Duende ? “WTF is duende ?” I hear you say. Look it up … a loose translation of “having duende” is a combination of having soul, emotion, charisma, truth or “je ne sais quoi” … an intangible quality that makes your show something distinctive or attractive.
So duende is a bit like sex appeal … some have it naturally … Blondie, Michael Hutchence, Pat Benatar, Michael Buble, Florence Welch, Sarah Parish, David Bowie, Gemma Ray. I have asked around – I am told that others such as Eric Clapton, Countess Camilla, Mariah Carey, Bob Geldof, Deborah O’Riorden, Dave Grohl, Whitney Houston, Chris Martin, Celine Dion, Boy George and Susan Boyle don’t have it. What about you ?
One thing is certain – if you don’t speak with your audience, we’ll never know. If you think you can just rock up and play your set and leave, you just don’t understand.
Who do you want to be ? What’s the purpose of your performance ? If you don’t care or you are just in it for fun or have no ambition, press EXIT and play with yourselves, you’ll go deaf.
For the rest, this is for you. You care about your performance, want to do your best, give others some enjoyment, present a musical experience of value of which you can be proud, be appreciated and yes, have a good time while doing those other things.
Let’s start at the beginning. You are your image. Get used to it, after all, you created it. If you don’t like your image you can change it.
Your image is created by more than just your talent – it is a distillation of your charisma, technical competence, musical talent, artistic creativity, sound, choice of music, perhaps the tattoos, your equipment, clothes, lighting and without a doubt, your engagement with the audience and your attitude on stage towards the audience; ignore them at your peril.
Being shy, unassuming, introverted, detached or mean, moody and magnificent may well just be the way you are – but SOMEBODY in the band has to have a dialogue with the audience, crack a few jokes, introduce the songs, tell us what you just played, who wrote it – any anecdote about the gig, the place, the band, the weather, where you last got stoned, arrested, excited, mounted, soaked, dumped or rolled .. ANYTHING … just talk to us !
Steve Edmonds (below) takes his own sound system, lights and backdrop curtains with him in a suitcase or two. Cheap as chips and just right for the pubs, clubs, restaurants and smaller venues that fill out his busy schedule. He looks, sounds and performs like an experienced, top-class guitarist who can entertain at any level – note perfect, showman renditions from Led Zeppelin to Thin Lizzy, Cream to Jimi Hendrix, Lynyrd Skynyrd to Rory Gallagher.
Note the Par 56 lamps front of stage, a third behind the drummer, lack of cables, clutter and crap in the stagefloor giving Steve lots of room to move around, quality Marshall amps neatly stacked at the back, foot pedals for bass and guitar almost out of sight front of stage, blackout curtains to cover unsightly walls and windows. Steve creates his own atmosphere.
Here is Kate Miller-Heidke, a great performer who knows how to work the crowd ..
.. balancing her trained voice and musical talent, pretty face, fresh makeup, chic, classy and elegant clothing – with risque stories, colourful street language and down-to-earth performance. That image has not arisen by accident.
If you don’t pay attention to the detail, your image will be unclear and you risk poor audience appreciation.
He’ll kill me for saying this, but Stu is a really nice, warm guy, until you put that guitar in his hands. He takes his stage persona and image really seriously when leading his famous band Empires of Eden, and plays the part of a heavy metal rocker so well – just look at him .. no point in playing the bone-crushing riffs in “Scars of Innocence” like a big girl’s blouse.
Good presentation is everything. It results from a professional approach, planning and deliberate crafting of the image that you want audiences to appreciate. So sure, it includes your sound, it includes your choice of music, stage management, lighting, backdrops – and most importantly, how you behave on stage – what you say and do between numbers.
Some performers (like Zimbo below) may be famous, but just come on stage, play at the audience and retreat back to the van. In the flesh, sadly, he sucks, has had a duende by-pass and seldomly fails to disappoint.
Behind the show, there needs to be effective management and image support material – perhaps Posters and CDs and website – and I don’t mean some half-sucked duck’s arse of a webpage on MySpace or Facebook. If you seriously want to manage your image, you need to pay attention to your serious presence, not some vapourised, social network where nerds calibrate success on organising riots, drunken snaps and the number of “friends”. Do it properly.
Here’s Tony Cini’s Blues Explosion website, this is how to do it, with links and coming gigs an’ all.
Look at it this way, calibrate the cost of creating and managing your image as an investment not an expense.
You can’t hide behind noise. Being loud is interesting, but boring. Try playing your stuff at half the volume and see what you think ? Are you any good ? Can they understand the words … and YES … it does matter ! Do you look good ? Thongs and a beanie are no recipe for success. Belting the crap out of the audience’s ears is not entertaining, it’s just a loud noise. What are you good at ? What impression do they take away ? Think about it.
Think about it.
I hope it all makes sense. Send me an EMAIL if you want to know more. I hope you enjoy the site and viewing the pictures depicting these terrific artists and performers.
I shoot bands and artists within their stage persona and image – which promotes their talent and art, highlighting what makes them different. Some examples of the bands and performers I have shot recently, can be seen here in my GALLERY.
… and now a sobering thought … I can’t take a great shot if there is no “duende” .. it is impossible to take a great action photo of a statue and it is impossible for you to have a great image if you never speak .. and no, your music cannot speak for you. That’s why there are no great photos of wooden performers.