Kate McGill and Daniel Broadley are Meadowlark, a Bristol based duo who play sublime music which appeals to all, we caught up with them after they supported the Ben Watt Trio in Exeter recently, here's how we got on....
You’re called Meadowlark, originally from Plymouth but now based in Bristol, what else can you tell me about yourselves?
We’ve been together for about 2 years, I (Kate) used to be a solo artist and Dan did my second ever music video so that’s how we met, it’s gone so quickly, we keep writing music together and it;s been great. It’s been real fun, not sure what else there is to say really….as a band, we’ve been blessed, we’ve had some really good opportunities come our way, we have a great team behind us and we’re just enjoying the next chapter.
When is the next EP due for release?
We hope before Spring 2015, it’s pretty much all recorded now, just one track that we want to do some work on, it’s really exciting. It’s nice to evolve with your music, we’ve been with this EP (current EP name) for so long now, the new material is just a real progression, not wanting to sound arrogant but you can really see where things are going.
What about an album?
There is talk of an album, the thought terrifies us at the moment, albums these days, especially on the bigger labels, the artist feels that they have to go and write so much material for it as possible and then select the best work for the final cute whereas we think that it should be created, nurtured, a concept, something to grow!
You’re obviously younger than I am (not much) and I think back about being a music buying teenager in the 80’s, the only way that you heard music was to go to gigs, read the NME and Melody Maker which were great papers to spread the word but to HEAR music, you had to go see the bands, how does that make you feel?
Wow, we were thinking just the other day, how the hell did bands do what they did years ago, without the aid of social media, you wonder how many bands were out there but never ever got the chance to be heard, I think also that there was more of a hunger back then, the internet has almost killed curiosity, back in the 80’s you would probably go to a venue and see who was on the bill and if you liked them, you’d tell your friends and so on,….
I just met Bernard Butler (ex Suede) after the show tonight and had a brief chat with him, they were a band in the 90’s who found fame VERY quickly, they literally exploded onto the scene after a very short tenure of being an unknown band, I guess that’s what the internet does for acts these days, your thoughts?
Yes, I look back at the Britpop scene and see bands that almost appeared from nowhere but really there was a surge of culture and the bands were very ‘in vogue’ at the right time, look at OASIS, Pulp, Blur, Suede, Elastica, they all played together and toured together, I listen to ‘current’ artists and bands and I question what people are actually getting from the music, is it going to be the same as Britpop? will we look back at it in 10-20 years and say how amazing and ‘before its time’ it was? That’s the beauty of music, it surges at different times, now and again, you get a resurgence of the Britpop era, all the TV ads have tracks on that are anthems these days but just normal everyday tracks back in the 90’s.
I think Britpop is a scene that will never go away, it's almost like the bedrock of Britain.
Yes, there is a lot of patriotism in the music and the sound, we dont have a lot here in the UK but Britpop is ours, nobody else can take that away from us.
I played the opening track (Family Tree) from your current EP on my podcast a couple of months back and have received some really good feedback from listeners, what comments and feedback do you guys get from your live shows?
I think people really connect with that track, lots of people have had family issues but you rarely hear anyone singing about it, songs are more likely about love and relationships, I just wanted to get a song written about it and that’s how it came about. The feedback we’ve received so far has been amazing. When we wrote the song with the 3rd member of the band (now departed) Karl, we both had to persuade Kate to carry on writing the song as it was such a personal song to her, we came up with the music which was fine but when she started adding the lyrics to the melodies, it really became a deep track that meant so much to her. It was also the first track that we ever released as a demo and Kate was so nervous, she had to send a text message to her family to warn them about it, they took it really well and joke about it nowadays, her brother boasts that he was the brother that she sings about in the track but she has two brothers and they don’t know which one she is referring to (she does actually sing about her elder brother)….The great thing about our music is that we record it really minimally, in whatever way it happens, sometimes that involves other instruments, drums, bass to make it sound really epic because that’s the way we think the song should be and then, when we go out and play it live we can strip it right back to basics, the audience really respond well to this approach. We used to worry if this was right way to do things but in the end, we realised it’s such a great way to explore music, it’s not a case of copy & paste and nobody really knows what they’re going to get, each song has the vocals and the key instruments and then we build on it as and how we see fit to enhance it or strip it back depending on what we want to get out of it. We always said that when we formed as a band, Kate had such a colourful solo career, I never wanted the band to ‘muddy’ the water, her voice and my guitar was sometimes all we needed to sound just right, it’s such fun experimenting though, we really enjoy it.
I see on the merch table you have some amazing looking white vinyl 10” records (that I was just about to buy from them), why no cassettes?
Oooh, why no cassettes….good question!
You know the cassette tape is on its way back? Turn up to a show in Shoreditch or Hoxton without any cassettes and you're in trouble!
Maybe our next EP we’ll release some limited edition cassettes, we don’t want to get blacklisted in Shoreditch, to be honest, we had to be persuaded with the vinyl! Our label were adamant that we should do some cool vinyl and we were like “do people really buy it?”…and we soon realised that people do buy it, a lot!
I buy a lot of vinyl, infact, other than second hand shops where I pick up the occasional CD, I only ever buy vinyl which is a pain in the ass as it's not cheap, I get sent CD’s and digital downloads all the time but there’s nothing to beat the feeling of playing a record!
As a younger person, I grew up with cassettes and CD’s and sort of missed the vinyl age, a lot of my CD’s nowadays are either lost or broken, with vinyl, you sort of want to care for it, preserve it, CD’s are just throwaway items which nobody really cares for, just stick them in your car CD player and throw them in the door pocket when you’re done with them.
If you’re me, you went out and bought ALL of your music on vinyl when you were 15-18, then you sold it all as CD’s were introduced and they were SO much easier to use, then, 15 years later on, you end up buying all your vinyl back but at ten times the price that you sold it for in the first place! I used to pay no more than £5.99 in Our Price, remember those stores?
Yes I do, it’s sad that it doesn’t exist anymore, it was a British chain that just went under but it is really sad that it did! I remember the stores having a really bad logo on the door, like a record!
How has social media helped you to get your music out there?
I think that social media has been huge in helping me get my solo stuff out there especially, I used to use YouTube as the main platform and every person that knew me was from the internet, there was definitely a lot more people when we started Meadowlark who wanted to learn more about the band rather than just wanting to see your material on YouTube. I think nowadays, with gigging so much, we have started to build a live audience which is a great way of achieving that balance that you need to establish. They are two completely separate things though, the figures you achieve ‘online’ don’t always translate to your live shows, meaning you could have 20000 ‘followers’ on Twitter but only pull in 50 people to watch you at a show and vice versa, I’ve seen acts with very little online social media coverage sell out venues in next to no time at all. I think the difference between the two is very important as the ‘online’ world is just that, it’s as if a lot of people use the web as their music hub and it is killing the live music scene so having a separate live audience is crucial to exist on both platforms these days.
I hear what you’re saying and I chat to a lot of bands and they say the same, they have a lot of followers or ‘likes’ on their fan page but are these the kind of people who will come and watch them play live?
I think that it’s almost a ’support’ thing, see how many people you can follow, how many ‘likes’ you can give out but when it comes down to it, these may not be the type of people to come to your shows. A good analogy I picked up is that Twitter and Facebook followers are like your acquaintances, whereas the people who come and see you play live and support you in the flesh are your real friends…. We appreciate that you can’t afford NOT to be on social media these days as it’s become such a big part of the music industry, even if you don’t want to use it to build your fanbase, simply having a ‘presence’ on the social channels is a must have for any act or band these days.
I’d like to propose an experiment, lets go find a reasonably popular band and simply switch off all ties to social media for a month and tell them to go and build their fanbase the way bands used to do it before they had all these tools at their fingertips, go on tour, get out there and meet your fans, do record store signings, play at local events, go do some hard work for a change!
It would be great to see a band coming through these days where they don’t have an online following, when I was younger, I used to goto a club in Plymouth called The Phoenix, I used to go there HOPING that there would be a good band on that I could watch and the funny thing was that you wouldn’t see that band again until they toured again, there was nothing to go and checkout in the meantime. Do you remember signing up for fan clubs and then they would send you stuff in the mail, that was a great way of doing it when there was no new technology. I do agree, it would be good to run the experiment you talked about earlier on a reasonably popular band and see what happens to them (maybe we could do it?)....
I think back in the days of old, you really ‘got into’ a band, everyone had their favourite band and you used to travel about seeing them as many times as you could, learning all their songs and standing at the front singing along, do you feel that has gone these days?
When I was a teenager, I went through a metal phase and was into Metallica and then Slipknot, Korn and other such ‘Nu-Metal’ acts that everyone was raving about and you never knew what these guys did in their real lives, you only got fed the media perception of them or whatever MTV wanted to show you, I feel nowadays that with the likes of Twitter and Facebook, a curtain has almost been lifted and you can see maybe TOO much of a band or an artist….
Like they’re baring their souls for anyone to see?
Exactly, the mystery about a musician is fun, you sort of need that barrier, look at Laura Marling, she’s an artist that has refused to jump on the social media bandwagon, when she plays a gig or releases a record, everyone wants to know more as they haven’t had the information rammed down their throats for the 6 weeks leading up to the event!
MUSE are a classic example of that, they grew up in Teignmouth, we all used to go watch them when they were 14 years old making a right old racket at the local arts centre and look where that got them….anyway, you see a picture of Matt Bellamy in the paper, I guarantee it’ll be with Kate Hudson, you would NEVER see a picture of any of the band in papers unless it was with a ‘celebrity’ partner or friend and that’s what I like about them, they never got sucked into the whole media circus, always managed to stay in control, not being told what to do and wear and which parties to attend, quite refreshing really….
We’d much prefer that kind of success, you do your show, play to 80000 people, then go your own way, you don’t need to be a whore to the music scene, it really is ALL about the music.
What are your thoughts on Kate Bush’s views of not allowing Smartphones into gigs?
We wholeheartedly agree with Kate, love it that she has taken the stand and stood up for it.
Why? do you feel that you can’t connect with hundreds of phones looking back at you?
There are many reasons, one being the connection thing, for an artist, it’s very difficult to play and gauge the responses of the fans when all you can see are lights coming from the backs of the phones and also that a lot of people rely on a recorded show on youtube, taken with a mid level smartphone with a crappy microphone to judge a bands live performance, I’ve been to amazing shows before and been spellbound (Sigur Ros for example) and when I get home from the gig, I flip up YouTube and decide that I’m going to watch a recording from that very show and it sounds and looks NOTHING like what I had just experienced….tinny sound, distorted images, shaking, audience shouting and cheering, it just takes the whole experience away from you. People then decide NOT to go watch the band based on what they have seen on YouTube, complete madness. I think also that you cannot be in ‘the moment’ when you’re stood there with your phone in the air, trying to capture another ‘moment’, you have to be engaged, locked on if you like to make sure that you don’t miss anything. You’re only there for an hour or so, forget texting your mates and posting ‘selfies’, just soak up the moment and enjoy it! The whole experience of a gig for us is driving there, queuing up, getting in, standing, waiting, the thrill of when they come on, these are things that you CANNOT replicate from watching some half-arsed recording made through a cheap phone. Another pet hate is when people talk through a gig, I mean you paid to watch them, if your conversation is that important, go out to the bar and carry on chatting….
I also think that ‘celebrity culture’ is so massive nowadays that most people just want to go and ‘see’ the band or artist rather than actually enjoying the output that they produce, almost the bragging rights on Facebook the next morning, “guess where I was last night”……etc!
I don’t think I’ve ever taken a selfie and I would never dream about doing one with a famous person, it would have to be a normal picture for me!
Let’s break this now, come on, let’s do a group selfie…..
Er, no! I mean, meeting Bernard Butler earlier on was such a moment for me, he really did make my day, probably week, maybe even month and there would be no way that I would even consider asking him to be in a ‘selfie’ with me, I just couldn’t do it to the man….
Anymore local gigs coming up this side of Christmas?
I don’t think we have to be honest, the focus at the moment is this tour with Ben Watt, we play all his UK dates and leave him when they go to Ireland and then off to Japan in November….
He’s not paying for you to go to Japan? the tight wad!
If only, that would be a real dream come true!
