Plymouth-born singer-songwriter Jamie Lawson released last autumn his latest album, Happy Accidents, two years after the track ‘Wasn’t Expecting That’ propelled him into fame. Ahead of his upcoming gig at The 1865 in Southampton, The Edge caught up with the ballad artist.
Hi Jamie, so the latest album that you’ve released is called Happy Accidents, and I’ve heard that there’s quite a nice story behind that title. Could you tell me a bit more?
Yeah, I can. That’s to do with how I met my wife, which is that she went to see a comedy show at this place called The Bedford, in Balham, South London. She walked into the wrong room and I was singing, and I think she expected me to be this kind of funny, jokey song with a big punchline at the end and it didn’t have that!
So she sent me this message saying “I went to see this comedy last night, walked into the wrong room, and you were playing and weren’t very funny, but I thought you were quite good, so hurrah for happy accidents”. And that was the first message that we’d ever had between us, so I thought that was a nice thing to have for the record since we got married last year and the record was made either side of the wedding.
I’ve also heard that at the same pub you met Ed Sheeran and of course, your record label is Gingerbread Man, which is his. I understand he co-wrote ‘Can’t See Straight’ in the latest album, how was it like co-writing with Ed Sheeran?
He’s incredibly fast, he has a lot of ideas – you have to kind of pin him down – and he likes to move on quickly. It was brilliant to watch, a really good experience. So I co-wrote with him and Johnny Mcdaid [Johnny is in the band Snow Patrol], so Johnny was acting kind of like an umpire as myself and Ed would exchange words or chord changes and Johnny would be the one who’d be like, “yeah, let’s go with that one and that one”, or “Ed, take a listen to what Jamie’s doing there”, or vice-versa. It was a good experience, [Ed’s] incredibly fast, his instincts are brilliant.
So overall, what has the new album Happy Accidents got in store for people?
Well, if you haven’t heard it, it’s been out a while already, I think it’s – well, I think most people would say this – a better record than the last one. I think the sound of it and the songs themselves are a step up from the last record. But it’s similar themed, there’s a lot of love.
It’s weird, it’s like there are a lot of songs about the initial stages of falling in love, flirtation and things like that, and then there’s a few songs about the very end, of people passing away and moving on, and how you deal with that. So, it’s almost like the opposite ends of love really, these songs, there’s not a lot in between!
One of your most famous songs is about the finishing end of love, ‘Wasn’t Expecting That’. What were you expecting when ‘Wasn’t Expecting That’ was released, again? Did you anticipate it taking off in quite the way it did?
Well, it’s weird, the first time it came out was about four years before it hit everywhere else. So this song was a hit in Ireland four/five years previous to signing with Ed, and it got played in Ireland from a YouTube clip. I didn’t really have any plan to release it, it’s only because this radio station in Ireland, TodayFM, played this song on their morning show and it had such a great reaction that it ever came out, really. So I had no idea at all that it would have the reaction it had, because we had not planned it that way! It was a complete surprise really, and the fact that they played it off YouTube rather than any kind of single version – it was a live version that I’d done on YouTube – so yeah, crazy.
So what originally started your music career? Who were your key inspirations when you decided to pursue a career in music?
Well, I think the main reason that I started, or kept singing, was that well, I kind of just had the need to, I needed to sing, it was a good way of expressing what I was going through and dealing with stuff. So, it wasn’t that I was kind of looking to other bands or something and thinking I want to be like them. It was just more like, this is the thing that keeps me quite calm, and helps in life, so I’m going to keep doing this.
I was a huge fan of RAM and Crowded House, and Counting Crows and people like that, so I guess I had heroes in that way. I was very into lyrics and melody, so I was really into bands that had great melody and great lyrics, like The Smiths, or the Jackson Five, you know. Not necessarily bands that you’d put together, but to me they make a lot of sense.
So, something I’ve been wondering about, is that a generic kid on the cover of your latest album, Happy Accidents, or is that you?
Yeah, that’s me!
So you’re known for collaborating with, or rather, being on the same stage and same venue as James Blunt. James Blunt has become quite well-known, these days, for his Twitter feed – do you follow him on Twitter?
I believe I do, yes.
Have any of his savage tweets met your eye?
Well, I’ve seen a few of them obviously, they kind of get reported quite well, don’t they? He is very good at the comeback, I’ll give him that. It’s weird because it’s really funny how it’s kind of helped his career – it feels like it was almost cool not to like James Blunt and now it’s okay [to like him]. And it’s because he’s funny you know, he’s a funny guy and it’s quite natural to him.
Southampton is the final stop on the UK part of your tour, so where else in the UK are you going, and afterwards?
We start in Glasgow, go to Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and London for the UK as well as Southampton. I don’t think I’ve played in Southampton before, so this’ll be my first time. I was trying to think, but I don’t think I have, so I’m really looking forward to it actually, it’s a nice one to end on.
Then we go out to Europe, we go to Copenhagen and Germany, and I think we’ve even got a date in Poland, which is a bit surreal as don’t think I’ve ever played in Poland either, so who knows why that’s in there, I can only assume that was by mistake (laughs)!
Final question, where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time with your music?
Well, really I’d just like to be able to keep doing it. I’d like to be able to release records and songs that are on a certain level – we do Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London on this trip, which is incredible, always been a dream to play there. Weirdly, we were down to play it before and we sold it out, and then the gig got moved because the roof collapsed.
So even though I’ve sold out Shepherd’s Bush Empire, I still haven’t played it. So you know, it’d be great to be able to keep playing at venues of this size. I don’t know if that’s possible or not, but really it’s just to try and have this fan base stay with me, and make records and this is how I’d make my living, which would be amazing.
Jamie Lawson’s Spring 2018 UK tour starts on 8th March in Glasgow and ends on the 15th at The 1865 in Southampton. Tickets are available here.