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Behind the scenes with Bill Laurance

We talk to the Grammy award-winning pianist about taking risks

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Topic: Investing

Bill Laurance is back in the studio. The composer and musician is sitting behind a grand piano at Angel Studios in North London, talking about going out on a limb: “I think every time you collaborate in a new context, it forces you to re-evaluate your position in the music and that brings out new fruit”.

Bill is no stranger to this way of thinking. Before releasing four acclaimed albums in under five years, he spent a decade working with the music collective Snarky Puppy, picking up two Grammys along the way.

“I’d say it’s really important to involve yourself in as many contexts as possible," Bill says. "I started playing in a restaurant in Soho when I was 14 years old, just playing for people eating their steak.”

The impact of working as a professional musician in so many unusual places around the world has clearly left its mark on Bill, who brings elements of jazz, funk, classical and electronic dance music to all his work, earning him a ‘Breakthrough’ award back in 2015 at the Jazz FM Awards.

It’s this collision of different styles that made Bill and his bandmates the first choice for the Click & Invest video. “We were looking for a group of artists that had an instinctive chemistry together,” says Director Sam Haire. “We recognise that people invest for things they are passionate about, so our video had to reflect that passion”.

Working with Hannah Dawson on violin and long-time collaborators Chris Hyson on bass and Josh Blackmore on drums, Bill reworks his classic track ‘Ready Wednesday’ into something distinctively visceral: “I guess the concept of the video is…how music can often be greater than the sum of its parts. Often, when a trio is playing really well together, it can feel like a symphony orchestra”.

Starting with a ticking metronome and a couple of sparse notes on the piano, the music comes to life as the experts join in. Active investing relies on a team of experts managing your money in real time, and doesn’t just fall back on automated algorithms, so the parallels are hard to miss.

But what does Bill Laurance think about investing? “At this point I don’t feel that aware of all the options” Bill says, reflecting a common sense of inertia for first-time investors. “It’s something I’m exploring at the moment and trying to be more open to”.

Investec Click & Invest aims to dispel concerns for first-time investors by providing a series of easy to understand investment videos, articles and podcasts.

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Behind the Scenes with Bill Laurance: Video transcription

So today we are in the beautiful Angel Studios recording a music video of a song of mine that I’ve rearranged for Investec, and it’s really exciting. It’s my first time on a proper film set so, happy to be here. I guess the concept of the video is about – one of the things I love in working in music is how music can often become greater than the sum of its parts and often when a trio is playing really well together, it can feel like a symphony orchestra, and this is kind of what we’re aiming for when we’re playing, and what we’re trying to represent in this video.

I think every time you collaborate in a new context, it forces you to re-evaluate your position within the music and that ends up bringing out new fruit. And a lot of that has come through the different kinds of collaborations that I’ve had. The idea is to be completely in the moment, and it can be kind of nerve-racking, and you can take risks and go in different directions. That’s the whole aim is to be completely free in that moment and you have to be able to rely on your band mates to catch you when you fall. So trust is huge, and trust comes with time, I think. I’ve been lucky enough to be on the road with these guys for a long time now and so we’ve been able to develop that trust.

‘Having my nails filed on set. - And it’s all on camera!

I’d say it’s really important to involve yourself in as many different contexts as possible, so when I was younger I was playing for dance classes and then I started writing little jingles for commercials and then I wrote music for short films, and then I’ve just written music for my first feature film. I’ve always been trying to have my music be used in different contexts.

I started playing in a restaurant in Soho when I was 14 years old, and just playing for people eating their steak. That’s where I really cut my teeth as it were, as a jazz musician and had to learn lots of repertoire. I think performing in all those different contexts and having my music be used in all those different environments has really taught me the different ways in which music can be digested.

For me investment is in equipment. It’s all about the tools that I have so I’m constantly looking for new sounds that I can create in the studio or on the road. I love synthesisers, and especially old synthesisers, so I’m constantly looking for the older models.

Beyond the creative stuff, at some point you have to start thinking about the future and I’ve been thinking about putting savings away for a house. The idea of ever settling down and having children and all that was just so far in the future, but now I think it’s become more and more of a reality I think. One of the potential advantages maybe of having kids is that it kind of forces you to really take a reality check.

I don’t have kids yet, but part of me is almost looking forward to the sense of responsibility it’s going to give me and I think that might give me a spring in my step in terms of thinking more seriously about savings and about investment and about taking care of one’s family, right?

And honestly at this point I don’t feel that aware of all the options, but I am aware there are lots of options. I’m really looking forward to having kids and taking them on the road. There’s a drummer, Robert ‘Sput’ Searight, the drummer in Snarky Puppy, I remember he brought his three-year-old to rehearsal about ten years ago and h put the kid on his lap and he was playing – Robert’s playing drums and the kid’s on his lap.

So every time he plays the bass drum, the kid is just bouncing up and down. He was just getting the drums in his face. Cut to, what, ten years later, and that child is now one of the baddest drummers in the world. So I think if the exposure is right, then you can pretty much make sure that your kids are going to be musicians.

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