We’ve been closely following the music of Ali George, from the UK, over the past few months and were excited to catch up with this talented singer-songwriter and fire some questions at him! Read on…
One of our favourite songs of yours that we’ve reviewed was Dreams Within Dreams. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind this song as it is from an unusual perspective?
I certainly had some inspiration from female songwriters who have written some amazing songs about similar subjects, like Joni Mitchell, Joanna Newsom, and Vashti Bunyan! I like writing from unusual perspectives sometimes. I hadn’t written much from a woman’s perspective before. I was keen to give it a try.
What’s the best gig experience you’ve had?
One time when I was performing in an old band of mine, the legendary Clive Deamer (drummer of Portishead) happened to be in the audience. He must have liked what he heard because out of the blue he suddenly got up on stage and started jamming along with us on the drums! It was amazing!
What’s the worst gig?
I got hired once to do a gig in a college cafeteria. It was properly pitiful. Some of the students put on the jukebox while I was performing. I couldn’t hear a thing I was playing! I soldiered through somehow.
We love your unique chord progressions. How do you go about writing a song? What’s your process?
Thanks! I tend to write the music first, then the vocal melodies, and then the lyrics last. I’m quite picky with chord progressions. I’m always on the lookout for original-sounding progressions. Writing pieces in alternative tunings can often help with this. I try to steer clear of common chord progressions.
We’ve caught hints of David Gray, Newton Faulkner, Dire Straits and Pink Floyd in your music. Do you find yourself influenced by artists, or do you write freely without thinking about styles and genres?
Sometimes I find myself very heavily influenced by certain artists. Then I often have to stop listening to them for a while. Sometimes songs just come out naturally with no thought of who inspired them though.
Aside from music, what are you passionate about?
Fiction, film, comedy, and hiking!
Do you have any pre-gig rituals? Stage fright? Superstitions?
I’ve gone through a couple of periods in my life when I’ve had pretty bad stage fright. I don’t have any particular rituals. I’m quite obsessive with certain things though. I tend to bring way more sets of spare strings, leads and batteries than I would ever possibly need!
What is your favourite song to perform, and why?
Even though it’s covered too much now, I love performing “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. I tend to improvise all the way through, which I find very freeing. The song often takes me out of myself, often to surprising places. I’ve been playing it off and on since I was fifteen.
We see BBC Folk Award nominations in your future. Where do you see yourself progressing?
Onwards and upwards, hopefully! Yes, fortunately a few of the amazing DJ’s over at the BBC seem to enjoy my songs! Fingers crossed for some nominations!
What’s your history as a musician? Has it always been with you? Were you taught or self-taught?
I picked up a guitar for the first time in school when I was six. My teacher approached my parents and suggested that they buy me a guitar. She said it was the first time she had ever seen me sit still and focus! After that, I was obsessed with the guitar! I had a few guitar lessons as a kid, but I’m mostly self-taught.
Thanks Ali for chatting with us. It’s great to get to know you better. Readers…you can find out more about Ali using these links;