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Did you read our last blog about spammers?

Well, after a quick chat with the fantastic team at www.123-reg.co.uk we have recently installed some anti-spam software which seems to be taking care of our naughty friends from around the world.  No more tedious posts about how “cool” or “relevant” our blog is to a completely unrelated source!

So we are now looking for you to leave your comments on our blogs.  Take a flick through the many blogs already posted here and give us some feedback on what you’ve read so far.  Let us know what you might like to read next!

Hey you could even leave a reply below for us!!
Go on… we’d love to hear what you have to say!

Image - www.pixabay.com

Image – www.pixabay.com

No more SPAM!

road-sign-464655_1280Well what can I say about spam! It’s annoying, time wasting and… well… pointless.

It is with sadness that here at #RainbowBiz we have turned off the comments facility on our blogs due to spam.  Even though our strict website maintenance does not allow any spam to filter through to you, the reader, we do end up spending several minutes each day working our way through spam comments on our blogs.  As our workload increases daily, this is becoming more of an issue to manage and we have now decided the best way to combat this wasted time is to stop the comments feature on all our blogs from today.  We want to thank all of you who have previously commented directly on our blogs and those of you who have made comments through email, Facebook and Twitter.

There are also a large number of readers who don’t comment on what they have read, but they certainly take in what #RainbowBiz are doing, as comments are made during meetings and in passing, sometimes even when we are not present!

We have some fabulous guest blogs lined up for you to read over the forthcoming months, you never know, you might have seen some of them on TV, hint hint!

rainbow_biz_social_enterpriseMeanwhile, thank you for the continued support on Facebook and Twitter, we always love your interaction on our social media platforms.

If you would like to comment on any of our blogs, feel free to drop us an email to info@rainbowbiz.org.uk and we can look at posting that up on your behalf.

Together we can beat these spammers!

Angelman Syndrome

We recently met Cheryl online via Twitter, another one of our fabulous followers who regularly retweets us and engages with us.  She happened to mention her Charity Evening coming up on 5th May in Chester, Cheshire.  The charity night is being held in Telfords Warehouse in Chester and there will be live music from Tiro Lark and lots of great raffle prizes.  To find out more and get your tickets for this event please visit the official Nurses for Angels facebook page.  You can also call Dani on 07703 527170 for more information. We felt compelled to ask more about Cheryl, her family life and her campaigning to raising awareness of Angelman syndrome, she very kindly wrote the following blog for us.

Jack!This time last year, we had the devastating news (at the time) that our son has Angelman syndrome. This syndrome is very rare, with less than 1000 cases in the UK. There is little awareness here and I have been trying to change that! I think it was like therapy for me, instead of getting depressed, I got proactive! I soon joined twitter and have gained many followers.. however I kept feeling I needed to do more.

Jack!

Angelman syndrome is a neuro genetic disorder affecting chromosome 15.. Jack (my son) has the most severe form as he is classed as deletion rather than mutation (part of the chromosome is missing, rather than abnormal).  This tiny thing causes severe learning difficulties, epilepsy, poor balance, many never talk or speak just a few words and many never walk. I am hopeful for Jack and I will always stay positive for him. The plus side is he is very happy, laughs at the slightest stimulation and loves life.. his bond with dad and granddad and of course me is so lovely to see. He communicates in his own way and is absolutely beautiful.

Jack!Last year I did the Wirral walk and raised £2000  for the UK charity ASSERT, this charity has helped us a lot, I have also found another supportive organisation in America. FAST was set up by the mother of a child with Angelman and she has helped raiser millions for research and truly believes in a cure.

I do accept Jack is who he is and I would hate to change him, rather unlock the doors for him so to speak.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and after being off sick from work as jack was having up to 10 seizures a day..this is also part of his condition and it really knocked me and his dad for 6 seeing him like that, the first time I felt truly helpless since diagnosis, my colleagues came to visit me with a bunch of flowers and (nurses for angels) was born! They are nurses working in the Chester area, and have been absolutely amazing, giving up their free time organising our event, contacting everyone and anyone, setting up facebook and twitter page, getting a great band, creating flyers and tickets.. I could go on! They really are angels and I am so overwhelmed by all of the support for our jack.

Jack and mum!

 

The money raised will go to jacks specialist school in flint Ysgol Pen Coch, a truly wonderful school that are so amazing with our children of varying abilities.. I really hope I can help them as they have helped us so much xx

 

 

I honestly think that Jack is the reason I am supposed to be here, I cant even remember my life before him, but I am sure it must have been pretty boring!

Cheryl xxx

Follow Cheryl on Twitter @fishflash1 and @NursesFor

Please like and share the official Nurses for Angels Facebook page

The Singing Bones

By Jordan Redford Gray – Tall Dark Friend

Jordan Gray

Photographer: Leanne Vogt

Life is wonderful.

That’s not a generalization or an optimist’s lament. It’s the product of deductive reasoning. It’s a bona fide statement of fact. We just have difficulty perceiving it long-term.

