Exclusive Interview With Rich Lown
1) Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, your likes and your dislikes?
Sure, I’m a very laid back person. I've often been called ‘an old soul’. I have been described as someone who's wise and maybe a little sensitive. I love spending time with family and friends, and of course playing gigs. I love theatre as is evident by the fact that I work in one. I love sports, the beach, and the summer. I hate loud eaters, rude people and arrogance!
2) Tell me a little bit about your early life, your favorite childhood/teen/young-adult memories?
I was brought up in a family of five. I was born in London, and I moved to the South Coast of England, to a town called Bexhill-On-Sea where I grew up. It's a very quiet town and it boasts of the best weather in the country, and it is located very close to historic towns such as, Eastbourne, Brighton and Hastings. I couldn't have asked for a more stable, safe and loving up bringing there, with a wonderful family. I have two extremely wise and awesome older brothers and the best mum and dad, with many fond childhood memories of surfing on family holidays in Cornwall, and teen memories in and through school with my friends. My young adult memories are just as happy as my childhood and teen memories, as it was the time when music began to enter into my life. It's funny because growing up I was a super stubborn kid. I started a fuss when my mum tried to pay for me to have guitar, piano or drum lessons. I just wanted to go and play football with my friends or do my own thing. I was never remotely musical until I was about seventeen years old. I had a friend who played guitar and we started to write 'silly' songs together. I then got a cheap guitar myself for my birthday and got 'the bug' for it. I kept practicing songs my friend taught me and then used the chords I had learnt to make my own 'silly songs'. It took another two years before I realized I was capable of taking it seriously, and here I am today.
3) Who were your role models growing up, both inside and outside of the music industry?
It's hard to look past my own family, really. I have a classically trained pianist in my Mum, a faultless violin player in my dad and two brothers who played guitar and were highly encouraging in developing my own creativity. I think a lot of people around me could see my potential before I could play a note of music. When I was small, my brother bought me my first Cassette in the 99p, single of 'Mmmbop' by Hanson. I used to play it on repeat on eight-hour car journeys to Cornwall before I got their first album for my birthday. I was hooked! Because they were of a similar age to my brothers and I, and looked a bit like us with the 90's curtain style haircuts, they were and still are a big influence in certain aspects of my music today. Today I listen to a lot of singer-songwriters, and artistes such as, John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, Passenger, Birdy, and many more inspire me.
4) When did you decide that you want to pursue music as a professional career?
Ironically, I started playing guitar more and writing songs at a time when I was wondering what to do with my life. I was 17, not enjoying college, and on a quest to find something fulfilling. I began to write songs to help me through the turbulence of life. However, it was how other people responded to my music that made me think, maybe this is it? With the exception of a few chords from friends and family, I’m a self taught guitarist, pianist, singer and songwriter – something I’m incredibly proud of. This has also allowed me to find a form of purity in music. Really, it's the music that showed me the way!
5) Being a fairly new artist in the music industry, how do you navigate through the difficulties that new artistes tend to face in the music industry?
It is an extremely cutthroat industry. As you slowly climb the ladder towards your goals, you face a lot of obstacles that try to bring you down along the way. It's very easy to doubt yourself and give up but I think, personally for me, the more challenges I face, the better my songwriting gets and the more defined my music becomes. I also try and write in a very optimistic manner so that not only is it the case that other people can take comfort, happiness and positivity from the words I sing, but when I’m feeling down myself, my own words remind me never to give up. I concentrate a lot on the goals I’ve already achieved in such a short space of time and the positivity surrounding my music by people who have earned the right to give an accurate judgment. This all helps me push on.
6) Do you think that there are pros to being a new artist- an artist who is still trying to establish themselves- in the music industry?
There are some pros. I think right now I have 100% control. I can sing, write and do whatever I want without any interference. I can keep 100% of my royalties and music sales and I can sing and play exactly what my intuition and heart wants me to play. I aspire to reach a larger audience and become more successful, however, as there are far more pros to having more professional people around you to help you push on.
7) I know that you are a singer-songwriter, can you walk me through your songwriting process?
Having never taken a lesson on 'how to write a song', my songwriting process is very natural and intuitive. When you're not taught the right or wrong way to do something, there are no rules and you can concentrate solely on your senses. I would usually pick up my guitar without a thought on my mind and more often than not my fingers will just discover and land on a chord. My ears and natural rhythm will then help me begin the musical side of a song. If I’m excited by the sounds and the idea that I’ve come up with, I will then sing 'gobbledygook'. I literally sing absolute nonsense to come up with something catchy and if I’ve got something, I will start to write down some ideas. 90% of the time for me, I have started to write a song when I’ve got about half an hour before I need to be somewhere or about 10 minutes before I plan on going to bed. You can't plan to write a song and you just have to grasp the windows of creativity when they come across to you. I'm very thankful for my phone too! With the voice recording on my iPhone, I often record these creative bubbles so that I can come back to them another time. This is a huge help for me, and my phone dates back to 2008 with song ideas. In fact, one of my most recent releases on my new EP was a song idea I came up with 4 years ago. I found it again when flicking through my voice memos on a train journey and I felt inspired to finish the song.
