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?
Well, I can remember as far back as being 6 years old and being completely obsessed with guitars. My dad brought home an old flamenco guitar and I would just mess around on it trying to play something that sounded like music! And as I got older and got guitar lessons, I started really falling in love with songs I heard and wanting to replicate them on the guitar as well as sing. Then I knew I had to find a way to do this for real!
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
My name is Joshua Scurfield, and since the pandemic, it’s just been me because my band members left. They were great guys- the drummer was Louie Watson and the bassist was Alasdair Spence. Fantastic musicians, I met them when I started music college in London back in 2015. They stuck around for Shockpowder’s first album The Final Thoughts of Gaia which we released in 2019. That was wild; I was basically granted access to the university’s studio and I was making the most of it while I was still a student, when the other guys weren’t playing I was on my own, running from the booth to the control room recording myself on the Audient desk they had there!
In covid time I had to readjust my strategy and go the way of frequent releases from my own studio setup at home, playing guitar, bass, and singing as well as writing in drums using EZdrummer. I’m still looking for a drummer and bassist to this day, and hopefully, I’ll find them soon because I absolutely miss playing live so much! But at least I’m putting out the most creative music I can by myself for now!
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
I absolutely love this question because it surprisingly gets overlooked so often. When I was growing up I wanted nothing but to be a rockstar, and as I learned more about how the industry was changing and how even huge bands were working full time jobs to get by, I realised maybe success looks really different for musicians now. So I ask myself, what does success look like to me? Well, I just want as many people as possible to love my music! So I’m working on that. And I like to think that, especially over this year, I’m really growing! I’m managing to communicate what my vision for Shockpowder is to people and I feel like, little by little, people are really vibing with it. At the end of the day, all I can do is put as much effort and energy into it as I can, while being careful to pat myself on the back a bit and avoid burning out.
We set up RGM USA and many other countries in the world to share music with America and the UK, good idea?
I think it is a good idea, yes! Music lives purely in the ears of those who hear it, and so that makes what you’re doing a colossal part of it.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
Nope! I read a lot to stay informed on things, and if there’s no evidence of something I’m just not going to believe it!
Let’s share the love, what bands are doing really well in your Town / City?
I’m from Aylesbury, and there’s a band led by a friend of mine Seb Aaron called Screamin Irene. They’re fantastic! We’ve been trying to play shows together since before covid but things always got in the way, most recently me not having a lineup!
What advice would you give other artists starting out?
Well, first off ditch the label idea. Don’t plan for that because, since like 2005, labels don’t sign people unless they’re already successful. So, market yourself. Find out who you are as an artist, what that looks like, sounds like, feels like, and put it out there on social media and in your music in creative ways. Oh, and because of social media and the internet in general, people will forget you exist pretty quickly unless you keep putting out material on a regular basis, so your main strategy should basically be to release singles, really awesome singles that communicate who you are, and on a monthly basis, all the while promoting them on social media the whole time!
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
Well, I saved up a lot of money and wanted a new guitar for a while, so I ended up buying my Fender Player Jazzmaster. Did not regret it at all! A beautiful guitar and I play it primarily now.
What was the worst experience on stage?
Once, with my old lineup, we were playing a show in Camden, and I think they must have forgotten they’d booked us, because there was no sound guy, no equipment except for what was lying around which was not enough. There was one solo act playing apart from us, so we all just had to try and help each other set up the stage with what we could find in the cupboards. The microphone cable was barely long enough to reach the stage from the mixing desk, so I had to lean over. We had to ask around for a cable for the PA so we could DI the bass. It was a disaster, so we just powered on. Oh, and we even had to go and ask the bar staff to turn off the house music!
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.
I have a tortoise! I love them so much and think they’re beautiful, he’s called Andre. They’ve been cared for so poorly in the past as the info about their species is sort of scattered and hidden behind what pet shops tell you, which is often totally wrong. So I feel like I’m contributing something really positive by taking good care of my shelled friend!
If you had to describe your band/music to an alien how would you describe it?
Imagine the weirdest dreams you had and what they would sound like. What would that sound make you feel?
What makes you stand out as an artist?
I feel like Shockpowder is a unique concept because I make music inspired by blackgaze, IE mixing black metal and shoegaze, but I do it with a very accessible, ethereal sound that is also so 90s. Inadvertently or otherwise. I suppose that’s from spending my entire teenage years listening to grunge, then completely falling in love with Alcest years later!
I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.
My next single comes out on the 30th September. It’s called Amberfrost. The name is because the song, when I was writing it, sounded very cold to me, very icy. But the nostalgic warmth I always bring to Shockpowder, maybe its core ingredient really, makes it quite an interesting mix. It’s like a sunset on a snowy day, that’s the sensation that really nails what I think Amberfrost feels like. Beautiful, but dying down, and so cold.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tunes.
In music, there’s a musical mode called Lydian. I won’t go all music nerd on you, but basically I always loved how uncertain and cold it sounded, but also so soft and nostalgic. Lydian mode to me was the perfect writing tool for what inspired Amberfrost, because, while Shockpowder always has to be nostalgic, sweet, and ghostly, mixing that up with something as sparkly as Lydian mode was exactly the flavor that fuelled the writing of this song. It sort of makes you see a cold sunset, or at least I hope it does for others!
What was the recording process like?
My home studio setup is an Audient ID4, an SM57 and Cakewalk which has some pretty great amp sims. So it’s quite chill! I just listen very carefully and go with my feeling.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
My practice has been pretty heavy for a while now, I really want to be great at what I do so I’m working very hard on my technique on the guitar. I wanted to play things that I thought were just beyond my limit, then practice them so much that they became natural. And that’s what I did! I even threw a lick in there that I’d not seen anyone else do, but just sounded really nice a little harmonised legato bit.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
That’s a dangerous road to go down! I feel like there’s always things that could pop up later, whether that be the next day, the next week or the next year, that you think “if only I’d done this”. But I learnt to see a mastered song as a product of the moment it was mastered in. It’s always going to be embedded in the time period, inspired by the society and emotions around it, and the technology of course. As long as I do my absolute best to make it sound as great as I can, then I’m happy!
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Just a big thanks for this interview! I’m going to leave some links below for you: