From Justin: Arts Council Interview

Posted on 07/01/2010

Here’s a recent interview I did for the Arts Council in the UK regarding a project they have for buying instruments for young people…

How would you describe your creative life?

I could create more if I spent more time creating. You have to put the effort in to it.I prefer to be at home, alone in a room to write. I treasure songwriting, it’s like having a room in the house that no one else goes into or knows how to find. If I believed in magic I would say it was magic.

Sometimes it worries me that I am an incomplete person without it. I couldn’t do without songwriting.

What inspires you?

Nature most of all, books, people, relationships good or sad.

Can you give us an insight into how you started out making music?

I loved the Hymns of the New English Hymnal that I heard when I was a little boy. Then my parents gave me some piano lesson when I was five, but I preferred playing by ear. Then I pestered my parents for a Ukulele, then a guitar, then I was happy playing it and looking at it all day long. Guitars are the most beautiful things in the World because they also give.

What’s the process you go through in creating your music?

In reality, my guitars and keyboards, and my fingers on them when I play, somehow suggest a mood or a feeling that is something about myself, or another version of myself and my relationships with other people I have known or know.
After the initial revelation of the beginnings of a song, the rest is (close to) work and effort, as you have to work to complete it as best as you can. Never settle until you have given a song everything. Don’t be afraid to discard what doesn’t absolutely and beautifully work.

Music appears from nowhere. It always will.

What would you say to the youngsters out there experiencing your music for the first time?

Give it more than one listen.

What is your favourite tune in the world? Why?

Moon River. When I hear it (and it’s played well) a sad, beautiful feeling comes in my stomach – never fails. Even just thinking about it is good. Good music will make you cry, in a good way.

When and why did you personally start playing your instrument?

Note: See above regarding when.

I just wanted to play and sing, I knew instinctively it would lead me somewhere, or take me on a journey. It always does.

Have you come up against difficulties when learning? How did you overcome them?

I play by ear, it’s not difficult. But, when I first had my guitar my fingers hurt so much on the steel strings sometimes I was in real pain, but I had to persevere. You must have the desire, you must.

What or who inspired you to start and continue playing?

Music inspired me, but Buddy Holly was and still is my great hero.

Any advice for those just starting playing and starting out?

Stay with it. There is no such thing as talent, only desire. You must desire it more than anything in the world. One day it will come to you, and stay forever.

What are your thoughts on the Art Council’s Take It Away scheme?

You must have your own instrument. They can help. It’s the greatest gift that anyone can give a young person who needs to play. You must play, play, play!

-Justin