This week saw 3 fabulous interviews with very different musicians and the last of the interviews of the week was with the remarkable musician and performer, Tristan Hendy from signed PunkPop band NativeJune. Everything about Tristan’s personality oozes a natural and energetic confidence about music. Over here in the South West of England for only a few weeks but living in Los Angeles the rest of the time, it is fair to say that Tristan has a naturally sunny disposition and I was determined to interview him about what makes him a confident performer. I was a little unsure what might come out in the interview as Tristan may not be aware of what makes him a confident musician. It became apparent in the interview that Tristan has developed this confidence and now after playing bass with NativeJune for 6 years, having been one of the founder members, he has achieved a level of confidence which is truly sustainable and he plays, writes and performs with this confidence.
Having seen some of the band’s performances from their website, www.nativejune.com I was under no illusion that their confidence was fake and their energy purely for stage effect. The energy is real, the performances are powerful and the audiences love them. I asked Tristan had he always been confident as a performer and he said no. Recounting a story of childhood panic whilst playing a piano solo of The Jurassic Park theme tune, he pretty much crumbled through nerves.
This didn’t stop him from playing the piano and he still composes, performs and records his own material which is available from www.tristanhendy.com The material is an amazing mix of influences from a wide range of sources combining techniques which are wonderfully rocky and not your usual sedentary piano compositions one has come to expect from self-composed solo piano albums. It is clear that performing his own compositions is an area of massive inspiration for Tristan.
The composition theme is a familiar one in Tristan’s outlook. Whenever he talks about amazing experiences, amazing gigs and successful outcomes, he is always talking about the material that he or the band has written. This is really food for thought. On the music course I teach with my colleagues, we have always known that when students play their own material, they develop their confidence because they feel a connection and a passion with the music. NativeJune have taken this to the next level touring the music across America and soon to be touring it across the UK and Europe. Confidence always grows and you have to capitalise on it.
Whilst in conversation, the energy is also apparent and Tristan’s outgoing character comes across brilliantly. The overriding sense I get from talking with him, is in no way about arrogance at all but a real sense that Tristan is following his inspiration and pursuing his dream. It is utterly contagious and is something which instils confidence and excitement in anybody who is around him. It is interesting to meet somebody who is 6 years down the road of following his inspiration and to see what it can do for you and your confidence. I couldn’t help getting the feeling that Tristan must be like a Roman soldier ready to go into battle before he goes on stage, fighting for the Rome of his musical inspiration. I urge you to listen to the interview with Tristan and download it from here. He is a powerful role model for any performer and has inspired me to start writing my own piano pieces.
Tristan had excellent tips which are really worth taking on-board.
- Develop your confidence by playing the things you want to play.
- Play in a band as it is easier if there are 3 or 4 other musicians on stage – this will develop your confidence.
- When you are playing solo material, develop your confidence by playing your own material. Nobody knows it better than you!
- If you go wrong on stage, HEY! IT WAS MEANT TO BE THAT WAY!
- Play background music gigs to develop confidence for solo playing.
- Tell yourself “I am the best person at playing this song because I wrote the part!”
- The fear of the unknown goes when you do it more and more. The more you play your set the more confident you will be.
- Most performers are out there because their love and drive for wanting to play the material is stronger than their fear of playing in front of an audience.
- Never turn down an opportunity to play (unless it is paying to play.)
- Playing sober will help you play and we agreed it is much more sustainable.
- If it helps, imagine your audience has no clothes on! (…only if it helps)
- Play again and again – it develops your muscle memory of the songs.
- Invite friends over to a practice space to hear new songs. It will give you confidence in new material before you go on stage.
- When recording in the studio, remember that you wrote the parts. Always keep the parts playable but aim to get better and better. The parts you write are a playoff between being playable and being slightly ambitious.
- When recording, get the energy that you have when you play live. Set up the session to make this possible. Capture the live performance.
Listen to the interview at http://www.clivestockerweb.co.uk/tristan.zip
Confident Performer is written by Clive Stocker