Sputnik Faith and Arts Spinning beauty out of lockdown with guitarist Stewart Garry

patrons

Spinning beauty out of lockdown with guitarist Stewart Garry

Through our Patrons Scheme, we support Christians who are making engaging, powerful art or who are using their skills to serve their local communities. This term, one of our grants has gone to Stewart Garry, an instrumental fingerstyle guitarist from Newcastle.

We’ve long been fans of Stew’s work, as a great example of non-verbal music which can still evoke a powerful sense of place, emotion or story. The music is both technically daunting and yet easy to enjoy; and supporting the studio recording of his new (as yet untitled) album was a no-brainer.

Introduce yourself Stew. Who are you and what do you do?

Hi Sputnik! My name is Stew, I’m 32 years old; I’m married to Abi and we have a daughter, born last year, called Brooke.

We’re currently located in Cambridge, having moved from the East Midlands a little over a year ago for me to start working as an Assistant Pastor at a church here. Alongside being a Pastor, I am studying Biblical Counselling with BCUK (Biblical Counselling UK). Outside of church life I compose instrumental acoustic guitar music. This music uses modern fingerstyle guitar methods such as using the body of the guitar as a drum, tapping melodies or chords and alternate tunings. For my compositions I often like to take influences from my Celtic roots as well as film, alternative, jazz, and heavier music. 

Those who’ve been around Sputnik for a while may well be familiar with your work through your excellent ‘Sojourner’ album. It’s hard to believe that was 5 years ago. What have you been up to in the meantime?

After Sojourner, I got married and spent most of my time involved in church work and studying for an MA in Christian Ministry. However, I did get the opportunity to compose some music for a couple of friends weddings, play some cool gigs like the London Acoustic Guitar Show, and teach a few fingerstyle guitar “masterclasses” (their term not mine) at Nexus ICA

The new album was written in lockdown just after the birth of your first child. Could you talk us through the process?

The process of writing this new album during lockdown and after the birth of my first child has been a lot different to any other album that I have composed—for a few reasons—but the main one has been that time off work with my family just inspired me.

I’ve heard lots of musicians say they didn’t want to pick up their instrument during lockdown, and I understand that, but with being a dad for the first time and having such a crazy year, I felt like I had something to say again after all those years since Sojourner. A second interesting factor has been not being able to gig. In the past, it was during performing that I would try new material out, see what lands well—or not! So this time, it’s been a longer process of listening back to my work on my own. The main result of these things has been that the music is less complicated but more melodic. It feels more of a personal album rather than abstract music written about places and good times, which at times I think Sojourner became… 

I know that in your music, you like to think very carefully about the recording process and also how to present your music visually. How are you planning to record and release this project?

Many instrumental guitarists release videos of their music on a plain background, so everyone can see that it’s really just them playing all the parts! Whilst there is nothing wrong with that, I do like people to have more of a visual experience as well. Since I’m now situated in Cambridge, my thoughts have been around finding interesting places to film, such as old libraries, perhaps even King’s College… but this part of the project is still in its planning stages. The first part is to get into the studio in November and get the music sorted. This is my first studio-based album since The West Coast over ten years ago, and so there are some nerves going into the studio again—but it should be fun. I am also looking forward to collaborating with Joanna Karselis again. Jo and I worked together for one of the tracks on Sojourner (called Patience is a Virtue), and I was thrilled that she was up for working together again on a track called A Scottish Lament. Expect lots of trills.

To stay connected with Stewart Garry and his music in the lead up to the release, you can follow him on Instagram, subscribe on YouTube, or follow him on Spotify. To find out a bit more about his work and process, you can check out our longer interview with him below!

You Might Also Like...

When Yeezus turned to Jesus: Why ‘Jesus is King’ is not a blueprint for Christian art

By Jonny Mellor Fri 29 Nov, 2019

Sputnik Faith and Arts When Yeezus turned to Jesus: Why ‘Jesus is King’ is not a blueprint for Christian art

UNSEEN

The Entropy Blues: Contemplating our Artistic Mortality

By Chris Donald Wed 27 Nov, 2019

Sputnik Faith and Arts The Entropy Blues: Contemplating our Artistic Mortality

UNSEEN

The Repentant Completionist: When Outtakes and Demos Become Too Much

By Joel Wilson Wed 27 Nov, 2019

Sputnik Faith and Arts The Repentant Completionist: When Outtakes and Demos Become Too Much

UNSEEN

Don’t Forget, Your Collaborators are as Important as Your Audience

By Jonny Mellor Wed 27 Nov, 2019

Sputnik Faith and Arts Don’t Forget, Your Collaborators are as Important as Your Audience
When Yeezus Turned to Jesus: The bigger picture behind ‘Jesus is King’

By Jonny Mellor Wed 13 Nov, 2019

Sputnik Faith and Arts When Yeezus Turned to Jesus: The bigger picture behind ‘Jesus is King’
The Chaotic, Emotional Impact of Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’

By Jessica Wood Sat 09 Jun, 2018

Sputnik Faith and Arts The Chaotic, Emotional Impact of Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’