FAULT Magazine Reviews: HotPot, Chinatown London

Photography: Rob Greig

 

Summer is fast approaching and with that in mind FAULT is on the quest to bring you the very best of dining experiences in London for our 2018 “where to dine this summer guide”.

Today we present to you Hot Pot, the quintessential group dining experience for friends and family. Hot Pot is of course nothing new, for over one thousand years it has allowed groups of people to come together in a shared cooking experience to prepare and enjoy food cooked at your very own table. With the newly opened Hot Pot restaurant located on Wardour Street and right in the heart of London’s Chinatown, we headed down to see if Hot Pot could still be enjoyed as part of a summertime experience.

Photography: Rob Greig

Walking into the restaurant, it’s clear that it’s already a hit; despite it being a Wednesday evening, the restaurant was still a hive of chatter as friends caught up for their slow-paced postwork meetups. With two floors the second to be opened later in the year. It’s important to mention that the décor and arrangements are well put together as opposed to some other venues within the area. Every ornament complements the next without being garish or thrown together; it’s truly a place you’d feel comfortable.

As a group dining venue, seating is arranged in tables of 6, 8 and 10 with private dining rooms available if you’d like a more exclusive experience. In the centre of each table, you’ll find the hot plate on which all of your cooking will take place.

Now down to the food! Diners have the choice of five broths to cook chosen ingredients within which are listed below.

Mala Sichuan Spicy, Tom Yum, Chicken, Clear and Vegetarian.

We had the chance to sample all five and to my own surprise Vegetarian was my favourite – any vegetarian will tell you that some restaurants can really miss the mark with their vegetarian options usually resulting in disappointingly lacklustre flavours but Hot Pot is defiantly not an example of this. I’d highly recommend the Vegetarian or Chicken Broth for meat eaters who aren’t great with spicy food but are still looking for flavoursome dishes with rich spices.

Photography: Rob Greig

After finding your broth, it’s then time to pick your ingredients to cook with it. This is somewhat daunting but luckily the restaurant staff are on hand to help pick dishes which complement each broth’s individual flavours. You can pick from a vast array of ingredients, all of which are listed below.
Rib-eye, wagyu, marinated chicken, pork belly, sea bass, king prawns, shrimp wontons, Scottish lobster, fresh abalone, shitake mushrooms, golden needle mushroom, sweet potato, fresh tofu, crab claws and quail eggs. 

While a large option is available, make sure to ring ahead and see what they actually have available that day. We know from last year’s “Datenight Guide’ that you’re all a big fan of lobster and crab however on this occasion the restaurant did not have the option available even with lobsters in the tank display, so if it’s a must, be sure to confirm before making the trip.

Despite it being a strange concept to have to cook your own food at the table, it’s actually surprisingly fun and interactive. An unexpected plus side to everyone participating in cooking and dining is that it drives conversation as you comment on the different flavours and discuss favourite dishes with your table. What really would be handy would be a graph with cooking times for each ingredient, left to our own devices there was a worry about making sure each ingredient was cooked properly and with little guidance, we were forced to either overcook the food or to risk eating it before it was fully cooked and neither option is ideal. That being said, it’s a new venue with all the potential to add in these features at a later date.

What really would be handy would be a graph with cooking times for each ingredient, left to our own devices there was a worry about making sure each ingredient was cooked properly and with little guidance, we were forced to either overcook the food or to risk eating it before it was fully cooked and neither option is ideal. That being said, it’s a new venue with all the potential to add in these features at a later date.

Photography: Rob Greig

We tried a little of everything available and your dining experience is definitely down to you thanks to their wide variety of options. If you’re after something light, you can go with wontons and shrimp cooked in a light vegetarian or clear broth and if you’re looking for something more hearty then pair the ribeye and sweet potato cooked in a tom yum broth. If there’s one thing you get when dining at Hot Pot, it’s the pleasure of choice which is a massive advantage.

Is Hot Pot a must this summer? Despite some growing pains which we imagine will be ironed out in the coming months, it’s a resounding yes. Despite it sounding more suitable for the winter season, the broths are actually pleasantly cooling. Located in the convenient but often bustling Chinatown, it’s  a godsend to have a place where you can take things slow and enjoy a meal at your own pace with your loved ones. If you’re looking for a truly unique dining experience, then look no further than Hot Pot.

