First there’s choosing an instrument, then learning to play it. That can take years of practice; hours of unseen trauma, tantrums, tears, frustrations and the occasional epiphany. Then there’s finding other people to play with and not just anyone. It has to be the right mix and the right people. And then there’s more practice and writing and reworking and navigating and negotiating and arguing and compromising and letting go and picking it up again. Then there’s the waiting. Music involves an extraordinary amount of waiting.
The nerves kick in, the first performance is booked, the audience is summoned. The sound-check is a nightmare, the first song is rushed through and the following five fly past so fast that as soon as you begin to enjoy yourself, that’s it, you’re finished and it’s time to change over for the next contender ready to give it a go; (and it all seems so utterly down to pot-luck that determines who ascends the heights of stardom and who remains firmly on the ground looking up at the stars.)
Then there’s the emptiness that always follows the adrenalin. Depending on how well things have gone and who is around to deflect the introspection, it can be momentary, but it will always come. It can also set in and last for years.
I have been playing music ever since I was four. By the age of eight, I’d made it as far as a pair of bongos between my knees on a Sunday morning at church. By the age of 12, the bongos had been upgraded to a 2nd hand drum-kit and at 16, while they were in transit across the hemisphere for a second time, they were replaced with my granny’s piano, which was probably as old as she was. It was there in the Summer of 1999 that I sat for hours getting lost in the momentum of finding an outlet for adventure. In the absence of making any friends in the Essex countryside that summer, I wrote songs.
Since then, a song has been the main pursuit of my life. It has taken me up to Liverpool and university, sat me in front of Sir Paul McCartney, led me to endless bars, bookshops, cafes and toilets around the world and placed me in my current location of Hackney, East London.
I have never had the experience of a record label of any kind investing anything in any of my music, but I have written and released 4 EP’s, 3 albums, and in 2006, 52 singles as part of an online blitz I called Project 52. I am currently working on material for a fourth album and am planning on putting myself in for another onslaught of live performances of all shapes and varieties.
Why? – because I LOVE MUSIC. And the song is something I carry in my soul.
Whilst out for a quick lunch break in Covent Garden with a musician friend of mine, I began to recount my regular frustrations of not yet breaking through to even a modest level of success that would give me reason to step off the gas and exchange the instruments for achievement. There are many things that in the eyes of the world I am yet to achieve.
“But you still have perseverance and integrity,” replied my friend, “and that counts for a lot more than most of the other things we aspire to…”
His words were like fuel to my heart…
I can’t say where this song will lead me, or what challenges the quest of making and experiencing life through music will be, but whatever it is, I am determined not to give up and not to give in.