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Continental drift; Jayce Lewis may be big in Asia, but there was only one place the Welsh musician wanted to launch his debut album - back home in Wales. David Owens meets the man who is rocking the sub-continent.

WHEN Jayce Lewis walks out on stage at the Millennium Music Hall in Cardiff tomorrow evening, it will be a long road that the Bridgend musician has travelled in the last two years.

It's a journey that has seen him garner huge success in Asia, while remaining relatively unknown in the UK.

In his hometown he can walk down the street pretty much unrecognised, but when he travels 5,000 miles to India he is mobbed wherever he goes.

The 27-year-old is a big star in the world's second-most populated country after his first single, Icon, topped the Asian charts last September.

He is recognised by people the minute he arrives at the airport and is plagued for photos and autographs.

The former fabricator welder, who has never had a formal music lesson, has been in the music business for six years and was a drummer with local metal band, Losing Sun, for much of that time.

The band split in late 2008 and a number of other things went wrong in his life, including the failure of a record company he had set up and the end of a long-term relationship with his girlfriend "I was in a really bad place," explains Lewis, taking up the story. "My father said to me 'why don't you write a track and get back into the music?' because he knows that's my love and passion. At the time it was the last thing I wanted to do. It had brought me all this pain."

On the dole and suffering with depression, Lewis was urged on by dad Charlie to write.

"It freaked him out, he didn't know what to do watching me ripping myself to bits," says the musician. "The doctor was giving me antidepressants and I thought what the hell is happening with me.

"It was at this point I started messing around with a riff. And I just thought this is it, I'm going to do this on my own. I don't need these pills to see me through.

"So I wrote this track and got in touch with a contact I had made at EMI Asia when I was with Losing Sun. I gave them the song, they loved it and chucked some money at it, we made a music video and then it charted."

The resulting song, electro rock anthem Icon went on to top the Indian charts and started Jayce on his incredible journey.

"It was played in heavy rotation on MTV and VH1 Asia over there and then they made me artist of the month," he explains. "It had so much airplay, it was on 14 times a day or more out there. It was incredible how it all snowballed." The track was also included on a best-selling compilation alongside the likes of Coldplay, The Prodigy and Depeche Mode. The success resulted in Lewis headlining a music festival in India to 40,000 screaming fans with US stars Richard Marx and The Backstreet Boys.

Now with his self-titled debut album ready to launch worldwide, he's come full circle back home. Lewis reveals despite securing major success in other territories, he always wanted to launch the album in Wales.

"I was talking to my management and EMI and they wanted everything to happen in London, which is fair enough because that's where the industry is," he says.

"But it just meant a lot to me to have my family and friends there and to let everyone in Wales know what it is that's been going on and see and hear the new album here first."

Since a BBC Wales documentary that followed his fortunes aired earlier this year, he has seen his star rise, especially in South Wales.

"I do have a bigger profile here," he says. "Right at the start it was absolutely two parallel dimensions, I was leading two different lives.

"It all happened so fast when the one track took off so quickly, but due to media coverage from guys like yourselves and the BBC documentary, now if I go out in Cardiff on a Saturday night people will recognise me and they'll say 'hello'. In Cardiff and Bridgend that happens, but the Asian market is, shall we say, a bit more intense!" Saturday's gig will see the multiinstrumentalist out front behind the mic, a role he's still coming to terms with.

"I've done everything in the business," explains Lewis. "I've played drums, guitars, bass, keyboards, to be honest the last thing I expected to be originally when I started off drumming was to be a frontman, and now it seems like that will be my role for the foreseeable.

"Am I enjoying it? Well let's just say I've had no choice but to try and throw myself in the deep end.

"The first show I did was to 1,500 people. I had to learn how to sing the songs on the album in one year, you wouldn't believe how quickly I had to learn.

"The pressure I had from EMI right from day one since the Icon track broke, has been pretty intense.

At the start it was my main concern, being able to perform out front, but I am enjoying it now, it feels right."

Many of those songs on Lewis' self-titled debut album are confessional, dealing with the issues he's experienced in the last two years.

"A lot of the songs are autobiographical," he reveals. "I've had to learn a lot of things about myself and other people I've had around me. So I got these feelings out through the songs on this album.

"Everything I've gone through is in the music somewhere. It was like therapy writing this album. Turning it all into a positive through the medium of music has been the best thing for me."

Jayce Lewis plays the Millennium Music Hall, Cardiff, tomorrow. Tickets are on the door, or from jaycelewis and


Jayce Lewis
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:90ASI
Date:Oct 29, 2010
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