Being in a band versus being a solo artist
21 December 2015
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Brad Brown: Welcome onto the next edition of Old Mutual Live. It’s good to have you with us. Returning guest on the podcast today, Van T joins us once again. In the last podcast we spoke a little bit about where the musical journey began and just some of the influences and dream gigs, and that sort of thing. But I wanted to touch today on being with a band versus being a solo artist. Great to have you back on. Thanks for joining us today.
Van T: Hi, thanks for having me back.
BB: Let’s talk about that first band that you were involved in, La Vie. You joined them and you were pretty young, and obviously still trying to find your musical chops. Tell me, how did that band come about? Was it a case of you sat down on paper and go okay cool, we need this and we need that, or was it just a couple of mates that got together? How does it actually work?
Getting involved with “La Vie” early on
VT: Well, my brother’s friend actually was looking for a female singer to start a band with. It all started with just going and jamming in his band room and then there was a show that weekend at a place called Monkey Town, close to where I stayed.
It kind of just consisted of him playing lead guitar and me making up some words. That was the backbone of La Vie, of just me and the guy, Kennan, who also became a good friend of mine. Then it slowly turned into more of a rock band and they added drums and base, as the years developed.
BB: That first gig sounds like it was an interesting one. Describe the feeling when you’re up on stage for the first time and people are looking at you, as eyeballs, and you’re wondering if you can actually do this.
VT: Yes, it’s definitely something that still has to grow on you and you have to learn to deal with. That kind of uncomfortably and vulnerability, being in front of people and what it is you’re doing. Why it is that you’re performing but it’s been quite an interesting journey.
BB: You’ve gone solo now. Talk to me about the dynamics of being in a band versus being a solo artist. What are some of the things you miss about being in a band?
What do you miss about being the band?
VT: I think the difference with being solo now, it’s given me a lot, I mean it’s just me, so there’s a lot of room for almost more vulnerability. It makes it scarier and more exciting at the same time. When I perform there’s a lot more of me in it, so there’s not the band and then I drop out, and there’s the guitar solo from someone else.
I’m holding the whole thing together, so I’ve had to become almost a lot more present in performances, which has been great because it’s helped me grow as a musician quite a lot. Well I feel but I’m not sure how other people see it, but for me, it’s been a huge learning curve, and the dynamics, and that kind of thing.
BB: Talk to me about the decision of deciding to go from a band into a solo career. That must be a difficult decision to have to make.
VT: Yes, it was but it wasn’t even a decision though because I went from being in La Vie and then I started exploring the ways of singing with some more electro bands, which I’m still partly in now, called Diamond Thug.
I’m in Diamond Thug and I’ve got my solo stuff now, so it’s great because I still get to experience the two different sides of being solo and having the enjoyment of a whole band. That’s a lot more of like just messing around and having fun but then I also, because that music was going a lot different from the music, where I drew a lot of my influence from, like blues and folk.
I started trying to write songs, well not even trying. I was just sort of dabbling with writing songs on guitar. Then a friend of mine, they needed an acoustic act, so I said well I have a few songs on guitar, and it kind of all just, within a matter of weeks, I had a solo act, and now I’m doing it.
BB: And you haven’t looked back since, tell me a little bit about your latest album?
‘We’re Still Running’ album
VT: Yes, it’s called ‘We’re Still Running’ and there’s 10 songs on the album. It’s all sort of, to me, it’s a representation of a journey. I guess it’s part of my past, present and future, but it’s sort of goes from a dark space to a light space. For me, it’s a very personal journey but it’s also, I hope for the listener, they get taken on a journey to experience those kinds of ups and downs, and feelings.
BB: It must be pretty daunting putting an album like that out because you talk about personal it is, and it is. When you think of the biggest albums in music history, they are very, very honest and raw.
BB: Is it difficult to expose yourself like that to strangers, essentially? Put yourself out there and you never know how people are going to react to it.
VT: Yes, it’s been something where I’ve had to go, almost to a point where I just have to let it out because that kind of rawness or honesty that one puts towards. I feel like when I look at other artists and I feel the connection of wow, it’s because they’ve put themselves out there. If I can make a listener feel that then I feel like my job is done. But I first have to go out there and give my side of vulnerability, in order for the listener to experience that.
BB: It’s a very interesting dynamic indeed. I want to chat to you a little bit about 2015, and how things have worked for you but I think we’ll put that one off until the next edition or the next time we chat, here on Old Mutual Live and find out what some of your plans are for the New Year as well. Thank you for joining us today, much appreciated. We look forward to catching up again soon.
VT: Thanks, yes, you too.