Written by: Natalya Davies Updated: 4th April 2019
Manchester-based art-rock quintet Sylvette release avant-garde new single ‘Memories’, produced by New Order’s Phil Cunningham
Within recent years, the music industry has been faced by high market saturation and the development of modern music consumption, both of which have had a profound effect on many bands abilities to secure attention and loyalty from consumers and labels. Even the press have played their part in writing off the need for bands in today’s market, their headlines pronouncing the album dead as the general consumer participates in a “detached” listening experience fuelled by the charts and popular playlists.
In light of the shifting dynamic of the musical environment, there is a beacon of hope which surfaces when acts like Sylvette reject the unnecessary speculations of the industry to exhibit art in its purest form, proving that boundaries really are there to be broken.
Hailing from gloomy Manchester, Sylvette are among the next generation of artists preparing to prolong the city’s undeniable reputation for outstanding musical talent. Their style and aesthetic, on the other hand, looks to mimic no previous musical “greats” or industry conventions. Instead, the art-rock quintet produce a truly avant-garde concept, one which they execute flawlessly.
The origin of their name is a positively unique one, inspired by an enchanting muse frequently pictured in many of Picasso’s famous paintings. What is more interesting however, is the unexpected relationship which has since formed between Sylvette vocalist Charlie Sinclair and this famous muse, Sylvette Corbet who is now an artist herself. This friendship has proven extremely helpful in positioning Sylvette (the band, henceforth) as a serious creative and artistic force.
To kick start what looks to be a rather promising 2019, February saw the quintet unveil new single ‘Memories’, the follow-up to their largely successful 2018 debut album ‘Waiting in the Bliss’. In what seems to be an exploration of a more sombre side to their sound, ‘Memories’ is a creatively and technically immaculate composition that defies any signs of a traditional song structure. However, Sylvette’s quest for the unconventional never incites jeopardising the overall listening experience.
Like an exquisite juxtaposition, ‘Memories’ serves as the perfect middle ground between the experimental and the commercial. The combination of a variety of contemporary layers and textures adds a mysterious undertone which plants a seed of allure into the listener from the very first note. On the other hand, the single is nonetheless overflowing with captivating hooks that will surely have you – well, hooked.
The song’s intriguing story is intricately woven through its lyrics and accompanying visuals to create a mystical tale revolved heavily around the disruption of a fabricated utopia, peppered with cleverly constructed references to art. Quite like a work of art itself, the lyrics and visuals are full of evocative symbols which all hint to a plethora of connotations. It is up to the listener to determine the true meaning behind the story, an element which only adds to the song’s enigmatic nature.
Sonically, ‘Memories’ is a masterpiece.
Sylvette have carefully intertwined minimalistic and juxtaposing complex sections which take the listener on a beautifully turbulent journey, void of any predictability. Sinclair’s vocals are a particular strong point for the band, with its rather soft timbre mixed with a light distortion which adds a gritty edge to the arrangement, particularly in the more delicate sections.
“LIKE AN EXQUISITE JUXTAPOSITION, ‘MEMORIES’ SERVES AS THE PERFECT MIDDLE GROUND BETWEEN THE EXPERIMENTAL AND THE COMMERCIAL”
Another element that is happily welcomed by the ear is Greek native Philippos Rousiamanis’ exceptional violin skills which are scattered throughout the song, often adding a hint of tension or piercing through the rest of the layers to demand the attention of the listener.
This abstract fusion of rock with classical music, theatrical influences and experimental elements makes ‘Memories’ a truly memorable piece (no pun intended), one which cannot be gorged upon by a distracted mind. After all… exceptional art deserves to be the mind’s sole focus when under observation… and creating exceptional art is exactly what Sylvette excel in.
Written by: Robert Percy Edited by: Natalya Davies Updated: 21 March 2019
Australia has its unique things that everyone knows about. Summer temperatures at Christmas. A myriad of animals that could either kill you, make your life a living hell or both. The Irwins (RIP Steve, stingrays are evil). The Wiggles. Neighbours. Home and Away. The hilariously overpowered muscle cars and Utes that were produced up until very recently by the local divisions of Ford and General Motors. The sleeper hit reality show Instant Hotel (which is going to be co-presented by none other than Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen in its second season). But what a lot of people should know about Australia is that it has provided a hotbed of great musical talent across multiple genres for the last decade or so.
With that in mind, I thought I’d put together a little list, in no particular order and with no genre limitations, of some fantastic Australian artists and bands that you should definitely get to know…
These 90s revivalists from Melbourne have been making a huge scene ever since they first emerged near the beginning of the decade and are set to become a force to be reckoned with on the international touring circuit by the end of it. Whilst initially having a twin vocal setup with Luke Holmes providing hardcore influenced screams and yells and Dale Tanner (who was also the band’s bass player) providing a cleaner vocal style, at the beginning of 2019 Holmes departed and Dale switched to being the band’s singular front-man, his bass duties being taken over by newcomer Twiggy Hunter.
Whereas their earlier material was much more rooted in the heavier end of things, their newest material delves into an altogether more experimental territory. Their latest single “Ask For The Anthem” delves into some seriously funky sounds and quasi-rap vocals that wouldn’t sound out of place on a classic RHCP album. The band also have a reputation for creating low budget, off-kilter and brilliant music videos; it’s one of the things that really sets them apart from the rest. “The Rhapsody Tapes” was highly critically acclaimed and with the return of nu-metal and the sounds of the 90s as the 2020s come into view, expect these guys to go right to the top of the tree pretty damn fast.
