Rag’n’Bone Man Talks Newfound Fame, Finding His Voice and Winning His First Brit Award

Rag'n'Bone Man

The hip-hop bluesman now can’t go more than a few minutes without being spotted by a fan on the street.

But since he has been named the 2017 Brit Awards Critics’ Choice winner and his track Human is being played everywhere, the hip-hop bluesman now can’t go more than a few minutes without being spotted.

“You can’t f***ing hide me,” laughs the 6ft 5in bearded, heavily tattooed singer.

“But I quite like it and most people are really nice to me, especially in Brighton. They are proud of me.

“But I didn’t experience the full scale of attention properly until I was in Germany.
But now the hip-hop bluesman can’t go a few minutes without being spotted

“That was crazy. I was No 1 there with Human for three months, which is amazing.

“In airports, all of the security were like, ‘Yo, it’s Rag’n’Bone Man’. I was like, ‘Wowwww!’”

I meet Rory Graham, 32 — who earned his nickname from his love of the Sixties sitcom Steptoe And Son — in a moment of calm before the storm.

He is smoking outside his manager’s office in Brighton while his girlfriend Beth is inside opening packages of merchandise including keyrings and necklaces emblazoned with the Rag’n’Bone Man logo.

Music was instilled in me from a young age

“It’s hard to get time to ourselves at the moment,” says Rory of his girlfriend of seven years.

“And we are trying to buy a house but it’s all good.

“I’ve got a week off coming up, though I’m booked into a studio to do some writing.

“I don’t want to lose this as it’s going so well.
Rory Graham has been named the 2017 Brit Awards Critics’ Choice winner

“Even though it’s really early, I need to figure out what I want to do next.”

Rory says it has taken a while to go from nothing to the biggest new star of 2017, as he wanted to make sure he was 100 per cent happy with his debut album, which is also called Human.

“I could have put the album out this time last year because I had the material,” he tells me.

“It’s been in the works for two or three years but I wanted to do it slow and steady. I was in no rush but now I’ve got the album coming out, I am happy.”
His debut album Human is out now

His debut album Human is out now

The album touches on blues, folk, soul and hip-hop — all of it delivered in Rory’s remarkably soulful voice.

There are songs about being a better person on Be The Man and Ego, which was inspired by him witnessing someone talking about themselves for three hours.

Music is cathartic for the right reasons

Rory says: “Love You Any Less is about an old girlfriend who was incredibly insecure and would never leave the house and I thought I could help with her flaws but I couldn’t.

“Beth says I’m not that sensitive in real life but music allows you to be a different person and be more honest about who you are. It is cathartic for the right reasons.
It touches on blues, folk, soul and hip-hop — all of it delivered in Rory’s remarkably soulful voice

“Music was instilled in me from a young age. My mum and dad were both into it and so I grew up loving grassroots music.

“It was like the soundtrack to my childhood but I didn’t really get excited about it or the prospect of making music until hip-hop.

“That really sparked my imagination in my late teens — stuff like Outkast, De La Soul and Pharoahe Monch. One of my mates used to make me mixtapes.

“Where I grew up there was only one CD shop and I didn’t really like school, so we’d register then bunk off and we would be round my mate’s house making drum-and-bass mixtapes.”
Graham’s love of hip-hop inspired his early lyric-writing as a teen
Alamy

Even though he didn’t like school most of the time, Rory certainly did enjoy music. He says: “There was one teacher, Mr Tweed, who was inspiring and knew I was interested in making music. He took me to the music room and played guitar while I wrote some lyrics.

“He made me think I could write lyrics and I am not sure he knows what an influence he was on me but I’ve given him a little shout-out on my album.”

‘My  dad  told  me  to  sing and  give  it  some  welly

It was Graham’s love of hip-hop that inspired his early lyric-writing as a teen.

“They were mostly rap lyrics and not very good,” he laughs.

“But singing-wise I didn’t really do anything until I was 20. I sang a little bit by myself but I was always afraid to do it in public.
However, he only started to take his voice seriously when he was told by a fan he sounded like blues legend BB King

“It was only when I started going to jam nights with my dad that I found the confidence.

“I also started to play the harmonica along to the blues records and after that I started to sing more and more.”

As a member of Brighton hip-hop outfit Rum Committee, Rory got to support heroes including De La Soul.

He says: “De La Soul and Pharoahe Monch were so exciting to play with.

“I remember being in the flat beforehand and us all practising for hours to try and make sure we were really good — and then getting really drunk and not being as good.
Graham started going to jam nights with his dad and found the confidence to sing

“We also supported MF Doom and did a lot of festival slots so that was a good, fun couple of years. But then I was like, ‘Well, I’d better put something out for myself’. So I made (2012’s) ­Bluestown EP.”

Rory had only started to take his remarkable voice seriously when he was told by a fan that he sounded a bit like blues legend BB King.

I sang a little bit by myself but I was always afraid to do it in public

He says: “Being told my voice was really good gave me the confidence that I needed. My dad had told me to sing a song and ‘give it some welly’ and I learned to play the guitar well enough to write my own songs.

“I was still gigging with the Rum Committee but then I just wanted to do something by myself and I got an offer to support Joan Armatrading at The Dome.

“It was just one gig, but a massive venue, holding nearly 2,000 people.”

Monday, October 9th, 2017 News

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