Gigging until he falls over
Jamie Lawson is currently residing in the warm-up act category, but he plans to put his all into moving forward.
The last time you were at Whelans or the Olympia, watching the ascending stars of Damien Rice or Gemma Hayes, chances are you saw Jamie Lawson in action. Before he even opened his mouth, you may have written him off as 'the warm-up guy' and headed off in search of a pint. You would have made a big mistake.
Last month saw the release of the Plymouth lad's latest EP, 'The Small wish'. Like his previous work, it is a collection of heartfelt and achingly pretty songs of love and loss. When he performs a song such as 'Bruises' live, it is hard to look away from his intense, but appealing, face, eyes all scrunched up like he's really feeling each poignant lyric. What inspires him to write? "Being bored shitless, watching daytime TV with the sound down, playing my guitar and waiting for something to happen", says the 27-year-old, who you could be forgiven for thinking was a crusty student.
He sounds a bit Counting Crowsy, though he sniffs at the comparison, and cites his own influences as Jeff Buckley and the Jackson Five. Indeed, it was listening to Michael Jackson and his brothers that initially motivated Jamie to get into music. He started writing songs at 16 and formed a band in school "that had about eight different names. One was Emotional Suicide!", he laughs. He moved to London five years ago without a single contact and initially found it hard getting gigs. Soon however, he was playing both in London and Cardiff... and popping over to Dublin with increased frequency.
Despite being a quiet kind of soul, Jamie fails to be intimidated by the music business. This is not to say it doesn't annoy him. "A lot of it is wrong and a joke and some of the people you meet are really odd. Musicians are beautiful, sweet people. But as soon as it goes above that, into the industry, the people are just so strange. And the language they speak." He admires bands that have thrived on their own initiative. "The Frames have had such little support from the industry and have done fucking amazing. I think they'd love to reach as many people as possible and make the music they want to make."
Jamie Lawson gave up his day job long ago and decided to concentrate on writing and performing, though, according to the singer-songwriter, "There isn't a penny in it!" He brings his band (Simon Allen - Bass; Paul Fletcher - Guitar, piano and Erik Stams - Drums) to Ireland with him whenever he has the money. Most recently they played the Issac Butt, supporting the solid Mark Dignum, and The Spirit Store in Dundalk supporting BellX1.
In terms of his own listening habits, Jamie lists Idlewild, Jacob Golden and Nora Jones among his favourites, all of whom are artists that have a certain intensity yet comforting presence in their sound. His priority for the near future is to record a couple of new EPs (His 'Kitchen songs' was recorded in one day) and to do gigs until he falls over. "We'd love to do a record but it's too expensive for the moment. Hopefully someone will put money into it," he says smiling.
by Anne-Louise Foley