by Silke Hartung

10:32: Time For A Coffee With Bridget Walsh

by Silke Hartung

10:32: Time For A Coffee With Bridget Walsh

10:32 frontwoman and the proud Kiwi in the band, Bridget Walsh, is a firecracker of a human, bubbly and active, who’s been based in London for many a year. Paired up with Londoners Rado Brtko and Lyle Barton, their future soul act supported Six60 at their London show in October 2022. New song Coffee Shop Girl, released ahead of their March tour of Aotearoa received a fun animation treatment for the music video, thanks to support from NZ On Air Music.

Let’s jump right in with the tough questions Bridget! What happens at 10:32? 

When we first started playing together it was to record some demos I’d written back in 2018, and then we got asked to play Isle Of Wight, and then we were invited to do our first Aotearoa tour. We started off performing under my name but after a few shows it became obvious that the music we were making together was bigger than just “me” and so it felt right to start exploring ways to give this little musical universe of ours, it’s own name, it’s own identity. 10:32 is the time that I was born, so it felt like a cute way to encapsulate something that started with me, but that is now so much more than the sum of all of our parts.

Who’s in the band, and how did you come fit together over time?

There are three of us; Lyle Barton on keys and synths, Rado Brtko on drums and beats, and myself on vocals, keys and samples. We all write together – sometimes coming up with stuff completely from scratch, sometimes jamming something into existence and sometimes one of us will bring a little idea to rehearsal to play around with and explore, and we just see where the music wants to go from there.

Rado DJs around the world under the name Radushko, and he also produces and drums for a couple of UK artists and collectives. He’s got a really warm and special energy that just makes you wanna sit down and make music with him, y’know? So he’s in high demand.

Also in high demand is Lyle – like honestly too high demand tbh haha. Nah, jk – but if you name a handful of artists in the UK jazz scene, chances are Lyle has played with at least one of them. He tours with Emma-Jean Thackray (they were in Aotearoa last year), plays with Nala Sinephro, has just recorded with Nubiyan Twist… but also, like, ridiculous stuff like playing on Jools Holland, live improvising with Riz Ahmed, and even on TV with Ricky Martin haha. (He’ll hate that I mentioned that – sorry Lyle!)

I am very lucky and grateful to be making music with both of these wonderful and talented humans. I’ve previously toured and recorded with a few bands in the UK and at home – Electric Swing Circus (with fellow Kiwi Laura Owen-Wright) and Jenova Collective are both UK bands who I brought back to NZ on tour a couple of times, and I’ve collaborated with a couple of local artists including Paul Matthews, Shelton Woolright and Laughton Kora.

You’ve been in the UK for a while. How did you find your musical footing there?

Yeah, I’ve been here a minute, haha. I guess I’ve just learned to stay agile. And stay ready. Our industry is a turbulent and constantly changing space all around the world, and trying to find your footing is a challenge for most people I know – even some of the most successful, signed and established artists I know are having to grapple with constantly shifting goal posts and really volatile environments.

Probably the most important thing I’ve done is keep showing up, both energetically for myself as an artist, but also literally – going to jams, saying yes to session work or dep gigs, doing live streams and interviews, guest features, mentoring – all that stuff. Just being an active participant in the community, y’know?

I basically have found my footing by learning to adapt and respond and explore as each opportunity arises. And I have big visions for the things I want to achieve and be part of, so I just gotta keep hot stepping my way through it all until things start to stabilise!

For locals keen to do the big jump to London, what advice would you give them?

Damn – there’s so much, haha. I think clarity has become more and more important to me in the last few years – like, there is a LOT going on in this town. You have Europe on your doorstep and consumerism/capitalism are begging for your attention and your hard-earned pennies at every turn.

This is an expensive city, and if you just get swept up in it all you can end up with no money and/or no time to spend on developing your craft and growing your community. I think if you are coming here for an adventure, then fair game. Drink the kool-aid and do the OE and do “all the things”… but if you are coming here to build your career, then do some homework.

