As a music lover, composer and radio presenter I am constantly on the look-out for inspiration and genuinely exciting musical entertainment. That's why I was delighted when I heard the announcement of the third annual Soul Acoustic tour which is taking place across the UK in March 2015. The six-date tour promises to showcase impressive live performances and will feature the best in acoustic black music with a stellar bill of the cream of British soul artists. I will definitely be attending as it has been a long while since I last went to a good-quality soulful night with such a wide variety of artists.
The star performers of this event include Carroll Thompson, Raheem Bakare, Dionne Reid, Eva Lazarus, KOF, Silvastone and Stephanie McCourt – I will be playing some of their tracks on my radio show Sazrah's Soul Food which will air 2-4pm this Sunday 8th February and same time on Sunday 8th March. You can tune in here or at 87.7fm if you are in South West London.
Dates and venues are:
I will also be interviewing some of the performers this month so you can get to know them in greater detail before the tour commences. Stay tuned on my blogs for further details and be sure to follow @soul_acoustic.
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Time to start the new year with a new upcoming sensation. I am also proud to feature another #FemaleTakeOver post! I bring to you DJ TeeTee, an Essex born and bred, New York trained DJ, TeeTee is that hip-hop wielding selector with club bangers at her whim. Cementing herself firmly on the map in 2013, TeeTee is a resident fixture at FashBashSoundClash, a bi-monthly party curated by Kelis' tour DJ - DJ Nikki Beatnik. Her sets will have you feeling like you are in Atlanta one minute, New York the next all whilst landing you safely back in London thanks to her seamless selection of club bangers blended with a range of not so obvious tunes. TeeTee welcomes you to her musical world!
Check out DJ TeeTee's mixes here
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Time for another #FemaleTakeover and #IndustryTips post. Today it's with the famous DJ Melody Kane. She is SBTV's official dj but it doesn't end there. Melody also mixes for BBC Radio 1 and 1xtra and has supported the likes of Snoop Dogg, 2Chainz, Tinie Tempah, A$AP Rocky, Professor Green, Ms Dynamite, Jessie J, Example, Flo Rida, Black Eyed Peas and many more. Not to mention the many festivals you will have caught her at over the Summers doing her thing on the decks. Girl knows how to work it - that's all I can say! Luckily I managed to grab Melody from her busy schedule to ask her those all important questions about how to do it in such a tough industry. Enjoy.
Melody! You make a living solely on DJ'ing! What is your secret?
[Laughs] No secret, just a lot of hard work and I always try to keep things professional. I’ve been doing this a long time behind the scenes before I got where I am today.
What struggles have you faced being a female in the music game?
There’s a lot of blaggers and scoundrels in this business and they tend to see woman as an easy target. So this goes back to your first question, of always keeping things professional and understanding all areas of the music business. Took a few years to find my feet properly, believe me!
At the recent AIM Women in Music event, Sophie Ellis Bexter mentioned women are usually set to compete against each other in the industry which is a shame as she believes we should support one another more. What are your thoughts on this? Do you see other female DJ's as competition?
The music business is no different than any other. You’ve got a good job and somebody else wants it. The grass is always greener. But if you handle your own business correctly, you don’t really have the time to focus on others. You just do you. Let them do them.
What advice would you give to other up and coming females out there?
You don’t have to act like a man and you don’t have to act like a girl. You need to act like somebody who has confidence in themselves and takes what they do seriously. If you do this you’ll find people will mirror this in the way they do business with you.
Any projects you are working on?
There’s a lot in the pipeline. Next year my music project is set to take off properly. I’ve been in the studio for sometime now trying to perfect my sound and I’m nearly ready to let the world hear…watch this space as Melody Kane Sound Xchange is coming soon.
Can't wait to hear the new fire - especially as you are visiting my studio soon! Thanks Melody
Melody's endearing smile, inspiring confidence and warm heart allowed me to immediately see why she has been so successful- along with her great talents of course! It is true, how you present yourself to others reflects what you get back. Wise tips there Miss Kane.
All details on keeping up with DJ Melody Kane can be found via her website
Written by @sazrah_producer
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Producers - Do you ever want the sound of live drums in your music? Don't have the right recording equipment or a drummer? Artists - do you ever songwrite and wish you just had some drums to give it that umph? Have no money to pay a good drummer? Well I will let you in on a little secret! His name is Toby Pluta.
