Two listening parties this Tuesday!

Two listening parties this Tuesday!

Letterbox Music News

Why not, eh?

My second and third She Makes War albums have birthdays this week, so I’m celebrating with two listening parties on Bandcamp on Tuesday 9th April:

7.30pm – “Little Battles”
shemakeswar.bandcamp.com/live/little-battles-listening-party

8.30pm – “Direction Of Travel”
shemakeswar.bandcamp.com/live/direction-of-travel-listening-party

See you there?


NEXT

I’m proud and very thankful to be a fully fan-funded artist, so if you’d like to stay involved and continue to support the making of new music, writing and videos:

🎁 Get a FREE 12-track album + 31-page PDF zine of stories, photographs and artwork here.

🎹 Get exclusive member perks in The Correspondent’s Club.

🎸 Listen to my latest solo album “Exotic Monsters” and browse my back catalogue.

🎥 Watch my videos for adventures in sound & songwriting.

💬 Chat with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

See you soon xo

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FREE livestream – 3rd April

FREE livestream – 3rd April

Letterbox Music News


The theme of April’s gig is “Direction Of Battles” – a celebration of the 12th and 8th birthdays of my second and third albums “Little Battles” and “Direction Of Travel”.

And oh look, the livestream is embedded in this very post! Handy.
Yes – this link also works for watching later (unless something terrible happens and I delete the livestream off YouTube!) 🙂

Music starts at 8pm on Wednesday 3rd April but you’re very welcome to pop along early to chat in the comments. If you have any questions for me please type QUESTION at the start of your comment so I can scan through and find them.

See you there (here)?

Love,
Laura xxx


NEXT

I’m proud and very thankful to be a fully fan-funded artist, so if you’d like to stay involved and continue to support the making of new music, writing and videos:

🎁 Get a FREE 12-track album + 31-page PDF zine of stories, photographs and artwork here.

🎹 Get exclusive member perks in The Correspondent’s Club.

🎸 Listen to my latest solo album “Exotic Monsters” and browse my back catalogue.

🎥 Watch my videos for adventures in sound & songwriting.

💬 Chat with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

See you soon xo

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It’s happening… (Patreon launch news!)

It’s happening… (Patreon launch news!)

Letterbox Music News Process

You are welcome here.

I’m Penfriend aka music producer and solo artist Laura Kidd. Half of Obey Robots, ex- She Makes War.

I make heartfelt indie rock, synth pop and sad songs to make you feel better, sharing stories, photos and artwork as part of my ongoing creative practice.

Through my videos, essays and weekly forum posts I seek to support and encourage others along their own creative journeys. We’re all in this together!

Thank you for visiting this page – you clearly have great taste x


In 2019, my fingers burned by crowdfunding platform Pledge Music disappearing with £6000 i.e. ALL THE PROFITS from my 2018 album “Brace For Impact”, I decided to try my own thing.

I set up a subscription club I called Supersub Club. 100 analogue memberships sold out within a week, and I created CDs packed with demos, rarities, cover songs and voicemail recordings PLUS zines of stories, photos and artwork throughout the year to send to generous music fans around the world.

In 2020 I launched my new solo project Penfriend on the same day as opening up The Correspondent’s Club: a new and improved membership offering with analogue and digital, monthly and annual options plus a community space. It worked, and it was magical.


Over the past four years my members have received 18 analogue / digital bundles of music, stories, photos and artwork, made up of:

• 101 songs, demos, exclusive live tracks and podcast stories
• 18 zines packed with stories, photos and artwork
• plus postcards, bookmarks and stickers

So far, Correspondents have supported the making of:
• 2 studio albums
• 233 YouTube videos, including 9 official music videos
• 50 podcast episodes

Would you like to join us?


Earlier this year I knew it was time for a change. We’d outgrown the cobbled together WordPress plugins I’d assembled in spring 2020. I researched all the other options, comparing fees and features with a far longer view than anything I’d ever set up before.

Would this work for us for the next 5 years? If not, it was a no.

I chose not to use Patreon in 2020 because it didn’t have the capacity for people to pay in their local currency, and I didn’t want my majority UK-based fans to have to pay conversion fees. When Patreon came out on top of all my research, I was surprised and delighted to find out they’ve spent the past four years making their excellent platform even better.

While it was frankly nauseating sitting in my kitchen and clicking “cancel” on 235 recurring payments on Thursday morning, I knew I had to operate from a mindset of abundance rather than poverty. I don’t want people to subscribe to The Correspondent’s Club because they forgot to cancel a recurring payment. I want them to actively want the things they get from it.

On Thursday lunchtime I launched the new home of The Correspondent’s Club to existing members.

On Friday lunchtime I launched to the rest of my mailing list.
Fifteen minutes ago I launched to YouTube and social media.

At the time of typing, I have welcomed 152 paid members on Patreon.

For the past five years I’ve been building The Correspondent’s Club into a community that reaches far beyond the songs I make and the videos I share.

People are amazing.
Music fans want to support the artists who provide the soundtrack to their lives.

If you’re interested in being a part of what I make and do on a daily basis, you’re always welcome in The Correspondent’s Club.


You get immediate access to:

• downloads of my entire back catalogue (7 albums + 1 EP)

PLUS

• the entire Correspondent’s Club digital archive (101 tracks + 18 zines)

Then, whichever membership tier you choose, you will receive:

• weekly Airmail messages
• monthly Voicemail / Facemail recordings
• complimentary downloads of all official Penfriend album releases
• VIP invitations to bi-monthly private online events
• previews of my regular videos and personal essays before they go public

PLUS extra member perks detailed in each tier.


My last two albums went into the Official UK Albums Chart at #14 (#1 Independent) and #24 (#5 Independent) – completely powered by music fans. No labels / agents / managers / pluggers / middlepersons. No games.

I’m independent on purpose – so that I never have to compromise my artistic vision. I’ve never pandered to fashion, and I never will. I’ve never waited for permission from anyone to do this.

I’m not interested in where my music might take me, I’m interested in where I am right now.

Right here, talking to you. Hi!


The Correspondent’s Club has not only changed my life as an artist, but has become a joyful space for my members to connect with each other over their shared passions.

After 5 years of DIY-ing this I’m moving to Patreon in Spring 2024 because I love this platform and wanted to find a friendly home for me and my beloved Correspondents for the next 5 years.

Will you join us?

Thank you for reading.

Love,
Laura xxx

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Brave or stupid? (big news!)

Brave or stupid? (big news!)

Letterbox


This might be very stupid.

In 7 days time I am going to cancel all 235 recurring payments attached to my subscription membership site, The Correspondent’s Club.

After 5 full years of working full-time as a maker of my own music and videos, I am going to voluntarily reduce my regular income to zero.

In a landscape where making a living on the internet is a dream for so many, why on earth would I do this to myself?

This is one of those moments in life where I am clinging to that equally terrifying and reassuring quote: “leap and the net will appear”.


On 29th March 2024, I’m moving my Correspondent’s Club to Patreon.
And as someone who values independent music – I hope you’ll come with me.

Tap here to register your interest – and read on for more!


WHAT YOU GET:

Since my club started in 2019, members have received 18 bundles of music, stories, photos and artwork, made up of:

• 101 audio files – a mix of songs, demos, rarities, live performances, podcast style voicemail recordings delivered on beautiful vinyl-effect CDs and download
• 18 zines packed with stories, photos and artwork (printed or PDF)
• plus postcards, bookmarks and stickers

I share my writing, photographs and artwork, plus song demos, rarities, exclusive live tracks and podcast stories, and over time these CD and zine bundles have become embedded in my album making process. It’s very satisfying to see this little stack growing!


You also receive: weekly Airmail messages, monthly Voicemail or Facemail recordings, previews of everything I make, first access to pre-orders and, depending on the tier you choose, complimentary downloads of all Penfriend releases, your name in the album credits, your name at the end of every YouTube video, bespoke merch, and money off in my shop.

