Never fear, I’m still punk as fuck

Never fear, I’m still punk as fuck

Letterbox Music News Process
No, the radiator wasn’t on!

All this talk of the album charts recently might have made you think I’m selling out.

I’ve spent my music career as the underdog with a punk spirit, sneered at by the blogosphere for releasing my own albums in the early days, and largely ignored now that way of working is more common.

I’d be lying if I said this never bothered me – I am only human, after all! – but on a decent day when I’ve exercised, drunk enough water and am feeling on top of my workload, I’m absolutely fine with being a niche artist. I get to make whatever music I like and communicate directly with you. It’s great!

When I ended She Makes War in 2019, I told you:

“the more I toured and released music, communicating with a growing army of ardent supporters, the more inappropriate [the name She Makes War] started to feel. I was no longer alone; putting my heart and soul into sharing music with those who wanted to listen introduced me to most of the key figures in my life, led me to move city, gave me a deep connection to thousands of open-hearted people around the globe, brought invitations to share stages with my heroes and started to financially fuel the making of new music.”


I’m so thankful for the encouragement I’ve received from music lovers over the years, because I really did need to be shown that what I was making had value to others. I don’t come from money, I am a self-taught singer, guitarist, bassist and producer, and plenty of people have tried to dissuade me from doing my own thing, my own way.

But not you! Thank you. Relaunching my solo project with a new name and outlook last year was a gamble, but I knew I needed to be true to myself now, rather than dragging my old self along forever just so that no-one would lose track of me online.

In our digital world of likes and reach and engagement, it’s hard to detach from all the numbers flying around. How many people liked this photo? How many people shared this tweet? How many people love me today?

The reaction we have to art is unquantifiable – a song could change my life forever but I can’t communicate any of that impact when I click “like”. Yes, I can see how many people have listened to one of my songs on a streaming site, but I don’t know who’s been comforted or encouraged today, who’s spent an hour relaxing in their favourite chair, drinking tea and listening to one of my albums on vinyl, eyes closed, pondering the world and their place in it.

We all have to be careful not to attach our self worth to a bunch of numbers that we have no control over. Indie artists, especially, have too much access to surface level facts about how everyone else is doing (or how it *appears* they’re doing). “Comparison is the thief of joy”, indeed.

So, fuck the numbers. But also, fuck the system. I said in my recent video that every pre-order for “Exotic Monsters” is a vote for the spirit of independence that brought me to live in Bristol nine years ago. That spirit was already in me, and in Bristol I saw an opportunity to create a life where I could spend more time making music, instead of having to work such extreme hours for other people.


It took me until February 2019 to trust enough to quit all my freelance work and hunker down to start writing this new collection of songs, fuelled by my Supersub Club patrons. Every creative project is a voyage of self-discovery, but making this album led me to end She Makes War, launch Penfriend, launch my podcast, and put The Correspondent’s Club front and centre.

This record has effected positive change in my life; it means way more to me than a number on a chart, but I’m really not trying to be disingenuous when I say this would be a win for all of us.

Yes, a top 40 placing would validate me – my music and my way of working – but I see it as a huge victory for independently-minded music fans, who are able to trust their own ears and hearts over relentless radio playlisting and £50,000 a week billboards (actual cost).

“Exotic Monsters” has already beaten the final placing of my last album “Brace For Impact” in 2018, and my past self is the only person I’m in competition with. We’ve started receiving weekly counts telling us the number of records sold for chart positions from 1-200, and at the time of writing we have a top 100 album on our hands (BFI went to #108 overall and #15 in the indie chart). I try not to overuse the word, but that feels pretty amazing to me.

I grew up listening to chart music, watching careers be made by radio and press support, then hearing about bands walking away from their deals empty-handed. I had no realistic blueprint for a sustainable career making music out of thoughts and thin air, so I made it up as I went along.

I’d talk about smashing the system, but I think it’s been broken for a long time. This is a chance to show that another way is possible.

Thank you so much for your support.

Love,
Laura xox

To the stars!
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Can we make Bristol music history together?!

Can we make Bristol music history together?!

Letterbox Music News Process

This is unbelievable!

I have massive news to share with you today: my new album “Exotic Monsters” is two thirds of the way towards getting in the UK Top 40 Album chart!

Throughout my years of making music, I’ve always been told that you need a manager, a record label, an agent, a huge marketing budget, your face on billboards, features in magazines, radio playlisting, all that sort of thing, to even have the tiniest chance of this sort of success – but that’s clearly not true.

I make and release my music completely independently from my little attic room in Bristol.

