The Manchester-based musician speaks on releasing his first self-produced single 'Missing You', the success of his debut 'Courage' and the local Manchester artists he admires.
What was the inspiration for your latest single ‘Through the Silence’?
'Through The Silence' was inspired by ‘The Struggle’ itself. I believe that, below the surface, everybody (regardless of the labels/attributes that define us) faces struggles and resistance, especially if we are striving to be greater or better than we are today. 'Through the Silence' is the inner voice or soul guiding the conscience with a message of hope and strength throughout difficult/dark times. Some of the strongest, most resilient people in my life also happen to be the most hopeful, despite their personal battles.
How important is it for you to merge a range of genres in order to create your own authentic sound?
Mixing genres isn’t normally something that I’d be consciously aware of in my general creative practice, I normally just go with the flow. However, the body of work that I had written (around the time of arranging 'Through the Silence') was centred around a story of a young woman's life as part of the Windrush Generation, arriving into Britain and surviving the struggles/resistance that she faced. With that in mind, I wanted the music to represent the mixing of culture that came as a consequence of the diasporic movement. I mixed traditional African rhythms and spiritual chants with Western Classical music and incorporated the UK bass music culture that later emerged as a product of the Windrush movement.
"... if I have 100 people listening and enjoying my music I would be blown away, but that was just great."
Again, we would find ourselves on the theme of hope throughout difficult times. 'A Change is Gonna Come' and a lot of spiritual music around the time of Cooke’s release (1964) encompassed the hopes and pains of an entire generation of black people struggling for equal rights and justice. I felt that it was relevant and important to bring it into the current day as a reminder that, although we have made progress, we aren’t all the way there yet.
How did the visuals come about and who did you work with in creating them?
The picture for the original artwork I actually took from out the back of my house in Manchester one early spring evening with my iPhone. I felt it really captured the clear, open feel of ‘Through the Silence’. I then worked with Shannen, a creative at my label, to further experiment and actualise the vibe of the track visually through colouring and the white border.
How was it to see the reaction to your debut single ‘Courage’?
It was crazy! I never expected that. To me if I have 100 people listening and enjoying my music I would be blown away, but that was just great. I was initially uncertain that that was the right track to start off with, but after lots of positive feedback from manager and close friends I decided to take the vibe of the room and go for it. It now feels very right, a great way to kick off my musical releases.
"Having these different forms of instruments and tools to create with really just provides you a greater pallet to be creative with ..."
What was the creative process of making that track?
The initial ideas were actually cooked up about four years ago at a studio session with my now manager and another producer friend. However the track has changed a lot since then. I began playing it live with my band, working on a totally new arrangement and pallet of sounds. This was then recorded, and taken to my friend and producer Sey G, who I felt would be able to bring some darker tones and energies that the track needed.
Being from Manchester, are there any local artists you would recommend?
Yes! Chunky, Mali Hayes, Skinny Living, Children of Zeus, KinKai and loads more
How do you find being an instrumentalist aids your creativity when writing?
I actually compose many of my songs on the steel pans. Then taking them further in arrangements with other instruments. However, I have also started to produce a lot of my songs too, which was the case for my single ‘Missing You’. Having these different forms of instruments and tools to create with really just provides you a greater pallet to be creative with, meaning you have greater versatility for collaboration and expression.
What are you currently working on?
I'm working on some exciting collaborations, as well as always lots of new songs of my own!
What do you hope people take away from your music?
My music is all about togetherness and the human spirit. We live in divisive alienating times. If my music can help to make people believe in themselves, trust others, and work together, then I am fulfilled as an artist.
Which artists inspired you to get into music and who is inspiring you today?
Nina Simone, Bill Withers and Bob Marley, (special mention to Donny Hathaway, Miles Davis, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Prince, Roberta Flack, Loose Ends, Kanye West, James Blake, Amy Winehouse, Marvin, Michael, Stevie, Luther.)
If you had to recommend five artists for your listeners, who would they be?
What's coming up for the rest of 2020?
Oooooh. I don't want to let to much out. I have some more singles coming, perhaps a collab, and then hopefully some live shows!