Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Musoplex West Midlands music industry interviews

That's me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight, punting my convictions

Musoplex studios - now defunct - were based in Oldbury, almost underneath the elevated section of the M5, in a solidly workaday industrial estate. 

Glamorous was is not; functional and flexible it certainly is. Besides rehearsal spaces, a record label, and a fully featured and very capable recording studio, with a squadron of associated enterprises, they also boast a large performance stage, suited to live performance photo and video shoots, along with a smaller space, used for meetings and interviews 

I was an interview subject in 2012. It was a lot of fun. The video covers local music issues, and especially the continued deterioration of exposure for local music on local radio. The video, and links to some of Musoplex's previous productions follow... 
While we're on the subject of the deterioration of exposure of local music on local radio, I am explicitly NOT talking down those few stations who make a point of supporting local music, of course. Credit where credit is due. 

It's simply that - certainly to me, and to many of my colleagues at radio and in the local music scene - the continued growth of nationally programmed brand radio means yet more distance is placed between the national programmers and their regional audiences. This has developed into an increasingly significant issue at local and regional radio, and now it looks like we've got to the point where savvy local programmers could reap serious rewards by counter-programming against this trend. Certainly, commercial radio's policy of the past five years - merging stations out of existence to create national brands to better compete against BBC Radios 2 and 1 - has failed miserably. Total commercial audience figures have not improved one jot against BBC numbers in that time, and the BBC still leads the commercial sector by a country mile.

But it's not, and never has been, in my book, a case of overthrowing the existing status quo with cries of revolutionary glee, much as a lot of musicians I know might wish to see this. It's more a case of simply wanting to see radio programmers take a good hard long look at the world they're part of outside their studios, to try and see where there is common, mutually beneficial ground.

It's interesting to note just how many studios across the West Midlands see it as part of their duty to engage with their markets in different ways. Musoplex is one such, and there are at least half a dozen more, helmed by decent, responsible, principled professionals who want to see their sector and their clients prosper. It's a question of enlightened engagement and collaboration to everyone's benefit, celebrating the creative forces in the region. 

I just wish there was more of this at radio. 

Musoplex website

Musoplex industry videos

Clare Edwards (Flyover show, Simmer Down, Gigbeth, Notorious Choir, and lots more)

Mark Badger (Iron Man Records, Birmingham Music Network)

Monday, 17 September 2012

OxjamBrum: not just a festival; it's a boot camp

Logotastic Lyle and Nic...
What, exactly, is a Music Festival these days? The term has become somewhat... stretched. From this year’s rain-swept wellies-and-mud rural affairs, to one-day events like Simmer Down and Reggae City, through to Birmingham City Council’s Arts Fest - all of these are termed 'festivals'. 

When you organise a festival, you take on a lot. It’s an enormous amount of work. For this post, OxjamBrum  Takeover Managers for 2012, Nic Toms and Lyle Bignon, in between compering and cajoling at a pre-festival fundraiser and artist showcase in Sutton Coldfield, very generously walked me through exactly why they got involved in such a back-breaking activity, and, interestingly, hint at where this all might lead in the future.   

Look, Scott Matthews! He's playing...
Many festivals have themes; some have agendas. Some (Shambala, Flyover Show) are overtly idealistic; others are there to promote or celebrate some institutional corporate thing – or to make a bit of money, or at least to break even, in as pleasant a way possible. Too many are simply part of the well-oiled entertainment industry, set up to relieve attendee / victims of as much money as possible as efficiently as possible. After all, in terms of exploiting a market, what could be better than to drag your audience out to some remote location miles from anywhere, corrall them, and then charge them inflated prices for food, showers and warmth?

and so are Bluebeat Arkestra
Festivals rely a lot on perception and image. Glastonbury has long been the granddaddy, basking in extensive media coverage and luvvy attendees. In reaction, boutique festivals offer a totally different vibe. And as a further reaction, the one-off, pop-up, alternative alternative festival has emerged as well. 

It's instructive to look at OxjamBrum Takeover 2012, a one-day multi-venue music festival. The 2012 festival, one of many such localised events organised for Oxfam each year, showcases local talent. 

So in my book, we're in positive territory already. Compared with Birmingham Council’s ArtsFest, it's tiny: twelve hours of gigs, performances, sessions and discussions in a handful of mainly independent music venues, for which you will pay a nominal admission fee. But tiny or not, Oxjam Brum punches considerably above its weight with an ability to attract credible local star names and assemble coherent line-ups. That counts for a lot, especially among the participating musicians.

Dan Whitehouse is popping up too...
The event is run by a team of relentlessly passionate, enthusiastic and engaging volunteers, with organisational support from Oxfam. Oxfam has come a a long way from the 70s brown and beige institution many of us still imagine it to be. OxjamBrum is deliberately pitched at a more diverse and mixed audience.  
Nic Toms: "It’s not by accident. People at Oxfam have researched and built a model that different teams across the country can pick up. The idea is to take a multi-venue event, before ‘Oxfamming’ it."  
So were Oxfam aware of the image issue? 
Nic: "Yes. But I would also say that Oxfam has changed too. They do other things: there’s a big country-wide festival stewarding initiative, for example. "
Lyle: "The model that Oxfam has created and shared still gives us lots of flexibility room. We can take that model and shape it."
Nic and Lyle met at Flyover Festival in Hockley, Birmingham, in 2009; both were volunteers. Lyle did PR for the 2009 Takeover while Nic was involved across the entire event. Now they’re joint managers. In addition to Flyover, Nic had also worked for Moseley Folk. 
Nic: "I thought there was a gap in the market - Birmingham didn’t have a city centre based multi-venue music festival with local artists. We’d had Gigbeth, but I wanted to see something in the city centre. And Oxjam gave me the model to do it. They gave me some training, some organisational back-up…and a good reason to do it."  
... the Dhol Blasters play as well...
It’s pretty obvious to me that Nic and Lyle are driven, first and foremost, by the wish to see a decent local music festival running in the city. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to do good by Oxfam as well; they’re extremely grateful for the organisational support. They're by no means the only people working hard to set up music events with more than a dash of idealism in the city, and I’ll be returning to this in future posts. But along with the passion and, let’s be fair, the downright fun that you can have with such an event, there is a hefty fundraising target to be met. 
Lyle: "Can we mention this? Yes, I think we can. Last year, the Oxjam team raised £6,000. This year, our target is £10,000. "
But you can’t just be doing this on your own... the two of you and a few pals?
  Nic: "No. We are collaborating with a range of promoters. We try to work with as many people as possible on the Birmingham music scene.  
...and watch out for these guys too....
So having set out your stall, the next step was to chase artists? 
Lyle and  Nic together: "Mmmmm… no!"  
Lyle: "It’s more about vision. Nic and I had to agree on some fundamentals from the outset. We wanted to represent more of the diversity in the city."
Nic: "Back in 2009 myself and the then team were mainly focused on getting a festival of this type off the ground.  We started by approaching indie and guitar based bands we liked, and Brum has lots of great ones.  Perhaps we had to stay close to that genre in order for it to work.  A lot of credit for our first festival must go to JP White (Victories at Sea, This is Tomorrow) because without his production and programming foundations we wouldn’t have been able to grow or develop in future years. OxjamBrum is now four, and this year’s focus is to represent Birmingham’s demographic and ensure the music is more diverse.  But yes, of course there will still be indie bands and guitars!" 
Not forgetting Paul Murphy...
"The next thing was getting a good team on board. Oxjam suggest teams recruit for three coordinators covering marketing, fundraising and production. Recruiting is really difficult, getting the right people in place, and asking the team to do it for no money, in their spare time – we’re asking a lot. We spend a lot of time together, and as the festival date approaches, we’re asking them for more and more. " 
Lyle: "Then it was picking dates and venues. We wanted more venues, so we needed to sort dates early. We didn’t want to clash with existing festivals like Supersonic, BASS Festival, Moseley Folk, Mostly Jazz, Artsfest and the like." 
Dates fixed, team in place… you’ve also added some seminars and industry discussions. What was the thinking? 
Lyle: "I wanted to give it more of a festival ‘feel’. One of the driving factors is supporting young and emerging talent. As well as having gigs, it’s a nice addition for a new young musician to be able to get some advice, where there’s more to it than standing in front of an act and seeing what they do."
You are assembling a unique skillset in your team. In making this huge effort, there is now a team. What happens when’s it all over? Are you just going to melt away, like the Olympic games makers?. 
Lyle: "We need to see how good we’ve been – for Oxfam, for our team, for the musicians." 
Then it’s a case of seeing what’s gone well, and what could be built on? 
Nic: "Are you saying there’s a niche, Robin?" 
Lyle: "I don’t mind stating that Birmingham is in need of a big music industry festival that matches The Great Escape, Sound City, Unconvention, In The City, etc – one that brings in fans, professionals and artists alike, gives the music community here a voice, a chance to share and showcase to the region, the country and even internationally’ "
Finally – repertoire….?
Lyle: "To broaden the festival's reach, we worked with more people: Birmingham Zinefest, Sugarfoot Stomp, Eye Candy, Speech Fewapy, Brum Town, Louisden, Secret WallsThis is Tomorrow, Brum Notes, Jazzlines, Eatgood. Maybe 20% came to us, and the other 80% we went out to.  We wanted to spread the range.  And the decisions on the acts were made by the whole team."
It’s fair to say Nic, Lyle and team are about to enter the most all consuming phase of the festival, and I am ever so slightly jealous.  From where I’m sitting – as  someone who will happily spend the day bouncing around the various venues to try and catch as much as possible, and who will contribute to one of the media seminars – the organisers and team are living it and loving it. 

