Singer-songwriter Jamie Lawson talks Plymouth and performing

PUBLISHED: 13:51 29 March 2016 | UPDATED: 10:52 06 April 2016

Jamie Lawson with Ed Sheeran

Jamie Lawson with Ed Sheeran


Jamie Lawson can’t quite believe he’ll be performing his hit single at Plymouth Pavilions, where he saw his first gigs as a teenager growing up in the city

Jamie Lawson by Pip for Atlantic RecordsJamie Lawson by Pip for Atlantic Records

It’s hard to imagine the young boy from Plymouth who spent his childhood playing with friends in a quiet cul-de-sac in St Budeaux, has now sold over 100,000 albums in the UK and is about to start his own tour of the US and Australia. But that’s exactly what happened to singer-songwriter, Jamie Lawson, 40, who moved Ed Sheeran to tears with his hit Wasn’t Expecting That and went on to be the first artist signed to his new record label, Gingerbread Man.

Were where you born?

I was born in the house I grew up in, in St. Budeaux (Saltash Passage). I was very lucky because we had a view over The River Tamar. We lived in a cul-de-sac and there were quite a few other kids living on the street so there was always someone to play with. I went to Barne Barton Primary School, Tamarside Secondary School and I also went to Plymouth Art College for a year before leaving to pursue music. I consider myself lucky to have grown up right on the river. My Gran used to take me to Mount Edgcumbe and Mount Batten as a kid and I would climb trees. I loved climbing trees. There’s no way I’d do it now! For a while, Cornwall was my home where I loved the beaches and the sense of space, but eventually, I had to leave there too - again to afford me more opportunities with my music. I’ve made a home in Manchester now, where I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

Jamie Lawson and Ed Sheeran celebrating a record dealJamie Lawson and Ed Sheeran celebrating a record deal

How long did you live in Plymouth?

I was there 21 years, I think, living mostly at home and then closer to town when I first moved out - just off Ebrington Street, where I remember there was a great record shop. I eventually left for London to follow the music. Had Plymouth offered more opportunities and platforms for a young singer-songwriter, I’m sure I’d have been in less of a hurry to leave.

What did you do for fun when you were living in Plymouth?

You had a choice where I lived: at the bottom of the road you could turn left and that took you to St Budeaux, where a lot of my school friends lived; or you could turn right and head down to the river where it was quiet and beautiful, but only a couple of friends lived there. I always chose the river. I seemed to be drawn to it for some reason. Even now I will search out the sea, a lake, or a reservoir to find some sense of calm.

What was it like growing up in the city?

It was okay, but at 21 I was ready to leave. I think it’s a very different city now; the university seems to have brought a diversity and brightness to Plymouth, which is a good thing.

Do you still have family in Plymouth?

I do, my mum and my middle brother are still there - as well as nephews, nieces and cousins. I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like, but I talk to my mum and brothers very regularly. They’re very supportive. I go back mainly to see my family, so I’ll spend most of my time at my mum’s house. Last time I went back we went to a Tapas restaurant called Maritimo, which looks out over the Hoe. It has great views and great food. I’d go back there. I like The Mariner Bar too because it has a pool table. I ring round the family and try and get as many of them as I can to come out for a bit of a pool tournament. I didn’t get back to Plymouth last Christmas, but, thankfully, my family came to me. I was working right up to Christmas, and seeing myself on Top Of The Pops on Christmas Day was one of the most surreal moments of the year!

I do miss my family and so it’s always nice to come back to see them. It’s hard being away from loved ones, but they get it and they’ve always encouraged me and been proud of what I’ve done, which is one of the main reasons I never gave up. A lot of parents would have been on to me to get a proper job, but my mum never did. I will always be grateful for that.

What’s your favourite thing about Plymouth?

My family and friends, the scenery, and playing pool with my brothers and cousins.

How do you feel about performing at Plymouth Pavilions this year?

I can’t quite believe we’re doing it. I saw my first ever gig at Pavilions, Don McLean, when I was 15. I’ve seen Morrissey there, Elbow, and Radiohead, all these bands that meant so much to me. To be playing that same stage feels very strange, as if I’ve won a competition rather than earned the right to be playing there; but I have earned the right. I’ll have a lot of family and friends there, so I know it’s going to be a big celebration (and it’ll also be the end of the tour).

How did it feel to release your new album?

It felt great, and for it to go straight in at No.1 on the official chart is just unbelievable. Seeing it in the shops and on displays next to other artists like Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and Sam Smith is a strange and wonderful feeling.

What keeps you grounded?

So far life doesn’t seem to have changed that much. My thinking is still my thinking, I’m just a lot busier than I’ve ever been before, which is great. I get to sing most days to an audience who want to listen and that’s the best feeling ever.

What’s next for you, Jamie?

I went to the States in February and March to open for Vance Joy, then I head to Australia for my own tour, and the US again for my own solo tour. I’m going to Germany, then festivals throughout the summer, which will take me all the way up to the October tour. It’s another busy year, but I’m guessing next year will be quieter, so I’m definitely not complaining.

Finally, if you had to sum up Plymouth in two words, what would they be?

My hometown.

Jamie is playing at Plymouth Pavilions on Thursday, 27 October.

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