Today's generation of aspiring young musicians often have just one choice in their pursuit of a career – to take the plunge and independently mastermind a digital cottage industry from which their songs can be discovered by a like-minded audience. That's precisely what Oxford's twenty-year-old singer-songwriter Lewis Watson did. After gradually building his own fan-base, his debut EP 'It's Got Four Sad Songs On It BTW' topped the iTunes singer-songwriter chart on the first day of release, outselling the likes of Adele, Madonna and Ed Sheeran in the process. It's a model that plenty of artists aspire to recreate, but few ever make any serious progress with.
"People are calling my age group the broken generation, yet we're getting out there, doing what we want and being successful with it," says Lewis of like-minded young singer-songwriters such as Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Ben Howard and Jake Bugg as examples. "People aren't going to talent shows; they're breaking the mould by writing meaningful songs and getting out there through social media. The scene is so rich with talent at the moment and to be amongst all of it is a great honour."
Recently seen headlining The Great Escape, Lewis Watson's further festival adventures this summer have also included performing to huge audiences at Glastonbury, V, T In The Park, Bestival, Camp Bestival and Truck – all evidence that Lewis is steadily becoming the scene's next big thing.
After playing three special shows at London's St. Moritz which saw hundreds of fans queuing around the block to gain entry, Lewis will play his biggest headline show to date at London's Koko on November 18th. The show is a huge leap in scale for Lewis as the venue holds more than the twice the capacity of that of Kings College, where he played his most recent date in the capital. By the time the year is out, Lewis will have also played almost 50 UK and Ireland headline shows (almost of which have sold out), as well as dates with Lianne La Havas and Benjamin Francis Leftwich. While the loyal support of his young, devoted fans has remained consistent, his potential is demonstrated by an increasingly diverse audience.
Following the success of his debut EP, Lewis signed a deal with Warner Bros. Records - the label's long-running relationship with male solo artists as diverse as Paolo Nutini, Damien Rice and David Gray being an important factor in his decision. To date, Lewis has released four EPs that have all hit the Top 10 at iTunes. 'Calling', the lead track from his most recent EP 'Four More Songs', was named as Zane Lowe's Hottest Record in the World and was playlisted by Radio 1's In New Music We Trust and by XFM.
Lewis will release his next EP 'Some Songs With Some Friends' on October 14th. In addition to the lead track 'Even If', the EP features three collaborations with some like-minded friends in the shape of Gabrielle Aplin on 'Droplets'; recent touring partners Kimberley Anne and Saint Raymond on 'Peaks'; and Irish duo Hudson Taylor on 'Colourblind'.
As he prepares for the release of his debut album later this year, Lewis has collaborated with a variety of songwriters and producers which also includes Kid Harpoon (Florence + The Machine) and Richard Wilkinson (Kaiser Chiefs).
After charting and playing gigs in both America and Australia, Lewis considers his impromptu set at Melbourne's Federation Square - which attracted over a hundred people after being announced on Twitter just an hour before – to be a particular highlight. "This was on the other side of the world," he trails off, still awestruck. "If this had been a ticketed gig with months of promo, how big could it get?"
Retelling almost any part of his story to date prompts Lewis to observe: "…and I never thought that could happen." By dictating his own destiny, he'll need to suspend his disbelief for some time to come.