Freshman Featured Interview
The place where we feature Singer-Songwriters, Bands & Instrumentalists who record and/or perform with our instruments.
One of Scotland's musical treasures/best songwriters, internationally acclaimed JJ Gilmour. JJ spent seven highly successful years fronting Scottish band "The Silencers" from 1989, until pursuing a solo career, with four successful albums under his belt. He also had success with his hit musical "Dancing Shoes", based on the life of footballer George Best.
JJ is now working on his fifth solo album and a new second Caezar album, which is a project he has with Joe Donnelly (former Silencers bass player) www.wearecaezar.co.uk
JJ is also an advocate for Mental Health awareness.
JJ has been using Freshman instruments for many years now, serving him well with his songwriting or live performances. We caught up with him to see what he's been up to and to delve a little deeper into the musical/songwriting genius that is JJ Gilmour.
Q: How did you first become involved in music ?
"I’ve been singing since I was a five year old kid and had my first tv performance by the time I was seven."
Q: What instrument/s did you learn first and did songwriting & singing come later ?
"My first instrument was a set of drums, then banjo, then guitar. Songwriting came shortly afterwards, after I purchased my first guitar at fifteen years old"
Did you first perform solo then progressed into joining bands and performing that way ?
"I performed as a youth solo singer in clubs and pubs, then joined my first band at sixteen"
A few years back now, but both timeless and stunning songs.
Q: Who inspired/influenced you initially, musically and what music inspires you now ?
"It’s never really changed for me with respect to artists and musicians, my early days were filled with all genres of music, but especially punk then after that rebellious period, I started listening to writers like David Bowie, John Lennon, Jeff Lynne, Sting, Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello, Nik Lowe etc etc. These days I really like listening to Ron Sexsmith, Eels, Gerry Rafferty, and many more."
Q: Who have you worked/written with that have completely surprised you ?
"I’ve worked with lots of different writers from, Tony Mortimer (East 17) Pat Gribben (The Adventures) Graeme Clark (Wet Wet Wet) Ray Hedges (pop writer/producer) - No one has really surprised me except maybe Tony Mortimer, whom I really enjoyed working with his unusual and uncomplicated style of writing."
Q: What are your top three best/favourite gigs you have ever played ?
"Olympia (Paris) The Barrowlands (Glasgow) The Filmore (San Francisco)."
Q: What are your top three favourite songs you have written and or played on ?
Cellar of Dreams (The Silencers) Believe me now (Tony Mortimer & JJ Gilmour) In a big Country (Stuart Adamson)
Q: Do you write on your own, with the guitar with anyone else ?
"I write both on my own and with others too, but I prefer to work on my own."
Q: What are your songwriting processes ?
"There’s no rhyme or reason. I truly believe songs and ideas are gifted to you to act on and it’s up to you to act on them or not as the case may be."
Q; How/when did you first hear about Freshman Guitars and what model/s do you have ?
"Someone told me about Freshman Guitars - I have a 12 string Freshman."
Left: DIX is the 4th and latest studio album from JJ. The album is stripped back affair with piano, strings and vocals that allow the songs to breathe.
Photo Right: Back in the day...
Q: Which songs of yours features your Freshman guitar ?
"I play my Freshman 12 string in my set on about 3 songs which can vary from “the unhappiest man” (The Silencers) “5 Years” (David Bowie) “All about me” (jj Gilmour) “If you don’t give me love” (JJ Gilmour) there’s a few more but that’s enough to mention for now ."
Q: Why choose the Freshman brand/guitar to help you convey your music/songs ?
"I love my 12 string, as it adds a bigger sound to my set, especially when I play smaller venues with just piano & guitar, which is mostly what I do these days."
Q: What have you been working on and who with, Plans for the coming year ?
"I’m always working on new material ideas. I’ve developed my very own online tv show “live in the loft at Susan’s house” which is a brand of music, life topics and special guests. iIs been tough recently, as I couldn’t invite my guests due to the pandemic, but that will hopefully change soon. I’m also in the process of writing my fifth solo album and a new second Caezar album, which is a project I have with Joe Donnelly (former Silencers bass player) "
Q: It's been a really tough year for performing musicians – How have you coped, what gets you through/what’s planned for the future ?
"I put together my own little home tv show, which now employs two camera men and a sound man. That started from doing live broadcasts from my conservatory every single night for three months during Scotland’s first lockdown, so it just shows you that good stuff can emerge from tough times or sh*t times as I like to refer to them. We must be safe, but we also must try to work our way outta this. I also tried to engage more with mental health organisations after the sad death of Frightened Rabbit front man Scott Hutchison. I’ve struggled all my life with poor mental health, so I decided to be more open about that just before and during the pandemic, in order to firstly help me cope with my issues and also in the hope that it may help other people too."
Freshman Guitars wish JJ continued success with his music, projects and new album
JJ's Live In The Loft Youtube series is superb, with chats, music, live acoustic sets, guests....and yes, he is the Milk Tray guy ! (on boat, jumps into sea, swims to shore, runs along beach...)
JJ also runs Butesong, which features Guest Songwriters - click image or HERE for more info
JJ with his Freshman FA200e 12 string, which was part of our award winning Cedar Creek Series - Solid A Grade Sitka Spruce, Mahogany back & sides, Rosewood Fingerboard & Bridge
CLICK HERE to see our new range of 12 string guitars