Reach out to people like me – other Kiwi folks who are here on the grind. Take us out for a coffee and pick our brains and learn from our mistakes/misfortunes. Don’t EVER pay to play. Don’t waste your money on rent living in zone 1-2 just so you can be closer to the places that will demand the rest of your money… Find somewhere a little further out where you can get a room big enough to set up your gear, and be able to walk to a local park to write your lyrics, somewhere with only one local cafe or pub where you can say hi to your locals in.

This city wants to eat your soul, haha… so just find ways to a) take care of yourself and your artistry and b) really get out of it what you came here looking for. Sorry – is that too dark? Lol blame the Tories – they’ve got us all on edge at the moment!

You describe your style as ‘future soul’ – how would you describe that genre to someone who doesn’t really know much about music?

Ohhhhhh genres, how we struggle with thee! Obviously, genres help us navigate or approximate what sort of music or artists we might enjoy or be intrigued by, so yes – they totally have their purpose. But also, it’s hard to find terminology that is useful but not limiting, y’know? Like – what genre is Björk? Or Bowie? Or Radiohead? Or Prince?

I guess we are striving to make music that is good for your soul, for our own souls, for the collective soul… “future” sort of captures the sci-fi sonic adventures and textures and vibes we like to explore, but it’s just as much about creating a lasting impact, about leaving things better than we found them, adding a little more light and love into the collective soul experience for the present and the future…

Maybe if we’re lucky one day we’ll make it onto that Björk/Bowie/Radiohead/Prince list too!

How did you come up with the idea for Coffee Shop Girl?

We had literally just arrived at this farm in Oxfordshire where we were all going to stay together for a writing week after the pandemic had kept us so separated for so long.

We had unloaded our gear from my van and hadn’t started unpacking anything yet, but Lyle just sits down at the grand piano and starts playing this sick little piano riff that he’d been bouncing around. There’s actually a video on our Instagram that I somehow managed to catch of Lyle and Rado just messing about on this idea.

Once we’d set all the gear up and started jamming, the tune started to evolve and I have a tendency to start by making up random lyrics or sounds just so I can feel how different vowels and rhythms feel to sing – the words “coffee shop girl” were topical because we’d been talking about this girl in a coffee shop over dinner.

The rest of the lyrics came later and started to take more of a spiritual direction really – more about the symbolism of the morning, and fresh starts and possibilities. She’s got a life of her own now, and we kind of love it that way. Maybe the more pertinent question is… what does she mean to you?

Can you give a quick rundown on who you worked with on it?

Yeah for sure, there’s the three of us who obviously wrote and recorded, but also were all in the studio producing together as we worked toward the final mix. The tune also features our old bandmate Digby Lovatt on bass.

We have our long-time producer, engineer and legend, the wonderful Lewis Moody from Melbourne, now also based here in London. He came to one of our shows when he first moved here and we’ve been supporting each other ever since – he works with lots of London and Melbourne cats, including 30/70 and Allysha Joy, ZFEX and also fellow Kiwi artist Myele Manzanza.

Our friend and mix engineer, Clinton McCreery added the final mix flourishes – and he’s also worked with some epic artists including Jorja Smith and another Kiwi artist, Mark de Clive-Lowe. Matt Colton is an award-winning mastering engineer that we’ve worked with a couple of times and we initially reached out to him cos he works with some of our favourite artists – James Blake, Blood Orange, Jordan Rakei, Aphex Twin…

We also recorded some extra vocals and piano with Rick David at his awesome little Pink Bird Studios, because his piano there is one of Lyle’s favourite pianos to play on in the country. We’ve also worked with the incredible Karolina Wielocha on photography and live-action filming, and the magic of Dane Jacobs and Lannie Booton for the animation.

