I love talking with artists from the North…
as one gets a different perspective, flavour and personality. RJ Thompson tells me about the music scene in Newcastle upon Tyne and what inspired his latest work, Think About You. I ask the songwriter whether he was surprised at the positive reaction his album, Echo Chamber, received – he talks about influences and gigs.
Thompson talks about new artists he is reacting to; whether, he feels, the North of England gets the respect and prominence it warrants; how he spends his time away from music – he ends the interview by selecting a current Beck cracker.
Hi, RJ. How are you? How has your week been?
It’s been pretty good, thanks! Working on something pretty cool, so, I’m happy!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure…well. I’m a singer-songwriter. I’ve just come off a tour supporting Jools Holland around the U.K. - and I’ve just released my new album, Echo Chamber, and the latest single, Think About You.
Think About You is out. Can you tell me about the song and the inspiration behind it?
The true meaning of the song is to be kept secret but, listening to the lyrics; you can probably tell that it is about a relationship coming to an end.
It is a slinky and soulful tune. How do you manage to provoke such physicality and passion into music?! Is it something coded in you?
I just write from the heart, really…I’ve grown up with loads of different styles of music, so I feel lucky enough to be able to reference a few different genres.
Which artists, would you say, are responsible for your pursuit of a music career?
Michael Jackson, originally. When I was very young, I was obsessed with the way he created music and rhythms with his vocals. I then started to listen to a lot of classic songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen - and their music has taught me so much.
Echo Chamber, released last year, gained great reviews. Has it been encouraging knowing how well it has done?!
Yeah, it has. Ultimately, I make music for myself as an outlet and to have pride in something I have created. But, it’s always nice to hear that it has resonated with other people, too.
Can we see any more material later in the year?
Watch this space!
You are based in Newcastle upon Tyne. What is the area like for music right now?
It’s really strong! There’s a lot of great young bands and some great venues. Although, it’s sad to see some of the smaller grassroots venues shutting.
Do you think the North East gets enough attention and focus?
I think London is, obviously, the focal point in the U.K. but there are some good organisations (Generator, being one) that are highlighting new talent in our area. I think it’s definitely getting attention at the minute.
Do you have any gigs lined up? Where are you heading?
We’re hoping to announce a tour soon, but it’s hush-hush!
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Too many things. You’ll be hearing a lot more from me in the next twelve months, hopefully!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
My band and I were fortunate to be asked to support Jools Holland at the Royal Albert Hall. That was definitely the standout moment so far!
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Write, write, write!
IN THIS PHOTO: Jake Houlsby/PHOTO CREDIT: Molly Mackay
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Jake Houlsby is making a bit of a name for himself around Newcastle. He’s definitely one to watch.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Family time…that’s the most important thing, right?! I try to spend as much time with them as possible really.
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).
Hmmm. Probably something from Beck’s new album. How about Up All Night
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