October 4, 2019

Meet Mabes, the British Folk-Pop Star Following in John Mayer’s Footsteps

She’s the “singer-songwriter” from Essex who’s captivated the world with her unique sound, but there’s something about that title that doesn’t seem to fit folk-pop star Mabes. Maybe because it fails to account for her authentic rawness, whimsical aura and total old soul vibes — all found in a next generation artist.

Even beyond her unique sound, Mabes is a very different kind of star. While other singer-songwriters maintain a polished sheen even when they are still coming up, Mabes rejects that. Nowhere is this more evident than in her music videos and social media, which show her in everyday clothes like denim jumpsuits, flared jeans and hooded tracksuits. She boasts superstar talent, but humility still abounds. 

Inspired by her parents who were big music fans, Mabes learnt how to play guitar and started writing her own songs at just 15. Describing her sound as “honest” with “a country twang influenced by pop”, she first learnt to write lyrics by listening to Laura Marling’s folk poetry and credits artists like John Mayer, The Smiths, Carol King and Kings of Leon as her inspiration. 

2019 has been a massive year for Mabes, with a few million streams under her belt, a BBC Radio 1 spin of her single ‘America’ and a mini album coming soon. We caught up with her to find out about her songwriting process, her journey to self-acceptance and how she handles the pressure of the music industry.

Hey, Mabes! Is there a secret to your songwriting process? 

There is no formula with my songwriting. I sometimes overhear conversations or watch a film that makes me feel a certain way. I use these feelings in the songs. Somehow it just happens! 

How long do you typically spend perfecting a song?

Mort of the time, the song is done on the day. I’m a firm believer that if you’re struggling to finish the song, the song is not meant to be. There may be a few lyrics I want to tweak here and there, but generally it’s done with a vibe on the day.

Tell us about your new song ‘Bigger Picture’. Is there a story behind the track?

Well yes... my personal family life is changing and I am finding myself reflecting on my childhood and teenage years, and have realised that I was hard work for my parents — rebellious or a ‘little shit’, one might say! I am now able to understand all of the arguments and dramas when I was a teenager, as most of their rules came from a place of love and care. I couldn’t see that at the time, I thought they were “strict” and “hated me”, and I didn’t realise the weight and pressures of adulting. It’s bloody hard at times!

You have a mini album coming soon, can you tell us about it? 

It’s a collection of songs I have written over the years on my acoustic guitar, since I learned to play it at 15. The idea of the album is to conclude the first chapter of songs I released.

Your first headline show is coming up at the end of October. What can we expect from the show?

The venue is a stable barn which is at the back of a pub in my hometown of Billericay in Essex. You can expect fairy lights, and an acoustic set from myself and a support. It’s going to be a special night for me and I will be playing a few new songs that are coming out in the new year! So I’m busy practicing....

BBC Radio 1 spun your track ‘America’ — how did you get your music in front of them?

My track “America” was played on the BBC Music show ‘Introducing in Essex’, so I think that’s how it made its way onto Radio 1! I was so shocked when I found out — I was over the moon! 

How comfortable are you with revealing intimate parts of your life in your songs?

Writing is like therapy for me, but that means it’s always personal! But there are definitely certain songs that are very close to my heart, my new release ‘Bigger Picture’ being one.

How do you handle the pressure and expectations of the music industry?

I know this might sound crazy, but I have learned that only looking at my diary one week ahead helps me keep the stress levels at a minimum. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, but in terms of gig schedules and writing sessions, I take it a week at a time! Otherwise my calendar can get seriously overwhelming. 

Have you ever wanted to leave the industry? What stopped you?

I actually did leave the industry for three years. I had a crack at my artist project when I was 16, but sometimes things don’t go as you plan. I was real low and decided to get a 9-5 in London. And I really believe it’s what started a fire for me to try again, as I learned a lot about myself and what life means to me, and what makes me happy. It took those three years to figure out that there was always something missing from my life.

Are you comfortable with who you have become, as an artist and as a person, or are you still on a journey of self-acceptance?

I’ve always been a worrier when it comes to the future! I truly believe it’s all a constantly evolving journey. And I used to stress myself out about things I had no control over. But I have worked to change my mindset and realised there is no point wasting time doing that, so in that sense, I’m a lot more chilled out than I used to be! But I do still struggle with nerves before my gigs and I’m still working on that.  

Is there a story you’re trying to share with the world through your music?

Yes, absolutely. It’s the story of thoughts from my mind as I’m growing as an artist and as a person. Different experiences cause different emotions, situations, feelings and everything is always changing: so I know for a fact I’ll never stop writing songs no matter what road lays ahead.

What’s next for Mabes?

 More music! I have been writing more than ever this year. I can’t really put into words how excited I am for the world to hear the next chapter of my song writing. I’ve been working on my sound and I’m hoping everyone is going to love it like I do.  

Mabes’ latest single ‘Bigger Picture’ is out now. 

August 9, 2019

UK Rapper Scorcher Talks Career, Branding & Building Loyal Fanbases

Whether aspiring to be a self-made chart-topping artist, social entrepreneur or creative tastemaker, today’s independent generation is fueled by the ability to inspire, build communities and tell the stories that haven’t yet been told. 

In today’s “here today, gone tomorrow” era of instant fame and social celebrity, the most valuable asset any artist can possess is authenticity. And almost no artist takes that charge as seriously as UK rapper Scorcher

Leading up to the release of his brand-new single ‘9’ (out today, August 9), we sat down with the early-rising star to find out how he overcame obstacles in the music industry and used the turn of the streaming and social media generation to pave his own path to success. 

