I meet J Xaverre, better known to his friends and family as Pete Gofton, early evening on what must be the hottest day of the year so far, the cocooning heat upstaged only by the fact that it’s a Friday. With a slight air of urgency about us, aware that baking hot Friday evenings are rare commodities in these parts, we hastily clarify introductory facts, firstly about his being Lauren Laverne’s brother –“there’s a healthy sibling rivalry, being Lauren’s brother does help to get you into places”, he quips - and then his brush with pop stardom with former band, Kenicke:

“It was Lauren’s band really; I was brought in as a ringer! It was frustrating cos they were the bunch that didn’t do music and formed a band as a joke, and then we were signed to EMI! I’d been in about thirty different bands before that though, since the age of eleven.”

His soft Sunderland accent and wistful honesty seem incongruous with his previous life in pop and he reveals his rather personal relationship with the songs he writes, which perhaps explains why he’s happier away from the band dynamic.

“I do prefer the autonomy. I’ve always been part of a band because it didn’t really occur to me I could do it by myself. Of course I miss the camaraderie, but I’ll always be in bands. I found everything I wrote in Kenicke had to be vetted with the rest of the group so I think working solo is closer to my heart because the result is dictated by me.”

So did he and Lauren ever fall out over songwriting?

“Yeah, with your sister you know you can say ‘what the fuck was that? It’s rubbish!’ so there was definitely a touch of Jack and Kelly Osbourne for a while!”

One thing he will definitely agree on is that above and beyond being a solo artist, or a member of a band, he’s a songwriter and under no illusion that music is an industry and this is his chosen profession, admitting that he’d love people to cover his songs and to see them enjoyed by a different audience.

“I’ve got time for people who are honest about what they do. I’m a songwriter. Am I just gonna write songs and put them in a box? I’ll do whatever’s best to get my music heard. I’ve got to make a living! A good song is a good song whether it’s sung by Sophie Ellis Bextor or Bonnie Prince Billie.”

So what about his name? Apparently everyone he works with pronounces it differently. I don’t even bother trying but it doesn’t phase him and he’s giving nothing away.

“I never say it and I’m not sure of the true pronunciation myself. I guess it’s just a name you can read a lot into and it fits with my initials (he was Johnny X in Kenicke). I read sociology at Durham. He was one of the old boys buried in the cathedral.”

As for influences, he’s been cited as sounding like the Flaming Lips or Sparklehorse but thinks that perhaps they’re just into the same music he is and the sound is a result of that, but weirder.

“My influences are the stuff my parents listen to, old vinyl half inched off me dad basically! I like James Taylor and Jackson Browne, singer-songwritey rock. I then work with samplers and drum machines and the music I create gets refracted through that. I get accused of being weird and perhaps I should try to be a bit more accessible, but at least I understand what I mean! Like, how you pronounce my name, I have my own way of doing it but I don’t see the need to divulge it or tell people how to interpret it, so there it is, go wild!”

So perhaps you won’t see J Xaverre live or never know the name well enough to pick up a CD. But maybe in the future, you might be browsing through the sleeve notes and find the words: written by Pete Gofton and maybe you might take it home and give it a play, just for curiosity’s sake… I think he’d like that.








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