HE is one of the most exciting young artists…
on the block right now. I have been learning more about SUB BLUE and his new single, Range Rover. He gives me a window into his creative process and the artists who have inspired him. I ask about his base in Liverpool; whether there is a thriving local scene; which new artists we should keep an ear out for – what we can expect from the upcoming E.P., Suburban View.
SUB BLUE discusses his upbringing and the music he was raised on; how his live performances differ from his work in the studio; what it was like working with XamVolo – and how modern life/suburbia influences his creativity.
Hi SUB BLUE. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey. I’m good, thanks. It's been a busy week - since it was the first week back at uni.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m an Alt-R&B artist from Merseyside; making what I call ’Suburban-Blues’.
Range Rover is your new single. What can you tell me about the song’s story and inspiration?
I wrote Range Rover to explain that, although Suburbia may seem like it is the perfect setting, in reality, it’s often the opposite and that we experience problems and pain the same as the next person - but we just hide behind our material things.
It seems the nature of suburbia and keeping up appearances is integral to your work. Do you feel we are often forced to feel a certain way – assume a mantle of happiness and hide our anxieties?
My generation has a lot of pressure on them and I do think the majority feel like they have to abide by certain stereotypes or do certain things in order to fit in – which, I believe, is leading to a bit of a lost generation. I think we value a lot of material things and ‘fake’ interaction more than real relationships and experiences.
I’m not immune from this either - which is probably why I can touch on it in my music.
The song is taken from your E.P., Suburban View. Can you talk more about the songs/ideas you explore on the E.P.?
The set of songs that make up the E.P. are the first concise look at this world I live in and I’ve come from; with themes centered around reality vs. perception and expectation. It’s not just a look at suburbia: it’s also a look at teen life and coming-of-age as well as pop culture. So, suburbia, almost, is like a fictional place - which isn’t just for those born into a certain income bracket - but more those born in a generational age bracket in the Western world.
The best way I’d describe the songs is ‘voyeuristic’ - because a lot of the things that happen are things I’ve observed closely. In terms of specific topics; I touch on everything from social media to depression; to love to drugs to heartache.
I’m planning to go much deeper on future projects.
I notice XamVolo is one of the artists/producers who helped on the E.P. How did you come to meet him?
I think the first time I met Xam was back at LIMF in 2014; but we have the same manager and we both got on because we have the same huge passion for music – and, ever since meeting him; he’s been like a big brother to me.
There are a few producers on the E.P. How did you come to select the producers - and what did each of them bring to the recording?
Just connecting with people on the subject and vibe really. The process took a minute but I’ve been lucky to work with the likes of Sir Dylan and A.V whilst in L.A., and then, an amazing group of emerging producers, domestically, including XamVolo, TeeSoulful; Cameron Warren, Joe Warriner and Mikey Gormley.
I think developing such a good relationship with all the guys made the process so much more fun - and each gave me a little something extra to bring out the full theme.
Tell me about Liverpool and how influential the city is. Is it somewhere that gives you energy and motivation?
I feel like there has always been vibrant creativity in the city - and we are known for that – but, recently, I feel like the urban culture is growing and being enhanced…with lots of likeminded creatives connecting and supporting each other.
It’s hard not to be inspired...
Are there quite a few great local artists who look likely to break out in the next few years?
Yeah. I definitely think XamVolo is one to watch! You have the likes of Taya, Astles and Aystar - who are already doing their thing - but are sure to make a dent nationally and internationally.
IN THIS PHOTO: XamVolo/PHOTO CREDIT: Robin Clewley
Which artists did you latch onto as a youngster? Was music a part of your childhood?
I grew listening to a lot of old-school R&B and Hip-Hop around the house: both my parents were hugely into music artists like Luther Vandross, 2Pac; Biggie, SWV and loads of others. I’d say music was a massive part of my childhood - and it put me on my path to becoming an artist.
If you had to choose the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
The three albums I’d choose would be Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange; The Weeknd’s House of Balloons and Kanye West’s 808’s & Heartbreaks.
I feel like those were the albums that massively impacted who I am as an artist - in terms of topics all three artists write about (and also, sonically).
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
I’m planning to - just want to make this music connects first and then take it on the road. But, definitely, there will be some shows across the U.K. coming up.
What differences are there between your recorded material and live shows? Do you bring different elements to a live performance?
I think there’s there definitely more live instrumentation added into the live set: more of a dynamic in terms of the emotion portrayed in the songs when I play them live.
Any New Year’s resolutions made this year? What do you hope to achieve, personally, in 2018?
My New Year’s resolutions are (just) to keep writing and making music and, hopefully, to be working towards my second E.P. - or an album - by year-end.
Also…to buy fewer clothes (ha!)
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Chanel – Frank Ocean
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