"I'm Like The Artful Dodger From Oliver And He's Fagin" - Stacey McMullen
Where better to learn about the art of music making than from 'the Artful Dodger', himself?
Tune Crush had the pleasure of pick-pocketing Stacey McMullen of his musical inspirations and what he has the bag for 2018...
What made you want to learn such a unique genre of music on the guitar?
I’ve messed around with all sorts of music across me life, I guess. It started off when I was younger playing Irish Folk stuff on the Banjo. Cringefully, when I was 18-20, I thought I could have been a Grime MC… Soon gave that up.
I lived with a Brazilian guy for a bit and he put me on to this artist called Cartola who sang all in Brazilian songs, but I just loved the style that they were playing on the guitars. So I swapped my steel string strummer for a classical guitar (this was only a few years ago) and just went onto YouTube typing in ‘Flamenco techniques’, ‘Brazilian techniques’ and just studied them for ages in my room.
I didn’t have any lessons or anything like that and thought ‘right, this is quite cool actually’. Then obviously the Irish stuff came back in and all sorts of things and they just fused together to create this odd, classical guitar combo with rapping over the top and singing and all that stuff… Yeah!
Were you a lyricist before learning to play the guitar?
Yeah, I mean, I’ve written lyrics for ages...“Am I a lyricist?”. “I’m a lyricist... an artist don’t you know” ~
Haha, yeah, I’ve always messed around with all sorts of writing and things, I guess.
What was it like going from being a “bedroom player” to having a signed record deal?
Err... good, haha, that’s your answer! No, I mean, they’re great. I’d been knocking about a while going to gigs and stuff like that. I’d made friends with those guys beforehand, but they didn’t actually know that I played, and I think they were like ‘where you been hiding this all this time?’ and really liked it. Because INFL put out quite, if it weren’t for a better word, ‘alternative’ artists, I think it sits within their general family of music that they put out, you know.
They’ve been a great support and I love ‘em to bits. They’ve become really good friends, especially Mr Will. He’s a bit like... I think I’m like the Artful Dodger from Oliver and he’s Fagin. Yes, that’s our relationship.
Were you happy with how your album was received once it was released?
An artist is never happy.. We are sad, sad people. ~ No, it’s a start isn’t it? I want to go and do a bigger sound next and get a full band behind it and maybe write - not entirely - a few upbeat songs because, you know, it’ll be good to show different sides of the human condition or whatever. But yeah, it was amazing!
I suppose I’m in this limbo, now, of getting my name out there and getting a bit recognised. I’m trying to get an April tour going, and maybe go to Germany in May for a little tour up there if I can, yeah.
Because they pay well in Germany!
What kind of instrumentalists would you like in your band?
Well, I would want more of a percussionist than a drummer, if that makes sense. So someone who can play the drums, but then also maybe start banging away on a djembe or maybe have a little glockenspiel that they could mess around with… Just weird, sort of, other percussions. An Irish bodhrán would be cool!
Obviously the bass has gotta be in everything because bass drives a whole song. I would be on my classical guitar, but there would be some songs where I wouldn’t want to play and I’d just focus on the songwriting structure. Just all sorts of instruments that can be fitted in. I’d like every song to be really different - if I can help it - and not get too pigeon holed on a sound. Violins… Flutes… Whatever!
How would you describe the demographic of your listeners?
Odd balls... Weirdos! ~
No, all sorts really. I get people who are dead into folk that are in their 60’s and 70’s liking it. Then I get young lads, you know, that are 18 -19 coming up sometimes going ‘that was amazing!’ and I’m like ‘jeez, that’s a bit weird’ haha!
I think the way the songs are, they are using so many genres and styles in the playing that it doesn't really attract any one type of sub-culture or group, if that makes sense. Generally, I'd say probably 'left-wingers' ~
Are your songs intentionally quite political?
Oh no, no, no! Some of them are just about me messing things up with women, then some of them are about not getting out of bed and sitting in my pants eating Big Soup... I try and have a good balance.
I think it gets boring just hearing somebody rattle on about themselves all the time. I mean, I know I get bored... I wouldn't listen to me! I'd want to go and see a fabulous drag queen act and dance about and feel glittery and amazing! ~
In all seriousness, would you listen to Stacey McMullen if you were somebody else?
That's a hard question, innit! Very subjective. I mean I do listen to my own music because I have to. You drive yourself mental when you're doing a recording, because all you bloody listen to is yourself for three days!
I guess in some ways, I do write songs I would like to listen to, but I'm also aware that my music's maybe quite intense and quite serious a lot of the time. I'm actually - in myself - quite a jolly, lighthearted chap. I like disco, funk and 'WOW' kind of sex machine music! That's what I like to listen to if I'm out... Get the glitter on and be a bit fabulous, myself, you know! I wish I could make music like that, but that's a whole different setup entirely!
What are your musical resolutions for 2018?
Start making it! ~
Er, yeah: Get a little band behind me. It would be nice to get a couple of singles out, but obviously they take time.
As I said, a little UK or European tour would be good.
If I can do all of those things, I think I'm gonna maybe chill out a bit and have a bit of a break. It's not because I don't love doing it, but life is a full, rich tapestry and there's other things I want to do... Like become a clown or something like that!
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