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Lives of the Unsigned - Genshen

 article about Unsigned band reviews
Genshen are an indie-pop band based in Brisbane, Australia, with a
passion for their alternative early indie music. They mix together
their own quirky blend of cocktails with a shot of their indie
influences such as Stereolab, a big dash of the pop connection and just
a sprinkle of their sonic, electronic sound as though they had come out
of a 70s sci-fi movie. Just give it all a shake and you have the
uniqueness and delightfully unusual sound of Genshen. Their live
performance is fantastically energetic, showing their passion for the
organicness of music and hitting the audience with a feel that no CD
could give.

It seems like so long ago that Genshens hit Nothing
Quite Like This off their Someplace Else EP was blasting over the
Triple J airwaves, and theyve been hard at their music since, recording
a new CD and working on Quentin and Gillians new side project,
Loveless. The incredible thing? They are doing this completely
independently.

We do stuff a little different. We want to have
some control over our artistic direction, Quentin explains, The last
couple of years have been a real eye-opener. Because we havent signed,
there are so many things weve discovered within the music industry that
other bands couldnt have experienced.

Its not like this
indie-pop foursome havent had the opportunity. Many bands sign up to
any recording contract that heads their way, but Genshen have taken a
different approach.

We wanted to be in a position of strength
when we went into a deal. The artist has to be absolutely confident
that the manager has their interests at heart and they are doing the
best for the band. You are asking an awful lot of someone if they are
independent, with all the risks of the band flopping, so why not do it
yourself? You know what the band wants.

Its been extremely
difficult for Genshen, rehearsing and recording in their own little 3 *
4 metre space, self-managed, self-produced and, probably the most
difficult, self-financed. When the EP was released, both Quentin and
Gillian quit their jobs to focus on the band, which brought them into
an entirely new world. They experienced things and developed skills
that musicians within the business wouldnt accomplish throughout their
entire careers. They are also distributed through MRA
Entertainment/Little Big Music, without being signed to them.

They take a fairly steep percentage out of every CD. Instead of normally 15%, its now 30%.


However, at the time, Genshen was simply days away from touring
Australia and needed their discs in stores, so the money factor was
completely irrelevant it was speed that they needed. Quentin does feel
that, at some point, it was almost a lost opportunity when Someplace
Else was released.

If we were signed, there would have been a
lot of money to record and release a follow-up. Once that EP was
released, suddenly we were in demand, and we really struggled. We have
gone in a complete circle because we not only dont have the relevant
connections, but we also dont have the relevant skills, particularly
for an international base. As Quentin explains, the industry is all
about contacts and relationships, which is why you need to sign
eventually.

All the hard work seemed to pay off for Genshen
last year when Music Mangers Forum of Australia (MMF) awarded them with
the best self-managed band of the year.

Its completely
mind-blowing. Youre standing next to some really prominent managers for
people like John Farnham, The Vines and Jet and its like F*#!k what are
we doing here? This is amazing! I had to make a speech; I try to plan
them but I completely bum out. Its been a great experience.

The
hotly debated topic at the moment for Genshen is the recent departure
of bassist Steven, who was beginning to feel that it had become too
much of a job for him. He was into the clichd rock n roll lifestyle,
and wanted it to be more about fun. Genshen has developed their style
tremendously over the years, creating an enlightening, quirky little
niche that fits them so perfectly.

Steven was an integral
part of the band. With him to leave, it really will change the
direction of the band. Now that we have established a style, we want to
follow that through.

Its obvious now that the band has gotten
to the point where they know the industry incredibly well, but first,
they need to sign to a recording contract because then everything just
falls into place. What are they after in a contract?

The key
things to look for are the terms, or the length, and the territories,
or countries that are affected also. For an up-and-coming artist,
limiting these things is extremely important. You shouldnt sell or
publish too early either, because -publishing- is what will get you
money in the long term.

Genshen has definitely rubbed shoulders
with some of Australias more prominent bands, playing alongside the
likes of The Panics, Magic Dirt, The Beautiful Girls, Pete Murray and
Antiskeptic, which just shows how different their music can be!


Role models for us are those that manage to make a living, perform
overseas and have a following in all their countries. They dont
necessarily have to be superstars, but they have a following and a good
financial gain.

Just before the clock strikes midnight on a
Tuesday, I leave the exhausted Quentin in peace, but I will tell you
one thing else - Genshen is soaring for fantastic things in the future.
Who knows? They definitely have the potential to be those who arent
necessarily superstars, but they have a following and a good financial
gain.

If youre in Brisbane and want to check out Quentin and
Gillians side project, Loveless, their first show is at Rics on June
24, but all Genshen shows have been put on hold until a new bassist is
announced! Check out www.genshen.net.


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