All the way from Dublin, Ireland, soon to be international star Gavin James is about to embark on a massive tour that kicks off in Australia. We caught up with the soul stroker to find out more.
Last year was a breakthrough period for the singer/songwriter. His heavenly voice took him on quite a journey, that included being named Spotify’s Spotlight Artist of the Year. He also toured with Sam Smith, opened for his mate Ed Sheeran, and supported Taylor Swift, playing to crowds in excess of a 100,000.
After recording Live At Whelans his star was truly on the rise, as he became a radio hit in America and was bounced from one chat show to the next, including Dancing with the Stars, Jimmy Kimmel, and James Cordon. His debut LP Bitter Pill was released internationally this year.
From gigging around pubs he’s come a long way, and we thought we’d get to know him before he hits our shores.
FIB: Hey man, how’s it going? Thanks for talking to Fashion Industry Broadcast.
GAVIN JAMES: I’m good, what’s up? How are you?
FIB: Really good, we’re actually experiencing some UK weather over here, it’s pouring down.
GAVIN JAMES: Oh really, it’s roasting over here, it’s like 29.
FIB: It must be nice to enjoy the summer.
GAVIN JAMES: Yeah except I can’t stay out in the sun too long because of the fact I’m really ginger so I stay in the shade most of the time.
FIB: Haha of course. You’re gearing up to come to Australia in September, what are you looking forward to on your first tour here?
GAVIN JAMES: Yeah I’ve never been before so I’m really excited. I mean, I’m probably going to see some kangaroos and stuff but I’ve got a lot of family there so I’ll go see them in Perth. I never made it out there as a kid so I have to see my uncle and my aunty.
FIB: So are you pretty clued into the Australian culture and way of life, or will it be really fresh for you?
GAVIN JAMES: Very fresh but a lot of my mates actually moved over there for work a couple of years ago so I’m probably going to see a couple of the at the gigs. I’ve heard you’re just as mad as the Irish, in the best way, so it should be good.
FIB: Well I can tell you that Australian crowds can be pretty rowdy at times.
GAVIN JAMES: That’s good though.
FIB: Yeah, it should be fun. Have you found much difference between audiences of different countries or is it hard to tell?
GAVIN JAMES: There are some differences definitely. When you get to America, they ‘woo’ a lot more, more than anywhere else in the world. Just loads of girls going ‘wooo’. In Ireland it’s a mix, they’ll either be very quiet or really rowdy, but rowdy in a good way. They sometimes feel like having a bit of fun. England is the same but when you get into Europe people are really quiet and super intense.
FIB: You’ve already played with some massive artists and to some massive crowds in a short amount of time it seems. How are you feeling about how quick your star seems to be rising?
GAVIN JAMES: I’m shocked with everything that has happened so far because I’ve been going for years back home in Ireland trying to get stuff going but it’s really nice what has happened recently. I wasn’t expecting to be playing those kind of gigs, particularly in America. It’s been lovely.
FIB: You come from a pretty musical family, was there ever any doubt that would pursue that as a career?
GAVIN JAMES: Nothing is ever set in stone for sure so it depends on what you really want. I’m just happy playing music in general. I was doing it for years in Dublin at pubs and I loved that. Luckily I’m starting to do more touring and performing in all these really cool places so I’m very very happy with that. But I’ll always play music anyway, no matter what.
FIB: So what kind of stuff were you listening to growing up, and when you were finding your own sound?
GAVIN JAMES: A lot of random stuff actually. Korn, Slipknot, a lot of Velvet Revolver, all of this was when I was like 14. My dad used to have this mate that made mixtapes and my dad would bring them home. They were the weirdest mixtapes ever. There’d be stuff like Cat Stevens and Bob Dylan and out of nowhere Van Halen but it got me into all this different kind of music and it really got me into playing guitar. Then as I listened to Bob Dylan a lot that got me into writing.
FIB: Did you have to make a conscious decision to move away from rock?
