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.

MACEDO – Interview

Wednesday 14th February 2017

Creating electrifying alternative pop tunes with empowering messages, MACEDO, comprised of twin sisters Michelle and Melissa, have taken a lifetime of creative energy and talent to produce their emotionally compelling, richly textured music, and they have just released their emotionally driven album “Ghost Town”.  With their grandmother being a trained classical pianist, and father pianist and guitarist, the girls were introduced to music from an early age, and were determined to become artists.  Michelle and Melissa have also stepped in to the world of acting, having recently appeared in the Netflix show Girlboss, as well as the leads in the James Franco film titled “Blood Heist”.

Photo Credit: Bobby Quillard

You come from quite a musical background with your grandmother being trained as a classical pianist, and your father also teaching you to play the piano and introducing you to lots of famous records. Would it be fair to say this is what has encouraged you both to become musicians? 

Yes, definitely. Growing up we were both always singing and writing songs together. Being singers and musicians was just something that happened naturally. Our earliest musical memory is sitting at the piano with our dad. It was this amazing antique piano that my mom inherited. We still write on that piano sometimes! One thing about having a career in the arts is that usually you have to truly want to do it with all of your heart and soul, so music and acting is what we truly wanted to do. It was never a question.

What was the decision behind deciding to make music as a career? It started as a hobby for you, but what made you realize you wanted to make something more of it? 

We always knew that music was something we wanted to pursue. We realized it was such a powerful form of self-expression. It felt like a way to transform life experiences into something beautiful, like alchemy. It can truly help people. To express ideas and feelings through lyrics and music is incredibly powerful.

Could you tell me about your writing process and how you work together to create the final track, and how you know when a song is ready?

Usually Michelle will start with lyrics and we’ll work together to create a melody. Sometimes Melissa will come to Michelle with a hook or a line and Michelle will expand from there. Every song is different. Next we focus on how to tell the most powerful story combining the lyrics with the melody. After many edits and revisions we decide to move on. It’s so difficult to know when the song is actually done, but when we feel like we’ve told the story in the most effective way, we let it go.

Your album “Ghost Town” has just been released. How are you finding the response to your music so far? 

It has been amazing. We have such incredible and supportive fans. I think the music and the journey really speaks to people, especially when they have been following the journey of making the album. People are really connecting to the honesty of the songwriting which is such a compliment. We’re so grateful for them.

The album was written during a tough time for Michelle. How does it feel listening back knowing the songs represent a certain period in your life?

It is certainly powerful to listen back on such a painful period of time. It has shown me how much I have grown and it makes me grateful for what that darkness taught me. I think of the amazing support system I had and how important it is to seek help when you are experiencing depression and anxiety. It is so important to listen to and respect your mind and body. I’m happy that I was able to delve into my mind in such an raw, unfiltered way to write these songs. I’m grateful to be on the other side of that time, difficult times always pass. As women, we are so resilient, these songs are a reminder of that.

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

The biggest challenge has been staying true to our vision. Everyone else has an opinion about what we should be or do. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to really figure out what it is that you want and then stick with your vision. This album is about putting out what we want and representing our true selves.

Were there tracks any that didn’t make the final cut? 

Yes! Definitely a few recorded tracks that we didn’t put in the final cut. We were ultimately trying to tell a story from start to finish with this album and some songs just distracted from that concept. We wanted to make sure we were putting our best foot forward and really putting on songs that we loved.

You have both recently appeared as Stacie and Stephanie in the Netflix show Girlboss. How did the opportunity come about, and how was the experience for you? 

We are both actors so we auditioned for the show and when I (Melissa) read the script I just knew we were perfect for it. We play a fictional band on the show, Girlboss, which was a lot of fun! Acting is something that we’ve both just always known we wanted to do. We are both trained actors and have been pursuing it along with music our entire lives. We are equally actors and musicians. It’s another way to express ourselves and to really share our art with the world. We feel passionately about empowering young women and it was serendipitous that Girlboss is such an empowering and powerful show for women, it aligns perfectly with what we want to put out into the world!

Would you consider doing more acting? 

Yes! We are so excited for what’s to come. We just wrapped lead roles in an incredible feature film in New York called “Sara”. It was an amazing experience and the our fellow cast members (Marc Menchaca, Drew Fonteiro, Tyler Dash White) and crew were incredible. That is all we can say so far but stay tuned on our Instagram and we will be announcing more soon!

