Musicians on Lockdown: Cara Hammond

It’s been a while since the last ‘Musicians on Lockdown’ post, but I feel like this one was worth the wait. Local singer/songwriter, Cara Hammond, chats about lockdown and a #24HourSongWritingChallenge inspired EP.

Musicians on Lockdown: Cara Hammond Title Page

You’re normally based down in London, but you made the decision to come home to North Wales when Lockdown kicked off? Is it strange leaving the city and coming home?

– Yeah it was strange but more because I was leaving London & my whole life there so quickly to come back home. Like all of us, I didn’t know how long that was going to be for & that was scary. I’m glad I made that decision now because it’s been so so nice being surrounded by nature and being close to my family. It’s definitely de-stressed me in an otherwise stressful situation.

You’ve even been taking inspiration from your fans when writing songs?

 – Yeah, since the beginning of lockdown it’s been hard to connect with fans as all of my live gigs and festivals have either been cancelled or postponed. Also for the first few weeks I felt quite anxious about the whole situation & so inspiration for writing could be difficult. However, there’s loads of different features on social media that I hadn’t tried before & realised that now was the time to do it. So I created a post on my Instagram story and using the questions feature, asked people to send me their song ideas. I’d then pick my favourite idea, write a song with it, rehearse it & then less that 24 hours later, perform it in my weekly livestream. Each week I received really great messages either from people who’s ideas I’d picked or other fans who connected with the songs. That’s when the idea for the ‘twenty four hours’ EP came about.

twent

You’ve been making the most of the live features on social media with Open Mic sessions? How did they go?

 – Yeah, one thing I really miss is playing a gig with a great lineup of other artists & being able to engage with other musician’s fans. After I spoke on a Malaysian radio show’s Insta (Fly FM) using the split screen feature, I had an idea for an open mic using my Instagram page as the platform. I asked a few of my musician friends, either that I’d met at uni or since moving to London at gigs or in sessions etc. Everyone I asked were really excited for it! It was great for our audiences as it was the closest thing they’d get to a gig for a while and it was so good to just talk to other musicians about their experience of lockdown.

How did you end up in London? You didn’t take the big jump to London straight away, but went to University in Leeds? 

– I moved to London in 2018 after studying at Leeds College of Music and doing a bit of travelling. I did look at going Brit School for 6th form but as it’s not a residential, there was no where for me to live, especially at the age of 16. I also looked at uni in London, but I remember looking around Leeds on their open day and it was a really great college, with a mixture of all genres of music. I also fell in love with the city, it’s music scene and student-y vibe was really exciting for me. I’m glad I moved to London when I did as it seems that most of my friends have moved their at the same time & I’m absolutely loving it.

Cara Hammond Photo Sun Set

Your move back home for lockdown certainly shows through your latest EP. Stripped back to your voice and your guitar. What was it like writing about a topic chosen by somebody else?

– It was a really great bit of inspiration actually. It really helped me focus, especially since I gave myself a limit of 24 hours, it meant I really had to get my arse into gear. As a songwriter, you’re always writing and/or collaborating. I love writing on my own as it is very personal and I can indulge a little bit. However I love collaborating too, as it’s so fun jamming with another artist and creating a song which you both feel connected to. Luckily I still have been able to collaborate with other musicians/producers at the moment via Zoom.

Cara Hammond Photo

Cara Hammond Photo

Music has taken you round the world too? Did you think you’d get to where you are when you started out, because you started quite young?

– Since I was a kid I always loved listening to, singing and performing music. I think I knew it would always be a bit part of my life. I’m happy that I have kept on pursuing it as there’s been so many amazing things that have happened and I’m excited to see what’s next!

I’d love to finish on some rather impressive Spotify stats? Which has lead to a new music video?

– So ‘Good Times’ is my most streamed song on Spotify, with over 300,000 streams, which is absolutely crazy. To celebrate this and it’s 1 year anniversary, I created an alt music video with help from my band and fans. My band (Robert Oates on drums, Kieran Williams on keys, Stefan Knap on bass, Dominic Carmelo on guitar) recorded themselves playing ‘Good Times’ to which I layered it all on top of each other to create the full track. I then asked friends, family and fans on social media to send me some videos of them having their ‘good times’ which I edited into the video. It was such a fun video to create as it felt like I was celebrating with all these people even though we were all apart.

 Quick Fire Questions

  1. If you could have any pet you liked, what would it be? – Been spending lockdown at my boyfriends house and he has a pet dog named Billie. She’s (as in Billie Eilish) the cutest, fluffiest thing and she really cheers you up when you’re having a meh day. I’ve moved in with my parents now so maybe I’ll dognap her.
  2. Your go-to drink after performing a gig? – Ooooooh a large glass of white wine.
  3. What you miss most due to Lockdown? – I miss live music sooo much. I had festivals planned for this summer so I’m gutted about those being postponed but at least they’ll be there 2021. Also pubs and holidays.