The latter is particularly true of Trans people BEFORE they transition. But when your physicality finally aligns with your psyche, the true nature of reality explodes into view like a Roman Candle. Similarly, remarkable things start to wriggle from the woodwork. I’ll be 26 years old and 2 months on HRT when this blog goes live; growing exponentially happier with every passing hour. You WILL be OK. I wouldn’t promise you that if I didn’t believe it, reader.

“A lot of girls out there have penises” my doctor said. Likewise, a lot of guys have vaginas. I simply refuse to have my social identity determined by the contents of my jeans or genes, respectively. The latter doesn’t matter. The former is between Mr Calvin Klein and me.

The world is not Black and White like it was in the opening sequence of The Wizard of Oz. And, just like Dorothy, people will come to see the rainbow eventually. I’m pretty sure they introduced colour back in 1953? But even in B&W, trust me: ‘50’ is a staggering underestimation when it comes to ‘shades of Grey’.

Jordan Gray

Photographer: Dean Chesterman

I am a Trans female recording artist from Essex – stage name: Tall Dark Friend – currently couch-surfing between the UK and Scandinavia. I love the Swedes, the Nords, the Danes, the Fins… I gig a lot in Sweden and it’s like another planet. A ‘flat pack planet’. A ‘flanet’. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my crazy lil’ meatballs out there in Abbaland. Jag älskar er alla så mycket!

It was made aware to me very early on that the two things that HRT definitely wouldn’t change were my skeleton and my voice. My bones and my tones. I will always be 6ft tall with size 11 feet. That’s just the way it is. And if you begin HRT after your voice has already dropped, it doesn’t ‘un-drop’. That’s not a thing. You have to learn to manipulate your voice manually to reach the desired level of femininity. Which you think would be no problem for a singer, right? Wrong. It’s so hard! Tough I’m convinced it’s psychological. Doctors have achieved mixed success in the field of VFS (Voice Feminisation Surgery) but I’m not let anyone near my vocal chords. Not in this line of work. Same goes for my Eve’s Apple: it’s staying.Jordan Gray

As it stands, I’m closing in on album #7, currently filming music video #5 (#HangWithThe Happiness) and scheduled to appear at a few dozen festivals up and down the UK in 2015.  I came out to my home county, on stage, in November 2014 @ The Essex Entertainment Awards – clinging timidly to the awards for ‘Best Original Song’ & the gender-neutral ‘Best Original Artist’. This April, I am overwhelmed to announce that I’m nominated for 4 more: including ‘Best Female Solo’. I cried when I saw my name in that category alongside the other girls. Thanks to the hormones, I cry at most things these days #HappyTears :’) Then again, can you blame me? I mean… have you SEEN ‘Cat Hugs Baby Kitten Having Nightmare’!? Youtube it.

I am proud to be a woman, of any delineation. I am proud to be Trans and of the inherent struggle. I’m proud of Essex – of England – of Earth! But with such opportunity to be prideful in our lives, I think it’s important that we cling to our humility with the same intensity as we do our accolades. Music is a cutthroat industry and I try to live my life mindful of others’ toes and shoulders… so as not to tread on either. Put exquisitely by Hendrix: “Music is our mission, not a competition”.

Off stage, outside of the music, I’m an independent author. My début novella ‘Dog Bless The Day’ is basically ‘Animal Farm meets Fear & Loathing’… if ‘basically’ is the right word for a car-crash of a concept like that? Novel #2 is the first in a 5 book New-Adult Thriller series and Novel #3 is a standalone Sci-Fi Spaghetti Western (due for release in 2016). On the side, I’m penning a 2nd autobiography: the story of ‘a MTF transition told with humour and heart’. I literally can’t stop writing. Like right now. All I do is type. See? Look! Somebody. Pleeease!? Stop meeeeeeeeee…

When all’s said and done… what REALLY turns me on is my independent research toward a G.U.T (Grand Unifying Theory *of Physics*) It’s a theorem that marries Gravity with the other 3 Fundamental Forces. Science is sexy. Simple as that. Best of all it’s open to everyone and, to prove it, I’ll be TWEETING my accumulated work – just for the lolz. I have my little heart set on being the first Transgender woman to publish a pioneering G.U.T. It’s thirsty work… but I’m happy to settle for a soy cappuccino (no sugar) since I’ll be officially 14months sober when this blog comes out. If you drink: Quit. It’s terrible for your brain. And for Trans people, it doesn’t hurt to start your HRT with a clean bill of health.

Life’s too short to waste it wondering. Be good to yourselves and trust in the goodness of other people. It’s not 1955 (more’s the pity, I love me some rock-a-billy-roll!). I promise you it’s not as scary out here as you think. Come out. Play!

Oggle me on Youtube: ‘Tall Dark Friend’

Poke me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TALLDARKFRIEND

Twote me on Twitter: @Talldarkfriend

Or, if you’re reeeally dead set on following me… just follow me in real life. Get in a line behind me and we can figure out some kind of Creepy Conga. I’m game.

