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‘Writing the truth is therapeutic’: Gary Go on making music for some of the world’s biggest stars

He’s one of the most in-demand lyricists right now and has written for the likes of Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi and HAIM. But with a second studio album about to drop – it looks like Gary Go’s about to have his well-earned turn in the spotlight 

Cinema, the 2010 hit by Gary Go and Benny Benassi, was a banger. Scratch that. ‘Cinema’, the 2010 hit by Gary Go and Benny Benassi, is a banger. 

Needless to say, the man behind the lyrics has gone on to do a whole plethora of songs and writing since – but it's really this tune that makes people go: "Oh, yeah, I know him – I love that song." 

Gary Go, real name Gary Baker, has since written music for Robbie Williams (Go penned the former Take That member's 2016 hit 'I Love My Life'), released a debut eponymous album, written four yet-to-be-released tunes alongside man-of-the-moment Harry Styles and, in recent months, penned tracks for the likes of HAIM and Lewis Capaldi.

To say the man's CV is a who's who of some of the world's biggest stars would be an understatement, but a fitting and very true one all the same. 

Listening to Go's second studio album Love Lost Freedom Found, which will be released to the general public next month, it's easy to see why he's so in demand both as a writer and a performer – and why Lady Gaga once told a crowd he was her favourite new artist and to watch out for his work.

We spoke to Go about a few things, including how he approaches writing music for such a varied clientele (The Weeknd vs Lewis Capaldi, for example), the artists who have inspired his career and where the name Gary Go came from... 

When did you first start writing songs?

I started writing songs when I was eight and my cousin gave me my first little Casio keyboard. Haven’t stopped since.

When did you realise it was a career and not just a hobby?

I think I always imagined it was a career, as I was a fan of music and just wanted to do it all the time. I always felt like it was my future – I’m not sure I had one moment of realising it was a career, I seemed to always know it was what I was going to do.

Where did the name Gary Go come from?

There was this very charismatic friend of the family who used to call me that as a kid and it just stuck.

What do you think was your ‘breakout’ moment?

My debut self-titled album and the debut single from it ‘Wonderful’ was definitely the first time a lot of people heard one of my songs. I was sitting in a diner in West London and some school kids on the next table were singing the song. To me, that was a total breakout!

I saw the interview you did at T in the Park in 2009 - do you remember that feeling? Being fresh off a tour with Take That and really at the beginning of your career?

I do sort of remember it. It was all a bit surreal. You are kind of on a conveyor belt in a way and part of a machine. I’m not sure I was able to make much sense of it all at the time.

What’s been your favourite collaboration or song you’ve written for an artist, and why?

That’s a great question and the answer probably shifts regularly. Really I hope it’s the one I’m going to write tomorrow!

How long has the new record been in the making?

It’s been stewing for a moment. I find that when you let things marinade they always taste better?!

The title track of this record reminded me of Snow Patrol's 'Set Fire to the Third Bar' - mostly for its melancholic but brilliantly catchy vibe. What was the inspiration for the song, and why was it the one you lead with?

I love those guys. The inspiration for the song was real loss and searching for hope. It’s trying to find some positivity in the darkest place. It had a few incarnations before it ended up the way it has.

Does it ever get easy writing about painful experiences, or for you is it a form of therapy?

It is not easy and it can be really difficult to dive deep into the truth of the truth. I think being able to be vulnerable and kill your inhibitions is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly. I do think it can be therapeutic and writing the truth really is the only way through. The only way out is through.

The list of people you’ve written for is huge and contains a very varied selection of artists. How do you approach writing music for such a mix of artists?

I am a lover of songs, so if the artist is interested in writing a song (in any style) I feel comfortable giving it a go. For me, a song is like a mannequin that can be dressed in many different ways, but if you have a great song, chances are it can work in many different styles.

Is the plan to turn away from writing for other artists now and solely focus on yourself, or continue doing both?

I’ve always wanted to do both and enjoy both. I’d love to keep doing both. I find they feed each other with inspiration.

What artists inspire you?

David Bowie, Trent Reznor, Peter Gabriel and Queen have always been big inspirations from when I started. Then there are so many artists that inspire me; James Blake, Francis and The Lights, Blood Orange, Arcade Fire, Death Cab For Cutie are a few.

Who’s an artist (or artists) you think we should watch out for this year?

Jon Bellion is on such a rise and well deserved. He will sell out Madison Square Garden this year without fail. Naaz is also going from strength to strength – she is a powerful truthseeker.

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