With a new year, comes the weight of expectation on a new batch of artists, thrust into the spotlight and expected to set the agenda for the twelve months ahead. That's what The Hype List is about - a series of interviews, profiles and more highlighting who we think will be making a noise in 2019.
Matty Healy’s protégé/right-hand man/newborn son has had a hell of a year. Taking his Instagram handle (@noromeworldwide) literally, he’s been jetting about all over the place creating music and his own visual universe. He’s in LA helping out The 1975 when we catch him, but he’s working on his own stuff too, and there’s way more than the one EP coming.
What’s going on out in LA?
Currently, recording-wise with the EP, not done, but I have been recording. I’m doing another EP which I’m tryna get out at some point.
This year or next year?
Hopefully next year. I don’t think I’ll have enough time to finish it up for this year.
First things first, how’s 2018 been for you?
Honestly, it’s been a blast. It’s just kind of like me starting out and putting out some art, and I’m looking forward to next year and what’s coming. This is all kind of building up to a good place in certain platforms in the realms of being the kind of artist that I’m trying to be, which is a good thing. The first EP came out with Dirty Hit, and that was great, it’s still kind of getting to places which is exciting for me.
How have things changed for you since the EP came out?
Well, I’m always the last to know, but now I’ve found out it’s doing pretty great. The kind of reception that I got was honestly inspiring as well; it’s more like making a statement for people, not just a certain demographic, like people who can just enjoy the craft. And now I’m looking forward to doing more and more and to start working the album and putting it on proper platforms. For me, the EP feels like a bit of a playground before going to the big leagues. Even visually now, its more trying to get to a certain place, because I was able to delivery something I was thoroughly satisfied with ‘RIP Indo Hisashi’, so I think it’s always gonna be a stagnant process, growing visually and musically as well.
You got to record the EP at Abbey Road as well, what was that like?
It all kind of ended up just having these tracks that we felt would be good if we did it in a space of something like Abbey Road, and I was lucky enough to get in there as well. Having Matty [Healy] and George [Daniel] around to help produce led to that point, you know like we were tryna get to a certain sound that we all agreed on. So that’s how it ended up in Abbey Road. I recorded most of the final pieces there, while everything else was done in my old bedroom in London or Matty’s kitchen. It’s kind of me accepting a process, and I can do these things, and I can sit down in a studio and finish it how it’s supposed to be, while I like being in certain spaces and designing the sound in places that I feel comfortable in.
Do you find it easier to work in a studio or your own home? Or is it just a different experience?
Honestly, I love working in creative spaces. I love the studio because you get hardware equipment, that’s the best part, but I love being in my own creative space because it’s much more honest to be able to make and write music that way, and it feels sort of like, it doesn’t wear you down to thinking like ‘ugh I’m working’, and you get tired of being in the studio. As long as it makes you feel comfortable, that’s how the honest art comes out.
Last time we spoke, you were off to Japan to film a video. Which one did that end up being?
That was for ‘Do It Again’.
How do you come up with all the ideas for your visuals?
I write with the intention of seeing the visuals along with it. While I’m producing the instrumental, I’m already thinking about what part of the day it would be to listen to the song, so it kind of starts off like that and it progresses as I write the song. As I finish the song I probably have an idea of what the song would feel like visually. That’s kind of how it worked out with ‘Narcissist’. I had ideas already of what I wanted it to be, but as much as it was a collaborative thing, I still, of course, wanted to give Matty his part of the visual side too. We were able to create that tiny universe with the design for the video.
Totally rate the boyband dance routines in that one BTW.
It was fun to just recreate and commemorate all these boyband ideas, especially the very 90s style, like the dancers in the back and me and Matty performing in front of the camera. It just felt like a natural thing, living the pop dream.
Do you reckon you’d do a visual album?
That’s what the album is gonna be. That’s why I’m not trying to force myself to finish it yet, because it would have to take a bit of time, especially with the ambition of what I’d like to achieve. I feel like with that comes a bit of time and practice so I’ll be able to nail it the way I want it to be.
Have you heard of synaesthesia?
You mean the thing that you like, acquire mentally?
Yeah, artists like Lorde and Pharrell have talked about having it; like when they’re making music they see it as colour.
Yeah, as I was growing up someone had to point it out to me, because I didn’t know what it was, and when I got to high school, that’s when people started being like, ‘oh have you heard of synaesthesia, where people hear colours?’, but I don’t know. I guess some people actually suffer from it, and I’ve heard it can amplify peoples’ OCD – which is really common but underestimated disorder – but I’ve been in a lot of relationships with people who have it who’ve spoken about synaesthesia, and I guess that’s why I don’t claim to have it.
Have you ever listened to records just because you’ve liked the visuals?
Yeah, that’s pretty much how I discover my own music outside of like friends telling me ‘check this band out’. On a more personal level it’s like ‘oh this looks like it could be a good album’, and if it’s not a good album, I’ll just have it in my room to show my friends like ‘this could’ve been a good album, but the album art is better than the music’.
So, you’re touring next year, opening for The 1975. How are you feeling?
Quite excited really. Looking forward to it. Next year is gonna be really fun, plus The 1975’s album is gonna be great as well. It’s gonna be a big first for me.
Is this your first ever tour?
Yeah, I’ve played shows, but I’ve never toured before.
Jumping in at the deep end, straight in with the arena shows.
Yeah, it’s big! But it’s gonna be exciting. I’m kind of excited to see some people who love my craft, in the flesh.
The whole Dirty Hit family are out – you, The 1975 and Pale Waves. How’s the live show shaping up?
I’ve started working on it. It’s gonna be great because I’ll be bringing something with me to signify No Rome as an art project, so I’m really excited to unveil that. I keep saying I’m excited but that’s just how I feel about stuff coming together. I’m about to head back to London now to start rehearsing, so it’s gonna be me actually playing stuff and just dancing on stage, being myself as much as I can.
Take it you’ll be debuting some new material then?
Yeah, for sure. And I’ll probably be playing some old songs as well, some old stuff that I had that’s probably around on the internet. It’ll be fun.
Someone said ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’ is ‘Narcissist’ sped up – is that true?
It’s not ‘Narcissist’ sped up, but there’s a bit of a part from ‘Narcissist’ that’s used, because I kind of love making my own sounds, so I used a bit of a tail from ‘Narcissist’ to get the sound that’s in ‘TOOTIME’, and it worked. If you can hear the part, that’s a good ear!
What were some of your favourite releases this year?
Honestly, Hereditary was amazing, but that’s a movie release. Right now I’m buzzing about King Nun, and it’s not because we’re on the same label, Theo’s a good writer, he’s excellent. Looking forward to the stuff that I’ve been working on with The 1975 to come out, that’s gonna be a good release. ‘RIP Indo Hisashi’ was a good release – nah, that’s a joke. Lil Uzi Vert album was pretty good. Did it come out this year? ‘Luv Is Rage 2’. And the Chief Keef album that came out, ‘Mansion Musick’.
What are you most looking forward to next year?
I’m excited for tour, I’m excited for merchandise, because I’m also hands-on with merchandise, started that about two months ago. EPs dropping next year. Proper peace in politics, because right now everything’s at stake. Brazil, Philippines, UK, America, so it needs to come to a stop.
Taken from the December 2018 / January 2019 issue of Dork. Order a copy below.
Featuring The 1975, Billie Eilish, Idles, The Japanese House, Circa Waves, Drenge and more.