- Words Aimee Phillips
- Photography Blacksockks
"I'm just guessing. And that's the fun part." Teenage musical maverick Alfie Templeman speaks to Notion about staying grounded and always having fun with his music.
The past few months have been challenging for many. With much of the UK locked down for a second time, people far and wide have been faced with at least another season staying indoors. This hasn’t held back musical teenage maverick Alfie Templeman, however, who knows how to keep himself occupied. “Funnily enough, today I’ve recorded a whole album”, he tells me. “Literally ten songs”.
For someone who is “completely addicted to making music constantly”, it’s no wonder that Templeman has already released four EPs and just as many singles.
After hearing this, you may also be unsurprised to hear that Templeman has over 1,000 unreleased songs sitting on his computer. “Until this year, I used to make one [song] a day. I used to be on like, such a roll”, he explains. “But I kind of hit a brick wall, like a couple months back. But now I’m back on track” he grins.
If you would call almost 1 million monthly Spotify listeners and a cumulative streaming figure of over 30 million ‘back on track’ then sure. Templeman’s latest single, the funky, disco-infused “Forever Isn’t Long Enough” was premiered as Annie Mac’s ‘Hottest Record In The World’ on BBC Radio 1 – Templeman’s third consecutive Hottest Record.
But 17-year-old Alfie Templeman isn’t fazed by the numbers game. In fact, he’s not fussed at all. “I don’t care about how many people know who I am. It’s cool that people do, but at the end of the day it’s just fun, and that’s all it ever will be”, he says earnestly. “I’m very grateful for the success that comes with it. I see it as a bonus that you get with the perks of being a musician”.
Despite his outlook, the prodigiously talented young musician, songwriter, producer, and Bedfordshire-born lad has enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame over the past two years, picking up labels like ‘wunderkind’. Templeman, however, simply sees himself as “a kid that’s messing around in my bedroom”.
A true DIY artist, Alfie Templeman writes and records all his music in said bedroom, playing everything from the guitar, piano and drums to the sitar, mandolin, harmonica, and cello. “I think that’s one of the things that really interested me about music from such a young age”, he says. “It was about trying to play as many instruments as possible and trying to figure it out for myself – how I could deconstruct a song and then put it back together”.
With such a richly layered and textured sound on each of his tracks – especially his latest EP ‘Happiness in Liquid Form’ – Templeman’s deep, fanatic love of music is evident in everything from his creations to his conversation. “Ever since I was young, I’ve been really into production and listening to how different things can bring a song together”, he says. Completely self-taught, Templeman reveals that he’s never had a music lesson. “I’m just guessing”, he says earnestly. “And that’s the fun. That’s the fun part”.
It looks like the guessing has paid off. It’s possible that Templeman’s happy-go-lucky, creation-focused approach to his career is what’s shielding him from the pressure that other musicians at his level often feel. After racking up millions of streams on his songs, rather than getting hung-up on re-producing that same high, Alfie Templeman prefers to move on to the next idea. “With ‘Happiness In Liquid Form’, the other three [EPs] were a lot more indie-based. The whole point of ‘Happiness…’ was me just going, right let’s try out funk. Let’s try out some more like 70s influences” he says. “Yeah, it was weird at first, but it came out alright and I enjoyed it. And now I’ve moved on from that. I’m making 80s stuff, but also really 70s soft pop, and then progressive rock as well. I’m just mixing genres as much as possible”.
“People have different ideas of what my music is. It can hit them in different ways and connect with them in different ways, which is cool, because I have so many songs that I thought were sad but a lot of people see them as happy”.
“I see music as literally just sound waves that you pay for”, he ponders.
As well as avoiding stats, Templeman tells me that he also doesn’t read reviews of his work, for fear that it will change the way he views his creations. “I find that it shapes what you’re going to do in the future – even if they’re good or bad. Because if they’re good, you’re going to try and do the same thing. And if they’re bad, you’re going to try and steer clear from it and like move the opposite way”, he says.
Whilst he may not pander to the traditional media, it’s hard to ignore the influence of social. As an artist with such an online fanbase, Templeman admits that the only thing that would alter the music he creates is his supporters’ opinions. “In the past, I’ve definitely made songs for them”, he confesses. “And I continue to do that. At the end of the day, social media definitely plays an important role in getting your songs out there”.
In terms of creating the music itself, Templeman tells me that he prefers to build a song up from the drums and then “do all of that rhythm stuff”, ending with “the more delicate stuff afterwards”. The lyrics, perhaps surprisingly given their existential nature, always come last in the process.
As well as possessing an A* grade in melody-making, it’s these philosophical musings act as another draw to Templeman’s music. On “Forever Isn’t Long Enough”, he contemplates the shortness of life, or more precisely, “that the further away you are from your memories, the closer they are to your heart”.
“I write about what I’m thinking. I tend to write quite existentially about how I view the world. I try not to do too many love songs, but it can be pretty easy to just go there”, Templeman explains.
Always on the up, it’s clear that Templeman will continue to be one for quietly celebrating his achievements. And honestly, success couldn’t be awarded to anyone better.
Refusing to be boxed into one incarnation, it’s Alfie Templeman’s constant desire for evolution that will ensure his relevance for years to come. I for one, can’t wait to see what he does next.