This could be a long story....so please allow me this slight ramble
Growing up in a small cathedral city in Staffordshire it may surprise many that myself and my friends got the opportunity to see quite a few bands, even Radiohead visited during their Pablo Honey tour.
Just 20 minutes drive away, in a rather nondescript town, there was a decent enough music venue in which we regularly got to see bands on their way up. Shed 7, Supergrass, Feeder and Reef to name but a few groups who made their name during the 1990's.
The off-shoot of this was the influence it gave me and my friends to start bands, and because of the promoter's generous booking policy it was often the case that many of us were able to play our first gigs at the same venue we used to go to week in week. Bands were formed in the venue bar, gigs at other venues were arranged by bands hooking up back stage - this place meant the world to us.
Fast forward at least 15 years to the present day and I shall present you with a discussion I had with someone involved with the local arts scene in Derby, or to be honest the lack of it. I happened to bring up the business that the city has struggled to maintain any consistent music venue for many years. Few have opened, barely any remain.
This then made me wonder how this affects the local music scene. To be honest Derby is not best known for producing music, some could argue White Town's 1997 number 1 single 'Woman' was the last significant piece of music to break through.
I decided to dig further and what I found was generally shocking. Bands were still citing Oasis as their influences, almost as if the last 10 years never happened. There was nothing, and I felt the weight of heavy despair and a tinge of sadness.
Last week, out of nowhere, I was follwed on Twitter by an account in Derby by the name of Ortolan Soup. This account had never tweeted and had no followers - usually enough for me to ignore - but for some reason I followed back. I asked the owner of this mystery account if they had any music.
A day or so later I received an message back linking me to this website. To be fair, I wasn't expecting much. Perhaps some guy with an acoustic guitar, or maybe just a standard pub band affair. What I actually found was this:
Ortolan Soup EP by Ortolan Soup
I was actually quite stunned. What I discovered was a rather brilliant, self recorded EP which instantly made me think of Elliot Smith and how much I missed his music. I heard depth and texture not often attributed to home recorded music. In short, I was very impressed.
Keen to find out more, I contacted the individual responsible who agreed to be interviewed.
CMM: Welcome to Choose My Music. This is the first interview I have done on here so you are honoured. Lets start with you telling us a little bit about yourself.
OS: I'm from Stoke-on-Trent, but I'm living in Derby - on a music and music tech course at the university. I'm currently a solo musician considering forming a band around my existing material. I'm not a great player or singer technically, but I like to think I've got some good ideas, and my songwriting has been improving a lot lately.
CMM: When I first heard your EP I mentioned to you that I felt it had a very Elliot Smith sound to it. What other artists influence you?
OS: I feel great about being compared to Elliot Smith, but other than that I'm really infuenced by indie folk artists like Bon Iver, Iron and Wine, Lost in the Trees and Sufjan Stevens (along with many others). Older stuff like The Beatles, Big Star, Love and the Kinks too. The list doesn't really end, and I'm always finding new bands and styles I want to incorporate into my own material.
CMM: What other music projects have you been involved in over the years?
OS: My first real band was a punk rock group called Cynical Protest. We played together for a few years and did okay, but never really pushed ourselves. The closest thing to that was a group formed in college, called Hot Rats. I liked it, but it wasn't a very musical period for me, and I never really commited myself. Then I left Stoke to go to university, so it would have been hard to stay in the band. I spent my first year, and most of this second year, trying to be a better songwriter.
CMM: You mention on your Bandcamp bio that you tried to be as autonomous as possible during making the EP - why did you decide to go it alone?
OS: I did the EP as a university project. I've always told myself that I could do this kind of thing if I wanted to, but never really did it. But the only way you can do something is if you do it. With a grade riding on it, I knew I had to get it done. As for doing it alone - I just worked to my strengths I think. I don't really have all these musicians around me to reach out to, and I don't have the cash to pay someone to design artwork and create a website. I think I have a pretty good eye for professionalism, so I made something that I'd like.
CMM: I was lamenting the music scene in Derby the other week. I suggested that there are very few bands doing anything remotely interesting in the area. One of the issues, I feel, is the lack of a good solid music venue to attract bands.What are your thoughts about the local scene and the problems that surround it?
OS: In Stoke, there's two venues and not much else. I typed into Google 'open mic Derby', and was more than happy with the results. It depends on the music though; Ortolan Soup is not yet a 'band' and I haven't been part of one whilst I've been in Derby, so I don't really know about that kind of thing. That said, I've not really noticed any real promotion for local bands - and that can't be a good sign.
CMM: How has the reaction been to your EP?
OS: Slow. It hasn't provoked any reactions - but it's new, and I'm new. I need to learn everything - including promotion. It's hard to get anyone to listen to anything, even music fans. I'm not well versed in this kind of thing, so it's learning curve. If I'm being honest, I've started to think of this EP as a precursor to what I'll do next. I haven't made a massive fuss about putting this EP out there because I'm still developing my writing and recording skills - and I'm not saying what I want to say yet, musically.
CMM: What are you plans for Ortolan Soup going forward?
OS: I'm uncertain. I might look for a songwriting partner, find band members, and write and record new material. Or I might stick at it alone, but that's pretty hard because you don't have anyone to bounce ideas off, so it takes ten times longer to finish songs (which is why my EP is so short). I plan to get into open mics before I get into real gigging anyway, to get a bit more experience under my belt, and test out songs. I've already got a lot of material and ideas for an album, so hopefully I''ll get that done by the end of ths year.
And there you have it. I have never been impressed by a self recorded, self produced début release before and I strongly urge you to download Ortolan Soup's EP...for FREE...here
You can also follow Ortolan Soup on Twitter here
As always, comments and the sharing of this site is more than welcome.