A New Captain for the GRC!
The Board and Management team of the GRC were very pleased earlier this year to be able to approve the creation of a new student leadership position at the GRC. For the first time, in 2016, the GRC will have a Conservatorium Captain. Each year from hereon, the GRC will invite applications from GRC enrolled students who are going into Year 12 and are undertaking HSC Music studies, to be the student representative of the GRC in the position of Captain. For the inaugural year of this position, the Board and Management felt that there was only one choice that could be made in recognition of many years of active musical contribution both in the GRC and around the regional community, extending across the state and nationally as well. As such, it is a pleasure to announce that the first GRC Captain is Bailey Judd!
I had the pleasure to sit down with Bailey and chat about music, his past, present and possible future. Here’s how it went:
PSW: This is an interview with Bailey Judd on December 18th. Bailey is our first Conservatorium Captain. How are you?
BJ: I’m very well thank you.
PSW: I thought it would be interesting for people to know a little bit about the beginnings of you, where you are now and possibly where you might be going and how you see the role of Captaincy given you are the first Con Captain. It feels like everyone has seen you out and about gigging since you were a small boy, but where did you start? How did you find music?
BJ: I found music through my friends playing video games like Guitar Hero and things like that.
PSW: How old were you?
BJ: Probably about 8 or 9. It was all about that shallow need to outdo my friends. Music was really special but it started with a sense of fun competition with my friends.
PSW: When did you figure out that you could go from a game like Guitar Hero into actually playing?
BJ: When I realised I could play the game! (laughs)
PSW: So what was the chain of events from there into guitar lessons?
BJ: Well, I bought a Big W guitar, started teaching myself stuff from the internet and thought “How do I take this further?” That’s where the Con came into it.
PSW: What were you looking at on the net?
BJ: Youtube videos mainly.
PSW: Who were your first musical inspirations at the time?
BJ: You know, the classic Black Sabbath, Zeppelin, the formative bands that get you into music.
PSW: What was it about them that inspired you?
BJ: It was first the image of having that “rock star” thing. It was so unlike the music my parents listened to. To have something so full on that was so boundary-pushing. I found it really inspiring.
PSW: I think what it really interesting is that people have seen you playing for a long time, but it couldn’t have started that way. When you first started lessons, what was the moment where the thought dawned that you could actually be good at this?
BJ: I think I started doing a few small gigs before I started lessons. I met Luke (Wheeldon) and he wanted to teach me. I was a bit scared of having someone try to change my style and mold me into being a copy of them but Luke wasn’t like that. I started to realise I could be good at this when I would go into lessons and Luke would be amazed that I had learnt something he had given me so quickly. I think he appreciated my work ethic even though I was still a kid.
PSW: So at the age of 9 or 10 did you think that you had an identifiable “style”?
BJ: No. I didn’t have a style. I just had a preconceived idea that changing what I did would be bad, but with Luke, I was encourage to hold onto my individuality.
PSW: What’s the first gig you remember doing?
BJ: My first gig was at the Carlton Pub, which has closed down now. It was really spontaneous with my guitar and amp. My Dad and uncle used to go there after work. I would just set up and play to backing tracks.
PSW: How old were you?
BJ: Oh maybe 10 or 11.
PSW: What was it like?
BJ: (laughs) It was a bit scary but I was in a comfortable environment with my dad and his mates. It was a bit daunting, but it was also nice to finally do something after I’d been learning for a year or two.
PSW: What happened after that gig? What was the next thing?
BJ: Just a few more little gigs. Practicing more and then I played a few spots at the Tatts before it was done up. I’d do a few $100 gigs which was great at the time because I was saving up for a Gibson (guitar) that was my goal – play gigs and buy a Gibson!
PSW: How many songs do you think you had when you started out?
BJ: When I did my first gig probably only ten or so. It probably got up to about 20 I guess.
PSW: And how many do you have now?
BJ: Literally hundreds, but I don’t remember them all.
