It’s Friday afternoon, and Paul Dixon is talking in surprising detail about betting scams.
“The real giveaway is when people lay 10 or 50 £50,000 bets with different bookies,” the ex-Manchester University economics student explains. Ex, because he quit in his second year after landing a major record deal. And who wouldn’t?
In many ways, being taken on by a major label is being the centre of a massive bet. “If you look at it from their point of view, it’s trying to get a return on an investment,” says the 24-year-old. “Which is fair enough.”
But after being signed under the moniker David’s Lyre and releasing his debut album, the label dropped him. “I’m not a bitter artist, but being signed to a major certainly is restrictive. Instead of it being you by yourself in your bedroom, you’ve now got a huge team of people that have an active interest in your work.”
His reinvention as f y f e, therefore, came as a butterfly-from-the-chrysalis type of process. Now crafting songs with swirling melodies of grandeur, Paul cites his influences as early-2000s rap – Dr. Dre and The Neptunes – as well as Lauryn Hill and Elliott Smith.
He understands the value of space and strips his tracks back to skeletal structures, something that mirrors the styling of his name. “I’ve tried to limit myself as much as possible,” Paul reveals about his production. “That’s a really effective way to communicate with people, through simplicity.”
For the younger Dixon, strumming the guitar and singing was almost an act of rebellion, after a classical education in the violin and piano from age five.
“I saw my brother – he’s seven years older than me – jamming on the guitar and thought, that’s cool,” he remembers. “But I never had a guitar or singing lesson. I think that’s why it was so attractive… It was on my terms and something for me, a bit indulgent.”
“I’m just trying to enjoy it and not get caught up in the industry and living up to people’s expectations,” he concludes. The stakes are lower now, sure, but creatively there’s everything to play for.
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Where: West London
What: Melancholic folktronica with grandiose arrangements
Get 3 Songs: ‘Conversations’ (video above), ‘Solace’, ‘St. Tropez’
Fact: Aged 11, he appeared in the popular consumer CBBC series Short Change, where the producers gave him a tenner to put in his bank account (and then asked for it back afterwards).
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Words: Felicity Martin
Photo: Neil Bedford
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