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Advice for Young Musicians - Interview With Henry Wolfe Gummer

Photo Of Henry Wolfe by Jacqueline Dimilia

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent"

Victor Hugo

I can't imagine life, without music. Music lifts the soul, and allows us to express ourselves, it creates identity, enlivens emotions, and whether times are good or bad, it can bring people together. According to figures from the mental health charity Mind, "nearly a third of people listen into their music players to give them a mood boost about work, and almost one in four said that they find listening to music on the way to the workplace helps them de-stress."

Tim Peake ESA astronaut has even expressed the importance of music for his space mission, and revealed how he will be enjoying his 'rocket music' on the International Space Station. Tim is listening to artists such as U2, Phil Collins and the Foo Fighters.

It's important to foster, and develop our young musicians. Charismatic artists such as David Bowie really demonstrate what an influential impact music has on society.

One of my favourite musicians is Henry Wolfe Gummer, an American singer and songwriter based in Los Angeles, California, and he has kindly given some advice for up and coming young musicans below.

Wolfe made his network television debut as a musical guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live, performing 'Someone Else', and 'Stop The Train' from his Linda Vista album. His is currently touring the USA and recently released his new album ASILOMAR, which is available at

What advise would you give to young musicians?

No music is uncool. The music that meant most to me when I was young (like in grade school) continues to inform my songwriting. For example, when I was a kid I had a few Sting CDs. They were some of the first ones I ever bought for myself. Later on, when I was in high school, the people I was hanging out liked a different kind of music, and I might have been embarrassed to admit I was a fan of his. But to this day, bands I listened to when I was in grade school continue to influence the melodies, and sounds that I'm drawn to.

What is the inspiration behind your song writing?

It's hard to identify one inspiration. Usually the lyrics I write tend to involve relationships. But that doesn't mean I'm always writing about a specific person. A relationship is a way of exploring topics that interest me. Like desire, loss, spiritual doubt and faith.

Do you find it easier to write lyrics before the musical score?

I almost never do. I don't know many songwriters who work that way, though I've always wanted to try. In the past I've found that I come up with more imaginative lyrics when I have to fit them with a melody. It imposes a constraint that I find useful.

What artist have inspired your music ?

Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, Steely Dan, Paul Simon, Roxy Music, Sting and the Police, The Grateful Dead, Peter Gabriel,

Talking Heads, Lou Reed, Talk Talk, the list goes on...

What other school subject can help develop a student's music ability?

Math can help with music, I suppose. But for anyone interested in writing song lyrics, any subject can help, from physics to literature. The more subjects and metaphors you can incorporate into a song the better, no matter what the song is about. It's like a lyric from a Paul Simon song (paraphrasing): "If you want to write a song about the heart, write a song about the moon."

What are the major challenges for musicians today ?

"Getting your music out there, and finding a balance between the time you spend promoting, and the time you spend developing new material.

Recording music has never been more affordable. There have also never been so many people competing to find an audience for their music. You need a steady stream of new content to keep people invested in your work, but at the same time you need to spend a lot of time and energy promoting the work you make online. At the same time, very few are able to support themselves by making original music, so you need a day job which leaves you with even less time to promote/create. It's kind of a Catch 22."

What is the best part of being a performer ?

Playing music with other people in front of an audience is just fun. Whether you are playing for a crowd of 30, 300 or 3,000. It is a unifying act.

What are the best online music platforms for artists to get started ?

I'm not really sure. I think the conventional wisdom is that YouTube is the best platform. Instagram and Twitter are too limited and Facebook feels cluttered to me, then again I'm probably not using it right. Bandcamp is also great platform for selling merchandise.

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