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Interview: Gavin DeGraw

7 min read

Over the past 11 years U.S singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw has been become one of music’s finest superstars. Early on in his career he was chosen to pen the theme song to teen drama One Tree Hill and has since become performer in demand all over the world and a sought after collaborator by many of his peers including Colbie Caillet who he worked with and received a Grammy nomination alongside for their Safe Haven hit We Both Know as well as OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and songwriting icon Dianne Warren. The last decade has seen the musician tour the globe several times and release 5 critically acclaimed studio albums to a fan-base that is growing every day.

His talents behind the mic and his skill at crafting his numerous hit singles also caught the attention of music icon Billy Joel who extended a personal invitation to Gavin to be the support act during his 2014 U.S tour dates.

Gavin DeGraw Finest Hour

With so many achievements under his belt and recently celebrating his 10 year career milestone, it seems only right that the musician would celebrate with the release of a collection looking back at the many hits that he has released over the years and that’s exactly what he is doing this month. Finest Hour: The Best of Gavin DeGraw pulls together some of the musicians biggest hits as well as a few new tracks and is set for UK release on October 20th.

As Gavin is currently touring Europe to promote the release, we were lucky enough to have another chat with him to talk about his career and the upcoming hits collection. Here is what he had to tell us…

Brendon Veevers: How are you Gavin and where in the world is our interview finding you today?

Gavin DeGraw: I’m great, thanks for asking! We’re at The Forum in London, which is cool because we haven’t played this venue before. The last several times we’ve been to London we’ve played Shepherd’s Bush Empire, so it’s exciting to play somewhere new.

BV: You are getting ready for the release of a best of collection called Finest Hour: The Best of Gavin DeGraw which is out on 20th October in the UK. A ‘Best Of’ record is quite the milestone for any artist. How does it feel to be releasing a retrospective collection?

GD: Strange! I never expected to be around long enough to have the opportunity to release a Best Of album. It’s funny ‘cos right now I’m looking at my career so far and going ‘There’s so much stuff I still wanna be doing’ – so I’m amazed that I can even stop at this moment and say ‘Wow, there’s actually enough material here for a ‘Best Of’. But we’re 5 albums in now, so I’ feel it’s appropriate!

BV: A record like this is a fantastic time for reflection and looking back at what’s been achieved over the years. Firstly, of the songs within this record, what is your favourite and for what reason?

GD: That’s a hard one to choose. Let’s go with the new single Fire. I think every artist can, to a degree, identify that sometimes their favourite track is the newest. When I write another new one, that’ll be my new favourite!

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BV: Secondly, what do you feel has been your greatest achievement over the last 11 years, during your time releasing studio records? What moment, milestone or event has been the most personally and professional significant for you?

GD: For me personally, it’s being on the Billy Joel date [Gavin was personally asked by Billy Joel to open for him for his US shows]. Having grown up listening to Billy Joel, being such a huge fan, and really being inspired by Billy to do what I’m doing, when the call came in to do those tour dates it was just the most unbelievable opportunity for me. We’ve played Madison Square Garden 9 times this year, it’s just been crazy!

BV: There are 2 new tracks which will be featured within the collection – Fire and You Got Me. What can you tell us about these two tracks?

GD: I wrote Fire with Ross Golan and Johan Carlsson, two amazing writers. When you’re writing and it’s going well, when it’s going really well… we were just high fiving all over the studio. There’s no formula for writing a song, no one way to do it, but we felt like whatever was happening that day, we were doing it right – we’d hit something from the first note. We all really freaked out over the song – it’s empowering. It reminds me of just going out with your buddies and just having a great time. Those friends that you share memories with, and have history with – there’s nothing quite like that feeling, with that special group of people.

You Got Me is a song written by the great Dianne Warren – she’ just incredible. Dianne and I have been in communication for a number of years and we’re friends and we’ve always flirted with the idea of doing something, but waited for the right time, the right song. When she sent me this song, I just jumped right on it, the song was just so good. We got right in the studio and banged this thing out and I couldn’t be happier with the recording. The song is just absolutely perfect and the context of the song in the movie [A Dolphin’s Tale 2] couldn’t be more beautiful.

Gavin Degraw

BV: The track Finest Hour was produced by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic. How did that collaboration happen and what was it like working with Ryan?

GD: Ryan’s fantastic, just a fantastic songwriter and producer. He’s so talented. I’ve always been a big fan of OneRepublic. When Ryan and I first got together we wrote Not Over You, which was a great co-writing experience which really changed my mind about the co-writing process. Before that, I wouldn’t really co-write with people. I wanted to write alone and I was really uptight about being in the room with another writer, but writing with Ryan really shed light on the idea. After Not Over You we got together again some time later and wrote Finest Hour which is a great party song – it kinda reminds me of Fire in that way, the idea of going out and having fun. Finest Hour is one of those autobiographical stores about saying ‘we went out, we got really messed up, we had the greatest time, and the next day we have a story to tell.’ That song was a lot of fun to write – there were a few moments when we were writing that we were just a little too honest…

BV: You have collaborated with quite a few people over the years. Who has been your favourite to work with and why?

GD: It’s hard to choose, there’s so many great talents out there that I’ve had the chance to work with. I had a really great experience with Colbie Caillat when we wrote We Both Know for a Nicholas Sparks film [Safe Haven]. That song was really, really special and led to my first Grammy nomination. That project was so exciting and we had a great time singing it together and doing the red carpet – it’s a whole other thing that as a musician, I had never envisaged doing, so being invited into that world was a real hoot! Singing with Colbie, or writing with Dianne Warren or Ryan Tedder – it’s so hard to choose a favourite! I just recorded with Martina McBride, one of the greatest country singers. In my mind, she’s a living legend, and we cut the Sam Cooke track Bring It On Home To Me together. I really couldn’t choose, there have been so many great experiences! And then there’s being personally chosen to open for Billy Joel….[laughs]

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BV: Is the release of Finest Hour: The Best of Gavin DeGraw going to bring a new tour? Are there plans to take the collection out on the road?

GD: I’m touring right now in Europe! It’s exciting to take this on the road, especially seeing the reaction to Fire – that’s blowing my mind right now.

BV: Aside from the release of Finest Hour: The Best of Gavin DeGraw, what other projects or plans are in the pipeline for the rest of the year and 2015?

GD: There’s always plans! Once in a while, I take a day off, but they tend to get filled up with non-planned plans. Sprinkled in with the tour I have some writing dates. When we get to the Netherlands I plan on being in the studio with Armin van Buuren. He and I have been talking about getting together for almost 3 years, so it’s time we finally do it now! There’s a whole slew of people I hope to be working with – I plan on being very busy writing. I’m enjoying Europe and I’m thinking of even staying a little bit longer after this tour just to hang out and sight see, but I wanna be in the studio writing because there’s always another song. There’s always a lot more songs…

BV: Thanks for speaking with us again Gavin and all the best with the release.

Gavin DeGraw will be releasing his brand new collection Finest Hour: The Best of Gavin DeGraw on October 20th in the UK.

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1 thought on “Interview: Gavin DeGraw

  1. Where do you begin when you are talking about artist,song writer, musician Gavin DeGraw. You start by saying AMAZING because that is truly what he is. I love music so I need for a song to grab me at the start carry me to the middle and catch me at the end I want to feel the music and that’s what Gavin music does for me.Yes he has started a FIRE that is BLAZZING HOT that I hope will never stop. You have definitely earned your FINEST HOUR Gavin DeGraw I wait patiently for the next chapter in your musical career.

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