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Unsigned: Sheffield Live show uncovers hidden talent

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Photo by Charlie Osguthorpe

Unsigned is a new radio show that shines a light on the embarrassment of riches that is Sheffield's music scene. We spoke to presenter Peter Brooks to find out how to get involved.

Tell us a bit about the show.

It's showcasing music from in and around the Sheffield area made by unsigned artists, those who get no help from anyone to make their music. I'll be playing mainly recorded work but will also have regular studio guests playing live on the show. For anyone who'd like to get their own music played on the show, all they have to do is get it to me. No restrictions really, except that it's got to be 'broadcastable' - no obscenity and properly recorded.

What kind of music will you be playing?

My own taste is very eclectic and I want to reflect that on the show, so no genre boundaries at all. On a personal level I play folky acoustic stuff and some jazz, so I have a lot of contacts in those genres. But I'm keen to get through to everyone really, especially the new, often young bands. If they make music, I want to hear it and play it on the show.

The downside of the online world of course is that [...] you're in competition with the whole world, not just your local town.

What unsigned groups are you most excited about?

Whoever I name here I'm bound to miss someone, so sorry in advance. I'll kick off with a few that I've been talking to recently and have their work on my playlist. In no particular order:

Beyond Albedo - Quite a new band. Improvisatory retro-futuristic synth-jazz four-piece.Rhiannon Scutt - A singer-songwriter who plays both solo and with a band. Beautiful lyrics over gorgeous guitar work.Cuckoo Clocks - Mini-orchestra sound with full-on vocals and a great groove.Lauren Tate - Lots of people will know Lauren from Hands Off Gretel, but she's just done a solo album with some really heartfelt work.Shivelights - Into the folk world here with some sublime guitar, flute and whistle music with a bit of vocal and poetry added in.Coco Don't - Quite a new band. They've just released a new single, 'Go Go Go', which reminds me of a lot of the early synth bands. Quite rocky with lots of distortion.Mollyanna - Alt-rock band who've just released a single, 'Playing Dead', and have a new album on its way.

Is it easier now to be an unsigned musician than it used to be?

Good question that. I think that in some ways it's easier and some ways harder. Certainly different. It's easier to get your music heard now with all the online channels, and you don't need to pay for physical records which then need distributing. It's also easier recording a demo, as loads of people have their own studios, so you can get used to that before you pay out to go into a proper studio.

On the other hand, the whole setup with A&R men visiting venues and signing up bands they like has pretty much gone, so the chances of a record deal is much harder. The downside of the online world of course is that no-one wants to pay for your work and you're in competition with the whole world, not just your local town.

Whether it's easier or harder it certainly isn't stopping people making music as good as any ever made. Send it in and get it played!

Sam Gregory

Unsigned is on Sheffield Live every Wednesday afternoon, 1-2pm. Listen on 93.2 FM or online at sheffiedlive.org. Every episode is available afterwards for download.

You can send music to Peter at unsigned@sheffieldlive.org or drop physical discs off at Sheffield Live (The Workstation, Paternoster Row). Highest quality files only.

Next article in issue 140

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