by CA Marshall
It's been a few months since the Starlight Music Chronicles 2016 Artist of the Year competition in June and since, we have received an influx of emails and queries: 'When is the next event opening up?', 'When can we vote?', 'How can we sign up!?' This overwhelming response to the competitions that started out as a way for SMC to gauge their audience and cater to our followers music requests, quickly turned into a much debated and celebrated monthly event. Each month in the 2015/2016 year became more competitive with Indie Artist and Fan participation. Enter the October 2016 Artist of the Month (AOM) competition.......
In the first ever 100% Judge voted event, the reception to our winning Artist, British Born Hannah Clive, has been incredible! From the first announcement on twitter to this very day (where fans are still tweeting and discovering our lovely songstress), all social media went completely off the hook with re-tweets, shares, comments and hearts. Late last month we took to interviewing Hannah to formally roll out the announcement as Official October 2016 SMC Artist of the Month. Here's what she had to say:
Artist of the Month Interview – Hannah Clive
October 2016 AOM
SMC – Hello Hannah! We welcome you as our October 2016 Starlight Music Chronicles Indie Artist of the Month! Congratulations! Can you tell us what your reaction was when you first heard the news?
HC – Thanks for the welcome SMC, and join your SMC Artists Alumni – it's an honour to be in such prestigious company. My first reaction to winning was complete surprise and joy, shouting "I've won!! I've won!!!" as I went running upstairs to my child. At which point said smaller person began jumping up and down. Together we looked at your online announcement whilst being repeatedly kissed, hugged and told "Well done Mum - I'm gonna tell all the other kids in school!" – as my friend and indie champion Rebecca Singer later commented online – the approbation of 'the Minnie Me's are the best'. Then Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree with all the amazingly encouraging and complimentary responses from fellow tweeps, I think I was getting 400+ notifications every couple of hours? Its still going! It went mad on my Facebook profile too. I felt genuinely quite humbled and emotionally overwhelmed.
SMC – Where was the first Social Media platform that you discovered you had won?
HC – Twitter.
SMC – So let’s get into your music – can you tell us your background and chronological music career history?
HC – The short or the long version?! Music has been my life – and I'm not 22! Basically I was brought up in an entertainment's family. My father was a well-known British actor and writer and my mother worked behind the camera in light entertainment production on BBC music shows, before giving that up to raise me and my older brother – the BBC hadn't heard of maternity leave at that point! So we were always a media household I guess you could say and therefore a degree of inevitability that we would both go into media. In my case – performance – beginning with a singing role in Evita alongside other kids in Andrew Lloyd Webber's London West End production. For me, that confirmed in my mind that being on stage was my thing.
I wrote poetry and had piano lessons anyway so aged about 11, one day I combined the two and began writing songs, going on to form bands as I got older and meeting musicians – networking. Through my own connections with them, I crossed over into the mainstream music industry at about 17 by doing backing vocal sessions for other artists, including Ray Charles, OMD and others. This was an incredibly useful training ground to learn the craft of music making and performance, both in studio and live. But it was my own music I wanted to push forward which I tried very hard to do.
However, at that time interest in female singer songwriters playing their own instruments was at an all time low - dance music and electronica were all the rage, synthetic bands - by the time that started to change I had become disillusioned with an industry that saw anyone over the age of 25 as a non-starter. So I took a hiatus from music and went off to live on a narrowboat.
I returned to music when I saw more control pass to artists with the advent of Myspace and what was to become the digital revolution. Since then I've been raising a child alone and juggled that with my career and doing a Media Degree. My decision to return to study was a response to the fast growing realisation that unsigned acts needed many more skills than simply standing on a stage and performing. Given the state the music industry was in i.e. the rapidly diminishing returns for product – music professionals such as myself needed to diversify. After finishing my degree (when I also won Outstanding Adult Learner for London) I became even more aware of the plight the industry was in and the extreme difficulties new music makers were facing in trying to forge a viable career in music. I decided I wanted to help, to share their music, to support grass roots artists just like me and to protect our culture – music is a universal language after all. And that's what I've been doing online ever since at #HCHQ – supporting good quality emerging artists and the response has been amazing. There is an entire community out there actively helping new music makers including SMC. Some of us musicians have begun to understand that traditional rivalries need to be put aside and we need to help each other; there's strength in numbers after all and that’s why I began the #SupportArtists hashtag. That’s how I met (IAM)WARFACE who of course nominated me for this competition.
SMC – Have you won similar competitions/contests where you have been nominated?
HC – This is the first time I've ever won a competition like this or been nominated. My EP 'Richmond Park Sessions' won an award after it's release a few years back; entered into a radio poll in the States by an independent radio network, it won Best EP from a Solo Artist. But this is the first time I have been nominated and voted for as an artist in my own right.
