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We’re very please to announce that Lewis Watson has joined Fairbanks Endorsements.
Today’s generation of aspiring young musicians often have just one choice in their pursuit of a career – to take the plunge and independently mastermind a digital cottage industry from which their songs can be discovered by a like-minded audience. That’s precisely what Oxford’s twenty-year-old singer-songwriter Lewis Watson did. After gradually building his own fan-base, his economically-produced debut EP ‘It’s Got Four Sad Songs On It BTW’ topped the iTunes singer-songwriter chart on the first day of release, outselling the likes of Adele, Madonna and Ed Sheeran in the process. It’s a model that plenty of artists aspire to recreate, but few ever make any serious progress with.
“People are calling my age group the broken generation, yet we’re getting out there, doing what we want and being successful with it,” says Watson, citing other young singer-songwriters such as Gabrielle Aplin, Orla Gartland and Hudson Taylor as examples. “People aren’t going to talent shows; they’re breaking the mould by writing meaningful songs and getting out there through social media. There are two talents at work: creating music and promoting yourself.”
A comparative latecomer to music, Watson first started playing after receiving a guitar for his sixteenth birthday. “I’ve never had lessons,” he admits. “I just enjoyed playing guitar so much. I’d play for hours a night, and try out new things to make sure it didn’t get stale.”
In the summer of 2010, Lewis uploaded a cover of Bombay Bicycle Club’s ‘Swansea’ to YouTube (as HolyLoowis, to avoid the attention of his friends) and received enough positive feedback to create a succession of other home-filmed performances of songs by artists such as City and Colour, Ben Howard and Bon Iver. “As soon as I picked up a guitar, I was writing songs but I didn’t have the confidence to put them out there. People were requesting original songs, so I finally uploaded one [‘Sides’ in September 2010] and I got a really great response. From then on, I thought I should take my own songwriting more seriously.”
Watson’s YouTube following grew organically as he continued to mix original material with performances of his favourite songs. His stripped down take on Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’ suddenly changed everything. Shortly after, his steadily accumulated 1000 subscribers had snowballed into 23,000. “It really took me by surprise because every time I logged on, I had another thousand subscribers,” he says, still almost with disbelief. “It kept going and going and going and now I’m over 45,000 subscribers. It unbelievable to think that potentially that many people are going to watch what I put up. It’s very strange.”
“After Watson played a gig supporting his former music tutor Joe Porter (producer/ songwriter at tBeat Music), Porter suggested that he could produce the young musician’s first proper material. Recorded in just three days on a very limited budget (“Joe was generous, saying he was focusing on my talent instead of money. I’m extremely thankful to him and he’s free to call in a favour whenever he wants”), the result was the debut EP ‘It’s Got Four Sad Songs On It BTW’ which highlighted Watson’s emotive vocals across four intimate songs based on his own experiences.”
“I set the songs on that EP out like a story,” he explains. “‘What About Today’ was about quite a rubbish situation where I was being used, and that was the tale of the end of a relationship; ‘Windows’ was looking back after the relationship ended; ‘Bones’ is about meeting someone new; and ‘Nothing’ is about being happy with that person.”
The success of the EP and his continuing popularity posed a fresh problem for Watson’s songwriting style. Suddenly his personal songs were being delivered to an audience of thousands. “I’d never want to write a song that wasn’t really personal to me, but at the same time it can’t be too personal,” he notes. “It’s like telling 45,000 people a secret that I didn’t want to tell anyone.” At the same time, he added an intimate touch to the release by customizing the first 1000 physical copies of the EP with an illustration of the buyer’s choosing. That was a fine plan, he laughs, until someone asked for a picture of a llama playing the guitar and wearing a top hat.
Within days of the EP’s release, Watson had attracted the attention of just about every record label in the land and soon inked a deal with Warner Bros. Records. Part of the appeal, he says, was the label’s long-running success with male solo artists as diverse as David Gray, Damien Rice and Neil Young. Recent months have found Watson holed up with a huge number of collaborating songwriters and producers including Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys), Richard Wilkinson (Kaiser Chiefs), Iain Archer (Jake Bugg), Kid Harpoon (Florence + The Machine) and Mr Hudson.
Watson’s collaborative work also included a trip to Australia where his EP had already charted. In between sessions, he also played a number of free guerrilla gigs which were announced just hours before via Twitter – a set at Melbourne’s Federation Square attracted over a hundred people at similarly short notice. “If that happened in my hometown I’d be completely overwhelmed, but this was on the other side of the world,” he trails off, still awestruck. “If this had been a ticketed gig with months of promo, how big could it get?”
Already, Watson is beginning to take further strides towards his glowing future. He recently played his largest gig to date when he supported Birdy at Shepherd’s Bush Empire (he calmed his nerves by seeing one of his favourite bands, Two Door Cinema Club, at the same venue the week before), while next month’s headline tour is already sold-out and prompted the addition of further dates in December. His next EP, ‘Another Four Sad Songs’, will be released in October.
