It is a sunny Friday afternoon and I am in a café situated just off the main high street in Clapham, awaiting the chance to speak to an artist placed in contact with myself by a friend.
His name is Chris Linton and I have been reliably informed that he is one of the nicest people you’ll ever have the pleasure of conversing with. And boy oh boy, Mr Linton didn’t fail to disappoint.
At this moment in his career, the Plymouth native has established himself as one of the most exciting figures in independent song writing. With a nomination for Best Songwriter at the Unsigned Music Awards and a monthly following ticking over at around 880,000 on Spotify, Linton has become a regular face in the world of electronic music. Collaborating with artists such as Lost Sky, Jim Yosef and Unknown Brain, he has made a name for himself by applying a folk inspired writing streak to a genre defined by its affinity with technologically based sound with exceptional results.
However, as he prepares to release his first solo EP, Chris Linton seeks to return to old pastures in a movement inspired by his first true love, independent folk music.
Hey Chris, it’s great to finally meet you! 2019 has been a busy year for yourself! What have you been up to in the last few months?
Well it certainly has been busy. I’ve been finishing up the last ends of the EP, all the mixing and mastering, which is being done back in the studio. We went back and mixed Superhero again, just to make sure it is where it should be. Following on from this, there has been a lot of going to London; it’s been about photoshoots, music videos and setting up a marketing plan in conjunction with AEI to give the EP the best possible success. It has been nice to get the guys from AEI in. There are a lot of people involved this time around. It is very different than the acoustic music scene I was part of four years ago. Much of the work then was all my own doing. But now I’m preparing for a show in London next week, rehearsing as a band. I’ve also just been trying to get out as much music as possible. At least a song once a month. It’s really important to have constant content out.
You have a new EP coming out soon. I’ve had a listen and it’s quite the departure from how we’ve recognized you as an electronic singer-songwriter. What motivated this change in direction?
Up until recently, I have always been known as a secondary artist. This is quite common for a singer in electronic music and isn’t necessarily a bad thing as I am still getting my name out there. But this EP is a chance to stand on my own two feet and show myself. First and foremost, I am a musician. I play the guitar, dabble in the piano. But at the moment all people see is the features. This is a real chance to show people I can do more and be more. Be more than just a feature on a song. It is the time to show more of my pallet. Really establish myself as indie folk artist.
A song which really stood out to me was Fearless. You are very honest about your previous states of mind and how the affected you as a person. Do you see song writing as a therapeutic process for yourself?
Yeah. I’m an alright talker. I feel as if all artists have their talents, their art is a way of getting their message across, no matter what it is. And I suppose that’s what it is for me. Some people might listen to Fearless and be like “Chris, are you okay?”. But I’m perfectly fine. It’s a way for me to let off some steam. Like writing a notepad, only with melodies. It’s also good to look back, how I felt then, and how I’ve progressed as a person. Fearless is about being pushed to the edge, the leap of faith versus listening to those negative thoughts from people around you. We’re all in charge of our own destinies, and that is exactly what this song is about. Taking control of your life and its outcome.
You are originally from Plymouth, identifying the independent folk music scene as an inspiration for your music. How do you think this impacted yourself at the start of your career, especially when it comes to your songwriting?
Well for myself, I started off as a bedroom songwriter, with much of my content going out on YouTube. However, I was petrified at the thought of what people felt about my music. Then there was this one night where my friend took me down to an open mic night, where I performed some covers. I was hooked. Plymouth is responsible for the point in which I am at now. Open mic motivated me to have the confidence to perform in front of people. I would never have performed these songs I have now without putting myself out there. It was also a chance to discover who I am artistically. Two of the guys in my band are even from there. They stuck around, even when I moved to Bristol in 2017. We all look after each other. I owe so much to that place.
After reading your Facebook bio, I learnt that it was by chance that you had managed to develop a relationship with the team at NCS* (*No Copyright Sounds). How did this come about?
Well I was collaborating with my friends (Unknown Brain), who I was working with under the radar in early 2016. It was all about SoundCloud then, that was the main platform for getting your new music out there. I got sent the instrumental by them for what became Superhero. I managed to write the chorus, and in what seemed like no time the track had been put onto SoundCloud. It was discovered through a few people and it was signed, releasing the track properly in November 2016. Right now, I think it has 45 million hits on YouTube and 40,000 streams a day on Spotify. But it took a while to get there, it was definitely a sleeper hit. I think people can get frustrated at the lack of instant success, but I just saw it as a way of getting myself out there. Since then I’ve had 12 singles out, which I believe is one of the most for a solo artist signed to the label. It allowed me to do so much with my life. Leave my full-time job. Become financially stable. Even an opportunity for my own EP. It proved to me that, even when you’re independent, these things can be done if you put the time and effort in.
2018 was a colossus of a year for you, seeing you earning a nomination for Best Songwriter at the Unsigned Music Awards? What was your first reaction to this?
It is quite funny, because I signed up with the intention that I would never be picked. There are so many incredible up and coming independent artists out there. There’s even one guy who has his song played on the TV show Suits. So, when I found out I was nominated, I was shocked. I was selected, even amongst these really big growing names. And even though I didn’t win, the nomination was enough to prove that I was doing something right. So, this time around when I apply for the awards, I will see it as more of an opportunity for getting myself out there.
Coming back to your presence of social media, it was interesting to hear more about your influences, as you cite artists including Damien Rice, Ed Sheeran, Dallas Green, David Gray and James Blunt as motivators for the way in which you make music. What is it about these artists that inspire you?
Especially when it comes to a live performance, I want to be doing it acoustic. And these artists embody that idea. Damien Rice, the form and the way he writes, it’s almost as if he has his heart on his sleeve. It is like that with Ed Sheeran, even though he has gone in a more pop direction. I remember + being released. These are people that have being doing what I want to do. Even David Gray, who I listened to as kid whilst my mum was hoovering. The UK is very strong for his live work with festivals such as Glastonbury. These artists made me realize that when I play live, I want to do it either acoustic or with a band, not a DJ deck. That’s what I want to.
I hear that you have been spending some time in Real World Studios this year. What have you been up to and what has that experience been like for yourself?
My first visit to Real World was around May/June last year. It was breathtaking. The complex itself is huge. And all the equipment, everything was there. It was great. Just to be able to bounce about from guitar, to the piano, to the vocals. All in one place. It is a very efficient way of making music. Everything at arm’s reach. And the team, such as Ollie Jacobs (Recording Engineer), were great. People want to be a part of your music. Completely different from my bedroom soundproofing I had at home. No pillows over my head. And to know that I have shared the space with big names, it’s such a confidence boost. The Wood Room was a favourite to have worked in, that’s where acoustic music is meant to be recorded. And then Superhero for the big room of course. Its huge. It was great to experience both sides of the studio.
Last but not least, festival season is approaching! You are playing at El Dorado Festival on the 7th July…but what is most memorable festival experience?
I was at Boardmasters (Festival) and I went to see Bastille on the final night. For some reason I always get compared to him a lot. I was way at the back. It just blew me away. It was then that I realised that I want to be doing this. I put my foot down. From now on, it was all about trying to get my foot in the door. That night, I felt as if the audience was part of the experience, and I really wanted to do that for myself. And I knew what it took for me to do. Networking. Going the extra mile. Having a business mind. Really learning how to sell yourself, which is a hard concept to get your head around when you just want to make music. But the hard work is slowly paying off, and I’m really excited at how far I have come since then.
New Light by Chris Linton is out June 28th under Featherstone music. Check out the first single, ‘Fearless’, here.