Talks with Coby Grant

 

Coby Grant

Coby Grant's MySpace
Coby Grant's website

 

Fanfare for Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 CEV:  Tell me when it was that you became passionate about music in your life and when you decided to become a performer.  

CG:  Music was always a big part of my life- Dad used to play the sax full time in bands, traveling the world.  He still does play!  So when we were kids, we were always listening to the radio or cd’s instead of  watching TV.  My brothers and I each played classical piano from age 5 but it wasn’t until I was 16 and picked up the acoustic guitar that I became really passionate about writing and then performing when I got my first gig shortly after.  I knew, after that first performance, that I wanted to share my music with people. 

CEV:  What kinds of music influenced your early efforts and did you have some favorite artists who really helped shape who you became musically? 

CG:  Well I was first influenced by whatever my parents liked listening to.  Which was The Eagles, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, BB King, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan.  I still love all of that old music.  My influences when I started playing were Alanis Morrisette, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, Sinead O’ Connor.  Now I listen to all kinds of music, but especially love John Mayer, KT Tunstall, India Arie, Coldplay, Eminem, Adele, Regina Spektor and Damien Rice.  I could go on and on and on though!  Oh and my favourite artist of all time is Van Morrison…incredible! 

CEV:  What do you remember about some of the first live gigs that you played? Was playing live something that came natural to you?

CG:  The first live gig I ever played was at the café I was waitressing at.  My mum had shown the owner my first ever demo recording and she offered me a spot on a Sunday arvo.  It was fantastic!  I still remember it so clearly!  I think I was quite awful back then actually, especially on acoustic, but I fell in love.  Nothing compares to the feeling of singing live.

CEV:  Not being familiar with Australia’s music scene why the move from Perth to Melbourne? More opportunities for a musician?

CG:  Absolutely.  Perth is so beautiful but it is a small town.  Melbourne is the cultural centre of Australia, a HUGE arts scene and music hub. There are more musicians, venues, studios and just more people wanting to head out and listen to live original music.

CEV:  I know everyone thinks that performers suddenly and magically “make it” and then they are big stars but tell me about the reality of “making it” in the music business and what it requires in terms of sacrifices from you.

CG:  Whoa…good question!!  But I could go on for ages here and bore everyone to death haha.  The music industry is so fickle and unpredictable, there are so many highs and lows.  You need a thick skin…almost every single day someone tells me “no you can’t”, “no I’m not interested”, “no it’s not good”.  If you let those things stick on you instead of the positive then you won’t get anywhere.  Being an independent artist, you just need to take the reigns and learn about the business if you are going to get anywhere.  It is a constant balancing act- there are bookings, promotions , publicity, touring logistics which include gear hire, car hire, tickets, musicians, flights.  I am also constantly online- twitter, website, facebook, myspace.  You need to be out there promoting yourself and your music and brand.  The thing is, no one is going to do it for you when you start out!  I am lucky enough to have a team around me now, people helping out, but I am still constantly working.  As well as the business side of it, there needs to be time for writing, inspiration, rehearsing and then time for a normal life!!! Although I often sacrifice that  “normal” life for what I love the most- music.

CEV:  Tell me about the songs that you write? Is there anything in particular that you like to write about? Do you have any routine when it comes to writing songs?

CG:  I always write songs about my own life experience.  How I am feeling, who I have loved, what I know and don’t know and want to know.  I find that I need to experience things before I write about them otherwise it ends up sounding fake.  And yes I do have a routine!  I always write the music before the lyrics…I don’t know why but that just seems to work for me!

CEV:  How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it yet?

CG:  I focus a lot on the actual story…it’s definitely a storytelling experience when people come to see a gig!  I would put it in the folk, acoustic, pop genre as well.


CEV:  Your bio said something that I wonder about. You said “off I go with my guitar in one hand and my heart on my sleeve”. When you are writing new songs and performing live how much of yourself do you expose to the audience and is that hard on you to be so personal with people you barely know?

CG:  I am completely and totally exposed every single time I get on the stage.  They are deeply personal stories and maybe that is why people can relate so much- the songs about love and life apply to many people’s experience.  I do find that after the emotion attached to performing and the natural high that comes from performing, I am completely and totally exhaustipated after a show!  I think it’s important to connect with your audience and I hope that I manage to do that!

CEV:  Do you enjoy performing live and interacting with a live audience?  What are the best and worst things about being out on the road doing a string of live shows?

