Photo by Sven Eselgroth
I thought I'd start writing a blog about my experiences as a guitarist and songwriter, a lifestyle which seems to lead to a wide variety of situations and circumstances. There is never a dull moment. Except perhaps the hours spent staring at the white lines on the motorway, and the hours spent waiting around. In fact the music industry has been nicknamed 'the waiting industry' in some quarters. But I'll make sure I stick to the exciting bits. Hopefully people reading this blog will be able to learn something from my successes and failures.
I have always been obsessed with music. I can remember finding some Beatles L.Ps in my parents' cupboard when I was about 6. Since then I've never looked back. I think I got my first guitar when I was 12. It took me a little bit too long to realise I was left-handed and needed to turn the strings round, but then everything clicked into place. A career in music wasn't a conscious choice, just something that seemed inevitable, as music is always on my mind. And anyway, I'm pretty useless at everything else.
After graduating from The University of Salford with a first class honours degree in Popular Music and Recording, I was faced with the problem of how to make a living. I decided to try busking, with my good friend Kristyna Myles. It proved to be just about profitable enough so that we could survive. People seemed to be most generous at the beginning of summer, when the first rays of sunshine were peeping through the rain clouds. The Manchester Evening News spotted us and ran an article, and this led to us winning BBC 5Live's Busk Idol Competition. After a year or so we found that we didn't need to busk anymore and had enough gigs to pay the bills. After 5 years of constant gigging, writing and practicing, Kristyna signed a 5 album deal with Decca. We had a great month or so last year recording the album with producer Ken Nelson (Coldplay, Paolo Nutini) and the rest of the band, and are very much looking forward to promoting the record when it comes out later this year.
I think it's important to play and to write with as many different people as possible, as there's always something new to learn from each person. I've been really getting into my songwriting over the past couple of years and have written in the region of 70 songs. I think songwriting is something that needs practising, just like playing an instrument, and I find that the more I do it, the better I get. As well as having some co-writes on Kristyna's album, I have been writing with Jon Kenzie, a singer-songwriter who can be heard singing on an Acer advert on TV at the moment, and have just been in the studio recording his new album.
I will be updating this blog regularly, and will post about recording Jon's album and the upcoming festivals I'm playing at with Kristyna- starting with T in the Park. I will also be blogging about how I got started, with tips about busking and gigging etc. It can be easy to complain sometimes about the long hours driving around the country, and waiting around before gigs and so on. But I really shouldn't because I'm hanging out with some of my best friends and making music for a living. And what can be better than that?