As session musicians we tend to do as many gigs as our calendars will allow, because aside from needing to make money, we want to do what we’re passionate about.

In fact a lot of us (myself included) spend a lot of time working hard for/waiting for “that gig”. “That gig” usually has that title because it fulfills something we desire, whether that be; the gig we feel will establish us in the music industry (and maybe even make us a house-hold name), the gig that will serve as a promotion like the ones we see our non musician friends acquiring (better pay/working conditions) or some kind of combination of the 2 depending on what stage of your career you’re at.

I’m writing this blog, still on a high from Matt Wills’ headline show at Omeara (London) on 29th June 2017. If you follow me on social media, you’ll probably have seen that I support this Matt Wills a lot and share his music, almost as if it’s my own. [see twitter thread below for a bit of a backstory:]

When I started working with Matt Wills, he was unsigned and homeless but when I heard his music, I knew he was destined for greatness. Lyrically and melodically, his songs were strong and he had (and still has) a voice that was made for the radio and for the biggest and best venues in the world.

There’s something special about being passionate about the music and the artist that you’re working with and with Matt (or Willsy as I call him) it wasn’t about the money or career progression but about taking the skills and experience I had accumulated and pouring them into the Matt Wills project and from then (early 2015) to now (July 2017) I’ve seen him sign to a major label (Virgin EMI), go from him playing an acoustic guitar and me playing drum pads to Matt plus a 4-piece band creating a huge sound to songs that are taken from his pending album release “Cigarettes & City Lights”.

Working with Matt, I’ve been able to hone my skills as a Musical Director and just how he’s grown as an artist/musician, I have grown as a Musical Director, musician and person.

I say all of this to say that as musicians we can spend so much time working towards “that gig” that we miss genuine opportunities for growth and a pathway/journey that could lead us to where we want to go.

I’ll never forget a conversation myself and some of my closest musician friends (Sam Skirrow, Liam McGarry and Chad Edwards) had with Joe Clegg (drummer and Musical Director) while on tour supporting Ellie Golding (2014). Without going into too much detail (it’s Joe’s story not mine), Joe started with Ellie Goulding very early on and (if I remember correctly) before she was signed. Joe become Ellie’s Musical Director and has been instrumental in nurturing and growing the live side of that project to what we see today. It would be easy for us to sit back from afar and want to be in his position, but it took hard work, endurance and a willingness to learn for him to get to where he is now. By him growing with the artist and putting in hard work and dedication, he got what for many of us would be “that gig”.

What’s my point? No matter how far you’ve got in your career or how much you’ve achieved, don’t be afraid to grow with an artist. The journey isn’t always rewarding from the beginning but if there’s one thing I’ve really learned from the people I look up to (who are far ahead of me in the music industry) it’s that, it’s great to achieve amazing things, play prestigious venues and be paid well, but it’s also rewarding when you get to put something back in, leave a mark and create opportunities for others. There’s no musical microwave so don’t be afraid to go on a journey and don’t be afraid to follow your gut and be a part of a project you believe in. This is what I’ve done with Matt Wills (and it’s still early days) for him but the journey is exciting, rewarding and fulfilling.

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