Let’s start with the name of your record Dark Days+Canapes. According to Google Canapes means small sandwiches.
Fancy snacks, to be exact.
Why dark days and fancy snacks?
It’s kind of like an equation. Those two things kind of represent the characteristics of the world. What we’re experiencing, depending on your standing in life. It’s a mixture of yin and yang, the poor and the rich. I like riddles, that’s kind of how my style is.
It’s so cryptic, to be honest.
It’s also about the artwork, I like how it looks, the shape of the words. That’s important for me.
When I was listening to your record, one song in particular made me feel really emotional, sobbing, but at the same time I felt like we are taking every day for granted. It was Immigrant boogie. Which lead to my next question. What are your views on what’s happening in the world right now?
I wrote that song, because everyone’s been exposed to the topic personally or through the media. I must have seen the killer story of washed up bodies on the Mediterranean beach and it was the energy, it was so shocking. I didn’t sit down and write it straight away, but it was almost burnt into my brain. When it came to writing things for the record, it came out like this. It’s not a political record, I have to keep saying it, because I don’t want it to be misconstrued. It’s just about shining a light on a particular issue, that we’re all thinking about. I just wanted to write about it, start a discussion, not just read about a shit’s gone down in the newspaper on page 22, while next page is Hollywood gossip.
In an old interview, you were talking about the beginnings of your career, 10 years of pushing yourself to the limit, to make it work. When it finally happened, you’ve got the best recognition there is for a new artist. A nomination for a prestigious award.
I was definitely living a life on reflection, I was doing what I had to do to pay the bills, with the feeling I should have been doing something else. But I didn’t know what that was. Music was a hobby and something I did in the evenings, when I finished work. I just got lucky, putting music on the Internet, back then it was MySpace. A person I knew recommended it to somebody else. They saw something in it I didn’t see myself. And I got the opportunity to release a record. I decided myself, to work as hard as possible. And because of the path I’ve chosen from the very beginning, where I’m not trying to make what you call pop music. I want my music to be popular, but on my terms, not based on what is right for the charts. So, I knew from the very beginning it’s going to be a longer journey for me. It still is. It’s great I can go on 30 days tour around Europe. I’m not playing arenas, but am playing for more people nowadays, than before.
Would you have any advice for new musicians?
Stop making music, it’s done! (Laughter) No, I feel that it’s getting harder, unfortunately, so I don’t want to say “Yeah, keep working hard, you’re gonna get there!”. Not everyone will, because of the nature of the business. The fact, that people are not buying records, they can stream it for free means that your revenue stream is very limited, from the business point of view, if you can’t play live. Again, I was very lucky, where I could get over the years, with a band, play live, it’s very difficult to do now. I would say: “try as much as possible to be unique”. It’s so easy to just do whatever everyone else does. To take a particular sound, make a hit record with a very common sound and lyrical style, to appear to a major label, with ideology of what is a good song. It’s easy to do that. I feel, with stuff like that you have maybe a hit, if you’re lucky. If you’re really lucky, you may have a few. After that you’re done. But if you’re unique, you reflect yourself on others, weather it is positive or negative, but it’s honest. Honesty will last longer, then being on chart hits. That’s my advice. Be yourself, don’t be a sheep. The whole world is crowded with sheep.
This is a really good advice.
This is just my opinion. I’m just a grumpy old man. (Laughter)
I can’t feel the grumpiness! (laughter) In another interview, you’ve said “I would do music for a Double Decker, a cheese and onion sandwich”.
That was misconstrued again! I didn’t say that, because I hate cheese and onion sandwiches. I would never say that. It was along the lines, that I would do music for pretty much nothing. It’s really weird how the Internet works. (Laughter) Right now I wouldn’t do it for nothing, because you have to know the value of what you do. Music was a hobby, music is still a hobby. I don’t do it because it’s my career. I do it, because I love doing it. I do it because it’s part of me. Integrity is important for me, it’s not about just making music. If I’m not inspired to make a song, I’m not going to just do it, because I have to. I’m very lucky, I’m in a position, where I can do that and I feel it’s important not to take it for granted.
