Music interview: Rupert Stroud '“ '˜I'm excited to get some new music out'
It's been a couple of years since the last release by Rupert Stroud, but next week the Ilkley-based singer songwriter is back with a bang.
“I’m excited to get some new music out,” he says of his new six-track EP, Heart & Soul. “It’s been a little bit of a labour of love, this new product, and it’s taken quite a bit of time but sometimes it’s good to second guess things and go back to things.
“I’m happy to put it out. I could have forever been doing changes to it here and there but sometimes you’ve just got to put a pin it and go, ‘It’s done’.”
The title track of the EP, a politically tinged tale of love and loss, was inspired by a break in New York City with his partner. “It was a fantastic trip,” he says. “Sometimes when you’re stuck in your routine at home and you’re seeing the same kind of things it’s really great to be able to step away from all that. When you go somewhere that’s such a fantastic place like that it opens up your mind to a lot of things. A lot of inspiration came flooding through and a lot of ideas for lyrics. We worked really hard on it. I think it’s got a really catchy hook. I thought ‘This needs to be the lead single for the new EP’.”
The remaining five tracks hint at the Stroud’s spiritual concerns. “I’ve always thought of myself as being quite a spiritual kind of guy,” he says. “I wouldn’t say I’m particularly religious but I certainly have a belief in a higher power and you make your own luck and being good to one another. If life’s taught me anything recently it’s that we live in a pretty crazy world, going from politics to terrible disasters and things like that, that always feeds into my consciousness, especially when it comes to writing. Stereotypically I guess a singer songwriter is always going to be writing songs about love and lost love. Of course those are things which influence my writing but I think on this EP I definitely wanted to write something a little bit more real and try to talk about the surrounding world instead of just my immediate world. There’s quite a lot of subject matter in there. I’d leave it to the listeners to try to decipher what the songs are about. Some of them are quite self-explanatory and some of them can have a bit of a double meaning to them but I guess the undercurrent of all of the songs is about cherishing your loved ones and not taking for granted the life that we have and counting your blessings and trying to be a bit more mindful of what’s going on around us, really.”
Recently turning 30 and losing his regular recording studio in the Kirkstall floods seems to have made Stroud more reflective. “At the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 I went on a recording hiatus because we weren’t sure if some of the stuff we’d recorded could be retrieved from the hard drives, they got a little bit soaked. We managed to get them out before the floods really kicked in. That place got flooded to head height but at the beginning of last year it was a bit of a spanner in the works. I did a call out to my fans to say ‘summer’s coming up, we’ve got festivals, we’ve got gigs but we’d love to be able to do some house concerts or play a special event if you want me and the band to come and entertain you’. The response to that was incredible and I had people asking ‘Can you play my sister’s birthday? Can you play my wedding? Can you play an engagement party?’ and that was brilliant.
“We’d always done corporate gigs and stuff but opening that gate up we’ve had so many more people asking us all the time and it’s been great fun. The difference from a normal gig is that you’re playing in people’s homes or a place which is really special to people instead of being in just a music venue and you get chatting to people and learning about people’s stories. I’ve met some incredibly interesting people.
“One of the main reasons I do what I do, writing songs and performing, it’s trying to connect with people on a level and it’s trying to communicate with people. I write a song about something which I’ve experienced and it still amazes me that I’ll perform these songs or people will download it and they get in contact and say how much one of my songs means to them, that’s fantastic and it’s incredibly encouraging. The last year or so I’ve realised how important it is to connect with people and the connection through music. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Heart & Soul is released on Stroud’s own label, Xidus Music, and is available digitally, at his gigs or to order from his website. On June 29 he and his band will play a launch gig at Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds. The are also due to perform at Danby Live at The Moors National Park Centre on July 22 and at Bradford Festival on July 28.