Singer, songwriter and producer Otto just released the new single Tell Me Something, produced by Dave Stewart. If that last name sounds familiar it might be because you know Stewart’s work with the Eurythmics or another of his high profile projects. Otto is based in Wales, but English by birth. I learned about him while researching the collaboration app Trackd. This was for an article I published on Forbes.com.
In this episode Otto shares his experience as a Trackd user, how he came to be involved with Dave Stewart, a big songwriting tip, and how he got one of his songs a-listed with BBC Radio in Wales. We talk about recording on the go, his agenda following a flurry of career elevating activity and much more. He also gives me a tour of his home studio. See the episode show notes for details and photos of his gear.
This is the Unstarving Musician podcast. I am your host Robonzo. This podcast features conversations with me, indie music artists and industry professionals. It’s all intended to help other indie music artists be better at marketing, business, the creative process and all the other things that empower us to do more of what we love. Make music.
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Welcome to another episode. Thank you for joining me again or for the very first time. My guest is singer songwriter, producer Otto. He is based in Wales but is English by birth. I learned about him while researching the collaboration app called Trackd, which I was doing for an article that I published on Forbes.com. There will be a link in the show notes if you would like to check that article out. Otto and I discuss his experience as a Trackd user and how it got him involved with producer Dave Stewart who you may know from work with Eurhythmics and or many other high profile projects. Also that work, we discuss how it resulted in a new single, and that may be singles. I’ve got a little gotten a little behind on where Otto is at since we had this conversation, but I know his latest single as of today is Tell Me Something. You can check out a video that he created for the song on Instagram at I Go by Otto. I highly recommend you do that. His voices captivating as this his songwriting style. He also, in our conversation, drops a great tip on songwriting, tells me how he got one of his songs a listed with BBC Radio in Wales, and exactly what that whole a-listed thing means, kind of educational for me. He gives me a tour of his home studio. And we’ve listed out some of his gear in the show notes as well as included some photos showing some of Otto’s studio gear if you’re interested in seeing that. We talk a bit about recording on the go, and his agenda moving forward following this flurry of new release activity and new opportunities that are afforded to him because of his relationship with Dave Stewart. All these things that are elevating his career. It was a really fun conversation. I I so hope to stay in touch with him. He’s a great, great guy. All right. Without further adieu, here is me and Otto.
How long have you been tracked user?
Ah, God, quite a while now. So I met Grant through a, through a project that that sort of they do they help develop artists. So I met Grant, he’s the artist and relation manager at Trackd. And he sort of became my mentor for my music and stuff like that. Probably about two or three years ago, I’ve known grant for an hour. So sort of, he was like, Oh you shoult check out the app that we’re developing. So I’ve sort of been, I downloaded it and was like, this is actually really cool.
Yeah. I’ve been using it for a while. I haven’t posted that much on it, just because it’s like, really busy. But yeah, some really cool. So I’ve been Yeah, I’ve been been on there for quite some time, although I haven’t posted as much as I’d like to. Yeah, dude, probably about years.
Did you? So a few years, you said?
Yeah yeah, about a few years now I think…
It’s really interesting. How long you know, like tract and sound storming another app. I mentioned in the article that, by the way, thank you for sharing my article on on Facebook, the Forbes article.
Oh, it’s my pleasure. Thank you for mentioning me.
Yeah, absolutely. I’m, you know, I’m a new contributor there, so it’s very cool for me when people do that. But it’s amazing to find out how long they’ve been around. I think sound storming, like, actually started up about 10 years ago. But yeah, it’s kind of a long haul for them, but they’re suddenly coming into the public eye because of the weirdness of COVID.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it is really strange. It’s been quite a while.
When you when you started using it, were you, were you more active at one time, and then things just got kind of busy as your, the popularity of your music happens?
Yeah, yeah, I guess it’s kind of like, like, I use it a lot. So I mainly use it on my iPad. And if I’m sort of, like laying in bed, writing a song or something I’ll and I, if I’ve got a melody that’s really catchy, like the iPad doesn’t have sort of like a way of sound recording quickly. So I just like chuck the app open, and I usually keep all my like voice notes for songs on my iPad on there. And then if any of them are sort of good enough, I’ll probably wake up the next day, and I’ve got like where you’re facing, so where my camera is and stuff, there’s like, I’ve got a little home studio setup. So So record a demo version of the song and then upload it, the app and Yeah, like he said, it’s sort of it’s quite a, it’s quite a funny one, like, I’d like to use it more. I think I’d like to use everything a bit more. But when your sort of, when you’re being an artist and creating stuff, it’s like, you can sometimes spread yourself quite thin, and try and cover lots of ground. Whereas I’m a real firm believer of like, if the song is good, then everything falls into place. So i try my best to remove the spreading and just focus sort of solely on the song at the moment. So yeah, I’ve been using as much as I’d like to, but for good purpose, I guess.
Yeah. Well, that turned into a good songwriting tip. I am… So I, I just finished the recording process of what will be my first single ever, I’ve only written, I was writing very casually many years ago, but it’s just coincidental that I did most of it during the pandemic. I had actually started, but certainly the pandemic, because I’ve been a mostly a performing musician all my life and, as a drummer, predominantly; And with the pandemic, I thought, well, I’m going to do something I’ve always wanted to do and set myself up to record, you know, the acoustic drum kit here and record some demos on guitar. But I was just telling my wife and a friend of mine that I was sharing the, the song with that, you know, I would have done, well I was collaborating with… So I wrote it, but I have a friend in Texas who is an incredible musician and sound engineer. So he, I was basically sending him my tracks and letting him do all of his magic with them, And then another guy from California contributed bass and helped me with the backing vocal idea. But so I’m telling my friend that I would have, you know, personally pulled the vocal level down a little bit, and I wanted to work a little harder on the backup stuff. But at some point, you just for me, I had to say perfection is going to become my enemy, because of time and money and just everything. And plus I was trying to trust my sound engineer friend who’s got a lot of experience because he was kind of the one who did some of the stuff and thought it sounded good. So anyway.
Yeah, that’s why that’s one of the tips that I’ve, because that competition that trackd has done and then sort of, sort of getting to know Dave and stuff like that, which is really nice. And he said, He’s like, you know, he’s been a producer for for years and years now. [Yeah.] And probably long before I was born, that’s for sure. And he said he’s like he prefers vocals right up front and a mix whenever you get sent stuff. If the vocals are like that center really up front really loud. That’s the you get to sort of hear the rawness and the lyrical content behind the song, which is something that I really, I really agree with. So…
Yeah, I get that. And now that you say that, like I’m most familiar with this work with Annie Lennox, of course, and Mick Jagger, and in all of those works, the the vocals are extremely prominent, but there’s a lot going on behind them. I have this, I’ve always loved rock, and so my song is not hard. It probably. Well, it’s not hard, but you know, it’s definitely got the guitar bass and drum element, right? And yeah, so for me, I kind of always imagined the vocals being a little more blended in, which is pretty common with with rock tunes, whereas you have producers like Dave Stewart. Yeah, and they’ll put them really out there, which is great. It works really well. Especially, you know, like in music like your own and who knows, maybe someday in my own.
Yeah, fingers crossed.
Yeah, for sure. It’s got it. It’s a new adventure for me. And I know that. Speaking of new adventures, I know that you’re getting into a few Hey, give me just a sec. I’m going to I’m going to fix one thing here because people that are going to watch this are going to be super annoyed with me switching back and forth. So I’m going to pause for just one second. Okay, I think it’s gone. So we’ll see how that goes. I may, I may text you later and say, well the video’s crap.
Shotty. Let’s go again. That’s fine by me.
Yeah, well, the good thing is I typically do audio only. So it won’t be that weird for for people who listen to my podcast, but I thought someday, if I ever did, video would be more thing where we got to sit in a room together. But, you know, given the pandemic, and our distance from one another, of course, this is a perfect, perfect opportunity to just do it like this. And more and more people are doing that. So it’s all good. S o let’s see, where was I before I distracted myself?
Adventures I think.
Yeah, you said you’re getting yourself into quite a few adventures.
I don’t know where I was going with that. But I do have I do have plenty of other stuff to ask you about. So… I had read that Post was produced by Charlie Francis and Post is your latest release, right?
Yeah, my first and latest. Yeah.
You had something before that? No?
Yeah. I kind of dabbled in, in releasing, because I self produced like my first ever record that got on radio. That was self produced. And I was in like a duo years ago, four or five years ago, and then the duo ended up splitting. And then I saw like, followed my solo career sort of wholeheartedly. Habits. Yeah, it’s ended up paid off quite well, which is really nice. Yeah, it’s been. Yeah, so yeah, I had that. But it wasn’t sort of like a serious, serious, it was sort of a lot more fun and just kind of cheery ish songs. Whereas these are the songs and the thing that I’m doing with my music now is like, I want something to say, and I want to I want the story to tell. And I want to be able to put it across and the best way that I possibly can. And I think I think anything that I’ve done before now hasn’t quite been there just yet. Whereas this currently feels like something that I’m really proud of.
Cool. It sounds great. So I was a bit enamored to find this out because I’m a big REM fan. And I’m like, Oh, look at him. He’s working with the same people that worked with REM How cool is that?
Yeah, yeah, Charlie’s a really lovely guy. He actually texted me today just to just to check off me so I’m doing this stuff. So he’s like, got a couple people in the industry. He sort of mentor mentoring me and kind of shoved me in the right direction, I guess. And he’s one of them, he’s a he’s a really, really lovely guy. He’s a phenomenal cook as well and his wife is pretty lovely too. We both actually, I bought myself as a Yamaha U1 piano from 1970s. And we have now have the same make piano is this from 1984? I think so. Is is 10 years younger than mine, but we’re now matching piano buddies.
That’s funny. How did you guys meet?
Ah, oh, it’s that same thing, the same thing that I met met Grant through, which was this self development scheme here in South Wales. And yeah, he’s, he’s based in Cardiff, which to me is only like 30 minute drive away or something like that. So it’s not, it’s not too far. And he’s, he’s really active in the local scene in Cardiff. And so I might go to as many gigs as I can not just sort of play my own, try and see everyone and, and sort of show my face when I can as well. So it’s just kind of saw him here and there. And I thought, actually, I want to want to do some stuff with him and and applied for funding and through BBC horizons, which is this funding Launchpad here in South Wales, for like emerging artists, I managed to get enough money together to, to get to get the Post EP produced by him, which is really good.
That’s amazing. Well, you know, kudos to you for the high level at which you play and write, you’ve gotten noticed twice, you know, by some important people for that. So that’s really cool. I saw something on you’ll have to tell me, Well, two things. Forgive me for my ignorance on this first one is Cardiff in Wales or in England?
It’s in Wales, it’s the capital of Wales.
Oh, man, no I sound like a real idiot.
No, no, to be fair Whales is very small sort of country. So it’s not. It’s not a it’s not super well known.
And I’m American, right? And we were really horrible with geography traditionally. I’m actually in Panama, by the way, I don’t know if you knew so I’m not even in my home country, but I’ve been living here since 20. How long is it? Yeah since 2016. My wife and I moved here. Crazy, huh?
Yeah, that’s nice. That’s nice.
Yeah, you know, it’d be nicer if we weren’t in a pandemic, but we had some we had some good times before the pandemic. So well, that is very cool. Oh, the other thing I wanted to mention is that I saw something I was unfamiliar with about you being a-listed by the BBC. What does that mean?
So I don’t know if it’s the same over in America as it is here in the UK, but you get different types of listings with radio. So with the BBC, you get the like, if you’re a-lis ted they play a, a-list is the highest listing, which means they play a song throughout daytime, nighttime, early morning shows it goes through. Luckily, a Boxer off of the Post EP got a-listed for five weeks through like last summer. So all of that summer, I was driving along in my car, and I turn the radio on another air hearing myself, which is very strange, but nice as well. And yeah, so that’s, so that’s the way I work. And then like I didn’t know for BBC Radio Wales, if it’s like if they have a CMV listing, but you can move up and down the a-listing. And like I was quite lucky. I got with the how that sort of came about was Beth and Alvin is the radio presenter who runs the horizons Launchpad funding project. And she funded the Post EP pretty much on they funded the post EP the body for BBC. And she played on her show producer messaged me or emailed me and said, really love the song. I’m going to try and get it some more plays. And it’s really cheekily asked if you like it so much. Could you a-list it? So he cc’d boss, and his boss rung me while I was filming promotional videos for boxer, and he was like, which song of which songs off the EP would you like, so a-listed, I just said a Boxer… that’s the one I want to have the most radio play. So yeah, so it’s kind of like a it’s just a way of them, like, if you’re not, you can get like spot plays. So spot plays is where presenter will like your song, and I just play it once. And usually a lot of bands just get sort of a spot play. And then that’ll be up. And then usually, to get a-listed, you need a radio plugger to be involved? Or someone along those lines? So I was quite lucky to sort of get a-listed without any of that involved.
Yeah, cool. Clearly they like you. Yeah, that’s great. All right, so I’m gonna be rude one more time and grab my coffee, hang on a sec. I’m not always this unprofessional. Yeah, I’ve got a horrible, I call my setup here the hole. I don’t have a proper desk, and so I’ve just got these various things holding my gear up and I took my, my impromptu coffee stand away. So I had to set it up. [Yeah.] It was sitting on a hand drum and I had guests over the other night and I’m like, I’m gonna go put this out because it’s a nice looking drum that sort of adds decor in our living space. And I’ll just put it back out there for tonight, and it hasn’t made its way back in. So, let’s see the boxer. I saw the video for this. I love this set. And I wanted to ask you to just tell me about the set for the video.
Oh, yeah, so the live videos, that is this…
I’m sorry, is this different than the official kind of video for the release?
I’ve never had an official video done, ever. [Okay.] To this to this date. But yes, I’ve never I’ve never like, I’m a bit of a, I think if a song does really, really well, and you make enough money back from it to do a video, then spend the money on the video. But um, like I said before, I think like, if if I’ve got money saved up, or if I’ve got any money, I’ll put that money towards getting the song to sound the best they can. And then the rest can fold in quite lucky at the moment where some sort of circumstances have changed. And I can sort of pay for quite a bit of stuff and how I just nice. But yeah, the videos they, this is the room that we’re now this is the the post office, this is the telegram room. So during World War II, this is where they used to send all the telegrams here locally. This building also used to be where they held all the miners wages, because South Wales well known for being like a mining town, mining village. And yeah, so the video that was shot, the The setting is literally attached to the side of my house. We’ve got like a warehouse where they used to park all of the post vans and send and sort all the letters. So yeah, I just filmed it, filmed it in there, and I think the house is sort of the centerpiece of the EP. And so I’ve created the whole concept, I think,
Wow. Now is that area where it was the warehouse, as you call it? Is that a common area to a living space that has multiple, like a multi residents living? Or is this place where you live at the post office just like a single family…?
It’s a single house? Yeah, it’s a single family house, so we’ve got it goes from that big warehouse into the kitchen then. And then we go up the stairs and you’ve got this hallway and the front room, which used to be you know, where you deposit letters and take money out and stuff like that. You come up the stairs, and then you’re in this room, and then you go up again. And there’s like the main sort of living quarters, which back then used to be the postmasters quarters where the head post master used to live.
Wow, how for fortunate to have that cool space for that video. It looks really neat. And well, I just want to hear how I got it all set up. And
Well, I have to say kudos to Trigger Happy Creative, which is my pianist. So the guys playing piano and that video. He’s really lovely guy, so’s his girlfriend, they both own this company where they you know, they film music videos. They’ve done quite a lot of music videos here locally. They’ve won a couple of like Cardiff Music Awards and stuff like that for it. And yeah, he came over with a bunch of his cameras and our frame, there’s this like huge lighting dome, making everything look really nice. And we did a couple of smoke machines here and there and some incense sticks and stuff. So he made it look like really special. And I’m really lucky to sort of have him on board with with everything that I’m making. And he’s he’s a really lovely character. So just a quick thanks to him for coming down and helping out.
