DH1 took off again last year, providing students of Durham’s original music scene with a home to work on and promote their artistry. Music Editors Kat Pittalis and Martha Lily Dean sat down with Alfie Leach and Ottilie Whelan, president and vice-president of the label, as well as their four artists, over Zoom to discuss their plans for the year. Led entirely by students with 17 executive committee members, DH1 has expanded since last year. They currently have signed to them Jack Patrick and Samad, who have been part of the label since last year, as well as Angharad Davies and Lottya, their brand new discoveries.
Ottilie and Alfie comment that when signing new musicians they look for people who already have an image in mind of the type of artist they want to be. Ottilie mentions that DH1 is looking for “someone who brings somthing a bit different to everyone else”. In particular, DH1 specialises in creating a full-artist image where not only the production of music is important but also the presence and publicity. Talking about future plans for the exec members, Alfie commented how DH1 is a valuable experience if one wanted to pursue music management as a career. Alfie hopes to continue working for a record label in a professional manner after graduating. In terms of upcoming events, the label plans to hold a virtual event for the community which will demonstrate and provide their artists with the opportunity for exposure to new listeners and overall demonstrate the labels commitment to the artists depsite the unusual restrictions. As well as this, in Epiphany Term, they hope to release artist EPs, a new endeavour for the label as well as new singles from all of their artists. The pair are hopeful that provided restrictions are lifted there will be live performances and promotional events for their artists.
Signed to DH1 last year, Jack has refined his artist image and sound in the music industry, and is currently working on releasing singles this term and an EP in January. He currently has four singles on Spotify, his most popular being “6:15” which has over 33,000 streams. The first single he plans to release, ‘Tell Them’, is set to be released on 27th November, with a second being released in early December. Jack is also working on a full EP, which is exciting for him as he previously has not released a full, cohesive, collection of songs. Although he feels as though he pulls from many genres, Jack describes his general sound as “chilled guitar music with synths in the background and lots of reverb…think LANY”. He notes how the enthusiastic team at DH1 assists with steering his music in the right direction, providing him with secure publicity, and aiding with final production elements.
Discovering the record label through freshers fair of 2019, Samad has been working with DH1 since last year. As an artist, he has developed his sound and image over time, consistently experimenting with different genres. Initially, Samad was writing music with a band perspective in mind but now his individual style is taking flight. Since Covid-19 struck, Samad notes that lockdown was a time of “self-sufficiency” where he was able to take his music in a “new direction” and re-define his style. Later this year, the artist hopes to release a mixtape, highlighting his new style of pop combined with R&B, funk and trap influences. He notes it has been “tough working only virtually”, sending music back and forth between himself and producers but this has not affected his creative output. Despite the tough circumstances, Samad plans to do a pre-recorded concert to release alonside the new mixtape. This will give listeners an insight into his stage presence, overall aesthetic and give him the opportunity to perform his music live. He also plans to release singles throughout the year to embed himself in his new sound.
One of DH1’s new artists, Angharad Davies, was discovered by the record label over lockdown through her single ‘Play It by Ear’ being broadcast on Purple Radio. Angharad was scouted soon after and is looking forward to working with the label on her new musical projects. Initially, the artist comments that she knew of the record label last year and was tempted to audition but at the time didn’t feel ready to apply. When asked about her style, she comments that “it’s always so hard to describe yourself, it’s just me”, and that she does “borrow from a lot of genres” to create her self-produced, pop soundscape. Her music focuses on a popesque sound with soul and 90s rap influences embedded within. Although being new to the label, she has a lot of previous experience with music creation and is currently shooting a self-made music video which will hopefully be released next month. Although being unable to work in a music studio to produce her tracks, she remains undaunted by the process of self-producing her tracks. She also comments how the first lockdown provided her with an extended amount of time to focus on creating new music and giving a more personal, “confessional” outlook to her lyrics.
Carlotta Meyer, whose stage name is ‘Lottya’, is the newest artist of DH1, having been signed only days before the interview. She talks about her style as “experimental bedroom pop”, in which her music does not obey the typical song rules but develops these ideas through altering song-structures. Currently releasing the majority of her music on SoundCloud, she notes that the application process for DH1 consisted of thoroughly thinking about the sort of artist she wanted to be and the sort of music she intended to release, emphasising how it is “useful to have a niche”. In terms of the upcoming year, Lottya plans to improve her production skills through producing more of her songs and releasing new singles. We are excited to see how being signed to the label will morph and develop her music further.
Writing in the time of Covid-19, all four artists commented on how lockdown and coronavirus affected their creative output, either positively or negatively. They all mentioned that these restrictions provided them with guilt-free time to write and produce new music. Lockdown proved to be a period of self reflection and inspiration to all the artists as they each had more time to focus on their creative output and to think about how they want to present themselves in the industry. However, Angharad commented on her writer’s block at the start of lockdown as being “quite stressful, because you’re locked inside all day, you kind of feel guilty about not being as productive”. As well as this, Ottilie notes that for the audition process, DH1 are “especially [looking for] artists who have some knowledge of production to make it more feasible” due to meetings between artists and producers being all virtual. If you’re an artist who has a unique style and would like exposure in the music industry, DH1 plan to hold more artist auditions throughout the year in order to expand their collective, so be sure to follow them on social media for updates.
Photography by Amelia Holden