8) Can you describe the production process that your album underwent, from draft to finished product?
Having been given a free studio day back when I was in a national competition, I met my engineer Olli Daffarn, at 'River Studios'. With the intention of only going there to record one single, Olli became such a big fan of my music and we got on so well that we decided to work on an EP together. The EP then became an album. His dedication to helping me meant that he started to work on my songs in his own spare time, and for that, I’ll always be thankful. He barely slept when trying to get the mixes right and gave me extra time, and money off, when I returned. Being a self funded musician, I don’t have the infinite budget of a record label and with an average cost of £300 a day for a professional studio and getting one song about 80% finished in that time, you can understand that an album of 15 songs has taken a long time and a lot of investment, for me to create the final product. It's important you don't rush producing an album too. Sometimes you make mistakes and there’s a lot of trial and error when recording, which uses up valuable time and money. From playing lots of gigs and weddings, I saved up the money to keep popping back and recording new songs and although it's not perfect, I’m so proud of my album. I'd also like to give special thanks to my co-musician Robin Hirschfeld, a faultless professional guitarist who I met on a music course five years ago. He began to play live with me and he has been a key figure in musical career ever since. On my album, Robin is featured on nearly every song with his beautiful John Mayer melodies, and he also played bass on a lot of songs. Without him, my album would certainly have a very different feel to it.
9) My favorite song, of yours, of all time, is ‘Somehow’. It was the last song on your EP, ‘You belong to me’. I swear, when I first heard that song, I cried. I relate to the song a lot. Can you tell me the inspiration behind the song?
Somehow is probably one my favorites too. It was actually the fourth song I ever wrote and a song that I think I’ve played at every single gig in my life. It's always the last song I play and probably one of my favorites, lyrically. I actually wrote this song straight after watching the news. There was a feature on a local man that was terminally ill but he was spending his remaining months ticking things off his bucket list with his wife. It was incredibly touching and I guess the story inspired me to write this song. The words don't entirely relate to this situation but maybe it gave my intuition a nudge and I finished writing the song in one go, in about two hours. It is a perfect example of taking advantage of a creative bubble and putting your heart into it.
10) Your album ‘World’s Apart’ was amazing. When I first heard it, I played it over and over again for a week. Needless to say, I am a huge fan of your music. What was the inspiration behind the album, and is there an overarching theme that is present or that you tried to incorporate in the album?
I don't think I really had a theme, as such, with the album. It's basically a collection of songs that reflects the various challenges- happy and sad moments- of my life over the last few years. Some songs are very lyrically genuine, others merely inspired by totally off subject situations. I think start to finish, it's not perfect but I know looking back when I’ve hopefully released albums four and five, it will be a clear insight into my journey of defining myself as a musician and finding my voice.
11) Are you currently working on any new songs, a new EP/album, or any new musical projects or collaborations?
I will always be working on new material, I’m thankful for the gift I have to write songs and because it's such a big part of me, I’ll always be writing and recording throughout my life. A new album will be on its way for sure. I'm also in the middle of breaking out of my comfort zone. I've been asked to collaborate with some big DJ’s, which has always interested me. To work with completely new genres is a lot of fun but I’ll never be too far from my own songwriting.
12) Can you tell prospective fans why they should pick up your album, what, do you think separates your sound/music from other musicians out there?
If you like natural, soulful and catchy songs then do grab a copy of my album from me or download it on iTunes. My music couldn't be any more honest and heartfelt and I think a lot of people can relate to my songs. I've had the nicest comments from people in the past who have said that they have taken comfort from my lyrics, and that my music has helped them through tough times. There can be no bigger reward for me and I hope I continue to inspire many more.
13) What advice do you have for young and aspiring artists out there, or for young people in general?
Just keep at it. My dad always said being a musician is like riding a bus. It's crammed with other people but if you're patient, you will eventually get to your destination and you will find a lot of the people on the bus will get off at various stops. Keep going, keep writing, and keep defining, but most of all keep loving what you do, because it is a gift.
To Purchase his music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/rich-lown/id272898951
Also Published on 'Nerd On Record'