‘What gives you the right to think you can speak to us like this?’ Fearless DIDI releases new anthem ‘Awkward’.
Exposed Vocals: So tell us your story. Where did you grow up? What made you decide to become an artist?
I grew up in Hertfordshire, just north of London. When I was ten (I am 21 now) I was given an electric guitar by my dad and so inevitably wanted to start a band, which I did with some school mates. That band lasted til I was 15, it was funk/grunge, there were five of us, I was the only girl and I got involved with writing the songs too. We had loads of gigs from supportive parents and local pubs which was really helpful. Then I started something completely different in 2010, a ukulele harmony band with three girls from school. That went pretty well once we stopped doing covers and started writing our own songs! we even had a couple of BBC 6 Music plays from Tom Robinson and some lovely press and magazine support. That gradually developed into a duo which was pop music, and again I was writing and playing guitar, with a bit of backing vocals but I wasn't very confident behind a mic to be honest. In 2013, I left school early to do music full time, but also started recording some artists a local studio wanted to release and found I loved it, really suited my 'nerdy' tech tendencies (I had made a ukulele from scratch as my wood tech project at GCSE!). Since then music I've produced has had multiple plays on BBC Radio 2,3 and 6 Music. I am the youngest full member of the Music Producers Guild which is great as I speak on panels and encourage other women to get into the techy side of things. The last incarnation of that pop duo came to an end Nov 2015 and I sessioned for other people on tour which I loved, but then just recently I found myself writing my debut single Sorry and then, inspired by my work with Kate Dimbleby (daughter of broadcaster David) I decided to be brave and record and perform as a solo act, something I had not really considered as a serious option before. And I am loving it. The reaction it's getting has been amazing and I am fired up for the future.
Exposed Vocals: Since everyone was a start-up once, can you give any smaller or local bands or artists looking to get gigs and airplay some tips?
I have just 'started' up again, with my new solo act, so this is all pretty fresh! So in no particular order 1) Get someone to film your live performances on a simple hand held camera and make some snappy showreels to show how great you are live - pretty essential for getting bookings and for encouraging reviewers to come to gigs. 2) Persuade your friends to borrow a nice camera from their parents to take some happening pics of you which stand out from everyone who does standard 'bored in front of a wall' shots. 3) Contact local press by phone and say that they really should do a feature about your great new band/act, and tell them about gigs you are playing locally. 4) Follow music blogs and playlist creators and share their posts, tweet about the acts they promote, help them and then contact them when you have some nice recordings which are radio worthy and you've put them on spotify and the like. 5) Upload your tracks to BBC Introducing, Fresh on the Net (if you are in the UK) or Amazing Radio or other supporters of new music 6) Be active on twitter especially and support other artists who are similar to you, 7) Try to get support slots on their tours, after you've established some twitter contact. That will usually be through their management but it will help if you've got their support. 8) Seek out independent radio shows which have control over their playlists -that's most regional radio shows, and listen to their shows, make sure your music would suit and then send them a nice tweet or email - they will know of your name by then and will be more receptive and most likely listen. There's loads more to do with videos, gifs and art etc but that's the nuts and bolts which I've found works for me. Hope it helps reassure someone else that they are on the right lines? It’s nothing ‘magic’ but I’ve found that if you put the effort in, it usually pays off but not in the areas you expected. Everyone’s path is unique!
Exposed Vocals: Do you ever make mistakes during performances? How do you handle that?
If I am being completely honest yes of course! I think what makes a live gig so special is the room for error - you are experiencing something that is completely unique which will never be able to be replicated in the same way again and I think that’s part of the appeal really. How do I handle it? Usually smile to myself (that’s how you can tell) and carry on! I’ve realised after 10 years of gigging that most people don’t know the songs well enough to know you’ve made a ‘detour’ from the original song, let’s face it, I am not in Muse! I think as I’ve got more experienced the errors are less and less noticeable and I am able to wing it til the next bit, whether it’s lyrics or a chord which has gone awry! I think that ‘anything can happen’ element is what makes playing live so exciting and challenging, and gives you such a high.
Exposed Vocals: Do you tour? Anything interesting happen on tour that you think our readers would enjoy hearing about?
