In a time where authentic music is rarely produced, Connor Selby is keeping things real. With his Stratocaster in hand and poetic inclinations in tow, he has already crafted his own distinct combination of Dylan and Stevie Ray-esque sounds. At seventeen, he moves his fingers with class and intense fervour, and with a backing of tight musicians forming the Connor Selby Band, things are only getting better. If John Mayall Is the Godfather of the British Blues, Selby must be the Godson.
Ultra Underground recently caught up with Selby to chat about the formation of his band, and his prodigious techniques—getting an insight into the life of a budding Blues virtuoso.
UU: Tell me the story of how you and the band got together? Also, I understand you have changed the name and gotten a new member as of very recently, tell us a little about that.
CS: We all met at my school. The Drummer is a music teacher at the school and he teaches both me and Tom (the bass player), and he recommended that we get Tom in to play bass. We started jamming and then we knew that what we had going on was good. We played as a trio for about a year know but we really wanted to expand and get a keyboard player so that we could be more diverse musically and so that we could expand our musical potential. I started looking for a keyboard player and started putting ads on the internet etc. and we got a reply. It’s still early days right now and he’s only come to a few session but so far it’s been awesome having him around. He’s an excellent player with a classical background which should help our music to be more complex and varied.
UU: You play guitar with an intensity that strongly emulates that of SRV’s, how long have you been playing? and how have you gone about producing such a distinctive sound? Did the singing come first or the guitar?
CS: Wow thanks! Being told you have a distinctive sound is the highest kind of compliment a guitarist can receive in my opinion so it really means a lot. I’ve been playing for about 10 years now. In terms of my sound, I suppose it’s just a combination of all my favourite players: guys like SRV, Joe Bonamassa, Clapton etc. and more recently guys like Philip Sayce, Matt Schofield and Eric Gales. I wouldn’t really say I ever took up singing, it’s just something I thought I ought to do as it’s what all my heroes did. I would definitely say that it’s the bands weakest feature though and I’m taking vocal lessons to try and improve.
UU: You spent ‘several summers’ over at Berklee College of Music in Boston, receiving 2 scholarships, what was that experience like for you? & what was the greatest part of your time there?
CS: Basically, I went there a few years ago on one of their summer programs and whilst I was there I was awarded with a “scholarship” which allowed me to come back again for free. I went there again the following year and then once more after that. On my last visit I won something else that took some money off of the cost, which was nice. I was too young back then to win any kind of actual scholarship for the school and I’m grateful that I won anything at all. The time there was well worth it as I learnt a lot and met a lot of cool players.
UU: Do you have any new music coming out and or plans for an EP?
CS: We definitely want to release an EP soon. It’s just a matter of there being enough people out there who will buy it to justify making it. We might release a live EP soon as they are a lot less costly to make but we don’t have anything set in stone as of yet.
UU: How would you describe the bands’ sound? & what’s your favourite thing about the sound y’all have created?
CS: I’m not sure how exactly you’d describe us, I guess bonamassa-esque blues/rock. With the new keyboard player we hope to kind of branch out and play more traditional blues stuff as that’s what I really get a kick out of. I don’t really know what we are most proud of, I guess it’s just the fact that we are out making music. That’s what I’m most proud of at least…
UU: When it comes to your songs, is there a set writing process and if so, do you all write together?
CS: When we write the music comes first. We normally all write together and spit ball ideas until something comes together, then I go away and tidy it up and write the lyrics. That’s basically how all of our songs have been written thus far.
UU: Which song are you most proud of having written and why?
CS: I’m not really sure. I guess the truth behind it all is our most adventurous song lyrically and musically. It’s a lot more abstract than the other songs lyrically and that’s probably because I’ve been listening to a lot of Bob Dylan. I tried to channel him in that song by writing something that almost comes across as political but really has nothing to do with anything.
UU: Top 5 records and musicians that have influenced both yourself and the band as a whole?
CS: The classics I guess: Disraeli gears, Are you experienced?, Texas Flood, Live at the Regal and From the Cradle by Clapton. My favourite musicians as of the time of writing this interview are probably Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Philip Sayce and Nick Drake although this will probably change soon.
UU: What is your ultimate goal as a guitarist? What do you hope to achieve with the band?
CS: I suppose I would like to do my bit to help keep the blues going into the future and to earn enough money to survive by making music. That’s it really…
UU: Are there any venues you would like to play? And do you have any plans to tour Australia in the future?
CS: I guess my biggest dream would be to play the Albert Hall as that’s where some of the greatest concerts of all time have taken place. We’d definitely be interested in coming to Australia if there are people who want to hear us play there.
UU: Was there any particular record that made you want to play guitar? that as soon as you heard it, you knew that’s what you wanted to do?
CS: When I was quite young the first record I remember listening to and thinking that this is what I want to do would be Eric Clapton: Blues. I used to try and play along to “Have you ever loved a woman?” and that was the first song I remember thinking that I could play.
UU: Do you have a favourite guitar & does it have a name?
CS: My white and red Strat is currently my favourite guitar although she doesn’t really have a name.
UU: Any guitarists you aspire to play and or collaborate with?
CS: My dream would be to play with Clapton. He’s the coolest guy on the planet as far as I’m concerned.
UU: What do you hope people get out of listening to your music?
CS: I guess at the end of the day I just want people to get enjoyment out of my music because that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.
Peace, love and keep singin’ the Blues,