stuart this mEvery once in awhile, an opportunity crosses your path that makes all the hard work and dedication worth it. This moment came to me when I had the chance to speak with the legendary music producer, Stuart Epps. As I read through the impressive lists of musicians he’s worked with, I grew nervous about the impending interview. I knew what I wanted to learn from this man. I wanted to hear his story. I wanted to know what it was like to walk a mile in his shoes. I tried to write questions that sought the answers I yearned for and everything sounded so…cliche’. A pile of crumpled pages littered the floor around me as I sat concerned about sounding like a novice and making a fool of myself. It was at that point that I realized the one thing that changed my entire perspective.

Stuart Epps is just a man who followed his dreams.

He was once just a child who most likely loved music. He probably lived and breathed music, as I do now and have done for most of my life. He most likely stumbled into the right people at the right time and worked hard to prove to them that he had what it took to work with “the greats”. All of a sudden, this man was no longer just a world renowned producer, he was human. Someone who was able to do what he loved for a living. Much like I am trying to do with my writing, Stuart Epps has found his niche and continues to do what he loves every day. This became even more evident when the first question out of my mouth was answered exactly the opposite of what I expected.

After working with artists like Elton John, Jimmy Page and Bill Wyman, what inspired you to start working with independent artists?

STUART AND OASIS

Stuart Epps and Oasis

I was quickly brought right back to reality when he told me that when he started working with Elton, he was a 21 year old unknown singer songwriter. You don’t often think of the musicians you grew up with as ever being anything but famous. But every artist has a similar beginning. They practice their craft, work hard to share their talent with anyone who is willing to listen, watch, see, experience it and hope to make it one day.

Stuart Epps has the ability to recognize that talent. When I commented about how there was no way anyone could predict that Elton would be where he is today, his was response was simply “I did.” That was the moment that I personally experienced the gift that this man has. The confidence behind that statement can only come from someone who knows greatness when it walks in the door.

We talked about his childhood. How he would go to sleep listening to music. Britain’s famous Radio Luxembourg. Back then, it was difficult to find music on British radio. You had to really search and even when you did find a station that played rock music like Elvis and Bill Haley, the reception was terrible and the sound faded in and out. But when it rang through clear, it was like magic. “Music heard from the air.” Before TV. Before music videos. One could listen to a song and create their own personal vision to go along with it. You had no choice but to actually hear the music.

It was this upbringing and passion for music that led him to a life filled with helping artists. The difference now is simply the ease of access the internet brings to everyone. Before the days of the world wide web, Stuart was introduced to artists through the record companies he worked with. Today, with YouTube, Spotify, social networks like Facebook and Music Xray, musicians are literally just a click away. As we sat on the phone, I in Chicago and Stuart in the UK, we both realized how accessible the world truly is. Artists from all over the world send him music to listen to. When I asked him how he chooses the artists he works with, his response was simple. “I just listen.” If he hears the potential, he will work with them. He gives each submission the chance that music gave him through the radio as a child. If he hears magic then he looks to see if they have “all the things that you need to make it in the music industry.” Dedication, determination, the style, the talent.

“When a new track arrives, I am secretly hoping it will be the next ‘It.’”

‘It’ meaning this generation’s Led Zeppelin, Elvis, Queen, The Beatles. Stuart and I agreed that it’s been too long since we have experienced a “great” band or artist. An artists that will last through the generations. Music that will stand the test of time. He back paddled a bit and spoke of Ed Sheeran, who was discovered by Elton John. He first heard him sing on the radio and thought to himself, this kid has It. When he heard that it was Ed Sheeran, he kind of chuckled a bit as he thought about how his friend Elton found him first. I told him that we gotta find you your Ed Sheeran.

What Stuart Epps offers young, independent artists is something truly unique. Remote producing. Most of the musicians he works with, he never even meets face to face. Artists send in their music and if he chooses to work with them, he guides them from beginning to end. He offers professional advice that he has learned from his years of experience. He gets involved technically, mastering the music sent to him. Whether the song simply needs back up vocals and additional instruments or a complete overhaul, Stuart and his team of musicians come together to create the best version of the songs or albums as possible. When the final product is ready to be shared, he will help with promotion as well.

 

 

The Before and After page on his website gives you a taste of his work with side by side versions of his artist’s songs and the finished products. I will admit that I went through and listened to every single one and am beyond impressed. I asked him if he has come close to finding the next big artists and he told me of a few that he had a really good feeling about.

Andy Jordon who is an actor in the British television series “Made In Chelsea” recorded a UK Chart Topping hit with Stuart. “Whole Lot of Water” had 200-300,000 downloads. Stuart thought he could have been another Robbie Williams. He has a poppy “Jack Johnson” musical style, unique and soulful voice and “looks brilliant”. But with his commitments to his acting career, he had trouble deciding which path to choose.

 

 

 

 

Luke Underhill and his soft and powerful sound who lives just a few towns away from me. This kid is barely 18 and has a voice that gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it.

 

 

 

 

Audio Circus is a power pop band from Hanover Germany. This band struck me as having the whole package. The look, the sound, the music was all on point.

 

 

 

 

Stuart Epps is giving artists an opportunity that would otherwise be out of reach for most. His work is just another way that the music industry is changing in favor of the artist. In a world where record labels are slowly becoming a thing of the past, artists are finding ways to do what they love for a living. Booking their own shows. Promoting their music themselves online. Recording their records in the comfort of their own basements. Now with the help of Epps Music Productions, they can have the opportunity to take their music to a professional level without handing their work over to corporate control. Stuart has always believed in the power of music. He knows that the next “It” musician is waiting just around the corner. Could it be you? Why don’t you send in your music and find out.

Extended Plays is an ongoing music series written by myself and my partner James. We listen to music, go with our gut and spill our honest and sometimes brutal opinion all over this blog. We hope you take the time to check out the artists we review for yourselves. We tend to believe that we are always right about everything but the most beautiful thing about music is that our opinion doesn’t matter to anyone but ourselves.

 

 

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