seeking change, but despite all my efforts everything felt rigid and stale. Days were filled with early therapy sessions and late nights lost in my thoughts. I often found myself daydreaming about breaking free from it all. The song captures the frustration and boredom I felt during that year, serving as an outlet for expressing those emotions.”

With her debut EP release, ‘Start Over’, due in Autumn, and another single to follow on 24th May, be sure to keep an eye out for more music from Francesca. She’ll also be playing the Gunners Pub in London on 9th May, so head down if you fancy seeing her live.

Instagram   Facebook   Spotify

Sister Envy - ‘Tide’

Ahead of their imminent performance at this year’s FOCUS Wales showcase, Sister Envy have unveiled their second single ‘Tide’, which exquisitely merges the band’s influences of 1960s psychedelia and ‘90s shoegaze and grunge.

With a potent mix of swirling guitars, building to a crescendo at the chorus then dipping away, almost resembling a crashing wave, vocalist and guitarist Kameron Jolliffe tells us how the track came together; "Tide is the first song we recorded together as a band. I wrote it during the latter stages of the pandemic, I was hungover one morning playing guitar and started messing around with some chords and Tide came out. The lyrics are about a toxic relationship that still pulls you in just to inevitably throw you back.”

Having recently signed with Yr Wyddfa Records, the North Wales fourpiece who met and started playing music together at college, have been working alongside producers Owain Ginsberg (Hippies Vs Ghosts) and Scott Marsden (Holy Coves) on their initial releases, which they can’t wait to unleash, and their upcoming gig at FOCUS Wales will be the ideal occasion.

“Playing FOCUS Wales this year is definitely something we really can’t wait for! It’s an amazing festival and seeing our name on the same poster alongside Spiritualised, Snapped Ankles etc is quite surreal.”

So with more new music up their collective sleeve, as well as a music video on the horizon and hopefully plenty of gigs too, there’s plenty more to look forward this year from Sister Envy.

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