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Q&A: Jamie Lawson breaks down Happy Accidents

The last 18 months have seen Jamie Lawson‘s career go from strength to strength, thanks to his signing with Ed Sheeran‘s label, Gingerbread Man Records, and the enormous success of his 2015 self-titled album.

Now, the Plymouth-born songwriter returns to the fore with Happy Accidents; a deeply personal album, written over the last year and recorded at Sunset Sound Studios in LA with famed producer Joe Chiccarelli (Bernard Fanning, Morrissey).

Music Insight caught up with Jamie as he prepared for the release of Happy Accidents.

What stories are you telling on Happy Accidents? Was there one event that inspired the name?

The main themes seem to be concerning the opposite ends of love, the beginning, the flirtatious period and falling in love, and then love as someone moves on, passes away and how that feels. I don’t know why those things came out, but they did.

The title is about good things coming out of other things going wrong. Like when a girl goes to see a stand-up comedian and walks into the wrong room where you happen to be playing, and she thinks you’re not too bad. So she sends you a message, saying ‘You’re not very funny, but I thought you were good so hooray for happy accidents’. And then five years later, you marry her.

Does it become easier to write music as you get older? Has your process changed over the years?

If anything it becomes harder as you don’t want to repeat yourself and use chord structures you’ve used before. Lyrically it can be the same too. Although you might write about the same subject, hopefully you’re looking at it from a different point of view.

What did producer Joe Chiccarelli bring to the record?

Joe was great. He obviously brings a lot of experience with him, having worked with people like Elton John, Morrissey, Etta James, The Shins, Jason Mraz etc. He’s very good at listening to your songs individually and how they work together as a whole. He pushed me when he could and held back when he thought I was uncomfortable, but he was always smiling and he always puts in the hours. He’s a hard working dude.

How did you connect with Roger Manning Jr and Matt Chamberlain? What kind of input did they have in the process?

They both came through Joe having worked with him before. Again, they bring a lot of experience and tend to play what’s right for the song rather than trying to force unsuitable ideas on to you. Roger brought a load of amazing sounds with him too; he’s a real magician with the keys.

Did you expect your last album, 2015’s Jamie Lawson, to see such enormous success? How did your life change in the period following its release?

It’s given me confidence and it’s meant that I’ve been able to visit Australia, New Zealand, a lot of Europe and the US. I’m much busier than I ever was before – but that’s all great. I’m really hoping we can build upon that success with this new album.

How did that experience impact your approach to making Happy Accidents? Did you feel there was more pressure this time around?

I definitely did, but it was all self-imposed pressure. I never felt it from the record label or Ed. I wanted to make a record as quickly as possible, in order to keep this momentum going, which is tough. But I think the record is bigger and better than the last one and I’m really proud of it, so I’m hoping I rose to the occasion.

You recently won the Ivor Novello award, which has previously gone to such legendary artists as Phil Collins, U2 and Annie Lennox. How did it feel to join such a prestigious list?

I was very proud, very proud indeed. A real dream come true for any songwriter to win that award, so I was well chuffed.

What’s your working relationship with Ed Sheeran like? Did he have any role in the making of Happy Accidents?

He’s very hands off in the making of the record which is amazing; lets me make the record I want to make. Very few record labels would do that. He gives advice on some instrumentation and song choice but apart from that he tends to leave me to it.

What are your plans for touring? Will you be returning to Australia any time soon?

I’m about to go on tour with James Blunt in October and November through Europe and the UK, then early next year I’ll head out on my own tour. It would be great to get back out to Australia if the record does well over there. Fingers crossed!

Happy Accidents is out now.

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