Rory Graham (aka Rag n’ Bone Man) had NOT had a good night, his flight from Norway had been cancelled meaning that he had to take a different flight into London and then hot foot it down to Beautiful Days festival in time for his Sunday afternoon slot on the main stage.
I was invited into a backstage area where I waited for Rory to join me for a chat, I must admit that I was feeling a little intimidated at the thought of meeting the main man but this feeling soon disappeared as Rory reached out his hand, thanked me for coming along and took a seat next to me for our chat, here’s how it went….
Good afternoon Rory, I hear that you’ve not had the best of nights?
Hmmm, cancelled flights and having to rearrange stuff, not good!
Where were you yesterday?
We’d played at Lowlands Festival in the Netherlands, the show was great, I’d probably say it was one of our best gigs this year, if it hadn’t been for the travel plans being messed around so much, it would have been THE best! We had to go into Holland and then goto another place and then finally ended up in England….
You’ve been a busy boy!
You’ve just got to get on with it…..
I had some information through from your PR Manager recently saying that your track ‘Human’ had made the Radio 1 playlist and it was also announced as their ‘Track of the Day’, how does that make you feel?
Pretty great! Radio 1 have always supported me really well over the last few years, the team at One Extra have really backed me, even from the early days when I was unsigned, great people!
Which DJ’s would you say were instrumental in helping you out?
MistaJam was probably the one I would say helped me the most, he really championed my stuff and he got it out there so he’s definitely one I’d like to mention!
‘Human’ has also been used to accompany a whole host of races at the Rio Olympic Games, most noticeably when Michael Phelps won the 200m Butterfly final, how did that come about?
I think they just asked and that’s a good way of proving that my sync team are doing a good job! Friends keep on messaging me saying that I need to see it but I haven’t got round to it yet, I don’t watch that much TV, I’ll get to it soon!
I checked out your video for ‘Human’, it’s really impressive, I love the face changing at the start, who directed it?
It’s a friend of mine called Charlie Robins, I met him a long time ago at a show and he offered to do some stuff for me, got in touch with my label and we went from there. Turns out he’s friends with a load of my friends alreadyso we sort of knew each other already even though we didn’t (if that makes sense?!)
Where was it shot?
It was filmed in an old power station in Tower Hamlets in East London, it was quite funny as my dad worked at the place back in the 80’s, he was in the oil industry and used to be based in the same building, small world I guess!
You used to MC in a drum n’ bass crew, what would you say you took from that to put into your current music?
(Laughs) probably that I wasn’t any good at it! I guess the confidence really helped me get where I am today, I was doing MC’ing from a very young age and although I don’t do it anymore, I still write and rap now and again, there’s some on the album, I’d say it’s still very much a part of what I’m doing these days.
Your debut album has been pencilled in for an early 2017 release, is it ready to go NOW or are you still working on it?
It’s 80% there, all the material is there, the reason there’s still 20% left to do, I keep mixing things around, taking tracks off and that means that the whole dynamic of the album changes, I only have 12 or 14 slots available and you really have to think hard about what is included!
Is the running order of the album important to you?
You have to think about that and after listening to certain tracks you get a feel for where they live on the album, I’m still working it out, it hasn’t even got a title yet! I know we’ll be kicking things off nice and strong then take it down a peg or two and end on a high, take the listener on a roller coaster ride!
Where did you record the album?
3 different places, the guy who produced all of my stuff so far is called Mark Crew, I went to school with him, he has his own studio in South West London and he did the Bastille album and from there worked on my stuff, the Wolves and Disfigured EP’s. He’s worked on a third of the album, I also worked with a guy called Two Inch Punch, he’s a great producer and another guy called Jonny Coffer who produces for LOADS of superstars like Beyonce so the album doesn’t sound the same all the way through, lots of different inputs to it.
How do you find working with different producers, do you feel that they all have a different approach to the sound?
I’ll tell you what’s good about having different producers, if you’ve written part of a song and I’m ready to start putting it into production, you’ve got your ‘go to’ people to rely on, it might not work all the time but if you have a certain song that you know how you want it to sound, you’ve got the people around you who can direct you and give feedback to ensure that you get it right, saves a LOT of wasted time!
You’ve played a ton of festivals this year already, would you say that European audiences react differently to your music compared to English audiences?
Europe has been really surprising for us, yesterday we played Lowlands Festival and it was by far the biggest reaction we’ve ever received from an audience, they were incredible, it was really cool when you turn up at a place and you assume that nobody knows your music and when you get on the stage and you’re looking out at a sea of people in the tent, must have been a good few thousand people there and when they’re singing songs back to you, you know you’re doing something right!
Which festival do you think was the most fun to play?
Well, I think that Lowlands was one of the best, we had a lot of fun. Wildlife in Brighton was good, mainly because it’s my hometown and it was extra special as I had one of the old Rum Committee crew (my old rap crew) join us on stage, that was great, I hung around all day and bumped into people that I haven’t seen for a long time, it was nice!
Life on the road can be tough, what do you enjoy MOST about touring/festivals?
Just probably being with the band, they’re really cool and we all get along really well and there’s some ridiculous banter and it’s much better than having a proper job!
What happens on tour stays on tour?
Yeah, I’d agree with that!
What can’t you stand about touring?
(Laughs) I don’t know really, I like it all, I guess the one thing that does annoy me is dirty clothes, you could do with someone coming along with you to do the laundry
Mobile laundry drop-off…
Yeah, fluff n fold (Laughs)!
Give me your top three tips to surviving a music festival….
More than 3 hours a sleep!
A night or over the entire weekend?
Ha, yeah….. The ability to leave quickly if you need to and probably NOT just burgers, try and mix up the food a bit, it doesn’t bode well for a good tour bus environment…..especially if your bunks are in the back of the bus next to the loo!
Finally, I know you’ve not been here long today, can you describe Beautiful Days festival using just 3 words?
From what I’ve seen so far it’s quite Varied, something for everyone, quite eclectic and from what I’ve seen, it’s a great family event so let’s go with Varied, Eclectic and Family Friendly!
Rory, thanks so much for your time, all the best for the rest of the year and your album release next year, hope to bump into you again in the near future!
Cheers man, nice chatting to you!
We're looking forward to seeing Rory perform on 'Later with Jools Holland' on 20th September on BBC2, if you want to keep up to date with his whereabouts, just choose from the list of his socials below.