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Prolific Newcastle musician TREF has been keeping himself busy during lockdown by touring some of his favourite music venues…well, sort of. TREF’s Lockdown Tour is a video diary-meets-performance piece, during which the versatile musician chats about some of his favourite places and shares videos from previous performances or begins brand new ones. The eclectic musician’s oeuvre takes him from ‘nasty’ to ‘nice’ – varying between heavy rock and weird funk to chilled out acoustic, and his tour so far has taken him to The Cluny, Little Buildings, Trillians and Sage Gateshead among other venues. Here, TREF talks a bit more about his project and the inspirations behind it…

*Who are you?

An eccentric 60 year old but relatively young newcomer to the music scene. Musically I’m known as TREF but socially I’m simply Trev…as both sound exactly the same it makes an integrated life much easier.

*What is it you do?

I make diverse music from NASTY to NICE, where I play guitars, sometimes several at once, therefore ‘solo artist’ doesn’t quite do justice to my music making. I’m more like a band, with one person playing everything and then improvising with himself across space and time.

*How long have you been doing it?

I started playing and recording first as TREF around three years ago, when I took time out to create and develop my own music (and also to explore altered states and their creative musical potential). In the first year I recorded over 50 demo tracks, all were played and tested live. In the second year I got basic funding to become semi-professional for one year, which enabled me to develop, record and play with others, and to remain semi-UNprofessional for the other half of my time! In this third year I’ve focused much more on my music video work which seems hugely important in generating interest and getting my music out there.

*What inspires you?

The uncertainty and challenge of layered improvisation live with myself and others, so my music is constantly changing and when it works I enjoy the inspiration. I would definitely add the local musical scene, the gigs, venues, bands, diverse music, wider musical-social community, and the varied collaborations and improvisations with other musicians. All of these I find inspiring and are the main reasons why I started (relatively late in life) composing and playing as TREF. Also combining my interests in music and altered states has also been a source of inspiration, creativity and productivity… and a lot of fun!

*Tell us about your work/music

My music varies from NASTY to NICE. It crosses genres e.g. from heavy rock to weird funk to pleasant acoustic. I compose and record through several cycles of improvisation, both during recording and live gigs, when new guitar layers are added and mixed, so that my music and video is constantly evolving and developing, building on earlier ideas, creating improved or new music and video over time.

My latest project is my Lockdown Tour. This started when all the venues I’ve played at and enjoyed went into lockdown. It was then that I decided (in a slightly altered state) to convert my music and video back-catalogue into a Tour, with previously unseen material and for each gig I added a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek, short video introduction. New gigs will be added to this as the Tour develops and grows.

*What have you got coming up in the future?

Although my Tour started off as bit of a joke, it’s had significant interest, so I just keep adding gigs. The Tour (so far) has had over 2,500 video views from over 400 people already! I’ve NEVER had such a large captive audience so I will be developing, continuing and adding to this until the venue/gig lockdown ends.

I will also develop the musical collaborations; I really enjoy improvising with other musicians, several will be featured in my Tour. I’ve already got around 40 collaborative tracks and improvised demos with other musicians on TREF Bandcamp and my TREF YouTube Channel, all of which I would love to develop further, so hope those musicians I’ve already collaborated with (credited in my music) do get and keep in touch.

AND I would like to invite others to join me on my Lockdown Tour: Any musicians out there interested could simply video record themselves improvising with my music and send me the video. By using samples from my Bandcamp site (excluding any with credited musicians, already underway) then I could mix it, with myself also playing live…and maybe add it into my Lockdown Tour. Go on! Just Do it!

*Where can people find out more about you?

TREF’s Nasty Lockdown Tour on YouTube and the Nice Lockdown Tour on YouTube or join the TREF Facebook group


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