Address:
17 Wardour Street
London
W1D 6PJ

Opening Times:
Monday-Wednesday: midday to midnight
Thursday – Saturday: midday to 00.30am
Sunday: midday to 11.00pm

www.hotpotrestaurants.com
Price:
Hot Pot is £8 for the table and ingredients range from £5 for vegetables, mushrooms and tofu, £5.50 for marinated pork, £7.50 for mussels, £10.50 for scallops and £20.50 for premium wagyu.

 

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‘Faux – The Real Deal’ – FAULT Magazine in conversation with “dirty pop quartet”, Faux

 

Self-styled ‘dirty pop quartet’, Faux, are standing on the brink of their biggest year yet, with the recent release of single Hot-Headed, a main stage spot at Teddy Rocks Festival and supporting Counterfeit on their UK tour this April. Luckily for us, vocalist/guitarist, Lee Male, managed to find a few minutes to sit and chat with FAULT about the band’s roots, guilty pleasures, and life on the road.

 

So, let’s talk about your new single, Hot-Headed – you’ve mentioned previously that this song is about dealing with a big personality within a small group of friends; is there a particular story behind that? 

It was really just topical in my life at the time, so it felt organic to write about that subject. The funny thing is that people assume songwriters are generally writing about other people, but that song is actually about me! It was kind of about me within my own friendship group and realising I’m a bit of a pain in the bum

Well, either way, the track sounds awesome – is this any indicator of the style we can expect from a new album or EP?

At the moment, we’re continuously writing as much as we can, like most bands. I think the topics are always going to be quite eclectic because I do like to write about what’s going on around me. Some of my friends write stuff about stories they like or books they’re interested in, but I haven’t done that yet. Not saying I wouldn’t ever do it, but at the moment I’m at a stage where I like to be able to relate to what I’m saying on a direct level

I think, if we were to demo an album now, it would probably be a mixed bag in regards to the tone of the songs and even the overall vibe – we’d have some happy songs, and some that are a bit more grumpy.

You call yourselves a dirty pop quartetbut what exactly is dirty pop? I’m guessing it’s got nothing to do with Pop by NSYNC?!

Firstly, NSYNC are great, just putting that out there! I think ,as much as we’d like to ignore it, we’re always going to sound a little bit emo, because that’s the music we’ve grown up listening to and we just have that kind of edge to what we write. But, as we’ve come into our mid ‘20s, we’re moving on from heavy bands and we do feel that we want to make interesting pop music now. We want to write songs that we would want to hear and, at the moment, we’re mostly listening to indie and pop music. It feels natural and it’s where we want to be, but I think that we will always be a bit more raw than typical pop; someone described us as ‘dirty pop’ once, and it just kind of stuck!

NSYNC aside, who do you look to for influences or inspirations, musically?

Well, it’s a bit of a tall order as they’re both incredible bands ,as far as I’m concerned but probably The 1975, and Brand New – I’ve been into them for the longest time, so they’ll always be a massive part of shaping how I’d like to sound. And stuff like Blossoms too – I guess we’re just trying to find a good middle ground. We’re still on a bit of a learning curve, but I feel like this is the year that we’re going to come into our stride and find the balance of where we were, and where we want to be.

Do you have any guilty pleasures that you love to listen to?

I like a lot of stuff that I probably shouldn’t  I like a lot of Phil Collins, and I like really poppy stuff like Ariana Grande, I can’t lie! But I don’t really feel guilty about listening to that because it’s great. 

And how did Faux come to be – did you all meet in Southampton

I and Luke, our bassist, were doing the Southampton music scene in two separate bands, but we knew each other through mutual friends. Then both of our bands kind of came to a natural end with people going to university and stuff, so we got together and started jamming. Jamesour drummer, went to university with Luke, and we managed to convince him to get involved. 

Then we went to The Ranch production house in Southampton and we met Daly, who was a producer there, and eventually, Daly joined the band too. Everyone got to spend time together beforehand and had a chance to become really good friends, which makes life a lot easier.

