A Q&A with The Gleeman
Cornish singer-songwriter gears up for debut album…
What’s the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
‘Summer Town’ is an ode to the January blues and a yearning for sunnier and warmer times. I have always found January a difficult month, you have the post-festive season comedown, another year of uncertainty to face and it’s generally dark, wet and miserable. I certainly suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. ‘Summer Town’ is my daydreaming escape from all of that.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
It was recorded during the sessions for my debut album Something To Say (to be released later 2023) in 2020, which was a challenging time period for everyone (though some very much more than others) and accordingly the recording process ended up being very different than we had originally planned. Instead of everyone rocking up to a studio for a couple of weeks, everything was recorded fairly piecemeal over a period of months with some elements like the drums and brass on this track being laid down remotely. Ultimately I’d like to think that the songs actually benefitted from this approach. I also lost both of my parents a few months apart during the process, so it was a difficult time for me personally, but it was probably a help to have something that kept me busy and my mind occupied during that period.
Who produced the release – what did they bring to it?
Out of all the songs recorded during those sessions, ‘Summer Town’ was definitely the song that the producer had the biggest impact on. I had originally written and played the song in double time compared to this recorded version, so some quite fast strumming on the acoustic guitar and certainly a very different vibe. The producer, Will Hicks, was hearing something else and we had the discussion in prep of playing it in half time and going for more of a “Laurel Canyon” feel. I toyed with this approach at home and liked it but went into the studio with the plan of mashing both versions together, starting off half time, going into double time from the second verse, then dropping back again later, but I was talked out of it. When you are working with someone like Will, who has worked with many big names and produced some massive hits (notably Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’) and the likes of Fred Abbott (from Noah & The Whale, a great musician and producer) also in the room, well there are times as an artist where you need to hold fast and stick to your vision and there are times when you need to listen. I am still a little curious how the other version would have turned out though…
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
The prevailing reason I am doing this is that I want my music to make a connection, to try to bring some comfort, some joy, some respite, some meaning and some understanding into people’s lives. Music is such an incredibly powerful medium and has the ability to have a major impact on how we feel and our general wellbeing. Both of my parents suffered from the cruel disease which is dementia, I witnessed first-hand over the years how music could penetrate the fog and bring peace to them like nothing else could. The last time I saw my father, a few days before he died, as usual there was no recognition, no awareness and no eye contact but I played him a song that I knew was one of his favourites from years gone by. The effect was quite astonishing, you could see that it broke through, a sudden alertness, a look of calmness and a spark in the eyes. Knowing music can do that helps to keep me motivated to do what I am doing.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
I write on either piano or acoustic guitar, more so the latter. Normally something musical comes first (but there are exceptions) and then melodically and lyrically I try to land on the hook and key phrase, something that is aesthetically pleasing and I work backwards from there. I’m a storyteller. Every song needs to have ‘Something to Say’ (which, as mentioned above, is the title of my debut album…) So from that key phrase I craft an idea of what that story could be and decide whether it is going to be something personal or fictional or perhaps a mix.
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
I can’t say that I have been particularly influenced on this project, in fact I always find it difficult to name influences as trying to pick out and name just a few is not really an accurate representation of my musical enlightenment. Like most music fans, I have listened to a plethora of artists and bands over the years, both recorded and live, ultimately as a songwriter you are influenced by them all. Life experiences that I have had have also influenced the themes and lyrics of many of my songs. I am not a song snob as a good song is a good song, no matter how cool or credible others may deem an artist to be or not be.
What countries would you like to tour? Are there any standout venues you’d like to play in?
Countries? All of them. Music is universal and has no geographical boundaries and I would like my music to reach as many people as possible. Standout Venues? Naturally I aspire to perform at Wembley Stadium and Madison Square Garden as those two are the pinnacle for a musician. You’ve got to have goals and I have always been a firm believer that they should always be the highest ones, else why bother getting out of bed in the morning.
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
That’s a difficult question, like being asked to pick your favourite child! I would actually pick a track that is not fully released yet (but there is a section of it buried in my Facebook page) called ‘You Are Not Alone’. It has a very universal message and consists of just a single acoustic guitar and vocal, if you can make a song work and be engaging on that basis then you have done good. Otherwise, as far as fully released tracks go, most have them so far have been quite paired back, but the current release, ‘Summer Town’, is a full production and more akin to the majority of songs on the forthcoming album so that would be a good place to start.
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
Musical world domination. Why strive for anything less.
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars…
For more info visit: facebook.com/TheGleeman