It’s well-documented that bloggers and music critics get many emails each day from artists approaching them for coverage. Just one glance through the series of Q&A‘s that we’ve been completing this year with the editors of music blogs, where we posed the question – “Approximately, how many emails do you get in your inbox each day?” – and you will see the answer varying between “over 100” and “hundreds“. It’s impossible to keep up without being brutal towards your admin, hovering over the delete button for just a few seconds before reaching that terminable press of the forefinger. Well, here’s an artist who nailed his email just right and it’s got him on The Recommender.
Gustaf Montelius is The Fiery Piano, a solo artist from Stockholm, Sweden. We will speak about his DIY approach to his music in a moment, but it’s his personal email that got our attention. You might be thinking that he waxed lyrical to us, trying to sell his music in some impassioned speech, but it’s quite the opposite, he kept his email succinct, with every detail a blogger is looking for. The first deletion hurdle is with the email’s title. He’d simply written, ”Please have a listen to my debut EP“. The Recommender mainly deals in débuts, so that’s on message, plus he had informed us that there’s a collection of tunes to listen to. Upon opening the email itself, he began with a friendly, human but short welcome, before explaining a little about the EP – no more than 70 words or so.
Then he asked politely if we’d “spare a couple of minutes and listen to the EP“. OK, we thought, but it’s the next paragraph that was laid out perfectly. It was a sentence with appropriate hyper-links, stating “Download it for free via my bandcamp here, and visit my website for more information. Or, if you prefer listening on Soundcloud, click here“. Simple, with all the sites we actually use. No Myspace, no mp3 attached to the email, no sales pitch, no excessive narcissism, and the music was just a click away, being offered at no cost. He signed off by complimenting The Recommender – without a hint of massaging our egos – and asked us to give away any tracks we wished to. Sweet, simple, well laid out, polite, succinct and perfectly on message with what we we’re doing.
He describes his music as “Bedroom Pop”, which fits well, as his debut EP, Sirens, is soulful, simple at it’s heart and feels like it’s been made by one person to be heard by one person at a time – You. Not that it’s lonely, as it’s actually rewardingly warm, comfortable and friendly, like hanging out with your best mate. The EP’s opening title track is perhaps it’s peak, but the ski downhill from there is smooth and consistently enjoyable. The arc of the EP feels like a flirtatious walk through the countryside with that girl you fancy on a warm summers day, with it’s layers and details perfectly placed and memorable well beyond it’s end. Fans of the solo storytelling of Bright Eyes, or the digital and analogue mixture from Bastille, or the troubadour pop of 1, 2, 3. will find lots to enjoy here.
Gustaf’s lesson is one in doing it yourself. The smaller the scale the more personal the results. Here is an artist that finds rewards in not only taking tiny steps, but in making every one packed with enjoyable quality. Sure, there’s some well crafted production on the EP, with lots of intricate additions to the guitars and vocals, but you get the impression that he’s on his own and he’s speaking directly to you. It’s this ability to personalise the music, as well as his emails, that’s earned our attention today. Ultimately of course you need to also have written some outstanding tunes to get beyond our last deletion hurdle, but his removal of any unnecessary fat and his Goldielocks level of skill in selecting just the right amount of ingredients is a lesson to us all. (MB)
THE FIERY PIANO – SIRENS
THE FIERY PIANO – WILD ANIMALS
THE FIERY PIANO – A MURDEROUS CONSEQUENCE