When I first found out that a good friend of mine – and extremely talented musician – Stu Henderson had started a musical duo project with his friend Nathan under the working title of Sgt. Bird, I was very excited. If you have never heard his music you may not understand why, however I have had the pleasure to not only download some of his older compositions (links at the end of the article) and hear small samples of music he has sent me every so often, but I have also heard and seem him play in person. I have been playing piano for about 10 years but I can safely say that my playing does not match up to his talent. Music is definitely a gift he has been blessed with in my opinion, and not just in his piano playing as he owns and plays a wide range of instruments.
I do not know Nathan, the other member of Sgt. Bird, however I get the impression that he is of similar musical ability. As a member of the band Ginger Little Guinea Pig, he also has a handle on a broad range of instruments and although there are only two members of this project, combining their talents of both music and technology, the previews of their upcoming songs that I have heard so far are rich and full of so many different effects, ideas and little creative details. It was therefore my pleasure to have the chance to set up a little interview with the duo, and hopefully give you an insight into Sgt Bird in the run up to the release of their first records.
Sgt Bird, lovely to have the pleasure to interview you! You are a fairly recently formed duo, how did the whole project and idea come about in the first place?
Basically we met in January when we worked together in the band for a play. We got talking and always joked that we should just collaborate by mixing both our styles of music together, and then recently – we just randomly decided at 1 in the morning that we were going to write a song together. Since then it’s just turned into a full-blown project with a name and everything. 😛
Well that’s fantastic how ideas have been made into a reality so quickly! Tell us more about the people behind the project – who are you and what do you each bring to the group?
Okay so Nathan is a guitarist, lyricist, lead singer in a rock band and other things who plays many an instrument. Stu plays the piano, other instruments, and produces all of our stuff. But it’s really hard to distinguish particular roles in this. We both play equal amounts of instruments, we write lyrics equally and record/engineer and produce the music together.
Stu: (and personally it’s way better than me doing it all by myself. I get lonely! xD We have such a great dynamic and it just…works really well.)
Sounds like a great dynamic in the duo, you both seem to be equally very talented across a wide range of musical areas. Would you say that you both generally agree on most things or have there been any face-offs in the recording sessions? haha. I’m exaggerating of course, but do you both have similar musical styles or are they quite different?
oh god yes we’ve been in disagreement about a LOT of things, but they’ve eventually been resolved or compromised. It’s not really a case of different styles, most of the time we completely whole-heartedly agree on everything, but sometimes there are just certain things that one of us doesn’t like and the other one does. it’s never caused any problems though, and it helps to talk ideas through, rather than just argue. 🙂
Do you both have similar tastes in music that you listen to? And are there examples of significant artists or bands that you think have inspired or influenced you at all?
the weird thing is we both listen to a lot of different music, but our tastes are similar? it’s hard to explain but we will agree mostly on what sounds good. we may not personally listen to that kind of music all the time but we can pretty much appreciate anything. Anything from heavy metal, to electronic stuff and classical, indie rock…folk music. Literally anything. Mostly stuff we use for inspiration actually. We wouldn’t say that a particular band/artist has directly influenced our sound (not that we’re claiming to be completely unique, its just not intentional) it’s more a mix of both our musical backgrounds over the years, and everything we’ve learned. 🙂
That’s quite a broad range! Does that make it difficult to define your music do you think, or how would you describe your music so far?
It makes it really hard to describe, if we’re honest – but we both usually hate when musicians claim that their music can’t be categorised, or that it’s completely unique. It sounds really pretentious, especially if that’s not true and it fits easily into a genre. We never set out to completely defy genre but for us, it IS difficult to work out what it is. It has mixes of blues/jazz/folk/rock/electronica/ambient music/classical/french impressionist/minimalist piano .. just everything we listen to. Basically, we don’t know what genre it is, but if anyone has any idea, then they can feel free to label it how they like. Alternative/Experimental maybe?
You’re currently working on a song that’s in it’s finishing stages now, Filmstar/Astronaut. Without giving too much away, can you tell us more about it and anything else you’re both working on just now?
Well, we’re just putting the vocals to it now and fixing things here and there – but it should be done soon. It’s basically a song about someone’s obsession with celebrity and being noticed, but not really being too bothered about why. In the end he get’s extremely desperate and some pretty dark things are mentioned. It’s kinda like a story, which is always a good way to write a song. We’re going to work on a few more songs together and hopefully piece together an album or an EP by the end of next year. In terms of other stuff we’re doing, we’re going to be doing a cover of MGMT’s “Kids” and perhaps a ukelele/trumpet cover of “Mr Brightside” by the Killers. Not sure if these will go on the album but they’re just for fun after all. 🙂
it sounds like you guys don’t take your music TOO seriously. obviously you’re both passionate about it but still enjoy it and have fun with it. do you have a particular goal or vision for the future of Sgt Bird, say in the next few months or years?
You pretty much hit the nail on the head, I mean we don’t take ourselves seriously AT ALL. But then again we’re serious about the production side of it and making it sound awesome. We’re not rushing it, but in terms of instruments, and general feelings of songs, we are pretty silly. Anything goes really as long as it sounds cool. Our plans for the future are just to keep writing together, being generally awesome and maybe in the future performing live at gigs and things. That would be really cool.
Stu and Nathan also have their own respective musical projects and any available links are provided below. Nathan unfortunately uses the internet far less, and so there is very little for him YET although a search of Ginger Little Guinea Pig may provide some results. Stu’s album can be downloaded from his bandcamp however.
twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/soundslikestu
bandcamp – http://stuhenderson.bandcamp.com/