Are there any other bands from the Southampton scene that you think we should be looking out for?

Creeper are great, and they’re doing really well at the moment, and Signals – I’d definitely recommend checking out with them. I mean, we’re all friends, but they’re also just two great bands who are doing – or will do – really well.  We’re quite blessed that we’ve got bands from Southampton that are doing well across a lot of genres – from indie rock bands to stuff like Bury Tomorrow, which is really heavy metal. It’s a good mixed bag here.

Next up for you guys is a UK tour with Counterfeit and Tigress, do you know these guys well already?

No actuallywe’ve had a couple of chats just to say, like ‘Hi, we’rthe guys who are going to be annoying you for two weeks‘, that kind of thingWe haven’t met in person yet, so hopefully we’ll be saying hello to the right people on the first day and not the bar staff or something. We couldn’t be more excited about it – it’s a bit like Christmas Eve, we just want to go now!

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So, this is going to be your biggest tour yet, but what have been the highlights and challenges on previous tours?

The best part is definitely meeting people who have heard you for the first time, and – hopefully – hearing good things from them. That’s a real highlight when people say you were really tight and that they enjoyed it. With recordings being so good these days, it is easy to get sloppy live, so we work really hard to that how we sound on the record is reflected when we play live

As for hardships… probably just four boys being with each other every minute of the day, for a long time. I’ve always thought that being in a band is kind of like having a girlfriend, but instead of a girl, it’s three guys! You’ve got to be aware that everyone has different personalities and traitsbut we’re fortunate that everyone does get on well. We’re all very close, but you don’t have much personal space. or time to yourself.

Do you have any pre-show rituals to psych yourselves up before going on stage?

I guess just boring stuff, like having a warm- up? This will be our longest tour and everyone is a bit nervous, so we’re going to go into it pretty reserved and focus on keeping ourselves healthy. We just like to hang out and relax, then when it’s time to play we just get on with it. I feel like we need a ritual now though! 

April is a busy month for you guys – as well as the tour, you’re are at Teddy Rocks Festival too, so are there any bands you’re hoping to have a chance to see there?

Yeah, we did Teddy Rocks last year as well so we’re really pleased to do it again, it’s a great cause. I’ve never seen Twin Atlantic live, so I’m excited to see what they’re all about, and Scouting for Girls are playing – they’ve been around a long time, so I’m expecting them to be good live. Our friends Gun Shy are playing too, and Tigress. It’s an awesome festival ,whichever stage you find yourself at there’s going to be something cool to watch.

And lastly, what is your fault?

I think, as a band, we over analyse everything we do a bit too muchLike, when an artist says you just have to walk away from a picture because you’ll keep adding colour, I think we do that playing live and when we’re recording – especially with live shows, actuallyWe want to play at 100% every night, but I guess we’re a little too hard on ourselves sometimes, we should just enjoy the situation and relax a little.

For me, I think my main fault is that I really like to have all of my ducks in a row. So, if someone says they’re going to be at my house at 4pm, but then they turn up at ten past, they’ve probably got two emails, two texts, a WhatsApp message, four phone calls and an Instagram DM form me! I can adapt to plans being changed, so long as I’m told. I just like a good solid plan, and when that goes amiss I need someone to take the reins and tell me what’s happeningOnce I get a plan in my head, then a plan B isn’t really an option – it’s either plan A, or I have a nervous breakdown! 

Catch Faux on tour with Counterfeit and Tigress between 18-29 April or at Teddy Rocks Festival on Friday 28 April – in the meantime, check out the video for Hot Headed here.

Words: Jennifer Parkes

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Pixie Lott – Returns to FAULT for an exclusive Online covershoot

Shorts:  Dsquared2 | Top: OWNTHELOOK.com | Heels: ASH

 

Returning to the music scene after three years would be seen as a challenge is anyone’s book. However, Pixie Lott is embracing this new chapter with vigour. After competing on Strictly Come Dancing, starring in a West End play and coaching on The Voice UK, Pixie is back with a bang. Now working on her fourth studio album which is set for release later this year, we quizzed Pixie on her brand new dance track, her love of acting, the best advice she’s ever been given and accepting her FAULTs.