Growing up in Enfield, north London, in a small family home with his mother, father and younger sister, Scorcher — real name Tayo Jarrett — credits his music-filled childhood for inspiring his career, admitting that he can’t remember a time when music wasn’t being played in his house. 

“Music was something I did because it was always around me,” he tells us. “It went from something I did socially to becoming something I took more seriously than my friends. I’d go around to my mate’s house because he had two decks and some vinyls. Every time I was there, I just kept trying to take it one step further.” 

Respected as a pioneer act in the come up of the underground grime scene in the early ‘00s, Scorcher’s career took a detour from music in 2011 when he took on his first television role, playing “Kamale” in Channel 4’s popular drama ‘Top Boy’. 

“I didn’t ever really consider acting before, and to be honest, the transition wasn’t very thought out. I have an acting role in all of my visuals, and most of the time I direct my videos as well. Back in 2011, I got into a space where I was making videos that were inspired by, or had elements of movies. A casting director had seen a video that I made called ‘Dark Knight’ and he thought I would look good for a small role in what turned out to be ‘Top Boy’. 

“He got in touch with my manager and asked me to come down and test for the role. When I went down and met him, he thought ‘you know what, maybe you can be more than just this small role’. Next thing I know, they’re telling me they grew my character and gave me more air time.”

Following the success of the series, including an acquisition by Netflix, Scorcher went on to secure a role in the feature film ‘Offender’ alongside Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders) and a role in world renowned director Steve McQueen’s new BBC drama series. 

Scorcher’s detour into film and television is proof of the music industry’s grip on independence, with the greatest benefit being that it allows artists to build their own brand and diversify their careers on their terms. Scorcher believes “the game has swung back in favour of artists”, and now allows artists to become self-made creative entrepreneurs in their own right.

When asked for his advice by other independent artists wanting to diversify their careers — be it acting, directing or launching a creative house, fashion label or record label — Scorcher is a firm believer that passion must come before business. 

“I’m really for music first and business second, which is probably not the smartest idea. There was a time when the music industry was quite the opposite to what it is today. The main thing I’ve realised, and I’ve not always been good at doing this, is that staying true to yourself as an artist is the most important thing,” he said. “Because now, the game has swung back in favour of artists. Artists are more independent and less in need of industry structure. 

“With that being said, staying true to your brand and your music integrity is more important than it’s ever been. If you’re only doing something to diversify your career, or start experimenting with other projects, and you’re not genuinely into it, don’t do it. I don’t look at music or acting in that kind of way, I do them because I find them creatively interesting. They challenge and stimulate me. 

“Find within yourself what you’re truly passionate about, and sometimes it’s not anything like what you’re doing at the moment. It’s so difficult doing creative things without a passion for them, so find something you’re passionate about, and begin to explore it, your capabilities, and your ideas.”

In today’s fast-paced music industry, many artists are burdened with the responsibility to reinvent themselves to stay relevant. But with a career spanning 15 years, Scorcher has found the balance between staying authentic and still advancing his career — his journey changes every day, and instead of growing up and away from his music, his fans grow with him. 

“I came to a point where I just stopped caring about staying relevant and just focused on me. I just spent my time making music that I liked. Instead of focusing on being part of something bigger, I focused even more on just being myself. That gave me my own power,” he said, adding: “If you’re making music like someone else, what’s the point of doing it? Even if I’m being creative with my writing, and not necessarily writing about things that happened to me yesterday, it still needs to feel like me or there’s no point.” 

Boasting just under 35,000 followers on Instagram at the time of writing, tune into Scorcher’s social media and you’ll find yourself getting lost in his daily updates — balancing life with a firing music career, acting gigs, fatherhood and football (Tottenham supporter, for those wondering). 

No matter the content, Scorcher stays true to his mission of giving fans a genuine, behind-the-scenes look into his life, revealing that social media has been a big part of acquiring new fans this side of his career, following the streaming generation. 

“Instagram is probably my favourite platform because it’s visual. You can literally see who’s taking an interest in your music. You can see what your fans look like and where they come from. For me, that’s kind of mad. Music was always a faceless thing, you had no idea who was buying your records. Until you did a show, you never really knew.”

One interesting trend the industry is beginning to see in the way artists communicate with fans, is a swift exit from hypervisibility — from social networks like Facebook and Twitter — toward private messaging and closed groups like WhatsApp and Telegram. And Scorcher is following suit. 

“I usually go through my Instagram DMs and respond as much as I can in that space. Sometimes, I’ll get really well thought out messages about how I’ve impacted my supporters and I’ll spend more time engaging and building a relationship with those fans.

“For me, what’s really sick about social media, is you can start to see a trend in what people are saying about you and your music. For instance, there’s a song that I made called ‘No One Else’ which I’ve always liked, and a lot of people did like, but it came out at a time when there wasn’t really any music like that. But now, it’s the type of record that would do really well. 

“I posted the track as a throwback on Instagram and noticed how many people were like, “Oh my God, this is my song.” Ever since then, I’ve seen people reposting it and talking about it. It led me into thinking that maybe I should do a follow up record. Now I’ve got that done. If I didn’t have Instagram as a direct communication tool with my fans, I may never have had that insight.”  

Recording his new single '9' alongside friend and producer Pepstar in his London studio, the track came at a time when many critics thought Scorcher’s career was finished. “I went to jail for a bit, and I started to think about how some people thought I was done. An idea came into my head about coming back from the dead and I had this idea to go and shoot the music video for ‘9’ in a place that felt like the place I was in personally when I was writing the song.”

Scorcher’s new track ‘9’ and music video are out today and available in all good music places.


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