Follow these links to give ‘twenty four hours’ a listen:

Spotify

Youtube

Cara Hammond

Musicians on Lockdown: The Howl & The Hum

Musicians On Lockdown title image

With cycling adventures put on hold I’ve lost things to write about, but with music playing throughout the house more as I try and fill my days, I’ve created the Musicians on Lockdown series. A series of interviews asking musicians how they’re finding lockdown.

We’re kicking off with British band, The Howl and the Hum. Led by singer/songwriter, Sam Griffiths, the band is made up of Bassist Bradley Blackwell, Drummer Jack Williams and Guitarist Conor Hirons. With their debut album aptly named, Human Contact, released today I’m going to find out how they got to this point.

The Howl & The Hum Human Contact album cover

The Howl & The Hum’s debut album released 29/05/2020

The early days of The Howl and the Hum started at the York Open Mic scene, where Sam would go on to meet his band mates. How did you all meet?

Conor and Jack were in a legendary York band, Littlemores – Conor was the frontman, but I hope he doesn’t feel he’s been demoted since then. We met at York’s open mic nights, Conor and I would compliment each others songs (casual flirting) and Brad’s bass playing skills (less casual flirting) while Jack toured Australia (not a euphemism). When Jack came back we put a bag on his head and forced him to play drums for us – that was in about 2017, when we were tiny little dumb babies. Now we’re massive strong men. 

Despite only now releasing their debut album, they’ve already done a headline tour, but not as you’d expect. Instead of heading straight to London or a UK Tour, they toured the Scottish Highlands in a van they called ‘The Beast’. What was touring the Scottish Highlands like? 

The Highlands is one of our favourite places to play – for some reason we get a good crowd on the Orkney Isles. We’d love to include the highlands in every tour. We were lucky enough to explore most of the towns we were playing in, even if it was just a pub dinner or early breakfast in a remote BnB but they were some of the most beautiful drives we’ve ever been on. On this drive, we were overtaken by a boy racer who was the inspiration for our song The Only Boy Racer Left on the Island. We tried to make the song as picturesque as its setting. 

Van life is basically farts and wee stops, but we wouldn’t trade it in for anything. Except The Beast, who has now died. 

Travelling is something that’s limited right now, but where has the band taken you all so far? Is every country you perform in a different experience?

We played at SXSW in Austin in 2019 which was incredible, we’d love to go back to America, preferably in a van, and play for as long as possible. Australia would be amazing, and our drummer is so obsessed with his year down under that his Google Maps voice is always Australian. 

Any show can be deadly, so we don’t have a particular favourite, but I think one of our favourite ever performances was at Lowlands festival in the Netherlands last summer. It definitely feels like a different experience wherever we go, but not in a disconcerting way – we’re very grateful that everyone speaks English far better than we can.

Come 2018 they were performing at festivals such as Latitude and The Great Escape. What was it like progressing from intimate open mic nights to performing at festivals? 

I guess you’ve got to treat every gig the same, whether it’s playing The Habit on a Wednesday night to one man, or in front of thousands at a festival, but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. I definitely freaked out when we played at Citadel Festival in London and we were all about 20 feet away from each other – we’re used to being able to tell what we had for breakfast. 

We’d love to play Glastonbury. One day…

Recorded in 2019, their debut album, Human Contact, could become the album that encapsulates Covid-19 into an album. The idea that millennials are lonely only further highlighted by the current situation. That we’d rather contact each other over the Internet rather than face-to-face. What’s the key message behind this album? Do you feel fans might see your songs differently than you initially expected with the current situation?

The key theme is definitely about loneliness in a digital age, and I think that’s escalated since lockdown began, but there are also outlets to reduce loneliness – we now rely on Zoom and Whatsapp to reach out, and burst the bubble that can build around us. I hope people are able to relate to this album in whatever way they can. 

With many albums and tours getting delayed, The Howl and the Hum are also releasing the tickets for their 2021 UK Tour.

We can’t wait for gigs to come back, I just think they’re gonna be nuts. Explosions, live sacrifices, fire-breathers, acrobatics, all of it. It’s difficult to choose, but I guess the Brudenell Social Club is the reason I moved to Leeds, and the Crescent in York was our first headline so those venues would feel like hometown shows. 

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People use music in different ways. Some might use it as motivation in a workout, or others may simply just sit and listen to it. I often warm-up for a cycling race with my headphones in. Do you ever think how people might listen to your music and what for?

I’m always surprised by what people do while listening to our music, because I write it from such a meditative, personal place, but I’m glad people can get their kicks from it. We’d love, eventually, for people to boogie at our shows, but people seem a little apprehensive. As soon as lockdown ends, I think people are gonna wanna shake their money makers a little more.

Quick Fire Questions

  1. If you could have any pet you liked, what would it be?

GOLDEN RETRIEVER

  1. Your go-to drink after performing a gig?

GUINNESS

  1. What you miss most due to Lockdown?

GOLDEN RETRIEVERS AND GUINNESS

Make sure to head to their website to order their new albums, or book your first gig tickets for 2021.