Eighteen-year-old rising star Alfie Templeman says it was a “real bummer” when he had to cancel so many sold-out shows due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But having released his new mini-album Forever Isn’t Long Enough on Friday May 7, he is confident that things are looking “more hopeful and positive” – and he’s looking forward to a stripped back show at Assai Records in Edinburgh on August 1 ahead of a 2022 tour.
“It’s going to be really magical being together and celebrating with music,” he says.
Who is Alfie Templeman?
Alfie already has four EPs to his name, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of music history that some veteran artists would envy.
He’s been called a “bedroom producer”, and that’s true – all of his songs were crafted at home in the small village of Carlton, Bedfordshire.
But where many young artists create tracks from pre-made samples, Alfie is more likely to pick up one of the 10 instruments he taught himself.
He has his father to thank. A builder by trade but a passionate guitarist by nature, his dad would fill the house with the sounds of classic rock, while his son banged away to the rhythm on pots and pans.
Then one day, his dad brought him along to do some work at a friend’s house.
That friend wasn’t sure how to entertain a child, so he put a video of a live Rush concert on the TV.
“I was eight years old and blown away,” Alfie recalls.
“I can vividly remember watching Neil Peart play. He became my first musical hero.”
He began saving his pocket money to buy “all of the Rush albums”, then set out converting a mate so they could form a band together.
That same year, using his sister’s toy microphone and an old laptop, he recorded his first demo.
At school, he always felt like the odd one out.
“All the boys were playing football, and I hated that,” he says.
“I felt like the weird kid because I didn’t want to do sports.”
He began going to cello lessons, which he credits for his perfect pitch. Then he fell in love with the drums around the same time he was teaching himself to play one of his dad’s left-handed guitars (right-handed).
After that it was the keyboard, mandolin, “a bit of violin”, bass, sitar, harmonica, synths…
“One of the reasons I learnt all that was so I could play and produce everything myself,” he explains.
“I had to have full control over my first EP. I just wanted to see if I could put everything together so it sounded good.”
First record label release in 2018
It definitely worked. Like An Animal, released by Chess Club Records in 2018 includes hazy, sun-drenched twangs of guitar; swooning, Eighties-style synths; moody, wandering basslines and warm percussion.
Unlike many other artists, who might try to compensate for their youth by tackling the “big” subjects, Alfie makes no attempt to hide his age.
These songs are about feeling like an outsider, exam stress, and those all-consuming first crushes.
Like An Animal was followed by two EPs in 2019, Sunday Morning Cereal and Don’t Go Wasting Time.
The former was infused with heavy funk influences, from the squelchy bass and vocal fuzz of “Stop Thinking (About Me)” to the dreamy psychedelia of “Busy”.
The seven-track Don’t Go Wasting Time was an ambitious leap that shone a brighter spotlight on his extraordinary range, encompassing pop, indie, rock, Latin and prog influences.
It’s all the more impressive upon learning that, around this time, he ended up in hospital, where he was diagnosed with childhood lung disease.
Shielding from Covid-19
“It doesn’t really bother me, but I’m one of those ‘vulnerable to Covid-19’ people,” he reveals, adding that he had to shield last summer.
Until the diagnosis, Alfie and his family thought he had bad asthma.
However, given his raucous gigs, fans might not think it.
“It can get messy,” he laughs.
Alfie praises his label, Chess Club Records, for helping him to “come out of my shell a bit” and be the charming, exuberant and driven young man he is today.
“I’ve definitely become more open,” he nods.
“I didn’t always know how to talk to people before, and I could get pretty anxious. I’d get scared, but everyone’s really nice!”
He’s eager to become one of the voices of a generation determined to change the world: “Everyone at my school was so intelligent and well-informed. Young people have more of a voice now than ever.”
2021 and beyond will be ‘massive’
Alfie now has his eye on the rest of 2021, with the release of Forever Isn’t Long Enough – that he describes as “the best representation of what I’m about”.
“Each song is different but linked,” he says.
The mini-album opens with “Shady” – produced by Tom McFarland from the Mercury Prize-shortlisted collective Jungle.
From there, there’s the strut of “Wait, I Lied” (with nods to Gnarls Barkley and Justin Timberlake), or the gleaming “To You”, which recalls the sound of The Weeknd’s chart-dominating 2019 album, After Hours.
He wants to do as many shows as possible when he gets back on the road, performing to a fan base that now stretches around the world.
“I want those new experiences,” he says. “2021 is going to be massive.”
*Forever Isn’t Long Enough by Alfie Templeman is out now on Chess Club Records.