Simon Waldram

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On playing live (and beyond)

Posted by SimonWaldram on December 6, 2014 at 1:45 AM Comments comments (0)


At The Cookie, Leicester 16/11/14. Photo by Trevor Cobbe


Up until the last couple of months I'd never played live on any kind of regular basis. Living in Mansfield I'd make the occasional trip to Nottingham or Leicester, but that was about it. Sometimes it was 6 months+ between playing and it's impossible to create any momentum that way. Each performance felt like starting again and I never managed to build up an audience at all.

However since moving to Leicester in September I've tried to get involved with the local scene and play quite a bit more. For the most part it's been great. I've played at Hansom Hall, The Cookie, The Musician, Manhattan 34 and The Walkabout. I've met lots of really nice people and seen some very talented artists, including (but certainly not limited to) Anna Purver, Les Hayden, Meri Everitt, Prash Gor, my good mate and touring buddy Kevin Hewick and lovely folks in my university's Music Society. I have to say I already feel more welcome here than I ever did in the often quite elitist Nottingham music scene (although I'm aware you can get self-aggrandising arseholes anywhere and some people in Nottingham I love to bits).

Being someone who never sold many records it's felt at times that I've been making music for an almost non-existant audience for the past few years. However being up there in front of me more has made me want to push myself more as a songwriter and a performer. Not that I have any intention of being more professional though. I have seen a few people recently who go over very well because their songs are catchy, have instantly recognisible themes you can cling on to and are presented in an easy to digest style. That isn't me, nor will it ever be. I might appeal to a smaller percentage of people in the room, but I hope that when I do it's on a deeper level - just because it's all about sharing sometimes quite difficult feelings, rather than presenting a carefully cultivated image for the purposes of entertainment.

I want to take this further too. I have been massively impressed by some of the songwriting and musicianship I've seen I want to develop my own guitar playing so I can share new and different kinds of songs - ones that are challenging, but hopefully rewarding. I've known what path I've wanted to take my music down for a while - one that really pushes the psychedelic folk route - but I saw this as a thing that would happen some time in the future. However recent experiences have given me the impetus to step it up and make it happen sooner. Of course I am also an university studying Audiology and that has to come first, but I have a driving artistic need to do this as well. I feel like I'm at the start of a new musicial journey, one that will probably last for years, but I'm looking forward to seeing where it takes me.

Si

How to write a song

Posted by SimonWaldram on September 28, 2012 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (1)

Quite a few times when I have talked to someone who doesn’t make music about song writing they have said to something like they “would how no idea how to write a song” and will talk about song writing like it’s some unreachable mystical process. This is nonsense and any songwriter who allows such ideas to be perpetuated is probably doing so for the sake of their own ego - i.e. to convince themselves they what they’re doing is special and can’t be done by just anybody. Well, I think that it can.

 

First of all, nobody was born a songwriter. However at some point in their lives, maybe when they were a kid, they were drawn enough to music and had enough imagination inside them to try and create some of their own. Secondly, you do not have to “learn” a musical instrument to make music. All you do is chose the instrument you want to use and they play it just how you want to play it. Let’s say it’s a guitar: Noel Gallagher once said about his own musical influences that "There's twelve notes in a scale and 36 chords and that's the end of it. All the configurations have been done before." Now if you want to learn all the chords and scales and keys then that’s fine. This can be important to know for certain kinds of music. If you want to keep it tuned to standard tuning that’s fine too. But you don’t have to do these things. You can put your fingers anywhere on the fretboard you like…in fact you don’t even have to use the fretboard if you don’t want to. The possibilities are endless. The only important thing is finding a sound that you’re happy with and expresses what you want to express.

 

Songwriting is the same. There may be song writing methods, but there are absolutely no rules whatsoever. I’ve never learned scales and keys because I don’t feel there is any need to. To quote Benjamin Smoke: "I still don't really understand why everyone in the band has to play in the same key. If we all have the same key it means we have the same lock, and we know (that) is not true." Even in a band it's not necessary. I admit that this can make it harder to jam with people you've never played with before, but it's still entirely possible to practice together and build up intuition and harmony (or dischord, if that's your thing). This is, of course, what a lot of punk bands did. It might be a mess at first, but when it comes together it's more special than anything any musos could do.

 

Ther are good songs and there are bad songs, but however you choose to write a song is as valid a way as any other, just as long as you’re writing it for the right reasons.. Don’t let anyone ever tell you any different.