Ep20: Jim Bob (Carter U.S.M.) on not knowing how things *should* work – and doing them anyway

Ep20: Jim Bob (Carter U.S.M.) on not knowing how things *should* work – and doing them anyway

Podcast

Thank you for visiting – I’m delighted to share my conversation with Jim Bob aka J.B. Morrison, recorded on 28th August 2020.

Press play below or click to listen / subscribe on your favourite podcast platform, and scroll down for links to Jim Bob’s work and his recommendations.

[Content warning: some friendly swears.]

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • how to make an album when you think you’ve lost the ability to write songs
  • why Jim Bob only works with people he likes
  • the benefits of aiming higher than you should as an unschooled musician and novelist
  • what it feels like to get in the pop charts in 2020, after having a number 1 album with Carter in 1992
  • how to live a creative life after peaking early
  • how the fun has gone out of Twitter
  • how writing novels is (even more) brutal than writing songs
  • what it was like playing to 14 people on a bill with Ed Sheeran

Explore Jim Bob’s work:

Find out more by visiting Jim Bob’s website and following him on Twitter.



Jim Bob recommends: the new Bright Eyes album “Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was“, the music of Phoebe Bridgers, “Songs For The General Public” by Lemon Twigs. And he loves The Jam.


About Jim Bob

As singer with Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, Jim Bob had 14 top 40 singles, 4 top ten albums (including a number one), sold over a million records, toured the world and headlined Glastonbury. In 2007, ten years after initially splitting, Carter USM reformed for a series of huge, sold out shows until they called it a day again in 2014. 

Outside of Carter, Jim Bob has had a long and varied career as a solo artist and writer. He has released eleven solo albums, two autobiographies and six novels (several under the name J.B. Morrison). His latest album, “Pop Up Jim Bob” came out in August 2020 and went to number 26 in the pop charts, and his fifth and sixth novels, “A Godawful Small Affair” and “Harvey King Unboxes His Family” were published in one volume in March.

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

New to my musical world?

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Have a lovely day xo

Ep19: Lemn Sissay MBE on the importance of kindness in a longlasting career

Ep19: Lemn Sissay MBE on the importance of kindness in a longlasting career

Podcast

Thank you for visiting – I’m very pleased to share this conversation with Lemn Sissay MBE, recorded on 26th August 2020.

Press play below or click to listen / subscribe on your favourite podcast platform.

[Content warning: some friendly swears.]

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • the difference between poetry and song lyrics – is there one?
  • how bad school experiences can ruin poetry for us normal people
  • what not to write on your Tinder profile
  • staying away from unproductive negativity – how to take better care of ourselves
  • the importance of kindness in a longlasting career

Explore Lemn’s work:


Google the name “Lemn Sissay” and all the returning hits will be about him because there is only one Lemn Sissay in the world. Lemn Sissay is a BAFTA nominated award winning writer, international poet, performer playwright, artist and broadcaster. He has read on stage throughout the world: from The Library of Congress in The United States to The University of Addis Ababa, from Singapore to Sri Lanka, Bangalore to Dubai, from Bali to Greenland AND Wigan library.

He was awarded an MBE for services to literature by The Queen of England. Along with Chimamanda Ngoze Adichie and Margaret Atwood he won a Pen Pinter Prize in 2019. He is Chancellor of The University of Manchester and an Honorary Doctor from The Universities of Huddersfield, Manchester, Kent and Brunei. He is Dr Dr Dr Dr Lemn Sissay. He was the first poet commissioned to write for the London Olympics and poet of the FA Cup.

Photo credit: Slater King.


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 weekly email every Thursday – 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 YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

Ep18: Miles Hunt (The Wonder Stuff) on how Covid-19 stopped him from quitting the music business

Ep18: Miles Hunt (The Wonder Stuff) on how Covid-19 stopped him from quitting the music business

Podcast

Thank you for visiting – I’m very pleased to share this conversation with Miles Hunt, recorded on 27th August 2020.

Press play below or click to listen / subscribe on your favourite podcast platform.

[Content warning: some friendly swears.]

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • how Covid-19 dashed his hopes of leaving the music business and becoming a truck driver (and why he wanted to quit in the first place)
  • should we just turn the internet off?
  • why he hates the D chord
  • has digital music ruined the chance for an album to change your life?
  • when writing songs, is the songwriter just a conduit?
  • person vs persona – who is the real Miles Hunt?
  • what does he really think of streaming?
  • how writing your autobiography can help mend relationships that went bad

Explore Miles’ work:


Miles Recommends:

Deja Vega, “Made Of Rain” by The Psychedelic Furs and The Comsat Angels.


