When Going Solo first added the name WEIRDO to HumanHuman three months ago, with the teasing comment “we got a hint here… music coming soon”, it’s safe to say we were nothing short of intrigued. The anticipation paid off when the anonymous artist released debut track “Butter” - an upbeat euro-pop single built on imaginative instrumentation and seriously catchy lyrics. Within a few days of WEIRDO’s musical premiere, this faceless act was labelled as a Promising Artist by our community of tastemakers.
Over the past few months, a few choice pieces of information have come to light. WEIRDO is the solo project of a British artist who has relocated to the creative hub of Berlin from Brighton, and excitingly there’s an EP on the way. However, the rest of the mystery remains in tact… at least for now. With a new track on our hands, the delightfully honest and danceable “Armanio”, we want to find out more about the musician behind the moniker, what inspires his songs, and how we can all embrace life’s weirdness.
Let’s start with a rather obvious question, why the name WEIRDO?
Haha, this old chestnut. Well, I think I’ve began to embrace my craziness and stop trying to label my issues negatively. Weird people rock. I’d hate to be a conveyor belt child doing manufactured things… and trust me, there are plenty of them! I think after a while of fighting that I should be "normal and controlled", it’s now time for me to accept and understand myself a little more, both personally and musically. I am a flipping WEIRDO, there’s no doubt about it and the best thing is that accepting it excels my creativity.
“I am a flipping WEIRDO, there’s no doubt about it and the best thing is that accepting it excels my creativity.”
Your identity is currently hidden, much to the outcry of the blogosphere, but why do you think artists follow the anonymous route?
I think it depends maybe… the reason I am anonymous is because I’m a part of a reasonably popular “buzz band” and I don’t want people to draw lines between the two. There is nothing worst than that! The issue in this music industry is people don’t give second chances and people always relate someone to something. If Corey Taylor from Slipknot did a minimal tech album now, people would laugh, make fun, put down or insult his creativity - why? because he wore a mask for a few years in his most-popular venture. Then you get people like James Bay whose first shot at a career very luckily paid off and people will never judge him as it’s his debut project, and he most likely will never change his brand. It’s so superficial this industry, and so anonymity is simply so that people understand the musical vision I have, before they go ahead, judge and give me a 0.4 /10 on Pitchfork or something...
I guess the online world plays a huge part in the mystery, how else do you think digitalisation is affecting the music industry?
The online world plays a huge part for sure. I can use emoticons to talk to someone and imitate happiness, sadness, anger or confusion… and that’s just a small fucking yellow image I add within my text conversations I’m having on a daily basis with anyone, everyone. The psychology of modern vocabulary and the use of emoticons is proof that you can hide or butter up (see what I did there!) anything. So online, you can create a fantasy world that people might indulge in, or show interest in. That really scares and inspires me simultaneously, and I think the digitalisation is actually improving yet sometimes creating a false identity for the music industry and it’s ever-growing young creatives. I just hope in the future, behaviour specialists or psychologists don’t actually take over the industry because they are smart and know how to win over modern society by creating false illusions using manipulative strategies. That’s basically the way news and media in the 21st century is heading already!
“It’s an intelligent pop affair, made of multicolor shades ranging from sticky vocals to euphoric synths, passing through live drums and finely adorned by swirling kalimba scales.”
Moving on to your music and especially debut track “Butter”. It’s a super catchy single, throwing out a xylophone melody, a German vocal sample and (what I’m guessing is) a recorder riff. Was this level of playfulness your initial intention?
Haha a recorder riff?! Where’s that? I will actually make sure there’s a recorder in one of the next songs on the second EP - that’s a promise from me to you. I think there’s irony and sarcasm in some of my lyrics and productions. With Butter, which I initially wrote in 2010 after a horrific break-up, the original demo was quite dark and edgy. I think as I’ve moved on and my life has changed, it’s become more of an uplifting song; a tale of how I once loved but now don’t with said person. I think that’s where the playful elements come from - the joy of being free and confident in myself again.
“I think that’s where the playful elements come from - the joy of being free and confident in myself again.”
“Butter” also has a rather unique refrain - “like butter melting through my fingers all you do is dirty my clothes” - what inspired that lyric?
At the time, it was anger and disappointment. It’s a rather cool attempt at making a statement, and I like creating unusual metaphors within my work. I think everyone can relate to an ex, or a friend, or a family member who just seems to get in the way, stop you from growing, control you or upset you. I like to try and relate to people with lyrics.
I loved the original video based around a Snapchat story and text messages. Was that simply a fun concept or is there an additional commentary on mobile phone culture and modern relationships?
There is definitely a suggestion to the social media culture and modern relationships and the irony of them. I’m a hopeless old-fashion romantic; I want to go for dinner and talk about music and wine, dream of waking up in the Bahamas and imagine a day I would begin to go to dance classes or something very new to me. I want to see the world through my eyes, not society’s eyes, and definitely not through the lens of my mobile phone camera. I can’t really stand social media because it’s taken away my privacy in all honesty, and that’s something we lack in today’s world, but also it’s helped share and expand my music and audience, so who am I to complain? I do daydream of going off grid and never talking to anyone again unless in person - that’s a healthy and satisfying thought for me.
In a previous interview with BEAT Magazine, you mentioned that you once lived in Brighton, a place well-known for self-expression. Did your time there have an influence on your music?
My time there definitely taught me that not everything you think is perfect, is perfect. It’s a wonderful city but musically, holds restraints. Rock cultured (thanks to the mods and rockers thing in the 60/70s), a student town and very small. Being there at that time helped my musical journey for sure - it started it. I’m happy I had the chance to work with and meet who I met there, but I’m glad that I moved on. It’s the same as London for me, a lovely place but it had it’s place in my life and after growing out of it quickly, I had to move on.
If you could live and create music anywhere in the world, where would that be?
Man! I want to see the whole world. If I could do one album per continent, that would be amazing. I think I’d definitely find opposing ideas from living in different places with adverse social rules to what I know as a Westernised working class fella. Let’s go to Tokyo next and after that, lock myself on a small island in Indonesia. I’ll try the US at some point but worried I’ll get fat very easily (I love food!) Visiting Africa would be really rewarding for me too, I’m sure!
What else has been instrumental in your creative process?
The standard thing: seeing other people succeed when you feel you deserve it more, watching people fail you and hurt you, other people’s situations you can relate to because of prior experiences and emotions. Also, the coming of age thing. I’m now mid-twenties and the feeling of realising who you are in such a large, selfish world can help you repair yourself, focus in on yourself and the ones around you that you care about most, and really getting creative with those discoveries.
We were very recently treated to a second single “Armanio”, crammed with one-liners and a repeated suggestion that the addressee should ditch her boyfriend. Why do not-so-great relationships stand at the centre of your songs?
I’ve had plenty of them. I have Borderline Personality Disorder (adds to the weirdness!) and I have a self-destructive tendency and waves of recklessness from time to time. I’ve got a heart but I can be trouble too, although I’ve learnt to grow and be in control of the bad traits now! I’ve been in a pretty content place for a few years, I’m starting to analyse others more and writing about their coming of age, mistakes and things I can see I used to do myself. It’s a beautiful thing to see people that are going through the same things as you. It’s helps deflate your ego and come back down to earth.
As with the last release, “Armanio” is tagged as pop, although some would suggest there’s plenty of other elements in there. What are your thoughts on genre labels?
Pop stands for “popular music” and if you asked me what genre I believe my music is, I’d title it Pop, more so because I dream of it being popular - who doesn’t?! I want everyone to know my story. I’m a human after all! We all want to be successful on our pursuit for happiness. I think you could tag the music as homemade, as it pretty much is. Indie, for sure, I’m independent right now but again, that title I don’t really enjoy too much. If I get a life changing opportunity and the label in question isn’t an “indie” label, then I’ll be told that I’m a fraud or fake for not sticking with my preconceived idea of being an “indie” band. If I turn down something, I could miss my chance to actually travel the world! I’m just gonna go with my heart: can’t have the media singing my own song “Armanio” at me!
“Up-beat, joyful pop that aims for the fun instead of the glitter and glamour of glossy pop.”
Does the multi-coloured artwork have any relation to your sound?
Not at all, but once I entered the music industry and realised how it actually works beyond your fabricated fantasies of champagne, cocaine and happiness, I began to wear dark colours. The colourful thing shows I’ve got a playful side and now that I’m older, I want to show it off, feel happy and seem happy, and do things differently around here. It’s easy to be sad, feel sorry for yourself and write a ballad - that’s secondhand nature to me - but writing upbeat songs is much more challenging to me. I bloody enjoy it right now!
Can we expect some more visuals in the future?
For sure. I’m collaborating with some directors in the US, and some other guys too and videos are on their way for future tracks.
How about new music? Can you give us a clue as to what the next WEIRDO song will sound like?
Once again, the sound will alter, change, grow and surprise. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be weird enough to comprehend my creative process. Every song will tie together because it’s my vocals, or I’ll use the same “sound palette” as before, but it will grow. It’s all based around how I envision it live, which will be the strong point of this whole thing. The band, the live experience, the fun I can take in the tour bus with me. That’s all I’m looking forward to right now - my future holiday on the road, sleepless nights and so many different lights.