Grief and the big city…. My journey into music.

Back in the 80’s, When all my friends went out to play football or play video games after school, I spent hours playing piano – just mucking about finding notes that fitted together.  Piano lessons never worked for me – I didn’t have the patience sit down and learn pieces.  For me the piano was a touchy feely sound machine that was to be explored!  I did have piano lessons in my teens but that mainly consisted 5 minutes of actually lesson and 30 minutes of me just playing stuff I had worked out, much to my old teachers bemusement!!

Although i studied psychology, my first passion has always been music.  I was lucky enough to have an 80’s ZX spectrum which even had a drum machine and sampler, with a Casio keyboard – that was my first experience of recording and producing music and the beginning of a life long addiction.

When my mother was tragically taken far too young – I played piano with my family in the room to get through the grief.  I was only 22 years and my whole life was ahead of me,  I know my mum would have wanted me to follow my passion despite the pressure to get a proper professional job – After a 3 month stint at medical school where all I could do was try and work out how I could fit my music into my medical career – I decided this is crazy and jumped headlong into music. I remember my advisor at the time looked down on me said off you go and join the circus!  – This just made me more determined than ever!!

In 1990, it was off to Uni time.  I was a 19 year old English boy going to Glasgow University and with a name like Giles, I was a novelty to say the least.  It was a big leap going from a quaint lincolnshire village to the big northern city. Glasgow has an industrial/heritage and had been in decline for decades – its people are undoubtedly some of the friendliest in the world but pretty tough and don’t take bullshit.  Maybe because of this, it is an incredibly culturally rich place to be with music and art in its DNA – Its a place that truly recognises the value of creative expression inspiring so many great artists.

Through the 90’s I played in bands and wrote music for theatre before starting up a sound company called Savalas – we did mainly TV themes as well as producing our own music and gigging  -somewhere between a band and a music production house.  After securing studio premises, Savalas grew into a fully fledged Film and TV sound post facility.

In the meantime I was a founding member of the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra set up by Prof Raymond Macdonald, the renowned Sax player and music psychologist.  GIO was a crazy experience with 25 people on stage just improvising, sometimes collaborating with musical pioneers such as George Lewis, Maggie Nicols, Evan Parker and Keith Rowe. There were some stunning moments when we all locked together in some kind of a musical flow but more often than not it was a constant sonic scrap as people instinctively went with or against the sound – There were some pretty crazy moments like when we were working with Keith Rowe trying to play under the ambient sound of the room.  Play 7 notes in half an hour – intense! (maybe not for the audience).   or the time when rules were imposed where we had to play our instruments upside down and back to front without touching a key or string or blowing a note! Needless to say it was a blast and I learnt a lot about creating sound/music worlds which really nurtured my musicality and getting into the zone.

Making music for me has always been a very intuitive thing.  I was never one to follow the rules and have pretty much learnt everything through trial and error. I have played piano for several hours every day since I was 14 often just sitting down playing for hours with all the experiences and memories feeding instinctively into my playing – for me it is a form of meditation.

Through a keyboard and a computer, I can now literally create everything from an ambient soundscape to a full 80 piece orchestral score fully rendered and sounding pretty convincing.  I just apply my intuitive knowledge of harmony and melody to build up the layers!  It comes from a physical muscle memory as much as a higher mental process – Playing and composing music is a whole body thing.

If I think of the most important moment that lead me on my musical journey – it was back in 2004.   I had bought a reel to reel tape recorder (this was before everything was digital) and recorded a 10 minute improvisation on the piano – Something happened and I completely lost myself in the music.  When I heard it back,  that was it, I was hooked and I have never looked back.  It was almost  a spiritual experience emotionally connecting with the hours I spent playing with my family when my mother was ill.  Something resonated so deeply that I am compelled to create music – it is my life.

In 2011, I created the music to a game trailer called Dead Island.  At the time it was just another game trailer score – which were amazing to do but the usually came and went.  The Dead Island trailer just took off. It is now officially in the top 5 game trailers ever made – that is something!!  The music was a big part of the power of the trailer which was a reverse CG scene of a family being killed by zombies – It was all in slow motion with a really emotive classical score – people really connected to it! The trailer went viral and the press exploded (New York Times, Variety, The Guardian etc) with many millions of streams on spotify and Youtube the dead island trailer theme was No1 in the iTunes soundtrack charts. After years of playing and making music,  I suddenly had international recognition and a fanbase.

Music never exists in isolation and is undoubtedly at its most powerful with an audience.  My most powerful musical experiences have always been when sharing with others either collaborators or and audience.  It is such an honour to have your music recognised and there is no better feeling than being able to move someone with your music.  Music for me is breathing and connecting with something much bigger than all of us and at the same time connecting us all – So important in these days of Trump and Brexit!!

I have so much more to say with my music and always looking for new challenges – Click hear to listen to my latest album, ‘Hope’, and be part of my journey.

 

Thank you for listening to my music – YOU make it all worth while