What do you learn about yourself from the music and what does the music mean to you?
Music for me is an outlet, it’s something essential, it’s always been there for me. You can only build close and strong bonds with your music, and your experience with it can never be objective. It’s almost like having a girlfriend you don’t see or touch! For me it’s important to have such an emotional anchor in my life.
Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My friends and fellow musicians inspire me.Also, I draw my inspiration from these kickass bands: LITE, ASIYFA, fourtet, square pusher, apex twin, hip-hop and prog rock.
Composing means putting together the beginning, the middle and the end and keeping the fluidity intact. What is the creative process like when you compose songs?
My creative process isn’t as rigid as that. I often start with a drum beat, and then it’s all about the feel and the rhythm to me. I approach guitar the same way as I approach drums. The rhythm remains the key factor, followed by melody.
You’re obviously a fantastic percussionist and a guitarist, you sing on occasions. You also produce your own tracks. How hard is the recording process for you given the nature of your working style?
First I zero in on a single idea. And I start with a guitar or drums, focusing on that one idea.It’s quite hard, but I don’t have to overthink it, usually I can map out what’s in my head onto record. I just try to approach it in ways I understand. I’m self-taught on both the instruments, sometimes this helps and sometimes does not. But I’m happy with the way I compose music. I don’t get a lot of time to practice, so it’s normally quite off the cuff.
Tell us about the moment you made up your mind that you’d leave your job and become a full-time musician.
I’ve spent a long time as a care worker, and enjoyed it too. But I never had time to do what I really wanted. I used to play in some good shows, and eventually came up with my debut album which took 4 years. I decided to try and make a living out of it, and chose to have enough time to focus on it. It was by no means glamorous, with all the driving, sleepless nights and being alone on the tours, but it’s really incredible. Going out on tours has made me see the true kindness of people, and it’s amazing being offered unexpected help from absolute strangers.
You started a band when you were 14, and by 21 you had moved along with your friends from Plymouth to Bristol to pursue your dreams as a band.Then you had to move back to Plymouth.Can you tell us what happened that made you go back?
At that time my granddad passed away, my dad had a bike accident, and another family member fell critically ill, all these happened within the time of a week, and made me reevaluate where I should be and why.
In an interview last year, you had said the following:
‘Making money from music is the ultimate goal. I don’t think that’s selling out but I would never change what I was doing to please someone else.’ Keeping that in mind, I’d love to know what your approach towards music is. Music for music’s sake or music for life’s sake?
Music is always for music. I think that answer got twisted in some ways in that interview, whereas I was trying to explain how it’s essential to get your expenses covered when you’re creating art or crafting a product, so that you are able to perform and progress as an artist!
The role of an artist is always subject to change. What’s your view on the political/social/creative tasks of artists today and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
I feel, as an artist, I should make sure I have a good product, i.e. songs and performances. And I should be punctual and professional too. I don’t tend to make my music political, it’s more open to interpretation. If people connect with it, it’s the best result for me, and if they connect to it because of political opinion, then that’s cool too.
What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
Keep playing, never give up. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Don’t overthink, or try too hard. Craft your own style, and don’t be afraid to be different.
What’s next in your cards?
I have some shows in February with my friends and a few awesome bands: Alright the Captain and A werewolf. And there are a few festivals too. I have an exciting support announcement to make soon, also I will be touring in America for 22 days in May. I’m just trying to accept all the shows I am being offered, so if anyone wants to put me on, please get in touch.
You can find more information about Steve Strong at the following links: