Dustbowl EP (2010)
Hi, how are you?
Very well thank you. Busy getting my band together.
Which instruments do you play?
I play acoustic guitar and sing.
What made you decide to be a solo artist and not want to be in a band?
It wasn't a deliberate decision. I have been writing poetry since I was very young, it was only at 18 that I first picked up a guitar. Being in the studio for the first time this year really made me want to form a band, to create a bigger sound, at least for some of my songs.
Do you work with the same musicians when recording as you do when performing live?
For the EP I relied on my many musical friends and contacts. There are always plenty of talented musicians hanging out at Fossil Studios and I was very fortunate that so many were enthusiastic to play my songs. I was especially happy to get Morsky from Gypsydelica and Max from Wormfood.
My band, when it is formed, will be long-term.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
Its guitar-led, melodious, bluesy folk. Lyrical and honest.
What have you been up to recently?
Been playing withlots of different musicians, trying to find the right musical chemistry for the band. I’ve always fancied an old weather beaten guy playing the double bass. There are lots of exciting gigs on offer and as soon as we have the sound right we’ll embark on a proper tour.
What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
An intensive gigging programme. I'm looking forward to playing more outside London. I also have lots of new material which I’d like to record if possible. We are also planning a video for Dustbowl which should be fun.
Did you always want to be in a musician/singer when younger?
I wasn't a musician as a child, though many of my friends were. I have always had an artistic temperament, writing prose and poetry. It was only relatively recently I put music to my words.
What music did you listen to while growing up?
Radiohead. The Beatles. Lou Reed. When I got a bit older, Bob Dylan became very important to me. And the old bluesmen.
How long have you been involved with writing & performing music?
I’ve been writing since I was a young child, but only seriously started writing songs about 5 years. It was then another 3 years before I felt ready to step up to the mic.
What was your first music making experience?
Being holed up in halls over the Easter holidays during my first year at University. Some friends and I stayed there and jammed and partied. There was virtually no one around so we made a lot of noise.
What is your current equipment?
A 1930s Kalamazoo acoustic guitar, made during the depression as an affordable instrument for the people. It’s got a real bluesy tone which talks of the time.
Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
Self-taught, with a little help from my friends. I have a slightly unusual guitar style I am told, but it works well for me.
If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
Not much to be honest. I like to keep things simple.
Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
Yes. It is important for me that the music sounds authentic and honest.
Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
It completely depends. Sometimes I have to work very hard to find inspiration. Sometimes I have so many ideas it’s difficult to form any single one. You definitely can't sit around waiting for inspiration. It doesn't happen that way.
Which software/recording process do you use?
I recorded at Fossil Studios in Hackney. They have a plethora of equipment old and new.
Would you sign with a major record company?
We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Do you have any new recordings planned?
None planned but plenty of new material to be working on, which I will hopefully record in the New Year. Paul at Harrison Music is keen to record another CD, but I guess we should see how Dustbowl is received first.
How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
When I went into the studio my songs suddenly grew into a team effort with the other musicians and producers. It was a wonderful melting pot of influence and opinion.
Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
Yes, in so far as it relates to my music. I would love to work with other artists when I have the time and freedom to do so.
Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
I found it very enjoyable, quite stressful and completely exhausting. I imagine it will be easier next time, knowing the ropes a bit better.
Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
I think they differ quite naturally. I don't like going to a gig where the artist recreates their last record down to the last note. I don't see how that rewards the artist either. Music should change and develop naturally to prevent boredom on all sides.
Do you have any favourite tracks on your album?
All of them. Every time I play someone the EP I never know which of the tracks will be their favourite. I think that shows we got all the songs down well.
Do you write songs/tracks only about personal experiences?
The title track on the EP is directly based on 'The Grapes of Wrath' by John Steinbeck. Lost Love Shanty and Like a Dove are a lot more personal.
Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
Sometimes it feels like the most natural thing in the world.
Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
I really like Laura Marling’s work.
Who are your favourite songwriters?
Which countries have you gigged in?
Just the UK so far.
Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
Gigging as much as possible, trying to get the best out of the internet.
Which music promotion websites do you use and do you have a favourite?
Myspace, Facebook, Reverb Nation. They all serve a purpose.
Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
For better or worse, the internet is modern communication.
How do you relax?
I take a drink, read a book.
What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
The worst was probably playing on a stage next to a set of bowling lanes. The cheering wasn't for me.
Do you get nervous before a gig- how do you calm down?
Sometimes I get very nervous. The only way to calm down is to start playing.
What else do you do apart from being a singer/songwriter?
I work in a music venue.
Would you like to be a full time working musician or are you happy with things as they are?
I would like to do it full time. To make a living from what you love doing is the ideal scenario right?
Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Is composing for film & tv something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
Is there anything you'd like to add?
Just come down to watch me play one of these days.