Former Spring King frontman Tarek Musa talks to Liverpool Noise about his latest music project, Dead Nature, as well as discussing what it’s like working from his Liverpool-based studio as a producer for some promising up-and-coming bands.
Liverpool Noise: So Tarek, firstly thanks for your time we understand it’s a pretty busy and exciting time ahead for you at the moment, are you managing the find the balance between promoting, producing and getting some time in for yourself?
Tarek Musa: It started out as quite a challenge nearly a year ago when I moved back to Liverpool and decided to set up a studio as well as a brand new solo project. I feel like I’ve done a good job of keeping the creative balance healthy, with half my time spent in the studio producing and mixing other artists, and the other half devoted to anything personally musical.
Creatively the balance is there, but I find it hard to take time out for myself, and do things non-musical. It can be hard to stop working, especially when there are so many good bands out there to collaborate with, and loads of ideas I want to realise in so many forms.
Musically my latest outlet is Dead Nature. It’s a solo project based on songs I’ve been writing over the past year. I play the majority of the instruments across all the tracks and record, mix and produce the music which is then released via my own record label Dead Nature Records.
LN:It’s amazing to see the roster of bands that have already been working with you, I imagine it’s extremely rewarding to help up-and-coming bands with the relatively daunting prospect of making their mark in the studio and beyond?
TM: It was a big aim of mine this year to be able to help new bands find their next change in direction, no matter how small that turn may be. I was very happy to find out I had received the PRS Writer/Producer fund earlier this year which made it possible to set up the studio and cover the running costs whilst I got my self into gear. It meant that for a lot of smaller acts I was able to provide reduced costs on studio time making my services more accessible. It truly has made the world of difference to me as a producer, and to the bands I’ve worked with.
I’ve already seen a lot of the bands from this year alone go onto some great things. Hopefully this continues for a long time, it’s great to see people doing so well!
LN: Moving on to your own creative process in the studio then, more specifically with your new EP coming out under the name Dead Nature, are the majority of your songs created and arranged in the studio?
TM: I write all my songs in the studio, and rarely demo them any further than a guide vocal and a core instrument. It always felt strange to me to demo a song completely, and then move on to recording it. I’ve been fortunate to have recording knowledge so I’ve always used the studio/computer as a place to start a song and build it up from scratch – treating it as the song at all times and not just a demo that I would then revisit to record ‘properly’.
The studio has everything I need to create, and over the next few months I’ll be focusing on recording new tracks for Dead Nature. It can be a little daunting sometimes, there are unlimited options, so I try to commit to things early on and accept there are endless possibilities and not all of them need exploring.
LN: I guess it’s nice to be in the driving seat for the creative process. Is this something your career feels like it’s been building up to in a sense?
TM: In many ways my career as a songwriter has always been based on being in the driving seat. My old band Spring King started out as a solo project where I would write, record and mix the song in a day. It was key to me that whatever I was writing had to be done by the evening time, as a challenge in how to write songs. That summer alone I had written over 50 tracks! The project stemmed out of both a desire to try songwriting seriously, but also at the time I felt trapped by just being an engineer and having no personal creative stream I could output songs through. As the band grew and became more solidified it became more of an open process by the time we reached our sophomore album.
Dead Nature feels like a step in a new direction, yet still holds onto certain approaches that have always been part of my creative process, such as writing the songs and also producing them. Dead Nature is a place for me to throw paint at a wall and see what happens, it’s a healthy outlet to make sure i’m able to continue creating music for myself. I try not to place any pressures on myself with it, I’m happy to compose for me some days and mix for someone else the next. As long as i’m doing something musical I’m alright.
LN: The Liverpool music scene has a lot of platforms now for bands of all genres with new avenues and movements popping up more and more often, how do you feel it’s progressed in the last few years and is there anything you’d like to see more of as a performer?
TM: Liverpool continues to grow and I hope this never changes. The city has lost some incredible venues but what shows the cities strength is its ability to adapt to these changes very well. We are lucky to have a diverse range of platforms for all types of music and art. Is it indulgent to ask for more independent venues? I feel satisfied, but we can never have enough – it can only help to continue creating variety in the culture we have on offer here.
LN: Amazing, thanks for chatting with us! We wish you the best of luck with your new venture, but before we go, is there anywhere we can catch you in the next few months?
TM: I’ll be announcing some shows very soon, so please keep an eye out for dates on my website and socials. Thank you for having me!
Photo Credit: Marieke Macklon @mariekemacklon
Interview by Michael Fell