Overwhelmed by gratitude, Reading singer-songwriter Etham opens up about the unrecognized constant doubt that comes with the territory of being a musician. Known for baring his heart into his emotionally-fuelled ballads, Etham’s new EP Patterns is no different.
The six-track-long project is a sonic map through Etham’s recent experiences, displaying the juxtaposition of the emotional disparity of beautiful versus hard relationships in his life. Patterns offers a look inside the ethereal vulnerability Etham serves with each release.
Ready to end the year on a high note, Etham uses his new EP to strip all his ego away and appear bare, with only his pure soul and the rawness of coming to terms with past experiences. On top of the previous singles, he drops two brand new songs: the title track and a personal stand-out track, the power anthem, “You’re The Reason.”
In our conversation, Etham reflects on all the hard work now paying off, enabling him to live his dream and perform at sold-out shows in Seoul, South Korea, and supporting stars like Sabrina Claudio.
You’ve been quite vulnerable throughout all your releases this year. What artist inspired you to open up and share some of your deepest thoughts in song lyrics?
I think growing up you listen to music in different ways and when you get to a certain age you realize that some of your favorite songs actually have a much deeper meaning to them which impacted the way I hear and look at songs which I think becomes a very important tool to writing something that will mean something to people because you realize that music is feeling and experiences which is why they become so relatable.
Do you feel like you were always inclined to write more inward-looking ballads?
I think when I was younger I had a lot of things I wanted to write about and making a record that had more of an emotional sound to it felt fitting to make something that reflected some of the things I wanted to sing about and historically ballads just sometimes brings across the best emotion to express that.
What is the biggest source of inspiration for you these days
Experiences and some great chords. Having something to write about really does just shape exactly what’s gonna happen in a session and I feel when I have certain lyrics or a title the melodies and the structure of the song kinda writes itself.
We’ve seen you perform at London’s O2 Kentish Town, supporting Sabrina Claudio. Standing on that stage in front of thousands of people can be nerve-wracking for some, how do you get into the zone?
I kinda see it as a job and a responsibility to give people the best time and also for me it’s almost a competition with myself and see if I can better my last performance whether that be a better performance in terms of singing or talking and connecting with the audience.
When you get to perform and support artists, do you ever reflect back on all the obstacles you had to overcome to get to this place?
All the time, I think every time something good happens I always remind myself of the steps it took to get there and because musicians pour everything into this job I think it’s just natural to be overwhelmed with the gratitude that all that hard work is paying off and you just try to keep grounded about it but also make sure to enjoy and believe that you deserved it because there’s so much doubt being a musician but when the good things happen like a great show or a successful song then you need to appreciate it.
Could you share what were some of the hardest things you had to go through to become Etham, the artist you are today?
I think just overcoming the confidence issues when knockbacks happen. I think that can be the most challenging time for an artist or writer because it makes you question everything, but thankfully I find it very hard to give up on things but I think that can be the most challenging thing that I’m consistently faced with.
In your opinion, what is the most fulfilling aspect of being a full-time musician?
I think just doing something that you truly love is the best feeling and also when you’ve made a song that you truly love and just everything about it gives you so much excitement is one of the greatest feelings.
How do you feel about releasing your new EP, Patterns?
I’m really excited about it. It’s a really personal song and just excited to see how people connect to it. I also shot a music video which I love so it feels really good to have a song I really love along with the video I love as well.
Could you expand on what themes you’re touching upon and what stage of your life this EP delves into?
With this EP the songs are just experiences that I’ve gone through or been through so it becomes a mix of hard relationships that I’m faced with but then also beautiful ones as well.
Who is the person who pushes you the most in your team and outside of the four walls of the studio?
My management is great with just pushing me in the right direction without forcing me to do anything I don’t want to do and also my friends are just great supporters of me and letting me know when something doesn’t feel right or when it does.
What is on your bucket list for next year?
I’d love to sell out a venue called Shepards Bush Empire in London. It’s a really iconic venue and I’ve watched so many of my favorite artists play there. I’ve also had the opportunity to play there supporting a few artists but I’d just love to do my own show there.
As a tip for our readers, what new up-and-coming artists should we start listening to?
I’ve been working with this guy called Micheal Gerow and I just think he’s really great. His voice and style are amazing and he’s only at the beginning so I’m really excited for him.