I Never Do Interviews On My Blog, But…

Inspiration is cheap.  You can get inspiration for a buck fifty at the local bookstore.

Talent is cheap too.  The bones of countless talented-but-lazy souls are, as we speak, feeding the worms on the great dungheap of history.

But you know what isn’t cheap?  What isn’t easy?  Do you know what’s worth it’s weight in gold?

Hard.  Work.

She Makes War is the moniker of Laura Kidd.  Who is one of the hardest working, talented, inspired and successful independent artists that I know of.  She’s played the Letterman show w/ Tricky, been heavily featured on Radio 6, gigged all around the world (solo and with luminaries like the Levellers) and released: 7 albums, 4 EP’s, a bunch of singles and several videos.

She literally redefines what is possible for independent artists.  The woman has hustle for days and has been called: ‘a modern musical Boudica’.

I never do interviews on my blog.  But I simply couldn’t pass this one up.

Read on and you’ll understand why.

For an independent artist you seem to get a AWFUL lot done.  How do you manage your time?

I’m glad it seems that way, though like most artists I’m impatient and ambitious and I always want to be doing more!

This year I’m structuring my time more strictly because I have an album coming out, but it’s always a case of juggling tasks for now, plans for the future and pressing real life needs like bills needing to be paid and dogs needing to be walked.

I swear by my bullet journal – it saved me from a mess of spreadsheets and productivity apps I filled up then stopped opening. I set up a page per month with a look at the weeks ahead, goals for the month and then a daily task list. If I write something in the book it actually gets done. I read somewhere that brains are great at coming up with ideas but terrible at storing them, so everything now goes into the book.

When I’m being super organised I use Hootsuite to schedule social media posts but I don’t like the idea of using my feeds as full-on marketing channels because they’re genuinely where I hang out and chat to people. Again it’s all about balance.

As well as being ultra prolific you seem to be touring almost non stop!  If you were mentoring a musician who wanted to tour a lot but didn’t know where to start and how to make it sustainable, what advice would you give them?

I play a lot of gigs, yes, and I love travelling so that suits me well. I can go and play my music to new people plus have adventures to use in the next batch of songs.

Here are some nuggets of advice for touring bands: make sure people know your name (say it on stage at least twice during your set, more if you’re playing a festival slot and people are walking in and out). Have cards with your online contact info on them to hand out after you play or take a clipboard and pass it into the audience from the stage during the show – this is way more effective than having it on the merch table. Never go over your set time, but completely own the stage when it’s yours. Always be nice to venue staff and practice your skills of charm and persuasion for the times you come across a grumpy sound engineer. You’ll thank me! Use public transport and stay with friends when you can, this makes everything way more affordable and more friendly too. Manage your expectations of fees versus your pulling power but don’t undersell yourself either. If someone is making money you should get a fair proportion of it.

What do you find most challenging about being an independent artist?

Resources – time and money. As an independent *solo* artist I don’t have anyone to share costs with, and there’s never enough time to get everything done that I’d like to so it’s always a matter of prioritising stuff and being able to let other things go sometimes. I often have to take a deep breath and remind myself that I am just one person doing my best, that’s all I can do, and that’s okay. As long as I spend my time constructively and positively the net result will always be good, if unpredictable.

So here is The Big Question for all independent artists: How do you fund your albums / life / general music making?

Through a combination of my income from music – royalties, gig fees, merch sales etc and freelance work.  For the bigger things like making albums, I’m so thankful to have had incredible support from my audience via three crowdfunding campaigns for albums 2, 3 and 4.

What do you do when things get tough?  What are your strategies for making it through and carrying on?

I fall apart a bit, take time off the internet to avoid the temptation to compare myself to other artists, drink lots of water and make myself do some exercise. I’ve always said my music doesn’t owe me a living, though it does give me a decent one at times, and I can only control what I make and do, not what anyone else thinks of it or does with it. I want to live a healthy, rounded, creative life, so concentrating on staying active, maintaining relationships, visiting beautiful places and remembering that the important thing is expressing myself through music and art all helps shift the focus from whatever negative stuff is in my brain.

