Gavin James Eyes 2016 for Debut Album Release

Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for American Express
Gavin James performs onstage at American Express UNSTAGED: Artists in Residence Concert at El Rey Theatre on Aug. 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  

Irish singer-songwriter Gavin James cut his teeth as a live performer turning out three-hour shows, seven nights a week in Dublin pubs while attending college. With a growing fanbase overseas, James is now looking to make his mark in North America -- and he’s off to a good start.

Signed to Capitol Records, the 23-year-old singer released a four-song EP, titled Book of Love, in May and from there went on touring stints alongside labelmates Sam Smith, Tori Kelly and Kodaline. He’s also enjoyed television exposure from appearances on The Late, Late Show With James Corden and Dancing With The Stars.


VIDEO: Backstage with Gavin James at the Amex AIR concert

With his full-length debut due out in 2016, James tells Billboard that he’s very excited to be included in the second cycle of American Express’ UNSTAGED: Artists in Residence program, which also includes buzzyworthy acts Rae SremmurdBørns and Pia Mia. Launched in 2014, Amex AIR aims to boost awareness of rising musical acts through a series of live performances and online interviews.

“It’s great exposure from American Express,” James said backstage at Los Angeles’ El Rey Theatre, where he performed at a concert that officially kicked off this year’s Amex AIR program.

Amex AIR: The Journeys of Pia Mia, Børns, Rae Sremmurd and Gavin James

Earlier that day, James attended an education summit for the AIR program at L.A.’s historic Carondelet House, where he received some useful tips from stylist Brandy St. John, who’s worked with artists like Jack White.

“I never really thought too much about style. I kind of just wear dark clothes. I never thought about it and I was talking to her about who I thought was really cool style-wise, like Bob Dylan and Johnny Depp,” the singer explained to Billboard following a private session with St. John.



VIDEO: Gavin James performs "22" live at Amex AIR concert

Other music industry players who participated at the Aug. 20 summer were producer and songwriter Emile Haynie, video director Diane Martel and music marketing guru Kelly Covell. The event also featured talks by Interscope Geffen A&M vice chairman Steve Berman, as well as execs from YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pandora.

“You get to meet all the new musicians and talk to them and find out what they like,” James said. “I’ve been in the industry for about three years, so I know all about labels and all this. So it was nice to meet some people today that specifically did that.”