Sydnee Carter onto the next chapter

Starting off at a young age can be difficult, especially in this generation. The world has changed, especially for up and coming musicians. 18 year old Sydnee Carter from Perth, Australia, lives in the so-called YouTube Generation where YouTube is the most popular online tool for discovering new musicians.

Writing songs on back of guitar 8aYoung independent singer-songwriter Sydnee got her first guitar when she was six but didn’t take lessons until she was 11 years old. However, she didn’t find the lessons as beneficial as she had hoped. She explained, “I decided to take it upon myself at the age of 12 to teach myself through YouTube tutorials, and that’s where I picked up singing and playing the guitar.”

Her guitar inspired her to sing. She used to make her parents smile by strumming her guitar around the kitchen acting like she was Michael Jackson. But the influence to her music was mainly from Ed Sheeran. She believes that he is very recognisable if you hear him on the radio and he has his own style compared to other artists.

“Ed Sheeran also inspired me to be creative in the way I write songs and relay experiences. See I was influenced by the ‘YouTube Age’, where the likes of Justin Bieber and Cody Simpson were being discovered, and I thought: why can’t I too? That led me to putting up covers and starting my own YouTube Channel before progressing to writing my own songs.”

Her favourite song soon became Youth by an indie folk band called Daughter. This was because it was a song she discovered when going through a hard time at school. “I was trying to find my friends, figure myself out and who I wanted to be. It reminds me of memories that made me the person I am today.” She had covered it on her YouTube Channel and used it when auditioning for the X-Factor, “It was a song that I took the time to practice and practice each and every day till I got it perfect, and to this day I still try to perfect it.”

She auditioned for the Australian X-Factor in 2014 when she was only 16 years old. She gained attention from people all around the world as she progressed to boot camp, making it to the live shows and making the final three under-25 girls. She survived five weeks based on the public votes, finishing the show in ninth place.

Now she’s become a strong, motived musician who wants to become a big successful name in the music world. She hopes to one day be ‘big’ and expand her fanbase worldwide, “Within five years I would love to be successful in the sense that I have hits in the top 10 on iTunes and Spotify. I hope to be writing and collaborating with small and major artists, and I hope to have new artists like myself who are in the same position as me at the moment on my record label.”

SYD093Cover 1.jpgShe released her debut self-titled EP in February 2015 and is releasing her next EP within the next month, not yet released the name, and it will include five songs. “These songs are all very important to me and take a different vibe to my current EP which is about love, friendship and having someone to talk to. This new EP is based around the idea of growing up and becoming an adult and reminiscing on old times when being a child was so easy.”

Reminiscing, she recalls when she was younger she was a keen football player so her dad took her to a football game and purchased a mascot package which meant she could walk out onto the pitch with the team. “As my dad is originally from England and a passionate Birmingham City fan, on one trip to the UK in 2009 he surprised me by taking me to a soccer game. It was a great day and they won!”

When she first started playing to the public she was playing in a pub and she found it hard to concentrate on what she was doing because she got side tracked by the intoxicated people dancing to her music. Now when she is playing and gets nervous when performing she gets really open about herself. “as I talk about the weirdest stuff, I once told the audience that I had to stop myself from burping half-way through the song, then I immediately wanted to bang myself on the head and go “WHY!” but they loved it!

“I always loved making people laugh, happy, and smile and also being the centre of attention. I would do whatever it took to make someone smile, and even if that meant rocking out a completely fake and horrible air guitar rendition, then I would,” she enthused.

With just finishing school and starting university at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts five days a week she does insist she has a normal life aside from her musical fame. “Honestly, my life is extremely normal! If I’m not at university, then I’m trying to catch up on driving lessons so I can finally get my license. If I’m not driving, then I’m attending my new part-time job at a hardware store called ‘Masters’. And in my free time I’m usually playing guitar, playing with my sister, hanging out with friends or playing on the PlayStation with my boyfriend.

“My family are all extremely supportive and I am very grateful to have them, my mum, dad and my two sisters.”

H & M opening.jpgKeep up to date with Sydnee at

Or visit her Facebook page for regular updates:

Ralway Bell: From the beginning

Five-piece alt-country rock band Ralway Bell have won the group of the year award at the WA country music festival. But how did it all begin?

Lead vocalist, guitarist and primary songwriter in Ralway Bell, Ben Wilson, played in a lot of rock and grunge bands throughout his teenage years and his university days. When he moved to Western Australia he tried to be in rock and Indie bands instead but his passion for these types of music just didn’t quite sit right. As he got older he realised he wasn’t doing what he actually loved. “The older I got, the more I stopped trying to be something I wasn’t. I was trying to sing them high indie melody lines when I knew I couldn’t.” he said. “I was able to go ‘you know what? You really like elements of country, you really like elements of rock so let’s mix them together’ and that’s how I’ve ended up feeling most comfortable.”

Ben grew up on a beef farm in a small country town in New South Wales. There were about 2500 people in the town and his parents owned a couple of 100 acres of land. “I spent a lot of time on the farm working with dad and we used to ride horses competitively.” His upbringing was the cliché country vibe but that was his childhood. His dad played country around the farm all the time, his dad especially liked Dylan and Neil Young but his mum was more the rock chick with her love of the Rolling Stones.

However, he always rebelled the country genre when he was younger and throughout his teenage years. “We’d go to these horse events and they’d be a lot of people playing country and of course I rebelled,” he said. In high school he was still on the grunge bandwagon. He used to grow his hair long and pretend he was the next Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam.

Instead, Ben used his Alt-Country love for music to put together a new band together called Ralway Bell, “And that’s how we ended up here!” At the moment they are at the starting out point within the music career. He is the manager and social media guru of the group. “You find you have to talk a lot more roles early on I think,” he said, “I am looking at other people who are now starting to get management and record deals and they all started off the same way doing all the leg work themselves.”

