Michael Green Interviews... DrewJam
Originally posted on July 21st 2019 here is a Q & A with singer-songwriter DrewJam. He talks about his experiences in music.
Where did it all start for you getting into music?
I played music from a young age, starting to learn the guitar from my dad when I was 5. He was a singer/guitarist/songwriter who worked the club circuit in the north of England. I remember in particular learning Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowing in the Wind’, Pete Seeger’s ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone’ and ‘Rave On’ by Buddy Holly. A bit later I learnt classical guitar - playing a variety of spanish classical guitar, and my technique and ‘finger picking’ developed further. I played the piano from age 12, learning Beethoven, Mozart and some Bartok! I also enjoyed playing Billy Joel songs, including a favourite of mine ‘New York State of Mind’. I was encouraged to sing by my family, and was in a choir at primary school. There was always music in our house, either on the stereo or my dad practising. Who are your influences? I was exposed to a variety of music growing up which has influenced me: artists like Dire Straits, Stevie Wonder, Neil Diamond, Roy Orbison, the Bee Gees, Billy Joel and the Beatles, as well as lots of musicals, and the classical music that I enjoyed learning on piano. Later in the 90s, I got into bands like the Smiths, Oasis, Blur, Suede, Pulp, Manic Street Preachers, Paul Weller and David Bowie. I also like Soul classics such as ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’. I remember learning the whole of Eric Clapton’s hugely successful ‘Unplugged’ album which developed my technique on guitar; in particular the songs ‘Old Love’ and ‘Running on Faith’. Neil Finn is a major influence on my music; I like both his Crowded House and solo work, and have seen him play live a number of times. I’m also a U2 fan and have been to several gigs. I really enjoy George Michael’s work, and was very sad when he passed away a couple of years ago.
With songwriting where do you tend to get your inspiration from e.g how do you start your songs & what's your process?
I almost always start with a tune, either a riff or a little melody that is shaped out of a chord progression; usually just from mucking about on piano or guitar. Sometimes an initial lyric emerges and then the chord progression and tune follows fairly quickly. Other times the lyrics develop after I’ve got the melody; like a song I wrote last summer when I was out cycling, I did it really quickly! But more often they take a lot longer; some of my songs have taken at least a year to finish, mainly because I want to work on the lyrics a bit more. My single - The Truth took quite a while to right - it started on the piano initially and then found its way on to guitar! Inspiration can come from lots of places: an experience, something someone has said that triggers some ideas, a newspaper article or a book. When I get a quiet moment, I start to play with words and come back to the ideas until I’m happy, and then see if it works.
How important is it do you feel it is to listen to current music as well as music from the past?
I think it's really important to listen to a wide range of music; current as well as older. Of course the great thing about streaming services these days are the playlists; it’s a good way to explore new music and hear new sounds, both little known artists, as well as those that are currently high profile, like George Ezra. Having a young family, I now hear lots of types of music I maybe wouldn't have had so much exposure to otherwise. This is great as it gives me more depth and I of course get to play my favourites to them too!
Do you feel it is important to watch other acts perform and to watch other live music?
I love live music. Open mics and featured artist events are full of rich and unearthed talent. It's great to watch other artists perform and inspiring to hear their music. I remember seeing one of my friends’ bands and being inspired to write a tune on the piano when I got back after the gig. It’s the same when I see well known artists or smaller music nights; I get a real buzz from hearing original music. You can constantly learn from others and just enjoy as much music as possible. If I could, then I would be at a venue every night.
Finally what tips do you have for anyone starting out when it comes to songwriting & performing?
I’m always learning so grateful for any tips I can get! With songwriting and performing, my advice would be to keep practising and trying stuff out live. I hope my songs have got better over time and with practice but others can be the judge of that! With songwriting, it’s important to keep working at it, developing and being patient – some times it easy and sometimes it can take a lot of time and effort. I have lots of songs that are unfinished, one I’ve had for years that I’ll hopefully finish one day! Listening to a range of music and learning a bit of music theory can also help with different chord patterns and understanding song structure. I wouldn't over study however, like most things, enjoyment is key!
To find out more about DrewJam and his music go to www.Drewjam.com
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