MUSICIAN, PROMOTER, DJ, LABEL OWNER
NOTTING HILL, LONDON
Q: What do you do and where do you live ?
A: I live at the poor end of Notting Hill, the now up and coming North Kensington/Kensal Green with an amazing view of the cemetery. For the last 32 years every Thursday I’ve promoted London’s longest running one nighter club, Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues. I founded Gaz’s Rockin’ Records, my own label, predominantly to promote my band The Trojans and a couple of other ska bands along the way, since 1985.
Q: What are you working on ?
A: I’ve been a bit of a London institution putting on the biggest stage at Notting Hill Carnival, currently the only platform for live artists, featuring some big local names and classic old school reggae artists. As one carnival finishes it’s as if the next one begins. I’m constantly sourcing new live bands that I feature each week at the club and maintaining good relations with those that I’ve already worked with. I’m currently writing a whole bunch of new material for a new album with The Trojans, which I’m keen to bring out next year, having already been offered a potential Japanese tour.
Q: Where are you working from ?
A: I have a little study in my flat that I call the office which I share with my partner Elinor. Surprising how much you can get done now with a desk and a laptop. Actually she has the laptop and I have a smart phone and boxes and piles of paper, pens pencils and a rubber.
Q: What time did you start today and what time will you finish?
A: I have two shifts a week. My daytime shift is Monday to Thursday, that’s a three and a half day week, when I’m generally up at 8am, starting work sometimes before I even get out of the bath and keep going until I have to stop and eat, which, if it isn’t a business lunch, it will be my one dinner of the day in the evening. Being self-employed, it often feels like I’m just running around chasing my own tail, catching up with a backlog that accumulates quickly as my work tends to mean I travel a lot. A few stops around the country, Europe, Japan and America this year already.
Q: What have you eaten today ?
A: Just about to have and egg on toast and digging stuff out of the freezer for the next couple of days. Missed the farmers market this weekend where we usually stock up on a lot of small producers’ yields. We do love our food, bit spent up after Carnival and trying to tighten my belt and the purse string before Christmas so last night it was a can of horse that we picked up in France this spring.
Q: What are you doing later?
A: In the office all afternoon. When we’ve downed tools after dinner, we’re going to go and see that film Beasts Of The Southern Wild at The Gate.
Q: What is it like to be a creative in your city ?
A: Though born in Manchester, London is my natural home. I can’t imagine running Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues in a village in Sweden, or even outside of London. When I perform in various countries, I continually meet artists and musicians who’ve been influenced by what I do back here and meet people who’ve visited my club. It’s been great to be an active part of the London scene these last 30 odd years.
Q: What does it mean to you to be an artist ?
A: I think I’d have a hard time gaining useful employment if I ever have to go and look for a proper job. I don’t know if it’s a genetic thing or just the environment I grew up in. My father is a very creative man and my mother’s very artistic. I used to get depressed as a teenager unless I was writing, composing, drawing or painting, keeping my mind and hands busy. I realised early on that the way to avoid the downs was to find a way of life that kept me creatively active. Maybe I’m a bit of a product of the teddy boy/punk generation, but no matter how small my voice is, ultimately, without finding a way to channel it I would be voiceless and feel like flotsam and jetsam in this world.
Q: What will your day look like when your 70 ?
A: When quite young, I used to picture myself living forever. The older I get the more mortal are my years. My family are generally long livers. I eat well, don’t do drugs but probably need to curb the wine. I hope that the world hasn’t gone to rack and ruin and the sea levels rocking up Ladbroke Grove. I’m getting married next year, I’m hoping to have a family and in 20 odd years time, being a dutiful father, looking forward to being happily married with the grandmother of my grandchildren. Still touring the world with my band and DJing, keeping the Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues flame burning bright for generations to come.