Happiness in Liquid Form is out via Chess Club Records
There’s simply no stopping Alfie Templeman. At just 17 years old, the British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer has shared his stellar fourth EP, Happiness in Liquid Form. Culminating in six songs fused with funk, pop, and psych-rock, the new record finds Templeman pushing the boundaries of his comfort zone to produce music that conjures euphoric bliss, nostalgia, and wonder.
Alfie’s fascination with the instrumentation and complex soundscapes composing the EP’s heartbeat started from a young age. Unlike most of his Gen-Z peers, he cites an early love of the band Rush as the catalyst for discovering and understanding his music path. “For some reason, I was drawn to progressive rock in particular… that helped me find myself and my passion,” he quipped by phone from his London home. He doesn’t plan to stop there. Even with a new EP making international waves, including two tracks receiving the Annie Mac honor of Hottest Record In The World, Templeman already has sights on future releases, and eventually a debut album, to thoughtfully capture the first chapter of his budding career.
While the output alone is as impressive as the quality, we connect with the rising star as he contemplates his new record and the path that lies ahead. Eager to develop his sound and with an unwavering work ethic, the young artist continues to absorb era and genre-defying influences like microtonal guitar and eastern world music to satisfy his boundless experimentation. Read on as we discuss Happiness in Liquid Form, the world influencing Alfie Templeman’s music, and what’s next.
We’re connecting following the release of your fourth EP, Happiness in Liquid Form, which must feel great to have out despite everything happening in the world.
It is. I was just thinking about this – I made it last year, a lot of it before Covid-19, so it’s really weird to see it come out in such a different post-coronavirus world. It took ages to get this one right, so I’m really proud of it. EPs sometimes tend to feel kind of the same, four songs, and they all kind of sound the same. I’m pleased with this one though because it feels more like half an album than a few random tracks.
When you say it took ages, what made this release different from past ones or challenging to create?
I think telling myself that it’s okay to experiment a bit more and not just stay on the same page musically. For a long time, I was kind of worried to venture out with that kind of stuff, but I think it paid off. I had to tell myself it would be fine. There were a lot of genres that I was scared of trying out at first. Like, I’ve never gone that funky before, but I was letting myself try stuff I had always wanted to do, and with pop as well. I’ve always loved pop songs but was scared of making one myself. I did it on this EP with “Things I Thought Were Mine,” and I was pleased with how it came out.
The EP’s title track was named Hottest Record In The World by Annie Mac on BBC Radio. How does it feel receiving the recognition and sonically what went into making the song?
Honestly, it was absolutely amazing just seeing that happen because I’ve always been a big fan of Radio 1 and Annie Mac. For her to give me that, and she gave it to another one of my songs afterward, “Obvious Guy,” so to get it twice in a row was just phenomenal. I couldn’t believe it.
Making those songs was great fun. I made ‘Happiness’ with Justin Young of The Vaccines, and he always starts with the lyrics, whereas I always start with the music. We made the whole thing from scratch in just four hours. He kind of wrote down the words, and I just recorded all of the instruments with a guy called Will Bloomfield, he’s an incredible musician. A few hours later, after I played a few guitars, I looped it – because most of the song is one continuous loop building up – and then I added a little piano interlude halfway near the end. It just came out as a really cool song. We managed to play it live once before the lockdown happened, and it was cool, so I’m excited to play it at gigs soon.
Where did you get to play that live?
We played it in London in March, and it was literally the day before lockdown. It was cool, a sold-out gig, and everyone was raving. It was probably one of the last shows in the UK because it was literally the day before shows were no longer allowed, and everyone had to stay inside.
What song do you feel you connect the most with on this new EP?
I think it’s “Maybe This Is Time,” it’s very mellow. I almost wrote the music like a throwback to when I did a song called “Yellow Flowers” a couple of years ago when I was still in school. It brings back a lot of nostalgic feelings even though it’s new. I wrote the whole thing about leaving school and facing the future. Maybe it’s time just to move on and accept that you’re getting older, and you’re going to start working, etc. It’s about facing the future, which means the most to me of them all.
Is that something you think about a lot? The future and what it means for you?
Yeah, I feel like I have no options but to think about it. Since leaving school, I’ve been very much left to my own devices. Most people are in school, and I’m stuck at home most days, so I sometimes think about life quite a lot. I think about how I’m going to move on from school.
The EP has so many different elements and lush sounds. Were there any artists you were gravitating towards while making this new record or a particular sound you wanted to achieve?
With the whole record, I spent more time with each song, and I think rather than trying to be inspired by one artist, it was almost like each song had different artists inspiring me. “Maybe This Is Time” was like Todd Rundgren, and all of that 70s pop/rock sounds, “Things I Thought Were Mine,” was like Charlie Puth. I mean I love him, he’s great, he’s just really cool. I was really into him, so that’s what inspired the pop sound. “Happiness,” when we were recording it, we realized halfway down the line, it kind of sounded like Phoenix, which was cool, like “If I Ever Feel Better,” and all of that.
