Here is a Q&A with singer-songwriter Andrew Richardson. He talks about his experiences in music.
Where did it all start for you getting into music?
Well, as for many people, it was watching Top of the Pops in the 1970’s – glam rock, soul, punk, disco! It all seemed so exciting. But I also really got into heavy rock – Zeppelin, Deep Purple and their spin offs – the very first gig I went to was Rainbow with Ritchie Blackmore.
In my teens I started to play in groups with school friends. Having not played any instrument up to that time, I was on drums and we generally played rock covers but we never really progressed beyond a few school concerts. I did get a guitar for Christmas during this time and learned to play by copying my band mates.
Who are your influences?
At university in the early 80s I discovered Bruce Springsteen and I was blown away. His exhilarating music, the stories and lives he reflected in his lyrics really meant and still mean so much. Add to that his legendary live performances which are a committed and high energy - he leaves everything on stage. Springsteen has influenced my songwriting, particularly lyrically, as I look to write about social, political and personal issues that are important to me.
With your music where do you tend to get your inspiration from e.g. how do you start your songs & what's your process?
Virtually all my ideas start with the guitar and me just playing around and something interesting comes up. I’m a pretty basic guitar player but I like interesting chord changes and vocally I just riff along with a chord sequence to find a melody. I always want to find a strong melody throughout a song and it’s important to me to ally the melody to lyrics that have some significance to me. Some of my song lyrics are personal to my own life but I would say most are observational in nature – social issues, politics, types of human behaviour. I don’t really do love songs or breakup songs!
How important is it do you feel it is to listen to current music as well as music from the past?
The truth of the matter is that I don’t listen to much current music – only what the radio gives me when I’m driving! I probably should listen to more, though I wouldn’t want my song writing to be influenced by a current trend- I’m pretty anti-trend as a person!
Do you feel it is important to watch other acts perform and to watch other live music?
Yes, at a local level it’s always interesting to see other acts at open mics and gigs, not only to see what music is being played but also to observe the performance – so much of what makes a good gig is the engagement with the audience, the confidence of the artists and what happens between songs. I’m quite a shy person and I try to rehearse what I’m going to say between songs to engage with the audience, I memorise the order of the songs I’m going to play and memorise the lyrics rather than refer to notes.
Finally what tips do you have for anyone starting out when it comes writing songs and performing live?
Writing songs is very personal, but I would say to trust your instincts, write what makes you feel good, don’t try to copy or sound like anyone as much as possible. There should be no subjects that are off limits when it comes to lyrics.
When it comes to performing live, there’s no substitute for getting out there and acquiring the experience. As I said above, the performance is not just the songs but what happens between and around them. Also, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
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