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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Rationale

Rationale's career is going from strength to strength. He released a strong, self-titled debut album in 2017, counts Elton John and Pharell among his fans and his next show is at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire. I've been to his shows and they are incredibly fun! I spoke to the artist about his passion for music and upcoming releases. 




So, what have you been up to?
Rationale: Basically creating 2 bodies of work. I've got two things this year. So one is like a mixtape and then I'm working on an album. So my debut album as Rationale came out at the end of 2018 and I've been just working hard just creating bits and bobs in between running what is,essentially, my business. So it's been hard work, if Im honest with you but I'm quite looking forward to seeing whether or not people take to the direction I'm going in. I think the mixtape is a bit of fun for me to be able to put out some stuff that perhaps wouldn't fit under my umbrella and the album is like the culmination of the past 2 years worth of work.

 
Can you tell me about your single with Billon, 'Release Me'?

Rationale: So basically I wrote that song ages ago and had no home for it, it wasn't in that line of production at all. It was never going to be a Rationale track. The main thing that I do is songwriting...So Billon is somebody that my manager knows who is a great producer in his own world and a great DJ. He was kind of like, "Would you mind if I used the song?" and I [was like], "Yeah, sure, give it a try" and this was probably like a year ago and he's just got to the point now where he released it on Friday so I'm kind of like, I take it easy with things that I feature on, especially when it's not in my world. [I] kind of see how it's going and try and develop it. Similar to the Big Wild thing. It became a bit bigger than we all expected it to be. I don't think it's done bits in the UK but in the US and across Europe, it's such a killer song. So who knows, maybe this song will end up doing the same thing, or not.

What was it like working with Ayelle?
Rationale: It was wicked. She's a proper sweetheart and it was the most organic thing as well, there was no label involved in between [in terms of] making relationships start to happen, which is really cool and important to me as well. I reached out to her and said, 'Hey, I think you're wicked. You should come down and do some music.' We worked on a bunch of ideas, a couple of ideas that will be coming out this year. And then I had a song that I'd started with a friend and I played it to her and it made her upset, because she was going through something at the time, maybe some of the lyrics touched her. Even then I didn't say to her 'Would you like to sing on it?'  It just occurred to me when I was in California one day, on my own, doing some of the Big Wild promotion and she was in Spain or something going through a bit of a hard time. In conversation, it came to me and I was like, "Would you like to sing on this song? That would be awesome" and she literally sent me back the file in about 3 hours. She sent me back the whole song sung. We connected back in the UK and just had fun. We're close. A lot of people were like, 'Are you guys going out?' and it's like 'That's like my little sister'. There's no way, she's a sweetheart and a creative, proper friend that I've made and never want to let go. That's Ayelle.

What was it like working with Bastille and James Arthur on 'Other People's Heartache 4'?
Rationale: Honestly, like when it comes to 'Flowers' it was wicked to know that the boys wanted to...It's nice to know that it's going to end up being listened to by a bunch of people. The idea was actually Dan's idea. He said, 'Oh, I really love this song...' so I sent it to him and like many things, these things takes a while to come together. A good year, I think. I didn't even know James was going to be on it until the last minute until I got sent a version and it sounded sick! I've not actually hung out with James in studio because we're always on different paths but we've spoken and he's a cool guy.

Who are your musical influences?
Rationale: Oh, so many. Too many to name. The main ones, the classic ones like Michael Jackson to me is creative genius and he always will be. I was listening to music earlier on and I love hip hop, I love the emergence of people like Eminem and that era of hip hop with Dr Dre. I love old school R n B and that kind of stuff is what's creeping up more and more in my music these days. R n B and luscious sort of feel good times even in a sad song.
But there are plenty that are probably not expected as well. I'm a massive Interpol fan. I come from guitar music. At one point, I was a massive emo. I used to walk around with straight hair and dark flipping makeup on. Anything that's live and in a creative environment is always gonna win, so Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder. In this day and age, I love Goldlink. I love Stormzy. I was listening to the J Hus album today going, 'Oh my God, if I wasn't who I am, I'd love to make an album like this'.  I think the New School [of] UK music is basically...It's not even New School, it's just that UK music is now being recognised for what it is. Fully. I was listening to Eminem earlier on and he was [using] a drill flow on his, on one of his songs. I couldn't believe it. That's how influential the Brits are. Not just Adele or your classic sort of, I don't know, Lewis Capaldi and stuff, but London and inner city, not even just London, youth are influencing music in America and that's a trip.

How has your music evolved since your debut album?
Rationale: Lots. I think I'm accepting a couple of things about music. I used to really worry about what people about what people thought a lot. I wouldn't have probably let 'Release Me' have my name attached to it before, for example. I would have worried about strategy. Now whenever I walk into the studio and I'm making music for myself it's just about what feels good. And I it's probably downtempo stuff. I'm not going for radio junk...
I've now realised that...what makes people enjoy music is honesty and sincerity and if you put tha into music, it desn't even matter what genre it is, it's just got to be good. And people just ahve to relate to it. At one point in my career, as Rationale, there was a point in which like, it was almost like you can try too hard to try and impress people as it were and you can try too hard to adhere to what you think [people expect]. And I think I've now learnt that you know, just by talking to friends, that they enjoy them and just to go back to that.

Are you excited for the Shepherd's Bush Empire show?
Rationale: Yeah, massively. It's going to be interesting because a lot of this stuff, putting on shows and stuff, is done by me. I've got a manager and all the rest of it and now I'm in a different position where there's no major record company pumping loads of cash into it. It's all derived from what people put [in] like tickets. It's like anything. If you can't [get to] work without having some money and to do that you need to go earn the money and you need to make sure that people are invested in you. It's scary business at the moment because Shepherd's Bush Empire is the biggest show I've ever done. So it's exciting to definitely play that massive venue but it's even more exciting because I know it's come from my hard work and the support of people buying tickets. 

Get tickets here: https://www.seetickets.com/event/rationale/o2-shepherds-bush-empire/1440196



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