As the hunt begins for our latest Unsigned stars, we spoke to former participants Jøra the Førtuneteller, who are going on a UK and Ireland tour and Amelia Stephanides, whose debut EP drops next month.
Jøra – aka Sam Howlett, Gui Oliveira, Dawid Tondryk and Josh Shave – said Unsigned has been invaluable to them as a band.
“To be able to come in each week, play our songs for the tutors and get some constructive criticism from actual musicians was so important. It helped us learn what worked in our sound and how we could expand on it.
“We also gained a lot of knowledge in regard to the music business. We had no idea about press kits and how to go about getting booked for gigs, but I’d like to think we’re a bit more clued up now ha-ha.”
The band’s plans were temporarily derailed when every member caught Covid.
“It was a huge blow, especially as it came about in a time where we were recording a single and gearing up for the return of live music.
“Luckily, we’ve put in the hours so getting back to form doesn’t take long, the single is still well overdue though.”
Jøra will be supporting Millie Manders and The Shutup on their UK and Ireland tour.
“We love Millie [one of Unsigned’s mentors]. She’s been a massive believer in our band and always pushes us to be the best we can be even when we’re doubting ourselves.
“There was talk of her needing a support for her headline tour, but because we’re still so small it didn’t seem to likely, she really pushed for it though and thankfully we can now officially say we’ll be joining her.
“We can’t wait to get a taste of what it’s like to be a real band on the road, I think we’re most excited to play more gigs in a month than we have in our lives so far, it’s gonna be mega.
“The set is gonna be full of new songs as well as the oldies that our friends love ha-ha.”
“It’s always a great feeling when a crowd responds to your music well, especially when they don’t know you. They don’t owe you anything, so you know that reaction is genuine.
“We believe in our music, so it’s really affirming to see that. we know we need to carry on and get more people to hear it.”
Next on the horizon is a move to Brighton, to continue their musical career.
“Who knows what opportunities will come from that move, but we do know we want to get two more singles out and push those a bit. I think once the dust has settled, we’ll start thinking about our debut EP.”
They’re grateful for the opportunities Unsigned has given them.
“Millie’s tour is a huge one, we never would have got something like that without Unsigned. We’ve also managed to book more of our own gigs and got in contact with some industry professionals via the knowledge we gained.
“If you’re a young band starting out it can feel like your lost in a huge echo chamber, it’s really hard to get concrete advice and know what you need to be putting your effort into.
“Unsigned is great for learning to align your goals and know what you need to do and where you need to be to make them happen. We couldn’t recommend it more.”
Amelia said the Unsigned program has helped her develop skills in the business areas of her music and how to promote herself online.
“It’s really allowed me to see the other side of the music [industry] that doesn’t necessary involve actually performing. It’s allowed me to take pride in my public image and make me more professionally sellable.
“I got the opportunity to record at Ashwood Studios, have an incredible photoshoot and two gig opportunities.
“Not to mention fantastic mentoring and friendships made with my tutors who I know I will continue to network with as I venture further into the industry.”
She’s releasing her debut EP BubbleGum Pink Ft Josh Thompson at the end of October.
“It features three original songs. It’s very much bedroom pop – unique vocal abilities and storytelling lyrics that show a true connection to my craft, blending ethereal ambient soulful sounds with catchy alt-pop sensibilities.
“I really hope people connect to my lyrics and it makes them feel something. I’ve been writing music since I was six and gigging professionally since I was 12.
“But I haven’t released anything professionally on Spotify before so I’m very excited to finally get this out to people. It’s definitely the first of many releases.”
Her plan is to carry on working on her branding and getting her name out there, with lots of gigs, music videos to film and more releases lined-up.
“Unsigned has helped me make that last push and now I’m ready to be independent. It’s taught me so much about who I can be in the industry.
“If you want some more insight into the behind-the-scenes work every artist or band has to do this is the course for you.”
The Unsigned programme helps bands or solo artists develop their musicianship, performance skills and identity.
It includes gig opportunities, one-to-one rehearsal sessions, mentoring, marketing and promotion guidance; a chance opportunity to record demos and more.
Unsigned is free but spaces are limited. Aimed at ages 16-25, participation is by selection only.
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