Miles Hunt has been the singer, rhythm guitarist and principal songwriter for The Wonder Stuff since 1986. Hailing from the British Midlands the band are now nine albums deep and continue to record and tour to this day. Hunt also fronts Vent 414, a three-piece band that includes Morgan Nicholls (Senseless Things / The Streets / Gorillaz / Muse) on bass guitar and Peter Howard (EAT / Queen Adreena / The Clash) on drums. He has also released a number of solo albums, written for children’s TV, been a presenter on MTV Europe and has a lifelong ambition of becoming a truck driver.


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 weekly email every Thursday – 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 YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

Ep17: Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney) on finding your own power

Ep17: Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney) on finding your own power

Podcast

Attention Engineer is back, and I’m delighted to be launching the second series with a very special conversation with Corin Tucker, recorded on 18th September 2020. Hooray!

Press play below or click to listen / subscribe on your favourite podcast platform.

[Content warning: some friendly swears.]

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • the importance of art in helping us make sense of the massive world events we’re all living through
  • finding your own power through your voice
  • the magic of collaboration – writing songs with REM’s Peter Buck
  • why you should always watch your support bands
  • the importance of finding your purpose – are you really helping your community?
  • connection as a marker of true success
  • the effect of COVID-19 on Sleater-Kinney’s tour plans

Explore Corin’s work:


Corin Recommends:

“Saint Cloud” by Waxahatchee, the music of Khruangbin and Chicano Batman and “Jaime” by Brittany Howard.


Corin Tucker is a singer, songwriter and guitarist, best known for her work with rock band Sleater-Kinney. She started her career playing in influential early 90s band Heavens to Betsy, has released solo music as The Corin Tucker Band and collaborates with REM’s Peter Buck in Filthy Friends.


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 weekly email every Thursday – 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 YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

FREE DOWNLOAD – Attention Engineer S01 Nuggets available now

FREE DOWNLOAD – Attention Engineer S01 Nuggets available now

Homepage Feature Letterbox Podcast

Something different from me this Bandcamp Friday – a present for you from the first series of my creativity podcast Attention Engineer. Sixteen quotes from brilliant artists to provoke, inspire and encourage.

Series 2 starts next Wednesday 7th October with a very special guest from Portland!

Click to subscribe on your favourite podcast platform.



I’ve been finding everything really hard lately

I’ve been finding everything really hard lately

Letterbox

Friends, I’ve been finding everything really hard lately.

I have a lot to feel fortunate for – not least the ongoing generosity and support of my Correspondents, THANK YOU! – but there’s really no getting away from the fact that this global pandemic continues to have a dramatic, far reaching, unpredictable effect on all of us, however grateful we are for our health, a roof over our heads and the ability to keep buying the groceries we need to survive (thank you again, Correspondents!).

Despite knowing better, over recent months I allowed my work hours to expand to late nights and most weekends, and even though I had a feeling something was going to snap at some point, I kept pushing myself until OOPS, snap it did. Yep, the warning signs were there – noticeably slower brain function, tears flowing every day at little provocation, being quicker to anger…

Since that awful night I’ve been thoroughly reassessing the way I, as the boss of my own company, treat my workforce – me. Pretty poorly, it seems. I know the kind of work I do is like a gas – it’ll expand to fit whatever container it’s in, so the main change I’m making is to set strict boundaries. I start work at 10am and am not allowed to work past 6pm. I don’t work on the weekends. I’m experimenting with taking half days on Wednesday and Friday (that’s a scary one, because it feels like I’m skiving off, but what’s the point of working for yourself and not creating your own schedule, right?). I’ve made myself work long hours on enough gloriously sunny days in my life, it’s time to live a little!

Evidence of Half Day Wednesday, but the details are just for me 😉

The irony that I started reading Greg McKeown’s “Essentialism” a week before my crash is not lost on me, and I picked out some really useful concepts that I’m working to implement going forward.

1/ Editing – rather than adding more and more detail to to try and explain something, you take things away to get to the true message.

2/ Uncommitting – in the book he uses the example of someone who creates a time consuming detailed weekly report for his team that no-one needs or reads, and suggests experimenting by stopping doing that thing for a while to see if anyone notices.

3/ What’s Important Now? (WIN) – a very helpful question I’ve started asking myself whenever I start feeling overwhelmed.

Relating these three ideas to my current situation, it was clear that some tweaks needed to be made. I was planning a short break from making my podcast anyway, so the timing was great for taking a step back. I’ve been reassessing how I can use the limited time, energy and mental bandwidth I have as one human person to do the things that only I can do to the best of my ability, and what non-essential things I can reduce my time on. Kicking my bad social media / phone scrolly-scrolly habits over the past year massively helped with this already, but I was still very obviously doing too much and expecting too much of myself.