What do you get up to outside of music and acting, and are there any hobbies in particular that you both enjoy? 

We don’t have much time for anything but music and acting, but we feel very strongly about women’s issues. We have always supported RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) and Melissa used to be a Rape Crisis Counselor for them. We interviewed hundreds of women and men and co-created a theatrical show called “Dirty Talk” with our theatre company (World Kin Ensemble) about the spectrum of violence against women, ranging from catcalling to rape. We acted in and toured college campuses around the country with that show. We also performed it as part of USC’s Visions and Voices. We feel strongly about any organization that supports and empowers women. It’s exactly what we try to create in our art. We think as artists it’s important to help empower people who feel marginalized and silenced.

Connect with MACEDO via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

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.

George Simpson – Interview

Saturday 20th January 2018

Following the success of his first 2 albums, George Simpson decided to take a break for a couple of years, to spend some time deciding what direction he wanted to take his music.  Having already been picked up by the likes of Jeremy Vine and Graham Norton, and with his single “Open Door” finding success on the TV show Hollyoakes, George wondered what his next step would be.  Now, due for release on the 23rd February, “Finding Myself” is the upcoming single, which will be followed by a 3rd album release from George in the coming months. The single also features the harmonious vocals from UK Country songstress, Kezia.  My interview with George has been very enjoyable, as he gives me a detailed background in to the early days, his music career so far, and his songwriting process.

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

I’ve always seen myself as a regular guy. One of the lads who grew up playing sport and not music. Music came very late to me picking a guitar up at 17 and not being able to perform solo until I was 27. I’ve only been performing solo on the piano for 3 years so as a performer, my background is very different from that guy, who has been learning an instrument and having lessons since they were at primary school, and had small friend circles and spent hours practicing. That was definitely not me.

I had a hopeful career as a footballer at one point, playing for my county (Leicestershire) and having trials for Leicester City when I was 16, and apparently I used to sing a lot in the changing rooms before football matches… so it’s something I enjoyed and something my friends obviously picked up on.

The football thing never materialised and I went backpacking for 2 years after leaving school and my A Levels half way through. I was never a keen academic… but when I went backpacking, I purchased a guitar and spent a year or so learning and playing and singing around camp sites etc, so when I came home I really got the music bug.

I joined a band called Shine, who were a cover band in my home town. One of my mates dad was the bass player and they let me get up and sing at his wedding. A few months went by and they needed a singer and they remembered me and I joined the band and thats where it all began!

The more I played the guitar and sang, the more I experimented with writing so I started writing from the word go.

I then joined a original music band called Lux Mundi to really put my writing to the test. They created the music which was prog rock, and I wrote the lyrics and melodies. Not the way I would have liked to write in hind sight but some great stuff came out of it. We never really got anywhere. We spent hours rehearsing and no time gigging. We were young, and there were personality clashes and we went our own ways, but it was a valuable experience, and at that point I was writing all of the time.

There was a pivotal moment where I left both both Shine and Lux Mundi at the same time in 2000. I focused on performing solo and writing as a solo artist and two year later I released my first single ‘Never Leave You Out in the Rain” and it went from there.

By this time my reputation as a performer helped me make the jump from full time employment into being a full time musician performing around the UK and Europe every week. It’s been nearly 4 years as a full timer and I am loving it! I have more writing time than ever, and see my two young boys (Zak-5 and Savvi -2) all the time which is great!

What is it about Country music that you enjoy, and who or what has drawn you to this genre?

I actually really got into Country music around 2 years ago when my wife drew my attention to the series Nashville. I don’t watch much TV but as soon as I heard that the series was about the Nashville music scene I thought I would give it a go… then…. these stunning duets and the beautiful melodic songs they played each week just grabbed me and it went from there! As a writer I am always analysing writing styles and looking for ways to be more diverse myself, so I wanted to test myself and try and write a country song, and within 30 mins, ‘Finding Myself’ was born! I found it came really easily to me and my style is quite emotive anyway, and being an acoustic guitarist it seemed to really suit me. I really really adore male and female duets too!

Following on from 2 successful albums you decided to take a break. What was it at that moment that made you feel you needed the respite, and how has it helped you going forward?

