Wednesday 6th September 2017
What I enjoy most about music is discovery; you know that feeling you get when you listen to something for the first time and instantly connect with it. That’s how I felt with Lloyd Lewellyn, I was completely taken by his soulful vocals and the maturity to his sound; it’s hard to believe that “Long Way Down” is his debut release. After being picked up from his demos on SoundCloud by a publishing company, Lloyd spent time out in LA showcasing his material, but decided it was too early and wanted to spend more time understanding how to achieve what he truly wanted from music. Speaking with Lloyd I found out what has driven him to music, how it feels to finally be putting himself out there, and what we can expect from his upcoming headlining show.
Hello! Please could you tell me about yourself, where it all started and at what point you decided to make a career out of music?
Hi! So my name is Lloyd Llewellyn. I’m from a town in South Wales called Barry but lived in London for the past 19 years! Music started from day one. All my family are huge music fans and there was no way I could escape Led Zeppelin, The Who and The Doors being my father’s son. My mum always had the Motown artists playing mixed in with some Nat King Cole, which led to the first album I bought… Guns N’ Roses – The Spaghetti Incident!
My brother and I after we were leggin’ it about to Meat Loaf and Aerosmith started to find artists from all different genres from Oasis to Common, and Bob Dylan to Bon Iver and Daughter. Justin Vernon for me is my favourite modern day talent, the man has far too much talent for one person! I’ve always listened to all different styles of music depending on my mood.
I don’t think there was a moment when I thought I’m doing this and that’s it. I did some gigs and started writing and it just spiralled from there. One gig at a time and it started to be something I did more and more and then slowly it’s changing from something that I’m doing to something I would love to make a full-time career out of.
I’m intrigued to find out more about your grandfather and how he inspires you. Is he a musician too, and has he introduced you to certain artists?
Yeah, pap introduced me to music that I still adore and can’t stop listening to today. Artists like BB King, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles and Charles Brown. He was a musician and the guitar that I play is his. It’s a beautiful Gibson Les Paul Deluxe from the 70s. I can remember him annoying my nan and the neighbours with it for years! I would say that he was the start of me falling in love with music. He was the only teacher I’ve ever had and gave me what I think was a real educating in his craft.
You have previously been given the opportunity to work with a music publishing company, but decided that it was too early to sign a deal. What were your thoughts back then?
Firstly, I was so flattered and blown away that someone liked what I was trying to do! It was a real whirlwind because I try to put as much of me into writing and every line is thought about. I also write all the music so I can convey the emotion and message how I would like to do so. Basically I’m stubborn and felt that although they were a fantastic publishers and more importantly to me, good people, I didn’t want the work I had put in to be taken and changed into something I wasn’t trying to achieve. As well as that, I had a lot of learning to do as I wasn’t achieving what I wanted. In short, I think if I want to achieve the things I want to in music I had a lot more work and understanding to have before signing something.
Why do you feel that now is the right time to really put yourself out there?
Because this song I have had for a couple years and it’s a very pure representation of what I’m about musically. Also to be honest it’s about bloody time too!
Your single “Long Way Down” is your debut single. How are you feeling about the release, and what has been the response to your music so far?
I would love to say, “oh, it will be great and I believe in it and I can’t wait for people to hear it!”, but really the only way to put it is, “I am absolutely shitting myself!”. I think that any artists’ first release is probably the most important as it sets a tone for more music to come. Saying that there have been some great moments through BBC Introducing getting played on BBC Wales and BBC Radio 6 was a real high point for me.
What other instruments do you play, and are you the one playing them in “Long Way Down?”
I play the guitar and piano mainly but my new obsession is the banjo! On “Long Way Down”, I’m playing them both and also the Hammond organ which is definitely my favourite addition to a lot of my songs. I roped in a great friend of mine, Charles Frayer to play the bass. I continue to abuse his friendship for his ridiculous talent not just in the bass but also on the piano and general musical knowledge.
Could you tell me about your writing process, and how you know when a song is ready? Being a solo artist do you have anyone you can bounce ideas from?
I do a lot of my writing outside walking my completely insane but perfect dog Mollie! Battersea Park seems to be my favourite. I think for most artists, it’s very difficult to know when it’s ready because you are constantly trying to make it better. Whether it’s changing lyrics or instrumentation, it takes someone else to tell me to stop and leave it. I work a lot with a great engineer and good friend Ganesh Singaram, who really helps me and is always there to tell me when I’m going insane or when I’m making some sense. He is also the engineer on “Long Way Down”, so he was an integral part of the recording and the song as a whole.
Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?
I would love the opportunity to release more and more and more so I’m hoping that the single does well and that enables me to do more!
How are you feeling about your first headline show at Notting Hill Arts Club on the 12th September, and are there any tracks in particular that you’re looking forward to performing?
I have terrible nerves! So before any gig I am a bit of a mess… When playing without the band, it’s not unusual for me to sing verses the wrong way round and or have to go round the intro a couple times because I’ve forgotten words! Having said that, I can’t wait to get up there and play with a full band and enjoy my first ever headline. I’m very excited, not gonna lie!
The song I am opening with is a song called “Selfish Skin”. At the moment, it’s my favourite and I think got a really festival feel as it’s coming to the end of summer I’m trying to hold onto any sunshine I can get! Also I’ve never played that live so the excitement of that one is probably the most!
Finally, if you were invited to perform on the BBC Live Lounge, which song would you cover and why?
My manager will kill me for this (sorry Olly!), but it has to be Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way”. I love that song and always belt it out in the shower, the car, or wherever no one else is. I would do that one because it’s not a song a lot of people know unless you’re an Aretha fan and it’s a big powerful song vocally, which the style in my writing doesn’t really allow me to do vocally. I would love to cover that one.