Category Archives: Audio

Collaborative marketing project in Birmingham launches new magazine

Earlier this week when I came across Forge Magazine, it was described as ‘interactive’ and something that aimed to highlight creative talent across the Midlands, from varying disciplines – but I had no idea what to expect.

What I later found out is that Forge wasn’t founded by a single individual, despite what I thought initially, but in fact a collective of young marketers who themselves have formed The Icing Agency, under the Mac Birmingham’s ongoing Next Generation Project.

A scheme designed to offer young people aged between 14 and 30 opportunities to learn and break into the creative industries, the Next Generation Creative Agency produced Forge – a slick collection of insightful features, illustration and photography.

Source: Twitter @tombirduk

Source: Twitter @tombirduk

Ashleigh Moore, the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, though she was keen to point out it was a joint effort between some 10 plus contributors, explained that it was important for Forge to create a publication for emerging creatives and something that would benefit this demographic.

She said: “Sometimes they just need that platform, that little thing that says, ‘Look I’m here’ which will then take them forward.

“We also wanted to give a broad overview of the creative opportunities that are available and the ways you can get into the creative industries so everyone put their heads down and thought about them, what they were passionate about.

“When you look through you’ll see that each person has contributed to this.”

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Ashleigh Moore addressing the intimate audience. Source: Twitter @KristinaOMedia

With the magazine’s layout designed by Fused Media – the publishers responsible for the renowned culture bible, Fused – Art Director, Anya Jung created Forge’s iconic cover illustration and designed the exclusive black and white sleeve which was available at the launch.

She said: “It was a collaborate between me and Louise Byng, who works at the Mac, we really wanted to create something pleasing to look at but not too high brow, we didn’t want to go into contemporary art magazine style at all.

“We were influenced by wrap magazine which is an illustrated magazine and also Oh Comely magazine which is lovely – we like it quite a lot.”

To find out more about what was a mysterious new offering in Birmingham’s print world, I spoke with both Ashleigh and Anya, for a not so ‘random’ podcast. (My phrase on the audio, not theirs.)

For more information about the Next Generation programme click here.

To request a free copy of Forge magazine head to their Facebook page.


Cover Drive on EP Liming in Limbo, T-Ray’s love of Jordans and why they make music for the fans

From L-R: Jamar, Barry, Amanda and T-Ray

From L-R: Jamar, Barry, Amanda and T-Ray

To some, the name Cover Drive is met with confused expression, given their brief year-and-a-half on the international music scene, but not to their 150,000 plus fans on Facebok or their 15,000 loyal Instagram followers – pretty much, anyone who’s up-to-date with music and pop culture.

We know we haven’t been here physically in the UK but we still felt that strong connection with our fans. That never goes, we love them. Amanda

The hottest group to leave the island of Barbados – ever, with a lead female vocalist thrust into the mix of three sun-kissed male band mates, it’s hard to number 1: not feel jealous of Cover Drive’s Amanda Reifer, whose sultry on-stage presence and curvaceous frame has seen her compared to fellow island-mate, Rihanna, several times. Together with T-Ray Armstrong (drummer), Barry Hill (guitarist) and Jamar Harding (bassist), the group’s iconic sound, dubbed ‘Carib-pop’, have won the esteem of President Obama, landing a spot on his 2013 inaugural playlist and a top 15 debut album in 2012.

You can’t let the pressure get to you because if the pressure gets to you then you’re not going to release your best product. You just have to relax and let the music do the talking. T-Ray

In the lead up to their highly anticipated comeback, Cover Drive embarked on a headline UK tour earlier this month, fresh from touring the States and ready to reconnect with their worldwide ‘CD Fielders’ a.k.a. fans. Current single, Lovesick Riddim is riding low on the radar for the moment but offers a glimpse into their creative growth and newer, more mature sound. In addition to the release of their new EP, Liming in Limbo, due for release on November 11, the band have been cooking up some stellar material with the likes of Boy-1-da (Jay Z and Drake), Angela Hunte (Miley Cyrus, Snoop Lion and Alicia Keys) and Supa Dups (Bruno Mars and Estelle).

There are those pressures there, but we’ve had to learn to not focus on them and just do it the same way we did the first album so it can come out as authentic and as real as we want it to be. Amanda

Just hours before appearing on stage for date 4 of their 9 UK gigs, I squeezed into the band’s box dressing room at the Birmingham 02 Academy, and was politely offered a cosy seat right in the middle of the group’s more vocal members, T-Ray and Amanda. Not only did their HD-beauty look even more prominent while our faces were just inches away from one another, or moments before when I gave each one a friendly hug, but Barry’s interest in my quite dapper-looking Kindle and compliments on my outfit, gave them gold stars way before they offered me a spot in the group. Well, that didn’t happen but you’ll hear what did when you listen to the audio below, along with which person in the band is a hopeless romantic and why it’s so important for the fans to follow them on this journey to the second album.

To book tickets for Cover Drive’s remaining UK tour dates click here.

Lovesick Riddim is available to download on iTunes now.

Audio Blog: Would you be in a relationship with you?



A lot of the topics for my blogs have been inspired by conversations with friends, whether I say little or a lot, there’s usually something that sparks a trail of thought for potential posts. Problem is, when I don’t rush to get those written down, they shrivel back up, though gasping for air, in this sardine tin I call, my mind.

“Part of growing up is being able to find solutions to your own problems. At the end of the day, if you can’t do it, there’s no amount of asking for advice that’s going to help because it’s you that has to implement this advice.”

Last night, I decided to not procrastinate quite so much and take action when the thoughts were fresh and relevant. There was no time to write this down, it would have turned into an epic piece of waffle, and I can’t say that waffle hasn’t been transformed into ramble, but I ran with the momentum at least. No edits, I’ve recorded and uploaded this just how it is and as you may have guessed the question: ‘Would you be in a relationship with you?’ will crop up in this audio, eventually, when I get to the point.

“Like I say to everyone, which is probably slightly negative, I feel like your twenties are just – can be – slightly overrated. This kind of image of being ‘twenty something’ which is thrust upon everyone, isn’t what it actually is, which is why I love my website so much and writing because at the end of the day, I think I present a honest account, even if it is slightly self-depreciating, I just like to be honest.”

Apologies for it being so long, I guess I do like the sound of my own voice after all…

“You need to think about the value that you’re adding to other people’s lives. And before you think about the value that you can add to another person’s life, you need to think about the value that you’re adding to yourself.”