Get to know rising star Olly Chamberlain

Brought up by classically trained parents, becoming a singer/songwriter was always on the cards for London-based artist Olly Chamberlain. With his new EP ready for release and great things on the horizon, Olly sits down to talk about career goals, collaborations and clarinets. Make sure you check out Olly’s irresistibly catchy new single ‘Fear’ with its R&B edge and captivating vocals.

How would you describe your sound?

These past couple of years I have been experimenting with my sound. I have an eclectic combination of genres, but I would say it’s a mixture of soul, pop and R&B. I play the guitar and piano so some tracks are more singer/songwriter.


Tell us about your track ‘Fear’?

Well, it’s basically about the current climate; you know, this world we find ourselves living in. Especially today, the media pushes a lot of what we know onto us and it is often warped. I try to put a human side into what I write, and ‘Fear’ is about wanting to leave all of this behind. It’s actually very ironic, I think it was the day after I penned the track in the studio, Trump won the presidency. It was clear to me then how much fear there is globally.


Who were your musical inspirations growing up?

A lot of the music I listened to was during long car journeys with my dad. My dad was also a musician so he had great taste. We would listen to Elton John’s Yellow Brick Road, Graceland by Paul Simon and Billy Joel, and then as I got older I discovered soul, blues and R&B.

Both of my parents were classically trained musicians; they met as students at The Royal Academy of Music. My mum was a pianist and my dad was a clarinettist, so they were also a huge inspiration – music was a core part of my upbringing.
I also played the clarinet and piano. I did my grade eight clarinet when I was 14 and then felt as though I had nothing to work towards so I began to teach. You wouldn’t believe how many clarinets I have at my parents’ house – there are probably around 40! I started to teach myself guitar when I was 15. My siblings were also musical – my twin was exceptionally talented and we used to jam a lot – but I was the only one who decided to make a career of it.


If you could collaborate with anyone, who would that be?

This is a tough one as it’s pretty much anyone I’ve been influenced by, like Stevie Wonder, Tracy Chapman, John Legend, John Mayer and Elton John. In terms of newer emerging acts, I would love to work with NAO, SOHN, Zac Abel and Glass Animals to name a few. I would also love to do a feature with Snakehips. I can really picture something amazing between us – I’m a big fan.

You have a gig on 1st June at The Bedford in Balham, London where you will be performing your new track ‘Fear’. Do you have any more shows or festivals coming up?

It’s early days but there might be a UK tour in the pipeline, which is exciting. I will be sure to make a big song and dance about it beforehand though.


What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the industry?

I’m convinced most people don’t make it because they give up. It’s an unforgiving and tough industry which can leave you feeling deflated, but my advice would be don’t give up if you truly believe you can make it.


You say that you don’t get nervous before you go on stage but do you have any pre-gig rituals?

Yes, it’s a very odd one though; I make sure I don’t talk to anyone before I go on stage. It sounds silly but I want to protect my voice as much as I can and perform to my best ability. I will chat away to everyone after I’ve done my set.

I did Pixie Lott’s Presents Ella Guru, which is an acoustic night. A lot of my friends and supporters turned up which was amazing but I couldn’t talk to them. In the end I had to blank them as I couldn’t keep explaining why I was being odd! It’s a form of meditation really.

What are you career goals? Where would you like to see yourself in a few years?

Like every artist I just want to be heard. People will judge for themselves once they hear me so I just want to keep the momentum going and release more music. I want to play at all of the festivals, well most of them, I don’t think I would fit in at Download Festival. Saying that, I used to play in a heavy metal band when I was 14 years old, and we thought we were very cool. I think it’s a rite of passage to be in a terrible band as a teen!


You studied for a degree in philosophy. Do you think this helped with your song writing?

I get asked this a lot. You would think the degree would help me write deep and meaningful songs but I’m not sure it helped as much as you would think. I took philosophy because I hoped it would give me answers but it made me question everything a whole lot more. Now I’m really into physics – especially quantum mechanics. It’s challenged all my previous beliefs and changed my perception of reality. Imagine a computer that relies on the multiverse for it’s processing power – that’s pretty mental! That’s the sort of thing that really excites me. If I could find the spare time, I would love to study the subject at university level. It wouldn’t be a vocational decision as I still love to sing. I’m probably a bit of a nerd.


So, what is your Fault?

I’m gluten intolerant but here I am eating a croissant. I’m going to suffer big time for this but it’s my fault!


Find Olly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Words Flora Neighbour

Photography Stephanie YT

Styling Michael Grant