Keren - Hi, For Forever British Country today, Anthony and I are talking to Steve Young
Steve - Hello
Keren - Hello Steve, How are you?
Steve - I'm steaming up in your car (laughs)
Keren - I've had quite a few people in this car over the weekend which has been good.
Steve - If only these wheels could talk
Keren - (laughs) So you've come up from London today
Steve - I have. I live in Welling Garden City which is just outside London but some of the other guys have come from London, the bass players come from Brighton and the drummers come from Lincoln.
Keren - So quite a way then?
Steve - Yeah, I like to make things complicated and have them come from all far flung corners of the UK (laughs)
Keren - So you've just been on your Café Nero tour. How was it and how did you manage to get on that tour?
Steve - It was January/February actually. It feels like its just happened but as usual the world's spinning faster every year. I got onto it because I just sent the CD to Pablo at the headquarters. It's weird, people don't seem to know that Café Nero support live music so much, and actually, if you go onto the website, they have a whole page dedicated to it and they do so many events. They have a stage at Cornbury Festival for instance and I am still asked to do events for them. They are so behind music. So I sent my cd and Pablo connected with it and the next thing I know I am doing a 5,000 mile trip around the UK (laughs)
Keren - I think it would be quite nice to go and have coffee of an afternoon and listen to live music. It would be great.
Steve - There were some nice moments, there were some pretty unglamorous moments you know. A lot of driving. I have a sack trolley and I have my kit down to a tee. Even down to the position of the microphone stand particularly trying to get into city centres which are a nightmare because all Café Nero's are in shopping centres so you can't just pull up outside and unload so I had my kit trolley down to perfection and was just rolling it around various cities in the UK (laughs) It was all right. What's great is they are still playing my music now which is 650+ stores around the country and they simultaneously play my music every day. It is great exposure. They are a big corporation and they are loyal to their musicians. My day job is a party function band so I am doing a lot of their functions too.
Keren - That's great, so one thing leads to other things. That one cd has lead to a lot.
Steve - Yeah, I am doing their end of year party which is 1,000 managers all in Canary Wharf and we're doing the party band, you know, so yeah, they look after us which is great.
Keren - So tell us about the white label cd you recorded.
Steve - I have loosely attached myself to the phrase white label. I wanted to release some songs or I wanted to record some songs to a professional level and I wanted to use producer Justin Johnson who has produced for a lot of artists. So I wanted to do it on Pledge Music but I wanted it to be unreleased for a couple of reasons because even though I have sold almost 1000 copies of my album I have made absolutely no money on Spotify or iTunes because I am too small an artist and I just thought well why bother then because I do gigs and people come up to the merchandise table and they say I really loved your gig and is this your cd and you say 'yeah yeah this is my album' and they'll be like I'll look you up on Spotify, and its like if you listen to my album 1000 times on Spotify I'm still only going to get 1p just give me £10 now and you can have it.
Keren - They don't seem to realise that buying the merchandise is what gets you to your next gig.
Steve - Exactly.
Keren - And keeps you doing what you love to do and entertain.
Steve - Here's proof of the pudding. I've got a savings bottle. Every time I sell a cd I put the money into the bottle and when it came to getting the funds together for the white label cd, I had £750 in that bottle. That's physical people buying my music and that's the only way I can generate money to put it back into music. I pay for my music with my music if you know what I mean and obviously through Pledge Music as well, so that's the idea and also because I am trying to submit my songs to publishers and syncing agents and they don't really like anything that has already been released so I needed to have some great sounding songs that weren't released but I needed to make it available to people so that I could do it on Pledge Music. So its kind of a loop hole really a legal loop hole (laughs)
Keren - And now you've just told everybody how to do it, we are an informative page, (laughs) would you like to ask a question Anthony?
Anthony - How would you describe the British country scene?
Steve - Well, it's definitely growing. I find it still quite niche at the moment. You only have to look at line-ups of some places and everyone's friends which is a good thing in one way but its also getting to the point now where it needs to get to the next step where it grows out of the niche so it becomes a bit more accessible to everybody else because there's a lot of country music fans in the UK clearly and they don't have a lot of options. They have the megabucks C2C festival which costs a lot of money to go to or there is Buckle & Boots which is obviously a blossoming festival.
Keren - We have a few festivals coming up. There's Little Mountain and FSA.