And there will be more – all will be revealed on launch day, 29th March.



In return, Correspondents have supported the making of:

• 2 studio albums (“Exotic Monsters” and “One In A Thousand”)
• 233 YouTube videos, including 9 official music videos
• and 50 podcast episodes

…so far! That’s a lot of stuff. Thank you!



The music industry can be a pretty shady place, and without financial backing from labels it’s incredibly difficult to create music at a professional level, let alone make a living doing so. The Correspondent’s Club has freed me from any requirements to play any game other than my own – which is simply to make the most truthful music I can and share it directly with the people who might enjoy it.

No games, no bullshit, no way.

Remember when I changed my artist name from She Makes War to Penfriend in 2020, after 11 years of releasing music and touring? That felt scary too, but I’ve never regretted it. We have to act on what we think is right.

What else is there?


So, why the move to Patreon?

Because life is too short to reinvent the wheel.

For the past 4 years I’ve been running my membership using a WordPress plugin which comes with a surprising amount of extra admin, during which time Patreon have been consistently improving their platform.

I’m better off spending time writing music rather than wrangling extra spreadsheets, and as an enthusiastic subscriber to several other artist’s Patreon clubs, I’m a fan.

The Correspondent’s Club is an idea that reaches beyond me, and beyond whichever platform it currently lives on. It’s about people, connection, creativity and empathy.

The Correspondent’s Club has not only changed my life as an artist, but has become a joyful space for my members to connect with each other over their shared passions.

It’s really lovely!

I’ll admit, writing the sentence “In 7 days time I am going to cancel all 235 recurring payments attached to my monthly subscription club” makes me feel a little bit sick, but I know it’s the right thing to do.

I’d always rather regret the things I have done than the things I haven’t.

So…are you with me?


Click here to register your interest and you’ll get access to a special, limited edition joining offer. I’ll send you more info next week before the Patreon goes public.

Thanks for reading, and have an excellent day!

Love,
Laura xxx
Penfriend / She Makes War / Obey Robots

NEXT

I’m proud and very thankful to be a fully fan-funded artist, so if you’d like to stay involved and continue to support the making of new music, writing and videos:

🎁 Get a FREE 12-track album + 31-page PDF zine of stories, photographs and artwork here.

🎹 Get exclusive member perks in The Correspondent’s Club.

🎸 Listen to my latest solo album “Exotic Monsters” and browse my back catalogue.

🎥 Watch my videos for adventures in sound & songwriting.

💬 Chat with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

See you soon xo

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What’s the worst that could happen?!

What’s the worst that could happen?!

Letterbox Mindfulness Process

➡️ A brief explanation of why I haven’t been posting videos via some thoughts on sustainable creative practices and getting over ourselves to be able to do the things we enjoy, beaming to you from the northernmost German island, Sylt!

Thumbnail fire image by ArthurHidden on Freepik

NEXT

I’m proud and very thankful to be a fully fan-funded artist, so if you’d like to stay involved and continue to support the making of new music, writing and videos:

🎁 Get a FREE 12-track album + 31-page PDF zine of stories, photographs and artwork here.

🎹 Get exclusive member perks in The Correspondent’s Club.

🎸 Listen to my latest solo album “Exotic Monsters” and browse my back catalogue.

🎥 Watch my videos for adventures in sound & songwriting.

💬 Chat with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

See you soon xo

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New FREE download for 9 days only…

New FREE download for 9 days only…

Letterbox Music News

Photo taken by Laura Ward at The Apollo Project in Herne Hill, June 2009.


In the spring of 2008 I was feeling Very Cheesed Off.

“Making an album one day” had been a dream since I was 15 years old, and it didn’t seem like it was ever going to happen…



Keep reading for the full story – but first: my new live album is waiting for you!

