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SLP 145: Flying Into The Unknown with Wesley Dean
18, Jan, 2022
“Music has always fascinated me more than any other thing. The way I write is from very personal experiences, very real experiences, probably too honest, to be honest, in lots of ways. And I’ve just finished the record here where it’s very honest. It’s all about us moving from Australia to America and the process of it all. The challenges, the great challenges of moving in a global pandemic and the world and what it is now compared to two years ago with an 8-year-old and a 2-year-old and all the uncertainty, flying into the absolute unknown and really starting all over again.” Wesley Dean
Wesley Dean, aka Wes Carr, grew up in the Sydney entertainment scene playing music from 12 years of age then signing a musical publishing deal at just 19 years of age. Incredibly talented he went on to win Australian Idol in 2008 and even though it was a huge opportunity he actually struggled winning the title as he felt he had pawned over a big part of himself. Idol was actually a crossroads moment where he felt he had to let go of his creative side and move more into the performing world.
It was a massive challenge being a TV personality too, but looking back he sees the blessings in it all and admits even though he does not particularly like the accolade of winning Australian Idol he is more than appreciative of the experience.
Everything that happened to Wes as he grew up he also sees as a huge blessing and realises now just how much music was his medicine. ‘One minute you are called the next Neil Young, the next big thing… and then when it doesn’t happen it can do strange things to you’, says Wessie. As a performer he became a people pleaser and felt he had to get the back row up otherwise in his opinion he had not done his job.
A lot of Wes’s childhood was centred around music. It became his escapism as he lived through his parent’s divorce and other personal struggles. Sometimes he says he has very vivid memories of his childhood and other times it feels very vague, but through it all music was his saviour.
Singing in public since he was 8 years old he knew how to work a crowd but then started to really internalise things. Performing is your extrovert side says Wessie, and song writing is about your introvert side. He had no idea which way he wanted to go but it fused into both with more songs and more creativity.
His idol was Michael Jackson and being the best in the business he learned to put immense pressure on himself which at times served him but of course other times it did not.
Today he is ever so grateful to be writing music and allowing his creative energy to flourish once again.
We delve into the topic of pain and joy how many hits have come from this growth and both sides. Wes believes the secret to music is the pain and joy all in one. Adele has a sense of joy when she sings but she is singing about a painful thing but you still get a release from what she sings about because she has a sense of joy in what she is doing.
‘What A Wonderful World’ is a classic example of this and could easily be sung at a wedding and a funeral. You cannot describe the unspoken magic of music like this. People’s reactions is what makes music so special knowing we all have our own experience of a song.
Music has fascinated Wes all his life and his families move to Nashville has been a chance for him to continue his love for it regardless of the timing with this pandemic.
We discuss how music and smell and how they are two incredible tools to put you in a time and place. We also talk about how much as an artist Wes has grown through many years of experiences and moments honouring his music from the past and realising how hard he has worked and how much he has grown over the years. He believes all good things come to those who wait.
Wes shares with us how each of his albums meant different things at different times. His music has no expectations and that means it can have a life of its own. He does it from a pure sense of joy rather than the pressure of streaming and following. He tries to always operate from that space creating from a pure sense. He feels he is writing for legacy, music is his diary entry for the day.
Wes suffered with depression and anxiety in his early twenty’s and explains there was one particular tipping point where he needed to get off an international flight where it felt like his spirit was going one way and his body was going the other. It was a panic attack to remember. He spent 3 months at home to ground and balance himself.
Thanks to the help, love and support of his wife Char he needed to retract and work out what he wanted to do. He learned TM transcendental meditation which he believed literally changed his brain overnight. His teacher helped him to grow through this time in his life.
When he was young, he was drawn to watching The Beatles Anthology on television and was intrigued with how they wanted to know more about the meaning of life. John Lennon thought the Maharishi would slip him the answer and give him the key! George Harrison was the one who lead them there thanks to their interest in the Indian culture, spirituality and the meditation plus the musicianship and influence of Ravi Shankar. Wes shares how he wanted to travel to India in his footsteps.
Watching the Beatles filmed in India Wes was drawn to the spirit of the place and remembered through his TM studies that he wanted to do a George Harrison show honouring his music and spirituality. He retraced his steps in India learning so much about the culture and people. It was an incredible time, he was blown away being at the exact same Ashram where the Beatles themselves had once stood.