Every member of the band is also either in jobs, between jobs or looking for jobs. Ben currently works with operational technology for high precision machine guns. He enthused, “I’ve just had 12 weeks off. I go back to work on Monday which is going to be a massive downer because it’s been an awesome summer. We’ve had all these cool gigs, these awards and festivals but it’s time to come back to reality.” Because of work the band schedule their music around their shifts and work hours so performing is usually left for weekends. “It would be nice to get to a point where we could focus on it 100 percent but I think the reality of original music, especially in a city as small as Perth, is hard.”

As well as working he also manages the Alt-Country and Western Australia Facebook page and contributes to a national Facebook page called Americana Australia so it helps him keep tabs on a few bands new and old. “Alt-country and Americana is what I am listening to at the moment. Country music has changed so much over the years. Sometimes when I’m looking through stuff I feel the Americana genre is back to where country started. It’s the very simple blue-grass kind of influence or just a person with a guitar telling a story.”

He travelled to America in 2008 and he couldn’t believe how big country was over there. “You would drive into the towns and cities and there’d be like ten country stations all advertising with big billboards and we’d be like flicking through trying to find some pop or rock!” He feels Americana is circling back to the original country like music such as Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie which is why he loves that sound. But he also loves Alt-Country that then twists rock and electric sounds with tones and themes of country music. “I think that’s what Ralway Bell are, the bit rockier, a bit edgier sound,” he said. “We have a pedal steel guitarist in our band and I just love that pedal steel sound.”

The Alt-Country and Americana genre are what Ralway Bell’s sound is based on. They tell stories of their own experiences and use the genre as the vehicle for their new songs. “I don’t think anything we are doing people are going to go, ‘wow I have never seen that done before’. But the greatest compliment we can get is someone coming up and saying that we really reminded them of a band they love. We just want to represent that sound and that style for everyone.”

One support act gig they did this year for Kasey Chambers was interesting because Ben lost his cowboy hat he wears for every gig. “It’s like a size 62, it’s a massive piece of gear,” he said. They were playing at the Quindanning Inne on the WAM Wheatbelt Touring Circuit. It was the last show of a three-night run and since he didn’t have to save his voice for any other shows, they were out in the crowd while Kasey was performing. The hat got taken off his head, “Since it was so big I could keep track of where it was going through the crowd. I got the hat back but after a few more trips to the bar, I must’ve gone to bed without the hat.” He woke in the morning and wondered where his hat went. The last person who had the hat seemed to have written their phone number on the drummer’s t-shirt so they got in contact with them and they still had the hat as they had taken it home with them. “We got it back a couple of weeks later,” he said. “When it was returned it came with a little photo-book because they travelled a couple of hours from where they lived to the gig and they’d gone and put the hat in different tourist spots and taken a photo of it so they’d written this little book of stories of my hat.” This was the weirdest encounter the band have had but Ben says usually, “What happens on the road, stays on the road!”

So far the band have had a nomination in the WAM awards for Best Country Act last year. “It’s judged on a few elements: your recordings, how you’re going with profiles, social media and gigs.” Then February this year they won Group of the Year at the Boyup Brooke Country Music Festival WA Music awards and it blew their minds. “I feel we need to not sit around too long, we need to keep active.” Ben feels travelling east is the next move as they have gained a lot of fans in Western Australia and there is a bigger population and drum up support. In the next few weeks Ralway Bell are playing at Port City Folk Festival and helping out their good friends The Jackson Roses launch their new CD.

With an EP released, I am a Superhero, and playing at various gigs Ralway Bell are well on their way to be successful. The band are now in talks after a pretty busy first half of the year with the Boyup Brook Country Music Festival and the Nannup Music Festival. There was also a WAM Showcase Show end of last year so they didn’t really have time to build the best line-up. “We kind of just said we’ll get these gigs out the way and then we’ll have a bit of a sit-down and a chat about how everyone’s feeling about everything and where we want to go.” The band seem happy with where they are now, though, “If we keep doing that and keep enjoying that and something grows and happens from that then that’s a bonus but as long as we stay where we are now then that’s a good place to be.”

Addy M: Rapping, writing lyrics and inspiring people

Rapper Addy M is only 20 years old and is already being idolised. His music consists of real life events and things that were happening around him. One even sounded like he was living in the game of Grand Theft Auto…

AddyM_121.pngI performed on the first day of Surf Festival and Marine Drive was literally packed. There were elderly people listening to me which I thought was different because my songs can come across as offensive. There were young children, which had no idea what my songs were about, dancing and having fun too. When I was onto my last song of my 30-minute set, an elderly woman around the age of 60 started to walk up to the stage which was surprising because it was ridiculously loud and contained a lot of profanities. I thought she was coming up to me to complain but she got to the stage and reached out her hand to me so I went to grab it. When I did she held it and said to me that I was amazing and to keep doing what I’m doing and I’ll go far. It was a very humbling moment.

But life wasn’t always full of such amazing moments. When I was only in primary school my mum developed something like a brain tumour, called Encephalitis, which messed with our family massively. It affects two in 250,000 people so growing up was quite difficult. At 12 years-old I had to grow up really fast and ignore all the problems going on in my life and focus on helping my family. My dad was amazing with me and my brother, though, He has been both my father and mother figure so I really couldn’t ask for a better role model. He is my main support for my music and always will be. He knows how important music is to me and believes in me no matter how long it takes for me to be noticed.

I performed my first real rap in a year ten talent show. It was called Acceptance and since then I haven’t stopped. Being a rapper means you can talk about what you want to talk about. No one tells you what to rap and no one faults you for something you rap about. You can talk about experiences and dark subjects that you usually wouldn’t talk about in lyrics to a pop song.


