Gavin James talks to Barry Egan about jamming with that other ginger, Ed Sheeran, and reveals how his family have influenced the course of his career as he signs to Capitol in America.
A fella by the name of Ed Sheeran once said that, “if you ignore Gavin James, you are missing out on a lot.”
“Yeah!” smiles the aforementioned Mr Gavin James, who previously won the Meteor Choice Music Prize Irish Song of the Year for Say Hello.
“Ed’s a legend!”
Ed's a legend! He was the nicest guy ever. I was jamming with him all night
Asked how does it feel to have such a global superstar say something like that about him, fellow ginger Gavin smiles and says: “It’s great, because he is such a massive dude. And he is such a nice guy as well. I met him in a pub at about three o’clock in the morning, about three months ago, before Christmas.”
“He was the nicest guy ever. I was jamming with him all night.”
What, precisely, is the world missing out on if they ignore Gavin James?
“A ginger with a beard,” he chortles.
Another big fan of Gavin James is none other than American singer-songwriter Ryan Tedder. “I freaked out when I met him. I was like : ‘Oh my God! It’s Ryan Tedder!’ I was using my arms too much and I was flailing about and stuff. Only joking!”
He isn’t, however, joking about going over to Poland to hook up with Mr Tedder in Krakow to “jam”.
“We ended up drinking way too much vodka,” Gavin continues, “and going out to try and record the bells of the churches in Krakow outside at six o’clock in the morning. He is a lovely guy as well.”
In reality, gasbag Gavin James, who grew up in Stoneybatter in Dublin, is a lovely guy too. He is full of charming stories about his youth — like how he always used to end up in hospital with asthma when he was a wee lad.
He has distinct memories of being six and using his nebulizer to sing a surreal rendition of Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror.
He thinks that’s what started him on the path towards singing for a living and getting people like Ed Sheeran and Ryan Tedder to sit up and pay attention to him.
I was crap when I was 17. I used to sound like a sheep!
When Gavin recorded his version of Magnetic Fields’ Book Of Love for the Windmill Lane Sessions on Independent.ie, everyone in the studio sat up and paid attention too.
He has an incredible set of pipes on him. He has a touch of Sam Cooke, a touch of Van Morrison, but he’s still an original.
“My dad’s a postman and he used to come home every day with a different mixtape for me,” he remembers. “Random stuff — James Taylor with Jimi Hendrix or Van Halen. Then one day he brought home a Sam Cooke tape — amazing stuff.”
You can see why the 22 year old has already sold out his show at the Olympia on March 20.
“I’m bricking it!” he laughs.
You can see why he could be — whisper it — the next Ed Sheeran, and is signed to Capitol in America.
“My sister is a really good singer, and it was she who got me into singing,” he recalls. “My mam and dad can sing too. There was always a lot of music in our house.”
Since he was 17, he did “loads of residencies” in pubs around Dublin.
There are of singers who have “residencies” in pubs — but they can’t hold a candle to you and your voice, I say.
His answer turns self-deprecation into an art form.
“I was crap when I was 17. I used to sound like a sheep.”
I ask him to show me what a sheep singing might sound like. He doesn’t hesitate.
“I had a weird quivery thing. A really ridiculous vibrato thing!” he laughs. “For years, I would do that — then the next day when I’d wake up I wouldn’t be able to talk.”
The days of vocal trial and error are long over — and Gavin has an album due out in summer, and there are great expectations for it.
“It’ll surprise a lot of people,” he says. “It is very different and cool sounding!”