Interview with Adult Contemporary Artist Simon Crabb (UK)
By Mick Michaels
Cosmick View: Hello, Simon! Welcome to The Cosmick View! Thanks for taking some time out of your day to speak with us. It's greatly appreciated.
CV: Do you think that the adult contemporary
genre is looked at differently, being a British artist compared to an America
artist’s perspective in your opinion? Do you feel there is a difference in the
music's overall interpretation and delivery?
Simon Crabb: I guess we do look at AC artists a little differently on each side of the pond. The US is set up far more for Country, Soft rock as well as R&B whilst the UK tends to focus more on the Folk Rock and Singer Songwriter categories of Adult Contemporary. Also the UK can be a little less polished production wise but what is for certain iseither US or UK, its all about “the song” more than the genre and I like that!
Growing up in the 80s I listened to my parents’ vinyl collection; Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Sting, Dire Straits, etc…all of which blended English and American influences into Adult Contemporary.
CV: Do you think as an artist, working with a
higher pool of talent, such as writers, producers, and other musicians, makes
you the artist an even better artist as well? If you, how and why?
SC: Yes I do, I am lucky enough to have worked with two of the best UK producers, Steve Brown and Steve Lillywhite on this record. Both pushed me to optimize my songwriting and remain objective about my audience.
I think it’s easy to disappear up your own ass as an Artist. A good producer will stop that happening and focus you on the end goal. Also, there is something very sobering and inspiring about working with someone who has been responsible for so many hit records.
Surrounding yourself (as an Artist) with the best musicians possible is critical. I tend to work best with session players because there’s no ego involved whatsoever. It’s all about getting the most out of the song in the recording session. My team are incredible musicians covering Sussex to Swansea to Nashville.
CV: Many people feel they are quite capable
of producing their own music. Others believe artists need that outside
perspective. Do you feel producers are more inclined to make the albums they
want to make rather than what the artists prefers to create?
SC: The right producer in my experience helps the artist make the best album of songs they possibly can. I see them as a gym coach for songwriters.
As the artist develops, the need for production probably drops a little, but then again most of the best records in the world are usually the first and third albums, and they are usually highly produced albums…the sophomore and the recovery record.
CV: What was the highlight of working with
the late producer Steve Brown? What
memories can you share with us about your time with him?
SC: Steve had a way with words, I will never forget his formula for hit songs, “If you can’t Dance to it, Drive to it or F**K t it, then don’t record it!”
He was my friend and mentor for over 25 years. He had so many stories about working with the great musicians such as Elton John or Freddie Mercury, the Cult, Wham and Manics, he really had been there, seen it and had the tee shirt – I feel incredibly privileged to have known him.
CV: What does your new album, "English American," tell the
listener about you as an artist and about you as an individual?
SC: I hope it tells them to not judge a book by its cover. English American is a collection of songs spanning the last 20 years of my life, brought up to datein recording sessions 2020-21. It’s an honest reflection of my life and those friends and family who influenced me to become the husband, father and songwriter I am today.
With English American, you get me, my life, the good the bad and the ugly, it’s all in there…and a lot of Steve Brown to boot.
CV: If you had to pick one song from the
album to represent "English
American" as a whole, which track would it be and why?
SC: Love Bites – it was the first Song we recorded for the sessions; it embodies the ethos that is English American.
I wrote that song ten year ago, and it deals with me coming to terms with the anxiety of self-judgment. The song featured a fairly significant update in terms of production. It had been a gentle folk song (duet) for many years, but once we got the band on it (From verse 2) it grew sonically (like the album). It has both dynamics; the soft and the loud.
Steve liked it because it reminded him of Chloe Dancer – Crown of Thorns by Mother Love Bone.
CV: What do you feel your greatest asset is
as an artist? How has that asset benefit yourself and others over the years?
SC: I’ve learnt that my greatest asset is not being focused on sounding like other people – I write for the love of the song. I couldn’t care less if it’s a Country, Rock, Folk or a Soul song; each is as good as the other. The song is the key, not the genre. A lot of young artists make this mistake (me too in the day) but I’ve grown out of that thankfully.
CV: What more can fans expect to see coming
from you in 2023?
SC: I will be releasing a number of singles with videos over the next year and hopefully playing some more intimate acoustic gigs. I am also mixing album number two which has been largely recorded already. I will release that in 2024 / 25. I’m also working with our video and promotions team to record some acoustic videos (Love Bites, etc) so fans can see more into the writing process.
CV: Thanks again, Simon, for taking the time to share with our readers. We wish you all the best and continued success.
Check out Simon at:
English American; https://open.spotify.com/album/1wTYUTlnMD7A48YK3Qfx9l?si=8sIuV7FRQJKFOJjyojucFw
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