A Conversation With Alfie Templeman

By Jesse Miller and Ceceli Riffo-Drecksel

Alfie in the KCR production studio

We had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Alfie Templeman, a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. Alfie is 18 years old and has already made a name for himself within the music world. Last Saturday, December 4th, he came into KCR’s live studio to talk with us and we attended his concert at The House of Blues later that night. Here are some of the highlights from our interview with him on-air:

Tell us a little bit about yourself 

“I’m from England. I make music in my bedroom and have been doing it for years now, I started on Bandcamp and Spotify. I did everything by myself – record all the songs and instruments. When I was 15, I was picked up by a label and ever since then, I’ve been doing that and it’s really fun! Now I’m touring the states.”

When did you start making music, what age, and how did you start?

“I started playing guitar when I was about 7, and I wasn’t very good at it for a while ‘cause I was too small to actually hold it in my arms, so I played it on my lap. When I was about 10 or 11, I had a really terrible laptop and got Audacity. I got garageband after that which made it a lot easier since I had built in presets. I eventually started using logic and that’s how I do all of it now.”

You recently just released a song with Chloe Moriondo and Thomas Headon called “Dizzy”, tell us about the process of making that and how the creative process worked?

“It was crazy because when we did it, we hadn’t actually met each other in person, and Thomas and Chloe still haven’t met! We did it all online on facetime which was really weird, you don’t hear of many songs made that way. They would just send them singing to me and I’d put it on a logic file and put it together. I’ve done it quite a few times actually, I worked with this guy called Carpet Gun and did some stuff with them online and stuff. It’s really fun and a good challenge. I like doing it like that but at the same time I’m excited to do more stuff with them in person because they’re lovely people to work with. It’s hard to get the real-life personality across when everything you’re doing isn’t actually in the same room.” 

Tell us a bit about where you were when COVID hit and how it’s shifted your way around writing, producing, and releasing music

“I was at home kind of daydreaming about touring. When we went into lockdown I was back at Bedford in my house with the family so everything was fine. I thought it would be easier to make songs but when I tried to record in my bedroom, I had nothing to sing about. For months, I kind of sat there, thinking, ‘Help?’… I eventually kind of started messing around, not making proper songs or singing about really serious stuff, just making fun stuff to keep me going. I was fed up with watching youtube videos and eating fast food all the time. I tried to do something productive and it took a lot longer. I used to make songs everyday and I don’t do it quite nearly as often. The pandemic has honestly made the songs a lot stronger because I’ve learned to be patient and take more time with them. In a way, I’m actually quite thankful for it. I still put stuff out, so at least I’m doing something!”

What’s your favorite song you’ve ever written?

“Out of all the ones that are out, there’s one called ‘Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody’ that came out this year. I wrote it when I was 14, actually, but I kind of did it up a little bit. It started off as a disco song, and I wanted to make something very universal and simple. I got a lot of inspiration for it from Tears for Fears and Phil Collins. It was all done in my bedroom and directly through a pedalboard DI. It only took about 2 hours to make. There’s also a song on the new record that’s called “Just Below The Above ‘ that I started when I was 14 as well. It’s very Radiohead-y and has Pink Floyd and Queen in there as well. It’s quite proggy and weird but it finishes the record and I think it’s the best song I’ve made. I’m really excited to put it out there. My new record is a concept record as well.”

What’s the longest a song has taken you to make / finish?

“’Dizzy’ took a while, since we were procrastinating a lot and everything was so busy. Some of the songs on this new record took a while as well actually. I have a song called “Happiness in Liquid Form” that took only about 2 hours. So some of them take no time at all, you don’t know where the time goes. But it’s super fun and therapeutic. There’s no rules and I’ve never had a lesson in production so I have very weird approaches to producing.”

What’s been your favorite stop so far on tour?

“New York was amazing. We went to Joe’s pizza and I really liked the crowd in New York, it was super special. We were supporting Chloe Moriondo so we haven’t done a headline show there just yet. Some girl shouted my name in the streets of New York and someone came up to me at Amoeba the other day… It was really weird. We made a stop in Toronto and it was really cool. It was really cold and so was Boston. Los Angeles and San Francisco have been my favorites. I really like California. I really can’t choose.”

What were your top 5 artists this year?

“Todd Rungren, Genesis, Mac Demarco, Jamiroquai, The Beatles. Space Cowboy by Jamiroquai was my top song.”

What are some of your musical guilty pleasures?

“Genesis, Phil Collins, Charlie Puth” 

What are your biggest influences?

“It changes an awful lot but Hiatus Kaiyote is a great new soul band and the singer is incredible. I’ve been listening to a lot of Leon Bridges and Frank Ocean. There’s also an album that came out in the 70’s, it’s called ‘Plantasia’ which is an amazing record and it inspires me to use my Moog. Todd Rundgren, especially his song ‘Cold Morning Light’.” 

How long have you been working on your next album for? When will it be released?

“I’ve been working on it for 2 years. It’s gonna come out next year. I’ve never worked on something that long but it’s done, mastered, and has artwork. It’s called ‘Mellow Moon’. I’m really excited to put it out. I really enjoy collaborating with others on artwork because it’s exciting to see the finished project.” 

Tell us a bit about your side project

“I have a project called Ariel Days where I do all the art, music, instruments, producing, mixing, and artwork. I started it a few years ago after I got signed! It’s something that I can do completely by myself. I started a label called Haunted Attic Records and I started doing Ariel Days and it started getting a lot of plays. I have complete creative control over everything. The music under it doesn’t suit my other sound so it’s nice to have the option to do whatever I want with that project and just experiment. It’s nice to have options. There’s a lot of artist pages on spotify that I’ve just put random songs on there and not told anyone.”

How would you explain your sound? 

“With the sound of Alfie Templeman, it changes but it’s quite concise. It’s quite colorful and still me. Ariel Days is a bit darker and more honest in places.”

Live performance at the House of Blues Voodoo Room

Alfie finished the last leg of his North American tour here in San Diego at The House of Blues Voodoo Room with openers Rebounder and Alix Page. He brought the room to life with his youthful presence and energetic performance. The colorful sound and sincere lyrics perfectly match Alfie’s playful demeanor. The excitement of playing in front of a live audience exuded out of him. Alfie made sure to connect with the crowd during and after the show. He thanked the crowd for their claps and praise, and even spent time meeting fans once his set was over. We hope Alfie will be back in the states soon as he is set to release another album this coming year.

Be sure to check out Alfie Templeman on Spotify and Instagram!

An Experimental Album Collective: Oscar Lang, Big Thief, and More

I decided to do an experimental four album collective review and recommendation this week. These four albums from Oscar Lang, Big Thief, Meth Wax, and Keane are ones I’ve just recently been getting into, and I’ve been loving all of the varying genres and moods that come along with each one.

Oscar Lang’s release gives off a more indie and thrilling vibe, while Big Thief is more eerie, warm, and noisy. Meth wax is explosive, wild and punchy whereas Keane emits a softer, more nostalgic mood. Overall, these four LP’s have something to offer everyone, no matter the music preference or taste. All four are dynamic, emotional, and thrilling experiences. These are definitely some of my go-to’s when picking from my record collection.

1. Oscar Lang – bops etc. 

A friend recently recommended this album and it perfectly fits the mood of waiting for school break and reminiscing on summer. It was released in June of this year and recently on the Dirty Hit record label. Being 6 songs, it is more of an EP, but the mood and feeling is summed up overall in these few tunes. I especially like the light mood around all of the tracks and how airy the record feels and sounds. “French Girl” definitely stood out to me, the melody is strong yet up and down. It also features Johnny Utah, who is a great indie-go to and is known for his song “Honeypie.” The synth is very arpeggiated and I like it in front with the guitar, bass, and drums being more focused towards the back. “Change,” being more guitar focused, is a cute, nostalgic tune with catchy lyrics; the walking bass line gives the slower guitar chords a boppy groove. The last track, “Pull Me Up,” is a ballad type song over hearty synth and slower drum beats. This is a great one for indie and alternative listeners.

2. Big Thief – Masterpiece

Every melody on this line surprises me and leaves me grabbing for more. Adrianne Lenker’s vocals stand out against the music yet complement it so perfectly at the same time. Her voice is elegant and soft yet so strong, being fitting for the genres Big Thief fronts. The guitar riffs beautifully go against the vocals and melodies of each song. The chords are surprising which is very refreshing when listening to Masterpiece as I feel as if I’m experiencing something new every time I listen. Every song on this album gives off ease and confidence, yet angst through the dynamics, shifts, and balance between the full band at times and the guitar and vocals at others.

The whole album feels like a long, heartwarming, reassuring journey through the depth of lyrics and maturity of sound over the 12 tracks. Two songs that particularly stand out are “Little Arrow” and “Velvet Ring.” “Little Arrow” sounds like it is played over an old radio or cassette machine; a more lo-fi track with just guitar and vocals. “Velvet Ring” is one of the only acoustic songs, the guitar picking style and walkdown chord choice vary to the rest of the album but nonetheless, fit it in a perfect way. The melody choice and lyrics are immensely unique here, and go so well with the background noises that it almost sounds eerie. Overall, I would rate this album a 10/10 and definitely recommend it to anyone who likes alternative and experimental music.

3. Meth Wax – Meth Wax

The lower quality of this album gives it a lot of character and makes all the difference in the energy that the album gives off to the listener. This lo-fi garage group gives off a slower, grunge vibe but there are also a few more upbeat, surfy tracks that stand out. Instrumentally, the production is the perfect pop-punk and garage tone and release. The guitar has a deep gutty and punchy feel to it and the drums are washy, muted, and perfectly balanced between surfy breaks and beatdowns and head banging fills. The vocals and lyrics are especially unique, being fronted and catchy. Released in 2016, this independent release is an easy listen and great for driving, hanging out, or just as background music. This release is an engaging and impressive listening experience, it mixes non-serious topics with deeper subjects together. I recommend to any Ty Segall fans or any lofi, garage, or punk lovers. 

4. Keane – Under The Iron Sea

One of my best friends recently showed me this album and I fell in love with it the second I started listening. This is a sentimental and mesmerizing album. Under the Iron Sea is my go-to rainy day album and it is a great walking and driving album as well. This release, being an older album from around 2006, captures the listener and takes them on a journey of finding themselves and being in the world. The lyrical content is hooking and powerfully written, alongside the string instrumentals, almost unnoticeable harmonies, and fronted piano lines and chords. It feels like a winter cold fairy tale, and a sense of warmth coming from it, almost like a fever dream. My favorite track is definitely “A Bad Dream” as it’s almost nostalgic and makes me feel like I’m in a different time period. Dominic Scott’s vocal range is always surprising and leaves the listener not knowing what is coming next. Keane’s music feels somber yet refreshing, and I’m always in the mood for it.

These four albums are there for any mood and time, and have become some of my favorite records over this past fall season. Hopefully, this becomes a new favorite record for someone or a song that makes someones day. Have a great winter break, stay warm, and keep updated for more tunes to come!

Written by: Jesse Miller

The Ultimate Break Playlist

With Thanksgiving done and winter break fast approaching, everyone is getting in the holiday spirit, finishing up finals, and gearing up to go back home for the time off.

I decided to make a playlist this month with some music that represents winter to me in various ways. From psychedelic rock to alternative grunge to indie, the winter to me is a more angsty time for music, a time to explore new eerie tunes that go well with the colder weather. It is simultaneously a time to find cozy holiday music, songs, and albums of nostalgia and warmth.

I decided to combine these two winter moods into a collective playlist that can be listened to at any time, one of all different moods. These 20 songs, go over a musical experience of grunge and hardcore but also slower acoustics as well as alternative upbeat songs.

