“In Andalusia we dance with passion, we cook with passion, we fall in love passionately! I think that this is reflected in my music.”
Keka is a musician from Seville in Spain who has been busking around Melbourne, Australia for around the last 9 months.
Keka’s sophisticated vocals and piano skills are delighting Melbourne tourists and shoppers in the CBD, including the Bourke Street Mall, Southbank and St Kilda precincts.
We’re thrilled that Keka has recorded this great interview just for us here at Busker What’s Your Story? Enjoy her big warm smile, engaging personality, beautiful piano and impressive vocals as she shares with us a little about her busking experiences here in Melbourne.
You can also catch Keka at a few local gigs. She will be appearing on Valentine’s Day (14 February) at The Clayton Hotel from 6.30pm and at the Clifton Hill Brew Pub on Sunday 29 March from 6pm. Check out her Facebook for any further opportunties to see her play live.
Here she is covering the Ed Sheeran classic ‘Perfect’ to the delight of passers-by in Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall.
Heading out to Beechworth on a leisurely Saturday in January, to support what had earlier become a bit of a ghost town during the devastating bushfires, Busker What’s Your Story? was delighted to discover two old timers in the main street enjoying a cheeky impromptu busk.
It was Beechworth folk/blues musician Willy Golightly’s birthday. He said the bushfires in surrounding regions had put everyone on edge and he wanted to do something to lighten things up a bit.
Setting up to busk with his guitar on Ford Street, Willy was chuffed when his old friend and double base player Rowan Brown from Woolshed/Eldorado (whom he hadn’t seen for ages) decided to join him on the spot for a good old fashioned jam.
It was wonderful to stumble upon these joyful musicians doing what they could to brighten up the smokie town. Once again, it was music bringing people together.
“I have been busking for about three years now. Last year at the Tamworth Country Music Festival I was lucky enough to be selected as a top ten finalist in the busking competition and had the chance to perform on the main stage in Toyota Park on the last night.”
“I write my own material also. ‘Family Heart’ (for example) is a song I wrote for my Nan. She was diagnosed with cancer when my mum was only 17 and was told back then she had three years to live. She is still alive today, although this last year has been the hardest one yet. She has never been to one of my gigs; so I wrote a song for her.”
At just 17 years of age, Hudson Rose is a young lady whose star is definately rising. In 2020 she has already performed 14 shows at the coveted Tamworth Country Music Festival (TCMF) and been bestowed the Young Person of the Year Award at MidCoast Council’s 2020 Australia Day ceremony (under her real name, Georgia Hudson).
It was the young artist’s fourth foray to TCMF. “I opened for Queensland band Homegrown. They were on ‘The Voice’ last year. That was really really cool. And I got to play on the Fanzone Stage in the heart of Peel Street, and the HSF Artists’ Showcase,” Hudson told Julia Driscoll of the Manning River Times.
We’re delighted that Hudson has accepted our invitation to Busker What’s Your Story? to talk about her music and her busking experiences.
You grew up on the mid North Coast? It seems to be a great breeding ground for country singers and musicians.
Yes, my hometown is Wingham. I love it! It’s a community that is very supportive towards my music. After a long trip away, there’s nothing like coming back home.
How often and where do you busk?
I’ve busked at a few festivals and markets along the Mid North Coast (as well as the Tamworth Country Music Festival) and it has truly helped me to become the artist I am today.
Now I do gigs every weekend (it’s the best part of the week) to keep me busy. I believe every opportunity to perform is an opportunity to keep getting better.
I also love to get together with other musicians and I attend the Peppertown Jam each month in Newcastle. With no rehearsal or practice, you get up on stage with the band and play your songs. It’s the best feeling!
How would you describe the difference for a musician between busking and gigging?
I enjoy both!
When busking, people choose to stop and listen. They chat to you between songs and ask questions. I think sometimes there is more interaction when you’re busking. Sometimes at gigs, you need to work harder to maintain the interest and engage the audience.
At first, getting gigs was hard for me. It is completely different to busking, as the majority of the time you have an audience (and they are always listening and watching – even if it doesn’t seem like it) so always being enthusiastic and engaging (as well as professional) is very important.
How do you engage people’s attention in a busy pub scenario?
It’s important to be enjoying what you are doing and having fun. If you seem interesting and inviting, people want to listen more. Looking at people, reading body language and talking to the audience helps to determine what people are looking for and helps you then develop the setlists accordingly.
Any standout memories from busking?
I’ve been busking for about three years now. Last year at the TCMF I was lucky enough to be selected as a top ten finalist in the busking competition and had the chance to perform on the main stage in Toyota Park on the last night. That was such an incredible experience for me. It motivated me to become better at my craft and to then perform on those stages more often.
When people are singing or dancing to your music, it is the best feeling! Music has so much to offer and really speaks the language of everyone.
