Exclusive Interview with Glass Pear
Glass Pear is a musician that understands how the television world can intersect quite vividly with the music world to grant either or both the exposure that they need. His music has been featured on shows such as 'The Vampire Diaries', 'Bones', 'Grey's Anatomy', amongst others. His music feeds and vitalizes those moments on television when our emotions are high and we desperately need a medium to express how we feel. He has released various albums, EPs, and singles, which include, 'Sweet America', 'Glass Pear', and 'Streets of Love'. His musical yearnings and intellectual drive has gone on to inform and create the music persona that knows how to balance a rushing confluence of joy, sadness, happiness, pain, love, amongst other emotional contradictions. It is exciting to know that such a musician exists and, this interview will leave you with both a greater understanding of his story, but also a strong anticipation for his future musical projects. So, make sure to keep in touch with him on his Facebook and Twitter Page.
1) I have been listening to your albums and EPs, and I have to say that I have really enjoyed your music. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, your likes, and your dislikes?
Thank you. I'm a little under 6ft, have thick curly black hair and friends tell me I grin too much. I grew up in Wales and now live near Oxford in England. I've got a loopy 8 month year old son who loves fruit almost as much as me. On my worst days I can be overbearing, righteous and aloof. On my best days I am a fun-loving prankster with a no holds barred imagination. I studied Theology at Cambridge University, worked for several years at an investment bank, then jacked it in to become a painter of songs. I love learning. I've been using Coursera recently which is an awesome on-line resource. I dislike bias, prejudice, a lack of realism and flakiness. I like feisty debates and honest criticism. I like the richness of diversity, the fact that people and cultures are radically different.
2) Okay, I have to ask, what is the story behind the name of your musical alias ‘Glass Pear’?
The name Glass Pear originated from Adi Da Samraj, whose spiritual and philosophical teachings I practice. The "Glass Pear" was a room in his house. Apparently the ancient Chinese believed that the pear was a symbol of immortality (pear trees live for a long time). Its also a symbol of affection in other cultures. In Chinese the word li means both “pear” and “separation,” and for this reason, tradition says that to avoid a separation, friends and lovers should not divide pears between themselves. So I feel that a "Glass Pear" is a pear that is fragile and breakable, needing protection - just like love and affection - or else separation results.
3) I know that you and your sister, Jem, are both in the music industry. When did you discover your love for music, and who have been your influences and role models when trying to discover your identity in the music world?
Very young. We had a "music room" in our house. There was a piano and acoustic guitar to begin with. My dad would strum Dylan and the Beatles without knowing all the words. Jem began writing little ditties on the piano, sometimes with my other two sisters. Gradually we got recording equipment in and I began to write awful songs of my own. At the time I was very influenced by the Smiths and Morrissey, then Suede, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, the Pixies, Radiohead and many others. I thought the first Coldplay album was beautiful and it definitely affected my songwriting. But it took a long time for me to discover my own singing voice. I was in various different bands until I started writing Glass Pear songs in 2007.
4) Your music has been featured in a few topical shows like ‘The Vampire Diaries’, ‘Bones’, ‘90210’, and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. What was your experience like hearing your music in these shows and knowing that whole worlds of people are listening to it as well?
Its a great feeling to write a song in a little room and then get it heard by millions of people sitting in front of their TV sets all over the world. I haven't had any radio exposure so I feel really blessed to get songs in these shows so that lots of people get to hear them.
5) You created your own record label, ‘Wol Record’, and it is through this label that you release your music. How difficult and/or rewarding is it having your own record label?
On the whole its pretty easy, depending on how much you want to dig into promotion. If you're just releasing tracks and not touring, you can just release everything through a digital aggregator like Tunecore. I was incredibly lucky to get all the synchs I have and at the same time own all the sound recording rights, this made not giving the rights away to another label a wise investment. However, there are real limits in not having recourse to a larger promotional budget and staff. I've relied very heavily on the exposure the music has got through the TV synchs, but I haven't developed a strong fan base through touring and/or radio plays. If you are trying to do everything including touring by yourself in your own label, I'm sure it would be extremely difficult financially. I took the decision a while back that I'm happy to survive and make my music even if I remain relatively "small". If I can keep making enough profit to plough back into the next recording, so that I can keep making music for decades to come, I'd be really happy.
6) You have released quite a few singles, EPs, and albums throughout your career, can you highlight a bit of the production process both in terms of the artistic part of the music production but also the management aspect?
There are two stages, kind of comparable to pregnancy and labour. Once the Muse and I have conceived, the song gets incubated in my bedroom studio. I develop a demo in which I flesh the rhythm, string, guitar and bass ideas. I also write new parts and scrap old parts (a bit of genetic engineering). Then I record in a guide vocal and develop harmonies. In the later stages I take the demo to the nursing staff Tash and Tom (my co-producers). Tom is an all-round musical and production genius. Tash is a drummer born of heaven. They add their musical ideas to the demo and that's when the difficulty of labour really begins. Together we pick the best parts of all our ideas, throw away the worst or the merely mediocre, instigate arguments, justify tantrums and get stroppy. Once the baby has moved into position, we proceed to record all the chosen parts to master quality, usually one track at a time. In the final mix, somehow the little song cherub always gets delivered perfectly formed, despite my screaming!
7) What according to you are the pros and cons of pursing a career in music?
I never really thought about it in those terms. I do it because I love it, I didn't really consider the risks. I've always lived doing things I love to do because I'm interested and passionate about them. My problem is that I'm interested in too many different things! This means that sometimes I find making music too isolating as you spend so much time alone in the studio. On the flip side its a beautiful thing to write a song and have messages back from someone in Malaysia saying how much it meant to them. If I can touch or lift up the spirit of anyone through music then I'm a happy man.
8) Are you currently working on any musical projects?
I've got some songs I've co-written with my sister Jem for her new album coming out later this year. I'm also longing to get back in the studio to record new Glass Pear songs in 2014!
9) What advice do you have for young artists out there who are trying to pursue their musical career, or youths who want to follow their dreams in general?
Keep writing, get better. Be willing to criticize and have criticized what you've created, reach deeper until its the best music that you can express at this moment in your life. Learn your craft. Melody is an art, music is a language, great lyrics are powerful. Reach out to collaborate, and if you find a great partner, value them. The right collaborator is very hard to find. Have fun creating your music, laugh, presume no limits and grasp for the indefinable "magic" of being truly creative. Love what you do and what you do will be loved by others.