Wednesday, 19 October 2011

YMC chats with JON GOMM

Yorkshire Music Collective caught up with Jon Gomm before he embarked on his Autumn tour.

YMC: I think you have a very busy schedule ahead

JG: That's right, I'm releasing some singles and have booked a lot of gigs right up to about the middle of December, we'll be finishing it in Germany and will be playing in England, Scotland, Italy and Germany, so we are going to be all over the place and I'm really looking forward to it because I love touring.

YMC: I think you've already been touring in Europe this year?

JG: Yes, that's right it was mostly in the spring, I did Italy, Germany, which I'm doing again, Austria and Holland and various things around the UK so I've been really busy this year.

YMC: How did the European tour go, what would you say were the highlights?

JG: For me its just the travelling and the adventues, I wouldn't want to pick out one specific gig. For me its getting to know different cultures and getting to know different people and what they expect from a gig, some of them are easy. Germany is so easy, its probably different for different artists but for me I find performing to German audiences really easy because there are two kinds of German audiences in my experience, in the North audiences are quite quiet and the first gig I did, everyone was really quiet and I said to the promoter I don't think they really liked it did they and he said oh yes they loved it believe me, they just didn't react much but we sold so many CD's at that gig and then in Bavaria its the opposite its like playing in a pub in England, so people tend to drink a lot and get quite rowdy but they're a lot more appreciative than your standard pub, there are some great pubs in England to play in, but in Germany people pay to get in which doesn't always happen in your standard pub in England, and they just really get involved with the music and they just love it, so yes, some countries take more getting used to but its all a learning experience.

YMC: When I've talked to bands in the past they say you get treat a lot better in Europe, do you think this is the case?

JG: Well if you play in big city venues its probably about the same anywhere, but in smaller venues definitely, they're just more likely to expect that they have to feed you or they might have to put you up somewhere but you have to remember if you're from England and you're playing overseas then its more exciting for them because Britain in general is known as a place for music and as a place where musicians come from so if you go overseas you get a little bit of respect that you might not actually deserve because you haven't played yet. It does work both ways too, venues expect you to play a certain way a lot of the bands I know that play around the UK tend to treat it as a rock and roll experience and get wasted and stuff, which I've never been into doing at gigs, its part of the gig experience for some bands and fans in the UK  but it doesn't 
really happen so much in other countries and the venues will just think you're idiots, so you should be really careful with that.

YMC: You are also releasing a series of singles?

JG: It starts on September the 28th with the release of Passionflower. The project is called the Domestic Science series because all the singles are recorded at home, there is a piece of artwork with each one which I did, you can see all my paints here in the studio. The singles are only going to be mp3, there are no CDs, and are only going to be available on my website. It's funny because bands always say you have to be on Itunes and Amazon, because then you're something. It's incredibly easy to get your music on Itunes but I see my sales on Itunes at the end of the month and if I sell an album for 8 pounds then I'll get about 4 pounds, which is OK but why do they get so much because nobody is going on Itunes and browsing around and going I'll try Jon Gomm, I've never heard of him, they are going to Itunes and to buy my music, so why not get them to come to my website I can sell it cheaper and keep all the money, so everybody wins. The are pay what you want, you can pay zero if you want and a percentage goes to a children's home in Kenya which my mother works for. If you still want something physical you can buy a postcard from the website or a gig, it has the painting I did on one side and the lyrics on the other and a download code for the mp3. Its just fun really its not trying to be unique or gimmicky about how you sell music. I just thought it would be fun for me to to something a bit different from just making a CD. I like doing singles, its less stressful doing one song at a time.

YMC: How many have you planned to do?

JG: We're doing four, we might do five and see how it goes, its not dependent on sales, it depends how it goes for us really because if we find its taking a huge amount of work to get the single launched and do the promotion work we might be a bit knackered and may leave it at four. Then at some point next year I will do another album which may have some of the songs on and new ones as well. For me its just a bit of an experiment and hopefully it will be an experiment for people who buy music too, it might be a different way for them to listen to and buy music. 

