Hi Gareth! Welcome to BWW:UK...how are you today?
Well, hello there, BWW:UK! Thanks for having me. I am doing just fine, waiting for the old summer sun, though, and catching up on the mountain of DVDs I got for Christmas.
Sounds good to me! You recently released a new album called 'The Music Box'...can you tell us a bit about that?
Indeed. The album came out in December and is actually my fifth recorded album. But this one was a tad special, as it isn’t simply a CD of one of my musicals, but a collection of my songs and music. In actual fact, it’s a rather eclectic mix of my compositions and it was two years in the making.
Since the release of my Bluebird album, people had been asking me about my songs and urging me to release a collection of them. But I was slightly hesitant at first, as many had been recorded and I want to try new things out and explore new types of writing. So after Bluebird ‘took off’, I caved in and began working out how this CD could work.
What this actually gave me was an opportunity to rework some songs for a new set of listeners as well as giving me a chance to write some new, ‘pop-y’ tunes. It also gave me a platform to compose some pure instrumental tracks, which is something I’d wanted to do for yonks.
But I think the most exciting part of this whole process was getting to work with exciting new West End performers and amazing professional musicians. I wrote, scored, orchestrated, conducted and produced this whole collection and am very proud of the outcome. I just hope the listeners are able to fall in love with the songs and get wrapped up in their stories. It really is an exciting showcase of my stuff, wrapped up in a lovely CD set.
I thoroughly enjoyed it! Where do you draw your inspiration from when writing music?
I get asked this a lot and I always find it hard to pinpoint, simply because I get inspiration from many different places and at very random times. It can come in the form of a lyric from another song, or in an emotion that I see in a TV programme. When I’m walking into town I like to empty my mind and that’s when odd things pop in to say hello.
But really inspiration comes from other creative media, especially stage shows and music. I like to hear melodies behind other people’s songs and like to experiment with that. I think my writing is all about experimenting and I enjoy tinkling away at the keys to see what comes out. There is no science behind it for me…I wish there was at times. But it’s something I really enjoy.
Tell us a bit about your writing process; do you prefer to write alone, or in collaboration with someone else? Do you write lyrics or music first?
Generally, I’m a music first person, but that is not always the case. I do sometimes work the other way around, but being totally honest I see it as an organic process where I kind of write both at the same time. I think I have to work that way as much of my stuff is usually narrative driven, so I need to know what emotion I’m conveying and what mental connection I need to make with a listener. It sounds complex, but it’s not, as when I know what I’m writing about the music flows…usually. It’s like a marriage of text and tune.
When I sit, struggling at a piano, it’s because I don’t really know what I’m trying to say or create. That’s when some pretty melodies grow, but they don’t always support words. In terms of my process I do tend to work alone, purely because I always have done and I haven’t found my Tim Rice yet. But working alone means I can sing to my heart’s content, sing out of my range and no one cares…other than my partner who hears it a billion times!
On the track 'Crimson Droplets', you've come up with an interesting twist on a well-known story...tell us more about that!
Nope. My lips are sealed! But seriously, I can’t give away too much… yet. This is the first project that I am fully collaborating on and we both came up with a new twist on this familiar tale, simultaneously. I need to state now that our version of the Ripper saga will not be a blood-fest or a hammy, cheesy retelling, but simply a psychological exploration of human nature. It sounds dark, which I suppose it is, but I hope that it will be a captivating tale of humanity and insanity. Good, solid things you want from a musical…minus the tap number. Please watch this space as I really feel that our ‘twist’ could be shocking and believable.