The café at the Greenhouse in Dingwall offers a relaxed easy-going atmosphere making it an ideal place for iGiGs to have a quick chat with Black Isle musician Adrian Telfer…
iGiGs- Can you tell us a little about your background, Adrian?
Adrian- I was born in Northampton into a military family, moving every 2.5 years between Northampton and Berlin. I didn’t learn much German, but we did go on a school outing to East Berlin, right through Checkpoint Charlie. About that time, I was 11 or 12, my Dad gave me a nylon string guitar that he had bought in East Berlin, and some sheet music on which he had drawn chord diagrams and strum patterns. With no tuition, I was told to learn it. I didn’t realise at the time it was my Dad’s favourite Johnny Cash tunes I was learning, to be the entertainment at his dinner parties! I still can’t read music, but I’ve progressed beyond performing in my ‘Action Man’ pyjamas…
iGiGs- Have you learned any other musical instruments?
Adrian- No, I’ve tried mandolin and 12 string guitar, but they just didn’t feel right.
iGiGs- How would you describe your musical genre?
Adrian- Oh, I hate this question. I don’t know. Not Folk, not Singer-songwriter. I was once described as a travelling minstrel and I like that.
iGiGs- Perhaps ‘Accoustic Lyricist’?
Adrian- That’s good too. I write songs about stories from my life, real experiences. I’ve written songs for both my daughters, my Dad, both Grandads, even my wife (although I am not allowed to play that one). I think my Mum is next but that is really hard. It has to be right, it’s my Mum.
iGiGs- What was the first record you bought?
Adrian- It was the Smiths first album, I believe called the Smiths. My eldest brother liked punk, so my middle brother and I hated it- just because the eldest liked it. I didn’t realise what the punk movement was all about, I was too young. I went the opposite direction to the Smiths, Lloyd Cole and Depeche Mode.
iGiGs- All rather melancholy, but your music doesn’t come across as melancholy.
Adrian- Oh, it can be…
iGiGs- Who are your current musical favourites?
Adrian- I like Damian Rice, The Levellers and Bombay Bicycle Club just now.
iGiGs- What are you currently working on?
Adrian- I am in the process of finishing an EP and performing at Jocktober Fest on Friday 9th September at 4pm. I have 3 new songs from the EP to debut there, including ‘To the Yeast’, a tribute to the Brewery itself. The EP will be on a beer theme, I think…
iGiGs- And your next career move?
Adrian- I have gigs on the west coast coming up, the Lochcarron Hotel on the 23rd September and the Torridon Ale Fest on the 9th October. I’m the quizmaster at that one, and then performing. Pub gigs are a compromise, you play your own songs for the first half, and no one really listens, then you roll out the old favourites in the second part of the night and everyone loves it. If you understand that and get in the spirit of it, then it’s ok. I’d really like to play in the Ironworks, downstairs on the big stage. I would love to try out their sound system, maybe for my EP launch…
iGiGs- What venues have you played already?
Adrian- I started at the Kilcoy Arms hotel, and have played everywhere from the Phoenix Bar in Edinburgh to Belladrum. I’ve played all three floors at Hootenanny’s. Belladrum HEN stage was the highest profile gig I have done, but I had 300 people up dancing at Madhatter’s once. And Salsa Celtica came in one night when I was playing in the Bothy at Hoots, which was unnerving!
iGiGs- What is the most interesting collaboration you have ever done?
Adrian- Hmm, I think with Hamish Roberts at the Drummond School fete. There was a delay to the running order so we decided to go on together. Hamish did his beautiful guitar playing over my songs and it really worked. Just totally unrehearsed.
iGiGs- If you had to choose a current chart pop star to collaborate with, whom would it be?
Adrian- Hmm… Ed Sheeran!
iGiGs- If you were auditioning for the X factor, which song would you choose and why?
Adrian- I’d definitely not choose one of my own. Let’s see, who are the judges now?? I think I would do Gary Barlow song. No, a ‘Take That’ song. About 2 years ago I was visiting my dad and he saw that ‘Live and Unsigned’’ was auditioning in his town that very morning. He decided I needed to do it, so drove me over. After waiting in a queue for 5 hours, we were taken in group of three, to face three seated judges. It was like a firing squad. We were to step forward when our number was called, play for just a few minutes and then step back when told to. It was obvious from the judges’ faces that our music was not what they were looking for, and all three of us were sent went back to the lobby to await our fate. After a while, a clipboard woman came over and informed us that we had a call-back. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘They weren’t sure’, replied clipboard woman. ‘Great, let’s play something different’, I said. ‘Don’t do that, you will confuse them’ says the woman. But my group of three decided to throw caution to the wind and do it. The judges were confused; they said ‘you didn’t play that before’. My reply of ’nope, we do have more than one song each!’ did not impress, and that was the end of ‘Live and Unsigned’.
iGiGs- If you won the lottery or had a platinum album, what changes would this mean for you?
Adrian- People always say they wouldn’t change, don’t they? We wouldn’t move from our home on the Black Isle, but maybe put on an extension. I would definitely get a bigger boat! Not to show off, just for the comfort factor. You feel the waves rolling less in a longer boat.
iGiGs- Who or what do you see when you look in the mirror?
Adrian- A rock star (laughs), no, seriously… Potential.
iGiGs- Where can the folk find you and your music?
Adrian- The website: http://adriantelfer.get-ctrl.com/#/ features gig dates and a free download of the first song off my new EP ‘To the Yeast’. This is a tribute to an amazing wheat beer the Black Isle Brewery produced a few years ago. I am still hoping they will re-introduce it…
Adrian will next be seen at Jocktoberfest 2011