He faced a lot of challenges whilst there including OCD and panic attacks, so this pilgrimage was as much about his own self development and understanding as it was following George Harrison. There is not a day that goes by that he does not think about the learnings and teachings. It has helped with his fear hugely and he felt it really was an incredible time. Those 4 guys from Liverpool changed the world in more ways than just music.
We talk about Wes’s journey with his amazing wife Charlotte Gregg. He feels he would never be able to do anything without her. He was not on the right trajectory when he met her so is very grateful to this day that she came into his life. Charlotte was a well renowned actress in her own right and both were very career orientated when they met. But as Wessie says… there is something within that you just know when you find the right one.
Their first-born Willow changed their lives in more ways than just becoming parents. The Sydney couple whose life was on red carpets and living a not-so-normal life had its own challenges but with each experience they personally got stronger and stronger. Both Wes and Char wear their hearts on their sleeves. He says they are a very good team. Feeling like they were on a treadmill to keep the dream alive they made the big move to the Sunshine Coast in 2015. He says as a couple they just fit together 110%.
Moving to Nashville a year ago was a huge curve ball and could probably be seen as the most stressful thing they have done in their married life. They know they are far away from everything they have ever known and add to that the fact they did it all in the middle of a global pandemic. It was a chance to start all over again in one of the hardest industries on earth, the music industry! Wes feels so blessed to have Char as a wife and feels she is a super-human making this decision one hell of an adventure.
How Wessie picks himself up when he is feeling challenged includes writing music and practicing meditation. He knows meditation is a tricky beast sometimes and for him it allows him to see outside of himself and see his problems in a compartmentalised way. He also knows it is not just meditation to make things happen. You have to take action.
He also finds self-discipline with exercise including good HIIT workouts. He appreciates structure and boundaries around the creative side of his personality.
His definition of Self Love is understanding the struggle with self-belief and even though he knows he is on this crazy path self-doubt comes up a lot and believing in his own thing is huge for Wessie. For Wes his ultimate goal is to believe in something. He shares how he sees himself really old having composed a piece of music and it is the Premier night and he is sitting there looking back on his life at all the music he has created and played knowing it has made a difference in the world. He feels creating a piece of music that could live on for many would be his definition of making it.
He has huge dreams and visions and every year as he gets older he puts more pressure on himself, however just recently working in Nashville with a friend who helped him produce his latest album due out on 22nd April, he feels like he is at home. His soul is finally saying yes we are on the right path. A lot of the expectation has quietened down somewhat but he admits he has insanely big dreams.
And he says he would rather dream than not.
Wessie shares the differences in attitude between the USA and Australia. He says in the USA anything is possible. Their attitude is let’s do it, let’s give it a go and try it.
He shares all about his new album that is more like a real theatre show, a story and narrative that flows throughout basically tracing his life and includes a letter to his boys in the future.
His final message would be that he thought he was done with music in 2017, he had resigned to the fact that it was it for him. There were no opportunities arising, he was pigeon-holed and couldn’t get out, there was no creative inspiration, the fire was going out.
It was the start of 2019 and Char and the kids went to see her family in Coffs Harbour and gave himself 10 days to see if he could find that creative spark. He had no plan and no real reason for writing music for 10 days. He knew he had to do it, there was no choice from his perspective. Those 10 days were defining and had all these songs that got him to Nashville. He says to us all to listen to that inner voice.
His favourite quote is from Niccolo Machiavelli:
‘A sign of intelligence is an awareness of one’s own ignorance.’
You are just a tiny blip on the map, you are actually not that important… and this helps to keep your ego in check. When you think this way, it helps to create more music and for him to tell his own story. In his music world he is not that important (and that is not an insult) it is to help keep it all in check and to create a service and be a reflection for the listener. In telling his story it helps to tell other people’s stories.
Singer-songwriter and Australian Idol winner Wesley Dean recently made the move to Nashville where his creativity and inspiration has never felt more alive. Feeling called to music from a young age, his passion prompted Dean to move to Sydney as a teen in pursuit of his musical journey. After years of honing in on his song-writing craft and playing gig after gig, Dean decided to make a change. Following his Australian Idol victory, he quickly signed a record deal, released a hit debut album with Gold and Platinum singles. Now, Dean is entering the next chapter of his career with a revitalized perspective on the music industry, clear vision of the stories he wants to tell and is looking forward to releasing his most honest and personal music to date.
Links to follow:
Your Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/wescarrmusicchannel
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MUSIC INTRO & OUTRO
Many thanks to Wes and Charlotte Carr – https://wesleydeanmusic.com/
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