So……….you learn to play guitar and you listen to lots of different types of music and you end up creating something that is , hopefully, unique music. Now, at some point you think “I’d like to do a gig or 2 or even make a record”. That’s the easy bit. And now for the dilemma.
Now you find that you have to give your work a ‘genre’ label. For you, it’s just the thing you do, but Outsideworld must know which mental folder to stuff you into. Are you rock, punk, blues, flamenco, skiffle, surf etc?
You’ve got 2 choices. Find a pidgeon hole that might vaguely have space for your type of twanging OR tack on your own little box. In fact if you are a truly creative musician you will be tacking on lots of different boxes. Now, as we know, pidgeon holes have to have a little label stuck on the front because the makers of those boxes assume the visitors to said boxes are too stupid to work out for themselves what is in the box.
So here is the current over-a-cup-of-rosie-lee conversation at Chanoyu Towers. What should we write on the label when we stuff SLY GUITAR into our new pidgeon hole, because there sure ain’t one around with room for us!
Genres are more than lazy marketing labels. If I saw something described as trad jazz or delta blues, I would run a mile as they indicate, to a greater or lesser degree, the genre of music therein. The problem comes when the music breaks, surrounds and challenges boundaries. From Bowie to Gabriel, from Pink Floyd to Metronomy, from Kate Bush to even someone like Lady Gaga, I’ve always thought of that sort of music as art rock or art pop. And that, for me, is what John Ellis’ music is – a collision of styles, some serious, some playful, some textured, some song-based for people who want not just a cup of Typho but a Twinings assortment of fun.