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Glass Pear interview

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:24 UK time, Thursday, 20 October 2011

Another member of the talented Griffiths family of Penarth is benefiting from American TV shows and the publicity they bring.

Glass Pear

Glass Pear

Glass Pear, aka Yestyn Griffiths, brother of Jem, is a songwriter and now performer who's had his tracks 'synced' on shows including Grey's Anatomy, Bones, 90210, The Vampire Diaries and One Tree Hill - and now he's preparing to release his second album, completely independently.

So far, he's sold 30,000 digital downloads. The album Streets Of Love was released on his own WOL Records label in 2009, and in the same year the Until The Morning Comes EP with his sister. He followed it up in 2010 with another EP, Sweet America.

I caught up with him to find out more about how this unusual way of working and building a career.

How did these syncs happen? Were they out of the blue or did your American publisher specifically work to get your songs on TV?

I got a demo of the first Glass Pear tracks to Nic Harcourt, a well-known DJ in the US on KCRW radio. He loved Last Day Of Your Life and Vultures and started playing them on his show. Fortuitously he happened to have just become the music supervisor of the new series of 90210. He synced Last Day in the opening episode as the final song. It was a big deal as the show hadn't been around for over a decade. There was a huge audience.

That created quite a buzz about Glass Pear. Then with the help of Zync Music, an independent film TV specialist, more songs were placed in Grey's Anatomy, Vampire Diaries, Bones and One Tree Hill. Eyes Wide Open, a song from my last EP, is also in ABC's upcoming show Missing.

Have the syncs been helping to get more coverage for your work?

As I haven't put anything to radio yet, these syncs have been the principal source of coverage. About three to eight million viewers hear the song in a show in the US. Then the shows get syndicated internationally so people discover the music all over the world. It's a great way to reach people at a time when mainstream radio is difficult and costly to gain access to.

Has being related to Jem helped?

Yes; for instance the connection to Nic Harcourt came via Jem as she knew him. So that helped tremendously. As I also co-wrote several of Jem's songs that were successful it helped me establish a song-writing career before doing Glass Pear. We bounce off each other a lot about music so its been wonderful to have that since I was a little kid.

It's unusual to get syncs without big label support isn't it?

Generally yes. Getting heard by the music supervisors is not always easy if you don't have a contact to them. However, if an independent artist has recorded something really beautiful and captivating then I do believe that great songs find their way out. People start passing them around on the internet and that's one way that may grab the music supervisor's ear.

Is it intentional to work independently?

Yes, I've gravitated to that so that I just make music how I like and release music when I want. I also don't feel I've met a label yet that's a really good fit. I don't rule out working with a label in the future. It's just got to be right and be a long-term collaboration rather than a short-term mistake.

Are you being able to make a living from working independently in music?

If the syncs disappeared tomorrow then I'd be in trouble. They've driven the 30,000 digital sales that Glass Pear has sold so far. They also lead to a fair bit of publishing royalties. So I do branch out and do other things like song-writing for other artists. I've co-written a song called Be Yours on VV Brown's forthcoming album. I just love writing music, whether for myself or for other artists.

Do you have an international fanbase now?

It's small and quite fragmented, with the largest amount of fans in the US. I couldn't tour tomorrow and have packed gigs in South America for instance! But I'm always surprised when I see where people live who have bought the music from iTunes and other places. It's from all over the world and that's really wonderful about releasing music digitally at this time.

what are your plans for the next year or so?

I'm finishing the new album as we speak. It's going to come out in the UK in January or February next year. At the moment I'm just putting a band together to do some London dates soon. I'm hoping to come down and play in Cardiff as soon as I can!

Glass Pear's single Summer is released digitally in the UK on 31 October on WOL Records. It includes remixes by James Hockley of Chicane.

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