What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
When I was very little I was really drawn to the idea of expressing myself through music, even before I had any idea how to create it. I think one of the things that inspired this early on was a VHS featuring the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan performing live that became something I regularly watched as a toddler. 14 years on, both of those acts are still an inspiration to me. Coming across the video was actually a lucky accident as my parents were sold a Video player with the recording left in.
A few years later I really wanted to see music live for myself. My Dad took me to a few festivals and this made me love music even more. Seeing artists like Billy Bragg, Laura Marling or Richard Thompson go up on stage with just a guitar made making music feel like something I could actually do myself. This gave me a restless urge to get up onstage. The first time I did I was probably 9 years old. We were at a festival and there was a spare slot which I grabbed up, despite not even knowing any chords yet!
2 years, a few more impromptu gigs and a lot of guitar lessons later, I started getting officially booked at festivals such as Beautiful Days and Glastonbury when I was 11/12. The energy between a performer and a crowd at a festival is one I truly believe, you can’t get anywhere else. I think the festival atmosphere is something that still inspires me in ways I don’t even realise when I’m recording, performing and writing. I carried on doing gigs like these until 2016 when I took a break to develop my sound after being given an amazing opportunity by festival legend and Slamboree mastermind Mike Freear, Strokes producer & studio genius Gordon Raphael and Wizard, my three producers on Life’s a Rave and the album. Mike invited me down to try out some ideas, and everything has grown very organically since then. Which brings us to the current point of me releasing Life’s a Rave, the first single from my debut album.
My music has changed a lot since I first started writing songs, but at it’s core a lot of the same things matter to me. I think thats especially the case when it comes to my lyrics, they still matter to me just as much as they did, but now I put even more energy into the musical side of things as well.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
Life’s a Rave is the first single from my debut album. The track’s lyrics are about social media, isolation, escapism and how we connect with each other. It came out on October 12 alongside a video directed by Will Akbar, featuring the brilliant artist & model Jesika July. You can get it now on all the usual places like Spotify, Apple Music/iTunes, Amazon and Tidal. You can also of course check out the video on YouTube!
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
Some of my main musical influences include the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Wiley, the Beatles and Kanye. These are artists who have music I can always turn to for inspiration no matter the creative situation.
There’s also certain live performances that have inspired me and still do even years after them happening. Seeing Nick Cave’s fearless, commanding performance at Glastonbury 2013 in the front row would definitely be an example of this. The sheer relentless power of seeing Dizzee Rascal perform at Bestival just after Raskit had come out in 2017 is a more recent one that had an impact on me. Another would have to be watching Kate Tempest perform Brand New Ancients. But maybe most of all, meeting Patti Smith at End of the Road festival in 2012. She had just read some poems at a surprise reading in the middle of the woods and afterwards I managed to ask her if she’d let me interview her. She kindly agreed and we spoke for a while on a sofa we’d managed to find. It was incredible to see someone who’s energy still felt so refreshing and vital, at the later part of their career. Listening to my favourite Patti tracks such as Dancing Barefoot and Rock n Roll Ni***r brings back memories of that weekend and her set that night.
Some of my non-musical influences would definitely be in radio. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to present some radio specials on Secret Garden Party’s official on-site station Secret FM and also Surrey’s Brooklands Radio. I even got to interview people such as Maxi Jazz (Faithless), Patti Smith, Mark Kermode, Rick Edwards, Frank Turner, Isaiah Dreads, Alabama 3 and Don Letts among others.
When I’m doing these radio shows three radio personalities who definitely inspire me are Eddy Temple Morris, Tom Robinson and Chris Evans for their creativity, positivity and ability to make substance accessible to all.
In life my biggest inspiration is probably Paddington Bear, who we could all learn something from.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
I think my sound has so many influences in it, because it’s been allowed to grow naturally over time. It also can grow into a fairly unique sound because of the amount of parts involved all working together. On the new single Life’s a Rave alone we have cellos, violins, gospel-influenced backing vocals, guitar from Hawkwind/Tarantism’s Magnus Martin, the voice of Alabama 3’s Larry Love, the central piano riff and that’s before even breaking down the electronic elements of the track and my vocals.
I also think the open minded approach to creating my music will keep it exciting in the future too.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
For albums I’d have to go with Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones, the College Dropout by Kanye West and Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited. Three albums which mean a lot to me for completely different reasons.
For books, I’d take Alan Watt’s the Way of Zen because it’s so beautifully written and also has some amazing, thoughtful content. I’d also bring my favourite book of recent times Eskiboy by Wiley. A book I’d have to recommend to any musician or creative. Finally, I’d take the book I’m about to read – Three Women by Lucy George, which is out on October 30!
The films I’d take are the Illusionist – a beautifully executed, touching, almost silent film, Sympathy for the Devil – because watching the Stones turn an acoustic ballad into one of the best rock bangers ever never gets old and Paddington 2.
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
I prefer performing live but both often inspire each other for me. They’re very different because the studio often feels more personal but there is something very special about the collective energy of everyone at a gig being on the same wavelength, even if just for 40 minutes. When a whole room is lost in the best live moments, the trust, understanding, positivity, power and inspiration shared between everyone there is unlike anything else. I’m really excited to return to playing live again soon, with a brand new set I’ve been working on featuring my pianist, DJ, violinist, guitarist and sometimes even more.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
I think She’s Yours and Take Me to Sleep are two of the most unique. They’ll definitely be on the album! They have a lot of different elements within them which I’m excited for everyone to hear.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
My future plans are to put out more music very soon including remixes of Life’s a Rave and some more singles from the album. I’m also excited to be returning to performing live, and I might even find time to get back to some more journalism, interviewing and radio – all while trying to pass my exams!
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
Photo credits: Gavin Wallace (1st one), Lee White (2nd one)
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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