Picture this, it’s gone nine on a bitter January night, the heavens have opened and my coat is far from waterproof. In an attempt to wait out the downpour, I duck into the next open doorway. But as the rain gives no indication of stopping and my curiosity overrides the appeal of driving home, I venture beyond the doorway to be met by a very welcoming blend of acoustic guitar and impressive vocals. A combination of gravelly tones, raw power and catchy lyrics, the music of Lawrence Hill has a unique quality that I could spend all day admiring.
Switch to present day and you’ll find me sitting across from Lawrence at a table in his local pub. For a man whose life is becoming increasingly more demanding, he is a vision of calm while sipping his drink, pausing only to tell me how nervous this interview is making him. Yet as soon as our discussion turns toward music, his face fills with enthusiasm, all earlier nerves dissipate and it becomes obvious how truly important this career is: “I didn’t choose music, it was just something that came into my life naturally, music found me! I write as an emotional release since it has become a way of expressing myself that I can’t necessarily do outside of singing.”
In common with many aspiring musicians, he pays his way by a full diary of gigs. However, instead of finding the live experience daunting, he lives for the stage, smiling broadly as he explains: “I don’t do it because I want to show off, I do it because it fulfils me as a person, I’m empty before I go on stage and then come away complete, it’s where I’ve always belonged.”
Reflecting on his childhood, it seems that growing up exposed to a range of music, opened his eyes to the possibilities and gave him the desire to pursue it for himself. “Seeing other people playing, made it more of a reality,” he confesses. “Basically it wasn’t as if I chose to do it, it was just something that happened naturally.”
Asking a musician to define their sound is the tough question. It has no definitive answer as good music is always evolving into something bigger and better. Nevertheless, the way in which Lawrence describes his music reveals his passion for producing an evocative sound people cannot help but appreciate. “My music is a combination of Van Morrison, Fleetwood Mac, Kings of Leon, Adele and Tom Petty. I draw inspiration from Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, as hearing other great sounds makes me want to make an equally great sound. I want to be like the Rolling Stones, I want to have albums that flow like Bob Dylan’s and I want to have the impact on people’s hearts like Van Morrison.”
Recently hard at work in the studio, alongside producer Dave Foster, making the final changes to his debut EP, it seems Lawrence cannot wait to broach the subject: “It’s been the best time I’ve had in my whole, entire life. It has taken me on an awesome journey as I went in with acoustic songs and have come out elated with the results. All the songs I’ve written have evolved so much in such a quick space of time. Being in the studio is like turning a corner in my life, it feels like it’s all happening now.”
Delving deeper into what is to be expected with the EP, scheduled for release in late April, it becomes clear that Lawrence is directed purely by emotion. “In many songs, I’m attempting to portray a certain memory or time in my life that the audience can connect to. So, for example, heartbreak is the main inspiration for me to write a song because it’s the worst possible feeling. I pour my soul into all my music which is why it’s so important that I do it justice and for people to really appreciate it.”
Although he describes the world of fame and contracts as “a curse of being tied down”, his pinnacle achievement of professional respect seems well within reach, particularly in recent months with a trip over to Nashville, USA, also known as Music City. “Getting official recognition as an artist is my aim, whether that’s through winning a competition, getting positive feedback from someone experienced in the industry or by achieving my end goal of getting a record deal. At this moment in time, making the EP a success would be the best possible outcome for me as it has been totally controlling my thoughts for the last year and I’ve put so much effort into making it something to be proud of.”
I was blown away when I saw Lawrence first perform and it’s all too obvious he was born to sell out arenas across the world. His presence both on and off stage, along with his endless determination to get his music heard, convinces me that Lawrence Hill will become a name to remember.
Last week his EP hit iTunes, find it here: https://itun.es/i6649hp