Conversations with Music Special Edition

Conversations with Music Special Edition

Monday, April 2, 2012

PROFILE: Robert Graham (Canada)

Name(group/individual) Robert Graham

Hometown: Gibsons, British Columbia, CANADA

Genre of music: I play ALL types of music (on piano) and I also sing. I was trained classically but always played along with the songs on the radio growing up.....lots of 70' s and 80's stuff.....I delve into jazz and also play lots of Music Theatre repertoire as I work as a Music Director and also as a vocal coach. My 2009 release "Storm in a Teacup" is very diverse - everything from rock, pop, soul, blues, dance, new wave, even some Gerswhin!

What inspired you to pursue your love of music?
I am lucky in that I found my passion very early on in life and I have been blessed with a life of music making. I LOVE music - I live for it. I was lucky in that both my parents were very encouraging in this direction and exposed me to live music a lot. They also had a wonderful friend when I was a child who was a gifted classical guitarist. We was was a hippie and lived in a wooden octagonal house in the forest with no electricity.  He was the first musician I remember seeing perform live. His name was Clarke Steabner, a brilliant man whom I named my son after. My mother in particular was very dedicated to my musical development - but really once I got the taste for it I knew it would become my life. Very lucky and grateful.

Who are some of your influences?
My musical influences in terms of my songwriting are many and varied. I like to compose songs with interesting yet accessible melodies and with lots of harmonies. So some of my songs are in the Beatles/ELO sphere (eg "Jonathon Baker") I am a big Jackson Browne fan - his lyrics never fail to inspire me and I am always discovering new meaning in them as I get older. I like to write jazzy hooky pop riffs also and for those songs I am inspired by artists like Stevie Wonder and Steely Dan. I love the Pretenders, Joe Jackson, Dragon, the GoBetweens....the list goes on and on!

When it comes to pursuing music, what is your idea or view of what success means?
This is a hard question. I think it is hard for anyone who writes and/or performs their own music. In one sense I feel I have achieved a level of success in that I have made my living as a musician for many years now. I feel that sustaining a career for that long as a musician is a type of success. I released my own album (with more to come) and this was a life long dream.
I would of course like to achieve a higher degree of success with my OWN music - as opposed to other people's music. I would like to write and perform more of my own music more often - that is where I personally hope to find more success. I am actively searching for a home for my songs - live shows, festivals, licensing for TV and film etc. Having said that the pursuit of "success" is a never-ending road. I am trying to learn to be proud of what I HAVE achieved and not dwell on what I have yet to achieve. I think this is common for many songwriters and others involved in creating new and original art.

What keeps you motivated?
My motivation in terms of my songwriting comes from two places. One is the sheer joy I get from writing a new song that has never been written before. The magic that comes from doing that is is like giving birth to something (minus the epidural!) There is no better feeling than creating a brand new song - it is much more exhilarating than the business side of promoting it! In terms of what motivates me to keep plugging away at trying to promote my music is the faith I have in my songs. I really feel that my songwriting is getting stronger and most people have a very favourable reaction to the songs when they hear them - this encourages me to continue to seek new audiences for my music. 

What advice do you have for aspiring musicians or individuals interested in pursuing their own dreams?
 I hesitate to give advice to anyone as I don't feel I have any prescription for life. I do have a saying that I use a lot though: "You have to take chances if you want to have an interesting life".
I believe the best way to follow your dream is to devote the time to it - whether it be learning your instrument better or seeking advice on how to hone your songwriting skills. Seek out constructive advice and work hard to improve. Most importantly - try to fight to carve out time and space in your life to devote to it. This is a major challenge for me and many others like me who are busy with work, family and life in general. You have to be prepared to give up other things to create this space in your life. Finally I think you have to have faith in your abilities and in your dreams. It is easy to give up but try to remember your passion is what makes you happy. So any time and sacrifice you make to follow your passion is never wasted time - regardless of the result. Whenever I get down about not finding time to write or the lack of progress I may feel I remind myself at how empty my life would be if I ignored my passion and took the easy way out. I just couldn't do itI People with a passion for something are already ahead of the game. They have a purpose in life which is a real blessing.

Where can readers find out more about you or purchase your music?
To find out more about me and hear my music you can visit my website at I post all my gigs there and also news relating to the album, and my theatre work. You can also buy the album and also t-shirts there. I would love to hear from any readers of "Conversations" as to what they think of my music. It is nice to know that there are people out there who are interested in exploring music which is "under the radar" so to speak and I would love to hear what their impressions are. Thanks a lot Cyrus for your support of independent musicians and writers - I hope you can continue to keep up the wonderful support.

1 comment:

  1. Wow this guy has nice hair. I mean really. And he should be a career councillor. He said some good stuff.