Will Ackers at NZ On Air has been taking care of us over there, we’ve got Reuben Vergis at Madcap and Finn McLennan-Elliott at The Tuning Fork helping with the tour (both thanks to the wonderful Jason Schroeder who connected us, via MMF mentoring), and we have Emily Crowther at NZ Music Commission who’s helping with our tour as well.

Shout out to our friends and whānau who also keep us grounded and supported through all our artistic endeavours too. It really does take a village. (Also: my dog/soulmate Eugene who is the real MVP.)

Once you get NZOA funding, the job has only just begun! Can you walk us through the process of organising a music video?

Yeah I mean this is the first time we’ve gotten NZOA funding so it’s been a pretty wild and wonderful ride – mostly like such a breath of fresh air to have a bit of resource to work with rather than having to beg/steal/borrow/max out our credit cards to pay for things. Up to this point, we’ve managed to self-fund our recording/production/releases but the biggest differences from the NZOA funding have been with a) having resources to put towards PR and plugging, and b) of course to have a budget to pay for a really sick video!

I guess I’m saying that because, before this, we didn’t really know what the process was, ha! So now we’ve done it once, there are things we’ll do differently next time I think – mostly to do with timelines; ie. when you’ve got label-backing or a team behind you, you can really plot things out properly and have the luxury of time and foresight to make everything as strong as it can be. Have the funds allocated in advance for follow-up activity and thus make really strong strategic decisions about the aesthetic and concept of your video, and then work backwards on things like the single artwork and the whole story and package of what it is you’re making and offering.

We had significantly more time and resources than we’ve ever had this time around and we are REALLY proud of what we’ve achieved (and super grateful to have been able to make it happen!) but yeah, I think the biggest take away is: time is good!

Lead time is good, setting goals and deadlines and working backwards accordingly – that’s really what makes the difference from like, “omg I’m so excited I’ve got new music gotta share it all now” to like – “Ok we’re making art that is important and deserving of our care and attention, and that we want to usher into the world with intention and purpose. how best do we do this?”… We’re still working on that transition hahaha…

The visuals for Coffee Shop Girl are so cute – what sort of conversations about the aesthetic did you have?

Honestly, the mood board and buzz words we had are so hilarious “future sh*t”, “funk matrix”, “cool as f*ck” – all super useful I’m sure, haha. But also yeah we had some visual references and colour palettes, some shows and styles we loved (Tuca & Bertie, Rick & Morty), a whole google doc of bullet points and ideas for Dane Jacobs and Lannie Booton to springboard from, as well as the live-action footage that had been filmed with us in our sweet costumes.

But probably what was most valuable/exciting part was that we gave Dane and Lannie space to respond to the music and to our ideas and see what it sparked for them. We really wanted the music to be the universe if that makes sense – and that meant allowing for other artists to have the freedom to let the music take them on a journey too.

We had a couple of calls with Dane along the way (he’s in Ōtautahi, and we’re in London) and he would send us stills and clips as things progressed. We would give feedback on bits we wanted him to tweak, but also each time he sent us stuff it would set off a chain reaction of new ideas for us as well, so it just really ended up being this literal adventure for all of us. The two best parts for me were the day he sent us the avatars he’d made of us, and the day he sent me the clip of me and my dog hanging out in space… I cried, haha.

NZOA has an allowance for mentoring and promotion – how would you tap into that part of the funding?

Well, part of being an active member of the community is about supporting other Kiwi artists, right? So I knew of NicNak/Lil Sister because I had seen other artists work with them in Aotearoa, and approached them pretty early on to see what their timelines were like, and whether their books were open for another client.

We then found a window that worked and Kate Orgias, got cracking on an outline and plan of attack for local Aotearoa activity. Having their local expertise on the ground has been so valuable and really made a huge difference to our local reach, but also a huge energetic difference to have someone else in your corner helping you share your art with your community and beyond.

The mentoring stuff has also been huge – we got a membership to MMF as part of the funding, and I had a couple of really important calls with a couple of great mentors (shout out Cary Caldwell and Jason Schroeder) both of which sparked new ideas and pathways for me to follow up on, to bring us into this new chapter.

Life in music can have a lot of setbacks. How do you personally keep your resilience up in the light of (sometime) rejection?

I’m really clear on my “why” and have been for a long time. First off, the stage is my happy place, so for more selfish reasons I know that I want to keep carving out a pathway to more opportunities to play on more stages for more people.

That’s been in my heart and soul since I was probably about three years old. More fundamentally, the world is in trouble and this has been something that has weighed on me for over a decade now; how can I try and affect the most widespread positive impact with the skills and platform I have.

It’s why I volunteer for the Greens, it’s why I mentor kids and young people, it’s why I’m on the Equalities Committee at the Musicians Union… but it’s also why I’m really trying to establish a platform through my art where I have the capacity to reach more people to try and inspire people to make compassionate choices for themselves and the world around them.

To try and inspire a little more love and kindness amidst the capitalist hellscape we are collectively doom-scrolling our way into. I think these themes come across in our music and lyrics as well, and also really inform our collective 10:32 energy when it comes to what we want to offer people who come to our shows – a moment to be together in a space, to feel connected and held and empowered to share a little more love with each other.

This is how I stay resilient and why I keep going, because I believe in what we are doing and I believe it’s important.

What’s your approach/tips to running social media accounts in 2023? 

Ughhhhhh, social media. Such a powerful beast with so much potential to facilitate so many great connections for artists to their communities, to other artists, for people to find representation, inspiration, information… but hot damn if those algorithms and evil geniuses aren’t just rinsing us for all we are worth.

I love chatting to the camera, making content, trying to be funny and making people smile. I love capturing the boys doing magical things, and snapping cute pics of my doggo, and showing off my delicious meals and latest sourdough conquests. I love seeing what people are up to, and learning the creative processes of artists I admire… hell I even like cute videos of raccoons trying to eat candy floss and kittens who are best friends with golden retrievers.

But things have gotten grim out there, kids. The number of times in a week I find myself on my phone being like, “Oh gosh – what was I supposed to be doing?” watching a TikTok when I should be checking an email, scrolling through stories when I was meant to find out the next train time… it’s pretty dire.

Hahaha, so my tip for anyone is: guard your peace.

Make social media work for you, not the other way around. Find your sweet spot of how much of you you want to share with your community (as an artist I mean) and what is off-limits in terms of your own privacy and the privacy of others in your life. And work out how you can make and share content in a way that works for you – for your mental health, for your work-life balance, for your schedule constraints, for your tech capacity.

Having a direct link with your community is important, valuable and in fact, expected nowadays. But making reels and Tiktoks takes TIME.

Addictively checking back every few minutes to see how many likes you have – that eats away at your very core. So by all means, play the game and find the way that works for you, but don’t be afraid to say, “Nope I’m not available today” – because nothing is more important that your health and well-being.

We’re far more use to people as artists and members of the community if we are as whole and healthy in ourselves as we can be. Take it from your millennial Aunty Bridget… I bought an alarm clock so I can leave my phone in the living room at night so that I’m not tempted to be on my phone until I turn out the light, and more importantly, so it’s not the first thing I reach for in the morning.

I leave my phone at home while I walk my dog so I can get some peace and clarity. I say hi to people in the street and I try and see what birds are making what noises in the park. I go full analogue on my social media whenever I can, haha.

What’s up next for you, musically?

Well, we’re home on tour in March to release Coffee Shop Girl, and we’ve got a bunch of shows and media stuff while we’re there which is super exciting. And then in April we’ve got to get to work on post-production for our next 2-3 singles, working towards our EP coming out in September.

We’re hoping for a few festivals up here over the UK summer, and we’ve got a couple of fun remixes in the works too. We’ve got four new tunes awaiting post-production and another 10 or so waiting for us to have the funds to get back in the studio so… with any luck we’ll find us a label or a wealthy benefactor to help us on our next level up! All enquiries are welcome, haha…