It is only 3 short months now until the Rewind Festival South takes place in Henley-on-Thames. I have been asked to interview some of the acts in the lead up to this years festival which takes place on the weekend of 21st to 23rd August 2015.
I have already spoken to Andy McCluskey of OMD and Carol Decker from T’Pau. It is now the turn of the man that Elton John described ‘the best songwriter of a generation’, ’80s male solo artist, Nik Kershaw.
With hit songs such as ‘Wouldn’t It Be Good’, ‘I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me’ and ‘The Riddle’, I spoke to Nik about his thoughts ahead of this years festival. Nik Kershaw is performing at Rewind Festival South on Sunday 23rd August.
What do you enjoy most about the Rewind Festival?
I have performed at a few festivals but with Rewind, because of the people involved and the set-up, it has become a bit of a family. It is just a great place to be, it is like coming home. They are all such well-organised events as well – not only for the people back stage but for the audiences too. There is so much for everyone to do and see. I must admit that I haven’t visited the punters toilets but I must draw the line somewhere!
How do the audiences compare now to those from the ’80s?
We are all a bit older but now people bring their kids too. We have all lived a bit of a life in the last thirty years. The whole vibe is the same for both sides of the stage. I am enjoying it more than I did back in the day. I am still grateful to be gainfully employed and it is such a privilege to walk out in front of people and get such a warm welcome. From my point of view, it’s brilliant and from their point of view they have grown up with these songs. It is a part of history, a part of their life and that is what they get out of it.
What would you have done differently back in the ’80s?
I would have probably have stopped and smelled the roses a little bit more. There is such a part of you which is so afraid of losing it all the time and the desperate race to keep it all going that you kind of forget to enjoy it when it is all happening. It was the thing I completely dreamed about and I was actually live my dream but I never kind of got to a point where I could say to myself ‘that’s it, here I am, I am really doing it’. You are always so panicked about the next thing happening. I wish I hadn’t got so stressed about it.
Which of your songs is your favourite one to perform?
‘Wouldn’t It Be Good’. I have chopped and changed the others over the years but now they are pretty much back where they were. They have all gone through various metamorphoses but ‘Wouldn’t It Be Good’ hasn’t. It just stayed as it was and I have never felt the need to tamper with it. As a guitar player it is also so much fun bashing out those first few chords.
If you could choose another song from the ’80s by a different artist that you wish you had written, what would it be?
There are hundreds! But off of the top of my head ‘Shout’ by Tears for Fears or ‘The Word Girl’ by Scritti Politti. There were some good songs…there were some rubbish…but there were some good songs.
Music became a means to a different ends in the ’90s. It was all about dancing to it or having a rave to it. It was a completely different sub-culture that grew up and music formed a different function for that so I guess songs kind of disappeared a bit for a while. Singer/songwriters seem to be making more of a comeback now – there are plenty of them about. Loads of geezers with a guitar strapped round their necks! There are lots of good songs about but I have to be honest, a lot of them are just digging up the ’60s, ’70s and, in some cases, the ’80s again. There doesn’t seem to be anybody doing anything particularly new.
We all know you are famous for writing Chesney Hawkes’ number one hit but what else have you been doing since the ’80s?
Well, I stopped recording in ’89 for about 10 years or so. I was writing and producing for people and spent a lot of time writing songs that nobody ever heard. I think that is what songwriters do, about 98 per cent of what they write never gets heard! I started making records again at the end of the ’90s and then you get into a selfish place when you start recording for yourself again. You realise that you only have to please yourself and not another artist. I have been doing that ever since. More recently, in the last 5 years or so, I have begun composing music for TV and that has been a really liberating experience. When I was a kid I wanted to be an actor. I was in the Co-Op drama group in Ipswich. If you remember, back in the ’80s, there was a trend that for 30 seconds at the start of the music video there was some kind of thing, event, going on and you were required to actually act but some of the most toe-curlingly embarrassing moments are contained in those 30 seconds! When I recorded ‘Wide Boy’ I recorded a piece of acting at the beginning. I remember having to act. When I watched it back I realised that I was glad that I never ended up becoming an actor.
What is next for you?
In October I go out on a 30 date tour with Go West and Carol Decker. I have been drinking buddies with Go West for years and we have talked about it for a while. This time it is going to be a bit different. It is not going to be me playing a set, then Go West playing a set, then T’Pau playing a set, we are trying to mix it up a bit and may be do each others songs. We are also going to do some covers together and have a bit of fun. We are still planning it at the moment but there is no going back as we have booked the venues.
Finally, which song is your hidden gem that you believe people should go and find?
There is a couple. There is a song from an album called ‘Fifteen Minutes’ and it is called ‘Billy’. I find it a torturous process writing lyrics, for days, weeks months sometimes. But the words to this one just kind of came out. There is lots of really clever internal rhymes and everything and it is a matter of the right word being in the right place at the right time. It felt like I was channelling someone! I am very proud of that one. There is also a song on my last album called ‘Eight’ and the song is called ‘Runaway’.
Nik Kershaw plays “Rewind Scotland” at Scone Palace in Perthshire on Sunday July 26th
“Rewind South”at Temple Island Meadows in Henley-on-Thames on Sunday August 23rd.
Ticket info: www.rewindfestival.com