The story so far…
My songs are pretty much written in a haphazard way, the discipline of chaos. Like literary writers who utilise automatic writing. The sculpting of words and melody is very instinctual, like a channelling from something beyond me.
For me, a song is a landscape, in all its varying colours, the landscape of human pain but always an open sky, even if there is a wait for the clouds to part. People ask do the words come first or the melodies?, I guess I can only answer that as an entwining of melody and lyrics with no particular linear processing. It’s like the song forms itself, and you the song-writer sculpt the evolution.
In contrast to my previous more experimental and left field albums, released on “Boy George’s” label “More Protein” and then on UK Indie label “Open Season”, my latest album DOPAMINE is definitely more focused and uncompromising, relying on the power of “The song” as opposed to a leaning upon production quirks and more avant-garde colouration.
A certain raw honesty resounds throughout the songs of DOPAMINE, drawing upon eclectic genres, from MOTOWN to GRUNGE with some GOSPEL thrown in for good measure, an expose of a very troubled soul indeed. An organice Moby in places.
DOPAMINE the song on the album of the same name deals with the subject of alcoholism, which boils down to a very human thirst for quite literally a release of DOPAMINE.
The album has an emotional honesty that can only come from facing the self-conjured Demons, spawned from poor choices and the hedonistic “Rock Star” ego moulded Fair Ground rides.
The second track “Darker Clouds”, one could only describe as “Rock n’ Soul”, an alt-rock “Ain’t no sunshine”, the song Bill Withers didn’t write with the intimate, yet harrowing echoes of “Nina Simone”.
When I create a song it has to be a landscape, perhaps a lonely desert with a panoramic view of the Stars and beyond, perhaps Tarantino and Ridley Scott should produce my next record….UFO’s, ET’s…?, yeah why would I not be fascinated by them
I am by nature most mercurial and I think my music conveys this.
Having grown up in a little Village in Sussex U.K, I decided upon music college in West London, at 18 I just wanted to Rock, for some years then I had already written and recorded many songs on my cassette four-track recorder. I had also played in a few “School” bands. The West London College was pretty small and mainly run by failed Jazz musicians, who I found bitter and jaded, but I didn’t care, I was out of a small Village and now in the “Big Smoke”.
I set up a trio with a couple of guys on the course who liked to “Rock”, there wasn’t much choice most of the drummer’s goal was to play quieter!.
A wild Greek lunatic drummer and a bass player who liked to jump around a bit and we were off. We gigged in all the usual “Toilets” from Camden to Richmond. I began sending out demos to record companies with pretty much no interest, but then a review in an NME unsigned submission section was unbelievably favourable and grabbed the attention of the manager of “The Verve”, and I was taken on unofficially.
Fast forward a few months I was playing in London venues under the name “Fake”, the shows were busy, comprising of the press and A+R scouts. I was not even nineteen yet and in hindsight, I would consider it was too early, songwriting depth and meaning only comes with age, WTF does some nineteen-year-old idiot know…..LOL.
The “Verve’s” management team was stumped as to what to do with my eccentric act who couldn’t be pigeonholed, time passed.
During this hiatus period, I garnered the attention of “Boy George”. George saw me perform at a packed out XFM Radio sponsored gig at “The Borderline” London, I hung out with him backstage with his good friend “Amanda Ghost”, he was full of praise of me and that night phoned the manager of the label “More Protein” (Georges label) and stressed “We’d better sign him before someone else does, he’s got lips to curl up and die in, he reminds me of early Marc Bolan”.
I signed to “More Protein” and released three records with them, one of which was reviewed by “Moby” as a guest reviewer in the NME; who described the music as “Great”
The un-pluggable “John Peel” at “Radio One” picked it up and played it out on his show a few times, I was most honoured being a massive fan of John.
The records were also playlisted on both Radio One and XFM, the future seemed bright, with promising distribution figures from both independent and major record shops. But as is often the story with new musical talent, the momentum of the act didn’t quite break through enough to progress into a career with steady growth. I would describe that period of time as a “Blank space in time”, which leads us into the next phase, my second main band “Blankspace”.
I parted from “More Protein” and went through various managers as if I were “Speed dating”. Plenty of pointless time wasting meetings with wanker A+R’s.