PSW: So you started around 9 or 10 and you’re now 17. What is the best gig you’ve ever done?
BJ: There were the Harley Davidson gigs with about 4000 people – that was insane! The biggest was in Mt Bulla in Victoria – yeah that was amazing.
PSW: How old were you then?
BJ: I would have been about 13. And I’d have to say one of the best gigs that made me really have a euphoric feeling was “Blues On the Mountain” which I did with Room 15 (the recent GRC Rock Band). That was in Mangrove Mountain up on the north coast. We turned up to this rusty looking shed that looked like an old community hall with a few old lights and disgusting carpet on the back wall. We went in there not expecting much. When we came back to play the gig it was packed, people were selling food and the vibe was awesome! We played with Toby Wells and other great acts. We got to do a 45-minute set and it was just awesome. We weren’t expecting much but it blew our expectations away! It was a god gig.
PSW: Where is the furthest away you’ve gone to gig?
BJ: WA. It wasn’t the biggest gig ever but it was the furthest away.
PSW: You’ve talked about the perception of “your style” that you had when you were ten. Where are you now?
BJ: Well, I’ve kind of been fighting with myself about that recently, whether to go full on rock or blues as I love them both. I’ve kind of made a conscious decision to take my blues style and push it as far as I can go rather than trying to be half in other styles. I think it is better to have a clear vision and trying to push the boundaries in that genre, rather thasn playing every genre and only half doing it, if you know what I mean.
PSW: I do – you’re making a commitment to a style. So how do you define your own understanding of the blues?
BJ: My understand is that it is all about the deep emotional drive behind it, locked into the basic 1-4-5 progression, keeping it really simple but allowing the soloists work to come through. The simplicity contrasts with the complexity of the soloist.
PSW: And there’s an inherent sense of improvisation that has to come through too.
BJ: I’ve been improvising since I was a kid. I work on the main ideas of the solo, but I would never make it the same. I didn’t want to just mimic, I wanted to explore the ideas.
PSW: Why do you think you took that approach?
BJ: First because I found it really fun to improvise and secondly because I was always too lazy to learn the solos! (laughs)
PSW: Fair enough. Who do you listen to these days that inspires you?
BJ: I’ve been listening to Muddy Waters and the Delta Blues. I still listen to ben Folds Five, Megadeth and all these contrasting artists. I don’t necessarily listen to the same stuff that I like to play.
PSW: What directions are ahead for you once you finish school?
BJ: End goal, either tertiary education or trying to make it as a musician – or hopefully a bit of overlap will happen!
PSW: So, here you are, the first Conservatorium Captain. What do you think that means?
BJ: Encouraging everyone I suppose, from the eldest to the youngest at the GRC.
PSW: What is your view and experience of the GRC today?
BJ: It’s great to go to concerts to see kids who are just starting out and giving their first performance, and then go to other concerts and see people in the choir in their 90’s belting it out and going for it! That’s great!
PSW: You’ll always be the first Conservatorium Captain and to some extent you’ll set the template for future Captains. What kind of legacy would you like to leave?
BJ: I think, as a Captain giving support to people is the main thing. Giving honest feedback, finding ways to support musically in a genuine way, also helping out with concerts and trying to be an active representative. I kind of see this role as a positive link between staff, students and community.
PSW: Is there anything else you would like to say in your first interview as Captain?
BJ: Maybe just to encourage the other GRC Ambassadors to be active and involved in the GRC over the next year and get as much out of the experience as possible. Talk about the GRC around the place and let people know about the great stuff that happens here.
PSW: Thanks Bailey, it has been great to have this talk. I hope you have a fantastic year and I’ll see you on the stage somewhere soon I guess!
BJ: Thanks – I’m sure you will!
Bailey Judd will next be performing at the Australia Day Festivities on Victoria Park on Jan 26th, 2016 and will play a big role in the 2016 Australian Blues Music festival in February.