I’ve always listened to music ranging from Pink Floyd and Nirvana to stuff like Eminem and N.W.A. I went through loads of different genres but soon realised my main interest was rap music. When I was a child I used to randomly write poems and short stories and when I hit 13 I realised I had quite a dark imagination and I could set scenes quite vividly with little effort. So from my poems I just thought about trying to turn them into raps instead and from then on I did. I began with really typical cheesy stuff, which I didn’t really like, but after a few life experiences I started to write about them instead. I used my ability to vividly set a scene and combined it with my personal stories to create songs.

Through my music I want people to see that no matter what life throws at you; things will always get better. It’s not about how many times you get knocked down, it about how many times you get back up. The whole point of my songs are just to simply inspire people and help people who have been in situations similar to me. I would tell them that it gets better. Things come into everybody’s lives and everyone has different ways of dealing with them. If someone could just put on one of my songs and relate and feel better, then my job as a musician is done.

In the future I want to be headlining stages, changing people’s lives. At the moment I am in the process of being signed and have so far collaborated with J-Short, CHL and Nyne Lyves. I am also releasing a second album; I don’t know how long it will take or when it will be out because I want it to be amazing before anyone hears it. I am still at college studying too, I’m only young but I will keep pushing through the struggles you call life to pursue my dreams and so should you.


Emerging artist Sharmain Kendrick releases new single

Emerging artist Sharmain Kendrick has recently released her new single Kill Him. It was first played on Australian radio and officially released through a single launch at Jimmy’s Den, Perth. Joining the launch was Kate Hindle, Courtney Conway, Josie Bright and Jasmine Atkins. They’re all young up and coming country pop singers like Sharmain. The official video for Kill Him will be released this month.

SharmainPhotoSitting in front of my laptop calling the Perth-born singer, her smile pops up. Feeling comfortable in her own home, and ready to talk about her new single, Sharmain confirms, “I had my second single launch, called Kill Him, on 2 April so I was super busy organising my set and learning songs.”

The single co-wrote with song-writer Mike Carr is a tongue-in-cheek song about an unfaithful partner, “This song is definitely apparent for the girls, so if you’ve ever been in a horrible relationship this one’s for you,” she said grinning. “Obviously, I would never kill somebody! It’s funny because it pulls on things that some women have been through, but even if they haven’t been through a partner cheating on them, even just their man irritating them, leaving dirty dishes around or leaving their jocks on the floor it’s like ‘oh my god sometimes I just want to kill you’. So I think it’s definitely a song for the girls.”

As an independent artist, Sharmain is ecstatic at how far she’s come. She began her solo music career in 2013 discovering her passion on stage at the Boyup Brook Country Music Festival. “I knew from that point on that’s what I wanted to do, that modern country music vibe that’s coming out of Nashville, I just love it,” she said. “I completed a boot camp there with a couple of big artists that they got in called Carter and Carter. I learned so much. But from then on, I have just kind of been really lucky. We have another big artist over here in Australia, Adam Brand, who has been kind enough to take me under his wing and mentor me a little bit.”

30bf4f_344d7c1070464fafb4e8f1397c817872Her music is influenced by the likes of Kelsea Ballerini, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift who all started their careers as country pop artists too just like Sharmain. At just 28 years old her music career went off with a bang. On 28 August last year, she released her debut single Break Your Heart and it went straight to number one in the iTunes chart. It also hit number 26 on the top 30 country music chart on CMC, a country channel in Australia. She then spent six months doing gigs around the country for this album.

Following the accomplishment of her debut, in September her and her partner, now to be husband, went to Nashville. “I did some song-writing with some co-writes over there that I had managed to book,” she said. “I just really wanted to experience everything over there so I hit the honky-tonk bars, the Rhinemann Auditorium and experienced the history of Nashville. I went to the Grand Ole Opry and my partner proposed to me on stage!”
This led to Sharmain writing a song about her whole experience over there, “I did a whole bunch of song-writing sessions and I ended up writing a song called Struck by Love, which is all about love, about my partner Dave, about how it all happened. Using metaphors and just expressing how I was feeling.” She smiles at the thought; it is her favourite song after all. “I love the lyrics, the melody of the song, the chords, everything about the song just flowed out really nicely when we wrote it.”

As well as the song, she constantly writes her music through real life stories about herself or her friends. She just thinks about things and writes about them from the heart. “We might all be sitting around a table and one of my girlfriends would be like, ‘oh this guy…’ and I’m like, ‘oh that would make a good song’. So then I go home, journal it and write it. When the times right I will be like, ‘oh I might strike some chords, see if that works, and just write a song’.” She explains thinking about some previous songs she had written.

She has had quite an adventure since her debut including going to the Tamworth Country Music Festival this year for the first time and she made the top ten finalists list for Toyota Star Maker 2016. “They say it’s like the X-Factor of country music here in Australia!” She did one gig at Hungry Jacks in Tamworth and she said, “Let’s just say it was definitely a character building experience,” she laughed. “Literally the only people who were there were my mum, my fiancé, my sister, and then the people who worked at Hungry Jacks. I was singing and a girl who worked there decided to start cleaning, but instead of starting to clean at the other end of the shop, she started mopping right in front me. I’m like ‘should I stop singing? Should I move? Is this really happening right now?'”

12540949_742351932561751_1501619805439415946_nShe accomplished various gigs in Tamworth as she was there for seven days but when she got home it was a rush as the Boyup Brook Country Music Festival was soon to start. For this, she was nominated for three awards: new emerging talent, new video-clip of the year, and new single of the year. “I came away with two out of three of those awards. I won new emerging talent and new video clip of the year for Break Your Heart,” she confirmed. “I was very humbled that people have noticed me and started to believe in me as an artist. As far as the country music industry goes they were the first awards that I got and to be recognised and noticed for your art form is just… I just can’t wait to get more music out there!”



Kill Him is out now on iTunes:

Watch the official video here now!


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24 hours without the internet

The internet is one of the biggest things in the world! Don’t you think? It never stops growing! But, what would happen if you couldn’t go online for 24 hours? Well, that’s exactly what I did.

Everyday people mindlessly browse the internet.  Nine in ten adults now go online all over the world and adults now spend over 20 hours online per week, Ofcom’s Media Use and Attitudes 2015 report states. Many people spend hours of their lives documenting where they are going, what they are doing and who they are with all over the internet, especially social media. Just opening my newsfeed, a friend of mine on Facebook may be on holiday and I’ll basically see day by day statuses posted up on their wall, just like a diary entry. Or if someone is in a restaurant they will “check in” or take a photo of their meal showing me how delicious it is. The internet seems to have become a world where nothing is private anymore.


Graph from: Ofcom. (May 2015) Adults’ media use and attitudes. Available at:

When I began my internet free day, I woke up and got straight out of bed. Usually, I’d have grabbed my phone to check what notifications I had received while asleep. I’d spend at least half an hour in bed just to read Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and my emails. And guess what? Because I couldn’t, I actually had time for breakfast! I wouldn’t have time to eat on a morning because I’d be in a rush out the door. So having no internet actually helped me to sit and enjoy my Coco Pops.

Now, boredom is where I struggled. If I was sat around for 10 minutes, I would usually grab my phone, press the Facebook or Instagram app and open it up because I always feel the need to be occupied. I always found it handy because in the palm of my hand would be all my friends’ information and updates. Snapchat would show me what they were doing at that moment in time and what they had been doing during the day from their Snapchat stories. Facebook would say when they were last online, share what’s on their mind, show photos of an occasion or even express how someone was feeling at a certain time. It’s crazy to even think how much information the internet could have on an individual just from social media sites and how many people use them. According to Ofcom’s research 81 percent of people who have social media sites go online at least once a day.


Graph from: Ofcom. (May 2015) Adults’ media use and attitudes. Available at:

Just think right now how many times you’ve been on social media today. Well, I haven’t cracked, yet! By 12pm I wanted to pick up my phone just to look at it, just to have it open but I used my willpower to stop myself. Scrolling through Facebook while waiting for my dinner is a bad habit of mine, and by the looks of everyone around me, it’s a general bad habit for a lot of people.

Instead, I spent the spare five minutes relaxing with a bit of peace and quiet instead of reading of the drama happening online. Because let’s face it, everyone has that one person on their Facebook that complains about absolutely everything. I also didn’t have to read statuses that were telling me someone had just eaten at Pizza Express for their lunch. But my personal favourite will always be the one person who ALWAYS writes depressing statuses of how rubbish their life is… Yes, I’d never miss their statuses if I had no internet in my life!


Being deprived of social media was the hardest reality; I’ve grown up around it, it’s my way of life. Having no social media was like taking peanut butter from the jelly. After all, young adults (18–29 year olds) are most likely to use social media. Andrew Perrin of the Pew Research Centre stated, 90 percent of young adults use social media in some form, whether that is Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. It’s the way I keep up with the news and my friends’ lives.

I had to think of alternative ways to keep up with the day and fill in my spare time. The first thing I learnt was I spoke more to the people who were around me unlike when me and my friends were relaxing before, there would be a spare five minutes where I’d look around and everyone would be checking their phones.

Email was another issue. I couldn’t read my email’s during the day so I knew as soon as I started this experiment that at the end of the day I would have a bunch of emails waiting to be read. Most would be junk, offers on jewellery, or clothes, but if I had an email of the university that I missed, there would be consequences since my tutor always emails about meetings and lessons.

Out of this whole experience, though, I’ve realised that connecting with friends is one of the main reasons I do use the internet, and that’s one thing I wouldn’t change. Because of the distance, while I’m at university, I would have no other way to keep up with their lives if it wasn’t for Instagram and Facebook. They keep me in the loop when I’m not actually there in person. If a friend needed me I could be there for them even when I’m not physically there. The only positive I got out of this experience was I was more aware and connected to reality than usual, I noticed things going on around me that I normally wouldn’t — Let’s face it, I did a lot of people watching.

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Divergent Series: Allegiant film review

Main characters are lost, entire plots are nowhere to be seen and certain themes within the book have vanished from the film completely. Not to mention where has this technology come from?

If you’ve never read the book, you may actually love the movie. But as someone who loved the Divergent Series books, and Allegiant was my favourite, I am sad about what the film adaptation has turned into.

This was never the intention of Veronica Roth’s novel, after just ten minutes into the story takes its own turn, losing all its detail the book once had.

The third instalment of the blockbuster series Divergent, Allegiant takes Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) into a whole new world that no one has seen yet, far more mysterious and dangerous than before. The story begins where the previous film left off with everyone trying to leave the city. However, the factionless do not let them so Tris and her group hatch a plan to make an escape.

This is all good and well as the film also follows the book. But then BAM, where did the big daring plan go? Apart from Tori being shot. Wait, who is Tori again, you ask? Where did her story go that was such a big role in the book? It was cut. Her brother does not actually exist at all in the movie and she is forgotten about after being killed off at the beginning. And where were Cara, Uriah, Nita and Amar you ask? Well, they were cut too.

As for Peter, when reading the book, I wanted to scream, shout and rip the pages out and shove them in Peter’s mouth so he would stop talking. But instead, the film just makes him only slightly annoying and more bearable with only the allegiance shifts of his character being significantly similar to the book’s character.

The story, which is the final book but not the final film, has a very cliché storyline which sees the evil leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) be replaced with another evil that is Four’s mother, Evelyn (Naomie Watts). But that is not the only evil. Adding a new group of people into the story, the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, another threat enters Tris’, Four’s, Caleb’s (Ansel Elgort), Christina’s (Zoe Kravitz) and Peter’s lives. David (Jeff Daniels).

Sounding good to non-readers of the book? Well, you will have Ascendant to look forward to next year as they split the final book into two films. As for me, who’s a true fan, I may walk out of the cinema in anger if it’s anything like this film. So if you’re a true fan, read the books. Allegiant is one hell of a book which will leave you in a complete head spin of emotion as well as leave you in pure anger on how much Hollywood has ruined the series.

