Gregory is a great American songwriter whose work I love. ~Judy Collins
Musician, songwriter, and producer Gregory Page was born in London, England to a musical family. As a teenager, he attended Trinity College of Music where he studied classical guitar and composition. At the age of sixteen, Page moved to San Diego, CA where he began writing and recording his own brand of music. Over the years, Page has worked with a variety of artists such as: Jason Mraz, John Doe, Jewel, Tom Brosseau, Steve Poltz, and AJ Croce, to name a few.
Gregory brings a rich, lush depth to his music: both lyrically and instrumentally. He says nothing makes you feel as good as a melancholy song.
Gregory, you have quite a following in San Diego, but for All Things Girl readers who are unfamiliar with your music, how do you describe your unique sound?
I describe it as a unique sound. The music that I create is a time machine—it transports me back to a place where life was in black and white. Back to a time when women were ladies and guys were gentlemen. The tightrope my music teeters upon is the struggle between tradition and progress, history and fantasy. I am the songbird & the worm.
Well, you seem to be if not a Francophile, at least a Europhile—your sound has that 20′s to 40′s French cafe, bluesy-swanky thing going on. Tell me about it and how Paris has influenced your song writing.
I spent half my life searching for my real father. In 1999 the search ended and I was introduced to him in Paris where he lives. Discovering he was also a songwriter is what Oprah would call a full circle moment.
I wrote and recorded a French Inspired collection of songs about that experience called Love Made Me Drunk. While walking with my Father along the banks of the River Seine, it was easy to imagine Paris a hundred years ago—melodies were floating above my head constantly.
And speaking of Europe, you were born in London, right? So why did your family decide to move to San Diego?
My family escaped to America in 1976. I was not eager to move here so I was told that we were only going on a holiday. We never returned to the Queen’s Kingdom and I have remained here on vacation ever since. We eventually landed in San Diego. I asked my Grandfather, “Why did you choose Southern California?” He told me it was because he loved Mexican food. I love it, too, but would I up root an entire family for it?
You crack me up, Gregory. The quest for good Mexican food may be worth crossing the pond.
San Diego is often considered a musical backwater compared to Los Angeles, but you have played with some pretty well-known musicians here. Tell me a bit about your musical friends.
This year most of my musician friends moved away to more culturally artistic cites. My pal AJ Croce moved to Nashville where he and his family have made it their home. Tom Brosseau relocated to Los Angeles and my hairstylist, Aspasia, moved to New York where she is being greatly appreciated.
San Diego has made me independently wealthy, I am completely independent of wealth. It’s a difficult place to create original music in and I have been fortunate to be able to survive as long as I have here. But I live week-to-week, with no health insurance and worse than that—no cable television.
Much of your music and your lyrics seem very personal and reflective. Because of this, I am sure many of your fans think these songs tell your life story. Do they? How autobiographical are your songs?
“Most of my songs are true stories that I make up. Juxtaposing nostalgia with modern scenes of lust and betrayal. I don’t listen to FM radio or read magazines. Rock music for me is dead and gone. Regression is the new progression.”
Most of my songs are true stories that I make up. Juxtaposing nostalgia with modern scenes of lust and betrayal. I don’t listen to FM radio or read magazines. Rock music for me is dead and gone. Regression is the new progression.
You don’t participate in pop or current culture, so what, or who, inspires you?
Mother Theresa, Tiny Tim, clouds, and Indian food.
What about when writing new material—where do you find inspiration?
Melbourne, Australia. Something about St. Kilda really inspires me—there’s something in the air. St. Kilda is my co-writer. Not in a fluffy spiritual, wind chimes and incense sort of way…it’s just that Melbourne feels like home and is a place that lives inside me.
Too bad Australia is halfway around the world. I hear you’ve been to Oz many times—how do you handle the flight?
Xanax. There are two things I am afraid of: turbulence and the music of Kenny G. Flying is great, don’t get me wrong, but I’d rather they perfect it before I take too many flights.
Would you move to Australia?
In some ways I already have [since St. Kilda resides in me]. I’m not sure I’d leave San Diego—it needs creative souls. Each time creative people leave, San Diego is worse off for it. I don’t have a lot of possessions, so I can travel easily—just me, my toothbrush, and my guitar.
I know you have given hundreds of interviews over the years. What one question do you wish interviewers would ask you?
I would like an interviewer to ask me how to get certain self-proclaimed musicians to stop trying to be successful. To make something of it, to want to be more than they are, to become famous [as a self-serving ambition]. That’s what I’d like to be asked because I’d like to answer that question.
To battle with so many people playing in clubs and venues, who are satisfied with just making adequate music, is difficult. I call these people try-hards and the try-hards are in the way—they are good self-promoters, but they make it hard for those who are serious about song writing and playing—so much market saturation makes it’s hard for artists to be heard—for musicians that have been playing for years but that are running out of venues to do so.
What do you want to people to know about you that they don’t know? What would surprise people?
I am not as interesting in person as I am in my writing. I write short stories and I appear quite clever and interesting. I am not a reader or a great conversationalist—but in songs I come off deeper and more intelligent than I really am.
Tell me about your upcoming release, I know you just finished in the recording studio.
For my new CD, Heartstrings, I wrote a collection of songs in Australia this past spring that are in the spirit of roots jazz/old time music. I became friends with a pianist-composer named Sky Ladd. He arranged the album and included two of his original solo piano compositions. In the spirit of that music we enlisted the talents of an upright bass player named Bob Magnusson—he played with Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. Gilbert Castellanos, my friend and a local trumpeter who plays with Diana Krall, is on the album, too.
It was recorded and co-produced by my friend Jeff Berkley at his home studio here In San Diego—Jeff is a purist—everything was recorded on period recording equipment. My talented long time friend Masen shot the amazing album cover in Downtown San Diego.
It was written over the period of a month while I was listening to Louis Prima, Nat King Cole, Bessie Smith, and others. The music had been churning around in me for a while—this is my first cohesive collaborative effort. This album for me is a perfect fit—it’s my best work to date—it showcases my voice in a way that hasn’t been done before—with the piano front and center, it brings out the best in my voice.
Elements of comedy and elements of anguish link from song to song. And since it was written during a short period it’s really a concept album—all the songs are a part of the whole. I hadn’t played these songs live, I just created them and recorded them so I wasn’t swayed by opinions about what should be on there or not—only by what I felt I wanted to record. I close the album with Edith Piaf’s classic La Vie en Rose.
I have self-released and distributed 18 records, and this one is no different. It will be independently self-released on Valentine’s Day—available from the trunk of my car or via my website (www.gregorypage.com). I would love to have distribution one day, but until then it’s all through me.
So what’s next for you, Gregory? A tour to support Heartstrings? Return to Australia? Late-night Mexican food run?
I return to Oz in March to perform at festivals and to promote the new album. In addition, I have come up with a brilliant new marketing strategy—door-to-door album sales. I have been trying it out here in San Diego and it’s going dismally, but I believe in taking my music to the people. One thing I have learned through this process is that people don’t like to be disturbed at their homes.
Well. Gregory, I am looking forward to Heartstrings, but don’t drop in on me unless you call first!