Laura is a dedicated musician who when performing is consumed by the music she plays. When you look at her play you can see that she feels the music with a passion. The true beauty of music is that it connects people. It carries a message and the musicians, are the messengers. Laura certainly connects with her peers as well as he audience and is a true ambassador for the steelpan instrument.
Musicians from the beginning of time have been there to express the mood and the musical feelings in the air for whatever's going on in that particular culture. It's the greatest joy as a musician to be able to translate that, be part of something and watch the scenery around you. This statement certainly describes Laura and her passion for music with the steelpan as her chosen instrument.
PP: When were you first introduced to the steelpan instrument?
LB: When I was about 9 or 10 in primary school
PP: What made you want to start playing pans?
LB: I learned classical instruments such as piano growing up and I never had any fun or related to what I was playing, so I wanted to play an instrument that I really enjoyed and one day my mum suggested a steel pan taster class run by Chris Storey and I've been hooked ever since.
PP: When did you start playing pan?
LB:I started playing pan properly in year 7 when I was around 11
PP: First band you played for?
LB: Hornsey School for girls steel orchestra
PP: What steel bands have you played for?
Hornsey Steel Orchestra, Pan Nation, CSI and Endurance
PP: When was your first panorama?
PP: If you could play for any band in the world what band would you want to play with?
PP: What steelband competitions have you taken part in?
LB: Panorama, junior panorama, pan explosion
PP: How many tours have you completed and where did you travel too?
LB: 4 in total. Italy twice, Austria and Rotterdam
PP: What was the most challenging thing you have done to do with pans?
LB: Competing in Pan explosion, having to execute a solo was a very challenging experience that definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone.
PP: What’s been the most inspirational moment in your life?
LB: When I was in dance training I performed a solo and a retired professional dancer told me that I inspired and moved her. That has to be the most inspirational feeling as an artist in any genre, knowing that what you have created has translated to and influenced other people, even if it's just one person.
PP: As a double tenor section leader of the Pan Nation Steel Orchestra can you let us know what is the importance of your role?
LB: The Double tenor section of nation is a small but growing section so I feel like my role is quite important because it falls to me to make sure that the section is up to date on music past and present but also that we gel as a section and have a good bond within each other so we can continue to grow
PP: What are the important qualities/skills that an individual must possess to perform the role that you do in the Pan Nation?
LB: To be a section leader especially in Pan nation you need to have vibes, you need to set an example to the rest of your section in terms of performance not just teaching out music, you also need to be reliable, approachable and motivating, especially when new people join your section. Double tenor can be quite overwhelming at first.
PP: Can you describe your musical experiences playing with Pan Nation, Endurance etc.?
LB: Playing with Pan nation has always been an amazing experience, despite Chris having always been my pan teacher, I am a genuine fan of his musical talent so it's great getting to play anything he arranges. My first panorama was with CSI in 2011. I think that was a real turning point in my musical journey, that experience really helped cement pan as a passion and not just a hobby, I had never played such technical music before and been able to execute it well due to such rigorous drilling and intense practise schedules. After that experience I left my school band and joined my first professional band (Pan nation) and have improved so much technically and performance wise.
PP: What advice would you give to a new player?
LB: I would say listen to pan, listen to arrangements watch performances, solos anything and get inspired. I think my love for pan grew when I immersed myself in what pan can do and how it can sound. Also ask questions, I always ask other players what I can improve on to this day
PP: What is your favourite pan to play?
LB: Double tenor
PP: Who are your inspirations both to do with pans and musically?
LB: Chris Storey, Duvonne Stewart, Andre white, Donnie Mcclurkin, Aaliyah, Timbaland
PP: What are your hopes for pan in the UK?
LB: The continuation of competitions such as Pan Clash, Classorama and Pan Explosion to really push the next generation to come through. Also I would like to see UK Steelband Panorama on a bigger scale with more bands taking part.
PP: What is your vision for pan in the future in the UK and Globally?
LB: I would like to see pan integrated more with the "classical" orchestral instruments, it is such a unique sound that I think would bring such a interesting flavour to more mainstream music. Also I would like Pan to be respected on the same level as orchestral instrumentals and for it to be recognised to carry the same discipline and training
PP: What are your musical aspirations for the future?
LB: Arrange more music on pan and eventually create my own musical hub/platform for all different artists to perform, generate exposure and network.
PP: What do you think needs to happen in the UK for the steelpan instrument and its culture to be more widely recognised on all musical platforms.
LB: I think more exposure, pan to me seems to me an "if you know you know" sort of instrument and I think maybe putting pan on more mainstream media platforms would help to change that.
A big thank you to Robbie Joseph and Pan podium for taking the time out to interview me!