With his velvety baritone and knack for a heart-wrenching pop track, Zimbabwe-born pop-soul powerhouse RATIONALE is as distinctive as they come.
Ranging from breakthrough cut "Fast Lane" to recent smash "Into The Blue", there's been no escaping singer Tinashe Fazakereley's gorgeous voice. His debut album (out tomorrow) is an exciting collection of tracks taken from throughout his career so far, which has already spawned a BBC Radio 1 Hottest Record and a support slot on tour with Bastille.
We chatted to Fazakereley in the lead-up to this imminent release.
Your debut album has been several years in the making. How did you decide which of your older cuts made it onto the tracklist?
It was pretty difficult picking which of the older tracks made the cut for my record. I guess it came down to choosing the songs that meant the most to me lyrically.
Old favourite "Fast Lane" appeared on your 2015 Fuel to the Fire EP. How would you describe the progression in your sound since then?
I guess my sound has evolved somewhat since "Fast Lane". I think I've learnt that the main thing people enjoy about my sound is my voice and lyrical content. I probably wouldn't have said that a couple of years ago, but I've spent a while touring and watching people respond to my music. I've learned – if not reaffirmed – the fact that the best music starts with the best songs. Everything is a slave to that.
Over the years you’ve toured pretty relentlessly, building up a fanbase and supporting some huge names. Is this experience reflected in the album in any way?
Yeah, it's been pretty intense touring but that's the reality of starting from zero. Real fanbases don't grow overnight so you have to put the graft in. Performing in front of twenty-thousand [people] three days in a row for weeks on tour with Bastille really opened my eyes to the effort it takes to pull off a well-considered live show and be a real entertainer. Understanding what certain songs have the ability to do in that forum made me want to go back to the studio and work harder on writing more. Not differently but just more!
There are still some tracks on the album that we haven’t heard yet. Have you been playing these live, and if so, how has the reception been?
I haven't played the new ones live quite yet but we're in rehearsals making that happen in time for my headline tour and my support slot with Rag'N'Bone Man in November.
We previously described your sound as "contemporary but timeless" – what would you say were your main inspirations in writing this album, whether modern or more old-school?
I think there's been a mix of the two. Songs like "Fuel To The Fire", for example, were born out of frustration and have strong provocative lyrics that would quite happily sit alongside some of my older record collection, whereas songs like "Into The Blue" were directly influenced by modern acts like The Weeknd. I don’t think there has been one main constant inspiration but a coming together of my musical taste over the years.
Which is your favourite track from the album, and why?
I've had these songs for so long. Part of the curse of producing most of them is the inability to hear anything other than edits after a while! However, one of the songs that really stands out for me is "Somewhere to Belong". It's a really simple song production-wise. I wrote it with a friend called Simon Aldred and we recorded my vocal in one take. There's something special about it that I doubt we would've captured if were messing around pressing buttons for hours on end.
For anyone who hasn’t yet heard your music, what should they expect if they pick up your new album?
I think they shouldn't expect anything, music doesn't work like that in my head. I think people should pick music up and my record in particular and expect the unexpected.