TheHobMob

TheHobMob

Romeo Crow - Save This City (Lyric Video)
YouTube l https://www.youtube.com/

Prodigious talent Romeo Crow singer, songwriter, guitarist, filmmaker, writer and more speaks to theHobMob:
Q.Hi Romeo, great to have a chance to interview you. Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood and growing up years and how they influenced the creative you?
Hey! Thanks for giving me the chance to be interviewed!

I think everything in one’s whole life influences them, creatively or otherwise, so it’s really difficult to pin anything specific down!

My childhood was very normal, in a pretty dull town of 150,000 people. There wasn’t any particular focus on music, or creative arts in my house, so I can’t claim anything related there.

I always seemed to have the mind to create stories, whether that was when playing on my own with my toys or, as I grew, with friends and creative outlets. Even explaining my day to my mum, or telling a joke, would become an exercise in telling a story; I guess I just liked to entertain people.

The funny thing is, now I can see my daughter, who is three, developing the same imagination; she’s creates little worlds and scenarios with her toys - some of which used to be my toys from over thirty years ago!

Q.What music styles or musicians have influenced you the most? How did you teach yourself music and instruments esp. guitars which you are so amazing at?

Definitely I’m a rock, funk, soul and blues guy! For me that creative period of the sixties and seventies, when everything had a groove to it, was my favourite.

But like everyone, we’re not a product of only a few influences; everything influences us - it just may not all come out at the same time!

For example, specifically with music I enjoy a lot of classical, swing, dance and other styles, right through to so-called “world” music like Indian Ragas and Malian desert blues. The thing is, music isn’t a black-and-white science; if it sounds good to you, it is good!

Generic music genres are just the way in, not the way out :)

As for playing music, though I think you’re being too kind with your description of my musical prowess with regards to instruments, my learning of them is always the same; books, Google and my ears!

When I first started learning guitar the Internet wasn’t really there, so I’d get the tablature book for something I wanted to learn and listen to the music whilst slowly following along.

Alongside that I’d try to learn techniques and drills from various teach-yourself books.

But definitely the best way to learn, I think, is by combining the above approach with simply jamming along with music for the fun of it!

One may learn by study, but only by applying it will it become a skill you can properly develop.

That said, I wish I had realised sooner how beneficial it is to devote time to learning music theory, reading proper musical notation and aural training (e.g. training your ears to correctly hear things like intervals).

These are fundamental skills in music and are completely transferable across instruments, so they can make learning a new instrument much quicker.

But even if you only ever play one instrument, I guarantee it’ll help you progress more quickly, as well as giving you a greater toolkit from which to create your own music.

Q.How would you best describe your music? The synthesis and influences.

Toe-tapping, head-nodding, ass-shaking fun, with positive lyrics, infectious grooves and occasional dollops of self-depreciating humour.

Or funky, soulful blues-rock, if you really want to narrow it down :)

We understand you have great talent like directing, writing, movie making. Tell us something about it.

As I said earlier, at the core of what I love is storytelling. And film is one of the greatest mediums to do so.

I’ve always loved movies, but I could never just “watch” them like a normal person; I seemed to watch them with two brains:

One would be watching from a purely “enjoyment” point of view; “Did I enjoy watching that film? Did it take me on an emotional ride? Did I learn anything from it? Was it worth it?”

The other brain is the technical one; “How was the editing? The plot? Cinematography? Music? Were there plotholes? What would I have done differently?”

Oddly enough I would sometimes watch a film and have one brain say it was great, whilst the other was highly critical, or vice versa!

I’d always wanted to make movies (I’d always written stories and imagined films) so when the technology to make some of a decent quality became available (i.e. DSLR cameras and decent home video editing software) it was game on.

My problem was finding the time to actually do it, though!

So I thought I’d start by making films related to my music, as a way to learn filmmaking, as much as promote my music.

Each time I make a new film I’m trying to do something I’ve not done before, to learn something new, even if that means the film might not be as good to watch as me doing the same thing I’ve done before, only better.

I hope this year to make my first “proper” short film (i.e. one not based around one of my songs) but time will tell if I get the chance!

Regardless of what type of film I’m trying to do, one thing I always try to consider; do what you can, with what you have, right now.

Meaning, don’t try to come up with elaborate stories then film them, rather, think about what you already have around you that you can film, then craft stories around that.


Q.We absolutely loved “Save This City” filmed by you. If you were to pick a couple of your own favorites which ones would those be?

Thank a lot! That’s actually a good example of what I was just saying.

I had the tower block where I live, and the roads around it, so I tried to think of a film I could make with it, as well as imagining the types of shots, and the feel of the film.

Once I had that, I choose a song that fitted it and “made the film” in my head (I’m not a good illustrator, so storyboarding is not my preferred way to go!). Once I “watched it” in my mind a few times, and made some tweaks, I was ready to film it.

Of course when filming there were opportunities that cropped up to get certain shots that I hadn’t planned, but having it all already in mind made it a very quick and simple shoot.

And thankfully I had a friend acting in it, so I could play around with the camera and angles a bit more!

As the first “film” that I made (i.e. with shots and a fiction story pre-planned) I’m still really proud of it.

After that, I’m really looking forward to my next film though, another short “music video” for my song “For the Weekend”.

It’s all ready to go, I’m just polishing a few bits up, but the challenge with that was creating a story, using sets and being both the actor and the cameraman at the same time.

It meant I had to keep static camera shots, which isn’t ideal, but it also meant I had to be pretty sure what shots I wanted (again, watching it in “my mind” a good few times first helped!) and how I was going to edit it, as there wasn’t really room for “serendipitous shots”.

I hope to have it out in April and am really proud of that one, especially the new things I learnt (including attempting to use small LED torches for lighting - it didn’t really work!!).

Q.Romeo can you describe your feelings, thoughts, and development processes that went into some of the music you have created. It would be great if you could allude to specific numbers, for readers to appreciate the creative process!

Wow, that’s a broad topic!

The thing is, I know it’s a bit of a cliché but every song is different. Some come in five minutes whilst I’m sleeping/trying to sleep, whilst others have taken literally decades of revisions to get to where they are.

(interestingly enough the ones that take the least amount of time are, I think, the stronger ones)

Generally speaking, though, I try to come up with the basic verse, bridge and chorus music (the vocal melody and the basic chords) at the time I have the idea.

I think that when the creative muse strikes you with a new song it’s best to stick with it as long as you can to get the full song, or at least most of it, as that “vibe” or “mood” you are in in that moment is particularly conducive to that song.

Trying to pick up a half-finished song and find the same flow and energy as when you started writing it the first time is very difficult, at least for me, and the song often feels disjointed.

Once I have the basic song I’ll usually jam on it with nonsense lyrics and record it on my phone. Then, listening back, I might find a particular “nonsense” word or phrase that seems to capture the mood of the song. If that happens, I’ll write the lyrics around that. If not, I’ll just keep jamming on it until some feeling or subject comes up.

Ideally, I’ll then try to get the chorus lyrics first, as they will inform the rest of the song, but if a verse comes to me first, I won’t turn it away!

Generally, I like a classic “verse - verse - chorus - verse - chorus - instrumental - chorus structure” (i.e. three verses) and try to write each verse as a progression on the story of the song, but one where the chorus brings new meaning each time you hear it within the song.

Meaning that the first chorus sounds like the song is about X, but by the second chorus, even if it is the same lyrics, their meaning changes to possibly be about Y; the verses change the context of the chorus and vice versa.

In this way, I hope, the lyrics remain fresh and interesting to follow all the way through and the listener can project their own thoughts and experiences on it.

So though I might have something personal in mind when I write the song, I try to craft the lyrics in such a way that the listener can interpret it their own way, and make it personal to them.

After all, listening to music isn’t about how the songwriter felt, it’s about how you feel listening to it!

So, often, my songs can seem both specific and ambiguous at the same time; and that’s intentional!

Oh, and one little “trick” I often use if I don’t already have an idea in mind (or even if I just want to experiment with one); play a straight 4/4 drum beat (if you’re playing pop, rock, blues, dance, etc) and write/jam to that; depending on the tempo it’ll very much help me write in a given feel (i.e. uptempo if I want to rock out, slower if it’s more introspective).
How has travel influenced your music?

I love traveling, and certainly it helps expand one’s worldview and ideas, but I must say that travelling itself hasn’t ever inspired a specific song; as I said right at the top, for me everything we do and experience influences us to our core, and thus our music too.

So, in this sense, traveling has both massively influenced my music and in no specific way influenced it!

Q.If we were to take a step back, how is the new economy after the downturn impacting creative people like you? Given that the world is now more connected, and the old economic order is breaking down without a new one fully in place. Unfortunately, the world is becoming polarized.

Honestly I don’t think it’s made any difference! At least not in London and the UK, which despite what people say, really hasn’t seemed to be majorly affected by the “global economic downturn” (at least not for most people I know).

For creative people specifically there is, always has been, and always will be, a great challenge in forging a career pursuing their creativity, regardless of any current economic condition; humans always need entertainment, so there’ll always be a market for entertainers!

However, the specific way that market is changing is very interesting, and a book unto itself!

My basic viewpoint is that though the “traditional” ways for musicians, and songwriters in particular, have changed for the worse with the rise of the Internet (i.e. music sales are rapidly declining), that very Internet has given musicians (and songwriters) a much more diverse source of revenue streams which, collectively, are larger than they were before.

Moreover, the Internet empowers musicians to take personal control of their careers (and, crucially, accountability too).

Nowadays a musician (like me!) can sit in their small flat in their corner of the world, write and record a song, make a video for it, put them together and distribute them to every corner of the world via their own TV station (e.g. YouTube).

And then be interviewed about it by someone from a completely different country (like you!).

How amazing is that?!

I know I’m simplifying things a little, but the truth is that the Internet is an incredible and accessible tool to empower musicians to build their own careers.

So it’s a shame when I hear musicians, and other creatives, complaining about the state of things; they’ve never had it so good!

I think the reason for their complaints, however, stems from a lack of education and personal (time) investment in learning about the tools available and how to use them; most musicians “just want to make music”, rather than put the time and effort into learning how to then market it - they think “marketing” is a dirty word and that throttles their careers more than anything.

How is the music scene in London different from that you have witnessed in other places in your travels?

London is a weird city for music. It is the capital of the European music industry and on any given night there will be multiple megastar international acts playing in town.

But this is part of the problem; there is too much choice for punters. And it is expensive to go out, so people only really go to see bands that they already know.

It’s too risky for most people to just head out and pay £5 to see a bunch of bands they’ve never heard of, in case one of them is any good.

This leads to the typical scenario whereby venues/promoters only book grass-roots bands who can bring in a minimum of 20+ paying guests. For a new band this is incredibly challenging. Convincing your friends to come and see you play once is ok, but when you’re asking them every month you, naturally, don’t get such great numbers!

This means that most new bands in London can only play every 3-4 months, or they won’t get enough people in to get another gig. The paradox is; how can a band get really good live, if they’re only playing 4-6 shows a year?

When you couple that with the fact that around 35% of London’s live music venues have shut in the past decade, you can see that it is a very challenging music scene for new bands.

If you contrast this with a small town, where there is nothing much for most of the kids to do but go to the one or two venues in town that allow them in - and have live music - you can see that smaller towns actually have an advantage over London, in terms of giving bands the opportunity to play more often, and to a larger crowd each time.

I often speak to musicians who arrive in London from small and foreign towns, thinking it is the gateway to gigging success, only to be massively disappointed in the difficulty in simply playing multiple gigs!

They often realise it was better for them where they came from!

(and if they want to actually get paid to play a gig, then they are in for even more of a shock!)

As I said at the beginning though, London is the European music capital, so there are more opportunities here than anywhere in Europe, but to get them you (as an artist or band) must already be doing something very special indeed!



Q.Do you prefer to go solo? Could you envisage forming a band at some point in the future?

I would love to form a band in the future! I’ve always been in bands, and that is really how I see myself. The reason I want “solo” is simply out of necessity:

Finding bandmates who are all on the same page (musically, ambitiously, personality-wise, etc) is like finding someone to marry - especially if you’re going to be in it for the long-haul! It can be very difficult to find the “right” person!

