If you've seen Ikea's later clutter-busting advert you will already be familiar with Northampton's An Escape Plan, as the band's Bee Gee cover Living Together provides its sound track. With the group - who feature former members of Medium 21, Maps, and Red Kite among others - set to release album Songs Of Scarecrows on 1 April, Kathryn Sian Williams questions whether they're heading for flatpack glory or just set to fall flat on their faces...
Having your music on an advert is inevitably going to provoke opinions. Especially when, after seven years of inadvertently making a record, you find yourself best known for a cover song that serves as a soundtrack to a well-known Swedish furniture company. And all before the record even has its airing despite planned release days and a rough idea of how to promote it.
So when something like this happens, you find yourself questioning just where you stand on the whole thing, reassessing what it really means to be a so-called professional musician in a time when the industry remains in vague upheaval. You wonder what your limits are and how you feel about being associated with a brand after championing DIY ethics for so long. You also brace yourself for a foray of comments and reservations about things like integrity. Then you take a step back and realise how melodramatic all that sounds.
The truth is, this whole thing came out of nowhere and at no point did we even anticipate it actually happening. As An Escape Plan our only conscious goal was to keep doing what we love in whatever way worked at the time. There was no to-do-list with "get song on an advert" needing to be ticked off. Although no one can deny the power of sync these days, be it financial or promotional. Let's face it - very few artists would turn down an opportunity to get paid and have their music heard in a way that doesn't feel compromising to anything.
The fact is that brands are taking it upon themselves to step into the role that many major labels have deserted: championing unknown artists and taking chances without fear of failure. We, the public, support this through our consumption of both product and media. Whether or not that is a good thing is undoubtedly subjective and only relative on a case-by-case basis. If anything it is more of a political issue regarding mass-consumption and inverted capitalism than one concerning artistic premise but let's not go there.
We were lucky to be working with an incredibly passionate and intelligent group of people with whom we shared the common goal of wanting to make something good that would stand alone as a thing in itself. For that reason we never really thought there to be any issues with integrity. Living Together is a great song. The Bee Gees write great songs. But the best part about the brief was how much creative freedom we had.
There is always something satisfying about taking a pre-existing thing and making it your own. Not only is it fun, you can really learn a lot about yourself and the way you work in the process. Doing a cover track also meant that our album remained a separate entity from the campaign whilst being blessed with more potential exposure by default.
What all this means for us as a band remains unknown. We are in a fortunate position having chosen to use the money from the sync to pay off all the debts we had incurred through favours of faith and IOUs. We have also had our sounds played into the ears of millions of people who would probably otherwise never hear us. It is up to them if they want to find out who we are, and buy our music.
In the meantime however, we are still essentially exactly where we were beforehand - with a record to promote and a keen desire to continue writing and playing and listening to and learning about that thing called music that we love so much.
Kathryn Sian Williams
For more head to Anescapeplan.co.uk.
10:27 AM | 22/02/2013
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