Although you just released this EP, you’re constantly pushing forward and working on new music. Have you been working on new sounds, lyric writing, or anything of the sort?
Yeah, of course! I made some royalties from music, so I went out and bought some synthesizers and stuff. I’ve recorded another album using a lot of synths, tons of guitars, and just experimenting with pedals and modular sounds. So recently, I’ve never been so experimental. My room looks like a pit because I just have wires going everywhere, but I’m excited to see what happens and where I go next. I could release an album or take some of it and turn it in an EP. There are just so many options now. It’s just a matter of deciding what I want to write at the moment.
That all seems very full circle since your love of instrumentation is what prompted you to pursue music.
Yes, definitely. The first band I loved, that helped me find myself, and my passion was Rush. I love Rush. I think I learned a lot from them really quickly because most kids at seven were listening to pop music, which I love pop music, but for some reason, I was drawn to progressive rock, in particular, more than anything else. That’s basically where I started from, and I guess rather than going up from there, I went down and listened to more mainstream stuff afterward, which is probably the opposite of what most people will do.
Are there instruments you’re considering picking up or want to try?
Rather than picking them up for the first time, I want to go back to some I’ve used in the past. I’m fascinated with Indian music and people like Ravi Shankar, he’s fantastic, and his music is so beautiful. I have this guitar that I used to play quite a lot. My postman actually gave it to my dad, he found it in the trash or something, so we have that laying in the house, but all of the strings have fallen off. So I have to restring it, but there’s like 30 strings on it, so it’s going to take ages [laughs], but I think it’s going to be worth it and it’s definitely something I want to put in the album when I get around to it.
Ravi Shankar had such a powerful influence on late 60s rock, so it would be cool to see how you fuse that into your sound.
Yeah, of course, definitely with The Beatles. I love how they popularized that sound within Western culture, in terms of that guitar music. It was never as popular as what it became once The Beatles brought it in. I want to kind of do that again.
More than ever, it feels like people are looking abroad some of their stylings and musical inspirations, definitely within pop and other sounds.
Eastern and microtonal music are also really cool. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard made an album of microtonal guitar music where they split the fret in the guitar board. With Western music, you can only do so much with the fret, but in eastern music, they switch notes a lot more, and it’s way more exciting and sounds way cooler. So I’d like to do some of that.
Aside from the EP, this year is probably a little different than you had planned. Apart from music, how are you keeping occupied and getting a break from everything going on?
I definitely see the good things as much as I see the bad stuff. I miss touring and seeing people, but for me, I’m just walking a lot because it takes my mind off of stuff. Sometimes, I can get down, and if I ever feel like that, I’ll just go on a walk. Then the usual, watching movies, playing games, all of that kind of stuff helps. Even just a cup of tea can change everything for me, but that’s probably because I’m British.
Looking forward to 2021, is there anything you’re hoping to accomplish or share with the world?
First, getting out of this bloody house would be nice [laughs], but apart from that, it’s just about the music. There’s only so much I can do because I’m still in lockdown due to having lung disease, so I can only do so much. When it comes to getting music videos sorted, it’s hard, so that can slow things down, but luckily enough, I got quite a lot done before lockdown, so I did a lot of the work already almost like I predicted it [laughs] well, you know. I think new music is the main thing, just keep churning out music because that’s literally what I live and breathe, and why not.
With this EP, you’ve already shared a few music videos, and they’re obviously animated because of the times, but they also seem to fit with the record in general. Are you involved with the visual components of your music?
Yeah, it’s refreshing to see all of the animations, isn’t it? It feels like 2020 is the year for that, like a revolutionary music video thing going on. I’m involved with album covers and live music videos, but not so much the animated ones because I’m not too clever with that kind of stuff. Usually, I half direct, half come up with the ideas and places for my videos. The first music video I ever did, I had no idea how to act, so I kind of taught myself how to act a little bit [laughs] since starting to do this.
You likely have an album coming out in the future. Have you started working on it?
Yeah, I think the idea is to do a mini-album. By the looks of it, it should be about 30 minutes or eight songs, so we’ll just see what happens. It’s a huge step up from Happiness, so I’m quite excited.
Let’s close with rapid-fire questions of lasts: what’s the last great book you read, the latest new song you really enjoyed, and the last thing you cooked yourself?
The last book I read was two years ago, I’m not joking [laughs], but it was Animal Farm by George Orwell. For the last song, I’d say “Stranger To Yourself” by Loving, they’re an excellent band. The last thing I cooked… geez, what was the last thing I cooked… I think it was vegan sausages. I’ve been a vegetarian for about half a year. I’m pretty new to it but just don’t like eating animals.
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