Eventually, I landed a deal with UK Indie label “Open Season”. A couple of releases and to cut the story short pretty much the same as before, critic acclaim and many interested parties, “Stephen Dalton” writing for the UK’s NME at the time, reviewed my act “Blankspace” at a packed out Camden, London show as: “Bigger than time….”, claiming Blankspace was the only current band who could cover “Neil Young’s” hit “Expecting to fly” and do it justice.
Great press and Radio One airplay but again the act just didn’t break through. The dream was just crumbling away, revealing the bullshit aspects of the music business. It was hard to turn a blind eye to the wreckage that surrounds you, and not feel disappointed and disillusioned. I kind of just gave up. I did keep writing but the dream was fading fast.
Over time crumbs of opportunity presented themselves, but once bitten, twice shy, so to speak. “So many managers full of shit and actually just a hindrance.
I was running out of funds and became a pub covers singer, then this progressed into being a wedding singer, then the progression led to being the wedding singer drunker than the audience. Yep I was truly lost, I could entertain a crowd like making a cup of tea, but the enthusiasm had faded to a kind of rock bottom, I didn’t pick up a guitar to play predictable mainstream songs over and over again to give a bunch of pissed strangers something to dance to, it’s like Tiger Woods making a living playing Crazy Golf tournaments.
Fast forward a few years of trawling around the UK playing weddings, I was spotted by a retired industry manager at a solo acoustic gig, in a tiny bar in West London. He was blown away by my voice, and contact details were exchanged.
We met for coffee the very next day and I handed over my latest self-produced CD of 11 songs. The call came the next day: “Mate, this album is unbelievable”, the Svengali, who shall remain nameless, proceeded to play it to lots of his old contacts and the resounding consensus was indeed a stunning album. From “Philip Tennant” the manager of “The Waterboys” to “Liam Teeling” at the time head of Sony ATV, who discovered the singer “Seal”, described me as a “Thoroughbred”. (Still makes me laugh neyyy!! cough WANKERS).
In a short space of time, I went from a washed up wedding singer to a very hot prospective Singer-Songwriter. Private showcases, with just me and a guitar in studios in London, this led to funding to embark upon a US songwriting tour. Walking into music executive’s offices in LA, Nashville, NewYork… and blasting out my songs in the sterile bright lights of the corporate rooms. As well as writing sessions with established songwriters including “Eric Rosse”, producer of “Tori Amos” and “Pam Sheyne” co-writer of massive hit “Genie in a bottle”. This was a renaissance, an almighty second wind and it felt like I would break on through to the other side this time.
But interested parties sat on fences, stalled and sat back, waiting for “Something to happen!”. History repeating this surge slowed to a grinding halt.
I was in a glittery bubble of hope, it felt so close to finally living the dream I had always had, that bubble truly burst this time and I came crashing down to Earth.
That bubble was my protection from the chaos that was my life, destructive relationships, the wreckage of a failed marriage and the crushing realisation that without this bubble of hope, I was just a washed up wedding singer. Reflecting on this stage, that’s when I started to drink properly.
What followed was a period of self-destruction, sculpted out of some pretty frightening chaos, fuelled with gallons of Devil Juice.
After a time of riding the Rollercoaster of insanity and self-medication, I had two choices; man up or man down…I chose the latter, I simply abandoned that sinking ship, with all it’s drunken sailors still partying.
I moved back to to the Sussex countryside, bought some running shoes, joined a boxing gym and became a carpenters assistant. Initially, all I did was train like a Marine, coughing, and spluttering, man I’d piled on the pounds, but was fighting back and growing stronger every day.
The mist of pain and fear began to lift and I started recording ideas, first on my cell phone app, then I started attending “Open Mics” to air the songs, patiently letting the songs evolve in their own time, this time no flakey manager to send them to in the hope some CEO arsehole will jump on them.
It was a re-birth, I was finding the reason as to why I created music again, after having lost it for quite some time.
And this is what you will hear on my latest album DOPAMINE, it’s the sound of facing that madness and chaos, and the beauty of release from surrender.
DOPAMINE is my Phoenix, rising from the ashes, cell phone sketches to open mics, then leading to fully formed produced songs.
What is a “Rock Star” really?. It’s just a human being who feels like they can touch the stars and feel the euphoria and wonder of that moment, but then at some point they come crashing down to Earth, they are wounded, but a true Rock Star finds the strength to channel that experience into songs, so others can get to share in those moments of utopia, only with an honest redemption forged in the “Rock Stars” heart is this possible.