Alongside music making and podcast making, my other major commitment is, of course, The Correspondent’s Club. Its predecessor, Supersub Club, was set up as a yearly subscription with quarterly deliveries, because I knew I didn’t have the capacity for, and didn’t want the stress of, delivering things monthly. While there are many ways of approaching music making and releasing these days, I still believe in the artistic power of an album to contain a collection of songs that say something together as well as individually. My focus will always be making the very best next album I can rather than creating new stuff and rushing it out just because there’s a schedule.

So, four months into running The Correspondent’s Club feels like a good time to make some minor tweaks, now I’ve had time to see what works and figure out which perks people are responding most warmly to.

It turns out the two most time-consuming perks, the monthly voicemail and monthly online gig, are the things I can dial back on most easily, that will actually improve if they happen a little less often and that I feel will consequently be enjoyed by more people. These will now move to happening quarterly, in line with the music and art bundles. Everything else will stay the same.

As always, monthly members can up-or down-grade their subscriptions at any time, and I will never be offended if you decide to change yours. It blows my mind that people are so invested in my music making that they want to subscribe in this way, I value each and every one of you who do so, and urge you always to ensure that 1) whatever you choose to pay is a comfortable sum that doesn’t adversely affect anything else in your life and 2) that you always make sure you feel you’re getting value for your money.

There will always be a physical limit to what I, as one person doing this, is able to give in return for your patronage, but I promise what I do deliver will always be of the highest quality, made with love and care, focus and attention.

I’ll leave you for now with the latest quote I’m going to be taping up on my studio wall. I picked it up from “Essentialism”, but it’s actually from Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”


Despite dialling back on everything for the past couple of weeks, somehow I still seem to be on track to complete the album recording this month. That’s the main thing…but is it really? Workwise, yes of course. But even when you love your job, as I love mine, there’s more to consider.

A wise friend texted me last week that in a crisis like Covid-19 “our only task is to stay healthy, sane and alive…until we have a surplus of energy and resources all we need to do is live”.

And that’s really the main thing.

Here’s to surviving. Please let me know how you’re doing here in the comments.

Sending love,
Laura xoxo

The Only Way Out Is Through xo
The Only Way Out Is Through (8/9/20)

The Only Way Out Is Through (8/9/20)

Letterbox Releases Singles


Release date: 8th September 2020
Label: My Big Sister Recordings
Distributor: Southern Record Distributors

GET THE SONG

+ Get “The Only Way Out Is Through”, first single “Everything Looks Normal In The Sunshine” PLUS unreleased track “Cancel Your Hopes” FREE when you join The Correspondent’s Club.
+ Download PWYW from Bandcamp.
+ Search for “Penfriend” on your music platform of choice.

ABOUT THE SONG

I can’t do much of anything when I’m feeling down, let alone write a song about it, but one day in 2019 when I was trudging my way back, I made an attempt to leave a breadcrumb trail for my future self.

“The Only Way Out Is Through” is my attempt to trap the “shapeless forces” that “pull at me”, making them solid by assigning words to them, reducing their power and size to something I might feasibly be able to overcome. The aspirational sentiment that “resistance is crucial, forgiveness is beautiful” is one I find very hard to enact in the moment, but something I can at least continue to strive for.

Ironically, this song is being released during my lowest fortnight of the last 12 months, so the safety line of lyrics I knotted inside the music is a helpful reminder of brighter days.

The choice to release music in a universally dark time isn’t one I take lightly. “The Only Way Out Is Through” is the most resonant and useful piece of music I have to offer right now, a rescue raft for whoever needs one.

That’s what this song is for me.

LYRICS 

Gotta get out of this
Making a meal of distress
Fatalistic to the bone
Thunderclouds in every home
Gotta get out of this

The only way out is through
Not gonna lose my heart – I never meant to
The only way out is through

Gotta get out of this
Drowning in yesterday’s tears
Intimate conspiracies
Shapeless forces pull at me
Gotta get out of this

The only way out is through
Not gonna lose my heart – I never meant to
The only way out is through


The only way out is through
Not gonna lose my heart
I never meant to wish on a falling star
But I won’t let it go

Denial take me away
Pretend like I’m not the queen of stretching the days
In all the wrong ways – til they break
Denial take me away
I crave your sweet mistakes but
Resistance is crucial, forgiveness is beautiful

The only way out is through
Not gonna lose my heart – I never meant to
The only way out is through

CREDITS

[music]
Written, produced and performed by Laura Kidd at The Launchpad, Bristol.
Drums by Max Saidi. Mixed by Dan Austin. 
Mastered by Chris McCormack at Blacklisted Mastering.

[artwork]
Portrait by @genskiart, logo and wordmark by Miritte Ben Yitzchak, concept and layout by Laura Kidd.

Ep16: Nova Twins on creativity, craft and commitment

Ep16: Nova Twins on creativity, craft and commitment

Podcast

Hello there, and welcome to my conversation with Nova Twins, recorded on 28th July 2020. Keep scrolling down for links to everything we discussed in this episode and make sure you pick up their debut album “Who Are The Girls?” – visit their website for more.

