26th November 2020

Junk Drawer Academy Fund Recipient

Belfast’s Junk Drawer are a intuitively loose and idiosyncratic psych post-punk krautrock-worshipping indie rock band.

Featuring four multi-instrumentalists and vocalists fluent in their roles, Junk Drawer are driven by the inevitable harmony and discordance that comes from the sibling creative rivalry at the helm. They won the Best Single at the NI Music Prize 2019 with ‘Year of the Sofa’, making Junk Drawer the first DIY band to take home a prize at the annual ceremony. Their debut EP ‘Ready For The House’ features 7 sprawling, chaotic vignettes of personal malady and recovery. Check out their interview feature below.

What led you to join Sentric? 

Matty Hogarth from the company reached out to us shortly following the release of our second EP, ‘For The Cult Fat Guy’, with some very kind words – seemingly genuine, and not of the ‘hello [insert band name], I have got an opportunity that we feel you would be a good fit for moving forward’ variety. It was as simple as having a quick look and realising very quickly that for the small percentage in publishing involved and no actual fees, that it was a win-win in terms of streamlining the whole admin process and leaving it in the hands of the more capable.

What’s been your experience so far? 

Well, aside from a site that’s a lot easier to navigate than PRS, it’s ultimately given us much more than the 20% it’s taken. Academy fund was the most transparent, ‘human’ application we’ve seen, and that kind of interface really is beneficial when you’re a bunch of screwabout dilettantes who struggle with the bureaucratic, sometimes opaque machinations of the music business. Having the human touch (thanks again Matty).

How have publishing royalties affected your income streams?

To be honest, we’ve weirdly received nothing this month via PRS itself in the July quarterly pay-outs, despite our album and campaign peaking in April – but I haven’t seen Sentric’s money come in yet. It has remained fairly consistently growing over the last while, however, it’s a nice way to supplement income.

What musical project has the fund contributed to? 

It went towards PR costs in our greater album campaign, which was the one thing we had yet to fund, but was the most essential in growing and developing ourselves on the industry front. Despite the huge losses in print media, the album has ultimately ended up on The Quietus’ albums of 2020 so far, gotten a bunch of good reviews from The Line of Best Fit and the likes, as well as us ending up getting featured in PASTE’s 13 Irish Acts to Watch this year. Had we not received that lifeline to help us out as COVID-19 decimated the music industry, just as our most important release yet was happening, it probably really would’ve taken some heavy tolls on our self-belief, to be honest.

Your top tip for future applicants would be…

Be honest, and concise, without underselling – which goes against the better judgement of many independent musicians when it comes to dealing with these ‘industry things’. Have a real think about how to phrase your goals in terms everyone can understand, showing ‘clearly defined outcomes of your project’ in the short-term and longer term – specify those times. Even if it’s a long shot, you need to show those aspirations. That means keeping a list of your achievements that you can keep adding to, and seeing the concrete progress. This is all very useful stuff if you want to reach any point of sustainability. Maybe that’s as simple producing some music to realise, or maybe – as in our case – it’s PR to aim for the kinds of sites and publications that can indirectly lead to that increase in fandom & getting within earshot of a booking agent or someone who can further you along.

You are the first DIY band to take home the NI Music Prize for Best Single, with ‘Year Of The Sofa’. Talk us through this achievement. Did this have any noticeable impacts? 

Loads, to be honest. On a very practical level, the £1000 prize money guaranteed our production, and we imagine played an important. Probably the most valuable gain from it all, though, was the validation that came with that fact. It’s been at times a difficult 4-odd years of playing to dire crowds, learning how to self-govern to any kind of degree, but it kick-started a momentum that’s seemingly developed on into our album release, and hopefully 

What are the next steps you’re going to take?

We’re planning to hunker down and develop our sound with the next album. We’re involved with the third volume of Irish grassroots compilation A Litany of Failures.

‘Ready For The House’ is the latest album from Junk Drawer. Listen here