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 economically-produced 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.
A comparative latecomer to music, Watson first started playing after receiving a guitar for his sixteenth birthday. In the summer of 2010, Lewis uploaded a cover of Bombay Bicycle Club’s ‘Swansea’ to YouTube (as HolyLoowis, to avoid the attention of his friends) and received enough positive feedback to create a succession of other home-filmed performances of songs by artists such as City and Colour, Ben Howard and Bon Iver.
Watson’s YouTube following grew organically as he continued to mix original material with performances of his favourite songs. His stripped down take on Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’ suddenly changed everything. Shortly after, his steadily accumulated 1000 subscribers had snowballed into 23,000.
Already, Watson is beginning to take further strides towards his glowing future. He recently played his largest gig to date when he supported Birdy at Shepherd’s Bush Empire (he calmed his nerves by seeing one of his favourite bands, Two Door Cinema Club, at the same venue the week before), and his new EP, ‘Another Four Sad Songs’ is out now.