Busker What’s Your Story? In The Groove Community Drumming

In The Groove

“My biggest musical inspirations are my teachers in West Africa. I have been very fortunate to be able to travel to Ghana on two occasions to study intensively and learn from Master drummers. There’s something very special about West African music. It’s music with a social purpose; it’s music that connects people to the moment and to each other.”

Bri Slattery – Founder of In The Groove Community Drumming

While wandering the local festivals on the lookout for buskers, Busker What’s Your Story ? came upon this cool community drumming jam at the Albury Wodonga Sustainable Living Festival in November. We asked Bri Slattery, founder of In The Groove, what community drumming is all about.

What’s ‘In The Groove’ all about?

In The Groove was inspired by both my own experience of the transformative power of rhythm, and my observations as a school teacher of how rhythm engaged and empowered my students. We share rhythm-based experiences that address four core social outcomes: education, engagement, community and well-being.

What do you all love most about what you do?

The thing I love most about what I do, is the way in which rhythm has acted as a vehicle for me to make genuine connections with a diverse range of people from all walks of life.  

What’s something memorable that’s happened when you’ve been performing?

I believe the most memorable moments don’t occur when you’re performing – rather, they occur when you are sharing the music with others – when you are actively engaged in the music together. That’s when the music truly comes alive.

There’s this amazing synchronicity – a shared, electric energy that can occur when you’re connected to others through rhythm. 

Some of my most memorable and rewarding drumming moments have been working with young people, teaching social/emotional skills through our Student Engagement Strategy. It’s amazing to witness how rhythm can teach and empower people through transforming their energy, boosting their motivation and confidence, and enabling them to connect with others.

Who are your musical inspirations?

My biggest musical inspirations are my teachers in West Africa. I have been very fortunate to be able to travel to Ghana on two occasions to study intensively and learn from Master drummers. There’s something very special about West African music.

It’s music with a social purpose; it’s music that connects people to the moment and to each other.

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given – and who gave it to you?

“Free your mind.”

This advice came repeatedly from one of my teachers in Ghana. Whenever I reached a block when trying to learn a new rhythm, my teacher would ask me to pause a moment and “free my mind”. I always played better afterwards.

These days, it’s so easy to become stifled by our own inner critic, or by worrying about what others think, or by overthinking the task at hand, or by being consumed with other thoughts whilst trying to execute that task.

Freeing your mind is about being completely in the moment. What I love about drumming, is that it only properly works when you are completely present and engaged in playing the rhythm. It’s also an activity that requires you to be in your body and physically awake as well as mentally alert. Drumming is just a beautiful way to bring yourself back to the moment and experience complete engagement.

Where else do you jam?

In The Groove performs and hosts community jams at a range of local festivals, community events and private functions/parties. Keep an ear out for us!

How do people get involved?

It’s easy to join our In The Groove community.

Keep an eye out for our free community jams around North East Victoria and spontaneously join in the rhythm fun!

If you would like to learn about West African rhythms and how to play the djembe in a fun, social environment, come along to one of our classes. Our community classes occur on a weekly basis in Albury/Wodonga, Beechworth, Wangaratta and Yarrawonga. We also run on-demand workshops – we love bringing the rhythm to new towns and communities.

All class details can be found on the website http://www.inthegroove.education/community and you can keep updated about our community jams on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/inthegroove.education

Busker What’s Your Story? Matt Cross

“I’ll be bringing in the new year once again by making music. Not with a band. Not at a wedding or pub. But on the main street of Albury, raising money for those in need. Every cent I make tonight will go directly to the RFS NSW. It may not be heaps in the scheme of things, but I believe that if everyone makes small efforts like this we can turn this mess around.”

Matt Cross

Matt Cross

When Busker What’s Your Story? went in search of a busker on New Years Eve in Albury, we got more than we bargained for.

