"A lot of people say that not enough happens here, but really they’re just not paying attention"
What do you do?
I’m a music person, in simple terms. I play various instruments, mainly bass and guitar, sing and rap, I do live sound at The Shed and occasionally run my own events under my artist guise Homeless Shakespeare, or under the name of a new venture of mine ‘Pigeon Coop Studios’. I’ve recorded and produced a few artists over the years and since setting up a cosy space at Stayfree Music, I launched Pigeon Coop Studios which aims to offer an affordable recording and coaching experience for early-stages or developing artists and musicians. Of course I have had the privilege of working with some exceptional artists doing it too.
All the while of course working on the Homeless Shakespeare & The Pigeon Theatre EP Spun’d to be released later in the year (initially planned for June but, well, y’know...), and writing more for the band, especially while there’s somewhat of a quiet period with Siobhan Mazzei and Elysian. I do other bits & bobs but that’s the main bulk of it.
How did you get to where you are?
I first got into music when I was 14, y’know had the Myspace page with no music or photos (it was around the hype of Walkman phones so phone photography was poor), called it ‘Under The Sheets’. Eventually I got serious and joined indie start-up band The Weekend Schemers, and the ball got rolling pretty quickly. From there I often got bored of playing the same styles of music, and went through stoner-rock, hardcore, death and tech metal, brit-rock, jazz and soul, all sorts. Alongside my experiential learning I studied every music course I could at college, along with performing arts and media studies which has definitely contributed to what I do in one way or the other.
This is all what birthed Homeless Shakespeare; I wanted to start a solo project, but I didn’t want to be ‘acoustic’ or ‘folk’ or ‘blues’ or one of many things, I wanted to do something that would encapsulate all of these things in a sound, while flirting with some styles more than others. I also wanted to be a bit more of a ‘performer’ than I was seeing, I wanted to be dramatic and confusing.
I think my severe struggle with mental health over long years helped me be a bit more outlandish (certainly more dramatic!). It was definitely the cornerstone to a lot of my musical themes.
It wasn't long before I coined the term ‘gyp-hop’ for the first song of its kind, Worm Right Through, after studying Django Reinhardt and Manouche, which has now developed into somewhat of mine & The Pigeon Theatre’s identity.
To do all of this I got a DAW and a solid desktop computer and started writing and producing electronically, which I still do to demo songs for the band now. Over the years I started getting more gear, and eventually took one of the residential rooms at Stayfree and setup what is now Pigeon Coop Studios.
I’m also working on a university course - music business, run at Haymarket Theatre, which is essentially a business degree, but mainly focused on the music industry, its roles, and its operations. The experience and knowledge I’ve gained and am gaining has given me a ton of exciting ideas I’m still working on.
Why do you love what you do?
I suppose the easiest answer is the people. Although I’m quite aloof and often left without enough breath or energy for conversation after a show, I love to meet new people! I particularly love knowing that something I created, or helped create, is making someone feel something. A lot of artists would usually say ‘happy’ there, and as big a part of it as happiness is, art and humanity have a broader bond that happiness. Without sounding sadistic, I’d love to be told that my song made someone cry! But yeah, my more popular music usually makes people dance, which I love too! The energy just spreads like a…
In regards to sound engineering and producing artists, it’s gotta be the same answer; the people! I’ve met some wonderful, lovely people doing live sound and have learnt a lot too, and the same goes for recording. What I particularly love about working with an artist in my studio is getting to see them develop and mature; it's very rewarding knowing that you contribute to an artist’s or individual's development, even if minuscule.
The same goes for any session work I do. I’m one of the 2Funky house band musicians and have worked with tons of urban artists over the years for Project:LIVE (a 3 month artist development programme that gets urban artists reworking their songs with a live band) and observing the difference from their first session to the showcase is fantastic! I’m lucky to work with some incredible musicians and artists during these projects.
Why are you based in Leicester?
I was born and raised here, it’s my home. I love the people, the vibrant history, the diverse culture and community spirit Leicester has. It’s non-conformist nature also speaks to me; Leicester’s religious and political history and culture isn’t (or at least wasn’t) what you’ll find in most places, it often takes its own route, even if not far from the main road, that resonates with me as a person.
A lot of people say that not enough happens here, but really they’re just not paying attention. We’re spoiled with more than four council-funded, free public festivals a year, and although we don’t get big names like Kanye West or whoever, I’m sure you’ll find just as good (if not better) an artist at the local venues. And even then, those who say we don’t get these names still don’t pay attention; Summer Sundae brought some world-class acts to Leicester, but it went under because people didn’t show any interest.
So, to those who think Leicester is ‘boring’, or that ‘nothing happens here’, I put it to you that it is entirely your fault and you should get out more (but not right now, obviously).
Well, as I mentioned we’re still working on the Spun’d EP which we’re really excited to get out! It’s sounding boss. We’ve got some great music videos in mind too, so you should keep your eyes out for those! I’m still writing and the music is becoming more and more progressive, so I’m also pretty excited about the new sound we’re going to be revealing later this year.
During lockdown I’ve been collaborating with housemate and friend Tim Baker, and we’ve done some really cool stuff so far! Basically, we challenge each other to 3 hours of song making, then swap songs and we have 3 hours to write and record vocals for each other’s tracks (below is an exclusive link to one of the track demos ‘Stratosphere’ that Tim produced and I did vocals on. It’s not what you’d expect!). I’m also getting round to finishing off some tracks for Future Pope and Imogen Cresswell, so be sure to head to their pages to keep up to date!
2Funky’s Project:LIVE was about a month in before the lockdown was implemented, so keep your eyes out for that too as it’ll be picked up again once the lockdown is being eased. There’s some incredible talent involved this year!
Link to ‘Stratosphere’:
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