David Bowie

Posted by on 15.01.2016 in blog

I never met David Bowie but I didn’t need to. Plus I actually don’t want to meet my heroes. Not really for the reason that they wouldn’t live up to my expectations, more than I’m quite shy and I’d say something stupid. I’d mess it up. His life meant quite a lot to me, so much so that I couldn’t just throw a fleeting post up on social media. His music and art inspired me greatly, I had to reflect and get my thoughts down. I’m going to ramble a lot here because I need to.

On Monday I was up at 6am. I saw a Facebook status 30 minutes later on the official Facebook page. I was convinced it was a hoax and the account had been hacked as the post was really odd – “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer”. It was odd due to the lack of subtlety so I jumped over to twitter to check there too. It was there but I still didn’t believe it. I even retweeted the post with a ‘What?!’, thinking the whole account had been hacked. It was then that my phone started ringing, my mum, that I knew it was real.

The TV was already on and somehow on the right channel, just muted. There was a news report about the death of David Bowie. Images of Ziggy Stardust on stage were shown. I unmuted the sound and heard that it was all true. It’s at this point looking back that I hit all those stages of grief. I was totally in denial, I couldn’t believe my hero was gone. It honestly felt like a massive part of me was chipping away.

I deleted any social apps from my phone as I didn’t want to see anymore. There’s always this avalanche of media when a celebrity passes away, the quotes, the images – the images with quotes on them. The brands, the click bait respect posts. The likes of David Cameron, Pharrel Williams and Kanye West were paying their respects. I didn’t want to hear that tick box respect crap. The thought of it all made me angry. In reflection, it was better directed there as I was becoming angry at myself for losing control. So happy masked I went to work and kept anything inside to deal with later.


I didn’t listen to any of his music until I had chance to talk it all out with my wife, who understood. She’s great. We have many Bowie moments throughout our lives. She never really ‘got’ him until she walked in on me listening to Rebel Rebel. It became the rosetta stone for her own admiration. There was his amazing performance at Glastonbury in 2000 that saw me into my 19th birthday. We were pinned to the front, stood through so much crap all day to wait for Bowie. It was worth it. There was sharing headphones listening to Heroes looking on at (what was left of) the Berlin wall. There are many moments that just entwine the both of us.

Up until the chat we had I kept thinking I’d never be able to listen to his records in the same way. That’s actually true but it’s not too bad, not as bad as I thought it was. It’s more sad when I’m listening to his latest album, Black Star. I don’t want it to end. That album is fantastic. I was so excited about his last album The Next Day. There’s a top 5 album post on the newpath site from just before its release back then which is the place to go if you want to know my favourites as it’s stayed the same.


Really impressed with David Bowie’s new album and the vinyl package is really cool.

A photo posted by Stephen Johnston (@mrstej) on


Last year I hit a block. After I put some music out I lost inspiration. I stopped listening to any new music. In fact I was bored. The type of music I had previously liked I just couldn’t enjoy anymore. I went to a Psychedelic Festival and was bored. I went to see Godspeed You Black Emperor and was bored, even left early. I thought it could be an age thing or that I don’t drink, can’t unwind. Then the new David Bowie album comes out and blows me away. The guy who I bought it from asked me if I’d heard it yet as I was getting the vinyl. I replied that I’d been waiting to hear it on vinyl first, he said you won’t be disappointed – it’s bloody brilliant. It was. For three nights I got to enjoy it without the news. I’m happy for that. I’m also amazingly impressed he was able to pull this off whilst in the condition he was in. This album has got me excited about music again. I can’t express more than that just how good it is.

So I’d just like to say thank you David Bowie. You were and will continue to be an inspiration to me. I will continue to listen and be inspired and spur on. You were fucking great.

I’m off to watch Labyrinth.


Somebody asked me if it were possible to re-download a copy of one of our releases they’d bought from us on our Bandcamp store (https://wiredtofollow.bandcamp.com). The answer is yes, absolutely! You just need a Bandcamp fan account. If you don’t have one here’s how to set one up.

