Solo Artist

Michael Mancuso – Interview

Sunday 29th April 2018

Creating authentically fun pop music, Michael Mancuso’s songs have the ability to resonate with any listener from the first note. Describing his sound as, “A mix of Justin Bieber, Nick Jonas, DNCE and Ariana Grande,” his work is an extremely powerful blend of today’s Top 40 Pop. Michael’s new single “Give It To Me” marks the beginning of a sexier, edgier chapter in his career. “Let’s just say I was going through a dry spell in my love life. My producer/co-writer, Dan Whittemore decided to play me a track that he had been working on. When he played it I freaked out! I immediately thought of a melody line for the chorus. When I sang it over the chords, Dan got just as excited as I was. From there it came time to decide what we were writing about. Even though we laughed, we both knew it was a fantastic idea and ‘Give It To Me’ was born.”

Photo Credit: Monty Limon

You’re the first artist that I’ve interviewed who has been part of an award winning a cappella group. Could you tell me more about the experience, and how it came about?

I joined The SoCal VoCals at the beginning of my 2nd semester at USC. I was inspired by the level of musicality each member possessed and felt extremely motivated to become better in every way so that I could keep up with the sheer talent in the group! I can tie almost everything I’ve done professionally back to the people I met during my time as a VoCal. While in the group, I got the opportunity to perform at the Beacon Theater in NYC, the Hollywood Bowl, the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Hong Kong, and the White House during Obama’s presidency. I also toured Florida, Hong Kong and London. Other notable things I did with them include performing at the world premiere of both Pitch Perfect 2, singing at the BMI Pop music awards honoring Taylor Swift, opening for Chris Martin from Coldplay for the Universal Pictures executive retreat, and much more! I wouldn’t trade my time in the group for anything. Those people and the memories I made with them will last me a lifetime!

What music did you listen to when growing up, and has there been anyone in particular who has inspired you to make a career out of music?

One of my biggest musical influences growing up was a group called The Canadian Tenors (who later changed their name to The Tenors). One of the members is a man named Clifton Murray. He was my musical idol! To this day, my friends still tell me that my belt sounds similar to his. I’ll truly know I’ve made it when I get the chance to share the stage with him.

Could you tell me about your writing process? Being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas off of?

I thrive in collaborative situations! I rarely write alone. I find that if I don’t have someone to bounce ideas off I can’t get out of my own way. To this day I have never released a song that has been written 100% by me, and I couldn’t be happier about that!

To break down my writing process a bit, I usually start with a conversation. I try to find common ground between myself and the person (or people) I’m collaborating with. I consider myself to be a pretty open book, but in sessions there really isn’t anything I won’t talk about! I feel like the only songs that have a chance of going somewhere are songs that come from an authentic place, so I try to find a genuine angle on a genuine topic that everyone in the room can put some real emotion into. Once we have a few chords that we all agree on, I like to try to find a melodic line for the verse, pre and chorus. After the chords and basic melodic structure are locked in, I like to get going with lyrics and finish up the song!

Your single “Give It To Me” has been released for a few days now. How are you finding the response to your music?

People have received the song so well! Every now and then I get tagged in an Instagram or Twitter post that’s related to “Give It To Me” and it really makes my day.

Will there be an accompanying music video for the single?

Yes! We will be premiering the music video soon, so stay tuned!

How does “Give It To Me” compare to your previous material, and how do you feel you’ve grown as an artist?

Give It To Me is a true single, in the sense that it doesn’t necessarily reflect where I was or where I’m going as an artist. But, truth be told, I loved the song so much I couldn’t leave it unreleased. I truly enjoy the pop-rock vibe of the track and the energy of the chorus, but my music following this will be as close to main-stream pop as I can get! Very excited to have “Give It To Me” out in the world, but also extremely excited to share my next couple of songs.

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

As of right now, no. I will be releasing songs 1-by-1 as singles!

