Image Credit: Alex Rothmeier
“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
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.
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