It has been about 6 weeks now since I ‘moved’ to London although the past 3 weeks have been spent elsewhere with gigs in North Wales and a couple in Manchester ending in a week of shows playing on FAME the entire week that’s just gone.
There will be, as always some ranting in this post so I apologise in advance.
I was aware of how costly London would be before I came here and if I’m honest I am not mentally having an issue with the higher cost of living here. What I do have an issue with is that I have, not unlike a huge majority of musicians flocking here I have had to get a ‘normal’ job to fund completely basic things like eating and just being able to attend other people’s gigs and get from here to prior commitments.
Although I know putting any ego out the window and taking a job involving up to 12.5hr shifts without a break for awful pay is actually the responsible and sensible thing to do it has put a frightening light on many things.
I have now, unquestionably fallen into the flock of musicians who wait tables days on end for people they have little or no positive connections to and then, when asked spurt out in absolute haste clichés along the lines of ‘but this isn’t all I do’, ‘I didn’t come here for this’, ‘I’m actually an artist’, ‘I’m serious about my music’ and ‘I’m not like the other guys’.
On one level I think in such a dire position I think making it clear that you don’t aspire to JUST doing the job in question but I can’t pretend that hearing these words come out of my own mouth has really made me wonder just genuinely how plausible is it that any financial and developing occupational success isn’t just a wild dream.
On the plus side getting the post waiting tables (and doing a day of landscape gardening in Sloane square) has been a kick up the arse in making me damn sure that I can honestly say that I will take any measure possible to make sure I can not do this for a single day longer than is necessary.
It isn’t always easy to see that breaking through this networking hardship is a possibility though I must admit.
I am no longer living rent free and I am lucky to have got a room (singular..) At a friend’s place which he’s given me a great deal on although it is more than average rent in N.Wales just to put things into perspective.
That coupled with the fact that I can and did infact return up north for nearly 2 weeks before fame and earned some decent dosh on some jazz gigs is also fairly disheartening.
Megabuses were the transport of choice over the 5 days or so before I popped back to Wales as I had a show with Regime one weekend in Narberth and then had to return south to get my car upon leaving London.
No matter how tiny a bass combo is it still becomes a pain over miles of tubes and crowds.
Megabuses are awful too; especially DEPARTING 3:45am.
With that said, £6 single? Can’t complain.
Following some gigs in North Wales with Jochen Eisentraut Trio and Hot Lava Javas in Widness and then Denton (Manchester) I went straight off to Cheltenham to a house myself and the pit band for FAME bad been provided with for our week of shows and rehearsals.
Directing the show was a friend of mine Gareth Weedon who recently came off the Spamalot tour and is starting again in 3 weeks. I hadn’t met the other band members before but quickly found them all to be on the ball and I made some great friends on the gig.
Shows went great too and I found the music to have some decent poppy bits going on but some incredibly let’s-not-let-it-settle-into-a-groove kind of tunes which was a bit odd really.
To sum up my current situation, right this second I’ve got enough equipment to practise and gig properly and get it all on the tube. I’ve got a couple of go-to books and my real books at hand, all my cds, gig clothes and time designated each week to getting stuff together or learn tunes/transcribe. I’ve also been fortunate to have been handed contact details for some people in the west end, I’ve met some pop guys and I’m aware of who goes where and when they can be chatted to.
On that basis and with a roof over my head I’m very lucky but the killer is that I have no money.
I hate to pick a particular group but recently I’ve found students in incredibly poor at understanding just what ‘no money’ means.
I have never had an overdraft for an accounts nor have I ever received a loan of any kind which isn’t for want or trying. I am not eligible for working tax credits as I’m not over 25, pregnant or disabled. I am not a student therefore have no body to appeal to for a hardship fund. I also have no friends or family capable of curing this issue either which certainly isn’t for their lack of want or trying but I am dead straight just not from that money.
I have however bought every single piece of my equipment, always payed my own rent, £300 per MONTH car insurance, petrol costs for the 26000 miles I covered last year and all the other incurred costs I’ve ever had with my business.
Granted I am now getting rid of my car and have no equipment I NEED to buy but there certainly is a base level of money that working human beings need to generate money even for the fairly substantial point of having credit on my oyster card and attempting to eat well enough to not pass out en route.
I won’t carry on but things are up in the air at the minute mainly to my whimsical, short notice trip down to here which is my own fault entirely. I do have some people to go and meet to try and just see what comes of things and keep me focused on what I need to do so I’ll report back on all that asap I’m sure.