Introducing: Skidders

Skidders (aka Steve Skidmore) is an English guitarist who writes and records music in blues, rock, and jazz genres. His motto “He can’t sing, but he can play the guitar”, whilst borders on reality, means most self-penned songs are instrumental allowing him to showcase his unique style and sound. This also ensures compositions are well suited to TV and Film ‘sync’ use. New album “Friends & Family Vol. 2” was released earlier this year and Skidders was on hand to talk to us about the album, as well as offer up some insight into his musical background.

What is your musical background, and how long have you been performing music?

I write, record, and produce my own music. I can’t sing to save my life (not seriously anyway), so 95% of my music is instrumentals. I’ve been playing since I was 14 – and that is a long time! I was born in the Black Country, in the middle of England, so-called because of all the smoke given off by steelworks and foundries. When Tolkien created Mordor, he was thinking of the Black Country. Originally, at 14 years old I played drums in a Club band but taught myself guitar on the basis on music theory learned from piano lessons. And from the age of 15, that’s where I’ve stayed ever since. Predominantly electric, but also acoustic and even the odd resonator and mandolin!

What should people expect when they check your music out?

I write eclectic music, as I say, mainly instrumental. Although it is eclectic, I don’t like to think of it as ‘middle of the road’. My latest single, which is doing great in terms of streaming, is a rock instrumental. I’m really proud of that one – it came out sounding great, especially thanks to some fabulous mastering by my friend and musician, Paul Hogg aka The Ox. The single is on my latest album, which has music ranging from rock to reggae to Celtic. I would say if you have a Catholic taste in music, I would hope you would like the album. If I am performing solo, you can expect me to be playing perhaps Robert Johnson and the like, or even a tribute to Seasick Steve, where I get as drunk as possible whilst performing (not really), hence playing under the guise of “Pi$$ed up Steve”.

How did you feel performing your first gig, and how was it?!

Because I have had so many projects and played in many bands before playing solo, there are different situations I could describe. However, putting a band together, consisting of great friends and brilliant drummer, John Chivers, my daughter on keyboard (aka Anatasha), and Paul Hogg on bass – front lining was an occasion I’ll always cherish. It was recorded too for posterity. All in all, I do not play solo that often but my next album will be written and produced around taking it on the road.

The new music scene is bursting at the seams at the minute with fresh talent, in what ways do you feel that a band has to stand out to build a name for themselves?

There is indeed so much talent and it is so difficult to make yourself heard, not only because of that but also the media through which it is now played. For a relatively small subscription, you can listen to any music you want anytime – and you can listen to it just once. In the days of the 7” single, you bought the single, then played it until you wore it out. So instead of any artist getting £0.00000001 for a stream, they would receive a good deal more for the single. The record companies used to decide who would have the hits and which would make the most money, then target those record sales. Today, certainly the record companies still invest in pushing to the front their artists, but now anyone can publish music cheaply and globally. So getting it heard is a problem.

Basically, if you don’t have a record deal with a major company, to succeed you have to build up a fan base. That can only be done by grafting and spending a lot of time with fans, whether that is via gigs, social media, or clever PR.

What are you working on at the minute that people can check out?

Well, my latest album “Friends & Family Vol. 2” was released 4th May this year and is available on all streaming platforms and CD via my website. I’m really pleased with the streams it has had so far. Most of this year to date has been completing and promoting it. I am still in ‘promotion mode’ for a while. Later this year, I will then start on my 4th album “Feckem Hall”, but I do not plan to complete it for some time. I am also a session guitarist and currently recording for a writer, Kylolus, who is putting an album together. It’s sort of prog-rock – really good stuff. I will also gig with my lovely friend, Sammi Roberts – the two of us are an acoustic duo called “Bukechi” (Mandarin Chinese for ‘You’re Welcome’). Check out our album “Welcome to Suburbia” on Spotify etc.

In terms of a similar audience, which band out there at the minute do you feel you would be best suited to open for?

Great question and I have to temper between ‘suited to’ and ‘like to’. I’ve opened for Midge Ure, Roger Chapman (Family), and John Powers (the La’s). I even played a showcase in London with Ellie Goulding before she ‘made it’. I think playing as a band rather than solo and based on the eclectic nature of my music, I could open for the likes of: Andy Fairweather-Low, Albert Lee, Bonnie Raitt, Robben Ford – those kinds of artists, with some blues influence. If I could choose anyone, any time, however, it would be the Beatles although my music wouldn’t really fit theirs. I plan to take my 4th album on the road and will certainly check out available ours for supporting acts.



Excluding yourself, which new artist would you like to see break out and become a success?

Another great question! As a guitarist, there are two I would love to see smash it. They have both had success to a degree, but they deserve to be household names. Those are Jon Gomm and Si Hayden. Jon was on the guitar talent show a couple of years back giving guidance to some up-and-coming guitarists. Si completed the whole of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, just on one nylon guitar! Amazing musicians.

What are your own first musical memories? And what was the lightbulb moment that made you go “I want to do that”?

My first musical memory was as a baby in my cot (honestly!), hearing “Scarlett Ribbons” probably by Harry Belafonte. Later it was watching a pop music show when I was probably about 5, that scored new singles, and remembered the Beatles coming on. Then seeing Hank Marvin of the Shadows playing his wonderful red Stratocaster did it for me. I knew then I had to be a guitarist and get one of those red guitars! Today I have 2 Stratocasters, although one is white, the other sunburst.

 

What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?

The last gig I went to, because of the pandemic, was a while back – the Stones at The Ricoh in Coventry. It was fantastic and Mick Jagger must be incredibly fit! My first gig, out of interest, was Ten Years After with Alvin Lee playing super-fast guitar, at the Town Hall in Birmingham. I still have the ticket for it, as I have all the other concerts I went to. That was a great venue, a bit like the Royal Albert Hall, with seats around the band as well as in front – such a great atmosphere.

What current social issue are you particularly passionate about?

Unlike my musical taste, I am middle of the road politically. I believe in common sense and embracing one another’s culture but not imposing it. I also believe we should learn from history and not retrospectively destroy it, otherwise, we would learn nothing.

 

The album that you have in your album collection/Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?


“Ella Fitzgerald meets Irving Berlin” – although I do write some jazz-influenced songs, perhaps Ella is not the first artist people would think of me listening to. Of course, she was great and the musicianship of those she played with (which of course included Joe Pass), was out of this world. I have been learning some American Songbook songs recently and the music theory for the jazz chords and scales are very interesting, if not hard work!

 

Although 2021 was another year to forget, there were some amazing new albums released, what would be your album of last year? And, what new music have you been enjoying so far this year?

Amythyst Kiah’s “Wary + Strange” was by far my favourite album of last year. Perhaps because it is so eclectic? Another album that stood out was John Mayer’s “Sob Rock” – you gotta like a bit of Mayer! This year, I have been deep into my new album, but John Mayall’s “The Sun is Shining Down” album is pure class – what a legend. I hope I can keep going that long!

What does 2022 hold for you?

As I previously mentioned, I’m still promoting my latest album but will gig with Bukechi and start on my 4th album. Also, I have session guitar work for the new album by Kylolus as well as a few other artists. We’ll be moving into a new house soon too, which means a new studio to build!

How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?

I am daily on the usual suspects – I even have TikTok now! All my links are below. Thanks for reading this interview and do please check my music out:

www.skiddersmusic.com 

www.facebook.com/skiddersmusic

www.soundcloud.com/skiddersmusic

www.tiktok.com/@skiddersmusic

music.apple.com/gb/artist/skidders/259672296

open.spotify.com/artist/4zqTExvjnWSFTP2vKXG83v

music.amazon.co.uk/artists/B00201NE5A/skidders

www.youtube.com/user/skiddersmusic

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