Recommended if You Like
David Bowie Howard Devoto Marc Bolan

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Moods: Type: Acoustic Folk: Alternative Folk Pop: Dark Wave

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UK - England - London

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Roy Amiss


Born in 1958 in the suburbs of London, I absorbed the music of my parents. My father was a skilled artist, designer, inventor and made his living by managing a DIY store. My mother was a devoted housewife, took me to all the museums and on excursions to the coast. She liked to write poetry, and was also trained from an early age to play the piano, and would occasionally play piano in the household. So there was always music in the house: my father even bought himself a drum kit and taught himself drumming, and as a young boy I used to play his drum kit. We also used to have an old upright piano, which we all used to play, and in the 70s my father purchased an electric organ with full percussion and I started composing bits of music on it.

In my teens I bought an acoustic guitar, learnt some chords, and immediately started writing songs. Early influences on my music were Chuck Berry and Eddy Cochran, but most important for my generation were the pioneers of glam rock, Marc Bolan with T.Rex/Tyrannosaurus Rex and David Bowie - the first album I ever bought was The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust, but I first really become excited about music at the age of 12 or 13 when I heard the T.Rex song Jeepster at a friend’s house and remember tapping my feet to the beat. I've been interested in quirky leftfield music such as Sparks, Cockney Rebel, 10c.c. and in my teens I went through a rock and heavy metal phase, and liked the Rolling Stones, early Queen, ACDC, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. My musical taste changed when Punk arrived on the scene, and I heard one night on radio Caroline, Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols.

The Technicians and God in a Box
The arrival of the sex pistols was a call to action, and I formed a punk band called The Technicians, absorbing the influences of such bands as the Damned, Buzzcocks, Banshees, Talking Heads and The Clash. The Band members were: Steve Deacon lead guitar; Adrian Glozier bass; Julian on drums; Roy Amiss lead vocal and rhythm guitar. We played at Trax in Chelmsford, the Hermit Club, Brentwood, and Zero 6 at Southend. Once at Zero 6 we played on played on the same night with Jah Wobble's band, whose guitarist liked my guitar playing on one of our experimental tracks entitled What is normal? In fact he advised us to stop playing the punk stuff as punk by 1979/80 was becoming old hat, and encouraged us to continue with the experimental music we were trying out. The seeds had already been sown for the demise of the Technicians as a punk band. When John Lydon produced Metal Box with Jah Wobble and Levine, this had a big impact on me. Steve Deacon suddenly left the band to study classical music, Julian the drummer went off to college, and the bass player Adrian Glozier left to form the band Them Geezers Over There.

So in the early 1980s I migrated from punk and moved into the post punk era forming a new band under various names, and with new musicians. The direction of the band was heavily Influenced by Talking Heads, The Higsons, Magazine, Bauhaus, Killing Joke, and various other luminaries of the alternative music scene. There was a funk undercurrent in the underground music of the time - an emphasis on percussive music with a funky edge, and this I tried to keep in the music. I loved Parliament, James Brown and Ian Dury & the Blockheads. Other key influences have been Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, Roxy Music. I also experimented with a New Romantic sound, writing a couple of songs on keyboards.

I advertised for musicians and after a number of auditions and a succession of bass players, found a great drummer Frank Chapman who shared our musical interests, and a friend from work joined the band, Steve Polley who played lead guitar. The final band I thus formed was called God in a Box, whose members were: Steve Polley on lead guitar; Frank Chapman on drums; Pete Bacino on Bass later replaced by Nick Murphy; Roy Amiss on rhythm guitar and lead vocals; the band all contributing to backing vocals. A Higson's type song we recorded at time was Head in the Mouth of the Great White Shark. We played various venues around Essex in Chelmsford, Brentwood, and in London at the Tunnel (a venue on the Southside of the Blackwall Tunnel), and at the Rock Garden in Covent Garden. The band went on vacation in 1984 and never reformed. The bass player Nick mysteriously disappeared and I've never heard from him again. After a summer vacation, the band never reformed and I stopped playing music live with a band and started painting again. The lead guitarist of the band Steve Polley, I've kept in touch with and we sometime have music sessions together.

Art College
In 1989 I stared a degree course in fine art at the Cheltenham School of Art, specialising in painting, and graduated in 1991. This led to a career in fine art as a practising artist, producing artworks, exhibiting in galleries and art fairs. For a number of years after graduating, I was resident artist at the Schroder Art Foundation in The Hague Netherlands. During the my time there in the 90s decade, I painted many celebrity portraits including musicians such as: James Brown, Cab Calloway, David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Nat King Cole and Madonna. During all this however, I’ve continually been writing songs, and intermittently have been making 4-track recordings of them. I've always loved recording, and over time have created many recordings, sometimes with instruments I've added such as bass, lead guitar, drum machine, percussion and keyboard.

The Brave New Girl Album
After studying for a degree in fine art at Cheltenham in 1991, I was invited to Holland on an Art Residency. The success of this meant I spent lot of time in the 90s living in a gallery. The gallery had a great natural reverb which I exploited when I picked up the guitar again. They also had a grand piano which I used to tinker with and compose the odd tune. During this period I started writing more songs and singing playing the acoustic guitar. It was at the end of this decade 1999, that I recorded the tracks on the Brave New Girl album, at a recording studio in The Hague. This collection of acoustic songs, evolved out a melange of influences from house, drum and bass to trip-hop, all distilled in this set of acoustic songs. With these influences which may not be immediately apparent, I do believe that I've created a unique style of playing: an acoustic surrealistic atmospheric quirky funky sound, where the influence of jazz chords and can be heard. I love singing, and Cab Calloway has been an influence on my vocal style as well as David Bowie, and Howard Devoto. The guitar used is a nylon wound classical guitar which I play largely with my thumb with no plectrum, rather like playing slap bass, but with chords to create a deep bass orchestral effect.

There are a lot of lyrics in this album - writing is another area of expression that I enjoy. The songs can be quite poetic - in fact I think much pop music songs are like symbolist poems. My subjects in this and other material include the usual ones of love, relationships etc, but also on topics in personality, philosophy, metaphysics and science. I like to have interesting lyrics, rich in metaphors, layered in meaning, and interesting. Surrealism has been a big influence as well as science and philosophy. Important is the mood of expression, which extends through ecstasy, fear, the sublime, pain and anguish.

The Synaesthesia Project
Whilst living in Amsterdam briefl;y, I met and became friends with an American jazz pianist and classical composter Frank Stagnitta, who also helped me sometimes with music for some jazz cover versions, and we occasionally had jamming sessions in the gallery. His wife Pat kindly gave me some singing lessons which have proved most fruitful. Frank and I started the Synaesthesia project whereby he would compose classical musical compositions based on my paintings whilst they were being created in the studio. These painting were later presented with music at the Schroder Gallery in The Hague.

Live gig at The Schroder Gallery 2000
When I left the gallery at the end of the decade in 2000, I did a live performance of my songs at the gallery, just with acoustic guitar but also featuring assorted slide projections to create added ambience to the songs. Many of the songs on the Brave New Girl album were performed, and the whole performance was recorded in sound and video (which will possibly be made available in the future).

Since my return to England in 2000, I’ve been working as an artist making art works , participating in exhibitions and writing songs.