From listening to Michael Jackson and Sister Sledge on the way to school to festival slots and winning awards – meet Westerman.
Starting out on the open mic scene in London, Westerman soon worked his way to festival slots and headline shows, while receiving an Unsigned Music Award in 2016.
With his soothing songs leading the way, he recently returned to the music scene after a year’s break to focus on his health, unveiling new enchanting single ‘Roads’.
To celebrate his musical rejuvenation, we caught up with Westerman to find out more about his musical journey and his dreams for 2017.
Is music something that was part of your life from a young age?
Yes, I nearly went to Choir School when I was 7. I did a lot of choral singing as a kid, and I played the saxophone. My parents aren’t musicians, but are both very into music. Mum had Bronski Beat, Michael Jackson 10cc and Sister Sledge playing in the car journey to school. Dad was a huge Neil Young fan, also Blues like John Lee Hooker and Jazz; McCoy Tyner and Courtney Pine.
When did you decide to take the step to launch your own music career?
I knew I was a musician from the age of about 17, but I wasn’t ready to play what I was making in public until a while later. I studied Philosophy at University and throughout that time I continued to write, though I never gigged. When I finished in 2014, I thought I had to show what I was doing naturally anyway. I had to see what people thought, or I’d never forgive myself. So I started doing Open Mic nights in London pubs around Christmas of that year.
Throughout your tracks you blend numerous genre elements together, which artists/bands would you say have the most influence on your current music?
I like to write space into my songs and experiment with textures and rhythm, William Onyeabor does that, and more contemporary artists like GoGo Penguin and DD Dumbo – and my friend Nilufer! I am also quite driven by tempo, working with my friend Bullion sparked this. Talking Heads are an influence with this, as are The War on Drugs. I like the way their music sort of gradually opens to its natural peak. At the core of it though, I’m a singer-songwriter. Nick Mulvey and Kurt Vile are two current artists I like a lot. I’m also very influenced by the way Ernest Hemingway writes. Less is more.
For those who have yet to hear your tracks, how would you describe your sound?
It’s experimental folk meets jazz-flecked pop music.
You waited almost one year to unveil new music, what did you learn in this time away from releasing?
I learnt a lot about frustration and self-doubt. A lot of ‘life’ things happened between this record and the last. I parted with my previous manager, suffered depression, had a breakdown, spent time as an in-patient and was diagnosed with ADHD. I realised that a lot of the pressure I feel is self-inflicted, especially in relation to timescale. I still struggle with the concept of time. On the bright side, I am much more confident on what it is I am trying to do with the music now. I have taken big strides in developing my principles as an artist.
How does it feel for your new track to be received so well upon your return?
It’s feels wonderful! I tried to be very honest and open with this song, so it’s great that people appreciate that.
As festival season is upon us, if you could stand on the stage at any UK festival next year, which would this be and why?
I have been lucky enough to be invited to some great festivals this year, but I’m always impressed by the line-up at Green Man. I think a lot of more idiosyncratic songwriters seem to gravitate towards it. My friend Gareth and I have been banging on about going for years. It would be lovely to go as an act.
What are your aims for your music in 2017?
I’m putting a band together so I’m pretty excited about that. I want to have written the album by the end of this year. A worldwide tour would also be nice, but perhaps that’s better saved for 2018. Ha!
Is there anything else you wish to add?
For the many not the few! 😉
You can listen to ‘Roads’ below: