Singer-songwriter Harry Gardner’s debut track Not Alone touched the heart’s of many when he played it at his audition for Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year. The song, which is linked to Alzheimer’s Research UK, has already hit over 700,000 views on Harry’s YouTube channel. Now the seventeen-year-old is busy getting his name on a number of line-ups, including a tour supporting Emily Middlemas. We spoke to him about his upcoming EP, appearing on live TV and his work with Alzheimers.
How did you find your time on Britain’s Got Talent?
I thought it was incredible, it was just such a good experience and I think I’m so lucky to have had that experience. I’m going to remember it for the rest of my life. I found it amazing, everyone there was lovely.
What was the response like on social media once your audition had aired?
Mainly positive, it was really good. I didn’t see too many bad things, everyone was really supportive and especially because of the cause that I was promoting. Everyone really related and everyone really supported that, which was really nice to see.
Which did you enjoy more, performing at your audition or at the semi-final?
Ooh that’s a good question! I really liked the audition, I’m going to say I preferred the audition because I think I was prepared for it a lot more. I was really excited as well and nervous. It was a lot of mixture of emotions, that was a good combination to make me feel excited enough to go and try and do my best. The semi-final was still really fun but being live for the first time, that was fun but it did scare me a bit! I thought the audition was more fun I think!
What song would you have performed in the final?
It was either going to be How To Save A Life by The Fray or it was going to be another original song but not relating to the same cause because I thought the final might be a chance to, if I got there, to show more diversity of my own music or music that I like.
Have you stayed in contact with anyone from the show?
Yeah I’ve stayed in contact with one or two people, Leah Barniville who sung the opera, she was on my live semi-final night and there was a singer called Destiny, she was on my semi-final night and we all kind of stayed in contact. It’s nice to go through that experience with people around your age and then be able to talk to them about it afterwards, that’s quite nice. A memory to have in there, a friend to consult and see how they’re doing, it’s really nice.
What was it like appearing on Lorraine?
Ooh that was fun, it was really good fun actually. I really enjoyed it because I felt really comfortable. She was lovely, she made me feel so chilled, I was so new to it, I’d just been thrown into the deep end with live TV and stuff but yeah it was really fun to appear on Lorraine.
Would you like to do a charity concert in aid of Alzheimers?
Yeah, I think I might have one planned actually. I’m working with Alzheimers Research UK very closely, they involve me in all their things and I get a few requests to do things for Alzheimers. I do quite a lot of things and whenever there’s big Alzheimers event, I’ll do it.
What age did you start singing and playing piano?
I think I started playing piano in year 3, so I must have been about seven, and then singing is something I did from about the age of eight because I used to do performing arts. I’ve always sung a little bit in my bedroom before that but then when I started doing performing arts that kind of made me sing a lot more and then I just combined the two with songwriting as well, that came with it, when you play the piano and then you sing. Then Ed Sheeran, I remember he came along and I kind of wanted to be able to write, to express how I feel and try and get other people to relate, so songwriting came as well like about age eight.
Tell us about the tour you’re going on with Emily Middlemas, how did that come about?
I was on holiday recently in Italy and I got an email from her management company saying that they’re looking for a touring act and I also saw that they posted it on their Twitter just looking for recommendations. I replied and I was really enthusiastic about it, then they said, ‘are you interested in going on tour? It’s going up all around the UK’. I was definitely up for it, that’s something I’d love to do, so I jumped at the opportunity. I’m really looking forward to it, it’s going to be crazy and it’s really spread out as well. I’m doing my A levels at the moment so it’s not too focused which is quite good, it’s quite spread out so that’s really nice.
Do you have any other shows apart from the tour coming up?
I’m doing a set at a festival, Shebfarm Fest in Devon, that will be good, it’s on the 2nd of September. I’ve got events coming up in December, I think December the 2nd, there’s a few charity things as well and shows just keep popping up out of nowhere.
You’ve got an EP coming out in Autumn, what can we expect from it?
I’ve been working on my EP, I’m tied in with agreements at the moment. It’s going to be original music, Not Alone is going on the EP because it’s in quite high demand, a lot of people want to hear that recorded, so that’s something I definitely want to do. It will be music that I’ve written more recently. It will be a lot of diversity and it will be me!
Will there be physical copies of it?
Yeah! I’m going to make sure that physical copies will be available.
How much time do you spend writing music?
Every night I’m working on this EP. I had an idea to write the EP because I’ve never really released anything with a few tracks on it before. I’ve only ever released Not Alone, I thought it was going to take up a lot of time, since Britain’s Got Talent really inspired me to write and produce something as well. I feel Britain’s Got Talent was really focused, I want to be more diverse and I’d spend every night for at least two hours writing songs and trying to improve them constantly.
Do you find writing songs easy or is it a long process?
It definitely varies. Not Alone came about on the day that my nan didn’t recognise me, I was so heavily inspired to write that song, it came out so quickly. I remember I was writing the chords, and lyrics were going together so nicely and I remember thinking it was really weird, how quickly it came together, it was also really nice. There’s other songs on my EP and just in general other songs that take ages to write. I think I’ll look at something and then my mum will be like, ‘oh I don’t really like that bit’ and I’ll be like ah, so then I’ll look away, and they’ll start being more me.
Would you consider songwriting for other artists?
Definitely! I’d love to, I think I could bring something to other people’s music, an element of simplicity. I think that would be such a nice way to contribute to them.
Are there any plans for music videos?
Not solid plans. I’m in contact with the person who did my Not Alone music video, Kieran Hodges, he’s my mum’s friend, so I’m thinking I might do a music video for one of the songs on the EP. I’ve got a song in mind that I’m going to do it for, but definitely, I think so.
Do you enjoy busking?
I love busking, I think it’s such a good way to share music with people. Don’t get me wrong I love gigging as well but I think if I’m on the side of the street, people can stop and listen if they want to rather than if they’re eating food in a restaurant and being forced to listen to music that they might not want to listen to. I think busking’s a really good way to connect music with people and for the pure fact that they might enjoy it.
Apart from piano, can you play any other instruments?
I play the ukulele and I play a bit of the harmonica but that’s a bit odd! I want to learn to play the guitar though, it’s always something that I’ve wanted to learn to do and I said I would do it this summer but I haven’t started it yet.
Are you in Brighton for music or just time off?
Just a bit of time off! Originally I had the idea that I’d come and busk here but it’s just something that we do as a family, come down here for an outing. I can’t fit all my busking stuff in the car!
Will you be doing your own tour?
I haven’t got plans to, but I would definitely love to. At the moment I’m not sure where people would like or if I’d be able to sell a significant number of tickets. I think it’s a big risk to take, but that’s a risk that I’d definitely take in the future. I’ll see how my EP goes to start with and then if that goes down well I will definitely look at writing more songs and then touring with it, that’s something I’d love to do.
What are your plans for the next year?
Finish my A levels sadly, because as important as they are, I know this sounds bad but uni is coming up so fast, it just scares me. It’s quite a stressful process. I’d love to be able to just be, “right I’m dropping out of school and I’m doing music full time” but I don’t think I’m at that level yet, so I’m going to stick with school for now and do music on the side, as I always have been doing. I really want to progress, I feel like coming out of BGT it’s really inspired me. I thought it was something that was never going to happen, being a musician. I’ve been more motivated now and I want to go and write more songs, possibly tour, do more gigs, support acts, meet more people and that’s what I want to do, try and expand as a musician.
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