Exclusive Interview Series: The internet and the music industry – Circles

As part of a new series of interviews EspyRock commander-in-chief Michael Hughes, who is currently writing a dissertation on the effect of the internet on the music industry for the University Of The West Of Scotland, will be getting the views of artists on the internet’s effect on the music industry. The interview series will cover what is currently going on with the band at the moment but will also feature a questionnaire ranging from topics as to illegal downloading, social networking, technology and the future of the industry.

Next to get involved was up and coming Australian metallers Circles. Preparing for the release of their debut EP ‘The Compass’ on Basick Records, I had the chance to submit some questions to the guys which vocalist Perry Kakridas took some time to reply to about the upcoming release and regarding the internet’s effect on the music industry.

With ‘The Compass’ EP set for release on 16th May 2011 via Basick Records, you can get your taste of the band below by listening to ‘Clouds Are Gathering’ and be sure to check them out on Facebook.

With a little help from Rebecca Black Perry knows that today is Friday, a day to get pumped up on Charlie Sheen tiger blood, intrude beds and jizz all over guitar riffs. We bring you Circles!

Circles Members

Interview

Although the band have just signed up Basick Records here in the UK I don’t think many people will know all too much about the band over here so could you please give us a little back story to band?

Circles are a five-piece progressive metal band from Melbourne, Australia. Despite enjoying the odd girlie drink, we somehow manage to write heavy, melodic, progressive music. We formed as a collaboration of seasoned players from the Melbourne scene. Some of us were childhood friends and some of us may have been poached from other bands. We met at the scene of a car accident. Okay, maybe not. We need a cooler back story. Haha.

Being that you were performing in Australia when Basick got in touch with you, what was the feeling like to know that you were being recognised for your music overseas and to be signed up by the label?

At first we were sceptical, but excited by the prospect. That sort of thing doesn’t happen every day, especially around these parts. Our geographical location is VERY isolated, it’s hard enough going interstate. So when we got the call from “Mother England”, we paid attention. After all, Australia still is a penal colony, according to our Draconian overlords at Basick Records. Haha. Okay, I made that up too. Quite frankly, we’re blown away by the fact that our music is travelling so far and wide.

One point that you’re likely questioned on a lot is the influences that are injected into your music as from the first time I read about the band and it spoke of the scale of Periphery and Textures to Incubus, which is quite a jump. The influence of Periphery can be heard but do you think you showcase Incubus?

Strong melodies speak for themselves, and as for influences…well, quite frankly we have too many to mention. At the end of the day, these are all just buzz words. We hope to stand up on our own, some day. On May 16, people all over the world can judge for themselves. Personally, I think I sound like “me”. But Hell, what do I know? I’m just another stupid singer.

The EP will be out on the 16th May worldwide, what can we all expect to hear when it is unleashed?

You know that scene in “The Wizard of Oz” where the flying monkeys are pulling at the Scarecrow? Like that, but with a touch of phat beats, killer grooves, and stratospheric vocal highs.

What’s the writing process like for Circles, do you stay a joined unit or do you split write lyrics and riffs and then come back together and piece things together?

The music always comes first. We start demoing with some rough-as-fuck riffs and we lay down the beat. Song structure is really important, and we all have our say. Ultimately, the writing process never stops. We write, re-write, erase, get drunk and write it all over again. I might come in with vocal ideas somewhere towards the end of the process.

Sometimes we will all go away for the weekend, at Matty’s folks’ property in rural, Victoria. It’s far away from civilisation, and distraction free. Perfect.

After 50+ hours of recording shenanigans, we all go home and listen to the music. I’ll write some lyrics, based on the melodies we’ve established. Even at this point, every song is fair game, and dramatic changes can and will be made. It’s a vicious cycle.

Circles PerformingThe EP is titled ‘The Compass’, is there any meaning to the title of the EP or in any relation to your name at all?

Funnily enough, “The Compass” was a working title for our song “Ruins”. We never liked it as a song name, but in the end we felt that it was an apt title for our debut. I think it says something about the direction we’re heading. Furthermore, it ties in nicely with the band name. Eventually, all the euphemisms will run dry and we’ll end up releasing an album entitled “The Nipple”.

‘Clouds Are Gathering’ is available for everyone to hear but what other song on the EP would you say is the one to look out for when it comes out? Any specific reason as to why this song?