I love touring and yes, have got into a couple of shenanigans in my time! I have been touring for a few years as a session guitarist and also with my own projects. I was on tour last year in Germany and all I can say is, if 3 out of the 4 tour members have really bad allergies to cats, makes sure you check the place you are staying isn’t a cat refuge! Also I inadvertently got involved in a missing persons police investigation 3 months after I had come off tour with a different artist which was a roller coaster to say the least, they came to our homes, separately and expected us to be able to recall what this random person looked like at the youth hostel we were staying at 5 months prior, when we had stayed there and got in from a show at like 2am. Apparently our statements were completely incoherent on terms of consistency, what where they expecting? But I think in the end, as the memories were uncovered, we were able to help with some clues!
Exposed Vocals: Any planned studio upgrades? What are you working with now?
Funny you should ask I am current running a UAD system, which I really love, but there is this awesome new company called DiGiGrid which have got a very unique and interesting way of looking at how a studio is set up and it’s something I want to be a part of, so they are coming to upgrade my system soon, which is a real honour and I am really looking forward to working with their gear!
Exposed Vocals: How do you find ways to promote your music? What works best for you?
This might just be me, but I hardly ever write a song for the sake of writing a song, it’s usually got a deeper meaning or a different approach to things I have written before, so I analyse what that is and think about how I can build on that, what is naturally occurring with the song and try to promote that angle and expand on that. For example my current single ‘Awkward’ is quite a good example of that. The song itself is an accidental anthem to minorities, and was initially written about the patronising situations women in particular often experience. Because of this, I am so excited that DIVA Magazine has given it a premiere on their site and tagged it as a ‘New LGBTQ Anthem’. In general the way I try to promote is create interesting graphics which are eye catching, which I love doing, and then contact blogs who write about artists who I think I sound a bit like.
Exposed Vocals: If you could perform anywhere and with any artists (Dead or Alive) where and who would it be with? Why?
Ok my ultimate line up would be Blondie, Tegan and Sara, HAIM, and The Big Moon. It would be a massive event at either Hyde park or Emirates Stadium. I just think it would be the most epic rock empowering, talent laden event. There are so many more I would want to add this list though! And the venue choices are because they are where I’ve seen my favourite shows - Muse at Emirates and Taylor Swift and Ellie Golding at Hyde Park
Exposed Vocals: So, what’s next? Any new upcoming projects that you want to talk about?
My new singe Awkward is my second single, hot on the heels of my debut Sorry a month before. It’s hit the ground running, people are really getting behind the sentiment of the track - the lyrics are pretty hard hitting and this is so exciting because it now opens up so many new possibilities! I am also actively supporting minority groups with #endtheawkward. Awkward is having it's radio debut on BBC 6 Music, thanks to Chris Hawkins on his early show - so I've set my alarm! DIVA magazine gave the track its soundcloud premiere and called it the new LGBTQ anthem which was a thrill! I am currently booking up my ‘AWKWARD TOUR’ for June and have some interesting collaborations along the way! And I am producing some lovely artists too. So watch this space!
Exposed Vocals: If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
Actually making money? Aha I kid! I am a record producer by day and a performer by night, not unlike, some might say, a super hero aha! I was really into physics at school and for a few years I thought I was going to be an aerospace engineer. From a really young age I used to design robots and I really wanted to work on robotics, and still do tbh! Wood tech was also something that excited me, I made my own ukulele at school from scratch, with no kit, cut the wood, assembled it all, and a claim to fame is that one of my heroes Suzi Perry watched the video of me playing it and was really supportive! I get my tech kicks now from making things like my pedal board, which has been great fun. However, I ended up doing music full time and left school early to do it, but I have always been curious about how things work, so I think that’s why I am always involved with the technical side of things, with my production and with my performance, always experimenting and getting my kicks that way.
Exposed Vocals: What should fans look forward to in the next year or so?
I have my AWKWARD TOUR coming up, but also a few more releases. I also have some festival slots to announce so hopefully I will see some peeps there! Follow didimusic.co.uk to gig dates and releases and come and say- on all social media I can be found at iamdidimusic
Exposed Vocals: Any Shout-outs?
Shout out to my mum for being a legend and also to Minnie Birch for always letting me tag along to her gigs and being a really awesome friend.