Are you born a musician, or do you train and become a musician?
My name is Claudine West aka Claudine Barker-West. I’m 37 years old. I live in Nottingham. UK. I’m a multi-instrumentalist. Oh and yes you have probably never heard of me.
Music has been in my life since I can remember. From my first Bontempi Keyboard and 2nd hand classical guitar; my Dad bought me while on holiday in Norfolk, UK. It was only when I moved onto electric and steel strings did I realise what a nighmare classicals are to play and start on as a kid. (So what to Schools do? Make kids play ’em! Cruel )
Now I’ve not been trained in a ‘training’ sheet music kind of way.
I bought chord books for keyboards and guitar. Sat and played, practiced. Shut myself in dark rooms so I didn’t need to look at my hands to play the chords. Looking back I was a loner, socially crippled (still am to an extent), shy, a disturbed child ( luckily not due to any trauma, abuse etc) just special in my own strange way.
Music made me feel good, it released my pent up creativity. It drew me to it, tempted, excited, satisfied. Music just came out of me and my fingers without me having to sit there and work out each note. By this point every Birthday and Christmas present was music related. My first tape 4 track recorder. I was privileged.
School involved verbal bullying, name calling due to my deformed face. (Surgery at 19 corrected it, not my self hatred..Thanks Bullies. I’m so glad im not you. I pity you. no one likes to be called a monster amongst other things!) and near 6 feet tall skinny frame (I was probably too tall and intimidating to get punched) maybe I screamed misfit.
I retreated, was encouraged and supported into music and art indulgence. I had an amazing Music teacher (Simon Davie) at secondary School (Frank Wheldon, Nottingham class of 1991/2 ish) Spent most of my lunch breaks and spare time in the music block. Jamming. Playing on the piano, or playing on the Grand Piano in their Concert Hall. Some little turd, with a grudge burnt the school down years later. (and most likely my lovely Grand Piano) Its been rebuilt as a sports college now.
At 16 (thanks to my sister complaining) I got a job in a local supermarket (18 years of customer hell and vileness, back stabbing, gossip, hangovers, but lots of laughs and messing about) I currently work for the NHS. (inspired by true hatred of retail and damage done, my Dad being awarded an MBE (God bless you Princess Anne) for his services to the NHS. (I’M SO PROUD) the final straw being told I deserved to be raped as I was a lesbian!! Adorable customer scumbag!
I’m proud to be doing my day job bit helping poorly folk. Reiki is my life calling along with art and music. Indulgence is bliss.
So basically from my first job (yes kids I worked for my things, put up with some abominations, stinky fuckers, rude bastards and worked every shift pattern known to Mankind) bought more instruments. Worked nights for a year and at around 19, I bought my first Pearl Export Drumkit; and a Zildjian Cymbal every payday.
My basic chord and note learning moved into capo and key change experiments. ‘Capoing’ a guitar. Recording that track. Then working out a new fret capo and different chord structures to make things sound sweet in stereo.(I still do this today)
From around 13 years old. I’d written songs, composed music, learnt the art of multi tracking (Live performance, warts and all… not computer generated cheating) Warbled with a very crap gob (surgery enabled me to sing and pronounce words better)
After finishing my A levels. Knowing full well my face operation was imminent. I chose not to further my education. I embraced live mic nights, bands, (Word For Word, Dominion, Subject To Status.. and ones I cant remember right now) gigs, music, booze, fags, grass. Indulgence. I loved my Bongos!
Live Mic Night at The Lion, Basford. Nottingham. during the 1990s
Inspired by Jim Morrison’s whisky intake. I had a pretty good go. Ooh I loved my Bourbon and Wild Turkey. Fortunately I never woke up craving alcohol. I rarely drink now mainly because my money is better spent and my body just needs to mend. I do tend to get occasionally battered on the red wine, (big fan of a good Shiraz Cabernet nowadays) at a band rehearsals and spend the next day puking my guts up feeling like death. Swearing on my grave its green tea forever. Ange (my wifey) once farted in bed after one of these night. That set me off on a big boff. She blamed the booze. I blamed the stench. I may write a blog on farting. It’s something that makes me cry laughing.
