18-year-old Alfie Templeman reflects on a surreal year spent in lockdown and discusses his newest mini-album, Forever Isn’t Long Enough.
Alfie Templeman spent lockdown in his bedroom and celebrated his 18th birthday at home like any other teenager his age. Yet, there's one remarkable difference. Alfie plays everything – from drums to guitar to the piano to sitar – and the indie artist's latest release, the mini-album Forever Isn't Long Enough, marks the beginning of what will certainly be a catapult to stardom. Picture a teenaged, lockdown-induced Hannah Montana. Late 70s funk, disco, and dance mark Alfie's soundtrack to a hopeful summer post-isolation, as The Glasgow Guardian chats about inspirations and upcoming gigs.
The Glasgow Guardian: I suppose the natural first question to ask you is how has lockdown been for you?
Alfie Templeman: Lockdown’s been getting a lot better actually because I’ve been going on walks and I can finally see my girlfriend now. If you asked me that a year ago, I’d be like: "Lockdown is like the worst thing in the world". I’ve been stuck in my room and music was the only thing I could really do which, I was still very lucky that I had that, but now it’s getting a lot better. I’m feeling so much more optimistic towards what the future has to show.
GG: You're such a young musician at 18, but you’ve already achieved so much. What inspired you to get into music?
AT: I’ve always grown up around music. My dad liked playing guitar when he was the same age as me. He was a teddy boy and into rock and roll, so I used to listen to that with him when I was a kid. What I actually got into as a kid was progressive rock like King Crimson and Pink Floyd. One of my dad's mates showed me this Rush DVD once and I became transfixed with Neil Peart and drumming. So, I took up drums when I was about seven. I started playing, recording myself, and played bits of guitar and stuff – anything I could pick up. From that age onwards it was like, "I’m gonna try and start recording my own music and see if I have the ability to put it together". That's where the album process came in and making my EP’s. Then, I eventually put it onto Bandcamp and Spotify and people started getting interested after years of nobody listening to my pre-pubescent voice trying to sing. Eventually, I guess I got good enough to get signed and that’s how I found my label.
GG: You’ve spoken about celebrating your 18th in lockdown, I also celebrated mine at home – I know the feeling. Are you looking forward to clubs and venues opening back up and having some delayed celebrations?
AT: Aw man, it’s a pain. Yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing what it will be like to be honest. I never used to go to parties because I’d be recording instead. It was never really my cup of tea. I never got invited anyway. Is it even that good? I went up to the pub the other day and just sat in the pub garden and that was really nice. That kind of thing is good, but clubs aren’t really my cup of tea, but I’m only 18 so I have time to change my mind. Who knows … Alfie Templeman dance album coming to you soon?
GG: Speaking of experimenting with genres, Forever Isn't Long Enough has some strong funk and disco late 70s and 80s influences cropping up; reminiscent of Chic, Sister Sledge, Empire of the Sun and even Daft Punk. Can you talk about your influences for your mini album and who or what’s shaped them?
AT: Funnily enough, Nile Rodgers is a massive influence, especially in how I play guitar; I grew up listening to his music. My mum used to play Chic when I was a kid. It was something that I always liked, but I started off with indie when I was younger because it felt more accessible, and I didn’t feel like I had the musicianship to go into funk. That kind of music is great, and I really love it. Stuff like Jamiroquai as well and all that 2000s funk – I love that kind of stuff where it almost mimics the 80s. That was something that I wanted to do just as much as actually making eighties music – make music that mimics that sound.
GG: Your music is so different; I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of other artists making what you do. You can see that you’ve brought in so many different influences – it’s very unique.
AT: I think when I make records, I have to not dive too deep into music that I really enjoy or else I find that I make a carbon copy of my influences. Something that I’m keen on doing is almost listening to songs from artists that I love but haven’t necessarily listened to before – deeper cuts of their songs. Taking those influences and those funk influences and making my own thing out of it from memory. For me, that’s how I craft a song; take things that subconsciously get stored in my head and then I get to make my own ideas out of it.
GG: What’s your favourite track on the new album?
AT: It changes every day. I think at the moment it's Film Scene Daydream because it’s got a really cool, I mean it’s exactly that, it’s got the whole 80s feel to it.
GG: You said earlier that the mini album, Forever Isn't Long Enough, has been in the works for a long time?