What was playing on Letterman (in Tricky’s band) like?

I really enjoyed it! Playing on such an iconic show like that is something you never forget.

Come to think of it, how did you end up in Tricky’s band?

I had been playing as a hired bassist and singer for a few years and a friend of a friend recommended me when he heard they needed someone. We travelled all around the world playing festivals from Japan to South Korea to Australia to all around Europe, did a two week US tour in a big shiny bus then a couple of weeks around South America a little later on. I’m the person on tour who jumps out of bed at 6am to go and see the sights before lobby call at 9/10am, so I managed to pack in a lot of brilliant early morning experiences during that time.

If you were able to time travel back to your younger just-starting-out self and give her 3 pieces of advice, what would they be?

Be more selective over whose opinions and advice you take notice of.

You are good enough.

Just get on with it.

What tools / strategies / approaches have you found most helpful in building your audience?

Number one is my email list, gathered gradually over the last 9 years or so. When I had my latest website made I prioritised the signup button over all other things, because especially in this world of changing algorithms, being able to connect directly with people is so powerful. .

Other than that I use Twitter daily for my own amusement as well as to let people know I exist as an artist, so over there it’s about ensuring I post a mix of interesting stuff. Not me, me, me, me – maybe someone else, something else, me, something else.

What is something you love that would surprise people?

Figure skating and mariachi bands move me to tears.

What are 3 magic moments from your journey in music so far? 

– Singing with David Bowie (on the TV show “Extras”)

– Performing my song “Stargazing” (at Hammersmith Apollo with backing from the Hackney Colliery Band, on a bill with Robin Ince, Brian Cox, Stewart Lee, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Charlotte Church and Jo Brand).

– Hearing my music played on BBC 6 Music – (Tom Robinson, Lauren Laverne, Marc Riley and Steve Lamacq all played songs off my last album, which really was magical for me, plus I got to take my band to Manchester to do a live session for Marc Riley, which I did on a knee crutch having broken my foot a week before!)

What is the most unexpected place music has taken you?

To the top of the Temple of the Sun at Teotihuacan, Mexico. I was touring South America with Tricky and nipped off on several confusing buses on my own for half a day to marvel at the remains of this ancient city. It was incredible.

In the super hero movie of your life, who would be your arch-nemesis?

Father Time!

If you had one ask of the people reading this what would it be?

I’m into the last few days of funding my fourth album via Pledge Music, where people can not only pre-order the music itself on various formats (including sea blue vinyl, blood red cassette and CD), but get hold of one-off things like the actual guitars I wrote some of my best songs on!

The album is 94% funded and there are only 5 days left in the campaign.  People can pick out their exclusive musical treats before 23:59 on 31st of Jan but if I don’t reach my target by then everything tumbles back to zero!  This album is the best thing I’ve ever made and I want to give people the chance to hear it in the best way.  Which, if they support the pledge before the 1st, they can.

Click Here To Support

Lastly: How have you found this interview?

Splendid!


Important Things…

She Makes War’s crowdfunding campaign is has now finished, and has been fully funded!   And if you missed out on the campaign don’t worry, you can still use the link above to pre-order the album.

What did you think?  Did you enjoy the interview?  Would you like to see more of this type of thing on the blog? – For any and all thoughts the comments box is just below.

