Photo: BLACKSOCKS

Alfie Templeman

We’re in the second quarter of 2024 and Radiosoul by Alfie Templeman is already a contender for album of the year. Hot off the heels of his electrifying debut LP Mellow Moon, the sophomore album’s lyrics, sonics, and art direction see the Bedford-born musician stepping it up a notch in every capacity. To create the 11-track release, Templeman received a helping hand on the production front from a variety of star-studded collaborators, including Oscar Scheller (Charli XCX, Ashnikko, PinkPantheress), Dan Carey (Lily Allen, Foals, Kylie Minogue), and Nile Rodgers (Madonna, David Bowie, Daft Punk), to name a few. 

When honoring creative geniuses, Radiosoul is credit to Templeman not only being one of the UK’s most exciting stars but for his talents being years beyond his age. Immediately immersed in the groovy title track, Radiosoul takes listeners through Templeman’s colorful journey into adulthood. From the hyper pop-inspired “Drag,” disco-infused “Hello Lonely,” and indie-pop chant anthem “Beckham” to the groovy “Just a Dance,” psychedelic pop “Eyes Wide Shut” and hopeful “Run To Tomorrow,” the album offers an endless range of flavors.

During an exclusive interview with EUPHORIA., Templeman and Fabio Magnocavallo delve into the making of Radiosoul and particular tracks while talking about its influences.

You kicked off the Radiosoul era at the beginning of the year with “Eyes Wide Shut.” What was it about that song that felt like the right introduction? And were you debating on others?

That one came out first because we started playing it about 2 years ago live, and it was the first song I’d written for the album. So it was right at the start, and it felt quite good to release that at the beginning of the campaign. The only other song I was actually thinking about releasing before was the second one we released, “Radiosoul,” which thinking about it, probably would have been a bad idea because it is quite weird. I think “Eyes Wide Shut” was the right choice because people were already familiar with it and had heard it live before. We played it quite a lot during the second half of our tour in 2022. People were always asking when it was gonna come out. So it felt quite right to do.

The album, overall, focuses on your transition into adulthood and all the emotions that come with that. Did you always know this album was going to be a coming-of-age record?

I think so just because it had to be. I was coming out of my teenage years and a lot of things were changing. I was trying to get very much away from the whole pandemic and didn’t really wanna talk about that stuff anymore. I knew that it would be very, very different from what had come before but it was about joining the dots and making sure that I hadn’t completely gone crazy and changed my sound. I thought it was quite a nice bridge into new things, but also keeping some of the old sounds as well.

How did you come to title the album Radiosoul?

It was the second song I recorded after “Eyes Wide Shut.” I didn’t even have music ready for the album, but already, I just knew it was gonna be called Radiosoul for the last couple of years. That greatly helped me put the vision of the album together even though it was kind of subconscious because everything just came together by accident. But, I always knew that Radiosoul was gonna be the title, and it felt right. It sounds like the album in some ways.

I read that the album was recorded over the course of five months. Is that a fast turnaround for you?

It’s very slow for me, actually, in comparison to what I used to do. I used to record everything in probably less than a month. But I guess that was because I used to do a lot of EPs and stuff. This is double the length of the EPs I used to put out. I definitely took a lot more time working with ideas. I had a lot of melodies and lyrics scattered about for the last five years ever since I started putting music together and there were always things that I wanted to tackle. So going into the studio in those five months, it was about making a lot of completely new stuff, but also taking older ideas that had been sat for the last few years. So five months of that felt like forever, to be honest. It felt like quite a long process.

Sonically, the album doesn’t take influence from one sound. Who and what inspired you production-wise?

Yeah, it goes all over the place, really. There’s a song called “Drag” that’s very much inspired by hyperpop and people like A.G. Cook and Charli XCX. It has a very sugary, intense, weirdly minimalist, but max-out production sound. Then I go back to my love for Todd Rundgren on a track called “Vultures.” I was also influenced by a lot of people like Talking Heads, Prince, and [David] Bowie. I was going to all kinds of places because it was just the music that I’d been listening to for years and years, but I wanted to explore it more. And I feel like in the last couple of years, I’ve definitely got better as a performer. I felt like it was the right time to finally kind of explore those sounds a bit more in further detail.

I also hear some Jamiroquai influence too. Is that fair to say?

Mate, absolutely. 100 percent. The funk, jazzy stuff mixed with pop was something I definitely went for. It’s crazy how jazzy Jamiroquai is but you still remember all the melodies. Like, how does he do that? Like, massive songs, but still really technical without you even realizing. And that’s really hard to do.

Would you say performing live has helped shape this album?

I wouldn’t say so necessarily because I’ve always thought of myself more as a studio musician. And when I go into the studio, I actually never think about how we’re gonna play it live. Often, the case is that we get into rehearsals, and I’m like, “Oh, shit. How are we gonna do this part?” The thing is, I like to add a lot of different layers to the production of things. And then, obviously, you’re restricted to four people playing that live. And we don’t wanna go ham on backing tracks because that just doesn’t feel good to me. This time around, we’ve been getting drum machines and synths involved. Like, actually playing them rather than just playing guitars all the time. That’s been really fun. It’s weird because I normally just go into the studio thinking more about how weird can I make the song sound rather than thinking if it’s a good bit to play live.

How often do you look back and reflect on your early material?

Occasionally. I definitely go back and listen to bits. I think I’ll probably say half of it I hate, and then the other half I dig still. It’s interesting. I feel like every artist I know kind of has a love-hate relationship with their previous music. That’s just a curse. And with reviews and criticism being a necessary evil, that can sometimes shape it as well. When I do create music, I try not to listen to too many other things, and that includes my other stuff because I kind of want to make sure that whatever I do feels natural to me and that I’m still progressing. I want to keep trying new things without anyone’s opinion swerving me away from that.

This album was made spontaneously. Moving forward, has the creative process for this album made you want to create future projects similarly? 

Yeah. Absolutely. Essentially what I did was write half of the song and then left the other half to be quite spontaneous. I think that’s a nice way of doing it, leaving it 50/50. Having good ideas that you know are really strong to work with, but then being spontaneous about the way that you actually turn them into a full-bodied song. I’d like to definitely go down that route more and also just be completely spontaneous occasionally as well. I like the mix of both for sure.

I’m going to pick out some of the songs on the album and I want you to tell me the first thing that comes to mind. Let’s start with “This Is Just The Beginning.”

This is one of the more sweet love songs on the record. It’s a very easygoing song because there are definitely parts of the album that are quite intense. This was one of the songs I put in the record to break up the craziness of the album. I wrote this song about god. It must have been about seven years ago and the melody just really stuck with me because it just felt really happy. It felt like falling in love, and there was a certain kind of innocence to it. Years have gone by, and it was one of the melodies that really stuck with me. I tried to make it sound as innocent and cute as possible, I did it with Oscar Scheller, who is an amazing producer. He does stuff with PinkPantheress. He’s the perfect guy to get in the studio. It reminds me of being a younger teenager. It’s one of the odd ones out in the album because it does sound like an earlier song of mine.

Let’s talk about “Drag.” This song is a massive stand-out on first listen.

It’s that frenetic funk energy, crazy high hyperpop influence. I did it with this guy called Sam, also known as Karma Kid, and he has got the craziest ADHD I’ve ever seen. His whole thing as a producer is making things that really excite him, and I’ve got a similar idea of that. We just made the most intense hyper thing that we could think of. It’s about just keeping the energy to a maximum and being as erratic as possible. It’s really, really fun and crazy.

Next one, “Beckham.”

That’s my favorite song on the album. I did it with this guy, Dan Carey, who is my dream producer to work with. He’s my favorite by far. He’s incredible. “Beckham” was all about Groundhog Day and doing the same things again and again and getting fed up with being in a mundane, boring job. It was like, “How could I translate that into a song?” Weirdly enough, I was moving to London, and I was looking at a list of places to go to and I saw Sutton, Bexley, Tooting, Earlsfield Streatham, and Peckham and I turned that into lyrics because it worked in terms of the song being about being stuck on a train going back to your job. For some reason, the only thing that rhymed with Beckham was David Beckham. That was what made it sound quite funny, but quite cool as well. It’s it’s quite a strange song, but it just works. Yeah. It’s got a lot of different things that I’ve never messed around with before. Dan has this instrument called the Swarmatron, and it’s got eight voices, and they all kind of are slightly detuned to one another. It made a really weird texture at the end of the song, so it was about experimenting with new things that I’d never really tried out before.

“Run To Tomorrow” sounds like it was purposely chosen to close the album.

Absolutely. It was definitely on purpose. It had to be the last song for sure. I knew that pretty early on while creating the album. The song is about taking yourself back from a panic attack. The lyrics were written about how to calm yourself down a bit. It’s a very personal song, and I felt like that alone was a good reason to put it last because it’s not that I’m scared about people hearing it, but it’s just very personal. I think that if you get that far into the album, then that’s the one to finish with. It takes you on a bit of a journey. There’s lots of kind of lush instrumentation as it goes on. It’s my way of telling myself to calm down for a second and that everything is gonna be okay. For people who struggle with depression, one of the things that sometimes you do have to hold on to is just to remember that no feeling is final. Knowing that whatever you’re feeling right now, it’s only a temporary thing. So that was the whole idea of “Running To Tomorrow.” Often when you’re in a depressive mood, it goes on for days and days and days. But sometimes things turn around and get better, and it’s just it was kind of about that and knowing that you can turn the page and there’ll be a better chapter on the way. It’s definitely an optimistic song, but it’s still quite hard to listen to now because it’s just very honest and direct. The lyrics are very on the nose for me.

What do you want listeners to take away from the album?

I just wanna experiment with sound all the time and try new things. I can’t really sit on one thing. I wanna mess around with different genres and different styles. I want them to know that I’m just growing up and trying new things and learning from before. I never really know what’s gonna happen next, but I feel like that’s part of the excitement of being on the journey with me. I don’t exactly know what’s gonna come, but I’m sure it’ll be exciting.

How are you feeling about releasing this one now that its release date is so close?

I’m quite nervous, to be honest, because it’s been a while, and it is like a big change of sound. But I think once this one’s out, it will help me in the future. I feel like it will define my sound in some ways. If people like this one, then I feel like they are a true fan of my stuff.