Often compared with Neil Young, Steve Andrews is an eclectic singer-songwriter and author from Cardiff in Wales but now based in Portugal, where he has been number 1 in the Reverb Nation chart for Singer-songwriters. He is
also known as the Bard of Ely and Green Bard, and he has a green beard. Andrews has performed at the Green Man and Glastonbury Festivals and was an MC at both events as well. His song You’re a Liar, Nicky Wire fronted the Taffia EP on Crai Records, and was rave reviewed in the NME. Harvest Home, also included in this EP, was used in the soundtrack of a movie in 2011 by Philip Gardiner, entitled Paranormal Haunting: The Curse of the Blue Moon Inn.
In 2017, Harvest Home was re-released fronting a limited edition CD EP on the German Moloko label. Also in 2017, Andrews was a finalist in the Best Solo Act category of the Cardiff Music Awards, and he was featured on the Britain's Got Talent TV show, with his performance being extensively written about in the press because he got a lot of the audience up on stage to help him out with his cover of Stand By Me.
Steve has been working with Jayce Lewis as his producer, and so far they have recorded four songs” Living Book, Girl Singer, Citizen of Earth and Ever Yours at Lewis’s Northstone Studios in South Wales.
What Musical Genre Do You Feel Best Describes Your Music And How Would You Describe Your Sound?
I am a singer-songwriter and I write the lyrics first and then work out a tune on an acoustic guitar. I usually play solo gigs backing myself on semi-acoustic guitar, and I find that people often think of this style as folk music. But the same songs if backed by a band with electric guitar, bass and drums becomes a rock song. I would describe my main musical genre as folk and acoustic. I have country flavour to some of my songs too. When recording a song all sorts of instruments can be added, as well as sound effects, and song that started life as a three-chord folk song can end up sounding very different.
How Did You Get Your Name? Is There A Story?
Well, the name Steven Andrews my parents decided on, and it gets shortened to Steve Andrews, but I am also known as the Bard of Ely and Green Beard or Green Bard, and yes, there are stories behind these alternative names. Back in 1998, I used to write a column for the magazine Big Issue, which is sold to raise funds for homeless people. My music had been reviewed in the publication so they knew of me as a singer, musician and performer, and also at the time I was living on the Ely housing estate in Cardiff, so someone in the Big Issue office decided to call me the Bard of Ely, and it sometimes got used in introductions to my column. I liked the idea of being a "bard" of this estate, which by the way, is where Shakin' Stevens originally came from, and I started using it as a stage name.
In 2002, I was booked as a performer and MC at the first Green Man Festival, and seeing as I had a greying goatee beard at the time, I thought I would dye it green for the event. It went with the image of the festival and also reflected my love of nature. Anyway, my new look proved very popular with festival-goers, and with people on the street, so I decided to keep it.
What Are or Have Been Your Musical Influences?
Back in the late 1960s was when I first decided I wanted to be a singer-songwriter, and the artist who inspired me the most was Bob Dylan. I was also influenced by all the other singer-songwriters I enjoyed then and since. Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Roy Orbison, Van Morrison, Kevin Ayers, Roy Harper, Donovan, Melanie, Cat Stevens, Bridget St John and Johnny Cash were all favourites, also John Lennon was my favourite from The Beatles. I used to listen to a lot of Tamla Motown and Soul too, including The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, and many others from that time . I have very varied tastes in music and there have been countless other artists and bands I have listened too and probably been influenced by in some way. Kate Bush, Bob Marley, Marc Bolan, David Bowie, the Incredible String Band, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane/Starship are all in that category, as are Kevin Rowland, Tom Petty and Boy George, not forgetting the Punk era too, so the Sex Pistols, and just about everything John Lydon with PIL has done since, I have liked.
What Are You Working On Now? Any Future Collaborations We Can Look Forward To?
I am about to record a new song of mine entitled Where Does All The Plastic Go? It is being produced by Jayce Lewis at his Northstone Studios in Bridgend in Wales. Jayce has already produced another four songs of mine - Ever Yours, Living Book, Girl Singer and Citizen of Earth - and we are working towards having enough for an album. He has recently been touring with Gary Numan, and in the past has worked with Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen, and the late Steve Strange (Visage). My new song is a protest about plastic pollution and I am hoping it will help in promoting my idea for a big concert to raise awareness about the problem of plastic waste, and to be called Ocean Aid. Also I thought a vinyl LP compilation by Various Artists entitled Plastic on Plastic would work well with this. It is all in planning stages at present but Iam thinking big! I can tell you that environmentalist, author and adventurer, David de Rothschild wants me to keep him updated on the progress of these projects, and I have just started spreading the word via social media. Basically, I had been thinking that no one in the music world seemed to be speaking out publicly or saying anything in their songs about this terrible environmental problem, so I would see if I could change that. South Wales Hip-Hop artist, rapper, singer and poet, Rufus Mufasa and her partner Jamey P want to work with me on this plastic pollution project. Jamey is a very talented Hip-Hop artist and producer and he produced my song Bus To Ferndale Blues. A collaboration between us is in the pipeline. This year, I have been active, as much as I can, in the campaigns to save the trees of Roath in Cardiff and the trees of Sheffield. In fact, I have become a poster-boy for the protesters with an image of me that has been doing the rounds on social media with the slogan YOUR TREES NEED YOU! Jonathan Downes recently interviewed me about this for the GONZO Weekly.