SMC – We also see that you have collaborated in a review of our Artists of the Year Iamwarface when they performed live. What has been your connection to the band to date?
HC – I first heard of (IAM)WARFACE locally. I knew their guitarist Louis through his previous band and his wife with whom I've collaborated musically. I listened to their music and was blown away. And just as I have with other bands, I began interacting and promoting them - they responded with same. I guess I wanted to see at least one of our bunch get away and be successful because I knew they deserved it. This led to a growing professional relationship with the band leader Matt. Our virtual online friendship finally crossed over into reality when I saw them perform at John Wildgoose's unique 'Into The Wild Festival' earlier this year. I did a write up of my experience as a fellow musician going to the event - including a review of their performance. I am now playing there next year in 2017 as I understand it, on the same bill as Warface - which is so cool and a really lovely full circle. I decided to do the write-up because just like all those people who voted for(IAM)WARFACE as SMC Artists of the Year 2016, I thought they were so bloomin' good, they deserved shouting about and as bands we need to help each other. Warface had the smarts to recognise the need to interact with their fans themselves instead of having someone else do their social media and our connection would never have happened had we not both been doing our own social media. Matt is now working on a musical collaboration mixing a new track of mine. We musicians are a friendly bunch in the main, so we like to help each other out and my relationship with Warface is typical of that camaraderie - only we're using modern technologies.
SMC – How do you feel about going up against some of the Music Industry’s most celebrated Indie Artists?
HC – In a word - nervous! I'm older than many of them most probably but I hope with that comes something else, perhaps a broader lexicon of life experience upon which to draw. But either way I love my fellow artists and am just happy to see them getting up and over the barriers, accessing a wider audience; for them to achieve success and create viable music careers for themselves.
SMC – If you had to ‘battle it out’ with any one of the industry peers in the October competition, who would you choose and why?
HC – Hard to say. I was very nervous about battling it out with Chris Watkins' Drunk Poets. He is an incredible talent and such a lovely bloke too. He and I mutually cross promote one another online – I have a standing invitation next time I'm in Alaska to do a gig together! So finding myself up against him musically felt weird. But really, it was an honour to be amongst such a roster of pure talent and if we speak to one another's fan base, as well as each other, then we're all winners.
SMC – Can you tell us more about your music – what is the creation process like for you?
HC – It varies on whether I'm working alone or with others. If I'm writing songs alone it tends to be a slower process. I'm not one of those song-a-day songwriters. I tend to store them up in my head – subject matters – then the lightening strikes and I sit down and work it out. After that I begin getting it recorded, usually round at my Producer's studio. He knows about working with artists and how to get the best out of me creatively, having worked with Kate Bush and The Bee Gees. If other musicians or songwriters come to me with an idea I'm quick at producing lyrics and music content. I springboard off of what they're suggesting and knock those out really quick. In the case of 'The Lost Boy' with British jazz hip hop band The Herbaliser, I heard the music score and wrote the vocal melody and lyrics in about half an hour. The best ones always come out quick like that. Next day I took it to Jake and Ollie in their studio, we tweaked it a bit and then I sang it. Next thing I know its the title track of their new album and on Radio 6. That was cool. Its just topped 68,000 views on YouTube.
SMC – What instruments do you play?
HC – My main instrument is my voice. I was classically trained on the piano and flute and self-taught on the guitar - mainly because guitar is more portable than a piano to a teenager! And it's been my instrument of choice for writing and live ever since but I'm no virtuoso! That's changed with my new material - in that I've made a return to the piano - my first love and inspiration. Now all I have to do is work out how that translates live...perhaps I can take some tips from Christina Perri! Oh and buying a keyboard for live – that would be good!
SMC – What is your greatest ‘fan’ moment?
HC – Ooh thats a toughie! It depends on whether you're talking fans or peer recognition – when they give you a shout out – for example Huey from Fun Lovin' Criminals did on Twitter (he plays 'Lost Boy' on his BBC Radio6 show) and Jimmy Star on Twitter; Jimmy has the Number 1 most popular syndicated radio show on the net, yet he connects with people personally, bothering to take the time to tweet and support a grassroots artist like myself. If we're talking fans, then for me my best fan moments are from those lovely people all over the world, who I've never met before or seen me live, they've just got into my music and give me a shout out online. It's comments like those that truly move me. Its truly humbling, gives you faith in humanity, which is why I bother to do it myself, rather than using a computer generated answering system. We are nothing as performers without our audience - my Dad instilled that in me from an early age - my fans lift me up and keep me going.
SMC – How do you feel following on the heels of your industry peers IAMWARFACE?
HC – I am completely delighted and honoured to be in the same Alumni as them. For me, creatively they have the potential to be up there creatively with the likes of say Bowie because they aren't just music, they are art, performance and a brilliant contemporary example of music genre hybrids, challenging boundaries sonically and artistically. I just love that and can't wait to see and hear more from them.
