Living in a Digital World – Lisa Redford Interview

25 Jan

Lisa Redford3

Over the years, Lisa Redford has gained quite the reputation as “one of our finest singer/songwriters”, an opinion expressed by the legendary Whispering Bob Harris no less. With a fervent and devoted fanbase, she has experienced success and critical acclaim for her warm and honest folk music, on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. Yet as an independent artist for Lisa, the music is just one of many different aspects of her life as a performer. We met up with Lisa before Christmas, as she was preparing to relax and make use of the quiet time to write, and talked to her about the amount of work required behind the scenes and the way technology has both helped and hindered artists.

We first met Lisa at the Norwich Sound and Vision festival and, as well as how friendly and engaging she was, we were struck by the fact that she wasn’t just there to perform, but to learn as well. Each day Lisa was there at the various delegate sessions, listening to speakers discuss various aspects of the music business and ways for artists to promote themselves. It was surprising to us, given the success that she had already achieved but there is no sense from her that a level has been reached; she wants to keep going and achieve more. What’s the point in writing all this wonderful music, if no-one ever gets to hear it?


“It’s about getting that balance”, she tells us as we sip our drinks in the pub, shielded from the wind and rain outside. “Because you might have that great release, EP, album, but if you’re not promoting it as well it’s just going to sit there”. Which immediately brings us to a problem faced by so many independent artists, just how to do you get and maintain a profile and get your music heard? Social media has become a massive part of our everyday life; we use it as individuals as do businesses and brands that have quickly realised just how important it is to engage with existing and potential customers. It’s no different for musicians, Lisa agrees.

“I try to do something in the mornings; Twitter, Facebook. I’ve also got my main website in WordPress, and also there are so many other ones as well”. Indeed there are and Lisa uses a few, she was even keeping her MySpace page reasonably well maintained before Justin Timberlake started bringing it back, sexily or not. With this legion of digital platforms available, promotion has theoretically never been simpler, pretty much all the people you need are just a tweet away. Well yes, but it is a double-edged sword she explains. It’s one thing to be able to ping a link or something to Bob Harris on twitter but so can anyone else. You have to compete for airtime with the DJ’s, the labels, the bloggers, that aspect hasn’t changed, it’s just that now, even more people have a route in than ever before.

That open line of communication also works both ways; she too is contactable by anyone and via a number of different avenues. At least when you had just the one site, all your correspondence came in one door, now you have to keep up with them all just in case something gets missed. Not just from industry types either, fans are in regular contact and Lisa is determined to ensure anything she puts out, be it on twitter or her blog, is interesting for them.

”You have to be creative, not just musically creative, but generally creative, coming up with interesting posts and things like that. You can’t just have the same thing you want to have like new songs, or videos, or photos. It can be difficult because if you want to get people to know about certain things, you do [have to] repeat sometimes. It’s about keeping it interesting”.

Keeping it interesting is a challenge all of us who seek to engage others online are faced with, and one that many have taken on with pictures or posts about anything and everything to do with their lives. It’s an approach that Lisa doesn’t favour, so don’t expect to see any instagram shots of the Redford breakfast anytime soon. ”I try to mostly keep it music related”, she explains. ”I’m not one of these people who are into every detail; I quite like to keep some mystery, if we can these days. Sort of [like] Kate Bush, I can’t really see her tweeting about her cat”. Mind you, Lisa notes, if Kate Bush was just starting out today, ”then it would be a different ballgame”.

While the idea of Kate Bush taking pictures of her pets, meals, the snow or whatever and posting them up to be shared thousands of times over round the world is entertaining, it is a valid point. Engaging through social media is now very much part of an artist’s day job and getting the balance that Lisa mentioned is key. Too much and you risk turning people off, too little and you risk people forgetting about you completely. You have to post regularly she agrees, to keep in people’s consciousness and to maintain momentum. Also, as was discussed at Norwich Sound and Vision, to show people you are worth investing time and effort in. An artist with a reasonable online profile and fanbase is going to be much more appealing to radio pluggers, for example, than one without.

Lisa Redford4

As an artist who spends a reasonable amount of time in America, it is doubly important to Lisa as it helps raise her profile there as well. It used to be that you would aim to be in a music magazine and that would be what you could point to, the NME profile or the review in Q or MoJo, Melody Maker or Select, to name a few. Now though many have shut down the presses and those that remain have digital editions as well. Print can’t keep up anymore (even The Dandy has closed down) and the onus is very much on digital media and how artists make use of it. It’s something Lisa is acutely aware of and a challenge she seems to be enjoying as she looks to head back over to the States.

“I’d like to sort of be back and forth type thing, like I have been doing. Do like a tour [in the UK] in the spring, summer to promote the EP and then maybe record back there”.

As well as all the social media stuff to think about, there is a copious amount of admin to get done, especially if you want to get out and perform, and then of course there is the actual process of writing and recording the music you want to promote. With so much to do it must be hard to prioritise. ”It’s making sure the time you use is useful”, she points out. “I’m quite organised, but even if you have a list in the morning, the time just sort of flies by as well!”

Factor in the additional difficulties of trying to arrange an itinerary from thousands of miles away, and even Lisa’s organisational ability will be stretched. You always have to think so far ahead though don’t you? Like I say, I am a one man band, so it’s having to plan everything, you know? Before you know it, it will be spring… And I will be like “oh, I should have booked those festivals”. It’s very difficult and again, like with anything here, you need to build up even more press”.

With all this to deal with, finding the time to actually write and be creative can be difficult, especially as, by her own admission, writing can sometimes be a slog. “You can’t just do it in five minutes; you’ve got to really get into that head space. You can’t just churn [them] out. You know what I mean?”

We do, for all its myriad benefits for promotion and establishing a local and global fanbase; social media can’t actually write the songs for you. That remains entirely in the gift of the artist and luckily for Lisa; it is a gift she has been blessed with.


Lisa’s latest EP Reminders, recorded in New York City, was released this summer and can be bought on iTunes or directly from her bandcamp page.

Stalk Lisa Redford: Website / Facebook / YouTube / SoundCloud /Bandcamp / Twitter

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2 Responses to “Living in a Digital World – Lisa Redford Interview”

  1. name not supplied March 10, 2013 at 23:48 #

    Lisa is so on the ball with it all really, she deserve more recognition. And this piece is beautifully written, it really is!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. New Interview and ‘Reminders’ Featured on New Compilation ‘IndieVidual’ - January 30, 2013

    […] new interview! Discussing being an independent artist and the importance of using social media. Huge thanks to […]

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