Alfie Templeman talks working with Nile Rogers on funky second album 'Radiosoul'

Interview Alfie Templeman: He’s Got Soul

Armed with an all-star cast of producers and a zealous appetite for experimentation, Alfie Templeman’s ‘Radiosoul’ marks a brilliant (and sometimes bonkers) new chapter for the prolific musician.

“Where’s the pineapple? Where are the peas?!” Alfie Templeman quips midway through our photoshoot today, in a neat but niche callback to the chaotic food-based theme of DIY’s Class of 2020 issue – one which saw the singer get a little too familiar with some petit pois. Not just a nostalgic throwback to an arguably simpler time, it’s also a zippy reminder of just how prolific Alfie has been across his career so far; now aged 21, he’s already something of a veteran of the UK indie scene.

Having first appeared in the pages of DIY aged 15, around his 2018 ‘Like An Animal’ release, since then Alfie has offered up seven EPs, one mini-album and is about to move onto his second record proper. It’s enough to make anyone feel ready for a kip, and yet, nine days ahead of new album ‘Radiosoul’ – his Spotify account is helping him to count down, he confirms – he’s raring to go.

“I’m trying to remember whether, last time I released an album, I was more nervous…” he ponders. “I know I was just as batshit!” he chuckles, before settling on a stance: “I think I’m more excited for this album because it definitely sounds more like me. I’m gonna be more offended if someone doesn’t like it because I’ve definitely put more effort into it. It’s more personal, so I feel like I take the pressure more personally.”

Spend any time at all with Alfie and it’s clear that, while he does possess the typical fizzing energy of someone not too long out of their teens, there’s a wise, old soul tucked in there too. The appropriately-titled ‘Radiosoul’ arrives as a prime example. Landing just two years after his debut, 2022’s ‘Mellow Moon’, it’s a record that constantly surprises, leaning closer to the more striking, classic sounds of his personal influences (Todd Rundgren, Rush, Chuck Berry and more all get a look-in) than the indie-pop label he’s been stickered with thus far.

“I love when artists can have complete, amazing visions and know exactly what they want to do. I really respect that. But for me, I’m just too all over the place,” he says. “I think this album’s [been] a really good way of testing the waters for that in a way. I’m still finding my feet, and finding my sound. With this record, I wanted to go to as many different places both to see how other people respond to it, and because I felt naturally that this was what I wanted to do. I’m still having the blur where I don’t know exactly where I’m going and I think that makes it more exciting.”

Alfie Templeman talks working with Nile Rogers on funky second album 'Radiosoul' Alfie Templeman talks working with Nile Rogers on funky second album 'Radiosoul'

“I got together with Nile Rodgers because Clara Amfo said I was good at ripping him off on the radio!”

It’s this hungry energy that flows through ‘Radiosoul’ in a way that feels familiar but fresh. Where ‘Mellow Moon’ packed in woozy moments and catchy hooks, Alfie’s latest pushes even further at his own sonic boundaries, creating an aural magic eye puzzle of an album that’s altogether more psychedelic and technicolored. But, despite the bold, experimental spirit at its core, the record began in far more tentative fashion.

“I had a really busy year in 2022,” Alfie begins. “I played like, 100 shows and during the whole tour, I found it really difficult to write and record music. With writing, it was just very hard because I was anxious about the shows, and I couldn’t really separate my mind to go into that mode. Then, when I came back, I was making things at home, producing things back in my bedroom as if I was back in the pandemic almost – being at my parents’ home in Bedford, and just going to my studio in my room. But I’d make things and be a bit underwhelmed by them.”

After a somewhat unsuccessful meeting with his label, Alfie realised he was “very confused and didn’t really have a vision” of what would come next. His go-to production sounds were lacking the freshness he was craving, and so, instead of labouring the point, he decided to change tack entirely. “I went to the States to see Oscar Scheller, and I was lucky enough to reconnect with Nile Rodgers, who I got together with because Clara Amfo said I was good at ripping him off on the radio and that I should write a song with him,” he laughs. “I was like, ‘No way is that gonna happen’ but he hit me up and that was really cool.”