You enjoy creating memorable moments for your fans, such as responding to messages and taking photos. How important is it for you to interact with your fans in this way?

It is probably the #1 reason I want to be “famous”. If people are kind enough to show me and my music love, I would love nothing more than to interact with them and thank them personally for making my dreams come true. I want to be known as the guy who accepts random invitations to things like birthdays/weddings/parties, surprises sick fans wherever they are being cared for, and takes time to stop for any selfie or autograph.

Word has it that you’re a gamer in your spare time. What are you currently playing?

I’m definitely on the Fortnite bandwagon. I don’t have a ton of spare time now-a-days, but when I do have a minute I love jumping on my Xbox and playing with a few friends from college!

What have you got planned for the year ahead, and do you have any tour dates lined up?

No tour dates yet to speak of, but I’m actively searching for a booking agency to help land me an opening act position in either the USA, Europe or Southeast Asia! Follow me on Instagram to see who I sign with and where I end up going!

Connect with Michael Mancuso via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Second Hand Poet – Interview

Wednesday 28th March 2018

Opening up an email late one evening, and listening to the Second Hand Poet came at the perfect time, as I found myself trying to wind down, but wanting to give my emails that one last check. Listening to the mellow and soothing sounds, I found myself instantly unwinding, yet captivated by what I was hearing. The new mini album “Songs For The Pyre” is a collection of songs that have featured on various long vanished demo EP’s, its the mark of Jamie at his most unguarded and brutally honest. On an album which pulls in two directions, from the classical violin and string clad intro and interlude, to the more traditional acoustic guitar-led balladeering. Produced by Franc Cinelli and recorded in London over a two week period, “Songs For The Pyre” uses Jamie’s DIY ethic as a point of departure, adventurously expanding the sonic palette while retaining every bit of its heart and soul.

Hello! Please could you tell me about yourself, how is all started and at what point you decided to make a career out of music?

Hi! I’m Jamie I play folk music under the moniker Second Hand Poet, I began playing music around six years ago and initially formed a band which didn’t work out, when I say didn’t work out we fizzled out before our first booked show! I then went on to play the show by myself, that show scared me into playing alone I think!

Your debut album “Songs For The Pyre” has just been released. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

The response has been very positive! Which is always nice, the record is still in the early stages of promotion so I’m hoping the response stays the same!

How did you find the process of putting the album together, and did you face any hurdles that you had to overcome?

The album has been a very long journey, especially from when the songs were initially written. The first version of ‘Songs For The Pyre’  was actually called ‘Into The Wild’, and was all recorded by myself! I put way too much time into the record and I decided to step back and let it breathe a little bit, which ended up me deciding to re-record the whole thing with a producer in charge rather than myself! Also, a few of the tracks were previously on another EP, which was put out a few years ago on a label, I had to buy back the rights myself to be able to include them on the album, that was definitely a hurdle!

What about the final track listing, were there any tracks that didn’t make the cut?

Definitely yes, I think its a positive and healthy decision being able to ditch something you’re not quite feeling creative wise. A lot of people including myself hang on to works even if they deep down know they probably should have been put to bed a fair while back! Like I said above, the album previously was something very different and the songs I scrapped just didn’t fit as well on the new sound of ‘Songs For The Pyre’.

How do you feel you have developed as an artists since your previous release, and why is now the right time to release your album?

I feel I’ve developed a huge amount from when I first started this, you definitely need to learn from mistakes to get something your proud of in this musical world, for sure. Unless you have someone that’s already gone through it all who happens to be guiding you! I think I was easily entertained with releasing demos and deciding they were good enough for a few years, I wanted to show a bit of love to the songs that appeared on various past demo ep’s by aligning them on a record! The next album will be more thought out… he says.

Who are your biggest influences and how do you draw upon your inspirations when writing and performing?

I’d say the biggest influence was going to live shows at a young age, it’s really easy to get drawn in to the musical world, but really hard to actually be in it. Obviously what I’m listening to during the writing stages sometimes strays in here and there. I’m a huge fan of Elliott Smith and sometimes when I’m winding down from a writing session he’s usually able to make me pick up the guitar again.

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the process, and what was the decision behind wanting self-promote your new album?

The process is hard, there’s so many musicians and so so many platforms readily available. If anything it’s too much. If you don’t have a label to work with, you then have to use the same routine but by yourself, do you hire in a PR company, and if you do hire a PR company do you then use a tour booking agency? I’m a bit tired of seeing other artists use these companies, it just sugar coats your music and presence when in reality the moment they stop getting paid, the campaign for your record does too. I’m trying a more natural approach to promotion at the moment by not only contacting lovely people like yourselves, but also individually the people who actually follow and like my music!

You’ve picked up quite a lot of momentum from the start and performed at quite a few festivals too. What’s been your best live performance to date, and have there been any memorable moments?

Thanks! It’s always nice to play festivals and have promoters who you can call on although sometimes I find festivals a bit detached from the crowd. It’s usually day time with not much atmosphere! For the more sombre music that is… My favorite shows are the ones that are dead quiet! When it’s just you playing your songs to an audience that are completely immersed in those thirty or so minutes.

What are your plans for the year ahead, and what live dates do you currently have lined up?

I’ll be trying to get the album out to as many people as possible still, and also booking in a few live sessions, maybe a single release also! I tend to shy away from playing live as much as I used to, it started to feel like bit of a chore! It’s lovely getting a reaction from people don’t get me wrong, but more times than not if you play too much the excitement tends to disappear. And its lonely playing on your own! There probably will be a few shows this year, and when they do you’ll know I’ve thought long and hard about playing them or not!

Finally, if you were given the opportunity to perform in the BBC Live Lounge, which song would you cover and why?

I think I’d choose a classic, maybe Roy Orbison’s ‘You Got It’ or Slade’s ‘Everyday’, I’m yet to hear them covered in the Live Lounge, but they should be for sure! BBC give me a call?

Connect with Second Hand Poet via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Tom Lumley set to release new single “Skyhigh” on March 15th

Wednesday 14th March 2018

Penned as one of my artists to watch back in the Autumn of 2017, Cambridge born singer/songwriter Tom Lumley has wasted no time in putting the finishing touches together on his next release.  Last year put a solid stake in Tom’s music career, after being awarded the Best Male Solo Artist at the NMG awards, and also being picked up by the likes of BBC Introducing. Fresh off the back of the success of his previous single “Just Like The Light”, which really gave Tom and his band another well-earnt peg up, and riding high after a year of performing a string of live dates, tomorrow sees the release of his next single “Skyhigh”.

Speaking with Tom last year about his plans for an upcoming EP or album release, he explained that “At the moment I’m going to stick with singles. I have a locker full of songs but I don’t want to rush it and just chuck them out there. I’m going to try and keep building the fan base whilst releasing singles until I think it’s the right time for an album”.  

Being fortunate enough to grab an advance copy of the latest single, it was pleasing to hear that “Skyhigh” continues to live up to expectations. Uplifting with it’s indie-pop vibes, and catchy with its lyrics that talk of a one-sided relationship, the track is very catchy and vocally pleasing.  Tom has a great voice with a harmonious tone, which often becomes more strident.

Alongside the release, tomorrow is also the final day of the current tour, which will also be a launch show for the single taking place in Tom’s hometown of Cambridge at the Portland Arms. If you fancy heading out and supporting new music, then grab yourself one of the remaining few tickets here.

Connect with Tom Lumley via his Facebook and Twitter.

Elesa Marmo – Interview

Sunday 25th February 2018

Elesa Marmo is a singer/songwriter from Long Island, New York.  She’s been writing music since she could remember. After many years of wanting to pursue music, as well as releasing music as part of the indie duo The Wilts, Elesa most recently released her debut EP, titled “Clear Blue,” which has been produced by Greg Almeida (of alt rock band VISTA). Growing up listening to a large variety of mainstream pop artists, her original music is heavily influenced with electronic sounds and soft acoustic feels and blends those sounds perfectly.  I catch a moment with Elesa to find out how it’s all going since the release of her first solo EP.

Hello! Please could you tell me about yourself, how it all started and at what point you decided to make a career out of music?

Hello! I’m Elesa. I’m a singer/songwriter from Long Island. I’m 23 years old. I’ve always wanted to be a musician, I remember watching all my favorite pop stars when I was little perform and all I wanted was to be on stage just like them. Once I taught myself guitar and could put music to my lyrics is when it really set in that this is what I want to do. 

You have recently been part of the successful indie duo The Wilts. What was the decision behind moving away from this and pursuing a solo career?

I think we both just really wanted to make our own stuff. We made one EP together but unfortunately didn’t get to play live shows together. He’s great though, he’s got music out as his solo project called Lated and he’s in a band called Shorebreak as well and he’s so talented so definitely check him out! We will I’m sure do some shows eventually but we just wanted to kind of explore our own styles and find ourselves musically.

Your first EP “Clear Blue” was released in January. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

Everything I’ve seen has been so lovely. The responses have been so positive so far so I’m over the moon!

How did you find the process of putting your EP together, and did you face any hurdles that you had to overcome?

Everything was just so exciting and new to me having full creative control and just really finding my sound. I don’t think there were really any hurdles, I guess maybe some writers block at some points but it really just all flowed out.

What about the final track listing, were there tracks any that didn’t make the cut?

I always knew I wanted a four track EP so I really focused on making four really solid songs, I was proud of but of course as a writer I have my book of songs from when I was a kid to now of lyrics.

How did the opportunity come about to work with Greg Almeida, and how was the experience for you?

We went to college together and he did The Wilts EP and we always said during that process that we wanted to work together. The experience working with him was incredible he really knows so much about the production side and he would help me so much with writing as well and just made the songs sound exactly how I wanted and would hear things I didn’t even think of to add to them.

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 to bounce ideas from?

It’s different every single time. Usually it’s lyrics first for me but it can be music first. Greg really was the person I went to with lyrics and ideas and we would take it from there.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged and helped you to develop your sound?

Stevie Nicks has always been an idol of mine. I love Lorde as well and her style and Carly Rae Jepsen, me and Greg listened to her while making this and we love her so much. I love Miley Cyrus too I’ve always been a big fan of hers.

What’s the music scene like in Long Island, and are there any venues in particular that you enjoy performing at?

It’s small but it’s nice. I think being near such a big city it’s great too. I haven’t performed live yet since it’s the first EP but there’s some venues of course I wanna try out!

What are your plans for the year ahead, and what live dates do you currently have lined up?

I’m currently working on getting the production ready for some live shows so that’s my focus right now. I’ll hopefully make some new music and just see where this takes me!

Connect with Elisa Marmo via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Nath Bravo – Interview

Thursday 22nd February 2018

Hailing from Mexico, but currently residing and performing in London, Nath Bravo has already spent a lot of time in the music industry pursuing opportunities. Having won a competition back in 2015 with an original song called “Alma Ajena” (foreign soul), Nath went on to write demos and took her first trip to London.  After 2 months in the capital she had played at over 30 venues and released her first single “Mercy” Nath was later discovered through one of her videos on Facebook and was asked to join the Vidanta group in Mexico, for which she spent 6 months as part of the team.  Following on from this Nath went back home to start focusing on her songwriting and creative journey. Now, with a brand new EP and single “Shadowman”, which was released at the end of November, she’s currently gigging all around London promoting and performing her own original music.


You have quite a musical background, and although you’re only 21 it sounds as though you’ve already spent a lot of time in the industry.  How have you found the experiences so far, and how has it helped you to develop and get to where you are today?