He is a talented drummer who records from his own studio and only charges £10 for each song. He plays live drums or electric drums. You tell him what you would like and he lays it down, sends you the stems and then you can run with it! I used his services recently for a cover I am doing of the song "Wicked Game" and really have enjoyed what he has done on it. All business was done over the net. I sent him my demo idea with an added email explaining how I want the drums roughly. I also told him he could be creative if he wanted to add to my idea which he was. Within a couple of days it was done. He gave me lots of options in one take so I don't have spend any more money asking him for other takes. I will definitely be using his services again. Contact Toby via his website and let me know how you get on!
Written by Sazrah
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Oliver Price is a Scottish writer/producer who fronts cutting edge electro-indie cross over band Bronze Medallists and helms Dream-Pop trio Polychrome. He has a studio in Dalston, the beating heart of London’s creative scenes and has worked with many of the most exciting emerging artists of the last few years. Many musicians dream to make music their full time business but have to resort to treating it as a side job. Oliver however is living the dream and composing for a living. Want to know how he does it? I caught up with him to get some top industry tips for you guys to put into practice! Don't say I never spoil you ;-)
You produce music for a living. What is your secret?
Liquorice tea, late nights and dogged persistence. Oh, and loving music!
How long did it take you to get to the stage where music was your full-time job?
It took years! At age 27 I quit my part-time bar job and took the plunge, the industry has refreshed itself so many times since then it still feels like taking the plunge again every year because you are never sure where the next revenue streams will come from. I remember being 23, feeling that I'd already been at it for soooooo long and thinking that if I hadn't 'made it' by age 26 I'd cash in my chips and buy a bamboo beach hut in Bali. Ha!
Instead it's 10 years later and while I'm not exactly doing what I had anticipated when I was 23, I am one of the lucky ones who gets to do this for a living. Actually I'd say I have moderate luck. I've seen some people get a lot further with less brains over the years and some with more do nothing at all - it certainly isn't a meritocracy out there. As a competitive animal I think that's one of the biggest challenges - being inspired the achievements by your peers and not trampled.
And what other challenges do you face?
Now the day to day challenges are things like, 'Can you make a piece of french orchestral music', 'Can you write a piece of music for a circus trapeze act?', 'Can you write a song for Cheryl Cole?'. Usually I say 'Yes', think 'No' and then do something in between but the process is really fun and I really enjoy getting out of my comfort zones. And if I do it well enough that means I get to keep earning my living this way. I'm not sure if that means I've made it or not, but now I'm 33 and I get royalty statements which is great. I've said to myself though, that if I haven't had a number one single by the time I'm 36 I'm going to cash in my chips and buy a beach bungalow in North Devon!
What is your greatest musical achievement so far?
I wrote a song for my step brother's funeral, it was raw, natural and visceral, I didn't try to write it, it just came out. I think the best stuff often comes when you make the least effort, although your sort of lying to yourself when you say that because the effortlessness is probably the result of years of practicing and developing your skills, but that sounds less cool to say and doesn't help cultivate your image as a born-gifted musical genius.
Do you produce for TV/Animation? If so, how did you get into it?
I tend to write music and then it gets used on animations or TV. Although I just wrote a piece of music for an animated skate film and adapted a piece of orchestral music for a TV advert so there are no rules. The skate film happened because the music video director for my band, Bronze Medallists' new single put us forward for it.
Talking money can be quite awkward at times when you are self employed. And lot of people offer 'exposure' instead of money. What advice would you give to musicians who want to get around this?
If you feel the exposure will be worthwhile then you can justify to yourself contributing to the continuing devaluation of music in the eyes of those who offer these sorts of deals. The only way around this is for everyone to say no, but there is always someone who will say yes because exposure is scare, competition is fierce and the industry knows this and can pit us against each other. Divide and conquer.
What advice would you give for up and coming producers and musicians?
Doing stuff leads to more stuff so do things. And don't be too precious. Highly specific artistic ideals may seem to have integrity but are often quite arbitrary and the luxury of privilege. Don't be ashamed of using your talents to earn yourself a living there is real integrity in that.
What has been your biggest lesson learnt in the music industry?
