Having established himself as a YouTube phenomenon thanks to his stunning cover of the Sam Smith global smash “The Writing’s On The Wall”, Jack Robertson has rightly earned himself a fan-base that shows no sign of stopping growing anytime soon. He’s just about to release his debut single "Set It Alight" and with an album planned for later in the year, he kindly agreed to this interview to chat Frank Sinatra, fans and festivals.
PW: Please introduce yourself.
Jack Robertson: Hi everyone, I’m Jack Robertson a 21 year old Scottish singer-songwriter.
PW: How would you sum up yourself and your music up in a couple of sentences?
JR: I try and take a positive view on things and have a ‘glass-half-full’ outlook in the way I approach life. That hopefully comes across in my music, which I approach by trying to make the lyric and melody the most important factors. If you don’t have a great song to start with then, no matter how much production value you put in, it will always be a compromise.
PW: Which bands and artists did you grow up listening to and how did they influence you? Have such influences changed over the years?
JR: My earliest influences were The Bee Gees and then probably Coldplay and Justin Timberlake. Nowadays the artists who I am influenced by include Jess Glynne, Sam Smith, One Republic and producer-wise Max Martin.
PW: When did you first realise you wanted to be a performer? Was there an album you listened to or concert you attended that made you think 'yeah, I want to do that'?
JR: I grew up singing and performing from the age of six and have been fortunate enough to have shared the stage with some legends including Robin Gibb, Bill Wyman, Sharleen Spiteri and James Blunt. Funnily enough it was listening to my grandfather singing Frank Sinatra songs that made me think ‘yeah I want to do that’!
PW: You grabbed people's attention with your stunning cover of Sam Smith's "The Writing's On The Wall." Why did you decide to cover that song and could you have ever imagined it'd get the reaction it did?
JR: We wanted to do a YouTube cover that would get attention and knew that Sam Smith singing the new James Bond theme tune would be massive. It was kept top secret by his label and we knew a few days in advance that Radio 1 were going to have the exclusive on the Breakfast Show on a Friday morning. So I caught the train down that morning and learnt it on the way down and one of my producers - Ian Curnow - programmed up the track in 5 hours as I was on the train and we recorded it in the afternoon and filmed it on an iPhone and uploaded it to YouTube that evening. I had no idea at the time though that it would get such a massive reaction, even my local radio station in Edinburgh played it!
PW: Tell me about your debut single "Set It Alight". Is there a story behind it?
JR: The song is about trying to get the girl but not being sure you are in her league and trying to persuade her to give it a go and ’Set It Alight’!
PW: What was the creative process for the video like?
JR: We came across a fantastic new video director called Ben Cohen from Zoya Films who loved the track and came up with the plot which was exactly along the lines we were thinking. Ben and the production company Khona Productions put so much effort in, as did all the cast and crew, on the day.
PW: How easy/hard do you find the song-writing process and who/what most inspires you?
JR: I work out of a studio called Strongroom in Shoreditch with a team of upcoming producers and one of us will have the initial broad brush-stroke idea which might be a lyric line or the hook from the chorus or even a concept. We then keep working on the writing, discarding sections as we improve each part so what starts as a chorus might end up as a verse or even on the cutting room floor. It’s hard to say who or what most inspires me but as a team we bounce of each other’s ideas and that is what probably inspires us.
PW: Which song, in your opinion, is the greatest ever written and why?
JR: This is such a difficult question as there are so many brilliant songs to choose from. However, I will pick “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys. The haunting and unforgettable melody, sitting over the most extraordinary chord sequence and delivered with a majestic pathos is a hard one to beat.
PW: What's been your favourite live performance to date?
JR: Performing with Robin Gibb was the high point for me so far.
PW: If you could play one venue anywhere in the world, which would it be and why?
JR: Hampden Park in Glasgow as it is the biggest gig in Scotland!
PW: If you could share a stage with another band or artist, who can be living or dead, who would it be and why?
JR: I would probably choose Frank Sinatra. I grew up listening to my grandfather singing his songs and watching all his videos. His delivery and charismas were - and are- as good as it gets!
PW: What are your touring/performance plans for the rest of the year? Will fans see you at any festivals or are you focussing more on headline shows etc?
JR: I’m performing at Midstock later in the summer and I am planning a national tour in the autumn where I will be promoting my album.
PW: Are there any plans for you to head overseas and hit up the States?
JR: It is every artist’s dream to play in America and I’m no different! I hope to be going there when my album is released.
PW: What are your thoughts on social media and do you agree that it's necessary for bands and artists today?
JR: Social media is vital for artists to have a direct relationship with their fans and is one of the most important tools for promoting your career.
PW: What does the rest of the year have in store for you?
JR: I am completing my album during the summer and then touring and promoting it in the autumn.
PW: Finally then, what's your ultimate ambition as an artist and whose career would you most like to emulate and why?
JR: My ultimate ambition is to be able to continue writing, recording and performing for as long as I want to, rather than until people stop buying my records! I am cautious about associating myself with any of the greats as I am just starting out but artists I most admire include Frank Sinatra, David Bowie and Sam Smith.
To celebrate the upcoming release of his single "Set It Alight", Jack has teamed up with PopWrapped to offer one lucky individual the opportunity to win a personal skype with him where he will delight them with an exclusive performance.
For your chance to win, simply follow PopWrapped on Twitter and tweet us with the hashtag #personalSkypewithJack. Competition closes July 18. Good luck!