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Interview | “It’s good to be reminded to reach out, listen to each other’s releases, encourage each other” Hvmmingbyrd’s Deborah Byrne talks to TLMT about Selfmade II

Hvmmingbyrd Press shot 2.Medjber

Selfmade will return to Dublin on June 9th at the Workman’s Club with performances from Laoise, WOLFF, Dreaming of Jupiter and Molly Sterling. Following a successful first outing, the next event will also discuss the building blocks of a D.I.Y project. Hvmmingbyrd’s Deborah Byrne will MC the panel and has taken the time to talk to TLMT about what Selfmade II is all about. 

Having been a part of the last Selfmade panel. What impression did the event make on you?

What struck me was how SelfMade was meeting a real need by providing a forum for artists to meet up in person to discuss their work. Online communities are great but social media can often show the highlights and not necessarily the behind-the-scenes. When you start comparing your behind-the-scenes with other people’s highlights, imposter syndrome can really get you down and hold you back. But artists who look successful on Instagram will usually feel freer to admit in person to not having everything fully figured out yet and that they struggle sometimes too. Navigating music and the industry can be an isolating and sometimes bewildering experience, even in band situations, and unless you’ve gone to BIMM, been in a professional band, or you have an experienced manager, how would you know the best way to go about things? After the event, I got a few messages from people in the crowd asking to meet up for a chat which is exactly what SelfMade is about. Hvmmingbyrd still has a long way to go, but artists just starting out might as well benefit from our many mistakes, right?! I wish we’d had the same back in the day but I think we thought we had to prove ourselves first before we would be worth other artist’s time. Everyone’s got to start somewhere and there’s no harm in offering to buy someone a coffee in exchange for their time and advice – the worst people can say is ‘no’.

You will moderate the next Selfmade panel discussion. Tell us about what the focus will be this time around?

We’ll be talking about Music Admin and Self-Management which will be useful and more interesting than it sounds, I promise! All of the artists will be discussing their approach to a specific project that they managed (such as a release or a launch) and there will be a Q&A where audience members can ask the difficult questions and get the scoop.

One aspect of the panel discussion will be “building blocks of a project”. What would you say are the building blocks for Hvmmingbyrd? And how are you continuing to build?

We’re pretty systematic when it comes to projects to be honest. Before music, I worked in administration so I love a plan, a to-do list and a spreadsheet. I am also a career and life coach and worked with team-building so we try to strengths-share as much as possible to work to our natural skill-sets which is handy as we are very different to each other. When approaching a project, we identify our ultimate goal, our timeline, the number of practices we have before that time, and then we break the goal into detailed steps and map out what we can achieve between and during each practice, both separately and together. In terms of continuing to build, each year in January we set goals for the year and made a 12-month plan. We always debrief after gigs and projects. Every so often, we have long chats about how things are going, mistakes we’ve made to learn from, how we can improve and how to hone processes and make things easier, more fun and satisfying in the long run. For free-thinking types, all of this probably sounds like a very restrictive, stressful and boring slog but we are both very goal-oriented and self-professed control freaks so it works for us.

What aspect of the D.I.Y music industry do you most want to highlight at the panel?

I think the Irish musician community is something special and SelfMade is a great resource within that. I’d like to highlight is that DIY artists are in this together and it’s better for all of us if we help each other out. It’s good to be reminded to reach out, listen to each other’s releases, encourage each other, skill-share, ask the stupid questions or have admin dates because all of that will benefit you and break through the isolation of being a DIY act. Even if that sounds cringey or scary, SelfMade is a safe space to try it out!

If you could give one piece of advice to D.I.Y artists just starting out. What would it be?

This may sound strange but something fun I learned last year is that no one cares about your music! Or not yet, anyway. Starting out is certainly very challenging and there are obvious benefits to having a team around you, but the upside of starting off DIY is that no one is watching you and there are no labels banging on your door for your next album or fans complaining on Twitter that this album doesn’t sound like your first one yet. This means that any pressure you feel is self-imposed and you can actually take your time and have fun with your blank canvas. You get to define what success means to you personally regardless of what others think, whether that means becoming comfortable enough to play your song at the local open mic, or eventually playing in stadiums. You can sound however you want to sound and take your time working on your music until you’ve created something that fills you with pride and joy. It’s normal for things to be challenging, but DIY artists don’t make enough money from their music for it to not be an enjoyable process. If it’s not in any way enjoyable, it might be time to see if you’re being a sound boss to yourself and change things up.

What do you hope people take away from SelfMade 2?

I hope people attending will walk away with practical steps to enable them to move forward in their music projects. I also hope they get to connect with other artists, make new friends and maybe even find ways to split their workloads through collaborations and skill-sharing. They’ll also get to hear Laoise, WOLFF, Dreaming of Jupiter and Molly Sterling perform so I hope they enjoy the new music discovery element of it too. Most of all, I hope people leave the event encouraged, resourced and assured that they are not alone in this. Being a DIY artist is hard but there is support and community out there if you are willing to reach out.

Selfmade II will take place at the Workman’s Club on June 9th with performances from Laoise, Wolff, Dreaming of Jupiter and Molly Sterling with special guest MC Deborah Byrne (Hvmmingbyrd). Tickets are available now via Eventbrite.

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