Papaphone writes folk music with a focus on the human condition and has already played at Glastonbury as well as appearing on Talk Sport. The singer/songwriter has just released the music video for single ‘Forever Be’ so we caught up with him about his career so far and plans for 2018.
I am driven to write by the human condition, I am fascinated by how complicated we make life as a species, when it is simple on a base level.
First up, tell us bit about yourself - what first got you into music?
I first got in to music listening to my fathers mixed tapes he would make for long car journeys, we would go to visit friends in Bristol or to Yarmouth for a holiday. There would be everything from Bobby Darin, Tina Turner to Dire Straits. I would prefer certain songs. I used to wait for Fleetwood Mac to come on and Donovan, Smokey Robinson or The Small Faces. I also really loved Del Shannon, who I rediscovered a few years back.
Then, at school, I was given a guitar by my folks as that’s what parents do, try to get you in to “stuff” I took music but much prefered making up songs, I fell out of love with it as a lesson. Me and a group of friends went away for that first holiday as teenagers to Devon camping, I took my guitar and made up songs as ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ by The Animals was the only one I could remember.
Were there any particular bands or artists you took inspiration from to form your musical and thematic style?
I think on a subconscious level I was influenced by who I was listening to at the time I started writing. Ocean Colour Scene, Counting Crows, Live, Blind Melon, Sublime and Live amongst many.
How would you describe your style?
Stylistically I am certainly folk and have played many folk clubs and venues, though it is a funny one and a whole other debate in that scene as to “what is folk music”. I don’t sing about how the coal mines closed or characters from history. Some folk purists give me the “don’t go on the moors” stranger at the pub stare, others embrace it. The waters have really been muddied thanks to so many guys in the mainstream wilding an acoustic now and someone comparing to folk music.
What drives you to write?
I am driven to write by the human condition, I am fascinated by how complicated we make life as a species, when it is simple on a base level. So I write about nature as analogies and or metaphors a lot. I like to look around at urban decay and crowds and try express feelings about that. And of course love, love is the big connection we all have, songs about love will always happen people write that naturally. I am pretty daft in person so expressing feelings and thoughts is easier through music for me.
You played at Glastonbury. Tell us about the experience. Which stage, when and what was the response? Did the performance help push your career forward?
I played Glastonbury last year, was a dream to do it really. Was on a lovely bohemiun stage called Lost Horizon Solar Stage. It is situated up by the Teepee field for anyone who attends Glastonbury, they have saunas as well. The stage is very me.
I have dear friend Carl to thank for that I played one of nights in London some years ago and he followed me since. We reconnected and I played for him again at The Magic Garden in Battersea (London) and went on his radio show. Carl asked me to play the stage.
For sure it helped with the music, picked up a few new followers but mostly I guess it is when people see you did it it does make them take notice, which is great and a shame also in some ways.
You’ve also been live in the studio on Talk Sport twice, with another show forthcoming. What do you enjoy most about these shows?
Yep, loved being in the Talk Sport studios. Was unreal and nerve wracking at first. I tweeted something silly one morning to Tom Latchem the shows host and we had a back and forth and the producer Carl contacted me.
I love the fact I get to do the man in the pub rant “I KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT FOOTBALL” live to thousands of people more than playing the new songs! That is every football or sports fans dream. Long suffering Everton fan here. Also the host is a proper genuine good guy who has the same sense of humour and likes his old rave music like myself so was just lucky I guess to randomly reach out one morning.
Tell us about your single ‘Forever Be’. What’s it about?
‘Forever Be’ my new single although sounding different, really isn’t as such. I was a bit worried about doing it with full band production and studio tricks as I have always been that boy with the guitar. I guess there is SO much of that now I wanted to move away and also to make the song sound the best it could.
I have always written a couple of songs here and there with big choruses. I am heavily influenced by Chicago, Bread and other 80s rock power ballad bands. So I wanted to take my little folk song and give it that feel. I watch the modern Tinder world of dating how people never build a relationship and ditch one move on to the next.
That whole “us” thing, “you and I against the world”, even though you can be angry at each other at times, it does not mean you don’t love each other. The video looks like the end of a relationship till the end it is not they love each other. They are safe with one another.
How will we hear your music develop throughout 2018?
Throughout this year I am putting out singles with videos, this will then be made in to an EP available for free. I just feel for myself this is the way forward, it allows me to keep new music coming and focus on one at a time and it is a visual online world now. I am working with a producer Nick Kozuch. I became a fan of his band ‘The October Game’ after seeing them live randomly once (you should check them out). Knowing the ideas he put in to their sound I knew it would work and he would “get it”. I am currently working on the new track ‘Tribe’ with him now. Expect more of the full sound again.
When and where can we expect to see you live next?
So far I only have one gig in the diary, have emails going back and forth about others and will be posting them up in due course. I am kind of lucky as I have worked hard on the circuit for years I can afford to do ones I enjoy more now. Saturday, July 28th at Nambucca in London I will be playing for a very good cause, PoetstIN, a charity that helps mental well-being, suicide prevention and rehabilitation through creative writing workshops and mentor-ship. It is an all-day event with many great acts.
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
Living artist… the dots are me thinking hard! I would want someone who is still on top of their game now, Brian Wilson is still alive but obviously not putting out the same level of genius I would love to write with him of course though.
But as a NOW artist would say Run The Jewels or Kirsty Merryn. Run The Jewels as they do something so excitingly different yet retro and I reckon they would be able to do a crossover that would actually work. Kirsty is an amazing folk singer songwriter doing really well right now on circuit. I was lucky enough to do a gig with and have followed since.
Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
Always be unashamedly you! Anyone one who tries to make you doubt yourself does not have your best interests or happiness at heart, ignore it and be who you are. We learn this too late and some people never do.
Watch the video for ‘Forever Be’ on Papaphone’s Facebook page and follow for news and tour dates.