|Cover artwork for Cal Ruddy's debut EP|
'How To Rewind Life'
Ahead of Cal Ruddy's debut EP release this friday, carpe carmina sat down to chat with the passionate singer/songwriter about his forthcoming EP, about gigging and reviewing music, as well as about pre-show rituals and after-gig manners ...
1) You are close to your debut EP's release. What has been the most exciting part, what has been rather nerve-wracking getting there?
It's been pretty intense! I'd say the most exciting thing about the process behind 'How To Rewind Life' has been the evolution of the songs!
I started the writing process for the majority of the EP back in August 2014! I had a period of about two months where I would wake up in the morning and write down a set of lyrics! Not all of it was usable of course but I would go through that stuff and play around with melodies when sitting with my guitar and mess around with chord progressions! Only one song predates this period and that's 'Limbo' which dates back to June 2013 and has been played at most gigs since! It's definitely grown as a song and evolved into what it is now so it's been quite a journey with that one haha!
I'd say the most nerve-wracking thing about this whole process for me is the possible reception and reaction to the songs when the EP comes out! Although, in saying that I've played the new material at recent gigs and the reception has been fantastic!
2) Whatever issues or delays in the music-making process may occur, you have people to count on, helping to figure them out and fix them. Like Jake Marley, renowned originator of The Musical Scribble. How did the collaboration between the two of you came about and in what situations did he prove himself as a good choice managing you especially thus far?
This is an interesting one actually Haha! I bumped into Jake at a gig back in October having known of his writing via social media, we just got on really well from the get go really as we're both very passionate about the local music community and music in general! We stayed in touch and the following week we discussed setting up a creative partnership and ever since that's been solid as a rock! I owe so much to him for helping me out with getting quality gig bookings and general guidance and promotion! Thanks to him I've definitely been able to get my music out there to different audiences which is ultimately the goal of any artist! He's very laid-back in his approach as well and considering he's now a very good friend of mine, it's a pleasure to work with him, we just have a laugh and I ask him his opinion on creative decisions which helps me make sense of it all in a way! He's the equivalent of Brian Epstein to me haha!
|Cal Ruddy, Iain Tinsley & Jake Marley (live at the |
Halton Community Radio HQ)
3) You and Jake do not only share a passion for music, but also are gifted at writing, you songs, him reviews. Since you know quite a few bloggers and sure have a way with words - your lyrical musings bear testimony to it - did you ever consider to review music yourself?
It's definitely something I've thought about in the past! I'll never rule it out, I think it'll be something cool to try at some stage! I enjoy writing articles and I've developed a very eclectic taste so it would be an interesting thing to try properly!
I've done a few informal reviews in the past but I've got too much going on musically right now to give it too much thought haha!
4) Well, now you have to. Tell carpe carmina your favourite song from the forthcoming EP and 'review' it in two sentences.
Ah! That's a really hard call! I'm really pleased with all the songs on 'How To Rewind Life'! Haha! But to narrow it down I'd say 'Confessions' is slightly above the rest! It's about making very stupid 'romantic' decisions on a night out after way too much Ale consumption and trying to convince yourself that everything will be ok in the morning when it'll probably have lasting consequences! (I'm not giving away too much here! Haha) But in terms of structure it's got a really solid pulse which binds it together, it's got lots of energy to it! I actually don't play guitar on this track when I play it live with my band for the bigger gigs so I really focus on my vocal delivery and performance! I've performed it on my own in an adapted version and that's gone down well! It's a right old tune if I do say!
5) What does your songwriting process look like in general. Do lyrics or chords come first?
My personal songwriting process is 50/50 really! Sometimes I'll have a chord progression or riff in my head and I'll play around with it on my acoustic until I really make something of it before trying out melody ideas! Once I've got that melody nailed down the lyrics usually follow quite quickly! Although sometimes I'll delve into my notebooks for a line to use which will set the tone or the theme and then I build on that. 'She's The One' and 'With The Time' evolved through this method but then songs like 'Confessions' and 'Limbo' were very off the cuff and improvised which has resulted in them having a sense of urgency and force behind them!
When I first sat down and thought about releasing an EP late on in 2013 I had about 15 songs written over the period of 18 months, I've scrapped a lot of them and cringe at the memory of some of them when I look back! I probably play about 4 songs from that time in my live sets nowadays! I made the right decision back then to hold back until I'd grown in confidence as a songwriter and as a performer and it's staggering to see the difference in my style in just two years!
The writing process for 'How To Rewind Life' has yielded about 10 new songs! 4 of them made the final cut obviously but I'm quite pleased with the remaining songs so I think I'll continue to work on them! 'Wasted Years' and 'Little Town Anywhere' are two such songs so I'm planning on getting them out there in the not too distant future.
6) Is there a topic you would love to write a song about, but haven't had the chance to do so by now? If so, what is it and what is the driving force behind the idea?
