Unconventional to the last, Reuben George has combined trombone hooks to pop rhythms and upbeat vocals to create an irresistibly summery track. ‘Let’s Run Away (To Mexico)‘ is Reuben George’s latest single and the sound is certainly as infectious as they come.
We chatted to Reuben to find out about his latest single and how his free-spirited lifestyle has influenced his music.
How would you describe your sound?
I find it quite difficult to define my “sound” and even harder to place my music in a specific genre, probably because I listen to a wide range of different styles of music and it all feeds into my writing in one way or another. I guess at the end of the day it’s all “pop” really, with my music specifically a kind of upbeat Alt-Pop with ska & jazz influences.
Who would you best compare yourself to?
I don’t particularly try to emanate any artist, but I’ve been compared to Jack Johnson and Paolo Nutini, and I enjoy the music of both so there’s almost certainly some truth there. The band that’s probably had the longest-lasting impact on my music taste would be The Cat Empire, who I look up to immensely.
Could you give us an insight into your songwriting process?
Songwriting varies a lot for me from song to song, sometimes I’ll write something from start to finish in a couple of hours, other times it will be stretched over days or weeks. Fairly consistently I begin with a lyric or a couple of lines and then put music to it and continue from there, although not exclusively as there have been times when a chord sequence or riff has come to me first. I never sit down with the specific intention to write a song, I wait for inspiration to come to me in one form or another and then if I like it enough I’ll sit down and pursue it. I almost never have a specific idea or subject for a song I just see where the lyrics take me, so it’s almost like the song writes itself once it’s begun. Often inspiration will come out of nowhere, and it could be anytime or anywhere, so I make a note of the lyric in a notebook or my phone and come back to it later, sometimes much later. In fact I made a note of the opening two lines of my next single “Let’s Run Away” about 2 years before I ended up coming back to them and turning it into a whole song.
What do you think the trombone brings to your music?
Trombone is quite an uncommon instrument to play but quite often producers and artists will add brass to tracks across almost any genre, so I’m not sure there’s something unique about a track featuring the trombone. I do think however that my experience playing it, particularly in the spheres of jazz and classical music gives me a different perspective and insight into composition and music in general, which helps to differentiate my sound from that of someone else.
What do you think is missing/lacking in today’s music scene?
I think the music scene today is rapidly changing and developing with the rise in influence of social media and streaming services, so I think there’s more people than ever before trying to get their music out there and make a name for themselves. Competition is great in theory because everyone is striving to be unique and to be the best they can be, but I’m not sure that the conditions of the established music scene really reflect that, which is to say that I think there’s currently not a great “diversity of sound” in the music industry. Not because people aren’t out there making the music, but because they’re not being heard. The record labels and radio DJs seem for the most part, in my opinion, keen to latch on to artists which are similar to those already popular, I guess because it’s tried and tested stuff, but it doesn’t promote innovation and diversity. Perhaps the rise of self-publishing and self-producing, and the wide reach of social platforms, is beginning to upset that.
What made you first fall in love with music and who has been your biggest inspiration?
Music has always been a part of my life, thanks to my parents pushing myself and my siblings to learn instruments from a young age, and playing themselves. I always loved to sing along to the radio or my parents CDs on any car journey anywhere, and we didn’t have a TV at home when I was a kid so most of my free time I either had my face buried in a book somewhere or headphones on listening to CDs on a Sony CD walkman. Possibly my favourite musical inspiration would be the story of Leonard Cohen’s foray into music, as he seemed to almost stumble accidentally into being a singer-songwriter, which is strange because I think his music has been so influential over the past 50 years, I can’t imagine a world in which he was never a musician.
Tell me about your favourite performance venues
Probably my favourite performance to date would be at Whiskers, in Newquay. It’s a small bar & music venue with a really great personality and atmosphere to it. I played there for the launch of my debut single and just had a great time with a lovely crowd who made me feel so welcome. Most of them didn’t know who I was and hadn’t ever heard any of my songs but they were engaged and supportive, and the venue itself has an inherent friendliness to it.
What has been the advantage of living in a portable home; do you find your inspiration for songwriting comes from travelling?
My main idea behind building my campervan and living in it was firstly the economic benefit of not paying rent somewhere, and secondly the flexibility of being able to go and gig anywhere without worry about travel or accommodation. So far I haven’t written anything specifically really about travelling or living in a van, but I do think seeing new places and moving around gives me more opportunity for inspiration to strike, and I have made allusions to my unconventional attitude to life in some songs.
Is there any other instruments you would like to learn how to play?
I do wish I’d learnt piano as a child; my mum plays and could have taught me but I wasn’t interested when I was younger, but now I’m teaching myself and it’s hard! Really I’d like to properly learn drums & bass too, as I think my song writing & producing would be improved with a better knowledge of the other instruments in the band.
If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing right now?
I don’t think I could ever really pursue something completely outside of the world of music. If I wasn’t pursuing a career as a musician I’d probably be trying to make a living teaching an instrument or getting involved in music production or promotion in some way. I also have a novel partially written which would be another output for my creativity if I wasn’t writing songs.
If you could have your fans remember one thing about you, what would it be?
I’d rather be remembered for a song or something within it, like a lyric that resonates with people, than for something about me or my personality. I think if you can write a line that makes people think or sticks in their head then that’s job done. To me the words have always been the most important part of a song, and I try to make them meaningful/insightful and hopefully that way people remember them.
What are your plans for the near future? Any more releases ahead?
I’m already in the studio recording more and hope to get a couple of further singles out before the end of 2019 and see where things go from there. Ideas for an EP I could record next year are forming and then it would be great to put together a full band and go on tour either before or after the release of that.
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