Another Melbourne-based artist, rapper and singer Illy (born Alasdair Murray) might be the most well known of the artists I’m including on his home turf. He’s collaborated with some well-known names including Anne-Marie, Jenna McDougall of Tonight Alive, Ahren Stringer of The Amity Affliction and Thomas Jules of Rudimental to name just four.
He has also won two ARIA awards (the Australian equivalent of a Grammy or a Brit) and been nominated for several others. Yet, weirdly, he doesn’t seem to have much of a foothold in popularity outside of Australia. Originally a member of rap collective Crooked Eye, he went solo in 2009 and since then has released four albums, with a fifth due for release this year. If you love hip-hop artists who have an ear for melody as well as bars, you’ll love this guy.
Perth’s Voyager have been plying their trade in one form or another since the late 90s. They sit firmly within the ‘ProgPower’ end of heavy metal. Shredding guitars (provided by the twin axe attack of Scott Kay and Simone Dow), “djent-y” rhythms and lush synthesized soundscapes are the foundations of the Voyager sound. This is accompanied by the rich crooning baritone of German-born multilingual (who includes written sections of lyrics in German and Russian in some songs) vocalist and keyboardist Daniel Estrin, his vocal stylings bearing more than a passing nod to Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran and the sadly departed Peter Steele of Type O Negative (“Iron Dream”,from their album “The Meaning of I”, was written in tribute to Steele). The end result is a gloriously epic mash-up of cheesy 80s choruses, big modern riffs, power metal keyboards and prog sensibilities that anyone who dips their toes into any of those worlds will love.
This feisty pop-punk group from Sydney have really started to gain some big momentum in the last year. With a sound not too dissimilar to the early years of Tonight Alive, they’ve managed to create big rock songs that are catchier than a virus. Vocalist Mikaila Delgado has a fantastic tone with just the right amount of edge and their material sounds slick enough to sound right at home on the radio (in fact, I actually heard “Circles” on Jack Saunders’ late-night BBC Radio One show not long ago!).
The video for “Circles” is fantastic too, with its liberal amounts of meta humour (the sets and cameras are clearly on show). Pop-punk has not only stayed the course since the 90s but has become very popular again too in recent years. If Yours Truly play their cards right, they could be big contenders in a scene filled with (unfortunately) just as much controversy as it has solid and slick bands.
Another Sydney act, Polaris bring a brand of heavy yet catchy metalcore that tips its hat in the general direction of Architects, Erra and Parkway Drive. Front-man Jamie Hails and bassist Jake Steinhauser deliver a twin vocal attack that covers everything from metalcore screams and gritty melodies (performed by Jamie) to big, pop-influenced melodies (performed by Jake) while the music alternates in kind between massive riffs, huge choruses, ambient soundscapes and crushing breakdowns.
They’ve had an incredible last couple of years, the highlights of which include performing in huge venues in their native Australia and overseas in support of Architects, Parkway Drive and their hometown compatriots Northlane. They also signed record deals with Resist Records in Australia and Sharptone Records (also home to Don Broco, Loathe, Holding Absence and Emmure to name just a few) in the US, UK and Europe. If epic metalcore with choruses you can belt out at the top of your voice is your bag, you’d be crazy to pass these guys by.
After splitting from the instrumental duo Halcyon to forge his own path, Plini began to blaze a trail as one of the front runners of a new generation of guitar-centric instrumental music. He has evolved from the low budget but charming jazz fusion influenced efforts of his first EP “Other Things”, where he performed and programmed most of the instruments himself. Going on to release his epic prog debut album “Handmade Cities” with assistance from Simon Grove of The Helix Nebula on bass and session musician and music teacher Troy Wright on drums. And now, his latest EP “Sunhead”, which features John Waugh, The 1975’s saxophonist of choice, and the ridiculously skilled Canadian keyboardist Anomalie as guest musicians.
Not a bad CV for somebody who’s only been carving his own path in music since the start of the 2010s! Plini’s guitar stylings are both technically and melodically satisfying, with many nods to great rock instrumentalists such as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, as well as fusion masters like Allan Holdsworth and Al Di Meola. As well as this, his music is fantastic in a live setting, where he recruits whoever of his friends are available to deliver a free flowing and fantastically performed set of his material (with maybe a few surprises too along the way!). Plini looks set to become one of the next big instrumental guitar heroes and, from the way things are going, he could be touring all around the world every year for the next few decades.
With their mad, off the wall music videos packed full of skits, in-jokes and scenarios that range from the whimsical to the downright disturbing (including one where they turned a fat basement-dwelling internet troll into sausages), you’d think that Melbourne’s resident musical ninjas were a pretty eccentric bunch. You’d be right and then some.
As per a one time popular internet meme, somebody somewhere must have told them they could play any style of music… so they played all of them. Twelve Foot Ninja take heavy influence from Mike Patton’s various musical escapades, the popular rock, metal, reggae and jazz fusion acts of the mid 90s-early 00s era, which is all aided by the crazy (and criminally underrated) tuning-changing and guitar and amp emulation technology of Line 6’s Variax system. They effortlessly switch between punishing Sevendust and Meshuggah-style riffs in super low tunings to delicate acoustic passages, choppy jazz funk with more than a passing nod to Jamiroquai, dancehall beats and even the odd bit of Latin American stylings thrown in just for good measure.
The source of this glorious genre roulette? The band’s leader, session guitarist Steve “Stevic” Mackay, who has built on his experience of doing everything from playing with Delta Goodrem (no really, he did!) to doing shreddy solos for the soundtrack of a series of Power Rangers (I’m not lying… he really did this!) to create intricate yet catchy multi- genre compositions. He even wrote the band’s mythology, a story about… you guessed it… a ninja who can become twelve feet tall (it was published as a comic, if you’re ever interested in reading it). On top of all of this is Kin Etik’s soulful baritone, which covers all bases from crooning to delicate falsetto and topping it off with some incredibly powerful screams. If you’re a fan of any of the more rock and metal oriented end of Mike Patton’s work such as Faith No More, Mr. Bungle and Tomahawk, Twelve Foot Ninja will definitely appeal to you.
There was one point where it looked like Dead Letter Circus’ socially conscious progressive rock, fronted by the distinctive high tenor of Kim Benzie, mixed with electronic sensibilities could reach the big time internationally. They even had what could almost be considered a viral hit when they attempted to do a soft acoustic/electronic version of the Rage Against The Machine classic “Killing In The Name Of” for the popular Australian radio station Triple J’s “Like A Version” sessions, which was met with as much bewilderment as there was praise.
Then they seemingly dropped off the radar following a bit of a bad time with label support outside of their native soil. However, they have carried on creating and evolving their music away from the wider world popularity they once had. Maybe one day soon they’ll return to their previous international breakout stardom? One can only hope.
Perhaps the dark and creepy atmospheric track “Silence”, a post-mortem musing by Benzie about a man who sexually abused children, has a fairly heavy significance in 2019 with the various allegations surrounding musicians now coming out. Regardless, even though they are clearly one of the underdogs now outside of their native country, Dead Letter Circus are a band who have the potential to be truly timeless.
Originally a part of the “djent” movement, Melbourne prog rockers Circles decided to retool and rebrand after losing their long time front-man. Moving to a four piece, with guitarist Ben Rechter stepping up to the microphone to handle lead vocals as well, the band embraced a more rough and ready sound that may be very far removed from how they originally started out, yet they still retain a lot of their original charm. A big change of sound can be a very risky decision but they seem to have pulled it off very well and with new label and management deals signed that include the US, UK and Europe, be prepared to see a lot more of them within the next few years.
What do you get when you combine the huge riffs of “djent” with the fast-paced rap of Tech N9ne and Busta Rhymes and the songwriting sensibilities of P.O.D.? You get Sydney natives DVSR.
The enormous, super down-tuned guitars provided by guitarist and main songwriter Andrew Stevens are some of the beefiest you can hear this side of a Meshuggah album. Andrew “Anti-Matter” Youkhana, on the other hand, is quite possibly one of the best rappers in the game right now, combining both incredible lyricism covering everything from personal to political topics and the ability to switch it up into hyper speed (I’d LOVE to hear him do a Fire In The Booth, he’d absolutely kill it).
It’s very easy to compare DVSR to British favourites Hacktivist due to their similarities with combining “djent-y” guitars with rap vocals, but to do so is honestly somewhat ignorant – both bands are from totally different countries where both the rap and metal scenes have different sounds and different influences. The band recently played their first show outside of Australia at 2018’s UK Tech Metal Festival and hopefully, with the release of the follow-up to 2017’s “Therapy”, they’ll be venturing internationally a lot more.
Stand Atlantic have been gaining a lot of hype since the release of their debut album “Skinny Dipping” last year and for very good reason. The Sydney natives have a knack for creating beautiful, catchy and emotionally charged rock music. Guitarist and vocalist Bonnie Fraser is an incredible lyricist as well as being a fantastic singer and songwriter; she’s able to hit you right in the feels with a single line (“Toothpick” very much comes to mind here). They’re already booking up tours all over the world and winning over audiences everywhere they go, so if things go to plan, they’re destined for huge levels of success and maybe even a lot of mainstream attention.
These instrumental progressive metal wizards, the lineup of which includes regular Plini collaborators Simon Grove and Jake Howsam Lowe, are quickly becoming a regular staple amongst those who like the technically minded end of heavy music. They specialise in well written yet incredibly virtuosic music and are also more than willing to reach slightly outside the box for inspiration – they have even done a prog metal re-interpretation of Jon Gomm’s viral hit “Passionflower”.
The Helix Nebula currently only have one EP (released in 2014), but a full album is on its way, albeit an album that has had an incredibly long gestation period because all four members have been very busy with other projects. Regardless, it should be absolutely mind- blowing when it does see the light of day.
If you thought Twelve Foot Ninja were weird… you ain’t seen nothing yet until you listen to I, Valiance.
The Melbourne-based five piece combine the deathcore stylings of bands like Thy Art Is Murder with blaring synths, dissonant guitar leads, trap influenced beats, trippy atmospheres, blasts of circus music and some of the most ridiculous screamed vocals you will ever hear this side of a Mayhem album.
