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Meet George Montague

Upon first hearing newbie British singer/songwriter/pianist George Montague’s story, most indie musicians would probably become jealous rather quickly.

His parents support him in his career, eliminating his need for a day job as they consider his work on his music parallel to going to university (huh?)  He has an investor who heard his songs and immediately signed up to fund his debut album. He’s seen his home recordings of his unusual, jazz-blues-pop fusion tracks on his YouTube channel snag a remarkable 720,000 (yes, that’s almost three-quarters of a million) unique views since he began uploading videos. He’s managed to get Matt Butler – as in Paul McCartney/Elvis Costello/Mick Jagger collaborator Matt Butler – as producer on his upcoming debut full-length album, Have You Met George. Shall we add that he shares his first name with a Beatle, as well?

And he’s only been properly focused on his music career for a little over a year.

Really?

But the thing is, all of those petty jealousies fall away once you actually talk to George Montague. Far from being a pampered wannabe pop star, Montague’s actually a very focused bloke who’s grateful for the good fortune he has, who has nothing but praise for those he works with, and who works on his craft daily and with impressive dedication. He makes sure to keep his YouTube channel stocked with new content regularly, keeps himself on a ‘songwriter’s schedule’ of his own making, and interacts constantly with his quickly-growing fanbase on Facebook and Twitter. The fact that he happens to be inherently talented on instrument, voice, and song structure may not mean as much – or result in as much – if he wasn’t putting as much effort into it as he is.

“I don’t do much else other than music,” Montague explains. “I don’t really have days off – it’s kind of non-stop, I’m happy to say. Pretty much every morning the first thing I do is warm up and go through my songs – it has become a ritual that has really helped with my stamina in both singing and piano playing. And the practice applies to everything – I even practice songwriting. It’s good to just write.”

Inspired by an eclectic mix – he counts Coldplay, Madness, Jamie Cullum, Earth Wind and Fire, OneRepublic, and Robbie Williams among his favorites – he says that Coldplay’s Chris Martin was the first musician who caught his ear.

“I was twelve years old, and he made me think, ‘I want to play piano like that!”” Montague says. “I was only ever actually taught the double bass, though – so through music theory I began to decipher the piano myself, and the craft of writing songs. Six years ago, I saw Jamie Cullum play. Then, it was just a question of practice.”

Montague’s upcoming album is all about his piano playing and his voice, an approach fueled by Butler’s proclamation that the songs should be the focus.

“I was looking for local studios to record at and wanted to find one with a grand piano,” Montague says. “I also decided that I wanted to get a producer involved so I could just lay down what I needed to do and not have to worry about mixing or anything. That was when I was first put on to Matt Butler. Honestly, I hadn’t heard his name before and had therefore no idea just how long and how much of my great ‘childhood soundtrack’ he had been involved with as a producer! To cut a long story short, I met up with him and we discussed music and songs and it became apparent that this behind-the-scenes legend really liked my songs! He said to me, ‘It’s all about the songs George – and you’ve got them.'”

Butler, Montague explains, didn’t retool any of his arrangements; he just put together a lineup of solid studio musicians to add in more instrumentation and backing vocals, and then guided Montague through recording the full album in 11 days. The set’s now due to drop in late April of this year.

“Those days were pretty busy, and every day felt new,” Montague enthuses. “Matt gets things planned perfectly, and honestly I have never laughed so hard and worked so hard in my life. As it was a residential studio, we got up early each day, ate breakfast together, and then cracked on. We didn’t stop, and when the 11 days ended, I didn’t want to either. It was an unforgettable experience.”

The environment itself assisted in the process, with ‘legendary music’ oozing out of the very walls of the studio – and bringing Montague full circle back to his original inspiration.

“We were at Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire,” Montague says, “the place where Chris Martin wrote “Yellow” on the very piano I played for this record, a gorgeous Börsendorfer 225 that I nicknamed ‘Mrs B.’  Truly amazing.”

“Who knows what else is in store – things just keep happening so quickly and wonderfully – I am very grateful for all this attention,” he smiles shyly, “it is a magnificently affirming feeling.” – Kristi Kates

To find out more about George Montague and his music, visit his official website and his YouTube channel. Photo credit Tim Montague.