Exclusives Interviews 20 December 2021

GRM Exclusive: Finn Foxell Talks debut album plans, musical direction ‘Alright Sunshine’ & more

20 December 2021
Finn Foxell UTR

Conceiving his music career during the “Soundcloud era”. Finn Foxell, like many of our greats, built up an early following on the streaming platform that was known for being a goldmine of undiscovered talent.

His early offerings are a nod to the fiercely bubbling underground scene at the time, seeing him cross paths with names like Sam Wise, and deliver anthems like “Ericsson”. Six years later, the West London bred artist now more experienced, and looks towards an exciting musical journey.

Foxell’s Alright Sunshine EP landed back in October, it’s a seven track instalment that sees him deliver a seamless blend of smooth alt-rap and soul records. The project is both reflective, but invoking of a skank or head-bop, his growth and exploration impressively evident.

With a brand new EP fresh out the oven, a sold out headline show & album in the works – we thought there would be no better time to catch up with the eclectic musician, as part of our Under The Radar Interview series.

So tell us who is Finn Foxell, how did we get here?

“I’m from Shepard’s Bush, been making music for six years now, I started making music with people in my collective called Elevation Meditation, we formed in 2016; myself P-Rallel, Louis Culture, Lord Apex, Xav, we’re all from the same area, or knew each other somehow.

“I dropped a lil Soundcloud project when I was 16 and I’m now very blessed to say I do this full time, I’ve built like a cult fan-base, and created my own lane. I don’t want to be grouped into this British alternative rap pocket”

The live show landscape gravely changing in the last two years due to the pandemic as a result many newer artists have missed out on the experience that comes with performing face to face with a real audience. Foxell, no stranger to shows, was shutting down sets pre-pandemic and as the world slowly edges into it’s new normal and we see the resurgence of live events, we were keen to touch base with Finn about it all.

Congrats on selling out your headline show, how have shows been for you so far?

“I’ve been performing for quite a while. When I started music I did shows to like 30 people in a room or less than, empty 120 cap venues, we were hoping someone was gonna come. We done all of that and built it up to the point where I done my first headline before Covid at Peckham audio. We did that then Covid happened, but coming back has been bare refreshing”

“We announced the next headline, sold out Oslo, upgraded to Village Underground, was a great feeling, I’m proper charged up for that one, its gonna be a big milestone for me”

It must be nice to seeing the transition from smaller crowds to bigger ones?

“I know everyone has a different journey where they get to live stuff and before they start performing. I did it the long way in that regard, but I now feel much more confident on stage, having dealt with multiple shows with bare stoosh people in the crowd and then getting to the point where people are having a sing song and singing back to you, it’s sick”

What would you say your favourite thing about performing is?

“Full emotional release of going a bit mental, you listen to my music and you think that it’s not necessarily the most lively most mad moshy music but we turn it up, we go nuts with it. I like everyone up for chucking it, that’s the best bit, seeing the energy reciprocated, that’s the golden moment right there”

Is there a dream venue for you?

“I’m gonna sell out O2 Brixton, that’s just timing, I opened for slowthai there a couple years ago, at the time I wasn’t ready for it, was so big, I had no idea what to do on that stage. But I’m there again this Sunday to open for The Manor, this time I think I’m gonna handle it better. But that’s the one I think I’m gonna get there myself, I’m gonna have crazy sets, wonderful light shows and then Glastonbury main stage, those are the ones I wanna do”

Delving back into the conception of his career and how the Finn from six years ago differs to the Finn we’re seeing now, we questioned how his process has changed. Glimmers of the sombre rap style first associated with him shining through EP tracks like “EOTM”, but drops like “Slow Kisses” a more soulful offering.

So you said you started making music around six years ago, a lot has probably changed since then with you as a person, from then to now how would you say your musical process has changed?

“I used to write almost every day and it was an important thing that I tried to do, it was a consistent release and I relied on it as an output. Where as now I actually like the fact I can build up energy and restrain from writing and go about London doing my thing and then after a few weeks I’m ready for it, I go studio and its this whole release,my brains been itching to tell people this or build this vibe, that’s the main switch”

“I also used to have no studios, just P-Rallel’s bedroom, now I’ve got access to good studios I can refine and be more calculated. I’d also like to say I’m a songwriter now not just a rapper, a lot of the other stuff, like some of my biggest tunes like “Ericsson” and that, I wrote when I was like 15, bare gassed, thinking I was sick which is fine, I love that energy but I’ve grown up a little bit now. Theres way less flexing, still subtle flexing, but more empowering sh*t, or sh*t that makes you wanna go nuts and kick a door down, cry for a bit, something thats really gonna bring some emotion.”

On a lot of your newer music it seems like you’re more comfortable to be vulnerable and a lot of rappers in particular struggle with that, is that something you feel like you’ve tried to do purposely or has it just come with time?

“It’s me becoming more confident in my sound, in having that acknowledgment of “I’m sick” and the more I show myself to people and don’t hold back, that’s what makes it sick, and if I’m doing anything that’s in the restraints, paradigms or rules of whats cool or what’s sick, instantly I’m kicking myself in the shin.