CG:  I absolutely LOVE performing.  The reason that I do all the background work is for the actual gig- that is the highlight, that is the holy grail.  The feeling that I get from performing is like nothing else in the whole world- it’s a feeling of complete euphoria, like everything is going to be ok, like in that moment, my life is perfect.  That is the best way I can explain it   So obviously the gigs are the best thing!  The worst thing?  Being on the road is tiring, traveling is hard, being away from loved ones is hard.  But to me, it is still worth the sacrifice because I just couldn’t imagine doing anything else!

CEV:  How did you happen to hook up with Peter Malick and Anthony J. Resta to work with you on getting your music recorded?

CG:  My manager had heard of Peter Malick so suggested him to me and after listening to some of the amazing work he had done I knew I wanted to work with him.  Anthony was fate- I heard an artist he had produced on an Aussie radio station and immediately looked her up.  She was a local Boston artist and I saw that he produced the song so I contacted him.  Such a huge talent and I feel so blessed that it has happened- I can’t wait to work with Anthony again!

CEV:  Tell me about the road you as an independent artist have to travel to get your music recorded and released without having a label behind you?

CG:  Yes!  Without the label it just means having to fund and organize everything by myself.  It has it’s pros and cons, but doesn’t everything?  I work really hard, I’ve had all kinds of extra jobs- cleaning, hosting at posh events, magician’s assistant!!  I work these extra jobs when I am saving for a new recording, which of course is followed by photo shoots, artwork, graphic design, manufacturing, promotion, publicity and touring!!  I have invested all of my time and money into this dream of mine for the last five years but I work hard because I am looking forward to a time where all I do is turn up and play my music!!

CEV:  Talk about the making of your latest EP called Fanfare for Love and who it was that helped you create it.

CG:  I recorded Fanfare For Love with Anthony J Resta and Karyadi Sutedja in Boston at Bopnique Studios.  It is my second EP and I am really proud of it!  Those two are such an incredible team that I feel privileged to work with them every time that I do.  Anthony really brought so much to the table- he is an incredible producer and multi instrumentalist- we just get each other!  

CEV:  Why is it important to have talented people around you to advise and guide you in bringing your music to life? What do they bring to the mix and how do they allow you to be more creative?

CG:  It is SO important to not only have talented people around you, but people who have experience in the industry, people who have your best interests at heart, people who you can trust and connect with creatively.  All of these things help you to grow as an artist and I have been lucky enough to meet a few of these types of people along the way!  

CEV:  I like your Dali Lama quote, “"judge your success by what you had to give up in order to achieve it”. From where you’ve been to where you want to go is a long road. Do you feel that your music and being able to share it with others is worth the price you will pay in the long run? Why?

CG:  Yes I do.  I definitely do otherwise I wouldn’t still be pursuing my dream.  I know what I have given up, I’m aware that I have sacrificed a lot- being away from my family, relationships that have been sacrificed.  But, in the end, my love for music just keeps pulling me forward. Things keep happening that show me I am headed in the right direction.  After so much hard work, the “wins” are becoming more and more frequent which is what I hold onto if I’m ever feeling sorry for myself (which is not often anyway!!).

CEV:  When you have some down time (HA!) what do you like to do so that you feel “normal” and get a chance to recharge your creative batteries for the next round of gigging and writing? Do you get to do that as often as you like?

CG:  “HA!” is right   My mum is always telling me to try and relax but it’s not in me, I wasn’t built that way.  I put pressure on myself to always be working towards my goal, to always be thinking of new ways to get out there.  So no, I don’t often get to take time as much as I would like but I do feel that working hard now will mean I get a lot of time down the track.  But, when I do get time to breath for a minute I LOVE to practice Bikram Yoga.  I also love cosy nights in cooking a yummy dinner and veging out on the couch (very rare!).  I’m kind of boring, definitely not rock n roll haha.

CEV:  Any final thoughts about your music you'd like to share with our readers?

CG:  Music is the universal language…think about the soundtrack of your life- songs get us through hard times, happy times, in between times.  We associate emotions with certain songs and everybody in the world can understand that.  I can’t imagine who I would be without music, I love it so much that I could burst- especially performing.  For anyone who is thinking of starting a career in music and heading out onto the independent path, be sure to ask someone other than your mum whether you are any good (first and foremost) and remember to always believe in yourself and your passion.  Luck is opportunity meets preparation so work hard and see yourself become more successful the harder you work and the more time you put in.  It is a long, tough road but the rewards are worth doing it ten times over.  Sharing the gift of music is priceless.

CEV:  Thanks so much for taking time out of your hectic schedule to talk to us here at Cutting Edge Voices. Wishing you much success with your career in the coming years. Take care.