Rhys Lewis is a talented wordsmith and his lyrics, relatable and raw, speak directly to his to listeners. With an upcoming tour, sold out in London, and his second EP, it is full steam ahead.
Lewis’ honesty within the lyrics he writes continues to capture the interest of loyal and new fans and we joined him to discuss how much his career has evolved and his medicine for heartbreak.
What have you been up to. Since we last spoke, any highlights for you?
Since we last spoke I’ve pretty much just been writing and recording new music trying to finish my album! I’ve started renting a studio space with my keyboard player, Aidan, and we’ve been doing quite a bit of songwriting and producing down there. Aidan has set up the studio up as an analogue recording space so it’s been an amazing learning curve producing these new songs with a slightly different process, creatively it’s been really fulfilling. Also went to New York for a few days to support Sigrid, always a highlight visiting that city.
In ‘End Like This’, you speak about visions you have for the future with a person, and when the relationship breaks down, you have to let go of the person and all those dreams that came with the relationship. Why do you think this isn’t spoken about as much? How honest are you with friends/family about this during or after a relationship?
Good question, I’m not sure why it isn’t spoken about as much. Maybe it’s because a lot of that dreaming of the future you did together and in your own head suddenly feels really stupid and embarrassing to talk about in the light of a breakup. All that stuff can be incredibly personal and private so it’s not always easy to share. For me it’s another layer of grief having to let go of all the expectations you had of what your life was going to be like with them in it. I probably don’t talk about it much either, maybe it’s healthier to not focus on it while you’re trying to let someone go.
Do you think people change after each breakup with the loss of the person and the life they could have had?
Definitely. Breakups are such emotionally-charged landmarks in our lives, anything that emotional is sure to have a lasting effect on us, even if we don’t recognise it ourselves.
Do you think you’ve changed? If so how?
I noticed myself change a lot since my last break up. I would say I’m more sensitive, more appreciative of the simple things in life and less concerned about work. I ruined my last relationship by working too much and not having the headspace for anything else, so after losing someone I really admired I think I’ve taken on a little bit of her wisdom and see some things in life through her eyes in a way.
What’s your medicine for a bit of heartbreak?
Time. Sounds very cliche, but just being patient with yourself and accepting that it will take a while to get used to not being with that person anymore. Sadness is profound and powerful, the breakup is a valid and important chapter in the relationship you have with that person as it draws a line in the sand and changes you in ways that will help you better understand yourself and what you want or need from your next relationship.
Over the years has your sound changed? How would you describe your sound?
I guess it has, but I wouldn’t say there’s been a deliberate effort to change it. I think it’s naturally just evolved as I have. The more I’ve recorded my own music, the more I think I’ve started to sound more like myself. By that I mean when I first started recording my songs I think I was often heavily referencing other songs, or other artists. I’m still equally as inspired by other people’s music but now I feel more in command of the sound I want to make and the tone I want my own work to have.
You’ve toured a lot over the past few years, what has been the best part?
I think back to the first tour I did abroad in Europe, there were a few sold out shows in cities I’d never been to before, which was surreal and quite an affirming and inspiring moment. I think the friendships I’ve made through touring are something I’m grateful for. You get really close to the people you tour with and share amazing moments on stage and off for a few weeks at a time, so there are lots of memories I’ll treasure from touring for sure.
You’re headlining your own tour, what are you most looking forward to? Is there anything that scares you?
Looking forward to playing some of the new songs. You learn a lot about them when you play them to a few hundred people a night, so I’m excited to see what the reaction the new stuff will be, perhaps scared about that too haha. And I’m really looking forward to revisiting some of the cities I’ve toured in quite a few times now. You get to know a few nice spots in each place you visit so it’s will be nice to spend a bit of time out of London.
How did you begin songwriting? Talk us through the process, with all the travelling how do you capture thoughts or feelings on the go?
I started in bands as a teenager just trying to write guitar riffs that sounded like Artic Monkeys or Bloc Party. Then I got more into the lyrical side of it, became inspired by the songwriting greats, the likes of Carole King and Bill Withers, and started to find angles and concepts that felt emotional enough to write about. At 16 I didn’t have much to write about, but as I got older and had more experiences in life I think I found more substance to put into my music. Now I’m constantly writing down ideas or titles or concepts in my iPhone notes or notebook, and when I get chance to sit at the piano or with my guitar I’ll start playing a chord progression or something musical and more often than not something lyrical that I might have written down a few weeks ago and forgotten about will rise to the surface and sit on a melody I’ve started singing or will seem to fit the musical mood of the chords. I’ve started to notice the importance of not thinking when I’m writing, I have to trick myself into improvising and forgetting that i’m writing and allow for an idea to naturally fall out. Then once it does (some days it doesn’t) I try and shape it into something that sounds like a song.
Tell us about your EP, if anyone hasn’t listened to you before how would you describe it?
It’s an honest depiction of where I’m at musically. There are quite a few influences in there, and a number of themes that are quite present in my mind at the minute. I hope people who hear the EP can connect emotionally with the songs as I wrote and recorded them all with my heart on my sleeve.
Where have the songs come from, are they personal experiences?
They all come from a real place, either personally or inspired by friend or family situations (I wrote End Like This about a friend who went through a breakup after being with someone he thought was ‘the one’, and Lonely As Love was inspired by the courage and strength of my parents love for each other.
Your writing is heartfelt and deep but looking at your Instagram you’re full of fun, how do the two marry?
I’m not quite sure! I suppose spending so much time considering the deeper, more negative sides of my emotions when I’m writing I think I need the balance of being more light-hearted and stupid when I’m not. Besides, it’s unwise to take oneself too seriously…
Where do you see yourself this time next year?
Hopefully on a beach somewhere hot, Pina Colada in hand, celebrating winning a Grammy…but most probably still writing and recording my debut album…
‘In Between Minds’ EP is out now, for more info visit www.rhyslewisofficial.com
Interview by Hannah Shin