Your record really stands out, there are not many of those these days. A lot of records sound exactly the same.
It’s a shame, unfortunately. There are definitely people trying to do something different. It’s just harder to get to that now. Because of the way everything is send out, from streams, to radios and releases. It’s out there, but it’s harder to find it.
Would you pull your music from streaming services?
Yes and no. It’s like, you have to play the game. Being in my current position, if I took out my music, it wouldn’t benefit me. For example, here, no one knows me. So, to me, taking my music off streaming services doesn’t make any sense. Maybe Adele did it, some of the big stars did it. But, when you’re on that level, it’s not going to affect you. It would affect me. I’m for and against it. I think it’s important for people to buy music, because it’s a craft. It worries me, that there are children being born now, brought into a world, where music is free. Music is obviously not like building a furniture. It’s not like a physical thing, where you have physical end results. I think that’s the problem, people can’t get their heads around the fact, that there’s a lot of hours, that go into making a record. And a lot of money. A lot of sacrifice. It’s unfortunate, that the end result is a digital file. When you compare that to a piece of furniture, that we’re sitting on or looking at, it’s difficult to see an average person getting their head around it. I don’t see us going backwards now, I don’t see us becoming a society, where people are starting to buy records again. That’s done. And streaming is great, when you’re a music lover of any age and want to discover music, something like Spotify is great. I have a Spotify account and it’s great. The music I have discovered because of it is unbelievable. I would never be able to do that going through records in a record shop. It’s amazing, but it would be great for people to get a decent wage for what they do. A music career is potentially long lived but it’s very tricky, because you don’t have a monthly pay check. Some people do it, if they’re lucky. You never know, where you’re going to be from month to month. It would be great, if it changed, but if it doesn’t, you just have to adapt and look for the ways to make it.
I think vinyls are coming back, so maybe not in our lifetime, but sometime after, the idea of buying music could be back for good.
Potentially, I actually like the fact that it’s coming back. It’s like you don’t have vegetables for a long time, you just come to a point where you need to have veg. I think with vinyl is so much like a need to have a physical thing connected to music, creating an urge to buy records again. It’s great, really cool. I just never expected it. I really just thought it was done, once we started to go digital and streaming started to become a must. It’s interesting to see it develop.
I really do think it’s coming back. I think everything is coming back at some point, in fashion, in music, in life. There’s a limited amount of what we can use. And then the cycle begins again, and again, and again. Everything comes back eventually. I went deep with this philosophy, didn’t I. I don’t know, if it’s true, but in one of the past interviews, you’ve mentioned, you were afraid of going on stage and playing live.
Is it gone now?
Yeah. That was just in the beginning. I was like “Oh God, I’m so scared, oh the anxiety!”. Now it’s just like, I’m doing the job I love, why should I be scared of it. Some people, I know personally, find it very tricky to go on stage, because of their anxiety. In the beginning, I’ve written these songs not really thinking, they will be listened to by people other than my friends. Some of it was personal, some filled with my emotion on the line. And I didn’t know how to get that out on stage. I was overthinking it too much. Projecting myself during a performance, if the music was right, what if it goes wrong. That kind of stuff. With time I’ve learned to accept shit happens and ultimately it’s just fun. I am lucky in terms of music. But it’s just fun. I take it very seriously, but I don’t take it too seriously. Because then it becomes something else and I just want it to be fun. That’s what I’ve learned over time.
If it wasn’t for music, what would you do?
I would just do stuff, I am doing right now, I have a coffee shop, a radio station in London, where I live. I would like to stay connected to music one way or another, promoting interesting music, that’s what I always liked to do. That’s basically it.
Most of the people answering this particular question say, they would go back to corporations or what they were doing before.
Four, five years ago I would probably have said the same, going back to the job I was doing before. I’ve came a long way. I can’t give up, what I have now. Who knows what the future holds.
We don’t know if we are going to live tomorrow.
That’s true. So, the best is to live in the present.
Thank you so much for your time. See you in a bit!