Exclusive Interview: Derek Bishop

TheAussieWord caught up with Derek Bishop, the New Yorkan with soothing soulful sounds of pop! Join me in this very special one on one interview…

What can you tell us Aussies about you.
Hey Aussie Word! Thanks for having me. I’m Derek Bishop, and I’m a singer/songwriter/piano-playing guy. I have just released my debut CD, Resistance is Beautiful, and I’m here to spread the word about it. 
How and where did it all begin?
My parents loved music. We always had the radio on in the car and in the house playing all the latest tunes. And boy, we had had an extensive record collection. I was very lucky to be exposed nearly everything that came out from the 1970s. And all those songs are still lodged in my brain.  As far as making music, I had an older cousin who played the piano & sang.  Pretty much the first time I saw that, I was hooked. I immediately started asking for lessons. I wanted to understand it, and be able to create tunes and play everything I heard. The local piano teacher wouldn’t start teaching kids until they were at least 8. I was 6. Which meant I had to wait a few years. However once I got my foot in that door, I never looked back.

Who inspires or influences your quest to make great music?
I love people that sing — and sing without the use of the auto-tune.  I love a real natural voice, varied and unique. I’d much rather hear someone sound like Joe Cocker than some over-processed, homogenised computer voice.  I respect so many singer-songwriters, with my favorites being Stevie Nicks, Butch Walker, Hawksley Workman, and Ben Folds. I’m thrilled Fiona Apple has a new CD coming out.  I like her mix of weird and sultry. But mostly I’m inspired to make great music by life.  I see ideas everyday that would make for a great song.  The challenge is finding a new and unique way to present that. I find music to be one of the most inspirational things in life, and I feel blessed that I love it and have the opportunity to play it.
Are there any tours or gigs planned for the future?
I’m constantly playing out.  This month I performed in “UNHINGED: a Night of Queer Songwriters” in NYC featuring some of New York’s underground gay songwriters.  It was a superb event with so much talent. I was thrilled to be a part of it!  I also have new gigs for Philadelphia, Washington DC and NYC in the works.  Sadly, no Aussie dates yet.
What are some of the biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
I just want to continue to make music and get it out there…make fans and connect with other artists.  I’m fashioning this music career in a very do-it-yourself way, and doing your own publicity sadly takes more time than making the music. But it’s very rewarding when you connect with folks and they like what you’re doing. I didn’t think I would enjoy making videos as much as I do, but I’m enjoying that process so very much.  Not so much the posing, acting, singing part of it…more the design, story, editing and shaping of the entire thing.
What can fans expect from you in the coming months?
2 new videos for sure!  Both will be very different, and quite fun. One involves sock puppets, and the other involves a murder-set-to-music (or perhaps I can combine them for a puppet murder!?) I’m also working on new songs for my next CD. They have a very 80s-meets-60s feel. I hope to put some of those tunes out early on youtube so be on the lookout.
Success, what is the secret to success and what has been your biggest career highlight so far?
Thus far, I would have to say my career highlight is releasing my CD Resistance is Beautiful. It’s the album I always wanted to make, and I was blessed that I had the material, the musicians, and the right frame of mind to make it when I did. It’s a product of age and experience. I know there’s not a false note on it (musically and emotionally.) I’m so proud of what we did with these songs and I want as many people to hear it as possible. But as far as the secret to success, for me I feel a great sense of pride, joy and solace when I’m writing and playing music.  

How would people best describe you and your music?
I just had one reviewer describe my music as “seamlessly melding the seemingly unmeldable by juxtaposing vintage keyboards with big band glosses, Weimar cabaret with 80s synth pop, all overlaid with hints of both Broadway and Laurel Canyon.”.  And I love that description. I call it, “extra-catchy, ecelcto-piano pop.” As for me, I think folks would describe me as fun, neurotic fella, hopefully one who writes good tunes and puts together a great outfit.

Tell us a bit about your new album?

My CD Resistance is Beautiful is about great things that come from a life you try to avoid. i.e trying to ignore that nagging itch in the back of your brain and the life you lead as a result of that. You body knows something is wrong and it tries to tell you… And you just resist, sticking your head in the sand. It’s this “waiting” and “resisting” though that shapes us. It gives us experience and ultimately the courage to move forward with strength. While there’s a good cohesive theme running through the entire CD, the song topics are quite varied. Some are about coming out of the closet, some are about wanting someone who isn’t available, and then there are the love and anger songs. The overall sound of the album is interesting, odd and peppy. There are lots of sonic surprises and fun wordplay. It’s a CD the entire family can enjoy.

The industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
I just started – and I’m not stopping or slowing down. I’m on high-speed, automatic pilot now. I’m just going to keep writing, performing, making CDs and videos and spreading the word. Hopefully I’ll keep getting more people interested in my music and the opportunites will grow from there.

Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
I’m going to sound very old-school with these answers, but I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Olivia Newton John and the Bee-Gees (but do they even count considering they were all born in the UK?) I think Toni Collette has an amazing singing voice, I enjoy Ben Lee, old INXS, and I think I would loose my gay-card if I didn’t mention Kylie Minogue.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what it means to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
I love that anyone can make a record now and get it out there. Granted it has resulted in a bit of over-saturation, but it’s wonderfully freeing time as an artist. It used to be impossible for someone to hear music from some unsigned, new artist on the other side of the world.  But with youtube, facebook and twitter (and a lot of time) you can make videos, make connections and promote the heck out of yourself.  It used to be you’d have to play live non-stop to make fans and sell records – and now you can do all that from the comfort of your desk.  I’m not knocking playing out, because I love seeing live shows and performing.  But it’s also great to release new music all with the touch a few buttons get nearly-instant feedback and fans.

Thanks for the interview! What can you leave fans with here on TheAussieWord blog today? 
I love your website and I’m really appreciative of the opportunity to spread the word about my music. I started this music career much later in life, and it has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.  So if any of you out there are debating about changing your life and trying something a little off the normal career path, by all means go for it. I have found such success and happiness in the trails and attempts and the bumpy road. 

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