By Frank Bell
With a flawless mix of folk, Americana and indie-rock, singer-songwriter Ren Lawton – aka Conor Owen – shares his new convincing track Love By Night and opens up about creatinghis very own studio space inSouth Shields, how themusic industry has changed and where he thinks his music fits into today’s world.
Hello Ren Lawton how are you?
I’m very well thanks. It’s kind of an overcast day here in South Shields and I’ve just received a delivery of the stairs to link my flat to the loft conversion that I’m doing. I’m creating a studio space so I’m very excited to move one step closer to finishing off the job.
You’ve released the single ‘Love By Night’, can you tell us about the themes contained within the song?
I think the main takeaway or theme from the song is to not let what other people think of you or your lifestyle stop you from doing or pursuing something that you love. Find a way to make it work.
How does the writing process work when formulating new ideas for new music?
There’s usually a catalyst in life that brings about the start of a song. For ‘Love By Night’ which I wrote nearly 10 years ago, it was the build-up of excitement before my first ever prolonged trip away from home. I just started writing mini-stories of adventure that took the characters around the world in anticipation of my own trip.
Did the pandemic have an impact on the art you create?
The pandemic actually gave me the time and space to get a lot of my ideas recorded from my home studio. It allowed me to take basic acoustic ideas and flesh them out into bigger arrangements that I don’t think I would have had the ability to do in the same way if the world was in full swing.
As a North East-based artist, does the city influence the kind of music you produce?
I’m actually a relative newcomer to the North East music scene. I moved up here from down South in 2013 but I can safely say that being here has influenced how I do things musically. There are so many great artists in Newcastle and the surrounding areas like Jake Houlsby, The Dawdler, Bosola, Martha Hill, Jodie Nicholson, and many more that I feel like I’m part of something here. I didn’t get that same feeling where I was brought up.
How has the music industry changed since you began playing in bands?
Wow. Soooo many things have changed in the industry since I started performing music around about 2008. I think the biggest change for me has been the rise of platforms like Instagram and tik tok etc.. means that there’s a constant need for content creation. Not only that but in more recent times it feels like social media platforms ramping up the monetization of artists’ relationships with their own followers which is a bit of a bummer. I miss the good old days where things felt a little more event-focused, you know?
Where do you think your music fits in today’s world?
I think my music has a home in people’s desire for a more relaxed or simpler way of life. That’s reflected in the way I keep the production and instrumentation as close to what I would sound like live as possible.
If you were stranded on a desert island which three albums would you choose to wash up on the shore?
They would be:
1. Hell is For Heroes – Neon Handshake
2. Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
3. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
With live performances on hold for the past year or so, did you find new ways to interact with your fans?
Live streams were probably the go-to way of keeping in touch with fans. I only really did a handful of them over the lockdown to celebrate a live EP that I released in May of 2020. I would have gone and played acoustically on people’s doorsteps if the government would have let me out of the house.