If “Exotic Monsters” gets into the UK Top 40 chart, it’ll make Bristol music history. The last Bristol-based female artist to get in the top 40 albums chart was the brilliant Beth Rowley in 2008, and we don’t even know if there’s ever been a completely independent Bristol-based act with a top 40 album. How bonkers is that?

Every pre-order that has come in so far is a vote for the spirit of independence that brought me to live in this city nine years ago.

I’ve built an audience by sharing my work online and treating people with respect – it’s definitely the slow way round, but it’s the one that makes me the happiest. I feel so encouraged and supported by everyone who has hopped on board so far. Thank you.

If you’d like to join me in really sticking it to the man, you know what to do.

Thank you x

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Seventeen (23/4/21)

Seventeen (23/4/21)

Creativity Homepage Feature Letterbox Music News Releases Singles

Release date: 23rd April 2021
Label: My Big Sister Recordings

GET THE SONG

+ Click to download pay what you want/can from Bandcamp.
+ Get three album tracks immediately when you pre-order my new album “Exotic Monsters” with a download
+ Join The Correspondent’s Club and get all Penfriend singles as part of membership
+ Type “penfriend seventeen” into your digital music platform of choice.



“Cavernous as its darkly-elliptical tale unfolds, “Seventeen” careens with compassion”The Autumn Roses

“An enormous pop-rock anthem with a heart-throttlingly poignant story [by] Penfriend aka singer/songwriter/producer/genius example of how to do independent musicianship right, Laura Kidd” Loud Women (single of the week)

ABOUT THE SONG

Seventeen. Is there a more complicated age? Not quite yet an adult, but impatient to be treated like one; navigating an avalanche of new experiences and urgent emotions, dismissed by the grownups as “teenage angst” or “just a phase”. An exhausting quest to negotiate a new space for ourselves, juggling the interests of parents, teachers and friends while not knowing to question their motives. 

This song is an excavation, a letting go, an act of self-forgiveness.

Traumatic events from the past can feel just as fresh, years later, the ghosts of our former selves creeping up to tap us on the shoulder with icy fingers. 

Sometimes we need to package up our memories with tidy words to dispel the haunting. 

Sometimes we just need to stop blaming ourselves. 

Sometimes writing songs is like painstakingly sculpting sounds from thin air; other times they arrive in a whoosh, fighting to be heard. “Seventeen” appeared on a summer Saturday evening, falling out of me in jagged swathes.

Facing up to our ghosts isn’t a pleasant experience, but this song helped me over a major stumbling block from my past, bringing me a fresh perspective and new freedom. 

CREDITS

Written, produced, performed and recorded by Laura Kidd at The Launchpad, Bristol. Drums by Max Saidi. Piano arranged by Laura Kidd, performed and recorded by Catherine Anne Davies. Mixed by Dan Austin. Mastered by Katie Tavini. Artwork by Alex Tillbrook, concept by Laura Kidd.

LYRICS

Happy birthday, time to say goodbye
Such a big girl, keep all this inside
Dial back those dreams
Wishing impossible things
Bursting your seams
It hurts when we grow

Tell me what you wanted
I was seventeen
Tell me I deserved it
Because I was seventeen

Toxic teens on mixtape afternoons
Photostatic memories of you
Fold paper planes
Pull them apart when it rains
Smash windowpanes
Stretching our wings alone

Tell me what you wanted
I was seventeen
Tell me I deserved it
I was seventeen
Tell me it was all my fault
I was seventeen
Tell me you remember

Tell me what you wanted
I was seventeen
Tell me I deserved it
I was seventeen
Give me a good reason
I was seventeen
Tell me you’re so sorry
I was seventeen

Thanks for visiting my website!

New to my musical world?

+ Get two free songs music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful email every week – join The Correspondent’s Club on a free or paid tier to receive it.

+ I make a podcast called “Attention Engineer”, where I speak to fellow artists about creativity, grit and determination. Visit this page to find out more.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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Ep39: Stephen Jones (Babybird) on surviving chart success and finding true connection with music fans

Ep39: Stephen Jones (Babybird) on surviving chart success and finding true connection with music fans

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How to listen

Press play below OR click for links to
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Transcript to follow soon.


Welcome to my conversation with Stephen Jones, recorded on 9th April 2021. Stephen’s latest compilation of songs, “An Introduction To Babybird” is available on Bandcamp now, and you can explore his musical world here.

[Content warning: as always, some friendly swearing.]


In this conversation, we discuss:

  • the importance of making music that’s for you first
  • the strange and inappropriate uses of “You’re Gorgeous” in pop culture, from Prince William to Barack Obama
  • how Bandcamp is the best internet version of DIY
  • the awkward glamour and excitement of making a million-dollar music video with Hollywood royalty

Explore Stephen’s work:




About Stephen Jones

Million-selling songwriter and cult hero Stephen Jones has spent the last decade reconnecting with his DIY roots, exploring new styles and approaches with self-recorded and self-released music projects. Independence has allowed him to dig deeper creatively, taking more risks without having to worry about commercial expectations. These projects also breathed new life into Babybird, reborn in 2015 as a completely self-sufficient musical enterprise.

Along with the gold discs, millions of sales, a string of Top 40 hits, two Brit Award nominations, critical acclaim, and a dedicated cult following, Babybird has also survived the curse and repercussions of a smash hit single, cringe-inducing endorsements from members of the royal family, issues with record labels, huge changes in the music industry, and even a heart attack.

Stephen Jones remains dedicated to his cause, and has recently been making some of the best music of his career, over 20 years after his commercial peak. Meanwhile, people are still listening to albums such as “Ugly Beautiful” and the fan favourite “There’s Something Going On” decades later.

Visit Stephen’s Bandcamp page to listen, and follow him on Twitter if you dare!


This podcast is 100% powered by my Correspondent’s Club. Thanks to every single member for your support!

New to my musical world?

+ Get two free songs music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful email every week – join The Correspondent’s Club on a free or paid tier to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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Ep38: David Brewis (Field Music) on leaning into the editing process – inspiration is overrated

Ep38: David Brewis (Field Music) on leaning into the editing process – inspiration is overrated

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How to listen

Press play below OR click for links to
listen/subscribe on your preferred platform.

Transcript to follow soon.


Welcome to my conversation with David Brewis, recorded on 11th March 2021. Field Music‘s new album “Flat White Moon” comes out on 23rd April 2021 and is available to pre-order now.

[Content warning: as always, some friendly swearing.]


In this conversation, we discuss:

  • inspiration – it’s nice when it happens, but it’s overrated, and having to work on your idea doesn’t make you a worse artist (plus it’s fun!)
  • the importance of sharing our experiences, to help younger artists have the encouragement we didn’t get ourselves
  • being prepared for the highs and lows of releasing albums – actually planning it in
  • how learning to do everything yourself can be faster than explaining what you want to someone else
  • the futility of playing support slots (even if they’re with your favourite bands)
  • why you don’t go to see Field Music for a good night out

Explore Field Music
Listen on Bandcamp




About Field Music

David and Peter Brewis have been releasing records as Field Music since 2005. The pair record at their own studio in Sunderland and have amassed a large and unwieldy catalogue which includes solo records, collaborations, a score for a silent documentary about the herring industry and a concept album about the aftermath of the First World War, as well as regular studio albums and occasional production work for other artists.

David’s third and most recent solo album as School of Language, 2019’s “45”, imagined the rise of Donald Trump as a funk musical.

Field Music’s new album, “Flat White Moon”, arrives in April 2021.

Visit Field Music’s website to find out more, and follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


This podcast is 100% powered by my Correspondent’s Club. Thanks to every single member for your support!

New to my musical world?

+ Get two free songs music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful email every week – join The Correspondent’s Club on a free or paid tier to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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Obey Robots – “Inside Out” (2/4/20)

Obey Robots – “Inside Out” (2/4/20)

Homepage Feature Letterbox Releases Singles


Release date: 2nd April 2021
Label: My Big Sister Recordings


GET THE SONG

+ Get the song on pay what you want / can download from Bandcamp now
+ Pre-order limited edition pink 7″ vinyl / CD singles


ABOUT THE SONG

The second song from Obey Robots, my collaboration project with Rat (Ned’s Atomic Dustbin), “Inside Out” started off as a shimmering acoustic guitar idea that Rat demoed and saved in a folder he called “Maybe send to Laura”. I’m very glad he did send it to me! After sharing the punchy riffs of “Let It Snow” with you at the end of 2020, we wanted to conjure a different mood, so I encouraged Rat to layer up the guitars while I went off to write the melody, lyrics and cello parts. 

This song is about dealing with the new groundhog-day-normal many of us have been experiencing for the past year: the highs, mediums and lows of a life made much smaller by circumstance. Ravelling and unravelling at different speeds to those around us, perhaps: trying to feel a semblance of forward motion; trying to remember what the point is. Deciding to keep hoping.

With musicians having to wait for in-person work to be possible again, it felt like the right time to get back in touch with my A-Level Music pal David Lale, who has played for the London Philharmonic Orchestra for the past 8 years. I always knew he’d go far!

David played the parts beautifully, of course, and added some extra touches in the instrumental to take it to new heights. It was a lovely opportunity to work together for the first time since we arranged Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” for a school concert back in the day. Thank you, David.

Fun fact: the original working title of this song was “Spider_Capo”. Rat, ever the fan of using different tunings but lacking the will to actually tune his guitars alternately, clearly needed to get a new toy. A novice attempt at using the spider capo (a piece of equipment strongly resembling a torture device) resulted in the basic melodic chords being written for the song that would become “Inside Out”.

CREDITS

Written by Pring / Kidd. Produced by Laura Kidd. Mixed by Dan Austin. Mastered by Katie Tavini. Guitar performed and recorded by Rat. Cello arrangement by Laura Kidd. Cello performed and recorded by David Lale.

Image by bamenny from Pixabay


LYRICS 

Lifelines are melting away
Handing off to the people we pay
Shy to communicate
Counting days til we can get more interesting

I’m replacing fear with doubt
But I’m still turning inside out
And you can show up every day
But I’m still turning inside, inside out

Nightmares and reveries
All my dreams now deliver to sea
Trust in my memories
Counting weeks til we can get more interesting

I’m replacing fear with doubt
But I’m still turning inside out
And you can show up every day
But I’m still turning inside, inside out

I’m replacing fear with doubt
But I’m still turning inside out
And you can show up every day
But I’m still turning inside, inside out

I’ve been letting the good side down
But I’m still turning inside out
And you can show up every day
But I’m still turning inside, inside out

Thanks for visiting my website!

New to my musical world?

+ Get two free songs music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful email every week – join The Correspondent’s Club on a free or paid tier to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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Ep37: Ryan Miller (Guster) on constantly throwing seeds…even if a lot of them will never sprout

Ep37: Ryan Miller (Guster) on constantly throwing seeds…even if a lot of them will never sprout

Podcast
Thanks for visiting!

How to listen

Press play below OR click for links to
listen/subscribe on your preferred platform.

Transcript to follow soon.


Welcome to my conversation with Ryan Miller, recorded on 10th March 2021. Visit Guster’s website to explore their musical world and scroll down for some of their recent videos, including the new “Things Come Around” film shot in 2020.

[Content warning: as always, some friendly swearing.]


In this conversation, we discuss:

  • the life of a multi-hyphenate artist – how giving yourself permission opens up the canvas of possibilities
  • not being scared to try new things, because your fans don’t remember your failures
  • how a lightbulb moment led to Ryan scoring films from Nobody (which he also co-wrote) to Safety Not Guaranteed, The Fundamentals of Caring and Mr Roosevelt
  • the band / fan relationship – how Guster invented street teams in the 90s, and put their fans at the centre of everything they do
  • how overlapping your interests is like putting more colours onto your canvas

Explore Guster
Listen on Bandcamp




About Ryan

Ryan Miller is the lead singer and guitarist of alternative rock band Guster.

Formed in 1991, Guster have released eight studio albums, performed with symphony orchestras and played a LOT of gigs.

Since co-writing and scoring the film “Nobody” with Rob Perez, Ryan has composed music for “Safety Not Guaranteed”, “The Kings Of Summer”, “The Fundamentals Of Caring”, “Mr Roosevelt” and “The Last Summer”.

After moving to Vermont from New York, Ryan began hosting a TV series on Vermont PBS called “Makin’ Friends With Ryan Miller”.

Visit Guster’s website to find out more, and follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


This podcast is 100% powered by my Correspondent’s Club. Thanks to every single member for your support!

New to my musical world?

+ Get two free songs music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful email every week – join The Correspondent’s Club on a free or paid tier to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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Black Car (26/3/21)

Black Car (26/3/21)

Creativity Homepage Feature Letterbox Music News Releases Singles



Release date: 26th March 2021
Label: My Big Sister Recordings

GET THE SONG

+ Click to download pay what you want/can from Bandcamp.
+ Get three album tracks immediately when you pre-order my new album “Exotic Monsters” with a download
+ Join The Correspondent’s Club and get all Penfriend singles as part of membership
+ Type “penfriend black car” into your digital music platform of choice.



ABOUT THE SONG

Black Car” is a song about love and death, guilt and gratitude, taking time to figure out what’s most important, feeling desperately sad and isolated and grieving the loss of so many. Dealing with anger and frustration at the UK government for making so many missteps. Trying to keep on keeping on, while finding it hard to see a way out of this, however many “roadmaps” are announced. Accepting – and feeling – our feelings.

“That this single release marks the first anniversary of the first UK lockdown is an accident, but sometimes things just fall into place like that when we focus on what’s important to us. Throughout this loneliest of years, I’ve tried to keep connected to humanity through making and releasing new music, podcast episodes and my weekly emails, doing what I can to create pinpoints of light in dark times. With all the gratitude in the world, I have to remind myself it’s still ok to feel wounded by what’s been going on and to feel scared about what’s to come. We will all be changed by this experience, and at the root of everything is the love we have for others.”

I don’t know what other bands “Black Car” sounds like, or have any clever phrases lined up to entreat you to click “play”. This is an honest, melancholy song about a universal experience that will be discussed in the history books of the future, guitars and synths centred around a heady electronic heartbeat, with a reverent Kurt Vonnegut reference (“loving echoes”) in the middle.

Keep your loved ones close x

CREDITS

Written, produced, performed and recorded by Laura Kidd at The Launchpad, Bristol. Mixed by Dan Austin. Mastered by Katie Tavini. Artwork by Alex Tillbrook, concept by Laura Kidd.

LYRICS

Remember the summer when everyone stayed at home?
Ships in a bottle, stacked up with our lives on hold

If we could really see the warnings that were written before
If we could really feel
Our hearts would smash all over the floor

Hear me now, I can feel the thunder
March me out with the fallen number
Will there be – is there a black car waiting for me?
Keep your loved ones close

This is surviving, but we’re having a god damn year
Tired of climbing, but the universe left us here

And on my worst of days
I want to keep wanting to be kind
But everywhere I see machines are taking over our minds

Hear me now, I can feel the thunder
March me out with the fallen number
Will there be – is there a black car waiting for me?
Keep your loved ones close

Keep your loved ones close
Even on calm waters, waves will rise
As my heart explodes
Loving echoes dancing in my eyes

Keep your loved ones close
Keep your loves ones close
Keep your loved ones close

Hear me now, I can feel the thunder
March me out with the fallen number
Will there be – is there a black car waiting?

Hear me now, I can feel the thunder
March me out with the fallen number
Will there be –
Is there a black car waiting for me?

Keep your loved ones close

Thanks for visiting my website!

New to my musical world?

+ Get two free songs music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful email every week – join The Correspondent’s Club on a free or paid tier to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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Ep36: Sananda Maitreya on making a masterpiece of your life

Ep36: Sananda Maitreya on making a masterpiece of your life

Podcast
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How to listen

Press play below OR click for links to
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Transcript to follow soon.


Hi there, and welcome to my conversation with Sananda Maitreya (the artist formerly known as Terence Trent D’Arby), recorded on 10th March 2021. Keep scrolling for links to everything we discussed in this episode and remember Sananda’s new album “Pandora’s PlayHouse” is out now.

[Content warning: as always, some friendly swearing.]


In this conversation, we discuss:

  • making a masterpiece of your life, not just your art
  • letting go of an abusive music industry past and learning to fly again
  • Sananda’s relationship with his singing voice
  • the life of an artist – a career or a calling?
  • the value of surrendering to the creative process and allowing it to surprise you
  • making music that babies are conceived to – is there any greater compliment for an artist?

Explore Sananda’s work:




About Sananda Maitreya

Artist, composer, arranger, producer, multi-instrumentalist, entrepreneur and Post Millennium Rocker Sananda Maitreya had his light switched on at the age of 2 by the music of the Beatles and has been a fool for music ever since.

His debut solo album, “Introducing the Hardline” was released in July 1987, producing hits including “If You Let Me Stay”, “Sign Your Name”, “Dance Little Sister”, and the number one hit “Wishing Well”, and he’s released 12 wide-ranging albums in the years since.

As the survivor of a trauma that forced his hand into rebuilding his identity, Sananda once let go of a former life in order to dedicate his new personage to the pursuit of his true calling. It meant rejecting what fans and the industry had presumed would be his lifelong endeavour; but realising the dream inside was bigger than what the former life could accommodate, he pulled through the other side and found purpose.

Never taking what he is fortunate to have for granted, new album “Pandora’s PlayHouse” pays homage to Sananda’s inspirations, mentors, and family, all whilst recounting the lessons he has carried through one of the most unique careers in musical history. A once-platinum-certified, multi-million selling artist, Sananda’s career could fill multiple lifetimes – and some would say it has.

Sananda’s new record “Pandora’s PlayHouse” was released on 15th March, 2021. Get it now!

Visit Sananda’s website and follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


This podcast is 100% powered by my Correspondent’s Club. Thanks to every single member for your support!

New to my musical world?

+ Get two free songs music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful email every week – join The Correspondent’s Club on a free or paid tier to receive it.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” are released every Wednesday – visit this page to find out more and subscribe via your favourite podcast platform.

+ You can also follow me around the web, on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

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