A Conversation With Calzo Houdini
Sharing here our recent conversation with an experienced and talented music artist and producer Calzo Houdini.
Twist Online : Please introduce yourself to the readers and how and when did you first get into music?
Calzo Houdini : I’m from the 80’s, 1982 to be precise, my name is Callum James Greens and people sometimes call me Calzo Houdini. I got into “real” music when I was 8 or 9. I’d spend my pocket money on tapes and vinyls from the only shop that sold music in my town. Everything from Meat Loaf & Iron Maiden to German techno groups like Scooter. The very first piece of music I bought was a 7” single of ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ by Bill Medley from the Rambo III soundtrack. I think my mum rented the movie for me and I loved that song so it stuck with me and made me want to seek out more music.
Twist Online : Who or what inspired you to become a musician growing up and how did you make the transition into doing it professionally?
Calzo Houdini : I was born in Edinburgh but grew up in a small town called Peebles in the Scottish Borders and I was never around musicians growing up. As I went through high school I started to teach myself how to play guitar by watching old Guns N’ Roses VHS tapes, listening to Dire Straits albums that my brother in-law gave me and played in garage bands with my school friends. It was quite a few years later that I got the hint of “people are actually musicians, it can be your job, people do it for a living”. Around 1999 I recorded a really bad guitar demo on a 4-track tape with the help of my friend Garry and sent it off to ACM (Academy of Contemporary Music) in Surrey. They replied back about 6 months later saying that I had been accepted on the Diploma course. Nothing much came from that but over the next few years after a lot of mundane day jobs and recording in my bedroom I started my own indy record label and worked on remixes or producing tracks for various UK & Australian artists, in the hope that one of them would hear it or their fans would notice and spread the word. After a lot of work and some online recognition my label was picked up by Warner Music Group in 2008. I then joined the Music Producers Guild in 2009. It came about from a lot of ‘right place, right time’ and word of mouth amongst other artists and producers.
Twist Online : Tell us about your recently released EP ‘One Man Room’?
Calzo Houdini : I have a lot of half started tracks lying around and there were a few I really wanted to work on and release. It takes me a long time because I get easily distracted and work on other things but I managed to finish these tracks and decided to compile them on an EP in no order what so ever. I should have probably released them as singles throughout the year but I’ve never released my own EP before so why not go for it? The title track ‘One Man Room’ was released as a single in South East Asia and is currently doing quite well in the Thailand EDM/Dance charts so I’m looking to put out a few new singles in the coming months when I get time. I’d also love to record an entire album with Stevie Adams on vocals. She sings on the EP and those tracks have been really popular.
Twist Online : What do you enjoy more, producing for other artists or working in a studio on your own music?
Calzo Houdini : There’s no pressure when you’re working on your own music but I set myself unrealistic deadlines to release tracks and I can never stick to them. When you are working for another artist you have no choice but to stick to their deadlines otherwise their record label will banish you to the deepest nothingness of the music industry in a heartbeat. If I could make a living doing nothing but my own music I’d die a very happy boy but I’d also be happy working on movie scores for other people forever. It’s a lot of fun. Producing remixes and original tracks for other artists is satisfying and creative but doesn’t feed the hunger or desire of being ‘your own artist’. That’s a pretty wanky way of putting it but I don’t know how else to word it.
Twist Online : Who are your favourite current artists and musicians?
Calzo Houdini : Springsteen. He is still touring and releasing albums so that makes him current, right? I’m a huge fan of Swedish artists like Amanda Bergman, Peter, Bjorn & John, Lars Lindquist and Markus Krunegård. I recently discovered Jim James who I guess to his fans has been around a long time. He reminds me a lot of Badly Drawn Boy who I briefly worked in the studio with a few years ago. I’d love to remix or produce a track with Jim James. I’d also love to be in the studio with Lars Lindquist (Billie the Vision & the Dancers). I think we could make something unique. I really enjoy his Bräkne-Hoby stuff, even if I can’t speak Swedish he’s fluent enough in English that we could put something together.
Twist Online : What are your future goals as a music artist?
Calzo Houdini : Keep learning and listening, release music that I enjoy, then retire on a beach in the south of Thailand with my wife Chelsea and our cat, Gizmo.
Twist Online : You have been a “ghost-producer” on some k-pop albums. How did that come about and do you enjoy making pop music?
Calzo Houdini : K-Pop should have its own planet. It should be an entirely separate entity from the music industry. Stick everyone involved in a tax haven somewhere and give them their own monthly award ceremonies. It’s a factory, as is pop music in general. A very lucrative factory for pop groups, their management and record labels. It’s fun making up melodies and producing music but everyone involved is nuts. I have worked on several K-Pop tracks over the years with artists in Thailand and South Korea. I don’t meet any of the artists, their management or publishers. It’s fun, it’s easy and it’s quickly forgotten. Who wants to remember Ridley Scott directing TV commercials? It’s fun and easy, what more can I say?
Twist Online : Are you working on any new projects? When will they be released?
Calzo Houdini : The new Empire of the Sun album ’Two Vines’ will be released on October 28th which I had a very very small part in but super proud of and excited for the albums release. I’m currently working on releasing loops and sample production kits for music producers along with finally gathering enough completed tracks of my own to release an album that fits together. I’m working on an indy movie soundtrack and I’m still making guitar and music production YouTube videos when I get time.
Twist Online : Are you active on social media? Where can we find you?
Calzo Houdini : The usual places…