2019 has been quite the year for British/American singer-songwriter George Pelham following the release of debut single What A Time To Be Alive this summer!
From playing headline shows in London, making music videos, writing and recording brand new music and connecting with fans, the past 12 months have been non-stop, crazy busy for George, as he lays the foundations for what is sure to be an even better year in 2020.
We caught up with the Good Thing Going singer to talk musical inspirations, dreams vs. reality, life in the recording studio and what it was like to travel to world as a child…
You’re currently promoting your new single Good Thing Going (which we LOVE!) – can you tell us a little bit about the track?
I wrote it about a year ago, and it’s about being away from someone you love, but refusing to give up on them. I was listening to loads of Johnny Cash at the time, which is never a bad move, and I wanted to write something that had that kind of shuffle to it as I’d never done that kind of thing before. And then of course I had to throw a ukulele into the mix because why not!
Musically the track is bright, upbeat and quite a summery bop, yet lyrically it’s subject matter is a little sad as you sing about a relationship that’s currently at a crossroads – was having that juxtaposition of the two a conscious decision or just something that happened naturally as you as you worked on the song in the studio?
That’s a good question. To be honest I always try and have that sort of juxtaposition in my songs – for me there’s got to be some kind of struggle in the lyrics otherwise there’s no tension that can drive the song forward, if you know what I mean? I also prefer songs that sound uplifting, to songs that sound sad or moody, so yeah it’s definitely a conscious decision.
Is the subject matter something you can relate to?
Definitely – I wrote it about what was happening to me at the time. It would be hard to write about something that I hadn’t gone through; I wouldn’t know what to say.
“I always try and have a sort of juxtaposition in my songs – for me there’s got to be some kind of struggle in the lyrics otherwise there’s no tension that can drive the song forward.”
What has the fan reaction / response to the track been like so far?
I’ve been really pleased with the reaction from fans – so thanks to everyone who’s listened to it so far! Someone said to me a few days ago that it’s impossible to be in a bad mood after listening to Good Thing Going, which is a big part of what I want my music to do – make people feel good.
It must be pretty nerve-wracking putting new music out there for people to hear / judge – how do you cope and deal with that kind of pressure?
Yeah I put a lot of pressure on myself for a song to do really well, rather than just enjoying putting the whole process. In a way though I don’t feel as much pressure as I could when releasing a song because I will have already played it live quite a few times before deciding to record it, based on whether people in the audience seem to like it. So it’s usually passed some kind of test already – which a lot of my songs do not!
You shot the music video for the acoustic version of Good Thing Going in and around London, how was that experience? Any behind the scenes secrets you can share with us?
Yeah – there’s quite a long story with this video. It was basically the third time we’d shot it. The first time was in a field in Liverpool, but the wind was so fierce we had to scrap it. Then we shot on Battersea Bridge, but people were yelling at us from their cars and it was pretty hard to edit it out. After that we went straight to the bandstand in Battersea Park and shot the one we ended up using – though there were quite a few dogs barking that day so we had to do loads of takes before we got a relatively quiet one. So it wasn’t easy…
Watch the Good Thing Going acoustic music video version here!
Growing up you spent time in London, LA and China as a child – it must have been pretty exciting to experience living in all of those places at such a young age?
I don’t think I really thought of it that way at the time, it just seemed normal to be moving around from place to place. I just remember London feeling really cold as I was used to a lot more sun when I was young! Looking back now though I’m so lucky to have had the chance to grow up in all these different cities, but I’d say London was definitely my home now.
Can you remember the first time you felt excited / inspired by music or a particular artist?
I can remember driving up the motorway towards Hampshire (where my grandparents live) and my Mum putting on the Pet Sounds album by The Beach Boys. It always put me in such a great mood and I remember asking her to play it over and over again.
Was it always your dream to become a singer?
In a way, yes, but not totally. I always loved music, but for some reason I never saw myself doing it professionally until I was about 19, when I entered this contest called Open Mic UK for a bit of fun and realised it was what I wanted to do. I just didn’t think being a pop singer would be realistic, but now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Now you’re fully living the popstar life, how does the reality compare to the dream?
I don’t know if I’d call myself a popstar just yet, but I’ll take it! The reality is definitely a lot more hard work than the dream though I’d say – you’re constantly writing, recording, gigging, making music videos, acoustic videos, sorting out social media… but it’s all so much fun.
“I just didn’t think being a pop singer would be realistic, but now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
What’s your favourite part about what you do?
It has to be performing – being on stage in front of a room of people, singing your songs – it doesn’t get much better than that.
2019 looks to have been quite an exciting year for you, what have been some of your highlights?
2019 was maybe the best year I’ve ever had. The main highlight was releasing my first single What A Time To Be Alive as I’d never released anything before and it felt so good to put something out into the world after so many years of writing songs. My headline show at The Cellar in Earl’s Court was awesome, and doing the music video for Good Thing Going was also so much fun, as I really felt like I was beginning to get somewhere in terms of the whole aesthetic I’m after.
And as we approach 2020(!), what can fans expect from you in the new year?
More songs, more shows, more videos, more of everything! I’m not going to promise an album as you never know with those things, but I have plans to finish recording it next year, so keep your ears to the ground people. And thanks for the interview and all the support CelebMix, it’s much appreciated!