The Photo Ladies set out to cover Fickle Friends on their first US headlining tour, in support of their debut self released album, You Are Someone Else, in September and October of 2018.
25 September - Washington DC - DC9: Krystina Brown
26 September - Philadelphia, PA - World Café Live: Carolyn Lederach
27 September - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom: Katie Marriner
1 October - Toronto, CAN- Drake Hotel: Joanna Glezakos
11 October - Los Angeles, CA - Teragram Ballroom: Emma Donahue
12 October - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall: Justine Willard
Interview by: Emily May
Your debut album You are Someone Else was released last year. Having signed with a label and grown as songwriters and as a band over the years, what was the experience like for you in making the album compared to your previous EPs? You wrote a lot of new songs for the album, but had older songs too. Was it challenging to decide which songs to include and which ones to cut?
It was a bit of a weird process to be honest. The track listing changed so much during the recording process simply because we kept revisiting old songs and writing new ones. It was a very inspiring and creative time so we’d be tracking drums for ‘Say No More’ downstairs and writing ‘Bite’ upstairs in the writing room. We didn’t really make a decision until 2 or 3 months out from album release!
You spent 5 years trying to release your first album. Do you feel like your experiences during those years have helped you as a band now?
Definitely! We’ve been through many highs and lows and have learnt from every experience. We learned to hustle early on and did everything very DIY which meant we went into major label world wanting to retain as much control as possible. Everything from writing to being on the road feels so natural now. We’re like a well oiled machine ha.
You teamed up with Amber Run on the track "Heartbroken (Acoustic)". How did that collaboration come about and what was the experience like?
We’ve been friends with the Amber Run guys for a few years. When they moved to Brighton all started to see each other a bit more and when we decided we wanted to do a duet I just thought that Joes voice would be perfect. We had a lot of fun in that session.
You have had a busy festival season, playing festivals such as Leeds, Reading and Latitude. Did you have a favorite and are there any going forward that you would love to play? What do you love about playing festivals?
Reading is always a massive highlight….there’s nothing like the rush of playing the Radio 1 stage. But I think it’s the smaller festivals we love the most. Festivals like Truck, Barn on the Farm…110 Above…This year was the first time we played headline festival slots and it felt amazing!
What can you tell me about your new song “Broken Sleep”?
Broken Sleep is a song we wrote during the summer, along with the other two tracks that are on the EP of the same name. I know we only really just put out our first album but with the US and UK tour in Sep/Oct we thought it would be cool to start releasing new music straight away. It’s taken us to the end of the year and no we are ready to take a few months out to write the second record!
I read that for your first 2 years as a band, you released a series of singles, toured the UK and Europe and played 53 festivals, all without a label or a publisher. What do you like about the DIY approach? Now that you are signed to a label, do you feel that it has made things easier for you in certain ways? How has the adjustment been?
It was a tough old time but we just kinda found a way to make it work….we had to make a lot of personal sacrifices and work our butts off…it was all very rewarding and we learned a lot from it. I guess it meant that we appreciated all the extra help so much more when we signed with Polydor. But having spent a couple years with them we wanna take back control and go back to being DIY. It’s been difficult having to compromise on so much, but that’s just what happens on major deals. I think the best thing about it was being able to afford to record our album and live as full time musicians. It gave us the leg up we needed and now we can doing it our own way.
You all champion various causes from veganism, to reducing plastic consumption and championing female figures in the music industry. What are some causes you are the most passionate about right now? Who are some of the women in the industry that you look up to the most and find the most influential?
Yes we do! I think if you have a platform it’s so important to use it to raise awareness of these issues/movements. We are passionate about veganism, anti-animal cruelty, reducing disposable plastic usage, mental health….so much. We have an affiliation with the charity Mind, we were also a part of the BBC’s Plastics Action movement this year and I am also a spokeswoman for Rebalance, the initiative started by Festival Republic to help encourage more women to pursue and develop in music. I really look up to women like Ellie Roswell (Wold Alice). She’s politically in tune, a voice of our generation and I respect what she (and the band) supported and spread awareness of the Israel boycott. I also went vegan because of how much Ellie Goulding started talking about it a few years back, I feel like my beliefs align with hers so much.
How do you decide on what songs to include on your set list when you go on tour? Do you change your set lists throughout the tour or do you have the same one for every show?
Sometimes we add in songs if we have a new release in the middle of the tour. But mostly we put together a new show for every tour. Because we play to a click and link songs it’s difficult to play it by ear. We have to be very rehearsed and there isn’t much wiggle room for change mid tour. We decide on the set list depending on the crowd and vibe of the shows. Festival slots are short so we play a very energetic show. Tour dates are much longer so we try and balance the set list with light and shade to keep the show interesting. It’s important to keep a few old songs in the set list for the mega fans ;)
I read that you are in the process of starting your own record label! What can you tell me about it? What prompted the decision?
As I mentioned earlier we wanted to take back some control. Starting our own label and releasing our mini EP was our first step in doing so. The label is called Palmeria Music and we’d love to take things to the next level at some point and release other people’s music, but for now it’s a platform for our own new material.
The band had a month in LA before recording the album to do some writing sessions with some really cool writers. Was this the band's first time working with songwriters outside of the band? What did you like about the process?
We’d done a few sessions before. To be honest it was a weird adjustment letting someone else into our creative process. It’s tough to find someone to click with who also gets what you’re all about. Being in LA was very inspiring and we got to work with some awesome people but nothing made the cut for the album. Maybe there will be some more collaborations on album 2 ;)
What’s next for the band?
We’ve finished touring for the year and have been in sessions writing for other artists which is really fun. We have also started writing for our second album. There’s lots of things to thinking about regarding that….whether we want to pursue our own label more or sign a new record deal. There’s talking of an Asian tour and maybe heading more into Europe in the new year. It’s all very exciting and up in the air at the moment.