“I’ll look back and be why did I do that, so my music definitely reflects a bit more of a young adult rather than a teenager. We all get angry, scared, over excited, all them things. That whole rapper mystique is so exhausting and its bollocks well and truly, everyone goes through shit, so it was a big relief when I just said to myself we’re gonna open up fully rather than overthink it.”

A member of the Elevation Mediation collective alongside P-Rallel, Louis Culture, Lord Apex and Xav. A genuine connection saw them come together as friends and embark on promising paths as creatives. All heart-warmingly appearing on Foxell’s Alright Sunshine EP.

Elevation Meditation, as a collective what would you say keeps you grounded and all on the same page?

“Through each other to be honest, one thing we set out to do is be like we’re not a group and theres no constraint on us having to drop music together or us ever feeling like we have to relate to each other, it came naturally. All of us are so unique and different, you could put all of us in a room with a bunch of other people and would pick all of us out as the like-minds just from sussing our vibe a lil bit, its that collectiveness where we’re all on the same page.

“We all respect each others craft so much, as well as just being mates that have grown up together, the synergy of that trinity there, makes us always be in it for the long run. I can go to them and chat about anything, get advice or when I just need reminding that I’m sick, they always make sure to and I’ll remind them too. I’m very very blessed to have that around me. I know people that have a lot to say and a lot to offer, but because of the people around them, they’re not in a situation to express that”.

You’re all are doing great things individually, it doesn’t seem forced, the way things are executed is very cool.

“If anything we struggle to portray group energy, as the only times we see each other are when it’s through that organic thing like “yo it’s been time come mine”. It’s rare we catch ourselves all together in a space relating to music unless its functions and we all get to give each other a nod, and that’s the validation right in front of us.

Working closely with producer P-Rallel over the years, we were keen to get to know more about that relationship and effortless chemistry in the studio.

P-Rallel, he produced your latest single “Slow Kisses”, how was that?

“Me and him went primary school together, and literally I remember him having a mic and saying come over I know you got bars. He wasn’t on the last project so one statement I wanted to make with this next project is having all of EM on it, everyone from the collective, Louis, Apex, Xav all have verses and then P Rallel he produced “Slow Kisses”. I needed everyone involved, I’m moving into album territory next year and I needed to make sure this piece of work is super true to everything I’ve been on, if sonically I’m stepping away from that.

“It was easy how it came about, me and P we won’t make a mad amount of music together but when we do, always quality over quantity, it’s nice as well because we’re both busy now so when we get in the studio and make something, it’s magical”.

Slow Kisses” does feel very upbeat and vibey, is that something you’re gonna get into more on the project?

Alright Sunshine as an EP has a couple things on it that really nod to what I’ve been doing, and then theres a couple songs on there that are a bit more forward driven, bumpy stuff. Its nice, got an amalgamation of vibes, a bit of what I’ve been on and also pointing to what I’m on next and also give proper nod to my whole journey and that’s why EM were so important to that. They’re the reason I’ve got to where I am now, and am getting into doing an album, it’s all because of that last EP and the people that have been involved. Feels a bit like the ending and the beginning.

“The album is gonna be so different and I’m so excited, in my head it’s a hit record, a very full open honest vulnerable ear worm project, so I’m just trying to lead people up to it with this EP and show them I can do a bunch of different things and still keep it wholesome as f*ck”.

The music industry has changed vastly in the past 10 years, the regularity of bouncing between EPs, mixtapes and albums have become more frequent. With several EP’s in his rearview, we spoke to Finn about these newly blurred lines.

In terms of projects, you have an album coming and have had EP’s in the past, would you say you prefer an album or EP/mixtape?

“I feel like it’s tricky. I wouldn’t have been ready for an album prior to now, so the EP’s have been the little chunks of me. Whereas an album is such a personal step for an artist. My album feels like an album as there is such a strong running theme through all of it that sounds like a time capsule & sonically it all sits next to each other”.

“Its hard to say which I prefer, as I feel like they’re both important at different times for an artist and for their career. You know that first EP from a popping artist is going to be so raw, so unique, everyone’s gonna get drawn to it. But you know that give them a couple years and they drop that mad album it could be something that could make you cry, be happy, dance whatever. That’s what I think an album is leaning more towards trying to do, an album will make you feel all sorts of ways rather than just give you a gist of something”.

What’s your favourite song at the moment?

“Ancient Jules” by Steve Gunn, some 70’s rock song, its just different, if you listen to that you’ll be like oh this is the weird space that this guy is on for the album. I’ve been playing a lot of that Children Of Zeus record, “Hard Work” – I need to get that one on vinyl, its stayed in my head, some sick guys from Manchester doing their thing”.

Do you have a dream collab, Dead Or Alive?

“Bob Marley, he wrote reggae songs that hit the whole of the world. What he reached, on the scale he did as well as great music, great personality”.

Finn Foxell’s EP Alright Sunshine out now and available via all major platforms. Also just announcing a 2022 UK/IRE tour, hes locked and loaded and it his own words “get tickets, they will sell out!”.

If you missed our last Under The Radar segment featuring Kali Claire, be sure to check that out right here.