Mark Hoy is the man behind the solo band Shïppa-63. Heavily influenced by British Pop, Rock and Punk, he has created a sound that is uniquely his own. Today Hoy spoke with ETV about all the aspects behind being in a solo band, his approach to the band’s first digitally released album “Pas Rein,” and his musical influences.
Hoy has been making music as Shïppa-63 since late 2011 after getting a MacBook Pro with GarageBand. He said the new technology allowed him to put down the hundreds of ideas he had in his head with the ability to fully realize those songs with a full band sound. He writes and performs all the songs himself, from guitars and bass recorded in the bedroom, drums in the lounge room, keyboards on the dining room table, and vocals recorded in the wardrobe (self-admittedly to lessen the complaints from neighbors).
“I prefer to get the real band sound, using guitars, bass, drums and keyboards, rather than combining loops and riffs from elsewhere,” Hoy said.
Before starting up the current incarnation of Shïppa-63, Hoy did play drums and sing in a covers band made up from teachers from his school, performing mostly at private parties and a semi-regular gig at a local pub.
“The Cringe Brothers played late 60s, 70s and a few 80s covers, and two originals, which I had written,” Hoy said. “However, being the youngest in the band, and a fan of 90s Britrock/pop, I was looking to do something different.”
His departure from the group paved way for him to create songs in the style he wanted in an environment that was all his own. Hoy said being in a solo band allowed him to get along with everyone in the band (except the drummer, who seems a bit off) and the result was making music that usually centered around the mood he was in, allowing him to avoid arguments that most bandmates bicker about. Luckily for Hoy, he plays his instruments at a high level that sounds like many people indeed bashed their heads in to get it just right.
However, Hoy said the downside to being a solo band was that it was almost impossible to play his songs live.
“Live gigs is how to get a real fan-base, so I have to rely on the internet to get my music heard,” Hoy said. “I would also love to be able to play guitar like Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Matt Bellamy, etc. to get the exact sound that I’m after in my head, but I just have to compromise sometimes.”
The resulting sound that emerges from Shïppa-63 is a New Wave, Pop-Punk mix that tends to sound like the British sounds of the 90s and 2000s. He said bands like Blur, Radiohead, The Cure, Doves, Muse, Supergrass, Jesus & The Mary Chain, Ultravox, and Buzzcocks are his main source of influence.
“I’m a fan of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s sound,” Hoy said. “The raw guitar, driving drums and bass… and so some of that comes through. As for my vocal influence, most definitely John Watts (Fischer-Z) from the late 70s through to current times. His falsetto voice was an inspiration, which is a bit surprising for a 190 cm tall bloke like me to want to emulate!”
Shïppa-63 has an album out called “Pas Rein,” the first to be released digitally under the project name. The album took close to six months for Hoy to get the sound he was after. As his sound engineering experience with GarageBand improved with time, the songs did as well and started to sound more professional.
“I have mucked around with a few ideas earlier in my career, but after getting some airplay on radio stations in the UK and France, I decided to get a little fussier with what I put out,” Hoy said. “The title is just a play on some French words, meaning Not Nothing, so the album is actually something!”
Hoy has taken a lyrical approach on the album that is varied and touches on many topics from social behavior to injustices. For example, the song “There & Back (Again)” asks the politicians where exactly they are taking the people they govern, “Differentiation” discusses the Asylum Seeker plight, “Just Walk Away” questions the injustice of bullies getting away with malicious actions, “Revolution ’63” is a call to arms in a sense, “Vague As” is a comment on the false glamour of casinos, and the track “You’re Gonna Kop It!” is about the Liverpool Football Club.
“‘Man Cold’ sheds light on a much maligned illness that only seems to affect us males and the females just do not understand and ‘Small Talk’ is a comment on how social media has made nobody’s business everybody else’s,” Hoy said. “‘Searching for A Cure’ is my homage to the New Wave sounds of the early 80s.”
Clearly, there’s a lot on Hoy’s mind and the album does a good job of capturing it all in one package. The final track of “Pas Rein” is “Something Special,” and it has a special meaning to Hoy.
“The final song is a ballad which is very different to anything else on the album, but it definitely means a great deal to me,” Hoy said. “My eldest son got married in September 2014, and he and his then fiancée asked if I could write a song for their wedding. To me this was probably the greatest compliment that anyone could have given my music, entrusting me with something so special. So I did put a great deal of time and effort into the song, which is heavily influenced by Manchester’s Elbow. They were blown away by the final result too, which was the main thing.”
When it comes to running the operations behind a solo band, Hoy has learned a lot of the years. He said anyone can do it but that they should expect to make mistakes along the way. Currently, Hoy will continue to make music that he enjoys listening to and playing, and he is working on how to perform live to build an audience. He’s also thinking about releasing a new album in the near future.
“I never thought that I could do what I have done,” Hoy said. “I might just say that having a very supportive better half is also a major factor in succeeding… Sue is something special!”