The village of Carlton is quite small. Nestled in North Bedfordshire, it has two pubs, a school, some shops and not much else. It’s been hit by a tornado before. Everyone knows everyone - and naturally, it’s now the perfect home for a fresh new gleaming indie-mover to emerge. Enter Alfie Templeman.
“There’s not too much around here, but it's a peaceful atmosphere,” points out Alfie. “I’d rather be here than anywhere else.”
While most of us at 15 were simply trying to make sure our homework was done by Monday’s maths lesson, Alfie’s been busy on other fronts. With his debut track ‘Like An Animal’, the extra-curricular studies have definitely made themselves known.
“It’s gotten to the point where I can turn on the radio, and I’m on there, and it’s such a surreal feeling,” exclaims Alfie, bubbling with energy. “It’s really weird, but it’s a good feeling because a lot of people do stay up and listen to the late radio shows and the next day they’re like ‘ohh, here’s the local celeb’ and that, taking the mickey really!”
Utilising the joy of education while he still can, his days at school are spent hanging around the music rooms, jamming with his best mate and chatting away about music for hours.
“We’ve jammed together ever since we were young and we have good facilities at school with the music block and stuff, so we hang out every day, jam with other people. We like playing a lot of funk stuff, so we’ve been playing a lot of that lately. He’s the one who always listens to anything that goes on the radio, will listen to interviews and look into people and stuff - so there are people there who are actually genuinely interested and have been there from the beginning with me.”
Alfie Templeman doesn’t follow the norm. With the sort of mind that jumps and flows with everything he hears, no matter genre, style or era - it’s more of an unstoppable reality that music was going to be at the core of everything he does than a question.
“I’m not interested in anything else apart from music, so my life does revolve around it,” he admits, looking back over the past few years. Growing up in a house where his dad’s instruments were everywhere, it was an unexpected source that first lured Alfie in.
“It’s odd,” he cracks, “when I was young, the first band that I got really into when I was about 7 was Rush. Quite a complex thing to start with, but I just didn't have any expectations, and I dived right in. I wanted to see what it was like and it blew my mind. There’s so much going on, and watching them play live as well with there only being three of them… how is that even possible? It’s amazing.”
“I kept listening to other progressive rock bands,” Alfie continues, “bands like Yes and King Crimson, and it went from there. It’s all really colourful. It's progressive, all these time signatures and intricacies. There are all these different flavours of music going on, all these influences - it just stood out as really colourful and full of all these different sounds.”
What may seem like quite a distant influence from the music Alfie makes now, is actually bang-on for that freedom he now exudes. Shown across his debut EP, that attention to detail rings through - with his pulling voice sounding like a modern heir to Gaz Coombes across slinky indie, 80s synth-pop rides, dazzling gaze and even some jazz kicks. There are more tricks here than in a magician’s hat.
“I really developed those textures [of prog] into my EP when writing it,” Alfie elaborates. “There’s a certain level of quality that needs to go into it, even though my songs at times can sound quite rough. That’s the kinda vibe I go for, getting that balance, paying attention to the small things that will help lift the song; a lot of those bundling up together makes it so powerful.”
That peaceful surrounding where Alfie finds himself feeds into everything he does.
“I’ve always been a big fan of just looking out for new ideas, going outside and looking about,” he notes. “I always keep a notepad on me so I can write whatever comes to mind. I guess in a way I used to just look out into my surroundings and write songs from it.
"The singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd I think once said, if you can’t remember it, then it’s not worth writing down, so I follow that rule. The best ideas I get are the ones that stick in my head out of nowhere.”
Taking those ideas from out and about, and crafted in his bedroom with the lights turned down, the windows and door firmly shut, it’s his creative sanctuary that has stemmed the glorious results so far - an oasis that remains his go-to place after a day at school.
“Every day when I get home from school I work on little projects and stuff,” Alfie explains. “I record bits, it’s just what I like doing - I find it fun, it helps me to relax as well. It’s great when you can do something you enjoy doing all the time.
“Like, when I record there’s just this feeling that comes - and I know it’s not gonna happen yet - but when I’m recording I have this feeling of, ‘wow, I’ve just made a Number One’. That feeling exactly, though after listening, mixing it and playing it a million times you think ‘ahh, it’s pretty boring’ but you do feel that adrenaline, and it’s amazing.”
With one EP to his name, and word of mouth spreading, what makes Alfie Templeman all the more exciting is that he could do anything. Still 15 years old, with boundless enthusiasm and the sort of musical talent that’ll have you awe-struck, his is a name that we’ll be referencing for years to come, as he forms a special new road. There really are no boundaries.
“I feel like… wherever I go, whatever I like or follow or whatever I hear - I feel like that should shape my music,” he confidently lays out. “What I do might change, everything changes eventually, but really other people making new music is going to influence me to then make different genres. Looking around at other people and their interests, looking around school and what people are listening to and seeing how I can use that to make music - that really will help shape what I make.”
He already promises his next EP will be “a lot more R&B orientated; there’s more of a funky element to it” while holding on to those cores of indie-pop and hints of jazz. If you didn't think one of the most exciting creators of 2019 could come from a small village in Bedfordshire, well - things are about to get exciting.
Taken from the February issue of Dork, out now.
Featuring The Japanese House, Yak, Sunflower Bean, FIDLAR, White Lies and more.