He also runs a successful recording studio in Scotland and has a daughter who was recently invited over to Nashville by the man who produced Neil Young's Harvest album. Graeme also has a stammer. In the interview we talk about his work with aspiring pop idols, his involvement with Wet Wet Wet, Esther, his daughter, and speech difficulties, as highlighted by the movie The King's Speech. We also talk about fame and how much it costs. We talk about how Robbie Williams cleaned out the money pot at Chrysalis and the shocking revelation that Graeme Duffin of Wet Wet Wet is into Prog Rock!
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WW: Graeme, we’re sitting in this marvellous studio, at the Foundry Music Lab
GD: Aye, it’s not much but it’s home
WW: You have provided a fantastic opportunity for young aspiring musicians..
GD: Well we not only have the studio here but we have a couple of rehearsal rooms and a training lab as well where we run some courses in conjunction with our local Motherwell College. We do NVQ, an HNC and an HND in music technology and it’s and kind of rock and pop performance-based course where they can access our years of production experience. The Studio itself is mostly for private projects. The idea of the name Foundry came because we are virtually on the site of the old Ravenscraig Steelworks.
WW: What do you think motivates people who want to become professional performers?
GD: I think there are two main streams, two lines of thought. For some people, they see things that go on in the reality TV shows, where it is all about 15 minutes of fame. It is basically a karaoke competition. Shows like Pop Idol and The X-Factor generate huge amounts of cash for the industry but all that happens is that you have a vacant celebrity slot that is available at the end of the competition and the person who gets the most votes ends up in this position. Depending on the sort of person this is, they can end up having quite a stellar career or else they can be almost immediately dropped, which is damaging and harmful.
So one answer to that question may be fame, people just want to be famous, end of story. The other type of person is the artist. First and foremost it’s the artistic integrity that is important. They are not really interested in selling out or being manipulated by the system. It becomes very difficult for them because if you are so artistically minded that you aren’t willing to engage with the system and engage with what remains of the music industry, which is rapidly changing, then that type of musician can end up being side-lined and ultimately, ignored. The type of person who tends to make something of it has first of all a certain level of talent and ability. But you also need to have a real business acumen, drive and a focus on where your career is going, and at that point it is about the determination to continue to carry on and work as hard as you can.
WW: So you have a balance between musicianship and fame. At this point, which of these two streams is likely to get you in? Can you be a talentless nobody with lots of chutzpah.?
GD: Yeah! I think that’s possible and people have made careers out of that, out of just being famous for no reason other than being famous.
WW: Would Wet Wet Wet have made it today?
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