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DIY musicians live among society

Dave Giles Performs covers at weddings, writes his own music, tours the UK, runs his own record label and is a guitarist in a band called For Apollo. What more could he dream of? Let’s find out…

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DIY music now walks among mainstream media. In this day and age bands can record and release their tracks via the web on social media whenever they want, rather than having to pay thousands for a studio to get their track to exist and heard on the radio. Millions of people can just click and listen to their tracks for free. Dave fully embraced this when starting up his band in 2007. He formed an underground Indie band called the Rileys with his school friend, Joseph Fielder, who became his long-term collaborator. They had no manager, no agent and no promoter. “We fully embraced the idea of being a ‘DIY’ band. We produced our own songs and created our own record label,” said Dave. “By October 2009 we sold out The Shepherds Bush Empire in London, a 2,000-capacity venue and it felt great!”

Sadly, in 2010, they split due to personal reasons and the fanbase was distraught. Dave was left wondering, “What should I do next?” He decided to go solo and said it was the best decision he ever made, “I’d never been a front man or a lead singer, but a lot of my favourite acts were just one-man shows.” He has now been in various bands and has played the guitar for a variety of singers. Now 30 years old, he is running his own record label called Cheeky Chimp Records Ltd, touring around the UK, being a session musician and playing guitar in a band called For Apollo. Dave said, “Now I’m 30 I’m branching out a little bit more, I’m even Producing music for YouTuber Gary C and singer-songwriter Lizzie Jane.”

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When releasing his debut EP The First Seven in October 2010 he sold out a show at The Barfly, Camden. Social media was his saviour because he was able to promote his music and gigs through his Twitter, Facebook and YouTube Channel. Since then he has toured the UK numerous times as well as touring in Ireland and Australia.

His quirky yet innovative music with a folk acoustic rock twist has to have had some inspiration. He said it was drawn from his idols: The Beatles, Frank Turner, Blur and Billy Bragg., “I think it’s good to surround yourself with as much music as you can, even if the genre doesn’t suit what you’re doing, you can learn a lot from it!” He’s a big fan of classical music with Claude Debussy being his favourite but his music is nothing like the classical genre. His other much-loved acts are U2, Ben Marwood, Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright, Jason Isbell, Norah Jones, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and David Bowie. He especially loves the quote which he has on his wall from one of the Beatles, it says, “Out of adversity comes strong stuff, you can get your sorrows out in a song.”

Even though Dave played music since he was seven, he didn’t originally want to go down the route of music. When he was younger he wanted to be an astronaut, but his love of science wasn’t enough to commit to a lifetime in the career. “When I was 17 I found out that my eyesight was too bad for me to being able to fly spaceships or fast planes, so I’d have to become a mission specialist in order to achieve that goal,” he said. “That would have meant a lifetime in science labs and, as much as I enjoyed science, my heart wasn’t in it enough, so I had a very slim chance of going to space.”

IMG_3376 copy.jpgMusic was the only other love Dave had. So he decided to audition for Popular Music Performance degrees in West London. “At this point, my dad said that if I was serious about becoming a musician I had to research how I could earn money from it without being a superstar,” Dave said. He found ten different ways of earning money and this satisfied his parents enough to support him throughout University. He met lots of musicians who he now continues to work with as a result. However, he said, “I don’t feel like I learnt that much at University, most of what I have learnt about playing the guitar or about the music industry has been as a result of the work I’ve done.”

Only thirteen months into his solo career, Dave created his own first headline tour in the UK, Touring For Tea. Nine cities being toured in nine days with The Borderline in London being sold out. He had attracted over 1,000 people and offered every individual who attended a free cup of tea. It was clear Dave had a strong fanbase once again. By the end of 2011, he had supported two tours, one for Ivyrise in their January tour and one for Room 94 on with their summer tour, gaining even more fans, and adding six other cities to his list of accomplishments.

His music career did not stop there. In 2013, he had written two EP’s and his first album Love, Life, Loss and Tea (2012). His album came after he’d written the EP’s about a girl he was trying to go out with. “It was definitely all over by the time I came to write the album, but I felt I had a few more things to say,” Dave told me. “I was trying to use loads of clever metaphors to explain my feelings, but they kept on being rubbish or not really working, and in the end I realised that the answer was to not use any!” His favourite song on the album, There’s No Need For Metaphors Anymore, was the first track he wrote for the album and he thinks it’s his most clever. “It’s basically a song about writer’s block, so it’s very self-indulgent in that regards. Most people who listen to my music prefer other songs and I understand that, but this is my favourite.”

As well as his music projects he is a session musician. This mean he often creates a set full of cover songs for wedding parties or private parties. It’s always varied and sometimes he even gets to work with different musicians on the job. “It’s rewarding in a very different way to creating original music, but it’s also a huge part of what I do, which I often don’t talk about because it’s not that glamorous!” He will take most opportunities that are offered as it all pays towards his bills and living. “I don’t have a normal job, so these little bits of extra money are very important, and make it affordable for me to do the original projects whilst still being able to call myself a full-time musician.”

10671267_10152414754325967_3259884610351540237_nWith an album and six EPs now released, all on his record label Cheeky Chimp Records Ltd, Dave is now rapidly establishing himself within the UK and his fanbase is continuing to grow as he continues on his music journey. Asking him what he is doing in his daily life is like asking a pig to fly, he said, “Some days are admin days, some days you’re writing, some days you’re rehearsing, some days you’re gigging. It’s not the kind of life you can explain that easily!” As the year’s progress, he does know he wants to continue making a living through his music, though. “I’m not looking for superstardom, I just want to keep enjoying being a musician and earning from it if possible! If I can say in 5 years that I still don’t have a “proper” job, then I’ll be very happy.”

