How to stop your inner critic from holding you back

How to stop your inner critic from holding you back

Creativity Letterbox Mindfulness Process Productivity

Your inner critic is the annoying voice inside your head that whispers mean things to you. It’s holding you back from trying new things, putting yourself out there and living the creative life you dream of – so I made this video to help. Subscribe to my channel for more!


THANK YOU for visiting my website! I’m Laura Kidd, a music producer, songwriter and podcaster based in Bristol, UK. It’s great to meet you.

Get your copy of my new album “Exotic Monsters” right here.

+ Get two free songs immediately when you sign up for thoughtful letters about art and music.

+ Browse episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” here 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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“Why I’m still not playing gigs in 2021” [VIDEO]

“Why I’m still not playing gigs in 2021” [VIDEO]

Letterbox Music News Process

As an independent songwriter, producer and musician, releasing my new album this year was more of a challenge than usual. The UK government left venues with no choice but to re-open on “Freedom Day”, 19th July 2021, but I won’t be playing gigs for a while.

Watch my first vlog in NINE YEARS, with love and respect for venues and music supporters plus some big sky escapism…


THANK YOU for visiting my website! I’m Laura Kidd, a music producer, songwriter and podcaster based in Bristol, UK. It’s great to meet you.

Get your copy of my new album “Exotic Monsters” right here.

+ Get two free songs immediately when you sign up for thoughtful letters about art and music.

+ Browse episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” here 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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Penfriend in the charts…look what you did!

Penfriend in the charts…look what you did!

Letterbox

Look what you did! THANK YOU. This is a childhood dream come true…and I couldn’t have done it without the support of music fans. WHATTTTTTTTTTT!

There’s way too much smoke and mirrors in this business, so in keeping with my mission to show what can be done with honesty, focus and perseverance, I’d like to share some stuff with you. This stuff doesn’t happen by magic!

This record was funded through contributions from my Correspondent’s Club members and Bandcamp sales, and took 18 months from writing the first note to mixing the last song.

I wrote, produced and recorded the album alone in my home studio The Launchpad in Bristol. It was mixed by Dan Austin and mastered by Katie Tavini. Drums on 4 tracks were played/recorded by Max Saidi, piano on 3 tracks were played/recorded by Catherine Anne Davies.

On the visual side, the album artwork illustrations and layout are by Alex Tllbrook from concepts by me, and my logo / wordmark and the Penfriend animation were designed by Miritte Ben Yitzchak. I directed and edited my videos with help from Tim Bailey.

“Exotic Monsters” is released on my own label, My Big Sister Recordings, with distribution by SRD. Vinyl/CDs were beautifully printed by DMS, with cassettes and the demos and rarities discs by Band CDs. All other merch was printed by Awesome Merchandise. 

You don’t need fancy gear to make music, and you *can* learn how to record yourself, if you want. “Guerilla Home Recording” by Carl Coryat is a very approachable book, and YouTube is your teacher!

My home setup is very simple. I’m not sponsored by the following companies, but would highly recommend all of them.

I record through A Focusrite Clarett interface with Shure and Sennheiser microphones on my Fender Princeton guitar amp. I mostly played my Fender Jazzmaster and Ernie Ball MusicMan St Vincent guitars and my trusty Precision bass, which I record through my Sansamp DI pedal. Synths: Teenage Engineering OP-1, Casio VL-Tone, Roland System-8, Korg Minilogue and Native Instruments soft synths. Drum machine: Native Instruments Maschine Mk2.

As for getting the word out – artists, set up a mailing list NOW and stay in touch with the people who like what you do. Treat them like VIPs – they are VIPs. You can only do so much at once, so figure out what actually works and what you enjoy, and step away from the screen the rest of the time.

Learn how to do Facebook ads, or hire someone who can do them for you. Check out Indepreneur – their courses are brilliant. Ads don’t have to be gross, I promise – they help with discovery; we’re not selling crappy products that will break.

I’ll be making a video series soon to help encourage other artists of all stripes, so subscribe to my YouTube channel for that.

I can’t thank the supporters of my music enough for showing up for me over the past few months. Launching a new music project ten years into releasing albums was always going to be a gamble, but it’s refreshed my drive to keep making music long into the future.

Creativity isn’t for a select few – we all have a voice. If you have something to say – say it. Experiment and find your medium. Have fun. Reflect. Get to know yourself better. Let’s support each other to be the change we want to see in the world.

Thank you so much for supporting me.

If you’d like to listen to “Exotic Monsters”, it’s here for you.

If you’d like some free music and thoughtful (e)letters, visit this page.

Thanks so much for making release week amazing, I hope you enjoy the musical world I made xxx

THANK YOU for visiting my website! I’m Laura Kidd, a music producer, songwriter and podcaster based in Bristol, UK. It’s great to meet you.

Get your copy of my new album “Exotic Monsters” right here.

+ Get two free songs immediately when you sign up for thoughtful letters about art and music.

+ Browse episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” here 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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I’ll Start A Fire (18/5/21)

I’ll Start A Fire (18/5/21)

Creativity Homepage Feature Letterbox Music News Releases Singles

Release date: 18th May 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 I’ll start a fire” into your digital music platform of choice.



ABOUT THE SONG

“I’ll Start A Fire” is a song about causing a ruckus even while everything is going wrong, cutting bad connections and ignoring all the noise in order to be free and express ourselves honestly. Taking whatever personal power we still have and making something with it, stopping ourselves from stopping ourselves. 

As soon as I’ve decided I’ve got all the songs lined up for an album, I can rely on one or two cheeky musical ideas to come along and demand my attention. 

“I’ll Start A Fire” was the first of two songs I wrote in September 2020 that jostled for a space on the record (the second was “Black Car”), and I’m so glad they did. 

Giving yourself permission to be you can be one of the hardest things, and has really been a process for me, but it’s brought great joy and fulfilment to my life in recent years. I highly recommend giving it a try.

CREDITS

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

LYRICS

I stole a car in a dream
And now I’m feeling paranoid
Well I spent so long ignoring my instincts
Now I’m searching to destroy

I’ll start a fire while the world burns
I’ll start a fire, I’ll start a fire

So I sink these heavy words in a diary
And take them all to heart
Gonna build myself a fortress of vanity
And then I’ll fall apart

I’ll start a fire while the world burns
I’ll cut connections while the planet turns
I’ll start a fire cos it seems we’re elbow deep
In cheap banalities
I’ll start a fire, I’ll start a fire

I’ll start a fire while the world burns
I’ll cut connections while the planet turns
I’ll start a fire cos it seems we’re elbow deep
In cheap banalities
I’ll start a fire, I’ll start a fire

THANK YOU for visiting my website! I’m Laura Kidd, a music producer, songwriter and podcaster based in Bristol, UK. It’s great to meet you.

Get your copy of my new album “Exotic Monsters” right here.

+ Get two free songs immediately when you sign up for thoughtful letters about art and music.

+ Browse episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” here 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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Music Week says my new album is “essential”

Music Week says my new album is “essential”

Letterbox Music News


Imagine this indie upstart’s surprise and delight on the weekend when a friend sent me this photo*.

Yes, that’s my artist name sitting pretty right near Billie Eilish’s face, with “Exotic Monsters” listed alongside Billie Marten, Counting Crows, Gary Numan, Gruff Rhys, Lambchop, Monster Magnet, Sara Bareilles, Twenty One Pilots and more. Wow.

Only five days til I can share all these “essential” new songs with you…have you got your copy of “Exotic Monsters” yet?

* The rest of the page is blurred to respect the magazine industry – please buy magazines! *


THANK YOU for visiting my website! I’m Laura Kidd, a music producer, songwriter and podcaster based in Bristol, UK. It’s great to meet you.

Get your copy of my new album “Exotic Monsters” right here.

+ Get two free songs immediately when you sign up for thoughtful letters about art and music.

+ Browse episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” here 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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Behind The Song: Seventeen

Behind The Song: Seventeen

Letterbox Podcast Process


Get the song.

This bonus musical mini episode of “Attention Engineer” is also available on your favourite podcast platform.

THANK YOU for visiting my website!

+ Get FREE music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” are released regularly – 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

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Behind The Song: Black Car

Behind The Song: Black Car

Letterbox Podcast Process


Watch the music video and get the song.

This bonus musical mini episode of “Attention Engineer” is also available on your favourite podcast platform.

THANK YOU for visiting my website!

+ Get FREE music immediately by joining my mailing list.

+ New episodes of my music podcast “Attention Engineer” are released regularly – 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

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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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