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Interview – Lewis Watson

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With his 3rd Ep ‘into the wild’ out today, Sean was lucky enough to have a chat to one of the worlds loveliest blokes Lewis Watson about his new Ep and upcoming Australian show with birdy.

G’day Lewis, how are you going?

I’m good Sean, how are you?

I’m doing really good mate, really good. First of all, thanks heaps for taking the time to have a chat with us and talk about all these things. It’s only about a week away until the new EP comes out; how are you feeling about that?

I’m super excited to get it out and especially now when ‘Into The Wild’ is getting so much radio play. It was really fun to make this one, so yeah; I can’t wait.

I can imagine. You’ve had your previous EPs but I guess with this one, especially since the single is getting a lot more exposure, how does that feel for you; to have a bigger audience listening to your stuff?

It’s great. It’s something I never really thought would happen so it’s really good and it’s really big for me but it all feels very natural too. So yeah, it’s very exciting.

It’s good to hear when people like yourself don’t get too much of shock when what they’re aiming to do with their life is going in the right way, so it’s good to see you taking it all on board.

Oh, thank you, yeah.

It’s kind of a step forward, I suppose, from hearing your previous work to going to listen to ‘Into The Wild’ with the full band experience going on. Was that an intentional step or was that just how the songs came about?

I’ve always wanted to be in a band and have a band so it kind of feels good to me. I think it’s good because it kind of gives an evolution to my sound, you know? My last EPs have been very, not simple, but just me and a guitar and some added texture so it feels good to kind of break out into a bigger sound. I mean it’s just progression; everything needs to go somewhere. I think it seems very natural to me. The other songs on the EP are still very stripped back and very true to my first two EPs, so I hope I don’t put people off by that.

I can’t imagine they would be. I mean, it’s a step forward with ‘Into The Wild’ but it’s not necessarily a huge departure and I don’t think it will be too alienating for most of your fans.

Good, I’m glad. (Laughter)

Looking a little bit into the future, even though this EP’s just coming out; is the full band experience kind of something that you’d hope to go for?

I’ve got a band on tour with me now, just a guy on drums and a guy on keys and bass. Like I said; I’ve always wanted to be in a band. When I started this whole project, I guess, from the get go I just really wanted a band to get the bigger sound and I think that’s a much more enjoyable thing for an audience. Whether it’s your first time watching somebody or your third time watching somebody I think you need to see some sort of progression whether that’s in their sound or in their band. It’s kind of something that I’ve always wanted to do and I’m really happy that I’ve gotten the chance to do it with really talented musicians but at the same time I love doing things on my own too. I love going to record store things or doing radio sessions on my own. So it’s kind of like I get the best of both worlds.

Awesome. I suppose when it comes to doing things on your own; when it comes to song writing do you prefer to do it all by yourself before you head into the studio? Do you co-write? How do you go about writing songs, especially for the new EP?

I prefer writing songs on my own purely because I like my songs to be a personal thing and I feel that if I can apply myself without holding back then it will be a better song. When I’m co-writing a lot of the time I don’t want to tell them what I’m feeling just because I’m not that kind of person and it’s tough for me to pour things out. So I kind of prefer it in that aspect but it’s also great to co-write because you get a whole new level of motivation and there’s been many times where I’ve wanted not to give up on a song but have just felt that the song’s going nowhere and then I take it in with a friend or another musician that I’ve got the chance to write with or something and it just gives it a whole new life and I kind of get a second wind on the song and then it’s a lot of fun to revisit a song when you want to do it. Again, it’s just the best of both worlds. It just depends on the song and what kind of sound you’re going for.

That’s right, when you’re coming from being in a band it’s great to actually have that outside influence, that little different idea that you never would’ve thought could come to your head, and the song can become something completely changed.

Yeah. It’s great to have fresh views on anything really.

That’s right. So you’re heading back to Australia next month, so is this your second time back?

Yeah, it is. I came in August and did a few busking things, so now to be coming and actually playing shows is great. I’m very thankful for Birdy bringing me on her tour.

I suppose not only opening for Birdy but playing the likes of the Sydney Opera House and whatnot, one of Australia’s most beautiful venues, it must be a great feeling to be playing in such a venue like that.

It’s mental, man. In August I actually went and busked outside of Sydney Opera House and now it’s like I’ll be playing the other side of the walls; it’s a great story. (Laughter)

(Laughter) That’s definitely true. Will you be bringing the backing band with you when you come or is it just going to be you with your guitar?

No, I think it’s just going to be me. I don’t really know; I haven’t really talked about it too much. To bring it would just be more things to worry about really, like, if I bring a whole kit over or bringing two guys over. So I think I’m just going to come over and do it by myself.

I think it makes it easier; you can just walk on stage and play whatever pops into your head and not really have to have a fully rehearsed set list.

Definitely. It’s less hassle too on Birdy since she was kind enough to invite me over so I think it would kind of be a bad move to cut into her sound check time every night and kind of put that strain on her too.

That’s very rare to see that kind of politeness in some opening acts so I bet she’s stoked to have that on board. (Laughter)

(Laughter) Yeah.

So how did this actual tour with Birdy come about? Have you been mates with her for a while or had she heard your stuff and got in contact?

