As far as living arrangements go, a house with its own basement studio and a shared kitchen sink with Jamie Woon probably isn’t too bad.
“It was bizarre,” recalls Royce Wood Junior. “It belonged to an old rocker from that era who built a studio there, when it was all Chelsea boots and that. Though the residents of Barnes have a sense of entitlement that they shouldn’t be listening to bass at two in the morning...”
Responsible for most of the production of his old housemate’s debut, Royce has also offered his talents to Jono McCleery’s forthcoming album on Ninja Tune, which was “modern in the sense that we weren’t ever in the same room.” The soon-to-come LP from Kwabs also sees a couple of contributions – “he’s bonkersly good, and has a massive voice, man”. But now it’s the Brightonian’s time to swap the shadows of the mixing desk for the limelight.
“I fell into being someone’s right-hand man,” he explains of this decision. “With the people I co-work with, I have to make it more accessible. But my own stuff I try and make as weird as possible.”
Texturally dense, Royce’s sound is off-kilter, swung soul with an organic flair, although he demurely waves this off as a flaw. “I tried to make stuff sound really crisp but I’m not good at that - I’m really bad at mixing,” he laughs.
It’s four days prior to the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death when Clash sits down for our chat. Which is timely, as, when asked for the catalyst for musical interest as a youth, Royce reveals his rock roots.
“Nirvana. [Kurt’s] a terrible guitar player, and obviously when you start learning you’re a terrible guitar player.” In typical teenage fashion, a subsequent discovery of Radiohead, weed and hip-hop led to fervent musical experimentation.
Lend an ear to his debut EP and wonky soul meets dark, night-time melodies. On ‘Hardly’, both his and Rosie Lowe’s vocals slink back and forth while a breakbeat interlude teasingly chops up the funk.
And he’s chosen one of the most memorable phrases in TV history, ‘Tonight Matthew’, to title the release. “I’m pretty uncool,” he laughs. “I consider myself a pretty provincial geezer and I associate massively with shit Saturday night telly, there’s a lot of humour in it…”
So who would Royce impersonate if he went on Stars In Their Eyes?
“Probably Alison Moyet,” he laughs. “Nah, nah, er, Robbie Williams?”
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WHAT: Late-night, skewed soul music
GET 3 SONGS: ‘Nuff’, ‘Hardly’ (video above), ‘Painted Blue’
FACT: Aged seven he won a regional drawing competition for a healthy eating campaign, with a picture of vegetables riding a carousel.
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Words: Felicity Martin
Photo: Trinity Ellis
Fashion: Lola Chatterton