British songwriter RJ Thompson has released his new single ‘London.’
The single is about alienation, which was inspired by the events in the UK in the past twelve months.
Titled as ‘London,’ it’s a contemplation of the moments that affected London and the areas beyond the city. It encapsulates a sense of reflection on the past and to empower ourselves with hope.
Thompson is critical about the governmental cuts over the past terms, particularly cuts that affected the creative communities.
He is passionate about encouraging music and the arts after witnessing the consequences of Tory cuts in his hometown, Newcastle, including the closures of several grassroot venues and the discouraging of music in local schools.
Directed by Ian West, the music video presents images of past events including visual references to Brexit and London marks.
I interviewed Thompson on his single, which is now available on Spotify.
You’ve chosen to discuss a topic that’s inspired by politics. How has art helped with sending the message of encouraging people to engage with current affairs?
Thompson: I think art and music have always had a role to play, whether it’s by leading a movement, or just commentating on everything that’s happening in the world. Music, in particular, has a knack of hitting home if there’s enough substance to what you’re saying.
‘Art is the mirror of society.’ Do you think more artists should use their talents to speak out and create works of art as responses to the current affairs? Why you think more artists should be politically interested?
Thompson: I think having artists around that aren’t afraid to speak out can only be a good thing. But there’s obviously a time and place for it, and there’s nothing worse than being preached to, so it’s got to be relevant.
How else are you hoping to expand awareness on political decisions affecting the creative communities?
Thompson: As I said before, I don’t want to appear to be preaching to anyone, but I do think it’s important that people realise the effects of funding cuts to the arts and how it is changing our communities for the worse. With the loss of so many smaller music venues due to city centre regeneration, music venues that used to be at the centre of the community are being forced to close or move out of town. That can only be a bad thing for the arts and the development of new talent.
“ONE TO WATCH” – THE TIMES
You owe a lot of your success to the grassroot venues? How have these shaped your career?
Thompson: I think every artist owes something to the first venues they play in. They shape the way you perform, the way you write songs, and they give you that grounding from which to build on. Every artist starts in those venues, and some of the greatest bands on the planet made their name in them.
What do you think of the changing music industry and the various platforms for putting your music out there? Any innovations you’re looking to harness?
Thompson: I think for the most part it’s really positive in how it’s evolving. It gives a lot of power to smaller artists to compete with larger labels. However, I’m most excited about the resurgence of things like Vinyl. I think it’s really great that people still want a physical product in their hands.
Generator strives to help artists, labels and promoters develop and grow. What have you learnt from them?
Thompson: They are an organisation that has helped me greatly over the years. They offer great advice to young musicians when they’re starting out. They provide everything from song writing workshops, through to seminars on the ins and outs of the industry. They helped me greatly… a bit of guidance is essential when you’re starting out.
Public performances can be fun and nerve-wracking. How do you deal with nerves?
Thompson: Badly! Haha! I don’t really have any specific techniques… for the most part it’s nervous excitement so you’ve just got to try to harness it into your performance. It’s usually turned into energy by the time you’ve got through the first few lines of the first song!
“PROLIFIC…” – THE GUARDIAN
You’ve performed with Jools Holland and Joss Stone at the Royal Albert Hall. You’ve toured the UK and Europe supporting Jools Holland, Gabrielle Aplin, Sandi Thom, Deacon Blue, and Joan Armatrading, and did 30 shows with Midge Ure. How have these experiences helped you to develop your sound and grow?
Thompson: You learn something new from everyone you work with. For example, the Jools shows really taught me how to perform to bigger crowds. There’s a big difference between a small show and a big show, even if just the sheer scale of the stage and room. You have to use the space and the energy you get back from the crowd.
Is there a go-to song you like to play?
Thompson: Come Together (The Beatles) has always been one of my favourites. It’s just a good “jam” song. You can go really sleazy and bluesy with it if you want, or you can keep it quite true to the original, but it’s a really easy song to manipulate in real time.
Your influences include Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, Michael Jackson, and early Elvis Presley. Your music fits with pop rock and indie. Describe your sound in four words.
Thompson: Changing by the day.
I don’t want to answer that question until my new album is out there. It’s very different to everything I’ve done so far!
Is there a motto or any advice you live by?
Thompson: “Shy bairns get nowt”
What are your future plans?
Thompson: New album. New videos. Touring. Busy year ahead!
Book ahead to see RJ Thompson perform with Jools Holland on the following dates:
29th November – City Hall, Newcastle (Jools Holland Support Tour)
30th November – City Hall, Newcastle (Jools Holland Support Tour)
1st December – SECC, Glasgow (Jools Holland Support Tour)
22nd December – First Direct Arena, Leeds (Jools Holland Support Tour)