 

Your new song ‘Baby’ has recently been released – tell us a bit more about it.

It’s a dance track which is really exciting for me because it’s so fun and I just love going out. I’ve not released music for a while so it’s nice to do something fun with it – it’s a very different sound for me. My favourite kind of music always has a soulful vibe so to have a dance track to come out first is really exciting. That being said, I have an acoustic version recorded where it’s literally just me and the piano. So when I perform it, I get the best of both worlds!
What were the inspirations behind this music?

Just having fun really! It’s a collaboration with Anton Powers – we met each other years ago at Party in the Park festival and we reconnected when I was in Ibiza with my best friends from school and he was out there djing. We said “let’s get in the studio” and it finally happened!

Dress: Laurel | Jewellery: Links of London

 

Last year you starred in Breakfast at Tiffany’s on the West End. How does acting on stage compare to singing?


It’s completely different. I love them both; singing is my number one passion, it’s what I will do forever – I couldn’t live without it, but acting is something that I really enjoy and I’m learning. That’s what’s so exciting about acting – you’re always learning with every new project and every new script you’re learning a new character. That’s why it really excites me, there’s so many different avenues. I would love to go into it more in the future whilst singing is something I’ve done my whole life.

Skirt: Genevieve Sweeney | Body: Boux Avenue | Jacket: Joshua Kane | Boots: Ego

 

Will you be acting again any time soon?
I think music will always take the front seat but if the right project with the right script comes up and they think I’m right for it and they want me to be a part of it as well then I will one hundred per cent do it. I love anything in the performing arts so anything that comes up which feels right, I will definitely do it. I want to keep learning.

 

What would be your dream role?
I think something similar [to Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s] but on TV or film. I learnt so much in the theatre and I would definitely do it again, it’s so much hard work – the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I would love to get experience in the TV and film world because I’ve only done a tiny bit.

Bra: Bjorn Borg | Net top: Miss PAP | Leather: Richards Radcliffe Heels: Chie Mihara | Trousers: J.Kwan

 

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My dad always said “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”, which I always go by. I think the most important thing is happiness, to enjoy yourself as much as possible because life’s too short, nobody knows what’s going to happen, so just to try to embrace every little moment and really appreciate your friends and family.

Flat cap: Joshua Kane Leather: Sadie Clayton Body: Boux Avenue Shorts: Voir Lab Boots: Ego


Your life is followed closely by the media. How do you deal with the public interest?
I think by just by acting a little bit oblivious to it, not really reading into it too much. I’m sort of used to it I guess. I don’t let it affect me. I still do exactly the same things that I did when I was at school before I released any music, I still have exactly the same friends. We still go to Nando’s and Pizza Express and still have just as much fun.

 

Trousers: AQ/AQ Top: Sadie Clayton Jewellery: Julia Burness Heels: Furla

 

What is your FAULT?
I have lots of FAULTS! Time-keeping and forgetfulness, which really go hand in hand! I’m also quite unorganised. Those sort of traits will always stay with me. I’ve gotten a lot better than I was but I think it’s just in my bones unfortunately. My sister is the complete opposite – she’s so organised and always on time, everything she does is planned and thought out to the utmost, whereas I am nothing like that.

 

 

Words: Aimee Phillips

Photography Rossella Vanon

Styling: Rachel Gold @ Red Represents

Make up: Christabel Draffin using Charlotte Tilbury

Hair: Enzo Volpe @ Mandy Coakley using Color Proof

Nails: Georgia Hart@Stella Creatives using Orly

Photography assistance: Jessica Gates

Retouching: Rossella Vanon and Alice Galiotto

Location: Huddle Studios

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FAULT Reviews: ArtBaB Fair, Bahrain

The Kingdom of Bahrain may be small but it punches above its weight in the wealth and new tech stakes. It is now establishing itself as a leading cultural destination in the Gulf via ArtBaB.

Guests at ArtBaB

Guests at ArtBaB

 

FAULT’s sister publication, The Art Collector, visited ArtBaB (Art Bahrain across Borders) which is just in its second year. ArtBaB’s mission is to create a platform for both local and international galleries to engender a dialogue on how art bridges geographical locations by a shared aesthetic and artistic language. The incubation of high-quality home-grown artists juxtaposed against international ones created a fascinating platform for comparison of both the differences and the similarities.

