“Calon in Welsh can mean a few things (Spirit, Centre, Emotion), but it literally translates as “Heart”, something that I write from by being honest and open in my songwriting”
After the release of his brilliant new single, Familiar, I thought it would be a good opportunity to catch up with London based, but Swansea originated Calon. For fans of that jazzy acoustic sound, this ones for you.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you from and where did music start for you?
Where to begin! I’m originally from Swansea, South Wales and started playing guitar when I was about 12/13 (I had 6 guitar lessons as a birthday present). I soon found a love for music in classic rock through bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd & The Who after playing the guitar for about 2 years. After a year of guitar lessons, I started to teach myself different chord shapes and melodies, I can’t actually sight-read music (or read music for that matter). In terms of the music I write now, it’s been heavily influenced by Jeff Buckley, Radiohead and Johnny Marr’s work in The Smiths. I think my music taste has always been changing, but discovering new bands through my friends in school lending me a CD or two (back in the day, I still have about 300 in my parent’s house!) was what was most influential in starting that process.
Where do you find some of your biggest inspirations?
It sounds like an easy answer, but a lot of my inspirations come from life in general; I’m quite the existentialist, and I think time is the most important commodity we have. It’s so easily given away, whether it be to jobs or in sunk cost fallacies, so what inspires me in that respect is thinking “what can I do that makes the best use of my time right now?” A lot of my songs follow this format, live for the moment but also keep an eye on where you’re at, and this goes for mental health (something which I think in this day and age is still often overlooked).
You recently released your latest single Familiar. What does this song mean to you?
I always introduce this song as “a love-song for people who haven’t found love yet”; for me a lot of love songs are about the love that’s lost or happening to them right now, but not so much in expectation of it. For this song, I wanted something that people could relate to, that feeling of “just take a chance, life is short”. I haven’t found love in a significant other as of yet, so I thought I would write a tribute to that, and as a reminder that good things come to those who wait.
How would you say that Familiar compares with your other single, Feral, released earlier this year?
I would say they differ quite a lot, with ‘Feral’ I wanted to give it that 90s Alternative Rock sound (think Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Suede) and to really put a lot of energy into it. The heavy sound surprised a lot of people who’ve only seen me play the acoustic! ‘Familiar’ I think it’s more in keeping with my jazz-folk leanings, and I hope to release more songs in that vein in the future. Both songs I love, and almost have a yin-yang feel to them, one is chaotic and the other calming.
Do you have any help with the writing, recording and producing process for your songs?
I recorded 5 songs with Crown Lane Studios in Morden last year, those were produced and mastered on site by Bill Sherrington (also helped with the arrangement of the songs, thanks again Bill!). In terms of the songwriting side, I’ve always written my own songs, although I’m happy to look into future collaborations with the right people! I do want to get into self-producing at some point, but till then I’ll leave it to the experts
Pre-lockdown, did you get chance to play any live shows, and is there any plans to get back on the road when it is safe?
It’s weird to even think of the world prior to lockdown, in London I would play a lot of the open mic scene during the week, I would travel to different areas in East London primarily. I would love to get back to some semblance of normal playing live music (provided it being safe for performers and audience members of course!) I think for now although it’s frustrating not being able to play a few times a week, however it’s helped me focus on songwriting and finishing songs off. When it’s safe, I think I’ll do an evening of the songs I’ve written during lockdown just to give it a bit of catharsis.
What are some of the biggest hurdles you have had to overcome when making music?
Tough one, but the biggest hurdle that springs to mind is self-doubt, that feeling of “am I doing this right?” or even “is this a good song I’m writing?” I think that these will always remain with us at different stages of life, the idea is just to keep improving on what you know. Another hurdle is comparisons with other musicians; with social media everyone can be “famous” or have the illusion of fame, as a famous phrase goes “comparison is the thief of joy”. Stick to your own path, ask plenty of questions, and trust in your intuition!
What is next for you?
Probably some more recording, I have released 2 out of the 5 songs I recorded last year, and I’m keen to get some more songs recorded after those are all released. Aside from that, I’ve been looking at some old song ideas I’ve left on the back burner (some of those ideas are a few years old). It’ll be like opening several little time capsules from different parts of my life!
Where can we find out more about you?
Anything you would like to tell us?
It’s a hard time at the moment for a lot of people, so I just want to echo what a lot of others have said, and that is to keep in touch with family and friends as much as you can. It only takes a few mins to check up on someone, and I’m sure it would mean the world to them that you called or messaged. Aside from that, stay safe and don’t overwork yourselves!
And with those fabulous answer’s, the only thing that’s left for you to do is go and check out Calon’s work. I’d like to thank him for taking the time to give me some great answers, and I hope to catch him on the road one day soon!