All my love, forever and always <3

Ms Jordan Redford Gray

Tall Dark Friend

Our Inspiration!

rainbow_biz_social_enterpriseHere we are in February 2015, a new year with new promises. Last year was an exciting year for us as we re-thought our business idea and changed it to suit our situation. We used to run a business called “Rainbow Trike Tours”, which we loved, but this had to come to an end as Sue was finding it very physically demanding to chauffeur customers around the North West in often pretty appalling weather conditions. Sue has Multiple Sclerosis, which affects her in a number of different ways. Some days she feels great, but others she is unable to move due to fatigue and muscle ache. Riding the Rainbow Trike was very demanding for her but we did not want to be defeated.

Melissa Etheridge

Photographer: John Tsiavis

Then everything changed. On the 28th January, 2014 we joined a Google Hangout for the Uprising of Love Movement with Melissa Etheridge and fellow Uprising Of Love Coalition Co-founders Dustin Lance Black and Bruce Cohen. We were able to ask questions on how we can support our LGBT communities around the world, so we were able to ask questions about how we can make a difference. This was an amazing turning point in both our lives.

We have long been fans of Melissa Etheridge’s music and followed her since the 1980’s, the above video was taken at the Pinkpop Festival back in 1990. She has been through many private and public struggles of her own, but has always come out stronger than before. During the Hangout we were able to ask her questions about how we could as a small business support our LGBT community, Melissa said “What you do in your own lives makes all the difference to what’s happening in the world”. We really took this comment on board, and embedded it into our business ethos as well as our private lives. Instead of just being a business front, we started to bring in our personalities and spoke out about issues that we thought might help others and found this encouraged what has become quite a widespread support network both on Social Media and in our own community.

Rainbow Biz_V5.2RainbowBiz Limited is now registered as a Social Enterprise (not for profit business). We support small businesses, charities and organisations with Social Media. We currently manage several Facebook and Twitter accounts for local organisations, but will be starting to train other people to manage their own. The best person to shout about their business or organisation is of course someone who works there and feels passionately about their work. There is great satisfaction in empowering and enabling other folks to use social media and promote their organisations.

We will be developing Diversity training in addition to basic skills training with computers, and even offering support to disabled and older people who would like to learn how to communicate online through Skype, social media networks, forums and how to order online shopping. This we hope will reduce isolation in the community.

We are a very lucky couple in that we both like the same music, our favourite album at the moment is still “This is M.E.” by Melissa Etheridge. In fact, we both appear on that album cover several times along with many other fans, as Melissa requested fans send in their photographs as she wanted to make a collage of herself with her fans photographs. Melissa is in fact touring this March / April around Europe and there is a one off date in London at Shepards Bush Empire on 27 April – GET YOUR TICKETS HERE! We are hoping that we might get a chance to thank her for giving us inspiration and confidence to make a difference in our community. From a personal point of view, we feel that Melissa is a huge inspiration to us on many levels from talking openly about how she manages her health and minimises stress. Melissa and her wife Linda are positive role models to their children and she is still able to balance her family life with real hard work, touring and public appearances. More and more over the years, Melissa has retained youthful and rockstar looks, but increasingly seems to blossom as time goes on. We can only think that this is through being happy in her own skin, marrying her soul mate and being true to herself.

Melissa Etheridge

Photographer: John Tsiavis

We were given an exciting opportunity to ask Melissa some more questions:

Sue and I became Civil Partners in a beautiful ceremony last year in Llangollen, Wales, UK we are now legally able to “upgrade” to an equal marriage in Wales which is pretty exciting! Melissa, you were married in California last year to your soul mate and best friend Linda Wallem, how has your life changed since you have legally become wife and wife?

Mostly, it has changed in the deep sense of commitment to my wife and family. Also just calling Linda “my wife” is a complete thrill.

You have recently toured with your new band through the US and Canada, where do you find your energy and inner strength from? Do you invite your family to join you? How does that work on a tour bus?

Health is the number one most important thing for me on the road. Eating healthy and getting enough sleep, while not the rock and roll lifestyle, is absolutely a must to keep up the energy needed for my shows. My family does join me every now and then. When Linda is not working she comes with me. This last Thanksgiving in America I had my whole family, Linda and all for kids with me for a week. It was heaven. I had our own family bus for a week.

As you know we take a lot of inspiration and strength from you, who inspires you and why?

My family, my fans and the ever changing stream of people that come into my life have constantly inspired me. Inspiration is everywhere.

We are about to embark on some training courses in the community, some of which will involve Social Media. Which Social Media platform do you prefer to use and why?

Well, as my fans can tell, I am a Twitter person. I get on Facebook every now and then, but Twitter is quick and easy and it forces me to be brief!

If you could include one specific point that you think should be included in Diversity Training, what would it be and why?

Loving yourself. You can’t begin to understand or appreciate anyone else until you do the same for yourself.

We came to see your tour in Manchester Academy a couple of years ago, it was the first time we have ever seen you perform live. We hope it will not be the last! Have you ever thought about playing in Liverpool UK, home of The Beatles?

Yes I have. I would love to do a more extensive tour of the UK. I hope that will be possible soon.

Thanks so much to Melissa for giving up her time to answer our burning questions and for giving us a small insight into her life. We hope this blog will encourage other folks to listen to your music and come and see you on tour this March / April. We will certainly be at Shepards Bush on 27 April!

Meanwhile at RainbowBiz HQ we are really busy working on training courses organising local festivals. We continue every day to network and meet new people so that together we can build a positive and diverse community. We would encourage your comments on how we can improve our services in the future. You can contact us here www.rainbowbiz.org.uk email info@rainbowbiz.org.uk

We are on Facebook www.facebook.com/rainbowbiz/ and Twitter @RainbowBizUK also Instagram www.instagram.com/rainbowbizuk/ plus LinkedIn and many more! All our links are available from our website.

You can also find our more information about Melissa Etheridge on her website www.melissaetheridge.com follow her on Twitter @metheridge and on her Facebook page www.facebook.com/melissaetheridge

AND DON’T FORGET TO BUY YOUR TOUR TICKETS HERE!!

Spiral Storm

rainbowbiz_dylanmccabe (2)My love of writing began at a very early age. I loved to create characters, adventures and alternate realities to escape into. At the age of six, using a computer at school, I put together a book of short stories about a group of superheroes and designed a cover for it. The characters were named after myself, my pet cat and my younger cousins. Both my teachers and parents were delighted with it, and so was I! This playful and childlike introduction to self-publishing was to mark the beginning of my writing journey. I excitedly decided that I wanted to be an author when I grew up. This was a spark that was to come and go during my adolescence and adulthood.

During my teens and early twenties, I began to use writing as a way of expressing my emotions. It became an outlet that helped me to deal with my anxiety and depression. For a long time, I associated writing with feeling anxious, lonely or depressed. I felt that I wouldn’t have much to write about if I began to feel more positive. I often said that I didn’t know how to write happy poems or stories, and I would tell myself that I wouldn’t be able to write anything if I got “better”.

Most of the writing I did in my twenties took the form of song lyrics, as I was lead singer in a band. Putting my words to music felt really good. Soon after, I lost momentum and would rarely write anything.

At the beginning of 2013, after a long journey of transformation, I felt a renewed sense of inspiration and began to write more often. I had recently moved into my own flat in North Wales, which had a beautiful view across fields, hills, trees and mountains. One mountain in particular, Moel Famau, inspired one of my favourite poems in the Spiral Storm book; “Mother Mountain”.

rainbowbiz_dylanmccabe (4)A love for nature has always been present in my life, and it is one of the main subjects I enjoy focusing on during writing. The other is spirituality. For me, the two things intertwine beautifully and walk very much hand in hand. I can literally feel the peace, calm and inspiration flowing into me whilst I am out in nature.

After sharing my poems with a few select people, I decided to create a poetry page on Facebook. The more positive feedback I received online, the more apparent it became that I wanted to publish my own poetry book. And, the more I thought about it, the more excited I became. Finally I had remembered my purpose and passion; to write!

At the beginning of 2014, I sold and donated the majority of my possessions, and travelled to Australia. Something I never thought I would have the confidence to do. I had decided to push myself to grow, learn and increase my confidence.

rainbowbiz_dylanmccabe (5)I spent nine months in Australia, meeting new people, making friends, WWOOFing (volunteering for food and accommodation) and enjoying the wildlife, sun and beautiful beaches. During my time volunteering at a spiritual retreat, I found the focus to put my poems together, create a book and self-publish it. I even used my own artwork on the cover. With a final push, Spiral Storm was born!

I have enjoyed selling copies of the book online and in person. Many people have asked for signed copies, which always feels amazing. I am currently putting together another book of poetry, and I look forward to sharing even more of my work with the world!

rainbowbiz_dylanmcabe(8)

Dylan R McCabe is a poet, author and spiritual mentor from North Wales. As a catalyst for change, he assists people to increase their motivation, inspiration and to live their passions as their true selves.

Click on the following links to follow, like and share his work and wisdom on Facebook and Twitter:

rainbowbiz_dylanmccabe (1)Poetry:

Visit the Spiral Storm Facebook page

Spiritual Mentoring and Inspiration:

Visit The Soul Spiral Facebook page

Follow The Soul Spiral on Twitter

The “Spiral Storm” book can be bought here:

http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/5322485-spiral-storm

Misty’s New Quiz

rainbowbiz_mistychance_bar21_geekquizA big hello to our community and LGBT friends. I’ve always been synonymous with game shows and quizzes in Manchester, starting nearly 6 years ago with ‘Blankety Blank’ at AXM club. These days i currently present both a themed Monday night quiz at Tribeca and a Thursday night gay version of Family Fortunes at Iconic Bar. For 2015 i will be adding another quiz event to my calendar and it will be a first for me in a couple of ways. First of all, i will be mixing business with pleasure and the new quiz will revolve around all things ‘Geek’ and ‘Cult’, from Sci-Fi to classic movie genres, to real science and gaming. Anybody who follows my social media sites will know that I’m a regular convention goer and self professed member Geek of  fandom including Space exploration, myths, conspiracies and pop culture. The second difference will be that this quiz will take place in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, a popular student haunt where free expression runs wild and alternative hair colours and apparel are common place. Bar 21, the host venue, has recently benefited from a full overhaul and refurb and now features other great entertainment events like their Monday night ‘Geek social’, a dedicated games night for those who enjoy spending time in cyber space fighting with Avatars.

My new ‘Big Geek Quiz’ starts on Tuesday February the 3rd, Bar 21, 10 Thomas St, M4 1DH

Lets hope this new quiz goes with a ‘Big Bang’, in Theory, it should be quite fascinating.

 

rainbowbiz_mistychance_tribeca_chersaysrainbowbiz_mistychance_snailracing

If you would like to find out more about Misty Chance and what she is up to, take a look at her website www.mistychance.com You can follow her fabulous Tweets @TheMistyShow and her very funny updates and photographs on Facebook here!

Shelter Interview

rainbow_biz_erasure_shelter_andy_bell (12)12

 

If you have been following us here at #RainbowBiz for some time, you will already know that we are massive Shelter fans.  The guys Mark, Rob and Manager Si are just back from their UK and European tour with Erasure, but they still managed to take some time out from recording to answer some of our burning questions.

Who influenced you musically in the past and who do you admire now?

Mark – Kraftwerk, Depeche mode, dead or alive & erasure. Still admire them much the same now as well as artists like Sia.

Rob – I was originally influenced by the synth pioneers that started to come out from the mid 1980’s. People like Vince Clarke, Howard Jones, Kraftwerk. Now I admire the big producers like Avicii, David Guetta, Calvin Harris who add their magic production formula to other people’s music to make it more successful.

What music do you have in the car right now?

Mark – VNV Nation’s Of Faith, Power & Glory album, love them.

Rob – I’ve got over 3000 tracks on a tiny USB stick. There’s all sorts on there but I mostly use car journey’s to listen to Shelter songs with a fresh pair of ears and decide what refinements I need to make to improve them.

You have collaborated with lots of artists over the years, do you have a particular favourite that you have worked with and why?

Mark – Andy Bell has 2 b among the most notable being huge Erasure fans but every artist we’ve worked with has been brilliant hence wanting 2 work with them & it’s all been a great learning by doing process 4 us as a band.

Rob – They’ve all been amazing. Andy Bell. He’s a legend and baked us the best tea cakes in the world. Frankmusic with his jaw dropping voice and making a dream come true for Neil Francis.

rainbowbiz_shelter_erasureIt has been a long time since “Smash Hits” and “Look In” magazine have been available. These were magazines for young people, where you could find posters of current pop stars, complete with lyrics. It seems quite bizarre that celebrities are now “available” to talk to through Social Media sites. What do you think about this? What are the positives and negatives?

Mark – Yes we are all more transparent nowadays via online presence and yes we’re certainly all more accessible, Rob & I are very much so through choice. I sometimes think perhaps just a little of the enigma and mystique can get lost when artists are that tangible but either way, being an artist is a very privileged role and I always want to be accessible on some level where possible, I love that reach.

Rob – It’s great to make virtual connections via the internet and it’s given us an amazing platform to launch Shelter and connect with people all across the globe. It doesn’t come close though to meeting people at our live shows or the instant feedback that you get from an audience as we perform our songs.

You have recently toured with Erasure on the Violet Flame tour. We saw you at Manchester Apollo which is a beautiful setting, there were thousands of fans there. Do you find it easy calming your nerves before a gig?

Mark – No, I don’t think easy is a word I’d choose, I think every artist probably has their ‘little things’ they do or ‘little places they go in their mind’ 2 source their own subjective coping mechanisms 2 keep nerves in check. What do you do to prepare to go on stage? I tend 2 dance around ridiculously (like in our tour video!) 2 burn up some nervous energy! I tell myself over and over ‘you can do this’ talking myself into a positive mental attitude subliminally. I guess it’s a case of whatever works 4 u personally, there’s no right or wrong technique just what works.

Rob – We’ve both waited so long to do this. We had a few moments of stomach churning nerves but they were completely over shadowed by the incredible excitement of supporting Erasure and performing live in front of so many electronic fans.

While on tour with Erasure, which was your favourite City and venue to perform in and why?

Mark – Genuinely don’t have a favourite coz they were all equally incredible. Notable highlights were Hamburg (Germany) & Aarhus (Denmark) where we had standing ovations & the crowd left chanting 4 encore! Something that will always stay with me.

