Birmingham’s very own Sean Duggan recently took the time to have a little chat with Rob. Discussing topics such as self sufficiency, risks and how life is as a musician, Sean opens up and doesn’t hold back.
After ten years of playing in the live circuit now, since you were 14, what changes have you noticed and how have you managed to keep yourself relevant, what do you think is needed to standout and maintain longevity?
In the decade that I’ve been grafting things have changed quite substantially, there were more open mic nights, Promoters, scenes etc. Now that things have narrowed you have to deliver something that only you can. I spent the first 8 years crafting what became my sound. I think it’s important to know music is subjective and that there are elements in all songwriting that you can learn from. So I try to not be afraid of working any genres.
Tell us some more about your debut record “An insight in to A and B”…
The record was intended to be an EP but I had a stint on radio and they had connections to HMV so I made a record after a slew of maybe 40 gigs and a good amount of songs were ready. Got it in the shop and generated some local buzz, it’s actually turned out bigger than I anticipated to be honest and in the last few weeks some incredible developments have unfolded that I can’t really go into at the current moment but I will say there’s a reason the record won’t be online for a little while and it’s exciting. I ordered 100 copy’s to test the water so the album is still an ongoing project unintentionally but necessarily.
With so many songs in your catalogue now, how did you narrow down the track listing? What were the main things to consider when cutting and keeping songs to make the final cut?
I’ve got a lot of songs but I recognise my work as a moment in my life. The album is 95% fresh brand new material. I can always dip into the songbook if I need to fill space but music is all about progression, I don’t see any value in recording a song that I wrote 2 years ago unless it fits with the mood of the album. This album’s songs all fit together well and I know how to group tracks together to make the listening as easy as possible. I tend to play a record I’ve made over and over until it gets tiresome so I can look at it from an outside point of view. I’ll always hold onto songs I know people can vibe to but the record has to stay relevant and serve it’s purpose without being conceptually or thematically blatant.
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
My biggest gripe with the industry is that you have to be self sufficient most of the time to get your foot in. Back in the 50s-60s the record label executives were businessmen that recognised that the kids were into something, so they’d take a risk , once they saw the risk was worth it they started getting the “cool” and “hip” guys to source the talent , therefore less risks are taken, no chances are being taken but I feel there is an element of it returning a bit. I think if you’re good and it’s clear as day but nobody knows who you are, the execs should pick up on that and see there’s value in somebody’s talents regardless of how many followers they have. You could have a million followers but let’s face it, all the followers did was click a button. The industry needs to take more risks, HMV is taking a crazy risk with their push on vinyl and local acts but it’s fresh and us musicians support it all the way.
Finally, could describe your sound and your future plans surrounding your music…
My sound is a mixture of stuff that stems from old school rock n roll, soul, funk, blues and hard rock but I’m a folk oriented blues guitarist with poetry style lyrics. My heroes are Van Morrison, The Who, Elvis etc but if you like Poalo Nutini and John Mayer or even Hozier you’ll know what to expect. As for future plans , I’m very lucky to have some friends who are successful musicians that see some value in what I do so I’ve made some interesting connections with some amazing musicians, I can’t really say much but what I will stress is this initial small release of the album is certainly not the end for it. There are more developments unfolding but for now it’s about respecting and serving the music, not just for people, but for the music as a force that transcends, I just carry the music until it’s out there and it starts carrying me.
Interview and article by: Rob Kent