I’d love to be able to live comfortably as a full-time musician, to be able to travel for my music and go on tour and meet people that my music has reached.
Shininglights has been talking to artists about the interaction between music and money. The aim is to understand how different artists approach and apply this to their own circumstances.
In this interview, we talk to Georgie Biggin (GINS). GINS began performing and studying at age 16. In 2016, she joined “We Are Uncollective” (@WeRUncollective), a creative events and management team. In 2017, she started to develop her own genre of music blending classic, folk and ambient sounds.
2017 saw her touring local festivals and playing intimate gigs, she is currently working on her debut EP “Things I Didn’t Say”.
We caught up with GINS to talk about, money, and music.
SL: Can you start by giving us a potted history of your career to date?
GINS: I guess in terms of a career I’m still getting started, I had a lovely time basking in the bubble of pseudo-adulthood at university which gave me the chance to develop my musicianship without having to worry about too much else. But unfortunately, I’ve had to enter the real world so I’m trying to make money from my music.
SL: Describe your musical style and how this has developed over time?
GINS: I started out as most 14-year-old girls do playing a guitar and singing sad songs about things that I didn’t really understand and I stuck with that for years. But I started to evolve while I was at uni, I think partly because of all of the other musicians I was surrounded by and also because of the more varied music I started listening to. I started getting more into r&b and ambient music and realised it was silly for me not to make music that I would choose to listen to. So now my sound is my mix of pretty much every genre except metal and country because I don’t have the voice for metal and country is the worst (imho).
SL: I’d be interested to know who influences you musically?
GINS: One of my main influences is David Bowie (I’ve got two tattoos in tribute to him and will probably get more), partly because of his music, partly because of his development throughout his career. He was so good at adapting his style to suit trends in music while still staying true to himself. I’m also pretty into Kanye West, he’s an incredibly talented producer and as much as people hate him for it his faith in himself is pretty inspiring. Also, female artists like Laura Marling, Grimes, The Japanese House and Marika Hackman for their music and also for overcoming the barriers in the way of indie women in music. There’s doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for women making their own way (at least not as much as for men) and I think artists like them are clearing the way and making a big impact. I should also probably credit acts like S Club 7, The Jonas Brothers and The Venga Boys for kickstarting my love of music as a child (my love for the Venga Boys was reignited at University, shout out to 85K).
SL: It appears you work full time in music, what are the biggest challenges financially from making a career in music?
GINS: I’m not currently working full time in music, I’m holding down a part time job in retail alongside my music. The biggest challenge is definitely finding time to make music and practice after coming home from work, it’s easy to give in and just do nothing or take days off as days off from music as well but I’m learning to use that time more wisely and not just watch Dance Moms and drink red wine for hours on end.
SL: In making this step, have you had to make compromises/sacrifices with your music and financially?
GINS: If I could not make sacrifices then I’d definitely go full time in music but with the amount of money I’m making at the moment that’s not an option at all. It’s definitely a process, learning how to best make money and how to live as a musician. It’s nothing like I imagined it would be as a young teen, I thought I’d be magically discovered by some big shot from a record company and be catapulted to fame and fortune and be bffs with the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato but that’s yet to happen and my faith is dwindling at this point.
SL: What would you like to achieve, and what do you class as success?
GINS: I’d love to be able to live comfortably as a full-time musician, to be able to travel for my music and go on tour and meet people that my music has reached. Lucy Rose has recently gone on a tour in South America staying with fans and performing in their houses which would be amazing. I think really what I want is to reach people across the world, I’m still waiting on my “come to Brazil!” comment essentially. I’d also love to work with other musicians that I listen to and that I respect, I like the idea of writing with other people (but I’m a control freak and it hasn’t worked in the past) but I don’t currently have the time or money to travel and work with people for long enough periods of time. I’m not sure what I class success as, there are so many different aspects to it I wouldn’t be able to narrow it down to one thing. For example, if I was making lots of money off my music but it wasn’t inspiring any other little girls to pick up a guitar or sing.
SL: You are currently recording your debut EP, how are you funding this?
I’m funding it by doing it all myself haha, I wrote, recorded and produced the entire record myself (but my friend William P Rea played the piano). I managed to find friends from uni to help me with the non-musical elements like my music video for Sins (by Shaun Doherty) and the EP cover (by Eleanor Hardiman) who either worked with me for free or gave me mates rates. The only thing that really costs me is my time.
SL: Do you prefer download or physical music? Is there a downside to producing download only?
I’m quite a big fan of vinyl records, I’ve got a pretty good collection going (half of which is technically my parents’) but I mainly listen to music on spotify. There’s definitely some inner turmoil there, I hate how little Spotify pay artists and would love to be able to shun them but I just haven’t found another music listening platform that is as good for discovering new music. I did try Tidal for a bit but Jay Z really dropped the ball on that one.
SL: What are your aims over the next twelve months, and over the next five years?
Over the next 12 months I will have released my EP and moved to Bristol and hopefully those two things will be the catalyst to me getting more gigs and making more money (I’m currently based in Devon and there isn’t a great demand for small weird girls making ambientish loops of their voice and looking somber on stage but Bristol has better prospects). In the next five years, I’d like to achieve a Madonna level of success and pay off all the student debts of my friends OR be comfortable and earning a good living with my music, go on a few tours overseas and have a solid band that I work with (I don’t currently have any accompaniment while performing live and I’ve got bigger goals for my live shows).
SL: And finally, what are your favourite venues and where would you like to play in the future?
I love Thekla in Bristol, being on a boat listening to music is pretty rad. And I’d love to do a tour where I focus solely on the acoustics of the venues, something like a cathedral tour but a bit weirder. My friends (Whatchamacallit collective) recently did a series of exhibitions at a Victorian baths in Manchester and the acoustics of the empty swimming pool were insane so doing performances in some stranger places would be really cool. I’d also like to make use of theatres and picture houses that are currently out of use and just be as indie and bizarre as possible.
I think for me what is fascinating about this interview is the fact that it is touching a musician at the start of their journey. The desire to be “successful” and play with artists she has admired but also a realisation that much of the journey is both hard work and luck. I thought the comment about success was interesting, what is success? You can be successful but surely it is about inspiring others.
I love the reference to Lucy Rose who is someone I admire, and that understanding that playing music to audiences is changing. It will be interesting with the move to Bristol how she adapts and hopefully I can come and see her play.
In terms of money there is that pull to focus on building a career but a realisation that money is needed and therefore music has to work alongside other paid work (certainly in the early days). It is also interesting how to achieve the first vision of producing her EP she has turned to friends to help, and ultimately it is those around us who can help us achieve but we often forget that.
In terms of music I would never pretend to be some music guru but there is something about her voice and the depth of her songs. Could I compare to someone, I am not sure I could. Two songs which really stuck out for me where “I’m better” and “Sorry”.