Interview: Jamie Lawson
As the first ever signing on Ed Sheeran’s record label, Jamie Lawson found himself in the unique position of having one of the biggest stars on hand for advice. Now four album’s in to his career, Lawson is firmly settled in to life as a musician ahead of the release of Happy Accidents. We caught up with Jamie ahead of its release to find out what inspired this rather personal collection..
Rachael Scarsbrook: How are you Jamie and where does our interview find you?
Jamie Lawson: I’m very well, thanks for asking. I’m at home in my music room in Manchester.
RS: Your fourth album is due out later this month, do you have any celebration plans on release day?
JL: Well, I’ll be doing the Chris Evans Radio Show on Radio 2 first thing in the morning so it’ll be a very early start and then I’ll be flying to Dublin to do The Late Late show so it’ll be a very late finish. I may have to put the celebrations on hold until I’m with my friends and family.
RS: The title of the album is Happy Accidents. What inspired the title of the album?
JL: It’s about good things coming out of other things going wrong, like when a girl goes to see a stand up comedian and walks into the wrong room where you happen to be playing and she thinks you’re not too bad and so sends you a message saying ‘You’re not very funny, but I thought you were good so hooray for happy accidents’ and then five years later you marry her.
RS: Are there any songs on the new collection that stand out for you or that are more personal to you than others on the record and if so, why?
JL: Probably Sing To The River. It’s a true story about how I dealt with my father’s passing away when I was 19. I used to walk late at night and sing to the river. I realise that sounds a little strange, but you deal with grief any way you can. I sang.
RS: What was it like releasing your previous record as the first signing on Ed Sheeran’s label, and having someone so well known on your team?
JL: It was great, I understood in signing with Ed that I’d have a very big platform straight away. He seemed to have complete belief in me and my songs, seemed to know if we released Wasn’t Expecting That in Australia first and it was a hit it would spread across the globe. And he was right. He’s a clever guy, he knows what he’s doing.
RS: Your song writing is deeply personal at times. Does singing and performing act as a cathartic release for you?
JL: Absolutely, often songs come out that are dealing with issues you didn’t even know you were going through, your subconscious is writing them, figuring it out, letting you work through the mist of it. I think I’ve always used singing and song writing for that.
RS: How do you feel your sound has progressed since your first album, and what impact has this had when you came to recording Happy Accidents?
JL: My first album was recorded nearly 15 years ago now in an incredibly dusty bedroom in North London. It was done with a lot of love but as cheaply as possible and involved a lot of favours. Song wise it was pretty dark, not at all confident and sung just before having an operation on my nose which completely changed my voice.
This new album was produced by Joe Chiccarelli who’s just produced the new Morrissey album, as well as albums for The Shins, Elton John, Rufus Wainwright, Jason Mraz etc and was recorded in sunny LA at one of the most famous studios in the world in Sunset Sound Studios. The contrast couldn’t be bigger. With this record there’s a much more assured sound, more confidence in what I’m doing and with brilliantly talented musicians on it in Roger Manning Jr, Matt Chamberlain and Henrik Irgens. That’s an amazing band to have. The songs are generally sunnier too, although I’m still dealing with issues such as my father’s passing away as I probably was on that first record, even though I didn’t directly sing about it then.
RS: Has being a musician always appealed to you or do you have other passions people may not know about?
JL: I’ve always sung, played guitar since I was 8, never really done much else. I really like photography though but if you follow me on Instagram you might already know that.
RS: Are there any emerging talents you have your eyes on currently?
JL: Louis Berry’s going to be huge, I can see him headlining festivals pretty soon. I really liked the last Lewis & Leigh record, James TW’s very good too.
RS: How did the initial ideas for Happy Accidents come about? Were they conscious creative choices or a more natural process?
JL: I started writing in early 2016 knowing I wanted to release this record as soon as possible. I just made myself write at every opportunity. I think the more you do it, the more likely you are to stumble across something good. I try and let out whatever’s inside and not think about it too much, try and keep out the way of the creative process as much as possible.
RS: How have you found fame and success so far. Has it been a natural shift for you or something that you have found to be hard to adjust to?
JL: I don’t feel famous at all, I don’t get recognised so I’m dealing with it very well. In some ways I feel I’ve been successful for some time because I’ve been doing what I loved for as long as I have, whether people were aware of it doesn’t change that, and then I have days where I wonder why I’m not being played on Radio 1 or all over music TV or why Guetta isn’t asking me to feature on his next track but those days don’t happen too often! I guess the definition of success can change from time to time depending on where you’re at in your own head. I have to remind myself – if I’ve made a record I’m very proud of then that’s my job done.
RS: You’ve been on tour with One Direction and Ed Sheeran before. How have they influenced the way in which you perform live?
JL: Ed’s very good at interacting with the audience, I like that aspect of what he does but I generally play with a band and have a different feel to my show, more relaxed, more like coming home, take your shoes off, sit down and enjoy, not quite as high octane as either Ed or One Direction!
RS: Do you set yourself goals to achieve with each new record or prefer to let what will be happen naturally?
JL: I would love another No.1 album, that was my goal for this album but that’s almost out of my hands, especially with how music is listened to and streamed and sold, all those calculations make a big difference so I think it’s unlikely that that will happen. My goal now is to make this career last as long as possible and make the best records I can.
RS: What touring plans do you have planned? Where are you looking forward to touring and playing new songs?
JL: I’m off out on tour with James Blunt in October and November throughout Europe and the UK, then I have a tour planned myself for early-ish next year. Hopefully I’ll get to the States too and back around Europe.
I always look forward to playing new songs, I think between this and the last record the live set will be in a really good place and if I can afford to bring the horn section too it should be a lot of musical fun.
RS: Are there any other plans or projects in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
JL: It’s all about this new album right now, although I’ve just been talking to a friend of mine Tim Ross who co-wrote a couple of songs on the last album who’s asked me if I’d be interested in writing a musical with him so who knows, that could be fun.
Jamie Lawson’s album Happy Accidents is out now