Hey their guys, DJ Dizzy here & Here's my interview with Rob D so give a listen & enjoy!
How'd I get started in music?
My first foray into music was at high school, I wanted to play saxophone, the teacher said I should learn Clarinet 1st as its similar fingering to the saxophone, so I tried clarinet for a year & then moved onto saxophone, by which time I had become bored playing & much preferred sports .My older bro at the time had asked to learn piano, folks bought a piano, he had 3 lessons & gave up, but they loved the piano, so it was kept at the house evermore. Later on, I became friends with a lad whilst we taught martial arts, he also played guitar & I decided I wanted to get into music. My folks were away for the weekend & I phoned around the local studio's asking if I could give any of their band's lyrics that I had written (I hadn't actually written any at the time, I was just trying to find a way in). One of the studio owners called my bluff & asked me to come round the next day, so I had to then write 12 lyrics & sing them directly into a stereo mic onto cassette, no instruments just me singing. I managed to do it & listened back, thinking they sounded ok & took the cassette round to the studio the day after. The studio owner said they had potential but instead of passing them onto a band, I should really go to college to do music & record them myself, I took his advice & phoned the local college & applied for the music course -having no real background in music- I looked thru my mums catalogues that summer & saw a guitar I liked, bought it, it arrived the day of the audition, so I took it with me & told the music teachers it was brand new, so didn't want to play it. The singing teacher said I had to sing acapella to him, so I did & then both teachers said if i was committed to following the course all the way they'd accept me onto the course. I started that September.
I seemed to have a knack for lyric writing & reading/writing music which many of my piers found hard, they could all play by ear whichever song they heard pretty much off first listening, I helped them with lyrics & reading/writing music & they showed me a few things on guitar. When i went home after college I transposed the guitar parts I was learning, onto piano & pretty much taught myself how to play guitar & piano. After a year at college, we were all applying for university courses & offered a place dependant on results, I gained a merit -kinda like a B- & got accepted to the university course for that October, as much a surprise to me as my family & friends & I carried on to gain a degree in music.
Who are your inspirations or influences?
I'd always listened to a big variety of styles/genres whilst growing up -part of the reason I wanted to learn saxophone when I was young was because of the Robert Palmer song with the girls playing saxophone in the video-. My folks listened to everything from Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel to Eric Clapton & Van Morrison, I got them into Dire Straits, Queen, Gomez & few others with some of the singles & albums I bought.
When I finally got into music seriously, I had this soundtrack from growing up so I started chatting with friends of the courses I was on & found a lot of music that wasn't in the charts in the UK & it opened a whole new area for me, bands like Counting Crows, Matchbox 20, Live & heavy metal that I'd never really listened to before.
I started buying all sorts of music & learning how to write songs/lyrics & hone my craft, reading through lyrics of artists/bands I was into. I'd say my inspirations & influences range from Incubus, Counting Crows, Bjork, Damien Rice, Goo Goo Dolls, Ben Howard, Alanis Morissette, Portishead, UNKLE, Jack White, Black Keys, Korn, Tan Dun to name a few.
The first song I learned to play on guitar was I wouldn't believe your radio by a band called Stereophonics, first song I learned to play on piano was ColorBlind by Counting Crows, so depending what I'm writing on piano/guitar & also if I'm writing on my own as a solo player or when I was in one of the bands, that would also have influence on what I was writing. Lyrics always seemed to come first though.
With regards other inspirations & influences, I love the movies & also artwork so write songs & lyrics from watching films or looking at paintings or photography, they really help you to get a different perspective on things & life in general. Soundtracks & scores can send you off into a totally different headspace when writing songs, as can looking at paintings & photography, so I'd say they are as influential when it comes to writing songs as listening to other artists.
What advice would I offer aspiring performers?
I'd say the best thing to do before getting out & performing would be to get into the practice of writing songs -either music or lyrics, or both- once you feel comfortable playing them, then performing them will be easy
If you're getting into a band, write & rehearse before you go out to play. If you're going it solo, look for open mic nights to start in as they have up & coming musicians at all levels who are very supportive of performers just starting out.
From the outset I wrote original songs & although I picked up a couple of cover songs just to try out or give me ideas for my own songs, I played my own material 95% of the time with a cover thrown in very occasionally. It would seem that most bands/soloists learn cover songs first to play, which can help gauge the audience you're playing to but also show your own vibe when it comes to what they can expect from your original songs too.
If you're going to a music venue & there is an audience there, they are in there to listen to music, so don't be nervous playing to them, you all love music.
How do you set yourself apart from other bands or singers?
As mentioned before, I only play original songs -always felt that when listening to songs to cover, the original artist would always be the best, so I never really played cover versions- I've written probably over 2000 lyrics & put music to about 500. I think from starting with the lyric, I felt if it was strong enough to stand alone without music, adding music to it would make it even stronger, so always try to start from this point (although some of the lyrics, at least the earlier ones used too much line rhyming for its own sake as opposed to writing a story & full song).
Yeah, so if people come to see me play, expect original songs
Any new gigs or albums in the future?
I've been in bands that made albums but as we split up, I've not used those songs we wrote or put out the albums, as they weren't my solely own work. When the venues & other places open up, I'm hoping to get out & play more open mic nights, record some of the songs I have up on youtube professionally & put out an album or 2 for sure, maybe even work with my musician friends & get a band going again or at least record things with them.
In the meantime, there will be my demo's on youtube as & when I'm able to put more up I will do.
Special thanks to him for doing this interview, & I wish him lots of luck so until then I'll catch you on The Flipside! Stay awesome & rock n roll!