Michael Green Interviews... Joe Bygraves
Originally posted on April 24th 2020 here is a Q&A with singer- songwriter Joe Bygraves. He talked about his experiences in music.
Where did it all start for you getting into music?
For me it all started at school. I never set out to be a musician, I never thought it was possible. One day my drama teacher convinced to attend an audition for the winter musical, reluctantly I attended and got a part. I became obsessed with singing and performing on stage, then at the age of 17 I decided to get guitar lessons. I picked it up quickly and started writing songs (very bad ones) from the get go. I used to send my songs to my friends to see whether it was any good, and they told me I had to share these songs with the world. So I recorded a short video of a new song, posted it on YouTube and Facebook and received a very kind response. From then on I’ve never looked back. Who are your influences? My main influence has to be the red-headed genius, more commonly known as Ed Sheeran. I remember playing ‘Lego House’ on repeat for weeks. What struck me most was that one lad and his guitar could play to massive crowds, this gave me a lot of belief that music could be a profession. Coldplay are another major influence as they have penned some of the most well-known melodies of all-time including ‘Yellow’ and ‘Fix You’. Lately, I’ve had more of an indie influence from bands such as The 1975, Catfish & The Bottlemen and The Hunna. My favourite songwriters are those that really tell a story, something which I’ve always aspired to achieve with my music. With your music where do you tend to get your inspiration from e.g how do you start your songs & what's your process? Firstly, I keep a large notes file on my phone filled with song ideas - it can be a title, a phrase or even just a feeling that I might want to write about. Song inspiration can come from literally anything, mostly I write about my life. However, a good technique I like to use is writing songs from someone else’s perspective, which can keep the creativity flowing. My songwriting process has changed quite a bit; at the beginning I would pick chords, decide the sections of the song, then write a melody over the top and then the lyrics would come last. More recently I’ve found that the lyrics and melody actually comes to me first and then I create the rest of the song around it. I think this is probably different for everyone.
This is Joe's song 'Wild Nights'
How do you decide on what songs to cover?
To be honest I only ever play covers of songs I really like. Luckily for me I have the most mainstream pop music taste so the majority of people already know and like the songs I cover. Covers are a great way to attract attention and engage an audience before you slap them with an original so I always try to choose an upbeat song that people can sing along too. Typical choices for me are ’Teenage Dirtbag’ or ‘Castle on the Hill’. If I am playing at an event like a wedding, birthday party or charity event I tend to just ask what kind of songs do they want me to play - this way they can’t come after you!
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 important to just listen to as much music as possible. Music has changed quite a lot over the last 50 years, and there’s a lot to learn from each decade. I find new inspiration from all different genres and sometimes it is a good way to challenge yourself writing in different styles - even if you never play that song again.
Do you feel it is important to watch other acts perform and to watch other live music?
Yes, definitely! As a performer I believe its common courtesy to watch other performers that are on the bill, especially when they have given their time to watch you. In regards to any live performance, you can learn so much from watching someone else; how they entertain/captivate the crowd, how their songs fit into a set list and how to really sell a performance. All these tips and tricks are great to pick up! Plus, it is a lot of fun…in Coronavirus times I think everyone wishes they were at a gig instead of being at home.
Finally what tips do you have for anyone starting out when it comes to making music & performing live?
For making music, just try everything - once you’ve tried every technique and method of writing a song you’ll find what suits you. Treat people kindly and you’ll often get the same back. For performing, I strongly recommend open mic nights! Everyone at open mics just loves music and is always willing to help you out and give you advice going forward, with no judgement whatsoever. Don’t be afraid of criticism, use it to spur you on and get better. The more open mics you do you’ll meet people and get yourself more and more gigs, before you know it you’re standing in front of hundreds of people singing songs you wrote in your bedroom. Most importantly though, have fun and enjoy it!!
To find out more about Joe, click below
Music available on Apple Music and Spotify.
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