I began a 10 year exodus into my world ‘Claudsville’
I bought a Fender Bass guitar, Mandolins, more acoustics, A Fender Stratocaster. Eventually I bought a Taylor Acoustic. Elixir custom light strings. Bar that fact that you really cant have too many instruments. I’m content.
I learnt to finger pick. I practiced strumming 😉 being a percussionist helps with rhythm. Being a drummer is a great cure for PMT. There is a big misconception that playing the drums is about kicking the shit out of them. Maybe for some drummers.. Its about creating rhythm, patterns. Jamming, linking, connecting, locking in with your bass player (my Yang to my Ying is the very Talented Dave Pacey)
I played Glen Miller Jazz at School. Moved into Blues Jamming in pubs and Rock Bands.
I love the Folk music, acoustic stuff on the guitar. I enjoy experimenting with effects and layers on my electric guitar parts I compose. I’m not anal enough to go into great technical detail. I’ll leave that one to others.
I dated a sound engineer. (Pete, lovely bloke) me, trying to at least be bisexual. Ultimately you can’t change who you are and what floats your boat. Women do it for me. I’m happily handfasted to my soulmate Ange. After spending a little while sampling a few unhinged (to be polite) birds. Not a good combination with me being me.
I met Grimm (Graham Skelton-Ruth) an amazing guitarist. You can hear some of his Lead Guitar Genius on my Bog Woppit Recordings.
Had M.S. taught me sarcasm to the extreme. Inspired me. Listened to my drunken rants and exorcism of demons. He died when I was 27. (overdosed) that destroyed me.
Claud & Grimm
I luckily managed to travel to America and spend time touring with my family. Some were living there at the time. Texas. Got to Jam on drums in a bar in San Antonio. Being rewarded by a shot of Wild Turkey courtesy of the bar tender.(THAT MADE MY DAY!) I talked at lots of stuff out. HEALING PROCESS.
I’d played regularly at the Lion Pub in Basford before Grimms Death. We used to go on a Thursday live mic night. I’d get drunk to try to control my morbid stage fright. Play 3 solo songs (not covers, I performed my own. There are plenty of people riding the cover version appreciation wave for applause and a career. Not me. I like to create, not copy) If you are going to cover a song. At least do something different with it.
I met Karen Smalley-Turner at such a night. We recorded a few sessions at Grimms Home Studio. ( I basically lived there and slept in there at weekends and every Holiday)
We then lost tough for a while. She had a baby. Robyn. Then as fate has it. I met her again while working in a shop. Broke the sad news that Grimm had died. (not the best way to tell someone over a checkout) I’m known for my Oral splurts of the wrong thing at the wrong time. We later got together and played a gig. The rest my friends is history. 12 years later. Our official Website is here The Idolins are going from strength to strength. We have expanded. Played live at the 2012 London Olympics. Love each other dearly and are back recording 2013 after a wonderful 2012.
The Idolins. ‘Sound Of The Rain’ 2010 Album
Greenwich Park 2012 Olympics. Photo Rob Smalley. Scene Photography
Karen & Claudine Live 2011 The Idolins
Live @ The Royal Concert Hall 2012, Nottingham Photo Rob Smalley. Scene Photography
The Idolins ‘You Said’ Album 2011
The Notts Factor Final 2012.
Subway Circus Live at Nottinghamshire Pride 2012
I’ve also been driven back to playing the Drums again. The new Rock Band. Subway Circus. Has been born. More to follow 2013.
<<Subway Circus Live at Nottinghamshire Pride 2012. My Dad told Karen and I about my Great Grandparents. The Drews. They played instruments. Maybe music is inherited?
All I know is I love it. I can only describe it as an energy of sound. I’m a vessel for it to travel. I dont consciously think about what i’m playing. It just happens. Flukes. Maybe my mind already rehearsed it? Maybe I’m a puppet for Angels?
The Stage fright gets easier as I age.
People have asked for lessons, like I’ll show them an easy non effort way. My answer is always the same.