And when you’re in a band, let’s say a typical four piece, it is like having six marriages at the same time! Everyone has a relationship with each other that needs to be worked at to keep everything running smoothly - if one relationship starts cracking it can bring the whole thing down!

Since I wrote all the songs, and could play most of the instruments (though not necessarily well!) when my last band dissolved I thought I’d just do stuff on my own - so that I wouldn’t just be doing nothing - until I could sort out my next band.

And it’s kind of stuck that way since!

However, it’s still my dream to put a band together at some point in the future, though whether it is naturally done organically, or with session musicians, I don’t know.

Q.Romeo you have infectious energy! What gives you happiness? What is your philosophy of life?

Aw thanks, that’s very kind of you to say!

First off I’m extremely fortunate to have an amazing wife and daughter around me who make me exceedingly happy.

But in a more general sense; I believe happiness comes from a combination of good health, gratitude, contentment, personal fulfilment and being in the present, and is available to all of us at any moment.

And thus, for the most part, happiness is internal and a choice, literally you can choose to be happy.

Conversely, I think unhappiness comes when you leave the present moment or look to the external; you worry about the future, you fret about the past or you measure yourself against others, and empower things you don’t have as directors of your emotions.

Of course we are all human, and thus prone to make emotional choices, which may not always be in our best interests, but as a basic outlook I try to follow a few ideas:

One is to seek to minimise tension in all things (relationships, work, health, etc).

Another is to consider everything (including us!) as part of nature; nature doesn’t judge, it isn’t biased, evil or calculating - it just IS, constantly flowing, constantly changing.

I always look for the good in all things, including people, and always try to understand the reasons behind actions and events.

I try to be mindful of the present moment, and grateful for all things in my life; even something as “mundane” as turning on a tap to get a glass of water!

Most importantly of all; I try to focus my efforts on being happy!

It sounds like an obvious one to some, or a selfish one to others, but doing more of what you enjoy doing, and less of what you don’t, is one of the core ways of finding fulfilment, which is a fundamental part of happiness.

And when one is happy, they tend to radiate that to others. So if everyone focused on doing more of what makes them happy, and less on everything else, the world would be a happier place!
What word of advice do you have for creative youngsters who are still in school before they set out in life?

Forget everything school is teaching you; it is nothing like the “real” world, nor does it prepare you for it!

Ask questions, lots of them! Read, a lot! Grow yourself, learn new skills because you want to. Use Google. Use YouTube. Use your mind; if you don’t fill it with your own choice of input, you’ll leave it open for someone else to fill it with theirs!

When thinking about a “career”, follow your heart’s advice, not your teachers, family or friends. Focus on getting experience doing what you enjoy doing and don’t worry about exams, qualifications or any current “metric” that purports to dictate your suitability to something.

What matters in life is doing, not theorising, not qualifying.

Ask yourself each day; “In what way am I better today, than I was yesterday?”



Q.When you are not creating and listening to your own music! What other music/artists do you listen to? Could you name your top 10 all time favorite singles?

Recently I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons by listening to more “current” stuff on Spotify, but I can’t help but keep returning to the same artists and bands that I really love!

So to give you a quick list (in no particular order) they’d be the likes of Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, U2, Prince, Guns N’ Roses, Counting Crows, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Miles Davis, Deep Purple, Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, and generally blues, funk and rock artists from the 60s and 70s.

There are just too many great songs to have any kind of singles list, but to throw one out there that will get you pumped, have a listen to Thunderstruck by AC/DC. And if you’ve not heard it before; turn. It. UP!


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Thanks for a great bunch of questions, I had a lot of fun answering them and hope your readers found something of interest! If anyone wants to connect with me just head over to Twitter (http://twitter.com/RomeoCrow) and to have a listen to some of my music you can download six of my songs, for free, at http://Free.RomeoCrow.com. Thanks again!

Chime Lhamu

Chime Lhamu He's really talented

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Jeff Gordan

Jeff Gordan Like the energy

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Jeff Gordan

Jeff Gordan Romeo when realize that "music" is what you want to do!

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Ted Tyler

Ted Tyler A nice role model indeed

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Romeo Crow

Romeo Crow Thanks for reading everyone, and for all the lovely comments too :)

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