Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
My name’s Douglas, I play piano amongst other instruments and enjoy putting words to music.
Your debut EP, ‘Seven Hours’ has just come out on Erased Tapes – that must be really exciting.
It’s very exciting. It’s great to have finally realised my very first record and very proud to have the Erased Tapes logo there too.
Am I right when I say you’re 22 years old – that’s really young! How long have you been playing the piano and at what age did you first become interested in music?
I’m a little older than that but it doesn’t matter to me. I’ve been playing the piano for 9 or so years but I first became really interested in music when I heard my mum and dad playing music in our local pub. They played rock n’ roll sort of stuff and I would come along and dance. I was 3 I think, though I only started writing my own songs a few years ago.
Who were your musical influences growing up, and do they in any way enter your own music?
Growing up I heard a lot of Elvis from my Dad and Michael Jackson from my mum, I’ve never thought that would have influence me but now I think about it, I think the drama and power in Elvis’s voice has inspired my own and I always loved the rhythms of Jackson’s music. It was probably the classical music my mum played on the piano that finally influenced how I sound today.
I really loved ‘Seven Hours’. How would you describe your music?
I’m glad you enjoyed it. I like to think my music provides escape in some way.
Your mum was a piano teacher, and you studied music at University in Liverpool. Was the piano your first love? What was your musical upbringing like?
Yes, the piano was my first and I think it’ll probably be my last. My parents didn’t force any music on me so it was left up to me to find my own music.
Your lyrics are very poetic and natural – what kind of process do you go through when it comes to song writing? How would you describe the lyrical process?
I often have a whole story in my head and I begin just writing words and sentences down, then start to form verses. I usually end up with a poem or something similar but then I only chose certain lines to go into the song.
When you sit down to write songs, does the melody take precedence, or do the lyrics come first? Where does your lyrical inspiration come from?
Lyrics usually come first but there are no set rules with my writing. Inspiration comes from personal experience, historical events and made up stories. I always like to think that listeners can relate to the lyrics in some way.
Your lyrics are very open, flowing against introverted piano melodies that almost seem shy or reserved, preferring to give most of the attention to the lyrics. This is a beautiful contrast. Would you consider yourself more of a singer-songwriter than a pianist? Do your lyrics take musical precedence in the song?
I haven’t thought about it. I believe the music and lyrics should be strong independent of each other.
The perfect tone is something that is very personal for a lot of musicians. What is your favourite kind of tone, and do you have a particular piano you’re fond of? Do you find that different pianos have different personalities? Do you find yourself returning to a particular piano when writing and performing music?
I like old, upright pianos that have character. In tune is good though!
There is a subtle darkness to the music on ‘Seven Hours’. Where does the darkness come from?
I have always preferred dark music. “Happy” music on the piano can sound naff so I avoid it like the plague!
Specific areas can have a huge influence on the sound of the music. Does the city of London in any way absorb itself into your music?
Just that there’s such huge spectrum of people in London and meeting new people inspires me. Obviously the history of London too is very inspiring. Take my song London’s Rose for example.
You recently performed at the Village Underground. How did it go?
It’s a fantastic space and the audience were so attentive. I’d love to go back and put on a massive show with a brass ensemble!
How does the music on ‘Seven Hours’ translate when performing live?
We improvise quite a bit and have a lot of fun! Fabian, my drummer, is amazing to watch and to listen to. He upstages me to be honest.
You recently signed to Erased Tapes – how did you guys meet?
I was first contacted after they heard my early demos on soundcloud but I first met them after their 5 year anniversary concert at Hackney Empire. It was an awesome show and great to meet everyone in that way.
?Erased Tapes seems like a very cool label. It looks like they really care for and nurture their artists, and they have a deep passion for the music. Did this attract you to the label? Is there a real sense of camaraderie?
Yes, there’s a sense of family, which may sound cheesy but it’s a great way to collaborate and give advice on each other’s music. You wouldn’t get this in a major label with many artists, I don’t feel.
What’s in store for the future, Douglas? Do you have a full length coming up, and if so, is there any kind of release date? Do you have any shows coming up?
I’m recording my debut album now and hope to get it out there early next year. My next show is at St Pancras Old Church on November 13th. It’s my first headline show so I’m nervous but incredibly excited.
– Photo by Tina Miguel