Second ever proper post!

Okay, so here we are well over six months after the first proper blog post….  Apologies, of course….  When there’re so many things to do –songwriting, rehearsing, managing, booking, etc. etc. –blog-writing does tend to find its way to the bottom of the pile, especially when we’re keeping up the steady stream of tweets and upbeat Facebook snippets anyway.  Well, here I (Mr. Paulo) am finally doing it now, taking advantage of a period of respite from work (yes, I do that as well!)….  And there are many, many things to tell you….

Firstly, things are about to really kick off!  Really.  …As in, at long last the publicity leading up to the EP release is about to get rolling.  We’re just waiting for the final copy of the design (by Reading company Little Big Ideas) and the order for the physical CDs will go straight in; after which promo. copies will be going straight out to print mags. and later to online mags., radio stations and blogs….  The digital release version of the EP should also be available for pre-order pretty soon; and a free download will also be on offer!  Exciting times!  Let’s just hope I can keep on top of it all!

…And then, the actual Launch at our ‘mothership’ venue, Reading’s much-loved Rising Sun Arts Centre on the 26th September.  We’ve been lucky enough to secure two of our absolute favourite local acts as supports for the night: Jack Cade and The Everyday Sinners and The Oubliettes; so the quality will certainly be there….  We’re hoping this’ll be quite a party; and obviously there’ll be gimmicky extras such as free grapefruits or grapefruit juice thrown in!  MAKE SURE IT’S IN YOUR DIARY!

It’ll be a relief to get that EP out of the way at long last as the whole process has taken such a long time….  The recording was done ages ago and while it would’ve been easy to get the CD straight out there, I wanted to be patient and get all those annoying little boxes ticked in terms of generating buzz, making it sound hot etc. etc. pre-release.  That meant firstly getting our Clear Water video done… and that actually took a looong time in the end: after the filming I had to get to grips with the editing process from scratch and that proved a bit tedious, although it probably seemed to take longer than it actually did because of work and personnel changes in the band (more on that in a minute)….  Anyway, it seems to have been worth it as we’ve been rather pleased with the reception: it’s up to well over 600 views at the moment (don’t forget to give it another view now if you want… here!) and we haven’t even started the publicity campaign yet….  After the video got finished work got intense again and it’s only been in the last month that I’ve been able to organise myself enough to make final decisions on artwork, digital distribution/physical release options, the publicity timetable etc. etc.  At last it seems to be all set….  I’ve got my lists of addresses/contacts ready and waiting for when the final copy of the design’s through and CDs printed-up….  Then when that big push is over in September, we’ll be able to sit back for a bit of a breather (although of course we’ll still be gigging) and get going on the album….  Again, the admin. side’ll be lagging behind the creative side though!  We’ve actually already got enough material for the follow-up album… or at least we’re not far off: we’ve already been playing nine new songs at gigs… and I’ve got at least a couple more in the songwriting pipeline!  So after the breather the focus is going to be recording recording recording, honing in on the concept for the album, getting a fresh photoshoot sorted….  And then I suppose there’ll be the next video to work on… probably Perfect Life will be our lead song…!  Okay… don’t get too ahead of yourself, Mr. Paulo!

Personnel.  A lot to report here since the last proper newsletter.  A that point, our bassist at the time James Histed had taken a bit of time out to ponder his ability to commit what with all his other pie-fingerage; and he did indeed decide to sling his hook in the end –obviously very sad for us, but also very understandable….  Fortunately, after a couple of months of gigging without a bassist, the very excellent Mike Muggeridge stepped forward to offer his services in the bass department and his tidy lines have been providing a classy foundation to our sound ever since….  We’ve also had to bid a sad farewell to dancer Sharon Lawrey, whose impassioned interpretations first captured our hearts when she first danced to our music at a festival last summer.  In the end I suppose we all had to accept that the prevailing genre-separation of music and dance is there for a reason: her audacious manoeuvres were leaving audiences uncertain where to focus their attention!  She made a gorgeous contribution to the aforementioned video though; and her involvement with us certainly made us aware of how our music works with types of dance.  Moving on to another change, back in October 2013 we were referring to Helen as a ‘guest musician,’ but she’s long since settled-in as a full-time band member; and has in fact flourished rather dramatically.  We are now lucky enough to have her elicit magic in many shades for most of our repertoire….  However, sadly her days with us are numbered too and soon we shall have to issue yet another sad and unwilling goodbye: the rapid ascent of her primary project Bright Shadows, combined with a number of other factors including a career change and relocation, have left her unable to commit in the long term….  Boo!  We’ll still have her with us until September though; and she’ll be playing with us at the EP Launch!  In a timely stroke of good fortune, another fantastic clarinettist by the name of Rachel White showed interest in joining at the same time as Helen started having doubts… and she’s already working with us with a view to her stepping straight up when Helen steps down… and you may even see Rachel play with us before September if Helen can’t make a show!  Rachel’s also an excellent backing vocalist, so we’ll be able to work comfortably as a four-piece for any gigs that Maija (who also has her hands full with musical ventures!) can’t make….  So, yes, the past few months have been difficult in terms of managing the changes; but at the same time, Maija and Will (who’s been on board for over a year now) continue to provide an undertow of stability….  Onward we roll!

Gigs.  There’s been no shortage of gig offers coming our way… no problems there!  And the fact that we’re now working towards gigging sometimes as a four-piece means that we can move up a gear in terms of number of shows: the fact that Maija can’t do more than a gig a month was holding us back a bit, but the idea is now is that we’ll be doing some shows with Maija and some without….  Obviously not ideal as we’d like to have her playing with us every time… but certainly realistic and workable!  You can see the full gig schedule here.  As you can see, our next show is at Caversham Festival: we’ll play the Acoustic Stage as part of the Bohemian Buskers showcase on the Sunday (13th July) at around 3.30….  And then more gigs the following weekend!  Probably our most exciting date is the Towersey Festival gig on Sunday 24th August: exciting because this is a festival in the proper ‘hardback’ sense, i.e. not bands in a pub beer-garden but a large scale event for which people pay hundreds of pounds to get in and camp for the whole bank holiday weekend, household names playing etc….  Okay, we’re of course only playing on a sideshow stage, but still….  It is a folk festival, strangely!  They obviously interpret that pretty loosely for the stage we’re playing on at least!

As you can probably gather, we getting a little bit more serious and focused in every sense now….  Gigging, publicity, thinking about our line-up in the long term… and so on; and obviously our focus now is the EP Launch and all the admin. that goes with it.  One area we evidently need to improve on in terms of publicity is our blog and newsletters, so you WILL be seeing more like this from us in the future….

In the light of the push towards the EP Launch, it’s fair to say that songwriting is taking a bit of back seat at the moment….  As we’ve already nearly got all the songs we need for the follow-up album to the EP that isn’t even launched yet, that does surely make sense!  The ideas are definitely there… and indeed one idea seems to be unstoppably growing towards complete fruition (incidentally, this looks to be the happiest song I’ve ever written)!  I’m just in no rush at the moment!

One last thing!  THANK-YOU for supporting, listening, viewing, commenting… and generally for giving a shit about what we do!

Vote for us to play Brownstock Festival!!!

A proper newsletter is long overdue.  I know this and am working on it.  It will come soon.  I’m not just saying that: it really will.  It will cover the launch of our Mirrors EP on the 26th September in particular….  More to follow… much much more….

In the meantime, WE’VE BEEN SHORTLISTED TO PLAY AT BROWNSTOCK FESTIVAL and we need your vote!  Yes, it’s down to a popularity contest….  Boo!  But we have to play the game, don’t we?  It’s a ‘proper’ festival with household names playing; and it would be big shakes for us.  Click here to vote….

Voting closes at 17.30 BST on the 17th June….  Do it for original unsigned music!

First proper post!

Well this is actually the first time we’re using anything other than social media to update you on how things are moving in Grapefruitland!  After a bit of a shaky start, I (Mr. Paulo) like to think I have got to grips with the art of using Facebook as a promotional platform.  One good thing about it is that you know you have to make it sweet and snappy as readers can only see the top part and have to click on ‘read more’ to go any further.  To be honest, the reason I’m looking at means other than Facebook to update your wonderful selves is that I know that only a small proportion of the updates actually appear in followers’ newsfeeds.  Otherwise, I’d just use Facebook as almost everyone I know that’s interested in us uses it.  Anyway, I shall do my best to remember to keep it on the shorter and sweeter side here as well.

So….  Hopefully by now those of you who use Facebook should know that our next gig is on Friday 11th October at what we think of as our ‘home,’ the fantastic Rising Sun Arts Centre in Reading.  I recently found out that we’re headlining the night to boot.  The promoter for this one is The Big Untidy, who have produced a press-release about the night in which they talk about us in the most glowing of terms.  We’ll be there in all our shining glory for that gig; and our amazing guest musician, Helen Cuthberson-Reid, will be delivering some deliciously lilting clarinet.  This’ll be the first time you’ll get to hear new song Being Happy played by the whole band; and we’ve now also developed the arrangements of Don’t Ask Me What I’m Thinking and A Knife and a Bowl so that Will is involved: you’ll get to hear these new arrangements on the 11th as well.  Following that, our next gig is on the Saturday of the following weekend: the 19th October.  We’ll be among the 60 or so acts playing on that day as part of the Oxjam Reading Takeover, an all-day charity event spread across six Reading venues.  Our venue will be the Global Café: we’ll be playing from 6.20 to 6.50.  Favourites of ours Jack Cade and the Everyday Sinners; The Polysonic; and Jewels & the 1-Tom will also be playing at the event –hopefully not clashing with us.  See the Upcoming Gigs section of our website, or our Facebook page, for details of all of this.

We don’t have anything booked for further into the future as yet, although there is a possibility we’ll be playing on the 2nd November.  I think that in general, though, our strategy is going to be to play a bit less often than we have been, at least in Reading.  Trusted savants advise against playing too many gigs: I suppose it makes sense that the value of one of your gigs increases the less often you play.  So far, we’ve always accepted almost everything that’s been offered; but now that we’re fortunate enough to be getting quite a few good offers, it’s definitely time to be a bit more selective.  Maija is anyway struggling at the moment to find the time for the busy gig schedule.  So from now on, the focus is going to be on the quality rather than the quantity.

Things are also changing a bit in terms of personnel.  We’re really excited to have started working with dancer Sharon Lawrey, who is now fully signed up as a member of a band.  Hooray!  Having a dancer in the band clearly breaches music scene conventions a bit, although it is not unheard-of; some eyebrows will no doubt find themselves being elevated in an upward direction, but the Grapefruit spirit pays no heed to such things.  Sharon makes an indispensable contribution to our live act, giving graceful physical form to the music.  The other recent change is James’ decision to take a break to think about whether he can find the time in his busy schedule for the project.  Hopefully he’ll be ready to make a definite decision in a few weeks’ time; and say whether he is going to have to desert us, in which case we’ll face the hard task of looking for another bassist capable of matching James’ standard….  On the more positive side, our work with regular guest clarinettist Helen is blossoming very very nicely; and we’re hoping to get her playing on more than just one song soon.

In terms of work towards release of the studio recordings… well, there is still some way to go!  A few months ago, I naively thought that once the recording and mastering were finished it would just be a case of getting the artwork done, CDs printed up, registering with digital outlets and job done!  Ha ha… having read up on it, I now know that with that approach you’ll only ever be selling you stuff to mates.  To be in with any chance of generating wider interest, it turns out, you need a deeply rigorous and boring publicity exercise months before the release, in which you make long lists of publications, reviewers, blogs, radio stations etc. so that in most cases they can delete the email or throw the CD in the bin!  Of course, you’ll still probably be only selling to your mates anyway, but that’s what you have to do just to have a remote chance of getting any further.  And a pre-requisite for such a publicity exercise is a video; and that’s the big focus at the moment.  Since it’s become pretty plain that Clear Water is our best song in the eyes of our audience, that’s what we’re working on.  Hopefully all the filming should be out of the way by the end of October and then I can start the editing: I am praying that this isn’t going to be too much of a headache, but maybe that’s my naivety talking again!

So what was that I was saying about short and sweet?  Oh dear… well, I suppose there was always going to be a lot to say in our first proper newsletter!  It goes without saying of course how grateful we are for the support of all of you, our fans… we shall continue to put 100 per cent effort in to thank you, giving it everything we can in our gigs and in our future releases!  Things are going well and progressing all the time: the recent radio play on BBC Radio Berkshire was a really important milestone (should have pointed this out further up actually, shouldn’t I?)….  Onward we march… or roll?!

Finally!

At last, hello everyone from our own website, or at least a blog masquerading as a website!  From now on, I hope, this will be the kind of HQ of our multi-faceted online presence: where you should come for the most comprehensive updates.