A curious girl in the Big Smoke – about the importance of live performance

 

“… it is self-control, self-awareness, and self-confidence growing with every time I go on stage.”

Baby Steps

It has now been two and a half years ago since I came to London. Little did I know that my Au-Pair experience would be the beginning of a new life. After leaving the school at eighteen I wanted to get out of my hometown Salzburg, I was itching for adventure, to explore what else there is in the world… First stop, London!

I visited London when I was younger, and I fell in love with the city. I knew that the music scene is one of the best/busiest in Europe and being an Au-Pair helped me to settle in this buzzing city. It gave me the opportunity to explore and provided me a home and a sort of new family setting. I started being an Au-Pair with a family from Essex and moved after a few months to one in North London as it was difficult to perform whilst living out there. I began extending and extending my time here, I had fallen in love not only with London but a nice English guy called Joel. He was the main reason that made me want to stay. And I have been here ever since.

Music is my friend and my enemy

I knew that the music scene is big, huge, immense and I was curious. As most musicians, artists, actresses, and mimes moving from a small town to the big smoke, I realized one thing. That music and London are both TOUGH, TOUGH, TOUGH. When I moved into actual London I began contacting guitarists in order to accompany me at Open Mics. On JoinMyBand.com I got in contact with Dan, a talented guitarist, who soon became a good friend and frequently accompanied me at Open Mics. Soon we felt like performing “proper” gigs, we added a violinist and drummer to our set and performed under the name “The MaDan”. Eventually out paths split as we realized that we both aimed for a different sound.

Going it alone

After splitting from the MaDan I made a very important decision. From now on I wanted to be the conductor of my own music, the writer of my songs, the deliverer of emotions and be responsible for everything my music is – I became a solo- artist, under the name Maddy Rose. It was not easy. Not just because now I also had to carry my 15kg piano on my own. On my shoulder, on the bus, on the tube, through busy crowds of people, and everyone knows people in London are just not the friendliest of types, even to help a small girl and a big piano up some very steep steps.

Gigs, Gigs, Gigs! – How to get them and how not to

Contacting promoters left, right, and center that I had found from looking up venues of other musicians’ performances on the social media. Let’s call it gig stalking. Little did I know some of these venues turned out to be very unsuitable for my music – after work drinks conversations being louder than my music, people turning their backs to me as they think I provide background music and sound engineers being rude and not taking me serious because of being a young blonde female and not even expecting me to know what a male to male jack cable or phantom power are.

I quickly began to make more sensible choices of venues – the atmosphere, sound, and audience is all it needs to make a gig good or not. With every gig and Open Mic I played, I became more confident. I learned which songs made the audience turn around and listen and what songs didn’t. I learned how to communicate with the crowd and add an ice-breaker line (sometimes what Austrians find weird in English stereotypes – there are a lot). More and more it became essential to promote me well and network after every gig. It is so crucial to stick around for another hour and connect as much as possible, hand out business cards and share a Facebook page.

The music still plays

Now, one year since I started performing solo and having added a fantastic cellist and drummer, Jessica and Steven, I am proud of how I have developed as an artist.
I try to take every opportunity I get, take part at songwriting competitions (The UK Open Mic, The Piano Works, The Coffee Music Project, etc.) and keep on developing my stage presence.
I am performing live 2-3x a week and although I am still shaky before going on stage, then it is ME time. All eyes, lights, and expectations on me and that is when I let all my emotions out, through my vocal expressions, vibrating words, and controlled breaths. It is a feeling of passion, love, excitement, control and responsibility. Being your own boss on stage boosts self-confidence like nothing else. It is adrenaline pumping through your veins and expanding pupils. It is addictive but in a good way. All it does is making sure that you can touch people and evoke emotions by presenting nothing else but yourself!

And most of all the experience is what no one can teach you and only you can keep 🙂