FRESH, YOUNG EMERGING UK SINGER-SONGWRITER JOE PROBERT
Fresh, young emerging UK singer/songwriter, Joe Probert, talks exclusively to PressParty about how he’s successfully thriving in a ‘world without labels’ under the expertise mentorship of Funnel Music.
Q. Joe, you’re one of the first acts to be signed to Funnel Music, can you tell us why Funnel is different to other music companies?
A. I have spent a lot of time being taught & mentored by Gavin Thorpe whilst on a music course at Access to Music, so when he told me about what he was doing with Funnel Music it was a no brainer for me really. What I really like with Funnel Music is being mentored and being able to spend time around musicians and producers who can really help me get better as a musician and writer. We spend a lot of time on the songs. I usually write the songs and then record a demo in my shed. I then take them to Alex and Gavin and we spend a lot of time on them messing around on different instruments and just having fun which for me is what it’s all about. After that process we take the songs to the bigger studios. I’m not sure what other music companies do really, but this is what’s been so valuable to me as well as spending time with great songwriters and singers like Gary Stringer from Reef.
Q. Funnel say that they’re ‘not a label’ – how can that be?
A. I know that at Funnel Music they’re really keen at building a way that musicians and writers working with them are able to do everything themselves - like with Funnel music they say they’re not a label, yet they’re releasing my music, but the ‘record label’ if you like will be me. Basically, this Funnel will provide my music with all it needs to get a chance to be heard, but I will be the label.
Q. Funnel are pushing their ‘World Without Labels’, do you realistically think that’s a vision that’s possible in the industry?
A. Yes I do. I can record an album in my shed and then put it up on iTunes without a label involved. I do need help however with my writing, producing and generally getting the tracks to their best. I also need help and advice on how to get my music to as big an audience as possible as well as live gigs etc. Funnel Music are doing all of this for me, but they’re not calling themselves a label. All my muso friends are doing it themselves these days so it’s great to have professional guidance.
Q. In music history, there’s been many artists who have battled with their label such as Prince and George Michael. As an artist, what problems does being signed by a label incur?
A. I have heard too many stories where artists are promised loads and in the end get nothing. Albums recorded, massive amounts of money spent on recording on something which never gets released and then the artist is stuck. I know both Alex and Gavin (Directors in Funnel Music) were both signed to majors and have both equally had frustrating experiences. I dunno, it wasn’t my want to ‘not be on a label’ but by being taught by Gavin I knew that Funnel Music would look after me and my best interests. I think this happens a lot as people don’t know a lot about labels or what they’re getting into. Doing it this way helps you to learn what it takes with or without a label and problems that may or may not happen and then ways to overcome them.
Q. So what about you, how will your career differ without a label?
A. Will let you know in a few years’ time? Well, I guess I am my own boss really, kind of self-employed within a company, which will give me whatever I need to be able to get my music out there. The most important thing for me is control and that is what Funnel music gives me. It is really important to me to feel I have control over my destiny. Does that make sense?
Q. As one of the first artists under the non-labelled Funnel Music, will you ever release any music?
A. Absolutely. I have my first EP coming out at the end of September. Funnel Music are promoting it with a dedicated PR campaign and InGrooves are distributing it. I am very excited about the EP as the quality of the recording is amazing and I think people will connect with my songs.
Q. How did you come to be found by Funnel Music?
A. Gavin Thorpe, one of the Funnel directors, was my mentor/tutor while I was at Access To Music in Bristol.
Q. What are you up to at the moment?
A. I am always writing new songs as I want to keep moving forwards. I have enough material for an album now, so trying out different approaches to a few of the songs in the studio as well as rehearsing up a live band which has been fun - in the past I have mainly gone out as a solo singer songwriter, but in the past 6 months we’ve been working more on a band sound, kind of an english ‘Black Keys meets James Bay’ vibe which is really exciting for me. The band are amazing.
Q. What sort of sound are you creating – what can we expect to hear from Joe Probert and when?
A. Well, the debut EP will be out end of September. It’s pop/rock, but also nice and rough round the edges. It’s a stompy blues feel. I feel I have more of a band sound than a traditional singer songwriter sound. The Funnel team have spent a lot of time with me developing my sound as I was unsure what I wanted to go with my songs.
Q. You’re playing at the Alternative Escape, what can we expect from that?
A. Lots of energy and hair. I can’t wait to play with my band and for everyone to hear my songs live as I think it’s important to have a great live show. I warn you that I am quite a loud singer due to me busking on the streets for a couple of years.
Q. Any final messages?
A. I’m really into the Matt Corby record, if you like that too then I reckon you’ll be in to what I do. Come and say hi if you’re ever at a show, I can’t wait to meet you. Keep an eye out for my EP in September. Please go to www.funnelmusic.com to find links for my music.