Gordon Hewitt from The Monthly speaks to Paul Kane and Chip Bailey from the Over the Hill Music Collective – Part 2

Part one of this interview is here

This the Third Album you have produced profiling mature musicians?

Paul Kane:

Yes, in fact I bragged in the past that the average age on the first album was 55. We had a musician who was 75 on the latest album and the average age is probably around that of the first album.

Now when we get around to promoting the album our view is that we are advocating for older or mature musicians and we think we should get the same opportunity to be heard as anyone else.

Is it possible that you have enough avenues to get music out to an audience now that the old music industry orientation doesn’t matter any longer?

Paul Kane:

Yes there is certainly an element of truth to that. And we are looking at all those avenues and directions. But even with that I think we shouldn’t lose sight that there is an industry and while we might side step it, it doesn’t go away and so we won’t stop advocating for that industry to listen to, acknowledge and offer opportunities to mature musicians.

With regards the new avenues to get your work listened to, we are in the process now of producing a video of a gig we did recently in the Tropical Ravine in Botanic Gardens during the Women’s Work festival.

We have plans to produce videos from some of the songs on the album. We are limited in terms of funds so we can’t allocate much of a budget to these activities but we are aiming to move in that direction.

Chip Bailey:

There is something that we have to take account when looking at social media, new technology. We do need to teach older musicians about that, to improve their skills in that area as it is so important for any musicians profile these days. I am a prime example of that. I don’t always make use of these new possibilities.

Again our role is helping people be part of that whole process.

Do you produce podcasts or anything like that?

Paul Kane:

Yes, that is something that we have talked about making that happen. We have the space, the microphones and we have the people who could do it.

Chip is here now and we have had help to fund his position through Help Musicians NI who have been fantastic in giving us their support. So I think that is certainly something that is going to happen soon enough.

With regards the album, is there an issue with the kind of music OTH acts produce, or is the process more important?

Chip Bailey:

I think what is current and maybe relevant is something that we should think about incorporating into our work. Not in a “we’re down with the kids” kind of way, but in ways we can genuinely connect.  I do believe that if something is genuine, if it comes from somewhere deep and heartfelt, then it is likely that it will connect with people whatever age/background etc.

I’m not separated from what is around. I listen to a lot of new music. I love what local artist Sam Wickens is doing and really connect with some of the stuff coming out of the grime scene.

Having said all that we can’t change the era we were born into, and the music we grew up with will inevitably be a huge part of who we are. So if that comes through our music we don’t need to apologise for that.

The album was first and foremost to serve the collective, some of whom had never been in the studio before, and we had to make sure that they were happy with the arrangements of their songs.

That is vitally important, so in some ways the process of making that happen is far more important than if we are making something that is current or radio friendly.

Paul Kane:

In many case we have people sending us their demos, sometimes recorded on a phone, and the 4 piece OTH group will pick the songs we think we can work with; we work on the arrangements, we work on the structure and we work with the artist to make sure that they are happy with their song.

Then we had to make sure that the songs were well rehearsed because we only had so much funding and studio time is expensive so we needed to make sure that we weren’t going to be wasting time working on the arrangements when we needed to be recording the tracks.

All of this process really does matter.

Chip Bailey:

Now we are starting to think about the next album and I think there will be a progressive process. It should be a progression.

All us musicians need to think about challenging ourselves. We need to think about the influences from the past that we bring with us and also current music that we listen to and allow that to inform us.

But we shouldn’t add ideas that are current just to be cool and always need to be true to ourselves and keep our integrity while challenging our musical perceptions.

Paul Kane:

We do talk about music all the time and we are here in the Oh Yeah music centre so we are always being exposed to new stuff.

We have all sorts of projects we would like to make happen.

We had a little example on this album working with Alice La who is much younger than us and we worked with her to produce her song in the way that our group thought would work. That got us a mention on Across the Line which was very welcome.

Part three of this interview is here

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