Well first off, today I quit my job in Mayfair. The whole thing happened in a rather peculiar way and I start the night off feeling a little uneasy. Its the final four acts in our shortlist of 16 so I’m hoping for a good turnout and for a few drinks! The Music League kicks off its first of two nights at The Hoxton Pony in Shoreditch, a popular after-work watering-hole for under 25s so it’s already heaving. I track down Sophie and our TML Photographer (and my good friend Matt) and tell them about my day…they congratulate me and get me a beer…the peculiar feeling starts to lift! Jonathan arrives and we all relax as the bands sound-check and do a little more people watching!
Tonight I’ve gone for a white and black summery dress as London’s turned up the heat. Its one of the first things I bought from Dahlia and one of the dresses I’ve had the least chances to wear. What I really love about it is the detail on the back, it has a horseshoe shape cut out with black thread going round it. To cinch in the waist it has a back velvet band under the bust and the underlining stops just above the bust allowing for skin to show through the lace at the top. All these little details are delicious and make the dress really special and alone, it is a standout piece.
The night was crackin’ and I’m sad to say goodbye to 8 of our 16 bands. However, next week we have Round Two to see which of our bands makes it through to Winterwell Festival. Come on down to The Hoxton Pony to party like its 1999!!
My goodness, is it that time of the week already?! The Music League finds itself at the, Oh So Chic, Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch this week and the competition has stepped up a gear it seems… and I’m talking about the clothes here not the bands! Jonathan has rocked up in a simple yet very on trend colour-blocked ensemble , whilst Sophie is showing off her mile long legs in cute denim shorts. I have gone for a simple yet very cute beige Dahlia dress (yes another one!) with pearl shoulder detail and a brown belt with a pearl bow.
Jonathan and I have almost perfected our comparing skills now so enjoy some people watching whilst waiting for the bands to sound-check. The indie crowd often gets called “pretentious” for the way they dress but I have to say, from where I’m sat, everyone looks very cool and very comfortable in what they’ve got on.
The bands rocked it this week and I really enjoyed the free drinks the venue offered me! I can’t believe there is only one week left of round one. I have the perfect outfit all lined up!
This week, The Music League hosted its competition at The Rhythm Factory in Shoreditch. After all of us struggling to find the little black door along the epic highstreet, we made it and we ordered wine whilst our acts sound-checked. This week we heard Matt Mure, Analectra, The Mouth of Ghosts and The Promenade. Jonathan and I were much more on form this week…I thank the wine for that! We also had a bigger crowd to “Wow” so we just upped our game and enjoyed the atmosphere of the night.
This dress makes me feel a little saucy but I also think it looks classy and sweet. The Peter Pan collar, which I seem to be favouring lately, gives it a relaxed, playful feel which I adore. I also think the beige and black combination keep it the right side of “too sexy”. If it was all black the dress would suit a totally different night out
Sophie, the founder of The Music League is always discreetly fashionable. She puts her outfits together in her own way and owns it. I love the way she pulls off looks most of us would only dream of wearing. She has a rockin’ body and height I envy and I enjoy seeing what she’s wearing each time I meet up with her.
This week I was thrilled to be presenting for The Music League at the The Shoreditch in…erm Shoreditch! The first round of the competitions has 16 acts taking part and the first night delighted us to the musical stylings of the Greenwich Tea Party, Dan Shears, Will Robert and Tape. Never heard of them?? That’s OK…you’re not supposed to as this competition is all about unsigned up-and -coming talent.
Sophie asked me to compare alongside the wonderful Jonathan Rodden who I’d had the pleasure of spending three years of drama school with. We’d figured that our improvisational skills would kick in and all would be brilliant but perhaps we should have prepared more than just our outfits as our presenting left a lot to be desired! It was a hell of a lot of fun though and I got to hear some cool music and hang out with some very nice people in the process.
I also got to debut in my new Dahlia dress which I’m madly in love with. The orange is a really playful colour and certainly reflected that side of me here! I teamed it with a cute little black cropped jacked I got in Nordstrom when I was in Florida last year and black heels to sexy it up a little. I also cinched in my waist with a black belt covered in silver studs just to show off my figure a little more. I kept accessories down to a minimum as I love the Peter Pan collar with its sweet bow detail and didn’t want to take away from it. I felt really good in this outfit and I think Jonny and I look like a great team (even if we didn’t perform like one!)
Now, what to wear next week………?!
It takes a lot of courage to start up any music venture these days. With record sales plummeting, massive high street chains such as HMV closing down and major labels struggling to move with the times, you don’t often hear “good news” about the business side of music. Unsigned musicians play in venues all over the country every night in the hopes it will lead to their dream career but… How often does someone step up to help that dream come true?