You have to be able to separate your creativity from the bullshit. Who wants art that smells of bullshit?
Great words! Thanks Oliver.
Bands: Hotel Internationale, Boy Mandeville, Landshapes (Lulu and the Lampshades), Lucy Rose, Kal Lavelle, Mikill Pane, Loveable Rogues, Lail Arad, Victoria and Jacob, Fiona Bevan, Golden Feathers, YOUTH, Eyes and No Eyes (Tristram), Emmy the Great, Von D, Bronze Medallists, Helen Arney, My Cousin Kate, Iliana, The Melodic (Melodica Melody and Me), The Feeling, Suburbs, Stars of Sunday League, David Goo, Lofty Heights, Laura Hocking, Fredrick Robinson, Polychrome, Lewis Fieldhouse, Jerusa Van Lith, Oh Sister!
Sweet Like Summer
Ə - Rĭ 'mē - Ə (Couldn't Love You More) (Winner of Peter Gabriel's Song-Writing Shake Your Tree Competition 2013)
MAKE LOVE NOT WAR - AXE
Barclays (Winner 2013 Shots Award for Best Use of Bespoke Music)
For more top industry tips click here
Written by Sazrah
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Hi All, I am terribly sorry I have not blogged for so long. I have been so busy on this music thing and also have been running projects for young people which is going amazing and is really inspiring for both me and the youngsters. But I do have blogs in the pipeline and interviews I am waiting to finish off and post.
I just wanted to give you something in the mean time as it has been TOO long. I thought I would share with you this short video of an event I was proud to be a part of last year- Womanity! It was a really empowering event aimed at females and was run by the Young Woman's Music Project.
YWMP are an organisation that works to build young females confidence when it comes to working in this industry. This event will hopefully become more regular and I look forward to seeing more from the YWMP in the future.
I am always curious to view anything with a 'shock factor' so when my cousin and actress Madeline Appiah described 'In The Next Room' at St.James Theatre as a bit 'full on' my ears pricked up! Immediately I grabbed my good friend Annie and waltzed down to the theatre to view it as her and I are always searching for things that push boundaries and make our jaws drop! Little did I know that the play would not only shock me, but also move me unexpectedly in a way no other play has done before.
What is 'In The Next Room' about?
The play is set in late 19th-century New York State during the excitement around the creation of the electric light bulb. At that same time Dr Givings has created his own electrical device which relaxes women or ‘treats them from female hysteria’ (being an overly emotional female was seen as an illness in those times). Little does Givings know that this device he has created is what is seen today as the vibrator!
Meanwhile Dr Givings’s rather frustrated wife, Catherine (played by ex-‘Hollyoaks’ star Natalie Casey), is longing for attention from her husband, who is very innocently engrossed in his work.
How is this all Explored?
Although the play is all about sex and intimacy, it does not contain an ounce of sleaziness. Dr Givings himself is unaware that the device he has created has a sexual purpose and the characters who receive the treatment just see it as a cure and a form of relaxation. The repeated orgasm scenes that occur aren’t too uncomfortable to watch as the characters aren’t even aware that what they are experiencing is an orgasm.
It also opens up the opportunity for great comedy. The treatment makes one married lady realise she is only into women while a male customer uses a device for the ‘rare’ form of ‘male hysteria’ - but I won’t tell you where they stick the device to cure his hysteria!
Alongside laughter there are also scenes of sadness and heartache. Madeline plays Elizabeth, a lady who has just lost her baby but is paid for her milk to be used for the Givings’s new-born child. (Mrs Givings has trouble producing milk for her baby, adding to her loneliness and frustration.) The first time she is handed the baby to feed, Elizabeth gets very tearful. The silence as she feeds and weeps is very powerful. I felt the audience sigh and feel pain for the character.
What bizarrely and unexpectedly touched me was the ending, which was also the most outrageous part of the play. I would love to tell you what happens but I do not want to give it away to those who have yet to watch it. I must say both Annie and I were very shocked, but finally satisfied that they had decided to take the play this far.
As the curtains closed I was still gobsmacked and laughing about what I had just seen, but I also got teary eyed as Mrs Givings finally reached the happiness she has longed for throughout the play. Usually I am not one for soppy love stories and I did not realise that I had become emotionally attached to Mrs Givings until this unsentimental and crazy scene somehow managed to tug at my heart strings.
