Rory Graham aka. Rag N Bone Man is a singer/song-writer from Brighton with an old blues soul. His latest EP Disfigured is a masterpiece just waiting to be discovered. Predicting a huge breakthrough for this artist in the future.
We caught up with Rory backstage at The Deaf Institute in Manchester moments before his sold out show.
Last week BBC Radio 1 made ‘Bitter End’ their Track of the Day – How does it feel hearing your songs on the radio?
At first I didn’t wanna listen – cos I didn’t wanna hear what they had to say about it. They ask listeners to tweet in, and sometimes people don’t say nice stuff, or they don’t get it – or they reference it to something it doesn’t sound like. Someone said it sounds like Nickelback! Nickelback? But nah it’s good – my little sister phoned me up saying she was in the gym and my track was playin’. That’s a cool feeling.
What’s the story behind ‘Bitter End’?
I intentionally made it sound like a love song, but it’s about the breakdown of a friendship. I thought people might confuse it for a story of romance – but it’s good to see people have actually been talking about the lyrics.
Your video for ‘Hard Came The Rain’ is pretty intense…
Yeah. I came up with the idea. I was watching True Romance, a Quentin Tarantino film about a really volatile relationship. There’s a scene where they’re driving a really nice car but they’re covered in blood. I wanted to capture how madness becomes normality in a volatile relationship. Of course we had to fuck the story up a bit – the video features a relationship between two guys, and I decided it’d be fun to make one of them a drag Queen.
‘Perfume’ is our favourite song on the ‘Disfigured’ EP. What inspired this track?
This track was also inspired by a film. I love cinema. I went round to my mate Ralph’s house (lead singer in To Kill A King), and got talking to him about the film Perfume. It’s about a guy who grows up with a really intense smell – he thinks he can bottle the sense of a woman. The song is about the power of smell. Whether it’s a woman or a man, you know the smell of someone you’re in love with. In any given moment – you know that smell.
You’re playing Great Escape festival this year – Europe’s leading festival for new music. What advice do you have for anyone trying to break into the music industry?
Don’t worry about any music industry being there. From my point of view, I wouldn’t worry about that. I know what it’s like feeling the pressure of going into a music business environment where you’re cautious of how you’re coming across to certain people. Just play how you play, be yourself. I didn’t play Great Escape last year because I wasn’t signed, it wasn’t the right time, and I wasn’t ready.
What other festivals are you playing this summer?
Love Supreme – just down the road from where I live in Brighton. It’s a jazz/soul festival, looks really good. Looking forward to seeing Van Morrison and Chaka Khan. Also playing Standon Calling, and London’s Lovebox at Victoria Park – that’ll be fun. Oh yeah, Glastonbury! – I’m playing the Gully Stage. And that’s a big, big stage for me.
Glastonbury is big, big news!
Yeah. I’ve never been! Tried to break in a few times – you know how it is. But nah, in all seriousness I thought they would put me on a small stage somewhere, maybe 500 capacity. But I saw a video of the Gully Stage and it’s gotta be at least 5,000 – that’s daunting, but if I get half of that I’ll be happy!
What can people expect from your set?
At the moment we’re doing a mix of Wolves and Disfigured. I feel like people hopefully wanna hear everything. Wolves is still available to download for free – some people love free music. If I really liked somebody and I got my tracks for free I’d be like, well that’s cool.
Music is a precious gift to give away for free…
Yeah, exactly. I spent a lot of time on the EP, a whole year pretty much. It’s more about engaging the audience, and people being a fan at the very start. I want people to look back and remember the time where I gave out my music for free. It’s important.
Do you see your music evolving differently now that you’re gaining popularity?
My attitude towards music is, you don’t have to be famous. Cos fame isn’t a real thing. You don’t have to be a pop-star or anything to make a living out of music. I think lots of people think you have to be famous, or be in the media. There are people out there playing every week with a good following. I’ll just carry on doing what I’m doing now, writing songs until I’ve got a massive bunch of material and then put my best stuff out there. Getting played on Radio 1 is just a huge bonus to me.