It was 6:00pm on a Saturday, Richard was busking on Pitt St Mall surrounded with crowded audiences.
“I have been busking for about seven years, I started busking in London, on the London Underground Network.”
Richard said “I choose to busk because it’s a really good way to gain new fans, to perfect your performance, and a really good way to not have to get a real job and earn money.”
Richard have busked in many countries and cities including London and Wales in England, Toronto and Montreal in Canada, New York City in America, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Newcastle in Australia. Before coming to Sydney, Richard regarded busking as an interests, “I can go to a city and visit there while making new fans and making shows on the street, it’s awesome” he said.
Richard came to Sydney a year and a half ago, “Because I want to change, I was in London for many years, that was fun, but it was tiring and I began to get bad habit, I need change, so I came here, under the sunshine”he said. He treated busking as a career after he came to Sydney, “I really like busking in Sydney, for me it’s not really about the place, it’s about the area, there are lots of shopping centres that I can make shows, I can make moments with people, that’s what I like to do.” said Richard.
Sometimes Richard plays in a band with two close mate, Jamie Ray, playing the bass, and Lawrence Gratton, playing the violin. “They are awesome, but Lawrence went to Melbourne.” he said.
“Most of my fans are made from busking, and I got too much happiness from them.”
Richard usually plays on Pitt St Mall on weekends, everytime he plays, he will be surrounded with lots of people, some are big fans, some are just passers-by in the shopping mall, and they would become new fans.
“Sometimes there are kids running in my shows, and I remember a cute girl,” he said, “apparently, she was really a shy kid, and her mother bought a CD. The kid can never reads, but she can learn all the lyrics of my songs and surprises her mother by singing in the car with all the lyrics of my songs, which is really touching, really touching”.
“Recently I got a email from somebody who said during my show, she felt like nothing else in the world existed, and that’s awesome, that’s what I wanna do, that is what my life is filled, and I can do that to people.” Richard said with confidence and passion.
“London Prize recorded my feeling about London at that time, good and bad.”
Richard have released two EPs. The first one named London Prize, released in 2014 in London. There are two songs in it including London Prize and Transatlantic Tales.
The second EP is Little Victories, released in 2015 in Sydney. Six songs are recorded in it including Ordinary People, Monster Truck, We Believe, We Dream, Fire, Four Walls and Sympathy. It was inspired by years of crazy nights, cavorting and crashing on couches, he has learned a thing about life. From dingy London dungeons to high-class American apartments, via sumptuous Sydney sunshine, his handsomely-expressed acoustic sermons on love and life have acquired devastating resonance. “Because I think it is very important to celebrate the little victories. If you think about the end of prize, selling millions of records, you would get very upset. But when you sell hundreds of records, or sing a song you never heard before, and celebrate these little victories, it would be encouraging” Richard said.
To shoot the Music Video for Ordinary people, Richard ran around Sydeny CBD, with a film crew, getting people from all walks of life to hold up signs containing the lyrics to Ordinary People. “I do this because I like people, it was nice to change strangers to fans, to make them get involved. Particularly in the end of the video, you can see I got drunk with people, that was mad, and it was a really fun day, ” Richard said, “some people didn’t want to hold up the signs, then I said something to make them open and get involved, it was challenging, but rewarding.”
About Busking Policy
In most parts of the Sydney CBD, including Martin Place, Town Hall, Pitt St Mall, and Hyde Park, busking is governed by the City of Sydney, while the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority controls busking at Circular Quay, Rocks and Darling Harbour.
According to Busking Policy by City of Sydney, buskers need to apply for busking permits. Moreover, the area and time is restricted. Buskers could only busking in restricted area shown in the Busking Sites Maps.
Time restrictions make it unfeasible for buskers as well . For example, Pitt St Mall is not permitted prior to 2 pm on weekdays and 11 am on weekends and buskers may only stay for an hour . Therefore, buskers should line up each morning at Pitt st Mall for an hour-long spot to play. Besides, maximum of 2 hours for standard busking and maximum of 8 hours for pavement art are allowed at elsewhere except Pitt St Mall in the Sydney City.
“The policy makes it hard for us, absolutely, but if you obey it, it would be fine. Have a fight with policy is not cool, you don’t want that, kill you survive.” Richard said, “I have been also dealing with councils, you know, if you busk a lot, the council will restrict you a lot.”
“It’s so worthy for the good time,sun is not predictable, you can’t expect everything from busking, because it would be passed down for a week with rain, then you can’t perform, you can’t sell CDs and make money, it isn’t reliable, so don’t rely on busking forever.” said Richard.
A documentary of Richard, filmed in Sydney, shot and edited by Qian (Angela) Lu.
Qian LU (Angela)