Page last updated at 07:53 GMT, Monday, 10 August 2009 08:53 UK

Talking Shop: Charlie Winston

Charlie Winston
Charlie Winston hopes to be able tour the UK at some point soon

British singer-songwriter Charlie Winston is a bit of a superstar in France, topping the charts with his album Hobo, but so far he has remained relatively unknown at home.

The album is due out in the UK on 28 September, preceded by the single In Your Hands, which is out now.

Winston was born in Cornwall in 1978 and grew up in Suffolk before moving to London, where he started out on his full-time musical career. He is the brother of the singer Tom Baxter.

In 2007, Winston toured with Peter Gabriel and in July he played at the Womad festival in Wiltshire, which Gabriel co-founded.


Why do you think you've found success in France before Britain?

I met my drummer, Medi, and my bass player, Daniel, in France while travelling. I did gigs in Paris and sold CDs at the concerts and a French record label heard about us.

For the six months I was completing the album they were pushing the media and by the time of its release everyone in the industry knew who I was. I think the fact that they had some of my previous material to work with helped.

What are the differences between France and Britain in terms of music?

In France the idea of pop is quite wide. In England we produce a huge amount of fresh talent, but the French are very good at absorbing talent and picking up on people and going with them. And it's not just British and American groups.

Where are you living now?

I wanted to learn French so I moved to Paris, but I wasn't expecting the amount of success that I've had. Actually, it's been really difficult to learn the damn language because everyone's speaking to me in English. I don't know if I'll stay there permanently.

Have you any plans to tour in Britain?

I've got a big tour in France in October. The album is also being released in Germany, Scandinavia and Spain and Italy, and then in Canada in November followed by America.

This album's going to be keeping us busy for another 18 months, probably. We are going to be touring in the UK, but I don't know when yet. We'll just follow the wind.

You're much bigger abroad than some artists who are well known in the UK, aren't you?

We played this massive festival called Paleo in Switzerland. Peter Doherty was also on there. They felt I was bigger than Pete so they had me on after him. Then when we played in Nimes in France, Duffy was originally due to be on after me, but when things started to go so well in France they switched us over and put me on last. That was a nice compliment.

How would you describe your music?

I prefer not to define it, really. If I had to try and put it into a box I would try and keep it as vague as alternative pop-rock, but I prefer the world without boxes.

Who are your influences?

Paul Simon's Graceland has been a big influence. Then things from Nina Simone to Jacques Brel and The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, reggae, hip-hop and Radiohead. I like Russian classical music. I had a big jazz period where I was listening to lots of Miles Davis and John Coltrane and trad jazz. I don't really have any boundaries to my influences and what I take from.

How important is success to you?

The way I've chosen to do what I do is to try and keep my integrity as an artist, in terms of focusing on doing what I do and not chasing success. I've never gone to any record labels or looked for a manager. I just played lots and lots of gigs and my manager found me. I've only worked with people who really wanted to work with me. That's given us lots of freedom.

Music obviously runs in the family?

My brother Tom Baxter and my sister Vashti Anna are musicians. My parents were folk singers. From a very early age we listened to music and I have a clear memory as a child of being in the car with Dad listening to the Beatles and he'd say, 'What instruments can you hear?'.

Why don't you and your brother and sister share the same surname?

We do. It's Gleave. Our parents gave us first and middle names we could use on stage. They liked the idea that one day we might be on stage.

Charlie Winston was talking to BBC News reporter Martin Vennard.



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