Another Sky. Credit: Darina

Another Sky have spoken to NME about the financial crisis facing many artists in the UK, and how the struggle to exist to create has shaped their new album ‘Beach Day’.

The London four-piece returned with the follow-up to their acclaimed 2020 debut ‘I Slept On The Floor‘ yesterday (Friday March 1), an expansive and ambitious sophomore record shaped by finding purpose through hardship.

Having moved to the capital in 2013, the band lived as most London artists do: sharing space and finding cheap accommodation by any means necessary. By the time their debut album was released, COVID had taken its toll and life became much harder.

“COVID has changed my life,” singer Catrin Vincent told NME. “I currently haven’t had anywhere to live for a year, with the UK housing crisis and trying to be in London. I even lived in a van for a while.”

She continued: “It’s hard to sustain yourself as an artist.”

The band, after a period of finding and losing jobs, benefits and furlough, ran out of luck last year when Catrin and guitarist Gilbert’s landlord decided to sell the flat they’d been living cheaply in. Unable to afford to rent anywhere else in London and due to the escalating housing crisis, they’ve since been homeless and sofa-surfing with family and friends after a year of living in a van. Their fight to survive, and the community formed around their DIY studio The Crypt – built inside a church – have inspired their second album.

Vincent caught up with NME to share her thoughts on the perfect storm facing artists struggling to make ends meet, and what needs to be done.

NME: Hello Catrin. How has life been since ‘I Slept On The Floor’?

Vincent: “Well, I had to promote an album in lockdown after losing my job. It was a very tricky time that led to this big breakdown, which a lot of the record centres around – you might be able to tell from the angry songs!” 

And hard times hit the rest of the band too, right?

“Yes, we were all floating out in space. Our bassist went into a full-time job, I live with the guitarist Jack and we’ve been trying to piece together a life. It’s really tough right now for musicians – especially in the UK. There are a lot of factors hitting us: like Brexit, the cost of living crisis. Most artists, maybe not the ones you see doing really well, but we rely on cheap ways of living – from small places in London, sub-letting rooms, too many people in a house, those kinds of situations. 

“Now that’s all gone, life costs a lot more, and people are having to work more jobs. It’s really hard to sustain yourself as an artist. You rely on cheap ways of living because you don’t get paid properly. Streaming doesn’t pay, TikTok has had a major impact on the music industry, there’s too much.”

And how has it been without a place to live?

“Me and Jack are really hardcore, and we chose to try an alternative lifestyle and live in a van to get lots of work done. We all have our part-time jobs. I’ve been teaching music for two years alongside music writing and copywriting, Jack’s been doing a coffee job and producing music, Naomi Le Dune, bassist] has worked in a fireplace company and office manager (but she’s just lost her job). We’re all still floating in space, four years since COVID.”

Does it feel like the UK is hostile to creatives?

“Yes, and that’s really intentional from the Tories. They’ve actively undercut the arts ever since they came into power. I remember these conversations starting when I was in music education, and now I’m a music educator and seeing first-hand how they’re cutting budgets for music, still. We are hostile to creatives in this country, despite being a world-leader in music. It makes no sense – not even economical sense for the Tories. If they’re supposed to be about prosperity and making money, why would you not help one of your country’s leading economic powerhouses. It’s just really baffling.” 

How did all that doom and trouble seep into the record? 

“It actually led to a personal breakthrough. As sad I am about everything that’s happened, I’ve never had to confront who I am more. It’s an extremely personal record. In lockdown, all I had to write about and face was myself. It became this deeply personal record about overcoming anger and the shadow-side; the parts of myself that I didn’t want to show people. Finally revealing that anger, desperation, frustration, feelings of being a failure.

“The song ‘I Never Had Control’ is a breakthrough, where I really start to understand that I am a human being. You’re not always going to have control, and life isn’t going to be what you thought it would when you were younger. The political is in the personal when it’s such a deeply turbulent time.”


And so everything becomes coloured by fear?

“When you can’t control any aspect of your life, that’s actually when you can truly live and start experimenting. I don’t want to put a toxic spin on the whole thing, but I don’t know if I would have realised how much I want to be an artist without struggling so much. It proved to me that even though I’m so desperate right now, I have made the right choice.”

Do you feel as if a change is coming?

“I don’t know what’s going to save musicians. There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors going on with where the money is and where it’s going. Everyone would kill to do music, right? It’s so much fun and who doesn’t want to be creative. What we have at the moment is people almost lying about where the money is and self-funding themselves as musicians. The musicians who don’t have that financial safety net really start to struggle.” 

That’s when music becomes a playground for the rich?

“For sure, and it almost already is. We built a studio in the crypt of a church, and what I love about this place is that we’ve found a community of musicians who aren’t from these financial safety blankets, but were still making music despite everything. It feels like this little pocket away from the world of TikTok and all that.”

What the financial burden of TikTok?

“It’s not paying. It caters to a specific type of artist where if you have a the time, a lovely house and the right equipment then you can make these pro videos. It’s hard as a musician to also be a content creator. It’s another massive job that you’re not being paid for. If I work full-time then come home and do TikTok instead of sitting with myself as an artist just feels wrong.”

There’s that spoken word bit at the start of your song ‘A Feeling’ where you say: “I woke up at 7am, and did yoga, some cleaning, and then even had the time to schedule in my mental breakdown“. So spare time is scarce and precious?

“I said that into the mic after writing it into my diary that day. It was actually all inspired a conversation with a work coach on universal credit. You have to explain how much work you’ve done and how you’re really fighting to find a job. I was so angry at that time, and it comes out in the track. When I say the lyric about being alive and that’s all you have to do, I’m almost trying to talk myself out of that anger.”

What are you looking forward to this year? 

“Making more music. With everything that’s happened in the last four years, I’ve discovered that I won’t stop fighting to make music. I’m happiest when we’re in the studio and just writing a song. That’s what I’m looking forward to: album three!”

‘Beach Day’ by Another Sky is out now. Order it here

The post ‘Another Sky: “I haven’t had anywhere to live for a year – it’s hard to sustain yourself as an artist” appeared first on NME.


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