1. When and why did you start playing?
Well I started playing drums when I was about 15 or 16, which I guess is relatively late, but I’d been playing piano, trumpet and a bunch of other things, oh and composing music, since a lot earlier. My Dad teaches piano so there has always been the opportunity to noodle on the piano at home and explore in a relaxed environment – that’s super conducive to learning something creativity-based!
2. What other musicians have influenced you?
My peers in a big way! I’m surrounded by too many incredible musicians to mention, but thinking more broadly Brian Blade was a biiig influence early on drumming-wise.
3. What was it like making the move from Glasgow to London? What are the differences from a musician’s perspective?
That was really exciting. Suddenly I was surrounded by loads of musicians that were constantly up for playing. I could play with people for like 10 hours every day before going and playing more at gigs or seeing music. Oh an that was a big thing, the music scene here is absolutely massive so the spectrum of music I was exposed to became almost unbearably vast! In fact I got really confused about what path I should take for a while, I’m starting to get a grip on that…
4. How did it feel to win the BBC Radio Scotland Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year Competition?
Well I entered that competition a good few times. To be honest it was a relief, it felt like closure. I remember thinking “right, ok, I can grow up and be a mature musician now that that’s done,” you know?
5. When putting together your own compositions, how much do you work collaboratively with other musicians and how much do you work on your own?
Well I’m big into inviting people to get involved in the character of the music, at times I’ve let band members completely reconstruct my tunes, particularly in collaboratively-lead projects like Blue-Eyed Hawk and Little Lions, or sometimes I just put my foot down and eventually they see that I was right all along! Ha-ha.
Often input from other musicians is more subtle and kind of written into the music. Ah, there’s so many ways of going about it. I guess it depends on the characters in the band and so many other things!
6. What is your pre-gig snack of choice?
Oh I’ve got something for this. Night before – some meat or protein of some kind, then on the day before the gig carbs! Like a lush linguine or something, yum.
7. What is the best memory you have of playing live?
It’s funny that, I feel like I’ve had a lot of incredible experiences playing but the ones that felt the best I almost instantly forget because… I was just like in the zone listening and completely unaware of anything else but the moment, or maybe aware of the overall arc of the piece but maybe not. Then you get to the end of the gig and you’re like “whoa, what just happened”. And also I get this thing where my vision goes mental and everything feels like it’s right in front of me and I can touch it. Oh god, too much information, next question!
8. You are about to do a gig at Omnibus. What are you most excited about?
Reuniting my absolutely unbelievable band of generous, unique and unbelievably gifted musicians. Each one of these guys are absolutely at one with their craft and it is such an unbelievable privilege that I get to call this band mine! There is so much mutual trust, and that is brilliant for the music.