Armed with an acoustic guitar and an arsenal of musing solipsisms, Nottingham’s pop prodigy Remy CB has turned the toil and tumult of lockdown into an EP to rival the city’s best. On the back of the shimmering First Chance and to mark the re-launch of the Mic’s FOCUS feature, Matt Andrews caught up with its endeared creator to talk inspiration, isolation, and plans for the precarious future.
Music is, in many ways, a language: it communicates with that abstract human sensibility for good artistic work, and it begs for an emotional response as an answer. Perhaps one of its most universally resonant accents consists of two hands and six strings: a voice and a guitar, a powerful harmony between artist and instrument. Remy CB, winner of Nottingham’s Future Sounds Competition, is a man fluent in such dialect, and is unmatched in his provocation of vulnerability and introspection through sound. At only nineteen, Remy is a seasoned musician, well-acquainted with most of the venues in Nottingham, and riding zealously off the successful release of his debut EP, First Chance. An EP that happens to be one of the most moving solo projects to come out of Nottingham this year.
Lockdown-birthed, the four-track collection is impressive in its objective quality, and strikes it's subjects with a vulnerability usually only tapped into through years of craftmanship. “I think it really comes across as a DIY, stripped back EP, and that’s what I wanted,” Remy commented on the composition of the project, “in Too Good to be True you can hear a bird somewhere out the window because I’m just sat there in my bedroom with a crowd of blankets around me trying to deaden the room.” Produced exclusively by Remy (and a selection of his household’s thickest blankets), the EP is a testament to his own musical persistence and his unwavering competence “in the more musically minimalist environment” brought about by lockdown.
Perhaps one of the most arresting aspects of the EP is this unavoidable connection between the DIY sensibilities of its composition and the intimacy of the final product. It’s almost fitting that such a personal series of songs should be hand crafted exclusively by Remy; his tools not being a hammer and nails, but his guitar and voice - a combination which forms this sonic mirror in which every listener is able to hear Remy and indeed themselves. In Remy’s own words, “it was a product of all those days by [himself],” meaning a lot of the lyricism concerns itself with solitude and the inevitable contemplation associated with that.
Remy admits that, in this sense, his writing process grew into a sort of meditation – a conversation with the self – and that sense of brooding is something which picks up more traction as the music progresses. By Now, the EP’s final track, is perhaps where Remy renders himself most vulnerable, and is most willing to have the music open him up. He sings, “I’ll show you all my missing pieces, shine light upon the darkest places,” directly addressing the listener and gifting a certain clarity to the intention behind the project, “to open up and cover that vulnerability in sound.”
“Only nineteen years old and one EP deep, Remy is looking to capitalise on the embryonic nature of this stage of his career.”
It is only here, in track four of four, that the listener finally realises what’s been happening all along, and the EP morphs from a mere collection of Remy’s thoughts into a profound declaration of emotion, and an acknowledgement of the common ground to be found within that by listeners and Remy alike. Such a renewal of the relationship between artist and listener, necessitated perhaps by the increasingly isolated status of the two parties throughout lockdown, was undeniably refreshing and has been something which Remy has looked to build upon since. His live performance of Biting My Lip for Grizzly Sounds, Nottingham-based recording and creative service, is a stellar example of such attempts to reconnect with fans and more generally with the local scene.
Moving forwards, Remy is looking to continue the development of his artistic voice, working on more music and swaying, perhaps inspired by Michael Kiwanuka’s recent successes, towards his more soulful musical influences. Only nineteen years old and one EP deep, Remy is looking to capitalise on the embryonic nature of this stage of his career - a time of artistic freedom and exploration. This plucky youngster is one of Nottingham’s most exciting up-and-comers, spread the word.
Written by: Matthew Andrews
Edited by: Olivia Stock