Rowdy Superstar: Pop Music With A Spine
Fusing energetic leftfield pop songwriting with electronics, a punk ethos and a bold style, solo artist Rowdy Superstar has, in just a few short years, gone from hotly tipped undergrounder on the East London club scene to something approaching his namesake.
With a distinctive, seemingly fashion-based image, upfront lyrics and manic live performances (not forgetting a hefty dose of talent, of course), it was only a matter of time before Rowdy got noticed. His appearance radiates an air of up-and-coming pop icon from a mile away, but this is only half the story.
Music — not image or fashion — is the driving factor behind Rowdy Superstar, he says. It’s a claim well backed up by his ability to construct intricate, immediate pop songs of the highest quality — songs which also carry a lot of weight and feeling. “In the time that we’re in now, I’m not finding that there’s any music which has a spine. For me, there’s always got to be a genuine honesty and a soul in the music, wherever it comes from,” he says.
This is evident on Rowdy’s upcoming debut album, Battery (produced by Matthew Herbert), which carries with it themes and ideas that were important to him during the writing process. “I shut the world off, didn’t watch telly, didn’t take many phone calls and started to think about what I wanted the record to be. That swap from interacting socially into a digital thing had a part to play in the record – how people communicate with each other, and the change from bond-building to talking on Skype or looking at Facebook, and everything becoming quite isolated. So, that’s what I started talking about.”
The process of putting the album together also brought about something of a change in Rowdy. Although music has always been crucial to him, it is now more of a driving factor than ever, with the crafted ‘Rowdy Superstar image’ taking a backseat.
“What I used to wear, how I did my hair and makeup, and my earlier videos — it was all really important for that Rowdy Superstar imagery, whereas now, it’s now more about what I’m saying lyrically. The glitz and the glamour and that in-your-face thing… It felt like a wall between me and people, so I’ve kind of slowed that down in order to connect to people more and give them the real me, rather than this caricature of myself.”
But that’s not to say that Rowdy has toned down his energy, particularly when it comes to his live performances, which carry with them a punk sensibility built from Rowdy’s musical beginnings in “a really dark punk band” and his ongoing work and touring with notorious digital hardcore band Atari Teenage Riot.
“My approach to performing is that it should be like sex with the audience – in order to get, you’ve got to give,” says Rowdy. “I think it’s important for people to become a part of it, whether that’s singing, coming onstage, freaking out or whatever.”
This, it seems, is part of Rowdy Superstar’s personal mission: to get people interacting, thinking and generally feeling good vibes: “For me personally, I find it very important to put a positive energy out. A lot of people I speak to find that art is more interesting if it’s darker or negative. I wanted to go against that and put a bit of light out there. Even if my music sounds sonically dark, the message is bright.”
Rowdy Superstar: “Look Into The Light”
Rowdy Superstar’s latest single “Never Let Go” is out now, with his debut album, Battery, to follow in October, both on Accidental Records.