Back in 2013, my brother and I were left licking our wounds after a fruitless experience with a local label. We were young and teeming with excitement at the prospect of someone believing in us, let alone offering to back us financially. Hands were shaken, posters were made and there were a few on-cue laughs shared that could make even George Osborne appear sincere. The whole thing fell apart faster than your first omelette attempt. At the time we were devastated, I cried. It’s silly really, looking back, but I was convinced that was my chance to get my foot in the door, or at least touch the door for a second. My five-year plan ended at ‘rockstar or bust’. I was against the clock aswell, y’know, since women are no longer ‘commercially viable’ after the age of about twenty-five. Like I said, looking back it feels silly.
Since the realisation at age 16 that I’m supposed to play and write music, I’ve become (at times) extremely defensive over my ideas, my creative process, and most of all, my brother. Sometimes to my detriment, I’ve refused to give over and let up control. Other times it’s come in handy, like the aforementioned situation in 2013. We wont allow anyone to speak to us like that. My grandad always says
'Sophie, if you want a job doing, do it yourself.'
So that’s what we did.
Everybody Loves Our Town
Not necessarily true of Stafford, but the title of a book I read by Mark Yarm when I was sixteen. Now this is a big book. I’m talking double as a murder weapon, Marcel Prousts’ ‘In Search of Lost Time’ kind of big… okay not quite that big. I read it over the course of a week long family holiday to Italy and I promise you, I never put it down. A collection of unique narratives & interviews that altogether document (in my opinion) one of music’s most exciting eras. From heavyweights like Nirvana, Melvins and Soundgarden to the slightly lesser known but equally as important L7 and Babes in Toyland, the sense of community and collaboration was strong. There was no infighting, bar the infamous rift between Eddie and Kurt. There was a genuine want for mutual success, in fact success isn’t the right word. Seattle was erupting with creativity and angst and its mission was to be heard. What does this have to do with Droma? When my brother and I first started out playing music together, I was a high school student and he was a window cleaner. As you can imagine, we didn’t exactly have the funds to be throwing at professionally recording albums. If Seattle taught us one thing, it’s that lo-fi can prevail.
In 2014, a lucky string of events led to one of the band members coming into a tidy sum of money, don’t worry, it was all above board. With that money, the decision was made to invest in good quality recording gear. The logic behind the decision being that no one knew our sound better than us. We’ve always felt it’s important for recordings to retain their personality and flavour, as oppose to filtering it out and polishing them up. No offense, but I don’t wanna sound like REO Speedwagon. For the bands’ first two years, we recorded everything live and onto a tiny four-track. Treasured memories, but extremely impractical when my kit was expanding monthly and Jack was gradually acquiring louder guitars.
Once the new recording gear arrived, we contacted our long-time friend Matt Toner. People’s ears were long overdue his brilliant song writing, and he had a handful of songs we were desperate to bring to life. We had no idea a weekend project would turn into a permanent creative venture, and out of those initial few months came records by Matt Tapowski & The Wailing Synagogues, Jack Rennie and The Nightmares, and Ingrid Schwartz. It started with us acting as a backing band for solo musicians but quickly transformed into inviting artists to Droma HQ, composing and collaborating, and connecting musicians. 2015 presented us with our most fun challenge to date at the time. We were approached by Gary Wilcox, who was set on releasing a handful of infectious, politically-charged tunes he’d written solo. He was looking for a band to record the album with; we were itching to get our hands on any creative project going. We had no idea what was to come…