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Geo Gabriel – Interview

Sunday 28th January 2018

Geo Gabriel is a London-based Soul artist who has worked with some huge names in the music industry, including Jay-Z, Madonna, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, 30 Seconds to Mars, Placebo, Beverley Knight and Ed Sheeran, just to name a few!  He has also spent four years working with Bazil Meade, the founder of the world famous London Community Gospel Choir, responsible for recording the backing track of The Lion King’s “The Circle of Life”.  At the top of his mission list, Geo wants to continue contributing his own music to the world, and has just released his latest single “Destiny”, which is to be followed by an album release later this year.  I caught a moment with Geo to find out more about his experiences in the industry and latest release.

What artists and genres did you listen to growing up, and who or what encouraged you to pursue a career in the music industry?

When growing up I listened to lots of soul, rock, pop, reggae, hip-hop, jazz ranging from artists like Michael Jackson, Motown music, Phyllis Hyman, Earth Wind & Fire, David Bowie, Led Zeplin, Aerosmith, Genesis, Journey, Santana, Gun N’ Roses, Queen, Nat King Cole, Doris Day, John Holt, Ella Fitzgerald, Grover Washington, Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack, Kool G Rap, KRS -1, Leaders Of The New School, Steely Dan, New Edition, Prince, Parliament Funkadelic, etc.

You’ve worked with some really big names (Jay-Z, Madonna, Roger Waters, Ed Sheeran, to name a few). Could you tell me more about how these opportunities came about?

Some opportunities came to me via agencies I worked for, the Madonna and Roger Waters gig (Cà Ira) was via Choir connexion agency, because I used to be a member of London Community Gospel Choir (LCGC) while Ed Sheeran and Jay-Z were based on recommendations.

Who have you enjoyed working with the most, and do you have any memorable moments?

I’ve really enjoyed working with them all, I say Lionel Richie was so much fun. He was very down to earth and brought such a great vibe on stage, we had a dance-off on stage and as well, he was an absolute professional!

You also spent four years working with Bazil Meade. Are you able to tell me more about this experience, and what you achieved together during this time?

Bazil Meade is a legend, he’s the real deal!! His training is second to none, he helped sharpen skill in the area of voicing, working with harmonies which today I use in my vocal productions. Bazil Meade also introduced me to the world of session singing whereby I got a large amount of work with big artists through him.

How have these experiences encouraged you in your own music as an independent artist?

These experiences have encouraged me to keep working on my craft as a vocalist, presentation of my music as a whole, develop a great work ethic and aim for the top in terms of artistry.


It sounds as though you spend a lot of time working with other artists, but how do you find time to focus on your own material?

I have to always remember my ‘big why’ I entered the music game. I believe in keeping my mission at the forefront of my vision, this means regardless of what’s going in my life I have to make time for my music, because first and foremost I am an artist/singer/songwriter/producer, this means creating and contributing my music to the world is at the top of my mission list.

Could you tell me about your new single ‘Destiny’ and the inspiration behind it?

Destiny is a song about my life as an artist/entertainer, bright lights different cities different tours, plane hopping, hotels galore, performing on different stages around the world, these are some of the elements that make me the man who I am and I embrace it all because it’s no fluke I landed here, it’s my destiny. The inspiration for the song’s concept is my life as an artist/entertainer, as for musical inspiration it’s Quincy Jones in terms of production and Michael Jackson for the vocal styling. 

Will there be a video released for the single?

Yes, there will be a video for Destiny, we’re in talks of getting one done.

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

This year I will be releasing my album and I’m very excited about it.

What other artists are you listening to at the moment, and do you have any recommendations?

I’m currently listening to Gene Noble, BJ The Chicago Kid, PJ Morton, 9th Wonder, Phonte, Foreign Exchange, The Walls, Zacardi Cortez.

Connect with Geo Gabriel via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

George Simpson – Interview

Saturday 20th January 2018

Following the success of his first 2 albums, George Simpson decided to take a break for a couple of years, to spend some time deciding what direction he wanted to take his music.  Having already been picked up by the likes of Jeremy Vine and Graham Norton, and with his single “Open Door” finding success on the TV show Hollyoakes, George wondered what his next step would be.  Now, due for release on the 23rd February, “Finding Myself” is the upcoming single, which will be followed by a 3rd album release from George in the coming months. The single also features the harmonious vocals from UK Country songstress, Kezia.  My interview with George has been very enjoyable, as he gives me a detailed background in to the early days, his music career so far, and his songwriting process.

Hi George! Please could you tell me about yourself, how it all started and at what point you decided to make a career out of music?

I’ve always seen myself as a regular guy. One of the lads who grew up playing sport and not music. Music came very late to me picking a guitar up at 17 and not being able to perform solo until I was 27. I’ve only been performing solo on the piano for 3 years so as a performer, my background is very different from that guy, who has been learning an instrument and having lessons since they were at primary school, and had small friend circles and spent hours practicing. That was definitely not me.

I had a hopeful career as a footballer at one point, playing for my county (Leicestershire) and having trials for Leicester City when I was 16, and apparently I used to sing a lot in the changing rooms before football matches… so it’s something I enjoyed and something my friends obviously picked up on.

The football thing never materialised and I went backpacking for 2 years after leaving school and my A Levels half way through. I was never a keen academic… but when I went backpacking, I purchased a guitar and spent a year or so learning and playing and singing around camp sites etc, so when I came home I really got the music bug.

I joined a band called Shine, who were a cover band in my home town. One of my mates dad was the bass player and they let me get up and sing at his wedding. A few months went by and they needed a singer and they remembered me and I joined the band and thats where it all began!

The more I played the guitar and sang, the more I experimented with writing so I started writing from the word go.

I then joined a original music band called Lux Mundi to really put my writing to the test. They created the music which was prog rock, and I wrote the lyrics and melodies. Not the way I would have liked to write in hind sight but some great stuff came out of it. We never really got anywhere. We spent hours rehearsing and no time gigging. We were young, and there were personality clashes and we went our own ways, but it was a valuable experience, and at that point I was writing all of the time.

There was a pivotal moment where I left both both Shine and Lux Mundi at the same time in 2000. I focused on performing solo and writing as a solo artist and two year later I released my first single ‘Never Leave You Out in the Rain” and it went from there.

By this time my reputation as a performer helped me make the jump from full time employment into being a full time musician performing around the UK and Europe every week. It’s been nearly 4 years as a full timer and I am loving it! I have more writing time than ever, and see my two young boys (Zak-5 and Savvi -2) all the time which is great!

What is it about Country music that you enjoy, and who or what has drawn you to this genre?

I actually really got into Country music around 2 years ago when my wife drew my attention to the series Nashville. I don’t watch much TV but as soon as I heard that the series was about the Nashville music scene I thought I would give it a go… then…. these stunning duets and the beautiful melodic songs they played each week just grabbed me and it went from there! As a writer I am always analysing writing styles and looking for ways to be more diverse myself, so I wanted to test myself and try and write a country song, and within 30 mins, ‘Finding Myself’ was born! I found it came really easily to me and my style is quite emotive anyway, and being an acoustic guitarist it seemed to really suit me. I really really adore male and female duets too!

Following on from 2 successful albums you decided to take a break. What was it at that moment that made you feel you needed the respite, and how has it helped you going forward?

Yes, after my second album my second son was born and I was also still trying to cement my career in being a professional entertainer/musician, so it felt like a natural break. But… also, I simply wanted to just focus on new material and thinking about what direction to go in to next. I didn’t want any pressure on myself to write, so I went with the flow and tried to build up a collection of songs that could potentially be on album number 3! The previous 2/3 years were really full on. I hadn’t released a song before 2012 and most people I knew didn’t even know that I write songs, so there was a lot of hype at the time, and I tried to keep the ball rolling, and get a second album out and new singles and videos out there, but after that I was mentally exhausted from it all. Especially being an independent artist and doing everything myself.

Your new single ‘Finding Myself’ is due to be released in February. How are you feeling about getting your new music out there?

I really can’t wait! It’s been a few years of writing, recording and planning and I’m ready now for another push. I’m excited about people hearing my new music, and the new direction. The industry has actually changed a lot since I’ve been ‘hibernating’, ha! Spotify is a real big player now where it wasn’t so much with my first single and album, so planning releases is very different this time around!  

