Much as the incarcerated writers of the Londonist Music Dungeon enjoy relaying our recommendations on music, we can never shake off the mantra murmured to us by our inner voices: 'music writers are failed musicians'. So it's with great pleasure that we start a column written by someone who's a participant in our fair city's music and arts scene, rather than a mere spectator. Introducing Laura Kidd...
Amidst the throes of adult chickenpox I received an email from Mike Atherton asking me to email the Londonist Music Dungeon about writing for them. I was touched. A friend of mine was taking the trouble to keep me involved with the outside world, knowing full well that all I'd be up to otherwise was alternating between lying prostrate on my bed watching Ricky Gervais standup, Peepshow and Seinfeld on DVD and sitting slumped over my PC, refreshing my Inbox and re-reading blogs. We agreed on a theme (opinion, diary, gossip, all related to working as a musician in London) and a word count and I was in.
So, here I am. My name's Laura Kidd, I recently turned 25 and started referring to myself as a lady, I live in leafy South East London with my flatmate, a sound engineer, and my favourite colour is purple. I moved to London seven years ago, ostensibly to do an English Literature and Creative Writing degree but secretly to find a band and get rich. I found a band, left the course after a year, got a record deal but didn't get even remotely rich, learned a lot about how NOT to do things in the music business, left the label and eventually left the band because of quite serious creative differences (constantly being told you're rubbish gets a little tiring after a while).
Nowadays I'm working on my solo album under the moniker ‘She Makes War’, doing bass/vocal/guitar sessions for well known people whenever I can get them, playing noisy indie rock in my friend's band Miss Black America, working as a film/TV extra, making websites, editing videos and doing whatever other little odd jobs come my way. In my spare time I like to read, watch films and eat cake (all voraciously). So there's the introduction.
I seem to be starting this column at a bad time. I’ve been indoors for seven days straight with the aforementioned pox and as such have done absolutely nothing of interest.
Three weeks ago I could have told you about meeting Muse backstage at a pop festival in Naples and ribbing them about having to mime their instruments, then meeting Nate James at the airport on the way back and not knowing who he was, only that he was pretty cute.
Two weeks ago I could have written about being an extra on "Extras" (the ultimate irony), telling lame jokes to Ricky Gervais which he was kind enough to laugh at, telling Stephen Merchant that he had nice glasses and standing a metre away from David Bowie for most of the day admiring his very cool trousers.
Last week I could have discoursed at length about my experiences in Trieste, dodging the World Cup screenings on every street corner to try and buy a vegetarian sandwich (very difficult in Italy) before running in to Sophie Ellis Bextor in the lobby of the hotel. Then, back in London, volunteering to work behind the bar at the massive Foo Fighters gig in Hyde Park for the Big Issue, opening hundreds of bottles of beer and alcopops while craftily watching QOTSA over peoples' heads.
This week, folks, it's all about chicken pox.
Apart from the obvious downsides - not being able to go out for fear of infecting innocent bystanders, having to turn down two auditions and two days work as a scrub nurse on 'Bodies' and generally looking like a freak - having the pox has been great. If nothing else I've had the luxury of catching up on what's going on with my favourite musicians.
I'm a musical hermit. I don't listen to the radio, I don't watch TV, I don't randomly go out to gigs. I get gig envy – have you heard of that? I share it with a number of my musician friends. It's where going to anything less than an amazing life-changing gig makes you so angry that you want to pull the offending band off the stage and get up there yourself. In its less violent and obnoxious form it just means wishing that you were on the bill and feeling slightly miserable. You get the idea, anyway. We're a funny lot.
But yes, I find out about new music almost exclusively on the internet these days. I've watched excitedly as My Space blossomed in to a hub of new music and had a few arguments with naysayers along the way. Yes, of course there is a lot of rubbish on there, as there is in the world. Yes, you do have to take the time to sift through and find the good stuff, as you do with any other medium. But how amazing is it that someone with no record deal and no money can get their music heard by people all across the globe?
Some people slag off the community aspect of it as being inherently seedy, which I suppose it can be, but I tend not to spend hours making ‘friends’ with sultry 17 year olds, preferring instead to listen to my favourite My Space artist's favourite bands and finding a lot of new stuff I like that way.
This week I've been catching up with Chelsea Wolfe, a singer/guitarist from Sacramento that I made contact with about a year ago. We talked about trying to play some gigs together some time, I listened to her stuff and was floored by her voice. She's working on her album at the moment and added a beautiful new song, Dreamer, to her MySpace profile recently.
Carina Round has released two critically acclaimed albums in this country but still seems to have trouble making her mark. Her third, 'Slow Motion Addict', is due for release later in the year and she has just added stripped down versions of 'The Disconnection' and 'Ready To Confess' to her MySpace page. She blogs pretty regularly too and is basically wonderful.
This week I also got in to Pink's new album 'I'm Not Dead', my favourite tracks being current single 'Who Knew' and 'Dear Mr President', a song that, on paper, might seem quite cheesy but which with her stunning vocal and some really cutting lyrics becomes a spine tingling affront to George W. Overall I think the album is far too long at 15 songs but she manages to stay original in a very oversaturated market, always sounds amazing and actually has GIRLS in her band!
The Eraser - Thom Yorke - electro skewed solo album from Radiohead's frontman
Alright Still - Lily Allen - Billie Holliday meets The Streets for fresh sounding pop
Popular Workshop – brilliant angular indie rock and lovely boys, London gigs in July
Dexy – singer/songwriter from Deptford with a lovely plaintive style, playing a gig with Bob Dylan this week!