THE SINGERS CLUB: ‘A SNAP SHOT INTO THE LIFE OF A MUSICIAN’
A short series of articles featuring interviews with musicians and performers. Thank you for being involved and sharing your stories!
Today’s Guest: Eddie Bushell
Please give us an overview of who you are/ what you do and how long you’ve been a professional musician?
My name’s Eddie Bushell, I’m primarily a singer but I play piano & keyboards too and have been known to bust out the odd (choreograped!) dance routine. I had my first pro job Christmas 2000 when I started on the ents team at a holiday park.
Would you consider your self part time/ full time musician – do you do anything else job wise?
I’m lucky enough that this is my full-time job.
How did you get to the point of making music your job?
I’d had a string of random jobs after quitting college – garage storeman, forklift driver, office work – whilst indulging my love of performing by doing am-dram musicals & theatre. I was playing Billy Bigelow in Carousel in a local production and the manager from the holiday camp was in the audience one night, got in touch and offered me the job that Chrismtas.
Do you travel a lot for your music job? Where has music taken you geographically?
I travel wherever the work is! I’ve been all over the UK with a Jersey Boys-style trio into all the Haven parks. For two months I worked in Benidorm whilst part of a comedy double-act called Dame Lucy Bun & Reg (I was Reg…). I’ve been on several cruises, to the Arctic Circle, the Azores, crossed the Atlantic, but I also stay close to home when the work is there. For the past 5 years I’ve been a part of the choir in the Thursford Christmas Spectacular (a 30-min drive away from home) and I’ve also done six Christmas seasons in the Cromer Pier Show (a 10-minute walk from my house!).
Did you train in school or ever receive lessons/ take exams to do what you do now?
I had piano lessons up to Grade 5 and I sang in the church choir but I’ve never had any formal training.
Can you remember some of the very first steps you took to becoming a professional singer?
I learnt everything on the job during my years at the holiday camp. I realised it was a great place to learn from loads of different people so I just became a sponge and tried to soak up as much as I could. I’m still learning now; I don’t think you can ever stop.
Did anyone’s advice really resonate with you when you were starting out and do you mind sharing it. Also; is there anything you learnt early on that has stayed with you during your career?
I think one of the main things is always putting on your best show. Even if you’re in a run of 6, 7, 8 weeks, and it’s your 68th show or whatever, for the people in the audience who’ve paid to see you, it’s their first and probably only time. So make every performance like it’s your first, because for someone, it will be. Also the whole “teeth & tits” of showbusiness. You may have had a rotten day but you can’t take that on stage with you. Grab a smile from the box, slap it on, and go and entertain your audience.
What are some scales/ warm ups you do when gigging? Is there anything else you do to prepare for a performance?
I tend to start with a very quiet hum, either just a five-note scale up and back down again, or humming along to the radio in the car while travelling to a gig. Sirens, arpeggios and full scales eventually but always starting quiet and building up.
What equipment have you invested in to become a professional musician?
I have a good PA system, 16-channel mixer, powered speakers, lead mic and wireless mic, an arranger keyboard and a stage piano. Also some decent suits & black patent shoes, I feel it’s important to look the part.
Are you doing your dream job now – where else would you love to get to with your career?
I am doing my dream job. I first sent an application to the Thursford Christmas Spectacular in 2002 – now, 18 years later, I’ve done 5 consecutive years. To be able to turn what I thought years ago would only be a hobby into the way I earn my money is amazing to me.
What is an aspect that you feel is not considered enough when people are starting out with gigging/taking their singing to a professional level that you think would benefit them?
I think people in an audience want to be engaged by a performer. I have seen people up on a stage, reading lyrics from an iPad and just starting track after track, with no interaction or even an introduction to their next song. You might have the greatest voice in the world but if people can’t connect with you as a human I think they lose interest.
Share with us – one of the highlight’s or great memory you have from your career to date?
Christmas 2013 – I was the lead male vocalist in the Cromer Pier Show. I had Michael Bublé’s “Grown-Up Christmas List” to sing as a solo and as the spotlight came up on me on stage and the intro started, I heard my then-nearly-2-year old daugher shout “THERE’S DADDY!” Heart exploded.
For a bit of fun – tell us about when something went really wrong – and what you learnt from it?
So my first year at Thursford, I wasn’t fully aware of how the system of covers & swings worked. My swing came to me and said he would cover all my tracks for this one particular show so I could go out to the audience and watch the show. For one particular section, the St Nicholas choir, he didn’t cover me but I hadn’t realised this. So I sat in the audience, watching the choir process round the auditorium and all the time I should have been in the number. Since then, I have learned to check and double-check my tracks in the show each day…
If you could offer advice to someone starting out.. what would you tell them?
Grow a thick skin. People have a habit of telling you exactly what they think and sometimes that can be welcome, other times it can cut you to the bone. As long as you know for yourself you’ve done your absolute best, you can take or leave others’ words as you see fit.
Any additional thoughts or advice?
I’d just say Que Sera, Sera – whatever will be, will be. If you really want to make music your profession, believe in yourself, work hard, practise and don’t give up.
Finally, where can we find your music/pages online?
My facebook page is @eddiebushellsinger