Originally fronted by Aversions Crown vocalist Mark Poida (a legend in his own right in the deathcore scene thanks to the absolutely insane noises that he’s able to create), they went through multiple prospective front-men after he parted ways with them to focus on his new band before settling on their equally mental current front-man, Terrence Kilner. Mark did however return as a guest vocalist on the heavily rap-influenced “Three Daggers”. They have been in the process of gradually releasing a full album’s worth of music in a series of EPs, two of which were released last year, and hopefully a third will be in our ears very soon.
Do you like deathcore? Do you like aliens? Do you like vocals that sound like aliens? If the answer is yes to all three, Aversions Crown is the band for you. Featuring ex-I, Valiance vocalist Mark Poida and an H.P. Lovecraft-style mythology revolving around warmongering, genocidal aliens wreaking havoc upon the earth, Aversions Crown specialise in bombastic soundscapes, blast beats and some of the heaviest breakdowns you’ll ever hear. Buster Oldenholm, the brainchild of Swedish masters of brutality Humanity’s Last Breath, had a huge hand in the production of their latest album “Xenocide” and it really shows; it’s loud, proud and not for the faint-hearted.
2019 looks to be a breakout year for Melbourne alt-rockers The Beautiful Monument. Sporting an all-female lineup and an arsenal of huge tunes from their 2017 debut “I’m The Sin” and their brand new single “Deceiver” and having already toured with Tonight Alive, they look and sound more than ready to take on the world stage. They cite A Day To Remember and The Ghost Inside as huge influences on their sound so if you’re a fan of either of those bands, you’ll definitely enjoy this breath of fresh air in the more melodic and pop-punk influenced end of heavy music.
After a short hiatus to tend to the pressing demands of motherhood, London singer MAI.K (a.k.a Mai Khalil) is back and ready to reclaim her throne in British R’n’B.
There are many facets of MAI.K’s extraordinary story which foreshadow her crystal-clear destiny to share her unique talent and musicianship with the world. Her fateful encounter with a discarded copy of “Smooth Grooves R’n’B Edition” in particular, validates the well-known proverb that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. This divine intervention introduced the young Syrian native to a newfound passion for music in what was a pivotal time as she adapted to her new life in the Western world.
Like all real-life experiences however, not every part of MAI.K’s journey has played out in such a fairy tale-like manner. After building a commendable reputation on the London music scene, 2017 saw her career pull to an abrupt halt as her life took an unexpected detour towards motherhood. Forced to put her career on hold, the singer accepted the diversion of her fate, but never at the expense of her dreams.
Her story is one which can and most likely will be seen as a great contribution to the role of the female in today’s society; as an unbeatable heroine that does not let inconsequential social constructs determine her path. Instead, she redefines societal standards to suit her purpose; a lesson we could all take a modicum of inspiration from.
MAI.K has proven to the world that life does not end at motherhood, but rather, it only really just begins. Another famous proverb applicable here is “when one door closes reach for a damn crowbar” (I don’t like social norms either), and just as expected MAI.K, crowbar in hand, sets to release her latest EP ‘Change’ on March 8th.
Here are our thoughts on the matter:
Change, an EP consisting of three previously released tracks, is a timeless piece which pays clear homage to the sound of 2000s R’n’B encapsulated by artists like Alicia Keys. The incorporation of MAI.K’s rich London accent adds a colourful twist to this traditional sound, a trend which has been embraced by some of modern R’n’B’s hottest names including Jorja Smith and rising star Mahalia. The singer has morphed the unconventional with the conventional to form a truly spectacular sound; though what more could we expect!
Opening track “Little Arab Girl” instantly sets MAI.K apart from any such conventions by exploring the largely untold story of the loss of youth and innocence; a common predicament for children residing in war zones. The song is a chilling rendition of a young girl, burdened by the aftermath of conflicts created by the adult world. Grieving the loss of her loved ones, but forced into a parental position due to the dependency of younger siblings.
““I NEED YOU” IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THE EUPHORIC STATE THAT YOU CAN EXPERIENCE WHEN YOU TRULY OPEN UP YOUR HEART TO OTHERS”
Despite MAI.K’s efforts to stray from the political path she once occupied in her early career, “Little Arab Girl” finds the singer once again, giving a voice and platform to those in need. In consideration of the current demonisation of Arab nations, this is a story which has come exactly at the right time, with great potential to educate Westerners on the harsh realities faced by many families.
In an extreme contrast, “I Need You” unfolds a mesmerizing tale on the enchantment of unconditional love. The singer describes love like “a breath of fresh air”; the most vital form of sustenance, void of any inhibitions. While one would assume that such a perspective is naive and unrealistic, MAI.K’s portrayal of love is mature and secure. In a world which often promotes the prospect of vulnerability and devotion as signs of weakness, “I Need You” is the perfect example of the euphoric state that you can experience when you truly open up your heart to others, in any form of relationship.
“Change” comes to a close with “Soften”, an explosive track saturated with a lifetime supply of powerful and infectious hooks. The London singer’s voice is most captivating as she once again, looks to empower others with lessons learned through her own personal experiences. Hidden within “Soften’s” many layers is the message that you must acquire a strong sense of self worth to persevere with the imperfection in others, but also to identify when you deserve better.
