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6th May 2021

Alfie Templeman in conversation

Grime artist and Mancunion contributor (Geoblu) interviews Alfie Templeman. They discuss new projects, his roots in Bedfordshire and smoking for inspiration
Alfie Templeman in conversation
Alfie Templeman (Credit: Alfie Templeman Press)

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alfie Templeman, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer from Bedford, UK. At only 18, his sound is highly established, and his lyrics display emotional maturity well beyond his years. From 70’s pop to psychedelic inspired music, he has a vast range of influences. 

Alfie is a bright spark. He has large, inquisitive eyes and was extremely engaged during our conversation. I was immediately struck by his humbleness and positive outlook on the world. He took an interest in my own work within music, and genuinely appreciated my comments about his songs. When I remarked on this, he exclaimed, “What’s there to hide man? This is me!” whilst expressively gesticulating. I was also impressed by his drive. As he says, “It’s just been me teaching myself, I haven’t really had anyone to show me what to do”. I love the matter-of-fact way with which he discussed his success. 

Living on the outskirts of Bedford, he remarks that it was largely boredom that drove him to make music. We really got on, and have agreed to go for a pint when he comes to London. 

Make sure to keep an eye out for his mini album, Forever isn’t long enough, which drops on the 7th May.  

What do you think it was that made you start making music? 

I guess for me it was my love of music ever since I was a really young kid. I really enjoyed listening to music and the way it was put together, and I always thought to myself, “How do bands and artists make these songs, how do you put it all together, how do you piece it?” I dug deeper and deeper and found out it was all through production and that’s how it came together. I went away and taught myself as a kid how to do it, got some cheap software and started working on songs. It’s just been me teaching myself, I haven’t really had anyone to show me what to do. Eventually, each time I made a song, it sounded more like a professional kind of song. That’s when I was like “oh okay, that’s how it’s done. I get it now”.

The fact that you didn’t have anyone to show you how to do it is really testament to your impressiveness as an artist. Was there a point for you when you realised that this wasn’t just going to be a hobby? 

I guess it was when I got signed. I was like “okay, someone really enjoys what I’m doing and it’s enough for someone to want to sign me”. That’s when I was like, “okay, this isn’t just a hobby, this is a career now.”

I just had enough to save up and buy a microphone with some birthday money. 

I really respect how organic your growth has been as an artist. How would you say that your sound has developed over time? 

Definitely more polished in a way. I got better at cleaning up my tracks. It’s always been quite indie but over time I was able to afford better equipment basically. Before, I was recording on a really cheap microphone because I come from a working class background, you know. We’re not rich or anything. I just had enough to save up and buy a microphone with some birthday money. Throughout the past couple years, I’ve had a few cheques to get me more software and better microphones, so the quality of the music definitely has upgraded, and I’ve had more time on my hands because it’s my profession now, it’s what I do for a living.

Following on from that, whereabouts are you from? 

I’m from Bedford, [he laughs] which isn’t necessarily the best place in the world. 

There wasn’t much to do around here so I just decided, “Right, I’m gonna make songs.”

What do you mean by that? 

Well…uhm, you know, it’s in the middle of nowhere, and there’s not too many resources and stuff. There’s one really great venue called Bedford Esquires, but that’s about it really. It’s not the best place for musicians, because first of all it doesn’t necessarily look too pretty and there’s not many things you can draw inspiration from, but at the same time that’s what made me want to make music because there wasn’t much to do around here so I just decided, “right. I’m gonna make songs”. 

Do you think that being from a smaller place increased your hunger for music in a way? 

Yeah, I guess it made me try harder. I wanted to really dig my teeth into it. There was nothing else that I was really interested in around here, because there was a lack of inspiration growing up, so it made me want to draw inspiration from pretty much anything, and as a result of that it made me try harder, it made me want to go for it a bit more. 

Could you expand on what it was like to grow up for you there? 

I mean I live kind of on the border of Bedfordshire, but actual Bedford Bedford is quite rough sometimes. Where I live is pretty nice, countryside-y, so it’s always been pretty chill for me. 

Okay. So, were you always drawn to that indie sound? 

Yeah. I think the first time that I really got drawn to it was listening to Mac Demarco when I must have been about thirteen. That’s what made me want to start making indie music. People like Todd Rundgren and Tame Impala, they were so good at doing it by themselves. That was something that I definitely wanted to try and do as well. 

Indie’s such a big word nowadays. It applies to so many different things, and that’s what I love about it. It’s pure freedom, basically.

And what do you think it was about indie – sounding music in particular that drew you to it? 