** It’s FREE / pay what you can for the next 9 days only **

This warm and welcoming live experience includes 7 songs performed on ukulele, vocals and loop pedal PLUS very real talk about:

• my Sliding Doors moment: the songwriting crossroads I find myself at following the success of the Obey Robots album “One In A Thousand”

• 5 years on: the exciting next phase of The Correspondent’s Club

• my favourite jam – will its name ever be revealed?

and

• the real reason I’m still not touring…


In the spring of 2008 I was feeling Very Cheesed Off.

“Making an album one day” had been a dream since I was 15 years old, and it didn’t seem like it was ever going to happen.

Newly resident in East Dulwich/Peckham Rye, I was wandering the back streets, trying to work out what was what and what was where, when I happened across a tiny music shop. A little red instrument waved at me from the window, and I was immediately sold (read on for evidence!).

Moments later I was back in my studio flat, sitting on the bed (no sofa, no table, no room) and putting my fingers on a baffling new fretboard.

I tried a simple guitar chord shape – the one for E major / A minor / etc – and it sounded nice. I kept two fingers where they were and took one off. Also good. I put the third finger back in a new spot and wow – “Scared To Capsize” was born.

I had just bought a loop pedal, after seeing KT Tunstall’s career-changing performance on Jools Holland, and soon discovered that uke + vocals + loops worked together beautifully.

“Scared To Capsize” became a key moment of nearly 700 live sets I played over the next 11 years, and my collection of thoughtful songs written on the ukulele grew along the way.

I recorded my debut album “Disarm” the year after the ukulele brought it’s colourful cheer to my life.

In my latest livestream I decided to celebrate that journey, hence “Four Strings Good”.

Get your copy here: https://penfriendrocks.bandcamp.com/album/four-strings-good-online-gig-february-2024

Have a fabulous weekend, and thank you for supporting independent music!

Love
Laura xxx

NEXT

I’m proud and very thankful to be a fully fan-funded artist, so if you’d like to stay involved and continue to support the making of new music, writing and videos:

🎁 Get a FREE 12-track album + 31-page PDF zine of stories, photographs and artwork here.

🎹 Get exclusive member perks in The Correspondent’s Club.

🎸 Listen to my latest solo album “Exotic Monsters” and browse my back catalogue.

🎥 Watch my videos for adventures in sound & songwriting.

💬 Chat with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

See you soon xo

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Too late? How to find an audience in your 50s (and 40s, and 30s…)

Too late? How to find an audience in your 50s (and 40s, and 30s…)

Creativity Letterbox Process


➡️ At my December livestream, I was asked the following question by  @hitchhiker7508  : “is 55 too old to hope to build a fanbase for original music?” – here’s my answer

❤️ This video is sponsored by The Correspondent’s Club – browse membership perks here and join the journey!

Subscribe to this channel for more adventures in sound and songwriting


NEXT

I’m proud and very thankful to be a fully fan-funded artist, so if you’d like to stay involved and continue to support the making of new music, writing and videos:

🎁 Get a FREE 12-track album + 31-page PDF zine of stories, photographs and artwork here.

🎹 Get exclusive member perks in The Correspondent’s Club.

🎸 Listen to my latest solo album “Exotic Monsters” and browse my back catalogue.

🎥 Watch my videos for adventures in sound & songwriting.

💬 Chat with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

See you soon xo

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New Year, new live album gift for YOU

New Year, new live album gift for YOU

Creativity Letterbox Music News


I have a New Year’s gift for you: a hopeful 6-song live experience with bonus track and accompanying friendly gig chat.

—> Get your copy of “Mending The Year” here – pay what you want from £0 to whatever you like!

** Limited release! This album is only available for the next 10 days – go go go! **


Last Friday I collected my most hopeful songs together to play for you, and I haven’t felt so relaxed on stage in some time.

It was fun to rework some older songs, two tracks that have rarely if ever been performed live: “Disarm” (from my 2012 album “Little Battles”) and “5000 Miles” (from 2016’s “Direction Of Travel”).

We talked about the inspiration behind my “mend the year” lyric in “Paper Thin”, my “shiny things” for 2024 and more besides. What a lovely night!

