How would you describe your music for people who don’t know you?
I think it’s mostly a mix of indie and pop, but there’s some folk in there, some hip-hop, some rock, some dance. I think that I don’t classify too well – I do like to experiment with different types of music and sounds.
Tell us about your Red Button project!
The BBC Red Button Project was a songwriting challenge where I took a news headline from the BBC Red Button on digital TV and spent Monday and Wednesdays writing, recording and uploading a song with a video. This was for 8 consecutive weeks. The resulting album was sold for a local charity (although it is no longer in aid of charity). This means each song took about 10 hours from reading the headline to uploading the video. I had no external help and everything is done by me except my wife pressing “record” on our camera for the video.
You’ve helped out numerous charities through your music – do you feel this is something more bands and solo artists should do?
I think it’s something everyone should do! I would love to do it more both in lending time and giving money but I’m far from a rich man and struggling a bit myself. Conveniently a song from the Red Button album sums it up most. One of these was a story that Britain, despite going into recession, was still going to give money pledged during the Live 8 promises. A certain, slightly reactionary, daily newspaper thought it was a bad thing. But I didn’t. In fact, as the song says, you just can’t compare our hardships to theirs.
Who’s your ultimate icon and how have they influenced you?
It’s tricky to describe my ultimate icon, as I admire many people for different reasons. I think the one person I keep coming back to and love as much as when I first heard them is probably Syd Barrett, the “mad one” from Pink Floyd. I love his album The Madcap Laughs and where other people’s work has faded in my estimations, his still appeals. I love his ragged style of songwriting where his songs seem to flit around and barely hang together. I think he’s influenced me in the basic idea that you can do what you like with music as long as it pleases your ears.
You’ve been getting a load of tracks recorded and put out there recently – are you proud of them?
To an extent I’m proud of everything I do. I certainly know that some of the songs I write are songs that I would buy, which is my own tester for my stuff. But also you get the nagging doubt – could I have done this or that better? I was very proud of the Red Button Album and the Christmas album. I’m looking forward to my current album being released.
What made you get into music?
I got into music by just being a fan and being able to sing. As the time has passed I’ve been more and more into the creative side so it’s almost something I need to do to stop myself from going mad.
What would you like to do before the end of 2012?
I will have my album out by the end of 2012 and I hope to have a band around that. I’m not the most capable musician technically – I can sing, press buttons and play some basic guitar but I struggle with anything complex. In the studio that’s less of a problem but live, to me, I get very frustrated not having lead parts, bass, rhythm and backing vocals. I can’t do it all!
Which song do you wish you had written?
This is another question where the answer will change as time goes on, but at the moment it has to be Vincent Black Lightning 1952 by Richard Thompson. It’s a joy to listen to.
Describe yourself in three words?
Worth a listen!