BIOGRAPHY: GAVIN HOLLIGAN
Most professional footballers devote themselves to the beautiful game and leave the singing to the fans in the terraces. Not Gavin Holligan. When injury hampered a promising career in the premiership, the former West Ham (and Wycombe Wanderers) striker turned misfortune into an opportunity to realise a long-term ambition.
“Being a footballer taught me the beauty of discipline,” says Gavin, of his time playing alongside the likes of England stars Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and Frank Lampard. “As a striker there was a lot of pressure for me to deliver. To be honest I probably wouldn’t have the drive to succeed in music, were it not for the experience of professional football.”
Football’s loss is indeed our gain. A powerful vocalist and an accomplished musician with a distinctly British sound, Gavin Holligan is about to carve out his own niche in the UK music scene.
With influences ranging from Bob Marley and Sting, to Omar and Coldplay, Gavin has always had the knack for interpreting music of the highest acclaim. It’s a quality that has won him favour with the likes of Shola Ama, Duffy, Sugababes, Aswad, Gloria Gaynor and James Dean Bradfield from Manic Street Preachers, who have all called upon his extraordinary musical skills, natural flair for composition and arrangement.
An alumnus of the highly acclaimed Brit School (renowned for nurturing talent such as Leona Lewis, Amy Winehouse, Lynden David Hall, Dane Bowers and Kate Nash), Gavin has a wealth of experience under his belt, and is ready to share the distillation of his many musical journeys. His debut EP, entitled ‘We’re Coming’ is the vibrant first offering of a singer/songwriter and producer who has come of age.
Songs such as ‘Beautiful Tale’ crackle with emotional intensity. Spanish guitar and sultry flutes set the scene, as Gavin describes the paragon of beauty. The bittersweet tale reveals the splendour of a painful past shrouded in mystery. ‘Faith To Fly’ lets rip with a Divine Roller frenzy, as the driving bongo riddim, stalking bass line and Gospel-style backing vocals add intensity to Gavin’s testimony. The pulsating processions continue with ‘Turn It Up’, a party track that swings like the bastard child of Madness and Andre 3000, and ‘You Should Be My Wife’, a quirky tale of urban romance that finds Cupid unsheathing his arrow in the most unlikely of places.
An undeniable maverick, Gavin is equally capable of delivering more traditional pop material such as ‘It’s Over’, a melancholy ballad that showcases his song writing ability, and ‘Smiling Down’, a mid tempo affair that marries Dr Dre-esque drums with a majestic vocal that would make Gnarls Barkley proud. Drawing on his religious upbringing, the salvation song took on a deeper meaning after the heartbreaking murder of a close friend on New Year’s Day.
Such is the personal nature of Gavin Holligan’s music. Working in the tradition of greats such as Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, his songs are inspired by the spiritual as well as the sensual.
‘We’re Coming’ is the culmination of many years of musical experimentation in his studio, known as ‘The Groove Lab.’ Based in Tooting, South London; The Groove Lab is located on the same street as his original family home. It’s a strange twist of fate for a boy who once took piano lessons down the road, at the tender age of five.
“My dad bought me a little Casio keyboard,” Gavin recalls. “The story was told that my family could never get me off of it! I guess it was in me.”
Apparently, many a home cooked meal went cold while his parents struggled to coax a young Gavin off the keyboard, but his dedication is certainly starting to pay off. Now causing a stir on the live circuit with his phenomenal live band, catchy songs and energetic performances, Gavin recently astounded the crowd at the ‘Metro Online & On Tour’ competition finals (competing for the chance to support VV Brown). He has also won over fans at the ‘Croydon Live’ Showcase, delivered an electric set on ‘The Cordless Show’ and turned it on regularly at ‘Chemistry’, a Thursday night music mecca that Gavin organised, during his stint as a promoter.
‘We’re Coming’ is Gavin Holligan’s formal announcement of arrival. So, sample the first fruits of his eclectic laboratory, and prepare to welcome a unique voice to the pop music pantheon.