Wow this is a crazy time right now... Not content with releasing my debut album, I thought I would go off and do a tour at the same time as well. I like to push myself to the limits every now and then!
Anyone that ever said touring is easy and a walk in the park must have been kidding...Me and my entourage of 21 people (I don't even really know why I have 21 people...that's a bit greedy surely?!) plan everything down to the last meticulous detail. This group of people are my lifeline during my tour and they really are the backbone of it all. Without my team, the show "could not go on" as it were!.
Each and every one of them has been handpicked by my manager and I, some are old friends that have been with us since the beginning, some are individuals that have been recommended by people we trust in the industry and some are newcomers to #TeamLab. You need a team around you that you can trust, and that you know have your best interests at heart.
The first tour an artist does is a strange one... because you can never tell how the audience is going to react.
Generally speaking, the artist life cycle begins doing PAs in the clubs and bars, then moving onto festivals, and then embarking on your first tour. Doing it this way makes sense as it's so important to use this opportunity as a learning curve to understand how the audience interacts with your music, which songs connect, and which songs don't.
It's like a test to see if what you think sounds good in the studio is going to be able to make that crossover into a live music environment. I've made so many changes to my records because of the way the audience has reacted at the various festivals I've played - I've taken tracks back into the studio, stripped them bare and built them back up again to create something entirely different.
The constant challenge for the artist is that the song needs to be presented the way it sounds in the studio - so that sound needs to be able to translate into a live set, without losing any of its integrity and with it being able to create the same vibe as it does on CD.
I started planning my tour last year with my team, and having played festivals such as Glastonbury, Wireless, Hop Farm and Oxygen I had enough information to be able to construct something that I believe is a true representation of my music, on stage, in a live environment. During the festival season I really began to get a grasp of what it takes to become a good frontman... I didn't really perform with many instruments at all, and now this is something I've integrated into my set.
Social media has played a huge part in all of this, as this platform is the quickest, most honest (and sometimes brutal) form of feedback from all of my fans. I try as much I can after every live performance to read all the comments my fans post on Facebook and Twitter, as this helps enormously for me to understand straight from fans what worked and what didn't. So for any doubters out there that think artists never take any notice of what people write on social networks about us...think again - it's our first port of call normally!
I'm playing KOKO as one of the last dates of my tour... and needless to say my first big solo gig in my hometown is extremely nerve wracking. I need to pull out all the stops and deliver - and make everyone proud! Come and watch the show and leave a comment on my Facebook and let me know whether I have done myself justice...just make sure it's not too brutal!