Although I’ve had a guitar for a while, I never really learned to play it until a year and a half ago when I bought some lessons online. I started writing songs soon after and then ended up recording them and thinking why not release them as an album. I got a lot of encouragement along the way so I’m planning two releases, a single in mid June and the album in early July.
2. What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?
To continue to pen tracks but also work with top producers in a studio to develop and realise my musical ideas. For me, the biggest barrier to progress as an independent musician is finding the capital to pay for expertise, the right equipment, studio time etc. Unfortunately, these things are indispensable in today’s production fuelled music industry, particularly if you’re making guitar music that needs a lot of clean recording and post production to get the balance and audio right . I have concepts in my head right now for at least 3 more albums and I hope that I can somehow record and release them. I’d also love to collaborate with other writers and singers – I have some ideas for duets which I’d love to try. Some touring would be amazing too.
3. How long have you been writing your own music?
I used to sing and mess around as a kid but in terms of penning songs seriously, for less than a year I’d say. The first song I penned and put down was last July and I wrote my debut single at around the same time. Not long I know and I definitely have a lot more to learn ! I was inspired to do so because I had things inside I needed to get out and music was just a natural way of doing that. I’m also into reading/writing poetry (I like anything from Hardy to John Cooper Clarke), so I took to penning songs reasonably quickly.
4. Who are your top three influences and why?
Temple of the Dog are a Grunge band that consisted of two of the members from Soundgarden and four from Peal Jam who recorded an eponymous album. The band was set up as a tribute to Chris Cornell’s roommate Andrew Wood and as you can probably guess, the album is packed with emotion. The raw guitar riffs of the grunge era and the long guitar solos all influence me but what stands out about this album are the tender and emotive vocals of Vedder and Cornell. My music is all about emotion and expression and nothing is more emotional than a tribute to someone that was lost.
Oasis were a big influence on me, starting from the point at which I saw the video for Supersonic on TV and just thought to myself ‘this is cool’. Not to discredit Grunge, the preceding scene in my musical life, but it was getting a bit morose and decreasingly accessible. Britpop came along and added some of the fun back into rock music without falling into the cliched excesses of stadium bands in the 80s. Oasis stood out for me not only because of their unpretentious attitude (some of the artists today could do with some of that) but also because musically Noel Gallagher wrote great songs and Liam’s voice was very solid in delivering them.
The band that has had most influence on me, though, has been The Verve. The first time that I heard of them was in a record shop when my friend pointed out their first album and said this is just amazing, it’s the future. I remember looking at the cover of Storm in Heaven and it was this amazing blue picture of the inside of a cave. i wasn’t sure about buying it until I saw some footage of them on TV playing Slide away, Starsail and Virtual World. So I got it and I couldn’t believe how good it was. Then they released Northern Soul and that remains the album I listen to most. The pained vocals and personal lyrics of Richard Ashcroft, that ethereal guitar playing of Nick Mccabe brought together by the really deep baselines and rhythms of Simon Jones and Peter Salisbury, Northern Soul is not expressing the human condition as much as living it. Everyone remembers Urban Hymns and it was a great album too but not as good as Northern Soul.That said, if you listen to the live version of Man called Sun as a B side on gravity grave, thats the song which has probably influenced me most as an artist so far.
5. Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?
I have a single due for release on June 16th called ‘Not Afraid’ and I’m hoping to get my debut album ‘Notes’ out on July 4th. It’s very diverse in terms of content. You can see that early Verve influence on Track 9 – Peacetime and Track 6 was actually influenced by Erykah Badu, another artist for which I have incredible respect and who holds some sentimental value too which I won’t going into right now (maybe Next Lifetime ;)). There’s some politics on my album as I really think that today’s music scenes don’t really capitalise on the luxury an artist has to protest (and there is so much in the world to protest about) Above all though, it’s a reflective album with a lot of emotion in it as I seek to air feelings that have built up over a long period of time. It’s been a very cathartic experience !
6. Where are you based and what’s your local scene like? Any favourite venues?
I’m very lucky to have grown up in London and experienced many very cool scenes from Drum and Bass to Brit Pop. I’m not too sure about the local London scenes now – I suppose they would be Trap, Grime, Dubstep which are all cool but not necessarily ones I’m part of. Camden is still going strong though for guitar music and Koko always has some good acts coming to play there.
7. Who else can you recommend from your local scene for people to have a listen to
Although not from my local scene, there are some guitar bands from across the Atlantic that I think are really cool. Real Estate and the War on Drugs are two I’m really into and I think The Pierces are really strong artists/songwriters. I have a lot of respect for London hip-hop too and I’d say JMC is one of the guys I listen to from that scene.
8. Give our readers a round up of where they can find you online and hear more of your music.
At the moment my Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/VagabondFlagArtist although I’m putting together a website right now which should have more about me on it. My Soundcloud is https://soundcloud.com/vagabond-flag and contains the debut single ‘Not Afriad’. I’m in the process of shooting a video for it (which will also be online) and I’ll be making more tracks available soon – hopefully maybe even some acoustic renditions from my debut album, ‘Notes’. Check my Facebook for updates or follow my Twitter @VagabondFlag.