In the Booth with Music
I try to take the Jonathan Richman approach of always writing the truth of whatever I’m feeling or observing at the time... My songs are usually about love, heartache or trying to understand the way I or other people around me act. It’s kind of a diary way of writing, so there is a lot of whinging in there too, as you would expect in any diary!
I'm highly motivated by a desire to try to help stop the global catastrophe that is all around us, caused by rampant greed, environmental destruction and war, so a lot of my songs in the past have been protest songs. But actually the solo album I've been working on lately is all songs about love, loss and human relationships of one sort or another...
I never pursued music until about eight years ago, as I was an actor hiding behind a character in the Broadway cast of Grease and the National Tour of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof amongst other productions. People like Nerina Pallot, KT Tunstall and Lissie inspire me and I thought “better late than never” and started writing and doing open mics, which led to my own slots and supporting people like Nerina Pallot and Alice Gold.
Often, I just feel like picking up a guitar or sitting down at the piano and playing, and the ideas usually come about... It’s really an improvisational way of writing music... Much of my music is instrumental, although some songs do have meaningful lyrics. Usually those lyrics come about after the music is already written.
I define myself as ‘simply a singer’. But I, like all of us, am so much more than just one thing... I plan to allow myself to be more open to my own creativity and my own voice, which is something I had to shut down for a little while. So I look forward to ‘the more’ that I will experience as I open the gate wider and wider... I want to leave positive things behind for others, whether it's music, poetry, art, books or other forms of inspiration.
My songs are always based on something true. A story about me or someone I know. Sometimes they are just to express my feelings on a subject - could be love, friendship, family, or just life in general. Once in a while, random words come to mind in the way of a hook and how to give those words meaning might come along later.
About ninety per cent of the music we create comes out of jam sessions. We get together and just start playing without any guidelines or barriers. The feel, the mood, the vibe itself is what dictates what we play. It doesn't take long to tell if it is a tune worth keeping. The ones that we dig get developed a little more until we have a song...
I like metaphor in song and I love language. I guess that’s part of - for me - the appeal of, especially, Dylan and Cohen - that magic they both have of using words like knives, scalpel like precision - I envy that. I like narrative. Last Orders is a story of an affair in Stockport before I left the town, the summer of my goodbye, and it’s a song of lost youth and love...
Strange Voo Doo is about self–discovery. It is the coming face to face with the past choices one has made and how those choices have led to certain consequences. Discovering self-love is freedom from convention. In the bridge of the tune the singer realizes that self-discovery has freed him from those self-imposed[...]
The way it’s been in the past is that I’ve reached these emotional bottoms that force me to write. I get into so much emotional pain...that I am left with two choices: (1) continue to suffer a slow spiritual death, or (2) start writing. The writing breaks me free and helps the healing process begin.