Where are you currently based and how did you wind up there?
I’m currently based in the central highlands of Bali, Indonesia. The waves initially brought me here, I landed a 6 month surf coaching job just as the English winter was about to begin in 2010. It’s been my home base ever since.
How did you first start playing music and singing?
My dad taught me guitar at age 11 but a had piano lessons since I was 6. He and my mum were big Beatles fans and he would teach me a lot of their songs. I especially remember learning blackbird in the garden along with my brother – this was my first intro to fingerpicking. I overcame the ‘singing whilst playing conundrum’ pretty quickly somehow, so I was blessed in that sense, I learnt a bunch of songs from tablature from the internet and from my dads books ranging from Black Sabbath to Van Morrison. My first live song performance was at a friends living room and we only played one song, Daytripper!
How have you been dealing with the current COVID19 situation?
It’s a shocking time and I’m doing my best to stay positive. I’ve been keeping busy inside recording, I have an album of songs ready to get down and my plan is to release them as singles as I go. I’ve also been getting into some gardening that I’ve been wanting to do for a while but never made the time – it’s nice to do something different and give my ears a break for a day or two. I really like the idea of growing your own food and being self sufficient, plus it feels great to be out in nature. It’s super easy to do in the tropics because everything grows so fast.
You have a new single ‘Lucky Kid’ out now, what influenced the sound and songwriting for this track?
Lucky Kid is a kind of postcard to myself. A reminder of where I’ve come from and what I’ve got to be grateful for. It came to me one day out of nowhere and I wrote the whole thing at the kitchen table in one sitting, which is super rare for me. I always have this nostalgic feeling when I play the song live and I wanted to capture that when it came to recording, which meant performance was key, so there weren’t many takes and it all came together quite quickly.
How did you go about writing Lucky Kid?
It was this rare moment where everything happened at once. I was hanging around downstairs with my acoustic guitar drinking tea and thinking of England and how I got to where I was, just playing around with a few chords and all of a sudden the verse melody came to me and I just started writing out what came into my head.
How and when did you record/produce Lucky Kid and what programs equipment did you use?
I recorded and released Lucky Kid in April 2020. I have a little wooden bungalow next to my house that I use as a studio. It’s helpful to have all my gear and instruments set up so I can just go in when I feel like it. I use an Apogee Duet as my audio interface and Logic X. My go to mic is the Rode NT1a, I also use other condensers and dynamics for different purposes. I started by laying down a scratch guitar and vocal and making sure the tempo is right, then add a live performance of my kick and tambourine and make sure it’s in time. Then once the song is mapped properly I can comfortably go for a real guitar take, then vocals/harmonica and slide guitars and light percussion were added after.
How did you learn how to record/produce?
I’ve always been messing around with recording since I was a kid and I used this Tascam 4 track that was my brothers, but never had any formal training. I schooled myself from copious YouTube videos and blogs and just learnt what I needed to know as I went along – a kind of trial and error approach. By no means am I a pro but I know what I want the song to sound like and I’m now proficient in the various parts of the process to get a decent version down.
Please tell us about how you came to send the mix to a guy in Amsterdam that he ran through his Ampex Analogtape machine, how did this come about and how did the process effect the track?
I sent the mix of Lucky Kid to a friend and we were discussing tape vs digital sound. We started riffing about sending digital mixes through a tape machine to see what it would sound like. I was curious to do an experiment, so after some googling I found this guy in Amsterdam at Lullabye Studios who had an Ampex Tape Machine from the 60’s. So I flipped him the mix and he put it through in various speeds and saturation and sent back 4 different versions. I could really tell the difference, the guitar and vocal and percussion seemed more present to me. I chose the 15IPS setting with normal saturation, It just sounded more full, thicker and clean. Some of the other variations sounded cool but at 7.5IPS with higher saturation it just sounded too gritty for this acoustic song. It was amazing really to be able to do this process remotely. It doesn’t beat actually recording everything to tape of course, but you can get a little bit of that analog colour on your mix for a small price, and I’m stoked with how it turned out. I’ll definitely be doing this with more of my recordings.
Where, when and how did you master Lucky Kid?
So I received the mix after it had gone through the tape machine and I mastered it myself here at home. The process it quite simple really, you are in essence just making the track louder and balanced. I usually just do a bit of EQ, light compression and make sure the loudness meets the optimised standard for streaming platforms like Spotify etc.
What did you find most challenging and rewarding through the process?
I normally have a hard time getting my acoustic guitar to sound good, it’s often quite boomy and involves heavy EQ in the mix, but I played around with some unusual microphone placements and found a spot near my strumming elbow that required almost no EQ whatsoever. I think mic placement is super important and it’s something I’ve overlooked previously.
Where can we listen/buy?
Go over to Spotify, Apple Music or any music platform to listen to Lucky Kid. Its available to purchase on iTunes and Bandcamp too.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I’ve been listening to the Beatles recordings a lot at the moment, they are just fantastic and always inspire me to get into the studio. Been getting into some Dr Dog, Phil Cook and Hiss Golden Messenger to name a few.
What do you like to do away from music?
I really like to travel so I try and go somewhere new each year. I feel like it’s important to go somewhere so I can come back with new ideas and experiences that can weave their way into the music.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
My girlfriend and I have been trying out new recipes and there’s lot of yum food coming out of our kitchen right now. And since I decided to be vegetarian 2 years ago it’s opened my eyes to a whole new world of dishes, hence to say I’ve never looked back. So, actually here at home is my favourite place to eat and hang out right now, and it’s the safest! Plus all my dogs are here too, they love that I’m home so much.