Appreciating the truth in blues music with Gareth Jay
Gareth Jay is a blues artist that brings out honesty, soul and emotion when he sings and strums the guitar. He’s possibly the hardest working musician in Sydney; you can see him looping around town, literally with his incredible loop pedal skills. He did a stint in Japan and created his own tour around the east coast of Australia. Just because he could.
We chat to Gareth Jay about how he first fell in love with blues, what it was like performing in Japan and why when he plays the blues his whole heart is on show.
What made you first fall for blues music?
I've always really appreciated the truth in blues music. The first CD I ever played all the way through, and by all the way through I mean I learnt every song until I could play along from the start to the finish of the CD, was Eric Clapton, Unplugged. The emotion, the honesty, the soul in the way it's played just kills me and I can't get enough. I feel like when I'm playing blues I can just let go and just live in how I'm feeling at the time.
What’s it like being a blues artist in Sydney?
People in Sydney generally respond very well to blues music. I play lots of different styles to stay afloat financially, but as soon as I pull out a blues tune, people seem to stop what they are doing, connect with me and take in the moment. When I play blues, my whole heart is in it and on show.
You did a solo and duo tour around the Eastern Coast, tell us more about that and how did it go?
I've been on a couple of tours up and down the East Coast of Australia. I love the adventure of being on the road with just my guitar and a gig to get to. One of my first trips was with my duo MayJay and we loved the little country towns with people that are so hospitable. I remember going to the rainforests on our days off and pretty much getting around in nothing but shorts the whole time which was great! Another trip included performing as part of the Tamworth Country Music Festival with another mate & musician Sophie Jones. Even chucked in a couple country classics to make sure I ticked the boxes! I love tours. They're a lot of hard work, but I come home with a backpack full of memories and about 100 new songs in my head.
You also spent a bit of time in Japan, the country has a deep love for blues and jazz, what was it like being there?
Japan was just amazing. It was a contract that came up out of the blue and so I pretty much packed a bag and was on my first overseas flight in a couple of days. There are some great little venues that I fell in love with but the people and culture was the most awesome, exciting, and surprising thing. After a gig everyone wants a picture with you and is so flattering. Met some pretty cool people too, which always helps.
How did you start with live looping?
I started looping when a mate signed me up to compose for a dance project. She's heard my recordings, full of harmonies and guitar layers, and wanted me to perform them live, which without a looping station would have been impossible. The loop box has changed how I write and perform. It allows me to layer guitar melody and then solo or create the perfect harmonies to bring in at the chorus. It's heaps of fun too!
Are you working on any new projects?
I've shot a couple video clips this year, which was so awesome! It was so great to be backed by some emerging Production Houses who so skilfully complimented my music with their vision. Otherwise, I've been concentrating on gigging as much as I can. I've been lucky to have found some venue residencies, which is allowing me to perform for lots of people. When I gig I'll often work on new songs with the loop box, so all my gigging has also been helping me try out some new songs that are going towards my next album. I'm excited to be getting closer to wrapping it up in the studio.
You do quite a few shows around Sydney at various venues, how do you find them?
I'm kind of old fashioned and like to talk to them mostly. I love meeting new people and I find Pub owners and Restaurant owners have the best stories.
What stimulates your soul?
Obviously guitar and music, but also old cars, food and wine are definitely in there. Oh and a lot of my music is about the relationships in my life, so women also stimulate my soul, if I'm being very honest.
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