During those two early sessions, Alfie also began to realise that perhaps his next project shouldn’t have him behind the production desk, either. “I was having good musical ideas in terms of what I wanted to write, but whenever I sat down at a laptop, everything fell a bit flat and I couldn’t seem to execute it the way I wanted to,” he continues. “I decided to put together a small list of people that I really admire from other albums, and ended up just knocking out the rest of the album with the people that were on that list.”

Alfie Templeman talks working with Nile Rogers on funky second album 'Radiosoul' Alfie Templeman talks working with Nile Rogers on funky second album 'Radiosoul' Alfie Templeman talks working with Nile Rogers on funky second album 'Radiosoul'

“I can see it as being quite a dividing album in a lot of ways, and I’m fine with that.”

With the back of the new album broken via his trip Stateside, Alfie’s newfound taste for collaboration soon yielded him the freedom to explore more unconventional corners of his sound. Having recruited an all-star cast of producers including Karma Kid [shygirl, Hak Baker], Will Bloomfield [MNEK, Little Mix], The Vaccines’ Justin Young, and Charlie J Perry [Jorja Smith, Pip Millett] to name but a few, he found himself learning a variety of new sonic languages along the way, embracing different textures, dynamics and structures. It was connecting with producer du jour Dan Carey, though, that transformed his outlook the most.

“I think going to Dan’s studio just changed my life in a lot of ways,” he smiles, nodding to the fact that he’s also recently moved to South London from his family home in Bedford. “After coming out of a session with him for the first time, you never really think about music in the same way. I don’t know how to explain it; the way he creates things is so unique and so interesting to me. It’s all about experimenting with little musical exercises, like, can we make a drumbeat that almost makes you feel sick, but still feels good?! That kind of thing.” And did he manage that? “Yeah! [It’s on] the last song of the album, called ‘Run To Tomorrow’, and at first, it was so disorientating to me. It made me feel really on edge.”

It’s these delightfully odd moments on ‘Radiosoul’ that often shine brightest: take the skittering Daft Punk-esque intro of ‘Drag’, or the mesmerising, almost monotone chorus of recent single ‘Beckham’. Yet, for all its unsuspecting confidence and swagger, Alfie’s second is also a record that deals in the transience of our late youth, and embraces the shifting voice of its narrator.

“I can see it as being quite a dividing album in a lot of ways, and I’m fine with that,” he nods. “I’m proud of it, and happy with it, and I feel like the people that will stick around to listen to it are the people I want to listen to my music, you know? They’re the ones that really understand that I’m shapeshifting quite a bit, and I can’t really stay still too much. That’s the main thing: it’s a bridge to what’s yet to come. I’m halfway on the bridge, stumbling around, just trying to get to the other side.”

Talking Nonsense

‘Radiosoul’ doesn’t just see Alfie heading into fresh sonic territory, it also marks a new, more revealing lyrical chapter for the songwriter. He tells us a little more about his transparent new approach.

Absolutely! Five years ago, I was just singing about circles! What was I even singing about?! I’m so fed up of being nonsensical. I very much want to write things that I can go back to and say, ‘Oh that’s where I was exactly in that moment’. I’ve always wanted to document my life through EPs and albums, but I feel like with this album, it actually really is doing that. ‘Mellow Moon’ did it a little, but more so with just being a pandemic album. In the pandemic, we weren’t really doing much, so what am I actually singing about? I don’t know, just being stuck inside! Now, no one wants to fucking talk about that anymore! With this album, it’s about what happens after coming out of it, and saying ‘I’m a bit fuzzy’.

‘Radiosoul’ is out now via Chess Club Records / AWAL Recordings. 

With thanks to These Days Aperitivo Bar for our shoot location.

Tags: Alfie Templeman, From The Magazine, Features, Interviews

As featured in the June 2024 issue of DIY, out now.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

July/August 2024

With Fontaines DC, Kneecap, BERWYN, Wunderhorse and many more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY