I wrote about the hell that I was going through in order to survive. Writing an album turned out to be a healing process. It involved long hours with minimal human contact, but the things I held closest to my heart were with me in every second of the day - music, expression and creativity. It was like my own radio station that I was making up in real time.
I realised that if I was going to do this properly, my creations had to have an outlet. I had to try and get them out there so that people could listen. I also needed to survive and eat, while surrendering myself completely. I had nothing to lose and I had a huge journey to make - one that involved writing, exploring what music I loved, and using the skills I'd taught myself for years.
The idea of chasing the dream of stardom, fame and vast amounts of money was and is so far from my mind. Those were reasons why I hadn't gone down this route before. Music meant way more to me than having those dreams as motivational tools. It was sincerely just about the song, the feeling of music and my own radio: my studio.
I had worked closely with Pop Will Eat Itself on their PledgeMusic campaign for their latest album Anti-Nasty League and produced a good number of the songs. I had built a following online through other bands with which I had worked, so I thought there must be a way that I could finance my own project without exposing myself to the establishment. I started by releasing just one EP to test the water, and it went incredibly well.
I'd listened to other people's opinions about "crowdfunding" platforms like PledgeMusic, Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and more often than not, these approaches seemed to be somewhat frowned upon. They were new and most definitely not conventional compared with the older systems, in which record deals would finance a band's music in the studio and provide expertise in marketing. From my knowledge and experience, the labels knew no more than an observant musician with access to the current tools available on the internet.
From an incredible amount of reading, watching documentaries and speaking with people who'd had first-hand experience with labels - both independent and major - a record deal just didn't seem like a necessity or something I had to chase. I was aware that certain publications and radio stations that could have been a gatekeeper wouldn't play or publish my music, but it felt more like giving way to freedom - and that artistic freedom is growing every day.
On the other hand, the PledgeMusic system was a breath of fresh air. It made what I wanted to do possible - to complete a professionally produced album for people who were interested in what I was doing. They could also be part of the journey as I completed my debut album.
This approach gave me the ultimate freedom to write exactly what I wanted to write. Knowing that it was going out to everyone who had been involved in my four-month campaign as soon as it was finished gave my music more meaning. I gave updates at regular milestones, which kept the pledgers involved. This system was perfect to bring energy to an independent artist.
I sold my album as a limited edition to people who brought it during the campaign, and I am now officially releasing it through Believe Digital on 9 September 2016. I'm also working with four publishing companies who will help with syncs on television and film.
I haven't got the money for an expensive PR campaign, but I have built up good relationships with global publications on my own over the last 12 months by releasing four singles and accompanying videos. My fan base is slowly growing organically, and everything is moving at a controlled and manageable pace.
My debut album is called Paradise Runs Deeper. The title reflects my longing for creativity and taking my own path. I've just started work on my second album as well. It's very different to the first. The creative muscle is firmly flexed, and it's all systems go based on the experience of Paradise Runs Deeper. I will use PledgeMusic again, although I wish the word 'Pledge' wasn't involved - it isn't pledging, it's being involved, it's making music.
To summarise, I don't feel the sadness I used to feel as an amateur. I've lost the precious reactions that made me feel low when I couldn't find the music that I truly loved in genres that I found incredible. It doesn't matter anymore.
All I care about is writing and inventing my own noise, with styles and songs that make me feel awake and alive. I don't have to subscribe to the mainstream just to make it happen. I'm on my own path and the journey is long. As long as I can incorporate melody and emotive music that inspires visions and feelings, then I'm doing okay.
For anyone reading this article who feels like there is a huge brick wall between you, your music and success, you are wrong. If your value of success is fame, notoriety and selling millions of records you might need to think about that and re address your reasons. If you genuinely care enough and are willing to sacrifice virtually everything for your art with social media, creativity, persistence and true music now is the best time to be independent. Work on building up your following. Engage your fans. Master your art and create something unique. Something with guts and balls. Start the journey and don't look back.
PARADISE RUNS DEEPER IS AVAILABLE NOW