I’ve yet to do any real international touring, with the exception of two weeks of shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival back in 2005. But my friend Tah Phrum Duh Bush has been hitting the international scene hard for the last couple years. So I asked him for some tips about how to get it going and keep it going on the international touring scene.
– Tell us a bit about your art and what it’s about.
My art is about a ton of things but I would dare say that it is mainly about self-exploration. I feel that in knowing myself, I might be able to understand more of why language, vision, people, the world and the universe function the way they do. I am my own experiment. I am a multimedia artist. I emcee, I write, I draw, I create music, I connect people, I teach through art. I take my art into all aspects of my life. I have been recently participating in what I call body art. No… not tattoos dammit! I am also a personal trainer. I have been experimenting with my body and changing it for different forms of activity: Running, endurance, power, speed, body building… they all require different body types and I have discovered that I can make it look and function how I want it to look and function by eating and exercising differently. I am actually working on songs now with reference to that body art. The real challenge is to keep my art relevant to my self-discovery while maintaining an entertaining quality that will keep the attention of those who would consume my art. My art can be very deep, very dark and very comedic. After all that is how I see myself. It definitely reflects who I am.
– You’ve been doing quite a bit of international touring. Where have you been performing?
- UK: London, Wolverhampton and Manchester
- Germany: Brelin
- Czech Republic: Prague, Ceske Budejovice, Plzen, Brno, Ostrava
- Australia: Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Sydney
- France: Lyon, Strasbourg
– How did those tours come about and how did you book the shows?
These tours came about from years of networking and audience building in New York City; by making sure that I am at every event possible and talking to every soul at every event and following up. People from all over the world visit New York and it is good to make connections with people that come here and actually follow up. A lot of times people from other countries who become your fans are so excited about what you are doing that they will actually organize shows for you and promote it or they will find someone who will do it for them.
Most of the time I ask people where they would like to see me perform and I contact the venues. If the venues don’t have people who are English speaking they usually make the connection for me. People overseas tend to be really receptive to American artists who will actually follow through on tours. You would cringe at some of the horror stories I have heard about American Artists booking tours and not showing up.
– What kind of paperwork did you need to tour over there. (ie. visas and such)
Paperwork Varies from country to country. Some Countries you need a Visa to get into others you don’t. Australia and the UK you definitely need Visas, especially if you are going to be “working”. In countries where you are paid in cash a working visa is not “necessary” but you should check with the consulate before making your arrangements.
I have a few friends that went over to the UK without Visas and they got put back on the next flight back to New York because their papers were not in order. Tour destroyed! The U.K. is not the friendliest to American Artists. I guess the government thinks that we are going over there and taking gigs away from the people there. I have never heard of any other country turning away more artists than the UK. The last time I went to the U.K. I flew in with the band Evanescence and they got held up in the airport because of visa conflicts. I, however had two copies of my visa and a sponsorship letter in hand BAM!!!!
Make sure that the person booking you handles your visas appropriately if you don’t figure out how to do it on your own. When you fly in to Europe you can pretty much cross borders into other countries without issues as long as you have your passport. They DO check so bring your passport everywhere and pack color photocopies in every bag you have just in case you lose it. It will be easier for the US Embassy to replace it if you have a copy of it. When I was in Australia I got a visa with no problem when I booked my flight. It was around $40 or so.
– Have the tours been profitable or are they instead paying off in exposure?
Tours have been profitable, tours have drawn even and tours have cast me into the abyss of brokenness. It’s all in your preparation. The exposure is always amazing and people back in the US seem to respect you more and pay more attention to you when you return. I guess that is musical “street cred”. I have scored some shitty gigs that have led to really big gigs that have multiplied my European fan base exponentially. This is where the money comes from. When someone actually pays for your flight it is a wonderful thing. You have to haggle though. You have that wiggle room because you are traveling internationally. If they really want you, they will make sure that you get there.
– How have the tours affected the other parts of your business? (ie. album sales, social media, traditional media acknowledgment, etc)
Well, I’d have to say that most countries in Europe are just like the states. If the fans are really feeling you, they will buy everything you have. If they are broke, they won’t buy anything from you. I tend to sell more downloads when I am on tour and more albums when I return home. It’s bizarre. The media is very important. When an American person sees you in a write up from Europe, even if they can’t read it, they will rush out to buy your material where they wouldn’t have given you the time of day beforehand. You would think that it would be the other way around but it’s not. It is a mystery.
Twitter is not really as big in the areas I have traveled to. Facebook is huge! When I tour people come looking for me on Facebook. Twitter people tend to be the more mobile phone folks and the Facebook people tend to operate more from a desktop/laptop arena. Touring is always great for me for Blog exposure television and radio spots.
You can also hear Tah doing a guest verse on my song “If I Were A Girl” here.