Finlay is a name to know who hails from Yorkshire. Having moved to London recently he’s been releasing a collection of songs that shows an artist that possesses all the characteristics of something that feels personal & universal at the same time. That feeling of warmth & chill in equal measure. We caught up with him as he launches his song “Self & Others”
How was your lockdown?
Firstly, I just want to say I have huge sympathy for those individuals and families for which it was an incredibly trying time. I was fortunate enough to come out mostly unscathed. I have a high risk family member so I wasn’t able to go back to my parent’s home in Yorkshire. However, having moved to London last September, it gave me a great opportunity to get lost in my new city. Exploring the empty streets and beautiful architecture was super inspiring and obviously 3 months of distraction-free writing was great!
‘Self & Others’ is huge in it’s scope. How did you go about creating the space for such a diverse and varied debut EP?
I’m quite prolific, I try to write a song every day; some of them end up better than others, but that’s all part of the process. Inspiration can come from all sorts of places but I wanted to create a varied body of work underpinned by my exploration of writings around Psychology and human behaviours. Notably the writings of R D. Laing, whose book cover was the inspiration for my EP artwork. Each song on the EP explores a different intellectual rabbit hole that is a snapshot of a moment in time that was either very personally significant or globally relevant. Ultimately “Self & Others” tells the story of my artistic development spanning the last 3 years.
What can you tell us about the sonic influences on the lead track of the EP, also titled ‘Self & Others’?
I identify with a history of folk music and the craft of songwriting but am also constantly exploring a more diverse sonic palette and pushing the direction of my production with Jonathan Quarmby and my wider creative team.
I’d been living with a Gospel sample that I found on the internet – After a lot of playing around, I eventually re-recorded it and pitched it up to make it sound like a children’s choir. The sample created the skeleton from which I fleshed out the rest of the track. I was listening to a lot of Lou Reed and Moby at the time, and I think that comes across in the record.
You’ve cited contemporary artists such as Olafur Eliasson and James Turrell as inspirations. How do their works influence the record?
I wanted to create a body of work that was bigger than the sum of its parts; I wanted to create content and imagery that would enhance the depth of the subjects I was exploring. Both Eliasson and Turrell make immersive works of art that tackle huge subject matter in often beautifully simple ways. They are able to really push the viewers to become aware of their senses, the people around them and the world beyond, something that I really admire and wanted to be reflected in my debut EP… Encouraging listeners to reflect upon their understanding and perception of the physical world that surrounds them.
Growing up in the landscapes of Yorkshire is central to my songwriting; my concerns with nature, my fascination with the intersection between science and art; and my ongoing investigations into how we perceive, feel about, and shape the often overwhelming world around us.
Do you feel at odds with your contemporaries?
I suppose the fact that I didn’t grow up in a big city sometimes feels like it’s working against me… But I’m living in London now! I feel that my upbringing and different set of reference points gives me a slightly unique sound to most other emerging artists. My label [Globe Town Records] is big on the relevance of the cultural conversation and collaboration, which has expanded my process so much since having started working with them. It’s like a family! I’m great friends with the rest of the roster and we often collaborate and workshop songs as a group.
Who are you inspired by at the moment?
I’m loving Westermans album “Your Hero is Not Dead” right now. His blending of great song-writing and beautiful electronic/folk production is powerful and somehow soothing all at once. I’ve been really enjoying Bill Callahan and his 2005 record “ A River Aint too Much to Love” under the artist name Smog. It’s a great body of work. Callahan is such a beautiful poet. His simplicity and intricate storytelling are a potent combination. I’ve also really been enjoying Karen Dalton and her cult classic “In My Own Time”. She has such a beautiful voice and her delivery is haunting, powerful and subtle, all at the same time!
When you are allowed to play live, do you have any plans?
Sadly my debut London show was moved from March 2020 to April 2021… To be honest I have all sorts of plans, however the world is in a very strange place and I’m not sure anything is definitive right now. That being said, I’m extremely excited to get back to playing in front of an audience.
Photo Credit: Tycho Jones
Keep up with Finlay on Instagram, Twitter, and Spotify