Who did you work with for the accompanying video for the single, and where did the shoot take place?

I worked with a friend called Jay Hillyer who is a really talented videographer. He started out when I started releasing music and I have always used him so we have grown together in a way! He has a really big profile now in certain scenes and we work together really well!  I always plan my own videos and try and create the scenes and shots. I wake up some mornings and go…. ahhh yeah that would be cool, or that would work well for that part of the song… my head is always on it!

The location was in Derby. An old derelict site… which was perfect. Kezia is from Derby and she pointed it out and said her brother had a photo shoot there a while back. We checked it out… and it was great… it reflected the song… and the relationship between two people where the relationship has gone from good to bad… just like that site. The graffiti added colour and you can see wildlife trying to grow again… and that almost told the story of the song. Accidentally clever I’d say! Ha. 

How did you find the process of putting the song together, and how does it feel listening back to a song that reflects on personal experiences?

I found it quite easy actually. I just started strumming some chords on the guitar, in a country style, and just let the first melodies that came in to my head, spill out… I knew what I wanted to write about at that time and it went from there. Some songs come easy, others you can spend months of tweaking and improving certain parts. ‘Finding Myself’ is about a personal experience, my first relationship actually… where things went bad, and I needed time away to reflect and see what I wanted. I moved home as I was living a few hours away in Leeds at the time. There is a line in the song ‘I see fire through your window, but it’s cold in my heart’… and I can vividly remember walking in one day, and seeing the fire on in the house through the lounge window, but feeling like I didn’t really want to be going back to that house anymore… anyway…! I’m please how the song came out. I feel most people could relate to it too and thats always something I strive to include in my writing!

Could you tell me about your writing process, and how you know when a song is ready? Being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas from?

In terms of writing I have always done everything on my own. I may sit down on a piano or the guitar, and both offer something very different in terms of writing and what comes out of my head! Sometimes I don’t know what to write about, but I play music first and see how it feels emotionally and then build the content of the song around that. Melodies come to me really easily… and then I work on lyrics to fit the melodies. Thats a very typical way in which I would write a song. Sometimes I write lyrics first.

When it comes to production of the tracks, I work with my producer Ben Haynes and he is brilliant to bounce ideas off. Between us, the song can take all sorts of twists and turns, but in the end, I’m always really happy with it. We’ve worked together on three albums now so we are really comfortable and familiar with how each other work, so this third album has been a pleasure with clear focus on what we want to achieve!  

How did the opportunity come about to work with Kezia, and how was the experience?

My producer, Ben Haynes, showed me a few years ago, Kezia’s work, as she worked with Ben too, so I always knew of her and really admired her style and voice. So when we started to look at female singers to make up to the duet, Kezia flew to the top of the list! Kezia is a pleasure to work with. She came in, used our ideas and harmony lines as a guidance, but then just improvised and did her thing, and I was like, yeah… that is great!!! I had another song recorded called ‘Love You Again’ which is almost like the part 2 of ‘Finding Myself’ and she also sang on that. Kezia is a lovely girl, really easy to get on with and really down to earth. I hope she goes far!

Are you looking to release another album in the near future?

Yes, certainly! I have the album ready to go! I have a release date set for April 19th 2018 and I am buzzing about it! I’ll be releasing another single just before then too in the run up to the album launch and hopefully a small tour to go with it all!  

Finally, if you were invited to perform on the BBC Live Lounge, which song would you cover and why?

Mmmmmm, actually I recently recorded a cover of ‘Freedom’ by George Michael/Wham. I love turning upbeat pop songs into emotive ballads and really show the true core of the song. I would love to get in the Live Lounge and do that with a small string section and some backing singers! I just love the song and love performing it and it would be great to show the world how George Michael probably wrote it originally before all of the production!

Connect with George Simpson via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Amanda Jayne – Interview

Wednesday 3rd January 2018

Amanda Jayne is a singer/songwriter who is ready to take her music to the next level.  Music and performing has been in her blood ever since she picked up her father’s guitar as a child, and now after an already successful debut album release, Amanda is ready to record and release new material. “Bruising pt II” is the latest single from the Long Island songstress, which is a reworking and development of the original track “Bruising” from her first album “Strike A Match.” The accompanying video sees Amanda comforting her four heartbroken friends, as she travels with their emotions in one continuous shot.  Being in the early stages of her music career I took a moment to find out more about Amanda, her music and aspirations.