There are several factors that contribute to making an art fair globally significant. The foundation is, as ever, great art; the structure is heavyweight collectors; the organisation is logistics, sponsors, media and invited guests.  This is what has made the Frieze Art Fairs a superbrand.

A spade of art fairs in the UAE means that ArtBaB fits nicely into the emerging rhetoric of the Middle East as a cultural hot spot that is shaping up as a formidable contender to the West.

The requisite art-collector-guest ratio that is needed for a successful art fair is beginning to coalesce around ArtBaB. The fair is still young, but it means that ArtBaB is able to cultivate high-quality artists and works whilst building a more substantial art platform. The fair has already attracted renowned Middle Eastern artists and a handful of high-end commercial galleries from around the world such as Maddox Gallery, London, XVA Gallery, Dubai, Project 88, Mumbai and Bait Munza, Oman.

DSC_6536

The artists

For the seasoned art circuit-hopper the art might come across as not edgy enough. At the same time, the works on show were underpinned by great skill and good taste. This is art that is not pandering to trends but has its own agenda. Some of the works had an iconic quality about them and will pass the test of time. It is, after all, the strength of talent that will place Middle Eastern (and Bahraini) artists into the cannon of contemporary art.

A good example are the works of  Lulwa Al Khalifa defined by her own mission statement:

“Today art is weighed down by pretension that defies its true purpose, to inspire, evoke, provoke and delight. I believe that art is for everyone, it should be shared and appreciated.”

A self-taught painter, her oil canvasses are a mixture of abstract expressionism and the figurative. The blend creates a mellifluous hazy texture in the background, which is often in stark contrast to the very real and very beautiful figures in the foreground. The result is a magical – filled with colour and emotions.

You can view a sample of her works here.

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Omani artist Ahmed Al-Shukali was one of the few Omani artists exhibiting at ArtBaB. His introspective portraits draw in the viewer who are confronted with a very raw and real view into the everyday life of the working man. The portrait photographs are intimate and, relatively uncontrived, show every human’s basic essence – with the only difference being the eyes, which, as the proverb goes, are the window to one’s soul. Equally impressive are the expansive landscapes which breathe new life into an often empty space.

Structure: the Collectors

The fair has already attracted a few patrons from the Gulf and a trickle of quality collectors from around the world, clearly aiming at becoming a contender to the well-established neighboring ArtDubai.

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The fair

With several well-known international galleries firmly entrenched at ArtBaB, it is evident that in a few years the fair will be booming with talent from around the world.

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In terms of juxtaposition between art from the West and that from the Middle East, the former was dominated by trendy styles that are recycled in a lively manner with an array of pop art, the conceptual and the abstract. The Middle Eastern art, on the other hand, appeared to retain its traditional roots all the while experimenting with contemporary ideas. The Middle Eastern rhetoric is supported by traditional motifs and references, and enhanced by contemporary ideas and styles. It is already both well-received and exhibits all the hallmarks of enduring relevance.

 

 

 

ArtBaB is evolving organically, striving to combine authenticity with quality, as it grows to join the ranks of international art fairs. Having already generated sales of over 200,000 Bahraini Dinars this year alone, it is already making serious strides in that direction – both in terms of the works on show and in terms of high-profile attendees.

Art Bab

With thanks to sponsors Gulf Air for assisting with the flights and the Four Seasons Bahrain.


Originally posted on The Art Collector

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TCTS’ Dancefloor Anatomy Fault Playlist

I’ve put together some of my favourite records featuring anatomical references and body parts. Fair warning, I’ve been quite liberal in testing the limits of this, some links are tenuous like.. “call you BACK”…

1. TCTS – Do It Like Me (Icy Feet) feat. Sage the Gemini & Kelis

When I wrote this I wanted to make a club record with a bit of swagger, as I’d just bought myself some new trainers and felt my feet looked good – hence Icy Feet. For it to turn into what it has, and to now feature these two artists is mad.

2. MANT – Bodywerk

This is getting a lot of play in my sets at the moment. I’m a big fan of these guys, and their new record on Salardo’s Sola? imprint is huge.

