“I feel like it was something innate in me”: In Conversation with Rhodes

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After a very late start that was nearly a no-show, singer-songwriter Rhodes and his band finally graced the stage at The Ruby Lounge on the first date of Dot to Dot Festival to an expectant crowd and played a sadly reduced set of raw and intense tracks that highlighted this young artist’s unique style. Catching up with the man himself, Sam Rhodes, backstage after the show, we talk about where his flair for deep songwriting comes from and how it feels to have come this far.

You got on in the end then, after a bit of an eventful start!
Yes I did. It was really crazy traffic, we took the scenic route though which was nice.

Adding to the interesting questions, what inspired you to pursue music?
I still don’t know if anything inspired me as such, I feel like it was something that was more innate in me. My dad loves music and my mum’s very creative; they had instruments around the whole time. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

Your songs have been noted for being very deep and authentic. What kind of things inspire you to write?
It’s been family things and relationships – not just romantic relationships, more sort of friendship and the way some relationships we choose and some we don’t; the way they work and why we hold onto some people and not others and things like that. And also just observing other people’s situations. I like to write a message in songs for people or friends, if they are going through a hard time maybe.

You’ve had some pretty cool tour moments so far, like Glastonbury, London Grammar and Sam Smith. What’s been your highlight so far?
I think touring with people like Sam Smith, that’s very inspiring. It’s mind blowing because when I was touring with Sam Smith he was big but he wasn’t as big as he is now. I saw it go like that, before he went big, before it went global. It was just amazing seeing that happen. But things like Radio 1 Big Weekend this time last year – that was one I won’t forget because I didn’t think in a million years Radio 1 would listen to me or even play me, let alone invite me to play at that. It was a highlight.

Obviously you’ve gone up quite quickly and things are going really well for you. What keeps you grounded?
I just know that I’ve got a lot further to go and a lot to prove and a lot to live up to. People seem to be liking me at the moment and are saying very nice things, but I think it’s in my nature to self-doubt and self-critique a lot. At first you think it’s just you that feels that way and then you meet other people and that everyone, well most people, feel the same. Some people absolutely adore themselves, which is quite fascinating.

If you could work with any artist alive or dead tomorrow, who would it be?
It would probably be somebody like… Arthur Lee. He’s probably my favourite. He was a psychedelic songwriter in the sixties, had a band called Love. It’s something my dad gave me when I was younger and I literally couldn’t stop listening to it for years. Just the things he writes about and the way he says them, I love them. So that would probably be my dream.

What’s on the horizon for you? You’ve just released EPs so far, is there an album on the way?
Yeah, there’s an album coming out on 4 September, which got announced a week ago. I finished it a while ago really, but I’ve just been writing a lot so I’ve been putting more songs into the mix and trying to figure out the best track listing and all that stuff – sort of sculpting the album out.

Is it all new stuff, or are you bringing in songs from the EPs?
The main singles I’ve released will be on there, it’s kind of 75% new. My new single ‘Close Your Eyes’ is coming out on 11 June, look out for that, and the video for it is out now. That’ll be on there.

Originally written for and published on Gigslutz

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