Well I actually supported her at Shepherd’s Bush in London, which is one of our nice venues in England, and I supported her in September. I think that came about just because we’re on the same label and I think that in turn somebody just said oh I think you should get Lewis to do this or something and she kind of asked me to do it I guess. She seems to show quite a lot of interest in my music; she always tweets me when she’s heard a new track and I sent her my EP a few weeks ago and she was very positive about it so I’d like to think she’s a fan. But yeah, after September we just had a chat and it was nice to be invited again not just in England but also to Australia to tour. Very grateful.

I can imagine not only being a fan of her yourself but also having the band you’re opening for being a fan of you yourself makes it a whole lot of a different experience. I suppose, coming from being a musician myself, you get the opportunity to play for a lot of big bands and they don’t watch or they rock up two minutes after your set’s finished and it’s a bit of a let down. So it’s good to know that someone in such a category as Birdy is actually keen on the sound that you’re creating.

Yeah, it’s a great thing, and actually when I was out there she had a number one single on iTunes so I guess that’s like another really cool thing.

Well, talking about, I suppose, doing well in the charts I’m just having a bit of a read here and it’s saying that your first EP topped the UK iTunes charts on the first day of the charts outselling Adele and Madonna and even Ed Sheeran, people who are taking over the charts at the moment, so that must have been a huge accomplishment for you to see that kind of thing happening.

It was kind of overwhelming. With the EP I just uploaded it to the site and put it on iTunes and when I woke up it was number four in the singer songwriter charts and number 84 in the top 100 in iTunes and I just kind of sat there all day and watched it, it’s kind of embarrassing really but I just watched it, and it got to number one in the singer songwriter charts and number 10 in the top 100 so it’s great. It was only for one day but it made me think that if I reapply myself to this then maybe something could come of it. I only really put it on iTunes to fund the production of the physicals, I just wanted 1000 physicals to give away or sell at gigs because I’m quite a big fan of physical CDs and stuff like that, so I never really expected it to do anything I just kind of thought that it would be a way to make a quick 50 quid or 100 pounds. So yeah, it’s crazy.

I suppose, you know, be it one day on number one or one week there’s not very many people that get to hold that to their names and as you said if that’s what happens when you just put it on there just to raise a bit of money for physical copies imagine what could happen when you actually do apply yourself and have the whole promotion team behind you.

Yeah yeah, well, fingers crossed.

With having now signed to Warner Bros I suppose it makes it easier to get the physicality out of the music, especially now with vinyl making a big appearance. Do you see yourself either printing your older stuff or even the new EP on vinyl any time soon?

Well I did the second EP on vinyl and we just kind of tested the waters with that. Like I said, I’m a big fan of it. I grew up with my dad who had like a big record collection so it was a thing that I’m a fan of and I kind of requested it for it to happen and I think we just made about 350, or something like that, vinyls of the second EP. They kind of went okay; I didn’t expect them to fly off the shelves because not many people have record players now and especially people who are buying my EP and I doubt they have access to a record player. At gigs I seem to sell quite a lot and I’m always signing a lot of vinyl, so yeah, it’s a really cool thing.

It’s good to see that people are getting back into buying the physical versions of music because I think there’s something a little more personal in actually holding the record than just pressing download on iTunes or any other kind of sneaky site you can get things off these days.

Definitely, I completely agree and it just makes things a whole lot less disposable. If you listen to a song for the first time once you download it then you can just easily delete it with a click straight away but if you have the physical album you’ll want to kind of keep listening to it and give it a chance because you have it and it’s going to take up space in your record collection or something so it makes the whole thing a lot less disposable which I’m a huge fan of.

That’s right; it’s staring you in the face and begging you to give it another go.

Yeah, yeah.

So coming into the writing of the new EP what were your influences at the time? What were you listening to while you were writing and recording this new EP?

This one? I was listening to people like, let me think… Actually, I was listening to a lot of Matt Corby. I’ve been listening to his stuff for a couple of years now and I think during the time that I was writing this EP I was listening to him quite intently and kind of had all of his things on repeat and his sound, I think, is great and he may have inspired it a little bit. Probably not so much to draw influence from him, even if I wanted to I couldn’t sing like he does, but to just listen to his song is like wow I want to make something right now that. So I maybe didn’t draw influence from that but it inspired me to pick up the guitar. I think around that time I was listening to Matt’s stuff and a girl called Lucy Rose from England who I think is fantastic and I’ve been listening to her stuff for a very long time. It’s kind of hard to back track and kind of think now.

As you said it’s not necessarily the influence but maybe some times the same kind of impact that you want to have. You get that huge impact from Matt Corby and you want to write the kind of song that made you feel the same way when you were listening to certain music.

Yeah, I think that’s it. I think that’s exactly it.

All right, well I just got the wrap up triple beep on the phone so I think we should almost call it quits so is there anything you’d like to say to your Australian fans before you head out and come play some shows for us with Birdy?

Just to say a huge thank you for even listening. When I came in August I had no idea that anyone was listening to my stuff really so it was just really cool to say that people are listening to my music on the other side of the world. It’s a rare thing to be able to do and I never thought I’d be able to say that, so thank you.

I can only imagine that it’s just going to keep going forward from here. Thanks heaps for chatting with us man it was a fun time and I’m super keen to see you when you get out here.

Yeah, would love you to. Thank you for having me Sean.

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