Rob – They were all very special but for different reasons. The common theme throughout the tour and across three different countries was the love and friendship shown to us by the Erasure fans. They really are a huge happy and loyal family.

rainbowbiz_shelter_berlinYou have recently collaborated with “Tube singer” Neil Francis, how did you first become involved with him?

Mark – Neil contacted us quite a bit the week he went viral and asked if we could do anything 2 help, so decided 2 write him a song reflecting what had happened to him and get him quickly into our ministry bunker studio 2 get the track recorded.

Rob – Neil first made contact with us via Facebook to ask for the instrumental version of our Andy Bell collaboration song ‘Beautiful’. When his tube video went viral he contacted us to see if we could help him get a single out.  With 17 million hits we’d have been mad to say no but we had to practically cancel our Christmas break to make it happen. Neil was great fun to work with, very professional and is really working hard to promote ‘Connected’ so I’m certain that we’ll work together again in the future.

Do you think you will work together again in the future?

We never say never to anything coz we never know.

Which is your favourite Erasure song?

Mark – Varies at the moment it’s under the wave from the Violet flame but love breath of life from chorus too as well as ship of fools from the innocents and hideaway from the circus and on and on but I’ll stop there! Lol.

Rob – I love all of their songs but ‘breath of life’ for me is the perfect combination of man v synthesizer.

Did you ever go to see Erasure on tour before you supported them?

Mark – Seen them many times, Rob took me 2 c them at St David’s hall Cardiff to see light at the end of the world tour and then treated me in November 2014 at same venue to see them in Violet flame tour 5 days before opening for the at Wolverhampton civic as their support act! Andy texted us whilst sat in crowd 2 say access all area passes waiting 4 u downstairs so we went backstage & had big hugs and a nice chat before we were thrown out by security who told us 2 come back after the show where we got 2 meet up with Andy again, along Andy Whittle (tour manager) Emma & Valerie (Erasure backing singers).

Rob – I’ve seen Erasure live many many times.

Where, which year?

Nov 2014.

Did you ever think you would have a chance to share the stage with Andy Bell?

Never, just surreal!

What is your favourite Andy Bell outfit that he has worn on stage?

Mark – This tour his glittery hot pants & Philip Normal werq werq werq glittery tee. Previously I loved his white leotard & Doc Marten boots but Andy is all about reinvention & I love not knowing what he’s gonna surprise us with next!

Rob – Errr. They’re all suitably outrageous. LOL  I like the space helmet in supernature on the Wild tour.

How did you end up supporting Erasure in concert?

Mark – We worked with Andy on his 3rd collaborative solo album “iPop” & I think we were brought to his manager’s attention via that collaboration.

Rob – I’m sure they were desperate and we were available.

Where can Shelter fans find you this year?

Mark – Silicone Dreams Festival Liverpool & BAS2015 in Basildon Essex + more dates yet to be confirmed plus hoping 2 get back over 2 Germany & Denmark ASAP!

Rob – So far it’s BAS2015 and Electric Dreams in Liverpool. More dates to be confirmed soon.

If you had a message for Rainbow Biz, what would it be?

Mark – Be #fierce #ownfabulous #supportlove

Rob – You’re amazing. We always know when you start one of your Twitter campaigns ‘cos’ the lights flicker and the power dips across the national grid.

rainbowbiz_shelter_handsHow do you relax in your spare time?

Mark – I don’t both Rob & I are hopeless workaholics by default we #nevastop !

Rob – What spare time?

Does band life take over?

Yes, but it’s everything we’ve ever worked for & hoped for, it’s in our genes!

Your style of clothing is really unique!

Mark – Thank you, is that a euphemism for clueless! Lol

Rob – This must be a question for Mark yes? I have a binary dress code. It’s all black or all white.

Who designs and makes your stage outfits?

Mark – We discuss colour schemes between ourselves with Simon our manager and decide on a general direction then go 4 some slight variations on a given theme depending on the event. Simon (manager) was very instrumental in the direction of the Violet flame tour wardrobe. He’s very good at making us look like we know what we’re doing!

Do you think you will ever wear a pair of sparkly pants for a gig?

Mark – If I was feeling them, sure, why not!

Rob – This is definitely a question for Mark.

You have a wonderful group of fans who support you on social media and at gigs. What has been the most memorable thing a fan has said to you?

Mark – Every day they say the most beautiful things 2 us via private messages or posts or tweets in 1 way or another especially whilst on tour too in person, very humbling.

Rob – A fan in Denmark said “I must apologise for our weather” Only a Brit would see the irony in that!

What can we expect from Shelter this year?

Mark – Lots it’s gonna be a crazy busy year but v exciting too.

Rob – It’s all happening…..

  • Connected single featuring Neil Francis out on 19th Jan.
  • A Crowdfunder campaign now until the end of Feb for the physical release of our Andy Bell collaboration album iPop on Deluxe CD and Vinyl.
  • An awesome iPop deluxe remix release for digital customers.
  • Our Frankmusic collaboration ‘With U’ to be released as a single.
  • More new Shelter tracks later in the year.