Matt Cross, who grew up in Lavington and was home from Newcastle on New Years Eve, was not out celebrating with the lads, choosing instead to give up his time to support the NSW Rural Fire Service. This at a time when fire has ravaged regions surrounding Albury and taken the life of a local volunteer fire fighter.

It was heartening to see young revellers tossing notes and coins in his case where they could. Those who didn’t have any change shook his hand, appreciative of his support. Matt made an impressive $926.90 for the Rural Fire Service.

He doesn’t do a lot of busking these days, this was for a special event. Usually Matt is gigging with his band Glovers Lane of which he is a founding member and the keyboard player.

Matt was just doing his thing, a young muso wanting to give something back. At Busker What’s Your Story? it reaffirmed why we write this blog. Life is full of stories, tragic, funny, interesting and heartwarming. Music is often the glue that brings people together. Find out more about Matt Cross and his band Glovers Lane below.

You grew up in Lavington – What drew you to music as a child?

“Music has always had a hold of me. It’s a magic that’s hard to explain. So choosing to study music was an easy decision. Some memories growing up that stand out would be making music with my siblings. Both my sisters and brother learnt as well, and it was always a lot of fun trying to fit us all on the piano. These days making music with others is still just as fun. That’s a big part of the magic I think.”

What’s a standout memory from your busking days?

“I remember busking on a Christmas Eve a few years back. A lovely family from Melbourne passed through to have a listen. Not only did they donate money, but their two daughters both had a sing on the mic – and were really good! We played songs from The Beatles and Elton John. By the end of it, they had a great crowd gathered, and brought in a small fortune! Was a fantastic night.”

What’s a lyric that is special to you – and why?

“Tim Minchin’s tune “White Wine in the Sun” is up there in my top 5 songs – especially this time of year. The lyrics in the chorus talk about the importance of family over the holiday period. It gets to me every time!”

Do you write your own material?

“I have two original projects that I write for. “Glovers Lane,” a five piece band from Newcastle. And “My Friend Rupert,” an acoustic duo consisting of female and male vocals.”

You can listen to them both here:

Glovers Lane Original – I’ll Be Coming Home Soon

What’s a great advice you’ve been given in your lifetime?

“It’s a cliche one, but so many people have told me to do what you love. I’m fortunate enough to say that I am doing that, and I’ve never been happier.”

Do you think busking can survive in an increasingly cashless society?

“A cashless society makes it difficult, but the busking scene still seems to get by. I’ve seen progressive buskers with eftpos machines haha! It gives the punters no excuse.”

What’s something really interesting about you?

“I can juggle…
I also make a good lasagne (recipe passed down from mum of course)”

Where else can people see you gig/perform?

“For Albury locals, I’ll be back home on the 26th of January performing at the SS&A with local band “Mia Grace and the Aviators”.
“For Newcastle residents, my next show will be with Glovers Lane on the 11th of January, supporting Ash Grunwald at the Cambridge Hotel. Alternatively, follow my Instagram for all shows @mattcrossmakesmusic”

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/matt.cross.393
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/gloverslaneband/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mattcrossmakesmusic/

Busker What’s Your Story? Sherri Parry

Sherri Parry

“I’ve always had a very squishy soft spot for ‘What A Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong. That song plucks at my heart strings whenever I hear it or play it. It makes me think of my Grandfather in particular, and my family. It never fails to remind me that the world is wonderful – you just have to choose to see it!

(Sherri Parry)
Image Credit: Craig Zillmann

Bendigo local Sherri Parry is well known for the changing hues of her brightly coloured hair, but it is her music that sets her apart.

At 21, Parry is already making a name for herself as an exciting talent in Victoria’s folk scene. She has collaborated with many musicians on her journey so far, since beginning her career at the age of 12, singing at open mic nights and small gigs in Central Victoria.

“I think I was 13 or so when my parents let me go to The Bridge where I performed with a duo there,” Parry told reporter Chris Pedlar at The Bendigo Advertiser. “That helped me become accustomed to performing for crowds and it wasn’t that intimidating. It was a great stepping stone and a brilliant way to develop how I play.”

