How We Listen is an interview series where Byta interviews artists, their teams, and everyone else working in and around music about how they find, listen and experience music, new and old.
Who are you?
Where are you based?
Where do you work? What do you do?
I run Honeymooner – putting live shows on in Southampton and Portsmouth as well as running the singles label arm. I also manage a couple of bands, co-running Concrete Management. Last but not least, I head up Artist & Label Services at Byta!
What are you listening to?
It’s been a weirdly good couple of months for albums. Listening to Miami Memory – Alex Cameron, A Picture of Good Health – LIFE and I still have Ride’s new one on rotation here and there. Aside from full albums, I’m regularly listening to The Wants from NYC – featuring two members of BODEGA. Only 2 singles so far but can’t wait for more – I put them on in Portsmouth the other week, great show. Also Just Mustard, YAK, Bambara, Kiwi Jr, High-Vis, Lazarus Kane. Oh and Warmduscher… new album is going to be amazing!
How do you discover new music?
A huge mixture really. Some of it is from agents or other managers telling me what’s coming up. Being involved in So Young Magazine means I can often hear about things nice and early – either through PRs or word of mouth. I read up on websites such as Loud & Quiet (as well as having a physical subscription), Fader, Quietus, Paste Magazine etc. and do make use of Spotify playlists to find new music too. It’s not always the best way but I’ve discovered some real great bands that way – including Kiwi Jr. A lot of the time the best ones for discovery aren’t just the ones curated by Spotify – but those by magazines or fellow music lovers that I follow. I definitely recommend everyone follow The So Young List on Spotify – regularly updated with great new music.
Mostly it’s through word of mouth or being forwarded things – chatting to other managers, agents, PRs/pluggers, promoters from other cities. There’s a number of London promoters that do some great stuff early on for new artists. I’ll search through their listings sometimes and take a listen!
I don’t listen to the radio much, but when I do it’s either BBC Radio 6 Music or Amazing Radio. AR is really great for discovering things much smaller and at an earlier stage. I was going to say Facebook Groups too, but to be honest it’s just one group. AF Gang is great for finding new music from like-minded individuals – or great for passing on great new music you’ve found!
What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services and why?
I have a bit of a mixed format listening pattern. Generally, I’ll listen via Spotify and 90% of the time I’ll also buy the physical format which is most commonly CD (so I can also play in the car) but also often vinyl. There are certain records I’ll be highly anticipating the release and I’ll refuse to listen until I have the physical format, as it just allows me to be in a better place ready to appreciate the music, rather than just on the move or sat at a computer doing other stuff at the same time. I really find the car to be the best spot to listen to an album. Your mind is only in two places, on the road and in the music which at night can be really soothing. No distractions! (drive safe, kids).
Where do you do most of your music listening?
Mostly at work or in the car. Sounds like I’m in the car a lot right? I’m not that much. I’ll listen to said playlists above via Spotify at work or choose an album. I’ll also get sent things via email which I’ll quickly check out before I forget. This is where I suddenly sound older… one thing I never do is listen to music in earphones whilst on the move. A combination of preferring to be in the moment mentally and physically and hearing my surroundings – mixed with a fear of making my tinnitus worse! My setup at home is a Soundbar which my mac connects to via bluetooth and my turntable is plugged into. It’ll tend to be a record spinning on a weekend and digital music playing in the week when I’m listening to a combination of good finds or recommendations.
How do find and listen to pre-release music?
Premieres are becoming less common as they become less effective at the moment, though when they do happen I tend to find them via So Young, Clash or Loud & Quiet. Premieres on radio can be good but I must say, I hardly ever listen because of the times. Jack Saunders does some good premiers on Radio 1 for indie bands and he picks up a good range of stuff so I respect his show for that. As does Steve Lamacq on 6 Music and Wilko on Beats. I really recommend Wilko’s show. I mainly find pre-release music again via social media and people I trust sharing, or by recommendations again including PRs or agents.
What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?
In terms of pre-release, Soundcloud private is easy enough. The technical challenges come from its app basically being pretty crap and hard to navigate / find users or artists. It’s even very limited on your own profile and pretty tricky to grab your own private link quickly to share with someone. It has got a bit better recently but not by a lot. YouTube doesn’t allow you to listen if the phone is locked, which I do understand in keeping it’s identity as a video platform and not an audio player but it can be frustrating… Especially for older, rarer tracks you can only find on YT!
I think crappy apps is the most common frustration as when someone sends something and I’m on the move, I’ll only remember to listen to it if it’s there and then. It just needs to be simple and if possible, saveable. The benefits to digital as a whole is someone can recommend something and I can listen there and then. I’ve even noticed recently certain bands are on Spotify before they’re on social media. So from a hype point of view for new bands and booking them for shows, this is good for me. Great example is Crack Cloud from Calgary.
How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?
I have my own playlist on Spotify that I refer back to, these are mostly in years. ‘I like 2019’ is my current one which i go back to. Sometimes I save a song to this before I listen that’s recommended as I know I’ll definitely remember to listen this way. If I’m not into it I’ll just remove it later on. This is the main way I keep track or save – I don’t listen to downloads or actually store music digitally in any other way. If I like something elsewhere like Soundcloud, I’ll keep going back to trying to find the link again which isn’t ideal. Back in the day I would say my iTunes library, but can’t remember the last time I clicked to open iTunes!
Do you tip other people off to new music? How?
I’ll mostly send Spotify links, Soundcloud private, Byta shares or sometimes YouTube videos to friends via FB messenger or email. If I find something good via a website or blog I’ll share the link too – as mentioned above So Young, Loud & Quiet, Stereogum etc.
Anything you want to “promote”?
Hotel Lux and Mystic Peach are the two bands I look after at the moment, check them both out! And of course check out Honeymooner on socials – some great shows coming up that I can’t wait for including black midi, HMLTD, Crows, Aldous Harding, Warmduscher, Sports Team, Whenyoung!