Brit Awards Critics’ Choice Winner Sam Fender On New Album, Shedding Light On Mental Health Through Music


English singer-songwriter Sam Fender is the newest to earn the Critics' Choice honor on the Brit Awards. The award is given to the artist anticipated to be the subsequent breakthrough star, with the likes of Adele and Sam Smith amongst earlier recipients.

Now, all eyes are on Fender, although he’s removed from an in a single day success. The North Shields native has been writing songs and performing gigs for round a decade, regardless of solely being 24 years outdated. Not solely is his music richly textured with uncooked vulnerability, however he's additionally utilizing lyrics to spark conversations about poisonous masculinity and psychological well being, a subject he felt compelled to put in writing about after shedding a good friend to suicide. 

With the title monitor of his November 2018 EP Dead Boys, he speaks candidly about male suicide charges within the U.Okay., repeating the lyric, “We shut our eyes/ Learn our ache/ Nobody ever might clarify/ All the useless boys in our hometown.” Says Fender: "I'm simply going to maintain on writing songs that matter."

With the arrival of his debut full-length album later this summer season and stateside performances at Austin's South by Southwest pageant and Lollapalooza, Fender continues to be one to look at. Below, the rapidly-ascending artist talks about making a dialogue round psychological well being and recording his debut album in a studio he in-built his hometown.

How did you first get into music?

My dad was a membership musician. He was all the time enjoying guitar and enjoying a great deal of soul information and '60s rock'n'roll. Whenever he used to cook dinner, he used to play Donny Hathaway, Aretha Franklin, The Kinks and the Spencer Davis Group — quite a lot of actually earthy issues. Then my older brother acquired me Jeff Buckley’s Grace on CD once I was 14, and that modified my perspective on what it’s to be a singer-songwriter. I fell in love with that fearlessness of having the ability to be just a few various things and never fear about it.

What is your writing course of like?

Recently, I've been writing the lyrics first, as a result of I actually take pleasure in simply writing poetry or simply writing freeform. We dwell in a world the place there's a hell of so much to be writing about proper now. I'm by no means going to overestimate the clout of my job. But we’re on a platform and I believe most individuals wish to do good for his or her planet and for his or her group and for the individuals round them. When you will have these moments the place a tune connects with individuals and creates a dialog, it's fairly a humbling expertise, as a result of it's like, "Maybe there’s a little bit extra weight to this job than I assumed there ever was earlier than." Which was fantastic that that occurred with “Dead Boys."

What was it prefer to see the response to "Dead Boys"?

I used to be actually hesitant to launch that tune, as a result of I didn't wish to be seen as capitalizing on the tragedy of shedding a good friend. But due to that, youngsters have come ahead. There's one man who we acquired an e mail from once I did BBC 5's dwell radio present in Manchester. Some man was truly on his technique to kill himself, and he stopped the automotive as a result of he heard me and Nihal speaking on 5 Live. We spoke about how males don't discuss [about mental health]. He heard the tune and the dialog, and he went again and despatched this enormous e mail about how he turned the automotive round. I'm simply right here to place out some good tunes. But when that occurs it's unbelievable. It does make your job ever extra rewarding.

Is it your objective to create a dialogue round these points?

I'm extra asking questions then I’m speaking concerning the reply. Loads of my songs are simply posing questions, as a result of I'm on a journey to seek out the solutions myself. That might be what my album goes to have quite a lot of — a child in his early '20s going, "Fucking hell, how do i wrap my head round all of this?" I wish to determine this complete fucking factor out earlier than I’ve youngsters of my very own.

What has it been prefer to work in your first album?

It was intense. It's my first-ever album, so I used to be fairly scared. It was lengthy hours and quite a lot of stressing and getting pissed off with myself and shedding my rag. It all got here collectively fairly rapidly as a result of all the songs have been there. The album is extremely blended. Sonically, it's acquired quite a lot of totally different flavors. It actually exhibits the journey from once I was half [-time] working in a bar and didn't actually know what the fuck I used to be doing and residing with my mother, simply me and my mom in our little small flat in North Shields. And simply going from there to the place we are actually, sat at the back of a tour bus identical to, "what the hell is occurring?" I really feel it has chronicled that time.

Tell me concerning the recording course of.

I did a lot of the instrumentation. I do for a lot of the recordings, however solely as a result of I'm a management freak. But they've [his band] all added little bits right here and there. My finest good friend Tom [Ungerer] is my producer. We didn't go together with any huge shot producer. Some document labels have been making an attempt to make us do this and we have been identical to no manner. Then we signed with Polydor who allow us to do it the best way we wished to do it and that's been superb. It's been such a beautiful expertise to have the ability to do all the pieces ourselves. It's so good. And now a great deal of well-known individuals are asking him to provide their stuff. It's actually helped his profession as properly which is fantastic. All these different individuals have been making an attempt to inform me to go someplace else. I used to be like, "All these huge superb producers would have needed to begin someplace." They would have needed to document one album that did properly for them to kick begin their profession, and I imagine Tom's acquired it in him to be that man.

Where did you document?

We did it in our personal studio. We constructed the studio in North Shield, my hometown. We used the cash that we acquired over from labels and stuff my supervisor put collectively, and we constructed the studio. I recorded my complete album there in my hometown. It's fucking unbelievable, it's nice, as a result of I don't get any purple mild syndrome. I don't really feel any kind of stress. I simply go in there and do it. I used to get purple mild syndrome, and I might be making an attempt to sing too onerous once we did recordings in an enormous studio. I'd be like, "Fuck, it's costing like three,000 kilos a day" — or one thing ridiculous like that — and "I've acquired to get this vocal take executed or we're fucked."

How has successful the Brit Awards Critics' Choice modified issues for you?

It's nuts. [My] following on Instagram simply shot up hundreds the opposite day. That was madness. All the gigs are immediately greater. We're enjoying 2,000 cap venues and stuff, which is nuts in comparison with once we have been solely doing 100 half a yr in the past. It's occurred very fast. Just the interactions being psychological. What all the time shall be bizarre is youngsters asking for photographs. I simply had three there outdoors the bus and I used to be identical to, that is surreal. The followers over listed here are actually unbelievable. Especially when it's not your metropolis. And the next is so blended as properly. You've acquired all of the actually younger youngsters on the entrance after which the older youngsters barely again, then it's [people in their] '20s and '30s after which '40s. And within the again I've seen some individuals attend and be like, "I'm 70 and I fucking love your tunes." And I'm like, that is so good. It's superb as a result of it's very nice to see such a mad mass of individuals. I'm simply going to maintain on writing songs that matter if I can.