Thanks for being there live, if you were, and either way you’re very welcome to take this live album as a gift, or contribute if you’d like: https://penfriendrocks.bandcamp.com/album/mending-the-year-online-gig-december-2023

Happy New Year to all of us! Whatever you’re going through, I’m sending you my love and hopeful wishes for a great year ahead.

Warm wishes and thanks for being here!
Laura xxx

PS ✅ “5000 Miles” appears on my third She Makes War album “Direction Of Travel” and this version of the song was performed live on 29th December 2023.


NEXT

I’m proud and very thankful to be a fully fan-funded artist, so if you’d like to stay involved and continue to support the making of new music, writing and videos:

🎁 Get a FREE 12-track album + 31-page PDF zine of stories, photographs and artwork here.

🎹 Get exclusive member perks in The Correspondent’s Club.

🎸 Listen to my latest solo album “Exotic Monsters” and browse my back catalogue.

🎥 Watch my videos for adventures in sound & songwriting.

💬 Chat with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

See you soon xo

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Mending the year (livestream invitation)

Mending the year (livestream invitation)

Letterbox Mindfulness


It’s that time of year again… and I’ll admit I find it challenging, especially this year with a very fresh, very sad family loss.

At my last livestream I said I’d set something up for the end of December, and this is as much to give me something to aim for as it is to welcome you if you’re in need of some hopeful sad songs, friendly chat and community.

Date: Friday 29th December 2023
Time: 8pm UK (turn up and chat from 7.45pm)
Entry: FREE to all, just make sure you subscribe to join the chat
Watch link: https://www.youtube.com/live/zM5tNEDElFY?si=Yo_P2_BQcnNlJIw-


The concept of being able to “mend the year” (a lyric from my 2016 song Paper Thin”) is something I picked up from Siegfried Sassoon’s 1916 anti-war poem “In The Pink”.

“For once his blood ran warm; he had pay to spend. Winter was passing; soon the year would mend.”

I try not to wish my precious moments away, but have often found myself in late November / early December wanting to skip to the end and launch fresh into the New Year. There’s something about turning the proverbial page that appeals so much to me, as arbitrary as the shift from 31st December to 1st January may be.

“Paper Thin” is a song about picking myself up after one of my worst years – 2014. Bereavements, breakups, illnesses…it was one of those years where you can’t believe yet another rubbish thing has happened, and you wonder how much more you can take. And then another rubbish thing happens.

“I’m in the wars – I blame the bad weather
A flood of tears, I drift without a shelter
Reduce my world to things that I have worked for
I lick my wounds and wonder if I can mend the year”

In the song I didn’t want to leave things to nature, as Sassoon’s poem does – how sure does he sound? “Soon the year would mend” – because I like to think I’ve got control over things (haha). Instead, I list the things I know will help me:

“I heal myself with friends and conversation
Some time alone, a sober celebration.”

It’s helpful, when I find myself thrust back into those feelings of loss, grief and sadness, to remember these lyrics come from experience. And that the feelings aren’t insignificant, but they do shift and change and feel less BIG with time.

All of which is to say: if you’re feeling less than jolly with Christmas round the corner, I get it. You’re not alone. It helps me to know that I’m not, so thanks for being here.

Jolly or not, you’re welcome at the livestream next Friday. Bring yourself, a tasty drink and a snack and any questions/comments for the live chat (you’re also welcome to stay quiet and just watch).

Warmest wishes and lots of love
Laura xxx

NEXT

I’m proud and very thankful to be a fully fan-funded artist, so if you’d like to stay involved and continue to support the making of new music, writing and videos:

🎁 Get a FREE 12-track album + 31-page PDF zine of stories, photographs and artwork here.

🎹 Get exclusive member perks in The Correspondent’s Club.

🎸 Listen to my latest solo album “Exotic Monsters” and browse my back catalogue.

🎥 Watch my videos for adventures in sound & songwriting.

💬 Chat with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

See you soon xo

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