Meet the Gosforth-born musician who has managed to break America
Humble, talented, and hitting his stride – we speak to Gosforth born recording artist and producer Trevor Sewell who was recently nominated for a Grammy after co-producing Linda Chorney’s single ‘Bored’
‘About 10 years ago I decided that I had played in bands and for other people for so long that I wanted to do something for myself. I said to myself, “Why did I pick up a guitar in the first place?” and the answer was certainly not “to make money”,’ Trevor explains. ‘I went back to the mindset of playing because I love the music. I switched off from the business side of it, which to be honest I never understood anyway, and instead I made an album just for myself – I didn’t even plan to release it,’ he continues. ‘I made an album in my Gosforth studio called “Calling Your Name”, which I released with no PR push as I just thought “why not?”. I didn’t expect anything to come from it or anyone to even listen to it but it took on a life of its own, and there was no one more surprised than me.
‘Once you take the financial side away from something, you end up creating things that make you properly happy and it was an exercise in rediscovering what I love about music – at the age of 40! It ended up with a couple of weeks at the top of the American blues chart, and then I started getting nominated for awards in America, mainly in Hollywood.’
The track that earned him his Grammy nomination was Bored by Linda Chorney, a song which Trevor co-produced alongside Linda and singer songwriter EJ Ouellette. It was a culmination of three talents from three very different backgrounds, drawing on their eclectic experiences. Although Trevor didn’t win, he was ecstatic about being recognised alongside the peers he respects so deeply.
‘Linda asked me if I wanted to help produce her new record and so myself, Linda and EJ Ouellette ended up producing it. It went backwards and forwards between the three of us – working between Gosforth, America, and Massachusetts,’ Trevor explains. ‘I also met Dave Mattacks who was playing the drums, who I admire so much. It was such a collaborative experience, no one ever made me feel out of place, especially being a Northumbrian at the Grammys. It was the same warmth you’d get down the pub with the lads – only with a massive red carpet thrown down first,’ he laughs. ‘I’ve worked with some effortlessly cool musicians over the years, but out of all the people I’ve worked with I think I’m the only one who isn’t!
‘When I was first welcomed into NARAS [a community of artists associated with the Grammys] I was worried it was going to be cliquey, but it was such a welcoming community. Everywhere I go people are so warm. I also work internationally from here thanks to the internet, and we send bits out all over and collaborate together,’ says Trevor. ‘Paul Barrere is to me one of the best guitar players in the world, and I’ll never forget receiving a file from him playing guitar for one of my songs. I just think I’m a very lucky chap.’
Trevor takes every chance he can to collaborate with his contemporaries and his love of helping people produce beautiful pieces of music has earned him the respect of countless industry legends. The music community, both in the North East and the US, have reciprocated his appreciation for their kindness countless times. Recently, artists crossed borders in an effort to help Trevor when his prized guitars were stolen and subsequently found listed on eBay. Thanks to these efforts, his childhood guitar was eventually returned to him, much to his surprise.
‘I got three of my guitars swiped just before the pandemic, all which had so much sentimental value to me. One of them my dad bought me, and I’d been playing it for 50 years; I still play it now,’ Trevor explains. ‘The local community here in the North East were phenomenal, people searched for it from BBC Newcastle, people organised online forums. Northumbria Police couldn’t’ve been more helpful either. I put a post on Facebook about it and it got over 10,000 shares in two weeks. In America, Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist Nils Lofgren shared it, as did my colleague and Grammy award winner Janis Ian, and North East legend Mark Knopfler, it was an amazing show of kindness. I still have two guitars lost out there, but I like to think of it like the guitars have had a gap year and gone travelling – like Morecambe and Wise splitting up for a year. They’ll turn up and we’ll get the band back together one day,’ Trevor jokes.
Trevor would be forgiven for slowing down given the success he’s had, but this is far from the case. He’s continuing to do what he does best, making great music and letting the rest fall into place.
‘I’m halfway through my new studio album, and I’m wanting to set up a production studio in America soon – the new album is definitely taking precedence though,’ he says. ‘I’m also looking at releasing a duet with local singer Lorraine Crosby, who was famously a female lead vocalist for Meat Loaf. But to tell you the truth, if you would’ve told me when I was a lad to try and get an award in Hollywood, I wouldn’t have known where to start – and I never found out to be honest!’
Trevor Sewell’s discography is available on all streaming sites, including ‘Bored’ which can be played online at youtube.com