While at Barn on the Farm 2015, we had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Brighton hip-hop soul artist Rag’n’Bone Man. Enjoy our exclusive interview below as we discuss old school records, working with Bastille, free downloads, and industry advice.
AMBY: We’re here with Rory Graham a.k.a. Rag’n’Bone Man at Barn on the Farm 2015. How are you today?
Rag’n’Bone Man: I’m very well thank you.
AMBY: You’re on a festival tour at the moment?
Rag’n’Bone Man: Yes, yep.
AMBY: How’s it going so far?
Rag’n’Bone Man: It’s great. We played Love Supreme Festival in Brighton yesterday which was very cool.
AMBY: You’re from Brighton aren’t you?
Rag’n’Bone Man: I am, yes. It was nice, really nice. We’ve got a lot of festivals. We’re about all over the summer, we’ll be finished in September and I think we’ll start touring venues then.
AMBY: I’d describe your sound as very blues/soul fused with hip hop which really suits your voice. Has that type of music always been influencing you growing up?
Rag’n’Bone Man: Yea, totally. I grew up on records. I always bought records and always had records in the house and my dad was big into blues and mum was big into jazz, soul and stuff. You can’t really get away from it in our house.
AMBY: [laughs] So you had a musical family? And quite old school with all the records.
Rag’n’Bone Man: Yea, yea, massively. My dad used to have J.J. Cale records and John Lee Hooker records and loads of good stuff.
AMBY: It would be great to see your massive record collection!
Rag’n’Bone Man: [laughs]
AMBY: Speaking of which, you have your Disfigured EP and your EP Wolves. How did you go about recording them?
Rag’n’Bone Man: Well with Wolves, we never really set out to make a project like that. It came from one song. I went in and recorded this song called ‘Reuben’s Train’ with a friend of mine, Mark, from school actually. And he said he’d been recording the Bastille album. That was finished, so we started recording [Wolves EP]. It originally was a guitar song and then we changed it to purely vocals, like a real gospel sound. Then people started knocking on the door and people are really digging it so, naturally we started writing more songs. It was meant to be like a four track and it ended up being nine tracks. Just basically an album.
AMBY and Rag’n’Bone Man: [laughs]
AMBY: Awesome, just from a guitar song! We’re fans of Bastille as well and we’ve heard their last EP which you feature in.
Rag’n’Bone Man: Yea.
AMBY: How was it working with the boys from Bastille?
Rag’n’Bone Man: Yea, cool. Dan’s just a good friend and the fact that he was like, “Oh, we should do a song… and maybe get Skunk Anansie.” And I was like, “Shut up.”
AMBY and Rag’n’Bone Man: [laughs]
Rag’n’Bone Man: “Skunk Anansie?!” If you’d have told my former self, me at 14 or 15, that I would be working with them, you know, it’s ridiculous, but amazing at the same time.
AMBY: You mentioned Mark, whom you worked on Wolves with, is he part of your label?
Rag’n’Bone Man: So, Mark Crew is my friend from a long, long time ago. We grew up together. Me and him started making music together a few years ago. Now he’s got his own little label. Him and Dan [Bastille] and another guy called Dan Priddy have a label called ‘Best Laid Plans’ which I’m signed to through Columbia Records.
AMBY: So it’s all really tight and you know each other well.
Rag’n’Bone Man: Yea.
AMBY: What was behind the decision that you made to make the Wolves EP free for download on your website?
Rag’n’Bone Man: The thing is, I think the most important thing when you’re coming out with new music is to get an audience. And how do you get an audience [laughs] if you’re trying to sell people music? I mean, if people know who you are, they’re going to buy your music, hopefully. If people don’t know who you are, the best way to get an audience is to give it away for free. I had no qualms about giving it away for free. I like giving away music, I think it’s great. Cos the industry now is so different to back in the day where people would buy physical records. You don’t earn that much money from selling records anyway, where you earn [the money] is [playing] live. To get that live audience, I think giving away music is a really good way of getting that.
AMBY: And on the subject of playing live, have you just got here to Barn on the Farm? It’s your first time here?
Rag’n’Bone Man: It is my first time here, yea. I actually got here last night. I came in to see Foy Vance. He is amazing. Yea, he’s one of my favourite songwriters. And it was my girlfriend’s birthday yesterday, she’s here as well. We played Love Supreme, came straight here and partied a little bit last night, it was cool.
AMBY: A lot of people here at the festival stayed up singing, playing music and chilling out last night. Did you stay up for a bit?
Rag’n’Bone Man: Yes. I’m not sure how late, I don’t remember, so I know it was a good night.
AMBY: [laughs] And you’ve got your set in a bit, which we’re looking forward to seeing. The last question is for our aspiring musicians. As you said, to get your music out there for free, is there any other advice you have for our readers who are aspiring musicians?
Rag’n’Bone Man: Yea, I think, just don’t worry about what you think you’re meant to do. Just be creative and most importantly, get out and play. There are so many people that try and focus on social media and stuff, but if you can’t play live, then what are you going to do? So, do whatever, just go and play in crappy little pubs everywhere. Take every single opportunity that you can, that’s how you get somewhere [laughs].
AMBY: Thank you so much, Rory for chatting to us before your set at Barn on the Farm.
Rag’n’Bone Man: It’s alright!
Thank you Rag’n’Bone Man, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Jane Jimenez | @bporthos