I like the way it’s so free-flowing, it’s so alternative, it’s so open to anything basically. The ball’s in your court, you make the decisions. The chord changes are really lovely and jazzy. There’s so many options, really, it’s limitless. Indie’s such a big word nowadays. It applies to so many different things, and that’s what I love about it. It’s pure freedom, basically. 

You’ve touched a lot of musical genres within the term “indie”. You cover a range of styles, from psychedelic sounding music to more of an 80s style sound. What’s the importance of having that versatility to you? 

The earlier you can get that in there, the earlier that you have that versatility and the more options it gives you in the future really. I’ve always liked messing around with different genres, like rock, psychedelic, pop bits as well. It opens up as a producer so many different options for other people to come up to me and say, “could you make me a song?” That’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, to be a producer for other people. I also enjoy it, I don’t want to stick to one genre, so I’m quite lucky to be able to adapt to anything. 

Alfie Templeman – Forever Isn’t Long Enough cover art (Provided by press team)

So, what’s coming next for you? 

Well, a very pop-y release in a couple of weeks. I’ve got a commercial- sounding record that I’m really happy with. And then after that, quite a seventies pop sounding album hopefully, quite psychedelic. Just constantly changing it up, you know. I’ve embedded that versatility now into my music and the fans enjoy that. So we’ll see what happens, and there’s many things that’ll pop up in the next couple years. 

Is there something in particular that you find that you get inspired by? 

There’s nothing that really gets me up off my feet and towards the piano…apart from weed. (Laughing)

So do you think smoking does give you inspiration? 

It definitely has in the past, for sure. It makes ideas flow a lot more. I don’t really do it anymore, but it definitely makes your ideas come a lot easier, and a lot of stuff that I’d normally dismiss. 

What made you stop? 

Well, my lung condition. Well, I do it now and then…edibles, I guess, but yeah, it works! 

Do you find that the creative process is coming slower now that you’ve stopped? 

Yeah, but in a good way, because it helps me work on each idea a lot more, and as a result, the songs feel fuller, they feel bigger, they feel better. As a result of that, I’m a happy bunny and I’m sure the fans enjoy the music more. Hopefully, we’ll see in the next few years. 

It’s definitely a positive thing that you don’t rely on it. What are your favourite moments from your music career so far? 

Going on tour with my mates, you know, that’s great fun. Just making music in general is my favourite thing in the world. I haven’t done that much because of lockdown. That’s all I can really say because I’m so new to it.  

And how are you coping with it all? 

It’s a bit weird, innit, ‘cos I’m stuck in a room. I was just kinda getting used to it before lockdown hit, and obviously I can tend to overthink things a little bit when I’m just by myself like most people will. You can’t really avoid your own thoughts. Sometimes, it’s like, I’m so young and I’m putting myself out there, it’s a bit scary. But then other days, it’s like yeah, just get yourself out there, it’s good for you, it’s helping you, it’s keeping me active, and it’s the only thing I can really do whenever I want to at home.

There’s probably going to be people on social media that don’t like what you do and talk about you in a negative way, but that’s bound to happen and you have to accept that.

What do you find scary about that? I find that interesting because I’ve made some very personal songs about myself in the past that I’ve deleted and then put back up. Sometimes it’s a state of mind of ‘Who cares’? And then other times I feel like I’ve revealed the deepest and darkest parts of myself. 

That’s it! Yeah that’s the thing. Sometimes, it’s almost like waking up after a night out and being really drunk and being like “What have I done?” But with me, I can’t really take stuff down because it’s proper with a label and stuff, but I’m happy with all the songs, and obviously I get reassured about my fears that my songs being too cheesy or too personal, they go away as soon as enough people enjoy them. As an artist, you can’t avoid the fact that there’s probably going to be people on social media that don’t like what you do and talk about you in a negative way, but that’s bound to happen and you have to accept that. I’m still accepting it, I’m still getting used to it, but at the same time it inspires me to prove them wrong, and go the extra step, so I don’t really mind it. 

You can find Alfie Templeman on Spotify here!

Templeman recently announced tour dates in the UK, confirming an in-store intimate show at Action Records in Preston on 2nd August 2021.

Written by and uploaded on behalf of George Blumenthal (Geoblu).

Reece Ritchie

Reece Ritchie

Reece is the Mancunion’s Music Editor, leading the team covering Manchester’s music scene and beyond. He is also an editor at Music Is To Blame, an independent music publications and has written words for WHATWESPEW the Manchester punk collective.Now Head Rep for the record label Scruff of the Neck and the host of The Northwest Emo Show he continues to deliver articles on the very best music Manchester and the UK has to offer. He also features his own photography within his articles, working with the likes of Slowthai, Enter Shikari and Wargasm.

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