3. Ninetoes – Finder

In my opinion this is a modern classic. One of my favourite DJing memories from last summer is playing this on the terrace of Amnesia, it’s always such a switch up and always gets a warm reaction.

4. DJ Funk & Will Clarke – Booty Percolatin’

A typically fun and tongue in cheek record from Dirtybird mainstay Will Clarke and DJ Funk, I’m always reaching for this one.

5. Rene Amesz – Mind, Body & Soul

This guy has such a good sound, all his records are really chunky and groovy. Thankfully one of them included an anatomical reference so I could put him in the list!

6. Claptone feat. Jaw – No Eyes (Kyodai Remix)

Claptone has had a big few years, and this track is a remix of one from his album. I started getting really into Kyodai after hearing one of their tunes in a Laurent Garnier boiler room, and this is a great example of what they do.

7. Josh Butler & Bontan – Call You Back

Super tenuous link, however I was determined to squeeze it into the list. Both these guys are incredibly talented musicians, and this collab was never going to disappoint.

8. Lovebirds – Want You In My Soul ft. Stee Downes

For the sake of this exercise the soul is a part of the anatomy. This is an Ibiza sunrise tune, its very sexy.

9. The Bucketheads – The Bomb (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind) (Armand Van Helden Re- edit)

Another classic record, just a total party vibe. Written by Kenny Dope and reworked by AVH, it’s a pretty hefty slice of house royalty on one record. Also worth checking out is Federico Scavo’s ‘BUG’ which samples the horn type sound, and also gets heavy rotation in my sets.

10. Laurent Garnier – The Man With The Red Face

Laurent Garnier is one of my heroes, and this is a masterpiece. Those keys chords, and that saxophone solo.

Honorary Mentions:

Frankie Knuckles – Your Love

Armand Van Helden – Wings

Emanuel Satie & Roberto Rodriguez – Ride Your Body (Sabb Afterdark Remix)

Tiga – Blondes have more fun (Jonas Rathsman remix)

Scuba – Hardbody

Lauren Lane – Diary of a Madwoman

Do It Like Me (Icy Feet) feat. Sage the Gemini & Kelis is out now.

 

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JP Cooper discusses new single ‘Passport Home’ in exclusive shoot and interview

Having amassed a cult following over a lengthy career on the festival circuit, JP Cooper has now officially launched himself to stardom after a string of hits such as “September Song” and “Birthday”, with the latter being on the soundtrack of the latest 50 Shades movie. With the release of his new single “Passport Home” and him having just finished a lengthy European tour I caught up with the man himself to chat about life as a musician on the cusp of stardom.

So what are you up to? You’ve just finished you Europe Tour, managed to lose your passport in the middle of nowhere?

It’s amazing; right now I’m kinda in the middle of a lot of radio promo, a lot of European stuff so basically I’m just flying a lot. We’re kinda going to 4 or 5 radio stations a day… Last week we were in Germany, out there for 3 days so a lot of performances and interviews. So, a lot of travelling, finishing off the record at the minute getting all sorts of mixes done on that. What else, in May we’ve got our first proper headline European tour going on which is exciting, so we’re just getting ready for that. And also we’ve got the Shepherd’s Bush show in May… Mainly it feels like I’m doing mostly promo, but I’m enjoying it, y’know just going to different places and getting a feel for how things are starting. It’s exciting. I’m just grateful that things are actually kicking off in other places, because it’s been lot of years putting this in, and finally seeing it, other territories getting on board with it and seeing the support come from them is amazing.

Yeah, because before this you’ve had 5 EPs and you’ve been putting out music and performing solidly for seven years. You had quite a cult following at festivals like Barn on the Farm and smaller festivals, but now you’ve had the success of Perfect Strangers, September Song and Birthday, how have things changed since then?