1. Firstly go to https://bandcamp.com/fans and scroll down to the part where you can enter your email address. Make sure to enter the email address you used to pay for your music as this is what links your collection to your fan account. Once done you should have access to your very own collection (here’s mine).

2. Here you’ll see that your page is populated by your collection. If you hover over a particular release you want to re-download you’ll see a download link appear (see image below). Clicking that will take you to the download screen where you can choose your format. Simple as that!


My thoughts on Soundcloud for bands

Posted by on 26.03.2015 in all, blog

A disclaimer type thing, I don’t have the answers, I just have some thoughts I wanted to share. I’m a musician probably like you, wanting to be heard across the noise. I use this space to talk about my experiences with mainly music related stuff so this isn’t a magic button post, it’s just my thoughts after using soundcloud.

Oh and I don’t have a million followers, maybe just over a thousand.

I’ve been using soundcloud for a while but never really ‘got’ it, so I decided to spend some time using it properly, mainly listening to others. Soundcloud states that to grow your ‘Soundcloud Community’ you should find tracks you enjoy and ‘like it, fave it, drop a note and follow’. That basically translates to me the main audience for bands – the bands themselves.

So first off groups. I’ve found groups to be a bit annoying to be honest. The majority I’ve found just aren’t moderated. I was seeing hip hop tracks in ambient groups, post-rock in classical etc. If you have a group – moderate it, it adds value! When I see a group that’s moderated it’s a keeper. A couple of examples – Ambient Airwaves and our very own netlabels’ Newpath.

Soundcloud is mainly for musicians but they’re actively trying to turn that around with their new mobile & tablet apps which are listener focused. Hopefully they’ll release artist friendly apps too. I suppose the key thing to take away from this is to use it as a music fan. Don’t try and work it, just use it. Follow musicians you actually like and make connections.

I know some musicians don’t have the time and it can sound like a chore. The thing is, it is if you treat it like that. Remember why you got into music for the first place, you were a fan, be a fan again!

Follow if you like their stuff but don’t just mass follow. I’ll admit when I first used it I just followed a bunch of people in the hopes that they’d follow back. Lots did. Most were unresponsive and hardly released any music or were genres I didn’t really care for. What I ended up with was an unusable feed so it just got left. Now I see the benefits of using it as a listener, as a fan. I’ve found some brilliant music I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Some bad stuff. The bots. Soundcloud is riddled with bot accounts constantly spamming you with messages regarding buying plays/followers or adult stuff like this…

soundcloud boobs

‘big round horny boobs’?! Sounds terrifying! This stuff gets boring fast, especially when you’re getting followed and commented on by fake accounts.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Soundcloud. Does it work for you? Anything you’d like them to improve on? Comment below.

My Leonard Nimoy Moment

Posted by on 28.02.2015 in all, blog

So Leonard Nimoy just passed away. I’m a big Star Trek fan (all series) and the news that one of my most loved pop culture icon actors isn’t around anymore is really sad. I was a little down to see how quickly people got their fleeting respects/jokes in (usually Wrath of Khan ending quotes) followed by pictures of their dinners or weekend plans. That’s social media I guess, fast food thoughts.

Instead of doing that I thought I’d note my favorite Leonard Nimoy moment and yes it’s of Spock.

My favourite Spock moment isn’t from The Wrath of Khan, it’s from an original series episode called Requiem for Methuselah. Kirk, emotionally drained after the death of his love is asleep head down at a table while McCoy explains the reaction to Spock:

“You see, I feel sorrier for you than I do for him because you’ll never know the things that love can drive a man to. The ecstasies, the miseries, the broken rules, the desperate chances, the glorious failures, the glorious victories. All of these things you’ll never know simply because the word love isn’t written into your book.”

McCoy leaves the room and Spock approaches Kirk. He utters the word “Forget” to Kirk as he uses a mind meld to ease his pain.