What Is Your Ultimate Goal In The Music Industry? What Is Your Plan Of Action?
Take it as far as I can. Of course, I would love to have hit singles and albums, and see my songs used in movies would be brilliant as well. My plan of action is to keep on keeping on with it all and find out where my music will take me. I am focused on environmental activism for the future too.
What Is Your Favorite Track To Perform Live and Why?
Of my own songs, it is a fun song entitled Superhero. This is because I like to get the audience involved in my performance and in this song, which has a Country feel to it, I say "Give us a yee-ha" and always get a response from the crowd. Of cover songs, it would be Stand By Me, again because I encourage audience participation. I was featured on Britain's Got Talent in 2017 and got a lot of women from the audience up on stage with me. Simon Cowell didn't like it but the audience did, and so did the press. I got a lot of media coverage because of this performance. Because of the ongoing save-the-tree protests I have changed the lyrics to "Stand by tree."
What Has Been The Biggest Challenge In Your Career Thus far?
Getting the publicity and exposure for my material. This is a problem for any artist. It doesn't matter how talented you are if nobody knows about you or your music. I am finding my green beard is helping get me known.
What’s Your Typical Songwriting Process?
I get an idea from somewhere or about something to write about, and then I jot lines down on a notepad or whatever I have with me I can write on. When I have enough to form the lyrics of a song, I mess about on my guitar finding a chord structure and tune that sounds good with the words I have.
How Has Social Media Influenced Your Career As An Artist?
I find social media invaluable for promoting my music on. On the Reverb Nation site, for example, I have held the number 1 chart position for singer-songwriters in Portugal. In 2017, I was interviewed by Jacqueline Jax of A.V. A. Live Radio and featured in American Pride magazine, which is available online and gave my music a great boost.
What Are Some Tracks and Artists Currently On Your Playlist?
I have been enjoying my friend Rufus Mufasa's album Fur Coats From The Lion's Den, which as been receiving a lot of well-deserved great reviews and public acclaim. Speaking of social media, as we just were, Baby G, of Brooklyn band Shinobi Ninja, befriended me on twitter, and I ended up becoming an instant fan of their work. Israeli singer-songwriter Kama Vardi was another recent discovery and again I became an instant fan after hearing her via Push Power Promo. Newport (South Wales)-based band, Fader, hooked me with their song People and I kept playing the video over and over. I always keep up-to-date with whatever Neil Young is doing too and love his work with Promise of the Real. I recently watched and re-watched the new movie Paradox that was directed by Neil's partner Daryl Hannah and which stars Neil.
What Did You Do Before You Started Making Music?
I was in high school when I decided I wanted to be a singer-songwriter/rock star. That was long ago and I have kept at it, as well as all the other stuff I do: I am an author, a poet and freelance writer too.
Any Advice For Young People (Men or Women) That Want To Succeed In The Music World?
Never give up, don't let rejections put you off, believe in what you have to offer, and take opportunities when they come your way.
What Would You Change In The Music Industry If You Were A Top Music Executive?
I would like to bring it back to how it was in earlier decades when originality really helped, and the record companies were not focused on churning out more of the same formulaic music, just because it has sold and proved commercial. Many of the greatest artists have stood the test of time because of their originality and not being afraid of creating something new. David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and Marc Bolan all became music icons and all of them did something different. There has been too much focus on 'perfect' vocals with TV shows like The Voice promoting this.
How Do You Feel About Originality?
As I have just said, I think originality has been vital to the success of so many big stars in the music world. The 1960s, 1970s and 1980s all gave us singer-songwriters and bands that really did provide something new and original. There were new music genres that established acts who became internationally successful, for example, Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal, Glam Rock, Punk Rock, Synth Pop, Grunge...but in the last couple of decades commercial popular music has relied on formulas. Even a singer-songwriter like Ed Sheeran, who has achieved phenomenal success, is hardly breaking new ground with his songs, original as they may be.
Is There Anything Else We Should Know About You Or That You Would Like to Add?
I am an author with two books about herbs, published by Moon Books. They are Herbs of the Northern Shaman and Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets. Herbs of the Southern Shaman is currently in production to be published by the same company.
Websites or Social Media Pages:
Reverb Nation: https://www.reverbnation.com/bardofely
Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/bardofely/
Top Music Japan: http://topmusic.jp/product_info2.php?products_id=1534