Buckle up, it’s a big one.

S01 E05 – week ending 25 February 2018

Digital

The week started with the judging of a category in the Mainframe Derby digital awards – I can’t say too much more about it ahead of the shortlist being announced but it was great to get involved with the network and to see some of the amazing digital and creative work being done in the local area. I always find myself inspired by the passion and dedication of others and I can’t wait to see some great people honoured at the awards in April.

I also took the chance this week to pop into QUAD Derby and introduce my children to user testing after an open call went out for kids in their age group to help test a new App and games. They really enjoyed getting hands on and giving their feedback and ideas, generating as many new possible features as they did help iterate the design. It was a great way to spend an hour (and the App itself is something I hope to see go into general release) and also made me hanker to get some user testing in myself soon on the things I’m working on.

I was also reminded this week of the fact I won a BAFTA. The annual ceremony and associated online talk surfaced in my mind a fact oft forgotten now that back at the start of my career I was part of a team who won one of the coveted gongs. No Best Actress for me, but rather a win in Interactive Education Website for the Headline History project on which I was a writer. I consider it more with amusement than as an accolade but it’s a project which I am still immensely fond of, which helped me cut my teeth and fire my imagination on the possibilities of digital, and allowed me to work with people I still admire greatly.

Back in the present I’ve been trying to catch up on some reading and get back into proactively sharing useful and interesting stuff (or at least things I’ve found useful or interesting and which others may too). I’ve flitted between a few books unable to settle to just one: The Brain Audit: Why Customers Buy (And Why They Don’t) by Sean D’Souza; The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A Norman; a re-reading of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell; and Cowboys and Indie by Gareth Murphy. I’ve been better at sharing stuff over on Twitter.

I haven’t done so well at blogging though, despite best intentions. I’ve a long list of things I would like to delve into and learn more about through the process of writing but I don’t seem to be great at settling to do so, and keeping my mind free of the distractions in other areas. A discipline to which I continue to try to apply myself.

Writing and journalism

Much like the discipline of writing.

I feel like I haven’t done much of it recently as I’ve been so busy with other things and feeling a bit frayed around the edges as a result. I’ve left Storge in the capable hands of my team over the last week but I do find myself missing it and wanting to delve back into what is happening in our scene. For other publications too I’ve stepped back since the start of the year but am itching to get back into music journalism with more regularity.

Longer form writing has had more attention. The approach of the publication of my first novel (The Winter Passing) means there are lots of decisions around production happening (paper colour, typography, leading, bindings!) while we’re also making our way through a proofread, and completing the literary edit of its follow up. I’ve managed a few thousand words of the final book this week too and expect this to take up more of my headspace and time over the next month.

But I’m looking forward to putting this saga to bed, not least because I have other ideas pushing in at the corners of my imagination which I’d like to give some time. I’m particularly keen to get into a collection of short stories…but more on that in due course.

Music

It’s been a massive week over at Reckless Yes, the independent record label I co-own. We have active campaigns for two of our artists – Grawl!x and LIINES – who have both had singles out in the last fortnight too. This week the finished vinyl for Grawl!x arrived as his video premiered online, and LIINES have had a great start to their campaign with plenty of support from press and fans.

Alongside another band on our roster, Unqualified Nurse Band, have kicked off their third album with the digital release of a first track (read my interview with them over at Storge for more on the approach they are taking).

And to top it off we’ve announced we’ll be getting involved in The Charlatans 10-day takeover of Northwich in May as part of the Vinyl Adventures Record Fair. It’s a really exciting event in loads of ways but especially in its support of DIY and underground music. You’ll also be able to catch Riding The Low playing if you’re headed up to the event.

From straightening out the distribution chain to Spotify, supporting PR efforts, and arranging our diary some weeks at Reckless Yes are really striking in how much effort it takes to keep up, but that also we’re moving this fast when it was a quirk of fate we exist at all. But we do…so please support us and our artists:

  • pre-order Grawl!x LP Appendix (feat. Pet Crow’s Danielle Cotterill, Haiku Salut, Richard J Birkin, and Shelley Jane Newman) on limited edition clear 12″ vinyl here (shipping on or around 23 March 2018) – released 6 April 2018
  • pre-order LIINES LP Stop – Start (produced by Paul Tipler – Elastica, Placebo, Stereolab) on pure white 12″ vinyl here – released 4 May 2018
  • find us at Nottingham Label Market – 10 March 2018 11am-6pm – Malt Cross, Nottingham
  • find us at Vinyl Adventures Record Fair – 18 and 19 May 2018 – The Plaza, Northwich.

I also took the chance to update our New Music We Love playlist on Spotify with a selection of tunes we’ve been into over the last month – it includes the releases from our own artists but also tracks from Suggested Friends, Berries, Dream Nails, Table Scraps, Screaming Females, ARXX, Belly, Pillow Queens and Let’s Eat Grandma. Give it a follow to get a notification when we add new tunes.

Misc

A reminder that I’ll be hosting a Q&A with The Slits after a showing of their documentary Here To Be Heard at QUAD Derby on 18 April 2018 – tickets are on sale here.

What’s next

I’m hoping to pick up on the writing again over the next week – not only in moving forward with the final run of writing on my third novel, but blocking out a collection of short stories too. And journalism needs to find a way back into the mix to pick up local relationships for Storge and get back up to speed with covering our local culture scene in Derby and Derbyshire.

Original source – Sarah Lay

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