Idea13 Interview With Finding Miranda’s Lead Singer Chay Appleyard
What inspired you to become a singer?
I guess I’ve always been a fan of pop music, but my first real interest in music came when my Nan had these country and western cassettes (yeah, cassettes – feel old yet?) that her brother made. My nan, uncles and aunties were big line-dancers so my introductions into music came from there.
I always loved performing, I spent my teenage years doing musical theatre and won a singing/talent competition at Baylees Theatre School when I was 15, but I fell in love with indie music just before that. That time you had lots of great bands in the top 40 in and around the mid-noughties. I wanted some more of that!
Weirdly I didn’t pick up a guitar until I was 17, although I previously dabbled in keyboard and drums (my timing on percussion instruments is atrocious), I foolishly didn’t keep it up.The defining moment for me when I was leaving school, I joined a band with three close mates (Including Jimmy Sallows – Finding Miranda’s bassist), it took a while to find my feet as a frontman, but we once played the Thameside Theatre, and as I walked up to the microphone, all our friends were at the back and they gave us a standing ovation, before we either sang/played a note. Wonderful moment – from that point on I knew I had to carry it on.
Who do you look up to when making music?
I tend not to look up to artists. I mean naturally there are hundreds of people I like and admire but I find more things closer to home fascinating.It’s not so much looking up to people, as looking sidewards. I think your family, friends, partners, a phrase, a memory, or experiences are far more inspiring and easier to write about.I try and not be too afraid to get personal. By putting your own spin on things, you can keep things vague enough to maintain a broad appeal in your songwriting, by having perspectives still relatable to a wider audience.
I think you develop your own sense of what you want to be. I don’t particularly look at one artist and go “You, now you sir are the blueprint”. The thing is, I’m not Thom Yorke, so why attempt to be Thom Yorke? I sometimes get asked “So who does your band sound like?” and I find it difficult to answer. And I regard that as a good thing.
What’s it like working in a band?
I love it. It’s as simple as that.Tony Buckley asked me to be in a band with him, and I thank him greatly for that. I had a few songs knocking about which I would’ve done nothing with unless I was given this opportunity.From the summer of 2012 I had a greater incentive to write more songs, it gave me that boost I needed to be expressive in my songwriting. I spent a few years after the rest of my first band went off to university doing nothing musically. So Tony, Lee and Jimmy have pulled me out of the mire.
I’m the primary songwriter, which seems to work well, Lee has a host of great songs too from other projects, but we’ve got a formula which has stuck. I provide the skeletons, Tony provides the skin (drum ‘skins’, get it? … No?), Jimmy provides the muscle in the bass and Lee’s guitar gives the songs life with organs.I listen to our songs from our two EPs occasionally and I couldn’t be more happier at times. I’m proud of what the guys and myself have in our musical arsenal.I love them as people too. They are not just bandmates – they are true friends! Jimmy, I have known for nearly 14 years, poor sod.
Do you see yourself going solo?
I play a lot of gigs on my own, just to keep the momentum going and to test new songs or ideas but the band is my main priority. I have recorded some songs with Dorion Quest and I’m unsure of how or what to do with them yet. I’m sure over time I will decide whether they will be Miranda songs or to take them in another direction.I have my radio show, 50 Shades of Chay on Phoenix FM, and I do a bit of presenting work with Thames Delta, which I would love to do more of. So I have other things going on within music which doesn’t give me an incentive to go solo as such. I am open minded, I’d love to write different kind of songs in the future, maybe different kind of genre or styles.
I’d say the band has priority on the good stuff I write.I would love to do something one day which doesn’t require me playing a guitar. I’d rather be a frontman and run around like a lunatic. I’d say I’m a better performer than a guitar player.I would love to do more, I’m busy enough, but I’d love to spend more days recording, tearing songs apart and making them better.
What are you plans for the upcoming year?
There is plans to go into the studio with Finding Miranda – dates still unsettled but it will happen in the near future. We need to start putting dates into our diary, whether that’ll be gigs, recording, rehearsals, so I’ll crack on with that as soon as possible.
I have a couple of gigs, an solo one at The Alex in Southend on the 28th February which I am looking forward to.I think my main ambition is to write more, I have lots of ideas I would like to conquer, some of which I’ve had brewing for a year which need to be thrown onto paper then into a melody. I guess my ultimate aim to find what is personally regarded as the perfect song. It may take me years but it would be fun trying.
I hope to go see England at the Euros in France. Just applied for our tickets, so fingers crossed.I’ve just finished reading Frank Turners book ‘The Road Beneath My Feet’, which tells stories of life on tour. I thought how good of an idea it would be to take two weeks off work and book a few dates around the the country, do a few radio shows, gigs and open mics just for the experience. Maybe one day in the summer. See a bit of the country and do a video documentary of it on my iPad. Who knows? Whatever happens I’ll keep you posted.
What’s the biggest performance you have done so far?
I have favourite gigs if thats anything to go by. It depends on what you regard as a ‘big’ gig.
Playing Village Beach last year with Finding Miranda was great, to play to a crowd that big on a massive stage. I loved every second of that. I tried to put everything I had into that performance, hope it showed.On the top of my head, with my former band we played Schools Out, which was run by V-One nearly a decade ago, was a personal favourite. I was 17 and I was in my element. I remember coming off stage and just laying on the floor drenched. It was the hottest day of the year. When you feel like that after you finish a gig – you know you’ve done yourself justice.Matt Tubey asked me to play his album launch in December in a great small venue in West Ham, to be asked to play on his special night was an honour. One of my favourite solo gigs.
Finding Miranda have had some great gigs at the Traitors Gate. We hosted a charity day there in October 2015, raised £800 for Cancer Research and in doing so got some of our favourite solo artists and bands to play throughout the day.
Tony often says that our best gig was Stanford Music Festival in 2014. It’s hard not to disagree, we played the stage for unsigned bands organised by local hero Dave Shallow of Creative Studios – the main stage is mainly for covers band. Rain started to fall just before we started playing so floods of people came into the bar. I looked to my left to see a few people singing along to our songs. People who have seen us before and came to the festival just to see us. That was a good feeling.
I hope the biggest gigs are yet to come.
Photo taken by Matt Allen – Village Beach
Do you think your music will have an impact on the world?
It’s certainly a lovely thought. I appreciate that I am not getting any younger. Famous artists die at 27 so I haven’t got long left, right? I better get writing and recording! Although all is not lost, Noel Gallagher was 27 when Oasis got big, I don’t think Franz Ferdinand got big until they all hit 30. So who knows? I’m nine months younger than Taylor Swift and she’s had five albums out, and she is considerably richer than me too. You know, just to put things into perspective.
I’d love to bring the whole thing to a wider audience. I like the thought of people listening to the band songs or maybe my own in areas far, far away. I’ll get working on it. I mean who doesn’t like ‘Beer and Chocolate’, right?
Are there any other hobbies you enjoy doing other then music?
As I said earlier – I have a radio show on Phoenix FM in Brentwood. I love it too. Something to look forward to every week. I was able to give some local young artists their first stint on radio in the small time I’ve been doing it. And I think you need that bit of support, especially at a young age. Every small bit of exposure helps, whether it was some song airplay or an interview. I’ve had some terrific guests. Pub quizzes are great aren’t they? I do get competitive though, its the only child syndrome I guess.
I love playing sport. One of my best mates and I play tennis in the summertime, I haven’t beaten him in a while so I’m due a win. My friend group have just taken up basketball – my word thats a workout. My personal favourite is football but I haven’t played for a while. I ran a marathon last year. If I’d eat more vegetables instead of things I shouldn’t consume – I’d be fairly healthy.