Introducing: SG Lewis

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Having just performed his first headline UK gig, it’s understandable that SG Lewis is feeling on top of the world. His smooth beats and cool collaborations have earned him critical acclaim and he’s garnered himself a few famous fans along the way too. When I ask him about the mention he recently received from Lorde, his smile broadens: “that was crazy.. my phone was popping with notifications [all night]… it was so crazy”. His remixed version of Lorde’s collaboration, Magnets, with Disclosure on SoundCloud also proved to be a bit hit with Samantha Ronson who tweeted. “ seriously man, i feel like i could use it as a blanket and lay down in a pile of snow.

It’s also great to see someone so immersed in his art. When I meet him, he has just got back from two weeks recording in Los Angeles and since then it’s been a whirlwind of press activity promoting his music. It’s clear to see that he’s keen to grow his fanbase at a grassroots level; when asked whether he is bothered by the rise of streaming services he tells me, “I don’t really care how anyone accesses my music… at the end of the day, fans buy tickets to shows… my main priority is people hearing my music”.

His London headline gig at the start of November was memorable for all the right reasons. SG  managed to command the stage with a determination and self-assuredness that belied his relatively new arrival to the music scene (his first album is planned next year). He was joined by some of the singers he has collaborated with, including Zak Abel and Rae Morris, who helped compound the excitement around SG’s thirst for music diversity and experimentation. It was the start of something special in an underground bar in Notting Hill that I would pay a lot of money to see again. Sadly for me, the venues are bound to get bigger and busier: SG Lewis just been shortlisted for MTV’s Brand New for 2016 competition. I met up with SG Lewis in late November to chat with him about his music, his influences and what the near future holds for him.

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Jordan (SomethingAbout Magazine): So tell me a bit about yourself, how old are you, where are you from and what’s your favourite colour?

SG Lewis: I’m 21 years old, I’m from Reading originally and my favourite colour is black.

J: What got you into music? What was it that you loved?
SG: I was just playing in bands and stuff when I was at school, and then I started making really bad bootleg remixes whilst I was doing music tech at A-level, and yeah I’ve just always listened to music and it was something that […] production was attractive to me because it didn’t involve being on stage and being the front man, you could just kind of work by yourself and at the time that was quite an attractive prospect because I was quite an awkward teenager [laughs].

J: Who are your idols?
SG: I’m absolutely obsessed with James Blake, I just think he’s a god. Bon Iver, I think is still a massive influence, umm… yeah, I’d say that James Blake and Bon Iver are two massive influences, and Pharrell and The Neptunes.

J: You just did one of your first headline gigs in London, I was there, how did that feel?
SG: Amazing, thanks for coming! Yeah, it was crazy, it’s still a crazy feeling the thought of having a room of people buy tickets to see me. I’ve DJ’d for a while, but you’re always kind of warming up for someone else that’s bigger or you’re on a lineup with, and you never think that there’s anyone in the crowd that would be buying tickets to see you, so to headline my own show and to have people buy tickets to see me, I still feel really amazed by that.

J: Would you prefer to play to a small intimate crowd, or a big festival stage?
SG: I think they’re very different. I think the nature of the music is that it’s quite atmospheric and sort of it does suit bigger places, but then again what was amazing about the London gig is that you have a small room of people that are really committed to the music and are really into the music which is amazing. They’re good for different reasons.

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J: What would you describe your music as in 5 words or less?
SG: Ummm… slowed down club music.

J: That was quick! You’ve done that before! When can we expect a full length from you?
SG: So I’m working towards an album at the moment, which will probably surface around late summer of next year, 2016.

J: Looking forward to it!
SG: Thank you.

J: Spotify and other streaming services are really hot right now, are you for or against them?
SG: Yeah, I don’t really care how anyone accesses my music, just as long as they do, at the end of the day fans are going to buy tickets to the shows … my main priority is people hearing the music.

J: I saw Lorde posted about your remix of ‘Magnets’, that must have felt amazing?
SG: Yeah, that was crazy, it was Halloween and I was on my way to a party, I was already quite drunk and my phone suddenly went off and it was popping off with notifications about Lorde fans and stuff and I was like ‘ahhh this is crazy!’. She was really sweet about it and then she was kind enough to go on Radio 1 with Annie Mac and she was saying some really nice things about the remix. So yeah, crazy. I pitched her down in the remix as well, so I was really worried about her hearing it because I was like ‘oh she’s gonna tweet me saying ‘you bastard, you made me sound like a man!’’ But she was so kind about the remix.

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J: Any more collaborations on the horizon?
SG: Yes, yes there is, but none that I can talk about! [laughs]

J: I shall ask no more! What can you not stop listening to at the moment?
SG: Umm… Maribou State’s album ‘Portraits’ has been on repeat and Jono McCleery, everything that he has I’m kind of going through his back catalogue at the moment.

J: If you had to create a mixtape of your all time favourites, what or who would feature?
SG: James Blake, Bon Iver would definitely feature, Majid Jordan has done some things in the past year that I’m obsessed with. I think drizzy Drake would definitely have to appear at some point, probably some Common, some early Common stuff like ‘Resurrection’. Also just some more singer-songwriter music as well, like Jono McCleery, Ben Howard, stuff like that just because it’s easy listening.

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J: Would you rather be rich or famous?
SG: I don’t really have any desire to be famous, so I’d say rich really. I’d want to be rich as a result of your success. I think fame is a by product of success. I think it’s almost like an unnecessary evil.

J: Who is a favourite of yours to follow on Instagram?
SG: On Instagram? Who’s good on Instagram?… I need to have a quick look… Just looking at my newsfeed right now, I follow a lot of trainer accounts like they post a lot of really cool trainers which I end up spending all my money on, and also the stupid humour accounts like @9gag, basically time wasting stuff. Anything that I can procrastinate with basically!

J: You’ve got a Sunday off, what are you doing?
SG: I haven’t had a Sunday off in a while actually! [laughs] Probably just watch a season of Game of Thrones, inhale a Dominos Pizza, hate myself for the rest of the day, that sort of thing.

J: Talk to me about your newest single ‘Shivers’ what is it about and when was it produced?
SG: So me and JP Cooper made it about a year ago. I’ve been a massive fan of his for a while, and we got into a studio and I just played him chords and we were chatting about different things, and we got onto the topic of music and the way it affects people, and JP took that theme and kind of ran away with that a bit and that’s what the song kind of ended up being centred around. It’s about music and the way it affects people in different ways.

J: Yes, his voice was incredible at your show.
SG: He’s got the most unbelievable live voice I’ve ever heard, it stops you in your tracks and you’re like ‘woah!’

J: What was it like working with Rae Morris as well?
SG: Ah, she’s amazing! She’s a) one of the loveliest people in music and b) is extremely, extremely talented. Again, all the people I work with I’m a fan of before, so I feel very lucky to get to work with these people and Rae is like an absolute star.

J: Yeah, I met her after your live show and she was incredibly lovely and sweet to chat with!
SG: Yes, every time I meet her I’m just like you’re amazing! [laughs]

J: Excellent, thank you so much!
SG: Amazing, thank you!

SG Lewis’ newest EP ‘Shivers’ is available on Spotify and Apple Music now.