So it was a delight when I stumbled across someone brave enough to champion unsigned musicians and provide them with a much needed platform to showcase their talent. She comes in the form of a tall, slim, twenty-something who, three years ago, founded The Music League (more about this in a moment). When I first met Sophie McCreddie, I was instantly impressed by the confidence and sheer passion she has for music and the bands she works with. Dressed in her own quirky style she is charming and intelligent. A musician in her own right, Sophie fronts electro indie band, The Scenes and understands the trials and tribulations all unsigned acts come up against. So with this in mind Sophie thought about setting up a new type of competition with the aim to giving acts the support and guidance they need as well as a decent stage to show the world what they can do.
Me: What inspired you to start The Music League?
Sophie McCreddie: I am a musician myself (& the only female in the band) but after playing gigs all over London I was frustrated by the gig scene. It seemed to me a lot of promoters were out for themselves and there really seemed to be no end goal to playing lots and lots of gigs and getting your fans and friends to come and see you. With The Music League (TML) the end goal is something that every act strives to achieve…. a big festival slot. The acts that playin TML not only play to their own fans and friends but to the audience the other three acts have brought along as well. It is a great way for musicians to grow their fan base and meet likeminded musicians. I get a group of music lovers, of all different tastes, together to rifle through all the acts that apply. Together we choose 30 of the best acts to go on to the site and from here the general public choose the final 16 to go into the 8 live rounds. We like to see in the acts we choose; dedication, talent (obviously) and passion in what they do. This has resulted in a really friendly and supportive competition and TMLnights have grown a reputation for providing a wide range of great music.
Me: What have been your biggest challenges?
SM: Setting it up and running TML by myself has to be the biggest challenge. I have help here and there in different areas but ultimately it is down to me. It was very daunting at first, speaking to festivals and venues trying to explain the idea behind TML but the longer I did it the more I took on board, learned and got to know the best way to do things. I am really luckyto have had help and advice from lots of brilliant people and thankfully venues and festivals such as Winterwell and The Secret Garden Party have put their faith in TML. The acts I have had the privilege to work with make it all worthwhile.
Me: You’ve built this up from an idea all on your own – what keeps you going when times are tough?
SM: It does get stressful at times. What keeps me going is the idea that got all this started in the first place. I want to get new music heard. So much of the time we are spoon-fed music; those who don’t get themselves out there listening to new artists are told what to like by big music industry machines. I am always so amazed by the level of talent that is out there just screaming to be heard. It’s all about listening to live music.
Me: You now manage the band who won TML last year, did it just feel like a natural progression for you?
SM: Last year’s acts were so amazing and the top 4 were all just so brilliant. It all, in the end, comes down to how the audience feel and who they have been impressed by. I was impressed by all of them but I, like the audience, was particularly impressed by Nimmo & The Gauntletts. They are so fresh and raw and so now. Their songs excite and recharge you. They are amazing people as well and a joy to work with. It was sort of like asking them out on a date and they said they had been wanting to ask me too……so now we have a relationship…….in the music sense!
Me: What about your own band? Do they feel hard done by watching you get other bandstop slots at big UK Festivals?
SM: No not at all. The Scenes are totally behind TML. They have been to the nights and think the quality of acts is amazing. We are making our own way. By being in the band I can empathise with all the acts I deal with. I am aware of all the everyday problems they come up against and it seems to work well.
Me: Do you miss performing or do you prefer the business side?
SM: I used to dread performing but now I love it. The keyboard player in my band and I are actually self recording our EP so I am also involved in the recording and mixing side of things which I find very rewarding. I don’t really see TML as a business, just something that I am totally involved in and committed to. Both are very exciting in their own way. Obviouslyperforming is all eyes on you which I can cope with better now but with TML I am behind the scenes and making the cogs churn and I like to see it all working and coming together which it has so far.
Me: The music industry is pretty male dominated, have you found it tough to be taken seriously?
SM: Not really. You come across the odd patronising person but then I just steer clear of that. I think some people who work in the industry can be unnecessarily short and unhelpful but generally my experience has been pretty good. I think if you are honest and cut to the chase there should be no one that has anything bad to say about that. In my experience I have dealt with as many women during this process as I have men so that is always positive. With something like TML there is always the chance that people will lump it in withother vaguely similar things but I feel TML is different and offers a lot more when it comesto getting exposure. It becomes a little family for those who have been part of it. I am still in communication with all the acts that have been in past TML nights, offering them gigs or the like that I feel they are suited to.
Me: What are you looking for from the bands this year who want to sign up to TML?
SM: Well we accept any genre of music, bands, solo artists and groups so you don’t haveto fit any criteria when it comes to that, you just have to be unsigned. It is mainly acts from London we would be looking at although we do allow acts from in and around London. We are just looking for great music. Great songs. Great live performers. Something that will capture people’s interest. Acts who thrive on performing live. Ultimately if you are a great musician with great songs our doors are open.
Me: When does the competition start?
SM: It all kicks off tomorrow, May 5th, with our first four acts – check out our Facebook event (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=216245101719367)
To find out more about The Music League or the bands taking part this year visit www.themusicleague.co.uk