Your Cat” – Slaughter Beach, Dog

Ollie North” – Donovan Wolfington

So Tired” – Crumb

I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes) – The 1975

Home” – Sean Ono Lennon

Revolution” – The Wrecks

Pendulum” – Bay Faction

Rolling Stoned” – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Note To Self” – Mild High Club

666” – Sugar Candy Mountain

Squish” – On Drugs

Colours” – Grouplove

Stay Away” – Nirvana

Uneasy Hearts Weigh The Most” – Dance Gavin Dance

Lighterless” – Microwave

drip bounce_7_24_18” – Toro y Moi

” – Stephen Fretwell

Rango” – Catfish and the Bottlemen

High Pressure” – Turnstile

Casper” – Sports Team

These songs overall represent my winter mood this year going into December. I’ll definitely have them on repeat for the rest of the year. Whether you are listening to this walking around campus, on your way home, or just in the comfort of friends, I hope to pass the vibes on to whoever listens. Enjoy this playlist and have a happy winter break!

Written by: Jesse Miller
Photo by: Jesse Miller

A Four Album Collective

Through the hot San Diego fall, I’ve been searching for new music that fits my “fall mood.” This week, I’ve decided to do a collective of four albums that I’ve had on repeat during these autumn months.

1. Time & Space – Turnstile

Time and Space, released by Turnstile in 2018, is one of my favorite albums of all time. The transitions, powerful color, and aggressive liveliness of this record is something that brings me back for more every time I listen to it. I could best describe this album as Hardcore, but with a mix of garage, post-punk, and sometimes jazz. Brendan Yates has one of the most powerful voices, and this, combined with Turnstile’s catchy chants and riffs, is the powerhouse behind this band. Two of my favorites are “I Don’t Wanna Be Blind” and “Can’t Get Away.” The ballad-like singing in the background mixed together with the gritty, distorted guitar, and the screams of Yates make Turnstile one of the most energetic and bold bands I’ve listened to.

2. Drunk Like Bible Times – Deer and the Headlights

Drunk Like Bible Times is a new discovery to my music collection this fall but one that I haven’t been able to put down. Released in 2008, Deer and the Headlights have been around for quite some time and have established themselves since then greatly. The instrumentals on this record are refreshing and flow well with the vocal performance coming from the very talented, Ian Mertzger. This whole record is a beautifully emotional, pop-rock 12-song listening experience. “I’m Not Crying, You’re Not Crying, Are You?,” “Carl Solomon Blues,” and “Talk About” are three songs that especially stand out to me due to the blend of classic ballads and rock chords mixed with experimental hand claps, piano, and different time changes and tempos. Overall, I would recommend this album to anyone who loves a mix of alternative, rock, and pop.

3.Favorite Worst Nightmare – Arctic Monkeys

The Arctic Monkeys are always a classic go-to for fall music. Favorite Worst Nightmare, released in 2007, is one of my personal favorite albums of theirs and has been for years. It’s a bit more gritty than some of their earlier releases but not as sharp or mood-elusive as the four albums after it. Songs such as “Old Yellow Bricks,” “Only Ones Who Know,” and “505” give the album different contrasts between more upbeat songs and melancholic slower grooves. The lyrics of the songs on this record are real and the catchy tunes keep you listening for more. 

4.Chroma – Mt. Eddy

Chroma, released in 2017, is a ten-song record that is a mix between garage rock and alternative punk. Chroma has energetic guitar riffs and impressive, fast-paced drum beats and fills. The almost surfy-tone and pace of this album is a great indie rock record to listen to any time — whether you’re on the road, at a concert, or just need background music. Mt. Eddy, consisting of four members, including frontman Jakob Armstrong, is now a newly formed band called Ultra Q. They have just recently released an EP, “We’re Starting To Get Along.” A favorite off of Chroma would be “Working Title”

These 4 albums are going to keep me going through midterms and finals this fall semester. I highly recommend them to any experimental alternative rock lovers. Happy November!

Written By: Jesse Miller