Performance, improvisation and composition have been means of expression and communication for me. I like music that takes me somewhere, that makes me feel confident, happy, optimistic, proud and/or that makes me shiver, or that reflects the mood I am in. Music has also been, and continues to be, a way of making friends, to communicate and connect with others, to express / be myself, to be part of the world.
Music is quite literally my first language. When I was young (3 or 4), I was still not talking so I had speech therapy. That didn’t have much impact so I moved to music therapy. My parents thought (the affect) music therapy (had on me) was amazing. I asked my mum about her memories of my speech & music therapy. She thinks that I was;
Free to ‘shout’ because I’d found my voice
Enjoyed the ‘music’ making very much,
Very happy to be communicating with ‘musical’ speech,
Emotionally charged because it was something I loved,
Able to ‘talk’ in a language instigated by me
Excited by the music.
I started having piano lessons around the age of 5 or 6 and carried on learning on and off with 4 teachers. As a pianist, I love playing music by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Glass, Handel, Tchaikovsky and Mozart amongst too many others to mention.
A family affair
My mum used to play guitar & sing folk music (songs performed by musicians like Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary, Tom Paxton, Joan Baez, Paul Simon). My dad encouraged me to sing with him in various choirs for many years during my teens and 20s; music by Bach, Beethoven, Haydn et al.
The oldest of my 3 brothers gave me a tape of Queen’s album The Works when I was 8 (1988); I’ve loved them ever since. My next oldest brother introduced me to Cat Stevens, Suzanne Vega, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, 10cc, Supertramp as well as Mike Oldfield and Jools Holland through letting me sit in his room when he was listening to them. My 3rd brother and I started to have drum lessons when I was in my teens.
Learning, Listening, Learning, Performing, Collaborating, Composing
I studied music at school (1985-91-96) and then at Richmond Upon Thames College (1996-98). Whilst at college, one of my music teachers took us to a Gamelan workshop at London's Festival Hall. The same teacher also teased us with snippets of Minimalism (Reich, Glass and Riley). I was hooked! I went with my parents (and a German exchange student we were hosting) to see Lerner/Loewe’s musical Guys n Dolls at London’s National Theatre in 1997.
I (didn't) study at Colchester INstitute during the academic year 1998-99 - I was depressed, barely completed the first year of a BMus, and ended up coming Home again.
I studied music at Roehampton Uni during 1999-2002 and graduated with a BMus. During my time there, I was briefly a drummer in a band although we never performed, was a member of the Uni choir, studied theory, history, piano, composition, learnt more about & played more Gamelan and wrote a thesis on Philip Glass' opera trilogy; Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha and Akhnaten.
I also accompanied musicians including "Shades of Harmony" (an intimate female choir), solo singers and a string trio. I also helped a solo singer pass a grade exam singer. I loved taking part in a performance of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius at St Alban’s Cathedral as a member of the choir. I heard Jools Holland perform with his band at one of the end of year balls at Roehampton.
A secondary school / college friend gave me a CD by Jimmy Scott and also took me to one of his gigs at the Jazz Cafe in London. He also took me to see Elton John at Wembley stadium (the original one) around the time EJ was promoting his Big Picture album.
I went to Kingston Uni for a year to study TV/Film composition during Sept 2002 - Sept 2003. I wrote about Queen's music for the films Highlander & Flash Gordon and was fortunate to receive an email via the Queen fan club from Brian May about Highlander. Although I didn’t do very well academically at Kingston it did provide the opportunity to get involved as a performer in a touring arts event / exhibition called “transit station’ which took me from Kingston (Nov 2003) to Edinburgh (Feb 2005).
I heard Brian May play at London's Royal Albert Hall in May 2004 as a 'Friend' of the Italian singer Zucchero. Around the same time, an old friend took me to see Simon & Garfunkel in Hyde Park; The Everly Brothers were the ‘support’ act. I went to hear Jools at the RAH with my middle brother one year in the 00’s.
