Q&A with Tommy Ludgate

There is no doubt about it; the internet has become a vital tool for any artist looking to establish themselves in this day and age. It allows people to not only exhibit their music freely, but to actually build a fan-base without fawning at the feet of major labels. If you doubt this in any way, look no further than singer-songwriter Tommy Ludgate.

Her debut album ‘Wall Of Words’ was released last year, partly due to success on the site slicethepie.com; a website that allows artists the chance to upload their music and compete to win some much needed start up cash. Tommy’s songs infuse the blues with a healthy dose of funk that hit a note with the patrons of itunes – it bulleted into the blues chart on release.

Before her new single ‘So Cruel’ is released next month, Tommy found the time to have a chat with TMF about her music, producers in white socks and performing for Simon Cowell.

Hi Tommy, how the blazes are you?
Pretty lovely thanks – the sun puts a smile on my face!

Your new single ‘So Cruel’ is out May 4th, what’s the story behind the song?
It was originally inspired by the film ‘Hotel Rwanda’. It is such an emotional film and got me thinking so I went straight to my room and wrote ‘So Cruel’ after watching it. The song has existed for a while now and over time I’ve realised it applies to life in general really, and how people shouldn’t be cruel to each other in any situation – whether it be in war, at school or on the tube!

You’re fashioning some interesting headgear in the video. It would go down a storm at Glastonbury; are you going this year?
I’ve actually never been to a festival, would you believe?! So maybe this year will be my debut. Or perhaps when I headline next year! Although I’m not sure the headdress would make an appearance as it belongs to a shop called VV Rouleaux and is a Chinese antique worth around £500 so ain’t really my place to trash it! Would probably turn some heads though.

Along with your band, you’ve been gigging for the last couple of years, is the live experience more preferable than working in a studio?
I love both. There is a nice balance between playing live for a while to establish arrangements for songs and then getting into the studio to lay it down so you can sell the album you make at the next gigs. New songs are then born and you’re back to the beginning of the process. I’m getting ready for the next album – bring it on!

What have been your favourite venues to play?
We had an album launch party at the Cobden Club, which was a great night. The venue has a lovely vibe and is a good size for the kind of music we are making. I’d say the best gigs are when the audience pay attention and listen – people really take for granted how hard it is to crack out a bunch of songs for 45 minutes!

Your debut album ‘Wall Of Words’ has been out for a while now, how is it going? What sort of reactions have you experienced?
Good ones! The album reached number 7 in the iTunes Blues Chart in its first week of release, which was a lovely surprise after a year of hard work on making the final product.

The album was part-funded by winning an ‘Arena’ on slicethepie.com. Tell us about that and how it works?
Slicethepie.com is a great website that is constantly supporting unsigned music. I uploaded my music on to the site after my Dad read about it in the newspaper. An ‘arena’ is a group of artists who get reviewed by the ‘scouts’, or fans, on the site. The group gets narrowed down to a Top 20 and then it is down to votes on who wins the £15,000 jackpot and I was lucky enough to get it – bang on!

You were signed up and touring at the age of 13 with girl band D2M. How did you deal with that at such a young age?
Very well thanks - I wasn’t complaining! It was a great experience to meet new people, travel, rehearse, record and perform to some big audiences. I got to experience the industry in some way, which prepared me for many of things I am experiencing now. Except now I’m managing everything myself!

D2M toured around Europe, what was your favourite country? What was the strangest country?
We played to an audience of 10,000 in Rotterdam in Holland, which is one memory I will always remember. It was crazy to look out and see a sea of people who all had badges with flashing lights on – it was an incredible sight. More of that in the future would be kindly welcomed! One strange experience was when we went to Sweden to record. The producer we worked with wore thick white sports socks with sandals and to us at the time that was pretty strange/funny! That trip was filled with giggles and things we still laugh about today.

I believe that you performed in front of the uber-devil himself, Simon Cowell. How did that come about?
No one knew him back then! He was a bigwig within the industry and came to meet us with a view to signing us to his label. He quite liked us but obviously not that much as he didn’t sign us. He still had the high trousers and bog-brush hair though!

Is it important for you to be a singer-songwriter, rather than performing music written by another person?
I’m not against singing other songs, as many great ones exist but a big part of me being a performer is to express my own feelings and experiences through songs. ‘Wall of Words’ is mostly based on a relationship that I had and, at the time, the songs were a way for me to get rid of all the thoughts I had about it. It’s like counselling! I’m now feeling much happier and am currently writing some much more upbeat and funk-driven tunes. I think the process of songwriting will always reflect how I am feeling at any one time. I tend to base the storylines on myself and find I can inject a lot more soul into a song having truly felt what I am trying to express.

You seem to have embraced digital music full-on: ‘Wall Of Words’ is much easier to obtain that way. Has CD and other physical formats had their day.
Not necessarily. ‘Wall of Words’ is mainly a digital download as it is the easiest way for an unsigned artist to get their music to reach people worldwide. My budget didn’t allow me to print loads of hard copies or to get them into all the necessary stores. While selling music online is convenient and accessible, I’m still a strong believer in a physical copy of an album providing an all round experience. I’ve just started collecting vinyl records (even though I don’t have a record player yet!) and I love them as you get to feel the physical copy of an album, look at the artwork, put the record onto a player and hear it coming to life – it just seems all the more real than some mp3 that you are just plucking out of the air.

What is currently on your ipod at the moment?
My friend’s album, which she has just finished! She gave me a sneaky preview as a birthday present last week and it is fabulous, let me tell you! Look out for Sarah Williams-White (SWW) and an album called ‘Fool’ – it is worth a listen.

Many thanks Tommy, The Music Fix wishes you the best of luck with ‘So Cruel’.
Thank you! Good questions!

'Wall Of Words' is available from tommyludgate.com

Last updated: 18/04/2018 20:16:25

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