But it’s also hugely encouraging to see new blood channel the ideas that that Clare Edwards put into the Birmingham mix with Gigbeth, to put something purely idealistic together that could grow into one of the most positive parts of the city’s music calendar, and to raise a bit of serious money. 

And where is it going in the end? We don't know yet, but I'm optimistic. This sort of thing works best when you play the long game. 

OxjamBrum website and Facebook page
Sample some of the music at the OxjamBrum 2012 Soundcloud group

Juggling tasks: John Fell

It's been a busy year for John Fell, and it doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon. 

The band he plays in, Goodnight Lenin, have packed in a ton of gigs, including tours of Scotland and, this week, Ireland, supporting Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny.

Tracks for the first album are now in the can; mixing is underway. There are winter gigs to plan for, including a hometown Christmas special. Before that, a string of releases are due, including a live EP. And in addition, it’s been a frantic summer of booking acts for Mostly Jazz/Funk and Moseley Folk Festivals, as well as the Lunar Festival

So - a busy man. On top of all this, he's also championing new talent, such as Katherine Priddy

For those who don't know Goodnight Lenin yet... they are a hugely promising five-piece, all from Northfield in South Birmingham, who, pretty much, have all known each other since childhood. They are cheerfully happy to be seen as anything but modish. The music is folk-rock, strong on harmonies, with definite nods to giants of the 70s like Neil Young. On stage, they ooze relaxed goofy charm - in fact their gigs are generally a hoot. But their strong suit is a terrific portfolio of songs, which you can explore by checking out their YouTube pages and on their website. One song, 'Wenceslas Square', is embedded here, and it's an absolute gem; you'll find it further down the post. And, for all their knockabout live appeal, the band has the ability to reel off breathtaking numbers which stop you in your tracks. 

What makes things more interesting is John Fell's role within the Mostly/Moseley festivals group, where he is events manager and has responsibility for booking most, if not all of the acts. It's a tricky balancing act to pull off. 

Goodnight Lenin at Moseley Folk 2012. John Fell second from left :-)

