A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by the Business Manager of In The Pink and a friend of the Blog, Miranda Essex, and was delighted to hear that her group were planning to embark upon a tour in my second favourite country, Germany. More specifically, the capital, Berlin. Upon hearing this news I arranged an interview immediately, and the following is the abridged version of our twenty-minute Skype session.
UACUK: Firstly let’s talk about the past year for the group. I last spoke to you after the audition period – how have things been progressing since then?
ME: The year has been really good. We’ve been just trying to get as many gigs and as much coverage as possible: we’ve set up a new Facebook page, we’ve been endlessly promoting the YouTube channel, we’ve been gigging around and outside of Oxford…
UACUK: So tell me a little more about this trip to Berlin – how did that come about?
ME: We actually met this German couple in Edinburgh last summer, who were really friendly and took quite a lot of interest in the group. Since then, we’ve sustained the relationship with them – Becca [Nicholls, the Musical Director of the group] has been keeping in touch with them regularly, and when we were busking in London last week, they happened to be there too! They came to watch us, which enabled us to link up again.
UACUK: When did they offer you a chance to perform over there?
ME: The couple, Horst and Manuela, are both singers themselves and they’re organising a one-day festival in Berlin in June, called Chor Open Stage Berlin, which they told us about and invited us to perform. We’re doing a twenty-five minute set at around half nine on a Saturday evening, which is ideal, and the festival itself will be really well equipped: great lighting, a comprehensive sound system… Everything you need to give the best performance you can, so we’re really excited about it.
UACUK: What are your other plans during the trip?
ME: We have a gig in Cottbus with a German group called PopKon the day before the festival – we’re basically performing in the first half and they’re doing the second half, and then we’ll be collaborating on a couple of numbers at the end, which will be a great experience. And then on the Sunday we’re doing a tour of Berlin, and basically I want to just busk at some interesting locations around Berlin, so that we’re not just seeing the city but also hopefully gaining some international fans as well! We’re definitely gonna take some photos and maybe record some of the busking too – Berlin is amazing city so there’s a lot of scope for some iconic photos and videos.
UACUK: Is this the first time the group has been to Germany?
ME: Yes. I think it’s quite an unusual place to go for UK groups. In saying that, I basically mean it’s not America. Germany isn’t that well known for its a cappella, so we’re excited to maybe introduce something a little bit new to the masses over there.
UACUK: Have you toured anywhere else before?
ME: I’m not entirely sure. I only joined the group last year, and unfortunately we weren’t as active as we have been this year. As for previous years, I really couldn’t tell you. But not in recent memory, so I think it’s a big step forward for the group.
UACUK: I assume you’re doing the Edinburgh Fringe again this year. What are your plans in the months leading up to that?
ME: The plan is to try and get as much publicity as possible during that time. We’re hoping to sing at May Morning at 6am as the sun rises and hopefully record and upload a video of that, among other things. At the Fringe itself we’ll be there from August 12th-27th and we’ll be performing in C -1, which is a fantastic and big venue, so we’re really excited for that.
UACUK: Any plans for a CD on the horizon?
ME: We’re actually recording a CD right now, which should be ready by the end of term. I’d say we’ve recorded about 70% of it at this stage, we’re now just finalising the last couple of tracks and then we’re all set for a big publicity drive to get it out to our fans and beyond. I’ve actually just done an internship at a PR company, so I’m very keen to start using some of the things I’ve learnt to benefit the sales of this album!
UACUK: Excellent news! It sounds like you’ve got a busy time coming up. On a slightly unrelated topic, I must thank you for your input on the post regarding all-female a cappella that I wrote back in March. Your views were much appreciated.
ME: I was thinking about that the other day actually. I think it’s interesting – I agreed with the majority of your points, as some of them were fairly valid – but looking back, it’s quite interesting to re-read the reactions of some of the girls, including me, which were very sensitive and almost like “Ooh that’s really mean!”, and then I thought: That’s the reason why all-female a cappella struggles. It’s lack of confidence and sense of humour. I was speaking with Dom Stockbridge [Out of the Blue’s Business Manager], and we were discussing that with a cappella, you have to be willing to really go for it, be confident and be funny, and I think girls often struggle to have such a strong, commanding stage presence as guys do.
UACUK: In America they’re facing a similar problem, in that of the seven competing groups in the ICCA Finals, not one of them was an all-female group. Do you think the lack of high-quality American counterparts makes it more difficult for British groups too?
ME: Maybe. I remember watching Delilah on the latest season of The Sing-Off, and they were incredible. Their cover of Grenade by Bruno Mars was unreal. And I think what made them stand out is that they really had an group identity nailed down – that kind of cool, sassy, attractive, fiery spirit within the group. So I think more girl groups should try and find their own identity and maybe they will stand out a lot more.
UACUK: Do you think all-female groups can benefit from the views expressed in the blog and the resulting discussion?
ME: Absolutely. I’ve looked at the post and the opinions and taken them on board. If you look at Out of the Blue, the way the group is run is almost like a business. But you have to consider not only the group as a whole, but also the individuals and their other commitments – in any group you’ll find people in their final year who won’t be able to put as much time into the group as they otherwise would, and it makes it difficult for a group to rehearse as an entity if it is missing key members. You have to strike the right balance.
UACUK: Thanks for talking to us Miranda, and good luck with the tour!
ME: My pleasure.
For more information about the Chor Open Stage event, or to buy tickets, click here.