Hmmmmm. That’s a tough one, I think “Eye Embedded” is going to be a real crowd pleaser. It’s catchy and heavy in all the right places. The guitars! My god, I jizzed a little when I first heard them, and now in the months that have passed- I still love it! The Lyrics in the chorus change EVERY time, so hopefully it’ll do your head in. That way I’ll sleep better at night. I like confusing people. *Yawn* Haha.

I would presume that after the EP is released and some press and tour work is complete you will be moving onto your first full length. Have you had any thoughts about that yet? Could it see the EP just being extended or would you prefer to release all new material?

Oh hell no. We’re definitely aiming for new material; it’s all about our development as a band. We want more songs, and we need to express ourselves. I have no idea what it’s going to sound like in the end, but that makes it all the more exciting.

Being that it was Basick that signed you, do you have plans to try reach the UK or Europe in 2011 or focus on the album first?

The album is our number one priority at this point. The reality of the situation is that we need a full length in order to support our international touring aspirations. But rest assured that we are working our arses off on making the best album we can. The best thing that our fans can do for us is to SPREAD THE WORD! If the demand is strong enough, we’ll be in your town before you know it. In short “hide yo’ kids ‘n hide yo’ wife”.

Australia has been producing some great talent over the years, bands such as Karnivool, the now split Mammal, Sydonia, Twelve Foot Ninja are a great upcoming band and now Circles. Who should we be looking out for in the future?

There’s way too many to mention, and funnily enough we’ve recommended the aforementioned bands in previous interviews… However, we played a show in Brisbane not long ago, and the bands that stuck out in my mind were: The Shoenberg Automaton, Humality, and Adriatic. Great fuckin’ bands!

Internet and the music industry

The biggest issue with the internet for artists is of course illegal downloading and there has been a rapid decline in value of the industry as the internet expands throughout the world. Several artists I have spoken to have stated that it has become part of life and that now selling albums is no longer a profitable business; money is solely earned from touring. What are your views on the matter of illegal downloading?

If people truly enjoy the music that they’re listening to, then I believe that they will act generously. I personally believe that there are always those who will buy the music, because they want to support the music they love. Besides, it’s a good way to sort out all the crap that’s out there. Music isn’t meant to be easy. A good touring artist will always make a living. The crap, will hopefully fall by the wayside. It’s Friday! FRIDAAAAAY!

Do you feel that any of the current methods such as watermarking or streaming based models which have users paying a fee to stream music will take off and help stop the illegal sharing of music files? Or do you see any strength with the idea of giving away your music for free, having it shared around the world and again relying on touring to make money?

Pay to listen? Get real. I understand the sentiment, but people will always find a way to get it for free. Of course there is strength in sharing music and touring in order to recoup costs, a recent example comes to mind, Skrillex AKA Sonny Moore. Right now he’s one of the most sought after producers; he tours the world and is making bucks. I even bought a t-shirt from his merchandise store yesterday, and I’ve never paid a cent for his music. I think people are shifting away from the music itself and are more interested in the people behind it. We live in a culture that now idolises/stigmatises celebrities (tiger blood, anyone? LOL). It’s all part of daily life, and people are paying real money to be part of it.

The global recorded music industry saw a 31% decline in value from the years of 2004 to 2010 but the digital music market has seen a 1000% increase in value over the same period. Do you see the internet’s influence on the industry as the sole cause of this decline or do you believe there are any other factors which you consider an issue?

Yes the internet killed the traditional model, but it wasn’t helped by the inaction, greed and blatant rip offs we experienced from the Majors in the 90’s. In Australia, we were paying $30.00 for albums. iTunes came along and scooped it all up, but even now we’re getting screwed. The Aussie dollar has been on and over parity with the US dollar for at least 8 months now, yet we are expected to pay $1.19 AU, when everyone else is paying 0.99 cents!
I’d rather support the artist, plain and simple.

With such a growth in the digital music market, many artists have already stopped creating physical albums; the most notable is Rob Zombie who stated his most recent release would be his last physical album as the growing popularity of iTunes and Amazon is now controlling album sales. The IFPI recently published findings that 16.5% of internet users in the United States purchase their music digitally than physically.
Firstly as an artist and music fan, do you still buy physical albums or do you download from digital music stores? Secondly, do see the digital music markets as something positive for the industry and your career as a new and cheaper distribution method?

