Exclusive: We talk to Stealth about the release of his upcoming EP, ‘Intro’
A musician with a far-reaching voice and all the know-how to produce eclectic neo-soul and blues music. Stealth recently released the track “I Don’t Need Your Love.” We caught up with him to discuss the release of his upcoming EP, his influences and what lies ahead.
Thanks a million for interviewing with The Playground. What has the response been like to I Don’t Need Your Love?
It’s been brilliant. I was really surprised that everyone seems to be vibing off it considering it is a song that is completely rough; we never really expected anything from it. Everyone seems to really love the track. I’m really really pleased with how everyone is vibing off it.
What’s the inspiration behind the video for the song?
To be honest it came out a sound check – we always used to pretend to sing: ‘I don’t need your drugs’ and it kind of led me to thinking that’s a really good concept for the video, bearing in mind the similarities of breaking up with a person and breaking up with a substance or an addiction. A lot of the time it feels like you want counselling and you want help – I thought an AA meeting would be a great
stem on the concept and I kind of wanted to avoid the generic boy meets girl, girl and boy break up
and someone cries.
Your EP Intro will be released in March?
Yes on March 22. The title track is fantastic.
What was the motivation or influence for this EP?
Basically I started writing it about a year ago. It was a point where I was a bit lost sound-wise, I didn’t really know what I was doing and I just sat down with my mates, Ross, who plays guitar in my band
and also the producer of the whole EP and we just said well what kind of music do we want to do. It’s
born out of what we all listen to – what I’m into. Lyrically and song-wise there’s nothing really specific that the EP is trying to get at but sonically for me it’s the first thing that I’ve done that’s had a solid direction – to me I really believe it.
Have you used any mixing equipment or is it quite raw?
Pretty much raw. Everything on the record has been pretty much played in live. There have been a few samples and drum loops but most of it has pretty much been me and Ross playing it all in live.
You’ve got an incredibly soulful voice. Is that something that is inspired by old or current musicians?
Mainly old musicians because my mom used to have a lot of old records playing – a lot of Elvis, Johnny
Cash and also a lot of Blues music like Howlin Wolf and all those kind of guys and Tom Waits. I’ve
always enjoyed listening male vocalists who seem to bite chunks out of songs. I like listening to men that sound like men. Sometimes a bloke with a deeper voice sings a really emotive line it makes me feel a bit more. It’s what I’ve tried to emulate, I’ve been very fortunate that I was born with this voice, it’s not put on in any way – it’s kind of what comes of my gob.
A lot of your music has a strong presence of rhythm and percussion, is that important? Are you trying to create a certain atmosphere?
Of course, I think with all music you try and create some sort of atmosphere otherwise it would just get lost on everybody. A lot of the time everybody talks about how important the backbone of the music is,
the bass and drums. They are massively important because otherwise sometimes the songs will get lost.
Without that thing driving them through you’re not going to have anything to really sell – people are
going to miss it.
What atmosphere are you trying to create – it’s quite dark and brooding?
I’m not going to lie I am quite miserable, quite sombre. When I write a song I always think of what film
would it sit on. If you ever listen to any of Tarantino’s films the atmosphere that he kind of creates from Pulp Fiction and those films – dark but at the same time there is a cheekiness to it or a real edge to it.
Going back to some of the other stuff you have done, you’ve worked with some big talents, Netsky and
Metrik. How does that compare to your solo stuff?
It was my way in into the industry and I’ve been very fortunate to have quite a big voice so it works for
dance music. I wouldn’t say it’s where my heart lies, what I’m doing in my own time, my stuff is more
me. It’s where I see where I’m going. But also the dance stuff is a side of the industry you can’t ignore
and you’ll be happy to listen to Radio 1 for a few hours and you see the influence dance music has on
the charts. You learn a hell of a lot working with people like that, who work in different areas of the
industry and have different influences. So in some ways it has influenced what I’m doing especially
Are you planning to do any more mixes with any other artists now or are you concentrating on the solo
I’ll concentrate on the solo stuff but that doesn’t mean I’m ignoring other people. If the right collaboration comes along I’ll take it with both hands. I remain very open-eyed and open-minded regarding collaborations but at the moment my main priority is Stealth and making sure my sound is clear.
Is there any artist right now that you would love to collaborate with?
There’s one guy called Son Little -I think he’s on tour with Leon Bridges at the moment. He is amazing; I think he was nominated for a Grammy as a producer as well. He has a similar vibe to me; it’s a little bit more experimental than what I do. His songs, his productions and everything are just so on point. He is signed to Anti Records, he’s fantastic. I’d love to work with him.
With regards to your own music how experimental is the process of writing a song?
It’s a bit more spontaneous; as soon as you start having a formula for success it starts getting a bit boring. I like to go in with different ideas and different starting points. There’s no set process and you end up with a far more versatile catalogue in my opinion.
Where are you drawing your inspiration regarding lyrics?
Most of them come from my own experiences and sometimes I will use what a friend tells me. I don’t really like to write about things I don’t know much about because it’s not authentic. For me being authentic is the most important thing especially when the kind of music you’re doing is so throwback because if people don’t believe what I’m doing it’s pointless.
How influential is where you’ve grown up to your music?
It’s quite a difficult question really because I’ve had a lot of influence, I’ve travelled quite a lot so it’s difficult for me to say Birmingham has had a direct impact on my musical influence. I probably say nearer my family have had more of an impact. They are quite eclectic – my Dad’s from the North and he’s very much into Northern Soul so I’d have to say my Dad’s musical influence and where my Dad grew up around Leeds has had more of an impact on my musical taste than perhaps growing up in Birmingham.
Drawing to an end, what lies ahead in 2016?
More writing, more gigging, more of what I’ve been doing. I’ve just got to continue working as hard as I have been and just hope it all pays off. I’m really enjoying what I’m doing, if I can continue on this stretch I’ll be really pleased.
And perhaps a Tarantino collaboration at the end of it?
Well, you know I am waiting for his call. (laughs). That would be amazing but my music is being synced on quite a few TV programmes so hopefully you never know the Tarantino call might come. There’s also a big TV show (Suits) that is going to be using one of the songs from the EP.
Pre-order Stealth’s EP Intro via iTunes.