Retelling almost any part of his story to date prompts Watson to observe: “…and I never thought that could happen.” By dictating his own destiny, he’ll need to suspend his disbelief for some time to come.
We’re super pleased to announce that Chess Club/SONY/RCA signing’s SWIM DEEP have signed to Fairbanks Endorsements.
From humble beginnings come great things. For Swim Deep, their roots lie in chance meetings through part time jobs and in the clubs of their hometown of Birmingham. Fed up of stacking shelves in Morrisons , Austin Williams and Tom Higgins decided to stop chatting about music in the aisles of the supermarket and start making their own. Joined by their friend Wolfgang J Harte they made their way through a succession of “weirdo” drummers before eventually poaching Austin’s best friend Zach Robinson from local band Cajole Cajole.
“We played a gig with Cajole Cajole,” recalls Austin. “We thought it was a long shot but we’d just lost another drummer so we asked Zach if he wanted to join our band and he said yeah. That was one of the best things that happened, to be honest.”
A few months down the line, with more gigs under their collective belt and interest starting to grow, Wolfgang announced he was quitting the band. After continuing as a three piece for a while and experimenting with their live setup, Austin assumed the vacant position of frontman whilst they recruited Cavan McCarthy on bass.
“We met Cavan on the dancefloor,” exalains Austin. “We were out one night and I didn’t like the look of him and he didn’t like the look of me. But after a few drinks and a couple of hours of being together, we got on. I knew he couldn’t play bass and he’s never played any instrument but we asked him to join the band because he loves music so much.”
With their new line up and the release of their debut single ‘King City’, Swim Deep cemented their place amongst bands like Splashh and fellow Brummies Peace as one of the UK’s most exciting new bands. Following exhilarating appearances at festivals such as The Great Escape, Tramlines and Beacons over the summer, they upped their stock further, announcing a deal with Chess Club/Sony RCA.
“I can’t believe the amount of times I used to lie in bed as a kid thinking “imagine if you were in a signed band.” But signing is such a small part of it,” Austin says cautiously. “If you get signed and you’ve got shit tunes, you’re fucked. It’s all about the songwriting for us and having as much fun as we can whilst we’re doing it. We want this as a lifelong thing – I want to do it until I’m old. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop writing music.”
Invited to join besuited indie giants Spector on their extensive UK tour, Swim Deep don’t look likely to be stopping any time soon. Once their stint on the road is complete, they head off to Brussels to record their debut album. Working with Charlie Hugall, the producer who lent his magic touch to second single ‘Honey’, the band are looking forward to the experience.
“It’s gonna be a real bonding thing for us, all being together,” says Austin. “Since we’ve been signed we’ve met all these new people and we all end up at different parties. I’m really looking forward to making the album. It’s the first album, it can only be made once”.
Having moved away from the raw, punkier sound of early demos like ‘Santa Maria’ and ‘Isla Vista’, the band are now moving in a more pop-orientated vein but with their edge still firmly in tact. “I’ve got a massive idea [how the album will sound] but I would never be able to explain it,” explains their leader. “We just want to write good songs really. ‘Honey’ is a great example of how I want it to sound though. Really bright and sunny, feelgood, funky and just real cool.”
Looking further into the future, Swim Deep’s ambitions are grand but – with their talents and confidence – attainable. “I want to be something original,” says the singer. “There’s bands like One Direction who shut down cities when they go there and they’re putting out fun songs but it’s not groundbreaking at all. I can’t see anything that compares to us.”
“I want to have a massive influence on pop music. Not to be the biggest band necessarily – that can come too if it’s the right time and place – but I want to be the most influential. I want to be a band that someone wants to jam with, that someone looks up to.”
With all the tools in place to achieve those goals, now it’s up to Swim Deep to live up to their early promise. Whatever happens, 2013 looks set to be a lot brighter with these boys around.
Brilliant news that a lot of our bands will be playing at SXSW!! Here are just a few;
The Airborne Toxic Event
Middle Class Rut
Eagles Of Death Metal
Beware Of Darkness
Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun
We’re pleased to announce that Orange Amps will be providing backline to the new Radstock Festival on 30th March. The festival already has a large number of Orange Amps endorsed bands including recent touring buddies The Blackout & Sonic Boom Six.
We’re pleased to announce that long-time Fairbanks Endorsements clients The Cribs have won the Q Awards “Spirit of Independence” Award.
we just wanted to extend our thanks to
everyone for their support and assistance throughout the years. We are
all totally stoked to have won the ‘Spirit of Independence’ award at
this years Q Awards, and to currently be on another really successful
UK tour almost 10 years after we first headed out on the road. After
scoring a second consecutive top 10 album, and having a killer
festival season on top of that we are pretty blown away to be in the
midst of probably our most successful year to date – which is pretty
wild for a band like us. We really appreciate all the help and belief
that you guys have had in us, and just wanted to let you know that. It
hasn’t been the easiest route, and so having the right people in our
corner has gone a long way!
The Cribs x