Bass player Ken Butcher might be from Norfolk County, but he actually contributes a lot of his work to acts around the world, thanks to the amazing tool known as the Internet. Ken’s interest in music began in his first year of high school, when he purchased a guitar from Simcoe’s Erie Music. From there, Ken learned all he could about the instrument and while the bass guitar eventually become his instrument of choice, he later added the mandolin, ukulele, charango, Cajon and the djembe to his repertoire. A great asset to the growing Norfolk County music scene, Ken Butcher recently answered a few of our questions about his entertaining Youtube channel, his work and the Norfolk County music scene.
SA: What are you listening to at the moment?
KB: At the moment I’ve been listening to a lot of older hymn style music to see how bass lines have evolved over the last 200 years, but I’ve been listening to a bit of Haken, Dream Theater and anything with Tony Levin as well.
SA: We enjoy the unique (and varied) content of your Youtube channel. How important do you think it is for musicians today to promote themselves online?
KB: One of my favorite things about music is that it’s all about connecting with other people. People are connecting more online so I would say it’s vital to have an online presence. I think of the Internet as the tool I use to connect with people all over the world. In the last couple of years I’ve been able to collaborate with people from 9 different countries and at least 5 different languages. I’ve been able to share files with people Like Daryn Barry of Orange Lounge in Toronto, a multi platinum producer who has worked with Justin Beiber, Amy Winehouse, Kate Perry, Sum41 and Jack Johnson just to name a few. I can receive a file from a producer in South Africa and by the time I’ve gone to bed he can be reviewing while I’m asleep and by the time I wake up I know if he’s happy or wants something re worked. So the Internet is tool that we as musicians get to use to connect with each other without leaving the comforts of our homes. Finally, my favorite thing about being online is that I get to see all the talent that is out there. I’m just one player and being online I’m surrounded by a whole lot of other people who are passionate and talented and I love sharing in that community.
SA: You’re currently working with three very different acts: Jenny’s Vision, Dana Marie and The Shroud of Gaia. Are there challenges associated with that? Do you think that variety allows you to have a better perspective when approaching something new?
KB: There are always challenges when we are exposed to something different. I’ve always thought of the art of instrument mastery is kind of like the body’s immune system and the more exposure a musician has to all sorts of genres the more able you are to pick up new techniques and adapt old ones to evolve a unique playing style. The key to it is to master the style so you can do it in your sleep. The more genres you know, the better you’ll be able to play anything there after.
SA: We understand that you work with musicians from South Africa, Norway, USA & Sweden, etc, over the Internet. How have these projects come about for you?
KB: These projects have come about simply by connecting with people through the Internet. Soundcloud is by far one of my favorites because it offers a fairly safe environment for anyone wanting feedback with their musical ideas. I do use others, but I’ve just found that Soundcloud has a real positive vibe to it and the community is real friendly and I think a safe environment promotes a better venue for creativity. I got started by searching out a few well-known artist and just offered to do some work. The word spreads and other connections are made. I still remember the first time I heard a cover done of one of the songs I helped write. At first my heart started to race and I was upset because I thought someone copied my line, but then realized my name was on it as the bassist and it was someone who loved the song so much they wanted to do a cover. So cool stuff like that happens all the time.
SA: Do you have any ideas that could help the Norfolk County music scene grow?
KB: Its funny that you ask this question. When I was at school out west people as far as Vancouver wondered I’d heard of Norfolk County, because and I quote, “a lot of great musicians have come from there.” When I was in Saskatchewan people asked me if I’d heard of Simcoe because we have the Simcoe Panorama! I laughed and said, “I’m from there!” We have a rich history and I think if Norfolk County wants to be known for tourism and known for being a great place to come we need to do more to attract large organizers like Live Nation. If we have a history that was founded by talented people that have done great things it’s our duty to continue it. The people who visited here for the Mumford and Sons loved it and we can host large events and handle the number of people that would come out to an event like that… Although I think we needed more portable toilets. What I’m trying to say is that we already have the people, the knowhow and lots of talent to make it grow, we just need to be open to do it which is something I find hard to find.
However, we need to support more than just the big stuff. Did you know that Erie Music, for example, has held music clinics that have brought people like the Phil Naro (Emmy Award winning singer, songwriter and producer), Roger Banks (worked with Tony Levin) and John Rogers! You can Google them and see their music history. Also, Kelly’s Music street jams have been part of the downtown over the years. Its a venue that has given local bands a venue to just play at. A safe environment to jam and develop their kills regardless of what genre they play.
Norfolk Has Talent and my good friends Dave Kent and Claire Senko have shown Norfolk has a lot to offer in the way of raw talent that would otherwise be missed. This happens at the cost of discouraging the next Led Zeppelin, Ozzy, YES, Phil Collins or Taylor Swift. Norfolk County, is made up of different people with different skills and different talents and that is what makes us unique and what makes us thrive.
What I’d like to see is the local talent around here be partnered with the community and other international acts, because it’s worthy to be there and not just a side show on a side stage. There’s an amazing wealth of talent here from farmers to organizers, caregivers, writers, painters and musicians. It’s talent, and best of all it’s our talent.
This post was written by Scott