SMC – What are your thoughts on the 2017 Artist of the Year competition next June? Do you feel that you are at an advantage over other artists who, say, will be winning in June of next year?
HC – I guess that rather depends on what I manage to achieve between now and then because of course having been October Artist of the Month 2016 I now have a longer run-in to the final Artist of Year in June 2017 – this time with the backing and promotion that SMC offers me as an artist. This interview being a good example!
SMC – What is your view on the Music Industry in general – what is your experience?
HC – I think we're in a transition stage in the industry whereby the water is still finding it's level. These are exciting yet challenging times in the industry. I think now, its a bit like back in the sixties with a burst of unrestrained musical creativity occurring – a post digital New Wave if you will. But somehow in there, we have to see fairer remuneration to artists - and not just those in the chain above them, it has to filter down to the actual music makers – be that at the top of the profession or those starting out. Collection societies have yet to get a proper handle on streaming revenues and proper distribution of them and that simply isn't happening at the moment, although there is movement in the right direction, block chain may yet be the answer.
SMC – What is your family’s support of your music like?
HC – Sadly my father passed away in 2012 and as a performer himself, he really understood what made me tick. But I have good support from my mother – she knows the industry – I'm a lone parent so she's a great help and besides her I have the unfailing support, belief and enthusiasm from my child. My friends are and always have been incredibly supportive of my career path.
SMC – What is a ‘Day in the Life’ of Hannah Clive like?
HC – Well it begins with getting up for the school run – SO not rock n roll! After that I take to the computer, go through emails and check all my social networks and respond accordingly. I might then go to the studio and work on a track or stay home and work on a piece. Then my duties as Mum take over again until after my kid's bedtime whereupon I go back to the computer and social networks. I often enjoy listening to unsigned music radio shows such as the brilliant #Unsigned Madness show with Stephen and Anne Lambert on EGH Radio or Teri's #Music Matters on Indie Rage Radio – I love being in their chatroom and talking with music lovers and fellow musicians from all over the world and I'm beginning to meet up wit them in real life too which is marvellous. When these shows finish, I go back to the SN's just before midnight because that’s when all my American fans come online and real time interaction with them is of utmost importance to me. Then its sleep! I've begun to make a return to gigging. But to do that successfully and like a lot of bands do, I needed to build a proper core audience of fans online first. I was tired of having to ask the same bunch of loyal friends along to gigs, hoping I might catch some 'passing trade audience' then being paid but finding that after paying my musicians, I was out of pocket. So now I'm working the "build it and they will come" philosophy! I'll know if it's working when I do Leeds on October 22nd as part of the Oxjam event! Plus, I'm seeing a huge jump in the numbers of my followers online – on Twitter mainly and now a crossover to Facebook. I prefer to use my Facebook profile (as opposed to the limitations with my Facebook artist page) – my profile is like a more intimate Backroom Hannah Clive Club – I get a more personal interaction with people on there. In addition, recently I've come to accept that love it or hate it – we do need Spotify because that's the medium people are accessing their music through. And to get known and build audience – I have to do that on Spotify – even if the remuneration is appalling (it's something like 0.0004 pence per stream? Pharrell famously only earned about $2000 dollars from his single Happy for the whole of north America, to give you an idea). So social networking forms most of my day, building my audience relationships, in and around all my other chores and domestic responsibilities that all Mum's have – my child's not so little anymore so I can concentrate more on my career.
SMC – Can you tell us one unique fact about yourself that no one knows?
HC – I like to take Jaffa cakes apart bit by bit slowly as I eat them. They are a British chocolate covered biscuit with an orange jelly in the middle and that’s the bit I end up with last. Apparently you can buy them in America at Lidl's. Oh and I've never had s'mores - we don't get them here in the UK, just marshmallows...can someone send me a red cross s'mores parcel from the States please for Halloween?
SMC – Final question, if you had one piece of advice to give to new or up and coming Artists about the Music Industry, what would that advice be?
HC – Network, keep playing and don't let the b**tards get you down, oh and if you're lady – tell 'em to keep their hands off. That's four! Be consistent in applying yourself, be kind and listen to what those older and more experienced have to say – don't be in a rush to show them what you can do, they'll find that out anyway because true talent shines through. Or as we say here in London: "Pin yer lug'oles back!" That was more than one piece of advice wasn't it? Always been a mother hen me! Can I just add, thank you SMC for giving me this opportunity and creating a space for so many other unsigned talented artists out there. Organisations such as yourselves are at the forefront of creating possibilities in what is a very difficult market and given that I believe music is a universal language that deserves recognition culturally, that's no small thing you're doing SMC. Big thank you on behalf of us all.
Hannah Clive's Social Media (Click to View):