Rhys Lewis’ heartfelt and earnest songs has seen his popularity continue to grow. With two singles under his belt and his debut album coming up, the future looks bright for this 23 year old singer-songwriter from Oxford. We managed to catch up with Rhys while he prepares for his headline show at London’s Borderline on the 30th of March.
What bands do you find inspirational?
“Growing up I listened to a lot of the classic records and played in function bands. I guess I’ve got a real affiliation with all the old-school soul stuff like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Bill Withers and Carole King. People like Bombay Bicycle Club, Lucy Rose and even artists like Bruno Mars inspire me as well. The kind of stuff he does has little throwbacks and I really like that.”
Have you got a favourite song to perform live?
“There’s one song called ‘Keep Me Awake‘ and I really enjoy that one because it starts really intimate and slow. Then it kind of grows into a much bigger arrangement at the end. It’s kinda got a nice journey.”
What are your plans for 2017?
“I’ve got a few more tracks to finish on the album then it needs to be mixed. I’ve been in the studio so long, writing and recording, so it’ll be nice to actually get out there and play the songs live. I’ve got some shows coming up, I’m playing Bushstock, Barn On the Farm and I’ve got my own show at the end of the month in London at the Borderline. At the end of the summer there should be some more dates for my own headline tour too.”
Do you prefer being in the studio or playing live?
“They’re so different, I love them both for different reasons. I love the intensity of the studio environment where you’re really putting everything under the microscope and layering up different parts. When I’m playing live I get that amazing reward of actually being in front of a crowd and getting their energy from every song I play.”
Have you got a dream venue that you would love to play?
“I would love to play Alexandra Palace. It’s such a big venue where you’re inside but it feels like you’re outside. It’s just quite a quirky strange music venue and I really liked it when I saw Ben Howard play there a couple of years ago.”
Your songs are quite personal, do you ever have anyone call you up annoyed?
“There’s one song I did and before I put that up I sent the song to the girl that it was about. I just said I’m putting this online but I wanted you to hear and see it first because it’s about you. That was probably the most personal song I’ve ever written and for that reason it felt appropriate to tell her. With a lot of the other songs I’ve kind of written them quite far away from when the relationships ended so it hasn’t felt appropriate. I’m expecting maybe a few calls when a few more of the songs are released though.”
What artists are you currently listening to?
“Quite a lot of different stuff like Samm Henshaw, Tom Walker, Erin Alan Cane, Michael Kiwanuka and Billie Martin. Bruno Major has just released some great tracks too. I just listen to all sorts. There’s a guy called Mo Evans who’s supporting me at the end of the month and his voice is absolutely incredible.”
If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you would be doing?
“I’ve had a few weird jobs. I used to work as a chef when I was 16-19 so maybe I would be doing something like that. I really enjoyed it and I was quite passionate about food as I was growing up. A while back I sort of fell into doing TV and Radio Jingles so I could still be doing a bit of that.”
What’s the worst gig you’ve played?
I think it was a place called 93 Feet East or something like that, it’s a bar in Brick Lane. We turned up and we were basically playing to an empty room. We probably got paid 20 quid between five of us and maybe got a free can of Red Stripe.
What’s the best gig you’ve played?
“Playing my first ever headline London Show was amazing and the same for Oxford. I played at Hyde Park for the British Summer Time Festival and I was playing in front of 12,000 people on the main stage, it was ridiculous and so different to anything I’ve experienced before. I got to play In Berlin and it felt like quite a different atmosphere. Not to slag off British crowds but I found that the Berlin crowd was a lot more engaged and there were literally no phones out.”