Our very own Ocelot reporter Mike Barham is leaving us this month (to go and mess about with sound boards and lighting rigs we are told) so we thought now would be a great time to mention his musical side and give him the Ocelot Presents treatment!
So why music? What makes a 6ft 8” Devizes resident pick up a guitar and write some songs?
In short, I couldn’t help it. I kind of just fell into it really. I picked up a guitar for the first time when I was 16, after wandering into a friends guitar lesson at school. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. (To an extent I never have).
It must have something to do with my grandmother. She played piano and organ in several groups during the 60s as well as singing, and she sat me down in front of a keyboard when I was very young trying to teach me. I wish I’d spent more time listening to her before she passed away, would probably have followed this path sooner.
Does that mean you just bum around the county playing in venues and annoying passers by on the street?
I came back from Southampton Solent University with my degree in my pocket and a longing to make Wiltshire stand out. We have such incredible talent in this little county, and I couldn’t just sit back and allow that to be squandered or bypassed because we aren’t Reading or Bristol. So I started helping Kieran Moore of Sheer Music with some shows, learning how to run a gig from the promotional and engineer side of things, and try to get people talking about our musical diversity and culture in the West Country.
I can’t begin to thank Kieran enough for the opportunities he’s given me, both as a musician and as part of our little scene. I know it’s a cliche but we are a community in these parts. Everyone knows everyone else round ‘ere (no, not just because they may be related to each other… I think?) and I’ve had the chance to support some incredible artists who have come to this county because of the great shows Sheer, Songs of Praise, Brave Promotions and many others put on.
How would you describe your style? Simply another singer/songwriter or something a little different?
No-one is “just another singer/songwriter” or a stereotypical example of a genre really. Human beings are musically idiosyncratic. There are threads of similarity in everything we do, but so many key differences that make music our own.
Coming from Wiltshire, you’re immediately in that ‘Wurzelverse’ and supposed to sing about cider and open green fields. Sure that comes up in my music, it’s hard to escape where you’re from when it comes to influences and I’m proud of that. But I like to stretch out and pass on my experiences through music and relate to people as best I can. Put it this way, if you’re a Foo Fighters fan, you’re on my wavelength! I’m the rock end of the spectrum, I’m just armed with an acoustic guitar until I can convince a band to join me.
What does the future hold now you’re no longer going to be writing at The Ocelot?
The long term plan; another EP hopefully by the end of 2017 and more gigs than you can shake a large Wiltshireman at!
Get Mike’s debut EP ‘Altitude with Attitude’ via iTunes, Spotify or BandCamp.