You write your own material. Picking a couple of your favourites, what can you tell us about your originals?
I love writing my own songs, I think it is such a great way to express yourself.
The interesting thing I’ve learned, is that there are people who relate to the songs I write. I have been writing songs for about two years now and am hoping to release a couple of singles later this year.
‘Hey Now’ is a fun, feel good song, about all the little things you experience and expect as you get older.
‘Family Heart’ is a song I wrote for my Nan. She was diagnosed with cancer when my mum was only seventeen and was told she had three years to live. She is still alive today, although this last year has been the hardest one yet. She has never been to one of my gigs and so I wrote this song for her.
Tell us a little bit more about your experiences in Tamworth
This was my fourth year attending the festival and it keeps getting better and better each year!
In 2019 I was selected as a top ten busker to compete on the main stage on the last night. While in 2020 I still busked, as a 2019 finalist, I was not eligible to be selected again. Busking is still a favourite of mine.
This year I was doing more gigs than ever before as well as networking and meeting some amazing people and artists.
What’s something really interesting about Hudson Rose?
My mum says if I was not a musician, I would be a comedian! I have some pretty good jokes (if I do say so myself)…
And some great advice you’ve been given along your journey?
One piece of advice that has stuck with me is to ‘stay in your lane and do your thing’ and ‘no one is more you, than you’.
A good friend and mentor of mine Jackson James said that to me at just the right time.
Where else can people see you gig or busk this year?
I regularly do gigs up and down the Mid North Coast from South West Rocks to Sydney. If you keep an eye on my Facebook page (Hudson Rose Music) I post all my upcoming gigs and performances.
“I’ve had plenty of amazing experiences while busking. There’s been a few instances when people have donated upwards of $120. I’ve had people propose to their girlfriend while I was playing. After one of my sets, I had some guy pay me $100 to play one song on the beach while he proposed to his girlfriend.
Unfortunately there’s a few bad experiences too. Drunk girls try to kiss me, because the lyrics of the song say: “darling kiss me.” I’ve had death threats because some drug addict didn’t like Ed Sheeran and drunk people falling on me and knocking everything over.”
Twenty-one year old Gold Coast busker Cainan Russell was 8 when he moved to Australia with his family from his birth nation of South Africa.
After seeing a few videos of Cainan busking and playing gigs on the Gold Coast we invited him to Busker What’s Your Story? to find out more about this young acousic/pop/alternative artist.
How competitive is the busking scene on the Gold Coast? Is it difficult to book a spot in Cavill Mall? Is there an audition process?
It’s not too competitive; everyone is friendly and you get to know all the other buskers. You do however have to audition to receive a permit.
Where do you busk apart from Cavill Mall?
I busk in Brisbane (South Bank), Broadbeach and at Pacific fair shopping centre as well as surfers paradise of course.
What are some memorable experiences you’ve had while busking?
I’ve had plenty of amazing experiences while busking, every time you go out you never know what to expect.
People are so generous sometimes. There’s been a few instances where people have donated upwards of $120.
I’ve had people propose to their girlfriends while I was playing. After one of my sets, I had some guy pay me $100 to play one song on the beach while he proposed to his girlfriend.
Unfortunately there’s a few bad experience too. I’ve had drunk girls try to kiss me, because the lyrics of the song were “darling kiss me.” I’ve had death threats because some drug addict didn’t like Ed Sheeran. I’ve had drunk people falling on me and knocking everything over (mic stand and guitar case.)
Recently I was busking in Cavill Mall and I had about $100 in notes in a jar (I keep all the notes in a jar so they don’t blow away in the wind). Mid-song, I had some random homeless guy run up and steel it. My dad tried to catch him but he was too fast; we reported it to the police and they caught him a few days later but unfortunately I never got the money back.
If you could choose a lyric from any song that means something special to you, what would that lyric be, and why?
“When I’m away, I will remember how you kissed me, Under the lamp post, back on Sixth street, Hearing you whisper through the phone, “Wait for me to come home”
They’re from Ed Sheeran’s song ‘Photograph,’ I like them because they’re so relatable. Everyone experiences distance in a relationship and as long as you remember the special moments that made you fall in love, then you will always find your way home.
What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given?
As time goes on, the more you practice you can only get better. If you’re not happy where you are now, just keep going. You will get better.
You’re a singer/songwriter, what can you tell us about your own material?
I’m constantly writing new songs and coming up with ideas for songs. Currently I’m working on a 5 track EP and I hope to have it out near the end of the year.
What’s something interesting or unusual about Cainan Russell?
I’m not sure, but I only started singing and playing guitar 3 years ago, in my last year of school (2016) I didn’t even know that I could sing!
Here’s a video recorded in 2018 by Cainan that gives an excellent insight into a day in the life of a Gold Coast busker.
