To coincide with my 1st concert of the 2017 tour taking place in Southend this Saturday.
I have been interviewed by Kelly Buckley at the Echo.
You can read the full transcript below.
1) I’m always very impressed to hear how musicians and artists make a full time living in the current climate by remaining independent. What was going through your mind when you finally too the plunge and gave up the day job?
It was back in 06 that I decided to go for it and at that time I didn’t realise it but I guess I kinda had the best of both worlds. The internet was there to assist with the bookings but the audience were still totally at peace with buying and listening to music on CD. So once the schedule was full I was away and flying. What I was thinking was simply that it had gone beyond a curiosity to try and had become a must.
2) After gigging for a while you got a support slot with Ocean Colour Scene (and have since done so with various other ‘names’). How much did that help with your exposure?
It helps for the CV and to impress people with a sneaky name drop. But apart from maybe playing to more folks than normal and having a chance to shift merch to new bods I have not found it has made a great difference. Good for the pride but in some cases I simply lucked out to get the spot.
3) Many bands find it hard to make money from gigging, what with venues thinking bands will get ‘exposure’ or they just get a drink. Assuming you make money from gigging, was there any learning curve regarding asking for payment?
This remains the most challenging part of the job. The wages vary so much from venue to town to country or currency. I honestly am stuck with how best to tackle this. I love playing most of the time and so that can mean I accept gigs that I regret down the line because they pay so little. Because I now use so much gear when I play for looping it has justified demanding a decent wage because it’s takes so long to master the use of it and of course the lugging and setting up. But when I started 11 years ago I was taking anything and everything. I believe that’s the right way to go at the beginning but over time as one hones their craft there has to be value added to that. In the end I know I am far better as a musician because I have played so many shows and to do that it had to be a full time thing. So I had to make enough to live from it.
4) Are record releases or gigging more profitable?
Oh definitely the gigs. Being indie I just float under the radar and sell embarrassingly little online. But the shows are where people really get to connect and understand what I am about. But to make the records is essential because it’s something one can really enjoy and labour over when creating.
5) What’s the hardest part about being independent?
Just not being respected I would say. From venues fobbing you off regarding a gig and telling you to ring them back again again again or drunken audience members assuming you are trying to make it to some place of infinite stardom and such as the X factor or whatever. So often it’s one drawn out biting of ones lip. But that’s just one of those obstacles that needs to be worked around. Perception is a funny thing and I used to feel the need to empower myself in situations and ensure that people knew that I had done this that or the other (I still do sometimes). But the truth of it is I’m at a point where I am still playing music simply because I love it and the journey it sends me on. When I just enjoy the ride it tends to be better for all involved.
6) What’s the best part?
Well the travel is just amazing. The sense of freedom too from managing your own schedule. I used to be really work horse about it and it would not be unusual to fill the schedule with 30 shows in a month. But now I’m more relaxed to take what I can and then to see what and where I am with free days. I’m very happy to have had some non music experiences in the middle of tours that have allowed me to learn new things – like Scuba diving for example when a festival was cancelled out in New Zealand and the chance was there.
7) What advice would you give to anyone considering giving up their job to go solo? What do you have to be prepared to do to make a full living as an independent musician?
Sleep rough haha. I have a nice tour van now that I am quite comfortable to sleep in. But in the early days it was a very small van and even a car sometimes. If it is something that is really weighs on their mind then my advice is always to go for it. Obviously we all have our own list of pros and cons. But I thought I could never find a job that suited me more than the job prior to music and then when I left it for music I realised I was kinda fading away. I have since found that music has led me into some weird and wonderful working environments that I never thought I would have been able to handle. But somehow I look back and realise I did. I survived and it blows my mind but in a very good way.
8 ) Can you tell us a bit about your latest release please?
Well it probably will make me sound like a total nutjob. But I released 4 albums on the same day. 44 tracks in all across the 4 albums. They all have their own sense of identity as one is Electronic, One was with a band, One was sessions that begun while on the road and the final one was totally self produced. Each of the albums runs at 44 mins and all of them can be streamed from my bandcamp page. It was a massively overblown project but not one I regret for a second. I put it out in 2012 and have been touring it since.
9) What’s next for you?
As the last record hit in 2012 I have been slowly piecing together a new album. My original master plan was to create a complete work that could be performed solo from start to finish live using live looping. But after 2 years touring the new material I didn’t have enough faith in it. So I took a step back and have since started working with piano as opposed to guitar. Infact this is my 1st tour with the piano in the mix too. We will see where that takes me 🙂
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