RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW STOCKPORT ARTIST HELDER ROCK
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
I’m not good at almost anything and Music always had been my refuge and so I decided to make some of that music that was stuck in my head, But I couldn’t find anywhere. Later I got into Electronic Music only to downsize in gear to take to gigs, my real passion is Prog Rock, so I add a bit of that on a smaller scale, a laptop and an additional small keyboard. Off I go to the next gig, though there is a niche in the Electronic Music scene, I do mostly open mics (sadly), but at least these EMOMs (Electronic Music Open Mic) are popping up as mushrooms. There is a new movement starting to have shape, but I feel I am not in my natural element, in some instances I make Music with electronic gadgets, but still in a regular format, and the concept of Electronic Music seems to go in a different direction of what I do.
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
I’m very shy, I have ADHD so I find it hard to make friends because I can’t keep a conversation as every word triggers a different chain of thoughts and ideas; I’m not geeky so all conversations with people I meet sound like a foreign language, 10 years ago I graduated in Inside Music one of the many specialties in Music; I started very young with Classical guitar and then, played a large range of genres until I finally got interested in Electronic Music, almost as default from my Prog Rock experiences that demanded some technologies to help me with recording my multi-instrumentalist work. But as I said previously, I am not really doing Electronic Music as such, I like to think I make a crossover of many different genres and bring all those ideas and influences in my own way, with electronic gadgets most times, but I play guitar, keyboards and lately erhu, a bowed 2 string Chinese instrument.
Name me your 3 favourite Albums?
There are far too many great albums that made an impact on me and in some way influenced my own music making, to narrow them down to 3 would be impossible and unfair to those I would leave out.
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
Not as good as I’d love to, but getting better as time goes by; still I am not making the best choices in terms of what audience I could captivate the most, and as I bounce too much from genre to genre as my mood drives me, a faithful audience is hard to build.
I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
Women should take cattle prods to gigs? Honestly and seriously I can’t think of anything that would help, even if strong security were in place in the venue that would remove troublesome people from the premises, we still don’t know what might happen outside once the gig is over. Until misogyny is made a criminal offense, I’m out of ideas.
What’s your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?
It’s not quite a monopoly yet, there are many more music platforms out there still, so many that I haven’t heard of all of them yet, my count is on 40.
But I do agree there is some favouritism towards Spotify, I don’t know why, maybe because if you don’t mind adverts you can listen to whatever you want without paying subscription, from the musicians’ point of view the present state of things is criminal; the right payment of streaming is paramount and long overdue, as an example from one of mine: “Distro earnings for release 1294447 (21 streams) $0.02”, now convert that to GBP – British Pound and you don’t get even 1 penny ….
Do you sign up for any conspiracy theories?
Oh yes, a few, but I won’t tell you because sadly nowadays people get offended very easily and it’s not good for someone like me who gets on stage in front of many people….
Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?
When it comes to purchases I always ask myself: ”Do I need it or do I simply want it?”, so no I never buy anything I don’t need, not during nor before or after the pandemic. So no I didn’t, oh except books, I buy and read lots of books, mostly non-fiction but also the classics.
What was the worst experience on stage?
It might have happened, and it most surely did, but bad experiences tend to be sent into oblivion, it is something one doesn’t want to think about, so I don’t have any I can tell you right away.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.
I like to be alone, and do things on my own like travel, and cooking; I don’t feel the need to belong to any kind of group, I like to paint though I’m rubbish at it…
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
I really don’t know if I stand out, I try to be different, not denying influences, but make my own “cocktail” with those influences, I would love to stand out, but I don’t know if I ever will.
I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.
I have loads of music in the pipeline, but for now, I just reissued the album “Tammy Girl” for its 10th anniversary; the reason why is that it did well in Japan but passed almost unknown in the rest of the world, so I’m trying another go, maybe it was the concept of the album itself that was missed, it is a story without words ( put the titles of the musics together and you’ll get the story) ; I was in a relationship with a girl a Cherokee descendant, she was in the USA I was in the UK, if I was a writer I would had to write a novel, a musician puts it in Music.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s.
I play a random chord sequence and then improvise on it until something sounds cool to me.
What was the recording process like?
If I’m not in the mood I don’t record, if I feel motivated I go for it with all my energies, it is very exciting and stimulating, but for the outsider might seem dull, in fact recording is very much routine for a multi-instrumentalist, starting with the main harmony and then move to other instruments, applying bass lines and countermelodies, several other instruments and sound effects, each one of them in a separated track. Fascinating for those doing it, sometimes a bit exhausting, but maybe not very entertaining for that only watching.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
I’ve learned a lot by reading the reviews of my releases, and conversations I have with fellow musicians, it takes me back to an occasion when I visited a friend of mine who makes wood carvings and he was carving the figure of a Viking and I said to him: “That’s not hard, you only have to take off the bits that don’t look like a Viking”…. And that is also another lesson for me, I throw into the mix everything I can think of, and then I get into the process of removing what doesn’t belong there in order to the music to make sense and not just a bunch of sounds compressed together.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Yes, and the example is the album we just talked about, “Tammy Girl” was remixed and redone in some parts of the music, sometimes the final result of the work, a few days or weeks later when played doesn’t sound as expected and changes are needed, if it was already published, I would republish it as a remix in a later date part of another album/EP, if not, no harm done, no one will ever know.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Live and let live, don’t be fussy, no one has the monopoly of wisdom and none of us will live forever but through works of art, beauty and love a memory of our passage in this world will remain.