An Interview with Raz Tilley

 Ellie D Chats with Raz Tilley

Ellie D Chats with Raz Tilley

Where did your musical journey begin?

My musical journey began in utero with my mum playing classical music to me through headphones placed on her belly as I frolicked in the womb. I guess you could say I’ve never been without music. But in more practical terms, from what I can remember, my musical journey began at about 8-years old when my dad arranged for me to have my first piano lessons. Like most children, I was slightly reluctant to practice and saw it more as a chore than a pleasure, but as I grew up a little, I started to see results and the value in practice. From then on, I loved music and wanted to learn more instruments, such as the saxophone, which I started in grade 5 and continue to play to this day. During my childhood I was very lucky that my parents had, in my opinion, great taste in music and exposed me to music a lot of my peers never heard. So, as a child, I was familiar with Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Kinks, Beach Boys,Talking Heads and many others. Furthermore, my dad would often wind down after a long day at work by playing some guitar and practising scales, so music was always around me in some shape or form. I have my parents and music teachers to really thank for supporting and signposting my musical journey.

What do you hope to achieve through your music?

I think music is a deeply personal art and you have to make it your own and tailor it to you as an artist. I hope to achieve an original sound that shows my development through life and how individual experiences changes and moulds you. If you stagnate or stay in a musical rut, people of only a certain age will identify with you and your music and it’s harder to grow as a musician and reach different audiences.

Additionally, like most musicians, I dream of making a living from my music. Only a lucky few ever realise this dream.

I’d love to tour with my music but, if that’s not to be, I still intend to keep performing for the rest of my life. Even if no one else is listening, I can go to a magical place while sitting and playing at my piano.

What words of wisdom do you have for upcoming music artists?

Cherish and thank and communicate with the people who love you, who stand by you, who believe in you and support you, who come to see you play or who take the time to say hello or tell you their stories (My debut single, My Therapy, is actually a friend’s story.)

Avoid celebrity culture and all it’s mindless trappings. Aspire to be a celebrated musician, not a celebrity.

Develop a thick skin and ignore the haters and back-biting, bitch trolls. They’re typically pathetic losers, consumed by jealously and envy, who are venting and deflecting their anger and frustration over their own shallow and unfulfilling lives. They’ll often hurl insults at your music when really they just don’t like the way you look. I’ve even had local musicians and people in the local music industry, people whom I’ve never met and who have never been to see me perform, denigrating or maligning me because of my looks or because I heavily promote myself on social media or because I don’t belong (and certainly don’t want to belong) to their pretentious cliques or frequent their “indie” cubby houses.

I don’t know about other places in the world, but I’ve found that, in parts of Australia, there isn’t much love and support for live original music. Original music venues are few and far between and their patronage low compared to the cover music scene. So, original artists should try putting on events like house gigs, perhaps with live streaming, and share their music and heavily promote themselves on the internet. No one will visit you and get to know you and your music unless they know that you’re there.

Work like shit at your craft. Practice, practice, practice. Like all great musicians, Jimi Hendrix was a brilliant guitarist because he honed his prodigious natural talent with thousands of hours of practice.

Become music literate. To aid communication and work with other musicians across different genres, it’s always an advantage if you can sight-read notated music and know your music theory. And it can open doors that may otherwise remain closed.

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How do you define success in the music industry?

Success is a hard concept to define in any calling. Music is one of the most moving and emotional art forms. It can take you back to a specific time and place; it can make you laugh and cry; it can raise your spirits and stir your imagination; it can be the soundtrack to our lives. Imagine a wedding or any celebration or any social and community event without music. I can’t. For me, then, I see success in terms of reaching out and connecting with as many people as possible and having them feel or experience or imagine something special or memorable through my music. To have someone say that your music has touched or changed their lives is perhaps the highest honour and achievement. At another level, success is making music that stands the test of time, that spans generations. At a more mundane level, success would be to make a full-time living from my music.

What’s your proudest career moment to date?

My proudest career moment would be hard to say, but I have two in mind. One was the completion of my first album and seeing my loved ones’ faces light up when they heard it in full. The other would be receiving a lovely message from the wonderful and inspiring Missy Higgins. I had done a cover of her hit, Scar, and she took the time to both congratulate me and commend my cover version. That was a real honour and privilege. Singing a duet with Wilson Pickett in front of 8000 people and meeting Neil Finn and Roger Daltrey were quite an honour and privilege too.

As an artist, what’s on your musical bucket list?

I suppose I’ve always fantasised about playing famous venues around the world, such as The Filmore in San Francisco, Troubadour in LA or Carnegie Hall in New York. But, coming down to Earth, I’d settle for one day playing to a full house at my home town’s Tivoli theatre, that is, if it hasn’t been knocked down.

I love learning new things and I’ve come to enjoy a challenge as I’ve grown older, so I’d really love to have my music take me around the world.

I’d like to work with other musicians who I admire, such as Neil Finn. There’s nothing quite like working with talented and exceptional people to improve yourself.

I teach music, so continuing to see my students progress and excel and develop a love of music is one item on the list I’d like to think I can already tick off.