THE debut single is a hard thing…
to get right (and predict). Every artist is nervous when it comes to putting out that very first effort – the world is watching and it is quite nerve-wracking! Luckily, when it comes to Fergus; here is an artist who strikes hard with You or Nothing - it is a song I was keen to find out about. He discusses its conception and story; the sort of music he grew up listening to – and whether there are any gigs before the end of this year.
I ask Fergus how he feels this year has panned out; a few of the records that have shaped who he is today; a collection of new artists he has been following; whether there are plans in place for 2018 – what Christmas has up its sleeve for the young songwriter.
Hi, Fergus. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! I’m well, thanks - hope you are too...
It’s Friday evening and I’m about to have breakfast for dinner. I’m actually moving at the moment so it’s been an eventful but exciting week; topped off yesterday by seeing the grading for my first music video (coming in January).
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
Ok; so, I’m Fergus (hi). I’m a singer/songwriter from Cambridge - now based in London. I’ve been writing songs for about four years. I tend to write based on my mood and often find my imagery and inspiration in nature. I hope people find some meaning in the songs which is relevant and personal to them.
That’s my aim, at least…
You or Nothing is your latest single. What is the story behind it?
My first! (Smiles).
I wrote You or Nothing almost three years ago - during a particularly low time. I never even uploaded or performed it. I was living in Bristol with a friend in a mouldy flat. I’d been trying the singer-songwriter thing there and felt I’d failed. We were both super-down - no friends (apart from our kind neighbours); no direction, no love - and we both ended up moving away a couple of months later (still best friends!). So, I think that’s where the desperation and craziness come from, lyrically.
It feels nice and poetic to me that this song is now the first of what is, honestly, my rebirth.
Jake Gosling produced it. What was it like working with such an experienced producer?
An embarrassment of riches - this was my first time working with any producer. Jake is such a warm and insightful guy; my nerves melted away and the whole process was just…easy….and fun!
I think we worked really well together - and can’t wait to start on the next songs.
I hear there is an E.P. due early-2018. Can you reveal the sort of songs and themes you document on the E.P.?
Ah, yes; you hear very well.
So far there’s going to be another song from around the same time as You or Nothing called Sinking. It’s about feeling helpless; like you’re not in control anymore. There’s quite a few in that vein we could use but I think the other songs will be a mixture of old and new; still reflective, acknowledging the past and present - but looking ahead to the future with hope.
How do you feel about 2017? Has it been quite an exciting and productive one?
2017 has been weird: a tale of two halves, really. The first was relaxing and indulgent; almost like I was getting all that out of the way - the calm before the storm, if you like. I met Jake in August…
Since then; everything’s happened so quick it’s been hard to keep track. But; I’m taking stock now and relishing it - because next year and beyond will be go, go, go!
Tell me about the artists you followed at a young age. Who were your early idols?
So; my dad has been known to occasionally display some pretty bad taste - fashion, jokes etc. - but his music taste has always been great. When I was really young, the house was often filled with stuff like Al Green, Simon & Garfunkel; Norah Jones, Pink Floyd and The Jam (and Stiff Little Fingers - when my mum was out).
The first artists I remember really getting into myself were Natasha Bedingfield, KT Tunstall and Goldfrapp.
Your voice has its own personality – but seems to have shades of some classics figures. Has it taken a lot of patience and work getting your voice that good?
Wow, thank you so much! I think it has taken some time to evolve (or devolve) - I had a lot of training when I was young and singing in choirs. Looking back now; to forget all of that and find my own voice has taken years.
The way I sing now is how I sing to myself - which is something I never used to do.
IN THIS PHOTO: WILSEN/PHOTO CREDIT: Shervin Lainez
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
WILSEN have been around for a few years but they’re new to me (and I love her voice). The video for Final is beautiful.
Soccer Mommy has a couple of nice tracks off the album (up at her Vevo). She did an Audiotree Live session recently, too, and Inside Out - on that - is really great.
IN THIS PHOTO: Soccer Mommy
Gotta check out NUXXS. Her E.P., Pearl, was released a month or so ago and it is gorgeous. Also; give Out the Blue a listen – tune!
If you haven’t already discovered Siv Jakobsen...I saw her play back in May and she’s totally magic.
He’s not a new artist but Fog Lake always puts out great stuff. I like keep a light lit, holy cross and rattlesnake (to name a few).
IN THIS PHOTO: Fog Lake
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
This has been really tough!
Al Green - Let’s Stay Together
This was always playing at home in my earlier years. Hearing it takes me back to those days: when times were simpler and we were all together. It’s warm, full of life: timeless. Always brings a smile - happy or sad.
Sharon Van Etten - Because I Was in Love
Sharon is my favourite artist. This album can be hard to bear sometime - which is a good thing! It’s incredibly cathartic. Her voice is rich and heavy with emotion but still soars. Her songs are raw and vulnerable, but still sweet. I love her completely.
Rhye - Woman
An education for me - that it was not only ok but actually sexy to have androgynous vocal vibes going on. The songs and arrangements are so luscious. When The Fall dropped…it was life-changing.
Can we see you perform anywhere soon? What gigs do you have lined-up?
That’s it for the year, I’m afraid.
Hopefully, we’ll get some lined up in the New Year and hit the ground running - when the next single comes out.
I believe you played at St. Giles-in-the-Fields. How did that gig go?!
Ah; it was so great. It’s a beautiful old church and a real oasis of calm - in a busy part of London. (I actually saw Rhye play there a few years ago). I feel very lucky and grateful to have been able to perform there, too. It was my first time up under the lights for about six months; so there were one or two cobwebs that needed blowing away.
I had a super-friendly crowd and it was the day of the single release - so there was a real buzz in the place that helped me out a lot.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Not sure how qualified I am to give advice at this point…but I’ll give it a go!
I guess what I’ve learned, from my experiences so far, would probably be more useful for aspiring artists. Firstly, I’d say practice, perform and persevere - it may take time for things to align for you, but when they do, you need to be ready to make the most of it. So; practice your songs, perform them - a bedroom is not a stage - and keep doing it...
Secondly; if you want other people to believe in your music, you need to believe in your music. (And you should). But, what I really mean by that is you need to appear to do so. You need to take that inner-belief you already have and make it visible to everyone else…which might mean sometimes not being modest and not downplaying your talent (which is scary to do).
Be brave, put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be protective of your work but also receptive to new ideas, different perspectives and any feedback. Collaborate or don’t...whatever works for you. There’s no right way - you’ll only find yours by trying the wrong ones first.
I don’t know if this is helpful or not. These things weren’t obvious to me and didn’t come naturally: it’s advice I’m sure I was given and wish I’d received.
Christmas is not too far away. Do you have plans already - or will you be busy working?
Every year it creeps up. Aside from the usual festivities, I’ll be working on E.P. hopefuls - before heading to my parents’ for a quiet one with our family.
We all have things to celebrate and for which to be thankful (smiles).
Is there a single highlight that stands out from the rest this year? What has been your proudest moment?
It’s got to be standing up in front of my family and friends; feeling their love and support and finally playing them my single…twice!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Awesome. Thank you so much for your questions!
Please play Science Magpie - Here Too.
I’ve been listening to this every day. It’s sunny, sexy and smooth as silk.