Acoustic

laurenceOctober 17, 2012
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10min33

Today we get the exclusive scoop with Sheldon Botler as he speaks about his music and the road he’s taken to get to where he is today with his music. Sheldon has a song coming out on the 25th of October on the Independent Charts called ‘Day Dreaming’, keep your eyes and ears peeled people!

 

Hi Sheldon, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today! Could you
enlighten our reader as to how you got started in music, when did you make
the change from listener to musician?

It took me a long time to really consider myself a musician. Though I had done music as a hobby my entire life, it had never dawned on me that I was worthy of performing around the world or making this my career path. Though I had made my first recording when I was 2 years old, with my father, it still did not make sense to me. He was playing the keyboard and I was in the background singing “ DOOO DOOO DOOOOOO!!!!” off pitch at the the the top of my lungs. By elementary school I had begun my career as the playground minstrel, singing tunes I had heard on the radio and performing at local talent shows. Still it was nothing more than a fun thing to do. I had even begun my recording career about this time. Anybody remember tape decks with a record button? I had two of them. I would record original lyrics and melodies into one, the play it and record myself and that track together. I would make entire choirs come to life and play my keyboard in the background. I loved making music, but I didn’t take myself seriously.

It was not until college that a friend of mine, Tyler Broussard, sat me down and said “you’ve got to choose,” and I realized music was my choice of inspiration and career. He made me realize that, while I was studying for exams and preparing to be a Multicultural Youth Program Development Major, I spent most of my time doing music, talking about music, eating with musicians, and performing everywhere. He also was the first person to most eloquently say that  “no one can sound like you but you, so stop competing with others, you are your competition.” To all musicians out there, remember these words, please haha.

Which artists have inspired your music from then until now?

Since I was a child I was always inspired by Stevie Wonder’s writing and arrangement. Now matter what the song, he managed to capture the emotion of the subject matter and he as done so countless times since his beginnings. I love his work. Another artists I am very inspired by is Bilal. By far, he is one of the most soulful and unique artists I have heard in a long time. Mind you, I have countless influences of all genres, only these two have stuck with me for the longest amount of time. And if you haven’t heard of Austin Jenckes, Raul Midon, India Arie, John Legend or Alicia Keys well you’re just missing out!

What about the creative process? Where does the song begin, a melody, a
lyrics, or just a feeling?

My creative process is sort of like dating. It’s never the same, no formula works with each song, and it is often the most rewarding and frustrating thing ever. My songs usually start with a moment of inspiration, either a song lyric, a kick drum that hits me a certain way, a melody or a theme. I tend to run with either one of them as a starting point and begin recording. Then I see where it takes me. For instance, Day Dreaming started off as the opening riff. I recorded the guitar for that piece straight through to a click track, unrehearsed and raw. I went through it about 3 or 4 times re-recording the same idea and the last run through was perfect, so I built everything around what I had recorded and bam! Music! I don’t think there are really rules for how a song should be created. Sure there are effective methods, but a method is simply a tool for starting, and the more tools you have, that you know how to use, the more efficiently you can navigate the creative process. But I don’t believe there is one way to write a song.

How many hours do you spend practicing or writing a day?

About an hour or two a day. And it looks different every day, I am still writing a regimen.

Where can we find you playing live?

Well if you must know lol! I am performing at the Grammy Museum on December 12th as a finalist in the Be Heard Artist Showcase! Be there!!! This showcase is filled with some of the most talented artists I have been exposed to in some time and we all would love your support.

Have you got a favourite venue? If you could play any venue with any
artist who would it be and where?

My favorite venue is in Seattle, the Lucid Jazz Lounge. It’s owned by a man names Davide Pierre-Louis. This man is the definition of good taste and hospitality. The food is amazing, the customer service is phenomenal and the venue itself is something between classy, intimate, serene and bumpin, all at the same time. But! if I could perform anywhere, with anyone it would be a few persons actually. Okay, check this out …the ultimate show! Alicia Keys, India Aire, Raul Midon, CT Carson, Austin Jenckes and myself at the Nokia Center in Los Angeles, with choreography, singing, a live band, audience participation and thousands of screaming loving people.

What challenges have you faced on the road to get where you are now? How
did you make it through?

For the longest time I was afraid to try. Simply afraid to try. The first step in overcoming this fear was to first be honest with myself about what I wanted out of life. Then making a plan about what I was going to do to get there. Lastly, the hard part, doing it everyday. Like many people, I have been my worst enemy and my biggest fan simultaneously. Not always fun, but a beautiful process.

