Sixteen is the magic number; when 16-year-old Alfie Templeman left school two weeks ago to focus on music, it was emotional, but this year marks the beginning of a new chapter in his life.
Surely his aptitude for writing and producing music is traceable in his DNA. Playing drums from the age of seven, he taught himself guitar, bass and production at 13, “I used to get bored easily, but I’ve never been one to play video games”, he says. “My release, my way of coming back from school and stop the boredom, was to record a set of songs. I like to see albums finished, there is something that satisfies me about it.”
He estimates that he recorded the equivalent of five albums back then. Keeping things raw, his DIY ethic comes naturally. His room in Carlton, Bedfordshire is a comfortable place for writing, recording and producing music, “I keep it as real as possible and limit myself to what I’ve got in house. That’s more impressive than going out to a studio and having everything like a kid in a candy store. If you limit yourself, you get more possibilities”, he says.
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His ferocious second EP ‘Sunday Morning Cereal’ came out last week. Four infectious hook-laden tracks brimming with melody but while last year’s debut EP ‘Like An Animal’ is guitar based, this one takes his astute eclecticism one step further. Having listened to upbeat ‘90s west coast hip-hop, he wanted to blend that with in R&B, synth and indie. ‘Stop Thinking (About Me)’ depicts the latter two.
“The EP was exciting to make. I spent much time on it, I started recording in October. It’s been a lot of work, not just a quick little recording, we planned every detail”, he insists.”
It tackles the idea of saying goodbye to a part of life, “I’ve left school, it’s about moving on”, he reflects. “I’m becoming myself in my music, maybe I didn’t wanna do that because of school, the fear of being judged but I can do that now. It’s about being myself, moving on, letting others go. I’ve let a ton of people go, I’m not gonna see half of my school again.”
Following longer prolific spells of writing and recording, there have been plenty of live outings. Having appeared at Field Day, he played two shows at The Great Escape and is due to perform at Truck, Neighbourhood and Mirrors. Earlier this year he supported Chess Club label mates Sundara Karma at Brixton Academy.
“Everyone was cheering, it was great”, he says. “By the first song my nerves were gone. I almost forgot the people out there because I was focused on the music. I loved doing it.” Ending the set with ‘Incinerate’, a Sonic Youth cover, combined with a moshing crowd, was perfect. Excited about the future, he is even thinking of producing other artists.
He recognises that the combination of music and social media is a powerful outlet for raising awareness of issues, “I see my music as a platform to spread why I’m unhappy about what’s going on in certain places. I think that’s important.”
He appreciates that people listen to different types of music, “when I was doing indie, not everyone was into it, they were into pop. At school people are starting to open up to other kinds of music. Some have started to release music, it’s nice that people nowadays are making music at a young age.”
Listening to the inner self is key, or as Templeman says, “Go with your gut, that’s what my music is basically saying.”
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'Sunday Morning Cereal' is out now.
Words: Susan Hansen
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