INTERVIEW: Greg Genre | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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I think we can all agree that the world needs a bit of peace, love and understanding right now. Thank goodness then for Greg Genre, whose debut album Make Your Own contains enough positive vibes to soothe even the most angst-ridden of souls.

Greg’s music is in turns spiritual and political; his effortless spoken word-style vocals are accompanied by all manner of instrumentation, but the overall effect is one of languorous goodwill. Having become politically active at Uni in York, attending anti-war demos and climate change protest marches, Greg moved back to Newcastle and began volunteering for The People’s Kitchen. “I started writing about the inequalities in our society and this focus led me on to composing the sort of anti-consumerism messages found on Make Your Own.” He explains.

He insists his music contains a spiritual theme rather than a religious one, citing interest in Hinduism and Buddhism, the ‘peace and love’ ideology is always at the fore. “I’m keen to push a peace and love ideology because I’m convinced it is what we all want to ultimately achieve, I haven’t met any person in my life who thought that war was ever a good idea. Unfortunately our current system encourages us to look outside for materialistic fixes and short term solutions for peace and happiness. Similarly we learn to identify who we are with particular boxes such as nationality or religion.”

Greg began his creative career writing poetry, and his work is as much poetry as it is song. Opening track Realigion encapsulates what the album’s about – a call for unity, peace and love, it radiates positivity as his spoken word vocals wrap around a simple guitar and harmonica. Many of his tracks are inspired by current affairs (a recently penned protest song is about the proposed open coal mine at Druridge Bay in Northumberland), while the album’s title track encourages creativity in the face of consumerism: “Don’t buy this, make your own” amidst an insistent tinkly piano line and clip-clopping percussion. “I wrote Make Your Own after being sick of the constant advert breaks on TV trying to sell me things I didn’t want or need.” He says.

We are consistently exposed to negative focused news in the mainstream media and I aim to spread positive words as a bit of an antidote

Album highlight Crazy For Peace sees Greg eschew the spoken word-style for more traditional singing over a calm piano and birdsong, creating a track which is chilled out and endearingly charming (although he can’t resist a rap at the end). The album also includes tracks featuring quotes from famous figures as varied as Lauryn Hill and David Icke over improvised music. Pale Blue Dot is a particular highlight, featuring a delicate and haunting piano line as American astronomer Carl Sagan talks about the fragility of earth.

It’s refreshing that an artist espouses such a relentlessly positive message, but doesn’t he find it hard to maintain? “We are consistently exposed to negative focused news in the mainstream media and I aim to spread positive words as a bit of an antidote. Millions of creatures have survived in order for me to be here so as time progresses your very existence is more and more of a miracle!”

Make Your Own is available now, with sales raising money for Musicians Without Borders. He performs at Claypath Delicatessen, Durham on Sunday 3rd December, Tynemouth Surf Café on Sunday 10th December and Staiths Café, Gateshead on Wednesday 31st January, where he is the café’s featured artist for a month.

 


 

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