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Gary Go is no ordinary British pop singer and songwriter with an aspiration to become an entertainment icon.
A 24-year-old geek-chic romantic who wears Thomas Pink shirts and Buddy Holly-esque glasses, Go got his big break this summer touring the U.K. and Europe as lead-in for Lady Gaga and Take That. Now the London native, whose real name is Gary Baker, is trying to break out on the international scene with his debut self-titled album, released last month in the U.S. by Decca Records. In the U.K., the album reached number 22 on the charts and his first single, “Wonderful,” broke the top 25.
With creativity running in his family — his father was a producer for Jim Henson’s “The Muppet Show” — Go has managed to reach a far broader audience beyond a stadium or a concert hall. Instead of strumming a soul-searching tune on a guitar, Go often reaches for his iPhone with applications such as Cordica and Beatmaker, with which he composes material. In July, he hooked up his iPhone to an amplifier and tapped out beats on the mini screen at a gig for 70,000 fans at London’s Wembley Stadium. And fresh off a tour with Lady Gaga in August, he performed “Wonderful” at the Apple Store in Manhattan using his iPhone and MacBook as instruments.
Go is working on a collaboration with British shirtmaker Thomas Pink to create two Gary Go shirts: blue pin-striped and mauve pin-striped styles on an indigo ground with “very sharply edged collars.” And he recently has been driving through the Midwest, where he hopes to glean inspiration for his second album, which he says will be based on “dreams and fantasy.”
Here, a chat with Go from on the road.
WWD: How did you get the name Gary Go?
Gary Go: It came from a family friend, Harry Fox, when I was 14. He had a lingerie shop on Carnaby Street called Lady Jane. Pete Townsend used to go in all the time. His was the first store to use live models in the windows. Fox was arrested for public lewdness and congesting the street. At a party [where we were], he mouthed the name Gary Go to me, and it stuck. Today, if I were to call anyone and say, “Hi, this is Gary Baker,” they wouldn’t know who I am.
WWD: When did you know you wanted to be a singer and songwriter?
G.G.: I was pretty well self-taught. I grew up next to Wembley Stadium, and I remember seeing Michael Jackson for the first time and listening to concerts by The Rolling Stones and U2 outside my window.
WWD: What do you consider to be your turning point as a musician?
G.G.: It was when I was 18. I had an interview as an assistant engineer with Peter Gabriel at his studio in Bath. I was very nervous. But when he started talking about songwriting, he saw my eyes light up, and he said, “You should start writing your own music, not mine.” Now, it’s come around full circle because I started recording at his studio last year.
WWD: How important has social networking been for your career?
G.G.: I’m very interested in new media, and striving to be a multimedia artist. I find Twitter interesting for keeping a conversation going with a group of people. There are a number of ways that haven’t been totally tapped into as part of the art. When I get back to London, I’ll tweet an address and get a lot of people to go to a park and paint or something, similar to a flash mob when 500 people showed up at Waterloo Station, and as the clock struck 9 a.m., they suddenly all started dancing.