Lauded by BBC Introducing and his esteemed collaborators, SRF is the south London polymath coursing through creative lanes whilst carving his own.

Much has happened to SRF since we spoke last summer, weeks before his debut at We Out Here Festival. First and foremost, SRF, real name Seun Roberts-Folayan, is a guitarist – and perhaps the most die-hard Jimi Hendrix fan you’ll ever meet – but now with three singles out and more on the way, he’s proving you don’t have to sing sing to be a frontman.


Frequently called upon to play sessions or support esteemed artists, Wu-Lu and Shygirl among them, the multi-talented musician more recently got invited down to BBC 1Xtra to perform on  Casskid’s show. SRF’s songwriting continues to be put to the test, like his collaboration with soul singer Marnie Taylor; ‘Meet Me Down South’ is a charming track that they crafted in just two weeks, standing as an ode to the vibrant part of south London they grew up in.


This year, SRF played in the Southbank Centre’s auditorium, where he and his three-piece band continued the fizzy feeling of their intimate shows, at venues like the Windmill and CLF while rising to such a momentous occasion.


Music has always been his calling. The multi-instrumentalist remembers being five years old and sneaking into his school’s music room, The drum kit seemed so massive to me then. The teacher came in and I hid behind this kit, that’s when I decided I wanted to be a drummer.” By age 13, Seun had mastered the drums and was teaching the younger school kids, leading an awe-inspired teacher to offer free lessons in an instrument of his choosing. Naturally, he picked the guitar and after a year of feeling limited by learning music so regimentedly, the Jimi Hendrix stan abandoned lessons and self-taught the rest.


Despite his natural talent, Seun thought music would remain a hobby. He explains, “Coming from a Nigerian background – my parents moved here in the ’90s – there’s an expectation to have a ‘serious’ career.” In South London’s musical melting pot, however, talent doesn’t go unnoticed and opportunities are inevitable if you frequent local jam sessions. Whilst Seun maintained a stable day job in computer science, outside he nurtured creative connections which are today flourishing.


As well as leading a band, consisting of bassist Rudy Creswick, drummer Nathaniel Ruben and Jules War on guitar, SRF is a founding member of the Nigerian-Colombian DJ collective Baile Ijo who last month graced the Ministry Of Sound for a night hosted by South African dance-music legend, Andre Power. Seun has his fingers in many musical pies and is determined this year to bring his vast influences, experience and creative friendships together in growing his catalogue as an independent artist.


Earworm-worthy electric guitars, meandering melodies and smooth chords are the backbones of SRF’s sound, which weaves between R&B and rock to exist in a realm of its own. Sitting down to speak about who’s inspiring him and what’s next, the multifaceted artist assures me that this is only the beginning.

Last time we spoke you only had one single, ‘Foxberry Road’, out and you told me you were trying to “be less of a perfectionist” when releasing music. How’s that going?

Since we last spoke, ‘R You Home Yet’ and then ‘SE14’ came out, but I have to admit those tracks took me a long time to release. This year I’m working on releasing based off how I feel, because I’ve started to understand, at this big age, people just listen to what they listen to; music is too subjective to put pressure on trying to make it perfect. When I released ‘R You Home Yet’, I actually thought the other song would do better. It sounds cliché, but music is about a feeling. The best players in the world could put out a song and no one will feel it. If I create something that’s simple, but feels a certain way, I think people will connect with it.

What are you working on at the moment?

Me and Rudi Creswick, my bassist, have been throwing ideas back and forth. There might be some collabs with certain people too. Two singles are on their way and then hopefully a small EP. I think the less you give people, the more they want.

How about those collaborations, how are you working with at the moment?

Usually, not in an arrogant way, but I don’t really reach out to people unless I know them. It just happens naturally, for example, with the last two tracks that came out, the only artist that I collaborated with was Saveyda, outside of my band and producers. For the most part, I find that it’s better to work with my own ideas.


But then, because I’m not a singer singer – I try to sing but it’s not my main thing – I do get singers to hop on the track. So, with the Café KOKO show last year, I brought along all my friends who are great singers. I find it easier to play then because I’m self-conscious, so I prefer that they can take the spotlight.

