Sat in her dressing room at Birmingham’s O2 Institute, I met to have a chat with Blackpool singer-songwriter Rae Morris. Fresh from a show in Oxford the previous evening, Morris is calm, collected and steaming her voice to make sure she’s on top form. And I’m not surprised; with a new pop-synth sound and a more colourful presence than previously seen from her on new record Someone Out There, I’ve no doubt her stage set-up is just as impressive. ‘I still play piano on a couple of tunes’, she admits, alluding to her debut, Unguarded, ‘But it’s definitely not my only base. I’m mostly at the front of the stage, jumping around, dancing. It’s really invigorating… I kind of give myself more energy by moving around. I come off stage feeling like I’ve done a work out.’
‘How can we not sort these things out in 2018?’ I am sat, phone in hand, chatting to Dan Haggis, drummer of Liverpool indie-rock band The Wombats, about all things music, politics and the power of the internet age.
I’m sat at my desk on a rainy Friday afternoon, my conversation counterpart waiting for a lift to a studio in Staines. This time at the other end of the phone is Nottingham-born singer-songwriter Ady Suleiman, who is on the cusp of releasing his long-awaited debut album next year. Having previously won the ‘Breakthrough Act of the Year’ award at Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards and gaining a legion of fans from the likes of Chance the Rapper to Michael Kiwanuka, Ady is set for even higher heights than he’s experienced thus far.
Platinum debut record, singer-songwriter James Bay has turned his hand to fashion design. Collaborating with high street giants TOPMAN, Bay has designed a capsule collection that encompasses his trademark style and‘rock star aesthetic for something that ‘feels quite universal’. ‘It’s not exactly aimed at people’s parents,’ he explains, ‘I mean, they’re welcome, but it’s aimed at our generation. It’s for the folks like you and me walking into high street stores’.
It’s set to be a big year for Zak Abel. His new album, Only When We’re Naked, is set for release, and he could form a small army with the amount of collaborations he’s worked on. From KAYTRANADA to Gorgon City, Kwabs to Tom Misch, now he’s managed to nab a track from Wretch 32. Talking of single, ‘Rock Bottom’, the track was ‘initially for his album and for whatever reason it didn’t come out. It was just me singing a hook, he had three verses, so I thought, why don’t I write a couple of verses and get him on a midlay or something’. On how he made the song his own, Zak explains: ‘I elaborated on what the song meant to me and once I’d written my lyric, he rewrote his to fit the sentiment’.