Mike Watson is an up-and-coming musician with a great voice. He recently released his very first song as a solo artist called ‘Lying For Love’. As the busy bee that he is, Mike will be touring the UK during the month of October and he was nice enough to put York on his list. Now, not only Mike will come to York but he will actually perform at our beloved university, in The Courtyard, to be precise. How exciting is that? So, mark the date of 11th October in your agendas, because that’s the day of his gig.
The other day I had a lovely chat over the phone with Mike and he told me about his tour, his career and his life. So, if you need more reasons to come to his gig or if you’re just interested to find out more about him, keep reading our interview with Mike Watson.
You’re about to go on tour and one of the cities on the list is York. I know you’re from Manchester which is close to York. So, my question is: have you had the chance to visit York before?
No. I’ve never actually been to York, which is a bit of a shame, because, you’re right, it’s close to Manchester. I think it’s the only city on the tour list I’ve never been to before, so I’m really looking forward to it.
What’s the most exciting thing about going on tour?
It’s been about two years now since the last time I was on tour. Getting back up on stage and testing out my new material in front of new people, I think that’s the most exciting. And, hopefully, some people will like what they hear.
I see in most of the cities that you have on the list the location of your gig is at a university. Is there a particular reason for this?
I think my music is quite poppy, but not in a childish way, so I think it will appeal to students. When I was a student myself, I was in Manchester University, we used to have artists come by and play our university and it was always really exciting, so I think this will also appeal to students, to be honest with you.
I’m sure it will! Your tour schedule looks pretty full – two or three gigs per day. Is that intimidating?
Yes, I think there are 18 different places in about 10 days. It’s quite intimidating, but I’m just more excited than anything. I haven’t been on tour for so long, so I’m just looking forward to jumping in, getting really stuck in.
Great! So, one of the reasons you’re going on tour is because you recently released your debut single, ‘Lying For Love’. If you were to describe the song in three words, what would they be?
I’d have to say “catchy”. I think it is quite “modern” and I think it is “personal”.
That leads us to the next question. Is the song inspired from your experiences with love?
Yes, it is, but, although it’s personal to me, I think everyone, well, 99.9% of people in the world, can relate to falling in love with someone that they possibly shouldn’t have. That’s what I love about this one. I think it can appeal to anybody, not just to myself.
You also have a music video for this single. What can you tell us about the video?
I shot it in Manchester. Obviously, being from Manchester, I wanted to shoot it back in my hometown. I live in London now and it was important to me to go back and do it there. It was shot during the three wettest days of the year. It was so wet and so cold that our camera guys couldn’t hold the camera because their hands were too cold. So, we had to go back and spend two more days on it.
Well, it turned out great in the end, so that’s what matters. Did you just star in it or were you involved in the creation of the video as well?
Yes, I worked quite closely with the production team because the director of photography is actually my cousin. It was really nice to work with him. I listened to their ideas, because they’ve been doing this for so long now, but there were certain things I was keen on doing and certain things I wasn’t and obviously I voiced my opinions.
And speaking of videos, I’ve noticed that your covers on YouTube are 1 minute long or even less. Why don’t you make covers of an entire song?
The reason why we like to keep them short is because I find that when I’m listening to someone, I flip through a lot of different people very quickly so I know within a minute if I like them or not. So, if I like that minute, then I’ll go to the next cover and then the next cover. I might do full covers one day but it’s always nice to leave people wanting a bit more, I think (laughs).
How do you choose the songs that you cover?
It’s based on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist. We try to do them every Friday, so I wake up really early and I go through the New Music Friday list and then I choose one that I think I can do well.
I see you upload regularly on your YouTube channel. Would you like to make other types of videos in the future, like funny sketches and so on?
You know what, I’ve never really thought about that but for now I think I’ll stick with music. I’m not sure how funny I am (laughs). But it’s something to think about, maybe.
Now, back to the past. Let’s see if I did my research correctly. You were a member of the boy group The United a few years ago. Then you and Gabriel, who was also a member of the United, became Fuller. And now you took the path of a solo career. How would you describe these periods of your life? Do you have a favourite?
I think they’re all very different parts of my life. Obviously, when I was in the band it was amazing. Playing big shows, going on tours. I learned a lot: how to write songs, how to tour, how to promote songs. I think it really helped me get to where I am today. If I had to choose one part that I enjoyed the most, it’d have to be now, because as a solo artist everything is down to me and I like having that control.
Do you think The United will have a reunion anytime soon?
(Laughs) I don’t think The United will reunite. I’m still friends with the boys and it was an amazing time but it’s very much in the past. And I’m concentrating on my solo career now.
What is the craziest or funniest thing a fan ever did or told you?
I wrote a song for The United called ‘Song For You’ and it was on the album released in Japan. This lovely fan got me to write the lyrics with my handwriting and the next time she came to a show she had it tattooed on her arm, which was pretty crazy, but really nice to see.
In your opinion, which is the best part of being a musician – song-writing or gigging?
Sounds quite cliché, but I generally just love it all. What I love is going to the studio and having no idea what I’m going to work on that day and then coming out with something. And sometimes, like it was with ‘Lying for Love’, you know pretty quickly that you’re up to something. You just have a gut feeling. So, I love that part, a lot, but then again, you can’t really beat playing live. I experienced it with The United and when I went on tour with Maroon 5 two years ago and the biggest shows were the ones that I enjoyed the most. That’s really what I’m after. You get such an adrenaline rush!
Can you tell me your top 3 most played songs at the moment?
Number one must be ‘American Teen’ from Khalid. That’s my song of the summer. The second one is probably Khalid as well, ‘Young, Dumb & Broke’. I’m a big Khalid fan. I only found out about him at the beginning of the summer and I’m just obsessed with him. And then for the third one, I’d like to say ‘Lying For Love’.
You said a couple of times that you grew up in a musical family so normally you pursued a career in music. But if you were to choose a different career, what would that be?
I am such a sports freak! I’d have to be a footballer!
Finally, why should people come and see you perform live?
I usually bring a lot of energy when I play live. I think I’ve got some nice songs that everyone can have a little singalong to. On the tour, I’m going to be playing covers as well and I have in the set a little medley of beautiful songs. I always like to see people’s faces light up when they get an old song mixed with a brand new song. I think it will be a great set. And they’ll get to hear songs that will be released next year, before anyone else.
Mike Watson will play at The Courtyard, University of York, on 11th October, 5 pm.