Richard Stirton Interview – Middle Ground
"It completely changed my life..."
One of the biggest voices to come out of South Africa recently, Richard Stirton, just released his debut album, entitled Middle Ground.
Richard, who won the first season of The Voice SA, is already a favourite among many South Africans. Dirty Pink City caught up with the man behind the music to chat about his first album and a few other things.
Hi Richard, thanks for chatting to DPC. You just released your debut album – Congratulations! How has it been received so far?
Thank you! Things have been really positive. People seem to have enjoyed it and they’ve given great feedback, they seem to be connecting with the songs which is very exciting. I’m very appreciate of all the support I have received so far.
Why the title, Middle Ground, and does the album have a continuous theme?
The name Middle Ground came from the process of song selection and vision for the album. It was the process and relationship that was developed between myself and Universal Music and the establishment of a compromise between alternative music sounds (my natural tendency) and commercial sensibility. I have felt very lucky that Universal and their A&R team have given me the opportunity to have some of my own music on the album, even if it is slightly left of centre and less commercial than one would expect in a pop record. This made me feel that ‘Middle Ground’ would be an appropriate title. The theme of the album is generally about relationships and messages to others and the expression of experiences that have taken place with others. It’s definitely got a romantic undercurrent.
Who worked with you on Middle Ground, and who wrote the songs?
I had the privilege of working with Denholm Harding who produced the album, he was assisted by Hasgn Reddy from a production point of view as well as John-Paul De Stefani who was the sound engineer in studio. I also took part in co-writes with Jethro Tait from the boyband FOUR as well as Brad and Josh Klynsmith from Gangs of Ballet. On the album en actual tracks were a split between originals, co-writes and songs written by other writers for me to use. I wrote two of the tracks (Fall Apart and Our Night), the co-write with Jethro (Dance), two covers and the rest were from other writers, a notable one being that of James Bay, the UK superstar guitarist and singer.
Now obviously a great decision, but why did you decide to take part in The Voice SA?
It was an amazing opportunity and my girlfriend and family convinced me to enter.
Congratulations on the win! How did this change your career and / or day-to-day life?
Thank you! It has completely changed my life. My studies are on hold and I am now able to do music full-time. I played more gigs in the first two weeks out of the show than I had in my entire life prior to the show, if that puts it into perspective. Lots of travelling, interviews and shows. A massive change from the last couple of years of studies and waitering.
Great! So, how was it working with Kahn from The Parlotones? And what was the best advice give to you while participating?
It was amazing working with him. He has a lot of experience in the industry and he’s one of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet. He’s a genuine, down to earth guy. The best piece of advice he ever gave me was that less is more. We have a bag of tricks, all the things we can do with our voices, but that it is often more powerful/impactful to use the elements tastefully than to throw the kitchen sink at it all the time.
Haha – Great! So, You performed some great alternative songs on the show, what is your preferred genre?
I love alternative music. I’ve never been too into main stream music, I love stuff that is emotional, real and from the heart and I find this to be more evident in alternative music. Although recently I have been listening to a lot more mainstream music to see what I doing well in the industry. There is some great stuff out there.
Are you touring this summer? If so, where can we catch you live?
Yes, we will be doing a Joburg tour and west-coast tour and will also be heading up to Durban for a couple of shows in the beginning of next year. Venues are yet to be confirmed so will have to get back to you on that one. Keep an eye out on my musician page on facebook for the announcements.
Can we listen to your music online, and/or buy it? Please share a link if you have.
Yes, my album, “Middle Ground”, is available on iTunes at this link here
You can also check out a couple of my songs on YouTube, and you can subscribe so you get updates to all the new posts at here
The album is also available on spotify and the hard copies are available at most Musica stores country wide.
Finally, what can we expect from you in 2017?
From now and through into next year I am just going to try and play as many gigs as possible and work on reaching as many people as possible to show appreciation to them for supporting my music, because as I always maintain we are nothing without others and this is very true in the music industry.
We want to set up tours all around South Africa to get to as many people as possible. I am also just going to work at myself as a musician as much as possible. I am going to practice more and work harder at understanding music, you really can never stop practicing and working in this industry. My guitarist, Jeandre Schultz, is a phenomenal guitarist and this is from the hours he has put in working at his craft. There are times when he says he can’t sleep because he knows that while he is sleeping someone else is out there practicing. It is very true, if ever you think you are practicing a lot, always remember that there is someone out there who is practicing more than you. So yes, I will be practicing.
And lastly, one of the bigger goals for next year is organizing an overseas tour. I want to reach as many people as possible and that’s a great way of doing it.
Awesome! Thank you!
Images: Jacques Weyer