Stay safe.  Be well.  See you soon,

J x

28 Replies to “I Never Do Interviews On My Blog, But…”

  1. Ok so I was just about to go to sleep and then I saw this. I liked hearing about your life as a musician; it’s funny you mentioned the sound engineer because Johnny is always pointing up or down or straight up yelling at them. I sat next to the sound board at the Beacon; c’mon you know I had to get Johnny in there! Your answers sound just as I would have expected. You did some pretty awesome things with your touring and performing; that’s great. You made me laugh when you said you get up at 6 am to go exploring. Really?? Aren’t you tired from all your rock star parties-;) Thanks for sharing this interview; I for one love love yes I typed it twice, interviews with musicians. I enjoy knowing the back story, how songs were created, what the studio sessions were like, and anything else. Some people could care less, like my friends; they just like the music, which is fine. But I know so much my mom says she feels like she knows Johnny or Bono or whoever, because I want to connect with the musician and the music. So yes, please give us more interviews. The questions were great. I just discovered a new band, for me, Badflower. Their first album comes out Friday, but I love their old stuff. The singer sings with such a raw, emotional energy. I looked up his story so now I get more meaning from the music. Do you do audio interviews? I love those because they are so real and off the cuff; they are so in the moment. Do you do podcasts? Those are really fun because they can be quite revealing and funny as hell!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Lastly, so how good of a skater are you? Let it be know that Ms. Traci Halpin can skate backwards and spin around and around as the music plays of course, Another One Bites the Dust was a favorite of mine. As a teenager we went ice skating every Friday night and in the summer we went roller skating. Then we got too cool and we just carried our skates over our shoulders and sat on the bleachers and smoked and hung out with boys. No I don’t smoke; thank God.
    Anyway I’m done rambling. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed this interview and like you I write everything down. It gets out of my head so I can relax and know it’s on paper. Doesn’t it feel good to cross it off??
    Ok, I really must get to sleep……. miles to go, blah blah something like that

    Traci A. Halpin What is the A for??? It’s a pretty easy one.
    XO

    Like

      1. Yes it’s Alaska you got it! Ok, not really; it’s Alabama;-) You know it…… Ann, no e and Traci with an i came from my dad. If you look at my birth certificate it’s typed Tracy; my dad crossed it out at the hospital and wrote Traci in all caps; he wanted it to be unique. My mom wanted to name me Anastasia, cool huh? My dad was like no way.
        Are you still in Portugal? On tour? Living the rock star life?
        How are your bullet writings going? I use dashes…lol
        How is the weather in Lisbon? NY is so damn cold and snowy, ugh.
        I don’t think anyone enjoys my rambles except you, thanks. Well people do say they like my energy. Picture a ramble in person; you might want to run away. Last year, at a concert, the guy behind me was talking with me about the band and rambled and then he said you seem to know so much, how old are you? I said 49 (I’m 50 now). He said, wow I would have said 35; I get that a lot. I’m not bragging; ok I am. So my friend comes to our seats and I introduce her to the guy and his friend, and I said Oh and I’m Traci and the guy says Oh yeah, we got that Traci!!
        I already said it earlier. So in person rambling is quite the show and if I have a drink watch out! It can get intense. Not everybody appreciates intense Traci, but that’s ok; I gotta be me.
        Take care James,
        Traci (with an i)
        P.S. This was a shorter ramble; I stayed focused.
        P.S.S. Is that right??? Have a good day wherever you are!
        Hugs
        xo

        Liked by 1 person

        1. This made me smile – Thankyou.
          I am back in Edinburgh and headed into the rehearsal studio for a secret project (shhh, tel no-one). I am glad to hear you are doing well, and I’d love to hear you rambling at a concert.
          You were right, that was much shorter. Is that a more focused Traci? ;-p
          Big hug,
          – J
          PS – I think Anastasia is cool as fuck ;-)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Glad I made you smile. It’s six o’clock in the morning and I have no idea why I am awake. So I’m eating cereal and writing to you. Secret project…. ooohhh I won’t tell any-one. I’m sure it will be sublime because it’s your project. Yes, I just used the word sublime to describe your music. Ever have those days where you just feel like using fancy words, like merriment and decadent? No, just me…. okay lol
            Yes, I would like to ramble at your concert, but you would be busy so we would have to go to another concert. I do have 2 extra goo goo dolls tickets for August at Mohegan Sun……. If you’re in the area you can have one, on me!
            I not only ramble at concerts; I mingle with the crowd. One of the many things I like about concerts is connecting with other fans. The energy of all of us connecting because we like the same band is palpable, oh fancy word there!
            I tend to make friends with the boys. If you go to my page and click on the first post, “Shenanigans” you will see me in my element making friends. And believe it or not, I only wrote a few sentences; I let the photos speak for themselves.
            Yes, I believe I was more focused in my last comment. Don’t get used to it; it is an anomaly, fancy word, not sure I used it correctly. When I was a kid and my mom told me she wanted to call me Anastasia I was glad she didn’t,but now I agree with you it is cool as fuck; I’ll tell my mom you said that, in those exact words. lol That’s okay because now I’m Alabama!
            Thanks so much for taking time out of your life to connect with me. I really enjoy our banter. You make me laugh and smile and that’s a good thing.
            Ok, I think I’ll have some more cereal and maybe the carbs will put me back to sleep.
            I think it’s lunch time over there. What’s on the menu?
            Let me know what you think of my shenanigans;-)
            Have a great day working on your top secret project!
            Hugs from Alabama!
            XO
            P.S. I really didn’t have anything to say; I just like to write P.S. When I was younger my friends and I used to write letters to each other, kinda of like old school texting, and I would write several P.S. in my notes.
            Now I have to say bye again.
            Farewell, Arrivederci, Addio, Au revoir
            I’m very fancy today. Maybe I should wear something fancy, but seeing as I’m staying home today my pajamas will do… lol
            -A

