A blood curdling howl disturbs the night's chill. The wolves are out tonight. Witches stir their cauldrons and stars play hop scotch in the sky. Silently gazing at the infinite constellations swimming in the moonlight, another day is found.
Royce Wood Junior's leading single, 'Midnight', from his aptly named debut album, 'Ashen Tang' reflects on overcoming mountainous hills throughout a career. We've all been there, wondering whether it's really worth it and felt trapped by the undeniable fact that time waits for no one. A romanticised feeling of dread in the dead of the night where only creatures and insomniacs roam is toyed with; but a subtle beauty brews throughout his songs.
Cold grey clouds meet frosted grey stones on empty grey pavements. A tuft of curly grey hair disturbs the peace. Royce Wood Junior shares stories of sleepless nights in the studio. Drawing his inspirations from the basis of Soul and Funk music, he mixes a techno vibe into the mix to create a particularly 'Royce' sound.
With the sun no longer hidden, Sophie Mayanne
captures Royce as he strolls around the park. Styled by Rickardo Mattocks-Maxwell
, he hides in deeply contrasted shadows, but is brought into the light and ushered out of his shell. Feeding the ducks and taking advantage of the sunlight, find out more about Royce himself and 'Ashen Tang' below.
Who is Royce?
My real name's Jim, but Royce is my middle name and also my dad's name. It just sounds better then Jim. I'm a guitar player and I started out listening to grunge and Radio Head. I've been in guitar bands in the past and then I started listening to Hip Hop. It was the tried and tested means of getting into electronica.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Soul music. I’m always coming back to it. I like weird modern stuff too. You know that artist Sophie? I suppose his stuff is the weirdest I listen to; a kind of inaudible weirdness. Stevie Wonder is my all time favourite though.
Above: Coat by SAMSOE & SAMSOE, Jumper by FARAH, Shirt by HARRY STEDMAN.
Above: Jacket by NATURAL SELECTION, Top by PAUL & SHARK, Chinos by WHISTLES and Shoes by CONVERSE.
What are your earliest memories of making music?
Probably antagonising my old dear with a demo on my little casio keyboard. I would just play it and it plays a whole tune and actually it had a little sampler on it, so that’s probably my first dabbling with my first music when I was around nine or ten.
That's pretty technical stuff for a ten year old.
I started playing the guitar around twelve years old, so that came a little later. Kurt Cobain was a huge influence for me. I think that’s probably everyone's answer, but my music has an aspect of craftsmanship to it and that it’s not just knocked up on a computer. I’m old school like that. I like to just write a song first before it gets produced.
Do you write and produce all your own music?
Yes. It's like anything, you could be sitting on the bus and something comes to you, so you chuck it in a journal and by the end of that day you could have something. However, on the flip side you could spend months and months working on the same thing and make no progress with it. Just take it as it comes.
When was the first time you fell in love with a song?
That's really tough. Possibly The Beatles? Maybe it was 'Creep' by Radio head or something by Barry Manilow. I've got a song called 'Ophelia'. It’s my favourite, because it’s the most technical music I've produced. With no minors, it sounds really sad. It’s got all the emotion and ticks all the boxes for me.
Tell us more about your working relationship with Jamie Woon and Kwabs.
Jamie is an old friend of mine, we used to live together in a house in Burns. We had this little studio basement set up. I've known him for years and we used to play with him, but I quit to do this project, so yes he’s an old mate of mine. Kwabs, well we were just hooked up. His name is Kwabena, which is a Ghanaian name.
You’ve produced and collaborated with a few artists, who has been most significant to you?
I'm doing stuff with Nayo at the moment. That’s been cool, because we have a tempestuous relationship where we basically disagree about everything, but because of that some good stuff does come out of it. It’s a gratifying one to work on. Rosie’s fun. Anyone that enjoys a pint makes working together all the more enjoyable. It never feels like fun doing it at the time, it’s always fun afterwards when you’ve got something and you can listen to it over and over again.
Above: Coat by SAMSOE & SAMSOE, Jumper by FARAH and Shirt by HARRY STEDMAN.
Above: Jacket by NATURAL SELECTION, Top by PAUL & SHARK.
Above: As before.
Tell me about 'The Ashen Tang'.
I guess it means bitter sweet. It's like if you imagine little ashes on the floor and you pick them up to taste them, they're tangy. I wanted to say the words 'bitter sweet' without actually saying it, I made it my own. I'd describe my sound as 'whiteness'. It's my own twist on electronic and soul, but I don’t have a soul voice.
Are there any other influences to your music apart from Stevie Wonder?
I always take my mum's opinion. She seems to have a memorable opinions on things. You know when someone says something and it just stays with you? She doesn’t just criticise, but if she does, she says it in an interesting way that makes me actually think about it. So she’s a good mum.
What are your favourite lyrics that you’ve ever written?
'You're only not that young anymore, once.’ So you know when people say you're only young once, it’s like you're only not that young anymore, once. I was in a dingy flat, having dinner, thinking about being unsuccessful for ages and being twenty six when I wrote that.
Tell us all about your upcoming single, 'Midnight'?
It’s got the word Midnight in it about forty times. Returning to what you asked me before, that's one of the ones that came out in a day. I mean you can sort of tell why as well, because it’s just one word. I wrote that when I felt like I was failing at everything. It’s about the fact that midnight is going to come and you will have another day. You can try again. I want people to remember to just take it easy, and don’t beat yourself up. Just bear in mind from the album that not all of the tunes are like Midnight.
How would you describe yourself in five words?
Beer gut, grey, and can I say football? Is that a thing? English and lazy.
What advice do you have for our readers or aspiring musicians?
Go easy on the mayo, and don’t drink too many beers. Don’t drink four beers, drink three and then go home if it’s a work night. Try not to listen to what people think. I know that’s a classic, but actually don’t.
What is next for you?
I’m going to do some shows at Oslo, release this record and do some production for other people. Co-writing, putting down the mayo, picking up my guitar and cherishing my Mongolian flute.
Above: As before.
Find out more about Royce Wood Junior here.
PAUL & SHARK
SAMSOE & SAMSOE
Interview and words by Savannah Liu.