“I’ve got to the stage where I can do what I want.”
You could probably have worked out that Guy Chambers has got to the stage where he could do what he wants even if he hadn’t said it to me one afternoon in his great, sky lit studio in trendy Kensal Town, West London. The space boasts an enormous amount of equipment - a priceless Abbey Road mixing desk and the walls of the studio seem filled with Parisian pop-art and vintage guitars - this is very much the kind of studio you would own if you had got to the stage where you could do what you want.
Chambers is fresh from finishing co-writing and producing Robbie Williams 11th studio album, due for release later this year. “I truly believe it’s as good as our Imperial phase from back in the noughties,” he tells me. Aside from writing and producing for some of the greatest artists to grace the planet, including Kylie, Diana Ross, James Blunt, Tina Turner, Katie Melua, Scissor Sisters, Tom Jones, Marlon Roudette and Katie B – it is perhaps Chambers’s notorious writing partnership with Robbie Williams which saw Williams’s meteoric rise to becoming the biggest-selling British solo artist of all time, which Chambers is most well known for. Angels, Millennium, Let Me Entertain You, Rock DJ, Feel, No Regrets, Strong – between them, they have sold 75 million albums across the globe. Guy, himself, has been a part of 52 Gold/Platinum certified albums including 15 UK number 1 albums and 18 UK number 1 singles.
Success on that scale clearly enables you to do what you want. What you might want to do is clearly a more difficult question to answer. “I’ve got to a point in my life where I’m less bothered about writing hit singles,” says Chambers, not unreasonably, given that he’s already written enough hit singles to last anyone a lifetime. “Not in a complacent way, more in a ‘shit, I’m 53’ way. I think it’s good for me to do things that I wouldn’t normally do, because I found that what’s perceived to be my comfort zone wasn’t that comfortable.”
Born in Hammersmith, London in 1963, Guy was just eight years old when he penned his first song, although it was his time spent studying composition and piano at the Guildhall in London where he learnt to fully master his craft and in 1997, when Guy was 34, the ex-Take That singer, Robbie Williams, walked into his studio and the rest, as we know, is pop-history. Now, in 2016, he is very much on the same streak, writing and producing for the stars like Jordan Smith, Marlon, John Grant, Rufus Wainwright and Digital Farm Animals as well as MDing and playing with Robbie Williams across the world on his live dates.
Aside from co-writes and production, it is Chambers’s fearless attitude which has lead him to make a prominent move into television, film and the stage. He has become a regular feature on the BBC with a leading documentary on the “Secrets of the Pop Song” with Rufus Wainwright, and multiple radio interviews. In 2012, Chambers gathered the leading figures in pop to form the Christmas charity cover of “He Ain’t Heavy…He’s My Brother” to raise money and awareness for families affected by the horrific Hillsborough disaster of 1989, and back in 2010, he started and hosted “The Orgasmatron” – a club night in Soho, London featuring an enigmatic array of talent from singers such as Katie Melua and Paloma Faith to tap dancers and tight rope walkers. “I get a collection of mates and people I’ve been recommended to try and put on…it’s a weird night. I like the idea of having a juggler, then a DJ, then a string quartet perform in the same evening – that’s what Britain’s like: a bizarre mix” Guy adds. It would be fair to say there is rarely a dull moment in Chambers’s life.
Yes, Chambers may have reached the stage where he can do what he wants, but music nights, ballet dancers and TV shows aside, you are most likely to find Guy dividing his time, between his London studio and his family, doing what he loves most, and arguably what he does best, simply, writing songs.