Twist Helix Weigh In on Success, Streaming and the 'Entanglement of Intangibles'
The North East music scene is currently thriving with new talent, and at Spotlight we’re all about discovering those artists and doing ‘our bit’ to help put them on the map.
Three of those artists form Newcastle Upon Tyne trio Twist Helix, and while the band may have been around a little longer than the newer artists on the block today, they’re still working just as hard to progress up the industry’s ladder.
I spoke to the electronic alt-pop trio about their experiences in the music industry and just what success is all about for them.
Fresh from their Below Byker Tour, and successful signing to Spanish label Paul Back Music, Twist Helix know it takes a lot of hard work to progress in the industry, and they aren’t afraid to give it their all:
“You don’t get anything just handed to you in life. You have to graft to play to a full room and realise that no matter how good you might be you’re not entitled to anything.”
They also don’t let the possibility of playing to a smaller crowd phase them.
“We still identify as a DIY band. We got to wherever we are right now because we were prepared to put the work in and travel, make not a loss but an investment, and be prepared to play to empty rooms at the start.”
And as a ‘DIY band’, the trio also know they have to play for every crowd with the same zest as the one before, whether that crowd is large or small.
“When we go on tour the best gig we ever played is every night… you have to make it that way, try to stay in the moment and keep that feeling for as long as you can.”
Twist Helix also spoke to me about their thoughts on streaming, as well as the effect it has on their music.
“Frankly what we did was not a good idea. Producing “pop” music with an art band mentality and an obsession with the concept album format, long written off in the age of streaming, does not make a recipe for success.”
It’s fair to say that in 2017 streaming became a phenomenon within the music industry as the amount of streams you received solidified your place in the charts. And in 2018, streaming still holds a firm place in the industry and doesn’t appear to be shifting.
“In today’s music industry, success can be and is defined by streams, spreadsheets, the monitoring of metadata and the entanglement of intangibles, What about that is Rock n’ Roll? What of that is actually real? Why would any artist be satisfied with a base of passive disengaged listeners via a playlist?”
The North East band believe streaming has created a ‘playlist culture’ where music is created for consumers to listen to in coffee shops; they don’t believe people buy into artists anymore, or their products.
“Streaming has created a world in which music is reproduced only to be left singing to itself as a soundtrack to a coffee break.”
What about promotion and getting their music in the public eye without streams?
“We want our music to be heard, but the thing with the music business is that it’s a business; to do well in it you have to build a profile, what some would call brand recognition, and that’s because when someone thinks something is worth something or is in demand, they’ll pay for it, but not a penny until then.”
The trio, however, don’t believe that promotion rewards talent, and believe it to be an ‘ugly’ concept.
“It doesn’t reward creativity or recognition. What the music industry will and does reward is a talented marketing team, a creative press release, and an innovative booking agent.”
As a band that is still in the beginning stages of their career though, what defines success for them?
“Success for us is producing music that we can be proud of. ‘Ouseburn’ has been a labour of love, inspired by respect for our home and an admiration for our fellow artists.”
“Our music is and always has been a synthesis of our interests, influences, and the resources available to us. If nothing else, it’s authentic.”
Twist Helix are continuing to play gigs across the country and aren’t planning on stopping their journey up the industry ladder anytime soon.
“In the beginning it was a passion for music and now it’s a fear of what happens when it stops.”
Photography by Paul Murray