Alfie Templeman: ‘I was indoors for a year – it took me a while to get up to scratch again’

Alfie Templeman’s debut album, Mellow Moon, is finally set to drop next week. I say ‘finally’ – he’s only 19. Yet the experience Alfie already has makes his debut feel like a long-time-coming.

Alfie Templeman singer

Alfie Templeman’s debut album, Mellow Moon, is finally set to drop next week. I say ‘finally’ – he’s only 19. Yet the experience Alfie already has makes his debut feel like a long-time-coming; and is one that no doubt sets him on the path for major further success.

“I hate to sound morbid, but one day I’m gonna die. And I don’t want to sit there and think, For fuck’s sake, why did I waste so much time on an app, looking at other people pretending to be happy, when I can go outside and actually be happy?

Wise words indeed. And remarkably astute, life-affirming ones too from a singer who’s only 19 years old.

If you haven’t heard (a bit odd, but fair enough), Alfie Templeman is the pop star taking off right now. While many press release descriptions of young artist as being ‘emerging talent’, ‘rising stars’ or ‘breakthrough acts’ have become so formulaic as to have lost their currency, Alfie is in fact the real deal.

Alfie Templeman

Photo: Lillie Eiger

He may still be a youngster, but Alfie’s actually been recording and releasing demos since he was just 13 years, before signing with Chess Clubs Records at the tender age of 15 – a label known for breaking new talent, with Jungle and Wolf Alice among its alumni. Alfie’s experience as an artist, therefore, belies the baby-faced looks that stared back at me on a Zoom call he made from his parents’ conservatory.

This assurance was on full display just a couple of months prior, when Alfie had held a sweaty O2 crowd in the palm of his pop-playing hands – a gig even Lewis Capaldi was up in the stands to watch. “I didn’t actually know he was there until afterwards,” Alfie says. “It was well weird – I couldn’t believe it, to be honest.”

The energy Alfie gave to that gig was equally impressive considering it was part of an 18-date run of shows, supported by fellow Chess Club Record singer Pixey. “It was very intense. Five shows in a row – never again. That was a lot because you go from one show to another, jumping on and on. And there’s a lot of travelling as well so it can be really tiring.

“After a show, you get such an adrenaline rush that you just can’t really sleep; it’s super hard to shut off after being that energetic at the show, so you end up getting like four hours sleep. On top of that, you’re not getting the right kind of nutrients because there’s nowhere to properly eat, really – so you burn out a lot.

Alfie Templeman lying down

Photo: Lillie Eiger

“I think that’s also because it was my first kind of big tour and I’ve never really experienced something like that. The actual gigs I love. It’s just the process of touring that messes my head up.”

It’s clear none of this is meant as a whinge or a moan – and Alfie’s tone acknowledges his appreciation of being able to do what he loves best – it’s just someone endeavouring to look after themself and their mental state after a tricky period.

Due to a lung condition identified in his childhood, Alfie had to spend the vast majority of the pandemic shielding indoors. “From around March 2020 to February the year after, I didn’t really go anywhere,” he explains. “So that was quite mentally draining – it definitely brought me down a bit.

“Even when I came out of it, it was still quite hard, because all of a sudden I had all this freedom, but I didn’t really know where to start. On top of that, it felt like I didn’t really deserve it.”

Alfie Templeman sitting on a suitcase

Photo: Lillie Eiger

There was a dissonance at play, too, with his musical output, as much of his 2020 releases were recorded pre-pandemic. “I feel like people often assume I was doing a lot of stuff, but I wasn’t,” he says. “I was just at home, really, for a while. And that definitely affected me a lot mentally, but also physically – I wasn’t getting out of bed or doing much.

“After the pandemic, it took some time to get up to scratch again. I was quite anxious. I feel like after so long without going anywhere, it made me a bit scared to go out and do things properly again.

“But once I got used to it, gigs really helped, and festivals, all that jazz – they helped me lift myself up a little bit and just go out there again. So eventually it was fine.”

There’s a slight irony, too, that many of Alfie’s tracks are catchy and upbeat – the kind of sound that can kickstart a summer or soundtrack that euphoric feeling of a Friday evening. ‘Happiness in Liquid Form’, for instance, delivers exactly as it promises: a joyful earworm created with the help of The Vaccine’s Justin Young.

Alfie Templeman green jacket

Photo: Lillie Eiger

‘3D Feelings’, meanwhile, gives a ballooning sense of elation, a burst of joy springing out like a pop-up tent, and reflects the sunny side of nostalgia. “To me it’s about being reminded of your past self,” Alfie explains, “and seeing different places you used to go to or people you used to be close with… memories where you can feel it, actually sense it, smell it, see it in your head. I think it’s a really special thing that we all have those 3D feelings that we can envision, go back to and look at.”

Despite the frequent association with sadness in the colour of the title, ‘Colour Me Blue’ depicts another state of ecstasy: falling in love. The colour blue therefore symbolises the wave of aliveness that overcomes you in such a situation. Speaking of waves, it’s a track that was also perfected with the help of another collaborator in the studio: Circa Waves’ Kieran Shudall.

“He’s got that really good summer indie vibe. But he’s also just really sweet, so working with him is such a pleasure, whatever you make. And there’s a lovely kind of energy that flows when you’re making music with him,” he adds, continuing the wave theme. “And he’s open to everything. So he made me a bit less shy about sharing my ideas with other people.”

These tracks, all released in the run-up to next week’s album, typify the Alfie that has already grown a sizable audience, which includes over 3 million monthly Spotify listeners. A celebration of indie-pop that can shake a room – as proven at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

Alfie Templeman Colour Me Blue

Where things get particularly interesting in the forthcoming album, though, are the final three tracks, which point towards a more mature sound; bar the penultimate and titular track of the album, they place more emphasis on the evolving indie side, especially the concluding track, ‘Just Below the Above’. It opens with an eerie resonance of Radiohead’s ‘Exit Music (For A Film)’ – an indication of Alfie’s developing edge.

“That song actually started out as kind of influenced by Radiohead… I feel I subconsciously write stuff that’s in the vein of Radiohead, just because they were influenced by other stuff that I am… it’s Radiohead, a bit of Pink Floyd, a bit of Queen, it’s definitely got progressive elements to it.”

And that’s a long line that Alfie, in his own way, will and can seek to emulate. I hate to sound morbid, but one day they’ll all be dead – and we’ll have stars like Alfie who will step into their shoes.

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