How Bears In Trees Won A Global Fanbase, With Zero Industry Support

“Here’s how you can do it too…”South London emo-pop outfit Bears In Trees have amassed a global following, millions of streams, and won a record deal with their favourite ever label.
Yet to some they remain a mystery. Totally bypassing those music industry gatekeepers, their digi-forward DIY methodology has seem them launch a hugely successful TikTok channel, a thriving Patreon platform, and a busting Discord outlet.
Put that alongside huge social media following, and you’ve essentially got an entirely self-contained creative universe, one that is expanding with every single day.
They’ve just signed to Counter Intuitive Records – who release their new soaring double A-side single – and the band’s upcoming UK tour has just expanded yet again.
With that in mind, Clash invited Bears In Trees to pen some words on how you too could be a DIY success story.
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Hello! My name is Nick and I’m in a band called Bears in Trees. In seven years we’ve gone from our drummer’s basement and a sixth form room to 130,000 listeners and a studio in Kent that has far too many rugs. Here’s how you can do it too…
The first thing you need to do is find friends. I found at least two of them in secondary school – one of them finished my fall out boy lyric in a Year 9 history lesson and the other was forced to listen to Mayday Parade by us most lunch times. The third came along in sixth form, because he took the time out of his summer to record the trashy band we’d already started.
In between finding friends it helps if you immerse yourself in the internet at an age far too young. My poison was writing Sonic the Hedgehog/Pokémon fan fiction between the ages of ten and twelve, but you can tailor this to suit your needs.
The inevitable end goal of this was Tumblr dot com, and there you’ll find people just like you except they live in California or Chicago. You’ll find yourself immersed in a fandom and the joys/perils that brings.
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Learning your instrument was in my case optional, but it’s a neat bonus and you can probably hold off till you go to uni to actually commit. Either way, you’ll start a band at seventeen and record an album instead of studying for your a-levels.
It won’t be very good – you’ll use an upturned ping pong table for a vocal booth and an Argos practice amp your dad gave you for everything else. Your friends won’t really be into it, but they’ll support you endlessly because they’re your friends and that’s what matters. You’ll play shows over Summer wherever you can get bookings, and you’ll soon find you won’t get any bookings so you’ll put on your own shows in a Sainsbury’s car park. You’ll call yourself a ukulele punk band at first, and then you’ll gradually phase that out.
You really did mean it, though.
One day, someone you’ve never met will message you on Twitter telling you they love that album you thought no one had listened to. They found you on the Fall Out Boy tag on Tumblr.
Then a few more people will message you over the year, and then a few hundred will start following you because a Twitter post you made got crossposted to BuzzFeed, and you’ll remember that the internet is a wonderful place filled with people just like you, probably keeping to themselves! And slowly word of mouth will spread and 2000 people will join your Discord server and call themselves sandboxes because you shouted that in a song once.
You’ll do all this with your only experience in the music industry being a promoter who refused you for being a ‘cock rock’ band.
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In September, your favourite record label will find a TikTok you made where you shouted out all their artists without realising. Then they’ll message you on Instagram and say that they like your music and was wondering if you’d be down to work together. You’ll celebrate by popping champagne in a run down park with your best mate and you’ll keep the cork as a good luck charm. And you’ll still be doubtful that people care about the songs you wrote about working in gay bars and climbing rooftops and descending into the dirt.
But yeah, you’ll guess that people do.
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‘Flower Through Concrete’ is out now.
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