One thing we’ve learnt about Wes Nelson, is that he’s not slowing down for anyone. After signing his first record deal with Universal Music Group and EMI Records this year, Wes has released his hit debut single featuring Hardy Caprio, “See nobody”.
First appearing on our screens in 2018’s season of Love Island, Wes went on to forge an incredible television career, however the 22-year-old has since switched to his real passion, music.
Huge congratulations on your record deal and new single, “See nobody”! Releasing music has been a lifelong dream of yours, how did you get into music as a child?
“Well, I don’t know if you saw on my Instagram, the throwback post that I did? I was tiny, think I must have been three years old or something. For as long as I can remember I’ve always asked for something music related for Christmas.
That was my first karaoke, then the next year I got another karaoke, the next year after that I got a new microphone. Like, I’ve never not been around music, I’m never not playing music. It’s just a huge part of my life.”
During your school days, I understand you were focusing more on your sports and then even went on to qualify as a Nuclear System Design Engineer, did you always know you would one day go back to music?
“Yeah, everyone always says, “You’re like a jack of all trades”, but music is one constant that’s always, always been there. Like out of everything that I’ve done, like kickboxing, football, tennis, skiing. Like all these different things, they come and go, but the music’s been there regardless. That’s what made it make complete sense that I should knuckle down and focus on the music.
Once I got the confidence, which I gained over the past few years, then I finally started to really pursue it. People say, “Oh why now? Why not two years ago, or why not three years ago?”, and that’s literally because of the confidence that I’ve gained over the past few years. I’ve always had it, I’ve always been able to sing and it’s always been there. It’s just I’ve never been able to … I’ll be honest, I’ve never been able to showcase it, I’ve never been confident enough.”
Would you say then, that you had some nerves about transitioning from reality TV into the music industry?
“You know, I wouldn’t say I was nervous about moving from TV to music, because I just knew it was what I was supposed to be doing. I knew that was what I wanted to be doing in my head.
The nerves were for the opportunities I was turning down. I’ve turned down like three of four big contracts, this would have been one of my biggest financial years in terms of TV stuff and posts on Instagram.
I’ve dropped a hell of a lot of work, worth a hell of a lot of money and this was all before I signed my record deal. I had no idea that I was even going to land my record deal, so there really was no guarantee of any money coming in from my music.
The fact that I’ve taken some financial risks, not knowing whether or not it would pay off, really shows that I’m in this for the music and not for the money. I thought to myself I don’t wanna just be doing television my whole life, even though I’ve loved it and it’s been great for me, it’s just not what I wanna do for the rest of my life.”
Obviously you had your time on The X Factor: Celebrity, would you say that helped with the transition as well?
“I think so yes, but not so much like the actual music side, cause I didn’t’ really have much creative freedom. I wrote my bits and that, but like it had to be super filtered, a super family friendly vibe. That’s not taking anything away from the show, people on there were great with me and I learnt loads. The main thing that I learnt was behind the scenes stuff, so like music production. I used to literally sit there and watch what the engineers were doing in our sessions and just go home, order pasta and just learn it all myself.
I knew that when it comes to me actually recording it myself, then I’d need to be able to record. Then obviously we went into lockdown and that was perfect for me because I didn’t’ have to have an engineer there. So all my songs, I’ve recorded myself pretty much. It took a long time to learn and to really perfect, but if you put your mind to anything, you can do it.”
So how did the record deal come about?
“I don’t even know for sure! But my theory is that; obviously after the X Factor, Sony, Sycho, etc – they wanted to pursue some things with me, keep an eye on me in terms of what I was doing with music. Then I think Universal and Warner came after the Krept tweet. When the Krept tweet came out and he started saying, “This guy from Love Island …”, People in the music industry started talking and then I started getting other rappers messaging me saying, “Can we hear your music?”, and I showed them and then they showed their friends and it just spread like wildfire. That was the catalyst. It was just that one spark that it needed and then it just blew.”
How did the collaboration with Hardy Caprio happen?
“So while I was recording over lockdown, I was also networking. So I reached out to Hardy, I wanted him to hear some of the songs that I’d been working on to get his opinion. He Facetimed me and I showed him “See Nobody” and he jumped up off his chair and he was gassed. He’s like, “I’m spun. You spun me, my head’s spun!” He says, “Me and my mandem wanna jump on the track”, and that was it.
I didn’t ask him, that’s why I knew it was right. There was some other artists interested in jumping on the song. The only difference between them and Hardy was just the genuine reaction, the guy was gassed, so gassed about the song and that really stuck out to me.
If I’m gonna get someone on the song, then I want them to be passionate about it. I don’t want them to just think, “Oh yeah, let’s see if it works.” I want them to be passionate about it and Hardy really was, plus he laid a stupidly cold verse.”
What was the thought process behind “See Nobody”?
“So when I was at Josh’s (Denzel, Former Love Island cast mate), this random guy saw me driving past and was like, “Your car is like a Batmobile”, and I was like, “That’s funny.” From that, I just stemmed from, “Can’t catch man, cuttin through the ends like I’m Batman.” I just thought that was jokes, but then around that, when I say, “Foot down, I don’t see nobody”, that’s a metaphor for me just really committing to music, going full speed ahead.
That’s me committing to just being like “Listen spirit, I’m putting my foot down, I’m going full speed ahead, I’m jumping lanes, switching lanes. “In my own lane with the top down”, so that’s a metaphor for me switching careers and jumping into a new career. Obviously that’s why it’s my first song and it’s a representative of me going straight into music.”
Since you built a recording studio in your house, are you there most of the time?
“I literally spend 15 to 20 hours a day in there, I don’t sleep a lot. I sleep four hours a day anyway. I get up, have breakfast and then go straight there and just work on something.
I like to get things done in a day usually. I start writing my ideas out and I won’t go to bed until it’s done, do you know what I’m saying? Even if I just mark it out so it’s laid out and then I can do it properly tomorrow. Once I put my mind to something I have to do it, it’s the same with anything in life really.”
Would you say that lockdown helped you in terms of your focus on your music?
“Yeah 100%, because it takes any potential distractions completely away from you. I’m a very focused person as it is, but everyone gets distracted and everyone likes to enjoy themselves.
A lot of things I used to enjoy, were taken away from me. So it just allows me to completely focus. Obviously I split with Arabella too, so whereas normally you’d have to be considerate with your time because of your relationship, I was able to be completely selfish and just spend 15-20 hours a day in the studio. But yeah lockdown has been a massive help, it’s just taken away all the distractions.”
Who are your musical influences?
“Ahh I hate this question haha! I hate this question because I’m one of them that I takes inspiration from so many different genres and so many different artists. So I’ll give you couple! Pac’s lyricism is insane rap wise, I think Michael Jackson’s vocals and performance on stage is ridiculous, Hans Zimmer’s musical prowess, Hans Zimmer’s ability to be able to translate a music to a scene, to an area, to like a feeling, I think is exceptional.
There’s so many, I’ve gone from Pac to Hans Zimmer, how’s that? I’m Inspired by so many different things, I think that’s why people say, when they listen to my music, I sound like different people even throughout the same song.”
Who would be your dream artist to work with?
“Dead or alive?”
It can be either … Or you can do one of each!
“Yeah, an artist’s that’s dead, MJ. Alive, I’d say Dave or Drake … Or Saint Jhn!”
I feel like at 22 years years old, at such a young age, you’ve achieved so much, what advice could you give to another young person who has dreams they want to achieve? It can be in whatever industry, just advice that you can give them.
“So my best advice would be, it sounds so cliché but when people say, “Believe and you’ll actually get somewhere”, people often say, “Speak things into existence”, na na na, action put things into existence! That’s my best advice, take action in what you actually wanna do. Put all of your energy into it. Like with music, I put all my energy into it and then things that are out of your control will start to happen and you’ll be rewarded in ways you didn’t expect.
Like the Krept tweet was out of my control, I didn’t ask him to do that, it just happened. That’s only because I’ve put so much energy and time and effort into what I was doing and what I wanted to do.
Have tunnel vision in something, understand how you want to do it and then just execute it. Just keep things simple, don’t think about the “What ifs” or, “Who thinks this or who thinks that?” Or, “Oh I can’t do this because I’ve done that.” Na na na, do whatever you want and put all your energy into it, then you’ll do it.”