The song could have benefited greatly from embracing a “stripped back”, unplugged direction, allowing MAI.K’s compelling and varied vocal abilities to be the centre of the listener’s attention. The layering of musical components can easily act as a distraction from such a beautifully constructed piece. Nonetheless, the combination of this important message and the song’s commercially appealing nature makes “Soften” a definite highlight of the EP.
As a whole, the coverage of important subjects including vulnerability, feminine empowerment and perseverance displayed in just three tracks gives MAI.K the potential to be a positive influence for many and one to watch in 2019. While her sound may be arguably sonically and structurally traditional, the impressive manner in which she uses her platform and life experiences to educate others makes her quite the opposite.
While it is certainly unpredictable what she will do next, one thing is guaranteed:
Written by: Natalya Davies Updated: 28th February 2019
Absolutely Audio Founder Natalya Davies sits down with Gabriel Isserlis, CEO and Founder of impressive new music startup ‘Tutti’ “a tool for musicians, made by musicians”.
The music industry is a volatile space that is no stranger to the presence of complex issues, notorious for its disruption within the creative community. Luckily for artists, there is always an innovative startup just around the corner, geared with “Robin Hood-esque” armour; to take clout from the powerful and give to the needy.
It is only fitting then, that music startup ‘Tutti’ plans to do exactly that.
Tutti, a space rental service otherwise described as the “Airbnb for the creative spaces”, was launched only three months ago in November 2018 and is quickly making its mark in its primary territory; London. With a vibrant background in music and the arts, CEO and Founder Gabriel Isserlis understands the full spectrum of problems faced by the average artist and has made it his duty to make a difference.
On the matter, Isserlis states “Tutti is enabling artists to have access to cheaper, closer, and more inspiring spaces, while also building a community of collaboration and activity”. Alongside this, the company is also providing a unique opportunity and revenue stream for property owners of all kinds to repurpose their free space and contribute to the creative community.
The website, which will likely be accompanied by an impressive app in mid-2019, was created with the aim of providing a wide range of rehearsal spaces for the very specific needs (and budgets) of any creative; amateur or professional. When discussing the subject of consumer benefits, Isserlis notes that while there are many services to aid with performance and live events, the options for large-scale companies which offer services for the development stages, prior to the event, are notably minimal. Therefore, Tutti has devoted its service to nurturing and developing creativity in its early stages.
“TUTTI IS ENABLING ARTISTS TO HAVE ACCESS TO CHEAPER, CLOSER AND MORE INSPIRING SPACE, WHILE ALSO BUILDING A COMMUNITY OF COLLABORATION AND ACTIVITY”
Just as you would expect from a company operating in the very sophisticated 21st century, Tutti’s infrastructure is built on the core values and demands of its target audience, emanating the attention and care towards the consumer and their experience. As a result, even the manner in which the business concept has been monetised reflects a deep understanding of the lifestyle and financial position of the average creative.
As of now, Tutti’s space rental service is completely free up until the point of payment between the artist and the property owner, whom the company then takes a 15% commission from. It is the company’s key objective to make the rehearsal process as easy, secure and cheap as possible for creatives, despite any potential implications it may have on business aspects.
With Tutti, encouraging creativity and a strong sense of community for all really is at the heart of everything that they do, making it a startup which should be on the radar of any artist or industry enthusiast. Luckily for you, we have done some research for you…
WHAT IS THE MAIN FOCUS OF TUTTI?
“Well right now, there are a lot of services that connect people; artists to spaces and people to spaces for their various uses; but all of them focus on end results so, the performance. There’s a lot of them and they all seem to focus on events. None of them are focused on what leads up to the events, which is the practice, the rehearsal, all of that. So that is what Tutti focuses on.
IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU WISH TO EXPAND YOUR OFFERING?
“One of them is, we will start offering events; networking and collaboration events, gigging and sightreading and some fun stuff for our community members. We’ll do that when I have a team that can help me put those on. We really want to promote collaboration, connectivity and see what forms of art can come out of the connections that we make between our community members. And that’s really exciting.
And then offer just a sense of fun. One thing that so many startups, so many companies out there seem to lose is their sense of fun. We have a colourful website already and we’re actually refreshing it. We’re working on new designs for an even more colourful website that’s coming. So yes, a sense of fun, a focus on collaboration and a very open and welcoming service to all.
“WE REALLY WANT TO PROMOTE COLLABORATION, CONNECTIVITY AND SEE WHAT FORMS OF ART CAN COME OUT OF THE CONNECTIONS WE MAKE BETWEEN OUR COMMUNITY MEMBERS”
Another service we will offer is insurance to the venues that need it. So if they need insurance for bookings, when they set up they can request that. And if they sidestep us, they don’t receive that protection anymore.
And an additional plan is a loyalty reward system, like a coffee shop loyalty card, but for rehearsal spaces. Simple, but useful. The plan is to make this service so easy, so good, in comparison to every other option out there, that there simply won’t be a need for other options.
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THIS IDEA?
“There’s a lot of sides to that. Basically, my family has a background in music. My Dad’s side of the family have been professional level musicians for generations. We also date back to, well, Felix Mendelssohn, the classical composer was in our family tree. I travelled around the world with my Dad when I was a kid, as he was touring, and I got to meet a lot of musicians and I got to hear a lot of music problems and musician’s problems.
When I was in University, I had no intention of going into music. I thought I would stay well clear of that because there was too much pressure. So, I studied film and then got bored of that and decided to do I.T. because I loved technology. I didn’t know what to do with myself when I graduated and then I was like, “you know what, why don’t I combine my knowledges?”. So I combined I.T., with music, with film, with photography, with design, all things I had worked on at University and I came up with an absolute tonne of ideas, and how they could be connected in ways that no one has seen yet. And then, in early last year, in February, I started at an incubator called “Founder Institute” and I told them a lot of my ideas and they said “those are some good ideas but you can’t do all of them at once. Choose one of them”. So they got me to whittle it down to three ideas and then to one idea. After doing some user testing and interviews, it became clear that I had a real winner on my hands: Airbnb for the creative spaces”.
WHAT IS TUTTI’S BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?
“I think launching it was the biggest achievement. Getting money in the door… I guess when you’re starting a company you hear advice from so many people. One thing that in very early days people tell you, “you need to pass the “mum test”. You need to be able to get someone who is not your mum, or in my case any family member, to pay money for the service and use it. So, a complete stranger needs to use it. About a month ago we had the first complete stranger musician rent the first complete stranger’s space. That was a great moment.
TUTTI PROFITS ON A 15% COMMISSION BASIS. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO MONETISE YOUR BUSINESS IN THIS WAY?
“Well, I understand musicians and I know so many musicians who don’t have […] spare cash floating around. It doesn’t seem right to charge them any sort of monthly fee or subscription for our service. First that. And secondly, also, rehearsal space is not a consistent thing that people need. They need it when they have gigs. If they don’t have gigs for one month why would we charge them a subscription fee when they’re not going to use it that month. I know that’s probably not the best logic from a business perspective, but from a musician’s perspective, that’s kind of where I was coming from.
YOUR WEBSITE CLAIMS THAT TUTTI IS CURRENTLY ONLY OPERATIONAL IN LONDON. DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO EXPAND YOUR REACH IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
“Yes. However, that’s not strictly true. My colleagues and I are based in London, so London is where we’ll be able to offer in person customer support. But the opportunity for this business really is global. I am allowing other people to sign up from all over, but also informing them that I will not be able to offer them full support at this stage.
We will be open to anyone signing up and using our booking platform: an idea which is really aligned with our ethos of being open to all. But we will expand support and our official cities in a methodical, and calculated approach. If more people sign up in a certain city, before we officially support it, it will absolutely sway our planned direction.
HAVE YOU ANY PLANS TO EXPAND ANYWHERE IN PARTICULAR?
“Well, any city that has major art events that bring in lots of artists who desperately need space at any point during the year. Those would be ideal places. But then, as I mentioned before, we will be swayed by people organically signing up. If a load of people signed up in Minneapolis tomorrow (just to choose a random location), I’d bump Minneapolis way up my road map of cities I’d like to support officially.”
MOVING ON TO THE APP THAT TUTTI IS CURRENTLY DEVELOPING. CAN CONSUMERS EXPECT ANY EXCLUSIVE FEATURES?
“When we make the app we will also upgrade the website to match it. I’m not sure if they will launch at the same time or if the website will launch slightly after the app but there won’t be exclusive features on the app that you can’t get on the website because I don’t see a point of alienating half of our users if they would rather use the website.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST LESSONS YOU HAVE LEARNED THROUGH THE DEVELOPMENT OF TUTTI?
“That’s a hard one. I keep on looking back on myself a year ago, every day almost, and I jumped straight out of university to work on this. I didn’t go into a full-time job which some people may think is a mistake. I didn’t have a real appreciation of what a full-time job really entailed. I did have an extremely time-intensive job in university. I was working as an audio engineer and lighting designer for the group on my university campus that ran every single event on campus.
We helped set up and run the shows for a number of massive artists like Macklemore, Snoop Dogg, Bob Dylan… all sorts, Maroon 5, big names. Some days, though, that job would be no hours or one hour a day, and some days, we would work from 6am ‘til 2am, with only the breaks we were legally required to take. Partly because we loved the work so much! So that’s the only experience of proper work that I had before going into this. It didn’t teach me about a daily job, but it certainly gave me an appreciation of work and the incredible achievements that can be accomplished by a well trained team, led by competent and dedicated leaders.
I’m certainly glad I don’t have to work quite as crazy hours because I’m older now and I’m not quite as good at bouncing back from a 6am to 2am shift. However, I do still try to work immense shifts 6-7 days a week, because if I don’t do things then they’re not going to happen. I guess that’s another thought: when you’re the founder of a business, if you don’t do things, they simply don’t happen and there’s so many times that I have put things off and put things off because they just didn’t sound appealing. Then, I miss expected deadlines from other people and things in the business fail because of my inability to do something that, yes is boring, but it needs to be done.
So, I guess I didn’t really answer the question but… Just kind of learning how to get over these speed bumps. You have to do the interesting stuff and you have to do the boring stuff. You really just have to just do everything if you’re going to get this company off the ground. You have to put in the insane hours required. There’s no nine to five and go home and have a drink… there is nine to five at the office, if you want, and then go home and keep working until nine or ten. That would probably be one of the biggest lessons.
