I always have trouble staying married to one genre of music. Within my identity crisis of a library, I have Leonard Cohen for early Saturday mornings with a cup of coffee, classic Green Day for car trips and Queen for when I feel like a champion. Today’s featured musician, if what I’ve heard so far is any indication, is a shoe-in for my Friday night, booze-fueled playlist.
Rhys Sutcliffe is a musician hailing from Wales, UK. He began playing guitar at the age of seven, and by the age of 11, he began working on his vocals. Playing for various bands over the years, he also gained proficiency with the bass and drums. Using his multiple talents, Rhys has already released two tracks, giving us a glimpse of what’s to expect from his upcoming LP.
“It’s a total of six tracks and we are currently working on track 4. It’s great because I’m working in a really professional studio. And because I play all the instruments and sing all the vocals myself, I get to use some really awesome equipment, like microphones that cost more than your first car, [laughs].”
The EP will feature a contribution from pianist and viola player, and previous Artist’s Cove subject, Phoebe Williams. Guests aside, however, Rhys provides the core instrumentation and song writing for the entire EP.
“I can’t tell you what you should expect from it when it comes out because there are so many different styles songs on there. That’s the great thing about going solo; you can do whatever you want.”
On his Soundcloud, you can find “Boston Barfight” and “Amsterdam”, the two aforementioned tracks.
“Boston Barfight” is a lively alternative rock jam. It’s the type of instantly catchy song I can imagine finding on the radio. A song with a steady build and enough internal variation to keep the five-minute playtime fresh, Boston Barfight is a solid step into the spotlight.
As much as I liked Boston Barfight, however, it was Amsterdam that won me over. If I was to kick back with a whisky and a song, I would certainly choose Amsterdam, by virtue of my personal taste alone. With the combination of excellent vocals and lyrics, as well as a touch of the variety that made Boston Barfight so endearing, I heartily endorse Amsterdam.
After sampling these two songs, I was able to connect with Rhys, and we had a pleasant back and forth. I asked about his songs, his home and his sources of inspiration.
Can you walk me through your creative process of your songs?
“Usually I would write the guitar melodies first. Though, recently, I’ve taken to recording vocals on my phone and then playing that back whilst playing guitar. The lyrics always come last. I’m very critical of my music; it has to be something I’m truly happy with. There’s a song on the EP called “The Desert”, which took me 8 years to write.”
Can you shine some light on “The Desert”? What about the song makes it such an extensive work in progress?
“[The Desert] is probably the most personal song on the EP, and also probably the simplest in lyrical content. I met my best friend Jennelle when I was twelve years old. She lives in Idaho, America. You’d think we were exactly the same person if we met. She wrote an EP and recorded a song on there called “11:11”, and it’s about how we met. Since then, I’ve been writing versions of this song, and I don’t feel that’s it has ever been good enough to actually record until now. It’s a song about loving your best friend and wanting nothing more for them but to realize their hopes and dreams. I imagined her taking her first dance with her groom to this song, so it had to be perfect.”
From where do you find your inspiration?
“I’m quite a sentimental and emotional guy, and I find inspiration in the smallest of things, like an old man holding the door for his wife or something, [laughs]. Primarily, I think it’s the people who I love that inspire me. My mother and father, sister and brother, my best friend Jennelle, and my friends from university. Most of all I think music in its entirety inspires me. It’s the greatest thing we can create. It’s either that or food [laughs].”
Was there a particular time in your life that drives your inspiration?
“For me, the inspiration came from when I developed an emotional connection with music. All my siblings and I struggled growing up against bullying, being accepted. And the more I started writing my feelings down, the more I was inspired to make my voice heard, so I started writing music. Music started meaning something completely different after the first time I fell in love, cliché as it might sound. Since then I’ve always wanted to be with someone who has a genuine emotional connection to music.”
You mentioned how critical you are of your own work. Do you feel as though you can ever “complete” a song, or do you feel as though you have to just put an end to the refinement process?
“I believe a song is finished when you decide to release it, but you owe it to yourself to write a good song. There’s no point in releasing a song for the sake of it, you should be proud of your work, and you should have your own stamp of approval that can only be used when you truly believe that a song has realized its full potential. I’m quite a selfish songwriter, I write songs that convey my feelings, so I only release songs that make me happy, in the hopes that it will have the same emotional impact on others as it does on me.”
How did you approach Phoebe Williams to lend her skills?
“I’ve been friends with Phoebs for a good while now. Being musicians, we both connected very quickly. She’s a very talented pianist and viola player, and I told her that some material on the EP needed those instruments to complete the sound. She said “yes”
without any hesitation.”
Have you always called Wales home, and do you have any hometown anthems in the works?
“Home is where I lay my head at the end of the day. Home is where you find love, and home is where you can truly be yourself. Wales has always been my home but I’m sure that as I get older and the more I move around, there will be other places I call home. The hometown anthem is a hard song for me to write. It’s in the works. It’s really important to me that that one is the best it can be.”
What are a few cities in which you hope to perform?
“I’d love to play in London. I think that’s where musicians realize whether or not they can perform to a wide array of people. If you don’t put on a good show where ever you go you aren’t gonna be asked to play there again. London will chew you up and spit you out. I’d love to play in California, though. Anywhere where I can play outside in the sweltering heat, so probably somewhere outside Wales [laughs].”
I found Rhys to have an infectiously positive spirit, and would like to thank him for the interview. If you would like to keep up-to-date with his work, you can click here to visit his Facebook page.