Hang the DJ | I Am Not An Entertainer

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

I've been thinking a lot recently about where I want to take my music. Do I see myself doing this in the far future? Is this just part of an ongoing identity crisis? Will I be able to create a sustainable career from this? These are all the questions going round in my head regarding my journey in music. The answer to these questions were all challenged last weekend at a gig, in a pub, in the middle of nowhere.

I don't want this post to be particularly negative, most of the crowd were lovely and I'm not judging or blaming anyone involved in this gig. This is more due to my headspace at the time.

I let out the biggest sigh in the car on the way home from this gig. I was exhausted, which is strange because normally I'd be so full of adrenaline after being on stage. I played a two and a half hour set, mostly covers, some of my own songs and some requests. Now I don't normally do requests but this gig was a favour for a friend. I learned four extra songs, songs that I didn't even like and as I was playing them, all I could think about is the fact that I didn't want to be there, playing these songs, just like the artist originally created them.

I like playing covers, but I've come to realise; only on my own terms. I like putting my mark on them, mashing them up and making them exciting, changing the chord sequence and tempo etc.
But this gig didn't really allow creative freedom.

What I think happened was miscommunication. They clearly wanted someone to entertain them, sing the songs they knew so they could dance around and sing along, have a great night and then go home and probably forget about the songs they heard the next morning. And call me selfish, but I didn't want to give them that. I know I could, I so easily could, but at the cost of my own happiness and musical integrity. Some people asked to see my setlist, which I've never had before, going through the whole thing and picking out songs they didn't know and asking me to change them to songs they did, I mean.. I basically felt like a glorified DJ.

I'm not an entertainer, I'm not a cover artist. I'm a songwriter.

The sentence 'do you know country road\wonderwall\summer of 69' turns my stomach upside down. It never used to, but I guess I've grown as a musician now and having a whole set of my own songs ready to go, frustrates me to no end when I can't get the opportunity to play them.
I don't want people to think that I'm saying 'I'M A SERIOUS MUSICIAN SIT DOWN AND LISTEN TO ME' because that's not what I'm trying to get across with this weird blog post. What I'm trying to say is I don't want to be a carbon copy, I don't want to crank out the same shit that people have already done, I want people to hear new things. But sometimes people don't want to hear that and that's okay, but I don't want to be the person anymore to tell that to. There's nothing wrong with being a cover artist or a DJ, I just want to make that clear, as long as it makes you happy and it's something you want to do.

I was talking to Emily about this and as an illustrator she gave an amazing comparison that I'll use here:

'it's the same as someone coming to me for a commission and telling me they want a copy and paste of another artists work, basically a traced drawing. That would make me and any other artist with creative integrity feel like shit and that's exactly why you feel like this'

thanks Em xo

I'm going to be more picky about gigs. I don't care if the money's in the covers, if I say yes to anymore parties\weddings\conventions, it's going to make me quit music. I need to be true to myself, I need to think about the bigger picture and think about the people that might appreciate my original music more.

I don't want this post to sound like I'm complaining, even though I basically am. I just need to think about my own creative integrity as a singer\songwriter\musician.

Idk man, I'm just tired of doing these kind of gigs and getting nothing from it. If anyone ever asks to see my setlist again imma' run for the bloody hills. Ah well I'm going to carry on what I'm doing and writing and recording all the songs, for me, no one else.

Morrissey said it best.. before he became a twat that is.

I really want to open a discussion about this, I tried to on twitter and I'm going to carry on trying because I really want to hear other musicians or artists opinions.

Have you ever felt like a carbon copy? Would you pass over your integrity for the dolla? Or do you like doing cover gigs because they're easier and probably less judgemental?
Lemme' know, thanks for listening to my weird rant about da' musics.




