Alfie Templeman: Master of puppets

Dork fave Alfie Templeman stands on the edge of something massive.

With a brand new mini-album ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’ on the way – his last big release before work on a debut album starts, Dork fave Alfie Templeman stands on the edge of something massive.

By: Jamir Muir. Photos: Blackksocks

Your 18th birthday. Fair to say, it’s a pretty significant date in the diary – and it’s a landmark that has landed slap-bang in the middle of a huge time for one Alfie Templeman, the boy-wonder firmly in the fizzing whirlwind that comes from becoming a pretty big deal. With every day seemingly bringing something new for Alfie, it’s brought a clear-cut vision for what lies ahead. Even if he’s been laying out the blueprint for years now…

“It’s crazy, but I’ve never been more anxious and nervous in my life.” It’s a chilly February morning, and Alfie’s latest banger, ‘Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody’, has been out for less than a week as a new chapter begins. “Now that things have taken off, the last year of my life has just been in this constant fear of people not liking what I’m going to do next! I feel like there’s enough support and attention now that people are going to get a bit more honest and tell me if my song just sucks. The bigger things get and the more support you get, there’s also going to be more criticism, so I was just kinda preparing myself for that.”

“I was worried that the minute I turned 18 that I’d have a tonne of like people thirsting over me and a tonne of hate,” he laughs, “but it’s actually been… less than I expected!” 

Photo credit: Blackksocks

“The last year of my life has just been in this constant fear of people not liking what I’m going to do next”

Alfie Templeman

Alfie needn’t have worried. With ‘Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody’, he’s opened a brand new sparkling avenue on his road to becoming the biggest thing going, taking the strands that have hooked so many already and twisting them into something altogether larger. Gloriously bold pop fizzing with that effortless charm that’s already seen him grace the cover of this here magazine; it’s taking things to new levels. “It’s been just incredible to see the reaction to it because I can see this big difference between what I’m doing before and now. I wrote this track when I was like 14 and just added bits and re-recorded things as I’ve gone along. I like to have things planned out and in the bank in advance, so watching the reaction’ Happiness…’ was getting was amazing but also had me thinking – well, I hope people are going to like what comes next…”

As things began to blow up for Alfie, he sat with a plan already set and ready to go. Following up the dizzying step-forward that was ‘Happiness In Liquid Form’ with another defining statement of intent with ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’ – he was mapping out the sounds of what’s coming next and watching as the world began to latch on. Praise, tip-lists and more followed. “It really was like, okay, so this is all scheduled and basically done – I really hope they like the next things as much as they do this. I’ve got to pray to God that it works because I’ve like prepared myself two years in advance,” he laughs. “I like the risk factor in there of making so much so early, though it’s mainly just in case I get writer’s block, I have something at least! But it kinda left me thinking a lot about it all…”

“I was like, okay, I’ve kinda established myself as this pop artist now. So that worry of going towards this more like 80s synth-pop sound was something that played on my mind, of maybe rushing things too quickly and jumping so much.” The reaction so far has been anything but, signalling another moment where Alfie doesn’t just continue the thrill-ride that has drawn many into his orbit, but reach out even further. “I’m really excited now for people to hear the rest of the record, because it’s in that same kind of vibe. I think it’s quite a universal sound – and everyone on YouTube complains about how they wish music sounded like it did back in the 80s. Hopefully, I’ve kinda solved that for them!” 

‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’, a self-described mini-album, finds him proudly standing as the most-complete version of Alfie Templeman to date. Punchy hooks, twisting musical breaks, genre-hopping brilliance all comes together in a neon-glow of effortless confidence – proving once and for all that Alfie sits as a new-pop chef serving up the goods like nobody else can. Taking the influences and realities that have come ever since the release of his ‘Like An Animal’ EP, every step has played its part in leading to this very moment.

“It definitely felt like towards the end of 2019 that I grew up artistically very quickly,” he recalls. “Having two EPs out at the time and both being well received, it became quite important to me that I really took this seriously. I left school that year and then was on tour with Sports Team, and I realised every time I stepped on stage, people were here to actually see me. I needed to make sure I was giving the best that I could.”

“I was recording a song and looking back on it now, that’s all well and good, but was I really like giving it my best? Was I giving my fans the very best I could? Being on tour with Sports Team, they taught me that it’s all about putting on the best show that you can. About everyone having a good time, not just rushing everything and trying to make songs quickly that you like to listen to. Having fans now, I feel like I owe it to them, and I just want to make sure that I’m basically giving them the best I can. The last two years, I’ve been a lot more focused, and that’s the biggest difference for me. To make sure I’m making the best music possible.”

Stepping out front and centre, ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’ feels like Alfie taking the limelight and revelling in every single moment. From the spinning title-track’s fuzz of sheer youthful energy, the rest of the record is pure big-screen bangers. ‘Shady’ builds like a grandstand Bond opening montage, ‘Wait, I Lied’ pumps with playful hip-hop hits, ‘Hideaway’ moves into view with psychy-indie prowess, and ‘One More Day’ sees Alf team up with newcomer April for a hazy summer croon that works through the fog and into pure clarity. Yet it’s the three-track run of ‘Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody’, ‘Film Scene Daydream’ and ‘To You’ that offers a true glimpse and what Alfie has fixed in view. Dripping synth-soaked pop that melds every taste of what we’ve heard so far into self-assured pop gold.

