"I can’t really imagine living anywhere else but Leicester"
What do you do?
I’m a musician (trumpet/flugelhorn mainly), singer, songwriter, educator and a podcast host. As a solo artist, I released my debut album ‘As Long As I’m Singing’ in October 2018 and am currently working on the follow-up, to be released in September 2020. I’m also one of the founder members and frontmen of New Orleans brass band King Brasstards, and I play trumpet/flugelhorn for The South (formerly Beautiful South).
In terms of education, I’m currently Head of Brass for The Mead Trust, vocal coach at Babington Academy and I work for De Montfort University as Musical Director of their Jazz Band and Brass Ensemble.
Outside of music, I’ve launched my own podcast called ‘On The Road With…’ and my own blog. I’m also proud to be Ambassador for Meningitis Research Foundation, a cause that I’m very passionate about as I had the illness as a three year old and had significant after-effects to deal with.
How did you get to where you are?
My first experience of being in bands was in my latter teenage years, mainly with The Deap People, a great Leicester band with a really original sound, which rocked local festivals and recorded some great music, most of which sadly never saw the light of day. Going to University, among other factors, sadly put an end to that, and my music career was patchy at University, more of a hobby alongside Basketball and my course (in that order!).
Coming out of the University of Birmingham in 2013, I did a 9-5 job for a short time and then was offered the chance, having depped for them a few times, to join The South permanently as their trumpet/flugel player on the road. It was a very busy year, so with that and starting to teach more regularly at Sheehans Music Academy at the time, as well as a DJ residency, I was just about able to quit the day job and pursue music full time. It was in these years that I pushed The Paradimes, the reggae and ska outfit that Guxy Marley, Drew Stansall and myself formed in 2011, as well as being part of Warwickshire-based Stone Foundation, which involved two trips to Japan and regular European and UK tours.
Having left Stone Foundation in 2016, I ‘re-trained’ as a solo singer, which led to the album release two years later, an album that I’m really proud of; although not half as proud as I think I’m going to be of the next one! During that time, King Brasstards also really took off as a formidable live act, with a full diary, and a productive recording outfit, with two albums and several singles to our name. As I’ve listed above, I now also have some fantastic education jobs that I really enjoy and am looking forward to getting into the worlds of broadcasting, blogging and voiceover.
I’m now in a place where I know exactly where I want to go next, and the lockdown, despite its drawbacks, has certainly helped me come to those conclusions.
Why do you love what you do?
For me, performing live, in whatever guise, has always been something I’ve loved, and I’ve always preferred the stage to the studio. However, recently I’ve been loving some time in the studio, whether it’s getting the next solo album ready, working on new Brasstards material, producing the first series of my new Podcast, or collaborating with people on their projects. Collaboration and creativity are the two main things I love about my job, and I’m an entertainer at heart.
The education side has also become much more important to me and enjoyable over the last few years, serving a vital purpose and it’s something I’ve missed since the lockdown. It brings a different kind of buzz to performing but is very rewarding in its own way.
Why are you based in Leicester?
Although I lived in Birmingham for a few years as a student and enjoyed my time there, I can’t really imagine living anywhere else but Leicester. I’m lucky to live right near the most international road in the country (Narborough Road) and the performing arts scene here is really growing. Most of us musicians and performers in this city are one big family. We have our disagreements but we work together, look out for each other and want each other to be successful. Practically, Leicester is also in the middle of the country, so it makes planning tours etc. a lot easier. On another note, some of the walks and bike rides I’ve been on recently have really opened my eyes to how beautiful our canal paths are, and what amazing parks there are in the city. Abbey Park is my current favourite!
The next solo album, ‘The Other Side’ is really taking shape and although it’s been hard work, I’m so excited to release it and show the world what I’ve been up to since the last one. There are some original tracks on there that are, in my opinion, some of the most heartfelt, honest songs I’ve ever written and I feel like I’ve pushed the boundaries musically. My first single release was in May, a great number that Matt Monro made famous that I’ve put my own twist on, called ‘This is the Life’, with more singles being released throughout the summer. King Brasstards have been hard at work on singles that will form the basis of an album, for release in 2021, featuring some GREAT special guests, and The South are working on a live album, put together from last year’s ten year anniversary tour! I’m also in the process of finishing DMU Jazz Band’s debut release, which is sounding great, launching the blog and podcast ‘On The Road With…’ where I talk to touring professionals from the worlds of entertainment, events, music and performing arts.
Social media accounts to follow:
Instagram: @gareth_johnmusic Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/0cCdAdxxWKTB8zBpimnwKY?si=CobuGAL3Qg22xZnjWi_RHA