Interview | FFS 5 with Guy Grogan

Through Same Morning Light, Guy Grogan is at it again with more of the textured alternative rock that listeners have come to appreciate. Albeit, the overall presentation is just a tad folksier this time around. The UK-gone-US singer-songwriter’s goal with this album was to present something more broadly encompassing of and empathetic towards the human condition. This extends to its sonic presentation, making for a more varied pool of songs to wade in on his latest.

Grogan says, “This was a special record for me. I mean, they all are, but with this one I really felt like I went deep into the writing and was able to achieve some distance between simply drawing from personal experiences to a broader imagining of someone else’s experiences or feelings and writing from their point of view…less autobiographical, but no less intimate.”

Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get started in music? Any defining moments along the path to present day?

I’m originally from the UK, but have been in the States since I was a kid. I bounced around the US and landed in Santa Fe, NM about 12 years ago. As to my start in music, like most I was drawn to it as an adolescent, begged my parents for a guitar when I was 13, and started forming bands from there. I played up through college then took a prolonged hiatus. I came back to music while going through a rough patch in my personal life. It was a lifeline, but the process of making music and the industry had changed drastically while I’d been away from it. I was literally restarting from scratch, but I dove in headfirst and haven’t stopped swimming since.

As an artist, how do you define success?

I think there are different degrees of success as an artist. Taking the seed of an idea and developing it into a fully-fledged song that you love is a success in and of itself. Then if one other person happens to like it, that is a success. If a few others like it, that is a success and so on. If someone likes it so much they are compelled to support you by buying the song or a piece of merch, that is also a major success, which gets to my definition of it: If you’re able to do what you love, and through it, provide for yourself and/or your loved ones in a way that meets your needs—that’s the definition of success in my book—whether you’re an artist, an accountant, running a restaurant, a tattoo shop, flying airplanes, etc.

What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?

Nowadays, as an indie musician, you have to be the head chef, the dishwasher and everything in between…and finding the time to do all of that consistently well, with all of life’s other commitments and distractions, is no small feat. I’m probably not the first musician to say this, but music’s digital revolution has been a double-edged sword. On the one hand it has democratized the industry. It has all but toppled the gatekeepers and allowed anyone with a computer and an internet connection to put music out into the world. That’s obviously a great thing, but it has made for a very saturated marketplace and has devalued recorded music to the point of absurdity. All that said, I still believe it all comes back to the song. If you’re songs are good enough, they will cut through and enough people will respond to make it a viable means of making a living.

What do you think is the most realistic goal you can achieve as an artist/band? What do you hope to achieve?

Man, that’s a tough question. Goals vary widely from musician to musician and band to band depending on where they are in their careers, their personal circumstances, etc. In a general sense, I suspect we all aim to make a decent living practicing our craft, but I’m not sure that’s a universality. Some musicians are more ambitious than others. Personally, I hope to achieve my definition of success as mentioned above. Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake. Anything less will just serve as inspiration to try harder.

Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?

Certainly, there are things outside of music that I like to do that replenish me––spending time with my family, hiking, or working on my visual art—and anything that replenishes and restores balance has the potential to inspire. But, mostly, I think just being alive and moving through the world contributes to my musical creativity. If I’m not actually working up an idea, I’m constantly evaluating everything around me for potential material—finding a lyric in a bit of a conversation I overhear…I might see a street sign or the name of town while on a long drive and think to myself “oooh…could that work as a song title?” Or I might see a cool building while I’m walking around a town and think “could I use that in a piece of album art or a photo?” Maybe I hear something on the radio that catches my ear. Whatever it is, I either voice memo it or add it to my notepad on my phone, which is more of an idea reservoir than anything else at this point. 

Words by: Jonathan Frahm