            Liked by 1 person

            1. My beautiful friend Alabama!
              Twice in one day, pretty cool ;-)
              Lunch is coffee and music. I am a long way away but, if I was closer we could fully go to a goo goo dolls show.
              Have a cool day, keep making friends, friends are good.
              All the best,
              – J

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Awww…. you’re the best!!! I was thinking the same thing, twice in one day. I like that :)
                I smile when I see your name in my email. Coffee and music, must be a lot of coffee. If I have one cup I get revved up and start shaking an hour or so later. I only drink it if I”m tired or I want a treat. Oh wait, I just remembered don’t you make your own coffee? Try to fit in some food for lunch, maybe an apple, protein bar, vitamin water, etc. You won’t believe this but I am actually going to stop writing very soon. Not yet, it’s coming. Did you see my pictures? Yes, you are far away, so sad, maybe one day you can watch me rock out to the band. I feel bad for my friends because I literally am in a zone and I am singing every word and dancing and I kind of forget about them. But that know that about me and they still love me. Btw, great way to start your comment, smiling big! Ok go work on your secret project; you should give it a name like Project Ground Control or Project of the Soul, I don’t know I’m just writing. Ok here it comes. I’m signing off.
                Thanks friend, have a good night!
                Namaste
                Traci oh wait I forgot you gave me a new name: Alabama. I once met a girl named Montana and I loved it. So they rhyme-;)
                Hugs!

                Liked by 1 person

  2. As an interviewer, you had three things going for you: a heart for the subject, a great organic mix of non-cookie-cutter “tell-me-a-story” and “if-you” questions, and a terrific interviewee. I think there’s a bonus here, too — although the landscape was the indie music world, many of the personal insights and attitudes that you drew out of Ms. Kidd apply to other creative worlds, too, like cooking, art, and writing. Well done, James!

    *big hugs* ~S

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I’m always interested in people who make the world according to themselves, just as you do James. Thanks for the interview. I agree with comment above, love this but only some of the time when it folds in nicely with what you do. Nice to see anyone really understand themselves and work hard to get what they believe in.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Excellent Q & A (as judged with love by an elder person) and I agree with the comment from S.S. about keeping blog content fresh and “mixed.” May all good dreams squeeze out into reality for all of us as have those of Ms. Kidd.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks for this interview James. While I wouldn’t want to see tons of interviews on your blog as I really enjoy your insight and reading about your journey….the off one here in there is awesome -especially since it relates to your context. I wish I could go back to my younger self and say…..there’s this great ….hmm..blog which hasn’t really been invented yet but trust me….the advice is solid! And trust me….all will be revealed in time. Archnemisis is definitely Father Time but Lady Wisdom is the trade-off. You have mastered yet another talent James….you’re a good interviewer. Nicely executed.

    Liked by 3 people

Click Here To Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s