First things first. You’ve been recording for what seems like a long time. What’s the release schedule?
We’ve got a single, and an EP – a Live EP – planned before Christmas. The album will arrive next year. The album’s pretty much recorded. We did it on analogue tape at Highbury Studio. It’s the way we wanted to record. So you get that warmth, and it also means you work in a certain way. When you’re recording digitally, you know you can fix anything. It feels a little bit like cheating… But our music is on 16 tracks, with some stuff bounced down (combined on one track), and that’s how it’s going to stay.
Is that a good discipline?
It’s great. It really tests us, because we do like to layer and layer and layer. We might put up five sets of strings on it. Then we need to add our harmonies, so it really is tight. It’s great for us, because we do get that warm, live feel; we’re all looking at each other – you can tell when we’re all grinning. It adds something to it. But we are going to get that digital side too, because all the tracks have been converted to digital for the mixing. 
The single is out at the end of October, and it’s being mixed by John Wood, who did a lot of work for Joe Boyd back in the day. 
Vintage names from the heyday of Brit folk-rock!…Do you sometimes feel you were born thirty years too late?
We’re quite content where we are! It’s just what we listen to. There’re artists from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s that people still listen to. We want to be the band from 2012 that people listen to in thirty years’ time. 
Talk to me about finances – there’s a lot of stuff to pay for here.
Finances? it’s tough. Obviously, most bands at our level – in terms of where we are release-wise – don’t get 400 people to a gig. So that’s unbelievable for us. But then we’re still financing the band. We’re putting in £40 a month, each, and that pays for our practise room. 
So you are still funding the band? No rock and roll lifestyle yet? 
Absolutely. We don’t take any money from the band at all. It’s all done for the love of it. 
 But you’re getting a name…? There has to be some light at the end of the tunnel?
We’re getting looked at. Some producers - names we’d never dream of - have checked us out. There are publishers and labels looking at us. We’re happy to stay with Static Caravan, who released our last EP. If a bigger label came along to give us that marketing push, we’d be happy. But we still want to do everything ourselves. If we make any mistakes, it’s down to us. We’ve had a few sync offers come along, which is nice, bit I’m very wary of all that, especially if it means losing publishing rights. I don’t mind doing one-off non-exclusive deals where we keep the rights in the long run, but that’s not the way most sync deals work. I don’t want to be the guy sitting in the pub at Christmas when my Christmas hit comes up, knowing I’m not getting anything for it.
Are we talking about 'Wenceslas Square', maybe perhaps….?
About Wenceslas Square… would you mind telling me how much you paid for that very wonderful video?
It’s a difficult one. The person I did that video with would have charged a lot more. I could tell you that the puppets and the puppeteer cost a thousand pounds. And there were twelve people working on it. It took a year to make. Does that give you an idea?
So, not cost-effective whatsoever?
Not yet! But there were a lot of favours done.
Let’s sum up: The band’s had a good year. Lots of lovely new songs, a growing audience, you’ve reinforced your standing; if I was still programming at radio in Birmingham, I would happily be playing your stuff; I can't understand why people don't… and yet and yet, and yet – it’s all to play for in 2013, and there’s not a precise plan yet. It’s almost like you’ve casually surfed into this position on the back of your songs and onstage appeal…
I think that’s fair. In terms of the band, we’ve done everything we wanted to do. Next year, we’re going to step up. But we’re not in a rush. Bands who are in a rush just bang stuff out.

So Moseley Folk is done and dusted; I thoroughly enjoyed it. But you’re in kind of a tricky position, as you book most of the acts. So you are... a gate keeper: people have to come to you for a slot. How do you keep everyone happy?
You don’t. I’m picking the acts, but I’m picking for the Festival. If I have a friend, and I don’t think that friend’s very good, I can’t give him a slot. If some industry person is looking for some new talent, and I have a bad reputation for bias, they’re not going to respect my choices. So when I book people, there’s no favours being done, it’s people I genuinely think will go over well.
There’s more talent emerging than you can fit onto the slots you have.
With local bands, some people, you see them once, and they’re in. I don’t care about their Facebook page. It’s what they do live. 
How much sleep do you get when you’re doing the Moseley events?
I’m up about 5, putting the last things together… and I go to bed about 2 the next morning. I stay away from the afterparties… until Sunday. And Goodnight Lenin played on the Saturday as well. You know, I'd planned to sleep for a week after the end of Moseley Folk 
Did you?
Of course not! 
And the Christmas show has been announced now. Tell me about it. 
We’re back at Birmingham Cathedral, which we sold out last year. We're not sure about support. I’ve got a few ideas. There’s this new girl I’ve found. She’s mind-blowingly good. I’m kind of... helping her, not being her manager or anything. She’s just 17, so she’s got a lot of choices. I’ve just told her to speak to me if she needs some advice.
That’s highly creditable. 
But it’s what I love doing. 

Katherine Priddy at Moseley Folk 2012 - picture Richard Shakespeare

 The ‘new girl’ John Fell has found is Katherine Priddy. She made her Moseley Folk debut in the Acoustic tent on Sunday, in the middle of the afternoon, and it pretty much felt like she owned the place after two songs. I talked to her last week after a support set in Birmingham. She plays a mix of originals and material from Nick Drake, John Martyn, and some more contemporary songwriters. 

It’s rare to find someone so new digging so far back into the golden age of British Folk and Folk-Rock.
I was brought up on a mixture of Led Zeppelin and Frank Zappa! … but also John Martyn, Richard Thompson… I really really like that sort of music, and so I decided to follow it myself. My dad used to sit around and play those songs, so I chose to to do that tool. He played one song in particular – John Martyn’s 'Golden Girl' – which made me decide to try to teach myself guitar. 