So obviously the Perfect Strangers thing was like, a random, one off, “Let’s see what happens” sort of thing, and that kinda opened up a lot more things internationally, I started getting a lot more interest from Europeans, and obviously the radio stations gave me more of a name. September Song was almost like we had to bridge the gap between “Classic Me” and the more poppy stuff. September Song did that perfectly y’know, so it’s put me on the map in a much more commercial way, so for now we’re kind of in a place where it’s getting those people to just follow me down the rabbit hole with where we’re going with the music. Yeah, things like seeing my monthly listens on Spotify go up has been crazy, and that changes everyone’s view of you in terms of radio stations and industry people so the last nine months have changed so much in regards to my status. Sadly that’s the way things are, you need to have that before people start really working you, but that’s happening, and it’s all good.

So I actually interviewed Jonas Blue a few months ago and he was very nice about you, it was quite cute actually – what was it like working together?

He’s a great guy; it’s weird because when we first met it was after we actually finished the song. Because we wrote it on Facetime together, and it’s the start of his career as well, obviously he’d had the big success of Fast Car but people were like “Well it’s a cover, so can he write?” y’know, is there anything that can continue this. But he’s amazingly talented when it comes to pop music; he’s really on point with it. It’s really nice to share the experience with someone where it’s new for him as well, so yeah, great guy, and I’m sure he’ll have a lot of success in the future really.
So you’re working on a new album, are we allowed to talk about it?
Yeah! Full album, the title is probably going to be “Rays from the Grey Skies”, 98% sure that’ll be it. At the minute we’ve narrowed it down to like 20 potential songs, we’ve just recorded so much work. So now we’re going to finish them, and that’ll go over to whether we release like a Deluxe or… the main album will be about 12 songs. We’re just figuring out which single is best to go with, it’s almost like having a look at what cards you have really and figuring out the best way to play them. The album will be with you before the summer, and yeah I’m feeling pretty relaxed about it really. There’s so many songs and so much material that I’m quite comfortable about it.

So this new album, would you say it’ll bridge the gap between the classic you and the more commercial side of things?
Yeah… I dunno whether I could say that about the album, that was more September Song really. The record is different, because what I’ve done with the album is, obviously when I started doing this I’d play the guitar, because most of the gigs I’d do I’d have to do them on my own. But certain tracks I’ve gone “Y’know what, this would work better on piano”, so there’s a few tracks on there that are mainly piano based… guitar kind of limits where you go with a song, sonically, so there’s moments of absolutely beautiful stripped back piano and vocal moments. I don’t know if everyone’s heard “Birthday” from the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack but we’ve got songs in that same pocket, a classic soul song with modern production. We’ve been trying to blend those two worlds really, of traditional and modern, but yeah overall there’s so many beautiful, heart-breaking moments on there. I think that’s what people loved about my earlier stuff was that it was just very honest and very heartfelt. That’s still the same, but it’s just a bit more piano instead of just me and the guitar. There’s only one or two acoustic songs on there really, most of the time I’ve been playing electric a lot more, in fact most of the time I don’t play the acoustic anymore, I just play the electric. Yeah it’s definitely been an evolution, and getting to a point where we’re putting out the first record and saying all of the EPs have been experimentation and figuring out where you are. The first album is a statement, kind of like “This is who I am” and it’s funny because a lot of people have made up their minds about who I am. I’m just trying to challenge that a little bit because I want to be free. I think we’re doing good… I’ve been amazed at the reaction; I was terrified when we put Perfect Strangers out. I just thought everyone would be like “What are you doing!?” – But people have been very understanding about collaboration and I think people listen to music differently these days compared to when I was a teenager.

Are there anymore collaborations on the album, or is it just you and the band?

There might be… We’re toying with the idea. Mainly the album was always going to be selfishly me. But we’re toying with the idea of a… if it was gonna be on a CD and people were still buying physical stuff, then it would be a secret track. We want it to be a part of the album but a bonus kind of thing. I don’t want to say what it is, but there’s potential. As far as the future goes, like, obviously after doing the Jonas Blue thing I got every tropical house DJ in the world asking me for stuff. I can’t turn into a feature artist, it’s not what I do, but the focus has definitely been on getting people back to what I’m doing. But in the future I’m always gonna be doing collaborations, it’s something that I love. You learn a lot from it and meet some great people and have a lot of great experiences. That’s something I’ll do in the future, but for now it’s just focusing on the record.
So what are you doing when you’re not pootling about on your son’s scooter, when you’re not recording or touring?

