We interview Reverbnation Competition winner Web Sheldon

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For those readers that haven’t heard of you before could you tell us a little bit about yourself your story?
I was born in Sheffield, I’ve lived in Manchester and Athlone in Ireland for a bit but  I’ve been in London for the last 4 years now building up to getting my first official music releases this year.  I work as a SAP consultant in the day, which is like a IT support for a specific piece of software and then I’m a musician the rest of the time.  Music has always been at the centre of my life though.  I usually have some music playing for every occasion – silence doesn’t happen very often around me haha  I remember listening to my parents records when I was kid, which was mainly 60’s girl groups, 50’s rock ‘n roll and ABBA and stealing my sister’s records which was anything from Madonna to the House tracks of the late 80’s.  Since then though, I got into everything from Britpop to Hip Hop, Jazz and I love searching for traditional music from different countries; like Turkish art music, Bollywood from the 60’s, Cuban, Fado or Flamenco.

I think because of these influences, I had a hard time over the last few years trying to find my own sound.  I’d be writing a house track one minute, then a dark trip hop track the next and then a quiet acoustic song – and it’s not like you can throw all those on an album and call it finished, but I think the sound has come together well in the last year.  In terms of performing though, I love writing and I love singing – way more than I love playing guitar or piano.  Singing is something that comes right from inside you – it’s like you’re using your own body as an instrument and that kind of connection I’ve just never felt anything comparable when playing an instrument.

You’ve recently released your first EP ‘Modern Life Is Lies’ could you tell us a bit about recording the EP?
I recorded it all at home, which was awesome, because that was my plan for a long time – to be able to do everything myself.  I started using Ableton to write and record in 2009 and I went to Point Blank Music School in 2014 to learn how to mix and master professionally so I wouldn’t have to pay for studio time anymore.  It was meant to be an album to begin with, but as the songs were emerging it was becoming clear that half of them were psychedelic trip hop/dark pop songs and the other half were more electronic/hip hop so I thought I’ll just split the album in two parts and have a couple of EPs instead.  So ‘Modern Life Is Lies’ was the first half of that and the next half is ‘Today Is All’ which is due out this autumn.

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The album cover is quite striking is that something you designed yourself or did you work with a designer?
I’ll be honest – I do not see myself as a visual artist at all.  I love taking photos, but when it comes to designing, it’s not something that comes naturally to me.  Having said that, I designed the cover myself on my iPhone and then my partner used his Photoshop skills to recreate the design in better quality – so I think that was good team work!

The lyrics of the record seem to question a lot of aspects of modern life, was that always the intent with the EP?
It wasn’t like a concept album – although that would have been cool.  I just write about what I’m feeling.  I actually wanted to write an EP that was full of positive vibes although I do think there’s a lot of positive messages in there too.  In terms of matching the title, I like how the EP came together in the end, I think it’s a good snapshot of my state of mind over the last year. Li(v)es is about feeling quite negative inside but trying to stay positive when you’re faced with not just your own doubts about yourself but everything that is going on in the world.  How we’re lied to by our governments and the media, the control that money and more importantly corporations have over our life and how we think.

Then Purple Steeple is about meditation and the experience of living in London, Summer Storm is about the start of a relationship when you are excited about everything, but you’re also a little insecure because you don’t know where you stand them.  Memory of Footsteps is the Yoko Ono cover – I really love Yoko and this song in particular. Then Raat Ka Nasha is roughly translated as ‘enchanted evening’ in Hindi and it’s written like a stream of thoughts as a snapshot of an evening when I used to live in Manchester back in 2012.

Your music has quite a few different layers to it, is it difficult to perform live and reproduce the sound of the record?
I use a machine to control the laptop and I can programme different slices of instrument samples into different pads and can play a different mix of the song on stage each time using that.  When I’ve used live instruments, I’ve either played the guitar or keyboard on stage.  I use a looper sometimes to record additional voices or if it’s too complex, I’ll have the harmonies recorded in the background. I made an acoustic version of Li(v)es a few week ago and changed it quite a bit – I guess it was like an acoustic cover of my own song but I wanted to be able to play it just on guitar – but then that lead to transforming the song quite a bit.  I like how a song does not have to be static though.  You write and record a song and you send it off into the world but after that point, if you’re playing it live, it’s still evolving all the time.

You also create various different remixes, how does that differ from working on your own material?
I love making remixes! I love re-imagining other people’s songs and trying to take it to a whole new place or take one element of the original song and use that to build it up into a different direction.  I do feel a lot more pressure when making a remix for someone though.  You’re trying to manage their expectations whilst staying true to your own style and obviously you want them to be happy with it.  Now that I’ve finished the second EP, I’ll have more time for working on remixes and collaborations so I’m looking forward to that again.  I’ve recently just taken on a remix for an electro-folk band called Passion Bel Canon, so that will be the next remix out of the nest.

What are your favourite songs that people might not have heard of and why?

I’m a big fan of female writers and singers so most of my favourite music is by female artists.  There’s a song on Tori Amos’ ‘From The Choir Girl Hotel’ album that I have always loved called ‘iieee’ – the music is so dark, great production, vocal performance and her lyrics as well.  There’s a Joni Mitchell song I only discovered this year – it was originally on her 1970 album ‘Ladies Of The Canyon’, the song was ‘Rainy Night House’ but she made a new jazzy version of it that was released on a live album in ’74 when she was touring with L.A. Express.  The sound was completely magical to me; I love the jazzier side of Joni and I wish she would jazz up some of her other earlier songs as well to re-create some magic.  I’ll mention a third song too; ‘Memory Of Footsteps’ by Yoko Ono.  On my first EP, I covered this song but I really made it more harsh with crunchy electronic drums –  so I’d recommend to listen to the beautiful and delicate and original version of that song.
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You also have a blog that people can follow is that just about your music or do you cover other artists as well?
Yes – it’s for both although I use it more as an alternative to having a ‘News’ section on my website.  I usually cover either other artists in London or artists worldwide that have a similar genre to my own.  When I play gigs, I will usually write a review of the other bands from the same night, take a few pictures and add links to their songs and those kinds of posts tend to be quite popular so I’d definitely like to expand that side of the blog.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?
The next big event is the release of my second EP, ‘Today Is All’ which I imagine is going to be the end of October now and I’m currently booking gigs around London to promote that release.  Having worked all year on my own music, I’m thinking this is a good time to work on some collaborations with other artists now, make some more remixes, spend more time on the live scene in London and expand the music blog. I started working in a recording studio a few months ago (BonaFideStudio, Muswell Hill) so I’m hoping to spend time with more experienced producers there and continue developing my recording and production skills.

Find out more:
Website: http://www.websheldon.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/websheldonmusic
Twitter: https://twitter.com/websheldon
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/websheldon
Music Blog: http://web-sheldon.blogspot.co.uk/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/websheldon

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