Pete Lawrie interview
Penarth's singer-songwriter Pete Lawrie's début album, A Little Brighter, is out on Island records on 2 May. In the past year he's had singles playlisted on national radio stations, performed at Cardiff's Big Weekend, and generally come to the fore in Welsh music.
Pete Lawrie's A Little Brighter
With the album imminent, I caught up with Pete last week for a short chat via email. Find out what he thinks about his own work, what he's been up to and listen to a few short clips of tunes on the album.
How has the last year been?
It's difficult to know where to start. The year started with a move to the bright lights of London. I felt I had to be close to the hub of what is going on, where the streets are paved with gold. The streets are in fact paved with stone and the shuffle of feet looking for the gold beneath the crisp packets. As the festival season began and the sun broke through, I don't think we spent more than a few hours indoors.
We made the most of a long term loan of my stepfather's camper van and saw more of Britain than the sun that we were chasing. From the Isle of Wight to Glastonbury to the Highlands and back, we went our merry way, playing our songs to whoever was kind enough to listen. The few days in between I spent washing a suitcase-full of shirts and recording songs.
As the summer ended we jumped on a few tours. Corinne Bailey Rae, Amy Macdonald and Rumer were all kind enough to let us share their stage. I try and keep a track of the cities we have yet to come through on this isle. There are not many left. We released a few EPs, met a lot of folk and had a blast. Now firmly into 2011, we aim to repeat much of the same. Roll on the summer!
Listen to Fell Into The River:
What kind of reception have you got from press and the public so far?
I think people understand and connect with songs when you stand in front of them and sing them into their faces. When we play live, I get a real sense of connection, a sense that that's where we get people on our side. The press have been typically mixed in opinion, but that is to be expected and embraced. You can't please all of the people all of the time.
I feel like we are building a fanbase that will stay with us. It may be slow, but it is sure. The feeling that people know the songs and sing them back to you is incredibly moving. To know that a song that started as a chord and few words in my bedroom can move, in some way, a complete stranger is what keeps me going when its raining and I haven't slept and I am somewhere I cant pronounce.
Listen to How Could I Complain?:
What can people expect from A Little Brighter?
I would like people to take from it that it is honest. In its slightly ramshackle, jukebox approach, is a common thread. Songs about childhood, nostalgia, friends and love through my eyes. Things that my friends and I have experienced over the years. I have moved around a lot: travelled and experienced the same highs and lows that everybody does. When I listen to the record I am always surprised at how upbeat it sounds, how positive it is and that is what makes me most proud. It is a summer record, a little melancholy in places, but in the right way, I hope.
With the record industry in turmoil at the moment, what expectations do you have for your début album?
I just want to be able to continue to play in front of people and to continue to make music. I would be lying if I said I didn't want it to sell a billion copies, but I'm happy to finally let it go into the world. Hopefully it will just continue to grow. I would like to think it is a record people will come back to.
I have tried to make a whole album, rather than a few singles and some songs to fill the gaps between. Its not all doom and gloom. The 'record industry' is in transition. The old model needs to adapt and it will. People will always love music. There will always be a way to get it to people.
Listen to Paperthin:
Do you feel any pressure, being on a large label?
I have been lucky in the freedom I have been allowed at Island. I feel pressure on myself to deliver something I believe in. There is always a compromise, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Less of a case of 'too many cooks spoil the broth' and more that differing opinions are often valid and help to shape a record that hopefully appeals to a broad range of people. It's an interesting debate, when you consider who it is you are making music (or any art) for. I think it needs to be accessible but retain integrity and that is what I feel pressure about. I want to ensure that I tow that line.
How do you characterise your lyrics? Are there any themes which are common to your songs?
I love to write lyrics. I often write in the shower and then struggle to remember the lines. Time to invest in a waterproof pen maybe. A common theme is childhood. The memory of it through rose tinted glasses. Nostolgia is a big theme. That bittersweet feeling of looking back. It is a mood I have also tried to reflect in the music, but overall, I think writing the words is what I enjoy most.
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