Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter Rhys Lewis, who discusses his new track, ‘Better Than Today,’ as well as his goals for 2019.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Rhys Lewis: I first got into music in primary school learning clarinet! I loved playing music but didn’t really get on with the clarinet; when I picked up the guitar though, there was no turning back. I played in lots of terrible bands with terrible names as a teenager. Somewhere along the line, I decided that songwriting was something I really enjoyed, so I moved to London to study music. Then London, being the city that it is,threw lots of opportunities my way and I feel very lucky to still be doing music today.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Lewis: It can start in many ways, but for me to really get into an idea, I need a title or concept. I’m constantly making notes of things that are on my mind, that I hear friends or strangers say could be interesting, orthat have enough emotion to write about. Then I sort of forget about them and when I sit down with an instrument or someone else I’m writing with plays some music, I improvise melodies until something appears. Usually, there is a lyrical idea somewhere in the back of my mind or in a note in my phone that falls onto something I sing. I’ve started to notice that when I’m thinking really hard in the moment to come up with a good idea, nothing normally ever comes. If instead I constantly keep my mind fueled and full of words and ideas, when I do sit down to write, I can let my feelings and emotions to guide the creative process and trust that something in the back of my mind will come forward.
Review Fix: How was “Better Than Today” written?
Lewis: Myself and Aidan (my piano player) were in our studio in South London and we were trying to write a different idea. It wasn’t really going anywhere, so I said we should start something new. Aidan started playing the piano part to what is now “Better Than Today,” and I started singing – within 5 minutes we had the chorus. It just happened. We were both not thinking and that’s often when the most creative moments occur. I had written the title down in my phone a while ago, and for some reason when Aidan played the chord progression and I started to sing melodies, that lyric fell out. I then spent a long time tweaking the lyrics over a few months with Aidan’s help. It taught me not to rush an idea. Some songs take a day to write, others take months; so don’t stop working on something until you’re sure it’s the best it can be.
Review Fix: What makes this new single a special one?
Lewis: Writing this song really helped me deal with my anxieties and get through an unsettled period of time in my life. So I hoped that it could be some kind of comfort to someone hearing it, too. The reaction to this song has been incredible, I’ve had so many personal and heart-felt messages from people saying how much it’s helped them and given them hope in a low moment in their life, so that really does mean a lot to know. There are a few songs in my life from other artists that have helped me through something so it’s a very special thing to realise that my own music has done that for other people too.
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Lewis: Soulful, lyrical and honest.
Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?
Lewis: There is definitely a different energy to the songs when I play them live. I think perhaps some of my recordings are slightly contained now compared to the live versions. I have a great relationship with my band and I really trust them musically. After touring the set a few times, you find new things in the songs and arrangements that you didn’t get the chance to record on the studio version. So I’d say there’s more excitement and musicality to the live show. Perhaps those live moments wouldn’t work on record, so I’m glad that the two forms have their own identities and hopefully fans who come and see the live show think the same.
Review Fix: What are your goals for 2019?
Lewis: Be more patient. Try and not let my anxiety affect me as much. Finish my album. See my family and friends more.