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Little Fish and Miranda Ward Unbound Project Interview

Jo & Lisa


Last year Little Fish were releasing their debut studio album Baffled and Beat on Linda Perry’s Custard label and being picked up for support slots with the likes of Blondie and Hole. This year they’re writing a book with Miranda Ward and looking for your support to get it made via a new publishing project, Unbound*. So what’s the story? We spoke to all three of them to find out.

* Check out their video pitch here:

Miranda: We’re writing a book because we thought it would be a good idea in the pub one night. And then we managed to make it happen.

Most people have ideas in pubs but they don’t actually go anywhere so what makes your idea different?

Juju: We were sober!

Ben: Jules was sober so she remembered it.

Miranda: I wrote it down.

Juju: We’re writing a book because we love books, we love reading books, we love paper, we love everything about books that’s been lost with the internet world. We’re in a band who have got loads of stories to tell, of life and what it’s like to be a band going from major to independent and then dealing with the changes in the industry. Then Miranda who’s an awesome writer but having a problem being a published author, it’s hard to get a book published or publishing deals, so we thought we’d join forces and use the best of everything that we’ve got. Knowing somebody who can write really well, combined with the music and artistry, things we love doing, that would be the most logical thing to do – to write a book.

Miranda: One of the things we talked about initially was making it kind of like liner notes or something to an album. It’s not going to be quite that abstract but it’s the same kind of thing, you actually get a physical thing to go along with this music that you can hear.

Juju: Because we’ve been doing stuff on vinyl and our vinyl used to come with great stories and liner notes. Originally we were going to do it about the making of the next record, but everything seems to have changed.

Ben: Things are changing so quickly it kind of makes it more interesting to write about now because rather than it being liner notes for an album it’s liner notes for the process of being a band which we have no idea where it’s going to be by the time we finish writing the book.

Juju:  A lot of people don’t know. They have this illusion which they’ve been fed through years of industry and rock stardom and untouchableness and X Factor. I think the internet has made it easier to reveal life is very different.

Is the book going to be the history of the band, the present of the band, or are you going to start writing from now to a certain point?

Ben: It’s not going to be a history.

Miranda: History will inevitably seep into it.

Ben: Obviously we will be talking about stuff that the band has been through. The subtitle we’ve given it is ‘Essays On A Rock And Roll Band’ because I think that’s kind of how we thought of it. We’d sit there telling stories and everyone would say “Really, that’s crazy, what’s this like?” and Miranda kept saying she should write about it. It’s not a book about Little Fish in a kind of narrow sense, it’s not a rock biography or anything, because we’re not famous enough or interesting enough or old enough for that to be something that’s worth doing, but it’s just using us as a springboard to talk about everything that’s going on in culture and internet and music and DIY and labels and celebrity and everything.

So over what kind of period are you going to be writing the book? Is there an end date or is it just ongoing?

Ben: Well we’re just starting and we want to do it quite quickly I think. Miranda’s quit her job and is now going to start writing the book.

Miranda: You can’t see the terror in my eyes.

Ben: We’re thinking at the moment early next year. We’re talking less than 6 months. This isn’t going to be next Christmas’s best seller. We want to write it and then do something else.

Miranda: And we’ve been talking about it and around it for a long time. We’ve been talking about it for so long that there’s a lot of history and a lot of ideas already.

Will it just be a book or will there be pictures and scribbles..?

Juju: Pictures and poems and scribbles!

Ben: We’ve had several ideas about how we do it. At one point it was an entire coffee table artbook, at one point it was pure essays. We don’t know.

Miranda: I think it would be nice to incorporate other stuff.

Ben: Yeah, I think we’d like to bring in stuff; we’ve just got to find the balance making it Little Fish related and making it interesting in general.

Miranda: It’s not a scrap book.

Ben: Hopefully we’ll be able to make a cool book that is interesting in itself, and because it’s coming out as an ebook as well, and we’re giving away swag there will be music tied in with it. It depends when it comes out but there’ll be downloads.

How did Unbound come about, why did you choose that route?

Ben: The main reason is that it fits pretty exactly with the way we’re releasing our music now, which is DIY but with support. Unbound are doing that, they’re releasing books that otherwise wouldn’t get much release in the main stream. Hopefully that’s what we’re starting to do with the music is to put stuff out that wouldn’t necessarily go out on a major label but is still interesting to enough people. We’re not going to write a book that’s going to sell hundreds of thousands of copies.

Miranda: Not that we’d complain if it did.

Ben: No, it might, that would be good, but kind of hopefully it wouldn’t. If we did then we’d written the wrong book.

Juju: Your Mum would be jumping up and down furiously if she’d heard you say that. So would mine.

Ben: It’s the same with the music. Although it would be great if the entire world brought our next album and made us rich, that’s not what we’re doing it for, we’re doing it for the people who are interested and care about it.

Juju: Make money?! Silly idea that is…

Ben: Plus they’re all very nice guys and very interesting.

Miranda: They like the project because Little Fish basically did what they did and left a label for the same reason that Unbound was set up as a company, which is that the publishing industry and the music industry are very difficult to get anything done in. The Unbound founders wanted to publish books that were in the hands of the authors and the books weren’t necessarily being written because they’re marketable.

What makes Unbound different than any other self publishing platform?

Ben: Well they’re not really a self publishing platform, they’re a publisher. They are planning eventually if the thing works to open it up so anyone can pitch their book and get support. They’re a publishing company and the two differences are that they’re interested in books that most publishing companies aren’t interested in, and the second difference is that they can’t necessarily take the risk of saying we think all of these are awesome books and we’re going to spend all our money and put them out, because maybe they’re not and there’s not enough interest. So they’re doing a kind of crowd funding thing. For example with the Little Fish thing, if 400 people pledge then it’s worth doing a small hard back run.

Miranda: The other important thing is that they do all the production, whereas with something like Kickstarter which is very pure crowd funding you’re responsible for all of that so you have to raise more to cover those costs. They take on the publishing of it, the idea is that they want to make these really beautiful books.

So what happens if you don’t meet your pledge target?

Miranda: Everyone gets refunded.

Ben: Everyone gets their money back and the book doesn’t get made.

And if the book does get made, will you tour it Patti Smith style?

Juju: We hadn’t thought about that. Yes, we will!

Ben: I think it depends, once we’ve written the book, what it is. We don’t exactly know yet.

Juju: It won’t necessarily be on the public sale so it really depends how many people pledge because there might not be any books left over.

So if the pledge target doesn’t get met, then the book won’t be written?

Ben: Well not necessarily, because we’ll probably be well into writing it by then so there’s nothing to say we won’t finish it and do it as an ebook or do something with it. But to make it worthwhile for them to actually print the hardback edition, which is usually a minimum of 1000 books, and to go through the whole process of marketing it they need to know that enough people are going to be interested.

So did you have to pitch the idea to them?

Ben: We talked about it casually, when we were at the Hay Festival busking they were there launching Unbound in a little shed, so we talked and drank with them quite a lot. We didn’t have much of a pitch and that was about as far as it went. They were interested and then we met with John Mitchison, the head dude, and he gave us a few ideas and thought it would be awesome. In the meantime they were at Cornbury and saw us play, so it moved back and forth in little steps until we had to come up with something quite solid, which was only really last week when we had to appear in public and pitch the idea on stage to a bunch of people.

Juju: You can see it on our website and on the Unbound website. We sang some songs and wowed them.

Ben: At the moment I think I’m right in saying we’re doing quite well. We’ve reached 25% quicker than some other people have reached 25%.

Juju: But we still need that 75%. Keep telling people, reminding people.

Ben: We think there are enough people who are interested; it’s just explaining the idea to them and keeping their attention long enough.

Anything else you want to get across to people?

Jules: It’s really important that they pledge.