Keyboard player Martin Bullard is a highly accomplished musician who recently added to his string of successes by winning a song competition in the United States. He has consistently won awards for his composing and you can hear his work in many surprising places. Martin has penned a number of themes for TV programmes and also won a commission to compose the music for the Loch Ness Exhibition near his family home in Scotland.
Born in the south of England he came to live in West Yorkshire and it was during his time there that he joined Smokie. He met his wife Roz in Australia and the couple now live with their children in a quiet corner of rural Scotland where the beauty of the surrounding countryside reminds Roz of home.
Martin explains, "It is now 43 years since I gave my first musical performance. As a five-year old choirboy I embarked on a lifetime of music of various types. I was keen but a little shy. As I progressed rapidly through the grades I was always urged to play the fastest and mostcomplicated works, which I dutifully did to entertain others. In my first school band I was so much younger and smaller than the others with whom I played that I was difficult to detect, except that some very busy keyboard parts were emerging from somewhere in the room. Such was the music of the 70s, which formed part of my inspiration for making music in the first place. It was, however, only a small part for I had the works of Bach, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Schumann, Mozart and Grieg, amongst others, to play and perform in regular recitals. These were nerve-wracking and serious affairs, since I was entirely alone. It was all good experience when it came to performing live, but what could I do with all that classical training and practice which kept me occupied throughout my youth? The answer was easy - just adapt the classical styles into rock music and there is a fusion which provides a great balance, a big sound and an identifiable element of Smokie's music since the 1980s.
"My musical training has been a great asset to me and has provided me with the knowledge to create a wide variety of very different styles for different purposes. Music is mostly about sharing and creating moods for others to enjoy. The mood of Smokie is so simple and such fun that it is impossible not to be drawn into the happy atmosphere the band creates. Band music is about creating space for each other so we may all express ourselves and be heard yet still blend with each other.
While off the road I sometimes indulge in creating some of the other music to which I refer. With so many great sounds at my fingertips, thanks to today's technology, I can construct stirring soundtracks from my modestly proportioned studio in the heart of the Highlands. With no musical constraints and no need to work to somebody else's brief it is exhilarating being able to let the creative inspiration take me to wherever it leads at the time, whether it be inspired by Aboriginal, Latin, Eastern European or any other of the world's territories. Some of the music which I have created has been made available through the website www.worldmusic-net.com.
"But I mostly make music for pleasure. That's how I started and that's how I view the making of music even now. It is very gratifying to occasionally receive an accolade for my works, such as the awards with which I have been presented by Unisong, and yet music is still its own reward and the making of music creates a pleasure which endures.
"Just recently I was asked, by Diana Siegler in Germany, if I would agree to compose the music to her lyrics titled "Not Far Away". She works with children who are terminally ill with various cancers and her words are written from the point of view of a child who has died and gone to heaven. Such is the beauty and simplicity of these lyrics that I was fully inspired to compose the music and I asked my son, Luke, to provide the vocal. The finished product is available and I hope that Diana is able to raise the funds she needs in order to improve on facilities at the children's hospice.
"I often hear fans say that they couldn't imagine a life without Smokie. Well, I couldn't imagine a life without music and I plan to carry on making music as long as I am physically and mentally able to do so. As I write I am planning another intro for the new Smokie set, which will be performed in the autumn. This will be the twelfth intro which I have composed for the band, which seems like a magical number in Smokie's career since there are twelve peals of the bell before we "meet you at midnight".