Make A Wish: The Return Of Rhodes

Make A Wish: The Return Of Rhodes

The British singer-songwriter opens up about mental health and his upcoming EP...

Based in London, David Rhodes sits in his quaint kitchen leaning into frame of a grainy Zoom call to tell us everything about his forthcoming music.

'I’m Not OK' is the artist’s first fully-fledged creative endeavour since the release of his debut album, 'Wishes', in 2015. Mastered with raw, unfiltered lyricism, the EP is awash with emotional truths and moving melodies.

Rhodes is ready to peel back his secrets and open up to the world. Clash is ready to listen.

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How would you best describe your music?

That's a very good question. It's really hard to describe the genre of your music. My music is quite varied. If I was going to put myself in a category or a box, it would definitely be a singer-songwriter. I think it's a broad genre isn't it? Because you've got folk and solo artists doing so many different things now, but though I've experimented, especially with writing this record, I'm happiest when I've got a piano or guitar in front of me and I'm just singing.

I think singer-songwriter is a broad enough term, but that's where I would put myself without making it too complicated. With my last record, I was like "dark cinematic pop singer-songwriter".

I was scared of saying singer-songwriter, because I thought I'm lumped back in with every other man with guitar, but I'm not afraid of that genre anymore. I think it's time to embrace it. 

Can you explain your inspiration behind the single 'This Shouldn't Work'?

I wrote this song when I'd just come out of a long period of writer's block and I didn't really know what was happening with my career. I didn't really know what was happening with the people I was working with and I was so stuck. I was struggling a bit, not only with the music, but with my mental health, with doubt and wondering "what my, what am I doing?" Thankfully I had people pull me out with that.

The song itself was written around very basic two chords, a sort of hypnotic loop. The actual lyrics and the sentiment of the song only came together once friends James and Jack reached out and inspired me to write a song about the times when you feel you're alone and you don't realize that you're loved, so the song kind of was inspired by that.

The lyrics and the chorus is; "I never knew I had love and now I know." With the actual song, when I came up with that phrase, I started to think about my family and I'm married now with a beautiful wife, and I started to think about all these memories of when we first met and the one particular night that I realised that maybe perhaps she and I were falling in love and then the song literally came together so quickly.

It was quite a changing point for me. When that song was written, it set me on a new path. 

It has been five years since your debut album ‘Wishes’. Did you find that time out of music constructive?

Yeah, it definitely was. With my first record, the intention actually was to come straight off the back of that and release another one, but I've always had this bank of other songs that I'd written. When I finished that album campaign, the people I was working with wanted me to go straight back into writing a second album and I just didn't have the confidence at the time.

I had no confidence at all and was just crippled with doubt, even though there were moments where I was like I've got the songs, I've got the music, and that initial euphoria of writing something new and getting excited about it.

When I did my first album it was like you've got this opportunity, you have to do it now matter how you are feeling, so I suppressed all my feelings. But then, when you stop, the energy levels stop. You stop being out on the road every day and you stop doing these things and you're confronted with all these feelings. I hadn't dealt with them.

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I've still got all these insecurities; I've got these demons from my past and all these problems that I hadn't dealt with. I've just suppressed them. It did take me a while to get into a comfortable place. The realisation of understanding yourself and accepting that you need to perhaps get help, to speak to people or write more honest songs about the way you're feeling was quite important to me.

I used to shroud everything in this kind of metaphor and try and be very poetic to disguise the things I was trying to say. Now if I'm not feeling good, I'm just going to write that I'm not okay. The album was a collaborative process and you realise you're not alone and you realize that actually these people fit into the same things.

It's a good feeling to know that you're not alone.

The visuals for your track 'Love You Sober' were really unique. You filmed the video during lockdown, what inspired you to do this?

We all had these ideas for videos, but I was scared. I was speaking to a director, Ben Newberry, and my management and we were discussing video ideas that collided with isolation and quarantine. As we couldn't make a music video, we were coming up with ideas of how we could make a music video whilst not being able to actually see each other or speak to each other whilst being in the same room.

The song is really about your inner demons in your head and all the kinds of craziness that swirls around in your head where you feel like you're being chased by these vices. I wanted to do a performance video and we were talking about ways in which we could make this really trippy video that represented how I was running through my own brain, my own thoughts. I took all the furniture out of my living room.

My wife and I would show Ben every shot on FaceTime. It was such a funny night, but the way those two worlds come together. There I am performing against this blank canvas and you're seeing is a man trying to hold onto love whilst battling against all these like demons and vices that exist in his brain. I wanted it to be this performance where this character dives into my head and starts surfing and going around all these crazy thoughts. 

Have you found your EP and upcoming album to be a rewarding creative process?

I feel as though this process, this EP and the album has been more of a realisation. It's been more of an awakening like a line in the sand. I feel like I'm at the beginning of figuring it all out and I've kind of admitted it to myself. But now I know what I need to do and how I need to do it. So, I think that is the message of the music, really.

Once you speak and you talk to somebody you have made the first step to your path to figuring it all out. I'm hoping my fanbase reengage with me again and they seem to be which is so lovely. I just want to grow this even bigger. I want to just be able to do loads of touring. I want people to share the music like they haven't done before.

I feel so lucky that I have the fanbase that I have, and I want to be able to go and connect with the world. I did so much touring on my last record and now I want to be the guy headlining the shows.

My God, I miss touring so much and I love having my own show and having people immersed in this music I've been doing. It's such a good feeling and I just can't wait to start doing that again. It's going to be really good. 

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Rhodes new single ‘Love You Sober’ is out now, taken from the EP ‘I’m Not OK’ out July 10th.

Words: Zoya Raza-Sheikh

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