AT: Yeah, there were a couple songs, for example, Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody that I started in 2017 – when I was 14. I wrote the basis of the track. It was really crap. It was like a disco track – it wasn’t very good. I worked on it for ages and just stopped. I forgot about it for ages and then last year I came back to it and thought, "I'm just gonna give it a kind of Tears for Fears vibe". The whole thing’s kind of inspired by eighties music in different ways, but one of the biggest influences for it was Todd Rundgren, who’s like basically my hero. He was the reason why I started messing around with synthesisers and just making really kind of cool pop, but at the same time trying to make it a little bit different. Bringing back that original pop sound that kind of got lost in the last 10 or 20 years. I’d love to see it come back. That was the idea.
GG: You've supported Sundara Karma, Sports Team, and you’re supporting Declan McKenna on his upcoming tour as well. What's it been like, supporting and touring with other talented artists?
AT: It was so long ago now, I miss it. Supporting Sundara [Karma] was amazing. Our first London show in Brixton felt like a fever dream the whole time we played. One minute we're sitting backstage – I was nervous as hell – next minute, you go on stage and you’re playing to 5000 people. It's so surreal that you can’t remember it. It was amazing though; it was such an eyeopener. I’m a very shy and anxious person and it gave me the courage to put myself out there a bit more. When it came to Sports Team, it was the same thing again. I was really nervous for that tour because Sports Team is like a punk band! I was like "How are they going to take to me?" because I’m just like a wimpy, 16-year-old who just makes soft indie songs ... I hope I don’t get rocks thrown at me. But their crowds are incredible. They’re so lovely as well. It was a pleasure working and touring with them. And going forward – supporting Declan McKenna. He’s my cup of tea. We haven’t actually met yet – I’m planning on going down to see him in a couple of weeks. I’m very excited.
GG: What would be your favourite gig overall you’ve played?
AT: I reckon one I did at home, at Bedford Esquires. We headlined at my local venue a couple of years ago. It was my first headline show. It was just really special. Seeing all my mates there, seeing a handful of fans there that turned up. It was a really special night. Something about those kinds of gigs, playing in your hometown, just feels so special.
GG: Are your friends supportive then?
AT: Absolutely. My band are all my mates anyway, so that makes it a lot more fun. I’ve also got some really nice mates that are shocked when I’m on the radio. They’ll message me like, "I’ve just heard you on the radio!". At the same time, they’ve never really changed – which is nice. They understand that I play music and it’s no different to who I am, really.
GG: What did it feel like having your track Wish I Was Younger included on the FIFA 2021 soundtrack, was that a game you grew up playing?
AT: I’m not much of a football fan, but I used to play FIFA with my mates. Last year, when I was in lockdown and hadn’t been anywhere, all of a sudden, my song – that I made in lockdown – got on this massive game. I made it in my bedroom. It’s just so weird. My bedroom is no different to most people’s bedrooms where they play FIFA. I made this song, in a tiny room, all of a sudden, it’s on the biggest game in the world. It was so surreal to find out I was included. My best mate, Joss, he’s like "Your song will not stop playing when I’m trying to play FIFA!". I was kind of nervous when it got announced. I was like; "Are people going to complain about my song being on it?" but no, people really enjoyed it.
GG: In 2020, yourself and lots of other artists missed out on amazing gig opportunities and festivals. Thankfully a lot of them have been rescheduled. What gig are you most excited to play when they resume?
AT: I think it’s probably my own headline tour. I’ve never really done anything like that before. We’re doing it next year because we want to be safe rather than sorry. Basically, we got a bunch of headline gigs around the U.K and I’m just really excited to finally play. Our fan base grew so much in 2020, all from just being on the internet. That’s something that is so hard to take in. Just the fact that so many people want to see you – but they’ve only heard you through speakers. It’s going to be really magical actually seeing so many more people turn up to the gigs and finally experiencing these songs in real time. Sharing the feeling of live music, together, will be really cool.
GG: You’re playing Glasgow in March 2022, have you played Glasgow before?
AT: We played King Tuts with Sports Team. Oh my God, it was so good. It’s absolutely tiny! I didn't expect it to be that small; people were packed together when we were leaving. It was so good though – one of the liveliest gigs. I’m really excited to hopefully have a bit of a crazy moment on stage over at Glasgow. Get some fans doing some stage diving.
GG: I wouldn’t be surprised! You're playing Saint Luke’s in March, it’s such a lovely venue; an old church that’s been converted. The stage is where the altar was and has an organ.
AT: That’s great to hear. I didn’t realise it was like an old church … I guess I'll have to do an organ solo.
Alfie Templeman's mini-album Forever Isn't Long Enough is available to stream and purchase now. Tickets to Alfie's upcoming 2022 U.K. tour, including a Glasgow date, are also available.
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