Written by @BrittanyShawnté
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Today on Spotlight, we have New Zealand singer-songwriter Glenn Aitken! Glenn picked up playing piano at an early age, and then went on to teach himself guitar and saxophone as well. He played in bands four nights a week while studying at university, and when he graduated, he left to play with a band in Shanghai, China!
Inspired by the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and John Mayer among others, Glenn also admitted that his home of New Zealand also has had a strong impact on his career. “New Zealand has a thriving music industry full of amazing talent,” the singer said. “I grew up playing songs from such great songwriters [such] as Neil Finn and Dave Dobbyn.” Pop rock band Crowded House, formed by both New Zealand and Australian members, is one of his favorite bands to this day.
Glenn himself was noticed after spending time in the Maldives by none other than Sir Paul McCartney himself, and was offered a publishing deal around 2003. “It was a lightning bolt from the blue sky meeting Paul, getting to know him and forging a friendship,” Glenn said of the chance. The songwriter admitted that it was the Beatles’ own song “Blackbird,” that made him want to learn guitar for himself! Glenn got the opportunity to play the song to him, as well as play other Beatles classic WITH him, something that Glenn will always cherish. Paul also played bass on Glenn’s own song “Ordinary People!” “To have his interest in my original music was surreal,” Glenn recalled. “The day he did the recording session on “Ordinary People” was probably one of the most stressful days on record for him personally, and, although having cancelled a week of his schedule, he kept his studio date with me and came in and did about five passes on the track.” Talk about commitment! Glenn went on to praise Sir Paul on his character and work ethic. “He is such a genuine person, and truly someone who has changed the world with his music,” he said. “[He has] an amazing ear for music, and the magic he brought to the track will be there for eternity for people to discover.”
Glenn released his sophomore album Platform in July 2013, which was inspired by various events in his life, his band, and his wife. “People were always coming up after gigs and saying how they loved [debut album] Extraordinary Lives, but also enjoyed how the band really gave an edge and a live vibe to those tracks,” he said. “And so the idea for Platform was to do pretty much a live album, just like the old days.” Recorded at State of The Ark Studios in Richmond, London, Platform featured Glenn’s band (Simon Small on electric guitar, Alessandro Paolillo on keys, Lee Aaron on drums and Sam Coath on bass) as well as Lloyd Jukes as lead engineer and Stuart Eps on engineering as well. “It was an incredibly intense week in which we recorded 15 songs in 6 days, sometimes doing 15 takes to get the right one,” the singer admitted. “The end result was an album with a great vibe, and a lot of great passion from all concerned.”You can preview and buy Platform on iTunes now!
When asked to choose a favorite track on the album, Glenn found it hard, but came up with an answer. “If I was leaving on a rocket and could only take one, definitely ‘Hold On’,” he stated. “It is one of the better ballads I have written and that recording day was just a very special one. We did 4 takes of it and then went to hear it back … it was just perfect as it was.” Whenever he listens to it, he admits that there’s not one thing that he would change on the track.