In all honesty, I'm usually very spontaneous with deciding on a subject or topic for a song! The concept behind 'How To Rewind Life' came together entirely by accident! These songs are reflective of my life experiences and it's all about the passing of time and the effect that has on relationships with people as we travel and progress through life as things shift and change around us, It's very much a record about the human condition! I think In terms of future songwriting I'd like to pursue that further and see where I end up with it.
[you can earn bonus points for spontaneously coming up with a prospect of lyrics of above mentioned, 'yet-not-written' song ;)] - maybe next time, Cal, maybe next time ... ;)
7) You spent a lot of time getting the recording of 'How To Rewind Life' done over the past few months. When in the studio, what do you prefer: working through the songs as planned or improvising a little, altering lyrics, re-writing parts, taking a shot at compositional improvisation during the recording process?
The recording process has been really fun! My bassist Will Freckles and lead guitarist Callum Carty have been amazing to work with in the studio! Both of them are insanely talented at what they do and they've helped me to add such depth to the songs!
We spent about two weeks at the start of January just jamming on the songs and experimenting with different sounds and playing styles before we started recording and that really helped me get a clear idea of what I wanted the finished tracks to sound like! Our friend Seph Bentos has been recording us at his home studio setup and he's really helped me to achieve the sound I've got in my head! We've had a lot of fun making the EP together and I've learnt so much along the way in terms of recording techniques.
A real turning point was the inclusion of a slide guitar solo and some retro organ sounds on 'Limbo' which is something I'd never considered in the whole two years or so I've been playing that song live.
At times I've made minor edits to lyrics on the fly but generally the songs have come into the studio as they were.
8) As your debut EP's launch show lies ahead, let us talk a little bit about your 'onstage' and 'offstage' habits. Have you any pre-show rituals, and if so name them. Do you feel more comfortable performing solo or with a band supporting you? What stories do you usually tell in between two songs of a set when gigging?
I have a bad habit of overthinking before I go onstage at the bigger shows! For an hour or so before going on I'll have a couple of drinks and get myself pumped. Then I'll go backstage or whatever, tune up and I'll play a few riffs to gear myself up!
If I'm with my band then it's usually a stab at 'Faith' by George Michael and we just take the piss out of each other before getting on to play!
Although I started out as a solo performer and that's the root of what I do as an artist, I've got to the point where I'm equally comfortable with playing with or without them. Depends on the venue or occasion, to be honest.
When I'm onstage I'll usually joke around with the crowd to get them onside! I make a point of thanking the audience for coming to watch and for the venue manager/promoter for booking me towards the end of my set usually before I play my last song.
9) What is the first thing you do after you played a gig and the first thing you do after you have watched an artist perform whose show and music you really enjoyed?
When I come offstage I always stick around to support the other artists/bands and I make a point of saying hello and congratulating them if I've enjoyed their set. It's just manners at the end of the day and I've found you get a lot of people who will just get up, play the gig and then leave which is a bit disrespectful. It's important to show respect to others playing and from gigging I've met so many nice people from the music community, some of which have become really good friends. People like Shannen Bamford, Rob Jones&Rob White, Liz Owen and Thom Morecroft to name but a few!
10) Now, carpe carmina's readers sure are interested to hear what is planned for 2015 - except for the release of 'How To Rewind Life'. Share, but before let us know what do you like most about this little music blog.
My favourite thing about Carpe Carmina is the range of artists you cover and promote! Such a great variety and that makes it a great read time and time again! I've discovered some great music thanks to the blog and I love all sorts of music so that's a real winner for me haha!
I'm planning a little promo tour of a few venues in the North of England throughout April and May and quite possibly into the summer! I'll keep posting updates on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and my website as it all unfolds! I'm really looking forward to playing venues in places other than Liverpool and the Wirral as its a great chance to get my music heard by lots of different people.
What a lovely lad, Cal is, isn't he? Thank you for answering the questions in such charming detail. carpe carmina tends to be wordy about music and it's nice to see an artist's passion for and interest in the same, make him talk avidly and lengthy, however still to the point.
Since 'How To Rewind Life' hasn't seen its release yet (the EP launch takes place this friday (March 20th) at Sound Found And Drink), doors at 7pm, free entry), we can only assume what musical glory awaits us. What can be expected from the singer/songwriter's debut - and that's carpe carmina's prediction, based on the demos presented on Cal Ruddy's soundcloud - is the following though: prepare for a dynamic and harmoniously driven (acoustic) sound, ambient still urgent, powerful, prepare for raw but emotive, cloudy vocals and pensive, heartfelt lyrical narrations. Simply put, prepare for Cal Ruddy in 2015 ;)
Reach out & listen to Cal Ruddy on ...
.. twitter ...
.. facebook ...
.. the artist's official website ...
.. soundcloud ...