14 Mar 2022

Q&A with PINS – A new Song for Manchester

Sound UK and Brighter Sound have commissioned Manchester 3-piece band PINS to write a new song inspired by young people in Manchester.

Ahead of the premiere on 23 March 2022, we caught up with PINS to find out more about the new song, Smile for the Future, their connections to Manchester and top tips for writing a new song.

Can you tell us about your links to Manchester and what it means to you?

I was born in Manchester so it has always been my home. It’s a great creative city with an amazing history of music, and because there is such a strong music scene and varied nightlife there are always new bands and projects forming there that are trying to do something interesting.

I love going to gigs, watching all the supports and finding new music to listen to that way.

I moved to Manchester when I was 18 and it felt like heaven. There was so much music and culture from the city that I loved, and also, having moved from Milton Keynes, I was in love with the beautiful architecture of the old buildings in the city centre, as well as the streets of red terraced houses.

Having spent all my adult life here I feel involved on a personal level in the music scene and the venues, each one carrying memories and ghosts.

I lived in Manchester for a decade, it’s where I started our band PINS and it’s where I have met some of the most incredible friends, musicians and artists.

I think my favourite thing about the city is there is something to go and see or do every night of the week, so many local shows and touring bands, it’s never boring.

Can you tell us about the inspiration for your song for Manchester?

The lyrics were written by the choir students and then rearranged by us to try and tell their collective story of the pandemic, and as young people navigating a terrifying world.

The young people themselves are so inspiring, they have vision and goals, we wanted to make sure that was noted in the song.

This has been an incredibly difficult time we’re all living through. What have you learnt about yourself in the 22 months? What keeps you positive? And how important has creativity and music been to you?  

I felt at the time that I was struggling creatively, and was putting a lot of pressure on myself to keep everything moving forward the same as it was. Now it is (mostly) over I can look back on those 22 months and see that actually I did plenty of creative stuff, but it was all just done differently because of the situation.

It’s important to focus on the things you have done and be proud of that, rather than worry about the things you didn’t get to do for one reason or another. I’ve realised I can be creative in so many ways, and making things makes me happy. 

I felt like at the start of the pandemic I was totally blocked creatively and mentally. In the summer of the first lockdown I covered a song acoustically every day as suggested by fans on our Facebook page, and although an effort at times, it helped me have some kind of continuity or routine.

I also drank far too much, but I’ve finally taken note of it and I’m trying to deal with it, which I don’t believe I otherwise would have done. Creativity is now very important, and looking back I’m not so hard on myself as I have still written a few songs that I’m proud of.

I think growing as an artist and trying to look after myself a bit more keeps me positive.

I’ve learned to focus on doing one thing at a time instead of a 100 things all at once. I’m trying to do each thing well and enjoy the process, the world was spinning too fast before the pandemic.

A Song for Us encourages creativity in everyone. Do you have any tips or words of encouragement for people wanting to create their own song?

Just do it. Make it for yourself and if you want to share it with people you can do that too! Turn up for yourself, and tell your story how you want to.

Don’t be scared, because I bet your work is way better than you even know. And you might just regret it one day if you don’t just give it a try. 

Make it happen, let people hear you and let people help you.

The public are also encouraged to share their favourite tracks to the music map, tracks that comfort, celebrate, commemorate or simply sum up this time. What track would you choose and why?

Isolation by Joy Division. Aside from the lyrics and association with Manchester, we are all fans and we covered the song and made a silly Zoom video during lock down 1.

Can you tell us about the local musicians performing your new song and how these collaborations came about?

We were invited by Brighter Sound and Sound UK to work with 4 high school choirs from Manchester. We did a lyric writing workshop with them then rearranged the best parts to create the track.

As it happened the turn out for the project was all girls and working with them felt so powerful. I’m so pleased they opened up to us and told us their truth.

I love that there’s a little bit of rivalry between the different schools too, kind of like how it is in the music industry.

Find out more about PINS on their website.

Smile for the Future – A Song for Manchester – will be available online from 23 March 2022 (12.30pm) on the Song for Manchester county page.