What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
My dad plays trumpet and piano, so naturally, he sent me to get lessons as a kid, which I hated! I had no enthusiasm for Bach, but would spend hours copying tunes off the TV; which is funny, as years later I would end up running an orchestra. I played in the school band and was fortunate enough to learn music theory. However, at age 12, I was forced to drop out of school due to severe depression. While the other kids were smoking behind the bike sheds, I became engrossed in music as a distraction and a coping mechanism. A sort of sanctuary for processing my emotions. I taught myself guitar, singing, drums, started several bands and built a little studio. In those early days, it was all about energy and feeling. I worshipped all the great rock singers, Elvis, John Lennon and Kurt Cobain. I wanted to write songs that twisted up my guts and made me jump around like a wild animal.
Despite not finishing school, I was lucky to get accepted to study music at University. Which seemed more palatable than getting a job! There I was exposed to a cornucopia of incredible avant-garde music, like John Cage and Iannis Xenakis. The classical music bug bit me hard. On graduating, I went to work for the New London Orchestra and eventually became its General Manager. All the while I was still playing in bands as a drummer, most notably Fear of Men and Family Friends. A few years ago, I decided to ‘go back to my musical roots’. So I dropped everything and moved to Germany. Since then, I’ve spent most of my time alone in an old warehouse trying to recapture that possessed energy which drove me to write in the first place.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
Five songs from this new period form my debut solo EP “Harp for the Moon”. It’s a record about the importance of the stories that colour our lives. It’s a kind of book of daydreams in which I mull over the personal stories that imbue my world with meaning. Stories of frustration, of euphoria, of rage; tales that reveal a sense of the unreal that may one day become real; myths through which we live the lives of others; or lives of ourselves that may never be actualised. For when we have no answers, all we have are stories.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
While I was writing “Harp for the Moon”, I kept a playlist of inspiring music that I was constantly referring to. It’s a mash-up of 60’s rock and soul, like Hendrix and Ben E. King, along with more modern alt-rock stuff, Jay Reatard, Slint, Nick Cave and Radiohead, as well as contemporary composers like Philip Glass and Henryk Górecki. Anything with an unforgettable melody or some chords that make you feel like the whole weight of the world is about to come crashing down on you.
In terms of extra musical influences. I love to read! I believe that music should be a force for the positive transformation of both the self and society and so I’m incorporating a lot of ideas I pick up from literature, philosophy and psychology into my writing. Kafka, Nietzsche, William James and J. G. Ballard are some of my favourite writers.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
If I can say anything interesting here, I suppose it would be that I’ve never been very genre orientated as a musician. I was never particularly interested in being a ‘blues guitarist’, or a ‘soul singer’, or a ‘punk drummer’. However, I’m extremely interested in finding ways to combine specific techniques that are associated with one genre or another. How might it sound if I take a soul inspired vocal in the vain of Etta James and sing it over a pumping post-punk drum beat, and maybe in the C-section I’ll throw in a blues solo? You don’t know until you try! Maybe I’m just confused.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
Joy Division “Unknown Pleasures”
The Beatles “Let It Be”
Jean Sibelius “Symphony no. 4”
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
Joseph Heller “Catch-22”
Franz Kafka “The Metamorphosis”
The Feynman Lectures on Physics, simply because finishing it would pass a lot of time until a ship turned up to rescue me.
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
I love the studio. I can work for days with barely any sleep or food and never get bored. It’s like a playroom full of toys for grownups. But there’s nothing like playing live. Making music without an audience is like having a conversation with yourself. Only mad people do it.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
A few years ago I was playing drums in this band, which I won’t name. I was living in London at the time, and my girlfriend was visiting from Germany. We had a gig booked in Brighton on Valentine’s Day, and I thought it would be a sweet idea to take my girlfriend down earlier in the day and have a nice walk around the town, as she’d never been there before. We arrived on the train early in the morning, and as soon as I stepped off the carriage, I knew something was wrong. I was violently sick in a cafe toilet outside the station, while my girlfriend convinced the owner of another cafe to store my snare drum and cymbals in a broom cupboard. I couldn’t walk, I was a mess, some kind of food poisoning perhaps. Then it started raining. Luckily my girlfriend had the number of a guy who lived in Brighton, a wonderfully handsome male model she had worked on a shoot with. He was a real friendly guy and kindly let me lay down in his bed while he took my girlfriend out for a romantic date on Valentine’s Day. I did recover enough to play the show at least.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
The title track, “Harp for the Moon”, is my personal favourite from this group of songs. It’s built around a repeating piano riff that runs through the entire song. It’s a bit slow to get going, and the first chorus features contrapuntal guitars playing solos, which isn’t exactly a fashionable way to structure a song. I’m also very happy with how the drumming turned out. It’s kind of jazzy, but gets more and more aggressive, all the while maintaining a gentle, swaying rhythm. I also love the crunchy sound of the distorted guitar at the end, which mirrors the vocal melody. Lyrically, it’s about the loss of someone close and how your memory of that person fades. It’s almost impossible to remember specific moments, or the sound of their voice, your recollection of someone so important is gradually reduced to a vague impression.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
I’m working on a follow-up record that will be a concept album, in that it will feature a running narrative, with each song being akin to a scene in a film. As well as working on developing a live show to tour this new EP.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
What’s your favourite quote about art?
In his book ‘Art as Experience’ John Dewey writes: “(Art) is a criticism of life through disclosure, through imaginative vision addressed to imaginative experience of possibilities that contrast with actual conditions. A sense of possibilities that are unrealised and that might be realised are, when they are put in contrast with actual conditions, the most penetrating criticism of the latter that can be made. It is by a sense of possibilities opening before us that we become aware of constrictions that hem us in and of burdens that oppress.”
Photo credits: Marvin Böhm (1st one)
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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