1. Hello! Who are you, where are you from and all that good stuff.
My name’s Richard Buchanan. I was born and grew up in Edinburgh and I now live with my wife and three children in East Lothian.
2. Tell us a bit about the music you make.
I’m a songwriter who sings a bit. I work on my own so the music I make is very much oriented around the song. I arrange these songs and record them and I play a range of instruments on the recordings but at the heart is the song – the chords, the tunes and the words – and that’s what really interests me. Sometimes something very simple works for what I want to do and sometimes I use chords that shouldn’t really go together in order to try and squeeze out melodies for words that might need a different kind of tension in them. At it’s core, the music I make is driven by all those songwriters, musicians, writers, poets and filmmakers I admire.
3. When did you start and what made you want to start making music?
That first rush of adrenaline when music really affects you deep down first happened to me in my mid-teens. That something about the way music makes you feel inside, coupled with words that seem to speak directly to you is a very potent force. I wanted to both master this force and further submit myself to it, so I got myself a bass guitar and started practising like crazy. I became one fifth of 90s Scottish folk-pop under achievers, The Lost Soul Band and spent most of my twenties performing and recording music. Those were happy days indeed. But when the band eventually crashed and burned I was so disillusioned that I turned my back on making music completely and didn’t pick up an instrument for over fifteen years. I did listen to music more than ever during that time so when the kids started bringing guitars home from school music lessons and asking me to tune them I was quickly and easily drawn back to the world of music and started making it all over again. This time however, it was as a songwriter rather than a bass player.
4. Stage or studio?
Stage. I love that direct connection with an audience. I often perform in very small venues and bars, on my own. I first took my songs out of the bedroom and performed them live with a ‘do-something-that-terrifies-you’ mentality. There is something terrifying about doing this and it’s to do with human vulnerability, but the reward in doing it is so gratifying. Tied into this human vulnerability is also the vulnerability of the song stripped back to just me and a guitar. When I was in The Lost Soul Band, playing on stage was the greatest thrill. I do have it in mind that I’d like to perform my songs one day with other musicians. That would be good.
5. What gear do you use to make your tunes?
I jot down lyrics on my phone, Google drive, notebooks and post-it notes. I’m not very organised so I often lose track of choruses and find them later – unless I write the whole song in one sitting. I write my songs on a guitar. I have a big attic that has a drum kit and a bunch of instruments and percussion things and microphones kicking about. I’ve recorded radiators and someone playing saxophone in the distance under the bridge at King’s Stable Road and put those sounds onto my recordings too. I have a little digital audio interface that smooths out recording stuff and I use mainly free software to try and get it all to sound okay – but I don’t think I’m very good at that part. There are fundamental things about recording that I think I need to spend a lot of time understanding – and I’d rather spend that time writing more songs.
6. And what is your choice bit of gear and why?
My choice bit of gear is undoubtedly my Epiphone Masterbilt guitar. Since I started playing again I’d been using a rag-bag assortment of old, borrowed and pre-loved acoustic guitars, some of which were perfectly good but all of which seemed to reach the end of their life in my hands. It was my birthday in July and my family all pooled resources and bought me a new guitar. I’d mentioned a while ago to my son that I really liked the look of a couple of archtops I seen. He’s a guitar player too so he went out and tried a few and selected the Masterbilt on behalf of the family. Blooming excellent choice! I couldn’t believe it when I came downstairs to it on my birthday. Every guitar player plays guitar slightly differently and each one has different sized hands etc. so what might be great for one player may be rubbish to another. For me, this guitar plays like an absolute treat. The electrics in it must be great because it sounds amazing in the small PAs I often play through. I do believe this guitar is making me a better player too. I want to improve so I can do justice to this fine instrument. And, it’s absolutely gorgeous.
7. Where can we check out your tunes?
You can check out my tunes on either my website or my bandcamp page. If you want to see me live you can give my page a like on facebook or follow me on twitter where I regularly post up info about where and when I’m playing.
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