We introduced Steve Young to readers of Essentially Pop a few weeks back with his moving tribute to Prince. Now we’ve caught up with him about his forthcoming debut album, ‘Troubadour’ (watch out for our review as well).
EP: You’ve played for and with everyone – and now you’re breaking out on your own – tell us the Steve Young Story!
SY: Haha! That’s a long one, it really is 🙂 I grew up on the Isle Of Wight and moved to London in 1996 after auditioning for a band called ‘Rehab’ who were signed to Warners/ZTT. This gave me an immediate injection (no pun intended) into the London music scene. I was very green and 1996/1997 were like a whirlwind. I came out of the deal hungry to stay in the professional music scene and a serious of events (the long bit) led me to being a session player and TV guitarist for shows like TOTP, CD:UK, MTV, TRL, T4, and many others. I then got the job with Darren Hayes and stayed with him, touring the world, for 5 years. After that I became band leader and co-founder of the Broadgrass Band fronted by Ramin Karimloo – a very well known Musical Theatre Actor. When all this came to an end I knew I was running out of time and having always wanted to make my own album since the ZTT days I took the plunge and started writing. Trust me this is the VERY SHORT version 🙂
EP: Your album ‘Troubadour’ blends country and rock – it reminds us of artists like The Eagles. Talk us through the album. Do you have any favourite tracks, and if so, why?
SY: It’s probably too early to tell – they all have different meanings for me. I love the start of the record. ‘Out Of Our Minds’ is the song I try to open shows with however its in CGDGBD which is a bit inconvenient with one guitar. It sets the tone and makes people take notice. ‘In My Dreams’ takes me right back to working on the Ships and watching the endless days tick by until I can return to normal life. ‘Truth In Life’ is also one of my favourites. In the last chorus there are about 30 friends & family singing with me in the background.
EP: What differences have you noticed in working as a solo artist, as opposed to playing for someone? What are the pros and what are the cons?
SY: Well touring with someone like Darren means comfy hotel rooms, a tourbus, catering etc…I walk up to the Royal Albert Hall and my guitars are tuned ready and 5000 people sat in the audience. As much as I loved it and still grateful for the experience I never quite hit the same high that I get after my own solo gig. If I connect emotionally with the audience or even sell one CD I feel the buzz for days. Its a very different. As a solo I have to do my own promotion, decide the line up. I am a bit of a control freak so organising my own gigs is something I feel very happy doing. Of course the audiences are tiny and half of them don’t even know but that is going to change – I feel it…
EP: If you could go back to the start and do it all differently – what if anything would you change and why?
SY: YES!!!! When I was 19 I stopped singing to concentrate on my guitar playing. It was my first band – a local pub covers band called ‘Run For Cover’ – my mate Mike sang and I didn’t attempt to sing lead again until I was in my 30s. This is my biggest regret as it turns out I have an ok voice and since 2004 have been earning a living as a “singing” guitarist. I sometimes think I have had stuck to singing and writing at the age of 19 where would I be now?
EP: Who inspires you most in music? And what about in life? Who are your greatest influences?
SY: A very hard question to answer. I always feel that I should refer back to my original roots but to be honest I haven’t listened to some of that music in 20 years. I have always been emotionally driven by music. The first song I ever owned on cassette was ‘Chain Reaction’ by Diana Ross. I was 11 years old and just sang along to it over & over. I think it was the release and abandonment of singing more than the song. Pink Floyd & Eric Clapton got me into playing guitar but I am inspired by so many modern artists too. Muse for one created a stadium show when ‘stadium rock’ was very much frowned upon. Michael Kiwanuka gave Blues to a young hip audience. David Gray has always been a mainstay for me. So much emotion, so deep but also, as I discovered, pretty grumpy too haha!
EP: How did your Pledge campaign go? Would you recommend it?
SY: Very well. I am very lucky that through playing with Artists like Darren Hayes & Ramin Karimloo I have inherited a lot of keen, loyal fans. My album was literally paid for by a handful of devoted music lovers. I recommend it if you think you have the people out there to respond. It was a lot of work and quite stressful at times but you are constantly juggling budget decisions with the hope of getting more pledges. I ended on 157% which is amazing but I still went way over budget. Bottom line – without the website and admin of Pledge Music I probably wouldn’t have made an album but they were a bit crap at retweeting and posting – after all they of get 15% of all funds!
EP: Where can we see you perform live, and how can we get your album?
SY: My album will be on general release on July 1st. I have some with me at gigs so thats where you can get a physical version. My next show is London Folkfest on June 5th – The Bedford Balham and then I will be opening for Nashville Superstar Carlene Carter on June 11th at the O2 Islington Academy. All gigs are listed on my website.