Hello! Please could you tell me a little bit about yourself, who or what got you interested in music, and how you came to be a singer/songwriter?

Hi! My name is Amanda Jayne and I’m a singer-songwriter from Long Island, New York (the suburbs of NYC). I’ve been writing songs for about eight years now and playing live/recording for four. I decided to become a singer-songwriter because writing music was the best way to express my emotions as a teenager. Everyone has that angst-y period, and music helped me cope with it. I picked up my dad’s guitar, strummed a chord, and the rest is history!

How would you describe your music, and where do you take your inspiration from when writing your songs?

I say my genre is singer-songwriter/pop. That label encompasses the fact that my music is structured like pop but contains the authenticity of a singer-songwriter. My songs typically have memorable choruses and I use vocal harmonies often. The music’s complexity lies in the lyricism. When writing, I take inspiration from my own experiences. Many times, real-life conversations I’ve had make their way into lyrics. Having this honesty makes the songs feel more valuable to me and more personal to the listener.

What’s the story behind your latest single ‘Bruising pt. II’ and was it written through personal experiences?

“Bruising pt. II” is a reworking of my song “Bruising” that was on my last album Strike a Match. The original “Bruising” was quite simple, and I felt that the song would be better if it had more production on it (like a pop song would). I also added new lyrics to create a bridge. The process took about a year from rewriting to release. This song’s about a former love interest of mine who felt that he couldn’t commit to a relationship. In my mind, he didn’t value me and didn’t care that he was toying with my emotions.

Who did you work with for the accompanying video for the single, and where did the shoot take place?

Jolil Ullah from Vacant Eye shot the video, and I had four wonderful friends, Lindsey Smith, Cissy Ge, Khairika Al Sinani, and Jessica DiPaola play the four different characters. The shoot took place at the Pollock-Krasner House in East Hampton, which is where artists Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner once lived. It was a great experience, and I think the aesthetic of the video fits the song well.

What instruments do you play, and are you the one playing them in your songs?

The guitar is my main instrument, but I can play a bit of piano, bass, and ukulele as well. Studio work is a collaborative effort for my music, so it depends on the song! For “Bruising pt. II,” I played the piano part because I had written and practiced it. But, my friend Christopher Reilly was in the studio with me that day and nailed the guitar part. On Strike a Match, Chris and I tossed around the instruments so much that I couldn’t tell you who played what!

How are you finding the response to your music so far?

So far it’s been good! Many of my friends are incredibly supportive of what I do and try to help when they can. I haven’t picked up too much of a following yet, but I hope to in the coming years!

Could you tell me about your writing process? Being a solo artist, do you have anyone to bounce ideas from, or do you just know when a song feels ready?

Usually, an idea for a lyric or melody line hits me. I’ll jot it down, and when I can, I’ll sit with the guitar or the piano and flesh it out. While writing, the lyrics and melodies tend to come to my brain simultaneously. There are pros and cons to writing alone, though. I don’t have to agree with anyone about what goes into the song, but at the same time, it’s easy to run out of ideas or get stuck. I enjoy collaborating with other songwriters, and sometimes the product I get with a co-write is a million times better than what I could have accomplished alone.

How do you feel you’ve developed as an artists over the years?

Yes! I think I’ve grown tremendously. I’ve been working on my voice consistently and I’ve felt a huge improvement there. I’ve spent a lot of time practicing music and diving into the craft of songwriting. Also, my influences have shifted from pop/rock to R&B/ indie, so the type of music I make has changed a bit.

What are your plans for the year? Can we expect another album release, and do you have any live dates lined up?

My plan for 2018 is to get started on recording another project. I have a bunch of songs that are ready to get produced, so you’ll be hearing some new originals in the near future! These songs are going to be the best ones yet.

What other artists are you listening to at the moment, and do you have any recommendations?

I’m so glad you asked this! I love sharing music. Recently, I’ve been listening to Jess Best, Isaac LeSage, and Verhoog. Drax Project is always a favorite, and I can’t wait for Kimbra’s new album!

Connect with Amanda Jayne via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.