In this video you’ll follow Cainan for a day of busking (including the girl who takes his lyrics a little too literally). You’ll also hear some more of Cainan’s great vocals and acoustic guitar.
“I mainly busk in my hometown of Munich. Busking in Germany is quite different compared to busking in Australia. There are strict rules in Germany for buskers. For example, you’re not allowed to busk amplified, it’s quite a big process you have to go through to get a permit and there are only a few spots to busk in the city centre. But still I really enjoy it.”
Sunny’s Facebook profile says she’s just a small town girl, singing in a lonely world. We wanted to find out more about this 22 year old singer/songwriter and street performer from Germany.
Sunny was born in the Bavarian Capital of Munich but her busking adventures began right here in Australia in Melboune in 2015.
What brought you to Australia?
When I finished school, and after that an apprenticeship as a bilingual assistant, it didn‘t feel right to start working straight away. So my boyfriend and I decided to take a year off to explore Australia and also to improve our language skills. Which (thinking back now) was the absolute right thing to do.
What are some memorable moments from busking in Australia and Germany?
I guess the most memorable moment in Australia was my first busking day. I was really nervous with just my voice and my guitar. But I started to really enjoy it after the first few songs. So my boyfriend noticed that and went straight off to buy a microphone and an amp to make it a little more professional. That was a very big step at that time and I think that also set the stone for where I am now.
In Germany it was very special for me to busk in front of my family and friends for the first time. They couldn’t see me busking in Australia, so I really enjoyed showing them my passion for street music first hand.
Where do you busk in Germany? How does the busking experience differ in Germany to what it is like in Australia?
I mainly busk in Munich. Busking in Germany is quite different compared to busking in Australia. There are strict rules in Germany for buskers. For example you’re not allowed to busk amplified, it’s quite a big process you have to go through to get a permit and there are only a few spots to busk in the city centre. But still I really enjoy it.
The best thing about busking in Australia is that you’re allowed to use an amplifier. That makes it so much easier to be heard amongst heaps of people walking the streets and it really gives you the feeling of being on a stage.
What do you like most about busking?
The street is my stage. That’s what I really like about busking.
I can play my music for a lot of people and the ones who enjoy it will stay and listen. That way I can reach a lot of people and also practice my performance.
Also, you meet a lot of inspiring people and other street artists.
Do you always feel safe busking on the streets? Have you had any worrying moments?
I feel safe, as my boyfriend is with me most of the time to watch out. If that wasn’t the case, it would be different. There are situations that you don’t want to face alone.
If you could choose a lyric from any song that sums up life for you, what would that lyric be?
That’s a hard question! There are a lot of songs with great lyrics. But if I had to choose one right now, it would be: ‘We‘re just one big family and it‘s our godforsaken right to be loved” (it’s from “I‘m yours” by Jason Mraz). I always feel connected to that line when I play that song myself.
What is your real name? What’s something interesting about you?
Sunny is actually the short form of my real name Susanna. And Acc’s is just a short form of ‘acoustics’ as I usually play acoustic music.
Something interesting about me? Let me think. Is working full time as a musician interesting? I think so.
Tell us a little about your original music.
I would describe my own music style as a futuristic singer songwriter.
I’m currently working on my first studio album and I’m really excited to show the world in the next few weeks.
I write about inspiring moments or people. I get most of my inspiration when I’m in nature. There’s something calm and peaceful about it.
What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given and who gave you that advice?
The best advice my parents gave me was to trust my gut and follow my instincts. It’s better to try and fail than not to try at all.
What’s next for Sunny Acc’s?
Well, first I’m working on finishing my studio album and then of course, I will release it.
After that, I’ll see what life has to offer. I definitely want to go back to Australia one day. Until then, I’ll keep on practicing and working on my music.
“I’m part of the Busk in London scheme, meaning I have a license to busk in the train stations around London, but more regularly I go to Kingston Upon Thames to busk in the marketplace. It’s a wonderful space with street food stalls, shops and lots of people willing to stop and listen on a weekend.
There’s always the opportunities I get from busking. London is such a vibrant and creative city, and you never know when the right person is going to walk past and give you an incredible opportunity!”
At just 16 years of age, Josephine Shaw’s classically trained vocals are not what you would expect to encounter as you rush to London’s Waterloo Station or stroll the pavements of Kingston Upon Thames. But hear them you will, if you are lucky enough.
This young singer has a vocal maturity way beyond her years. Born in Chicago, USA, Josephine’s American parents moved to the UK when she was only three. She says her accent is Mid-Atlantic – “a strange mix of American and British that I’ve picked up from my parents.”
We invited Josephine to Busker What’s Your Story? so you could hear her beautiful voice and we could find out a little more about her musical theatre aspirations and her busking experiences.
You have an incredible voice. What drew you to musical theatre and singing?
I feel like I’ve always had a love for singing. I was that weird kid making constant strange noises or humming to myself, much to the annoyance of my family! When I was around eight or nine I started taking lessons, which made me realise how much I loved to express myself through performance.
I saw my first musical, Wicked, for my eighth birthday, and was obsessed! I listened to the soundtrack on repeat, and I loved how musicals expertly combine acting, singing and dance, and that such uplifting, moving and fantastical stories can be told through this wonderful art form.
Do you play an instrument?
I play piano, but when I busk I tend to use backing tracks to get that orchestral sound that fits really well with classical music. When I recorded my EP, titled ‘Nightingale’, Ben Robbins, the producer of the album, provided me with some really high quality backing tracks for some of my songs, that I now use when busking. They’re beautiful, and it really enhances the experience.
Do you write your own material?
I currently don’t, but I would love to.
Being a classical singer, most repertoire performed is already written unless you are a composer, and with musicals, most songs that I sing are from, well, musicals!
When I was in LA for the first time over the summer, I met up with musician and songwriter Justin James, he helped me write my first song, called ‘Pause’. It’s about taking time for yourself in such a busy, pressured and stressful world. It hasn’t been produced, but if you scroll back a little on my Instagram page to July, (or go to my IGTV), you can find it. It was such a great experience, and I feel like songwriting is a deeper way to express myself through music that I want to explore in the future.
Where do you busk and how many times a week would you busk?
I’m part of the Busk in London scheme, meaning I have a license to busk in the train stations around London, but more regularly I go to Kingston Upon Thames to busk in the marketplace. It’s a wonderful space with street food stalls, shops and lots of people willing to stop and listen on a weekend.
As I’m 16 and am still in school full-time, I busk once a week, generally on Saturdays and Sundays when the market is busiest at lunch. However if it’s during school holidays, you’ll find me busking a lot more often!
You’re not a ‘typical’ busker. Was it intimidating at first to sing on the streets?
I actually wasn’t that intimidated at first to go busking!
While I have a tendency to get nervous about small things in day to day life, performing is when I feel most at home and true to myself.
I feel like I was very encouraged by seeing other buskers performing, especially in Kingston, which is very close to my home. Not too long before I started busking, it felt like the streets were filling up with more and more buskers, and I was becoming more aware of them.
Christmas was on its way, and I felt inspired to try it out myself (singing Christmas carols and other songs to spread some Christmas joy). I did really well, and it was a very positive experience for me, so I’ve been doing it ever since.
What are some special moments so far from busking?
Something that’s very rewarding for me as a singer is to see the reaction I get from my audience when I busk. Music can be an incredibly powerful thing, and when someone tells me that my music moved them emotionally, it means a lot!
I also love when people tell me that they’ve started to enjoy classical music after listening to me sing. Classical-crossover is a genre I love, which combines classical music and other styles, and I really believe it has the capacity to reach a wider audience.
And there’s always the opportunities I get from busking. London is such a vibrant and creative city, and you never know when the right person is going to walk past and give you an incredible opportunity! Just from busking, I’ve been asked to sing for weddings, a yoga class featuring live music, and for the prestigious Coutts Bank on the Strand, London.
What is a favourite lyric from any song that means something to you?
One of my most popular songs is Nella Fantasia. It’s in Italian, and I absolutely love the meaning of the lyrics. One of the verses translates;
‘In my fantasy, I dream of a just world, where people live in peace and honesty. I dream of souls who are always free, that soar like clouds, full of humanity, in the depths of the soul.’
In this time we are constantly hearing news of wars, grief, unjustness and suffering. Yet this song encourages listeners to hope and act for a better world, to dream about how the world could be. I hope that people take some steps themselves, however small, to move forward despite the worldly struggles we encounter and get a bit closer to that dream.
What’s a great piece of advice you’ve received in your young life so far?
Something that has been very significant for me as of late is working on my self confidence, especially when interacting with other people in the music industry.
I feel my most confident when I perform, but when I’m talking to others I find myself diminishing my own achievements, in fear of sounding cocky or unrealistic.
My parents have been so wonderful in supporting my dream to have a music career, and they’ve really encouraged me to be confident in myself and clear in my communication with others.
Something that is also vital to remember is to be kind. Kindness goes a long way, and being confident in yourself doesn’t mean you’re putting others down! The music industry can be very competitive and sometimes even toxic, and it’s important to remember to support other musicians to help create the positive community we know the music industry should be. And when you’re confident in yourself and have a network of other lovely musicians who support you, it’s easier to face the risk of rejection from auditions, and maintain a healthy attitude to keep following your dreams even when it gets difficult.
You have such a mature voice for 16. Have you auditioned for stage shows yet?
Thank you! Yes, I’m currently 16 so it’s sometimes a struggle to balance all my school work as well as my music career at the same time, but I’ve managed to stay on top of it so far!
When I was younger I auditioned for the child roles in musicals, like Matilda, Young Cosette or Young Fiona from Shrek the Musical, but now I’m 16, I’m at that phase where I’m too old for child parts, but too young to be hired for adult roles.
I’m currently looking for an agent, so by the time I’m 18 I can audition for musicals. I am also passionate about being a solo artist, which means that while I can’t audition yet, I can work on producing another classical-crossover album, and getting more performance opportunities as a solo artist. I would love to open for another classical-crossover musician on a tour.
What’s next for Josephine Shaw? Will you busk for us here in Australia one day?
In the next few years I’m planning to get another album out, and by then hopefully I’ll have a bigger following of people who are invested in listening to the music I have to share.
It’s a dream of mine to be signed with a record label to help produce that album, and by the time I’m 18, I want to be signed with an agent for Film, TV and Theatre, and auditioning for musicals too.
I’m considering taking a gap year after I finish my A-Levels (More British exams taken across the country to get into university), so that I can dedicate time to developing my career and making connections – I’m even hoping to live in LA for a few months.
I’ve never been to Australia before, but I would absolutely love to go. Being a fan of Opera, Sydney Opera House is a must-see for me, and I have some friends who have moved over there that I need to visit. I would love to busk over there if I ever get the chance, and a gap year would be the perfect opportunity to try!
“Busking for me was a full time job. I had to do it even on days that I didn’t want to and wasn’t feeling inspired. This made me hone my craft immensely in two years; it made me improve exponentially and I noticed more and more that people were paying attention.
I realised that the smallest details can mean the difference between an okay performance and an amazing performance. It’s a challenge I set myself on stage too; in a noisy bar I would try and create silence… That’s when you know you’ve done well.”
Patrick Lionel is a Melbourne based singer/songwriter who combines mesmerising vocals with delicate guitar lines, leaving his audience spellbound, focused intently on the performer.
We invited Patrick to the blog because he has a load of busking experience in Melbourne and is an articulate and reflective artist, whose insights we really appreciate – we hope you will too!
You’re just 21, tell us more about Patrick Lionel and his music
I was raised in a town called Heathcote, about half an hour drive from Bendigo. I did many of my first gigs in Bendigo, as well as doing my schooling there.
Yes, I recently turned 21 and I’m currently living in Melbourne; I’d much prefer to live in the country, but for work (as well as for music) the city provides many more opportunities.
I’ve only officially released two songs at this stage, but if I earn enough money I’ll get back into the studio this year to record more. Recording them was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. I was able to receive the help and guidance from Jordie Lane throughout the entire process, which was a dream come true and a huge story within itself!
My first release ‘Forgive Yourself‘ ‘ was a song I completed writing only a couple of weeks before going into the studio. It was a song that wrote itself basically, stemming from a deeply distressing experience that unfolded in my life at the time; but the song came at the perfect time and I was able to take it into the studio.
‘Caroline,’ my most recent release, was a song that I’ve had for quite a while now. Unlike ‘Forgive Yourself’ ‘ it has no personal story; it would be what you call fiction for most part! Although they’re both different in that aspect, I love them both. I feel that although ‘Caroline’ is not related to any particular experience in my life, someone out there will still relate to it, and hopefully experience some sort of emotive response to it in one way or another.
Tell us more about your busking experiences
When I first moved to Melbourne 3 years ago, I would busk most days of the week. I didn’t have a job, so busking was my main source of income for the most part of two years!
Nowadays I have a job, and although it’s rewarding being able to save money; it has become a detriment to my music. From playing all the time (to barely picking up the guitar) was a struggle which I became unaware of.
But time without playing has allowed me to reflect on what I want in the future, and 2020 will be more of a balancing act between work and music. I’m looking forward to it.
Busking for me was (back then) a full time job. I had to do it even on days that I didn’t want to and wasn’t feeling inspired. This made me hone my craft immensely in two years; it made me improve exponentially and I noticed more and more that people were paying attention.
I realised that the smallest details can mean the difference between an okay performance and an amazing performance. This allowed me to become better on stage also, and I was beginning to form a reputation in my area which was a very rewarding feeling.
Performing is very much a selfish thing. I do it because I love it. But it’s just as (if not more) rewarding to see other people enjoy it. That’s what I love most about busking; seeing people who I’ve never met before, or held a conversation with, respond to my music on an emotional level that only a song can evoke.
But it’s a double edged sword. I had many days where I’d be disheartened after busking, not because I didn’t earn much, but because sometimes it makes you see the worst side of humanity. What hurt me most was when I would be putting all my vulnerabilities on show for people (which is what performing is) and watching people walk on by without any acknowledgment at all.
It still astounds me today how and why this is. It is incredibly sad that people can be caught up in their own world so much, that they shut off all senses. This also made me challenge myself to try and get those same people to at least acknowledge my presence, and maybe even enjoy what I was doing!
It’s a challenge I set myself on stage too; in a noisy bar I would try and create silence…. That’s when you know you’ve done well.
If you could choose a lyric or a song that’s really special to you, what would it be?
Lyrics have become more and more important to me as I’ve grown as a musician. Listening to lyrical masters like Jason Isbell, Joe Pug and Gregory Alan Isakov has made me want to focus on crafting better lyrics in my own songs.
There’s not one particular lyric or line which stands out for me, because there are so many good ones. But I feel like a great song is one that is perfect in it’s entirety. And in terms of lyric, one song that does that in my opinion is ‘The Trapeze Swinger’ by Iron and Wine. That song gives me goosebumps the whole way through every time without failure.
Who are your musical inspirations and what do you love most about them?
I have so many musical inspirations which span from famous artists to friends. I feel like there can be inspiration wherever you look, you just have to listen.
What’s something really interesting about you?
I think everyone has a belief that they are uninteresting, as I do too sometimes. But that’s only because what others consider interesting about us, we consider as the norm; it’s the familiarity and repetition of what interests us that makes it normal. So I’m sure there’d be many things which other people would consider interesting about myself, but for me, it’s just me.
What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given?
The most valuable piece of information (given to me when I was younger, and still trying to get my head around music) was from a friend who was in his last moments of life.
He was a well respected man in the community, who’d been playing music for a very long time, and the final time I saw him he told me to: “always keep it simple”. That was the last thing he said to me, and something which I have kept in the front of my mind since that time.
Your Falsetto is amazing, is that something you’re shy about when you first start to sing, or does it come natural from the get-go?
Falsetto was something that I always loved. Growing up listening to Matt corby and Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) made me transfixed on the beauty of it, when it’s done well. But it was always a struggle for me, even though my voice was particularly high for a male.
As I’ve matured, it’s become easier (I’m not sure why?) but I’m sure there is a scientific reason!
I guess I have always wanted to be better at it, and practice was another factor in improvement. I’m still developing it, and there’s still much more room for improvement.
Singing as a whole for me has never been about technique; because perfection is unattainable, and sometimes the imperfections in a voice are the most impactive.
I’ve only ever had a few singing lessons in my life just to try it, but experimentation, practice and individuality are (in my opinion) the key aspects of being able to create an impactful performance.
What’s next for Patrick Lionel?
I’m really looking forward to performing more in 2020.
For the last six months or so I have been very quiet, but I’m hoping to change that soon. I’d like to record more songs and step out of my comfort zone, in order to develop myself further. I also look forward to getting back onto the street and doing some more busking! Because honestly, that is what I love doing the most.
“I love the line ‘I am one step heavy and two steps high’ in the song ‘Without You’, by Oh Wonder. I see it as such a positive line. To me it means that even when things go wrong, there’s more good in the world than bad.”
Eliza May is a young singer/songwriter from Birmingham UK and a Popular Music graduate from Falmouth University.
Eliza’s passion for performing saw her begin her busking adventure around 5 years ago in Birmingham. Eliza then moved to Cornwall to study music where she says busking was an enjoyable way to help fund her studies and hone her craft.
“Around my studies, I managed to find time to visit other musician friends who lived in Liverpool and took the opportunity to busk there as well. It was a great experience, busking all around the UK; it allowed me to meet lots of new people and get my music out to different parts of the country,” she says.
There is a chilled indie pop vibe to Eliza’s original music which she says takes inspiration from artists such as Corinne Bailey Rae, Tori Kelly, Skinny Living and Frank Turner. She has released four singles on Spotify and an EP titled Inner Damage on Soundcloud.
Eliza continues to busk and is also gigging regularly around Birmingham and other areas of the UK as a solo artist with her full band.
We’ve invited Eliza to Busker What’s Your Story? to find out a little more about her experiences as a busker.
You grew up in Birmingham, what can you tell us about your childhood there?
I spent a lot of my time focused on music. From the age of 3, I started singing along to Avril Lavigne and picked up the guitar at the age of 6.
Growing up, I realised that I loved everything about music and spent my childhood immersed in it. I’ve always had a passion for singing and learning instruments, any instrument I could get my hands on and learn to play.
How much time would you spend busking?
When I was in Birmingham, I’d often busk at least two or three times a week and when I was studying in Cornwall, I’d busk once or twice a week.
Can you share some memorable moments?
I think the best moments when busking are when other people can get involved with the experience.
In 2017, I used to busk with an amazing musician called Amelia Wallace. One of my favourite most memorable moments was when we were singing together in front of a large circle of people and a woman stepped forward, into the middle, and started dancing which made the crowd cheer and clap. It was one of the most wholesome moments I’ve experienced busking.
Another great memory is of a Spanish man who came over and asked to play a song. I said yes and he sang the original version of Despacito flawlessly. It was such a great performance of the song; everyone was so impressed that they started clapping and cheering.
If you could choose a lyric from any song that’s special to you, what would that lyric be, and why is it special?
I love the line “I am one step heavy and two steps high” in the song Without You by Oh Wonder. I see it as such a positive line. To me it means that even when things go wrong, there’s more good in the world than bad.
What’s something really interesting about you?
Well, along with being an artist, I also do a lot of community music work around the West Midlands.
This involves working with people of all ages and abilities, including people with mental health and physical disabilities, to help get them involved with music.
I have a strong passion for helping people get into music, no matter what experience they have. I love working in these settings because I see how much of a positive impact each project has on the people involved.
We love your collaboration with Nath Brooks called ‘Reach’ what can you tell us about that?
Nath Brooks is an upcoming singer songwriter that I met on a songwriting project at The Song Lab in Birmingham a couple of years ago. We wrote the song “Reach” whilst on the songwriting project and near the end of 2019 managed to find the time to record it.
We made a live video of it for his YouTube series “Brumtown and Around” which aims to showcase collaborations of people in and around Birmingham, UK.
What’s next for Eliza May?
At the moment, I’m working on my second upcoming EP. Last year I finished writing all the songs for it; now I’m in the process of jamming out the songs with my band and then we’ll be in the recording studio laying down each track.
I also plan on playing more full band gigs. Last year I managed to play two massive shows with my band but this year I want to play a few more. I can’t wait for the spring/summertime as well, so I can get back to busking on the streets. One of my goals this year is to be busking more in London, so hopefully that’s where I’ll be next.
“I love when I’m playing and passers-by are rushing, all busy and occupied and then they stop and give me a look, almost as if to say ‘thanks for making me stop and smile’. That’s my favourite part, when people walk past with a skip in their step and it feels like I’ve positively impacted their day.”
Steph is a 19 year old Melbourne born multi-instrumentalist. She released her first E.P. titled ‘Allegoric Oceans‘ in 2017 and is a regular busker at the Marketplace in Camberwell.
With influences from the John Butler Trio, Tash Sultana and Ziggy Alberts, Steph’s genre contains bursts of percussion alongside fingerstyle and indie rock.
At Busker What’s Your Story? we wanted to find out more about this young and talented independent acoustic artist.
What drew you to music as a child?
I grew up in Melbourne, surrounded by lots of family, friends and sport. Some of my earliest memories of music include driving in the car with my Dad, listening to Elvis Presley on repeat, watching my cousins jam together and going to see Ed Sheeran at my first concert when I was 14 years old.
What drew me to music was the support from my Dad and two of my cousins. They taught me a large handful of songs and showed me how much fun it was to jam and explore different sounds.
As a young person I listened to Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
What do you enjoy most about busking?
One of the best things about busking is meeting the locals and feeling a sense of community. I love when I’m playing and passers-by are rushing, all busy and occupied and then they stop and give me a look, almost as if to say ‘thanks for making me stop and smile’. That’s my favourite part; when people walk past with a skip in their step and it feels like I’ve positively impacted their day. It’s a pretty special feeling.
What do you like least about it?
There’s not too much not to like about busking, however when I finish a full day of performing and my fingers are red and raw, I guess that’s pretty annoying (yet oddly satisfying).
What are some standout moments you’ve had busking?
I’ve had plenty of funny situations. One man missed his doctor’s appointment because he listened to me for so long. Another time, a woman gave me $10 and thanked me for not playing any Christmas Carols!
If you could choose a lyric from any song that’s really special to you, what would it be, and why?
The song ‘Time Is Dancing’ by Ben Howard is personally one of the best lyrical songs of all time, but ‘Red Moon’ by Michael Dunstan has my favourite lyric: ‘Comforting memories of summer rain on wheat. Soothing rustle of the pines in the easterlies. Open spaces, that let me breath.’
Do you think buskers will survive an increasingly cashless society?
It’s something that I’ve been concerned about recently, but I think with our ever-growing technology, there’ll be ways for people to gift performers for their art. London’s recently introduced card readers for buskers so that people can tap their card and give money; I think that idea will go global soon enough.
What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given?
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard in relation to music is: ‘Don’t let music become a chore, it should always be a release.’ I’ve followed that, ever since I heard it.
Where can people see you busk or gig?
I busk at the Market Place in Camberwell in Melbourne and I do gigs around Fitzroy at local pubs and bars.
“Music was my first love, and it will be my last Music of the future, and music of the past To live without my music, would be impossible to do For in this world of troubles, my music pulls me through.”
It was March 2017, a typical Saturday evening in Albury, NSW. Young merry-makers were wandering between the pubs in Dean Street. Albury musician, Jeremy Kerr, was set up on his usual busking corner opposite the post office.
A group of passers-by asked Jeremy to play a rendition of Darude’s Sandstorm on his Melodica, an instrument that had captured their curiosity.
An obliging fellow, Jeremy agreed. The result now lives in the Albury Music Legends Hall of Fame (well, it would, if there were one).
The video of Jeremy nailing every note of the popular rave anthem, with a small flashmob of revellers, went viral, attracting an astonishing three million views in just 24 hours after it was picked up by popular Facebook page The LADBible. The humble melodica, and the humble Jeremy, were suddenly centre stage.
The Melodica is a free-reed instrument similar to a pump organ and harmonica. It has a musical keyboard on top and is played by blowing air through a mouthpiece fitted to its side. Pressing a key opens a hole, allowing air to flow through a reed. They are popular in music education, particularly in Asia.
Wikipedia states that the instrument was popularised in the 1970s by reggae musician Augustus Pablo. We believe this needs updating to state that it was popularised one Saturday evening in Albury in 2017, by musician Jeremy Kerr!
We invited Jeremy to the blog to talk about his busking experiences, other than on that fateful occasion.
Why the Melodica?
Mostly because there’s so many guitarists out busking. I just wanted to kind of stand out from the crowd. Melodicas are not very well known so I thought instead of playing guitar, why not do something different?
Is it difficult to play?
Only as difficult as learning the piano. I had about 1 year of keyboard lessons when I was in Year 11 and it’s pretty much just the same principle as piano.
What are your most requested tunes?
Obviously Sandstorm is the standout. People just associate with me with that one now. Also the Super Mario theme is a popular one, for some reason I get asked for that quite a lot, not sure why, must be a lot of gamers out and they probably associate that one with memories from their childhood.
What other instruments do you play?
My first instrument was the classical guitar. Then I moved on to the trumpet, then I tried the tin whistle. When I was young my parents took me to the Port Fairy Folk Festival and bought me a tin whistle there. I made all sorts of random sounds on it. It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I tried to hone my skills on it and eventually, with enough practice, I learned to do all manner of things with it. I can also play the harmonica, I sing a bit, I’ve dabbled in trombone, saxphone, ukulele. Overall I can play about 6 to 7 instruments fairly competently and on top of that another 15 or so, average (very average).
Where do you do most of your singing?
I perform A Cappella with a barbershop quartet called Good Gravy. Our biggest performance was at Albury’s Carols by Candelight in 2019. We were pretty stoked with that performance. We’ve also busked regularly at the Farmer’s Market on Gateway Island as well as a few other gigs.
You busk late at night. Does that cause you any issues?
Not that I’ve experienced directly. Sometimes I’ll see a few fights but I’ve never been involved in them. One time someone started a brawl directly in front of me, in that situation there’s not much I can do except keep playing, or if it gets too close, just move out of the way. I did have to do that once, the police came and the guy was arrested.
Probably the worst I’ve had is a guy driving past winding down his window to yell: “Get a job you Hippie!”
Apart from the viral moment, what are some standout busking memories?
One night I was playing the song We Like To Party. Someone stood up on this little wall next to me and did a backflip, landing it perfectly, right on the chorus. So that was a highlight.
Another night I had my head down playing and when I looked up, Barry Morgan was standing right in front of me. I thought ‘OMG, it’s Barry Morgan!’
Barry Morgan is the character in Barry Morgan’s World of Organs, a stage show/comedy based on a fictional electronic organ salesman from Adelaide, portrayed by Australian musican and comedian Stephen Teakle.
So Barry Morgan was standing right there watching me fiddle on my organ (so to speak) and I was a bit starstruck for a moment, but thank goodness he complimented my playing.
What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given in your lifetime?
Mum once gave me this advice – “you don’t have to be perfect, just be the best you can be.” That really stuck with me.
Also, one quote I read that really struck a chord with me was “if you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it, go out and get busy.”
I see you have an eftpos square – how do you find the reponse to that?
As for popularity, it’s paid itself off. I bought it on Halloween in 2017 and tips had paid for it within a couple of months. So some people definately will use it. If people don’t happen to have cash on them, it’s just a convenient option. I don’t pressure people, I just make sure they know it’s there.
If you could choose a lyric that sums up life for you, what would that lyric be?
Definately the first song that comes to mind is one by John Miles called ‘Music.’
“Music was my first love, and it will be my last. Music of the future, and music of the past. To live without my music, would be impossible to do, for in this world of troubles, my music pulls me through.”
What’s next for Jeremy Kerr?
This year, the very next thing I have planned is Australia Day. I’ll be conducting the Wodonga Brass Band for the first time ever. Our conductor is having surgery and she’s asked me to lead the band for the anthem and a few songs before the ceremony.
Also Good Gravy are looking to do a few bigger concerts during 2020 and I’ll also be performing as part of the orchestra for Monty Python’s Spamalot which is being presented by Livid Productions.