Matt Johnson on touring with Black Foxxes

31st July 2018

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BIMM Brighton student Matt Johnson recently hit the road with Spinefarm Records signees Black Foxxes for tour dates and festival appearances across Europe as well as recording sessions with Adrian Bushby (Foo Fighters, Muse). The BA (Hons) Music Business Degree student officially graduates later this Summer, yet has already landed an enviable role as a featured trumpet player with the self-dubbed Romantic Gloom trio. We caught up with Matt for a quick Q&A on how his Summer has been going with the band. 

What have been the highlights of working withBlack Foxxes so far?

The highlights of working with Black Foxxes have been recording on their most recent album ‘Rei∂i’ with producer Adrian Bushby, doing a live session for Radio 1 at Maida Vale Studios and performing at various festivals including Download, Main Square (France), Vestrock (Holland), 2000 Trees, All Points East and Reading and Leeds (upcoming). I also featured in their headline set at Islington Academy, London. Just being on the road with the band has been ace as they’re all excellent people.

Any surreal moments from life on the road with the band?

There have been several surreal moments for me: Doug from McFly walking up to me after a performance to tell me that he loved my playing, having dinner a few feet away from Sharon Osbourne. But maybe the biggest one for me personally was when I the only spectator watching Liam Gallagher’s soundcheck early in the morning at Main Square (France) in a 30,000 cap field.

How did the opportunity to play with the band first arise?

Nicky Williams – Industry Placements and Careers Coordinator at BIMM Brighton – emailed me about a proposed session with Black Foxxes last summer. The song I was meant to record on never made it on to the album, but I was asked to improvise over an additional song whilst I was at the studio. This other song became one of the lead singles off Black Foxxes album ‘Rei∂i’.

What was your gigging experience like prior to performing with BF?

Mostly small gigs around the South East though playing with various DJ’s in Ibiza would definitely be the highlight prior to Foxxes.

How did BIMM help prepare you for your current work with the band?

Just getting a feel for the industry and having the time of my life in Brighton, it’s a special place. I also had countless tutorials with Dex Lush who has been instrumental in guiding me and my career over the past few years. I can’t think of many other places where you have industry professionals such as Dex on hand to offer advice and assist you in reaching your various goals in the industry.

What advice would you offer students looking to follow in your footsteps?

There’s still so far for me to go, but I’d say meet as many people as possible – don’t skip out on the house parties! Most importantly I think finding work in music whatever the job is a must. Ultimately, do what you can to make a living from music, no matter what sector it happens to be in. I have been very lucky to have achieved this through venue management. This means that I’m not wasting 40 hours a week on a job totally unrelated to music. It may not yet be the trumpet career I have always dreamed of, but it increases my chances of reaching that pinnacle. It means that I can live in central London and fully support myself through music. The job helps prop up that trumpet career through networking and exposure to the industry day in day out.

In fact, I’m writing this from the back of one of our gigs right now; it’s just music all the time. I wouldn’t have got the job without using my time at BIMM Brighton to go out and meet people and do countless different internships and work experience projects outside of university. In terms of playing, I know it’s an awful cliche but quite seriously take every opportunity you are fortunate enough to be given, you never know what may come from it.

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James Watts

Social Media Assistant, Professional Bassist and Music Journalist. Career highlights include performing at some of the UK's premier music festivals, recording in Abbey Road and interviewing Debbie Harry.