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John Tracey interview and performance – NVTV Northern Vision (N Irish public television)

John Tracey interview and performance – NVTV Northern Vision (N Irish public television)


[music] So that’s called “Dangerous To Go Alone”,
that’s the title track from John Tracey’s latest album, and the man himself joins me
in the studio. How are you sir? I’m all good, how are you? I’m very well thank you. Good. So, congratulations on the album. Thank you! This is the first album you’ve had? That’s my first album, yeah. And it’s all
acoustic, it’s all instrumental music and it’s all original. Wow, ok. Something different! It really is, you don’t really see a lot of
instrumental artists emerging from Northern Ireland, do you? No, not really. I mean instrumental music
was massive in the 60s and 70s and then it kinda took a dip, so I find that whenever
people see you with a guitar, they expect you to sing. Yeah. It’s as if the guitar is only an accompaniment
to a singer, but that’s not always the case, and I’m trying to push the instrumental side
of things. That you can actually entertain a crowd purely just with one instrument. So usually when I have a singer/songwriter
in, I ask them about the story behind the song…does it kinda work the same way when
you’re writing an instrumental piece? Very much so! The whole thing, for me anyway,
the whole idea for me is that I try to tell stories without words. That sounds very poetic
but that is genuinely it. I want to make sure to get the same emotion across to an audience
that they would get with a singer, who’s singing words, but purely through music. And it seems
to be working. So why was the album called Dangerous To Go
Alone? It originally started because it’s actually
a line from a 1980s video game. I know, I’m a wee bit of a geek inside. It was a game
called ‘The Legend of Zelda’ and it’s one of the first lines that appears in it. But
also, it was quite symbolic for me…yeah it was a symbol of me moving away and trying
to break away from doing pubs and doing cover gigs to doing my own stuff. And there’s an
element of danger involved in that, so, it is kinda ‘dangerous to go alone.’ Ok, what about the rest of the songs on the
album, is there kind of interesting stories behind any of these? Every single one of them all have stories
and I’ve made sure on the inside cover of the CD that there’s a couple of lines explaining
each of them. This one jumps out, track number 7 – “Bittersweet
Strawberries and Cream”. Yeah, that’s a bit of a cryptic one. I wrote
that…it’s actually one of the first pieces I ever wrote. It was at a time whenever I
was a wee bit uncertain about a couple of things in life and the song just fell out,
it just fell out of my hands. It’s a ballad, it’s a kind of a love…not a love song, but
a bittersweet song, so I thought that… Ok. And it happened around about the time I first
graduated from university, so that’s the ‘strawberries and cream’ kinda thing. So what age were you when you first picked
up the guitar? The guitar…I think I was 13 or 14. And out of all the instruments in the world,
why the guitar? Well I started off on piano, I’ve been playing
the piano from a very young age. Self-taught, pretty much. My grandmother Teresa, who actually
is… Teresa’s Hands, track 3! Yeah, that’s about her! She taught me my first
couple of notes and then I just kinda took off and did my own thing. But the guitar,
there was a neighbour two doors down from us in the street that I kinda grew up in,
and I’d never played a guitar before, but I saw him play it and I thought “that’s really
cool, I wanna learn that”. And he said “well here, take that, I’ve loads of guitars in
the house, take that and bring it two doors down and you can practice on that one”, and
I did, and I was hooked. Right, ok. Wow! How many guitars do you own? Oh don’t ask! Don’t! Too many. Although they
do say you can never have too many… Because I remember asking Gary Moore the same
question, and he couldn’t answer either. No it’s…I would probably be embarrassed
to say. But they’re not all expensive guitars… So would somebody like Gary Moore have been
a big influence to you? Gary Moore, not so much – he was more of the
kinda electric rock side of things, which I love, but there’s not that much of an influence
in my playing. I’ve a lot of respect for those kinda players, but for me I think the biggest
influence was an Australian guy called Tommy Emmanuel. I don’t know whether you’ve ever
heard of him? Yeah, yes! He is kinda the…at this stage anyway…he’s
the kinda pioneer – in my opinion – of this kind of style of playing and he’s influenced
thousands of people around the world. He just has the most amazing style and again, he does
it all on one instrument. And half the time you’d be sitting listening or watching him
thinking “there sounds like there’s about 3 or 4 guitars here”, but he makes it entertaining. Yeah. So he was a massive influence on me, definitely. Right, ok. Now that the album’s out and you’re
gigging all around the place as well, are you one of the guys now people will go to
if they want this special style of guitar playing on their albums and stuff? That would be nice, yeah a few people have
approached me and I would love for that to continue because I really enjoy doing it,
definitely. Ok, what about gigs coming up, is there anything
we should know about? Yes, we have the Ullapool Guitar Festival
which is in the highlands of Scotland. That’s gonna be…I’m playing on the 6th of October
– which is my birthday! So what a nice wee treat…to be playing up in the highlands
on my birthday. Ok, are you going to do one more from the
album? What are you going to do this time? I think I’ll go for “Just Waves”. And what’s the story behind this one? I dunno…it’s kind of a…people tell me
that whenever they listen to it, it sounds like a boat going across waves. It kinda has
that…I dunno…’epic’ sort of ‘film soundtrack’ feel. That’s what I was kinda going for anyway.
And I couldn’t think of a better title, so a friend of mine just said “why don’t you
just call it ‘Waves’?” So I thought, “Just Waves…that’ll do!” And if people want to find out more information
about you, or how to get their hands on the album, how do they do that? You can get me on pretty much every method
of social media going, and you can get me on my website which is johntraceymusic – dot
– com. And ‘Tracey’ is spelled with an ‘e’, so T, R, A, C, E, Y. So John, thank you for joining us on the show
today. Thanks a million. So here we go, one more time, here’s John
Tracey and a track called ‘Just Waves’. [music]

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