The question “why do I write music?” can be easily answered with just a few words – “because I love to express myself.” But that’s no fun is it. So what I’m going to do instead is to briefly turn my family history, upbringing and personal tastes inside out in an effort to pinpoint some of the things that drive me.
For as long as I can remember I have always enjoyed listening to music. One of my fondest memories is when I was around six years old sitting on a bus with my mother and both of us where singing along to K-Ci and JoJo’s All My Life without a care in the world.
Fast forward to the age of eleven and I was getting influenced by my older brother’s obsession with 2pac’s music. Around that time something clicked in me that caused me to pick up a pen and start writing lyrics over Changes by 2pac and thus began my love for writing lyrics.
Around the time I started secondary school my family moved to Ashford, Middlesex where I met my dear childhood friend Luciano. This is also when I’d started dabbling in making instrumentals and recording my own music albeit using the most elementary studio equipment.
Unbeknownst to me Luciano was fortunate enough to have his own bedroom recording studio which was a massive step up from what I had to work with. This early collaboration helped us to grow as both friends and as musicians [he went on to score music for films.]
In my early teens my mother saw how passionate I was becoming about music and decided to pay for my first professional recording session in a garden shed recording studio in Hampton Court, London.
Despite it’s garden shed status this studio was fully kitted out. Going based on memory the studio was equipped with a multitrack mixing desk, some channels strips, compressors and mic amps. Even though I only had an one hour to work with I managed to get two songs recorded, edited and mixed with the help of my sound engineer.
These two songs were burned to a few CDs that somehow made their way around my school. I became somewhat of a school celebrity – I guess I must have enjoyed the attention as it only spurred on.
That same year I attended my first live performance in Central London in front some five hundred odd people. I remember forgetting one of my lyrics but my years of practice saved me as I quickly recovered and the crowd was none the wiser.
Around the age of sixteen the family decided to move to Basingstoke. This period between sitting my GCSEs and contemplating which course to study at college was very transformative for me.
Because family had moved whilst I was sitting my GCSEs and I had to stay behind and finished my studies. I briefly moved in with my aunt who lived in Slough.
The commute to my school in Ashford was tedious. Everyday I had to take the number 81 bus from Slough to Hounslow and then the number 203 from Hounslow to Ashford Hospital where I’d then walk about ten minutes to get to school.
During this time I remember the visceral emotion of feeling conflicted. On the one hand I had the opportunity to move to a brand new town and meet new people but on the other hand I remember not wanting to lose my friends in Ashford.
Around this transitional period whenever I had some spare money – which was a rarity at this point – I bought myself some music. I remember buying a copy of Common’s Finding Forever. I had never really bought a Common album before this. It was this album that helped me navigate this “transformative period.”
One song in particular stood out for me – Forever Begins. This was written as a tribute to the late great J Dilla, a close friend of Common. The song dealt with the emotion of loss and how to come to terms with such great change.
Fast forward a few years later and I was starting my studies at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford. This is where I really honed my craft as a songwriter, performer, sound engineer and as a producer. Yet when I graduated all I remember is this intense feeling of burnout.
It was around this time that mother told me how my Grandfather had been music teacher. Now that I look back I can’t help but wonder if there Is there a connection between my Grandfather’s profession and my love for music? I couldn’t answer that convincingly. However, in a roundabout way I guess one could make the connection between my grandfather influencing my mother into loving music and how me and my mother grew to share that same love for music years down the line.
All I can say is that when I first sense the makings of a new song ‘I feel alive.’ In stark contrast though whenever I finalise a project I feel rather empty. I feel as if music is something that I have to live and express in order to be fulfilled. It is an integral part of my identity.
The above is simply a brief glimpse into the events that have shaped and built me into the man I am today. In conclusion I’m almost certain that were it not for my family’s influence on me as a young man I wouldn’t have taken my love for music as far as I have.