Freddie Dickson’s brooding, atmospheric sound stirs the senses. Here, we find out more.
With an eclectic mix of musical influences ranging from Neil Young and Bob Dylan to Kanye West and Plan B, London-based musician Freddie Dickson has slowly risen from the shadows to deliver a brooding and atmospheric sound which stirs the senses. The composition of his musical landscape is the stuff haunting and emotive cinematic dreams are made of, earning him comparisons with the intense and deeply expressive nuances of indie chanteuse Lana Del Rey.
His restless creativity can be felt across his songs which invite the listener into a world of unknowing, an experience open to interpretation through his lyrically doom-pop moments, tempered to take you on a journey of self-discovery. After 2013’s Shut Us Down EP and his latest release, The News, 25 year-old Dickson is now working on his debut album. Move over Ozzy Osbourne, there’s a new Prince of Darkness in town, minus the eye make-up.
How did it all start for you – was there a moment when you knew music was your destiny?
I did a Glastonbury talent competition once and even though we didn’t win, the reaction was so positive and I’d never felt as happy as after that gig. I woke up the next morning and decided that there was no way I would consider doing anything else.
How would you describe your music?
You’ve been slowly cultivating that sound – how do you think your style and ability has developed?
I think bringing in my band (The Guard) to play on my new EP was a real turning point rather than using so many electronics. I started bringing my demos into rehearsals and we would play through the songs until I felt they were perfect.
It’s like a spine-tingling encounter in the darkness when I listen to one of your songs – where does all that deep-routed self-analysis stem from?
I guess I like to go into a lot of detail. For me songwriting is incredibly cathartic and so I spend a lot of time on each song until I feel I have said everything that I need to say. Only then can I let go of that particular subject and start something else.
Is that why your latest EP The News is such an emotionally driven piece?
I guess the general theme around this EP is frustration around unresolved issues I had either with myself or with the people around me.
Music can make us feel so many emotions – what are the top 3 most listened to tracks on your iTunes or iPod when you need to nurture your soul?
Neil Young ‘Helpless’ , Sharon Van Etten ‘Your Love is Killing Me’ and Bob Dylan ‘Like A Rolling Stone.’
I love that Neil Young song! And which other artists have inspired you to make music?
I grew up on Neil Young and Bob Dylan and they are still my biggest heroes so I will always turn to them when I need to be reminded of a great song. Lots of artists today inspire me to do something different like Plan B, Sia or Kanye West. I’m very inspired by artists that are constantly developing their ideas and sound.
So if you could collaborate with another artist or band, who would it be?
She obviously has an amazing back catalogue of hits writing for other artists. Talk us through your own songwriting process – is there a specific place you like to be in, or a mood you like to feel in order to write?
I have a small studio which is my songwriting home. I generally come up with a melody or concept outside of the studio and then take it in there to develop. Surprise surprise I like to work at night time!
There are quite a few emerging singer / songwriters with that signature haunting or melancholy sound – how do you set yourself apart from the rest and bring something fresh to the scene?
Even though the mood is very dark I’m looking to write true pop songs that people can sing along to. I never want my work to be all about “vibe” because that forever changes. A great song can stand the test of time.
Like Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ maybe? And as we’ve just had halloween – if you could cover any song and give it a creepy, dark treatment, what would it be?
I don’t know, probably something really cheesy like ‘Living On A Prayer’ just to see if I could get away with it!
So when you’re not writing, how do you spend your time – what’s your idea of a good night out?
Drinking Guinness in a beer garden with my friends and then going somewhere really rubbish where I can dance like an idiot and no one cares.
Nice! And talking of dancing, you’re playing some tour dates soon – what can we expect from the live shows?
Expect an intense atmosphere but I promise you won’t go home too depressed!
You’re about to release a new album too, can you tell us more?
It’s still at such an early stage. It’s out late next year and produced by my musical right-hand man John Davies.
Finally – what’s been the strangest moment so far in your career?
Seeing the Columbia Records logo next to my name on my EP. I’ve grown up seeing that logo on a lot of my favourite records.
Words: Kate Lawson.