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

English singer-songwriter Sam Fender is the most recent 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 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 previous. 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 jot down about after shedding a good friend to suicide. 

With the title observe 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 may clarify/ All the lifeless boys in our hometown.” Says Fender: "I'm simply going to maintain on writing songs that matter."

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

How did you first get into music?

My dad was a membership musician. He was all the time enjoying guitar and enjoying masses 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 — rather a lot actually earthy issues. Then my older brother received 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 having the ability to be a number of 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 get pleasure from simply writing poetry or simply writing freeform. We reside in a world the place there's a hell rather a lot to be writing about proper now. I'm by no means going to overestimate the clout my job. But we’re on a platform and I feel most individuals wish to do good for his or her planet and for his or her neighborhood and for the individuals round them. When you could have these moments the place a track 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 believed 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 track, as a result of I didn't wish to be seen as capitalizing on the tragedy shedding a good friend. But as a result of that, youngsters have come ahead. There's one man who we received an e mail from once I did BBC 5's reside radio present in Manchester. Some man was really on his method to kill himself, and he stopped the automobile as a result of he heard me and Nihal speaking on 5 Live. We spoke about how males don't speak about psychological well being]. He heard the track and the dialog, and he went again and despatched this large e mail about how he turned the automobile round. I'm simply right here to place out some good tunes. But when that occurs it's unimaginable. It does make your job ever extra rewarding.

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

I'm extra asking questions then I’m speaking concerning the reply. Quite a bit 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 rather a lot — a child in his early '20s going, "Fucking hell, how do i wrap my head round all this?" I wish to determine this complete fucking factor out earlier than I’ve youngsters 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 rather a lot stressing and getting annoyed with myself and shedding my rag. It all got here collectively fairly rapidly as a result of all the songs had been there. The album is extremely combined. Sonically, it's received rather a lot completely different flavors. It actually reveals 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 within the again a tour bus similar to, "what the hell is occurring?" I really feel it has chronicled that time.

Tell me concerning the recording course of.

I did most the instrumentation. I do for many 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 greatest good friend Tom Ungerer] is my producer. We didn't go along with any large shot producer. Some file labels had been attempting to make us try this and we had been similar to no means. Then we signed with Polydor who allow us to do it the way in which we needed to do it and that's been superb. It's been such an exquisite expertise to have the ability to do the whole lot ourselves. It's so good. And now masses well-known individuals are asking him to provide their stuff. It's actually helped his profession as effectively which is fantastic. All these different individuals had been attempting to inform me to go someplace else. I used to be like, "All these large superb producers would have needed to begin someplace." They would have needed to file one album that did effectively for them to kick begin their profession, and I consider Tom's received it in him to be that man.

Where did you file?

We did it in our personal studio. We constructed the studio in North Shield, my hometown. We used the cash that we received 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 unimaginable, it's nice, as a result of I don't get any purple gentle syndrome. I don't really feel any type strain. I simply go in there and do it. I used to get purple gentle syndrome, and I’d be attempting to sing too laborious 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 received to get this vocal take achieved or we're fucked."

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

It's nuts. My] following on Instagram simply shot up 1000’s 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 had been solely doing 100 half a yr in the past. It's occurred very fast. Just the interactions being psychological. What all the time will likely be bizarre is youngsters asking for pictures. I simply had three there outdoors the bus and I used to be similar to, that is surreal. The followers over listed here are actually unimaginable. Especially when it's not your metropolis. And the next is so combined as effectively. You've received all of the actually younger youngsters on the entrance after which the older youngsters barely again, then it's individuals of 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 individuals. I'm simply going to maintain on writing songs that matter if I can.