Rhodes talks new collaboration with Birdy


Last weekend we attended Barn on the Farm festival and met with the talented and remarkable Rhodes. Award-winning Barn on the Farm is renowned as one of the best festivals for discovering hotly tipped talent.

Young Rhodes embodies the soul of a man far beyond his years and delivers his music with astounding meaning, commitment and emotion. His journey through 4 EPs has lead to a promising debut album, Wishes, due September.

Congratulations on latest single Close Your Eyes. What inspired the video?

Close Your Eyes is a song about overcoming fears. The idea came from my fear of performing and singing. The video shows scenarios where people are fighting to overcome fear. I was thinking about how important it is to be there for one another. And how nice it is that I have great friends and family that are there for me. And I like to think that they know I’m there for them, too.

What’s the story behind EP title track ‘Turning Back Around’?

Turning Back Around is a song I wrote at the beginning of my journey. It’s evolved into something more up-tempo, but started off as a folk ballad on the acoustic guitar. Back when I decided I wanted to try to pursue a solo career, I was in a band playing bass with four of my best friends. I knew I didn’t want that.  But they were like brothers to me. I wrote Turning Back Around about the trouble and difficulty in leaving and having to do something for myself. Those decisions in life aren’t always easy, but when people are close to you and they care about you, in the end they will understand.

You always sing with raw emotion. Is there one particular song you find difficult to play?

There’s a few. Breathe is a hard one to sing sometimes, because it’s quite personal. I don’t necessarily want people to know the exact story behind it. In the past, people have shared with me how they relate to my songs, and thinking about other people’s stories while you are performing can be very moving. It’s kind of why I write songs, because I want people to be able to interpret them in their own way.

You’re very mature both lyrically and creatively. Did you grow up around music?

If you’re speaking from the heart, and talking about something that means something to you, I don’t know how your music can come out anything but sincere and honest. My mum’s not a musician, but she’s always encouraged me and my sisters to be very creative. My dad plays guitar, he loves music. I kind of idolised him as a child, I would often steal his guitar when he wasn’t around. I think it’s important to stay true to yourself, I don’t necessarily try to please anyone with my songs. Starting from a true place is a nice way to make sure the songs are interpreted the right way, and listened to in the right way.

Tell us about your experience at Glastonbury this year?

Glastonbury was amazing! I hadn’t been a festival go-er in the past, tickets are quite expensive. This year playing the Park Stage was surreal, because I played the Rabbit Hole the year before, which is opposite. I remember looking over and seeing St. Vincent setting up and thinking, imagine being up there doing it. So yeah, being there and playing on the Park Stage this year was incredible. I played early and thought no one was going to come, but people turned up and were seemingly enjoying my set!

If you were organising your own festival, who would you choose to headline and why?

I’d probably choose a band like Coldplay as the headliner. They’re so good. They’re just such an amazing band! My tour manager Johnny and I always listen to their albums on the road. And The National are one of my favourite bands too. So yeah, The National and Coldplay.

How would you describe Barn on the Farm to someone who’s never been here before?

Homely and intimate, with so many amazing bands playing. As an artist it can be quite scary, because you feel like you have to up your game a bit. You’re on stage and you know there’s loads of amazing and talented people wandering around watching.

What can we expect from debut album Wishes?

My journey through 4 EPs has been something which allowed me to really experiment, and the album in its entirety is very dynamic. We spent about six months experimenting in a studio in the middle of nowhere. In the end, Wishes has gone back to being very organic, but still quite polished in parts. The album is mostly vocal driven, then there are strings, a horn in places, lots of atmospheric guitars – it’s quite cinematic. There are moments in there that are minimal, and there are moments in there that are really grand.

Have you collaborated with any other artists?

I have. And this is quite exclusive. I had been through a very intense, solitary writing process, and Birdy and I were introduced. At first we weren’t sure whether we were writing for one another, or as a duet. I loved working with Birdy, and I’m really pleased with our end product. The album gets quite intense in the fourth quarter, and Let It All Go kind of moves you away from it all for a moment.

It sounds like there’s a loose narrative on the album?

Yeah, a lot of thought did go into that. The album is a journey of the last two years of my life. It’s mostly about overcoming fear and doubt. Everyone goes through fear and doubt, especially when doing something creative. But like with everything, I want people to interpret my music in their own way.

The next chapter of your journey sees you head out on your biggest UK headline tour…

Yeah! The tour is centred on the new album. There’s a deluxe version of Wishes with two new tracks on it that no one will have heard. I’m looking forward to the idea of playing the album in its entirety.