RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW CHESTERFIELD SOLO ARTIST AZA BROWN
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?
I had 15 years away from band life when my last band in Sheffield – The Chasers – split up. I was gutted as we’d done really well and made some great music – so much so that it put me off music for all that time. I knew I’d still got so much unexpressed creativity in me, so decided to go it alone
Introduce us to yourself and your musical history.
I started off in a choir at a really young age, which gave me such a great grounding in music – being able to read music and dissect songs enables me to write with confidence. In the 90’s I was in a band called The Dazy Age, which did really well in Sheffield, Chesterfield, Derby and Leeds. I did a degree in Music Industry Management in the late 90’s and then sung in an Indie Rock band called The Chasers which also did pretty well locally. I’ve also been a music promoter putting on live and dance events
What was life like for you before music?
In my 15 years in-between original music, I promoted dance music in Chesterfield, Sheffield, and Leeds with a Deep House night called Detune. I also went to Indonesia, learned the language and imported Fair Trade artwork from Bali – holding a few exhibitions in Leeds. Strangely, that also gave me a leaning towards languages and I trained as an English Teacher in Leeds too
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
Probably ‘Mr Blue Sky’ by ELO. My sister and I used to sing ourselves to sleep to it when we were kids!
Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?
There’s definitely a retro feel to what I’m putting out – a hint of the 90’s and a healthy dose of Power Pop – a bit like bands like Jellyfish and The Divine Comedy. It’s not hugely popular as such, but it’s melodic, singalong, and accessible so, like the aforementioned bands it has a bit of a niche following. I’ve just notched up half a million streams so must be doing something right!
What’s the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry?
It’s completely changed since I studied the Music Industry in depth at Uni! With the advent of the internet, I’ve had to pretty much relearn everything! The cream doesn’t rise to the top anymore like it used to. Being able to manage your socials is a huge factor now, so it’s almost like the music is less important…kinda…saying that, a good song is always a good song…
Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.
I was on Surprise Surprise with Bob Carolgees and Cilla Black in 1991; I’ve been to 12 Glastonbury Festivals; I can sing the Indonesian National Anthem off by heart
If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?
I need to be able to play out live a lot more
Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss….
Yeah, I think it’s REALLY dangerous. People have just resorted to screaming at each other, when a polite yet robust debate would be a lot healthier. Having different points of view is what makes us unique, and we should be intrigued by other’s opinions, and try and understand them instead of taking offense too easily – in my humble opinion
Do you sign up for any conspiracy theories?
What’s the difference between a conspiracy theory and a fact? About 2 months…
What was the worst experience on stage?
We played The Casbah in Sheffield in the early 00’s with The Chasers, and I completely lost my voice after 4 songs. It was horrible, but there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. A load of people had come down to see us too
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.
Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty/Trainspotting/28 Days Later) is a fan! He retweeted my single “Afterthought” from last year, which had a massive effect on my Spotify and Youtube streams! From nowhere too – I don’t know him or anything. Very grateful for him doing it, though…
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
I’d like to think melody and consistency – since re-emerging a couple of years ago, I’ve released regularly which people can sing along to. From my days as a promoter, too, I know a lot of producers and had 10 different remixes for both my debut single “Pure Water”, and “Sticky Situations” from earlier this year – many with dedicated videos too. You have to go the extra mile to stand out. From my days as a promoter, too, I know a lot of producers and had 10 different remixes for both my debut single ‘Pure Water’ and ‘Sticky Situations’ from earlier this year – many with dedicated videos too.
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.
‘Wasting Away’ was written at the start of the CVD hysteria, when I took off on my bike wondering if I was going crazy! The music’s completely at odds with the subject matter and is a big summery singalong single – reminiscent of early Beatles, Beach Boys and Jellyfish. I went to Puerto Escondido in Mexico to shoot the video – it goes perfectly with the sunshine vibes.
What was the recording process like?
I recorded the demo on GarageBand and sent it all to producer Danny Burton – because we were locked down at the time, we couldn’t get together and he had to replay most of it on Logic after I’d sent him the tracks over. It was only a few months later that I could go over there and record the vocals properly, so it was a bit fragmented, but somehow -amongst all the adversity – we came out with something magical!
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
You just have to make a start, at the very least! That might just be the hardest part, and sometimes we stifle ourselves by trying to be too perfect and self sabotaging. Just get going – things will fall into place
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Not really – I’d maybe have liked to have jammed with a band in the first place to find a groove, but what Danny (Burton) recreated was fantastic
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
I’m already writing a second album, and it’s a lot edgier, so watch this space!