PostEd; the creation
As a composer I produced the soundtrack for a VERY short film produced by Right Charlie Productions (Death (G)row) and a score for a (not so) short film (The Spotter, dir. Li, prod. Main), at the London Film Academy in 2005. I worked as an accompanist at Sheen Mount School from Feb-July 2005. I saw the Queen / Ben Elton musical We Will Rock You in London twice. I went to see The Blue Man Group with family c2006/7.
I've seen/heard American composer Philip Glass perform a number of times during the 00’s; as a solo pianist, with his ensemble (including Music In Twelve Parts) and with other musicians (inc Orion, scores for short films). Glass' collaborations with Ravi Shankar (i.e. Passages, 1990) opened my ears to Indian classical music in the same way that Glass' collaboration with Richard D James (aka Aphex Twin) opened my ears to more electronic music.
I joined another band around 2004/5 (Mark on vocals + guitar, Jon on bass was replaced by Jan).
The next transit station took me to Berlin in Feb 2006 and gave me the chance to collaborate / perform with dancers / musicians / performance artists & film makers and opened my eyes and ears as to what art and music could be.
At some point after Jon left, Mark and I performed as a 2-piece, White Stripes style. I can’t remember the chronology of the next few bassists; at one point Jan was playing with us, then another bassist joined, who was replaced some time later and then we had a 3rd bassist.
I joined another band with someone I was working with (Lester on bass & Paul* on guitar & vocal) during 2006/7 and left as I moved to Nottingham (Oct 2007 - mid 2008).
I saw John Adams' 2005 opera Dr Atomic & Philip Glass’ 1980 opera Satyagraha in May 2007 - both at the ENO in London. I saw / heard Philip Glass perform with cellist Wendy Sutter and percussionist Mick Rossi in London on 26 May 2009.
At some Mark & I stopped playing together, then started again in mid 2008 when I got back from Nottingham (Oct 07-mid 08) the first time, first as a 2 piece a la White Stripes. We were then joined by Sam on bass and carried on rehearsing and performing in London (Angel/Islington, Camden, Canning Town, Kings Cross…).
Since c2007/9 I’ve been composing a music theatre / musical / opera based on a book ('WAKTM') by the same friend who introduced me to Jimmy Scott and looking for artists of ALL sorts to get involved.
I accompanied a singer-songwriter called Nix Nugent during 2010-13 - we performed around London - our first Gig was at The Purple Turtle, we also performed around Camden and ventured to The Brunswick in Hove / Brighton once.
I was involved in a road accident in Sept 2011 (which resulted in a broken top jaw, damaged / lost teeth, a bone graft operation from my right hip to my lower jaw and some dental implants), and was treated by the amazing doctors & staff of London's Air Ambulance at the scene.
I saw Verdi’s opera Aida at the ROH in March 2011. I went to the Royal Albert Hall to see / hear Brian May and Kerry Ellis (former WWRY star) perform their Anthems album when they released it in May 2012.
I played drums in Kingston based band Euphoric Recall (Paul*, Tim & Laura) for between Jan-Sept of 2014. We performed in Kingston (Fighting Cocks, Cricketers) and Camden (Fidler’s Elbow).
Entrepreneur; helping others to communicate
Cheeky Promo started as a Facebook group to help musicians could connect with, empower, encourage & inspire each other, to help people to connect through music in Jan 2013. My post - accident dental treatment at the Dental Department of the Kings College Hospital finished in March 2015 when my implant(s) were completed and the gap at the front of my bottom jaw was filled with ‘teeth’.
Cheeky has grown into an arts community and we’re planning a virtual festival which will grow into a real festival - Cheeky Fest. I'm looking for people who share our vision and want to join the team. If you'd like to get involved in the festival - as a performer, volunteer, investor, partner or sponsor, and/or with Cheeky in the long term, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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