If birds wish to fly...
... then let them. Singer, songwriter and producer Corey Bowen is an absolute delight. Swooping into the realm of Boys by Girls' office/studio/hangout, he unleashes a swarm of smiles and good ol' Northern warmth. All the way from Middlesborough, we uncover what's behind the pretty face and also, his deepest, darket secrets.
"How do I model?" Corey is concerned. Oh the irony, as he is a natural in front of the camera, producing stunning images captured by Sophie Mayanne and styled by Josh Tuckley. He tells a story of a sweet and innocent, blue eyed boy that stole his sister's Christmas present in order to persue his current anti-rockstar fame. With hair by Yusuke Morioka, this unruly head of curls has a mind somewhere, anywhere but here, Corey Bowen just wants to entertain and be entertained.
Bursting with melodies and lyrics, he wishes for nothing more than to grow wings and fly away. Now headlining at music festivals and gaining substantial recognition for his latest single "If Birds Wish To Fly", Corey is only at the very beginning. A funky pop sound is an off the cuff move, but the upbeat vibe gives the BBG Office a grand opportunity to have a little wiggle. With his make up still on, courtesy of Natalia Kieselev
, his dramatic hand gestures and restless legs tell of long forgotten tales as he sits, cross legged, on the carpet like an excited schoolboy, storytelling to the Boys by Girls class.
Above: Corey wears Jacket by COINE LONDON.
Who is Corey in a nutshell?
I'm a songwriter, performer and word smith from Middlesborough in the North East of England. I'm twenty years young and I started writing songs when I was thirteen. I've been thankful enough to have a lovely team behind me, I get to do what I want to do.
Where did your journey into music start?
When I was about thirteen, my sister got a guitar for Christmas, so I picked it up and started messing about with it. That period of time coincided with me realising I wasn't good enough to be a professional footballer. Music started to be the thing I was doing all the time and I got progressively more obsessed with it. I started to get a bit of a vision as to what I wanted to do.
How was your sister with you taking the guitar?
She didn't mind at the time. I think it was an unwanted gift? She hadn't asked for it so it just kind of appeared, I guess it's a bit of an unconventional surprise.
What was the first thing you learned to play?
Probably a Nirvana song. In fact, I think it was 'Come As You Are.' That was the first riff I learned and then I was like, 'that's it, I'm Kurt Cobain.'
Left: Corey wears Shirt by MARTINE ROSE.
Right: Corey wears Shirt by MARTINE ROSE, Belt by APC and Jeans by DIESEL.
Right: Corey wears Jumper by CHRISTOPHER RAEBURN.
We watched one of your videos earlier and there was quite a lot of interesting aspects to it.
I have quite an artsy mind I think. I like to put in as much creativity as I can into everything I do. I don't like things to be 'the norm,' for want of a better phrase. I want things to be a bit more interesting and to have as much content as opposed to following a template. Usually what goes on in my head is what I'm going to do next in terms of songs or performing live. I'm constantly thinking about what's next.
You've got a busy mind.
Yeah, for a very unbusy person.
Where do you draw your biggest influences from?
I think outside of music, I'm influenced most by the people around me and my family. I was brought up by my nana and my mum and my dad of course. I think I'm most influenced by the women in my life; I'm really close to my mum and my nana. Outside of music it's definitely my nana, she's a creative type and she's very influential, not so much in terms of actual content for songs, but more for the get go and wanting to do what I want to do. In terms of within music, my biggest influences would be my friend Christopher Owens. He played in the band 'Girls' and it was when I was fifteen or so when I first heard Girls and I started to think about songs a bit differently. I started to think more about lyrics and what a song can mean as opposed to what the guitar sounds like and things like that. They were definitely my biggest influence in terms of finding what it is that I want to do.
Right: Corey wears Shirt & T-Shirt by MARTINE ROSE, Jeans by DIESEL.
What do you want people to take from your song 'If The Birds Wish to Fly'?
It was very much a stream of consciousness and words that sound nice together. Usually my lyrics are very direct and personal, but that's not to say that people can't take what they want from it.
Does the video represent the song?
The video was all just one idea I came up with and the lads came up with some of the others and we pieced them all together. I think the video goes well with the sound now, but I don't know if that's just because I'm used to seeing them together now. There's no real secret connection to them or anything.
Your Twitter tag line is 'anti-rockstar/songwriter,' tell us a bit more about that.
We coined it. We were playing a lot of gigs and I'm not really a 'party-er' if that's what they're called. I don't really like drugs. I drink, but I don't really go to clubs or go out. Darren, a friend of mine, he's more of the party type. I just remember saying I was everything a rockstar shouldn't be and that's where I came up with it; a little off the cuff.
