Friday, May 20, 2011

Blue King Brown APRA songwriters workshop

Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend a song writing workshop with Blue King Brown - a great Australian political band.

They talked a lot about being self managed and how being in touch with the management side of the business has been part of their success. Looking for management early on when they first formed (2004) led to nothing and instead of waiting around for things to happen they simply went ahead and did it themselves. Having to make difficult decisions between spending money on marketing and covering the costs of playing at a free concert meant they were at the forefront of the bands early success - they chose playing at the free concert confident that their live performance was a bigger attraction than advertising alone. This concert is where they were approached by a booking agent and that person still books the band today.

They stated that they are heavily involved in the aesthetics of the band including all their artwork and video clips leaving very little for others to decide. With a modern world music feel to their songs they state that they are particularly concerned with the lyrical content of their music however when they write they usually write the music first. Natalie then takes the tracks and puts them on an iPod and spends time with the songs and writes the lyrics. They usually split the song writing credits between lyrics and music 50/50 with Carlo and Natalie being the primary song writers in the band.

They spoke a lot about being the support act for Santana and what a wonderful experience that was. They find it challenging being surrounded by commercial music and trying to be part of the popular music scene given that they are roots based with a definite reggae influence.

Aside from their drummer, a guy that they they originally formed with but who resisted the move to Melbourne for some time, who is now again part of the band, their line up hasnt changed. They do rotate back up singers and say that they are constantly on the look out for new back up singers (apply within they said!).

They said that in the early days they developed a 2 minute demo to distribute to venues to get gigs and instead of using one song, cut together highlights from a number of songs so that they could get a feel for what the entire show would be like. They still use this approach with the BKB EPK being used to expand their touring countries and being shown to international agents to get bookings:

They encouraged songwriters and artists in the audience to be prepared to do the hard yards and not to be afraid of putting themselves out there and trying new experiences. They played some songs for the audience which was epic including a new track called Youth which is about Natalie's time in Byron Bay (just near my house) - actually Natalie studied Jazz for 2 years at the Conservatorium in Lismore.

Check them out if you havent already they are one of my favorites. They are currently undertaking an Australian tour before heading back to the USA and Canada - you can find out more about this and the band at their website here.

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