I’ve slept less than 6 hours a night and haven’t eaten a cooked meal in over a week. My bedroom resembles a car boot sale and I’m pretty sure my cats think my flat mates are their actual owners.
This isn’t a complaint, it’s a celebration. I am so blessed to be so busy doing what I love.
However, I feel it’s time to lay bare some home truths about following your dreams as a musician.
I often get the impression that a vast majority believe that being a musician is having an elaborate hobby supported by full time work or generous and well off parents.
I gave up my 32k job to become a student. This gives me just enough in the form of student finance to live on. I spend the majority of this on rehearsal rooms, travel, accommodation and per diems for my musicians, advertising and other musically related expenses.
At my level playing small pubs and clubs with the occasional small festival thrown in for good measure, payment is sporadic at best. I am lucky to get expenses and when I do it rarely scratches the surface of the actual expenditure that made it possible for my musicians and I to play.
Again, this is not a complaint. Yes, it would be wonderful to be paid and make money from the music I lovingly create and play. The industry as it is does not allow for this. I am merely pointing this out and I am 100% grateful to those promoters and venues who do pay me, however much, as every penny goes back into doing what I love and goes a long way to make what I do possible!
I think it is important that the impression people have of following dreams is a real one. It’s not writing a few tunes and suddenly being a rock star. It’s working for years from the bottom up, hoping you’ll be able to pay your rent again this month and afford to get to the next gig while possibly NEVER being a so called star or being out of part time work and in full time music.
It is hard graft. Blood, sweat, tears… I’ve shed all of them to follow my dream. I’ll continue to do so. I love it.
Writing songs and booking gigs is just the beginning. It’s also sitting up til 6 in the morning sending emails to more promoters, blogs, magazines and radio stations asking for exposure then getting a few hours kip before packing a bag and getting a train to who-knows-where to play a gig or do a radio interview for 20 listeners because any airtime is worth the exhaustion. It’s working a part time bar job every night after a full day of rehearsals on minimum wage and thanking God for that £6 in tips because that’s your bus fare back to the studio the next day. Thick skin and determination is essential. Passion is everything.
Apart from my sheer love for the music, the other huge element to keeping me in this is the people. I now have many people who support me continuously by sharing my music, promoting me in venues, turning up to gigs, playing my music on their radio stations… They are my heroes. One person singing along propels me forward. To have as many people as I have to call friends, fans or colleagues is a huge gift.
Rather than waiting to have an album to credit people, I’m going to list some of the important people I have around me so far and thank them whole heartedly for their amazing support. It isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. If I have forgotten to list anyone, please forgive me.
Coral Rose Radio, Lancaster
Shoreditch Radio, London
Krystal Radio, Essex
BBC Intro, Norfolk
London Unsigned/Unsigned Gig Guide
Nzoyi – guitars, keys, MD, brother from another mother
Jeff Cramer – guitar
Ben Witherstone – guitar
Frankie P – bass
Sophie Lord – bass
Michael Osborne – drums
Shakira Malkani – drums
Paolo Gravanti – Cajon
Amanda Brown – drums
Riskee and the Ridicule
Fave Venues: (for hospitality, promotion, and friendship)
Golden Lion Hotel, Carmarthen
The Kings Arms, Salford
Bar Vinyl, Camden
The Blueberry, Norwich
The Tram And Social, Tooting Broadway
The Aquarium, Lowestoft
The Worlds End, Finsbury Park
Special thanks to www.archstudios.co.uk for their friendly, very accommodating and generous team. You look after me and my team so well!
Also, I humbly thank every friend, fan and family member near and far who have given me a couch/floor/bed to sleep on, a meal, come to a gig, chucked me a tenner in times of trouble… Too many to name but you all know who you are and I hope you know how much I love you.
May my struggle carry on and bear fruit to be given back to you in abundance.