To find out more about what Dave Giles is up to, go to

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Life as an Australian Country Pop singer

Country Pop singer Courtney Conway has recently been named as the lead for Always… Patsy Cline the musical, touring this summer.


Emerging Australian artist Courtney Conway has just been saving some baby chickens before arriving at this interview. “Hey, I’m so sorry about the time, but this is why… They chirp when they are looking for their mum because it’s their bedtime,” she said holding up some black and yellow chirping creatures.


“I’ve been trying to find things in my house!” She said pointing to the half-packed boxes behind her. She has recently moved to a new house in Perth, Australia, with her husband and toy poodle. This weekend she has performed at a local racing club called Pinjarra Harness Racing Club and today she had been looking after the chicks so it’s fortunate she had time to talk.

With being in the industry for about nine years she insists, “I’m still working my way through the industry, I would say I’m still an up and coming artist.” As an artist, she has really thrown herself into the work, especially in the last 18 months where she has worked the most gigs and helped out not only herself but other new artists for a shot at the limelight. “If I do a show, I try to get them to do a support so we can both get in front of different audiences.”

So what’s next? “I’m keeping it quite bare around now because I have just been asked to do a massive six-month tour around Australia where I have to sing 27 songs,” she said. The tour Always… Patsy Cline is more than a tribute to the legendary country singer, it is a musical play based on her true story. “It’ll be myself and this other woman called Mandy. Rehearsals for it start in June and the tour starts in Melbourne,” she said. “Then we move up to the East Coast, back down to Tasmania and southern Australia, and then finish in Western Australia.” She has never done a tour this big before, so she is very nervous, “I did one with a horse show and I was on that one for three months and that was a long time. I’m such a homebody so it’ll be hard.”

12800404_1138982942792857_997671816517212413_nShe went to see her parents only the other week in Victoria, Australia, and played at a festival at a small town called Birchip. The town is well known for its farming, cattle and their bulls and they have a big statue of a bull in the centre of town. After playing her gig at the little festival she said to her dad, “I would really like to get a photo with the bull so I can put it on Facebook.” When she got to the bull it was much taller than she expected it to be and she was just going to stand in front of it but her dad said, “What if we put you on the top?!” So her dad ended up giving her a boost up onto the bull. “Once I got up there it was all smooth and there was nothing to hold onto so I started falling but my dad thought I was stable. Even before I could warn him any different I fell on top of my dad. He kind of caught me before I could fall backwards and pushed me up so I landed the right way. We were too busy laughing I didn’t realise I’d lost my bracelet.” They had one more go at getting her onto this bull and she somehow managed to get up there. “It’s pretty amazing but the next day I was so sore!”

Courtney kicked her music career in 2007 after graduating from the College of Country Music in Tamworth. She first got interested in music from playing piano at her grandparents. She said, “My nan used to teach music even before my mum was born!” Her family used to have CDs playing around the house when they were home “My dad’s brother was also very musical too and he used to lend me his keyboard during school holidays,” she enthused.

In 2010, Courtney recorded her first five-track EP titled A Few Little Things which included her debut single Girly Girl. It was co-written with two Australian artists, Mike Carr and Adam Brand, and it definitely summed up Courtney’s life. “I can be a little bit girly you could say. I like to make my hair look pretty, wear a nice dress, wear make-up and put on my high heels,” she said. “They always said you seem like this girly girl but then you drive a Holden. It’s quite deceiving. You’re not really a girly girl at all!” The song was based on this to get the message across that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, “That song was a very true song about me and my friends.”

122ebb_1cf2231571a947b38fcbd5e828c1a65cAfter soaring up into the music industry, in 2014, Courtney released her first album called 21 Days, named after one of the songs on the album. Her album was produced in Nashville by Sam Hawksley who Courtney first saw on stage at her first ever concert. “He was supporting Keith Urban who I love and my parents were kind enough to drive me and one of my best friends to the concert at the time. It’s pretty cool that all those years ago I watched him on the stage and then I got to work with him later on.”

Three of her songs from the album were written or co-written by herself too. “There are a few sad love songs included because of course every country record needs to have sad songs,” she said. But there are other songs on the album which are more uplifting, one is called Hard to Forget which Sam wrote. Another called Free Like a Summer Breeze, is just about enjoying life and having a good time with your friends. “There’s also a song on the album which I wrote about my dad as I’m the oldest one of four so I am the icebreaker,” she said. “It’s about how he struggled with us when growing up, he always said it happened so fast and I was so young. One minute he was holding my hand crossing a road and the next I’m getting married and moving to the other side of the country. He just couldn’t get over how fast it all happened.”

On the side of her music career, she works for a music licensing company called Australasian Performing Rights Association two or three times a week. It is completely different to her career as an artist but she still loves it because it is still a job within the music industry, “It always helps to work a job you actually love to support your dream job.” She has worked a lot of jobs to try to pursue her dream as a musician, but she feels, “Music is a very expensive hobby to have, I feel I don’t find it easy to make money in it because you’re always pouring money back into it.” She has to work during the week to then be able to gig on weekends, pay for records and pay for film clips. “Although the dream is to have it full-time one day!” she chimed. But she has a lot more shows happening lately and has won many awards this year alone which makes a big difference to her career. “More people pay attention,” she smiled. “They want to book you more and pay you more. When you get a win every now and again it definitely helps.”

cc21days-0191-1.jpgThe first ever award she won was in 2011 at the Victorian and National Awards for Best New Talent. “My parents actually have that award in their house,” she said. She’s also won a couple of Western Australia Awards. The first being New Talent of the Year. Then Female Artist of the Year and last year alone she went on to pick up three awards: Album of the Year, Female of the Year and Single of the Year. “One of the major newspapers over here has a magazine that comes out every Sunday and they name people who they think readers should watch out for and last year I was listed for one of the best and brightest for 2015 so that was huge! It was like winning an award as well!” She won one in September too which was another New Talent of the Year award in Southern Cross Independent Country Music Awards which is one of the biggest you can win, “I was hoping that one day I’d win one and last year I finally did.”

Now Courtney is dreaming for bigger, hoping one day to release another new record, or two! But her main dream is to play a really big festival in Australia called CMC Rocks. “It’s actually on this weekend in Brisbane in Queensland, the other side of the country to me.” International artists like Taylor Swift play at the festival. The year Courtney went to see it they had Tim McGraw and Faith Hill playing there. Music is Courtney’s life and she wishes she could be full-time but only time will tell!

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“What you do is important, but it’s how you think that really makes a difference.”

Spending 14 years in the media industry and still discovering how he can grow as a human, Ben Sorensen, Australian Media Personality and Real Country Radio Presenter, tells us about his life as he knows it…

Ben Sorensen MC 2013.jpg

It all started when the Anglos met the Saxons back in the day – no, I actually started out doing music. I was a trained organist and once I had an audition for a production house and the music director said to me, ‘Can you sing?!’ and I said, ‘Na mate, I’m here to play keys for you.’ And the director said, ‘Yeah, yeah. But can you sing?!’ and I said, ‘No, No, No.’ But he said, ‘You know what? Let’s just try it now.’ So I did and he shuffled me off to the Queensland Youth Choir, Australia, where I spend quite a few years singing there as a bass. Then I realised that singing, although easier because you didn’t have to pack any instruments, was still not a profitable way to make a living and do what you love although it was a lot of fun.

Once my voice was broken I started Spruiking cheap shoes and jewellery and one of the guys that I worked with asked if I wanted to play a character in a Christmas carols event. He was an event manager too so he was already involved, he said, ‘There’s a little bit of singing but it’s mostly just being stupid’. So I agreed as that’s what I do and I turned up and it was the Burleigh Carols in the Park where 22,000 people attended – which in Australian terms is pretty alright. I mean you had to line up for a sausage sizzle and that’s when you know it’s a good event!

I soon got a call from one of the producers, who was also a producer for Channel 9 (it’s a channel here in Australia), and she asked if I wanted to do some voice-overs for a show she was working on and did I want to do some stand-up comedy crowd warm-ups for a kid show. So I said that sounds fun and I it resulted to me being in a couple of TV series and like a bazillion ads which I still do.

Voice-overs I just absolutely love because you never know what you’re going to get. You open your computer and there will be a list of scripts there and you just go, what am I going to do today? I’m going to be a kangaroo in a cartoon in the morning and then I’m going to be selling some political dream in the afternoon and then I’m going to read a children’s book after that. It’s just all over the place and I love it.

So after doing a bit of TV, there was a regional radio station which asked me to do breakfast radio. It was a perfect time in my life because I had just got divorced and didn’t really know what I wanted to do next. So I spent a couple of years doing that on the sunshine coast.

This is when I realised one of the saddest things about media and the music industry. No one is really interested in quality content. No one is interested in hearing what the real story is. More and more media outlets are just putting noise between ads.

There was a thing going around on the internet saying that the difference between when you paid for music and when you got it free when you paid for music you had artists such as Johnny cash and Jimmy Hendrix and all those really great artists but now we’ve got Rihanna and Justin Bieber. In my opinion, if that’s the difference, I want to pay for my music quite happily.

It’s also made harder on another level for musicians and artists because people expect quality content for free now, not just consumers but also networks and stations. Nobody wants to pay for anything at all under any circumstances and that seems to be the default position out there which makes it really hard for anyone to earn a living and what I see is we’re losing some amazing skill sets and we’re losing some simply fantastic opportunities to grow industry’s like music and the arts and journalism.

I mean anyone can pick up a guitar, anyone can open their mouths and sing. But to do it really well, to do it insightfully, to create beautiful music, to have lyrics that tell a story that documents our history as people, I think is really special. I don’t think in any medium we respect that enough and one form of respect is actually paying for stuff.

To me, it was my understanding that I couldn’t do good content and I didn’t have the resources to do good content as a musician. I also didn’t have time because I started doing a breakfast show and then they thought I was pretty clever so they put me on production as well so I ended up doing breakfast and production. Then they said, ‘You can do a lunchtime show as well can’t you?’ So it worked out that I was on air something stupid like seven hours a day plus doing all the production for the station. It was only a little station at the time but to be on air back in the old days you’d have half an hour of prep for every hour on air. But the general manager said ‘What do you want prep time for?’ and I said, ‘what do you mean?’ and he said, ‘well you can do whatever you want but I’m not paying you for it, it’s not part of your job so I’m not paying you for it.’ And that seemed to be accepted. She was running the station and she didn’t understand the value of paid prep time which is something that is absolutely essential in creating quality content.

Ben Sorensen JR10 MC 2015

That’s when I had a little snap in my head and said, ‘Yeah, you know what? I love what I do but there has to be a better way,’ and later on I realised that part of that is an aspie trait of mine which is to go be focused on doing the best that you can at any moment in anything. Even if it means that you come off second best. This is when I created a little interview show called Real Country where I would interview artists and play a track at the end of it, it was a little segment thing which I really enjoyed doing.

I also cannot stand egos or entitlement. I just find it really unconstructive and it’s a waste of energy. I’ve learnt the bigger someone’s ego is the easier it is to damage it and by dealing with all those stations I have made some amazing friends but sadly there’s a lot of people that seem to have that ‘well you should bow down to me because I work in radio’ attitude. What that attitude says to me is that we are losing the human side of our industry. I think the most important thing is connecting with people, being real, knowing our own shortcomings and understanding that other people have them too. I think that’s where the compassion and empathy comes in, in just working with people and accepting people as they are and how they are.

We’re seeing people not understanding the value of all of those little things that experience teaches. The little things that being passionate about a topic enables us to do and we’re losing that because now it’s about getting a piece of paper and getting a job and then doing whatever your boss says to keep the job as opposed to thinking, ‘I am a passionate person that wants to grow the industry because I love it and I want to be the best individual that I can be,’ instead I see that this is being eroded.

