Oli Fox is a talented artist that crafts effortlessly cool bedroom-pop, he’s now back with the visuals for his utterly sublime tune, Honey.
Hailing from South Woodham Ferrers in Essex, the now London-based musician has built a name for himself thanks to his collection of emotive, relatable and undeniably catchy songs. A gifted vocalist and performer, Fox is also a multi-instrumentalist and co-writer and has previously written for the likes of Gorgon City and has supported Sigrid on a “whirlwind” UK tour. Honey is Oli Fox’s first release in over three years and it’s his best work to date so far.
So with a renewed passion for his artistry and more new self-produced music on the way shortly, 1883 Magazine spoke with Oli Fox all about Honey, co-writing for other artists, London and whether you really need the help of a major record label.
Congratulations on recently releasing the music video for your latest track Honey. Can you tell us a bit about the song and its accompanying video shoot?
Yeah, so the song was basically about me coming out of a relationship and it was like a final say on the matter. We broke up but we weren’t hating each other, it was very amicable and it was really frustrating not hating someone that is now an ex-lover, hence the phrase ‘walking through honey’ came from that. I just thought it would make for a really interesting spin on a breakup, talking about it in that way. And that then lent itself to a really visual image for the music video.
Being in lockdown and what not, I got access to the squash courts in the town where I lived and then myself and my mate just thought the easiest way to portray this is by pouring a gallon of honey over my head. And that was that!
There’s an introspective aspect to your songwriting, you can hear it in Honey or tracks like The Worrying. Do you feel vulnerable when writing about personal topics in your songs? And can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?
I think that the only time I feel vulnerable is the day of the release or the day before releasing a track because that is when it all hits home. When I’m writing… I think because all the artists I grew up with are very transparent and all my favourite artists are ones that just give it to you straight, I don’t feel worried about putting myself out there and writing about things. Even when I’m performing it, you kind of zone out but it’s like the day before a release that is when it hits because you realise you’re about to sort of unfold. Like Honey with a backend of a relationship or a song like The Worrying which was another rocky time in a past relationship and you kind of realise ‘I’m about to give everyone a little sneak peek into my personal life’.
But when it comes to writing, my main thing is definitely to draw from my own life because I have done quite a bit of writing for other people’s projects and more often than not, in sessions, I think people will fabricate a storyline that sounds interesting or it fits a title or it goes better with the song. That’s all great, you can make a song like that, it’s not disproven. But I think the songs that people connect to the most are the ones that are true stories because the artist believes it. It’s way more fun to play a song that you actually mean and you want people to hear.
That’s been the sort of process with this new EP, I finally fell in love with writing again and I wasn’t afraid to tell my story as it is, I’m not trying to make it anymore interesting than it actually was and I’m not trying to add any bells and whistles to it. Just giving it to people straight has sort of ignited a new way of writing for me which has been really fun.
Your music is definitely authentic and most people would be able to relate to it. So that is far better than some that would create a fake narrative for a track.
It’s great to see that you’re embracing social platforms like Tik Tok. How important is it do you think that up and coming artists should be active on a platform like that?
It’s hard because I started my career before something like Tik Tok became as vital as it has recently. I think that I got to a point where I was being a bit of a dinosaur about it and saying ‘nah, I can’t be bothered to make a video’ but then when you get into it, you see that it’s not all just crazy dance routines or viral videos, there is some actual talent on there. The correlation between how well you do on there to streams is far greater. I think it’s massive to be honest, Tik Tok has become a real discovery tool for new music and there are serious artists on the platform now. It’s not just people who want to be famous.
I would say it’s pretty vital and people might just need to put their egos aside, if they want to stay relevant, then I’d say get on it.
It is crazy how you can hear a song on Tik Tok one day and then next week it’s all over the charts and on the radio.
You’ve just moved to London from Essex, How are you finding it and what are the opportunities you will receive due to the change of scenery?
I moved here because like I mentioned earlier, as well as my artist project, I help write for other artists and that just became hard because people don’t want to get the train out to South Woodham. So I definitely came to London to be a bit more present and once gigs open up again, It’s just great to be in the city where they actually happen rather than having that last train home on the back of your mind.
Artists want to help other artists, I think people think that there is a real competitiveness and there really isn’t. It’s like a big old family, so meeting other artists, socialising and becoming part of the social circles is really important as an up and coming artist.
As a songwriter you’ve also collaborated with other artists on their own projects. One notable example is your collaboration with electronic duo, Gorgon City. You helped pen the track Blame which is off their 2018 LP, Escape. How did that all come about?
That was an interesting one, it was right at the beginning, I was just only starting to write for people, I wasn’t an artist at that point. I went in a session down the road from where I am now in Finsbury Park and I went in as a top-liner which is basically someone that puts the lyrics to the melody for a song that is already written. So they played me a song and I had this idea in my head about being a bit of a defying adolescent kid and that’s where that came from. But once I’d sung it, they were just like ‘Yeah, straight on’ and I had never had that before with a big artist anyway.
I’ve had it with a few small artists but that opened my eyes to co-writing for other people because I didn’t think that anyone would really give a shit about what I say. But it was nice to know that they thought there was something there which was really cool.
Some people might recognise you from your previous touring with pop superstar, Sigrid, back in 2018. What would you say the biggest lesson you learnt is from that whole experience?
Two things, personally to really cherish the moment and be in the moment as much as you can because as much fun as I had on that tour, it was a whirlwind. Playing Brixton Academy which is my dream venue, if you were to ask me how it felt… It was a blur. I can’t really remember, I can remember going on stage and throwing a guitar pick into the audience because I thought I was big and leaving the stage haha. That’s all I can remember. The other thing I learnt from Sigrid herself is that you are never too cool to be a professional.
Sigrid is so cool but she will also warm-up for two hours before the show, she won’t drink really on tour and she is just like an athlete. When you see her perform she has no rests at all, she’s screaming every single night but she will never lose her voice. So those were the two things I took away from that tour.
As an artist who’s experienced what it’s like to be signed to a major label and to then move to release music independently via AWAL, would you say that being signed to a major record label is essential for pursuing music?
If you had asked me this three years ago, I would have said yes because I don’t think I knew enough at the time and I didn’t back myself at all. I think major labels are good for some people, they are great. You have a lot of money behind you and they can put you in places that you couldn’t necessarily do yourself. For artists like myself where I have learnt to produce all my music, I create all my own artwork and I get the tracks mixed, there isn’t really anything that I need people to do. A bit of money would be great don’t get me wrong but I think it really is down to how much you can put out.
If you can’t produce your own tracks or you can’t do your own artwork then yeah 100%, hit up a label and they can maybe help you pay for producers and what not. But I think the industry is really changing and it’s seeing a lot of homegrown talent realise that ‘hey, the internet is right there’, you can just upload your own track to AWAL, to TuneCore, to any of these organisations and it will be heard by the same sets of ears that the major labels would be aiming for as well. It’s pretty cool.
Finally, what’s next for Oli Fox, what do you have in store for your fans?
I have a new track called Two Sides which is coming out in like four weeks from now. It will be the second track off of the new EP which will be released by this summer. So part of an EP which is going to be my first one which is really exciting. It just feels like a new wave of music for myself if I’m honest, the fans are really engaged, I’m really engaged, there are a few live shows by the end of the year and yeah, new Oli Fox is what is happening right now.
Honey is out now, check out the video below. Follow Oli Fox via @olifoxmusic
Interview by Cameron Poole