With a distinctive gritty vocal style, uplifting hooks, and an atmospheric folk sound, singer-songwriter Lloyd Yates is hotly tipped as one to watch.
This year his debut album will be released and he has a full summer touring schedule ahead of him.
I managed to catch up with him while he was in his native Jersey – in between a couple of Channel Islands gigs, spending time with his young daughter, and catching the local surf.
When did your career start and how?
I have always been into singing and the arts, and was into drama at school. Then I pretty much left it, surfed and travelled the world. Then I started seriously around four years ago, when I found I was going to have a little one. That was a turning point. I thought: “Am I going to do anything with this talent I’ve got? It’s time to make something happen.” I picked up a guitar from the age of about 15, and started playing my own material from the off. I refused to learn chords. I liked the idea of not knowing what I was doing yet stuff was coming out. I still write in the same kind of way. I just pick up the guitar with no intentions and something happens.
What inspires your music?
The relationship between us and the natural world and the beauty of it. I have done a lot of traveling and I think it never gets boring how beautiful nature can be. Growing up near the beach and surfing, I have always been fit and surf all the way through winter and snow. I am a fanatic. That goes for traveling the world and spending hours in the water. There is so much beauty around, that’s done wonders for my writing. That’s especially the case with the Channel Islands. It’s such a mellow and slow pace of life if you choose it to be.
It’s also about the way us as humans look at life. How to appreciate it and get the most out of it. A lot of my songs are based round love and personal events. There’s a few ways I express that intensity of love. Sometimes it’s through the pain and sometimes through the happiness. I am a bit of an analyser. When I meet someone, I’m not really there. I just watch them for a bit. I think I do that with everything. I like to see it as there being a lot of truth in my music.
Who are your musical influences?
Cat Stevens has a lot to answer for. He has been a huge influence. I also like Led Zeppelin and Eddie Vedder who, as a songwriter, speaks a lot of truth and has been a massive inspiration to me. The list goes on.
How about influences from around the world?
I have spent quite a lot of time in Morocco. Cat Stevens spent a lot of time there and when you’re there you really get a sense of this no man’s land. You go to vast places that really inspire the way you write and how you want your music to sound like. It’s expanding as you listen to it. Morocco has done that to me the most. It has this weird sort of silence that surrounds it.
South Africa also has a lot to answer for. Everything is so big there. I wanted my music to feel like it was as big as what I was seeing. Certain places in the world really inspired certain songs. The biggest thing is trying to make my music sound vast and big as sometimes we can feel so small in the world. It’s about bringing it up to perspective and showing you your life is important.
What’s the music scene like in the Channel Islands?
For me it’s been fantastic. Our fan base is strong here in Jersey and the Channel Islands. Contacts over here put us in touch with some good contacts in London. Normally it happens the other way round. Normally people go to London first. It happened backwards for us.
People say that not much happens in Jersey and you need to get away. Sometimes its pot luck who you bump into really. We had major interest from record companies and have now signed to EMI publishing.
The music industry is booming right now. When someone achieves something people go, “wow, things can really happen” and a buzz gets created. People start to work harder. There’s some really big promoters like Niall Mac who also manages me. He is promoting some amazing venues and some amazing bands. There are a lot of people bringing bands from outside to the Isles at the moment. There are some good people with good energy.
What do you think 2013 has in store for you?
Looks like we’re going to have quite a busy summer with a lot of festivals and gigs lined up. We are going to believe in ourselves. The songwriting is amazing so far. I am featured on the debut album by drum and bass duo Loadstar coming out in May. My own debut single ‘Bring Back the Life’ is coming out soon followed by an EP, second single, three videos and an album.
I play with a full band consisting of three Jersey boys and a French percussionist. We are loving the great response we are getting – quite overwhelming but really good.