Yes, after my second album my second son was born and I was also still trying to cement my career in being a professional entertainer/musician, so it felt like a natural break. But… also, I simply wanted to just focus on new material and thinking about what direction to go in to next. I didn’t want any pressure on myself to write, so I went with the flow and tried to build up a collection of songs that could potentially be on album number 3! The previous 2/3 years were really full on. I hadn’t released a song before 2012 and most people I knew didn’t even know that I write songs, so there was a lot of hype at the time, and I tried to keep the ball rolling, and get a second album out and new singles and videos out there, but after that I was mentally exhausted from it all. Especially being an independent artist and doing everything myself.

Your new single ‘Finding Myself’ is due to be released in February. How are you feeling about getting your new music out there?

I really can’t wait! It’s been a few years of writing, recording and planning and I’m ready now for another push. I’m excited about people hearing my new music, and the new direction. The industry has actually changed a lot since I’ve been ‘hibernating’, ha! Spotify is a real big player now where it wasn’t so much with my first single and album, so planning releases is very different this time around!  

Who did you work with for the accompanying video for the single, and where did the shoot take place?

I worked with a friend called Jay Hillyer who is a really talented videographer. He started out when I started releasing music and I have always used him so we have grown together in a way! He has a really big profile now in certain scenes and we work together really well!  I always plan my own videos and try and create the scenes and shots. I wake up some mornings and go…. ahhh yeah that would be cool, or that would work well for that part of the song… my head is always on it!

The location was in Derby. An old derelict site… which was perfect. Kezia is from Derby and she pointed it out and said her brother had a photo shoot there a while back. We checked it out… and it was great… it reflected the song… and the relationship between two people where the relationship has gone from good to bad… just like that site. The graffiti added colour and you can see wildlife trying to grow again… and that almost told the story of the song. Accidentally clever I’d say! Ha. 

How did you find the process of putting the song together, and how does it feel listening back to a song that reflects on personal experiences?

I found it quite easy actually. I just started strumming some chords on the guitar, in a country style, and just let the first melodies that came in to my head, spill out… I knew what I wanted to write about at that time and it went from there. Some songs come easy, others you can spend months of tweaking and improving certain parts. ‘Finding Myself’ is about a personal experience, my first relationship actually… where things went bad, and I needed time away to reflect and see what I wanted. I moved home as I was living a few hours away in Leeds at the time. There is a line in the song ‘I see fire through your window, but it’s cold in my heart’… and I can vividly remember walking in one day, and seeing the fire on in the house through the lounge window, but feeling like I didn’t really want to be going back to that house anymore… anyway…! I’m please how the song came out. I feel most people could relate to it too and thats always something I strive to include in my writing!

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?

In terms of writing I have always done everything on my own. I may sit down on a piano or the guitar, and both offer something very different in terms of writing and what comes out of my head! Sometimes I don’t know what to write about, but I play music first and see how it feels emotionally and then build the content of the song around that. Melodies come to me really easily… and then I work on lyrics to fit the melodies. Thats a very typical way in which I would write a song. Sometimes I write lyrics first.

When it comes to production of the tracks, I work with my producer Ben Haynes and he is brilliant to bounce ideas off. Between us, the song can take all sorts of twists and turns, but in the end, I’m always really happy with it. We’ve worked together on three albums now so we are really comfortable and familiar with how each other work, so this third album has been a pleasure with clear focus on what we want to achieve!  

How did the opportunity come about to work with Kezia, and how was the experience?

My producer, Ben Haynes, showed me a few years ago, Kezia’s work, as she worked with Ben too, so I always knew of her and really admired her style and voice. So when we started to look at female singers to make up to the duet, Kezia flew to the top of the list! Kezia is a pleasure to work with. She came in, used our ideas and harmony lines as a guidance, but then just improvised and did her thing, and I was like, yeah… that is great!!! I had another song recorded called ‘Love You Again’ which is almost like the part 2 of ‘Finding Myself’ and she also sang on that. Kezia is a lovely girl, really easy to get on with and really down to earth. I hope she goes far!

Are you looking to release another album in the near future?

Yes, certainly! I have the album ready to go! I have a release date set for April 19th 2018 and I am buzzing about it! I’ll be releasing another single just before then too in the run up to the album launch and hopefully a small tour to go with it all!  

Finally, if you were invited to perform on the BBC Live Lounge, which song would you cover and why?

Mmmmmm, actually I recently recorded a cover of ‘Freedom’ by George Michael/Wham. I love turning upbeat pop songs into emotive ballads and really show the true core of the song. I would love to get in the Live Lounge and do that with a small string section and some backing singers! I just love the song and love performing it and it would be great to show the world how George Michael probably wrote it originally before all of the production!

Connect with George Simpson via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.