Any more music on the horizon?

Yes lots planned right out until Xmas some very exciting things planned!

Where can new fans find out about you?

Shelter Official Facebook page or sign up to our Shelter Secret Night Society newsletter [SSNS] by e-mailing: sheltermusichq@gmail.com and asking 2 b added 2 the newsletter mailing list for shelter exclusives and lots more.

What songs are you most proud of and why?

Mark – Proud of all our work in one way or another. I see every song as a stepping stone to the next and if any one of those little stones weren’t there, we wouldn’t have achieved what we have and wouldn’t be where we are now. Shelter, conquering the heart one song at a time since 1999 x

Rob – We’re proud of all our songs. ‘Neva Luv U More’ and ‘Beautiful’ are stand out anthems in our live shows but we love the retro tracks like fierce and Blur the Lines too.

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All of us at RainbowBiz would like to thank Mark and Rob from #Shelter for talking to us and answering some of our burning questions.  We wish them every success in the future, and hope to see them again very soon.

Neil Francis Interview

We have been extremely lucky to interview #TubeSinger sensation Neil Francis.  If you haven’t already seen his amazing video which has gone viral, take a look here:

So Neil….

Where did your first relationship with music come from, have you always loved to sing?

My first relationship with music came about when I was 10 years old I heard ABBA’s Take A Chance On Me and fell in love with they’re music. I was always in Choirs at school and had a great music teacher who encouraged me to keep my falsetto voice going when my voice started to break. Singing has always been the biggest part of my life it’s all I ever wanted to do.

Since the video in the tube station there can’t be many people that have missed seeing this on social media. Have you ever experienced this kind of media hype before?

I’ve never has this kind of experience before on Social Media it’s been absolutely incredible. Just the thought of over 17 million watching the underground video is surreal.

We must ask, who filmed that very famous clip of you singing in the tube station, was it a friend of yours or just a fellow commuter? How long was it before everyone else joined in?

It was my mate Jon who took the video. I didn’t know he had until we got back to the hotel and calmly said I’ve uploaded it to Facebook; after half an hour or so he said we’ve had over 7000 views the next morning it was over 30.000 then UNILAD posted it and it went crazy we laughed on the train home as every 5 minutes it had gone up by 800 or so views.

Who were you inspired by and when did you start singing?

ABBA were a massive inspiration to me and I started taking my voice seriously at the age of 12 but then Yazoo and Alison Moyet caught my ear I fell in love with her voice. When Erasure came on the scene it was the same I love Andy’s voice it’s been a source of inspiration for many years also Boy George and I love musical theatre, also Depeche Mode.

What is your favourite song to sing and why?

Don’t Go Yazoo is a favourite as is Erasure’s ‘A little Respect’ they both have such a great vibe to them and they stretch you vocally …’CONNECTED’ though is so personal to me and I would have to say that lyrically and musically it’s my favourite it’s got everything a song should have and it very special to me.

Have you ever been in a band, if so what was it called, were you the singer?

I was in a duo called Euphoria for 16 years I was lead vocalist doing covers of ERASURE DEPECHE MODE YAZOO etc.

Do you ever forget the lyrics and do you have a method for learning new lyrics?

Sometimes I might have a blip …I pick up lyrics quite easily …I tend to live out the song in my mind to help me remember.

Where do you see yourself this time next year?

Who knows hopefully performing in bigger venues with more original songs that I can call my own.

© Day Clifford

© Day Clifford

You must have been asked to do a number of performances this year already, can you tell us where fans might see you?

I usually book venues a year in advance as singing is my only job so still around Norfolk and Suffolk .since everything happened with the underground though bigger doors are opening .I’ve been invited to perform at Annual Ball in London for the magazine Winq who hold it for The Elton John Aids Foundation that’s very exciting.

If you were in a talent contest, what song would you choose to perform and why?

A song that shows every facet of my range like Josh Groban ‘February Song’.

Have you ever met any of your music idols, who would be the ultimate person you would love to meet?

I’ve been very lucky to have met quite a few of my Idols like Benny, Bjorn and Frida of ABBA,  Andy Bell Erasure a few times. I’d kill to meet Agnetha from ABBA or have a sing song with Alison Moyet.

What do you do when you are not singing?

I love cinema and love to entertain and cook for friends but I have a long-time friend who writes some amazing songs and I have a small studio so we like to record stuff and be creative…singing is in my soul I love challenges that stretch me vocally.

Have you found that people are recognising you in the street lately, how does that make you feel?

On the way to Ministry Of Pop studio I was mobbed on the train from Yarmouth to Norwich and there were some nudges on the train from Norwich to London…a few shook my hand on the underground and even in Wales I was recognised in the hotel…..it’s such a weird kind of feeling…when you go in Iceland for some bread and they all start singing ‘A little Respect’ in the aisles then you realise …god this really has gone viral lol.

