Singer-songwriter Rhodes is performing another headline gig in London in a couple of weeks. Having followed his online music output with interest over the past few months, we reckon it might be worthwhile catching the Hertfordshire-born troubadour in action as soon as you can, ahead of what we think should be a big year ahead for him.
Signed to the prestigious label Ministry of Sound, Rhodes’s new EP, Home, gives a good taster of his talents. When Ministry first heard his demos they quickly asked him to come in and chat about a potential record deal. “I met with a few labels and I really liked the idea of signing to Ministry, as it felt more boutique than then others,” he tells Londonist.
Growing up in a musical household, Rhodes never had any formal music training but picked up a few tricks from his dad, who got him hooked on the guitar at an early age. Having played both guitar and bass for various bands, however, he subsequently realised his heart wasn't in it. Eighteen months ago he ran away and decided to start writing and performing his own songs.
When we task him with describing his musical style he settles for “dark but uplifting cinematic pop” and we tend to agree. Songs like Crash and Breathe are prime examples of this and his beautiful ballad What If Love showcases a soft, vulnerable side.
We ask Rhodes whether he thinks it's essential for an emerging musician to have a base in London. “While I don't think it's essential,” he says, “it can be very helpful.” His favourite London spots are Clapton Hart and Oslo in Hackney, where he’ll be playing his forthcoming (and sold out) show. The Flask in Highgate is his go-to haunt “on a nice autumn evening after a walk on the Heath”. And then there is also “a little spot in Soho that I like to go to, called Andrew Edmunds. It’s an amazing little restaurant and wine bar”.
Part of Rhodes’s gigging schedule over the past year has been on support slots with the likes of Sam Smith, London Grammar, Laura Marling, Nick Mulvey and Rufus Wainwright. We ask him whether he has found such other artists’ audiences to be sufficiently attentive. “Yes, I've been incredibly lucky,” he says. “I always feel like I'm crashing the party a bit when I support an act. Whenever I walk on stage to a big cheer I always think 'oh, shit, they think Sam Smith’s about to come onstage'. But somehow the crowds are always nice to me.”
Is performing as a support artist worth it for the exposure to new listeners or can it be a bit demoralising at times? “I've never felt demoralised,” he says. “It’s quite an important thing to do when you're starting out. Perhaps I've been lucky with the crowds I've played to but I think that if you support an artist with similar appeal to what you aspire to then you should be fine.”
Rhodes hopes to release his debut album, which he is working on at the moment, by the summer. “It’s going to be very dynamic and full of textures and different soundscapes,” he tells us. “I'm going to go quite grand in places and very stripped back in others.”
We’re looking forward to some more of that dark, uplifting, cinematic pop.
Home is out now on Ministry of Sound via the Rhodes Music imprint. Rhodes plays Oslo in Hackney on 7 November. If you already have tickets then lucky you; if not, maybe book ahead for a gig at Village Underground in Shoreditch on 10 March 2015, £12 + booking fee.