"For decades the sound of the acoustic guitar has pulled at the heartstrings of so many. Now The Lake Poets aka 24 year old Martin Longstaff is carrying on that tradition with his beautiful, thought provoking, honest acoustic music. When I first heard The Lake Poets I was blown away. I thought this guy could soon match my love for the heart breaking sounds of Damien Rice.
Longstaff has been making his mark over the last year. He’s enjoyed sharing the stage with some of the biggest acoustic acts in the country: Ben Howard, Jake Bugg, Lucy Rose and Willy Mason – as well as performing alongside Sir Tom Jones and James Morrison. When his single April was added to Radio 1’s daytime playlist more and more people fell in love with his music and it helped to grow his fan base.
Born in Sunderland and growing up with a fairly musical family he has sung for as long as he can remember: “The men on my Dad’s side of the family all have great voices so I was brought up with it being a normal thing to be able to do. I’d always be singing around the house.”
His mother’s music collection rubbed off on him too: “I grew up listening to acts my Mam loved like Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Carole King, John Martyn and Neil Young. I suppose I absorbed their delicate but affecting song-writing sensibilities. Today I strive to write the most beautiful yet devastating songs I possibly can.”
When Longstaff runs me through how it all started for him as an artist it seems music was his therapy, his escape, his way of mourning. He explains when he was at university three members of his family passed away in a short space of time.
"I dealt with their deaths by writing songs. I was keenly aware that none of my deceased relatives had seen me sing or play, and I wasn’t in a band at the time so I decided to go it alone. As cheesy as it sounds I figured you only live once so I might as well give it a shot."
Admiring acts like Bon Iver, St Vincent, Villagers and The Tallest Man On Earth, Longstaff decided to make up a moniker. One day in the library at university Longstaff noticed a book, “It was called Recollections of The Lake Poets that explored the works of 19th century romantic poets such as Wordsworth, Coelridge, Southey… I read it and thought ‘The Lake Poets’ would make a great band name.”
Along Longstaff is a solo artist he gets his musical friends to help him out when he’s performing live and recording in the studio. He often finds being a soloist lonely and hard and loves being able to spend time with his friends making music. But for him The Lake Poets is a “very personal outlet” where he can be as honest as he wants to be so doing it alone feels right. Another reason is the way performing on his own makes him feel: “I still get the biggest buzz when alone on stage and I silence an audience within a few bars of a song.”
What’s lovely to hear is the way music is so ingrained into Longstaff’s daily life. He’ll write songs at home, on the bus or whenever ideas come to mind. He carries a little handy notepad around with him so he can jot down ideas and lyrics as soon as they come into his head. Band practice takes place at The Miners’ Hall Studio where his grandparents met in the 1940s, something he wasn’t aware of before he starting practicing there. Longstaff says “it’s amazing to be able to create music in a place with so much historical significance to me and my family. It feels right.”
The Lake Poets have already embarked on a UK tour and Longstaff will be playing with Stornoway, Nadine Shah and a previous New Band Up North Let’s Buy Happiness. After that he hopes to record his debut EP and start planning his first album. I can’t wait to hear it!
• For more information about The Lake Poets head to www.thelakepoets.com"