Parry’s ongoing participation in the annual Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival has put her songwriting abilities in front of many industry professionals and afforded her mentors such as Grim Fawkner and Tom Lee Richards.

“In writing songs I have never really tried to emulate anyone, because I was always writing for myself.
But there are a lot of bands who I have listened to like Radiohead, Tori Kelly, Led Zepplin and Beyonce. The list is endless and I have learnt to gain influence from every kind of genre,” she says.

We invited Sherri along to Busker What’s Your Story? to find out a little more about Bendigo’s golden girl.

What drew you to music as a youngster and eventually to busking?

“I first learnt to play violin in grade 2, only in an attempt to emulate my big sister who was also studying the instrument. But I quickly became bored with the classical and strict lessons, and chose to pick up a guitar instead. Everything spiralled from there. Since I turned 16, I’ve learnt how to play, sing and perform for myself. Creating and performing were the things that kept me grounded and happy, and they still do. The freedom that came with the desire to learn and improve on my own, coupled with unwavering support from my family, is what pushed me into really wanting to make a career out of music.”

If you could choose a favourite lyric, what would it be, and why is it special?

“There are far too many songs, and far too many lyrics brilliantly scattered across this world to choose one line or one song. But I have always had a very squishy soft spot for What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. That song plucks at my heart strings, whenever I hear it or play it. It makes me think of my grandfather in particular, and my family, and it never fails to remind me that the world is wonderful – you just have to choose to see it.”

Tell us about your new song?

“It’s called Greed and it’s the first song released from my new album coming 2020. It’s actually also the oldest song that will be gracing the album, having been written by 15yo me in 2013. Greed is about simply that – Greed. It was written during a time in my adolescence where I realised that particular people who persistently spoke to me and sought my attention, only did so for their own gain and benefit, often being a romantic one. I quickly learnt that I wasn’t fond of that at all, and Greed was the result.

Over the 6 years of performing it, it’s definitley become a staple in my set list and a song my audience could probably recite the lyrics to. It’s one I let loose on each show, I throw all my angers and frustrations at the world into it, and like to think others do too.

But they’ll have never heard it like this – with a full band backing, incredible production, and a hell of a lot of work, it’s their first tiny sliver of the delectable cake that is this new album.

Greed is the roots of this album, the oldest and probably most loved song I have, and that’s why it’s the first single to be released. It’s a familiar welcoming into what you already know, and what awaits you.”

The song has just been released today and is available here:

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2EZHLFK
ITunes: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1492267411?ls=1&app=itunes
Apple Music: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id/1492267411

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given in your lifetime?

Family. It’s the most important thing. They’ll always be there. Don’t forget that.
“My cousin told me this a few months before he passed, and it’s cemented in the walls of my brain ever since. He was right.”

What’s a memorable moment you’ve had busking?

“Years ago I was a part of a duo called Him and Her, in which I performed a side spot for the Bendigo Easter festival in the middle of a street. We had our cases set in front of us, a portable battery to run our amp, an incredible amount of people coming and going. Plus we were both relatively new to the busking/performing.

So when we had about 50 people stop to actively listen to us, we were amazed. But that’s not my favourite memory. As we packed up our gear that day, I had a woman with her baby in a pram come up to me who said that we’d put her crying 2 month old girl to sleep with our music. I remember feeling so touched, delighted, and excited.”

Where else can people see you perform?

“I play around Bendigo, my home town, regularly. Frequenting the Old Church on the Hill, The Golden Vine, and the Moonlight Market.

My home away from home is The Thornbury Local in Melbourne that I get to serenade every couple of months too. So if you look for some colourful boots and bright hair next time you’re around these spots, ya might just find me!”




Busker What’s Your Story? Cam Nicholson

Cam Nicholson

“Music is my mistress. And she plays second fiddle to noone.”

Duke Ellington

Cam Nicholson is an Australian musician, based in Melbourne.

For the last 3 years Cam has toured the world performing on the streets and on the stage at festivals around England, Scotland, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Singapore. Experiencing many amazing places, meeting many influential people.

Cam has started recording his Debut Album. The first single Kissing a White Line is available on all streaming platforms.

We caught this busking performance in Bourke Street Mall in November by the talented multi instrumentalist as he entertained a captivated crowd with his fiddle and a loop pedal.

Not only an instumentalist, singer/songwriter Cam says he aims to give listeners the stories of his experiences.


Busker What’s Your Story? The Ghost Buskers

The Ghost Buskers

“Rock and Roll music, if you like it, if you feel it, you can’t help but move to it. That’s what happens to me, I can’t help it. Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do ’em all together I guess.”

Elvis Presley

The Ghost Buskers sing their covers of Blue Suede Shoes & Tutti Frutti

We found these two guys from Argentina on their first night busking together in Surfers Paradise. Both have played gigs in Argentina but they are newcomers as a busking duo.

“What’s your name?” we asked.

“The Ghost Buskers.”

“Oh, we like it!” we said.

“So did we, when we filled out the permit papers today!” was their cheeky response.

The gold coast crowd were enjoying their covers of Elvis classics, complete with a little washboard percussion.

Good luck fellas – we hope the Ghost Buskers continue to haunt Cavill Mall with their happy tunes.

Busker What’s Your Story? Gareth Wiecko

Gareth Wiecko

“Don’t do it for the money. Do it because you love it. Also, tomorrow’s a new day!”

Gareth Wiecko
Gareth Wiecko Melbourne Busker

Wandering through Bourke Street Mall one sunny Saturday morning we were stoked to encounter the incredible talent of pianist and music composer Gareth Wiecko.

Gareth was born in Wales and developed an early passion for classical music. He went on to study a Bachelor Of Music at Cardiff University and it was here that he crafted his masterful skills as a pianist.

After completing his degree and boarding a plane with a plan to explore the world, Gareth’s adventures inlcluded busking around Australia. Gareth says he collaborated endlessly along his journey, exploring a plethora of styles and recording his debut solo piano album titled Notes to Self in 2011 at Byron Bay, before eventually settling in Melbourne.

Gareth has completed further studies in production and composition at Melbourne’s Australian Institute of Music (AIM). To support himself while studying, he is still busking around Melbourne.

Gareth says his dream is to compose for film makers, game designers, contemporary dancers and other creators, but he’s not ready just yet to step away from the endless variety of human connections that busking affords him.

He says he could not have dreamed of having all of those connections if it were not for his music.

You grew up in Wales, who taught you to play like that?

“I originally learned in my hometown called Wrexham. I took my studies further and eventually went to University in Cardiff, South Wales. I end up learning from a variety of peers, which really helped broaden my taste.”

What do you like most about busking? What are some memorable moments?

“My favourite aspect of busking is that no two days are the same. Memorable moments would be anything from impromptu dancers and flash mobs, and even young children tapping into and loving music without even realising why.”

If you could change something you see on the streets, what would it be?

“I guess the biggest issues that I see on a regular basis is either homelessness or the lack of options for mental health services. Working Bourke Street, you see your fair share of individuals that could do with some support.”

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given?

“Don’t do it for the money. Do it because you love it. Also, tomorrow’s a new day!”

What’s next for Gareth Wiecko?

“I’m working on releasing my second album titled ‘Anima’ at the moment. I’m also on the lookout for a new videogame to score!”



Busker What’s Your Story? Doc J. Feelgood

Doc J. Feelgood

“Music is not a job, it’s a passion. But you have to work at it. It’s 10% talent and 90% practice.”

Doc J. Feelgood
Doc J. Feelgood sings a great cover of Tennessee Whiskey

Doc J. Feelgood grew up in Tokoroa in the Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand. His people were originally from the Miti Miti Ngatuna area in Northland, a remote and beautiful region near the Hokianga Harbour.

Doc has been entertaining tourists on the Gold Coast for decades with his smooth blues/country/jazz/rock easy listening style.

We only spent a few mintues with Doc on a busy night on the Gold Coast, but we had to share his talent here on Busker What’s Your Story?

Our video shows Doc J. playing and singing a version of Tennesee Whiskey that gives us a glimpse of a sweet Māori  soul.

Doc told us he gigs in bars and surf life saving clubs all over the coast, but busking is by far his biggest earner! We’re not surprised, we couldn’t walk by without tossing a note in his case.

If you’re holidaying in Surfers Paradise, take a stroll down Cavill Avenue around 7 or 8pm and you might be lucky enough to catch a set from Doc J. – we promise you’ll leave feeling good!

Busker What’s Your Story? David Mogg

David Mogg

“At 81, I must be the oldest busker in the paddock! Maybe I can inspire other oldies to get up there and just do it.
Why do I busk? The extra money keeps my wife in the manner she is becoming used to. Hopefully we will be able to go on a cruise soon, as this will be her last hurrah. She’s not travelling too well any more.”

David Mogg
David Mogg busks on Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise

What drew you to music?

“I started to learn the Violin at age 7 . Don’t know why, but I had a very good old lady to teach me. One day when I was about 15 she said: you are a very natural violinist and gifted musician, but I suggest you get a day job to earn a living.” 

“Her next words have never left me: your gift of music is not yours, but for other people to enjoy.”

“So I went to the shipyard and became a Shipwright. Left England at the age of 32 and arrived in Sydney (this was 1968). This was the best thing I ever did. We have had a wonderful life here.”

What can you tell us about your instrument?

“My violin at home is a 250-year-old German Mitnvald but it doesn’t like being miked up, so I’ve recently bought a Yamaha electric one with a battery amp. The sound is great.”

How long have you been busking and why do you busk?

“I only started busking a couple of years ago. Why do I busk? The extra money keeps my wife in the manner she is becoming used to. Hopefully we will be able to go on a cruise soon, as this will be her last hurrah. She’s not travelling too well any more.”

What’s your favourite piece of music?

“My most liked piece of music is: This is a lovely way to spend an evening, by Ella Fitzgerald.”

What advice would you offer aspiring buskers?

“When they think the audience is not listening, most players will turn up the volume. WRONG, WRONG WRONG. You just need to play better! Even turn down the volume.”

“I learned this a long time ago. I was at a market where an old Aboriginal master storyteller was holding his audience in raptures. It was a simple story, but the way he told it was fascinating. Raising his voice, speeding up, slowing down – his pauses had people hanging on to every word.”

“Playing a piece of music is the same as telling a story. No matter how good the melody is, if you just play the notes, it’s just a piece of music. But if you tell the story, it will come to life, then people will start to listen. Once you have them, the rest is easy, and the donations will flow into your hat.”

Busker What’s Your Story? Mayfair Lane

Mayfair Lane

My sister made me this book full of quotes and little bits of wisdom one year for a gift, it has this gem in it. It’s an Irish Proverb – ‘It is in the shelter of each other that the people live’.

I don’t think there can ever be enough songs about hope.”

Rhys Duursma – Mayfair Lane
Mayfair Lane – Go Again

Married musical duo Rhys and Esther Duursma from North East Victoria combined their different musical backgrounds to form a new indie/folk sound together as Mayfair Lane. This led to a growing fan base and well received debut album titled ‘Go Again’ which launched in February 2019.

Since their album debut, the couple have embarked on a twelve month experiment as full time musicians and van lifers, travelling up and down the east side of Australia as well as overseas in their little van ‘Morrison’ sharing their songs and stories.

Mayfair Lane supported Celtic duo The Sweet Sorrows on a three week tour around the UK and then joined folk-family band The Hollands! on a four week tour across the US. This incredible opportunity put them in front of international audiences who loved the pair’s sweet harmonies, conversing guitars and authenticity.

Busker What’s Your Story? caught up with the couple recently at home in country Victoria, where you’ll find them playing around the local music scene over December/January.

We discovered that sweet authenticity forms more than just a base for their music.

What’s something really memorable that’s occured while you’ve been busking?

“Once we played an impromptu set in a park on our way through Byron Bay. Our friend was showing us some local music this particular night and we ran into friends of his who were set up on the grass playing to a spontaneous crowd (which seems to happen regularly in Byron).

We started playing some original songs. Now I don’t know if he didn’t like our music, or if he was just having a bad night, but a couple of songs in a guy staggered over between us and the crowd and started yelling abuse at everyone.

We weren’t really sure what to do. It was safe to say he had taken something and was off the planet, he was acting violent any time people came near… all the while we just kept playing.

Eventually he staggers back toward us a little, still ranting, and Esther sees that he has a little tin whistle in his pocket. So she leans forward and calls out: ‘What’s your name?’ His name is Josh and at Esther’s invitation he starts playing a tin whistle solo in the instrumental. Taking all of his frustration and anger out on this tiny whistle in the completely wrong key…

And every time he started to get worked up again, we just called for another tin whistle solo. Till eventually he was spent and staggered off down the street. And that was our spontaneous (and memorable) Byron Bay performance.”

If you could choose a lyric from any song that is special to you, what would that lyric be?

“The lyric that comes to mind at the moment, (it would be different if you asked me in a week), would be from U2’s – Song For Someone. It has this great opening line ‘you’ve got a face not spoiled by beauty’ .

I love that it jars against the typical pop song. It stands counter to our culture of external beauty being everything. There’s a depth to it.

The rest of the song is about hope. It’s about looking for light in darkness. Reaching toward something we haven’t grasped yet, even when it seems impossible. ‘If there is a light, you can’t always see, and there is a world, we can’t always be. If there is a dark, now we shouldn’t doubt, and there is a light, don’t let it go out’.

I don’t think there can ever be enough songs about hope.”

What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given and who gave you that advice?

“My sister made me this book full of quotes and little bits of wisdom one year for a gift, it has this gem in it. It’s an Irish Proverb – It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”

Who are your musical influences? What do you love about them?

“Esther and I mostly have very different musical influences, but there are a few that we both love. Stu Larsen (a folk singer everyone should know). Josh Garrels (has an incredible voice). Gin Wigmore (writes a killer pop melody). Glen Hansard (perfect music for every kind of day). Brooke Fraser, Eric Bibb, Middle Kids, Angus & Julia, Hothouse Flowers. The list just keeps getting longer…”

Mayfair Lane sing their original song ‘Weary Hands’



Busker What’s Your Story? Chooka Parker

Chooka Parker

“What I like about busking is that I am able to share a meaningful emotional experience with everyone, a lot of whom couldn’t afford a ticket or can’t take time off work. What I dislike about it, is some of the assumptions people make, and the way I get treated sometimes. I’ve had people asking if I have enough coin for my drugs tonight, and I think there is a stigma about some buskers who do it for that. Some people assume that I’m just begging, others walk by and spit at my feet.  

But in conclusion, I know that if I can entertain someone who has treated me like bubble gum on the sidewalk and send them off smiling (which I have) I can entertain anyone. I don’t see it so much as a negative but more as a training ground if one is able to learn from such experiences.”

Chooka Parker
A little more of Chooka’s story

Many will remember Chooka Parker as the talented 17 year old from Red Lion in Victoria who burst on to our TV screens as a contestant in the 2011 Reality TV show Australia’s Got Talent, infatuating the crowd and the judges and going all the way to the finals with his unique brand of piano improvisation.

Chooka’s background, being home-schooled in a tiny Victorian town without access to TV or the internet, left him plenty of time for creative pursuits, and his experiences as a roustabout and all-round knockabout country lad (who dreamt as a young boy of becoming a chook farmer) certainly added to his appeal.

Now 25, Chooka has continued his musical journey writing and producing EPs, travelling to Japan, Thailand and the United States and schooling himself in a variety of other instruments, including voicework and film scores.

Check out Chooka’s thoughtful answers to a few questions from Busker What’s Your Story? And don’t miss the video at the end of our post that shows him wow an unsuspecting crowd in Las Vegas with his incredible impromptu rendition of ‘Great Balls of Fire’.

What are some memorable moments you’ve experienced busking?

“I’ve had so many memorable moments busking that it’s hard to pick one. Seeing the faces of children light up and start dancing, often forcing their parents out of their seriousness and into the same state of wonder is such a beautiful thing; when everyone drops their guard for just a moment and connects. 

I’ve had people crying, telling me their stories, others being really generous and some sit and listen for hours, but I think to top that list would be one particular time when a guy walked up (having seen me play on TV) and told me that he had completely given up on his music and his playing. When he found me on YouTube, he said he was inspired to pick up his instrument again. He then went to his car, pulled out a guitar and a portable speaker and played the most amazing blues music I’d ever heard. 

I really related to him because somewhere along the marathon of any creative career, it gets to a point where it’s not fun or financially feasible anymore. Just like any marriage, the love can temporarily die leaving one feeling tied to a ball and chain. 

Seeing him play with such joy reminded me of my own personal journey of falling in and out of music, while remaining committed to my mission.” 

We’ve seen the TV interviews where you talk about your childhood on the farm. Can you tell us a little more about those days?

“Growing up on a farm doing home-schooling was the best lifestyle I could possibly have asked for. School was based on how much you got done and not on hours; so I would school at night time and have time to be creative during the day. My Mum, particularly, but all of my family, encouraged me to be brave and take risks. My Dad was a very resourceful handy man and farmer who told my brother and I we could do anything.  We believed him and we did. We still do, and we still take the Mickey out of professionals.” 

If you could choose a lyric from any song that is really special to you, what would that lyric be? Why does it mean so much to you?

“My favourite lyric is by Marilyn Manson. ‘I own myself”.

It’s strange, because none of his other lyrics ever stood out to me; in fact I find most songs to be a predictable case of stating the obvious in a poetic formula over four chords. The lyric stood out years after first hearing it, when I discovered the power of not giving myself over to an authority figure, (i.e the school system, political leaders, family members, a partner, religion, or some other system where you sell your soul to a kind of ‘boss’ figure). 

I don’t like the idea of handing the responsibility of my life over to anyone else, and I have found great comfort in taking responsibility for my circumstances without handing it over to some obscure concept like ‘fate’.”

Given all your experiences what has it all taught you and what’s a piece of advice you’d offer to any young musicians?

“If you truly love what you do, know that love is an action more than a feeling, and just like raising any child, it’s not going to be fun sometimes, but very rewarding with dedication, care and commitment. 
Don’t wait around for opportunities, jump on them like a lion. Don’t be lazy, answer your emails, know your worth, don’t under-sell yourself. If you don’t know how to do something or how something works, ask someone who does. When you’ve got the what ya know, it’s time for the who ya know. 
The business side is important, because without money, we’re all dead, so keep a schedule of how much time you’re actually spending on your craft and last but not least, don’t be lazy.”

What’s next for Chooka Parker?

“I’m currently writing a symphony. I wrote the first movement in 4 days for the people who really care about me, but also because someone told me it wasn’t possible. 

I’m writing music for movies at the moment and my dream is to write music scores for movies and tour with my orchestra around the world. 

I am working on changing the musical era, this has been my dream since young.”

If you’d like to follow Chooka’s journey you can find him on his YouTube channel – 

Don’t miss Chooka’s impromptu rendition of ‘Great Balls of Fire’ in this video