Michael: Hi Jack - thank you so much for taking time out to do this interview with Toggle For Music - you are the first performer I ever featured in a blog right back at the beginning of TFM. What a meteoric rise to fame one us has had since then! (not me).
Jack: Hi Michael, it's an absolute pleasure mate. That's right, back on Jan 27th at Café Musique 5 days after I met Miss Mei (who I've now been with for 10 months) so it's been a minute or two!
It really is awesome to have been the first performer you blogged about all that time ago and now seeing the endless list of music blogs on the https://www.togglefm.com/ website (congrats on the .com domain to!) makes me proud to be a part of it. So I think we've both progressed since Jan 27th and I'm glad our histories are tied in such a positive way.
Michael: First up - Could you tell our readers something about your background - I know you hail from the wonderful county of Nottinghamshire - how on earth did you get involved in the crazy world of Second Life?
Jack: Yes, I'm 28, from a little Village called Clayworth in the East Midlands of England right in the top of Nottinghamshire on the border with South Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, out in the countryside.
Well in all honesty my brother who is occasionally in world to (crapface Carter) yes, that's his actual username LOL, introduced me to SL when I was about 14 but we just used to go to sandboxes and mess around with free cars and gun and definitely not cause ANY trouble whatsoever because that'd be improper of us...tsss ;)
Then I came back when I was 16 on this account (and yes I know I was too young but it's the past and I wasn't too severely scarred from roaming around the Grid at 16) but I just used to log on to get freebies, explore and go and listen to the ONLY singers I listened to back then which were either Miss Shaye Dezno or Mr Gary Jonstone.
Michael: You are a such a talented, yet humble, singer / songwriter...do you remember what made you start to play and who were your early influences - and who are they now? Have they shifted as you have got older?
Jack: Aw thanks :3 I started to play guitar when I was 9 (I don't play in world yet as I am still collecting the equipment I need) and I was self taught. Guitar lessons at School were very expensive and we didn't have a lot of money when I was a kid, we still don't aha :')
When I got to around 13/14 I started to sing also with my guitar so I could perform a song in it's entirety. I have vivid memories of how bad I sounded singing at that age, like really bad, cringe so bad you'd end up in the ER.
One of my earliest influences was my neighbor Ray, he was 75+ when I remember him and he died some years ago (R.I.P Raydawg) but he taught me my first basic chords and how to finger pick "Michael Row The Boat Ashore" on one string and was just a lovely Granddad figure to me although he was just my neighbor.
I started getting into the Music Genres I perform now around ages 14-15 so I guess it hasn't really shifted that much no.
Michael: Do you remember your first Second Life gig - the venue and how it went ?
Jack: Yep I remember it well! It was May 15th 2020 and I sang at the Aussie Venue Spirit Of The Outback. I'm still in touch with Silverlight and have recently done a fill in there and it was wonderful to sing there again. That place has such a relaxed and fun vibe but it is a well known fact that I do love my Aussie crowds! Someone once said to me that Aussies are like "Texan Brits" and it all made sense after that (joking please no hate IMs).
Michael: Following on from that is there a gig you remember above all ?
Jack: I'll be honest Michael. If you know me and come to my shows you'll know how forgetful I am. Sometimes Mei will say "great show last night babe" and I'll go "yeah....wait, did I sing last night? Where did I sing last night?" and she laughs, I laugh and worry a bit then we forget about it so I can't say I have ONE specific show I remember mostly.
Of course the shows where I've hit 65-70 crowd attendance like once or maybe twice are memorable as I find that the bigger the crowd the more energy I have when I perform. I love a good mellow set with 12-15 people to of course but those big shows with at least 50+ just have a different buzz to them.
Michael: Was there anyone here who helped you, or inspired you, during those early days?
Jack: Oh SO many that I'm actually scared to mention names because I WILL forget to mention like 40% of the people I should mention but yes...many many lovely, kind and generous souls helped me get on my feet in the Music Scene here in SL.
If I had to guess at a number of people who strongly affected my growth and confidence in SL I'd be looking at close to 40 people, maybe 50.
Michael: Do you have a favorite song / genre ? - any special reason for the chosen song ?
Jack: My favorite song literally changes on a daily basis and honestly there's just too many songs that if played in the right moment become my jam of said moment so I can't really name a song or even a genre really as it depends on how I feel and which artists I've been looking into around that time. I'll have a month of going mental on old Blues Music, then a week or two listening to a tonne of Reggae, then back to some 70s/80s Country and then the next day it could be Heavy Metal or Classic Rock.
I even got super into a Japanese Band called RADWIMPS when I heard their music on an amazing animated Japanese movie called "Weathering With You" (Highly recommend).
Michael: Is there a performer(s) in Second Life you particularly admire ?
Jack: It's never been a big secret that my favorite performer in SL is Shaye Dezno. There are many many talented male and female performers in SL but she just takes the cake for me.
I've known Shaye pretty much since I first joined SL and I still enjoy her shows just as much as I ever have (12 years later). She's a funny, sassy, proud Canadian Lady with such a powerful and mastered voice that I know others as well as me have been listening to her here in SL for over a decade. Get to one of her shows, trust me. Her Partner Gary Jonstone is also one of my favorite male country singers, his voice is....well it's beautiful LOL
Michael: It can be hard trying to find your place in the SL music scene with so many performers on the grid - something you have clearly done. Do you have any advice to new performers on how to break through and stand out?.
Jack: Yes there aremany performers on the grid "these days" and I say these days because I don't actually know what "those days" were like as I am still very new to performing in SL myself.
I'd just say, stay humble and appreciate every single person that comes to hear you sing.
Sometimes I have 12 people, sometimes 25 and sometimes 45 but no matter what I am always grateful for every single one those people there at the venue listening to me and 45 still isn't that big compared to some performers who can have as many as 80-90 people at their show but that doesn't matter, nor do the tips or what the venue will pay you.
What matters if that you enjoy what you're doing because I personally do not sing well if I'm really not in the mood to sing and I feel like that is also true of other performers who sing maybe more than they actually would like to.
So keep it fresh and fun and just be you, not who you think people want you to be.
There are no shoes to fill or persona you need to develop to perform, just perform as yourself.
Michael: What would you say pleases you the most about performing in SL - and conversely what would you say irks you the most ? (aside from annoying interviewers)
Jack: What pleases me the most is the community. The pure love for the language of music in Second Life has really just blown me away.
These are some die hard music lovers who like to jump on our roller coaster ride of emotions as we sing them the songs we love pretty much daily.
The dedication and support from the people who come to our shows far surpassed anything I ever thought possible from a virtual world.
What "irks" me the most (cool word by the way) is pretty much just the same stuff that plagues us in the real world when it comes to things like Music.
There's greed, manipulation, big egos and all the rest of it that goes with this sort of scene.
It's out there readers and if you're one of those people who genuinely believe you ARE better than others because you're a performer or because you play an instrument AND sing rather than just being one of these "Karaoke Singers" as I've heard us called before, then just calm down a bit. Go for a long walk, skip some rocks in the lake, take a long shower and think about what you're doing because we are all equal, music is an art, not a competition.
Michael: If you could tell your noob Jack anything, what would it be?
Jack: Right at the start at O-Karaoke Lounge when I was just testing a few songs out on a small crowd of people very anxiously I'd tell myself:
"The way you imagine in your head the best possible way this could turn out, actually having people come to listen to you and support you and having venues like you and let you sing on their stage, it's gonna happen, so stop worrying and get ready the song is starting" LOL
Michael: An off the wall question from Ezzy here, - If you could only eat one food each day for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Jack: Pasta because through the poorest time of my childhood we ate A LOT of Pasta and I never ever went off of it, I still to this day absolute lovely pasta in anything, even on it's own or just with cheese on it.
Michael: Finally, in closing, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Jack: I have tried to be as honest and transparent as I could in this interview.
I am so happy that you asked me to do this Michael and this isn't about boosting myself or being like "Mum get the camera I'm going to be December's Featured Performer" but it's more of a chance for people who are interested to learn a bit more about me, my views and what I'm about and hopefully a few new people will read this and decide to come check out a show.
I love growing my group and singing to more people and meeting new people every time I can so thank you so much for letting me do this and I'll see you around the grid!