[Content warning: occasional friendly swears.]

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • life in lockdown – finding new ways to connect with your audience when all your gigs have been cancelled
  • the importance of knowing your goals
  • how the landmark of releasing their debut album set them on the path to creating more longform bodies of work
  • the benefits of being an independent band, developing your unique sound with no timetable
  • why they won’t tell you which guitar pedals they use
  • who do you want coming to your shows? How the Black Lives Matter movement inspired Nova Twins to use their platform to speak out about injustice and showed them who their allies are
  • creativity, craft and commitment – behind the scenes of Nova Twins’ powerful music videos

Explore Nova Twins’ work:



Nova Twins Recommend:


Other things we talked about:

Watch Nova Twins’ “Voices For The Unheard” Instagram shows here.

Guests so far have included Connie Constance, Sophie K, Shingai, Loathe, Fuck U Pay Us, Death Tour, Melanie Faye and Divinity Roxx.


About Nova Twins

Nova Twins are bassist Georgia South and guitarist and vocalist Amy Love.

Fast becoming trailblazers in their own right, Nova Twins use their platform to champion inclusivity and diversity with a high-octane, genre-warping approach; one that is present in every song they write and every performance they deliver. Turning heads in all of their endeavours, the duo creates a remarkable depth of sound via a myriad of bass and guitar pedals – a secret recipe they have tweaked and refined over the years, whilst dogmatically avoiding any synthesizers in the process. 

Innovative in not only their musical output but in every element of what they do as artists, from designing and making their own outfits for all photoshoots and stage-wear, to the art direction of their music videos. The band are above all, strong, independent and inspiring women of colour. Their modus operandi is to take socio-political experiences from their day-to-day and turn it into something their fans can get lost in.

Visit Nova Twins’ website for more and follow them on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.



This podcast is supported by Arts Council England and The National Lottery and powered by my Correspondent’s Club.

+ Get FREE music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful weekly email every Thursday – 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 YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo

Ep15: Estella Adeyeri (Big Joanie / Charmpit) on challenging assumptions and giving back to a supportive music scene

Ep15: Estella Adeyeri (Big Joanie / Charmpit) on challenging assumptions and giving back to a supportive music scene

Podcast

Oh hello there, and welcome to my conversation with Estella Adeyeri, recorded on 12th August 2020. Keep scrolling down for links to everything we discussed in this episode and make sure you check out Big Joanie’s new single, their cover of “Cranes In The Sky” by Solange.

[Content warning: very occasional frustrated but friendly swearing.]

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • the role of libraries in our discovery of new ideas and music that spoke to us while growing up
  • the benefits of being part of a supportive music scene when getting started in bands, and how to nurture and make space for others
  • activism and music making – how the two can work together
  • how a teen love of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Paramore led to playing in collaboration with others
  • the joy of getting to a place where you don’t feel you have to pretend you know everything
  • some of the stupid shit that sound engineers have said to us
  • why are bass amps usually so heavy? A love note to Fender

Explore Estella’s work:



Estella recommends:


Other things we talked about:

Estella talks about volunteering with Girls Rock London and Decolonise Fest. We talk about books that were big for us growing up and discovering new ideas; Estella mentions Bell Hooks and I mention “The Female Eunuch” by Germaine Greer and “The Women’s Room” by Marilyn French.

I mention finding Belly and Radiohead albums in the local library and having my life changed by them. Estella talks about her enduring love for Yeah Yeah Yeahs and growing up with Paramore.

Estella talks about DIY Space 4 London, a brilliant South London hub for music, art and activism. Shoutouts for Electric Voice microphones, Fender Rumble bass combos and cabs and York Fibbers, plus Sadie Dupuis of Sad13 and Speedy Ortiz, who was on this very podcast just last week!


About Estella

Estella Adeyeri is a performing musician and multi-instrumentalist. She plays bass guitar in Black feminist punk band Big Joanie, and lead guitar in anarcho-pop punk outfit Charmpit. She has performed at leading music events such as SXSW and Lollapalooza Berlin, and has featured with Big Joanie on radio stations such as BBC 6 Music and KEXP, and in publications such as Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. She has toured extensively and has shared stages with artists such as Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill and Gossip.

Estella is a member of the organising team behind Decolonise Fest, an annual London-based music festival run by punks of colour for punks of colour. She is also a board member of the Good Night Out Campaign, which seeks to create safer nightlife spaces. She has volunteered with Girls Rock London since 2017 as a band coach, instrument tutor, and year-round organiser.

Follow her on Twitter and Soundcloud.

This podcast is supported by Arts Council England and The National Lottery and powered by my Correspondent’s Club.

+ Get FREE music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ I send a thoughtful weekly email every Thursday – 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 YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Have a lovely day xo