There aren’t many people that can attribute a chance meeting to propelling them into the limelight, but Yorkshire native Finlay went from the vast Northern countryside into the legendary RAK Studios after bumping into Mercury Prize and Grammy Award winning producer Jonathan Quarmby back in 2018.
And since then, the young artist has been honing his distinctive sound, immediately recognisable for his honey-smooth vocals and introspective songwriting – with his debut EP set for release this spring (and the visuals for his track “Evolution” out this week).
We caught up with the Yorkshire native below…
When was the moment you realised you wanted to make music?
Listening to great bands and musicians throughout my childhood, I became very aware of the level of human connection great musicians are able to have: a great artist can make you feel like they are talking directly to your personal experience. This was something I wanted to try and convey through my own music and has continued to be the primary motivation behind my songwriting.
Who did you listen to growing up?
My taste was and is eclectic, but I’ve always been drawn to indie songs and bands. I like Kasabian, Kaiser Chiefs, Elbow, Radiohead, Muse and even Coldplay! I like how they can maintain a unique sound but hit a wide audience. Then artists with great voices can stand the test of time; Sam Cooke, David Gray, Johnny Cash, Ella Fitzgerald, Leonard Cohen etc. Evergreen artists, which is ultimately what I aspire to become.
What are you inspired by? How were you influenced by growing up in the Yorkshire countryside?
Fascinating stories in whatever way they might be presented. I find a lot of inspiration in how humans interact in the world; how we live our lives and how that makes us feel… Emotional responses to day-to-day life. Growing up in the Yorkshire countryside afforded me the time and space to exist with the piano. It’s a beautiful place with lots of history in literature and the arts. Its landscape is often described as beautiful but bleak. I guess that has influenced how I frame things. In a way, the solitude gifted me the time and emotional context.
How would you describe your genre?
I am a singer-songwriter and pianist.
Will you tell us a bit about your random meet with Mercury Prize and Grammy Award winning producer Jonathan Quarmby?
One of the ways I’ve tried to get myself out there is by entering competitions. I entered and won an online competition and Jonathan was one of the judges! In a wonderful and interesting first conversation it transpired we had both attended the same high school. As our relationship developed it became clear to me that he was the right producer to bring my first body of work to life. He is super talented and understands how to get the best out of me.
Where did you get your inspirations for your EP?
It was a mixture of trying to emulate some of the music I loved, with finding a way to describe everything I was experiencing at the time. Most of the tracks are very direct stories from unfortunate events and situations that I found myself in. Its an exploration of my personal mental health combined with reflections and emotions that come with family and friends, as well as my internal conflicts surrounding how pursuing a career in music and becoming an artist might affect the rest of my life.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
Vampire Weekend. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I love everything by their original producer Rostam Batmangli. He’s just been involved with the Clairo project too, which is also fantastic. Serge Pizzorno from Kasabian does some amazing stuff too. I love the energy he brings to songs.
What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve had on your music?
When I was in my early teens my best friend and I entered a competition with our band. Although we didn’t win, Michael Parkinson was a judge and told me to, “Look after your voice cause it’ll earn you a fortune one day” haha! Hopefully, he was right.
What’s next for you/what are you excited for?
Making more music. And playing live as often as possible in the hope that my live show will eventually scale to the point where I can perform at a grand piano with a full band, in front of thousands and thousands of people. Ultimately I’m excited to share my music with as many people as possible and to continue developing and exploring my craft.