From being the first artist signed to Ed Sheeran’s label, to now releasing his fifth album, Jamie Lawson has had quite the journey throughout his musical career. Ahead of his headline tour, we caught up with the man himself to talk about the stories behind the new record and learning to adapt as an artist.
It’s been a few weeks since the album’s been out, have you had time to stop and take it all in? Have you had a look at what people are saying?
I haven’t really had time to stop, no, but I’ve certainly seen a few messages and people seem to be liking the record, which is nice. That’s always good, a bit of a relief, it’s a nice thing.
There’s such a build-up when it comes to creating an album, from writing the record to recording it and getting it all finished, now it’s finally out there, how does it feel? It is relief, excitement?
It’s more relief I think, weirdly. It’s a strange, more mental build-up of, “something’s about to happen” and then obviously nothing actually happens. Your day-to-day life is not really different, it’s just the album is out there in the world, so it’s this odd release in the sense that nothing has changed, even though maybe something has changed but you don’t see it. It’s really weird.
With this album, you recorded it in all different parts of the world, you went to Nashville and Dublin, to name a few – was that on purpose, or was that just how things fell into place?
Well, I went to those places on purpose haha. I didn’t record in Nashville, I just did some writing at the beginning of last year to kind of get the process started of making a new record. Although, having said that I didn’t record there, we did end up using one of the songs that was recorded there so that’s a blatant lie, I apologise. We used the demo recording of ‘Broken’ and it actually became the album recording, because I liked how it turned out. That version is actually from the day we wrote the song, so that’s pretty cool I guess.
We just had a lot of time last year, we were opening for Ed Sheeran and it meant we got to travel quite a bit throughout Europe. We had a lot of time off, so it felt like a good use of time to start exploring new songs and just seeing how they might turn out with the band I have. It was deliberate, in a way, to just get the process started and to start my head thinking, “You need to make a new record”.
Do you think that bits of each city and the places you went influence or come through in the songs at all?
Ooo I don’t know about that. I would say probably not. We recorded in Paris and I wouldn’t say that there’s any Parisian flavour to the songs that we recorded there, similarly to Zurich, we recorded a little bit there and I’m not sure if there’s any Swiss flavour in those songs either. The main bulk of the recording was done in Dublin actually, after the tour, and I mean, I lived in Ireland so I don’t know if there’s any Irish sensibility to it, apart from the fact they seem to like singer-songwriters, so that’s good.
How did you want this album to move on from the previous one? Did you have any set ideas when you were starting the writing process of where you wanted to go and what you wanted to do with the album?
In some ways I was trying to keep up with the radio and what I mean by that is, the radio that plays me the most is BBC Radio 2 and they’ve started playing much more, what I would call, Radio 1 songs, they’re playing Rita Ora and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift, things like that and that’s not really where I sit. So, my thought process was, “I wonder if I can start making songs heading in that direction and see if it’s still me”, which is what I think I’ve done. I don’t know if that means the radio will play it or not, so I don’t know if I’ve achieved anything haha.
And you’ve got your headline tour coming up as well, how has it been rehearsing the new songs?
It’s been great! I’ve really enjoyed putting new songs into the set and they seem to flow pretty easily in there and definitely stand up with the previous two records. It gives us a real quandary as to what songs go in and what don’t, you can’t play them all and it’s been interesting to see the response to the record, as to what people like the most and what they want to hear. I know there’s at least two songs that I haven’t rehearsed with the band that people seem to want, so I’m a bit nervous about that haha. I think maybe I’ve got that wrong and maybe we should’ve learnt them as well. I might have to somehow fit them in.
Well you can always save those ones for the next tour! Are there any particular songs from the new album that you’re really excited to play live?
I like playing ‘Safe With You’ because I play piano on it and I’ve never played piano on stage before, so I’m a bit nervous about that, it’s going to be new for me. ‘Chasing’ is pretty cool too and ‘The Years In Between’ itself is going to be a kind of softer moment in the set, I think that might be quite hard to do because it’s so personal, but also hopefully quite beautiful.
You’ve played some huge shows alongside James Blunt and Ed Sheeran, have you learnt things from watching them perform and play to such big crowds and taken things away and incorporated them into your own sets?
That’s a really interesting question, because I’m constantly watching and learning to be honest. Whether I incorporate, I don’t know, but I guess the way it works is, you see someone do something and hope that it somehow manifests inside you and comes out in your own way. For instance, I’ve always thought Ed was brilliant at communicating with the crowd and breaking down that invisible line between where you stand as a guitar player with a mic stand and he’s able to come out of that because of the way he loops things. Unfortunately I don’t loop, I’m not able to do that, but certainly just breaking that little barrier and coming out and being just a singer is really useful, so I’ve tried to do that with the band and made sure I have a couple of songs at least where I’m just singing, which allows me to move around the stage a lot more.
James Blunt’s a good one, because he’s quite funny in between songs, I kind of think I’ve always been quite natural talking to people from the stage too, so I like to think I have that, but he’s really got that down. That’s a good thing to take on board.
Definitely! What’s been your favourite memory of playing live?
God, I don’t know. I’m trying to think. There was a show last year in Germany, I have a song called ‘Sing To The River’, which is quite sad, it’s about my dad, but at the point of where the song got big and reached its peak, they turned on the mirror ball and it just sent stars around the whole venue and it just completely got me, it was so beautiful.
Opening for Ed this year as well, particularly in Paris, Paris was bonkers! They went absolutely mad and I don’t know why haha. They went crazy and we’re playing Paris again on this tour, so I hope people come out to it.
Hopefully you’ll get the same reaction!
Well that would be wonderful.
For anyone that hasn’t seen you live yet, what can they expect on the tour?
I mean, I’ve always really liked shows where you can go and kind of lose yourself in the music a bit. It’s not about pyrotechnics and fireworks and things, I mean it’s indoors for a start so we can’t have fireworks, but it’s about the song and really trying to get into the moment of that particular point in time. The artists that really lose themselves in their songs I really like and that’s what I try and do too. Hopefully it’s just going to be people that can come along and really lose themselves for an hour and a half, in a good way.
Well you wouldn’t want everyone to leave crying, not knowing if it’s a good or a bad thing.
Haha yeah, that’s not what I’m after!
Finally then, how would you sum up your new album? Why should people go and give it a listen.
Well I would argue that if you have heard the previous two, then you’ll like this one as well. I think it’s a good collection of songs. Why you should listen to me over others? I have no idea, that’s probably not for me to decide. But, if you like your songs with a sense of hope and a sense of kindness, if you’re looking for that, then this is probably a good record to start with.
That’s a very nice way to sum it up! Thank you for talking to us Jamie and good luck with the tour!
Want to experience Jamie Lawson's stunning musicianship live? He plays a headline show in the capital next month:
O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire: Thursday 2 May Buy Tickets
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