Steve - I didn't know about any of these . I am pretty new to it myself to be honest. It's a growing market and its only going to get bigger, Its big in Europe actually. Bigger than it is in the UK. I spend a lot of time in Norway and American Young do 3 or 4 festivals in Norway. They are all country music festivals so its obviously a thing that's happening in Europe as well as the UK.
Keren - So we've got a bit of catching up to do then.
Steve - I don't know about that, what I mean is that we're heading in the right direction and see where it goes there is still a lot of UK country music emulating what was going on in Nashville 20-30 years ago it needs to go to the next level but yeah, it's healthy.
Keren - Cos I think British country at the moment is like you say like it was in Nashville 20 years ago where its diverse cos everything coming out of there seems a bit samey at the moment. Depending on where you are in the country over here is depending on their slant on things and its exciting isn't it.
Steve - It's interesting they must be thinking over there, because I actually find if I put on a country radio station or Nashville type stuff it does kind of all start to blend into one. The last 2 albums I bought by Chris Stapleton and Zac Brown Band, they sound so different. They don't sound out and out country they sound rootsy and Chris Stapleton's album is rootsy heartfelt almost bluesy songs and I like that because I'm not an out and out country music fan., I grew up listening to Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash and Kenny Rogers. All the stuff my dad used to listen to and his brothers used to play in a country music band one was a pedal steel guitarist and one was a normal guitarist so from as far back as I can remember it was always around me but I went off on a tangent when I started to play the guitar, I was playing blues then I got into heavy metal and then I got into the session world and I was playing for pop stars. I was playing for people like Lionel Richie and Savage Garden and Peter Andre. My musical journey has gone like a game of snakes and ladders. It was completely by accident that when I started writing music a couple of years ago that just had that kind of country feel to it. I never planned it and I never set out to do it. It just had that in it. I've always been kind of into blues. I love the sound of the instruments in country music. I love the sound of a fiddle. I always have a fiddle player as much as I can when I'm playing. I love the way an acoustic guitar sounds and I love the way that electric guitars have thick wholesome tones to the sound and I love the sound of country music, the way its recorded and I love harmonies, I'm a real sucker for harmonies so all that kind of stuff about it really appeals to me, but I'm definitely not the kind of guy who sits down and starts writing about chugging beer and riding trucks. I've never ridden a truck and I don't drink whiskey , I've never been on horseback so I can only write about what's going on in my life.
Keren - That's what country music is. Stories about life isn't it?
Steve - Yeah yeah my songs are stories about my life. I can't remember the question (laughs) I told you I would just talk (laughs)
Keren - I think you covered it anyway. (laughs) Anthony would you like to ask anything else?
Anthony - If you had to choose a non country song and put a country twist on it. What would it be?
Steve - It would be one I have already covered and it would be 'Shine on you Crazy Diamond' by Pink Floyd. Basically when I was a kid my sisters took me....I grew up on the Isle of Wight which is isolated these days so you can imagine how isolated it was in the 80's so my sister took me to see Pink Floyd at Wembley Stadium...cos it was the first time I had been really off the island...and walking into Wembley Stadium and seeing more people in one place than actually inhabited the whole of the island, and we were late so we literally walked down the back of the steps at Wembley just as the lasers fired up and they went into 'Shine on you Crazy Diamond' and it sounds really cliché and corny but it literally changed my life, and we got back to my sisters boyfriends house in Watford and I must have spent 3 hours just making him play it over and over again on the vinyl, then I was dreaming about it I was going to sleep dreaming about David Gilmore and his red guitar. It got ridiculous because I actually went to the only music shop on the Isle of Wight, I was so sure that I was going to get into trouble if I tried to touch the guitar that I used to get on my knees and when no-one was looking I'd poke it. (laughs) So I was poking this guitar (laughs)so anyway, that song means a lot to me.
Keren - I bet it does.(laughs) Well if you've got a video of it I will look it up (laughs)
Steve - What, of me poking the guitar (laughs)
Keren - yeah that as well (laughs)
Steve - I did it at Bob Harris's house actually.
Keren - Oh Under the Apple Tree
Steve - There is a version of me doing it with a fiddle player and a piano.
Keren - Well I am a Pink Floyd fan myself
Steve - Yeah so that's the answer to that question....about a week ago (laughs)
Keren - So where can we find you on social media?
Steve - Steve Young UK across all of them. Nice and simple.
Keren - Well its been lovely chatting and meeting you today. Thank you Steve.