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SPIES

RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AUSTRIAN DUO SPIES

Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

Dan: For me it was listening to all the records my dad used to play growing up. Everything from the beatles, to pink floyd mixed in with some irish folk music. It was always guitar based and that really influenced me to play the guitar in my early teens.

Maggie:I just always loved to sing, already as a child. I used to listen to my parent’s old CDs and sing along to them all the time. A very big thing for me was when I discovered Avril Lavigne. She definitely influenced and inspired me the most. By the age of 12, I started writing my first Song ever and I think with that I knew  – this is what I wanna do!

Introduce us to all of the members and your musical history.

The project “SPIES” officially consists of two members, Dan Fisher playing guitar and

Maggie Loeffler on vocals. SPIES started out just as a studio writing project during COVID lockdowns.

These writing sessions started off as just writing singles to release but we quickly had enough material to put together a full length album which we are releasing this year.

As time went on we also decided we wanted to put together a live show where we perform with a full band.

Name me your 3 favorite Albums?

Dan: Blink 182 – Untitled 

Maggie: Avril Lavigne – Under My Skin

Mutual agreement – Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon

What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?

Dan: For me, it was hearing the riff from “Dammit” by Blink 182. I was already playing guitar in school but when I heard that riff it was like “woah guitar can sound like that” and from there I got into playing in bands and song writing.

Maggie: For me it’s Avril Lavigne “Don’t tell me”. Growing up I was a bit of a punk kid so seeing someone as successful as her inspired me to pick up the guitar and start writing my owns songs.

The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?

We both agree that the music industry has evolved now into a “content industry”. Where you have to keep up with social media trends and to stay relevant you need to be releasing more music now than ever. You need to be constantly creating content.

As an artist nowadays the work never ends. We feel we’re doing the best job we can but sometimes it can feel very overwhelming. Remembering to create Instagram stories when we are working together to putting together high quality promo videos for reels.

Being based in Austria singing in English these days can also be quite difficult. Right now dialect-based “Austro pop” is very popular and it can be difficult to get radio play or media interest. So right now we are concentrating on the Uk and US markets.

I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?

There’s a question that women are far more often confronted with sexual harassment in public than men. That sadly is a fact.

I think first of all we should start to educate children in school about this critical thematic. Children – that includes boys and girls – should already learn what harassment means, that it is NOT okay, and what we can do or how we can fight against it. As long as the understanding for this thematic is not there, we definitely need to create safe spaces for women on concerts, festivals etc. 

Festivals already started to offer camping for “only women”. What could also help is to organize even more service staff at concerts. The service staff should specificity be trained to offer help in case of critical situations. In Austria and Germany for example “Luisa ist hier!” is a codeword for sexual harassment. If a person in need says that to the service staff, they should instantly react and offer them help. On some Festivals we also have “Luisa ist hier!” contact points where threatened people can go and get the right help. In my opinion it’s very important to offer those save spaces and maybe as a next step it would help women to feel more comfortable, if we offer such contact points at concerts too??

In general, there is to say, always keep your eyes wide open on concerts and react if anyone needs help or is asking for help. Don’t ever just look away!

As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?

We find hyper-targeted ads help a lot. There are also plenty of great tools out there like Muso Soup or Groover that we have found very helpful.

What’s your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?

We think there are many pro’s and con’s. On the one hand its great that more people than ever have access to your music. It’s also great that anyone can release a song or a record without a label or a middle man, but this can also be a con as there is a lot crap being released and that makes it a little bit harder for talented artists to stand out amongst the noise. 

Spotify can only exist because of the artists and makes 100’s millions in revenue every year. I’d like to see the little guys, the indie artists get paid a little more for their streams and I find it a little hypercritical that an artist like Taylor Swift can hold them to ransom and negotiate her own deal. Same with the major labels.

Do you sign up for any conspiracy theories?

Dan: Epstein didn’t kill himself.

Maggie: Avril Lavigne died in 2003 and was replaced by a body double named Melissa

Vandella. (don’t take me seriously)

What was the worst experience on stage?

Dan: Playing for a pretty well known Austrian artist at stage at a big festival (Nova Rock) in front of 2000+ people. I had a song I needed to tune to drop D for. The sun was so bright I could not see the LED on my tuner and proceeded to play the opening few chords completely out of tune.

Maggie: I went with a fever on stage and at some point I was almost throwing up during a song. Thank god I had a backing choir singing the chorus for me so I could take a deep breath and continue singing the song. But I still remember thinking to myself “how am I gonna get through this” end of the story: I don’t know how but somehow I made it haha.

What makes you stand out as a band/artist?

We would say our attention to detail. We are hyper aware of the quality of the material we put out to the public. The production has to be top notch. That also includes our videos and promotional material. If we decide to do something we go all in 100%. This includes our live show. The set and the show is methodically thought out to try and give our audience the best concert experience we can.

I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.

Our debut album “Playing With Matches” will be released on May 26th 2023. We started recording the album in June 2022 and it is completely self-produced. We will also be releasing a single and video with the same title “Playing With Matches” to continue the promotion of the record. It was recorded in Stress Studios in Graz and Audio Heart Studios in Vienna, Austria. We will release it on Dan’s label “Audio Heart Records”.

Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s.

We had 2 goals in mind. We wanted to make people dance and we wanted our lyrics to mean something. We spent a lot of time in the pre-production phase making sure tempos and grooves were where we wanted them to be. We had many dedicated lyrics writing sessions and we think they paid off in the end. We’re pretty proud of the end product.

What was the recording process like?

The recording process was more stressful for Dan as he recorded and produced the record. We spent 3 days tracking drums in the aptly named Stress studio (haha) in Graz. Then everything else was recorded in Dan’s studio in Vienna. This made the recording process a little more relaxed as we didn’t have to worry about a huge studio budget or time constraints. 

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

We were trying too hard to be something we were not. At the start of the writing phase, we restricted ourselves to a certain sound and we quickly realised we needed to be more open minded. Once we changed our attitude songs just started to flow and the writing sessions became far more enjoyable.

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

Of course, looking back there are a lot of things we could change. The biggest thing would be to set stricter deadlines and don’t dwell too much on decisions.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

From what we’ve learned from the process of making this record we would say just do you. Make the music you want to make and write songs about the subjects that mean something to you. We think sincerity in songwriting resonates more with an audience.

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