You headlined the opening night of the Stroud Fringe Festival – how was it?
Awesome! It was really nice to be asked back, especially when it was to headline a local gig. The crowd were fantastic – they were dancing, singing and clapping in all the right places. It was great to be playing there again with my bigger sound! The same went for Cheltenham Jazz Festival this year. I was asked back to play their Jazz Arena which was an incredible feeling! I had my full 6-piece notsobigband for that: bass, drums, guitar, sax, trumpet and trombone. It was great having such a huge sound with a full brass section and I couldn’t contain my excitement – I had to just run around the arena a few times during the set!
What’s your favourite song to play live?
I have favourites for different reasons. Whether it is enjoying soloing on piano in something like Lovestruck Fool or relishing in the telling of the story of Evil Twin, playing live is always a wonderful feeling. Having those moments when I can just enjoy taking in the superb playing of my stunning band for Chocolate Sunday is amazing – plus, I get to shred with my ukulele by whacking on a load of distortion, which is is rather fun! I also love playing the guitar in a brand new track we debuted at the Fringe festival called Risk. Overall, though, if I really had to just pick one… I would probably say Hamish trumps them all. I love everything about it. We all go nuts on stage and have the best time with it. It’s all about the theatricality and I love me some whacky madness!
What’s the best thing about playing live?
Everything. Nothing beats the thrill of playing my music to people who want to listen… I am very blessed and truly thankful to all the lovely folk who enjoy what I do, because it means I can keep doing it. I especially love it when I have my ‘notsobigband’ with me – they freaking rock! However, the feeling I get when all the audience members start to dance and sing along… That is an indescribable moment of happiness.
How would you describe your music for people who don’t know you?
Funk. Jazz. Rock. Pop. FUZZROP – I like to have fun and to entertain, especially live, but of course I also love fitting in those beautiful moments of quiet and thoughtfulness with just my voice and the piano. There seems to be a fine line between laughter and tears and that is the tightrope I like to tread. It feels like that’s what a great performance is all about.
You released your debut album Have You Met George last year – what’s your favourite song on the album?
Gosh, I heard someone say that that’s like asking which is your favourite child! Again, there are favourites for different reasons, but if I could only play you one song off the album it would be Blood Ties.
Was it easy for you to write and record?
I love writing, so I guess it was easy to write. I mean, it has taken a few years of songwriting and working that craft, so I had a lot of material to choose from for Have You Met George. Recording it was probably one of the greatest experiences of my life. It is a unique time, making that first album, where you discover how you work when recording your music, and I don’t think I ever stopped laughing. Even when we were really focused, the atmosphere was electrifying. We recorded it at Rockfield Studios up in Monmouth – it’s where Coldplay wrote and recorded their debut album Parachutes. I am playing the piano Chris Martin wrote Yellow on, and where Queen recorded Bohemian Rhapsody… Freddie Mercury played those famous chords on the very same Bösendorfer grand piano where I finished recording the final note of The Smoke with my bottom!
Have you written many tracks for the second album yet?
I love writing. I never stop, so, including what I didn’t use for the first album… Album two is ready, arranged, played live and chomping at the bit to get recorded in the studio. The same goes for album three, and probably a little of album four too! I love playing with new ideas and different genres. It’s quite addictive, and I can’t stop. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Will we be hearing an EP from you in the near future, or will your next release be your second album?
I definitely have enough new songs for either, or maybe even both… Haha! I upload music videos and songs from my live performances to YouTube all the time. I am very blessed to now have a few million views on my channel, so I like to keep this lovely online audience entertained with new music as often as I can! I really like interacting with fans and people on my Facebook and Twitter and also showing behind the scenes stuff on places like Vine and Instagram.
What’s this we’ve heard about you singing with Jason Byrne at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?!
It was probably the most random thing that has ever happened to me… Being a big fan of his, I was in the audience for his Special Eye show and he needed someone on stage to help him with a ‘magic trick’… He picked me! Then, when he found out I was a singer-songwriter, he was like, ‘George, that is cool. We should sing one of your songs at the end of the show!’ We sang the chorus to Lovestruck Fool – it was amazing. He kept telling everyone things like, ‘George really isn’t a plant, guys, honestly I have never met this guy before – but you can now say that you saw him here first’. Jason Byrne is an absolute legend and really generous with his words and time. My stomach actually hurt from laughing so much. Great night.
Which song do you wish you had written?
Man, there are so many… Right now it would be Happy by Pharrell Williams. It’s in the film Despicable Me 2 and it’s just joyously delightful. I love it.
Who’s your ultimate icon and how have they influenced you?
Everything. Sound is part of my everyday life and music even more so. My influences from childhood to present day range from Earth Wind and Fire, Madness and Prince to Jamie Cullum, OneRepublic and Bruno Mars. I am also a huge film score lover, so you could add the likes of John Powell, Alan Silvestri (Forrest Gump), James Horner (The Amazing Spider-Man), Hans Zimmer (Inception, Man of Steel) and John Williams (Star Wars) to that list… I love musicals too, so Jonathan Larson (Rent), Stephen Schwartz (Wicked) and Marc Shaiman (Hairspray, Smash) would be on there. This is just scratching the surface… If I was to recommend some of my favourite music it would be either Earth Wind and Fire (especially their live stuff – check out their Gratitude album, it’s got fantastic energy) and OneRepublic’s second album Waking Up. It’s such a beautifully written and produced album – Ryan Tedder is a blooming genius, look up everything he’s ever done and please enjoy!
Describe yourself in three words?
Muppet. Geek. Smiles.