How many gigs so far?
Not many! This is probably the first that people have paid to see, with me as a named support. Moseley Folk Festival was probably the first ‘big’ gig.
So now you’re writing, writing, writing… who are you using to bounce your songs off?
John is good! Lots of people, really. I upload a lot of stuff on YouTube. I got some good responses, and now have quite a lot of subscribers; they’re quite dedicated, and give me some very honest feedback and critiques. I met John by chance at Lunar Festival. I kept sending songs over to him on Facebook.
Next steps? 
University, hopefully! I want to keep on playing for the sake of playing. If it did go somewhere, that would be lovely, but if it doesn’t, it’s a lovely hobby to have. 
Goodnight Lenin website and full gigs list
Katherine Priddy on Facebook

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Fathers and Sons: 60s veteran Don Fardon is back working, with DC Fontana

Old and in the way… or possessed of invaluable perspective? With Don Fardon and DC Fontana, it's, emphatically, the latter. 
Don Fardon interviewed. Pic by Mark Mortimer
It’s fair to say that most music ventures tend to draw on people of much the same age range. And the more image-conscious the venture, the more this pattern seems to apply. 

It’s often the fate of veteran musos to find themselves reverently placed on a pedestal, to be worshipped from afar rather than collaborated with. For example, much as 70s Brum metal monsters are venerated by 21st century rockers, I’m not at all sure the new kids would actually welcome any of the old boys onstage. And that’s a great shame, because every generation has creative goodies to pass on to the next. You could look at it the other way too: every new generation, no matter how much it thinks it's  blazingly original, actually feeds from, builds on, and recycles what’s gone before.

It’s not a hard and fast rule. There are exceptions, and when they work, it’s a pure delight. 

The excellent Friendly Fire Band, one of the keepers of Birmingham’s reggae flame, is only too happy to work with reggae veterans whenever they can. World, Blues, Jazz, Country and Folk, too, also all hold their veterans are held in high esteem. With Rock, Pop and Dance / Club / Urban variations, I think it’s a slightly different story; there, image and tribalism carries much more weight.  

So it was nice to learn that a band I really admire, DC Fontana, who have great (but not compulsive/obsessive) love for 60s pop, had forged a link with Don Fardon, who himself had had a fair go in the 60s as a solo artist and with his band The Sorrows

Don (based in Coventry) was hooked up with DC Fontana (based in Tamworth) by a promoter in London; it’s proved a fruitful connection. DC Fontana leader Mark Mortimer was thrilled at the prospect of working with a seminal 60s name; Don, for his part, was very happy to have another canter round the course. 

I met with Don and Mark as Don added vocals to an alternative version of the lead song on the next DC Fontana EP. In keeping with DCF’s nod to the 60s practice of recording multiple language versions of the same song, there’s talk of a Spanish version of the single. Hey, if the Beatles could cut German versions of their songs (Sie Liebt Dich, anyone?)…

The song in question is Pentagram Man; you can see the original YouTube clip down the page in this post. It’s about Aleister Crowley, the Leamington spa-born occultist. This is very 60s in itself: both Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath paid a lot of attention to Crowley. The single even has The Great Beast himself intoning at the start...

Pentagram man: DC Fontana with Don Fardon 

Mark, I hope this clip of Crowley is now in the public domain? I’d hate to think of him dropping by in person for his royalty share….
It's a recording taken from a wax cylinder dating right back to the early 1900s. So we are presuming it is in the public domain, and we’re safe to use it - as safe as can be expected when dealing with the Great Beast! We’re hoping to get the 6-track ep released by the end of September. We’re releasing on our own label, DC Tone, but it will also come out in vinyl on an Italian label called Teen Sound records. We release in all forms: CD, mp3 and vinyl. 
Tell me about hooking up with Don?
We’d been asked to do backup for Don; he had re-formed the Sorrows, and this was to cover his solo work as well. We’ve had this sort of thing offered to us before, but it’s never actually happened for one reason or another, so I wasn’t expecting too much. Ironically, I’ve always loved his music. I’m Alive’ by Don, which came out in 1969, is one of my top ten records of all time. 
A couple of months later, we were approached by the same promoter; the gig was definitely on, could we look at contacting Don? 
We met and hit it off well. He’s a lovely guy, with a lot of stories to tell. We worked up a show where we open up with some of our material, and then Don comes on and we play his stuff; it’s looking very promising.   
So when is this show going on the road?
It’s started. We played in August at Euro Ye Ye in Gijón in Spain. It’s a great festival, held in the city square, in front of nine or ten thousand people. Great gig, big stage… we got to do an hour of DC Fontana and then 45 minutes with Don, and it went down an absolute storm. He’s an absolute pro. We’ve now been offered shows in Australia and Europe on the back of this. Don was a big-selling star in the 60s and 70s in those markets; there’s still a lot of fondness for him over there. 
DC Fontana live, August 2, 2012 in Gijón, Spain. Photo: Fernando Da Silva.
 Let me just rewind for a second here, Mark. You’re playing in front of ten thousand people in Spain….and you’re doing Australian tours. I know you do shows in France. That’s great, but how the hell does all that square with the gigs I’ve seen you play in Birmingham – several times now – in front of a small but dedicated audience who certainly like you a lot? There's a bit of a disconnect here…
It is a bit surreal – but I really enjoy that surrealism. I quite like the fact that we do so many different gigs, from the sublime to the ridiculous and back. We do gig a lot, because we need to fund our existence… which is a bit surreal in itself. A lot of bands are struggling to survive; we’re no exception. We deal with this by gigging a lot. We’re very old-school in that respect. But we are phasing out the smaller gigs now.
Like the one I saw you first at, in the Witton Arms behind Villa Park – the one with no stage at all?
Ironically, we’ve just been asked to play there again. They’re actually turning the beer-garden in the back into a bit a venue for bands. They’ve got quite ambitious plans. There is a gig happening on October 6th, outdoors, where they have Aslan coming over from Dublin – where they are huge – to play a fairly low-key gig. We’re supporting. It’s a bizarre combination again, but I like that – it opens us up to a new audience. The plan from the pub’s point of view is that it helps to put them on the map as a Birmingham music venue. 
It’s a welcome addition as far as I’m concerned. North Birmingham simply doesn’t have enough music venues. Turning to the EP again – are you producing a video?
We’re done three – to support a six-track EP.
DC Fontana are issuing series of videos from Pentragram Man EP. Here's number 1  
Wow. Did that cost a lot of money?
Well, we haven’t got a lot of money! We tried to box as cleverly as we can. We try to surround ourselves with people who are really creative, who are quite hungry as well. We want to work with directors and actors and performance artists who want make their name in the world, who’ll be happy to work with people like us on a collaborative basis. We do try to make out videos look a lot more expensive that they really are.
Well, that’s part of your goal, isn’t it?
Well hopefully. It’s not easy to pull off. We do spend thousands… but not tens of thousands like some people do. I used to work for a record label in Birmingham (Network Records, based at Stratford House in Camp Hill) and I can remember the sums of money we spent on bands like Altern8, the rave duo, KWS from Nottingham, who had a number 1 hit… Brum based house duo Mother, and people like Groove Corporation, who we now record with…  we spent an awful amount of money on videos. I can remember hanging out on set and seeing how it was done. I always felt that, as a lot of things were with the music industry back in those days, that everybody was ripping everybody else off, everybody was making a huge amount of money, when it could have been done with a much smaller budget. 
Meantime, back in the studio, Don Fardon was warming up nicely up as he worked up through a bunch of takes. We spent a lot of time talking about his early career, and especially about how the vast sums of money he made in the 60s …. never actually seemed to trickle down to him. Don’s got a lot of solid advice for anybody starting out, and this is going to be the subject of a separate post later in the year. But he’s a contented man. It wasn’t always that way
Don Fardon: The first agency agreement I signed with the Sorrows, we signed at a champagne reception for the farewell tour for the Drifters. We didn’t know until two years later that we were managed, and owned, by the Krays… The company was called Capable Management. My advice is: take advice before you sign anything. We didn’t, and we paid for it. 
Louise and Don Fardon on stage in Gijón, Spain. Photo: Fernando Da Silva.
Not a contract I’d want to break. Here we are in a studio in Balsall Heath, a funky part of Brum in all senses of the word, and you’ve just dropped vocals onto DC Fontana’s 60s psychedelic pop. And it’s 2012. How does it feel?
Pretty good. The big concert we did in July in Spain was such a wow. We all enjoyed it, and they said we’d love you to put vocals down on one of the main tracks of the new album; I said of course I would.  
But are you getting a royalty on this?
We haven’t even talked about it! 
But it's crystal clear that you're having a ball...
Absolutely. This is different. This is for friends! 
DC Fontana's second video from the new EP, shot in Birmingham's Custard Factory
DC Fontana website
Don Fardon Wikipedia page