Interview with Next Step Music
What’s your musical background? When did you start playing?
I guess I started playing at about seven or eight, and took some guitar lessons a couple of years later. But I let my playing slide for a long time, I started back seriously when I finished school and decided to do a music degree, I studied up and have been playing off and on since.
Has your music evolved since you first began playing?
Fundamentally no, I still believe in simplicity. My writing has evolved a lot though, as I have figured out what works and what doesn’t, at least for me and my style. I love and listen to a wide range of music which definitely influences the style I play in.
What is your creative process?
Basically I like to sit down with my guitar and fiddle around until something comes out. I will often start with just one line of a lyric in my head, try to work out a harmony and then it seems to come fairly naturally.
How would you describe your music to people?
The way I usually describe it is part folk, part blues and part country. But, really, it is very lyrically driven and the chords and harmony are always secondary to the lyric.
What messages does your music usually convey?
Lyrically it’s usually based on personal experiences and problems. Musically I like to keep it fairly light to try and give a counter-balance to the sometimes dark words.
Who are your musical influences?
Everyone I’ve ever listened too. I grew up listening to a lot of punk music, and although I don’t listen to much punk anymore I think it still influences my style with my simple chord structures and melodies. But every few months I will latch onto a band or an artist and listen to a lot of their music which really influences what I am writing at the time, and continues to be a part of my music in every song I write. Artists like Dylan and Springsteen, Nick Cave and Tom Waits, and bands from the Rolling Stones and Pearl Jam through to Old Crow Medicine Show have all been big influences on my writing and style.
How do you sell your music?
It’s been years since I have sold music in the literal sense. I recorded an album through a uni degree and sold a few copies of that. Now days I have a handful of tunes on the internet available for free download, and will busk occasionally for extra money.
What live performance experience have you had?
I’ve had quite a variety of live experiences from fronting a rock band in high school and uni, launching an album, playing in restaurants and bars, busking on the street and playing at a festival.
Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you have a set play list?
I usually play fairly current songs. Songs which I have written over the last few months, there are a couple of songs that I have played for years because I really enjoy playing them. I have never had a set playlist, I try to tailor a play list to what I think the audience wants to hear. For example I’d never play the same set in a café as I would when I am busking.
Do you ever play covers?
When I am busking I tend to play mostly covers as I think that’s what people would like to hear. But, there are some covers I really enjoy playing and will add into a live set.
What has been your biggest highlight as a musician?
That would have to be playing at the Jackey’s Marsh Forest Fest in Tassie at the beginning of this year. It was a truly beautiful festival, and was in my home state. I showed off my music to a lot of friends who had never heard it and family who hadn’t for months, and had some lovely feedback.
What has been your biggest challenge as an artist?
My biggest challenge is the continuous challenge of finding the time and motivation to play, listen to, and record music. Working in a full time job leaves little time and energy to work on music and to become a musician living off your music requires a lot of very hard work.
What are your long-term goals as a musician?
To have fun. Of course it would be really nice to make a living off music, but the long term goal is for people to hear my tunes and enjoy them while enjoying themselves. That’s what gives me real satisfaction when I play.
Do you have any tips for other emerging artists?
Stick with it, if you put your instrument down, be it a guitar, a trumpet or a microphone, don’t let too much time go by before you pick it up again. Remember why you picked it up in the first place and never lose that feeling.
Where can we hear your tunes online?