If you had asked rising London-based singer/songwriter Rhys Lewis what his future looked like a couple of years ago, he’d probably tell you of his aspirations to become an accomplished musician. But what the then 21-year-old musician couldn’t have anticipated, though, was the sheer speed at which his career would take off.
Now 23, Lewis has had a rather enviable first kick at the can, with over two million combined streams on his first two singles—“Living in the City” and “Waking Up Without You”—and a newly inked deal with renowned record label, Decca, already under his belt. Like any musician worth his salt, though, Lewis has the talent to back it up.
We recently had the chance to chat with Lewis about his recent move to London, his contemporaries and, of course, his forthcoming debut album. Read our full discussion below.
Indie Current: According to a press release, you spent the last year between London, Nashville, Stockholm, LA and Berlin recording your debut album. What city, if any, has been your greatest source of inspiration?
Rhys Lewis: Yeah I’ve been lucky enough to visit some amazing cities whilst writing and recording the album. I would say that they have all inspired me for different reasons. Each city has its own relationship with music and it’s own way of approaching music creatively, so I’ve learnt a lot from the people I’ve collaborated with around the world, I definitely feel more rounded as a songwriter now.
IC: Listening to your music, artists like Tor Miller and Lawrence Taylor often come to mind. Have you considered collaborating with either of these two?
RL: I really like Tor Miller’s music, his voice is so powerful and unique, and I’m a big fan of his lyrics too so would definitely be up for collaborating at some point. He’s probably never heard of me though so I’d be cold-calling!
Not heard of Lawrence Taylor, will have to check him out!
IC: Last summer, you shared a Spotify playlist of your favourite music from the past year, which included names like Michael Kiwanuka, Samm Henshaw and NAO. Can we expect to see any of the artists from this playlist on your debut album?
RL: Sadly I didn’t get to collaborate with any of these guys. Me and Samm have talked about writing but haven’t found the time, but yeah now the album is written I would love to collaborate with more artists.
IC: Your single “Living in the City” captures the restless energy that often goes with living in one place too long. How has living in London changed the way you see yourself and the relationships you describe in the song?
RL: I think I’m a very different person to the one I was when I first moved to London. It forced me to grow up and inspired me to improve as a musician. I was definitely confronted with the realities of being a working musician sooner than if I had stayed in Oxford. It’s a tough industry, so I think it’s best to learn that sooner rather than later so you can decide if it’s really what you want to pursue as a career. And I guess in terms of relationships, I have made so many great friends and found so many great collaborators, but I find it hard to keep up with everything and everyone, in London and back home.
IC: Last year, you performed at a number of different festivals around the UK, including Victorious, Bushstock and Neighbourhood. What was the most memorable performance?
RL: I got to open up the main stage in Hyde Park for the British Summer Time festival, was pretty surreal playing in front of that many people on such a big stage. Take That were headlining too so my mum had a great day.
IC: How has working with Boe Weaver changed the way you think about making music? What would you say their strongest quality is as producers?
RL: I think their strongest quality is their attention to detail and consideration for the feeling and emotion of the song. Every decision they make when shaping a sound for a track is influenced by what the song is trying to say and its role in the overall mix. With guitar for example – which amp suits the sound best, which mic gives the right texture, which reverb gives the right depth. They don’t settle for “OK,” they want every part to fit perfectly.
IC: What can we expect from your debut album? More soul? Less soul? Just the right amount of soul?
RL: Soul for days. Well…45 minutes, but you can have it on repeat…