We caught up with Guy Valarino after his gig for the Coffee House Sessions Tour!
The Coffee House Sessions are a series of live acoustic and semi-acoustic performances from some of the UK’s hottest singer song-writers and acoustic musicians.
Join us every Wednesday in the Terrace bar to see newly signed artists perform live for free!
Last year we were joined by the likes of Seafret and Hudson Taylor to name a few…
How are you enjoying the Coffee House Sessions so far?
It’s been really good. I’m a bit sad that it’s the last one. It’s been seven days that I’ve done, it’s been really enjoyable!
Was that a loop pedal you were using in your performance? How does that work?
It’s like a little band in a box. It’s got two tracks in it that means you can record various layers of music and vocal harmony over a base track. I’ve always played in bands and always liked having a bit of a groove, drum beats and harmonies and that’s been a solution for me to be able to add a little bit more colour to my performances in that way.
Why did you choose to do covers such as Pompeii today?
For this particular tour I thought I wanted to play a song by a band that I like and also that I thought might go down well with the various students here at the uni. So I decided that Bastille would be a good choice. Also that single in particular is one of my favourites.
How has this tour been different to your own shows?
I’ve never played so many shows back to back before. A lot of shows I’ve played in and around London where it’s been that the audience don’t really know what they’re going to get. I’ve found that with Coffee House Sessions, what’s been good is that there’s been promotion on campus so some of the audience have an idea of what to expect. Overall it’s been really enjoyable, something I’d love to do again.
You’ve toured quite a lot before, where’s been your favourite place to play so far?
Hands down I think the US. I just felt that particular shows I did connected really well with the audience. The glitz and glamour of being in the US and California was nice but if it’s just down to the shows I’d say that the audiences really got what I was doing.
How do the crowds vary from country to country?
I find that in the UK and in particular London, the crowd is very difficult because everyone’s seen it all before. They’ve heard it all before as there’s a million other artists doing something similar to me so it’s not really exciting for them. I find that the further north you do, the better and friendlier everyone is with regards to appreciating new music and giving it a chance. If you go into Europe, one of my favourite places to tour, I find that there everyone is so respectful, eager to listen and to discover new artists. It’s really nice as it’s very satisfying to make that connection with people that haven’t heard you before.
How do you choose your setlist – do you change them up depending on where you’re playing?
For this particular tour I’ve kept it relatively similar. I’ve changed round a couple here and there like today I played an extra cover which I haven’t done at all during the tour. I just felt like because it was the last one, why not? Generally it’s the same, when I play tours and gigs in London I tend to stick to stuff from my new EP and stuff from my older EP a little later in the set when I’m a bit more warmed up. Maybe a cover or two as those sets are usually a bit longer.
Do you have a favourite song to play live?
My favourite song to play live is Innocence which I played first today. I just enjoy the changes with the loop station and bringing the drum beats in and out.
Is that why you chose to play it first?
That’s right. It also helps get me in the mood.
Is it more about playing the songs that you enjoy or the songs that you think other people will enjoy?
It’s a combination of the two really. What I like about music, it sounds really cliché, but it connects people. It’s nice that it’s like what I’m bringing to the table and you can vibe off what the audience like. You start to have an idea of what you should stick in your set, but stay true to you at the same time. It’s a bit of a mix.
Have you played at any festivals?
I played at Gibraltar Music Festival last year. That was a full band set on the main stage which is something that I loved and would love to do more of. In the past I’ve done smaller, independent festivals. I’ve done a couple up in Northampton, one out near Cambridge and one called BrixFest. I’m looking to play more in summer if anyone will have me!
You said you played with the full band, do you prefer playing with people?
I think I do prefer playing with people. It obviously all depends on the gig. For this kind of tour, I find the solo sets work well for what it is. Also, logistically it’s easier to get a solo artist around than to do it with a full band. If I’m playing in a music dedicated venue or a festival I’d much prefer to play with a full band because I want to present my music to the audience in the form that it’s been written which is for a full band with the drums, bass, everything. I feel like that gives the best account of me as an artist.
What was the EP that you gave out today?
That was my latest EP called Oceans which was made possible off the back of a PledgeMusic campaign which is crowdfunding specifically for music. I got supporters to preorder the EP whether it be on the physical CD, vinyl or digital copies. There was merchandise, gigs in their houses, loads of things they could buy. All of the funds went towards pushing it over the finish line to make it a reality, helping me be able to get into a studio and made it possible to go and do this tour, get a PR campaign under way and help raise my profile as an artist. It was like a journey that started in May last year for release in November.
I like the idea of PledgeMusic as it gives more back to the fans.
I really do, it’s nice that your supporters can have something exclusive that isn’t just going to be stocked high on a digital shelf. They can have a lot more exclusive stuff with a lot more hands on input. Another thing I had on offer was polaroids taken in the studio during the recording process, so it’d be hand written notes and a photo book that documented the whole journey of the recording. It was nice that people wanted that. It gives them a little piece of the story.
Are there any plans for releasing an album?
Hopefully, the plan is to have an album in the works by the end of the year.
Do you think you’ll use PledgeMusic again for that?
I might do actually. It was a good experience and it was a successful campaign. The only thing is I feel like I’ve used up all my credits asking people to preorder. I don’t want to make a pain of myself so I need to think about it carefully. It depends on how I’m going to record this EP and album. This last one I basically did everything myself apart from the drums and vocals which I did in a studio, so it all depends.
Are there any other plans for more tours?
I’d like to. I’m thinking about trying to do another couch surf tour, a house concert tour is what I did in 2013. I took invites from people to play in their living rooms and that was really fun so hopefully I might do one of those. Hopefully if the festival stuff goes well and there’s the possibility to tour with a band and there’s a financial backing there to make it happen then I’m all over it!Upcoming Events