Yes I think digital distribution is positive and cheaper, but I prefer to actually own a tangible product. T-shirts and merchandise mainly, I guess I’m like many who have become accustomed to free music. Yes I am ashamed!

As the digital music stores assist in distribution, other factors that come into releasing an album are marketing and promotion of any sort. What are your views on the ability to use the internet to promote and market yourself?

Social media is where we do all our work, mainly Facebook and YouTube. MySpace is kind of dead, we hate using it, but we still get plenty of hits through them. And Tumblr is a great way to do it all at once. I think that our social media is what drives our success in the end.

Circles LogoSocial networking has naturally become a massive asset in the industry for labels and artists to be able to interact with fans on an everyday basis from anywhere in the world. Do you feel that if the social networking boom hadn’t taken place that it would effectively hinder careers as there would have been no direct route to communicate with fans?

Definitely, I cannot believe how it has changed our lives! If it wasn’t for social media, I don’t think anyone would know who we are. Especially Basick! Coming from Australia, it’s ridiculously hard to get noticed in our own back yard, there’s so much music here! However metal is especially ignored, even by community/youth radio. We never even dreamed of approaching music fans overseas, growing up. But now the tables have turned… MWAHAHAHA!

A big development in recent years has been the hardware and software that has been created for anyone and everyone to purchase. We now find aspiring artists building their own home studios at their computer by purchasing top of line software, sound cards, microphones and such. What are your views on the technology advancements in recent years from software, hardware and even to the MP3 itself? What positives or negatives if any do you see from these advancements?

For us, there a no negatives on this front. It’s made our lives so much better. There’s no distances to travel for recording, communication, and distribution. Our Guitarists use Axe FX Ultra for live and recording guitars. We don’t even need to bring amps to shows anymore. The possibilities are endless!

While purchasing hardware/software and recording in your own home studio is a method of removing big studio costs and staff costs, recently fan funding in return for incentives has become a new way forward. Recently in the UK bands such as Madina Lake, Funeral For A Friend and The Blackout have used Pledge Music (Kickstarter in the US) in which fans contribute towards the cost of the studio in return for signed albums, special gifts and more. Do you think this method of involving fans more intimately in the creation of an album and offering them incentives to do so could be a way forward to combat the losses through piracy?

Personally, I don’t think that fans need to shoulder that kind of responsibility. I don’t even like it when they demand, say 1000 fans before they release their new music! But hey, I’m sure they don’t refuse to sign albums if approached. I hope.
Knowing how the MP3 revolution started, I guess that this might take off too. But I hope not. In my opinion, piracy does not strictly mean money loss; it means that you have to work hard like every other person with a day job. Musicians ought to feel lucky that they have an audience but hey, if these guys want to guilt trip their fans, then they should go ahead.

In the United States from 1999 to 2009 there was a 17% fall in the number of people hired as a musician and in Europe, while not directly musicians, the estimated number of jobs likely to be lost due to piracy in the creative industries will reach 1.2 million by 2015. Do you worry as an artist that you will ever be swept by this wave and be forced to leave the industry you love in order to provide a better living for yourself?

I still have a pain-in-the-arse construction industry day job, and I don’t feel sorry for the “creative industry”. Maybe they should get to work at say, 9am (I start at 6.45am, but who cares)? And be more creative with their business model. Basick seem to be doing pretty well, because they engage their audience and manage to get retain great talent, because their business model is more equitable. There will always be a market for music, don’t be such a panic mongerer. LOL. But seriously, Mariah Carey left Sony years ago, and Sony had to fire everybody. She then went to Virgin and got an even better deal. Meanwhile Sony had to merge with BMG.
The outcome? More money and jobs wasted, and more crap music. Rinse & repeat.

When you consider the industry previously to the time before the internet and to now with the internet in full swing, what do you see for the future of the industry?

Better music? Probably not. Haha. Hopefully a more level landscape for artists, and greater freedom for the sharing of music. Greater marketing possibilities for unsigned artists, especially as social media will become more entrenched in our everyday lives. Either that, or we’re going to go the other way, people are going to have to whore themselves off to X factor, Idol etc. Actually, that already happens :P

Circles Release Poster

     

About Michael

Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

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