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Ladders Case Studies || Sauvage

I’m Rob Griffiths, I sing and play in the band Sauvage. For work, I am a freelance sound technician and go around with loads of different bands.

My name is Adam, I play bass in Sauvage. I’m a semi-pro freelance musician and I also work in a bar.

When did your interest in Music begin?

Rob: I think it was one of those things when as soon as I picked up a guitar, it was all I wanted to do. I started that when I was about 11 and started singing shortly afterwards. It was all I spent my time doing until I was about 16 when I decided to go and study it pretty intensely for 6 years.

Where did you study?

Rob: I was at the Young Musician’s Programme at the sage for 3 years alongside college and then I went and did the Jazz degree there.

Adam: For me, it was pretty similar. I picked up a guitar. Actually, I was listening to ‘Hysteria’ by Muse and it was the guitar solo which started churning cogs in my ears and I thought immediately that I had to do this. Later on I went to study it down south in Falmouth/Cornwall which was cool.

Rob: It’s a shame Michael (drummer) is not here. He has a really sweet story about basically drumming from birth. Apparently, he was hitting pots and pans in his Mum and Dad’s kitchen until they bought him a small drumkit…which he then broke and then had to go back to pots and pans. It’s ridiculous but so cute!

That sounds like something from a movie! I love that. So how did all of you guys meet each other and how did Sauvage come to be?

Rob: I had a band on the go which was very different to Sauvage. Michael was still playing with me then. Adam and I started jamming together – I had very good reasons to ask Adam to be in the band. After a jam session, which he only played the guitar in, he said he had a gig and I had work, only to realise later that I was mixing his gig. But he walked in with a bass guitar and I was like hold on, he doesn’t play this!? But he’s one of the best bassists I’ve ever heard. A week later we had a gig at the O2 Academy and we needed a bass player so he jumped in, learned the parts pretty quickly and played it brilliantly. After that the band got a lot more serious.

So how did you end up coming across Ladders at that point?

Rob: James, our bandmate in Sauvage, studies at Sunderland University and he always finds these little things. Because he joined the band most recently, he felt a little out of his depth on the business side of things and he really wanted to get involved so he pursued it in his own time. He mentioned the opportunity of the Music side of Ladders to me very casually a bit later down the line and asked if we would do it, to which I responded, ‘yes definitely!’.

How was the recording experience

Rob: It was great. We worked on the two tracks that were going to be part of this music video. It’s not going to be released for quite a few months yet but what we really got out of it was having an extra creative ear there that was engineering the session. Because we’ve had our heads in the tracks for so long, having someone from the outside perspective suggesting ‘you could do this’. Having that perspective was really useful.

Adam: It was the first time we were all in the studio and getting direction from someone who was as invested in getting the best of the track as an outsider. Usually, we’ve got the band quite set on what they want to do and the engineer is just doing their thing. But with Sam, we were told ‘let’s go faster here’ and ‘let’s chop this up a bit and see what happens’. It was really refreshing to have a producer element to the process.

Do you think Ladders came at an appropriate time for the band?

Rob: Perfect timing. We just needed that push. We were at the point where the live stuff was really together but I was fighting with that realisation that it really is a business and that was the ingredient we were missing. We were at that point where we really need a little bit of direction.

So musically it was very useful for you guys. I did come across you guys at the Ladders Enterprise Support sessions too. How did you find that?

Rob: Yeah. It has helped streamlined stuff. I’m building a website at the moment which is nearly ready to go and all of our social media is a bit more cohesive. We still have a lot of work to do on that side of things.

Any Ladders highlights?

Rob: Just Michael with any percussion in his hand. He’s good at it but it’s also really funny to watch.

What are you guys up to in Sauvage since the programme ended?

Adam: We have a headline show in the Cumberland Arms in April with a band called Nano Kino.

Rob: After that we will be pretty focused on the Tipping Point Live gig. We’ve got this little pot of funding to shoot some visuals and make a music video with Nina who’s a really talented dancer. It’s going to be a really interesting collaboration and bring a whole new audience. I think it’s going to be really exciting how the dynamic shifts. We’ve had this idea for quite a while of making this less about being boy indie-guitar project and more of an art project.

Interesting. So what exactly do you want Sauvage to be and what do you want the audience to feel when listening to your music?

Rob: That’s a good question, and a hard one to answer. I do know that I want it to be more than just a guitar band which I think musically it already is but conveying that has meant we had to think outside of the box. If you do a photo shoot in the woods and look really moody then straight away it sets a certain precedent and it’s been done before. So doing something a bit off-piece is hard but it’s what I’d like it to be.

Adam: Realistically, you’re just trying to max your audience as best you can without straying from your own artistic integrity. Yes, we are a bunch of boys with guitars playing indie-ish music but we have something to say.

In what way, as in the lyrics?

Rob: Well I’d say it’s relatable. The tunes generally tend to identify with things people have felt one way or another. That’s a side of it I really like when people come up to us at the end of the show and say that a song has really spoken to them.

Are you excited for what’s to come in North East Music culture?

Rob: I’m buzzing about the North East Music culture. There’s a lot of thirsty bands and people doing very interesting things. It’s really varied. There are people that are pushing out a bit in a really positive way like Sam Fender because he’s very decidedly Northern and still wants to live in North Shields and not in London. It’s cool that it’s happening and there’s a reason for it – it’s because we’ve got a lot of great stuff going on around here and increasingly people are wanting to come up to Newcastle.

Adam: There’s something a little bit more unique up here than say London and I think it’s the people as well. I think if there’s any integrity that should be maintained, it’s that.

Rob: There are some really exciting people from all over who are making music here – there’s a French duo called the Noise and Naïve and they’re so fun. I’d be here a while if I listed everyone but it’s just such an infinitely varied scene. I’m very glad I stayed in the North East.

Finally, would you recommend Ladders to other bands?

Rob: If you’re in a position where you’re struggling to find your next move and it all seems a little bit overwhelming, Ladders is a good way to progress, get past that and remind yourself that it is business but it’s not as scary as what you think.

Adam: It also just a really nice networking opportunity. We have met some characters which we wouldn’t have met otherwise.


Facebook: @Sauvagencl

Bandcamp: Sauvage

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