Photo credit: Blackksocks

“Sports Team taught me that it’s all about putting on the best show that you can”

Alfie Templeman

It comes from a mantra that Alfie firmly lives by: don’t just look back, look around you. Be inspired by the now rather than the past. It’s a balance Alfie sees across the record. “It’s got this modern sound, but also a vintage sound,” he explains. “Being inspired by certain artists that I see in my head and giving it my own spin.” From The 1975 (“I was really into their last record; ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ really got me and the production on that”) and Tears For Fears to Redbone and Tame Impala (“That whole sound and what Kevin Parker was doing on their last album, it really inspired me”) – Alfie’s continued evolution can be partly seen in his finger sitting firmly on the pulse of some of the most exciting sounds and shapes going right now – and even what inspired them. “It’s like, what am I listening to right now? What are other artists listening to? What are the magazines listening to? What is that wider indie community into.”

Not just musically, but lyrically – it’s Alfie Templeman coming into his own. It’s not a stretch to say that ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’ finds Alfie at his most honest, with new depths to every word thanks in part to his own detours taken over the past few years. “Part of it comes from releasing my side-project called Aerial Days,” he says. “I made this whole record basically dealing with existentialism in different ways. I began to think a bit more about growing up and how I can actually see myself changing. It was me dealing with different feelings and beliefs and that feeling of guilt that can just hit you out of the blue. That record was me telling myself that all these feelings are completely normal, and it’s completely natural.” 

Aerial Days proved to be the gateway into getting those feelings and emotions out there, something Alfie can see written across ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’. “I sing about love a lot more openly. I feel like now that I’m a bit older, I’m not as embarrassed to just be honest,” he continues. “Now it’s me getting out there more. I said to my girlfriend the other day about love songs that you never really listen to them properly and never really take them in until you’re actually in love. And it’s true. Once you’ve felt all these different feelings, you can talk about them more openly. I think that’s where I am now with my lyrics.”

Connection and meaning more is something Alfie takes incredibly seriously, especially when it comes to seeing that reaction from fans. “I’ve seen people like refer to my EPs and albums as comfort albums sometimes, and that really hits home because I used to have the same thing. I used to have a lot of Beatles record or Mac DeMarco records that I’ve listened to, and they just put me in this comfortable space. This warmer space that would help me feel at ease and take me to a happier place. For people to have that with my records, that really does help a lot. It helps me mentally as well, just knowing that the music I’m making can help people in a way – even if that’s just for one song.” 

Rather than panicking in the face of a world now waiting and watching for his next grand step, Alfie Templeman has got himself match-fit and ready to go. Fixed in the knowledge that he’s making the most exciting music of his career so far, while also learning how to navigate the surroundings he now finds himself in – full of the intrigue, demand and love that comes with becoming a bit of a big deal – ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’ both feels like a finale and a beginning at the same time. “It’s crazy; it’s nearly two years old, and I can look back, and I’m still like, these are great songs. That reaction is really a first for me because usually, I’m moving so quickly. Like I’m still really proud of these songs, and I’m proud of the production. I can hear it taking a massive step up”.

And that beginning, you ask? “Yeah, this is basically like me saying: ‘Okay, I’m proud of like what I’ve got to now, here it is. This is the final, the final push, like enjoy this. Get ready for like, the big moment! Funnily enough, the album sounds completely different to this…”

Always one step ahead, Alfie Templeman isn’t waiting for landmark moments – he’s just creating them instead. 

Now our Alf is becoming a bit of a big deal the celebs are pouring in to work with him – none more so than stars of stage and screen Brian and Suzie in his new video for ‘Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody’.

After several intense phone conversations with a high-powered LA publicist, a large cash sum being deposited in both their bank accounts and Dork agreeing not to mention that time they both went to Amsterdam and stole The Weeknd’s <sniiiiiiiiip – Ed> – we caught up with Brian and Suzie to get the lowdown on working with Alf and more.

Brian! Suzie! What was it like working with boy-wonder Alfie? Did you have fun on set?

Suzie: The word ‘set’ evokes images of Hollywood glamour that I’d like to nip in the bud! We were in a chalk quarry in the dead of winter…

Brian: Yeah. I’m still dusting chalk out of my fur! And I have on good authority that Alfie’s doing the same.

Was it alarming to be in a car while Alfie drove Brian? Good driver?

Brian: Ah! That was actually just video trickery! It was actually me driving. Incredibly irresponsible of them to let me as my eyes are made of plastic, but apparently, it made the insurance cheaper to have anyone EXCEPT Alfie drive the car. 

Have you long thought about a career in the music industry? Is this just the beginning for both of you?

Brian: I’m already working on a spoken-word album covering the songs of Celine Dion that I really think is gonna take me places. I don’t know what those places are yet, but I’m excited to find out! 

Suzie: *Deep Sigh*

Are you looking to work with any other musical stars toon? If there was another artist’s video you’d like to be in next – who would that be?

Brian: Celine Dion.

Suzie: *Deeper sigh*

Before we go because we’re being ushered off the call by your team who seem quite angry… favourite cereal?

Suzie & Brian: Monster Munch with almond milk.

Taken from the April 2021 edition of Dork, out now. Alfie Templeman’s mini-album ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’ is out 7th May.

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