Sitting in his small flat in London, singer-songwriter Jamie Lawson truly wasn’t expecting what happened to him in the last few weeks. In a matter of days, Lawson went from being a relative unknown to a YouTube sensation. Now signed to Universal in Ireland and with an upcoming Irish tour on the brink of selling out, Lawson prepares to return to a land that once did him few favours.
Musicians cannot deny the power and importance of the Internet. It could be fair to say that the internet now dictates most music scenes, and Jamie Lawson, despite spending the majority of his time in a caravan, was well aware of it.
“These days labels want to see evidence of a strong online following through Facebook, MySpace, YouTube or Twitter before they’ll even consider signing you. It is, however, a brilliant way to sidestep the industry altogether and be able to make a living on your own without label assistance, selling your merchandise through your own website. It has to be said I was pretty slow on the uptake of YouTube and only the last 18 months have a started regularly uploading my songs or other people’s songs in the hope I’ll be found by like minded music lovers.”
And wasn’t he just, it was an Irish fan from County Louth who felt the world should hear Jamie’s music, so he sent the YouTube link for ‘Wasn’t Expecting That’ to Today FM and all of a sudden the views started ticking over rapidly.
Despite his initial, awkward attempts at playing guitar in his early teens, he knew that something about it just felt right, so he persevered. “The songs were terrible but it seemed a perfectly natural thing for me to do, so I did”. For years afterwards he wrote countless songs, released three EPs and even two albums, Last Night Stars and The Pull of the Moon. With little success coming in the UK he decided to settle in Dublin for a while and try to slot in to the growing singer songwriter scene, populated at the time by the likes of Damien Rice, Lisa Hannigan, Gemma Hayes and Glen Hansard.
However, Dublin held many of the same obstacles he found across the water in England, he just couldn’t seem to catch a break.”The hardest thing is perseverance, being skint and self-belief. Knowing you’re good enough to carry on with belief that one day it’ll happen for you is a hard trick to learn”. Getting exposure too was a major obstacle, sometimes he would have to pay for radio plugs, only to get left in the lurch by the station. It was tough, thankless work. So after a few years in Dublin and only the same results, Jamie decided to move back to England and back to the drawing board.
Jamie moved over to Cornwall and for part of the year inhabited a small caravan where he “found a sense of calm”. With calm does not come sold out gigs though, and when the season changed he decided not to return to his family but to give London a try instead. But the chance never came; Jamie had barely touched down in his new home when Today FM came calling, his YouTube video for ‘Wasn’t Expecting That’ had become a hit.
The success on YouTube came at the right time as Jamie was due to play a small gig in Whelans. Things escalated so rapidly though that within only a couple of weeks he went from an unknown to appearing on the Late Late Show, Ireland AM and doing a constant stream of interviews with the press. Not to mention the radio play, which was continuing to accelerate, ironic after he almost had to pay people to play his music in the past. And to top it off he was number one in the download chart. All this thanks to YouTube and a man from Louth named Adrian Taaffe.
Now a lot lies ahead for Jamie, he has a manager and an Irish tour that is selling out rapidly, his album The Pull of the Moon is due for re-release with ‘I Wasn’t Expecting That’ as a single. Labels are taking a huge interest and are talking of expanding his success to the UK and America. It is almost like a fairy tale, a serendipitous twist of fate perhaps; that after nearly 15 years of tireless work Jamie Lawson is finally starting to get noticed.
See his Tour Dates.