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Q & A with George Wilks

Alice Weetman chats with up and coming singer-songwriter George Wilks about inspiration, motivation and making it in today’s industry

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Image Credit: arwimages

How would you describe your sound?
It’s definitely a ‘pop-y’ sound, but I’m influenced by loads of different genres so there are normally elements from a few different styles in there. I love Coldplay and how they use ambient synth instruments, but I also love funk and disco so you sometimes hear funky guitar parts and retro synth sounds. Hip-hop also inspires me. Their use of samples that aren’t necessarily musical instruments to generate musical sounds. But my favourite artist, (I’m a fanboy), is Jamie Cullum who is jazz fusion. There are loads of different genres that I love and use in my writing and production. I guess a blend of pop, rock, and funk really.

Which artists are inspiring you most at the moment?
Right now I’m listening to Sam Fender, James Bay, and the new Harry Styles, which has some amazing songs. Those three are my main inspiration at the moment; it changes a lot with me. Jon Bellion is another guy who I’m influenced by at the moment. He’s a very talented songwriter, if you ever hear him talk about music he’s so intense. You can’t stop listening to him when he does!

What’s your favourite part of the songwriting process?
There are a few bits I find the most satisfying. One is when you come up with a good hook with good lyrics for the chorus or verse, the other is when you find a sound that suits the song perfectly when producing it. When those two things happen I normally waste half an hour listening to it over and over again feeling far too pleased with myself, until I realise I have the rest of the song to make interesting, which brings me back down to earth again.

You do all your own producing and mixing, what’s the most challenging thing about this?
Initially working out how I want the song to sound and then generating that sound in the project. Sometimes I’ll hear in my head how the song should sound, but then find it hard to transfer that onto the computer which is very frustrating. Another difficult part is that I never have anyone to bounce ideas off, so it’s all down to me to come up with musical ideas. It’s very satisfying when I come up with a good idea, but I think the process would be quicker, easier and probably more enjoyable if I had someone else there who also had ideas and influences.

What’s the best bit of advice you could give to up and coming singer-songwriters like yourself ?
I’d hardly say I’m a seasoned pro, but having been doing this for about six months I’d say the first piece of advice is to really believe in yourself. It’s cheesy, but you will have moments where you’ll start convincing yourself that you’re not good enough or the goal is too big for you to achieve. Once you stop believing, it’s hard to look past. My other bit of advice is don’t be that musician who complains about how the industry ‘isn’t about the music anymore’ and ‘it’s not fair’. The people who say that will never ever make it today because they expect the label to do everything . You have to be willing to build your social media, post about upcoming gigs, and think about how to package your songs. The people who do that well are the people who are successful today. Lewis Capaldi is a prime example - he saw that social media was a game and he played it. He is also an incredible singer which helps, but he wouldn’t be where he is today if he refused to put time into his presence on social media. Just be prepared to do a lot of things that aren’t music related, but are definitely important to your career.

Living in York for three years, you must have the low-down on the music scene - what’s your favourite music venue to play here?
I used to play the Fossgate Social Open mic night a bit. That was a great one because it was a small room, but it was always packed and people actually listened to you play, which is very rare at most open mic nights. The Nook has a decent open mic night too.

What should we expect from you in the next few months ?
Hopefully lots of gigs in London and Brighton (as many as I can get basically). I’m going to start filling out my YouTube channel so I’ll be spending a lot of time editing videos (an example of doing something not directly music related). I’m going to be doing a 30 day song challenge where I do a cover of a song a day, and each day I pick a song that has a certain meaning e.g a song with a colour in the title, a song that makes you want to dance etc. I also have a few songs ready/in the pipeline to be released. I’m also hoping to have four-five more songs released this year if everything goes to plan so I’m very excited about that!

Where do you hope to be in five years?
In an ideal world, I’ll be on a stadium tour in America, off the back of many nominations (maybe a couple of wins) from award season. I’ll still be hungover from the Brits after party, and I’ll have had my second UK No.1. If I was being more realistic, I’d like to be selling out 400- 500 capacity venues and have a decent sized, engaged fanbase.  I’d like to be able to earn enough to live from my music as well so I don’t have to do any other work on the side.

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