In the music industry, the dividing line between those behind the mixing desk and those behind the mike can seem like the boundary between two nations. Different cultures, different personalities, even different languages.
The divide is gendered, too, with far fewer women in the engineering and producing space, so a successful female producer who transitions to performer is bound to attract attention.
Lauren Deakin Davies has established an enviable reputation as a producer and sound engineer. Starting out as a 17-year old at Cream Room Sound Production, the self-confessed “massive nerd” took a while to notice that being a girl was something different until “it dawned on me that I was the only female record producer I knew!” Moving on a few short years, Lauren has added sessioning as a guitar and bass player and touring and backing vocals to her resume, so maybe it was only a matter of time before she stepped forward with her own sound.
Taking the stage name DIDI, a play on words from a popular abbreviation of her surname, Lauren self-released her self-penned, self-produced debut single, “Sorry”.
Before you read on, DIDI is giving a FREE download of “Sorry”, to Angry Baby readers. If you’re not already subscribed to Angry Baby, just pop the email address that you’d like it delivered to here and it will be on its way to you straight away, together with a bumper collection of music that has been shared by Angry Baby. The music comes from outstanding artists that you may not have heard before. With a mix of rock, pop, folk…you name it…there’s bound to be something new that floats your musical boat, and all for free! What’s not to like about that?!
Energetic with a neo-punk edge, “Sorry” steps into the art-pop niche opened by Playing House with undeniable echoes of Alanis Morissette. DIDI’s vocals span the emotional chasm from wistful to challenging and back again, supported by guitars that ebb and flow effortlessly, raising the whirlpool of DIDI’s mood before setting it down in a reflection of shared responsibility.
DIDI may claim to be sorry, but there’s righteous anger and a demand for acknowledgment in her song. #sorrynotsorry.
Lauren’s advice for anyone just starting out with their music is confident and courageous:
“From the stand point of my career in music so far, as opposed to as a solo artist, I would say immerse yourself in the areas you enjoy that make you feel excited. Don’t worry if you feel out of place or that you are not good enough, because you are good enough, and even if you are perhaps not yet, you soon will be. There is no better way of getting better at something than doing it! I don’t think I have earned the right to give my advice as solo artist at this point but I can definitely give advice on how to get to this point, the steps to get there.
People have a very narrow view of what it means to be an artist and an even narrower view of what it means to be a successful one! The truth is everything is connected, you get connected by doing lots of different things, there are people I have met that have changed my life that I would have never have met if I as only gigging, playing in my bedroom or spending all my time in the studio.
These are people I have met whilst doing the production for Balcony TV London (which I got involved with after seeing an ‘urgently wanted’ sound engineer tweet, next day I was on my way to London with my studio basically packed into the car!), and the people I’ve met doing live sound for a tour, at industry networking events, running sound for festival stages (initially for no fee but it’s great experience), organising events, speaking on panels about music, doing sound engineering for a radio show, being interviewed on radio shows, busking on the street or just generally asking if there was anything I could do to help. You have to think about what you can offer, even if in the beginning it’s just enthusiasm and a helpful approach, and let people know about it.
Go to gigs (especially ones that you are not playing at!) and networking events, and make sure you brush up on your knowledge and the latest news stories if it’s a specialist event. It’s really important to know what you are talking about because people can see through it pretty quickly. Sometimes less is more! And if you are not sure, just ask the other people for their opinion and they are usually happy to offer it. There are a million and seven opportunities out there, you just have to notice them, keeping your eyes and ears open even if it’s just searching online on sites which people like you check out regularly.
I would also recommend that someone starting out hones their craft at open mics, it’s also a great way of meeting other artists at a similar level and you can create a really strong community of like-minded souls who support each other. I’ve been to loads of open mics when I first started out with each new project (I’ve been in bands since I was 10 years old and each new group had to learn ‘stage presence’ and open mics are perfect for this) and have since performed on large stages at festivals. But I went back to basics again with my first open night as a solo artist this week to try out my new pedal board in a live environment, try out my songs and force myself out of my ‘bubble’. To be honest, I was a bit nervous, it was a little local pub but it turned out amazing. They don’t always turn out amazing let’s face it, but they are always useful in one way or another. But for this first one as DIDI, I took two songs I’ve pretty much got nailed in the studio environment but they kept asking for more and so I ended up trying out three other tracks as well and this has really helped me see if they ‘have legs’. Audience reaction is extremely helpful, even if it’s only a few people. And then, as a direct result, the pub (Jolly Waggoner, Ardeley in Hertfordshire) asked me back to open for a great local band, Baron Goodlove next month!
Overall it’s about connecting with people and keeping to your roots, (as corny as it sounds!). You know, your core self and identity. Don’t be tempted to blow with the wind just because that’s the new sound everyone likes, if it’s not you, don’t do it. It won’t come across as genuine. Don’t be afraid to fail because you probably will be caught out a couple of times but there is nothing wrong with that, you just have to keep going, notice your small achievements, respect where you have got to so far and respect how hard the people around you have tried to get where they are.
On the whole, be nice and don’t talk crap about other people behind their back, because trust me, it will come back to haunt you!
Register your songs with PRS and start to earn money every time you play your music live or it gets played on the radio.
And above all, GO FOR IT. Don’t waste any more time. Just make a start and see where it takes you. Enjoy the ride of your lifetime!”
Sorry was released on 20 March 2017.
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