Greg is a native of Southampton, where he attended Winchester School of Art until his band, Delays, took off. As the frontman of Delays, Greg is best known for his amazing vocals. So far, the band has delivered four studio albums and is currently working on album number five. Although music took precedent for many years, Greg also designed and created several of the bands album sleeves. This year Greg went off to a great start, launching his first art exhibition at the city’s Harbour Lights Picturehouse in March. Recently he has also taken up an interest in poetry, reading others’ work and writing his own. You can read, see and listen to his work at his website
Without further ado, I present Mr. Greg Gilbert in his own words!
So, what are you working on at the moment?
I’m trying to balance band life with art at the moment. We’ve been writing and demoing for the next album, which is always enveloping. I’ve just had my first exhibition, so I’ve been working on new drawings, but also painting, which I haven’t done a lot of.
You juggle 3 art forms if I am correct: music, poetry and visual arts. When and how did you start practicing each of the art forms?
My first memory is of drawing, it’s something I’ve always done. I went to Winchester School of Art for a year, but didn’t continue, as I’d joined a band and nothing could compete with the excitement. My parents and Grandad all sing, so music has always been around. When I was about 14, I met some friends who played me “Sign ‘o’ the Times” by Prince, which made me listen to music as art for the first time. I then had this Beatle related epiphany and stole a book from the school library about them, couldn’t believe it wasn’t fiction, real magic there. So music came in stages, from being addicted to feeling like I could make it myself. My interest in poetry is more recent. I’m a fan of James Joyce and was recommended the writing of Geoffrey Hill. From there I moved onto Robert Duncan and Berryman. Like music, I’d always loved poetry but hadn’t considered writing it, although lyric writing has been a step towards it. I never studied English, so it’s more of an indulgence.
How do you find a balance between the three art forms?
I try not to force any of them. Songwriting seems to suffer if I have to sit and make myself do it. Artwork is something I’m more prepared to give myself a schedule for – I try to take a certain amount of time each day to draw or paint, or even just try to visualize work. I carry a notebook with me everywhere, so I’m always writing, observations or phrases. Each seems to help the other, as I can remove myself if I feel like I’m reaching, but stay in a creative mentality. Songwriting is something I try to keep fresh, not force.
Where do you find the inspiration for you art/music/poetry? Does it differ per art form?
The common denominator across all three is, when I do something I’m happy with, it comes relatively easy, when I’m not striving for it. Just being in a gallery fires me, makes me want to go home and paint. The same thing with listening to music or reading great poetry, it’s inspiring and overwhelming. I think, as much as possible, you need to be in a receptive state, there’s never a lack of inspiration.
Personally, I simply must do creative things. I get cranky if I haven’t had time for it in a while. How is that for you?
I’m exactly the same, I need time to create each day to maintain balance. Whenever I’ve been going through a stressful period, I’ve always found solace in art, it’s meditative and therapeutic. I find I process so much whilst I’m drawing or painting, and I’ve realized, so often I say more than I thought I was saying when I write.
Your artwork is currently on display in Southampton and you just got a new website. Do you have any future plans for your other creative output? Can we expect a new Delays album soon? A tour? Or something from The Lunar Fields? A book of poems?
The next thing, musically, is to complete the recording of the next Delays album. We’re constantly writing and I know Aaron’s got a ton of stuff. I’ve been missing touring more and more, so I’m hopeful we can get some dates in place soon. I hope I can do a string of gigs with Lunar Fields, I just have to find funding first – the rest of the lads are in Liverpool, so, logistically it’s not easy! But I love what we’ve done and want people to hear it. Regarding poetry, I feel I’ve got a lot to learn, and am just enjoying the process, meeting local writers and talking about the process. I’m blown away by some of the people I’ve met, so much encouragement, the same with art.
‘Unsung’, the first single from Delays’ fourth album, Star Tiger Star Ariel:
Many thanks to Greg for doing this mini-interview!