Some of my earliest childhood memories are waking up every Saturday morning to the songs of some of my dad’s favourite artists. Every opportunity he got, he would play his favourite songs for me; be it in the car, or at home and he would end up pausing and rewinding every second song to show me an interesting phrasing, or chord progression. In my younger years, I never really understood much of what he showed me, but as I grew and continued developing musically, I began to appreciate and love the same music.
Over the years, my taste in music and the artists I listen to have changed; the genre’s I enjoy have increased, but the music I grew up on will always be a part of my favourites.
I firmly believe that the music you listen to defines the music you play. Most of your musical style is derived from the direct influence of your favourite artists.
I like almost every other musician, went through a phase of listening to classic rock bands like Guns and Roses, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, AC/DC etc. Then there was a phase where all I did was listen to the Beatles and marvel at special they were. I honestly think, no other band can come close to touching their style. Another band that constantly fascinates me is Pink Floyd. All their songs have a very distinctive feel to them. The song in its entirety portrays a very peaceful vibe.
As great as some of today’s rock bands are though, in my opinion the rock bands from the 80’s are untouchable. Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Doobie Brothers and Bad Company are three bands that most of today’s generation would never have heard off. The only reason I discovered them was because of my father and I immediately fell in love. Their music sounds raw, almost unmastered at times, but that only adds to the charm. Their grooves are magical and it is almost impossible to listen to their music and not groove along. All their songs have a very fun aspect that allows you to almost picture picture them on stage fooling around.
One of the the biggest influences on my playing style over the years has been the John Mayer Trio of Pino Palladino, Steve Jordan and John Mayer. What amazes me about them, is how just three of them can sound so full, while playing so little. At no point in time is there ever a moment where the music sounds empty, nor is there a moment where there is too much going on. Their versatility as a band is also phenomenal, as they play everything from hard rock, to blues.
Spyro Gyra and Snarky Puppy are two jazz fusion bands that are always on my playlist. Spyro Gyra was founded in the mid 1970’s and most of their songs are dominated by a strong saxophone melody. Snarky Puppy was founded by Michael League in 2004, and his bass playing, much like Pino Palladino is the embodiment of ‘less is more’.
Lastly, one of my all time favourite musicians has to be Billy Joel. His music is the perfect blend of uptempo, yet sombre. His pop songs have a heavy jazz influence right from the chord-work, to the arrangement. His songs are about daily, everyday happenings, and yet have such catchy melodies that you’re forced to sing along. If I can ever come even marginally close to making music that resembles something that he would compose, I would know that I have made it in life.
"I think music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music" - Billy Joel