Very cool. And we’re we’re those folks kind of managing the sound for that as well, or were you involved in the sound production aspect?
Yeah, so I produce the sound for those videos. Yeah, so I’ve mixed it all in my home studio, I’ll give you a quick whip around. So I got like a MIDI keyboard. It’s been messy because I’ve been sort of busy. But I’ve got a pair of hshs. So one here and then one on the other side as well. And I’ve got this Universal Audio. And yeah, that’s pretty much it, then I’ve just got like guitars and piano bits and bobs, just like percussion. I wish I could get a good enough sort of drum kit in here. And a couple nice microphones, maybe another Neumann and a couple like RODEs or something, some nice RODEs mics. But yeah, so far, it’s sort of minimalistic and quite bare, which, in some ways works works sometimes quite well. So yeah, so I was, I was in control for that sort of stuff.
And tell me about the Universal Audio Device. What is that an audio interface or what exactly is it?
Yes, that’s the only that’s my audio interface that I’m using at the moment I recently got it so with the competition that Trackd ran I, sort of any money I get I reinvest into my music, because it’s sort of, music is one of those things where the more you put in, the more you get out. And I’ve always loved producing I’ve been like I said the first song I sort of put out, not even put it out properly. But it got got played on radio, which was really nice. And since then I’ve sort of, I did a college course for three years studying sort of sound technology and stuff like that. And yeah, this this audio interface is really good. It’s, it’s incredible like at the sort of analog to digital conversion that it does. And paired up like I’ve got this, this is my, I always keep a bag on it to from getting in the capsule, but this is my main mic, which is a TLM 103 which is a really, really nice microphone. I’m hoping to pair it up with a with a Neve 1073 at some point, but for now it’s okay that it does this job, which is good. I must have got like, I’ve recently got this as well which is quite cool. And if you’re into sort of,
Yeah, totally, totally.
Which is, so this is a this here is called Raja, which is my my AKAI GX-4000D tape to tape or reel to reel tape machine. And I’ve got it set up so if I need to like run any any songs or anything through the sort of through through my audio and get it sounding old and crackly and, like I find that running strings through reel to reel, like three IPS like the three speed, three inches per second speed, you get to sort of show the old Disney movie sort of string feel to it. [Yeah.] They sound like really like kind of warm and fuzzy. Yeah, you get that sort of vibe from it. So I haven’t, oddly enough, I got it and I haven’t I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had a chance to properly use it yet. I’ve just fiddled with a couple songs and run it through the master mix but now I want to get some more hard hardware equipment to sort of fiddle with and play with, because I think that the more equipment you’ve got in front of you, just the more more creative you can be I guess.
Sure, and is the media for that reel to reel expensive does it last long or?
So this one, I think it’s three headset, so its got the, it’s got an erase head on it, so as soon as you run it through or you can erase it, you can like erase tape. You can wear the tape out so it’s quite cool. Like if you if you were to tape out you’ll get like artifacts and stuff in it. Where you know if you want that really old crackly, sort of fuzzy cruddy, kind of like old muddy sounding vibe, you can just keep reusing the same tape, keep doing stuff on it and you’ll like sometimes you’ll even get a bit of bleed from what you’ve previously recorded on it if the tape has aren’t aligned properly. But yeah, it’s not too expensive. I picked up that tape machine for I think it was around about 290 pounds. And what it what it gives to the music is is something that I mean I’ve also got you know, like the waves plugins for tape machines and stuff but none of them have the three three inches per second speed on them. So it’s quite nice to have that really low analog high for like lo fi sort of warm sound. So yeah, so that’s that’s what that does. It’s quite fun.
That’s cool I need to have your maybe like the third person I’ve spoken with and I’m getting I was looking this morning I’m not terribly far away from 200 episodes now, but the third person I’ve talked to a lot you know, in detail about gear or who’s had described you know, some gear to me in detail and usually it’s home recording. I’ve done some on video as well about video gear or a video recording you know as well, but I’m sitting here thinking I need to do like just a total geek audio studio segment for the podcast for people that want to see what others are using, so that’s pretty cool. Yeah, I mean like most of this stuff i’m i’m really new to recording, so this this year is the first time I’ve ever done it. I’ve been thinking about it and talking about it all my life so when you show me some of this gear, I’m like I’ve never seen anything like that. Now the reel to reel, I’m familiar with the concept. The Universal Audio I just assumed it was an audio interface, but ooh I’ve watched some things on on YouTube with some guys doing some stuff and I’m like I don’t even know what that piece of gear does.
Yeah, I got quite I got quite lucky really, before lockdown happened. I sau lucky. I guess I was lucky. There was a, I was driving my car heading down to a studio in Cardiff, just before a lockdown happened and I was like indicating turning right in my car and some guy tried to overtake me and slammed straight into the side of my car right into the engine block and and wrote my car off. Luckily if I was like going a little bit quicker it would have hit straight into the driver’s side so I was lucky, but they really wrote my car off, and with the money that they wrote my car off I bought a perpetual license for Pro Tools. Because I was like I’m not gonna be needing my car for a while now obviously, since I’m gonna be in lockdown, and it’s ended up yeah having Pro Tools, it’s like it’s as though I was using FL studios and for live music and being able to like chuck everything in time with elastic audio and stuff like that is is incredible, a godsend, that is. It’s really good really useful.
