Keyboards, Synthesizers, Hammond Organ
I was lucky enough to come from a very musical family and had my first piano lesson when I was three years old. Both my Mum and my Grandma were both piano teachers and I didn’t really have a say in the matter. I had to practice the piano everyday for hours and at the time I had no appreciation of the ‘gift’ of music that I was being given. All my friends were out having fun and I was stuck at home practicing. I devised a cunning plan where I would record myself practicing the piano on a cassette tape and play it whilst I secretly playing computer games. My parents soon found me out!
My Dad loved listening to Classical music but he particularly enjoyed Rick Wakeman’s ‘Journey to the centre of the earth’ album and all the synths mixed with traditional orchestral instruments….I remember hearing it a lot growing up. He bought me my first keyboard at the age of eleven and I got into the idea that you can play chords with your left hand and melodies with your right hand. Previously I had always played Classical piano where you read what the music says and that is it. I was very good at scales, arpeggios and music theory so when I was introduced to chords and improvisation it was a ‘game changer’ for me. It was like someone had opened my eyes to another world.
When I was at secondary school I formed several bands and began songwriting. I had a fantastic music teacher at Brayton High School who saw my potential and really challenged me to become better. I had trombone lessons and joined Jazz Bands, Brass bands and orchestras around Yorkshire.
After school I studied at the City of Leeds College of Music for two years. It was here that I explored Baroque, Classical and Jazz harmony and received the Director's award for General Musicianship. I sang in the Leeds Chamber Choir, Leeds Choral Society and I achieved a distinction at grade 8 theory. Then I moved to Huddersfield to get a BMUS(Hons) in Composition and Electro-acoustics at the University. I had the use of the University studio and it had loads a different synthesisers that I could experiment with. This was another ‘game changer’ for me as I realised how much you could manipulate sound using technology. I learnt a lot about contemporary harmony, arranging and conducting techniques whilst I was there, before doing a PGCE at the University College of Ripon and York St John.
I joined the Gina Dootson band in 1996 whilst at University and we did some recording at the Barn Studio in York. The studio was run by singer-songwriter Marc Atkinson. Marc and I soon became friends and played together as a duo and also in the band ‘Gabriel’. Bryan was friends with Marc and I was introduced to him when he was recording some guitar at the studio.
Bryan asked me to play for Mostly Autumn at ’The Northern Wall’ pub in York in 1997 when I stood in temporarily as their keyboard player couldn’t make it. I remember not having much time to rehearse for the gig together but really enjoying the music as it was different to anything I had played before.
After meeting Olivia in 2005 I released my first solo album (Breathing Space) and formed a band by the same name. We recorded the album ‘Coming up for air’ in 2007 and ‘Below the radar’ in 2009. After Olivia took over form Heather on lead vocals in 2010 I began writing with singer Mark Chatterton. Mark had a concept album idea in his head and I added the music to this concept. ‘My Dark Surprise’ (2013) and ‘The House’ (2017) were both from this partnership.
Moon Halo was a collaboration between Marc Atkinson, Dave Clements and myself and we released our first album ‘Chroma’ in 2020. I also co-wrote the track ‘Escape’ with The Thrillseekers.