Performing is one of the most adrenalin-filled and self-validating things you can do. Before you start, however, it can be absolutely nerve wracking. I started rapping at 16 and it was the energy and enthusiasm that got me through each small show. Now, at 18, I’m being asked to perform for music labels, radio stations and talent scouts (one of whom discovered Coldplay) so my label management and I have come up with a few tips that have helped me make the transition.
1. KNOW THE LYRICS
It doesn’t matter how good of a singer or rapper you are, or if you perform covers or your original tracks – you MUST know your lyrics (and believe me, I have seen performers forget their own lyrics). Just let me say that if you forget the words, the magic of that performance is lost for the audience. And if it is a paying audience or a judging audience, it is the mistakes they remember.
2. UNDERSTAND YOUR LYRICS
Anyone can sing a song (OK, mostly anyone can sing a song), but there are only a small percentage who can tell the story within the lyrics. If it is your own original track, then those words came from a place inside you. They are a story you needed to tell; just remember that other people have had those feelings too, so don’t be afraid to go to that place inside you when you perform that song. Even if you are performing a cover, find the story in the words, find your memories and attach them. Trust me – the audience will know if you are just singing or if you are truly connecting with them.
3. BE HONEST
This is the hardest thing a performer can do, because it is about putting your heart and soul out there for people to judge (and I don’t just mean the judges of a competition, I mean everyone in the audience). To explain this a little clearer, how many times have you watched an act and thought “They sound and act just like Britney, or Madonna, or Eminem,” or whoever? The audience sees you as a caricature, not as YOU. Be yourself, be true to who you are, your voice, your words, and your chord structure. Be brave, I promise it will pay off!
4. DON’T DRESS TO IMPRESS
I have been to quite a few shows and competitions – as a performer and in the audience – and it still amazes me that acts may work so hard on their vocals, music and performance, but don’t think about how they look. If you watch TV talent shows, you will have heard the judges say “You’re 16, but you dress like a 50-year-old.” You know what they’re saying: “I can’t comment on your singing, because you have a bigger problem – You Don’t Know Who You Are!” You are not going for an interview, you are a performer. Now I’m not saying you should dress stereotypically, just be the music/artist version of yourself.
5. REHEARSE, REHEARSE, REHEARSE
If you’re like me, you don’t mind rehearsing (although doing the same song or songs over and over again can be torture). However, there is nothing more important than rehearsing a performance over and over. My label management introduced me to the mirror. They had tried to explain a few things that I kept doing over and over in my performance and it didn’t sink in, but then with the mirror I saw exactly what I was doing. Yes, it was freaky at first, but it’s the best thing I have ever done. It helps you see what the audience sees and it helps you find the performance whilst keeping it totally honest.
6. BE HUMBLE
I know I said 5 tips, but I couldn’t let this one go: be thankful for each and every opportunity, and remember the audience and judges don’t want to see a douche perform. Now go out there and smash it!
Hartlepool-born Matty “Consept” Kitching is a fast-rising rap artist who recently performed on Britain’s famous music competition The Big Music Project, which aims to provide young musicians with the chance to learn first-hand from the music business and take steps toward a career in the industry. Consept – whose emotional music and lyrics aim to connect with people who are at rough points in their life – was one of just 20 acts to advance to the competition’s regional finals in November. The finalists are vying for a spot in the national final, which takes place in London during BRITs Week in 2015 in the lead-up to one of the biggest nights in the music industry’s calendar, The BRIT Awards.
The successful young people, aged 14 to 24, will be competing for top notch prizes, including the opportunity to record at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios, the chance to perform at Classic FM Live at the Royal Albert Hall, and the unique offer to be featured on the BRIT Awards Compilation Album 2016.
Check out Consept’s music video for “Take Me Away” (Ft. Kate Williams) below and you can purchase his debut EP, titled Silhouettes, right here.