ALAN BONNER had since his early childhood, always dreamed of pursuing a musical career. After a nerve-wracking impromptu school performance, BONNER immediately began to show an interest in music. Fast forward to early adulthood, and newly found inspirational hooks, BONNER then made the decision to make music a priority, coincidentally jolted after hearing a song by American songstress Tori Amos. ALAN BONNER began to shape his heartfelt and intimately atmospheric signature style by learning piano and focusing more on vocal delivery and tone. Bonner has performed at some notable festivals such as Komedia in Brighton, Leestock Festival in the UK, and Cantautori d’Italia, a prestigious Italian festival, and shared stage with artists such as English singer-songwriter David Ford and Fyfe Dangerfield of indie-rock band Guillemots as well as notable venues such as Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. BONNER has also held extensive tours across the UK, Ireland, Europe, Australia, USA and founded legendary music nights in Berlin at Laksmi & Alaska Bar, attracting musicians and performers from all corners of the globe. We caught up with the Brighton-based Singer-songwriter about when he started writing music and his current plans.
Tell us about you, how long have you been producing music? What did inspire you to start?
I have been writing songs since I was a teenager and in and out of bands since then, I released my first album in 2008 and have been consistently released a new album every 2 or 3 years since then.
The music industry is super competitive these days, was there a moment in your life that you wanted to give up on music? How did you manage to stay focused and achieve what you want?
There have been many times over the years that I’ve got dis-heartened that a record I put out didn’t get the attention that I hoped it might and times I’ve felt tired with the game or felt like giving up, but whenever I take a break from music the songs start coming or Ill be asked to go on tour or something good happens that I cant say no to and I remember that I am really doing this for love and not recognition (although of course, more recognition would be nice). Its part of who I am, I believe that music is a calling. I have no choice, for better or for worse, this is what I do. It’s important to remember that this is a gift and that I’m actually really lucky to be doing this and not be a martyr about it.
How would you describe your creative processes? Who writes the lyrics to the songs? Are the music and lyrics written in conjunction, or separately?
I write all the lyrics to the songs and 99 percent of the music as well, always at the piano. I give my producers co-writing credits for the music sometimes if the arrangements we come up with together change the shape of the song but the music and lyrics are my own and usually, the song is formed before I take it to the studio. Sometimes lyrics and melody come together and the best songs can come to me fully formed in a matter of minutes .“Augustine” from the new EP is one of those. The whole thing just came falling out of me one day in about 10 minutes. Others take more coaching, I may get a fragment of a melody or a great lyric for a chorus but the rest of the song will come to me in pieces over months or sometimes even years. I have notebooks full of lyrics and song ideas and always carry them or scraps of paper with me so I can write lyrics down as they come to me. My creativity can also be sporadic. I can write a full album’s worth of music in 3 months then nothing will come for a full year… I try not to force it or worry about this too much.
Where the inspiration comes from?
All kinds of places. A lot of my songs are stories from my own life and relationships or from people I know or have encountered. I write a lot from my own experience as I think you have to write what you know, but also I find myself taking things from stories other people tell me. I like to talk to strangers when I am travelling on tour and to sit and have a drink with the people in the audience after the show, you hear all kinds of stories from people who’re the path you would never have crossed had you not played that night and I find that really inspiring too. Also, the places I have lived influence me a lot. My last album Night Music was very much inspired by London. In the same way, the new EP is inspired by Galway, Ireland where I lived while I was making it.
What’s your favourite track from the upcoming album and what other bands/artists are you listening to right now?
It’s hard to pick a favourite as I’m fond of them all, but I guess one of them would have to be “The River” Its a very personal song about a friend of mine who took his own life a few years back. Its kind of my tribute to him.
I’m in love with the latest Arcade Fire album and I think “Everything Now” is great. I love all their records and I know they have taken a lot of flack for that track because it sounds so much like an ABBA record but I don’t see why because I think ABBA made some of the best pop records ever made so how can that be a bad thing? I also love Lisa Hannigan’s latest album At Swim. Just beautiful. Anything by The National, I adore them. and I just went on tour in Ireland with a band called dREA who are VERY your ear time.
What’s next for you?
My new EP “Songs in the key of Sea” is out now and I’ll be playing shows throughout Europe through the rest of the year. I am also slowly working on a Fringe Theatre show that I hope see’s the stage in 2020.