Multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Rationale born in Harare, Zimbabwe, was first inspired by his mother’s diverse record collection. Having settled in East London, Rationale started producing music in his bedroom. Soon he managed to build a growing reputation following the online reaction to his ‘Fuel To The Fire’ debut EP after millions of streams on Spotify and Soundcloud. His recent deal with Warner Bros Records is the first step to the beginning of a glorious career. Remaining humble and honest Rationale had a chat with us about his childhood, inspiration and music.
I didn’t really have many friends during secondary school, so I felt a need to play music and almost use it as a way to escape the bullshit that was going on in my life.
The internet loves you and so do we! You are one of the main artists to watch for in 2016 and we definitely recommend that. For the people that haven’t discovered you yet, what is your musical background?
I probably picked up a guitar as my first instrument when I was about 9 and I was given it by a teacher at school. I wasn’t the most popular kid in the world so I used to just stick around in practice rooms and rehearse on my own to try and pick it up as best as I could. I didn’t really have many friends during secondary school, so I felt a need to play music and almost use it as a way to escape the bullshit that was going on in my life. Once I left school I realised that I wanted to do it professionally and pursue it, so I went to study at a local college. I ended up spending two years there writing and producing and working with computers for the very first time, up until the age of 16… Once the course finished, it was a step, it was basically either going out into the world and try and establish myself as a musician in my own right, or take it further and stay in education for longer. I opted for the former, and went around playing a lot of music in a lot of rubbish venues on my own, and pretty much got nowhere for a long time…
You’re a musician who started with a hidden identity. Has this helped somehow in pushing your career in your ‘first steps’ and have you ever tried to launch your career in the past under a different moniker?
Initially it wasn’t even a thought, it was just a way to release music without pinning it to a face. I’m a realist, and I think there are plenty of people out there who are able to market themselves in a way that involves their faces, bodies and whatever alongside their music, and if you’re lucky enough to be a stunning looking person who makes music and wants to be that particular package then go ahead. If I had the option I think I’d spend years in the studio putting music out without having to associate it to my face. Music is the only thing that lasts at the end of the day, the only thing that stands the test of time.
Most of your tracks have a darker undertone despite the pop ambiance. Do you write from personal moments or fictional occasions?
Every song I’ve put out have been derived from situations and things that people have said, and I’ve just explored the subject matter, and made more of an effort to make those songs more personal.
I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that [sold out gigs], and I don’t want to, it’s a privilege.
You’ve received great support not only from various tastemakers who share your music and the millions of plays on Soundcloud, but also from the biggest radio station in the UK, BBC Radio 1? Has this have an effect on you? Does it add any extra weight on your shoulders?
Pressure is natural, and I mean I’m signed to a major label now, so there’s the business kind of pressure where I have to deliver a record. There are times when you wake up and you get really stressed out about having days when you can’t create because of schedules and timelines and whatnot, but then during those times I remember that not very long before that where I came from, working two jobs, and I can’t forget that, like I have friends that do things they don’t want to do. I can’t let that slip from my mind, and I’m very lucky to do what I do, and the pressure is there to enjoy myself, so is that really pressure? Not particularly.
Let’s talk about your latest single that we’ve featured as one of our favourite new tracks “Something for nothing”. What is this groove-based pop song really about?
I had been speaking to a friend, and she was telling me about how she’s speaking to a person who she’s met for the first time, she feels as though everyone wants to get something from her, which she described as “everyone wants something for nothing”. She then went on to tell me more of a story, and how she was angry (that particular day) because the only person she wanted to be with was the only person who didn’t want anything from her, and all she wanted is for that person to be there when things go wrong.
Your upcoming show at Village Underground in April is already Sold Out. Is that something you were expecting to happen?
Selling out shows is the hardest thing to get used to. I remember playing to five or ten people talking in a room, and now I’ve sold out a venue that holds 800 people or so which is crazy, and now we’re going for the Scala which is insane. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that, and I don’t want to, it’s a privilege.
What should we expect from you next? Is a debut album coming out soon?
It’s close in terms of where I want it to be in the final stages, but who knows when I’m going to release it… Hopefully this year!