Well, I think it’s been a whole journey. Each phase I’ve gone through has built something different and in retrospect, it’s all been pushing me somehow till the point I’ve turned into this person. When you spend so much time and passion on something you believe in, you get the purest relationship with it, and the more I get into music, the more I get into myself. I’ve still got many many things to experience and I’m sure that in one year, they’ll bring me to another different phase without even noticing; I guess that’s how it works.

Do you feel that you have reached the point of finding the authentic sound and style that you were looking for with your music?

Authenticity is something that happens when you are truly honest on what you do, so, I think I’ve kept on being like that with everything I write and perform. That being said, I’m at the moment really happy with my sound, so I’m enjoying the feeling cause, at the end, I think it’s all about finding something that feels right. To trust your instinct and to own it is always gonna take you to a good place. I like to surprise myself.

You were born in Mexico but have spent time in London recording and performing. What is the music scene like in Mexico, and what was the decision to bring your music over this side of the pond?

I think Mexico is rich in culture and there are many talented creative souls out there, I love it. It’s interesting, different from the one here, as any other music scene, obviously, but the Mexican music has a special place in my heart. A couple of years ago, when I was living in Vancouver, a dear friend of mine recommended me to come to London to try my music out, and so I did. I came in the summer of 2016 and loved it; I guess it’s a place where I got a lot of my influences from, so, it just felt right to do it. This city is a sort of capital for music and therefore has many platforms and great opportunities for upcoming artists, which is wonderful. You should always be free to go out there and find the places and things that work for you.

Are there any venues in particular that you enjoy performing at?

I think The Water Rats has been one of my favorites. It’s such a great place to perform; intimate and nice vibe.

It’s been a few months now since the release of your EP.  How are you finding the response to your music so far?

It’s been good, I think that every time you release your work it’s a bit scary cause you are giving a bit of yourself for the world to listen and you never know what the response is going to be like, but I’ve seen that people have liked what I’m doing, so it’s been good, I’m glad!

Your latest single “Shadowman” has the most beautiful video to accompany it.  Who did you work with for the video, and where was it shot?

Thank you! It was filmed and completely made by my talented brother Aaron Bravo, mainly while on a road-trip in Iceland. I told him the meaning behind the song and the vibe, and he just instantly got it and brought his magic to the project. There’s a “male intervention” which was shot in Mexico.

Could you tell me about the single and the meaning behind it?

Well, in “Shadowman” the lyrics are quite personal, and still relatable. It’s a tribute to fear and the way I feel when it happens. I was able to experience it myself by the time that I wrote the song, so it just came naturally. It’s like you are a kid, trapped in a cage that only you can destroy, it’s a chaotic state of mind, but still, pretty fascinating as well. 

What’s your writing process?  Being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas from, and how do you know when a song is ready?

I think it depends. A song can just happen and sometimes I make the song happen. Sometimes I have a very specific idea in my mind to be portrayed, and some others I just sit in front of the piano and let it be as it emerges, and as soon as I get something half decent, I keep on working on it until I feel it’s ready; I guess I just feel it. Once it’s almost done, I send it to some good people I trust to know what they think and to know if it’s not only cool in my mind.

You were invited to join the group Vidanta back in 2016, which you were part of for 6 months. What was the decision behind not continuing with the band, and what is it about being a solo artist that has made you pursue this instead?

Well, Vidanta is a big resort in Mexico and I was invited to the group as a solo artist, so I was headlining shows pretty much every day. It was a step I needed to take in order to get more experience and I’m grateful it happened. After 6 months I just felt it was right for me to continue with my own path and project so I left to focus on my songwriting and production, but I think I’ve been a solo artist my whole life, I just started making my own thing and it’s just worked out, however I do love to collaborate with other people, to share ideas and so on.

What’s your ultimate aim and where do you hope your music will take you?

To connect with people is always gonna be the ultimate aim, I think. I hope it leads me to a point where I can inspire the audience, that’d be amazing, and I always dream about being on the road, so maybe everywhere!

