Interview: Lewis Watson

With over one hundred and fifty thousand views on his Ed Sheeran’s ‘A Team’ cover and eighty seven thousand views on his very own ‘#3’, Lewis Watson is an up and coming YouTube phenomenon. Self taught on guitar, Lewis has released over one hundred covers and produced four original singles of his own. Lewis has only been gigging around Oxford for five months, so it was incredible to see him play at the O2 Academy2 as part of Ley Lines Festival, on the stage where his hero, Ed Sheeran, played only a few months ago.

Bethany Bagnall-Ainslie and Cydney Yeates caught up with Lewis Watson after his set.

One Note Forever: How long have you been playing guitar?
Lewis Watson: In four days, I will have been playing guitar for three years!

OMB: And you’re self-taught right?
LW: Yes, I didn’t see the point in having lessons because I didn’t want to learn classical, so I just learnt the songs that I wanted to learn.

OMB: Who is your main inspiration?
LW: Silly question really isn’t it! Ed Sheeran is a massive inspiration to me. I can’t believe I just performed on the same stage that he played on only a few months ago, it’s crazy! Ed, Dallas Green and Charlie Simpson are all huge influences.

OMB: Is this your first big set?
LW: Yes, well I’ve only been gigging since May, so yes this is easily the biggest.

OMB: Did you ever expect this sudden fame?
LW: No, I wouldn’t say its fame! When people start stopping me in the streets then I’ll admit that as fame. However, I did get noticed in Nando’s just down the road; someone tweeted me saying ‘at Nando’s with Lewis’ and I was like, ‘wow dude, hold your…horses!’ But no, I wouldn’t say I am famous and I never expected to be where I am today, no way!

OMB: What do you think of the music scene in Oxford?
LW: I mean its good, but I’ve only seen solo artists and small like duets really from where I play. But obviously, Foals came out of Oxford as did Radiohead, so it has a lot of potential, so you know, I’m always hopeful. And I just saw Kill Murray and they were incredible, as was Adam Barnes as well, big up to Adam Barnes!

OMB: Your first self released song was #3, what was your inspiration behind it?
LW: #3 was written about a situation that I really didn’t want to be in and I didn’t feel comfortable in (“this ain’t no home, it’s hardly a house”). I was going through a break up that I would’ve done anything to change really, and I found that I was blaming myself for it happening “maybe if I would’ve said something different, your mind would’ve changed” (looking back, that was a bit stupid). I’d never really attempted to write a song before and I had so much built emotion because I didn’t really have anybody to talk to, so I just channelled the emotion into writing the song.

OMB: Throne Films produced the video for #3, how did you get involved with them?
LW: A friend of mine knew the guys at Throne Films and they were just a new company that wanted to build a port folio of videos. Luckily, they weren’t charging and they were really great guys so my friend put my name forward for their first video and they agreed. I actually met them over a game of ‘late night frisbee’ and we discussed basic ideas and a date and then we got it done!

OMB: Any tips for anyone starting out?
LW: Well I was really lucky. I mean, if you want to take the internet route, which is what I did, then I would cover current songs. Say with Ed Sheeran’s small bump; I heard it on his live stream, which was the first time anybody had heard it and then I learnt it by ear and covered it, so whenever people searched for ‘Ed Sheeran – Small Bump’, there wouldn’t be any videos, but mine would come up. Also, when Michael Collings did ‘Fast Car’ by Tracy Chapman on Britain’s Got Talent, people hadn’t heard the song in years and suddenly it got really big, so I did a cover and when people searched ‘Fast Car cover’, to get Michael Collings’ audition song, mine would come. Just be tactical.

OMB: When will your EP be out?
LW: Hopefully soon! We’re re-recording it in half term I hope and then it’ll need to be mixed and mastered, etc and then it takes 6-8 weeks to get up on iTunes!