Oh nice. Yeah. I am using Logic Pro. My friend who helped me with the song’s been a longtime Pro Tools user and I know that’s like pro tool, there’s so many people using logic, but it still seems that officially Pro Tools is kind of the de facto for…
Yeah, I don’t know what it is. Everyone uses it literally like it. Charlie Francis, the guy who produced the post EP, he uses it. I think it’s just kind of like ease of access as well, in a weird way, like to have all your licenses in one place and like some people really hate I locks, but I’ve bought loads of waves plugins where it’s been like the Abbey Road collection, where it’s got, like all the old Abbey Road hardware, all in sort of software versions that and having all the licenses in one place and stuff is really easy, really useful. Because I’ve got a macbook as well. And if I was ever traveling around, I’m not trying to say, I’m not traveling around at the moment, but everyone, everything, everything lifts up, I’ll be so shooting about and I’ll be able to take my laptop on tour with me, and so make stuff and stuff like that, which will be nice.
You know, I talked to one Trackd user who’s a busker. And he’s been, you know, traveling musician all his life. And he’s actually releasing music he’s recording on track. He said, I can’t carry studio gear around with me. I’m like, wow, that’s pretty incredible, but anyway, yes. I would be like, well, I can’t really travel with the drum setup. But you know, you’re traveling with the laptop to mix things or record, you know, a single instrument or voices or whatever, is nice.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I’ve been quite lucky. I mean, I’ve got like a live band and my band are really lovely. They’re really lovely guys. But like, I write all the parts myself, so I’ll usually other than the drums. I wish I could play drums. I wish I had a drum kit, but not Yeah, one day one day. Yes. But like, so far, I’ll track everything one at a time. So I’ll just go guitar and track vocals. So if I was on tour or anything, I’d easily be able to crack out a single while sitting on a tour bus as long as it’s quiet enough.
That’s cool. Yeah, nice that you, you know, can play all that stuff as well. And yes, I see a drum set in your future. And you’ll be tracking some drums and just doing your doing that album where you play everything and do everything… [Fingers crossed one day, one day.] Yeah. All right. Let me see her. I think I’m still interrupting my screen. But let me see what else I want to ask you here. Man, we hit on a lot of stuff. And I’m sitting here holding my coffee instead of taking notes. But where did you meet the band? by the way? Are they all local guys? Or did you get kind of lined up with them?
So I got, with the a-listing with the BBC. So I start thinking, I was like, I’ve got loads of loads of festivals that I got booked for, and I was thinking that the songs are really you know, big, and they’re sort of full and it’s not just like me and a single guitar or anything like that. And I thought it’d be really good to actually have some, some live players come and play the songs with me. So I just put an advert on Facebook, into like a local musicians group thing. I don’t use Facebook that much anymore. But yeah, just popped it on there and had a response from my drummer, my bassist, we played a couple gigs with my pianist. And then I had my guitarist and approached me at one of the gigs and say, like, I’d really love to be a part of this, so I was like okay, you’re in. Really, really lovely guy as well. So they’re all they’re all really nice. Yeah, it’s kind of, so it just kind of formed about an a sort of natural way. So festival season needs some live session musicians to come up with some stuff. And yeah, they’re all really chill and got some rehearsal sessions and that music box down in Cardiff, and yeah, cut out.
Yeah. All right. Let me see here. I think I’m still interrupting my screen. But let me see what else I want to ask you here. Man, we hit on a lot of stuff. And I’m sitting here holding my coffee instead of taking notes. But where did you meet the band? By the way? Are they all local guys? Or did you get kind of lined up with them?
So I got with the listing with the BBC. So I started thinking I was like, I’ve got loads of loads of festivals that I got booked for. And I was thinking the songs sound really, you know, big and they’re sort of fallen as it’s not just like me and a single guitar or anything like that. And I thought it’d be really good to actually have some, some live players come and play the songs with me. So I just put an advert on Facebook into like a local musicians group thing. Don’t use Facebook that much anymore. But yeah, just popped it on there and had a response from my drummer, my bassist. We played a couple gigs with my ipns and then I had my guitarist and approached me one of the gigs and say, like, I’d really love to be a part of this. No one talks like okay, you’re really lovely guy as well. So they’re all they’re all really nice. Yeah, it’s kind of so just kind of formed about an hour. So of natural age, so festival season needs some live session musicians to come and play some stuff. And yeah, they’re all really chill and got some rehearsal sessions and that music box down in Cardiff and yeah, cracked it out.
Very cool. And you mentioned you’re not using Facebook much. And this is kind of would be helpful to me, for both the podcast and, and music. But also, are you using, I was about to ask why you’re not using Facebook, but we you know, we can probably spend a few minutes on that. But are you using other social media platforms? Or is it that you kind of are you have a team or someone that’s kind of helping you on that front, so you can focus on other stuff now?
