Exclusive: Gabriels singer Jacob Lusk talks Brits nomination and performing with Elton John

Jacob Lusk attends the Warner Music Group Pre-Grammy Party on February 02, 2023 in Hollywood

For a Brit Award nominee who has collaborated with the likes of Sir Elton John, Jacob Lusk is seemingly unaware of his star power. "I might have just woken up – don't tell anybody," he joked to HELLO!.

Jacob Lusk performing with Elton John at Glastonbury Festival in June 2023
Jacob Lusk performing with Elton John at Glastonbury Festival in June 2023 (Getty)

Refreshingly down to earth, the 36-year-old Gabriels singer, whose performance with the Rocket Man star at last year's Glastonbury Festival won him a new legion of fans, wasn't looking for fame when he started out in his career, which has also included appearing in TV talent contest American Idol.

"It still feels a bit surreal," he explained. "I can't believe that this has happened to me." Since he, Ari Balouzian and Ryan Hope formed Gabriels in 2016, the genre-fusing trio have released two hit albums and toured with Celeste, as well as appearing at the UK's most famous music festival. Now they've bagged a Brit Award nomination for International Group of the Year.

Jacob Lusk with Gabriels bandmates Ryan Hope and Ari Balouzian
Jacob with Gabriels bandmates Ryan Hope and Ari Balouzian (Getty)

"I watched the nominations live; I was at my friend's house. I was sitting in her office and I was like: 'We've got to watch it,'" Jacob recalled. And when his group's name was read out – alongside fellow nominees and big hitters Blink-182, Boygenius, Foo Fighters and Paramore – his pal "screamed and threw confetti in my face."

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Born in Compton in California, Jacob, whose velvety vocals are often compared with those of Nina Simone, was working with a church choir when he met his bandmates. They bonded in the recording studio and released their first EP, Love and Hate in a Different Time, in 2021. An instant fan, Sir Elton described it as "one of the most seminal records I've heard in the past ten years".

Gabriels band members at the Royal Academy of Arts summer exhibition
Gabriels have bagged a Brit nomination for International Group of the Year (Getty)

Three years on, the band are gearing up to take a starring role on one of the biggest nights in British music. Held at the O2 in London on 2 March, the Brit Awards ceremony will bring together the industry's biggest and brightest talents, with Dua Lipa, Kylie Minogue, Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding all performing. "I always get starstruck," Jacob said to HELLO!

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Ahead of the glamorous event on Saturday, the singer has already touched down in the UK and is hoping to make the most of his time in the capital. "I have family and friends coming from America to the Brits, so we'll do some shopping and see the sights," he gushed. "I want to go to Westminster Abbey and see some castles. I want to go to the London Eye and see all the classic stuff."

Jacob Lusk at the 2023 Brit Awards
Jacob is hoping to spend some downtime in London ahead of the Brits (Getty)

He and his bandmates also have gigs lined up, including a fundraiser, and a show at famed Camden venue Koko. And Jacob is looking forward to performing a disco-inspired set at the Warner Music Brit Awards afterparty at the NoMad Hotel in Covent Garden. "And Gabriels are working on new music, so hopefully that's soon to come as well," Jacob teased.

"There are some collaborations that we're currently working on. I'm looking forward to making new music – making great music and sharing it with the world. I'm really excited; I think it's going to be a great year."

The Brit Awards 2024 is on ITV and ITVX from 8.30pm on 2 March.