Confyde is the alt-rock brainchild of Nottingham, UK singer/ guitarist/ producer Martin Jackson. He took time out with Prime (UK Band) singer Lee Heir for a conversation about Confyde's latest single and early material, work on the professional music/ covers band circuit around the world, and the affect of Covid-19 on his livelihood and much more…
LEE HEIR: Good afternoon, Martin! How are you doing today? Been working hard??
MARTIN JACKSON: I'm all right, although it sometimes feels like I'm working four jobs at once at the moment... trying to keep both my original music going and salvage as much as I can from my performance side of things... while also working a part time day job too. Fun fun!
LH: Lockdown has pulled many people in different directions! Where are you working part-time at the moment?
MJ: After lockdown hit and all my gig bookings were cancelled I gave my old job at Blue Whale Spa a ring to see if they had any work for me... thankfully every person and their dog is buying one at the moment so they desperately need the extra help for pre-delivery checks.
LH: It was exactly the same for me... I timed things perfectly by taking a job in insurance sales in December... I left the role last week but their new appliance registrations were going through the roof as I left! So, back to the music... Last week you released an epic new single and music video, 'Don't Lie Awake'... it's almost five minutes long and it really captures the zeitgeist of this time we're living at the moment better than most new music I've heard lately. Can you tell me more about the meaning behind the song first of all?
MJ: Thank you! I can't imagine what it's like to work in insurance right now! Mental. I wrote 'Don't Lie Awake' during the early stages of lockdown when not only had my whole livelihood as performing musician totally disappeared overnight, but I was also being booted out of my house too... this was before any financial support for the self-employed had been announced by the government. I was losing sleep worrying about what the hell I was going to do in the midst of all this, so I tried to capture both the frustration and fear going through my head. But at the same I wanted to celebrate the way everyone has come together to help those who've been hit the hardest. I did a livestream gig to help replace some of my lost income, not thinking much of it. While it was so much fun, I was totally overwhelmed by the amount of support that came in... It ended up earning over £400, some of which I donated to the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
LH: That's fantastic. We often bump into each other at the Tap and Tumbler and other places and have a chat. It sounds like you have some great support on the local scene especially, and we all need to really stick together at this time.
MJ: I totally agree. Sometimes it can be difficult, as all our conversations are reduced to messages and videos and phone calls. Especially for the most introverted among us who find those ways of communicating a bit taxing on occasion!
LH: The video to 'Don't Lie Awake' has a terrific ambiance to it, very edgy, yet earthy and simple at the same time. Where was it filmed?
MJ: The video was filmed by Jay Hillyer Films, by an old abandoned airfield near Melton Mowbray. We got so lucky with the weather to have those epic low-hanging clouds.
LH: Oh it looks terrific, Jay did a great job. You don't always need a million locations and cuts in a video. So, had you released any other music under this or previous guises? You've set the bar pretty high now!
MJ: Haha, thank you! I guess there is a beauty in simplicity sometimes! Jay can take a simple concept and make it super engaging and exciting. This is actually my second release as Confyde (which is my alias for my solo material...to distinguish it from my acoustic covers and wedding singer business). I did an EP back in 2016 called Unashamed, which is all still on Spotify and YouTube. Back then I had a couple of very talented gentleman performing with me as three-piece band. This time around I've done everything myself, although the drums are programmed everything else you hear on 'Don't Lie Awake' is me. I used to be lead singer for a Nottingham rock band called Emperor Chung as well, we released our album back in 2013 which got a lot of rave reviews in Classic Rock, Kerrang etc. We even performed at Download that year... it ended up as a bit of a career spring board for a lot of us in that project!
LH: Apologies for my lack of knowledge on that front! I don't think we've ever discussed your original music before in person. So why such a large four year gap between your first EP and this? Did the Lockdown situation make you decide to head back to your songwriting roots?
MJ: There was a mixture of factors for my lack of producing original music... I'd been focusing so much on my career as a wedding singer and covers performer to earn a living that I didn't have as much energy or time. Part of this included my work in a couple of heavy metal tribute bands that also help me pay the bills. This kinda fed into a lot of vocal troubles I started experiencing... as I took on more and more shows than ever to earn a living, I started having real voice problems that were impacting on my performances and hampering my enjoyment. It took me a lot of time, patience and voice training to get myself back to the stage where I wanted to record it and feel like my singing could do my songs justice again.
LH: That makes sense. Interesting that the live work impacted on your vocals heavily. How many gigs a week were you doing at your recent peak?
MJ: Last year thankfully I was able to bring the number of shows down, while increase the quality and the value of those shows so I didn't have to work so hard! But in the first couple of years where I needed to take anything I could get, I would sometimes be out performing five to six times a week, often doing two in a day. So inevitably any technical imperfections in my singing, no matter how small, would have eventually come round to bite me in a unstable way. So I've had to be super strict on technique to maintain the standard I expect of myself and make sure the customer re-books me!
LH: So during those times, what would you say was the craziest venue you'd played for a covers show and how far out did your performances stretch, East Midlands or further beyond?
MJ: Furthest out I've ever travelled for covers gigs is literally the other side of the world! At the end of January I did a tour of Australasia with Chop Suey, a System of a Down tribute band. Top prizes for those venues have to go to Max Watts in Melbourne for the sheer size of it and how amazing the whole stage, crew and room is. But craziest venue goes to a small venue in Christchurch, New Zealand, called The Club Tavern. That crowd was absolutely insane... mosh pits galore and so much singing along. But the Chop Suey crowds are usually awesome. Closer to home, the craziest venue is actually way up at Aberdeen! Krakatoa always sells out, and the Scottish know how to party... the only time I've ever seen a crowd form a human pyramid in the middle of the venue!
LH: That sounds superb ha ha. You'd collaborated with a few musicians in this period also hadn't you?
MJ: Quite a few! I sung a co-lead vocal and played lead guitar on a song called 'Forever Wild' for one of my closest friends and fellow gigging buddy Esme Knight. It's amazing folk-rock album that one... we've been singing that song together for years and it was so amazing to finally record a definitive version. I also contributed a guitar solo and sung a verse on a track called 'Hold Me Down' on Cadence Noir's album which came out end of 2018. They used to get me up on stage to perform this with them if ever I was attending, so much fun! I've spent a couple of those years producing local guitarist Samer Bata's upcoming debut record, it's a heavy atmospheric instrumental guitar album. So cool to see him go from strength to strength with this release. One of the songs has lyrics which it was my pleasure to sing on as well. I played lead guitar on Derby band The Sound Theory's debut single 'We Had All The Love', which is a great pop-rock tune. I know the singer Anna from my days back at Derby Uni, we used to jam together. There's also another brand new project that I've been handling vocal duties on... I can't say much about it yet, but it's a heavy progressive metal project that's been in the works for ages, they just needed someone to sing on it to complete the release! Excited for everyone to hear it.
LH: I sorted the venue for Esme Knight's album launch in Nottingham if you remember...
MJ: Blimey, that takes me back!
LH: Now, as I did with the Leicester nu-soul singer Harri Georgio last week, I'm going to apologise for not listening to the Unashamed EP before now. Even through my laptop speakers the heaviness and fantastic production comes through. It's also tight and funky. How was the process different back then? I presume the latest single had to be far more stripped-back in comparison. How did you get around the limitations and use your home studio to it's fullest capacity?
MJ: Yes, the recording process was very different... Back then Confyde had two other members, Rish and Simon on bass and drums respectively. So we went to Electric Bear Studios in Mansfield, Notts, to record this EP. I had produced demos of the three main songs at home and we tracked on top of those. I then recorded all the vocals at home after, as I prefer to work without time pressure to get the best emotive performance that I can. The the whole thing was mixed by Phil Wilbraham, a very talented gentleman who's worked with the likes of SikTh and Dragonforce. 'Don't Lie Awake' is just as layered as the Unashamed EP even though everything was recorded at home. But this time I played the bass myself, using amp simulators for that and the guitars, and programmed the drums. But to be honest, while I'm not a drummer, I think the drum sound is better on 'Don't Lie Awake' because I prefer the drum samples Mount Street Studios used on my programming. The final track on Unashamed, "Bleeding Hearts", was recorded, mixed and mastered entirely by myself though. Same goes for the two B-sides for 'Don't Lie Awake' - the acoustic version and 'The Railroad', although those latter two were mastered by Mount Street.
LH: You're a very talented man Martin! What got you into the production side of things, have you been into that for a long time? I'm familiar with Phil locally, being a North Notts lad.
MJ: Thank you for saying so! While being a performer and writer is my main passion, I've enjoyed music production as long ago as when I was recording (rather bad!) music on my parent's computer when I was 15! I studied Popular Music and Music Production at Derby Uni for three years, which covered all aspects of preparing for the music industry, and a crucial part of that was recording and production techniques. I do find it fascinating, but when it's my own work I sometimes find it best to outsource the mix and master, so a fresh pair of ears can collaborate about production - like I did about 'Don't Lie Awake'.
LH: That makes perfect sense, in my opinion it's always good to get some extra ears on a mix, with the final say going to you. Clearly you've always had the balance right with Confyde. Is there a chance that after Lockdown you'll feel like Confyde was the long lost son that you've got back together with and are about to reject again, or do you think there won't be such a big gap between the next material in the future?
MJ: I am already planning the next three Confyde single releases! Now that I've got a taste of it again, I'm not stopping. The next single is written and recorded, just need to put some finishing touches on it. I think after hearing 'Don't Lie Awake', people will be a little surprised by this song! I'm hoping after lockdown I'll be able to get a new band together to take it live, and make it work alongside my covers gigs. Definitely got Confyde 2.0 launch gig in mind! There's loads more material recorded or demoed waiting in the wings... this is only the start.
LH: This all sounds brilliant, and I hope you keep to your word! In terms of the next release are you going to give us an idea of what to expect without going into too much detail...?
MJ: I literally bought a new calendar today specifically for my original music schedule, to make sure I keep the promises!
It's a continuation of the lyrical theme set up in 'Don't Lie Awake', but the musical style is very different...a bit more subtle shall we say. Might even bring some people over from my wedding singer side of things! I still think it sounds like me though. I want to try and set the expectation that a new release from Confyde will keep you on your toes every time.
LH: I look forward to hearing your future material and thanks for taking the time out to chat about the release!
MJ: Thanks for having me and for all your kind words! All the best with yourself and Prime as well.
Confyde 'Don't Lie Awake', and the Unashamed EP is out now on Spotify and all streaming avenues.
Prime UK Band - 'Art / Facts' compilation is out now on digipak (with extra tracks) and the usual streaming sites.
Confyde can be found at:
www.facebook.com/confydemusic/ / Instagram - @confydemusic / Twitter - @confydemusic
'Don't Lie Awake' has a bonus addition exclusive to Bandcamp which features another two tracks...The Railroad and an acoustic version of Don't Lie Awake.
Lee Heir of Prime UK Band is online at:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ukprime + Twitter / Instagram: @primeukband + Youtube: @badfridaypictures
Spotify 'Art Facts' Link: