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With brand new song 'Sweet Release' coming out as the first of a number of new songs throughout 2023 - one every two months to be precise - I thought "what better way to bring the fans into the story?" than to ask them what THEY wanted to ask me around the new music, the last few years and the years to come.
Thank you to everyone who commented with their questions and to everyone who's been following this journey all the way from 'A New Word To Say' to these words! It's been quite a decade and I take none of it for granted!
Stream or Download 'Sweet Release' on your favourite music platform anywhere in the world from March 17th. The music video will also be live from 9am ET March 17th and will be active below once live! Thank you again, and happy reading! Rod x
Do you remember the moment that you first felt like a pop star?
Ha! My initial response was “have I ever…?” but yes I absolutely do! I’ve done many wild things, but getting to perform on Graham Norton’s BBC One show with Elton John as my guest vocalist was pretty badass. Backstage I was in the holding area with Jodie Foster, Ryan Gosling, Tom Daley, Greg Davies, Elton and Russell Crowe who had tweeted at me the day before and when I introduced myself he said “I know who you are!” and I actually felt really famous lol.
What do you like about living in NYC and the USA v. the UK?
I LOVE that in NYC I’m treated as a contemporary by fellow musicians where in London I felt like I was treated like a competitor. I met some GREAT people in London, but overall, it didn’t lean to nurturing or connecting artists - overall - whereas in NYC the approach is usually “how can I help someone I care about” vs “I don’t want someone to overtake”. London was rife withgatekeepers, and NYC has many more people who will hold the door for you.
If you could pick any song of yours to be the Welsh national anthem, which would it be and why?! 🏴
What a fab question!! I think 'In Your Care' as it's about the push and pull between home and away. At least in my generation lots of young people moved away for creative work, and felt that push and pull. But it's also a song about still keeping your heart and your home where you grew up, which is my very particular experience with Wales, and I would LOVE to hear it sung by a Welsh Male Voice Choir.
What is your process for writing a song? Music first, or lyrics? At what point in the process do you decide if it’s a solo track or collaborative piece?
You know, it changes totally song by song. In terms of collaboration, that’s a little by luck when the song is finished, except on ‘Fun City’ where I wanted each song to be a duet so I allowed a little wiggle room lyrically so it wasn’t fixed to a single perspective or gender ties. Sometimes lyrics come first, sometimes a beat or a melody. It’s totally haphazard!
Which of your tracks excites Sunny the most?
‘Next To You’ …! No idea why! But when I first adopted him, every time I sang it at the piano he would miaow and come running over and sat on the piano when I played it. It was so unexpected and so fascinating.
Can you remember the first music you heard or danced to in a gay club?
Not precisely but I think it was either ‘To Deserve You’ or ‘Ray Of Light’ specifically from the ‘Queer As Folk’ original TV series soundtrack. That was around the time we started going to H2O, the big gay club in Swansea (RIP iconic venue!) and they were on all the time.
I know this may be a lame question....but I will ask anyway. Do you put any energy into staying relevant with your music? I mean this as in current musical trends or songs you hear. Does it influence you or do you just go with your own flow?
Hmm … interesting question. Yes, and no? Like I don’t try to work to a trend, but I definitely do try to learn from listening and studying production, mixing and arrangement techniques. So I try my best not to be rooted in the 80s or 90s as some expect me to be, but I’m sort of trying to balance evolving but also sounding like the same artist. It’s a bit tricky. It’s definitely a super interesting question and one I don’t think I ACTIVELY consider too often! What is interesting to me is how many current songs are now referencing the 90s or 00s like I was about 10 years ago so now I kind of have to go back to what I WAS doing to emulate current trends lol - wild!
When did you begin singing? Did you sing in school choir as a child? What is your favorite memory of singing or your personal favorite performance?
I was in the school choir yes in primary school (Junior School / Elementary School) which I loved. I’ve always loved singing so much. Maybe my favourite memory of singing is being on the Graham Norton show with Elton John. That was such a unique moment in my life. Although way before that in 2009 I was in LA recording with Boom Bip - one of my favourite producers - and we did a take of ‘A New Word To Say’ and he was like “that was perfect that was it - one take” and I felt properly amazing! lol
Your last album was a postcard to the LGBTQ+ communities. Will this album have a theme? And Did anything specific inspire the sound of the new music?
It’s not as “thematic” as ‘Fun City’ for sure, but it’s focused around empowerment and appreciating the best things in life: making the most of what you have and celebrating your community - friends, family, yourself.
Through your career you've gotten to collaborate with many amazing artists. Who is one artist still creating that you haven't yet collaborated with that you hope to work with some day and what draws you to them?
Oh Christ, so many. Obviously Kylie Minogue who is such a JOY in the industry. Slightly wilder card Grace Jones who I listen to every single day, and in a dream world Kate Bush. Kylie’s energy and effervescence is just so irresistible, I would love to be part of that magical world. Grace and Kate are just such unique characters who I am inspired by every listen to this day.
Daniel Keith Burns
What’s a song that you never made a music video for that you wish you had?
Oh I LOVE this question! ‘Good At Goodbyes’. I had so many ideas for this one in my head when I was getting ‘Fun City’ pressed on vinyl and CD and was working out how to get it made and then COVID happened. Totally crushing. I love this song and wished it had had it’s proper moment in the sun, as it were.
Favorite album of all time?
What a question. OK I have to give two, but one with vocals and one without:
My favourite instrumental album of all time is Pino Donaggio’s score for the Brian De Palma film ‘Blow Out’. It’s absolutely perfect.
My favourite artists album is probably Dubstar's 'Disgraceful'. I can't think of an album I've listened to more often in my life. I think about it all the time, and it definitely fuelled my kitsch / camp / classy / ethereal / deeply British approach to music. The artwork was so unique, the vocals were so distinctive and the lyrics blended the mundane with truly beautiful phrasing. I love the album so, so very much. (Non UK fans will have to listen to the International Hybrid of their first two albums here on Spotify, but if you track down a vinyl / CD of the album you won't be sorry, believe me!)
What are your views on the ageism and body shaming issues being faced by many artists recently ?
I feel like ageism and body shaming are such a reflection of the small minds throwing it out. Like, REALLY, you think you are wildly original being such an arsehole? It's pathetic. It has always been, it always will be. It's predictable and utterly boring. My one hope is that those victim to it don't let it become too insidious as the bombardment can be relentless and very venomous. It's gross, but utterly unsurprising. If you ever read a comments section or twitter replied (hint: DO NOT) you see the absolute worst of humanity from the absolute most worthless of people.
David Bowie Or Prince? AND what is the last thing you played on vinyl?
The last thing I played on vinyl - right now - is The Mike Theodore Orchestra 'Cosmic Wind' which has lots of its music used in a trashy horror film 'Mardi Gras Massacre' (dreadful).
Umm ... Prince. I LOVE Bowie but Prince is really just such a spectacular songwriter and performer I cannot live without his work.
Daddy or chips
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