Outstanding acting from Natalie Casey - in fact, I could not fault any of the actors in this play and I would strongly recommend everybody go see it. I would love to hear the thoughts of those of you who have on my FB page.
Book tickets HERE
The Glyndebourne Festival is often thought of as the tip-top of everything that’s chic and exclusive about opera. With its country-estate setting, black-tie dress code, and picnics on the lawn, the summer Festival is a sumptuous experience even without the music. It can also be a little daunting, especially as the best seats are pricey. However, I saw Mozart’s ‘Marriage of Figaro’ there this summer and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was therefore delighted to be invited back to Sussex to review Benjamin Britten’s ‘The Rape of Lucretia’, one of the winter productions that is seen first in the famous opera house before going on tour. Not performed there since its debut in 1946, it was presented as part of a regular initiative to bring in a younger audience. And bear in mind that these ‘Glyndebourne on Tour’ productions have less formality and lower prices than the summer Festival, while maintaining high musical and theatrical standards.
Under 30's at Glyndebourne
Glyndebourne's under 30's scheme offers discount to those aged 16-29 to encourage the next generation of opera spectators and stop the perception of opera being only for older people. This includes:
Why go to an opera?
A lot of my friends have said they would love go to an opera but they ‘probably wouldn’t understand what they are saying’. They need not fear, however, as there are ‘supertitles’ above the stage which act like subtitles in a movie. These are used even for productions sung in English, so you don’t miss a thing. There is a nice buzzing bar and a great atmosphere before and after the show too. The only disappointment I felt for the young’ns in this case was the very short interval which flew by. Some people moaned that they weren’t able to finish their drinks in time (of course, you were not allowed to bring the drinks into the theatre - rattling glasses and slurping lips might go unnoticed at a rock gig, but would be ruinous in an opera house!) Other than that, I heard no complaints from the newcomers. However, I saw a few older people tutting at some of the fidgety youngsters during the performance. I suppose it’s a price that might be worth paying if opera is to find a new generation to support it.
‘The Rape of Lucretia’ is about a group of men at an army camp outside Rome who all discover their wives have cheated on them while they were away. All except for Collatinus, whose wife Lucretia has remained faithful. One of the jealous men goads the single Tarquinius into going back to prove that Collatinus’ wife can be unfaithful too, insisting all women are whores (now that he has been cheated on of course!). When Tarquinius arrives, Lucretia is not interested in sleeping with him, so he forces himself on her. Lucretia tells Collatinus what happened. He insists it will not change their marriage, but Lucretia knows differently and the guilt and shame leads to a tragic ending for her.
A male and a female singer act as ‘chorus’ to commentate on the action from outside. Director Fiona Shaw decided to cast them as contemporary people. ‘A chorus represents us, the audience,’ she says. ‘They speak on our behalf. Very often a piece of theatre is a moral gauntlet, with the chorus saying to us “Step up here with us; what do you think of this story?”’
The opera examines how society judges people who do right, always waiting for them to slip up. The message came across and got everybody thinking and discussing this theme after the show. Britten wrote this opera just after the Second World War and Shaw feels “when Britten composed Lucretia, he himself had been feeling at odds with society, as a homosexual and as a pacifist.”
I really felt the chorus not only helped explain the story, but also reinforced its impact. Both were very emotionally involved in the action although commentating from outside of it. In the rape scene, the chorus stripped their own clothes off, which added to it disturbing power. I felt very moved by the imagery particularly at the end as a spotlight lands on a spectacular image representing Jesus on the cross.
Every actor’s performance and voice blew away both me and my guest. We both agreed we were particular fans of Duncan Rock (Tarquinius), who I had previously seen perform in a gay version of Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’ at Heaven nightclub in London!
Want to know more about the opera tours? Find out about Glyndebourne and getting your opera tickets here
Find out more about Shaw's take on directing the opera here
What are your thoughts on opera? Let me know on FB or twitter
Written by Sazrah
www.facebook.com/sazrahproducer <-subscribe to my blogs here
The Rape of Lucretia is at PLYMOUTH, THEATRE ROYAL (01752 267 222) 6 December
Glyndebourne on Tour’s production of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore is at Plymouth 7 December and at STOKE-ON-TRENT, REGENT THEATRE (0844 871 7649) 11 and 14 December
Victoria and Jacob are an epic and ethereal electronic pop band who are currently touring the UK and launching their new album Victoria and Jacob. They’ve enjoyed radio play from across BBC 6music and garnered critical acclaim from NME, Artrocker and TimeOut. After composing a remix for the band, I decided to catch up with lead singer Victoria to hear more about their music.
