G4 Interview

 A feature from the September 2016 issue of Suffolk Norfolk Life magazine
Suffolk Norfolk Life September 2016Click to view this issue »
Stephanie Mackentyre meets multi-platinum selling vocal quartet G4

Fans of the classical crossover quartet were delighted when the four artistes decided to reunite in 2014. Jonathan Ansell, Ben Thapa, Mike Christie and Nick Ashby originally all performed together on ITV’s X-Factor in 2004. The friends joined their vocal harmonies together again after seven years away from the spotlight.

After the phenomenal reaction to their Reunion Tour, performing to packed houses across the UK, G4 transported their loyal following right back to the moment they first fell in love with those trademark harmonies. Having recreated their unique take on classic songs including Bohemian Rhapsody, Circle of Life, and Nessun Dorma, this time around they have also proved they can tackle the latest chart-toppers including Let It Go, Happy, and Uptown Funk in their own inimitable style.

Mike Christie originally set up the group with fellow music student Ben Thapa. “The two of us originally decided to create the quartet.” All four attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. “They have an external booker and they had some enquires come in to the school for a Barbershop Quartet, so Ben and I set one up. We started with two others but soon changed them for Jonathan and Nick and it was much better.” The band soon got a booking and the agent asked for the name of the quartet. “We had an hour to come up with something. So we thought, well we’re studying at Guildhall and there’s four of us so G4. That will do. Little did we know how important that name would become.

We did various gigs and got some crazy reactions. We were all graduating on different post-grad courses and opera courses. So we decided to put on a concert to celebrate. At the same time one of the guys saw the advert for the first series of the X-Factor and we noticed they were accepting groups. We thought if we go and sing for the show perhaps Simon Cowell might give us a quote and we can use it on our posters for our future concerts.” The four friends went along and got through round after round. They also got their quote: “Fat Buskers” Simon originally described them as. However, they battled onto the live shows. “We ended up in the final and got signed to Sony for a £1.5 million album. A big turning point for us I think was doing the TV show Xtra Factor which shows the backstage happenings of X-Factor. We originally sang in suits, and people perhaps thought we were boring and serious. Once they realised we were just normal guys we had huge support from our fans.

Our parents were also all very supportive. I remember at school I told my careers advisor I wanted to be a singer. She said, ‘Oh I don’t have a fact sheet for that.’” However, Mike’s gut instinct was he simply had to do it. “I told my parents I wanted to go to music college. For me the live shows on X-Factor were particularly poignant as my dad Adrian was very ill with terminal cancer. When we performed live each week my dad was just too ill so he didn’t make any of them. He told me if you get through the semi-final I will definitely be there for the final. I didn’t let the press know about it as it was a very personal thing to be going through. On the day of the live final I had added pressure as my dad came along and was in the audience. It was so emotional. Sadly he died in the end but he was always so supportive of my choice of career and he respected me taking a risk.” The whole process of the music industry has been a huge learning curve for the boys.

Read the full article in the September 2016 issue of Suffolk Norfolk Life Magazine
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