Gavin James

Gavin James

It’s been just under 3 years since Dublin singer songwriter, Gavin James, released his debut album “Bitter Pill”. These past years have been non-stop for James with tours across the globe, including his own sold out headline arena tour to an audience of 15,000, as well as supporting Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith along the way.

Gavin’s total streams are rapidly heading toward the One Billion Mark and rising, making him one of the most successful streamed acts in the world. His breakout hit single “Nervous” from his platinum selling debut album “Bitter Pill”, has to-date achieved over 200 million streams collectively on Spotify, reached No.1 in Holland, Top 10 in France, Ireland and Norway, going multi-platinum in those and several other international markets. The debut album also achieved Platinum Top 5 sales in his native Ireland and reached the Top 5 of the album charts across Europe. Gavin’s latest collaboration with Alan Walker on the single “Tired” has also reached platinum sales around the globe. 

One of the most genuine and humble artists in music, Gavin is looking forward to the release of his forthcoming sophomore album ‘Only Ticket Home’ (due for release October 26th). The lead single “Always” (Mixed by Mark Ralph – Clean Bandit, Jess Glynne, Years and Years, Rudimental) has reached 20 Million streams to date and is now platinum in Ireland, and No.1 in Brazil.

Gavin explains this new journey for us - “I’m So happy to release “Only Ticket Home” to the world on October 26th. I have been on the road constantly since the release of my first record “Bitter Pill” and this new collection of songs are about the whole process of being away from home and the people you love (it’s also about how amazing it was to be on tour and travel around the world for the last 3 years). The album was produced by my buddy Ollie Green, who also co-wrote a lot of the tunes on the album with me. The songs came very quickly after “Always” was written. Everything took shape when that song was finished, and we knew exactly what the sound was going to be for the record. The record as a whole is very far away from “Bitter Pill”, I really wanted to step a bit away from the world of ballads with this one so the majority of the record is fairly upbeat. It’s very much a record of happy sad songs"

Gavin’s popularity is a just reward for such a talented and tireless musician. The son of Dublin’s best-known postman – “I’m not kidding, everyone in the city knows my dad” – and a child-minding mum, Gavin grew up surrounded by music, not all of it to his taste. His dad played Cat Stevens, Sam Cooke, Bob Dylan and Van Halen round the house, his decade older brother, with whom he shared a room, relentlessly played rave. Gavin’s great grandparents were opera singers and his granddad a stand-up comedian and whistler who appeared on TV in Ireland. Performing clearly in his blood, Gavin took up guitar at 13, learning Led Zeppelin covers and forming a three-piece rock band (minus a bassist), who played gigs in skate parks. By 14, he was writing his own rock songs, which he stripped down to play on acoustic guitar with a mate. Still at school, the pair began getting their first paid gigs in pubs. Eventually the pair went their separate ways and for four years Gavin gigged non-stop. It was only a matter of time until he was performing his own songs, 600 punters were turning up to howl back the songs to him every weekend, rather than his covers.

“It was an insane time, and fantastic practice,” he says. “It taught me how to use my voice properly and perform for tough crowds. Folk crowds were rowdy, crazy and drunk – they’d run on stage, grabbing the mic. I started going into the audience with my guitar to get them to stop. If I wasn’t such a big guy, I wouldn’t have dared.” He increased his focus on songwriting and playing and was rewarded in 2013, aged 21, when his independently released single Say Hello won the Meteor Choice Award for Song of The Year. An EP led to several of his songs become domestic radio hits. Though his success in Ireland didn’t immediately translate abroad, in recent years it is clear has in a big way.

Gavin new album ‘Only Ticket Home’ is out 26th Oct 2018 and his new single “Glow” will accompany the release, which includes a music video shot in and around his hometown of Dublin, featuring iconic locations that kick-started Gavin’s career and featuring several cameo’s including his parents and famous musicians. 

‘Only Ticket Home’ is available to pre order now through his official website and his worldwide tour starts in January 2019.

Forest Blakk

Forest Blakk wants you to experience his chaos.

The Canadian singer-songwriter is ready to share the deepest parts of himself and challenge his audiences to do the same. He describes it as urban folk, mixing the tranquility and peace of folk music with the chaos and pulse of the city.

Says Blakk about chaos: "It's like a hurricane passing over you and it's destructive and it's challenging and it tests every part of your soul. But then the eye of the storm rolls in, and it's the most beautiful and tranquil state."

In order to create his expansive, emotional and goose bump-inducing songs, Blakk stands in the eye of his own storm, drawing on raw emotion and his need to connect.

"When you get an audience to sing back to you, it becomes a conversation," Blakk says. "It's the most beautiful part."

Everything started when Blakk's grandmother gave him his first guitar at the age of 15. With his father in prison, he'd been living on the street. She took him in. While Blakk said he's sure his grandmother wanted him to be a doctor or a lawyer, it was the guitar that would ultimately stick.

"It was almost like a key to a lock I didn't know I had," he recalls. "When I opened the lock, I sang. And when I sang, that was it."

From those first moments with the music that would eventually become his life, Blakk continued to develop and grow as an artist. He found considerable success with his previous band, earning a Juno nomination and playing for audiences of thousands. But it never quite felt right, or finished.

"For the first part of my career, I didn't really understand what it was I was trying to do," Blakk said. "Now, there's more of a purpose to it. I'm starting to understand my own truths."

Enter Forest Blakk, a new name to match his self-discovery.

"It's always been me," Blakk says. "Forest Blakk is who I've always been."

Walking through the Black Forest while on tour in Germany -- inspiration for his pseudonym -- Blakk said he was captivated by how the forest could be both haunting and beautiful. It's a feeling he's tried to work into his music.

Blakk's first single, "Love Me," has been turning heads everywhere it's travelled with its big sound and raw, pleading vocals.

"It's my version of truth," Blakk says.

His truth is music that is at once vast and intensely intimate. Combine the stadium-filling sound and lyrical prowess of Hozier with the delicate melodies of Vance Joy and the emotion of Sam Smith. It's a soundscape that encompasses and caresses with haunting melodies, powerful percussion and intricate guitar.

Above all, it is Forest Blakk's honesty that rings out through the music and, he hopes, into the hearts of his audiences.

"You can't lie on stage," he says "And I want them [his audience] to feel the truth," Blakk says. "I want to evoke those raw emotions. I want them to feel empathy. I want them to feel everything with me."

- Erika M. Stark

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