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Monday, September 24, 2012

EQ Interview with Aiden Grimshaw - "I wasn't a pop star, I was just on the X Factor. Maybe later if it goes really well I'll turn into a proper dick."


by Raj Rudolph

2010 was pretty much the last legitamate year for The X Factor in my humble opinion. No matter how much money they throw at the show and what crazy judges they hire, the concept just seems dated and frustrating. No matter how much I rant about how The X Factor isn't good for musicians, I still though manage to get sucked into it every single year.

One such X Factor contestant though couldn't have been more different in 2010 and his name is Aiden Grimshaw. Not just a pretty face no less, nor you're average cookie cutter fame whore, watching Aiden pour his heart and soul into his song choices each week was a pure delight. After his defeat on the show, he went into hiding it seemed. But really what was happening was that he was creating one of the most thoughtful and provoking albums about love in 2012 called "Misty Eye" that is out now worldwide.

Aiden Grimshaw is currently on tour throughout the UK (Oh yes, I'll be at the London show on October 2nd at the Scala) and about a month ago, I caught up with him in a pub in Shoredtich to talk about "Misty Eye", his X Factor mates One Direction and Cher Lloyd and why he's the reluctant pop star who's afraid of turning into a "proper dick".

Misty Eye (Deluxe Version) - Aiden Grimshaw

EQ: Hello Aiden Grimshaw. So you've got an album out right now called "Misty Eye". I've heard it...
Aiden Grimshaw: You like it?

I do. I like it a lot. I wouldn't be here if I didn't like your album.
Well you could, you could attack it from another angle and be really bitchy...

That's not my style. It's been awhile leading up to this moment. You took your time from coming off X-Factor and sort of did your album the right way, rather than just thursting yourself into the pop star limelight...
Yeah, I was on the X Factor and I am very thankful for it. I do realize that the only reason I'm sat here now is because I was on the telly. But taking the time to really focus on the music, I missed the opportunity to be a manufactured product.

Does that bother at all?
No. I was trying to avoid it. It feels like I've done it properly and it feels a bit organic. On this album it
wasn't like we were surrounded by a massive entourage or anything, it was just me and the producer in the studio which was essentially a shed - it was a building at the end of his garden. It's actually a really really nice studio, but I keep referring to it as a shed because it sounds a lot cooler.

Honestly though, how organic was this project - did you hand pick the people you wanted to work with?
I met my manager on the show. After that we worked with hundreds of different writers and it really was about me trying to find the right sound and distinguish where I wanted to go. Being on the X Factor, I really learned about the direction I "shouldn't" go in and with the sound I shouldn't make. The whole thing has been a massive learning process. Nothing was forced, I spent a lot of time pondering if it was going to happen or not, but we've been working towards it and it just happened - it's all been really easy.

Is this your first forray into being a musician?
I was in a band before, I wrote songs before. We weren't very good. But this is the first sort of time of doing it properly. I wanted to go into drama college, but being the typical teenage lad, I forgot to send in my application form. So I had to take a spontaneous gap year - the mother did not like that at all, it was like DEF-CON 4 - so off I went to the X Factor.

I'm kind of curious about your thoughts about the X Factor. 2010 in my opinion was probably the last legitimate year for the show and it's kind of dying now. There were a few people on your year that were actually great like Nicolo Festa, Cher Lloyd and One Direction, but do you think the show is losing some credibility these days?
To be honest, it's a brilliant show. I don't think it matters which show you go on. You could be on the Mickey Mouse show or Cbeebies. The telly is such a massive platform, it's really what you do with it afterwards. You can't blame the show if someone brings out some music you don't like because it's their music. It's not on front of the single.

I really like "Is This Love" - tell me more about this single and why you didn't appear in the music video.
"Is This Love" is at the start of the period in which I wrote the album. The whole album is based around love and breakups. It's more about questioning love. I wrote "Life is worth living, but love is worth everything." "Is This Love" is really that moody question. It's not about searching calmly for an answer, the song is about getting pissed and angry in your pursuit of finding love. For the first video, I thought it should be more about the music, rather than my face being pushed down everyone's throat...

I don't think some people would mind that actually...

You really were just dipping your foot in the water weren't you...
Yeah just for the first video, it was the right move, I didn't need to be in it. It was the right kind of mood to cast off any preconcieved notions. It was just cooler if I wasn't in it.

It's interesting though, most new popstars wouldn't have that attitude...
Well if I was new and I didn't have all the X Factor stuff then I might have been all over it. There is only so much partying a pop star can do in a music video anyways before it becomes a bad example.

Tell us more about "Curtain Call" and why it's special for you.
It's the last track on the album, I wrote it three songs into the album. I got really pissed one night and when I came home I sat down at the piano and I wrote it. In my head, I was picturing Hugh Grant on his knees in the rain of some "Love Actually" rom com pleading to someone in the end. It's a love letter where you end at the same place you started - but you discovered something in-between and you get it all off your chest.

I was pleasantly surprised that you covered Sia's "Breathe Me" on the album - do you have a special connection to that song? It's quite an epic song, I was judging you before I even heard your version...
I'm sure you were as were a lot of people! I didn't have a connectio at first to "Breathe Me". It was mentioned to us before we got signed and before we started the album. We kinda forgot about it. But after we had written about eight of the songs, we needed two more and someone again mentioned Sia and I got dead into it. I had it on constantly for three weeks.

There is something about that song that is so magnetic.
It's amazing. It just fit perfectly and completley on the concept of my album. She must be getting bored of the song, so I thouht, we'll I'll take it. [laughs]

Speaking of proper dicks, let's look at a few recent examples. Just today a press releases was put out about how Cher Lloyd had a milkshake named after her...
Wow. That's proper dick material...yup.

And then you got One Direction sending out press release saying they've sold 12 million units worlwide.
Wow. That's a lot of units. I might have to go and drink that many units.

Are you worried about their fast fame?
No they smashed it didn't they! Well they are loving it aren't they? I think anyone on the show that year knew that straight away that they were going to become massive - it was expected! I've just been sat on the sofa watching it all happen - in my pants!

You seem like the reluctant pop star.
Pop star is a funny word isn't it. I'm just a normal guy who made and album. At the moment it feels unforced. No big label behind me putting my face on a bus shouting "everyone digest his face". You got to earn your stripes. I wasn't a pop star, I was just on the X Factor. Maybe later if it goes really well I'll turn into a proper dick. [laughs] You'll see my face everywhere. But at the moment, I like where it's going.


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