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Renowned For Sound

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Interview: Fergus

11 min read
Renowned For Sound talks to rising singer-songwriter Fergus about career aspirations, new music and guilty pleasures! Here's what he told us... @CharmFactory

With a few Ep’s already under his belt and dates in the diary that we personally can’t wait for, singer-songwriter Fergus is edging us closer towards the release of a brand new single. More Than I Deserve sees its release today and is a tease of an album that is pencilled in for release in 2022 and will see the musician stepping into more established territory as a musician.

Ahead of the latest singles release and some a month before his show at London’s Spice of Life, Renowned For Sound stole some of the busy musicians time to talk about career aspirations, his latest single, upcoming album and guilty pleasures. Here’s what he had to divulge…..

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Brendon Veevers: Hi Fergus! How are you doing and where in the world does this interview find you?

Fergus: Hello! I am doing very well thank you, currently answering these on my sofa in London with a big mug of coffee.

BV: Let’s start things off with your brand new single! It’s called More Than I Deserve which is released on 19th November. Can you tell us a little about the track and the inspiration behind the single?

Fergus: More Than I Deserve is about being too hard on one another in a relationship. It’s like a promise and a plea – let’s *both* stop going round and round in circles about things that really don’t matter that much.

BV: It’s the third single to be taken from your forthcoming debut album. In terms of the style and feel of More Than I Deserve is the track indicative of the overall sound of the new album?

Fergus: Good question! Stylistically, there are a few elements that are shared across some of the other tracks, but also some not present in More Than I Deserve. I think the epic feel of it, and the emotions conflicting within, is definitely something you can expect from the album in its entirety. There are more epic moments still, and much quieter ones. These first three singles probably represent the breadth of the spectrum between the acoustic and electronic sounds present on the album.

BV: You co-produced this latest track. Many artists hand over producer credits to third parties but with this, they lose a lot of their creative control over what is essentially the end result. Is it important for you to retain this element of ownership over the final product?

Fergus: Oh yes, absolutely! Working with Jake over the last 4 years has always been collaborative in this regard – he actively wants to create something together that we’re both happy with, and which allows the song itself to shine through. Also, as you can imagine, it’s really allowed me to greatly develop my own production instincts. At the start of our partnership, I basically had no idea, but now I am much more assertive, but only when I need to be!

BV: Something that struck us immediately when we received details of the new single was the artwork and general visual aesthetic of your releases. Who is behind the artwork of your releases as it’s very striking?

Fergus: Rich at Supermatic, and agreed – he’s doing fantastic work! Previously, I’d always done the artwork myself and they have been, let’s say, a little hit and miss… When it came to kicking off this album campaign I wanted to have a very clear and, as you said, striking concept. One that we could also use as a template for all the singles off this project. I’m so happy with them and they sort of represent the different ‘seasons’ of love. It definitely felt like the right time to seek the help of an actual professional and having another creative mind to collaborate on this with has been a joy. We’re nearly finished with the album artwork and it’s honestly looking amazing, I can’t wait for everyone to see it!

BV: Why have you not decided to release a full-length album until now? What was it about 2021 or 2022 that made you feel the time was right to move from EP’s to an album?

Fergus: We were still testing the waters really, growing and developing, until it felt like it was time. Purple Road and Three of Swords themselves are like mini albums, really, and I did start to really relish the prospect of tackling a much larger project. But, oh, did I bite off more than I could chew! We actually released 4 singles in 2020 gearing up for a 2021 album but, understandably, things went off the rails and, consequently, the album I was writing shifted and changed massively, along with events in my own life.

BV: Can you tell us about the writing process of the upcoming record and where you drew inspiration from when creating the album?

Fergus: This is a long story. I slightly touched on this in my previous answer but I’ll expand if you don’t mind. It all started in the summer of 2019… I wrote the song Enough for You while my relationship at the time was breaking down. And after it did I leaned *hard* into writing a breakup album, full of disappointment and retaliatory resentment, but also, ultimately, trying to stay positive and open. Things were going to plan, and despite Covid, we released Enough for You towards the end of 2020 after three other singles (Concave, All You’re Not & Young Tonight) – as they were already ready to go.

Of course, we couldn’t record anything else for a while. In any case, I escaped out of London to my family home just before lockdown, with the silver lining of having a big old slice of time to finish that album. However, barely 2 weeks in I met someone and everything flipped. Instead of finishing more breakup songs, I spoke to this person pretty much all the time and we started to fall in love. So, I wrote about that instead. Now the “album” was in total disarray – I couldn’t reconcile those breakup songs anymore with what I was feeling and writing. I tried to for a long time but, eventually, it became clear it would never all fit together.

So I left those four songs and others behind. I could have been much more succinct here, sorry! Basically, this record has been a literal labour of love. It’s seen highs and lows, breakups and reconciliations, euphoria and despair…and ingested them all.

BV: When it comes to writing, recording and piecing a record together, would you say you are a perfectionist who knows how a record should sound and be received in its end form or do things happen more organically and spontaneously during the overall process?

Fergus: It’s a bit of both really. Sometimes I have a very clear idea of how I want things to sound and fit together, other times I don’t know where I want to take it. Either way, though, that’s really just the framework – in the studio it’s super fast and spontaneous, and often we end up somewhere we didn’t set out to be, but we love it! I try to pick and choose when to be a perfectionist – I’m well aware that my idea and vision isn’t always the best one, so I’m not afraid to risk that in the first place, or to listen to the greater experience on offer.

BV: Your music is quite emotionally driven. Are your songs drawn from personal experiences or would you say you write more from an observational perspective of life and the experiences of others as opposed to yourself?

Fergus: It always starts with a feeling, the lyrics then have to match that mood and extrapolate it as far as it can go. If there aren’t any, I wait for the right story to come along. I would say I almost exclusively write from personal experience, it feels the most honest as I don’t feel like I’m really in a position to make a commentary on anything else right now. I do sprinkle in some artistic license of course, because I’ve learnt that I don’t want to be *so* specific with details anymore. Plus sharing something personal from my life, through my point of view as a human on this planet, I think is something people can really place themselves inside, and relate to their own experiences.

BV: What artists inspired you growing up and who inspires you now?

Fergus: Growing up I always gravitated to singer-songwriters in the mainstream, first it was Avril, then Natasha Bedingfield, KT Tunstall. Up until 18, I was heavily involved in classical music and it wasn’t until I left that life behind that I really started to discover what else was out there. I would comb through blogs obsessively as I also had a very part-time job curating the in-store playlists for a retailer. A habit that led me to discover Sharon Van Etten, and she’s been my favourite and all-round greatest influence ever since.

BV: Your parents were quite musical with their own tastes covering quite a range of genres. Do you think your parent’s interests in music helped shape your own musical journey and if so, what do you think were the predominant influences that you took from each of your parents?

Fergus: Oh yes, definitely. To compare car journeys: with my mum – Pavarotti and Jacqueline du Pré; with my dad – the Doors, the Cardigans, Simon & Garfunkel, Dylan, Led Zeppelin. Spending those years singing in choirs, I never used my voice to express emotion – it was trained out of me. The cello became my outlet for emotional endeavours. So when writing about my life and experiences now, I think I do tap into that classical, lyrical style of melody that I listened to during so many of those journeys. The pure passion delivered there was far greater than anything I was experiencing, musically or otherwise. And as for the paternal side, I’d say the sheer range of just *cool* sounds and great lyrics is something I’m trying my best to emulate, in my own way.

BV: As part of your journey, a big break came with a meeting with Jake Gosling who has worked with some of the biggest names in music including Lady Gaga, Shania Twain, One Direction and Ed Sheeran to name a few here and that led to a signing to Goldun Egg Records. Can you tell us about that and how that encounter helped shape your own path?

Fergus: Not to be overly dramatic, but meeting Jake was the light at the end of a long tunnel for me. I’d been stumbling around for a few years, writing songs and occasionally playing, but with no idea what I was doing or how to push myself and my music to the next level. I felt like a joke, when everyone around me was making strides in their lives and careers. It was embarrassing to be languishing, because I was taking on a much greater personal risk, but getting nowhere. Meeting Jake opened the door to literally everything, and he opened my eyes to production, to commerciality *without* compromise. He believed in me from the very beginning, at a time when my self-belief was really dwindling. He’s one of my best friends.

BV: The music industry can be a terribly fickle and highly competitive industry. What have been the driving forces behind your own resilience as a musician?

Fergus: Yes, also very hypocritical and incredibly frustrating! I’m blessed with an amazing support system around me for starters. Giving up simply wouldn’t even be an option, so strong is the belief that this is what I am supposed to be doing! I’m very grateful for that. Having the creative freedom I do have means that, at least in terms of the music, everything is me. And – for me – with music, the subjectivity justifies the medium. As soon as we compromise to cater to a trend, or to somebody else’s tastes, we obviously chip away at our integrity. I feel like that integrity provides the very resilience that will keep us going – it’s like an armour.

BV: You have two shows in London lined up; the first being on 18th December at Spice of Life in Soho and 10th of March next year at Camden Chapel. What could someone new to seeing you live expect from a live show?

Fergus: Currently, me and my band are playing with a very stripped back setup and it’s definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Expect extended versions of songs and more foot tapping than you’d think. Also, I get nervous so borderline verbal diarrhoea.

BV: Are there plans to do any shows anywhere else around the UK?

Fergus: Yes! I’m heading up North with my band – first to Leeds & Liverpool on the 27th & 28th, then up to Hull for a couple of slots at the Hammonds of Hull grand opening on the 3rd & 4th of December.

BV: I’m going to throw at you a standard interview question now Fergus! Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years? What are your long-term aspirations as a musician?

Fergus: Self-sufficiency is the goal. In 5 years I’d like to be talking about album number 3 and selling out the Royal Albert Hall. I want to be able to do this for as long as I can, and reaching and holding onto a strong, loyal fanbase is the key to being able to do. Being able to deliver uncompromising and original work

BV: Last question for you Fergus – can you tell us something about yourself that you have told no one else? Any guilty music pleasures? Any tour antics you can reveal?

Fergus: Semi-guilty pleasure – Kylie. Fever is honestly one of my all-time favourite albums!

Fergus’ new single More Than I Deserve is out November 19th with his debut album scheduled for release in 2022. Fergus will also be playing a bunch of shows through March 2022. Click here to find out if he is playing at a venue near you.