Rhodes discusses his rapid ascent into the public eye
24-year-old singer David Rhodes plays soaring ballads soaked in reverb and has managed to generate a huge amount of buzz in a remarkably short space of time. With just a debut EP entitled Morning under his belt, he has already played at Glastonbury and has been compared to the late great Jeff Buckley, along with new British sensation Sam Smith. Despite being nearly impossible to Google (he plays under his surname), we have a feeling he might become a household name very soon. We went to watch him play at Dissorono Terrace on Wednesday, where he kindly sat down for a chat with us before his set.
I’ve only been playing under my current name for about a year. Before that I was playing bass in a couple of bands but I never sang. My best friend was always the singer; I was not. He just took care of that job and it was never like I wanted to sing either. It wasn’t until quite recently when he moved away from London and we stopped seeing each other so much that I started singing. From there I wrote some of my own songs for the first time; that was about 18 months ago. That’s when my current project came about.
Your track Your Soul recently hit 250,000 plays on Spotify – how does that feel? Have there been any other big milestones for you in your career so far?
My friend tweeted at me the other day saying that he walked into Pret and Your Soul was playing. That was a big moment for me. But yeah it was amazing to have so many plays – I still can’t quite believe it. Other than that, playing at Glastonbury this year was a really big deal for me.
Can you tell us a little bit about your experience of playing there?
It was incredible. I’m not a festival-goer so when I got there I couldn’t quite believe how vast it was. We arrived at night, so driving along we could just see this sea of lights stretching for miles, it was crazy. I played a little show at the Rabbit Hole, one of the smaller stages under a big tent – it had a great vibe. I did a few other things across the weekend as well: I played at the Avalon Café where Mumford and Sons were curating the line-up and then I did something for BBC Three, which was a very scary live televised performance. I definitely want to play there again, hopefully at a bigger stage next year but we’ll see.
Do you have any dreams in terms of places you’d love to play, or other artists you’d love to tour with?
I’d love to tour America with The National. They’re like my favourite band… that would be like a dream. Or maybe Arcade Fire or someone like that. In the UK I supported London Grammar at Brixton Academy a few weeks ago and that was just incredible. Especially being backstage and realising where you are – you can see so many people queuing up and you just think: “This would be amazing, being at the top of the bill’.
How was the tour with London Grammar? Any anecdotes you’d like to share?
It was a small tour; they tend to group their shows quite closely. I don’t know about anecdotes, there weren’t really any crazy antics to report – since I’ve been playing shows as a singer it’s been hard to loosen up and go partying. At Glastonbury some of my friends and my manager went off and partied into the night but I just had it in the back of my mind that I had to perform. There was one late night in Berlin though – sometimes it’s inevitable. I played a set at a house party in someone’s flat, which was really cool. The next day I was playing at a club called the Berghain, which is rumoured to have all these dark, sinister things going on at night. It was a cool venue; it was really dark in there and had this weird, moody atmosphere.
Do you feel like the atmosphere of a venue affects your performance and how it is received?
Definitely. For me I like to have quite a dark room that allows people to really zone out into the music. That’s the trick of learning how to be a performer I think: learning how to encapsulate a crowd. Sometimes you can’t, but I think I’m getting better at it.
Who are your musical influences and which artists have inspired you the most?
I got really into blues music at quite a young age through my dad. Artists like Robert Johnson and Rory Gallagher really inspired my desire to make music and practice all the time. It wasn’t until the last year or so that I’ve been getting more into bands like The National and Arcade Fire, who I mentioned before. Artists like that are where I aspire to be now. I like the way they have their soundscapes. I‘m really into film music as well – the composer Danny Elfman really inspired me.
What does success mean to you? And where do you see yourself ideally in five years’ time?
I think success for me is about recognition – being recognised by the right people who you want to appreciate your music. I mean obviously selling a lot of records is something that everyone aspires to but it’s more about the recognition I think; just wanting people to enjoy what you’re doing – that’s more rewarding than any sales figure. In five years’ time I hope to have released a couple of albums and just be keeping onwards and upwards. I think five years doesn’t seem to last very long, especially doing this. It goes so quickly.
If you weren’t doing music, what do you think you would be doing instead?
Erm, I’m not sure! That’s a tricky one. If I wasn’t doing music I think I’d probably be in a horrible office somewhere doing some kind of filing… definitely filing.
For further information and future events visit Rhodes’s website here.
Rhodes performed at the DISARONNO Terrace at Platform Bar, Netil House. For further details on forthcoming DISARONNO Terrace events follow @DISARONNO_UK, or visit here.