Wes Nelson is a name familiar to millions.
The star of Love Island and Dancing On Ice, he even guested on The X Factor: Celebrity last year.
This Autumn, though, Wes did a full 180 - music is his first love, and it's something he wants to pursue.
New single 'See Nobody' is a bold opening gambit. Smashing straight into the Top 10, it found Wes Nelson duelling with London's own Hardy Caprio.
The single has scorched its way up the charts, with Wes Nelson able to prove doubts wrong in emphatic style.
Clash caught up with the duo to find out how it happen...
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Wes: I made the song about a year ago, and then I called around, asking for people’s opinion. Hardy and I have a mutual friend, and he put us in touch. He said, Hardy, you’ve got to hear and this new Wes Nelson track!
Hardy: And I was like… rah, do you think my career is going bad, bro? Then Wes called me, and I was in the kitchen, and my jaw dropped – I couldn’t believe it! I was thinking, well, even if it’s good… how good can it be? Not to be rude or anything. But I was amazed, to be honest with you.
Wes: The song was done. I just left a blank 16 for a feature. And I wasn’t really planning to put a feature on it – at first – but then Hardy sent his verse back and it was cold! It had to be done. I wanted the song to be the best it could possibly be, but Hardy is a dope artist, and he sent across a dope verse. It all made sense!
Hardy: It’s a big song. And you can see that in the success it’s had. Even without me there, it would be a successful song. It actually doesn’t need me – I appreciate you reaching out!
How do you approach doing a guest spot?
Hardy: If anything, a song being finished kind of helps me. Starting an idea from scratch, you’re thinking about what you can talk about, what you can say, and how do it feel. Wes had already painted all that in, and it gave me something clear to talk about. I could basically follow his lead! But recently I got a new car, and I knew this was the time to talk about it!
Wes: I was working with the producer Ayo Beatz remotely when I first started making it. He was in Oman, and it was lockdown. So we couldn’t be in the same room… which is annoying! It was another hurdle we got through. He sent me a beat pack through, with a few ideas on there, and we went straight on Zoom and within three or four hours the song was done. We worked real quick. We’ve got a good dynamic, good energy. It came about naturally.
When I write, I make the sounds first, then the melodies, and the lyrics follow. But this naturally went into a metaphor for me – it’s all about committing to music. This is about me committing to my music career, and leaving everything behind. Putting my foot down!
Zoom has been pretty handy in 2020, hasn’t it?
Wes: Zoom has been everywhere! I did 15, 16 songs just through Zoom. Writing with other artists and producers… and it’s worked well, to be fair. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as good as being in the room and getting the vibes and getting it done that way but it definitely shows you it’s possible. 100%.
It must be strange to work on music while clubs, festivals, and so on and out of the equation.
Wes: The way that me and Hardy linked up in the first place came from me surrounding myself with people who are experts in their field. Hardy is a platinum artist and people like that are really respected. All you can do is show it to your peers… and that’s what I’ve done. You see their reactions, the vibe.
Hardy: Yeah, I agree. You can’t fake reactions. And I feel like Wes was confident in the way, because when you go on Facetime you can see someone’s natural reaction. And I’m the same. You can see how people naturally react to the song. People might say ‘oh that song’s good’ but how good do they really think it is? When you hear something good, no matter what ages you are it’s like, let me take it back… let me listen to this again!
For me, as a critique, I always listen to every verse, and it’s like: has it got boring yet? I told Wes, to be fair, not a lot of people do this to me… and every single section in that song, it was like: this is great, what’s going on? He wrote it like he’s platinum artist. And he will be!
It’s been a strange year for music, who’s grabbed your attention?
Wes: Burna Boy has killed it this year. The album is unbelievable. The whole way it’s constructed is so sick, the message is strong, and the songs are just bangers that can be played anywhere. I think he’s killed it for me, personally. And also SAINt JHN… the way he can switch it up – low range to high range. He just keeps everything interesting.
Hardy: For me, Aya Nakamura. She’s from France, and released her album recently. It’s incredible. The whole album, every piece of it is like: wow! Amazing writing, and an amazing spirit.
Wes: I think you take that into the studio, whether you mean to or not. You don’t necessarily go in there wanting to make a certain song, but if you listen to their music heavy then you can hear that come out in your own music. I like to switch things up. And that doesn’t come from a specific place, it happens naturally. I never go into the studio with fixed intentions on what I want to come out with. Even when I do go in there with fixed intentions it always comes out differently in the end. It’s just how you feel.
Were there any twists and turns when you were making this single, then?
Wes: The first time we did it through, it was different. It was less energetic. But then I got a beat, and put some chops in there… it gave it more energy. Initially it was quite soft, but then I thought, well, let’s make it gas! So that’s what I did. If you listen to version one to the finished single… it’s really different.
The response has been amazing on social media.
Wes: Yeah! I’m new to all this, so seeing Headie One shout us out… I mean, to Hardy, those are his friends! But for me, I was overwhelmed at first. These are people that I look up to and respect, and they’re shouting me out. It’s a dope feeling. For me, it motivates me to go harder.
Hardy: He’s trying to take all of our jobs! Next year he’s gonna be the PR as well. Watch out!
Wes: Everyone can eat, though. Music is a big thing. There’s no limit for any of us at the moment. Music has taken a weird turn this year with COVID and stuff but live will return next year, and that’s another experience that I’ll be able to have too. It’s gonna be sick.
Hardy: It’s been good. I told people I was doing a song with Wes, and they were like – naturally – why are you doing that? But I was like, trust me! Watch this happen. So for me, my ethos has always been to work with someone if their music is good. And I feel like I’m happy to see how well it’s done. It shows it’s always about the music.
Wes: I said that right at the start. Anyone can say whatever they want about me or where I’ve come from… but you can’t argue with the music! You can’t argue with it. It’s satisfying for me.
I put a picture up of me in the studio, and a couple of gossip pages shared it, and said: oh, Wes is going to start doing music! And I was looking at the comments… people slandering, and all this. And now we hit number three, it’s gold in Ireland, it’s done 20 million streams. For me, it’s like: thank you very much! I let the music do the talking… and it has. So we’re happy!
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'See Nobody' is out now.
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