What inspired you to first start writing music?
My songwriting definitely came as a result of finding an identity in high-school. In school, it can be really tough to figure out who you are as an individual when everyone else seems to have it all figured out. Music wasn't something that was a huge deal in my school but it was something that I was good at and that I genuinely enjoyed, and when you're good at something you enjoy, it becomes a bigger deal.
Who are your biggest influences?
By far my biggest influence is Ed Sheeran. I don't want to be "that guy", but I heard of Ed long before he hit the mainstream music scene from my cousins in England, who recommended I check him out. I instantly became a fan and found myself writing much of the same way he did. His album "+" has shaped my songwriting in ways I could not even explain. I also got the inspiration to use a loop pedal live because of him. John Mayer has also been a huge influence on me as of more recently as I have been getting more and more into the electric guitar. Listening to artists like John Mayer, Gary Clark Jr., Hendrix, and B.B. King has given me a huge appreciation for blues music and I try to incorporate elements of it into certain songs I write. I'm also a huge fan of worship music, and bands like Hillsong United or All Sons and Daughters. James Bay is also an influence, and Childish Gambino, and so many others. I could literally go on forever, I just love good music.
What inspires your songwriting? How do you usually write songs?
My songs come out of nowhere and at the most inconvenient times. I could be sitting in class and I'll have to leave just to go sing out a melody into my phone so I don't forget. I usually write songs from personal experiences, but often from things I see in movies or tv as well. If there is an emotion being displayed that I can relate to in any way, I can usually create something out of that. I have the hardest time sitting down and forcing myself to write a song though, every time I have tried, it's ended up in the bin.
You said you play all the instruments heard in your songs, how long did it take to be able to do that?
I've had help with bass in my "Lights" EP but other than that, specifically in my newest material, I've done all the instrumentation. I didn't always want it to be that way because in certain instruments (like bass), I'm quite limited in my ability, but I don't think theres a more fulfilling feeling than saying to yourself that you created every sound in a particular song. It's very personally rewarding and it makes me feel more attached to the song. I've been playing piano for over 10 years at this point, I'm self taught but I can't read music or understand theory to save my life. I've been playing drums for about 13 years, and guitar for about 3. I pick up new instruments here and there and pretty much teach myself how to play them a couple days before taking them into the studio for a song.
What gear do you use?
This is always my favourite question. For recording, I use my Taylor 314ce acoustic/electric because of its amazing natural low end and my Gibson Les Paul Traditional because of its "fatter" characteristic (compared to my Strat). I record using Logic Pro 9 with a Blue Reactor (as seen in my Lights music video) and a Blue Bluebird. For live shows I use my Martin LX-1E's, one Ed Sheeran Signature, and one stock model. I combine these with my Boss RC-30 (I've got the complete Ed Sheeran rig). But in all honesty, I would use these even if Sheeran hadn't made them famous. They have such a big sound for such little instruments and they're perfect for looping drums. I also use my Fender John Mayer Signature Stratocaster for live shows because of it's scooped pickups which allow for a perfect blend of soloing and rhythm playing. I used to use a Gibson SG Standard but it got stolen so hopefully someone else is putting it to better use.
What are other things you enjoy besides music?
I'm huge into photography, especially lately. I've always had an interest in it but I've been hanging around a lot of extremely talented photographers lately and they've definitely inspired me to get back into it. It's such a release for me. Music is by far my biggest escape, but it can sometimes get really stressful. Capturing stories through photography on the other hand is just pure stress-free creativity and I often find myself bringing my camera along on all my adventures with me. I am also addicted to traveling. Anywhere, anytime, if there is a chance for me to explore some place new, I will go. Part of what makes pursuing music so exciting for me is the chance to someday not only travel, but perform everywhere I travel at the same time. As of most recently, I have just gotten heavy into snowboarding. I spent the entire winter working at it day and night and I'm loving how much the commitment has paid off. You are literally capable of anything if you have the right drive, mindset, and a whole lot of patience.
What are you studying in University? Do you plan on pursuing a career in that field?
I'm currently studying Clinical Psychology at the University of Alberta. I fell in love with Psychology in my second year and wanted to work towards a job in which I could work with youth from troubled family environments. I have volunteered with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization and have seen first hand how big of a difference it can make to a youth if you are just there to care about them. Would I want to pursue a career with my Psychology degree? I'm still figuring that out. Ideally, my dream would be to do music full-time and support myself from that but I'm definitely keeping my Psychology doors open in case the music thing falls through. It's all an experience though, I've learned so many beneficial things from this program though, just about how people think and ways to work and relate to people who might not be the most welcoming. It's certainly given me a lot more patience with people who I have a hard time getting along with.
Picture yourself 10 years from now, what are you doing, where are you living?
I'd probably have a place in England with two dogs, hopefully touring and making a living off of my music. I'd also be spending a lot of time in cool hipster cafe's writing a novel or something. I'd also want to be doing a lot of relief work in places such as Central America and Asia and helping out in that way. I'm not really sure to be honest! I just want to be happy doing what I love.