Photo credit: Jarrad Seng
Having heard Stu Larsen on fancy streaming services, I was excited to get information from his PR company. After a few emails back and forth, we decided that an interview would be groovy. Here are Stu’s responses to my questions about his career and album Vagabond.
1) How did you get your start in music? What initially drew you to this art?
I loved singing when I was really young and my mother joined me into the church choir when I was about 5 years old and then she strongly encouraged me to learn guitar when I was 14. I remember not loving guitar at first but as time went on I really started to love playing and singing and starting to write songs. I’m very thankful that my mother pushed me to learn guitar, I have no idea what I’d be doing now if she hadn’t..
2) You make a reference in the opening track to Paul Simon. Who are some of your other musical inspirations?
I love Neil Young, Bob Dylan, James Taylor and was obsessed with old blues musicians at a young age also. My favourite artist of all time is Ray Charles, the man had immeasurable amounts of soul, I found him so captivating.
3) Your sound reflects a healthy dose of respect for classic rock music. Do you try to channel a particular “sound” or do you just write what feels natural to you (or a bit of both)?
For me, I just try to write what comes out, I never have a plan and I just wait to see what comes out when the time is right.
4) I am a huge fan of your cultural criticism (“People runnin’ round buyin’ shit they don’t need.”). Can you tell us a little about what inspires you to write such commentary? What do you read/listen to that sharpens your critical eye?
Again, I just write what comes out 🙂 I observe people as I travel and sometimes their stories come out in my songs.. I want to read so much more than I do, I think I have read 2 books in the last 5 years…. I love understanding how other people see things but I’m a slightly impatient reader most of the time.. The books I read were A Fortunate Life by A. B. Facey and On The Road by Jack Kerouac.
5) What advice do you have for young musicians trying to make it?
Define what success means for you. Be good at what you do. Care for those around you. Create your own path. Persevere.
6) What does the songwriting process look like for you?
I collect ideas as I travel and then I need to be isolated for 3-4 weeks at some stage to get those ideas into songs. Friends of mine are able to write anywhere at anytime in front of anyone, but for me I need to be on my own away from it all, which doesn’t happen often enough..
7) What would you like people to know about your album?
Dan Medland (Passenger’s manager) and Jarrad Seng (amazing photographer / Steve Aoki doppleganger) both made a guest appearance on ‘Some Kind Of Gypsy’.
8) We initially found you on Songza. Have you found streaming services are helping get your music “out there” or are they hurting your bottom line (i.e. not paying enough)?
I am always surprised at how people discover music and I’ve met people at shows all over the world who discovered my music on streaming services. It really blows me away to know that someone randomly hears a song online and then turns up at a gig to show their support. It’s definitely amazing for getting music out there to people who might not discover it any other way.
9) Is there anything you want the readers of ETTG to know about your music?
Not that I can think of… I just love being able to travel the world playing music for anyone who wants to listen.
10) Are you on tour right now?
–Thanks for this opportunity! Apologies for it being “email” rather than in person. Hopefully we can connect up soon at a show.
I’m typing these words from the backstage room at La Maroquinerie in Paris, it’s my second last show over this way. I’ve been on the road since the start of February and I think this is show number 36 of the tour. It’s been the best tour of my life, every single crowd has been such a delight to play for and I have met some amazing people along the way. It’s really crazy to be so far away from Australia, playing in cities all through Europe and seeing a couple hundred people turn up each night, I never dreamt this was possible! After a short break I’ll make my way to Japan for some shows and then I’ll bring Natsuki Kurai over to North America for the tour to begin, I can’t wait to hit the road there again!