What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring artist?

Get over yourself! Love change! NEVER stop being creative! And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for support. If you are driven and work hard, people will support and follow you. There is nothing more simple or more difficult that to pursue your dreams, but life just is not worth it if you don’t. Oh and please have a purpose! Mine is to help people heal though music, to be entertaining and to tell stories that anyone can relate to, despite cultural barriers.

What does the future hold for your music? Is there a master plan or are
you just going to keep doing what you do best?

Here’s the master plan. In a year I want to be signed to an entertainment agency and continue to book gigs as an actor and entertainer. I want to tour international, collaborating with other musicians who believe in healing through music, and to make money performing, teaching, writing songs and placing music in films/commercials and on the radio.


laurenceOctober 15, 2012
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9min25

Chelsea Monthly gets the exclusive interview with Independent Artist Fred Irwin about his music and recently released single ‘Wasted with you’ through the Independent Charts!

 

Hi Fred, thanks for talking to us today. So when did music change from
being something that you listened to, to something you wanted to be
actively a part of?

Happy to! I guess the first signs were when most of the sign-up sheets in
the karaoke bars on holidays I had as a kid had my name on them! I picked
up guitar when I was 12 and spent the next few years just playing along to
my favourite songs. It’s only a couple of years ago that I started getting
a real taste for playing live with my old band, but it was still only
covers. I’ve been writing songs since then, and a lot of them weren’t
really written with the band in mind and so by the time we split, I had a
small collection of songs that I was itching to play live.

I know it’s commonly asked, but where do you get your inspiration for a
song? Do you sometimes find it hard to write anything or does it come easy
to you?

It really varies from song to song. Everything I’ve written is at least
slightly based on personal experience. Sometimes I’ll try and write a song
around a memorable event and use that as the inspiration whereas other
times I’ll just write about what’s going on in my life at the time. I’m not
really inspired to write about what’s going on in the world around me, I
write about the things that happen to me and that are personal to me. But
I’m not the only person to go through things I write about, so people can
relate which is great.

What about the creative process? Do you start with a melody, or a lyrics
and work from there?

Again, it really does vary. There’s songs like Wasted With You or Don’t
Panic that are very much based around a chord progression or riff. Then
there’s songs like Find My Way Home where I was sitting on lyrics for ages
and put the music to it. On the whole I’d say the lyrics come first, but
every know and then I’ll come up with some chords or a melody that I look
to build on.

How many hours a day are you practising or writing?

Sometimes it can be difficult to find as much time as I want to practice or
write. I’m one of those people who will go a few days without touching my
guitar but then when inspiration hits I’ll be playing for hours on end.

Where can we find you playing live?

I get most of my gigs around the Staines/Chertsey area. I know some great
guys called GetGigsEasy who’ve given me most of my gigs to date. I’ve got
my album launch party in my hometown on November 24th, the Rose and Thistle
in Frimley Green which will be a lot of fun. All of my shows so far have
been in the South but I’d love to start playing further afield.

You just released a track on the Independent Charts ‘Wasted With You’ can
you tell us a little about the song?

It’s a song about regret, wishing you’d done all the things you’ve done
with someone else. I think it really sums up the album Nights Like These.
There’s songs about love and loss and there’s songs about living for the
moment and doing the typical things that young people do. I guess this song
is about both, about a time when I was doing all the things I wanted in
live but in hindsight wishing that I’d done them with someone else.

Are you writing anything new at the moment? Do we have any new tracks to
look forward to?

I’ve always got ideas going round in my head and I’m often writing stuff
down but whilst there’s a couple of songs that were written in a night,
most of my songs are a result of writing one line, or a particular riff and
then coming across it a few weeks or a few months later and really working
on it. I’m just focussing on the release of the album and seeing what
people think of those songs. I’ve had a great reaction to Wasted With You
so far and I’m grateful to everyone who’s taken the time to listen to it.
It shouldn’t be too long before I put a new song or two out and there’s
some B-sides coming on the remaining singles from the album too.

What challenges have you faced as an independent artist? What have you
done to overcome these challenges?

I guess the hardest thing was taking the step from just having songs and
playing them to myself and and actually putting them out there. As I’ve
said, some of my songs are quite personal and so I’ve had to allow myself
to feel comfortable with people hearing them. I guess you just have to take
the step and put it out there for whoever wants to hear it. I’ve enjoyed
everything I’ve done so far in this and so I guess the biggest challenge
was overcoming the fear of putting songs that were personal to me out there
and I’m lucky that it’s led to shows that I’ve enjoyed playing and people
seem to enjoy being a part of.

