The #crimefreechristmas campaign seems to be really taking off with numerous reggae artists taking part like #DuaneStephenson, #TarrusRiley and #Chronixx. This is where music can really help send a message that can make change happen. So if you come across #crimefreechristmas give it your support if it is something you believe in. I do, as it fits well with a couple of my mantras 'POSITIVE MUSIC' and 'ADD TO THE GOOD'.
Duane Stephenson - Better Tomorrow
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Well the UK Songwriting Contest 2016 has ended. This was my first submission to a songwriting contest and below are the certificates for my two highest placed songs.
As an independent songwriter and producer this really gives incentive to push ahead. It puts your skills in some context. Now, the judgements are partly a matter of opinion and taste so, not achieving your goal in the contest should not diminish the determination to succeed. As we are all listeners to music, we know that musical taste is a very personal thing.
To try and reduce some of the issues around taste, I also entered songs in the 'Lyrics Only' category. This way the judges can envision the song according to their tastes. I added no notes regarding the genre of the song.
What I take from the outcome is that my own beliefs are not misplaced even though there is still a lot of work to do. Having the certificates also gives a little reminder, on those days where you wonder if it is worth it, that you can achieve success in this industry.
As an independent there are so many hats to wear, songwriter, musician, producer, studio engineer, business person, marketeer all needing some of your precious time. A little bit of validation from your peers goes a long way.
Saturday, December 3, 2016
There was always music at home, Country, Rock Steady, Ska and #Reggae. An uncle living with us had a #SoundSystem which gave my brothers and me exposure to all the classic #Jamaican music. We did toy with the idea of having our own Sound System but, then one day, the catalyst arrived. Mum bought an acoustic guitar from a friend and gave it to my brother.
I had just started working and I would come home and see my brother playing these melodies as he sat listening to Vinyl 45s. I thought, wow, bruv's got some real talent. So I put a deposit on a Fender copy Columbus bass guitar. The next thing I know bruv has decided we are starting a band, no instruments, no real musicianship at that time.
Over the next few months we taught ourselves rudimentary skills on DIY instruments until we could afford the real thing. A couple of school friends joined and so 'The Instigators' was formed.
The rehearsal studio was my bedroom and thankfully we had good neighbours. My brothers hawked around some rehearsal tapes and eventually a local Sound System owner 'Fatman' decided to open a few doors for us. The first thing that got us noticed was after we put down tracks for an album by two of Fatman's DJs. On hearing the Album the renowned David Rodigan refused to believe that a British reggae band had recorded the tracks.
We also released some singles the first called 'Let's Make Love' sung by Toyin Adekale who then went on to have a successful solo career. The follow ups were sung by the late Courtney Bartley (RIP), a great singer, who we discovered singing a tune on a bus.
Another notable step up was a residency at the 100 Club in Oxford Street. This really helped to make the band a tight unit. We started backing the touring reggae artists from Jamaica and also had some success with some singles.
Then the inevitable happened and the band broke up as life and commitments got in the way. I pretty much left the music industry and became an accountant (I can hardly believe it myself). However, my brothers went on to be successful musicians and producers winning awards and creating numerous hits in the UK reggae scene.
Which brings us to the present day. I always knew that I had unfinished business and the time was right to continue chasing the dream. So, the story continues, I'll keep you posted (no pun intended).