Hi! How has your journey from orchestral performances to becoming a guitar-playing singer-songwriter influenced “Universal Love”?

A: Music has always been a very big part of my life. I learned music in a formal, academic way from a very young age. My first instruments were double bass and cello and I learned guitar much later. Learning music theory has been very useful when composing both classically and for later musical pieces. Performing with thirty or so other musicians in an orchestra is a very exciting experience and after I left school and started university I wanted to continue performing. I kept taking lessons, but started playing music which wasn’t orchestral. On ‘Universal Love’ I wrote all the songs using much of the knowledge I’d picked up playing in classical ensembles, but I wanted the album to be recognisable as more popular music.

With your academic background, particularly in English Literature, how do you weave literary elements into your music, especially in “Universal Love”?

A: Everyone enjoys reading to some degree. If I’m writing an album I don’t think of a specific writer or book, but I think what I’m reading at the time has an influence on the writing. The lyrics on ‘Universal Love’ are an important part of the album and I think I was reading a lot of Sylvia Plath at the time. I remember that I wanted the songs to have a distinct narrative, told over three or four verses.

“Universal Love” marks a departure in your sound. What inspired the use of synthesizers and keyboards in this album?

A: I was being asked to write a lot of songs for guitar and piano, music within the folk ballad genre but it felt like something was missing. The subject matter is the same, the songs are about what happens in a relationship, but I wanted a different sound. I was listening to Leonard Cohen’s Death of a Ladies Man, and a lot of lo-fi folk music and I thought that sound was something I could emulate. 

Given your extensive social media following, how do you think your online presence has shaped the reception of “Universal Love”?

A: I hope it has been received well, and that people are enjoying the album. I’d hope that any enthusiasm for the songs can be shared with as many people as possible.

The theme of “Universal Love” explores complex aspects of love. Can you share a personal experience that inspired this theme?

A: The songs are all centred around relationships that I have seen or been spoken to about by acquaintances. I don’t write very often from personal experience or with a specific person in mind, but I’m sure some of the people in those songs are based on people that I’ve been involved with on a more personal level. 

Having recorded “Universal Love” in Brighton, how did the city’s musical landscape influence the album’s production and sound?

A: Brighton is a wonderful city for music. There are some really great musicians, and a mix of some very different musical cultures. I wanted to have the album produced and recorded by people who had experience working in that environment, so that the production and sound came from a mixture of backgrounds and experiences.

You’ve worked with remarkable musicians like Robin Coward and Camille Phillips. How did their expertise contribute to the album’s creation?

A: Robin taught me piano and Camille taught me drums. They are both very proficient and successful in their own right, and their teaching was excellent. I wanted to learn as many different styles of music as possible, to understand how those styles evolved and use them in my own music. I learned a more indie-pop style of music with Robin and later a more punk-rock style of drumming from Camille. When I wrote Universal Love all the instrument parts were written with the knowledge I’d gained from those lessons.

With “Universal Love” achieving significant success on Spotify, how do you plan to leverage this momentum for your future projects?

A: I’m very grateful for the reception the album has had so far. I had released ‘Universal Love’ in the Autumn of last year, I was working on something else at the time, so I was busy with another album and I wasn’t focusing so much on how ‘Universal Love’ had been received. For future projects, I will use the same recording and production methods that went into the album and hopefully some of the same musicians. 

Considering your music’s inclusion in university degree courses, what message do you hope students take from “Universal Love”?

A: I remember that I was studying at the time, and I was approached by a student run University radio station. They played one of my tracks and afterward I was asked to record a live performance to be used as part of one of the courses. I hope that students, if they hear those songs in an academic context, are able broaden their knowledge of their subject and get the best results they possibly can. 

Finally, with Warner Music releasing “Universal Love”, how do you view your relationship with the label shaping the future of your music career?

A: I would like to broaden my relationship with Warner as much as possible and I’d be more than happy to pursue and opportunities they present. They have some wonderful artists and it would be a dream to work with some of those people. In the shorter term, I would hope that the label are able to get the best out of the music.