If you had a message for Rainbow Biz, what would it be?

My message to Rainbow Biz would be have a listen to ‘CONNECTED’ the lyrics speak for themselves…life is a journey as one door closes another always opens… never give up on your dreams and appreciate and validate all those that are close to you and each other.

© Ryan Lovejoy

© Ryan Lovejoy

Do you usually sing in the underground, have you thought about doing a duet with someone down there?

I’ve only sung once before many years ago for a dare. I did an Alison Moyet version of ‘there are worst things I could do’. It ended in clapping and people chucking money at me …as for a duet Alison Moyet or Andy Bell those acoustics would be amazing.

Where else would you like to sing, apart from the underground?

I love singing in theatres and big places bigger the better it makes you home in to your inner self.

Do you tend to burst into song wherever you are, when you see other people’s reactions how does it make you feel?

I love spontaneity it’s a break from the norm …I love to sing wherever whenever. If there’s a song playing where ever and I know it, I just sing, sometimes without music like the underground. I’ve been lucky that people’s reactions have nearly always been positive and they’ll join in. There’s nothing in this world like music to connect people.

This week see’s the release of your collaboration with Shelter called Connected, we absolutely love the track, it has a great dance beat and the lyrics are really positive and uplifting. What makes you feel “connected” to people?

When you’re a singer you try to make every song count you live each lyric you sing and sometimes that can touch someone. It’s that kind of connection I love, hearing a song and you get goosebumps. I’ve had so many say this song has not only touched them because of the songs production quality but because they relate to the lyrics and the way I’ve sung them …there have been tears from some and that’s when you know you’ve done your job well, you’ve connected.

We know that you have sung with our friends Shelter, can you tell us about any other collaborations or projects you might be involved in?

I’ve had a few emails from people wanting me to sing their songs but nothing to report as yet, a friend who I’ve known for years sent me the backing of a great song very erasure-esque which I might have a go at and I have some really great songs already recorded that just need a listen to by someone who appreciates electronica and need mastering properly   ….as for future collaborations with Shelter I would not hesitate to work with them again. They are so professional and wonderfully creative and have given me the chance to live my dream, for that I’ll be eternally grateful.

What can we expect from you this year? Any more music on the horizon? Where can new fans find out about you?

I’ll be gigging as usual up and down Norfolk and Suffolk doing 80’s electronic classics in different venues all news will be posted on my Neil Francis Official Facebook page or my website www.NeilFrancis.co.uk

© Day Clifford

© Day Clifford

Our thanks to Neil for taking some time out of his busy schedule to speak with us here at #RainbowBiz it has been so lovely to find out lots more about you and we will be following you with interest over the forthcoming months.

Andy Bell Interview Success

Andy Bell

Thanks to all who supported us to raise money for George House Trust!

Back in June, 2014 we approached Andy Bell (Erasure) for an interview to discuss everything from his recent projects to his personal life. Andy chose 3 songs written by other artists and 6 songs written by himself to be included in the interview. We interviewed Andy through Skype, he was in Miami, and we were in North Wales.  As you can probably imagine we were pretty starstruck.  He is an amazingly humble, generous man and gave up over an hour of his time for us.George House Trust

The interview was put up online for donations to a charity close to our hearts.  We were overwhelmed at people’s generosity and kindness, because after all we are not Michael Parkinson, or Radio 1.

We want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who kindly donated to George House Trust.  People have been really generous, and we are so grateful for this help to raise money for the charity.   The total amount raised was £500 which will go towards supporting HIV Positive people in the North West.

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Susie Baines the Marketing and Community Fundraising Coordinator for George House Trust said “Every penny raised through people donating to the Andy Bell interview will go into George House Trust’s Welfare Fund, which provides vital one of grants, for essential items for people living with HIV, who are experiencing financial hardship.  We are really grateful to Sue and Sarah, as well as Andy Bell for giving permission for his interview to be used for fundraising purposes.  Most of all, we would especially like to thank everyone who generously donated to this fundraiser.”

Andy Bell embarked on “The Violet Flame” tour with Erasure for several weeks last year, we travelled up to Manchester Apollo to see them for the first time.  The night was made even more special as our  friends from “Shelter” were playing too.  Shelter were the official support band for Erasure for several dates across Europe.  Shelter also wrote and  produced the album “iPOP” with Andy Bell.  The gig was really special and we had a great view from the front row of the Apollo.  We didn’t stop dancing and singing all night, if you didn’t get the chance to see them on their tour, we do recommend that you should see them next time around!

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We do hope you enjoyed the interview and hope you learnt a little about Andy Bell and Erasure that you didn’t know.  Andy even sent us a little thank you message!

If you didn’t get around to hearing the interview first time around, then click here to hear it now. Let us know what you think, and feel free to share with your friends.

Don’t forget you can follow Andy Bell on Twitter @AndyBell_info

Take a look at his website www.andybell.com