Left: Corey wears Jacket by MCQ and Jumper by CHRISTOPHER RAEBURN.
You played at 'The Green Man' festival last year, how was that experience?
Amazing. It was the first major festival we had played at as a band, and to be there with my best friends was amazing, it really was. We had a really nice slot as well. We were initially meant to be on mid-afternoon and then The Birds single went out and it all changed. I think we were on at nine? The third headliner on the introducing stage, it was amazing, a really nice place. We had a lot of fun.
How would you describe yourself?
In terms of sound, I'm very much open to whatever really, I focus a lot more on writing songs on my piano or guitar. So if it sounds good to me acoustic, then usually that's a good indication that you can take it to a lot of places. I don't really want to put my finger on it and say 'this is my sound,' you kind of get put in a box. As an artist, it can be quite demoralising almost to have media people tell you what they think of your music, even though I wrote it. But in terms of sound I tend to leave all avenues open. It's usually just what feels right in terms of instrumentation. I don't really make plans, it's very much focused on the melody and the lyrics because it makes it more interesting.
Now describe yourself in three words.
Tough question. Erratic. Mindless and determined. Mindless usually, because I'm very free-thinking in a sense that I don't ever really have anything serious going on in my head. Erratic, because I go off on a whim and lose focus in a very broad sense and I don't know what to expect from myself. Determined, as I know what I want to achieve and I know what I want to do. I just want to be able to write songs and do exactly what I'm doing now, but have my own platform to do it on.
What's your funniest memory?
Of all time? Four years ago I was at the theater, a little theater in Middlesborough, and Eden, he plays guitar in my band as well, kicks a ball on the roof. It's the height of a two storey house so fairly high up. He scales up this pipe on the building, gets to the roof and one of his hands just slips so he ends up fireman sliding back down the pipe. It took all his skin off his hands and then went through a Biffer bin. That's without a doubt, my funniest memory. Watching one of my best friends fall through the lid of a Biffer bin.
If you could write for any artist, who would it be?
I never just sit down and think, 'I'm going to write an Adele song.' I just write a song and if I play it back, I could be like, 'oh Jason Derulo would sound great singing that.' Yet if I could write for any voice... obviously Adele has an amazing voice. Adele would be up there. To hear a voice like Adele's singing a song that I wrote would be surreal. You can't not like Adele, she seems really nice as well.Maybe The Everley Brothers, I adore the Everley brothers.
If there was one place in the world that you could play, where would it be?
I'd play on Sumney beach in Christchurch in New Zealand. I've got some family in New Zealand, so a lot of my childhood was spent visiting them over there, and it became somewhere that I was really close to my heart.
What is your fondest memory from there?
The people that live out there are my Uncle Gary and Auntie Helen. We're not actually related, but she's been my mum's best friend since before I was born, so when I was born Helen was always there and she moved to New Zealand when I was about ten? We went over for the first time when I was about thirteen and it was just being in a completely different place, different environment, different people, different scenery, it really is a different world.
Above: Corey wears Jacket by LOUIS W x APC, T-Shirt by BLOOD BROTHER.
If you could live by a quote, what would it be?
Started from the bottom now we're here, or, do what you want and be happy. I think that's the most important thing for me. I don't think I could work in a job that I didn't adore every day. I've done it before and I find it very difficult to do something I don't want to do. I know it might sound really silly, but I can't motivate myself to do something outside of my enjoyment or my passion so yeah, do what you want and be happy.
What impact, as a musician and songwriter, do you want to have on other people?
The reason why I listen to the music I do is because they have some sort of emotional uplifting message or sense to it, and I think that's a very personal thing. Something I might take from a song, others might take differently. I just like to resonate with people and for people to hear my songs and be able to take something from it. I don't want to say 'to make people happy' because that's a really shit answer haha. As long as it resonates with the way people feel then that makes me happy.
Now your deep, dark secret.
Alright, here's a really dark one that I feel awful about. About two years ago, I was driving home from Leeds and I accidentally hit a big rabbit and I didn't stop. It's something I do genuinely think about every now and then. It creates dark moments for me; I might come out with a really dark conceptual album about how I killed a rabbit. That's what's next from me. A conceptual album about a dead rabbit, haha
Above: Corey wears Shorts by MCQ and Trainers by CONVERSE.
ADA AND NIK
LOUIS W x APC
Words by Savannah Liu.
Interview by Sophie Mayanne.