You know what? Usually if I have time off I’m just with the little one. At the minute it’s like, I need that time. For want of a better word, I’m owned by this work. If there’s a space in my diary it’ll get filled within a day. At the minute there’s like three people, I’ve got the live guy who works for me, the British part of the label, the main part of Island records that are saying “Well you need to finish the record and be continuing to write moving forward as well” and then you’ve got the international team at Universal who are trying to get me out to do promo. So I’ve got all three of those people going “We need you!” The international team want me to be in Europe, the live team want me to be booking more gigs, and the label want me to be working more on the record. If there’s ever a space then someone’s gonna jump in it, like for example, today was supposed to be a free day up until 3 or 4 days ago and now there’s things in it. My diary is theirs apart from when it comes to time with my boy, and even then there are times when big things come up and I’ve got to go and do that. But yeah, usually when there’s time off I’m at the park, or the swimming pool, or at the cinema, just chilling with him. That’s about it, other than that my evenings are mainly car crash TV and if I get anything free I just want to sit on the sofa and completely zone out.

So, Passport Home. I’m getting some real Macy Gray and Lighthouse Family vibes from this track; you’ve got the gospel choir going on… What’s the story behind it?

So the story behind the idea of the song came about because I actually lost my passport when I was in the states at the beginning of the year, and the day that I realised I’d lost it I had the studio session and I was kinda chatting away about losing my passport. I was like “We should write a song about it”, about the idea of not being able to get back home… Kind of because we got a little deeper into it and it’s not so easy for a lot of people to get around these days, without getting too political about things there’s a hell of a lot of people who are struggling to find their way back home. So I wanted to draw on that emotion and dig into that a little deeper, the idea of somebody being the person that allows you to get to your destination… Whether it’s a literal destination or a problem that you’re struggling with and there’s someone there who helps you get to the point you’re trying to reach. So that’s the idea behind it, that someone could be your passport to allow you to move forward. If that makes sense? It’s really nice to go back to the organic stuff, y’know the last few things that I’ve released; obviously the Jonas Blue thing was completely left of centre for me. September Song was a lot of production, even though there’s a classically written song under there there’s still a lot of modern production there. So we thought it’d be cool to do something that’s just a shout out to my beginnings, which is singing in gospel choirs, very straightforward strings, singers, piano… Production wise we thought it’d be cool to do that. Hopefully the world will embrace it like they did September Song and it’s an interesting little experiment really just to see how that kinda music exists in the commercial world at the minute. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

So I want to ask about live performances, are you going to have to drag a gospel choir out with you everywhere you play now?

As with everything, most of the songs I write I try to make sure that they work with just one instrument and one vocal. I’ve already done a couple of shows in the states where it’s just me and a piano… We’ve just done a live version actually that should be out at the end of the week, y’know a video with strings and a choir and that’s amazing. Whichever gigs we can get the backing singers into we will do, but obviously some thumbs will see whether that’s available or not. But yeah there’ll definitely be some shows where we’ll bring them along and have some fun with it.

What is your FAULT?

I’d say my biggest thing that I’m trying to work on is being a perfectionist. Just as far as a human point of view, I’m so lucky in what I’m doing and the gifts that I have and the opportunities that I’ve had to make that better. Sometimes I just focus so much on my failings or my own personal idea of my imperfections that it kinda takes away from what incredible stuff is happening in my life in a way that almost kind of ungrateful. I’ve been really working on it though, like it used to be that if I’d do a show and drop one note I’d just beat myself up for the whole night about it and forget that there were three people crying in the first row. Now when I do like radio station things then I’ve got a rule that I’ll do one take if I’m in a live thing, unless something terrible happens which luckily hasn’t happened yet. Every single person we go out with like from the international team are like “I can’t believe how fast you are!” because we’ll do one take of each song and then leave the studio, I don’t listen back to it. You just get too involved in little things that no one will ever notice. So that would be it, being a perfectionist, I wish I was freer. It’s not worth the heartache.

Get Passport Home right here.

Words Morton Piercewright

Photography Gerald Boye

Styling Edith Walker Millwood

Grooming Shamirah Sairally

Special thanks Zigfrid von Underbelly

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