interviews

Nashville Treasure: Carrie Underwood - The Music Week Interview

Thirteen years after winning American Idol, Carrie Underwood has sold 64 million records and counting. Next month, she returns with her brilliant new album Cry Pretty, her first for Universal. Here, Underwood, UMG Nashville’s Cindy Mabe, Virgin EMI’s Ted Cockle ...

The Aftershow: Cerys Matthews, BBC 6 Music/Radio 2

As well as presenting the Blues Show on BBC Radio 2 every Monday and the Sunday morning slot on BBC Radio 6 Music, Cerys Matthews is busy organising the Good Life Experience Festival (September 14-16). Here, the former Catatonia singer shares her lessons from the music industry and the airwaves… The biggest lesson I’ve learned is… “You can’t have a music industry without the artists being completely independent. If you’re not giving the profits of the music to the musicians, they’re going to have to sit in the pockets of brands and get corporate sponsorship for grants. That’s not healthy for artists, who need to be able to say whatever they need to say in order to be the mavericks that you want them to be.” Radio is less demanding than singing because… “It’s just about the music I share. Because there’s no pressure on me to perform, it’s much more enjoyable. I find it just as satisfying to sit there and share other people’s music to be honest. There’s a lot of pressure on a performer to be the best you can be and to create something special every time you go on stage. If you don’t want to do that, it begs the question, ‘Why do you want to be on stage at all?’” It’s not about being signed to an indie or major… “What matters is the team you are working with, and if people believe in your music and are able to get your music out there. The parameters change so much when you’ve been signed to one label, then another label and then another, so it really matters if you can keep the team that believes in your music. What I love about indie labels are the personalities. It’s just about the people really!” Radio doesn’t have to be predictable because… “There’s an audience who are intelligent enough to be able to cope with a choice of music which isn’t samey, which sometimes will feature more challenging performers from the past because the track and the song is worth the airplay. What’s been lovely is to see ratings prove that there is a huge chunk of the population that still want more than just what algorithms can give you and records that sound similar and don’t offend. When I programme my radio shows, I don’t only want to play Anglo-American music – we ought to be able to listen to music in all different languages and cultures, from Gwenno to Buena Vista Social Club. To be able to play some of the best recordings ever is a total joy. I love it.” The reason that music still excites me is… “It can change your perception of the world, or it can simply make you happy for a few hours. I don’t want to pull apart or scientifically analyse why it has a good effect on us, but it does – and it makes the world a better place. On a Sunday when I get to broadcast on 6 Music, what a special moment of the week that is. Good music can move people. That’s not a bad way of making a living, is it?” The best thing about success is… “When people sing your songs back to you, and you share that energy with 50,000 people singing your choruses. That’s like flying, you know? It’s a bond – as a musician, that’s the best.”

Rising Star: Meet Distiller Records Kali Bradford

This week, we hear from Kali Bradford, label manager at Distiller Records, about indie relations, the differences between the UK and US industries and more... How did you break into the industry? Music has always been what I wanted to do, I just wasn’t sure what part at first. I started off studying music education [in America], but quickly realised I didn’t like it. The only other option at my university was music industry, so I switched immediately and it was the best decision of my life. Shout out to Sister Mary Anne Nelson at the College Of Saint Rose [in New York] for showing me the ropes and truly changing my life! What are the differences between the UK and US industries? Community. I feel like it is lacking in the US industry. The UK, especially the independent sector, is a really tight-knit community. I know I can turn to pretty much anyone I have met over here to ask for advice and I know they’d be there without any hesitation. Why is Distiller exciting? The most exciting things are the amazing artists we get to work with each day. Anteros, Bloody Knees, Cassia, Danny Goffey, The Ninth Wave and The Ramona Flowers are some of the hardest working and most talented artists I have worked with. We have such a killer team here. Everyone is so passionate and that fosters a really great partnership between the label and the bands. We are a small indie, but we are able to give opportunities to baby bands that other labels our size aren’t. Being able to escape to the Bath countryside and record at the Distillery, our own state of the art studio, is any sound nerd’s dream. I know it’s definitely one of my happy places! What’s your one wish for the indie sector? It would be amazing if the global indie sector pooled their resources to create a centralised directory or information bank, so that the barriers to entry in markets are lowered. A directory with information on good PRs, bookers, promoters... We live in a globalised world, let’s have a globalised approach to how we run our businesses. What does the music business need more of? Collaborations. Throughout the industry’s history, it has been very much everyone for themselves, but with the changing landscape where everyone has to wear a million hats, I think now more than ever there is room for people to work together. At Distiller, we are working on some interesting partnerships and collaborations that will really benefit our artists and brand as a whole. What is your dream music job? That changes every day! I really love what I am doing now, but I think ultimately I need to run a festival on a beach. KALI’S RECOMMENDED TRACK: The Howl & The Hum – Manea

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