MUTED - Musicians Under Lockdown
WHEN AND WHERE WAS THE LAST TIME YOU PERFORMED LIVE?
I last played live with my band at Leadworks in Plymouth, on Halloween, so not too long ago for me.
HOW HAS LOCKDOWN AFFECTED YOU AS A MUSICIAN?
Ooh big question. It simultaneously knocked my confidence and fuelled my fire. Its sent me inward which has been good for my writing and productivity, but has meant me focussing on more reflective music, as opposed to my usual festival sounds. I feel physically more tense, and my flow feels a bit stagnant. Its made me question my role in life for the first time since I started out. Its made me shy away from social media too, feeling like there's no demand for my supply, and I have felt isolated at times.
WHAT DOES PLAYING MUSIC IN THE REAL WORLD IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE MEAN TO YOU?
So much more now. The atmosphere at Leadworks was so good, the crowd there was so warm and excitable. It was immediate and visceral and lived rather than imagined. Just what we all need on the reg. This lockdown can f*cking jog on !
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON AND WERE ANY OF THEM SHAPED OR STOPPED BY THE CURRENT CRISIS?
I'm working on 3 records currently, one with each band, and producing a solo publishing project. The band records are always ongoing, even when i am busy playing live, as we all love to write and arrange but I have definitely had more time and space to arrange these tunes and demo them. The publishing project is something I've been trying to dig into for years and this is the only benefit to lockdown as far as I can see, having more time to do this. I've also built a vocal booth at my studio and have started recording other artists. Diversifying I guess. Its actually been pretty satisfying to be fair.
DOES IT FEEL LIKE MUSICIANS ARE BEING CENSORED BY A CLUMSY SYSTEM THAT DOES NOT VALUE THE CULTURAL IMPORTANCE OF LIVE MUSIC?
I think its been a tough year for everyone, including our "leaders', but a few things are pretty clear to me now, our country is run by money men, that don't understand or represent me or my fellow creatives in their decision making, and show no real interest in the mental heath of our society other than to keep us productive. It doesn't surprise me that the arts and UK nightlife sector got the finger this year. The live / nightlife industry is made up of the most passionate people in the country, who live and breath their work, so I guess the money men are banking on us clinging on and rekindling the whole scene, whether the government helps us out or not.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH AND WHY LIVE MUSIC IS SO IMPORTANT IN ADDRESSING THAT FOR BOTH PERFORMERS AND THOSE ATTENDING SHOWS?
I think musicians and the greater community of people involved in live events do what they do because they have to. Me personally, I've done millions of jobs, some of them very professional and demanding but I get mad, urgent songs come into my head whether I like it or not, they take over every thing else and I need to manifest them or it sends me downhill fast.
It turns out I'm also pretty good at entertaining large crowds of people and helping them feel good and more often than not dancing their asses off. To me, that's my purpose, my calling, or whatever you wanna call it. It's what keeps me interested and buoyant, and why I can rise up over the small sh*t ,and the madness of life in England.
I have seen my band mates struggle this year too, as I know that music is how they cope too. At the end of the day there is a reason we all choose this lifestyle, with its dodgy pay scales, and crappy hours, and complete lack of security. It's because we cannot find anything else that gives us even half the joy.
And what good is culture where its all work and no play?
DO YOU PLAN TO RETURN TO PLAYING LIVE MUSIC WHEN THAT IS SIMPLER, AND ARE THERE ANY VENUES/FESTIVALS/EVENTS YOU REALLY ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO PLAYING AGAIN?
I will return to live music, even if its just busking. I need it physically and emotionally, or I wouldn't be me. I'm looking forward to all the festivals big and small that I missed out on this yea,r particularly the likes of Glasto which has become an annual thing for us, and is such a source of inspiration for so many other people.
WHO HAVE YOU MISSED WATCHING PERFORMING LIVE AS A FAN?
I haven't missed anyone artist in particular but I have missed the big sound systems. The sweaty masses, and even yep, the smell of the toilets!