With his heart on his sleeve and feet firmly on the ground, Newcastle’s own ALEX BOWEN moves from strength to strength as his sincere and soul ridden blues warms up the hearts of a nation. A nominee with not just one but two of his singles with the Australian Independent Music Awards, Bowen shows us his utmost talent and professionalism both on stage and off. Currently on the road with his Deep End National Tour, Bowen learns the bends and straights as he travels along his independent highway. As his latest release, Feather in the Ground, floods Australian stores and with promising reviews of his recorded and live performances, Bowen has much to celebrate. PEARL DAVIES caught up with Bowen to chat on all nighters, having momentum on the independent playing field and the importance of balancing energy.
Your recently released EP, Feather in the Ground, is now available in all JB-HIFI stores across Australia through Foghorn Records. You have recently come out of talks with Managing Director Marshall Cullen. Obviously this went well. Who confronted who with this distribution deal and how did you go about it?
The meeting went extremely well and Marshall and I are currently working together on promoting this tour as well as the EP. I first contacted Marshall, through emails and he was already familiar with my work and was keen to meet up right away. I’m extremely happy to have this CD in stores, I recently walked in to a record store in Newtown and had my first experience of sighting Feather In The Ground in a shop and it was a bit surreal. There’s some possible things in the pipeline with Foghorn Record’s too.
Feather in the Ground has been getting a bit of airplay on quite a few independent stations. You have also performed live on air. What advice would you give other musicians on the same path to get their tunes out there?
A few months ago, I was at a point of my career that I really needed a second party involved who was familiar with radio, cd releases, etc, which is exactly what Marshall from Foghorn Records does. Advice that I would give to other musicians is that these people that you are contacting want to see that you are putting in the work and are actually out there in the scene already playing shows and promoting your music. They would much rather jump on board an artist that has momentum with their career.
As an independent artist yourself you know how difficult it can be getting yourself out there. In search of support artists for your current Deep End Tour, you have been kind enough to put a shout out to other independents to join you. What criteria did you have, if any, to find your support?
As an independent artist I really do know how hard it is when first starting out, to get shows and land support gigs, and I just figured well why the hell not give some of these guys the go that I needed. There wasn’t really a criteria as such, I put it out there for these musicians to email me their music and if I enjoyed their tunes and it suited right for the show they got the support.
You have introduced Summer Garden Parties/House Concerts to your agenda to finish off 2013. What does this entail and what do you hope to benefit from them?
I’m really looking forward to the garden shows this summer. The main benefit and purpose from these garden shows / house concerts is to create an intimate and honest space that I can really connect my music with the audience. The thing that I’m really enjoying from these solo shows is that I can strip my songs right down and play them in their rawest forms, and for me this would is most fitting at a backyard concert.
Being no stranger in being invited to play national festivals, you have been chosen to take part in Sydney’s Blues & Roots Festival. Well done! How do you, as an independent artist go about applying to be in such festivals and do you feel they benefit you as an artist?
Sometimes it isn’t as easy as just applying for the festival via their website, you really have to get your music in front of the people that are programming these festivals without just being next on their massive list of artists to sort through. Send them a personal email, or play shows in their area inviting them along to show what you can bring to their festival. There are many different ways of getting on festival bills, and to be honest I’m still figuring some of those ways out myself.
For the making of your successful EP, Feather in the Ground, you used crowd funding platform, Pozible. How easy or difficult was this to adhere to the time frame of the campaign, and for others utilising this social funding feature, what tips would you give them as a successful candidate yourself?
The most difficult part of the crowd funding was to get the courage up to actually start the campaign and thinking that people will actually get on board. It’s really tough to do these types of things but the crew from Pozible were really helpful and gave me tips along the way of how to keep the momentum up on the campaign. A video that looks good and tells people exactly what you are doing is a must. The most amazing thing about the campaign was seeing how many of my friends and followers that really got on board and helped me push it to meet the mark at the end.
Your Deep End Tour is now in motion and tickets are selling fast. Are you playing solo or do you have your band with you and what’s in line for us when you hit Lizotte’s on the 7th of November?
This time I’ll be coming back with the bare basics, me and an acoustic guitar. Lizottes’ is part of my solo tour, and I’m absolutely loving playing my songs stripped back and in their rawest forms. There’s a completely different connection with the audience when I’m solo that I haven’t received before, a very, very honest and pure connection.
Jackson Barclay was your engineer at Grove Studios during the production of Feather in the Ground. How was it working with Barclay and will you be working with him for the album or next EP?
Working with Barclay was exciting, as we were both new to the rolls that we were in. Jackson was quite new to an engineer’s role at Grove Studios on the Central Coast and I had never been in a producer’s seat. We pulled a 22 hour straight studio session and I think if it wasn’t for the person that Jackson is I wouldn’t have lasted that long. We bounced off each other’s energy and enthusiasm to try out different sounds and new things. Jackson has become a good friend of mine who I still keep in touch with and we will definitely work on a future record somewhere down the line.
And the question on everybody’s lips – when will we be seeing the album?
Hmmm, that is a good question Pearl. I have just started thinking about where and how I’ll record the next single, next up could either be another EP or album. Time will tell.
Alex Bowen is currently on his national Deep End Tour and performs at Newcastle Lizottes Thursday 7 November 2013.
NOV 7 – LIZOTTES – NEWCASTLE – NSW
NOV 8 – THE FRONT GALLERY CAFE – CANBERRA- ACT
NOV 14 – BAHA TACOS – RYE – VIC
NOV 17 – THE WORKERS CLUB – MELBOURNE – VIC