I guess the other lesson is I love saying yes to people. I love doing things for people all the time. When I was trying to start this at first I was also trying to be a photographer and I was making websites for people and I was doing all sorts of things. In the last three to four months, I have suddenly had to turn around and start saying no to people which really rather kills me inside but I cannot do other things if I am going to get this off the ground because it is so time-intensive. I’ve done, I think in the last three months now, I’ve done two photo gigs and one of them was for a close friend and one of them was paying me quite well. I just can’t afford the time for them any more. My time is now more valuable than money. Right now everything that’s going into the company is my own money. I’m about to start paying myself a salary but that’s coming from my wallet, going into the company and then coming back out of the company again and into my wallet so… you know.
“I HAVE SUDDENLY HAD TO TURN AROUND AND START SAYING NO TO PEOPLE WHICH REALLY RATHER KILLS ME INSIDE BUT I CANNOT DO OTHER THINGS IF I AM GOING TO GET THIS OFF THE GROUND”
What else? I guess just the ability to learn and intake information actually is a massive one which I have gotten a lot better at recently because everyone sits on the sidelines. It’s like sport. People will be like “why did you do that, that was a horrible idea” or like “yeah you did that, well done”… stuff like that. You’ll get so many opinions from other people who don’t see your perspective. You have to be really thankful to everyone who is willing to offer their opinion but at the same time you have to figure out which opinions to go along with, which opinions to trust in, whose advice to take, whose advice not to take. Finding your path through a maze of advice and suggestions is pretty tricky.
You have to know where you’re going but you also have to be ready to adapt and change that direction if something big comes along or something massive offers you a direction change. In the past, when I was younger, or a year ago, I had this massive plan of where this company was going to go and I was like “I’ve got it all figured out, every date, everything”. I think one percent of that plan actually happened and now I have realised… Yes, I can have lights at the end of the multiple tunnels that I can aim for but if I get offered some alternative direction that seems better, I should take it and adapt my plan. So, I have tonnes of plans and I see which ones fit depending on how things go.”
AND LASTLY, ARE THERE ANY BUSINESS ASPECTS WHICH YOU ARE PLANNING TO DEVELOP IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
“Building the culture of the company because right now is when we decide what the culture is. As far as I look online, there’s no rigid way or tactile way of creating a culture but what you can do is hire the people who embody certain values, and you build a culture through the people that you hire. One of my favourite company references for a good company culture is an American company called Datto. They hired people who were passionate about learning and passionate about passing on information to others. And so, they created this company culture of curiosity and thrill of knowledge. I would like to evoke that same culture, so I’m trying to mimic their starting blocks somewhat.”
Among the variety of topics discussed within this rather enlightening conversation with Gabriel Isserlis, one message is most prominent; Tutti’s desire to contribute a priceless service to the creative communities. The company’s core ambition to enable artists universal access to affordable and inspiring spaces, while providing an infrastructure for creativity to thrive upon, will likely generate an increased volume of artists to become more involved creatively.
While the music industry has arguably low barriers to entry, problematic obstacles regularly arise, requiring the support and solutions created through innovation, investment and most importantly; passion. The values and objectives described by Isserlis justify that Tutti supply all three vital aspects in abundance (and beyond).
In consideration of this, Tutti could well be the startup that the music industry has been waiting for… And what is most exciting is that this really is only the tip of the iceberg.
Written by: Robert Percy Updated: 21st February 2019
“How is rock music supposed to adapt, improvise and overcome in an environment where the industry seems to actively favour old bands rather than take a chance on a younger, newer bands?”
We’ve all seen the headlines. “Rock is dead“.
Gene Simmons (Kiss) said it back in 2014. Adam Levine (Maroon 5) and most recently Richard Z. Kruspe (Rammstein, Emigrate) joined him in this regard in 2018, saying that all the innovation right now is in hip-hop. Matt Tuck (Bullet For My Valentine, Axewound) recently said that modern metal is, in his opinion, pretty much all the same, using all the same techniques and the same riffs. Ben Bruce (Asking Alexandria) has said similar things too in response to the criticism AA got about their decidedly very pop and hip-hop influenced self-titled album.
I know what you’re thinking. “Boo-urns, they’re so wrong,” you think, “these old farts don’t know anything about rock anymore! They’re just trying to get attention!” But hold your horses there, guys. They might have a bit of a point…
When you look at a lot of the top bills at the big music festivals the last few years, you might be inclined to agree somewhat. It seems like all the same all male ‘dad rock’ acts who were last relevant in the 1980s and 90s keep getting all the top spots; spots that maybe deserve to go towards newer talent, perhaps? It does make you wonder.
Of course, like many things in the music industry, sales, in this case tickets, matter the most. As a festival organizer, you’re going to put the band that’ll sell the most tickets. It makes the most sense. At the end of the day, they’re running a business and making a profit takes the highest priority. But it begs the question – how is rock music supposed to adapt, improvise and overcome (I’m so sorry for the Bear Grylls reference) in an environment where the industry seems to actively favour old bands who are still a solid pair of hands than take a chance on a younger, newer bands with a newer sound who are doing commercially very well for themselves?
