Alfie Templeman’s long-awaited debut album ‘Mellow Moon’ carries an unmistakable sheen that comes with being created on the Bedfordshire artist’s own terms. Through its overarching theme of escapism – inspired by the 19-year-old’s own experience of coping with anxiety and depression – the record builds a bridge from its predecessor, the 2021 mini-album ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’, into a new place of conviction, warmth and experimentation.
“On this album, there’s lots of things that I have always wanted to try; lots of influences that I didn’t think I could pull off a couple of years ago,” Templeman tells NME when we meet in Brighton for the latest in our In Conversation series. “For example, I threw in a bit of Pink Floyd-esque sounds at the end of the record. It was having fun with the things I grew up listening to, like different rhythms and expansive drums. I just feel more comfortable with those sounds now.”
Prior to ‘Mellow Moon’, Templeman drip-fed new music through a series of EP releases, starting with 2018’s psych-flecked ‘Like An Animal’, because, he says now, he was reluctant to put out a full-length project until he felt “confident enough” in himself. It’s little surprise, then, that his debut LP opens itself up gradually, with bold, striking instrumentals that emotionally mirror his words. “My body is empty / My mind just a window,” he sings on ‘Broken’, a deceptively upbeat track that explores the trappings of suffering from mental health issues. “I quite like separating myself as a son, and as a brother, to who I am as a person on stage or who I am as an artist,” he says. “But with this album, I pushed myself to be more honest than ever. I want people to see that this is a new chapter.”
For the latest instalment in NME’s In Conversation series, Templeman tells us about working with Nando’s-lover Nile Rodgers, a possible collaboration with Declan McKenna and his passion for climate change activism.
Album two is already in the works
Not content with ‘Mellow Moon’ being out in the world for less than a month, Templeman is already mapping out its follow-up. “It’s definitely sounding interesting,” he tells NME. “There’s lots of jazz-y bits, and it’s quite near-soul in places. It’s been really fun recording it – I’ve been doing it at home, basically. Every album I put out, I want to make something completely different.”
Templeman has long juggled multiple, wide-ranging sounds. In 2018, at the age of 15, he began his Ariel Days side project, which has seen him release two full-length prog-inspired projects while simultaneously putting out music under his own name. Of his future musical endeavours, Templeman says: “Krautrock is one of the things I really want to get into, as well as jazz fusion. I’m interested in new wave and nu-metal as well, but I don’t know if I could pull that off!”
Funk legend Nile Rodgers’ preferred Nando’s spice level? Medium
Following a serendipitous Twitter exchange back in November, Templeman began to build a friendship with Chic musician and producer Nile Rodgers. After admiring his music from afar, Rodgers tweeted Templeman to invite him to a jam session at the historic Abbey Road Studios in London. If meeting his hero wasn’t enough, the session then took a slightly surreal turn when Rodgers suggested to Templeman that they should order a Nando’s delivery to the studio.
“He ordered [our food] to Abbey Road, which sounds like a massive flex,” recalls Templeman. “I think he got a Medium [spice level] because he was like, ‘Yeah, I want something that’s not going to knock me off my feet while we’re working’. I think I got Medium as well: I normally get Extra Hot to look like a madman! [While eating] I was like, ‘There’s no way I can start snotting in front of Nile Rodgers’, as that would just be really embarrassing. So yeah, I think I went down a few steps in terms of heat. I didn’t want to disturb him! But he’s literally the nicest guy, he’s so sweet.”
Templeman is still in a WhatsApp group with his close fans
When NME last spoke to Templeman in May 2021, he revealed that he is the admin of a large group chat with some of his longest-standing fans, who discuss his new music and share pictures of food and pet-related memes. Templeman is grateful for the close relationship they have developed over time via WhatsApp, but “sometimes they just FaceTime me and I’m like, ‘What?!’”
He adds: “I’ve got like 100 people that have my number. It’s funny – sometimes they ring me at like four in the morning.” Not the most ideal wake-up call, some might say…
He wants to collaborate with Declan McKenna in the future
After supporting McKenna at London’s O2 Academy Brixton last September, Templeman joined the Enfield-born singer-songwriter and former NME cover star on stage at his recent Royal Albert Hall show. “When I was there, it didn’t feel like I was playing,” he says of the grand occasion. “When I got the call, I just wouldn’t shut up – it was really exciting.”
Templeman says that playing live with McKenna not only strengthened their friendship, but enlightened him to a similarity between the pair. “[McKenna] got into music from an early age, so I have a lot to relate to him about,” he says. “I’m sure when he was starting out at a young age he probably went through a lot of the same kind of mental health issues that I did, just because it’s kind of hard to avoid when that’s all that you’re used to. I’d definitely like to talk to him more and work together in the future, for sure.”
Raising awareness of climate change issues is at the heart of his work
Back in April, Templeman released an exclusive track – the gorgeously lo-fi ‘Living In A Universe’ – in aid of Brian Eno’s EarthPercent charity, which is tackling environmental issues across the music industry at large. Dedicating more time to climate change activism, both online and IRL at protests, is at the forefront of what Templeman wants to achieve going forward.
“There’s literally no Planet B – we’ve only got one shot at this. It’s literally a non-fungible planet,” he says. “I feel like with the music industry, people are really good at raising awareness – a lot of artists agree with the mission of protecting the Earth. It’s amazing to be part of this project, and I’d definitely love to do more activism in the future.”
Alfie Templeman’s new album ‘Mellow Moon’ is out now