One year on since lockdown restrictions were imposed on the music industry Folk and Tumble caught up with some of our musician friends to see how they had coped with the restrictions and their hopes for the future. Today, it's the turn of of Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph.
FT: We have been in cycle of lockdowns and restrictions for a year now. How have you found that year?
MJ: To be honest, whilst it’s been tough in an economic sense, I have so enjoyed the fact that for the first time in 35 years I didn’t have a schedule. So it’s been good to wake up and feel that freedom. I know I’m fortunate to have been very busy for so long but the downtime has helped rejuvenate things and shown me some perspective.
FT: Have you found any unexpected inspiration during the restrictions and what, if any activity, have you found that has helped keep you grounded?
MJ: Yes, I’ve been writing a lot. In fact, I’m kind of recording my next record right now as I’ve got around 15 songs I’m working on. I wrote a song about the Covid situation on April 2nd last year and it was number one in the iTunes/ Amazon Songwriter charts on the 28th. Shows how quick you can get stuff out these days. It’s been good to have the time and space to get out and walk, read, and breathe in new thoughts and ideas.
FT: Have you received any government support for loss of income?
MJ: As a record company I was able to get a loan, but it has to be paid back etc.
FT: What have you missed most about playing live shows?
MJ: The oneness with an audience. That sense of community and all its connections.
FT: Many artists embraced the streaming of live performances. Did you, and what are your thoughts on that?
MJ: I did but I limited it to one every 2 months. I know some that were playing every few days often to a handful of people. As I spaced my shows I found there was much more anticipation and therefore numbers were good. At one we have 2500 screens worldwide and the lowest was around 450. So less was definitely more. I also set up a Patreon page which is a subscription service platform for artists and developers and that has been really helpful for me.
FT: If this is the last lockdown, when do you think you will be able to confidently take bookings for shows again?
MJ: Soon I hope.
FT: COVID restrictions aside, how do you feel Brexit will affect your career?
MJ: Hugely. It’s a giant pain in the ass as far as touring Europe is concerned. Financially, it will impact heavily on any profits there and there are always more expenses and smaller audiences for me there. But I will go as I have always loved touring in mainland Europe.
FT: If you could advise the government on how to proceed with the re-opening of live music venues again, what would your advice be?
MJ: Understand the connection with the “Arts” to our well-being. Support those institutions and people whose job it is to remind folk they are not alone in the world.
FT: When things return to normal what are your plans?
MJ: To carry on where I left off with a deeper appreciation of the joy of doing something I love to pay the bills.