Artist Interview: Ten Tribes Of Texas ( featuring Adaja Black)
Tell us about yourself and your music
I have been a musician since the age of 12. I began playing the guitar and singing in bands when about 14. My older brother was the guitarist in our high school band and they kept losing bass players. Because I could play guitar and he needed someone he could rely on they recruited me to play bass. I began singing in the band at that time too. Playing bass and singing at the same time is not easy when you are 14. I wrote my first song at about that time too. I began writing by playing around with the chords of well-known songs I had leaned by just changing the sequence of chords around, adding a different chord here or there and adding my own lyrics. I wrote a couple of songs and instrumentals for the bands I was in. so I first got played and performed publically when I was about 14 or 15. As a guitarist I had learned mostly guitar based songs so I tended to write guitar based songs in traditional genres like rock, folk that type of stuff. I was also always interested in lyrtics – in the poetic quality of languarge and in story telling. In those early days Bob Dylan was a big influence on me. His lyrics are exceptional. I got interested in pop songs as I got older as I really liked melodies and I saw the conventional structure of pop songs as imposing a challenge and discipline requiring economy and presice of expression while utilising a strong melodic line. I guess that comes from my early love of singing. I don’t have any musical prejudices and I can write in virtually any genre due to having played many so its always hard for me to get a stylistic continuity between the songs on a release. I have to think of a multi track release as a ‘concept album’ to get some consistency in the recording and of course I get that when I produce the song. I wrote Heart of Stone as a retro 60’s pop ballad for piano but I convereted it to a dance, club pop track in production. I trained as an actor and worked as a professional actor for a number of years and the music began to take second place to that. I came to the conclusion that music was my first creative love and something that I needed to do so I git back onto it in earnest sone years ago. I always continued to write and compose songs even though I was mainly working as a professional actor and I occassionally worked in music theatre as a singer, musician and actor so I never really lost touch with the music and I kept up with the song writing. As I became more expereinced a s a musician I also became interested in keybords and other instruments. so I tend to wrote on both guitar and piano these days. Ten Tribes of Texas is the project whereby I try to keep music as a big part of my life. Many of Ten Tribes’ sets and recordings so far are pretty much a back catelogue of some of my songs. There’s always a question of whether I should record more recent stuff or keep recording the back catelogue. I reckon I have about four albums worth of back songs . I produce the recordings so its pretty much up to me what I record. I have the next EP sorted out but I think the release after that may be some of my more recent material.
Talk to us more about your latest release
The latest release are by Ten Tribes of Texas and the songs feature Adaja Black on vocals. Adaja is a great young Australian singer and I was lucky to get her as a guest artist. I chose songs that I had written for female vocalists but in future releases will be of songs I wrote for male voices so I will probably sing them myself or get another male singer in as a feature artist. There are four tracks on the lastest EP release. I have tried to provide a bit of variety as we have Heart of Stone which is pop dance electronica, Curfew (Reclaim the Night) which is a song about stalking or a girls fear of it. Stronger ( Everyday) which is pop gospel soul and Black Woman which is soul with a slight jazz feel. Black Woman is a tribute to black women all over the world and throughout history who have suffered preducice and discrimination. I like to give my luyrics some substance and relevance to contemporary issues and sociasl contexts without without making that too obvious such that the song is overly didacticn or that the musicallity of the song is lost. I produced all the tracks as well as composing them and I recorded the tracks at a number of studios.
What inspired you to write this release?
Love of music is what drives me. I need to do it. I need to compose. It feeds my soul and spirit and keeps me alive.
Any plans to release a video?
Maybe a video in the future but I always find it hard to decide which track to shoot. I would like to do Black Woman on an old theatre stage in almost black and white with the band off to one side of the stage and have a black dancer working the stage. A bit like the great Edge of Reality clip of Elvis with Anne Margaret dancing around him except in black and white and not the stunning technicolour of the Elvis clip. At the moment I am too busy to give much attention to that.
Any plans to hit the road?
When the next EP is finished we hope to hit the road. Would like to tour the world playing music.
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
It’s multi-genre crossover music really. I like a bit a diversity in the music so while Heart of Stone is poppy and dancy it also has an electronic feel. Curfew is a sort of hip-hop dub mix with some grunt. Stronger is soul with a gospel feel but using electronic instruments while trying to retain the acoustic earthy feel of gospel. So it’s hard to describe it in a single genre. I try to pull the songs together and give some consistency and commonality between them in production
Who have you been listening to lately?
I listen to diverse stuff. Quite often on the radio.
Tell us about your passions
I am about to direct a short film I have written entitled The Veil. It’s about acid attacks to the faces of women. The short screenplay has had some sucess at international short film festival screenplay competitions including 10 nominations and wins as best short screenplay and official selections. I will start shooting soon so I am busy organising that project.
What else is happening next in your world?
I have the film to make and I will try to develop the idea into as feature film. I will do some further recording soon and finish off some other tracks. Too much to mention really.
Thanks for an awesome interview, Michael!