I’ve always found this an utterly beautiful sentiment and see it as not just Spock understanding but empathising. He’s half human after all.

He totally nailed that character.


Today it’s the Chinese new year celebrations here in Liverpool and I decided to go out and do a bit of field recording. It’s been raining (a lot) and it’s pretty windy so I wanted to capture some of that windswept sound. It was probably not a good idea to setup a condenser mic with this weather but I wanted to give it a go. Firecrackers aren’t really worth it, they’re too loud and will clip all over the place but I wanted to capture other sounds. There’s a kind of unworldly siren-esque feel as all sounds get tumbled around, mixed up. Not sure it’s useable for the new release but I really enjoyed doing it.

I love the randomness of going out and recording. Knowing you won’t be able to recreate what you record is quite reassuring and scratches away the feeling that your tracks are becoming too regimented.


I suppose it’s no secret that there’s a new Wired to Follow release underway. Work began in October of last year and it’s almost there. It’s become a very intimate release, born on a concept of ideas and strung together by a short story. Very much a journey from the mechanical to organic in various ways.

I don’t want to reveal major details yet, I prefer to do that when it’s done but I will say that I love what’s it’s become and can’t wait to share it with you all. I’ll update under this log so you can keep up.


The album isn’t dead. Let’s just get that out of the way.

Vinyl, cassettes, CDs, downloads and now streaming (+ vinyl again) shaped the release, dictated the format and set the distinction between singles, EPs and albums. Nowadays it’s dictated by you. There are no rules. People are still releasing music on cassette and that’s fine (although I don’t own a player anymore). USB sticks, QR coded download cards, pop up cds, you get it, there’s variation. So what works for you is what works for you, unless you listen to others…

I remember when sending out emails for review about our last release (Short Code), a blogger got back with some advice –

“if I counted correctly you now have 73 minutes of music (not counting the remix EP) ~ perhaps it’s time for an album?  Best advice there would be to choose the tracks you are proudest of, plus any fan favorites, and add a few newbies while dropping those you no longer liked as much.  Then pick a great cover and post it!”

Now that got me slightly rattled. I’m not really sure why. Maybe the simplicity of it. Our releases are solid things to us, not something we would just jigsaw together like a ‘best of’. They’re done, they exist in their own space. We move on. The album to me is a great thing. I buy them regularly but why do I have to make one? It hit me hard. Do bloggers favour albums over EPs? Does that matter? Yes, well sort of. Why should it matter what bloggers think? They help against obscurity. We love to create but we do create to be heard and blogs help. It got me thinking, is EP a dirty word? I always opt for the term ‘release’ nowadays. When it’s done, release. There was a hastily made decision –  “We must make an album!” without actually thinking if that works for us.

I wanted to get some views from other bloggers I knew and get their personal perspective on the subject. Does the distinction between EP and album actually matter nowadays?

Dan Salter, Editor at Echoes and Dust

“Interestingly, this is something we’ve been discussing internally with our writers for some time and in fact in this year’s record of the year poll we removed the distinction between album & ep altogether as I feel it’s no longer a valid distinction. Especially with the kind of music we cover, we’ll get albums submitted that have 2 tracks on but is 60 minutes long and EPs that have 6 tracks on but only have 25 minutes of music! I mean this morning I got an email about a double EP from a band! WTF is that if it’s not album?!

At the end of the day both terms were adopted to describe a physical format, in this digital age they’re pretty meaningless.”

I think this is a very interesting and forward thinking perspective. Removing the distinction gives a level playing field. It doesn’t favor one piece of work over the other just because it comes with a different label. You’re critiqued on your release alone. Brilliant.

Ashley has an interesting point when it comes to the volume of a musician’s work:

Ashley Collins, Founder at Noted

“I value both equally, but it is largely as a result of having the site. I used to treat EPs as inferior but now I completely see their worth in a catalogue. When an artist has a constant stream of output though it can be a bit intimidating, and keeping up can be laborious. Sometimes I’d much rather wait for a fuller release, often they feel more complete. It’s one of those case-by-case things for me, lots of variables to consider.”

I can totally understand this, especially from a listener’s point of view – where do you start? I think that’s pretty much up to the musician to keep a clear road map. Having an excessive output can be an issue and I can relate to that. In 2013 we released three EPs with little time between the last two. This was a little confusing to some people and in hindsight I can see why.  The announcements became noise and it was hard to keep up. Just imagine if your favourite band put out stuff as close, it’d lose novelty really quickly. I would definitely spread things out a little more from now on and make each release more of an event. I suppose an album flags more distinctively or ‘newsworthy’ than an EP. The trick here is to not use labels.

What about other musicians? I wanted to hear their views too.

Adam Rowley of Afternaut

“Good topic! It’s something that makes my heart sink a little to be honest. I listen to music as albums. I like absorbing into an artists work for 40+ mins. But as an artist it takes a very long time to craft something to that length, in a culture that digests music very quickly. It’s precisely why my releases sit in between EP and LP. Transmission could be classed as an E.P. but still had a running time of 40 mins. Purely because that’s what I’d want to listen to, it’s more of a journey.”

Transmission would definitely qualify as an album according to Wikipedia which states that ‘According to the rules of the UK Charts, a recording counts as an “album” if it either has more than four tracks or lasts more than 25 minutes‘. So I guess an EP is anywhere between that and a single track.

Jake also comments on on how quickly music is consumed but feels it shouldn’t dictate progression:

Jake Murray of In Violet

Initially I was quite set on just making EPs as they’re digestible. Commonly now we find people want about twenty to forty minutes of music as it can be consumed quickly and a good EP/short album like that won’t contain any of the fluff. With opal I just found that I wanted to feel some form of progression. I wanted to try creating something that intentionally takes longer to digest and longer to reflect on, and that’s exactly how people reacted to it. Now we’re most certainly working on another album, and this time it’s being written AS an album, so it’s kind of a progression on where we left off… but with the amount of music I’m writing at the moment, we might bridge we an EP and then a single, before releasing the album.

Stuart makes the case that an album isn’t just a set of songs, more of a story/concept:

Stuart Cook of Capac

I think the form does matter a great deal, I feel there’s been a shift over the last 15 years or so away from the album towards EPs, possibly due to the ipod/iTunes thing changing the way music is consumed. Albums definitely have a place, they serve as a document and tell much more of a story; provided there’s a story to tell an album is relevant. What an album should NOT be is a collection of songs, there needs to be a story arc, or at the very least a theme to tie it all together. It’s tricky though because what is an album?? Some of that drone stuff I tweeted you about the other day, it’s one track per side, but lasts 40 mins. Does that constitute an album? It’s the right length, but only two pieces. We’ve been a very EP focuses band in the past partly due to practicalities, partly because we haven’t had a collection of tracks on a single theme. That changed a bit with Nested, four tracks linked thematically, plus it was long, so we decided to call it a mini-album as it didn’t feel like an album. We’re hoping to get our album out there soon though, and tell our story.

For me personally, I think you can still tell a story in EP length, be it shorter but I totally get where Stuart’s coming from. It feels more an event to start an album in the same way an author would start a novel after short stories.

It’s not just independent artists. it’s mainstream too. Röyksopp announced their latest album would be their last and that they’d be releasing EPs afterwards.

“We feel like this is a goodbye to the traditional album format. In our consecutive run of albums, we have been able to say what we want to say and do what we want to do with the LP. We’re not going to stop making music, but the album format as such, this is the last thing from us.”

I think legacy or mainstream artists have more pressure to put out albums. It can be hard to deviate and upset your fans, Even Radiohead toyed with the idea which never actually came into fruition.

Just to end I’d like to repeat what I said before – the album isn’t dead, far from it! That doesn’t mean that an artist has to be coerced into making one, do what works for you.

A big thanks to the bloggers and musicians who contributed. Please check them out!

What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below.