Connect with Nath Bravo via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Irene Skylakaki – Interview

Monday 19th February 2018

Born in Greece, Irene Skylakaki studied in London before moving back to Athens to pursue music full time; an endeavour that led to her releasing two critically acclaimed albums in her native country. She has also supported such artists as diverse as Macy Gray, Jessie Ware, Beirut, Daughter, and Cass McCombs. After returning to the Capital, Irene forged her path onwards through serendipitous circumstances – she met Lola Marlin (Director of Sarm Studios), who introduced her to producer Danton Supple, while trying to retrieve a lost dog in Maida Vale. This meeting led Irene to writing an albums worth of material within two weeks, containing the songs which form her upcoming EP “Planet”.

How did it all start for you, and what was the decision behind making a career out of music?

At school I guess I was a bit immature and didn’t have a lot of interests. The only thing I really cared about was music. I studied Law in London to prove to myself (and my parents) that I was capable of academic success, but I soon realised that I was following a path that wouldn’t lead me somewhere. I always wrote songs on the side and was lucky enough to be picked up by a Greek producer who loved my music and helped me make it in Greece. Having released two albums in Greece which did well, I felt like I owed it to myself to try to pursue music on a larger scale, for a wider audience, so I returned to London and met Danton Supple, who produced my upcoming album ‘Matterless’. It all happened very quickly and quite serendipitously.

You originate from Greece, but how does the music scene compare to the UK?

The Anglophone music scene in Greece is quite small. In London it truly feels like the sky is the limit, with so many incredible talents from all over the world residing in just one city. I believe it’s the right environment for an artist to blossom and it’s really a matter of endurance and staying focused, as London can be a very hard city to survive in financially, as a rising musician.

Your debut EP “Planet” is due for release on the 16th March.  How are you feeling about getting new music out there?

I’m very excited. I’m an impatient person and I’ve waited so long for this release. As it’s a very different industry compared to Greece, I wanted to first find the right team here to support me with this effort, instead of just releasing everything and hoping for a miracle. As David Bowie had said in an interview about pursuing music, 50% is art and 50% is business. He always gave a 100% to both.

How did you find the process of putting your EP together, and were there any tracks that didn’t make the cut?

Planet is a selection of songs from my new album ‘Matterless’, which will be released later this year. I didn’t want to give too much away from the album at once. I have a friend who is an artist and has great taste in music. We sat down together one day, listened to ‘Matterless’ 30 times and rated the songs. After a couple of bottles of wine, we were able to select the songs for ‘Planet’. It was a very collegial process!

Could you tell me more about the inspiration behind “Planet” and are there any artists or ventures that have encouraged you on this release?

A feeling of isolation and romantic failure inspired ‘Planet’. I love Marika Hackman, Laura Marling, The XX, Daughter, and I feel I’ve been really influenced by their sound.

How does it compare to your previous releases?

I’m older now, so hopefully my songs are more mature. I think that songs are a representation of the person who wrote them. When I release a new song, I feel like I’m releasing myself. This album is even more autobiographical than my previous ones and I feel much more ‘exposed’. In a bizarre way, I find this process very soothing. As if by sharing something so intimate, I’m exorcizing pain by helping others feel less lonely and isolated.

Who are your biggest influences and how do you draw upon your inspirations when writing and performing?

Leonard Cohen is my god. He was a great songwriter from the beginning, but through the years he developed his art both musically and lyrically in an incredible manner. I believe in artists who have longevity and are not numbed and reassured by temporary success. Artists who have a fire inside them. Like Joni Mitchell, or David Bowie.

Who has been your favourite artist to support so far?

It’s a band and it’s ‘Daughter’. Apart from awesome musicians, they were super lovely people too. I have a little girl crash on Elena Tonra. Such a beautiful person and artist!

How are you feeling about your upcoming headlining show at The Islington, and are there any tracks in particular that you’re looking forward to performing live?

