Backstage with Dave Rutledge

Backstage With Dave Rutledge
Backstage with Dave Rutledge

For emerging bands, artists and performers, the road to success is rarely a smooth one. Throw a global pandemic in the mix and you’ve got a difficult road to navigate. Multiple lockdowns meant venues had to close, gigs had to be cancelled, and thousands of jobs were put at risk.

Wanting to provide a solution to this problem and help up-and-coming artists battle against the negative impact of Covid-19 is Bristol-based start-up Bandista, founded by friends Dave Rutledge, Jack Ryan and Ed-Strode Willis.

Bandista is a platform that aims to simplify the traditional crowdfunding model, creating a new source of funding for both emerging and existing artists. As Dave explains to us, "the platform takes a traditional idea of crowdfunding, and strips of its complexities to ensure that artists can really focus on what truly matters - the music."

Read on to find out more about the innovative platform, advice for how we can better support artists during the very early stages and beyond, favourite and first gigs, and much more!

What inspired the launch of Bandista?

Bandista was an idea that came out of the beginning of the first lockdown. It was becoming a far too familiar story hearing musicians, artists and venues under constant threat and emerging music was losing all the venues and small amounts of support they had.

We realised there isn't a platform dedicated to supporting emerging artists and this is when we sat down and tried to come up with a solution to help, hence Bandista. The three of us have all lived in Bristol for years and the emerging music scene is what makes Bristol so special, so we wanted to do what we could to support it!

Photo Credit: Bandista

In what ways does the platform seek to support artists in the early stages of their career? Do you have any examples of latest ways you have helped Bristol artists?

The platform takes a traditional idea of crowdfunding and strips its complexities to ensure that artists can really focus on what truly matters - the music! We will also be hosting non-profit events to help support these artists and get them on stage so they can be heard properly. We held our pre-launch night celebrating the sounds of melvy. and Miya the Sun in JamJar and we will be hosting them again for our launch night, with the additional sounds of Dash Villz and RumDumplin!

Photo Credit: Bandista

Do you have any tips for how fans and the wider Bristol community can better support emerging artists?

When the gigs are on, make sure you can get there. Support their releases and share their content - any extra exposure they can get always helps. If and when they finally start producing merch, buy what you can. And finally, if they have a bandista campaign, donate what you can to get their career properly started!

What advice would you give to emerging artists wanting to break into the music industry? 

Don't be scared to get your sound out there! We understand how daunting it is to get on a stage and play your own music, but someone will love it. You've got to be willing to truly believe in your sound and try and get it heard by as many people as possible. Use all the resources you have, radio, social media, gigs and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves (but avoid being taken advantage of!)

What's your favourite things about Bristol's music scene? 

The eclectic mix of sounds! Bristol is incredible, you can hear every combination and mix of music you can think of and it's beautiful. I recently watched a band with a beatboxer and someone playing funk on a harp, and some of the best drum and bass this country has to offer. The other part about Bristol's music scene which really is something special has got to be the crowds and the atmosphere, I have never experienced a more open and loving crowd anywhere, who are all there for the same reason - to love and share music!

Photo Credit: Bandista

What would you say has been the most challenging and rewarding thing about launching a music start-up?

That's a tough one, it's hard to define a single moment to be challenging and rewarding. Creating a start-up as I'm sure anyone will tell you is a constant series of challenges, learning skills quicker than you ever thought you would have to too, adapting to changes and overcoming problems on a daily basis. But to be honest the best part about it is being able to create something that might actually have a positive impact on the grassroots music scene and being able to talk with the artists and fans and see their enthusiasm for our idea!

First gig, last gig, favourite gig? 

First gig, was shared with the other co-founder Ed. We went to a gig in the Met Lounge in Peterborough when we were 13 to watch one of the school bands play their first gig - to be honest nothing really to write home about but still a first. 

Last gig, I saw Ibibio Sound Machine with Jack (the other co-founder) which was truly something special, we had an amazing time!

Favourite gig - Watching Paul Hartnoll play a special set in the rainbow rooms in Birmingham. The moment 'the doctor' dropped will stay with me for the rest of my life! Again, I managed to share this moment with Jack and Ed, maybe we hang out too much!

Can you name a song that can instantly boost your mood? 

Ohh that is tricky there's a lot to choose from, but for me personally one of my all-time favourites is Nightmares on Wax - You Wish

Which artist/band/performer would you like to see perform at YTL Arena Bristol and why?

Hopefully the bands coming through Bandista! But externally from us, I would love to see Kokoroko perform in a big arena, they have so much energy it would be truly spectacular!

And finally, can you share an all-time favourite song/ a song that means a lot to you so we can add it to our YTL Arena Backstage Pass playlist? 

A song that means a lot to the three of us for so many reasons. Star Guitar - Chemical Brothers, this song will have a special place!

To listen to our Backstage Playlist on Spotify. For exciting updates at YTL Arena Bristol, follow @ytlarenabristol on social media or sign up to our newsletter