An Interview With: Abbie McCarthy

With the local live scene struggling at the moment, how do you keep a good live music night running? We had a chat with BBC Music Introducing in Kent presenter, Abbie McCarthy, about her London based night Good Karma Club, which has just turned two years old and is touring across the UK this April with The Academic.

Hi Abbie, firstly just want to say how excited I am about your Good Karma Club Tour across the UK – some really ace venues in there.

What sort of bands can we expect to be seeing?
Playing all seven dates of the tour is a band I absolutely adore from Ireland called The Academic. They recently released their superb debut album 'Tales From The Backseat', so they'll be performing lots of new songs from that on the road.

The supports are soon to be announced so watch this space!!

As a BBC radio presenter & producer you of course must get sent hundreds if not thousands of new band submissions on a weekly basis, what makes a band stand out for you?
Yes, we get sent unbelievable amounts of music, but I try and listen to everything! It's such an amazing feeling when you hear something incredible for the first time & know that you're going to share & introduce it to an audience on the radio later that night.

What makes a band immediately stand out to me is when I keep hearing great things about them & seeing their name cropping up, whether that's people going to see them live and loving it or maybe it's one of my BBC Music Introducing pals supporting them on the radio, and of course, ultimately, it's always about the music, it's a case of having really strong songs that are going to connect with people. I'm a sucker for a really interesting lyric, a great melody or a monster guitar riff.

Who are your hot tips for 2018?
I have so many! 

Last year was a really great year for new music and I think we'll see some of those artists really breakthrough and smash it this year. 

My current obsession is a guy called Hak Baker, an amazing autobiographical singer songwriter from East London with the most incredible, raw & honest voice - I think if you're a fan of people like King Krule & Jamie T, you'll absolutely adore him. 

I'm also a big fan of a band called Lady Bird, a punk trio from Tunbridge Wells, who have just put out their first official release via fellow Kent lads Slaves' new record label, Girl Fight Records. Lady Bird are a band who really have something to say for themselves and are a definite must-see live band. 

I've also recently massively fallen under the spell of an Irish band called WhenYoung, who are just brilliant songwriters, I'm sure they'll be on everyone's radar very very soon. There's a few awesome Scottish acts I've been listening to a lot recently too: Rascalton, LUCIA & The Dunts.

The live music scene seems to be struggling with venues shutting down, however your Good Karma nights are always buzzing, what’s the secret to becoming a successful club night?
I think the key to a successful night is just making sure you have a seriously killer line-up every single month that people are really going to want to see. My Good Karma Club night is also free entry, people just need to sign up for tickets, so it makes it easy and fair for everyone to come along. 

Even if you're a broke student or are someone desperately waiting for pay day to arrive that month, you can still come down and let your ears enjoy some mega music. I also think the atmosphere is really important - I think one of the best compliments I have ever got about the night is that it's like a really great house party. We just want the vibe to be really fun and have a real nice sense of community.

What made you decided to start putting on your Good Karma Nights?
As a massive and obsessive music fan, I wanted a platform to share with people my new favourite bands and I've absolutely loved crafting the line-ups over the last two years.

What’s ‘in’ is forever changing, what do you think the sound of 2018 will be?
I think 2018 is gonna be a massive year for that afrobeat sound that people like J Hus and NOT3s are bringing through, as well as the reggat├│n beat which is underlying in almost every pop song of the last few months.

I also really hope that indie makes a huge comeback, it feels long overdue. I think with artists such as The Arctic Monkeys and The Vaccines returning this year, maybe it will happen...

Finally, what band have you been most proud to discover?
It was amazing to discover a band like Slaves on the BBC Music Introducing uploader. It felt so exciting hearing those early demos because they sounded like nothing else at the time and they've gone on to become not only local heroes but a huge band worldwide too. I remember going to their early gigs when just a few people were there and now they regularly play at stadiums and big festival stages around the globe and it's been so special to watch that meteoric rise.

In more recent years, I had the total pleasure of playing a genius producer by the name of Vasser on the radio for the very first time on my BBC Music Introducing in Kent show and I loved the record so much I actually played it twice in row and sent it round to all my DJ pals at BBC Radio 1 & 1Xtra and then he quickly started to get played on national radio too by the likes of Huw Stephens, Phil Taggart and Annie Mac. He's recently been writing with Sam Smith and working on new music so I'm sure he's going to have a very good 2018.

I remember hearing the awesome 'Something For Your M.I.N.D' by Superorganism on Soundcloud when it had hardly any plays at all and playing it later that night on BBC Radio 1. I was obsessed with that song and they've followed it up in a big way with some other highly infectious and creative pop tunes, and they were of course were recently named on the BBC Music Sound of 2018 longlist, which was really nice to see.

Interview by Lori Janey

To keep up to date with all things to do with the Good Karma Club, head to their Facebook, they host a monthly night at the Sebright Arms in London. You can buy tickets for April tour they are hosting for The Academic here!