We all know the dangers of the ‘men in suits’ becoming obsessed with making sure artists look a certain way and sound a certain way to appeal to the market they are being projected into. It’s something that’s dime-a-dozen and quite openly so in the more ‘pop’ end of the industry, especially in places like Korea and Japan where pop stars are incredibly manufactured, to the point where they are put into a whole system of education designed to make them from scratch into the perfect pop idol.
As rock music pushes away from the fringes and further into the mainstream, the pressure to conform to a market’s idea of what your art should be something that can very easily transcend into our comparatively smaller world. The danger of rock music becoming too ‘manufactured’ is, I feel, a big reason as to why a lot of people are now thinking that rock is dead or has lost its innovation.
As Richard Z. Kruspe states in his reasoning, he feels like rock music is something that doesn’t annoy your parents any more. What annoys the millennial parents of today, in the context of Kruspe’s logic, is rap and hip-hop based music, especially the music of those of the SoundCloud generation such as Post Malone, the sadly departed Lil’ Peep and the late and very controversial XXXTentacion amongst others.
The 1980s and 90s inspired dreamy yet intelligent pop of bands like Pale Waves, No Rome, The Japanese House and The 1975 come to mind too, as well as the weird and jagged-edged musicality combined with a whacky, almost art-worthy performance, image demonstrated by artists like Grimes and Poppy.
Is the new music of rebellion not screaming guitars and angry vocals, but rather something completely different, and has this caused an intellectual dissonance with fans of rock music who have been used to their music being the music of rebellion for so long?
It’s hard to say really. Art and opinion are subjective, after all. But I do genuinely feel that because of rock’s shift far into the mainstream, to the point where it is a totally acceptable way of expressing yourself musically, there has been a big change. Whether it’s for the better or not is up to you.
Linked with Kruspe’s logic of rock no longer appearing to be ‘rebellious’ is the fact that more and more rock and metal bands are distancing themselves from the ‘rockstar’ lifestyle. Gone are the days of chugging alcohol, eating steaks, throwing TVs out of the windows and doing cocaine with strippers backstage.
Today’s rock bands are in the midst of, as somebody from The Times’ property section once said about Bristol, “vegan-fuelled organic overdrive.” To the old school rock fan and indeed to many rock bands of the older generation, this kind of drug free, animal free, almost party free lifestyle seems like an insult – the total antithesis of rebellion!
“Is the new music of rebellion not screaming guitars and angry vocals, but rather something completely different?”
It’s very easy to see this kind of thing in action and have the opinion that rock music is no longer rebellious when you’ve grown up in a certain era where the things you did to rebel against society were very different. However, as the times change, people’s’ attitudes change. What may be considered rebellious to you reading now may not be rebellious at all in 20-30 years time. That is just the nature of things.
If rock music is to stay rebellious, edgy and counterculture, maybe it needs to take on board what the act of rebellion entails in the late 2010s, not what it was in the late 1980s or 1990s.
But maybe the question is not whether the music business is the factor that is causing what appears to be a “standstill” in rock music. Maybe it’s not those in the suits, but those in the t-shirts. The listeners themselves. The people who actually buy and stream those records. What if they are actually the ones who are the most conservative and most narrow-minded in their outlook on what rock music ‘should’ be, how rock music ‘should’ present itself and, most importantly, who and what rock music ‘should’ associate with and be associated with.
The history of rock music has always been littered with bands who are derided by fans and, to a certain extent even us in the press, for daring to do something different. People raised more than a few eyebrows at Trent Reznor when he debuted his harsh, angular noise on the world. Slipknot’s masks and jumpsuits image combined with their ludicrous amount of members and their odd mashup of extreme metal riffs with classic rock choruses, blaring synthesizers and samples and overt displays of turntablism were met with a lot of derision back in the day.
There were people who outright laughed when the “ragga-metal-punk-hip-hop” of Newport’s Skindred burst onto the scene, with some in the press even joking that reggae metal just had to happen eventually. There was the backlash, too, from the recent very pop-influenced records from the aforementioned Asking Alexandria and Bullet For My Valentine, both of which drew heavy criticism because they were so poppy.
Furthermore, bands who have one or more female members, or one or more members who are not white, have been met with a lot of derision and sadly still do to this day, even with the ever growing numbers of women and POC becoming members of rock and metal bands.
“Maybe it sheds a light on the true fear of why rock musicians are worried… they’re worried about becoming irrelevant.”
The same is true for bands who have members who are LGBTQIA or transgender, even though again there are more and more of them getting involved in bands. There is also the elephant in the room of a lot of bands for certain subgenres and even members of certain well known, well liked and successful bands supporting outrageously Conservative viewpoints, even to the point of them aligning themselves with neo-Nazis, other types of racist and white power groups and organisations like the NRA.
Does this make rock music very appealing to anyone who isn’t straight, white, a man and a Conservative? I’ll leave it to you to decide.
As food for thought, I’d like to leave you with a little excerpt from Jamie Lenman’s song “Hell In A Fast Car,”. The subject matter of which was very much inspired by Lenman watching rock music evolve as he attempts to keep plying his trade and to carry on being a relevant force in the music industry. Maybe it sheds a light on the true fear of why rock musicians are worried – that, in changing times for the music they create and play to thousands if not millions around the world, they’re worried about becoming irrelevant.
But then again, as always, that’s up to you to decide for yourself: