For many of us trying to forge a career in music, signing to a major record label such as Sony or Universal would be the ultimate prize. This months featured artist Jinder has had the good fortune to have signed with both of the aforementioned labels, plus a couple of smaller independent labels. He has also started his own label, been in several bands and establishing himself as a solo artist. As you would expect from an artist with Jinders credentials, he had many stories to share with us. But first we wanted to know how Jinder would describe himself.
I see myself as a travelling songwriter. I have and still do play in bands, most recently playing electric guitar for Gravity Drive. But I am essentially a solo artist, it’s what I've always done, it's my bread and butter. But it is good fun transitioning between band stuff & solo stuff. It keeps things interesting.
When performing solo gigs I like to include a storytelling element, which helps involve the audience. I worked on-and-off with Jackie Leven who was a tremendous storyteller. One of the first things he said to me was “you need to talk to your audience a bit more”. He said “one thing that's absolutely guaranteed is that music is subject to taste, talking isn't”. “You can talk to anyone and communicate with them, but if all you do is sing, your message might not reach them”.
As you would expect from a storyteller Jinder has a manner that is conversational and friendly. He can’t help but share with us his experiences and what he has learned from them. So when we asked him about his songwriting, Jinder didn’t hesitate to tell us where some of his lyrics had come from.
A lot of my lyrics come from misheard lyrics. The title ‘Your name is the saddest word I know’ a song from my first solo album, was from a completely misheard lyric. But I don’t really have a technique for writing, I try to approach each record differently. When writing my record which will be released in January 2015, I decided not to write anything down. I hoped that the best songs would keep coming to the forefront of my mind. In the beginning I felt very insecure doing this because I have always been methodical, writing everything down.
I had a publishing deal with Universal as a staff writer, somedays they would send you off to co-write with someone. My relationship with music is very personal, which is probably the same for all musicians, that’s why we all get into it. It’s that personal element that makes it challenging to co-write. Co-writing is like squeezing out Sparks rather than a flash of inspiration, but I did enjoy the challenge.
Jinder not only told us his method for writing his upcoming album ‘Traditional Dark’ but he then went on to explain how he recorded it.
I recorded it all at home in just one week. I sent my wife and kids off to stay with family whilst I literally sat in front of some rather rudimentary recording equipment. The album was recorded to tape. I had originally planned for the entire process to be analoge from start to finish bypassing all digital media and releasing it solely on vinyl. I then realised this would alienated 90% of my audience. It was interesting going back to analogue, it reminded me how convenient and easy it is to record digitally.
We are very fortunate that the song we filmed to accompany this interview is from Jinders upcoming album ‘Traditional Dark”. Jinder explained that this will be his tenth solo album. This would mean on average Jinder has released one album every years since he embarked on a musical career, which is a pretty quick turnaround. Then Jinder revealed that he once wrote, recorded and release an album in one day.
It was 2007 and I had decided to start my own record label. To promote it I thought the first thing I would do was write, record and release a record within twentyfour hours. I started work at seven in the morning, by eleven o’clock that evening I had burnt CDR copies. The album is a bit rough and ready but it wasn’t bad.
As we had said in our opening statement Jinder has had many record deals, and our curiosity could not help but enquire. What is it like to be a signed musician?
I have been pimping my stuff out in various different labels since 2002. I was playing with a band called ‘Candled Fire’ we signed to ‘One Little Indian’ but it was only a single deal. After that I did a duet album for a label called ‘FrontSide Records’ based in Bournemouth. I then signed to a label called ‘Folkwit Records’ which was run by a couple of guys who are really passionate about music. There is a lot of pressure when working for a small label. I was aware that these people were putting in a huge amount of time, effort, and money promoting my record. In the back of my mind I knew if I put out a record that wasn’t up to scratch it would have an affect on these people who had become my friends. The pressure is totally different with a major label, it's not like if you do a bad job you're going to bankrupt Sony. But when you’re signed to major label it feels like you’re the property of the label. There are contractual obligations and you don’t really have an awful lot of say over anything.