This is partly why when I finally left the radio station, as well as starting to do magazine publishing, I converted my radio segment into a show called Real Country and at its peak it was on maybe 170 stations in six countries which sound impressive but it’s a lot of work. But through all these experiences I learnt that I like to encourage other people to use their brains because if we don’t use it we lose it. So I eventually created my own company that does content and creation.

One of the most important things in the world today is getting people to think. There is much trickery in this world, even down to your tub of your low-fat yoghurt! Heaps of trickery! But the thinking individual is able to independently grab information from all different sources, process that information, understand it in context and come up with a good decision. I don’t mind if people make bad decisions as long as they have good information so if you make the wrong decision at least make the wrong informed decision.

Actually, I had this really great quote from an aboriginal musician called Jimmy Little. He had absolutely the biggest heart that I have ever come across in the industry, just being in the room with him was such a pleasure. I have a list of favourite humans and he is definitely on there. I asked him to give a really useful piece of advice and he said something to the effect of don’t do too much, do enough, do your bit, do enough. But then make sure you leave enough for others to do as well so they can contribute. It not about the one, it’s about working out how we can do this together and in order to do a job properly or to understand a role properly you can’t do everything.


I think we are at the stage where we need to think about how we can save our independent media. How we can look at creating opportunities that are profitable for artists and musicians and how we can develop those concepts and ideas so that it’s not ‘oh great you’re a musician, what’s your day job?’ or ‘oh great you’re a journalist, looks like I’ll buy you lunch.’ I think there’s a lot of areas where we disrespect people who are professionals which discourage skill in those areas but then it’s only because we don’t see the bigger picture.

So aside from the content, there was also a lot of work for me as a master of ceremonies (MC), facilitating events and group training, as well as doing one on one business consultancy in media, marketing, PR and most of all strategy. This was to teach people because I believe you cannot whine about something or have a go at anyone or any industry unless you have had a crack at changing it yourself. It’s about being aware of nuances and if you haven’t actually gotten into it and had a go at doing it, it’s a bit hard to go, ‘oh well you should, you should, you should.’ Don’t ‘you should’ the world, get in there and have a crack at doing it or offer the support they need. ‘How can I help?’ Which comes down to passion and compassion, how we can make the world a better place.

I feel that this is the simplistic way of how we should be resolving our problems. It’s just about going well how can I be a good human? How can I participate in a fair and ethical way? How can I grow and evolve? I mean I’m not perfect and no one is which is all the more reason to be compassionate. We all have different levels of experience and understanding but once we remove things like fear and greed we start to see a richer side. The only fear we have is fear itself and that’s what holds us back. If we just relax and let knowledge, compassion and understanding be our guide we start to see that our media gets better, music gets better, our events get better, our food gets amazing! Because we’ve reconnected with that, we’ve understood that. That’s where I am in my world now. Working out how I can grow as a human, how I can be a better person and how I can try and walk my talk.

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Should NHS staff strike over pay freeze?

In March MP Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt rejected the independent Pay Review Body’s recommendation to give a one per cent pay rise to UK NHS nurses.

The decision to not award the pay rise has now prompted some NHS staff to retaliate by striking for their right to fair pay.

Against the idea is Sally Cliff, the Deputy Ward Manager at Malton Hospital, North Yorkshire, who believes that nursing is about caring for your patients and saving lives. She says she would never stop to strike when she could save a life within that length of time: “As regards to taking industrial action, I personally would not strike because I think it is against the integrity of what being a nurse is all about.”

But she did express how insulted she was that Jeremy Hunt ignored the recommendation and she said: “I am very disappointed with the rejection of the one per cent pay rise to NHS workers. Our salaries are well behind other similar professions.”

In 2013/14 there was a one per cent pay rise cap put on salaries for all public sector workers. Now, Hunt has denied this so NHS staff will not receive another pay rise for two more years which means over 1,203,519 NHS workers will not be rewarded for all the hard work they do.

Marie Lewis, an NHS nurse at Malton Hospital, North Yorkshire, said: “Jeremy Hunt wouldn’t say no to a pay rise, so why should he deny our pay rise? We should be able to make our own decisions.”

Now around 60 per cent of NHS workers will not get a pay rise, only the staff at the top of their band will receive a non-consolidated one per cent rise but this will not count towards their shift pay or pensions.

UNISON, a UK trade union, is also helping the NHS workers by representing the staff that work for the public services. They are asking for an immediate 1 per cent uplift and to restore the value of NHS pay.

However, Norman Barclay, Ward Manager at the North East Hospital, believes that although it is financially hard, hospitals need so much financially too so they can provide the services that people need. The government do not have the money to accommodate both all the time so they have to find a middle ground, “Everyone wants more money, but you can only afford what you’ve got.”

Malton Hospital is having this issue. The elderly population has grown which means the hospital are trying to accommodate by meeting the local needs. But through providing care for the elderly in their own homes means travelling expenses for NHS staff rise so there will be less money in other areas of nursing at the hospital.

Barclay also explained people go to their GP about illnesses he would never have seen in earlier years as the public’s expectations towards nursing have risen. He said: “People’s expectations have changed so there is not enough money to meet them if they don’t cut the pay; the government have to get it from somewhere else which might result in loss of jobs.”

This is a similar reason as to why Jeremy Hunt denied the one per cent pay rise. He said it would mean losing 15,000 nurses and it could be a risk of creating another Staffordshire Hospital scandal.

On the other hand, UNISON has stated that more than 10,000 jobs were lost last year as a result of the rearrangement of the NHS in England alone. So, is the government correct when they say cutting pay will bring the health workers more jobs?

Mrs Lewis said: “If the government can afford to pay politicians a lot of money and give them a pay rise, why can they not afford to pay health workers?”

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