  1. I enjoyed reading your post and understand all that you say. I confess I didn't know your music previously but a quick listen confirms a great voice, lovely guitar style and a feel and tonality that I find very warm, organic and evocative - lovely stuff. I empathise entirely with your thoughts. Personally, in terms of music, I am very much an amateur. Folk and traditional music is my thing, though that includes lots of modern instrumental music and songs, some of it written by me. I am pretty old (41!) so not thinking remotely about the career aspects of music. Yet I do take music very seriously - though not so much myself. It consumes my thoughts throughout vast swathes of my waking life and, though people may not know it (I hope), when I sit in meetings etc, I am often thinking something like 'what if I played that in open-G instead and capo-ed up to the fifth fret...or something along those lines! hehe! I don't even remotely look down on covers / party type acts - one of my best pals does it very well, infinitely better than I could aspire to even if I tried like hell! I admire his talents. But to me, it holds not one shred of attraction - none at all. No snobbery at work, just horses for courses. Now, put me in a busy little folk session in the back room of a pub playing a song I have just written and hearing a great flute, fiddle or mandolin player add layers to it that I could not have imagined, right there, off the cuff, never to be repeated quite the same again....and I am in heaven. The modest appreciation of a handful of like-minded people means something to me - something I can't get from playing covers to rooms full of dancing and whooping people. I will say it one more time, that is no criticism of those that get their kicks or make their careers doing that - some of them are superb entertainers and performers. But it is not for me. Some people manage to do both of course, leading kind of double-lives as both singer-songwriters on a Tuesday and entertainers come Saturday night. Some do it through necessity and some like the variety. You seem to know yourself pretty well when it comes to this choice of how you invest your time, energy and talents. I think you have to do what you find to be romantic and energising. As a last thought, you mention that you don't want to come over all 'serious musician - sit down and listen to me!' I understand exactly what you are saying. It is hard work for an audience when it is clear that the artiste in front of them brings that kind of ego-driven need for the audience to take them seriously. But, though all my favourite musicians have a lightness and easiness about their performance style, underneath it, they DO take their work very seriously indeed and work hard on every aspect of it - until it feels light and effortless. They are not overly earnest or needy of the audience but the work they have put in shines through...and, 'sit and listen' is exactly what it makes people want to do. So, I wish you well. I like to hear artists talk and think in the way that you have. It opens the door to wonderful and creative possibilities. It WILL make you rich....though not necessarily financially of course! :-) Finally, finally, try not to consider it a failure or a backward step if you do end up doing a bit of the covers stuff along the way. Artistic journeys (and all other life journeys) are not simple, not linear. It is fine to walk the same bit of path a few times along the way and variety can indeed be nice as long as it is not to the serious detriment of the stuff that REALLY makes you feel alive. Right, now I am sounding old! Best wishes and good luck with all that lies ahead!

    1. Completely agree with you Pete, I definitely want to get to that level effortlessly and without force and I know that sometimes a cover gig here and there wont be a sign of failure or misleading where I want to be, I need that dolla! Thank you so much for such a thoughtful and intelligent comment and I'll be sure to let you know how everything turns out ✨

  2. I am not an overly creative person, I don't do music or draw but I can imagine how frustrating that must be, but I think it's so good you've like experienced what you don't like because now you've fully established what you want to get from music and what you want to create, it must feel pretty great having now doubt what you want to do when you hold a guitar (trying to be positive btw not invalidate anything you feel). A few of my friends are in bands and they do about one cover and then all their own stuff, and their gigs are always so much fun. It must be annoying having a crowd who only want to boogie to classics, I'm rooting for you- say no to those commercial gigs and yes to other ones!! Gunna have a listen to some of your stuff now :)x

    1. Exactly! I'm going to have to go through these things to find that I don't like them in the first place! It's definitely all about growth and yeah I try and think plain and simple about the future and when I'm on stage playing music it just lights up my soul and feels so right, I can't explain it any other way. Aw thank you so much, I definitely will be more picky with gigs from now on. Thank you so much for your input Libby! ✨

  3. Blogging is all about getting your thoughts written out whatever they may be. I really liked your openness in this post and can't wait to read more of your posts!


    1. Aw thank you so much, I do use this blog as a form of catharsis, it felt so good publishing this post and I'm so pleased so many other people agree with me! ✨