Make no mistake about it, the music industry is currently standing on the edge of financial precipice.
A combination of minimal streaming royalties, dwindling physical sales and the increasing popularity of a wide variety of other media options have left music, and musicians, highly reliant on touring as a source of income. Add a global pandemic, that, if we’re brutally honest, seems to offer very little hope of live music reappearing any time soon, and it does look undeniably bleak. Thankfully, in times of crisis and uncertainty, there’s always opportunity to do things differently, for someone, somewhere to find the crack of light and throw the windows open.
We’ve seen it in the response of Bandcamp, true champions of new music, giving up their share of profits to support musicians and labels in their hour of need. We’ve seen it from the musician’s themselves; larger artists, those who can afford to do so, have performed shows to raise money for their support crews, and for the charities helping out those less fortunate, for the fight against this most as-yet-still mysterious, yet crippling of diseases. And we’ve seen it in the response of many independent record labels, many of whom can barely afford to support themselves, yet have done everything they can to support their artists through this.
One obvious stand-out have been the amazing Specialist Subject Records. The Bristol-based label turned record-shop have been arranging weekly get-togethers on their Instagram. Getting bands, both from the label and from the wider DIY-community to perform make-shift sets from their homes. While these “shows” are not quite the same as the real thing, they are a chance for people, some isolated and alone, to remember that there are people out there who care, there is a community, no matter how distant and disparate, who appreciate the same things you do. We are distant, and we are together, and we will get through this.
For the sake of not over-egging the pudding, Specialist Subject have announced that next week’s 10th get-together will be the last. Featuring the great and good of the label, from the likes of Charmpit, Soot Sprite and Witching Waves. Today Kay from the label have put together some words and tracks from the bands who will be performing which you can check out below. Do be sure to tune into Distant Together 10, next Tuesday, to celebrate the hope, togetherness and the music, that keeps us going in these uniquely challenging times.
We’ve hosted DISTANT TOGETHER (a live stream gig via our Instagram) every Tuesday evening since the 17th March. This coming Tuesday our unexpected series is coming to an end, and we’re feeling bittersweet about it all.
We never planned to put together ten online gigs, but the reaction and support from people watching and the bands involved every week made us feel like we were doing something positive at a time of uncertainty and sadness- so we kept going! We’ve had so much fun every week, and I think we’ve carved a small space for community and shared experience online which we’re very proud of.
We’ve seen the creation of hashtags (#EatThePlant), had mass singalongs (NEVER TRUST A TORY!), costume changes, unexpected appearances, ingenious collaborations, and been amazed at the breadth of creativity, energy and enjoyment the bands have made possible on the smallest screen- who knew?!
For our tenth and final instalment we’ve invited back loads of the bands we work with to play- an entire Specialist Subject alldayer squeezed into less than four hours. Hope you can join us for one last party!
She’s curated and co-ordinated Distant Together for the entire ten weeks! In fact, the initial idea came from wanting to do an online record release show when her gigs had to be cancelled, so we very much have her to thank for making it what it is.
Lou Hanman has been part of Specialist Subject from the start of the label, she’s since moved to the US and has been shredding in our favourite bands Thin Lips, Katie Ellen and Queen of Jeans, who have all played Distant Together!
They’ve had a run of bad luck over the last year with two big tours unexpectedly cancelled part-way through, not to be beaten- they put on one hell of a show from their living room!
Their almost daily livestreams have been a constant source of covers and an injection of folk punk angst we need!
Their last appearance on Distant Together opened with a rendition of Memories and ended with a cover of My Heart Will Go On. I absolutely can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves.
WILL HARRY EAT THE PLANT?! A much needed dose of whammy bar and heartachingly great songs.
I think our Specialist Subject lockdown hero is Sam from Don’t Worry who is a care worker!
Not sure what we enjoy most about Kathryn’s past live streams; the songs or the plant presentations?
The wonderfully weird world of Max Levy direct to your home.
Jeff closed out our first Distant Together while over 2000 people watched! It’s unexpected success encouraged us to book a show for the following week, and it all went from there!
It took us weeks to get Lande involved with Distant Together- not because she didn’t want to play, but because she’s been self-isolating in the middle of nowhere with NO GUITAR! Luckily she managed to get hold of one and join in!
Elli is lucky to live in a house which literally has a studio in the back garden, she’s spent lockdown writing and playing more than anyone, and new Soot Sprite is sounding amazing!
Toodles & the Hectic Pity
Featuring Callum’s attic window from popular Toodles song Spooky Furniture!
Live streaming opened Witching Waves to a world of acoustic post-punk (which rules!) and weekly Saturday night hangouts on their own Instagram which we’ve been loving!
Tim will be joining us for a couple of Woahnows classics and new project Immy.