Well, so there’s a couple of really fun things that are happening behind the scenes. So I will see and have sort of a couple people helping me out with stuff like that. But at the moment, yeah, still just so it’s just mainly just like, I’m quite quiet on my Facebook page anyway, to do my music. And I’m sort of the one thing that I’m not super duper duper keen on is like, ramming my music down people’s throats, I just sort of put it there, promote it a little bit, like by saying what I’ve achieved with the music, and then just sort of moving on to the next release then and just kind of do it that way. I think. I guess like when you ask a kid to eat vegetables, and they’re like, No, I’m not gonna eat vegetables. And then when you stop asking them to eat vegetables, then they all have the vegetables. I think it’s that sort of mentality when you tell people to do something they just naturally don’t want to do. And also, you know, with, with the pan pandemic and political stuff here in the UK, it’s just like, I thought, you know what, I’m gonna I’m gonna leave that side. And I feel like Instagram is a lot more of a positive place, or at least the people that I follow on there are a lot more positive and it’s a positive environment. And I feel like when right songs and trying to be creative having that sort of positivity surround you means you’re not sort of just writing depressing songs all the time. Which is something that can you can sometimes get get into a circle of doing which I sometimes say that I just sad songs every day.
Okay, well cool, that’s insightful. Because you mentioned Instagram and that’s still it’s funny you know, I’ve even seen that platform and LinkedIn you know change but I I’ve learned a couple of tricks on social to keep my eyes away from things I don’t really care to spend time on and things that will kind of you know, they’re just certain things when you see them it’s like a train wreck you know, you can’t not look and so I have some little things that I do a not spending too much time on them but be just so that I can avert my eyes and you know, sometimes that means weeding people away from my from my from my cir.., you know, inner inner circle. But anyway, it’s insightful. I was curious because in the as you may have seen in that Forbes article, I was looking at some new social media trends like with Tik Tok, and there’s so many. I mean, tik tok, probably old news today, but there’s so many things emerging…
I’ve never downloaded tik tok or ever used it. I’ve had people be like, I should download your songs on there. And it’s like eh. No, it doesn’t, for some reason that’s just like kids stabbing and stuff. And I don’t know, I’m a bit of an old soul. I think deep down.
How old are you, by the way?
I’m 22 now, but I just it’s not sort of I don’t think it’s really my vibe.
Yeah, I understand. I have an episode coming out tomorrow. An artist named Evangeline. Gentle, and they’re 24. So it was like two for me two youngsters. in a row. Yours will not come out next week, sadly, the following week. But I was really I feel like I just talked to her again. Because I was relisting. I’m doing a new thing with transcripts. And so I was listening to our conversation. And it’s sort of like, well, it’s revisiting the conversation. So I feel like I just talked to her yesterday, but I’ll have to send you a link I think you might enjoy. She’s doing her. It’s her debut album. She released in Canada, but she’s doing a release in America and maybe elsewhere too, right now. So she’s pretty excited. That’s pretty cool. And I say she if she hears that. If they hear this. I’m so sorry. I’m not supposed to say that. It’s they them thing, so Evangelion If you heard that, forgive me. I’m new to these things. Um, let’s see here. How are we doing on time? We’re okay. You okay, still on time?
Yeah, oh yeah, no I’ve given, I’ve got loads of time.
Hey I wanted to mention something to you. I noticed you had something posted about the deep, a new music venue coming up, which is exciting, of course, right?
Yes, yeah, there’s a there’s quite few issues that have happened sort of in the local music scene in Cardiff, as a really good blog, and sort of gig guide, as called mentees good guide. And he posts about venues that are closing down and funding for them and signing petitions to try and keep venues open and stuff like that, because there’s been quite a few instances here and in Cardiff, and in the UK, I believe, where there’s been a lot of venues that have been closed down to be turned into sort of retail spaces and stuff like that. Like there was one called, it was called the big top down in Cardiff. And, oddly enough, never played that but I’ve been to loads of gigs there. So quite a few of my mates bands play there, like Caroline’s and stuff like that. And yeah, it was a lovely, lovely venue, they had this sort of like, circus sort of tent roof, with a big disco ball in the middle. All multicolored, really, really beautiful venue. Lots of lights really stunning. And and they just announced like either the landlord’s sort of ending our lease and they’re going to turn it into office space. And I was just before lockdown happened. But yeah, it’s like, oddly enough that I think there has been there’s been sort of two, two new venues that have just recently popped up locally in Cardiff, which is really cool.
That’s nice, well in and I want and thanks for, you know, kind of sharing that. It’s nice that there are these kind of relief efforts going on for them for some of the venues to try and help them out. I’ve seen them elsewhere. And I wanted to say for people listening and for you as well, because I’ve been performing so ridiculously long as a you know, live performing musician. It will happen again. I saw I think very specifically about a 10 year period of time that I was in the Silicon Valley area of California and playing music there. And there were two specific economic periods, you know, kind of crises that occurred during that 10 year period, and a lot of venues just vanished. And one time it was very much, actually both times, very much what you just described occurred where, you know, we have tenants who can pay a lot more now. And so yeah, sorry. We’re gonna We’re going to enter and then you know, COVID this is something I never my wife is she has a my chemistry degree with, no a microbiology degree with a chemistry minor or maybe it’s the other way. But anyway, she’s been in fascinated with virology all her life. And she’s been telling me for a long time that this, you know, this is gonna come to happen. Yeah. But you know, you don’t really know what the ramifications are until something like this happens. But anyway, my point was that it’ll happen again. But the lovely thing is, and you you just in the post, I guess, maybe I don’t know if it’s on Facebook, or uh… demonstrated or showed that it’s a sort of a, you know, a sad but exciting cycle of life, you know, that some will go and some new ones will come and [Yeah, exactly.] Yeah, and sometimes, like one one of these times that happened in my life. I was playing with a couple of bands that were doing fully electric amplified gigs all the time. And when a lot of venues vanished. I was lucky and saw another opportunity for an emerging live music scene at wineries. So I had suggested and everyone was on board, you know, that we, we tailor our sets to acoustic venues, which was easy enough for us to do. And it turned into a whole new set of places to play. But I guess it speaks to what everybody’s kind of going through now. And a lot of people are figuring out ways to change what they do. But with live music, I know that probably the biggest takeaway that I hope people will get is if you keep your your mind and eyes open enough, You may see other opportunities, even venues are kind of disappearing.