YMC: Are you releasing the tabs with it too?

JG: Yes that's right, with each song there is going to be the guitar transcription, again its harking back to the old ways of releasing music so nowadays everyone does albums but in the heyday of popular music it was all 
about singles, then you released an album with them all on. To me that's really fun because instead of getting an album and having to digest all of it you can just get a little bit of it and you can digest it easily and really get into that one song, and then before that even people had to buy the sheet music and learn to play it themselves and gather round the piano in the drawing room if you were rich or in the pub if you weren't and all sing it and that's how people consumed music. So, I'm going to put on my website the actual proper version that I play, which to be honest there will only be really serious guitarists who want to try that because its quite difficult .

YMC: I was just thinking I can imagine people sitting round the pub playing guitar but can't imagine many Jon Gomms!

JG: That's true so there will be a regular easy version, just the chords so hopefully anyone who knows chords will be able to play it.

YMC: You recently had a redesign of your website and asked your fans to choose the design.

JG: Yes, in addition to people voting we also had a lot of useful comments about things people wanted to see on the website and there are also a lot of clever people out there who gave suggestions about the design, so it was incredibly helpful, since then I've just been doing it all the time. I've just done it today in fact because we're sending out songs to radio stations so I just go on facebook and twitter and put please can you tell me what radio stations might be interested in playing my music and people just come on and give me great ideas for radio stations I've never heard of or DJs I've never heard of, so they'll all now be getting my music it would be insane of me not to use this resource.

YMC: I think its one of the best things about the music, you have a downside with people taking music for free but its a lot easier to communicate and get you music out to more people

JG: Definitely, to me its about communicating with people who are interested in music in the same way that I am or just interested in my music and the thing about taking music for free to me its not that big a deal, it used to be I used to think it was a bad thing but I'm not so sure it is any more, I don't really mind the idea of people downloading my music for free but I'd much rather they did it from my website instead of listening for free on spotify or an illegal download site because on my website you can choose to download it for free or pay for it. Its being given a choice of stealing something or getting it for free legitimately or paying but its your choice. A lot of times people who use file sharing are doing it in a positive way its not about stealing stuff, some people are sharing because they want people to see what's so good about it.

YMC: Well to a certain extent I think that's always existed, I used to do mix tapes when I was at school to give to my best friends to share what I was listening to.

JG: There are a couple of people who still do me mix tapes, or CDs nowadays, they just burn me a load of stuff they think I'll like or want me to listen to. Leeds poet Johnny Solstice does that, he burns me CDs and they get me through some dark times. Mixtapes are fun, I used to give them to girls when I was a kid as a romantic gesture.

YMC: You have a gig coming up in Leeds soon?

JG: Yes on the 29th October at The Wardrobe, a Leeds Guitar night, its me and a guy called Erik Mongrain who's from Quebec and he's pretty well known, he does this style where he puts the guitar on his lap and taps the strings, he invented that style thats now become quite popular and he's been on Jools Holland and hopefully lots of people will have heard of him and come along and a guy called Giuliano Modarelli from Italy and he's doing some Indian influenced stuff and some jazz influenced too. He's an extraordinar musician, he soaks up influences from around the world like a sponge and I do that but I just scratch the surface of them and I do it like a modern chef, where I'll say I'll give this one kind of an indian vibe or I'll add some thai spices whereas he really gets inside the different cultures and styles and when he plays indian classical music for example its the real thing. It's on guitar and its done by an Italian guy but its absolutely the real thing, it's amazing. That should be a really good night.

The recorded interview is available on the Yorkshire Music Collective show on BCB Radio and also contains an exclusive song by Jon Gomm, click here YMC Show.

Find out more about Jon Gomm on his website.

Michelle Dalgety, Yorkshire Music Collective

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