Tell us about your musical style?
Electronica with warmth and Indie pop song structures. Perhaps for fans of bands such as The Knife, Lykke Li, Bat for lashes and Beach House.
How did 'Victoria and Jacob' come together?
We met at university studying Creative Music and Sound Technology. We collaborated on a couple of projects which involved software programming and sound design and soon realised we had a good working relationship so we began writing music together. We started writing folk songs originally and played open mic nights around Cambridge, and then gradually we started incorporating more electronic elements into the music. We released a couple of early EP's in this electro-folk style and then moved to London and released our first single on Voga Parochia Records.
You have a new self titled album coming out soon, tell us about it?
We are very excited about this release as its our debut album and its been a long time coming. We’ve been busy in the studio the last couple of years and it will be great to be out and about promoting the album. Its out on the 5th of August on WIAIWYA and Fika Records and it will be released on CD and as a 12” on heavyweight vinyl in a gorgeous die cut sleeve.
Wonderful! Your single 'Cry Baby' is out on July 15th, what is the concept of this song?
The song is about allowing yourself to be yourself when you're with someone. I also cry a lot because I’m a massive wuss!; Its about crying in front of someone and feeling comfortable to do so!
When creating a song, how do you go about it? Do you have a set procedure?
Haha good question. This album has been about learning our songwriting process so each song has been through many stages and much experimentation. I don’t think there is one way in particular we have written but in general Jacob sends me a beat and I lay some vocal ideas down. Then we structure it together and Jake writes the instrumentation. We also experiment with samplers and synths and find interesting melodies and hooks and ways to distort my vocal!
Who are your influences?
So many - I love interesting electronic music whatever that means! Bjork, Imogem Heap, Four Tet, Burial. Also loving all the 80’s stuff that’s around at the moment like Kavinsky, Chromatics. The Drive sound track rocked my world!
What is the highlight of your career as Victoria and Jacob?
Supporting the Mystery Jets and Com Truise. Releasing an Ep with Voga Parochia Records and now releasing our album with WIAIWYA and Fika Records.
What do you think of the 'Sazrah remix' to 'Cry Baby'?
I love that you have taken a new angle on the track, leaving lots of space for the song to come through, with a cheeky finish!
You can hear the Sazrah remix by clicking on the player below...
You can order Victoria and Jacob's album here or listen to the original of their new single Cry Baby here
Written By Sazrah
Facebook.com/sazrahproducer <-subscribe to my blogs here
I am not really a fan of Britain's Got Talent. Don't get me wrong, I love some of the acts who have appeared on the show but I feel the show itself is presented in a bizarre and fake way. To me, one quarter of show is about the talent and the other three quarters seem to be what is going on backstage and what the judges are eating for their lunch! I was in Glyndebourne attending an Opera on the weekend of the BGT final so did not watch it live. When I arrived home however, my sister informed me that a lady had 'ran to front of stage' during one of the acts and thrown eggs towards the judges. Footage below.
After having watched the footage I realised that the young lady actually got up from the string section meaning she was in fact part of the performance herself! I decided to investigate further....
The egg thrower is a 30 year old viola player named Natalie Host and what spurred her to do such a thing was the fact that all instrumental musicians including herself were told to 'mime' as if they were playing their instruments during the performance. Natalie would have preferred to play live. She was aiming for Simon when she threw the eggs (which she had smuggled on stage in her tights) because she believes he is to blame for the fake aspect of the show. One egg did hit Simon and stained his jacket.
Although the violist showed a sense of regret for spoiling the singers performance after her stunt, she has shown little remorse for what she did to Simon. Natalie believes he has had a 'dreadful influence on the music industry'.
What are your thoughts on this story? Let me know on FB or twitter.
Sazrah is a UK music producer who has composed music for BBC 1xtra, Film, Catwalk and famous artists. Her blogs are about upcoming artists, music industry tips and general chit chat!