GAVIN JAMES: Yeah well I was in a rock band from when I was 14 to like 18. I finished school and I went straight to this strange rock college. I didn’t do that well at school so I went to this college before you get to go to real college. I started doing pub gigs which you can’t really do as rock band in Dublin city centre because it’s mostly acoustic. So I did like seven nights a week there on acoustic guitar for four years so that got rid of the rock band thing. Doing all this gigging around by myself was kind of hectic but pretty fun. But I’m gradually getting back, well not as rocky as I was, but I have a band now.
FIB: So when you talk about your writing, where are you coming from? What’s your catalyst?
GAVIN JAMES: I guess it just depends what you’re going through at that moment. If you’re going through something it will be what you feel. Or if you’re not feeling anything you start playing and you might feel something. Usually I try to be as honest as possible and the sounds I make seem to make sad people happy. A lot of things have changed in the last two years so the songs I’m writing for the second album are a lot different to the first.
FIB: Do you have a set process or routine, or does each song come in its own way?
GAVIN JAMES: I like to sit on the couch watching TV, then an ad will come on and I’ll play a little bit. Then something might pop into my head and I’ll have to turn off the TV and start writing a song.
FIB: That’s awesome, I wish all of us could snap up inspiration like that. On the album, there’s probably a few fan favourites but could you tell us a bit about ‘Bitter Pill’ in particular?
GAVIN JAMES: It sort began two and a half years ago. I started seeing someone and I went away. I kind of broke it off because I knew I was going to be away for a long time. When I came back and tried to restart something and it didn’t really work. She’d moved on, so it’s kind of about that.
FIB: The album as a whole is pretty damn accomplished for a debut offering, how was the recording process?
GAVIN JAMES: Yeah it was a lot of fun. I did travel for good bit during the recording process which was hard because I’d go away for two months and I’d come back for a day and try to finish off something. The it’d be away for another month and back for a week. It did take a long time because of that but once it was finished it was good to sit back and realise I’d actually finished it. We were releasing a live album before it and one of the tunes on the live album took off and that made the process longer too but it was all good.
FIB: That song was the cover of ‘Book of Love’ right?
GAVIN JAMES: Yeah it was random, very strange. I did it sort of last minute at the live recording gig. I was very chuffed because it was one of those weird things where I wasn’t expecting anything from it.
FIB: Do you have an idea when you’re writing or recording the songs which ones will be the big crowd pleasers?
GAVIN JAMES: It’s hard to know sometimes. The ones you think will be crowd pleasers might not be. ‘Book of Love’ for some reason is one, even at festivals, and you wouldn’t expect that from just my vocals and an electric guitar. There’s a couple that are definitely going to be on the second album that are a lot bigger and fast-paced and bit more rocky than the first record that I think will go down well.
FIB: Cool, can’t wait. What do you enjoy doing in your downtime when you’re not caught up with music?
GAVIN JAMES: I pretty much just chill. I go down to the country in Wexford and relax. I spend a lot of downtime with the lads in Dublin and just go out. A lot of the time I crash out. If I finish a big tour or something, I’ll just pass out for a week.
FIB: You’re about to embark on a mega tour, for the rest of the year really. Is that all you’re focusing on or will you be trying to do some writing along the way?
GAVIN JAMES: Definitely. I’m going to try to record some stuff actually. Not so much in Australia. It’s like four gigs in four days but I’m going to see if I can stay on in Paris for a bit to do some touristy things and I’m going to try to record when I get to England and America in particular, around November. I’m already writing a good bit now.
FIB: So we can expect some new stuff in early 2017 then?
GAVIN JAMES: Yep, I might even try some new stuff at the aussie shows, they’re my next proper shows really.
FIB: That’s really exciting then. There should be a good bit of buzz about, and Australian radio should be right behind you by then too.
GAVIN JAMES: Hopefully, that’d be cool.
FIB: I think that wraps us up. Thanks so much again for the chat and I hope you enjoy the tour.
GAVIN JAMES: Thanks for having me. See you at the shows.
If you’re into soulful Irish singers (so everyone in existence) this is one you don’t want to miss.