Interview: Skidders

Skidders

Skidders, a songwriter,/producer/session guitarist, recently released a collection of songs named Friends & Family Vol. 2. Andrew of Rogue PR spoke with Skidders about his project, music career, and writing/composing/recording process. Enjoy!


When did you realise that your project/band had the potential to be a career, or long-lasting idea?

Can I please first start by saying, rather than a band, I’m solo artist Steve Skidmore aka Skidders – song writer, producer and session guitarist. Born in Smethwick in the centre of England, within an area known as the Black Country due to steelworks, furnaces etc during the Industrial Revolution.

Most of my live performances revolve around other projects and bands rather than my solo music, for reasons I explain below. For example, I gig regularly with my duo Bukechi, with the fabulous Sammi Roberts’ on vocals. I produce all my own material and play all instruments, apart from the human voice, which I am eminently rubbish at! So my compositions are 95% guitar instrumentals. On my three albums to date, I have not really limited my compositions to be “gig friendly”, hence me gigging mainly with other projects, as I call them.

When did the first glimpses of your latest release come together?

So my latest album, “Friends & Family Vol. 2” was released only last month, 4th May. I’m still busy promoting the album which is my favourite. There are three videos for three of the tracks, one which has vocals and two were released as singles prior to album release. It is available on all streaming platforms and if you have a subscription, please do take a listen. It is a very eclectic album with 13 electric and acoustic guitar instrumentals tracks and one song. I drafted- in the fantastic Andrew James for vocals on that one. Don’t think it’s all ‘pretty pretty’ guitar music. Take a listen to track one – “Aunty Bulgaria”. It’s a rock instrumental for which I was very proud of the end result. My Stratocaster sounded lovely on that track, thanks to Leo Fender! There’s also jazz, reggae and even Celtic.

What really inspires your music?

Bands that I have listened to, watched and generally any music that has grabbed my attention. The Shadows was my first love of music and you can hear in my music today, some “Shadows’esque” styles (e.g. “Ronnie Two Sheds” on my latest album). I do not try and imitate, but from absorbing different areas, it comes through naturally.

A string of other bands, including the likes of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, CCR, KT Tunstall and genres of blues, jazz, funk, etc have inspired me and bleeds through into my style. I might also hear backing tracks on films etc and it could inspire me to do something of that genre.

Skidders


Can you tell us a bit about the lyrical process for a song? How does it normally work?

As mentioned above, most tracks are instrumental, so I will describe both instrumental and song processes. Firstly, I will have a raison d’être to compose a track. This could be simply that I want to compose a song in genre ‘X’ or to dedicate to someone or could be an idea that has been going round in my head or picked up on when noodling on guitar.

It’s always instruments for me first, then if there are lyrics, they come last. In that case, I would already have a theme for the lyrics so it would be a matter of fitting that theme to the tracks. You can see by that, I am no wordsmith or poet. However, for the few songs I have written lyrics for, I am quite happy.

Lyrics or not, I create a new Logic Pro project (recording software), set the key and bmp (beats per minute). I would then record a draft guitar track to work around, that would later get deleted as various tracks were added and improved. This often includes changing the key and/or bpm. It would then go through iterations until I was happy with the end result for all areas, including any lyrics. Typically, I will go through around 15 to 20 iterations. After mixing, it would then go for mastering to finalise. It normally takes 20% of the time to do 80% of a track and vice versa.

What’s the most rewarding moment in your creative process as a band, and why?

It’s definitely getting all of an album’s mastered tracks and putting them together and listening to the end result. Unfortunately by this stage, you have listened to the tracks so many times, it is hard to be truly objective. But never the less, it is a great satisfaction to listen to something that’s been completed 100%

Who produces your music, and what are they like to work with? (If you produce the music yourself, what do you love the most about working that way?)

As mentioned above, I do produce my own material and sometimes, other peoples. As a solo artist, it means I have complete control of the complete process, with the exception of mastering. It also means I can work within my own time scale and time limitations.

Can you give us a couple of personal highlights from your live show? Particular memories that stand out to you?

Supporting Midge Ure was great, but the best highlight for me was playing both stages at The Cavern in Liverpool, where The Beatles performed. Playing the Forum in Old Kentish Town was also great – all the dry ice and our own dressing room with fridge full of Bud. I organized a charity event and played with Dexy’s Kevin Rowland, which was also a highlight.

What advice would you give to another upcoming band/act?

Gig as much as possible; develop your own identify and connect loyally with your fans.

Many thanks to Thoughts Words Action for the opportunity of this interview and for all readers, keep safe!


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