I can’t wait! I really like The Islington as a venue and I’m sharing the stage with a brilliant greek artist and friend of mine Katerine Duska, who is travelling from Athens just for this show – it’s going to be a great night. I can’t wait to perform one of my new songs called ‘It’s Getting Darker’, which, as the title gives away, is darker and quite intense when performing live.

What have you got planned next, and where do you hope your music will take you?

I’m recording my next EP at the moment with Andres Mesa, sound engineer of Phil Manzanera, and planning more gigs for the following months. I hope my music will take me to another planet and I’d love to take you with me!

Connect with Irene Skylakaki via Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify.

Paddy James – Interview

Wednesday 7th February 2018

Fresh off the back of touring with the likes of Ed Sheeran and The Hoosiers, and following a string of successful live performances with Sofar Sounds; and being featured on BBC Introducing, London based artist Paddy James is armed with his guitar and a bunch of infectious melodies for his latest release “Perfectly Flawed”.  His latest single, which is due to be release on the 2nd March showcases the the effortless talents that Paddy has when it comes to songwriting, and after watching his performances on YouTube, it’s not hard to see why his debut EP “Lost Boy” spun him straight in to the top 5 singer/songwriter chart on iTunes.  Paddy aims to focus on continuing to releasing a number of singles this year, whilst taking the time to perfect his album.

Please could you tell me about how it all started for you?  Has there been anyone in particular that has inspired you to take the step in to music, and at what point did you know you wanted to make a career out of it?

Like many a musician I grew up around music, my dad played guitar and always played in bands for as long as I can remember. He tried getting me to play guitar when I was a little tot but I didn’t have the patience, I wanted to be able to entertain immediately. So, after a fleeting attempt at learning the guitar I took on the drums from maybe 9/10 years old. I remember being bought a drum kit which was set up in the garage, the crashing about must’ve been horrendous, ha! Fast forward to my mid/late teens following a few years of studying the drums, I revisited my old 6 string nemesis in the form of a beaten up old nylon string classical guitar and thrashed around for a while with the basics. I finally got it to work and had won a school talent show within a year or two. I think the major turning point though, was when I got to Uni. I realised there, that I had the potential to make music work for me, that’s where I built a bit of a live reputation, landed some great support slots and lived through some ludicrous life experiences from which some of my early song writing fodder was born. As far as there being any one particular influential person, besides dad’s musicality and mum’s killer English language skills, Gene Kelly would be up there, Singin’ in the Rain was on a loop in my house, what an entertainer.

Your latest single “Perfectly Flawed” has just been released.  How are you finding the response so far, and how does it feel having the single out there?

The response has been great so far. I have an incredible network of friends and family who are always excited to see what comes next, and this time I’ve been privileged to receive a big chunk of industry feedback which has been very insightful. It’s a great relief to have it out, it’s amazing how long it takes sometimes when you are self funding a project. I try and enjoy the process but I’m forever trying to improve as a musician and a writer and the next new idea is always the best idea you’ve ever had. So I have to remind myself sometimes to take one step at a time and take it as it comes!

How does the single compare to your previous releases, and how do you feel you’re growing as an artist?

It’s definitely a step forward I think from the previous release. I’m slowly trying to veer away from the typical singer/songwriter set up that we’ve been bombarded with over the last few years. It will always be at the heart of what I do but I’m definitely working towards something a bit more exciting. I find myself studying songs and structures a lot more now and spending a lot of time on the technical side of things. I didn’t study music and I’m incredibly competitive so I feel like I’m constantly catching up. I try and surround myself with crazy talented musicians too who help push me to be the musician that I’m hoping to create. I’m working a lot more on the song writing and trying to find a good balance that can be both artistic yet commercial at the same time.

Could you tell me about your writing process, being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas from, and how do you know when a song is ready?