You’re truly immersed in the south London music scene, you’re part of the DJ collective Baile Ijo, you curate music nights like the Palestine fundraiser you recently hosted at Jumbi and then you’re also a sessions artist and have played in the bands of some incredible artists. How do all these elements feed into your work as SRF?

Just seeing how people work and approach their art, it definitely inspires me. This again sounds cliché but recently I’ve been thinking about what it means to be cool. My friends and musicians, who I see as cool people, I realise it is that they don’t care what other people think, they just do their thing. It’s made me really aware of not getting into a headspace of, ‘Let’s do this because people will think its cool, I should just do it because I want to and in that case it will feed into your creative output.


For example, I do this monthly event called Warmth with its founder, Abdi. It’s all about creating a safe space for any gender, race or religion to come and party and be free. The reason it works so well is because the people who come aren’t trying to impress. They dress and dance however they want, so it becomes this completely non-judgemental environment.

Agreed, the coolest are the ones who are themselves, because that’s unique. What’s inspiring you musically at the moment?

I’m listening to a lot of Jimi Hendrix, I was when we last spoke, always have been. But I’m even more so now, I might be obsessed, I’m getting more into his live element. I actually do think he’s one of the coolest people ever, he got to a level of fame where he could be free to do or play whatever he wanted. Listening to a lot of Todd Edwards too, one of the garage pioneers, his productions are crazy. The way he changes key halfway through a song, it gives me this like, ‘Woah what the fuck’ feeling. Also, a lot of ’90s house and R&B.

The ’90s are definitely making a big come back.

Yeah, in fashion as well. Fashion actually is inspiring me too at the moment, I’m finding my style a bit more.

Who are some new emerging artists you’re enjoying at the moment?

Plugging some friends here but Sam Akpro is definitely one, I feel like this year he’s going to blow. Louis Culture too, his work rate is crazy at the moment, he’s just releasing, releasing and Jawnino, he’s an incredible MC. Also Raelle, we’ve been playing each other’s shows which is really nice, she’s got an amazing voice, and Saveyda. One of my favourite up and coming bands at the moment is ILLAJOY.

What do you hope listeners take away from your music?

I really want them to take away a feeling. Some artists or songs that I hear for the first time, it will take me a while to get over what I just listened to, several times I’ve been in bed and will be like, ‘Fuck this’ and then pick up the guitar and start playing. I remember so clearly the moment I first discovered this track KAYTRANADA, ‘Flippin’ On You’, which is a remix of TLC’s ‘Diggin’ On you’. I was in my parent’s old house and got completely blown away. I want people to go away feeling moved and inspired. I just want my music to fit into an area of someone’s life.

For sure, to be on that playlist which defines the important moments of a person’s life, that’s special. You’ve got your headline show at Cafe KOKO coming up, and The Great Escape, next month, what’s your favourite part about live performing?


The spotlight thing, I do find quite awkward, like when people come up after and say, ‘Oh you were sick’, because I don’t know how to take compliments. For me, it’s more about bringing ideas from a bedroom and seeing how they take shape in a live context. Like with my band, I just tell them to play what they want. As a session artist, things can be very rigid, so I love to make space for creative freedom. Going back to Hendrix, he was very much that way. So was Fela Kuti. No show would be the same as the next and my dad tells me that Fela would never perform the same song twice. At my shows, I know the songs we’re playing but I have no idea what’s going to happen to them, it’s cool to be surprised by what they can become.

What’s your dream festival, or venue, to play?

I think my dream gig would have to be Royal Albert Hall or Madison Square Garden, I put that on my hinge.

And one ambition for the next year of your music career?

I think to get to a point where I can announce a show and sell it out.

Your last Café Koko show sold out!

I guess the goal is to know it could happen at bigger venues. For me, it’s not about the money. I have that security from my day job, it’s more that I’d like to be confident my music is connecting with people. If I was to do a show at Colour Factory or the big KOKO, and it sold out, that would be like yeah, I’m making something people want to hear.

What direction can we expect your sound to be heading in?

It might become a bit heavier, not screaming and the vocals would stay soft, but the playing. There are not many Black rock guitarists in London at the moment. I think the generation coming up is freer; they don’t stay in one lane, so I’d like to experiment with heavy rock and let it be influenced by all the other things I’m doing.

Listen to 'R you home yet' now: