Liquorice tea, late nights and dogged persistence. Oh, and loving music!
How long did it take you to get to the stage where music was your full-time job?
It took years! At age 27 I quit my part-time bar job and took the plunge, the industry has refreshed itself so many times since then it still feels like taking the plunge again every year because you are never sure where the next revenue streams will come from. I remember being 23, feeling that I'd already been at it for soooooo long and thinking that if I hadn't 'made it' by age 26 I'd cash in my chips and buy a bamboo beach hut in Bali. Ha!
Instead it's 10 years later and while I'm not exactly doing what I had anticipated when I was 23, I am one of the lucky ones who gets to do this for a living. Actually I'd say I have moderate luck. I've seen some people get a lot further with less brains over the years and some with more do nothing at all - it certainly isn't a meritocracy out there. As a competitive animal I think that's one of the biggest challenges - being inspired the achievements by your peers and not trampled.
And what other challenges do you face?
Now the day to day challenges are things like, 'Can you make a piece of french orchestral music', 'Can you write a piece of music for a circus trapeze act?', 'Can you write a song for Cheryl Cole?'. Usually I say 'Yes', think 'No' and then do something in between but the process is really fun and I really enjoy getting out of my comfort zones. And if I do it well enough that means I get to keep earning my living this way. I'm not sure if that means I've made it or not, but now I'm 33 and I get royalty statements which is great. I've said to myself though, that if I haven't had a number one single by the time I'm 36 I'm going to cash in my chips and buy a beach bungalow in North Devon!
What is your greatest musical achievement so far?
I wrote a song for my step brother's funeral, it was raw, natural and visceral, I didn't try to write it, it just came out. I think the best stuff often comes when you make the least effort, although your sort of lying to yourself when you say that because the effortlessness is probably the result of years of practicing and developing your skills, but that sounds less cool to say and doesn't help cultivate your image as a born-gifted musical genius.
Do you produce for TV/Animation? If so, how did you get into it?
I tend to write music and then it gets used on animations or TV. Although I just wrote a piece of music for an animated skate film and adapted a piece of orchestral music for a TV advert so there are no rules. The skate film happened because the music video director for my band, Bronze Medallists' new single put us forward for it.
Talking money can be quite awkward at times when you are self employed. And lot of people offer 'exposure' instead of money. What advice would you give to musicians who want to get around this?
If you feel the exposure will be worthwhile then you can justify to yourself contributing to the continuing devaluation of music in the eyes of those who offer these sorts of deals. The only way around this is for everyone to say no, but there is always someone who will say yes because exposure is scare, competition is fierce and the industry knows this and can pit us against each other. Divide and conquer.
What advice would you give for up and coming producers and musicians?
Doing stuff leads to more stuff so do things. And don't be too precious. Highly specific artistic ideals may seem to have integrity but are often quite arbitrary and the luxury of privilege. Don't be ashamed of using your talents to earn yourself a living there is real integrity in that.
What has been your biggest lesson learnt in the music industry?
You have to be able to separate your creativity from the bullshit. Who wants art that smells of bullshit?
Great words! Thanks Oliver.
Bands: Hotel Internationale, Boy Mandeville, Landshapes (Lulu and the Lampshades), Lucy Rose, Kal Lavelle, Mikill Pane, Loveable Rogues, Lail Arad, Victoria and Jacob, Fiona Bevan, Golden Feathers, YOUTH, Eyes and No Eyes (Tristram), Emmy the Great, Von D, Bronze Medallists, Helen Arney, My Cousin Kate, Iliana, The Melodic (Melodica Melody and Me), The Feeling, Suburbs, Stars of Sunday League, David Goo, Lofty Heights, Laura Hocking, Fredrick Robinson, Polychrome, Lewis Fieldhouse, Jerusa Van Lith, Oh Sister!
Sweet Like Summer
Ə - Rĭ 'mē - Ə (Couldn't Love You More) (Winner of Peter Gabriel's Song-Writing Shake Your Tree Competition 2013)
MAKE LOVE NOT WAR - AXE
Barclays (Winner 2013 Shots Award for Best Use of Bespoke Music)
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Written by Sazrah
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