Songs are never ready, haha! Sometimes you just have to put your hands up and say that’s the song and move on. I don’t have a set writing process, I probably should do, although they tend to stem from one of two scenarios. The first is simply picking up a guitar, blurting out some chords, words and melodies and see if anything sticks. The second I tend to pick a topic and roll with it maybe write a few pages of words, rhymes and sing into my phone, (the easiest way to jot down ideas). The songs always come together more quickly once I have a clear story in my head. I’ve been fortunate enough to try writing with people for the first time over this past year and that was one of the key learning points. Its all too easy to write a load of waffle but when you have a clear subject matter, ideal or emotion you want to put across it makes life so much easier and the songs which are the most believable and the most real are the ones that stand out so much more.

Who are your biggest influences and how do you draw upon inspirations when writing and performing?

There are so many to choose from, I never really honed in on any one artist nor have I really ever idolised anyone as the people at the top of their game are just people who had a vision and worked incredibly hard at their craft to get to the top. If I were to throw a couple in I would say John Mayer because there is simply nothing he cannot do on a guitar, I would be happy with half of his guitar knowledge. Sting, his lyrics have always intrigued me, I love the way he writes songs, I find a lot of his material incredibly poetic. The Police had such an attitude on and off the stage too which I love watching. A lot of my inspiration comes from watching music documentaries and recorded live shows. It’s so easy to write after watching an incredible performance.

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

My plan is to keep releasing singles for now, there’ll be 3/4 more out this year after ‘Perfectly Flawed’. I’m headed back into the studio in May once the winter season is over with some songs I’m incredibly excited about. Once this year is done I’ll see how everything has gone down and go from there. I want the first album to be special so it may take a few years yet while I figure it all out. I’m in no rush.

Who has been your favourite band or artist to tour with so far?  You’ve been lucky enough to support some huge artists…

Supporting Ed, just as he was about to explode was great fun such a lovely dude. Last summer though I played a little festival in France called The Mad Hatters Wonderland Festival, one of my favourite lesser known bands Will and the People who I’ve played with a couple of times now were playing which was ace (I still don’t understand why they aren’t huge) but Slade were headlining and I was genuinely blown away. I’ve never had so much fun at a gig, they really know how to entertain a crowd I had no idea they would be so good.

I’ve recently discovered Sofar Sounds and noticed you did a performance a little while back.  How did the opportunity come about, and how was the experience?

I absolutely love the Sofar gigs I think I’ve done 4 or 5 now, they have an application process and if they like what you do they invite you to play a show. You then become part of their alumni I guess you’d call it, and if you go down well there’s plenty of opportunities to do more shows. Their whole ethos revolves around providing a dead quiet atmosphere for people that want to listen to music. It’s incredibly intimate, you can literally hear a pin drop, which can be a strange sensation as you literally have no where to hide. I love it though, I love the pressure to perform, it keeps you on your toes for sure. You should definitely go!

Word has it that you’re also a ski instructor.  Which came first, music or skiing, and how do you balance your time between the two?

Yes! I am a qualified ski instructor, I trained over in Canada before I went to Uni and taught when I was out there. I’m pretty hectic with music now though so I save the teaching for friends and family that come and visit me out here in the Alps. I was a pretty fortunate kid, I went skiing for the first time when I was about 7 years old and pretty much wangled a trip most years growing up. Music definitely came first though I’ve been singing since before I can remember. My gig schedule is pretty mental out here so I ski more for pleasure, nothing keeps you fresher than the mountain air.

Finally, if you were given the opportunity to perform in the BBC Live Lounge, which song would you cover and why?

Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic – Sting. He’s just a bad ass as far as I’m concerned… Plus I can’t stop listening to an album he did backed by various orchestra’s called Symphonicities. The arrangements just hit the spot for me. I’d have to figure out how to do it in a way distinctive for me but it’s a beautiful song. When I am of a level where I can fill out the Royal Albert Hall with an orchestra behind my songs in a similar way I will have lived a happy man.

Connect with Paddy James via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.