Yeah, I mean, I’ve been quite lucky. So the year obviously we’re in lockdown as have another chance to but I started sort of venturing out a lot more with my gigs and played a Mardi Gras festival in Hastings here in the UK, which is a four hour drive away and play played quite a lot of really lovely London venues. There’s one that like a couple, like really big artists have sort of played which was the Bedford and that’s stunning venue really stunning venue. So I’m always sort of always sort of glass half full sort of guy I think anyway, so if something closes down like I’ll always sort of be hopeful and think, there’ll be something along the corner that’ll open up anyway. So yeah, so it is so weird. So it’s kind of like a circle of life, but but in the venue scene.
It is and you just reminded me to that, the other thing I learned was and you know I think everybody knows are the smart the smart ones know that the relationships you develop at those venues are very important. Sometimes those people scattered to new venues or other venues that didn’t go away and then you have a gig somewhere you never you know would have had before had that person that you had such a great relationship with not gone there and that happened to me too so. I guess just to to state the obvious for everyone, that those people at the venues are so important.
Oh yeah, I had a stunning, I really just, your reminded me at a really stunning gig where I booked like an Airbnb and I was gonna go with my then girlfriend and things didn’t happen, like as long as I would like with her and ended up breaking up. I didn’t eat for like a week. And I went and played this gig in London and stayed there and like the Airbnb hostesses bless them, they’re like, you know, they knew that I was coming with my only thought I was going to be coming with a girlfriend. So they made it a romantic with fairy lights and all this stuff. And then I turn up and there’s no one else with me. And they’re like, Oh, it’s your girlfriend, and was kind of like, uh… Not any more. And then yes, I did this, I did this gig in London and I said on microphone, like I’m having a bit of a shoddy time, so if anyone wants to come up and hug me after my set, you’re more than welcome. I’d like finished my set had like million hugs, which is really really really really nice. And then the venue the venue owner, which is weird because like wouldn’t be able to hug people now you know, but like the venue owner, he said he has like, I’ll cook you some of my homemade, you know, proper Indian cuisine. He was like, I’ll make you this saag aloo, it’s not on the on the recipe for the venue. You know, I only make it for the people who I think are really sort of lovely and the artists and stuff like that. And yeah, he cooked me this amazing and is like the first meal of the day in a week and he just lovely guy. So it’s a memory that’s popped up into my head when you mentioned sort of the lovely people that you end up meeting venues and yeah, there’s there’s plenty plenty of people out there and it’s definitely one thing that I’m so missing is being able to meet new people and and have those hugs.
Yeah, well I know every time I’m I hear anytime I hear a story or think about that. It’s strange now that yes, we can’t really go be doing that at this time and hopefully we’ll be able to again soon and you know now we’re where we are, we’re just now at a point where we can spend time with you know, limited number of people and be around some friends on a more one to one basis. And I was telling my wife, you know, we we had a couple over and I was telling her it’s kind of weird to say, you know, good night to anyone because normally it’s all hugs and now it’s like all right, well, yes, enjoyed.
Yeah, it’s pretty strange.
Maybe I’ll weep when I have my first hug My, my.
Yeah, after I did a set. I’ve been quite lucky, because I’ve played, I played a few museums here in the UK, which is an interesting venue to sort of clarify the Natural History Museum in London. And then I also played the one here in South Wales. It’s called St. Faggins. And I and, I did just did a sat for the BBC live there literally, like a week ago. And the guys who set the camera rig up and all the, you know, all the microphones and everything. You know, usually it could be I got really enjoyed nice, you know, nice to meet nice to see shake their hand or whatever. But it was also like, he’s like, really far away. So handshakes and stuff. Yeah, they were really good. You know, they made sure that everyone stayed like, definitely two meters away and all that. So as long as everyone’s safe. That’s so the main thing.
Sure. So what is on the agenda for you now with all these exciting things happening? And I presume that some of the excitement is around the work with Dave Stewart and Trackd and maybe there’s some other stuff that’s contributing, but what what is on your agenda for new music or other projects?
Well, I’ve just I just recorded a four track EP where the Welsh speaking artist called Maria Mathias, and yeah, she’s really lovely. Met her parents as well. They’re like a very arty family or really sweet. I think I’m I’m just at an art gallery, and she’s phenomenal artist and her dad does sort of sculptures and stuff like that. And, yeah, she came and we did like a, we did an EP, and she did this sort of, like drawing of me when we were like, just a quick like, 20 minute hand sketch. While we were sort of making this EP album, we wrote the EP, during lockdown. And then as soon as the lockdown eases, would you want to come over and record some songs? So I did that. I’ve also got quite a few releases on the cards as well. So there’s like, some stuff that I’m really, really proud of that I’m really excited to sort of, to share. I don’t know how much I’m allowed to disclose, depending on when this goes out. There’s definitely, definitely some very, very fun things going on. There’s some stuff that there were Blackbird studios in Nashville. And like there’s a there’s an EP on the way and the single and some some other stuff that I’m very excited to, to get to get on the way with and doing.
That’s cool. So you know, it sounds like you. I’m not sure if any of it was planned, but it sounds like it’s just a flurry of activity. And like you’re having trouble thinking beyond these these things that you just told me about. So that’s great, though. Yeah, well,
Yeah. Well, I spend there’s been some moments that have been well, you know, I can’t complain at all. Actually, it’s been fantastic. But yeah, some really exciting stuff. Really exciting stuff that I’m really sort of, I’m like, I’m dying to like blurt it out like this is what’s going on. Yeah, like they like I’m hoping I will be working with Dave a lot more in the future.
Cool. I just lost to that your audio went way down. Oh, all your gear good.
Is that better?
I think you’re back. Yeah, probably just the internet here. Yeah, that will be very exciting. I hope that you do get to work with Dave more. And I can’t wait to the stuff. You’re doing really good about keeping it secret to most people, I’m not kidding, you’ll just come on the podcast will say, I’m probably not supposed to say this yet. But they’ll say and then they’ll ask me when the episodes coming out. But…
Hey don’t release it. Yeah. It’s really fast. So the thing that you want as a as a original writer and musician song that you want to happen for a very long time has happened. It’s yeah, so I’m just I’m excited to crack on, put my head down and work 10 times harder than I’ve ever worked at it. And like, songwriting is like the biggest form of therapy for me. So it’s just gonna be nice to sort of put songs out there that mean a lot to me. And because the Post EP, they’re all stories written about other people and my my local community and stuff. So this will be so my first serious releases that sort of delve into how I feel as an artist and what I want to sort of say, so it’s going to be really, really cool to get that out of there. And, and so have my peace, I guess.
Well, that’s amazing. I look forward to following you on that. And this is just totally random comment, but I wanted to make sure I mentioned it that I said saw this picture of you. I’m pretty sure was on Facebook. And I don’t know if there was any inspiration whatsoever. I’m like, Huh, he looks kind of like John Lennon there you had… Do you know what I’m talking about?
Yeah. Is it the glasses? My Ray Bans?
Well, yeah, it was great. I mean, everything about it did if you just kind of glance sounds like Oh, look at that. That’s kind of nice. Looks like John. Was that accidental? or?
Yeah, well, I didn’t Yeah, I mean, I think it’s just to shave my face. I like I prefer around glasses to square. So yeah, so I bought myself a nice pair Ray Bans, first pair of expensive glasses and I bought but I thought, you know, I might as well now. And yeah it was a really really lovely photoshoot with a photographer from, in Cardiff called Sophie Fieldwick and she’s really lovely. And we had a really lovely day. First day I ever got stung by a wasp. It was the first time, and I was like a week ago. Ah, I don’t even know I was gonna say I still might have something going on with my hand but that’s fine now.
I know that’s painful if that’s something that like that happened that’s in my in my hand too. Was it because you grabbed it? Was it because you grabbed it? or What happened?
Oh, well we were so she was like, we our soundest lark, and she was like taking photos of me by this river. And I put my, weirdly enough were talking about it, I said to her I was like I’ve never been stung by a wasp before. She’s like, Oh, no, me neither. And I was like I’ve never broken a bone as well. She’s like me too. And we’re just walking in town, small talk, regularly though taking taking photos small talk. So I think and then like I sat on this log and I put my hand on my knee and I must have just been resting on my knee or doing something on my knee. As soon as I put my hand on my knee I felt it like sting away and then I was like oh god and yeah, I had it was a little bit sweaty afterwards. Is it the pain? But other than that it was okay, like did the shoot songs, sung a new song a nice song that seemed to be released on on her roof and yeah, it’s a really, really lovely day. That was the first day since lockdown that I had that was sort of meeting people that aren’t family members and stuff. So it was a really sort of nice chance to go out and do something can it was also really productive.
Cool. Is that shoot. Could people see those on Instagram? Or is there somewhere else? ,
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So that that shoot with the glasses in the stripy shirt. So that that shoot is? Yeah, it’s on there. I’m pretty sure I say that I’ve first time getting stung by a wasp. So if you’re interested to see what what I look like just after being stung by a wasp. That’s where to go.
Well, I will be sure to put your Instagram in the show notes. But can you say it for those people that listen to this in case they want to go take a quick look?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So that that shoot with the glasses and the stripy shirt. So that that shoot is? Yes, I’m pretty sure I say that I’ve first time getting stung by a wasp. So if you’re interested to see what what I look like just after being stung by a wasp.
Unknown Speaker 49:05
That’s where to go.
Well, I will be sure to put your Instagram in the show notes. But can you say it for those that people that listen to this in case they want to go take a quick look?
Yeah, yes, I go by Otto so I G O B Y O T T O, all lowercase. No caps or spaces. Just I go by Otto.
Cool. Well, Otto, thank you so much for spending time with me.
It’s been my pleasure. It’s been really lovely. Thank you for talking to me.
Of course. Have a great day, man.
You too. Take it easy.
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