How do you manage to balance Music and life?

It can be a struggle. I work full time and so it can be hard to find time
for everything else. I’m lucky to have an understanding boss who’s pretty
flexible and I’ve been able to get to gigs and always had places to stay.
When it comes to writing, I always have a chance to sit down in the evening
to get something down if there’s something I really want to work on. At the
end of the day, I love music and so I’ll always find time for it, I just
have to find that time around life I guess!

Where do you see yourself in five years with this?

I can honestly say I have no idea. I enjoy playing music and if I achieve
something by doing it then I couldn’t be happier. As long as I can continue
to do what I do whilst having a lot of fun on the way, I’m happy and I hope
that’s the case in 5 years.


laurenceOctober 1, 2012
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7min27

Today Chelsea Monthly is talking to Becky Wixon, an up and coming artist from High Wycombe who has just released her track ‘Old Soul’ on the Independent Charts, and managed 3rd place in just 3 hours!

 

Hi Becky, so has music always been a part of your life? How long have you been writing and performing for?

Hi! I’ve been playing guitar since the age of about 8 and writing songs ever since. I’m 18 now so music has taken a large proportion of my life! I think I was about 11 or 12 when I played my first gig.

Your track ‘Old Soul’ has just been released, I believe it’s 3rd in the top 100 singles this week on the Independent Charts, how was the reception to the release?

I couldn’t believe the response it got! When I’ve released songs before they’ve had a few hundred plays maybe, I was overwhelmed by the amount of plays and ratings it got so quickly. Getting into the top 3 within a few hours of the release just put the cherry on the top.

Care to talk us through the creative process and
inspiration for this track?

I wrote this song about 8months ago, around the time when I was listening to a lot of blues and folk music, which is a clear inspiration. I’ve been playing it live for a while now but haven’t had a chance to record anything properly for a few years. I was 16
when I released my last EP and my music has developed and matured a lot since then. A good friend Paul Carr invited me to record in his home studio a few weeks ago and we got it finished within a few hours. We experimented a lot with the percussion and backing instruments – I even recorded my banjo for the first time!
Where can we find you playing live? Have you got a favourite place to play?

My next gig is on the 19th October at The George and Dragon in Chesham, supporting Jonpaul Palombo, which I’m really looking forward to. My favourite place to play has to be where it all began at The Nags Head in my hometown, High Wycombe. It’s been going through a rough patch recently though and almost faced closure so I really hope it makes it through.

If you could play any venue in the world or any show
that’s ever been with any artist ever, who and where would it be?

What a question. The first thing that came to mind was playing with The Beatles at The Cavern Club in Liverpool where they began. I’ve actually already played at The Cavern Club before, but 50 years too late!
But as venues go I don’t think they define a gig, the crowd does. That’s why festivals are so great! In that sense I would love to play Glastonbury festival. Playing Woodstock in 1969 with Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix would be very cool too.

How do you find the time to balance life and music? Do
you spend a lot of time practising and writing?

Recently music has sadly taken a backseat. I’ve just finished my A-levels, so I have been focusing mainly on that recently. For the past few years the only time I’ve had to do music is when I tutor it after school or work, and the occasional gig where I’ve been playing the same old material. For those reasons I have decided to
take a gap year this year to focus more on music and give it a real shot.

What have been some of the challenges with your music
so far? How have you overcome these challenges, and what advice would you give to an artist facing these challenges?

There have been times when I’ve played gigs to empty rooms, or venues when I’ve sung my heart out and just been talked over. I’ve been really close to giving music up after bad gigs like those. But then there have been incredible shows where the crowd has sung
my lyrics back to me, or when I’ve played to a room full of people in complete silence because they are listening so hard. My advice is just to take bad shows on the chin and remember the incredible ones. I’ve also had quite a few knockbacks when entering music competitions. My advice would be DO NOT ENTER
TALENT SHOWS they are ALL for money and don’t care about talent.
What does the future hold for you Becky? Any plans to
tour, or get out to any other countries for that matter?

I’m still just a struggling singer-songwriter playing the same empty
cider-smelling venues for now. I’d like to do a little UK tour later on in the year if things work out. I’ve actually been planning on starting a band instead of playing solo in the near future. I’ve always felt more confident playing with a band and I think it will give my blues direction the energy it needs, so watch out for that!



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