I’ve never been but really want to get out there sometime
Same here, we’re hoping that the band thing will get us over there one day!
Who are your influences?
Always a difficult question as our influences don’t always sound like anything that you find in our songs, I guess the main ones would be Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Rae Morris (we’re obsessed by her)…
I saw Rae a couple of times in the past when she played in Totnes at the South Devon Arts Centre, it’s a really cool venue near the Morrisons supermarket
Should that be Rae Morris-ons?
(Steve stealthily ignores Dan’s attempt at making a joke and moves on regardless….Kate comments and says that Dan is really proud of the joke and we should congratulate him for it, we still move on!
Dan is influenced by friends bands, one in particular is called ‘We The Wild’, lots of people around that scene, Layla being one of them, a great band called Wonder Wonder all these stem from this genre. I’m loving Alt J’s new album at the moment, you wouldn’t hear this in our songs, just influences that we love, we always listen to the radio and it’s a mixture of old and new dogs that enter our heads. We don’t really focus on trying to be pigeonholed into a genre, we just want to go out there and put out OUR music, whatever that style or genre that slots into. Often people come up to us and say that we sound like a certain band which is mad because we may not have ever heard this band before and it’s so refreshing that people hear different bands in our music.
I thought you were a 3 piece act (they were, until recently) and I was trying to think of 3 piece, female fronted acts, CHVRCHES, London Grammar being a couple that came to mind…..
I think when we released ‘Family Tree’ in its original format, a lot of people expected us to be a cluster of previous acts and become ‘another 3 piece band to be added to the list’….Our producer just said to us that the music should be what it is and under no circumstances should we try to bow down to what people would like us to be, we’re not a pure electronica band, our new sound may be veering towards this style but this has come about from us naturally evolving into it rather than us saying that we SHOULD be sounding like this or that band as they;re doing really well at the moment.
Who do YOU think has the best album of 2014 so far?
That is such a tough question….. I (Kate) am absolutely obsessed with the new one by Dry The River, I love it so much, Dan couldn’t really think of one, Alt-J, Coldplay (Midnight is a class track), you can hear his pain when he was going through his breakup with Gwyneth….
It wasn’t a separation, it was something more ‘spiritual’, I think they referred to it as a ‘Spiritual Parting’ or something along those lines!
Well, whatever it was, it was a great way of channelling his feelings in a song.
2013 was a stronger year for us, there was so many great albums out, it really shaped my thoughts on music. I think 2015 is going to be a massive year for new music, there are so many acts that are gearing up for new albums (Rae Morris being one), I reckon it’s going to be a massive year! Lewis Watson is going to be huge next year, Kate actually sang on his track ‘Oceans’….
Wow, we interviewed him the other week when he was here supporting Lewis Watson, great guy, so friendly and approachable and SO talented. We also interviewed SIVU (James Paige) and he was raving about Rae Morris.
James used to be in a band with the guy who directs a lot of videos for the band ‘1975’, this was a punk rock band and then James moved onto his own solo act ‘SIVU’.
He’s supporting Bombay Bicycle Club in December in Plymouth, it’ll be great to catch up with him again and catch him playing live, great guy.
There you go, Bombay Bicycle Club, that’s got to be one of my favourites from this year (at least I think it was out this year!)
Where are you guys going to be on New Years Eve this year?
Too far ahead to know, I want to go away this year but if we end up playing a gig, we’ll play a gig. I’ve played NYE parties in the past and they don’t work that well as people just want to get blind drunk and as an artist, you really want to be serious and play the best you can, maybe a fun gig would be a good idea.
Why not play a gig where you only play cover versions?
Kate’s done her fair share of cover versions in the past so we’ll be steering well clear of that!
To see the write-up we did of the Ben Watt Trio gig where Meadowlark supported, please click HERE
We took a whole heap of photos from the gig, click HERE to see them.
To keep upto date with the band on tour, click HERE
We'd like to thank Kate and Daniel for sparing their time after the show to sit and chat to us about everything under the sun (and then some), it's so nice when a band give up their time to chat and we feel that we know them a little bit better than we did before! All the best for the future guys, we're waiting on our invites to the New Years Eve covers gig that you'll be doing!